CN: werewolfism, mention of self-injury, sex and war
Gabrielle yawned and rubbed her eyes. If Fleur was there she would be scolded for making her face all red. Men didn’t like red eyes. That’s what Fleur would say. To be honest, Gabrielle wasn’t that interested in men. She wasn’t quite ready to come out with that one yet.
Not that a little puffiness would ever detract from her supernatural beauty. She caught her reflection in the mirror that hung over the mantelpiece; visage d'un ange. She hated it.
She dearly hoped that Fleur would be back soon. It wasn't that she didn't like Bill, the opposite in fact. Gabrielle loved her sister's husband. He was good and kind and he truly loved Fleur despite her beauty. It was always despite of. Always.
But it was that time of the month, and Bill was just a little on edge. Which was why Victoire and Dominique had been dropped off at their Grandma Weasley's for the weekend. It wasn't a good environment for the children, especially Victoire who was old enough to know but too young to comprehend; that is what Fleur said.
Fleur said a lot of things.
Gabrielle didn't suppose that Shell Cottage was a good environment for children at the best of times, though she wouldn't say that out loud. Fleur could see no flaw in her husband, but Gabrielle could. He was paranoid. He hung mirrors up in strange places after there had been reports of vampire attacks in Wales. He spent hours placing charms around the nursery. And Gabrielle had stubbed her toes on more protective items than there were swear words in both English and French combined.
Fleur had suggested that she too go, to stay at the Burrow. But Gabrielle was not a child, she was sixteen years old, almost an adult, and although she loved Mr and Mrs Weasley, she felt pushed to prove that. Besides, they were all going to stay at the Burrow in a week's time for Ginny and Harry's wedding.
That reminded her, she was meant to write to Papa and tell him what time he should arrive the day before.
An owl had arrived that afternoon, and she had been so excited thinking that it was from France. Ever since Mama died she couldn't convince Papa to go out like he used to. She hadn't been able to convince him to come to England with her, and often he forgot to write weekly as he'd promised. It wasn't from France though, it was from the Ministry.
Gabrielle understood the logic behind compulsory registration for lycanthropy sufferers and partial lycanthropy sufferers. Kingsley himself had chaired the meeting that passed the motion, but Gabrielle could see Bill's discomfort at what such a register could provide for future ministries who wanted to pass anti-werewolf legislation.
The idea was that with the provision of prescribed wolfsbane potion, within the next twenty years they could virtually eliminate lycanthropy. That’s how Fleur had explained it.
The owl had waited around, it was meant to return the letter immediately with Bill's signature and his residence details. Bill had taken the letter and sent the owl away.
"I'll do it later…" he'd snarled, meeting Gabrielle's glance as she reached for a mug. "I'm not a…a partial sufferer. I just-"
Gabrielle had wanted to explain that she hadn't said anything. But he'd trailed off and announced he was going for a walk. "Ne pars pas s'il te plait! Bill, are you sure you should go?" she'd called. Fleur had explained that on the day of the full moon he usually stayed indoors, and she would bring him cool wet towels and a sleeping draft in the evening. But by the time Gabrielle had finished speaking he had gone out into the rain without even a coat.
Fleur had said to make sure he took his coat with him if he did go out. He wouldn’t, she’d promised. But if he did, he had to take his coat. Because it reminded him of he was. That’s what she said. Something about normalcy. Fleur said so much.
Now it was evening, Fleur still wasn't back. Fleur had told her she would be gone most of the day, Gabrielle knew that. But still, it felt odd to be in her sister's home alone. Except she wasn't alone, Bill had returned in the mid afternoon and was currently devastating the kitchen.
"Where is she?!" Bill howled when Gabrielle brought him a cool wet towel from the bathroom. She wasn't entirely sure what Fleur usually did with them, because she hadn't specified that bit. Maybe she put them on his face when he lay down.
Gabrielle put the towel on the kitchen table. There was a raw steak in the fridge. "Per'aps she az been called to work?"
After all, international relations did not keep to business hours. Usually she would have sent an owl ahead. The weather was very bad though, perhaps it could not reach them through the raging storm. Perhaps…
"Bill, will you take your sleeping draft?" she crept towards him. She did not want to be afraid of him. Because a lot of people were, at least once a month. Fleur had written of the pain in his eyes when he saw the way his mother looked at him. She had verged into almost poetic prosaic descriptions of the urges he must feel, and the self-hatred that must fill his veins with passion knowing that within him existed a monster. Gabrielle wondered how much Fleur was projecting herself onto her husband.
When she was twelve Gabrielle had done a bad thing. A very bad thing.
She had read Fleur's diaries from before the war. Before then she hadn't fully realised that they weren't human; that the rest of the wizarding world thought they were half-breeds. There was something inside them that was monstrous, making them irresistible to most men and despicable to most women. When she was fourteen Gabrielle had done an even worse thing; she had read Fleur's post war diaries. Fleur had terrible nightmares in which her skin became thin and papery, her figure skeletal, and she would find herself eating her husband quite literally. That is, she would awake and shake him awake just to check she hadn't begun to devour him during passionate love-making.
Gabrielle had got a bit creeped out when Fleur started to write about sex. Of course she understood that to be pregnant with Victoire then Gabrielle must have slept with Bill. Still it was a bit weird to read all these vivid descriptions of perverse fantasises and dreams that Fleur seemed to have every other night.
It wasn't until earlier that year that Gabrielle had truly come to appreciate what Fleur meant. The strange dreams haunted her too. She could have her choice of men, and yet she worried she would break them. She wanted to tell them it wasn't her fault, that she wasn't a woman yet and didn't want them to look at her or touch her. But then these urges would fill her, and she would dream that she was stood on an island with men coming on ships towards her and then…they would begin to scream because she was no longer beautiful but terrible, and it would be too late and-
Bill's muscles heaved as he shuddered, his knuckles whitened as he gripped the table. Then his voice broke and his face softened, or at least, it softened as much as it could. The scars burnt, they would not let him sleep in the last few days of the cycle. His vision blurred, the moon called, and his poor wife…oh Fleur she looked so young, so lost, so innocent. There she stood holding something out towards him and he couldn't quite make out the words she spoke, she was shaking, cowering.
"Fleur, oh Fleur mon chou, I'm sorry…I'm sorry, I don't mean to scare you!" he reached his arms around her and she shrunk away. "Where are the girls? Oh god is He here? Where is He?" he was searching for his wand, trying to push her out of the way. "Has He got to the girls? Fleur let me go! I can't let Him take them!"
Gabrielle struggled to get the stopper out of the sleeping draught as she watched Bill searching for his wand. It was in his and Fleur's bedroom on top of their chest of drawers; Fleur had explained that this was where he kept it after around five o'clock on…the day. "I'm not Fleur, Bill. It eez me…Gabrielle, come now. Neville made such a good sleeping draught for you…pleaze drink eet Bill!"
But he wouldn't, and everything was going very wrong. Fleur said she would be back by six o'clock after spending a few hours with Mrs. Weasley and Ginny to decide on dresses for the bridesmaids. Gabrielle knew nothing about dresses. No one wanted to say it, but everyone knew she was babysitting. Babysitting her brother in law. Now it was nearly eight o'clock and it was dark. And Bill hadn't taken his draught, and he was scaring her, and she didn't know what to do.
And so she held his hand and let him call her Fleur, and promised time after time that Victoire and Dominique were ok. She told him that he was ok, and that she was ok, and that Fred and George and all of his siblings were ok. Except that wasn't completely true and she knew it, but he was too confused to understand. Gabrielle wasn't quite sure where his mind was, and so she just held him and hoped. And eventually he began to call her Gabrielle, and then he began to cry and apologise.
Fleur arrived home shortly after ten o'clock, flustered and flushed and slightly out of breath. She gently untangled her husband and her little sister from where they had both fallen asleep, and with Gabrielle's help she carried her husband to bed.
In the morning Fleur found the letter that Bill needed to answer and made a pot of coffee that would have stunned weaker caffeine addicts. When Gabrielle emerged from her shower, Bill began to apologise, but Fleur brushed it off.
Fleur announced that they were all going to Diagon Alley to choose a dress for Gabrielle. Fleur herself had one chosen by Ginny and Mrs Weasley that would match the other dresses. Her eyes lit up when she talked about the wedding and Gabrielle was truly happy for her. It made her even happier to know that Ginny had chosen such beautiful bridesmaids and had let Fleur be one of them. Ginny was finally accepting Fleur as one of the family.
"And ve can drop off dat see-ly form at ze Ministry on ze way!" Fleur announced as she cleared away the breakfast plates. "Bill Weasley do not leave your mug on ze table! What did your last slave die of?"
Gabrielle yawned and rubbed her eyes.
"Gabrielle! You will make your eyez sore!" Fleur tutted and shooed Gabrielle away to fetch her coat.
Gabrielle did as she was told and watched as Bill did too. He really did love her, and she loved him. She was happy for her sister. Truly happy.
And Gabrielle was happy for herself. Because Fleur was very definitely not a monster. Which meant there was hope for her too.