title: Six Degrees of Separation (part 1/6)
rating: PG (issues of death)
characters: all the Weasleys, Bill-centric
summary: The Weasley siblings in the aftermath.
disclaimer: not mine, duh.
author's note: umm..just something i've been working on; first multi-part fic i've done. actually, it's the first fic i've done in a loooong time, not to mention it's my first harry potter fic. eek! i hope you like.
oh and fyi: major deathly hallows spoilers
Responsibility is his birthright, and he's never felt it more than in this moment, in the futile space between war and death.
Strangely, Bill doesn't feel the surge of grief that seems to engulf the rest of his family as they stand, silent, in the remains of the Great Hall. He stares at his mother, wringing her hands and shivering, as though a scream has risen to her throat and spread through her body; beside her is the collapsed form of his father, staring blankly at the starry ruins of the ceiling.
Percy's standing nearby, white faced and white knuckled. He is completely still, and Bill might have thought him Petrified if he hadn't been clenching and unclenching his fists, trying to grab a hold of the slipping reality.
Some feet away, Ginny is huddled in Ron's arms, crying into his shirt. Ron tries to remain stoic but his hands give him away, balled up tight behind his sister's back and palms bleeding from where his nails are digging into his skin.
And finally, there's George, who refuses to look at anyone else, and has lain his cheek beside his twin's, and his red hair seems wrong in some way, almost violent, like a splash of fire against Fred's pale neck.
None of them notice when people start darting back outside, or when the rumble of renewed panic fills the Hall; his family's silence hardens like armor around Bill and he grips his wand and turns towards the splintered doors.
But he's hardly moved a step before he's called back, “Bill...where are you going?”
He can't believe he's forgotten she's here; he looks around and sees her she walking towards him, the white center of a scarlet flame.
“I...I've got to go back out there and...,” Bill struggles to speak, his voice catching in his throat. He doubts that even his wife can understand now, that he has to fix this, that only by ripping apart every one of those...dark wizards, those demons can he mend his family.
He turns away again, but Fleur's hands reach out and hold his.
“Bill, you can't leave now.”
“I've got to go...” he tries again to explain to her what he must do, “I'm the only one that...I can do this, Fleur, I can...” but the words turn to ashes on his tongue. She ignores him and kisses his nose, the corner of his mouth, the scar that runs from his ear to his chin. Then her eyes rise to his, and between the blood and the smoke, it's like stepping into the sea, depthless yet utterly familiar, cold and forever blue, yet holding all the warmth of the sun.
“Listen to me, going out zere now,” Bill feels her gesture vaguely behind his back, “zat will not 'elp you, zat will bring you nothing. Mais ta famille, maintenent...zey need you 'ere.”
He doesn't answer, but allows her to draw his face into her hands. “Please, Bill, stay with zem a while longer.”
Bill takes a deep breath, then another, and then a third. He is still clasping his wand, but he nods as he lowers his wife's hands.
“All right...yeah, you're right...of course I'll stay.”
He walks past her, towards the center of where the Weasleys are circled and kneels at Fred's side.
He's never put much stock into religion, but he somehow realizes that faith is all anyone has in these moments.
He closes his eyes and utters the only prayer he remembers from some long gone Sunday.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul...
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
A bit of peace seems to creep over them as he finishes, and for the first time tonight, Bill feels some of the weight he carries shift and dissipate.
And just then a scream is heard, echoing through the grounds.
“Oh my God, he's got Harry Potter!”
Their moment of calm is quickly pushed to the backs of their minds. Bill jumps up, looking uncertainly from his mother to Fleur. The screaming grows, but a bitter silence still clings to the Weasleys.
Then, to everyone's surprise, George draws away from his twin's body and stands.
“It's not over yet.” There's a hard edge in his voice. He looks at his eldest brother, and though his eyes are like steel, Bill sees traces of determination seeping back in. “We...we should help.”
Bill nods and draws his wand, “Yeah, let's go.”