A Promise

Fleur clung to her husband as he Apparated the pair of them back to Shell Cottage. The family dinner at The Burrow had been difficult, and tomorrow, the second anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, with its memorials and speeches would be harder. Fleur was not surprised when she looked up at Bill's face to see that he was crying. He had been holding in tears all evening, unwilling to cry in front of his family.

"Oh chéri," Fleur murmured, pulling him close and holding him as he cried, rubbing his back and murmuring words of love to him. His family were so used to Bill being the strong one, the one who coped with things. But Fleur at least never forgot that he too had lost his brother. Bill gained control quickly enough, scrubbing impatiently at his eyes with the heels of his hands and smiling down at his wife.

"Sorry," he said, and she shook her head.

"No need to be," she said. "You know that, Bill." She winced, and put a hand to her swollen abdomen as she spoke.

"Is she kicking?" Bill asked, putting his hand over hers, and smiling as he felt the baby move. Fleur leant against him, and he belatedly remembered just why they had left the dinner at The Burrow early. He put his arm around Fleur's shoulders, guiding her towards the stairs.

"Come on love," he said. "You're worn out. You should be in bed."

The pain woke Fleur just after midnight, starting in her back and encircling her body. She sat up abruptly, gasping, trying not to cry out. She had experienced small contractions and cramps in the last couple of weeks, as the baby's due date neared, but this was nothing like that. She frowned, putting her hand onto her swollen belly, and feeling the baby within kick. It could not be labour yet, surely? The baby was not due for another ten days. And today of all days… No, she could not go into labour today. She sat for a while, propped up against the pillows, but nothing further happened, so she lay down again next to the sleeping Bill, and tried to rest.

But it was not to be. Another pain began, travelling from her back around her body and down to her legs. Groaning softly, Fleur hoisted herself into a sitting position, breathing heavily as the pain peaked. Not today… of all days, not today. She could not have her baby today. But another pain was rising, sharper this time, and she cried out despite herself. Beside her, Bill stirred, regarding her sleepily and then sitting up abruptly as he realised what was happening.

"Fleur? Love? Is it the baby?" he asked, and she nodded still in the grip of the pain. He pulled her close and held her until it passed.

"The baby's coming?" he asked bleakly, and Fleur knew what he was thinking. Not today, not today of all days.

She nodded, feeling tears start in her eyes and overflow onto her cheeks. "Yes," she said in a small voice. "I'm sorry, Bill."

She saw him swallow hard and then he forced a smile for her.

"Hey," he said gently, pulling her to him. "Don't be sorry, love. You're having our baby, that's a good thing."

Fleur sobbed and shook her head. "But today. The anniversary. It shouldn't be today."

Bill kissed her gently and smoothed a hand over her stomach. "What were we fighting for if not this?" he demanded almost fiercely. "What better day for our child to be born?"

Fleur nodded tearfully and tried to smile, but then gasped as another pain began. "Bill…" she moaned, holding out her arms to him, and he folded her in his arms and held her close as the pain strengthened. Fleur clung to him, gasping, and he kissed her hair and rubbed her back.

The pain ebbed, and Fleur looked up into her husband's face. "Promise me something, chéri," she said shakily.

"Anything," he replied at once. "What, love?"

Fleur smiled. "Even if our baby is born today, promise me that you won't let your mother make us call her Frederica," she said.

Bill laughed and kissed her hard. "I promise," he said.