A/N: So this is my first multi-chap. It is about as AU as it gets but hopefully those of you like AU fics will enjoy it, hopefully people who don't might like it too. If people like it then please let me know so I know whether to continue.

WARNING: This is gonna get quite angsty, and deals with some quite emotional stuff that may be upsetting for people. If I carry on there may even be character death, but it depends

Disclaimer: I own nothing except the spelling and grammar mistakes, not even the picture.

'It'll go away you know,' he said, sitting down beside her on the bank and dangling his feet into the clear little stream

'What will?' the little redheaded girl sniffed

'The pain,' he said, his dark eyes holding her bright blue ones 'it won't last very much longer,'

'You promise?'

'I promise,' his young face was serious and honest

'How'd you know?'

'Because it doesn't for me,'

'Doctor Miles says it's different for everyone,' she was curled up in the foetal position on the bank, arms hugging her stomach 'It might be different for you and for me,'

'It's not though,' he reached out an arm and stroked her back gently, shushing her comfortingly as a muffled moan of pain escaped her mouth

'Why not?'

'Because you and me, Pepper, we're the same. We're peas in a pod,'

'I don't like peas,' she whined, letting out a little scream of pain before jumping up and vomiting into the grass. She curled up again-burying her head beneath her arms-and started crying again.

'I know,' he whispered softly as he soothed her 'I know,'

Virginia Potts had just turned five. She was slight and skinny, with fine boned elfin features, bright blue eyes and long red hair that never looked properly combed. She was small with a cute yet cheeky smile, but she had a fiery temper and enjoyed bossing people around. Everyone she met was completely wrapped around her little finger in a matter of minutes.

She was currently sitting at the kitchen table, prodding at her dinner apprehensively with her knife and fork

'Ginny, darling, what's the matter?' it was her mother, Angela's voice, gentle and concerned as always 'Aren't you hungry?'

The little girl nodded

'Then why don't you want to eat?'

'Feel weird,' she murmured. It had started a couple of hours ago, just a little dizziness-nothing too serious-but she didn't like the feeling and she didn't feel like eating.

'You gonna throw up?' her mother frowned at her, concerned

'No, Momma, not that kinda weird,' her mother's frown deepened 'I think I wanna go to bed,'

'Bed? Honey it's only half five, it's a bit early for bed don't you think?'

'But I'm sleepy,' she looked up at her mother with wide, tired blue eyes

'Okay, baby, well you can go to bed if you want. Would you like that?' she nodded and hopped down from her chair, little feet pitter-pattering on the stone floor as she crossed the kitchen

'Want me to help you get ready for bed?' her mother called

'Ahuh,' the redhead mumbled in response

'Come on then,' Angela entered her daughter's room a few steps behind her and knelt on the floor in front of her 'Arms up,' she instructed and the little girl stuck her skinny arms high up in the air as Angela pulled off her small stripy blue t-shirt 'Where's your PJ top, Gin?'

'In draw,' she slurred, her head lolling to the side slightly as if she were about to drop off any second

'Go get it then,' her mother smiled

'M'kay,' she turned towards her dresser in search of her pyjamas-the blue one's with stars that she really liked, not the stupid pink frilly ones that her grandma had bought her for her birthday last week- but a gasp from her mother stopped her short

'Ginny! My god, Ginny what have you done to your back?'

What could she have done? Maybe she'd got stains from trying to wriggle down into that fox den earlier, or scratches from scrambling through the bushes at the end of Mrs Rosenberg's garden? But she'd been wearing a sweatshirt while she did all that-and then she'd taken it off so her mother wouldn't see the dirt 'I…I haven't done anything,' but her mother wasn't listening, she'd grabbed her daughter by the arms and was inspecting her back-where there were great big purple green bruises blossoming all over the creamy pale skin

'Have you been climbing the tree in the yard again? I told you never to do that without someone to supervise,'

'I haven't…I swear!' not today anyway

'Then what have you been doing, Gin?'

'Nothing, Mommy, honestly!' she spun to face Angela, her eyes honest and innocent 'I promise I never did anything like that,'

'Are you absolutely sure, darling?'

She nodded

Angela frowned again 'Hmm, well you and Josh are always rough-housing. I guess he must have given them to you accidentally,'

'But, Momma, I haven't played with Josh all week. He's on vacation, 'member?'

Her mother's face paled

'Ginny, are you sure? Are you sure you haven't done anything…played any games, bumped into something? Anything that could be responsible for those bruises?'

'No, I promise!' Angela didn't get serious with her very often, unless she was misbehaving, and the woman's quiet urgency was really unsettling the little girl

'Okay, baby, I think we need to go the ER. Can you put your shirt back on?'

'The ER?'

'Yeah, just to be safe okay?'

'Okay,' she had no idea what was going on, all she knew was that her mother looked scared, and it was scaring her

The doctor was friendly, but it didn't change the fact that she was confused and scared by everything that happened once they reached the hospital. They'd had to wait a while in the ER, but once they'd seen the nurse everything started going too fast for her to process properly.

The doctor had been nice to her, but she could tell he was worried. He'd started talking to her mother very fast using big words she didn't understand-each of which had made her mother's mask of calm slip a little bit more.

'Ginny? We're going to take you to do a few tests alright?'

She had no idea what was going on, but the redhead nodded and hopped out of her seat.

She didn't like the tests one bit. She screamed when they brought the needle near her and cried all the time it was in her arm. When she saw the big needle, the one they said they had to put into her bone, she ran. She was small and quick and she snuck under both the nurses' and her mother's arms before hightailing it down the corridor. It didn't take them long to find her-apparently there weren't many wild-haired redheaded five year olds running around the hospital-and had to spend ten minutes calming her down with the promise that she wouldn't feel anything.

She did

It wasn't too bad, it didn't even hurt exactly, but she could still feel something and she didn't like it

'It's okay, baby, it'll all be over soon I promise,' her mother whispered

It wasn't

After that they wanted to stick an even bigger needle in her, but at least for that they put her to sleep.

She didn't wake up for a while, and when she did she was lying in a hospital bed with her mother sitting by her side. She'd hardly regained consciousness when the doctor walked back in again, and this time his face was grave

'Mrs Potts?' her mother stood and walked to him

They only talked for a minute or so. There were more big words again-one of them sounded like Luke-but she didn't recognise any of the others. She saw the doctor put a hand on her mother's shoulder before walking out again with the promise to return soon. Angela came back to sit by the side of the bed and for the first time in her life, the little girl saw her mother cry.

Please tell me what you thought, and if you'd like me to continue