March 17 1998
A slight breeze blew through the windows of Shell Cottage as Fleur Weasley opened the door to check on Hermione Granger. The girl was sleeping soundly, cocooned in blankets and her bushy hair spread out on the pillow behind her. Fleur smiled. At least in slumber she looked peaceful. But as Fleur drew closer, she knew that it was all a facade. Dark circles casted unpleasant shadows under her eyes, and her skin was pale and sickly, due to the terrible conditions she had faced. Harry and Ron had refused to tell her anything, but Fleur was not stupid. She knew the signs of the Cruciatus Curse when she saw them.
Fleur glided over to the window and pulled the curtains away to allow soft, golden light to illuminate the room. Sunlight lit up Hermione's face and she stirred and fluttered her eyes. Fleur rushed to the girl's side.
"Hermione? Comment ça va?" she crooned, gently patting Hermione's forehead.
Hermione groaned and opened her brown eyes, staring into Fleur's perfect sapphire ovals.
"Where does it hurt, ma cherie?" Fleur asked.
"Ron," Hermione rasped.
With a nod, Fleur left the bed and called out for Ron at the top of the stairs. He appeared so fast, it was as though Fleur had summoned him with a summoning charm.
"She is asking for you," she told him. Ron said nothing and disappeared into the bedroom. His face was downcast as he knelt beside the bed and held Hermione's hand.
As Fleur watched them from the landing, she felt Bill's arms wrap around her waist. His long, red hair brushed her chin as he bent to kiss her smooth cheeks.
"Is she alright?"
"I think so," said Fleur with a smile, looking up into her husband's face. He was still so very handsome to her, even with the scars. A small hand reached up and traced lightly over the scars on his face, making Bill close his eyes at her touch.
"She is in safe hands now," said Fleur.
"As am I," said Bill and he drew his wife's lips up to meet his own. Bill had realised long ago that he was envied by many men for being with Fleur. Her Veela ancestry had favourably enhanced her features and she was by far the most beautiful woman Bill had laid eyes on. But as he ran his fingers through Fleur's curtain of silvery hair, he understood just how beautiful she really was. Compared to her compassion, her bravery and her kindness, Fleur's beauty was nothing. He knew that he was the luckiest man in the world.
Their intimate moment was interrupted by a wail erupting from Mr Ollivander's room. Fleur broke away and gave Bill an apologetic smile.
"Do what you must, love," he told her, giving her tiny hand a squeeze. He watched her hurry away to the nearest bedroom with a smile. Underneath her French stubbornness was genuine Weasley kindness.
"Monsieur?" Fleur asked as she ran to Mr Ollivander's side and began putting a damp cloth over his brow. A sheen of perspiration glistened on his forehead as he thrashed about in his sleep.
"No, no! I don't know anything! Please! I beg of you!" he screamed, throwing his head back on the pillow and releasing a piercing cry.
"Shhh, Monsieur!" said Fleur in her soothing, throaty voice. "C'est un dream, only a dream! Shh!"
Mr Ollivander opened his pale, translucent eyes. "Dream... only a dream..." he muttered.
"Oui, Monsieur, only a dream!" Fleur assured him.
Nodding his head slowly, Mr Ollivander closed his eyes and relaxed, immediately falling asleep. Fleur sighed. If her maman had told her that she would be tending to injured Goblins and wandmakers in her first house, Fleur would have merely scoffed. Now, she realised, it was all she was going to do until Mr Ollivander and the Goblin were fit enough to continue their work. She removed the cloth and placed it on the bedside table, before smoothing her apron and making her way to her bedroom.
"Fleur!" called Harry.
"Can I talk to the Goblin?"
Fleur glanced at the bedroom door doubtfully, a frown marring her angelic features.
"If you must," she said gravely. "But he is very weak."
Harry nodded and disappeared into the bedroom, followed by Ron and Hermione.
The bedroom Bill and Fleur shared was by far the grandest in the cottage. A magnificent view of the ocean was clearly visible from the large window. Bill was sitting on the bed, his hands bunched in the white duvet.
"What is it, ma cherie?" Fleur untied her apron and hung it on the door handle, before slipping out of her shoes and joining her husband.
"It's Ron!" Bill replied gruffly. "He shows up here with a dead house elf, an injured Goblin, a weak Mr Ollivander and a tortured Hermione, and doesn't tell me a bloody thing!"
"Shh," purred Fleur. A tiny white hand slipped into Bill's and another rubs his back gently. "Do not blame Ron. It is zis war zat is to blame!"
She took his face in her hands and traced his scars softly with her finger. "Wars can ruin faces, but zey can never ruin families. And your famille needs you to be strong, Guillaume!"
Bill smiled at the French equivalent of his name; his wife's nickname for him. He had often tried to pronounce it, but it sounded more beautiful when Fleur said it in her throaty, French accent.
"Do not be mad at your frère. He is doing what is best for his amis."
"Since where are the French so wise?" Bill joked.
Fleur smiled, "When zare husbands do not see sense!"
Bill captured her mouth with his and pulled her small frame closer to his. Memories of their wedding night came immediately to his mind. White sheets, silvery hair, pale skin, panted breaths. The fiasco at the Burrow had done little to halt their wedding.
Pushing Fleur backwards, Bill hovered over her and admired her tenderly. Her pale skin was slightly flushed with desire. Bill bent to kiss her again but she pulled back.
"Non, Guillaume. Zare are too many people in zis house! Someone could hear us!"
"Let them!" he proclaimed with a twinkle in his eye. "Let them hear me make love to my beautiful wife!"
The last sound that could be heard before the concealment charms were in place was Fleur's tinkling laugh.