For more than fifteen minutes, Bill helped hold Willow down, watching as her face contorted with pain that was beyond any spell they could use to assist her. Beads of sweat dotted her forehead, droplets that stood out against the harsh bruises that had only just begun to fade from her time in captivity. Would they even notice if a new injury happened because of this with so many of the prior ones still marring her body?
And then, like a switch flipped, she went still. Her breath rushed out in a sigh so loud that it filled the silence that had been left by the cessation of her screams. He licked his lips and looked across her at Snape. Only when the other wizard nodded, just once, did Bill let go and stand up straight again.
“Whoever put the curse upon her appears to have released it for the time being,” Dumbledore murmured from the foot of the bed. It was a statement of the obvious as far as the expression on Snape’s face said, Bill thought. “It would be best to wake her and keep her awake for as long as possible, I daresay.”
“I agree,” Snape muttered darkly. “As much as she requires rest to recover, sleeping could only further harm her at this point in time.” The way the words were spoken, Bill knew that Snape was saying them mostly to himself and Mrs. Malfoy as reasoning for depriving Willow of the rest she needed and not as an agreement or excuse to anyone else in the room.
Bill sighed and stepped back as Snape shook Willow gently by the shoulder. Her eyes opened slowly, blinking at everyone in turn. She was confused, and Bill could understand that completely.
“What –“ she paused and frowned, licking her lips. Her hand went to her throat. Bill could only imagine that it must be raw from screaming. She tried again, “What’s going on?” An attempt to sit up made her grimace in pain that Bill could believe was quite a bit worse than what she’d had when she went to sleep. Fear descended onto her features.
“Someone cursed you,” Mrs. Malfoy offered with as much gentleness as Bill supposed was possible with that kind of statement. Willow’s face went a shade whiter.
“A curse? Another one?” Willow shook her head. “But…how? How did someone get in and –“
“They didn’t,” Snape cut her off with a wave of his hand and a glare in Mrs. Malfoy’s direction that Bill didn’t even need to interpret. “Evidently they gathered the items needed for the curse when you were previously in their care.”
“Oh,” Willow whispered. Bill reached down and took her hand, giving it a little squeeze. Pain flickered over her face for the briefest of moments, and he felt like a heel. He’d have to remember to be more careful with her until they got this sorted out. No telling where she’d be hurting with new tortures inflicted upon her when she dreamed.
“The curse caused you to relive the events of your kidnapping in the form of a rather powerful nightmare,” Dumbledore said quietly. “I’m afraid that we are not able to stop that from happening again should you fall asleep.”
Bill felt Willow’s hand squeeze his, holding tight despite the pain he knew that she was feeling. She was afraid, he would almost bet on it. But she didn’t show it. He gently flexed his fingers around hers, a subtle pressure that wouldn’t hurt her more yet still showed that he was there for her. The way her eyes flickered to his hand, he wondered if she’d even realized that she’d latched onto him for support.
He didn’t mind. In fact, he liked it. If only the circumstances were different.
“Mister Weasley, Mister Malfoy – will you sit with her while I speak with Narcissa and Severus?”
Bill nodded in response to Dumbledore’s request and saw Draco do the same out of the corner of his eye. He knew without being told that they were off to try to think through a solution to what was happening. He was, therefore, being made responsible for ensuring that Willow did not fall asleep again any time soon.
Well, he and Draco, that was.
“They’ll figure this out,” Draco spoke up. Bill glanced over his shoulder. “They’ll find who has the components and –“
“—make them hurt,” Willow said with a slight tilt of her head that Bill supposed might have been a nod of sorts. She laughed softly. “Mom looks like she wants to rip their hair out piece by piece.”
“Among other things,” Draco drawled, appearing at the bedside next to Bill. He looked down at the younger wizard, trying not to let past biases color what he saw. Draco looked just like any other wizard his age right now – simple slacks and a button up shirt. Nothing too fancy. His hair was a mess, but Bill wasn’t about to point that out to him. He supposed that they all were looking a bit ragged these days, after everything that had happened and continued to happen.
Bill sat down on the edge of the bed, all too aware that Willow was still holding onto his hand and didn’t look like she’d be letting it go any time soon. He didn’t mind. It was small in his, delicate. He liked that way that it looked against his skin, the way that it fit so well.
Love at first sight was a silly fantasy, even to wizards.
So why did he feel like he’d gotten hit by Cupid’s arrow the moment that he saw Willow? Through blood and pain and the horror that had happened to her, still all he could see was the very pretty woman beneath with a heart and will that was awe-inspiring.
“This is just…” Willow trailed off, shaking her head. “Why can’t they leave me alone?”
Bill didn’t have the heart to answer that question and, from the look of it, neither did Draco. Willow already knew the answer anyway – it was because of who her parents were. If she’d never come here, none of this would have happened. He wondered if she’d gotten to the point where she was regretting that seemingly simple decision yet and knew that he wouldn’t blame her in the least if she was. This was more than any person should have to go through. Living through that torture and now experiencing it all over again?
He didn’t know if he’d be able to do it and didn’t want to ever try, either.
“Mum and Snape will figure it out,” Draco said, as simple as that. Matter-of-fact, like he had complete faith in them. If Bill hadn’t seen the little twitch of nervousness in the younger man’s eyes, he would have believed that Draco meant every word that he said. As it was, he supposed Draco was just trying to comfort Willow.
“I’m sure they will,” Willow said. She yawned and Bill glanced over at Draco.
Now came the fun part.
Keeping Willow awake when her body was demanding that she rest and recover.