For Big Sis Lil Sis, connected to Sam's oneshot "Watching Her" in that it is a sequel of sorts, and also features a Weasley boy hopelessly in love with Fleur Delacour. Prompts: Pairing: Ron/Hermione, Word: nightmare, Quote: ""The very essence of romance is uncertainty." -Ocsar Wilde, Color: Black, Emotion: distressed

Also for Camp Potter, first aid, week three, cabin Lestrange. she swallows my ghosts, empty, and fright

Set before the Malfoy Manor incident in DH.

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You wake up sweating as usual. You slip out of the bed as gently as possible, trying not to wake her — one of you roaming the cottage at night is plenty. You don't both need to spend tomorrow exhausted.

You're so sick of this, sick of the nightmares, sick of being so damn afraid all the time. You're so sick of feeling useless. Because your little sister is leading an underground resistance at her school and you littlest brother is roaming around with Public Enemy Number One attempting to take down the Dark Lord and the twins are leading their own sort of resistance, a resistance of spirit.

Charlie, at the very least, is safe (and God, but you'd never thought you'd use that term to describe him, but you've lately discovered that safety is relative) in Romania with his dragons, far from the site of the conflict. You are grateful for that small favour — though you hate playing favourites you cannot deny that Charlie will always have a special place because… because you and he are so similar in so many ways, and because he's Charlie, over-trusting, too-forgiving Charlie who could so easily endanger himself simply by merit of being too damn nice. You've always been protective of him.

And then there's Percy, but you don't like to think about Percy.

Some days, you just feel so useless, because, yes, you get a bit of contact with those outside Shell Cottage when you go to work, but not much else, and you just feel so… trapped.

She flips on the light and you blink at the sudden brightness, a stark contrast from the blackness you tend to prefer at night.

"Bill?"

You grin at her lopsidedly, but you can tell she sees right through it.

"Bill, what is wrong?"

You sigh automatically, stand, curl your arms around her. She tucks her face into the crook of your neck, her breath warm.

"What if something happens to one of them, Fleur?" Your voice cracks. "What if something happens because I'm here and not there?"

"The translations that you do are just as important, Bill. Not everyone must put himself in danger in order to help."

And she is Fleur and you are Bill and this, this is why you love her, this is why you fall in love with her over and over and over again. Because she swallows your ghosts. She understands. She knows you and she knows your fears and she has the unique ability to banish your fright before it becomes an issue at all.

You know what people think. They think you love her for her looks, they think you love her because she is beautiful, but that's not it. It's this. It's that she banishes the darkness with her light. With her, you don't feel so empty.

Often, you wonder how you got so lucky. You wonder why, of all the people who have ever asked her — your brother among them, and you will never let him live that down — you are the one she said yes to. You are the one she said forever to.

But God, on nights like tonight, not even she is enough to banish the nightmares, because your little siblings who you have always sworn to protect are out there, in danger, risking their lives every single day by their very existence.

It makes you feel like a coward, and so damn proud of them at the same time.

"Bill," she exhales slowly. "You are a curse breaker. Your skills are in codes. And I know that you are a fine duelist as well, but Bill… we cannot fight this war head on like that. We cannot. Not the way things are. Exposing yourself, outright defiance, would be… foolish." A huff of breath that is almost a laugh. "Of course, if you wish to be foolish, I hope you know by now that I would be foolish right there at your side."

Almost unconsciously, your arms tighten around her. You will not subject her to that, you won't. She will stay sheltered, if you have any say in the matter whatsoever. Fleur didn't grow up in a war zone like you did. You were nearly eleven by the time He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was vanquished for the first time — young enough that your parents tried to shelter you, but old enough to know what was going on regardless.

You will keep Fleur out of this if you can. Because… because she's Fleur and you're Bill and this is what you do. You protect the people you love with all that you are because when you love, you give each of them a part of you, and when anything happens to them — a part of you dies.

You know that she is strong, that she is not the delicate flower her name suggests, that she loathes being coddled and would be furious if she knew that protecting her is in large part what is keeping you from blatant defiance of their oppressive regime. You cannot bear the thought of them coming after her in retaliation against you, and you know that they are not above it.

"Come back to bed, Bill," she murmurs into your neck, then pulls away slightly and looks in your eyes. She kisses you fiercely, trying to wipe away the pain. "I do not make false promises, my William, and so I cannot say they will be all right. But I know you, and I like to think I know your family. And there is a spirit in the Weasleys that is not easily snuffed out. You are fierce survivors, one and all."

You fall in love with her all over again.