Chapter 1 – Back to school31st Aug. 1994
So it's back to Beauxbatons tomorrow. Sixth year. I'm glad to get away from here! I can't stand mother any longer. Always going on about being perfect, and having to make an effort, and how good she was at school, and how everyone expects me to be nothing but the best ... If it wasn't for Gabrielle – She'll miss me; another boring year in the mansion with that terrible tutor of hers – no kids her age around, still three more years until she gets to go to school, and then I'll have left already, so she'll be lonely again...
Lonely! Don't I know what this means! How I wish I could make friends! Real friends, not stupid girls sucking up to me expecting to – I don't know what – to be more popular with the boys, perhaps, and gossiping about me, telling stories behind my back, envious of my looks. But the boys are even worse! I hate it how they all turn into drooling half-wits whenever they set eyes on me. It's not my fault, is it? And none of them has any idea of the real me, not that any of them would be interested, anyway. Oh, to meet someone who doesn't fall under that stupid veela charm! I'd really love someone to hate me for a change!
But no such luck. Charmaine and Mireille will fawn over me and gossip about me behind my back, and as for the boys – I'd better not think of them.
Silly of me, I know, how I'm getting depressive thinking about this again, I have been familiar with it for years, haven't I? And the stupid idea comes up again, as it did last year, and the year before – run away, hide, somewhere, perhaps even live as a muggle... Of course it won't work, they'd find me in no time, and, though I hate to admit it, I'm too much of a coward, too ...
Well, so it's going to be studying and working hard another year, so as not to have to think too much ... Oh yes, mother will be sooo proud of me!
Sept. 1st, 1994
Still a couple of hours to go until our train arrives. Charmaine and Mireille have finally settled down to chat to a couple of seventh year boys, and I have managed to ward off all the unwelcome admirers at last, thus getting some peace to write this.
When I left for Paris, there were the usual farewell ceremonies, the phoney smiles and kisses, the all too sincere exhortations of mother's ... Gabrielle was crying when she hugged me, there's nothing phoney about her ... I must at least send her as many owls as I can ...
I was stunned when I saw Charmaine again after those nine weeks of holidays. Not only has she found some charm to get rid of her acne, she's also put a charm on her hair that used to be a mousy colour; now it looks exactly like mine, silvery blonde reaching down to her waist.
"Fleur!" She screamed excitedly as I stepped out of the fireplace at the Montresors' town house. She dashed towards me, hugged me very briefly, then danced away twirling around on tiptoe.
"How do I look?"
It took me some seconds to find my speech. Then I said, trying to sound indifferent, "Not bad at all. Now who do you remind me of?" I added with a forced smile.
"You, of course!" Sometimes she can be incredibly thick. "You know I always wanted to be like you, don't you?" she continued, and the look of her brown eyes (that don't go with her new hair colour at all, how typical of her!) was so puppy like that I felt my anger melting away.
Of course she's been imitating me all these past five years, so I suppose it shouldn't have been a great surprise anyway. Come to think of it, I ought to feel sorry for her; I mean how is she ever going to be a personality in her own right? And of course it never entered her dense little head to ask herself how I might feel.
Anyway, we were just going to get Charmaine's things together ( a task that usually takes quite a long time) to pack them in the family Daimler that was supposed to take us to Gare St.Lazare, when M. Montresor came in to inform us that there was apparently some muggle strike or demonstration going on, so that the streets were closed and there was no chance to get to the station by car, magical or not.
"I'm afraid you'll have to take the Metro," he finished.
"Oh no," Charmaine pouted. "Do we really have to? Can't we Apparate or something?"
"I'm sorry, ma chere, you know you haven't got your licence yet."
"But I KNOW how to ..."
"No, and that's final. It's against the law, and you ought to know it's much too dangerous for inexperienced youngsters."
There was nothing to be done. We put a shrinking charm on our trunks so we could carry them in muggle plastic bags. Grisabel and Blanche were quite fed up with us when we shrank them to mouse size (as any self-respecting cat will be), but that couldn't be helped. We were not going to heave them all over the place in their kitty-carriers in a crowded muggle subway.
After finally changing into inconspicuous muggle clothes (it seems these trousers they call jeans are the thing if you don't want to be noticed), we grabbed our bags and left the house.
Inconspicuous indeed! Male muggles are even worse than wizards! They have no idea what veela are, so they act even more stupidly. I'd never have believed it. We had hardly closed the door behind us, when a guy in a pin-striped suit crashed into a street lamp with a tremendous bang because he had been craning his neck after us. I swear, he might have been my father or even grandfather, by the looks of him!
Charmaine giggled in that exasperating way she has sometimes.
"Now, what do you think," she said, nudging me. "Which of us was he staring after?"
The fun of it was dawning on me. "You, of course," I replied, "just look at you!"
My sarcasm was lost on her. "I could imagine," she said smugly, "I daresay I don't look that bad."
It was even worse in the Subway. The carriage was terribly crowded, and we had to stand there packed like sardines, hugging our bags so that the shrunken cats wouldn't come to any harm. A fat muggle was standing extremely close to me. His face was red, droplets of sweat were forming on his forehead, and he smelled of onions and stale tobacco. He seemed to allow himself to be pressed closer against me than was really necessary, and from a certain reaction of his that I could feel against my thigh I concluded my impression was probably correct. I was so annoyed, - I mean, a dirty stinking muggle, how dare he? – I put an itching hex on him and was very pleased with myself when he started scratching himself immediately.
It's late in the evening. Everyone's asleep, so I can still write a few remarks. There was the same routine as always, the sorting, the boring speech of Mme. Maxime, the stupid stories of what everyone did during the holidays. Of course, I'm being unfair here; I'm just jealous. It seems that everybody else gets to do the most interesting things. And only I have to stay at home all the time being bored and revising for school just to have something to do. Michelle went to Martinique and learned a few interesting things about voodoo spells, Patrice spent some exciting weeks in Quebec and keeps on talking about the old Ojibwa shaman that showed him how to enter the minds of animals, and what can I tell about? I really must try and convince mama to send me somewhere next holidays. I'll tell her it will be good for my education and make me even more perfect at school than I am already. Such arguments always work with her. Egypt might be an interesting place to go, those pyramids sound quite exciting. I'm sorry for Gabrielle though – But perhaps I should also think of myself for once.
Grisabel is purring softly on my pillow, I'm glad I have her with me, it doesn't feel so lonely. Tomorrow everyone will get the familiar haughty and conceited Fleur they are used to. Good night diary!