Bill Weasley glanced up from the maps he was pouring over, his hands entirely black with ink. She had always been so beautiful, with or without any effort. Even now, rinsing the mud of a hard-days journey from her boots, he couldn't help but find himself entranced by her form.
They'd been lost in the wilderness for some days now, holing away in the tiny tent, sleeping only in spare moments. When Moody had said it would be difficult, he hadn't been kidding. It would be lying to say that the duo weren't beginning to fear for their safe return.
They exchanged a smile and a glance lasting only fleeting seconds, but it would not soon be forgotten. Her smile and her simple, dark eyes boring into his very soul before she parted the panels, towel in hand.
For a moment, he stared wistfully at the place she had stood.
He had promised himself, when he took this mission, that, no matter what, when he returned to London...to his life...to Fleur, he would forget her...for good this time. Finding themselves thrown together again had not proven easy, but he would manage, because he'd promised his daughter he was coming home. ...And yet, when she entered a room, the all-to-familiar butterflies filled his stomach. When she spoke, he heard the echoes of her whispering in his ear. When she moved, he could almost see the memories of his fingertips tracing her skin. But then, too, in days past, he had promised himself that when her Prince Charming returned, he would leave her gracefully and grant her the happiness she remembered.
Return he did, with tales of his triumph over dragons in Romania, and Bill permitted it, welcomed it even. It was good to see his brother happy, better, perhaps, to see her smile. He could never quite grasp that when she smiled so wide it seemed to envelop the room, it wasn't his smile. It had never been his smile.
Again, she distracted him from his musings. Maybe she didn't realize it was not figures and calculations furrowing his brow, but thoughts and memories of her and their ever-brief life together. He had promised himself that she would never know.
She was toweling her hair dry, it was long now...and dark. He remembered the days when she wore it that way for him and wondered if she had done it consciously or if that, too, was merely the product of a beautiful coincidence.
Flopping down beside him on the pillowy sleeping bags, she seized a map from his hands traced their projected route with her finger. He could hear her, somewhere in the distance, reciting numbers, statistics, and trying to recall equations, but for all its melody, he was consumed by her scent. She smelled faintly of honey, recalling to his senses strengthening shadows of what had been. Soft and sweet. Nimble yet tender.
In a moments irrational action, his ink stained hands were tracing her cheek, leaving kisses of black on buttons and long trails on sweet-smelling skin as clothes fell aside and rhythm took control.
As he boards the train today, the train that will take him back to Grimmuald Place for another meeting of the Order of the Phoenix, hugs his daughter and kisses his young wife, he can see her in the distance, hand in hand with her prince charming, and he's thinking of all of the promises he never should have made.
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