Show Me How To Live
The screaming voice was so filled with scandal that Fleur could not help but feel a deep sense of shame under it, and she would have flushed had her blood not already rushed to her chest and face as if it was the last time it would have a chance to do so.
Such was the feeling she got with Harry in her arms.
She opened her eyes in shocked realization. He was still there. He really was. She had done it. Oh god above, she had done it. The smile on his face, a smile that came not merely from his lips, but that it was an entity that radiated from every inch of skin that she could see.
His deep-set eyebrows, normally so reserved and cautious now raised and arched so that his beautiful, shining eyes were unobstructed, his aquiline nose stark against his thin face, its shadow only highlighting the vibrant green of his eyes. A smile wide enough as to make his normally plumb lower lip stretch to a line, wrinkles rippling his sun-tanned skin.
so wide that even his normally plumb lower lip looked stretched to the point of almost a line making waves of wrinkles on his sun-tanned skin.
She had never seen something so enchanting and beautiful, and she had done this. She had never felt so powerful.
The deep vibration on her chest could not be contained any longer, and a tight, laugh-like chirp passed through lips so tight in their smile that her whole face felt stretched.
"Mademoiselle!" Came a second call, and as her shaken awareness realized that the prickling sensation on her collarbones was not caused by the brush of calloused hands.
Her eyes widened and the itching moved to her shoulders, leaving behind a sense of burning and softness. She jumped backward, eyes wild and back straight. Harry's smile wavered, tripping on her own panic.
She tried to give him a reassuring smile that surely was nothing more than a grimace.
Fleur startled and turned towards the open door. The door that was mostly eclipsed with the massive form of her headmistress. She could see shadows move behind her, and the asinine whispers that she became aware after her mind got out the turbulent river Harry had plunged her in, made apparent to whom those other voices belonged.
She felt her chin tilt down ever so slightly, trying to hide her face behind the shroud of her long hair, but a single glimpse of her companion on the floor sent her feelings aflutter.
She would be damned if she let anyone take this from her.
She let her smile shine bright, as bright and open as she was able, letting the bonfire of her heart fuel it, letting it all spill forth towards Harry.
It was not so hard at all.
She knew she must have shone more than figuratively, especially in the dim-lit room. She swallowed hard at that, but quickly put it out of her mind.
The time for truth was belated as it was.
It was not hard at all to see that her Headmistress was not happy at all with the new development of her romantic life, and the faster she defused the situation the better.
Her legs quivered when she stood, and she had to restrain her need to giggle. She needed to look calm and collected.
Back straight and chin up she faced Madame Maxime, her silence the only acknowledgment she gave.
It should have come as no surprise that Maximes' answer was almost identical. It had been from her that she had learned to behave as so, after all.
"Everyone back to your rooms."
It was a simple command, said calmly and softly, but not a single student thought to disobey.
"Come with me," She called to Fleur. A month back, she would not have hesitated. Now, though...
She glanced down at Harry, who was still half sprawled on the floor ungainly. She made a herculean effort not to giggle. Had she not know better, she'd say he was in shock.
She smiled at the thought.
It was then that it came to her mind that she actually did not know what the signs of shock were.
"What about-" She started.
"The boy will stay here, waiting for his headmaster to pick him up." She waved her wand and a streak of silver light shot from it towards the window. "I have already notified him."
With a sharp and excessively dramatic turn, or so Fleur thought, Maxime took down to the hall towards where her office was.
Harry got up from the floor, his eyes still wide open, if considerably unfocused. The sharpness she was accustomed to seeing in them returned quickly. Her heart lurched when she noticed how quickly innocence fled him.
His eyes fixed to the place Maxime had disappeared to, narrowing, and then turned to Fleur, his lips moving, trying to keep up with a string of thought that was too fast for both of them.
She giggled. Harry was a man of actions, not words.
"Do not worry, mon petite. It's nothing serious. Not really. She is just gonna admonish me. Wait here."
She extended her hand, and after a moment his rose too, their fingers brushing against each other's palms.
She answered his shy smile and turned to leave, her eyes going back to Harry's face once more before he went out of sight.
He was caressing the hand she had touched, his eyes locked on her.
The heat of her blush did not leave her even after having to endure a severe scolding on propriety and competitiveness.
It was fortunate that Maxime had picked up on her opinions of Harry the last time she had had this conversation, for at the moment, with her nature so very close to her skin, she would not have been able to contain an unmeasured fury.
The door clicked behind her as she left the room, and she took a look at her reflection on the window. Her Flushed skin, suffused with life, looked even brighter under the pulsating and shimmering light that emanated from her softly swaying locks of silver hair.
As if prompted by her observation, the light stuttered. She closed her eyes and sighed.
The hardest part had not yet come.
"Take a seat, please, Mr. Potter."
I sat, as per the request of one of the most powerful and influential men in the world, on the ornate and comfortable chair. I was pierced by his clear blue eyes from atop his interlaced fingers, wizened white brows lifting in question. It was so natural a gesture that it looked to be their resting expression.
And then he said nothing, the maniac.
I was in a frugal state, my mind half on the carriage, half on the moment, my fingers twitching under the phantom warmth of Fleur's body. The very thought of those words brought a new vibrancy to already overactive thoughts.
It was hard to focus through the haze, through the high of what had happened not twenty minutes before.
"So? Is there something you'd like to say for yourself, young man?"
With a few choice words, the sense of exaltation quickly gave way to a deep embarrassment.
That was not really it.
I was embarrassed, yes, but not at being exhilarated, not at knowing how those shining lips tasted, how that flowing hair felt, not at-
I jumped on my seat, my hand going to the nape of my neck, bothering my hair as an excuse to not look into those bespectacled eyes that looked far too young and mischievous to belong to Albus Dumbledore.
"Sorry, sir. I'm a tad…"
"Distracted? Can't say I blame you." Dumbledore chuckled, which only served to make my flush rise higher still.
I was embarrassed. I was lost. I did not know how to deal with it all. With what had happened. With what I was feeling.
It was one thing to throw myself behind all that had been pushing me to that irresistible force that was Fleur Delacour, to respond to that burning passion with the explosion of my own, and quite another to make sense of it all, to answer in the face of other's scrutiny.
I felt irrevocably changed, yet at the same time, as unmoving as the oldest of mountains.
"Yes. Distracted is one word for it, Sir."
"It would be a fool of a man to put blame on you for such a state, if Olympe is to be believed, and she has rarely given me reason not to."
I let my eyes fall to the floor again. Maybe counting the lines on the wooden floor would make time pass faster.
"You do not need to feel embarrassed, Mr. Potter. Yes, there is truth in saying that actions have consequences, and that certain consequences should not be faced but by those that are prepared to take them, but it is also true that rashness is in the nature of youth, even of youth as cautious and grounded as Miss Delacour."
I looked at him, and by the blink of his eye, I knew he knew I had noticed the omission of my own name in that sentence. His lips twitched slightly.
I waited, not having felt like I was being prompted for anything yet.
"I would like you to tell me how you came to be there, Harry, as Madame Maxime was not privy to such happenings by the time she… found you."
I felt my whole face move without my consent, and it was with effort that I put it under a semblance of control before inhaling deeply, thinking where to start.
Each point I thought just made me think that the beginning was that much farther back, until a glimpse of gold around a hallway's corner was the only thing in my mind.
I shook my head. Our story felt so very personal that just thinking of telling it all to someone felt off.
"I flew in." I decided in the end. "Under my invisibility cloak. I knew she was distraught because of the task and I wanted to cheer her up."
"The chocolates on the floor?"
"Very thoughtful of you."
"Thank you, Sir." I examined his face, trying to find those telling signs. A twitchy eyelid, tense muscles, raised veins, still eyes. I could find none.
"I think you seem to be under the impression that I am here to admonish you, Mr. Potter, or to punish you. I am here to teach you, nothing more. That is my whole purpose. To guide my students through a path I think it's best not only for them, but for all of us."
He looked at me, eyes reminiscent of a sky before a storm. "I just want you to think on this, Harry. What would a man do for the ones he loves."
"Loves? But, Sir-"
"Just think on it, My boy. It may be an enlightening experience."
"Katie, please," I whispered, pulling at her robe to get her attention. Everyone was starting to stare at us.
"Miss 'Grannier,' get this, Grannier! They didn't even spell Granger right! 'Miss Grannier's clutches clawed deeply into the two famous wizards, locking then into a romantic dispute that intermingles dangerously with the very nature of the already dangerous Tournament.'"
"And get this, get this. 'Her efforts to snatch the most eligible bachelors of the year may be in vain, however, as a second pair of eyes has set on them, following them closely. And let us just say, the French Champion has claws of her own, or should we say talons, and if our sources are correct, these ones are far better suited to her prey than whatever charms and tricks the muggle-born witch could ever hope to wiel-'"
"Katie! Stop it."
"What! I'm trying to find where they mention me."
"What do you mean with 'what'? I have had to work hard to get that blonde bird of yours jealous, I'd like my work recognized."
"Keep your bloody voice down," I whispered through gritted teeth. My blushing face was a lot harder to control, however, and the heat of the rushing blood brought vivid phantoms of velvety fingers.
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, sorry. But, ugh, come on! Where is Katie Bell, Hogwarts Wicked Temptress, stringing dear Mr. Potter away from his true love and his childhood friends." She shook her head mournfully.
"Where did you come up with that stuff from?"
She shrugged. "Mum's romance novels."
I spat my juice.
She giggled. " I think that I shall have to be more forward with my advances then." She leaned into my side, her lips inches away from my ear. "What do you think, Mr. Potter?"
"Oh, har, har," I said as I pulled away, only to have her fall into me even more. "I think I should find Hermione and see how she's taking this. It's not like her to skip breakfast and-"
I don't know what it was that made me turn my head. Maybe it was the almost palpable heat of her gaze, maybe it was nothing but a coincidence. From the door to the hall, Fleur's eyes locked into mine, glowering.
She was very still. Dangerously so. Still as the marble to which her features so resembled in their hardening."
I sprung to my feet, Katie growling as she fell onto the bench.
Fleur turned and left. I rushed behind her.
A blur of colour and lights were the only things I saw as I fled in her wake, seeking the glint of silver that gave her away.
Metallic things drew my eyes. They always did. The helm of a suit of armour, the frame of a sunlit window, a small sickle on the floor as I turned into the entrance hall. None of them were the silver I sought.
I went into the grounds and instinctively took towards the Beauxbatons carriage.
I suppose it's as good a guess as any, I thought as the scenery flew past my eyes.
"What was that?"
Her voice stopped me. I turned.
She stood close to the castle wall, a few meters from the path I had taken, hidden in the long shadow of one of the towers.
"What. Was. That." She repeated into my silence.
Even in the shadows, her hair caught the light enough that I had no issues seeing her face.
I wished it was not so.
My magnificent eloquence saved the day again.
"Just yesterday I 'ad an awful discussion with my 'eadmistress, a family friend that 'as always supported me. A discussion about you. And then I go look for you and find… that- that- putain, leaning all over you. I'm- It's-"
Her fists shook as she clenched them to her sides. The rest of her tensed as well. Dark were the eyes that stared at me. Darker than I had ever seen them.
I sighed. With a few steps, I reached the wall, her eyes burning into my back, and sat down, leaning against it.
I looked at her. I was tired. I was so damn tired. There was always an issue, always something to solve.
Something in her eyes changed. It was a minuscule thing, and I would not know how to describe it. It was as much a physical change as it was something I felt
I patted the floor on my side, as invitingly as I could, even popping a lopsided smile for effect. It turned sad after a flash of her words from the night before sprang into my head.
'-Because I can't stop staring at your lopsided smile'
She neared, but she did not sit. She stood in front of me, falcon eyes awaiting.
"She's just trying to make you feel jealous, Fleur."
Her lips tightened so much more that they surely were at risk of fusing. They had gone past white and straight into yellow. Wait what?
Her posture remained just as rigid.
"Look. She's just trying to help. To help me, I mean. And you too, I suppose, unless I misunderstood terribly what happened yesterday. I- well. You- you are the first person that- yeah. I mean, I am so very out of my depth here."
I looked at the ground where I sat, the indomitable stare of her becoming too much, and ripped a tuft of grass off.
"I did not really know what to do. About you, I mean. You know? I really like you. A lot, and-" I ripped the grass leaves into tiny bits. "Well, she was trying to help me with that. To get your attention, I mean. I don't think she did a very good job but…" I shrugged. "She tried. I did tell her that making you jealous was a bad idea."
Her silence was painful.
She knelt before me and sighed. I looked up into familiar eyes over a barely-there smile.
"It really was not a good idea." She took my grass-stained hand in hers. "I apologize. I should not 'ave jumped to conclusions. Again." She looked to the side. "This is all fairly new to me too."
"You aren't mad?
I hated how weak my voice came out, and had to contain the reflex to bite my tongue.
Speak clear, boy.
I squashed those memories.
"Yes. Yes, I am. But not at you. Not at that Catherine either, even."
We sat in silence for a while, listening to the sounds of a calm Highland morning. Lots of questions turned and twisted in my mind, most of them not managing to coalesce into the appropriate words, and the few that did were too scary to utter.
Her eyes were locked in the distance, their unique colours shifting in the light as I had gotten so used to. They had looked so different when she had been mad.
I took a deep breath, closing my eyes for a second. Fear was nothing new to me. I squared my shoulders. Her eyes focused back on me as my lips parted, making them waver with the steel I had gathered.
"Yesterday. What did it mean?"
There. I got it out.
I got it out.
Her eyes widened and her lips parted for a moment. It took no insubstantial effort to rip my eyes off of those.
My breathing started to shorten as her silence stretched.
She mouthed before shaking her head.
"What did it mean? Was it not obvious? I- I like you. A whole lot more than I should. I will not fight against it anymore, nor will I 'ide it."
I had never seen anything quite as beautiful as her skin as it rouged from the rush of her declaration.
I smiled. I could not help it this time. I smiled with such strength that my glasses shifted down my nose. Amusement coloured her determined visage.
I shifted closer to her ever so slightly. She smiled. I shifted closer until our knees touched. My heart hammered for all it was worth, and it redoubled at the sight of her lips, yellow sunlight reflecting onto their rosiness.
I leaned closer until our noses touched, and then ever so slightly more.
Our lips parted for a moment only to smile, her eyes crinkling, and darkening yet again.
She leaned forwards and our lips met again, softly, testing against each other, a tender kiss making my lips tingle even as I answered back, exploring. She leaned more, my back touching the wall again.
I was between a rock and a soft place, and the thought made me laugh out loud. Her teeth pulled at my lip, insistent, prizing a different sound out of me.
"Does that answer your questions, mon cheri?" Fleur's voice caressed my face.
"In a way." I chuckled. "We are… together now, then? An item?"
Her nose scrunched, and I had to hold back on the irresistible urge to kiss it. It took me a moment to realize that I could do so now, if I liked.
"An uninspired description, but yes. We are 'an Item,' as you say. If that's okay with you, of course." She bit her lip. "I realize now I did not leave you much of a say before."
If I did not know the impossibility of it, I would have said that my smile lit her face aglow.
I basked in the tender expression, beaming at me from a handbreadth away. Thoughts intruded, though, and my calm facade shifted.
"It's…" I breathed in, closing my eyes. You can do this. "We are together now. You've told me about your family, about the things you love, and the things you fear. And then there was the thing with your sister…"
"And then the misunderstanding with Katie…"
" 'Arry, that's okay that was my fau-"
"Yeah, maybe. Maybe not. But, in the end, it was something we could have avoided if I had told you before, would it not?"
"Where are you getting at?"
"Honesty." I sighed. "There are things you need to know before you decide if you want us to be... well, us."
She looked at me, focused, and my heart ripped in two. I was making a mistake, but it was only fair.
"We all 'ave things that are private, 'Arry. You don't need to tell me anything you don't want to."
"Oh, but I do." I started to fidget with her hair from where it sprawled onto my legs. "It's… well, it's serious stuff. Things that will affect you. It's… I know It's only been a day. Not even that. A dozen hours at best, but..." I looked at her, pleading. I was going to scare her off. Throwing all of this on her so soon… But it would not do to wait until the hammer dropped. And it always did.
She nodded. "I'm listening, Cheri."
Her hair gleamed and flowed between my fingers at the slightest move. A dream given shape.
"The first year I came to Hogwarts… I can't describe what I felt. I was about to explode with happiness. I had found a world where I fitted in. It explained so much." I shook my head, my eyes lost in memory. "It was fantastic. The classes, the friends I made. It was dangerous, at times, yes, but magic is like that, am I right? I got to know about my parents from the teachers that had cared for them and everything."
"That sounds lovely." her hand rose to my hair.
"It was. Brave new world." I leaned into her touch. "I got into detention once because of a stupid fight, and had to go into the forbidden forest." Her fingers stopped scratching me. "I was with Hagrid, don't worry."
"Hmmm." she expressed simply, her fingers resuming their delightful fussing.
"I saw… I saw Voldemort out there that day."
"What?!" She pushed herself up with the hand that still laid atop my chest, wincing as she pulled the strand of hair that I had been running my fingers over.
"Sorry," I said. She merely waved her hand dismissively, her face considerably paler than usual.
"It's- It's okay." She ran her fingers down her hair, stopping to rub over where it had pulled. Our eyes locked. She gulped.
"What did you say before?"
I exhaled. "I ran into, and away, from Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, three years ago."
"But that's impossible. 'E died, 'es dead, 'ow could-"
"I don't know. He did not die, clearly, but he was not exactly alive like you and me either. There was no corpse that… that day. I asked Dumbledore after that. He was hurt, vanquished, but not killed. Took him eleven years to find a way to possess a body. He told me that himself."
She sat beside me on the ground, our hips gracing each other, a tuft of silver hair bunched in her hands.
"You don't believe me."
"I don't know what to believe."
I nodded. I would have been surprised had she bought it. I know I would not have. I'd give her time to do so.
"Why do you tell me this?" She asked, her voice the only melody on a blank canvas.
"Because it was not an isolated incident. It has happened twice more since. Once more the same year, and again the next. And the one after that I had to contend with a psychotic escapee that turned out to be… well, you know that one." I looked up at the sky. The sun had gotten a lot higher. "I suppose I just wanted you to know what you were getting into. Dangerous things tend to happen to me, and it tends to suck the ones around me in."
I could feel her gaze, curious and exploratory, roaming over me.
"And now this year…" she whispered.
"That is why you were not surprised?"
"Mon dieu. That is what you meant that time. After the selection."
"Remember? 'Past experience' is what you told me."
"Ah, yes. You asked me if entering dangerous tournaments was so common for me." I laughed. "As I said, not quite, but not so far off."
Birds chirped as they flew between the columns of the castles' spires, spiraling themselves up into the bright sky. It was a beautiful sight. Beautiful, and a lot less painful than trying to endure the pained and halting look on Fleur's eyes.
I closed my eyes. It was nothing less than I expected. Nothing less than I deserved.
She shuddered, bracing, and I braced myself.
"We all 'ave our secrets, 'Arry, and I will not push you away because of yours."
"I don't think you understand the dangers, Fleur, It could mea-"
Her finger fell to my lip, making silence, making me jump.
"Perhaps I do not. Perhaps, I do. But nevertheless, I choose you." She leaned, fluid, quick, like a well-practiced motion, and gave me a soft peck on the lips. "We all 'ave our secrets. I hope you…" Her brows wavered in tandem with her lips. She kissed me again.
Her head fell to my chest. It was an almost automatic motion for me to start scratching her scalp. She sighed, her body melting into mine, yet her posture still stiff.
It had not been an insignificant piece of knowledge I had just dropped on her after all.
" 'ush, 'Arry. I chose this. I choose you." She lifted her head, and stormy eyes met mine once again before hiding beneath a shimmering ocher curtain. "I chose you. I 'ope… I 'ope you chose me too."
I kissed the top of her head. Words were not looking like they would help her at all with whatever was on her mind, much less my own clumsy words, but as she sobbed at my kiss, and hugged herself closer to me, I knew that, for now, my presence was enough.
Sounds of merriment and revelry floated from downstairs, even out of the hours the pub should be full. Did these people have nothing better to do than be in a pub in the middle of a workday? The door to the homey pub was looking more daunting than anything she could think of. It called at her, taunting. A pale hand rose to the pommel. A small childs' giggle came from the inside, and her hand faltered.
She took a deep breath and twisted the doorknob.
The warmth that enveloped her when the small arms of her baby sister wrapped around her waist knocked her tears free from where she had been hiding them.
"Mon Ange-" her voice broke. "I am so sorry."
"That's okay, Fleur. We are both okay."
A hand fell onto her shoulder. She had not even noticed that her parents were there too.
"Do not blame yourself, mon petite. It should be us apologizing."
"Remy is right, mon amour."
"We should have told you…"
Fleur shook her head. "No. You were asked to-"
"Ma petite." Remy looked at Fleur, his eyes turning loving towards his wife for an eternal moment before coming back to rest on hers. The warmth of those brown eyes had never had failed to make her feel better. "There are some things to which loyalty should always be weightier, that should always be more important. Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we misplace our trust. Sometimes we make mistakes. We can only ask for forgiveness, and forget."
"Papa-" Her voice broke, the arms of her parents wrapped around her, and tears broke free. "There is nothing to forgive"
It was a while before she calmed, before her mind got in control of her body again. It did not last long. It took but a look from her mother's discerning eyes.
"There was a reason why you wanted to meet us, Fleur. Something more than making sure Gabby was well."
"she smacked her lips, already regretting her original haste on the matter. "Yes, it's... It's about a boy. 'Arry."
"The boy you wrote about."
Silenced reigned in the presence of Apolline Delacour.
"I do not know what to do. I do not know what to tell him."
"Abou what, my cheri."
"About me. About you. About our life, and what we are. He has said so much to me, trusted me and I-" She shuddered. "I am scared."
"Oh, my Fleur," Apolline kissed her crown. "Fear not. The truth is the only way to go. It may break what you have, but that would be for the best. Or it may build something beautiful." She kissed her husband. "It is our blessing and our curse. To bare ourselves, and by doing so, bearing the other. People say that we hide and misguide, but it is not so. We reveal what other wiles hide. I will not tell you to not be afraid, but I will tell you to trust."
"Your heart will never misguide you, ma fille, and if even then, we will be here for you."
And it was so, that enveloped in the warmth of filiality, Fleur Delacour steeled herself, and from the bottom of her heart, made a choice.