Bill watched compassionately as Ginny cried herself out. She had become aware of him after about ten minutes and had not even questioned his presence, instead turning to him and throwing her arms around his neck. Bill pulled her to him and allowed her to cry, not even offering her a handkerchief in case she thought it meant she had to pull herself together. Instead, he stroked her back, as he had done when she was a baby and rocked her gently against him. He did not say a word. Brief anger flared up inside him to think that no-one had noticed this yet. Her body was incredibly light and he guessed that last night hadn't been the first time that she had missed a meal. From what he could from the feel of her was that she hadn't eaten for a while. She felt as delicate as a bird and easily as fragile.
Ginny's cries were gut wrenching and Bill sat helplessly with her on his lap. Eventually there seemed to be nothing left to come and Ginny hiccupped suddenly and sniffed.
"Feeling better Ginnybabe?" Bill asked tenderly stroking the thick red hair back from her face. Ginny rubbed her eyes, wincing at their soreness. She nodded a little.
"How did you get up here?" she asked "I didn't think anyone else could climb up."
"I had help" Bill now took out his handkerchief and wiped her damp cheeks "Ginnybabe, when did you last eat?"
She pulled the handkerchief from him and buried her face in it, trying to avoid the question but Bill, determined that Ginny not going back to the house until this was sorted out, pulled the material from her fingers and put one finger under her chin and lifted it until her eyes met his. He saw the guilty and ashamed look in them.
"Ginnybabe. What happened was not your fault. You were caught in the middle of a battle that had nothing to do with you. Someone saw you as a pawn, a sweet natured, innocent, lovely girl and took advantage of that."
"I nearly got Harry killed" Ginny whispered hoarsely.
"No. Voldemort nearly got Harry killed." Bill did not flinch from saying the name. "You had nothing to do with it. Voldemort knew that you were a way of getting to Harry. If it hadn't been you, it could well have been someone else, Ron or Hermione."
"Bill you don't understand." Ginny's bottom lip wobbled again but there were no more tears to come. She had cried herself dry.
"No, you're right. I don't. But I want to, very much. And it doesn't matter whether it takes a day or a year, I will always be around to listen to you."
Ginny sniffed into her hands. "You're not always around though. And everyone acts as though it never happened."
Bill hugged her close. "No, Ginnybabe. No. They just don't want to upset you, that's all. You've experienced something that we can't possibly understand and its scary for them as well as for you. But it doesn't mean that they don't love you. You know that your family love you very much, don't you?"
Ginny nodded disconsolately "I know."
Bill sighed "It's not enough is it? You don't love you."
"No, I'll be fine." Ginny gave the pat answer that she had given everyone over the last month but it didn't work on Bill who knew when he was being fobbed off.
"No Gin. You won't be. You won't be fine for a long time and I won't lie to you, it's not going to be easy. You blame yourself for what happened and I can only say to you so many times that it wasn't your fault. You believe that you're evil now, you feel violated, raped. You're not evil. And you will heal, I know you will. I heard you crying in your sleep last night, you still have nightmares. I can't promise that they'll go away. But I can promise that it will get better."
Bill risked a smile at his sister, his blue eyes sparkling "And I'll be here until it does."
"Do you promise?" Ginny asked.
"I promise. But you have to promise me something." Ginny looked at him fearfully. "I want you to try and eat something."
"Ready to come home?" he asked standing up and holding out his hand to her.
The Cormmal tree obligingly leaned the thick branch down for them to climb down easily and they wandered back through the field, through the shoulder high corn, back to the Burrow.
Molly Weasley watched as her oldest and youngest squeezed back through the gap in the hedge that her husband had never quite gotten round to closing. She knew about Ginny's affinity with the Cormmal tree and had guessed that she had taken refuge there. She had also guessed that Bill would not leave his sister to deal with her trauma alone. He had reached out to her in a way that no one else could. Ginny now walked as though a weight had been taken from her shoulders but Molly noticed she was holding Bill's hand tightly.
As they entered the kitchen, she turned from the washing up she was overseeing.
"Anything to eat Mum?" Bill asked and Mrs Weasley gestured to the cupboard which opened obligingly. There was a large box in there full of Mrs Weasley's home baked biscuits. The kettle was on and Ginny and Bill curled themselves up on the sofa in the corner of the kitchen and slowly ate their way through the entire tin. Bill spent the afternoon telling Ginny about his adventures in Lichtenstein, hunting for treasure for Gringotts with Ginny listening raptly. Molly Weasley settled herself in the other armchair with her knitting, watching them out of the corner of her eye.
By the time Mr Weasley and his sons re-appeared in the house, Ginny was fast asleep, tucked up on the sofa with her head pillowed on Bill's lap. They ate out in the garden that night so as not to disturb the sleeping girl and then crept up to bed. Ginny slept on unaware of her family moving around her. Her father finally lifted her into his arms and took her upstairs to her bed, Bill following behind. He settled Ginny into her bed, tucking the covers up around her. Bill conjured a large comfortable armchair next to the bed and sat down in it, intending to watch over Ginny. His father looked at him for a moment, proud of his son, and then closed the door silently.
Ginny slept through the night undisturbed until the ghoul thumped loudly and suddenly over her bed early the next morning. She opened her eyes sleepily to see Bill stretched out in a chair next to her bed, his head back snoring softly. She climbed out of the bed and tip toed downstairs to raid the kitchen. There didn't seem to be anyone else about and she made herself a sandwich, suddenly ravenous after her long sleep.
She took her makeshift breakfast outside with her and sat on the back step munching her way through the bread and jam. Her long talk with Bill yesterday had been a turning point. She didn't think she had ever felt so low and she had found something out. She had found out that even when she hit rock bottom and she couldn't feel any worse, her big brother was there with her. He had promised to look after her, he had risked taking on the Cormmal tree and Ginny knew how dangerous they could be to anyone other than their chosen protected.
He hadn't lied to her. Practically everyone else had either not dared bring up the subject or had told her that she would feel better soon. He hadn't said that. He had said that it would be hard. But he knew that she could do it and when things got rough she didn't have to stand alone, she could turn to him. But these first steps, coming to terms with the abuse and desecration of her mind and body that she had suffered, these steps she had to take alone, he couldn't help her with those. Until she could learn not to blame herself for what had happened she would never be free. And by living a life of fear and regret she was letting Voldemort win.
Ginny finished her breakfast and stood up, brushing the crumbs from her hands and looked around her at the familiar garden, the house that she had been born in and grown up in. Part of her would always remember. But the rest of her intended to move on. She would do the best she could, be the best she could. And nothing, not even Voldemort was going to stop that.
I will never know
Myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel
Anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything
till I break away from me
I will break away
I'll find myself today