The scent of open bottles of iced pumpkin juice, freshly turned soil, and the previously sun-dried large flannel blanket you laid on tickled your nose while a symphony of crickets in the surrounding tall sea of grass played. On your lips and tongue lingered the taste of Bill Weasley, who like you, laid naked under the canopy of stars and heavy full moon.
This night had been like most nights that summer… well the past two summers if you were being truly honest. Once Bill has graduated from Hogwarts, you had been without the frequent kisses you two often stole between classes and the dark hours spend at the edge of the Forbidden Forrest had become an almost painful memory while you pushed on with classes. Luckily, however, he has written to you what seemed like every other day and when the end of your 6th year came, the letter arrived.
“Will you spend some of your holiday at The Burrow?”
After getting permission from your parents, who adored Bill, you accepted.
His mother, Molly, fussed about the moment you arrived and from that day on had seemed to unofficially adopt you as a new member of her family. The woman had a way of making you feel as if you were truly her very own daughter with the way she prodded about our studies, future plans, and had even taught you her tricks around the kitchen when Bill went off to his apprenticeship at Gringotts.
Like this summer, you shared a room with his youngest sibling, Ginny, who like her mother had seemed to accept you into the family. Perhaps one of the best things about her though was she had no problem surely pretending to be asleep whenever you would sneak from the room late at night and join her oldest brother for a few hours. This year, however, you were officially graduated from Hogwarts, and now the summer between you two could go on for as long as you desired.
“What are you thinking about?” Bill asked, pulling you from your daze as he wrapped his firm arms around you. Reaching up to play with the loose locks of his red hair, you turned your body into his, nuzzling into his chest.
“I’m thinking about how happy am,” You grinned, your hand now tracing down to his neck, “And how much I’d like another bottle of that pumpkin juice.” Bill kissed the top of your head, giving your hair a quick ruffle before pulling on his dark button up shirt and pants and reaching into the small ice filled cauldron only a few feet away,
“Aww,” You frowned playfully when he handed you the last unopened cold bottle, “I was enjoying the view.” Taking a deep swig, you also put your own clothes back on, noticing that Bill didn’t take his eyes off you the entire time you did so.
“I can’t have you getting tired of me, can I?” He said, taking a small sip of the juice, “Plus, I think I’m the one who gets to look at the better view.” Bill always had a way of doing this; To look and touch at every scar, freckle, or “imperfection,” and make you feel like you were an artistic masterpiece. He put his arm around you, this time kissing the top of your head.
“Never,” You replied, “I could never get tired of you. But I guess I will get to see more when we go to Shell Cottage.”
“Exactly,” Bill murmured into your hair, his willowy fingers caressing your shoulder. “I’ve been wanting to bring you there for a long time. I used to… well all of us used to go there during the summers. When I was a kid I swore I would live there one day.”
“I can only imagine what you were like as a little boy,” You teased after finishing off the last of the pumpkin juice, “I’m sure you drove your poor mum mad.” Bill laughed at this and shook his head, but his ears turned a bright shade of scarlet proving that you were right.
“Nah, that was all Charlie, and the twins. They started with their mischief as soon as they could lift their heads up.”
“Liar,” Giving him a playful nudge, your fingers touched his hot ears. “They always give you away. Let’s hope that you never have to lie on your job because you’d be ousted instantly.”
“That, or I’ll just keep my hair long. Now that is something that will drive Mum crazy.” Bill began to gather the several bottles of pumpkin juice and butterbeer that you two had drank, as well as a half-eaten pumpkin pasty that had been split and placed them in the small cauldron.
“Well, I like it; Your ears, and your hair.” Bill helped you up from the blanket, being sure to place a kiss on your forehead, as he frequently did, and with a wave of his wand had the blanket neatly folded up in the cauldron.
“I love everything about you,” He grinned, but his blue eyes became solemn and bore in your own with an intensity that you were sure would have scared off an army of Dementors. “I mean it,” He continued on, one of his free hands starting to stroke ends of your hair, “I love you, all of you. I don’t want anything to ever come between us. My job, us getting older, anything.”
“Bill…” You began as your brows started to furrow together, but the somber look in his eyes stopped you.
“You’re my best friend, my everything. I want us to always be together. I want…” Bill looked away, pulling his hand from you. His other hand fumbled around in his pocket as he let out a frustrated grunt. “I’m an idiot.”
This time you couldn’t help but laugh and you took his face in your hands. He truly seemed to get more handsome every time you looked at him, and he was yours, and you were his.
“Not at all,” You said with a slight smirk at seeing your normally cool and collected lover in such a tizzy. While you were dying to know what was on his mind, you knew he would tell you once he was ready. Secrets were foreign to the both of you. “You are wonderful, handsome, smart, and the farthest thing from an idiot. It is you and me together, and we always will be, I promise.”
“You’ve no idea how much that means right now.” He smirked, a look of relief washing over his gentle face. His hand still fumbled around in his pocket, a habit you weren’t used to seeing from him, and from a brief look you managed to steal, it looked as if there was something besides his hand in the pocket.
Again, Bill’s ears became crimson and he pulled his hand out, holding nothing.
“I tell you what, I’ll show it to you in the morning before we start to pack for the cottage. Deal?”
In truth, you were more than just a little curious to know what was setting Bill so on edge, but for now, you decided to settle.
“Deal,” You agreed with a nod of your head before you let out a small yawn. “I’m getting tired anyway.”
The two of you gathered the last of your things, piling them into the cauldron, Bill insisting he carry it back to the Burrow which was several yards away. Your fingers interlaced with his during the walk back and little more was spoken until you arrived back home. To your surprise, Molly and Arthur were both in the kitchen despite the late hour, each holding a cup of tea. Molly especially wore a bright expression, but her own face seemed to be fighting itself in an effort to make it appear neutral.
“I’m sorry,” You began to say, “I hope we didn’t cause any alarm.”
“Oh no, of course not, dear!” The grin on her face suddenly began to melt, however, when Bill walked in behind you. Quickly turning, you could have sworn you saw a shaking movement from his head from out the corner of your eye, but it was too fast to be sure. It felt like there was some sort of inside joke or secret that they all knew but had decided not to make you privy to. Arthur cleared his throat, looking back and forth between you and Bill.
“Molly and I just wanted a spot of tea before going to bed. Decided to go on a late-night picnic, then? You two need to start packing soon for Shell Cottage don’t you?”
“We do!” You nodded, although you still couldn’t shake the awkward feeling in your belly. You had never felt this around the Weasleys, Molly especially who doted on you as if you were her own daughter.
“Well, don’t let us keep you then, we’ll also be to bed soon.” Arthur replied, looking over your shoulder at Bill. “Your mum and I would like to just have a talk with you quickly if we could, son. Ran into Claudia Cooper today.”
Claudia Cooper you knew to be Bill’s main boss at Gringotts’, a strict but talented witch, he had said, and one who took a sharp eye on his budding career. Was this that could be what had Bill acting so strange earlier? Was his job on the line, but he couldn’t find the words to tell you? Whatever it was, they clearly wanted to talk about it as a family before bringing you in the picture.
“Oh, um, I’ll just grab a shower and head to bed then. Good night Bill, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.”
“Good night Dear.” Molly said, Bill throwing you a soft, yet still somber smile as you went up the stairs.
You were sure you fell asleep before your head had even hit the pillow, but as easy as it had come, sleep did not stay with you. For most of the night you had tossed and turned until you could stand it no more. You were not sure how much time had passed, minutes, and hour, or three, but the only sound in The Burrow you could pick up was the gentle whistling of Ginny’s nose as she slept.
“Jealous.” You thought as a grumble emitted from your belly. As it turned out, a few bites of a pumpkin pasty weren’t enough to settle an empty stomach but was indeed enough to keep you up. “There should still be some buns or something from dinner last night. Just something to hold me over.”
Taking great care not to wake Ginny, you silently rose from your bed, painfully being slow with her creaking door, and started to tip toe downstairs. Telling from the now dark navy sky, you guessed that you had only managed two hours of sleep. Silently chastising yourself for the wreck you’d surely be today, you were stopped by the hushed tones of Molly and Arthur, both still at the kitchen table. You froze, silently debating on your next move. True, you were hungry, but whatever had kept them awake until know what clearly too important to interrupt over a loud belly. Still, the nosey side of you suggested to nestle into the dark corner at the top of the stairs and listen to what they were saying.
“I’m not doing that to them,” You resolved until the next moment, you heard your name on Molly’s lips.
“He loves her Arthur, and she’s a good girl that is clearly just as crazy about him. That’s what we should be wanting for our son. Not some dangerous lifestyle!”
You curled yourself into the tightest ball you could manage as your butt became well acquainted with the wood floor and the shadows that cloaked you.
“I’m not saying I don’t want that. I do. It’s just that… he’s so young and has this opportunity handed to him on a silver plate. Egypt Molly, Egypt. Cooper didn’t have to tell me that this is a once in a lifetime offer for this job, even I know that. If he turns this down, Bill could be disenchanting disgruntled tea kettles for the rest of his career.”
“If that is what makes him happy!”
There was the sound of a teacup clanking angrily against its saucer that it was enough to almost make you spring from your shape.
“Bill was offered a job in Egypt… and didn’t tell me about it?” No, there had to be some mistake, there were NO secrets between you two, especially not when it came to Bill’s dream job of being a curse breaker.
“Molly, it won’t make him happy, please, you know our son. He’s in love, but-”
“How can you say that? He was going to propose to her tonight and he’s going to do it this morning once we leave. If she calms Bill down into a more domestic life than I am for that Arthur. I don’t want our firstborn hopping around in ancient ruins and getting himself killed! For all we know, Claudia Cooper is just angry and wants to send Bill away because she doesn’t care for him clearly being the next in line for her job.”
“Cooper has taken Bill under her wing since the day he walked into the Bank. You know that. Molly, I adore Y/N, I do. I couldn’t have picked a better wife for him, but he has wanted this since he was a boy, despite our best efforts. Gringotts isn’t hiring on and she has no experience yet so it isn’t like she can just go with him. Bill isn’t taking the job in Egypt because he doesn’t want it, he isn’t taking it because of her. This is his dream Molly; his dream and he is letting it go for her.”
Your head began to spin as the bitter taste of iron laden saliva filled your mouth. Your stomach turned itself inside out and right side in back and forth so many times that if it had not been for the awkward explanation that would have had to follow, you’d have vomited. Although, truth be told, you had awoken several times these past two weeks with an ill stomach and a dizzy head but thought nothing of it. Slowly, you started to crawl from your spot and back into your bed.
“Bill, Bill… why didn’t you tell me?” Your head repeated this several times as Mr. Weasley’s words rang through your head as loud as a bell.
“This is his dream Molly; his dream and he is letting it go for her.”
You always knew Bill had wanted to be the very best curse-breaker since the day you had met him, hell, it was sometimes all he had spoken about during school. And he was throwing away his dream…for you. What had Molly said… Bill had meant to propose? Tears started to swell up in your eyes and as tempting as they were to spill into your pillow, Ginny began to stir and the last thing you wanted was to answer questions you didn’t have answers to.
Mr. Weasley had been right, there would be no place for you in Egypt, especially with your parents being as old as they were and your lack job skills from being a fresh graduate, all you would be is a burden.
“I can’t let him do this, I won’t let him give up his dreams for me.”
You would leave in the morning as soon as day broke, before Bill had a chance to propose. You wouldn’t ruin his life, especially not for you. As you fought the tears and pounding headache, the words you never thought you’d have to say to him played out in your head. It would be easier if he hated you, a cleaner break, but no matter how many scenarios you thought of, the idea of hurting him tore you apart. That was, until, the memory of Bill first telling you his dream of being a top Curse Breaker sneaked to your mind.
“I’m going to make something of myself one day. I’ll find the oldest treasures, break the most powerful curses, and travel the world.”
Swearing, you buried your head in your pillow, tears soaking the soft fabric when they broke free from your eyes. It was the way things would have to be; Time had run out on you both, life had that nasty habit, and it was time to let him go, to let Bill live.
When you awoke, your nose was raw and crusted into your pillow. Your eyes were still sealed as well, and it took a rather embarrassing amount of effort to pry them open.
“No, no, no!” You gasped, realizing your mistake in falling asleep. You neck twisted uncomfortably to Ginny’s bed, your belly dropping when you saw it empty. The whole family, of course, including Bill, was surely already awake, which ruined your original plan of simply sneaking out and dropping him an owl. You’d have to face him.
With a wave of your wand you would fill the empty basin besides your bed with warm water and took great care in washing your face. You were meticulous and slow in doing every could to delay going downstairs and facing your nightmare that YOU would have to create. After pulling on a simple, yet comfortable, set of clothing, and running a trembling comb through your hair, you sluggishly made your way out of the room. The Burrow was silent, save for the chimes of the family grandfather clock and the clucking of chickens from outside, which filled you with the brief hope that perhaps that whole family had gone out and left you to sleep.
“Maybe there is still a chance.”
Still, your feet dragged as they trudged down the stairs into the dining room. The moment it came into full view, your heart seemingly dropped into your belly with a single thud.
The whole room had been stunningly decorated with silver strands of twinkling lights that hung from the rafters reminding you of the stars that you and Bill has spent so many nights under. Tiny bouquet of bluebells had been entwined in the wooden columns and held together with more silver bells of light. It was all a very intricate and surely complicated enchantment and the wizard who had assuredly spent hours making sure it was all perfect looked at you with a wide grin before saying your name.
Bill wore his best robes; A deep purple velvet that was fitted perfectly to his body. His shoulder length hair had been brushed and smoothed back and tied in a loose ponytail revealing the sharp high cheekbones that you had run your lips across countless times. He was nothing short of utterly beautiful. Again, your name came across his full lips, and it was almost enough to make your resolve melt.
“Bill…” You muttered, feeling yourself involuntarily pull back to the first step. Using all your resolve to keep your eyes from his, they instead fell to the incredible decorations that he had charmed, and tears once again threatened to fall.
“I’m sorry if it flashy, I just wanted to make sure it was perfect. I tried to get it to look like our spot in the Forbidden Forest.” Bill let out an uncharacteristic nervous chuckle, his eyes unable to look away from you. His ears were already beginning to turn the scarlet red they always became when he was nervous, and his hands began to fumble with a blue box that you’d somehow failed to notice earlier.
“Where is everyone?” It was all you could manage to say, the words you had rehearsed somehow seemed to have up and vanished in the emotional fog of your mind. Bill’s grin grew, his willowy fingers still fidgeting with the box.
“They went to Diagon Alley. I asked Mum and Dad if they wouldn’t mind giving us an hour or two. Turns out there was some shopping they had to do… and I needed that hour to ask you something.”
Finally, you allowed yourself to look into Bill’s sapphire colored eyes and almost instantly you regretted it. Countless nights had been spend being held in his arms and gazing into his deep eyes. They had always been a source of comfort but now…now all they caused was pain.
“Bill, please…whatever you are going to ask, don’t.” Your tongue buzzed and your lips became numb as the smile started to drop from his gentle face. His hands finally stopped toying with the box and his brow arched.
“What…what do you mean?” It wasn’t like Bill to stammer. Even in the face of the Cursed Vaults he had always remained cool and in control but now he almost resembled Ben Cooper for a few brief moments.
“All of this,” You answered pointing to the lights and flowers, “You can’t ask me whatever you’re planning.” Your eyes focused on his mouth as you found you no longer had the emotional strength to see the confusion in his eyes. If you were to do this, you needed every ounce of control you could muster.
“I.. I am…I was going to ask you to marry-”
“No.” It has come out harder and louder than you had intended but if he had finished, you knew you couldn’t hold out. “You need to live the life you wanted. The life you promised yourself…please.”
“No…?” Bill repeated looking down at the box, “I don’t understand.”
“I’m leaving today Bill.”
“What?” Bill placed the box on the table, the top opening. His long hands reached out to yours, but you were quick to pull them away. “Leaving? Where? What’s happened?”
“We happened,” You replied crossing your arms, “Time was always a measurement of this relationship and we finally ran out. I don’t want to throw my life away on some silly teenage romance. School is over, the summer will be over soon, and I need to focus on what I want to do with my life. Marrying you was never part of that. This,” You pointed to the decorations, your eyes now firmly focused on the dark tie Bill wore. “All of this. It is too much. Way too much for something like us. Now if you excuse me, I’m going to gather my things and get my life together.”
You turned on your heel wanting to run as far away from him as possible. An ocean could have appeared between you both and still you would have felt too close to the boy who was first in your heart. He said your name again, his voice low and unwavering, but you knew him well enough to know that his heart was breaking. This was enough to finally force you to face him. His eyes were heavy but his brows furrows, any color on his pale face had drained.
“How long have you felt like this?”
“Long enough, Bill. I’m sorry if I lead you to believe this was more than what it was. I’m going to get my things.”
You didn’t remember going up the stairs, packing your things, or casting the weightlessness charm on your trunk. Your stomach turned with the same nausea that had plagued you the past weeks, but you paid it no mind. Whatever this bug seemed to be; you were sure it would pass, and you wanted to leave before any of the Weasley’s came home or worse… falling to your knees and apologizing.