A/N: This is a submission for the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Summer Assignment #1
Class/Task Number: American Magical History/Task 1
Bonus prompts: N/A
Word Count: 1853
It was the first morning in London where she woke up with a sense of ease and calm, the morning after she had first slept with Bill Weasley. The deep and satisfying sleep that she had craved since leaving her home in Alsace had seemed to evade her upon arriving in Britain, but she had finally found it again.
It was no surprise that she didn't sleep easy in the beginning. How could she have when she was surrounded by people speaking nauseatingly fast in a language so foreign to her? When her family was miles away? When the landlord had leered at her as he handed her the key to her new apartment? It didn't help that said apartment was also considerably shabbier than her home in France.
It was easier to think about those rough beginnings when she was currently so content, lying in bed with the light of dawn creeping underneath the curtain. She stretched out on the mattress- as well as she could- it was generous to call the bed a double and it felt even smaller (yet better) when someone lay next to her. She curled back into the covers and shifted closer to the warmth he provided. Her eyes scanned his face, the large freckles, straight nose and striking hair.
She had not expected, nor sought to, find love in London. Looking back on it now, the way she had sent an owl off at the end of her last year at Beauxbatons, requesting if Gringotts had any available positions, had been rather rash. Her parents had been shocked when she told them, Madame Maxine had been disappointed. She hadn't known what to say to them, she herself wasn't sure why she had come to London.
A voice in the back of her head told her that it was because she was looking for answers. Because after everything that had happened at Hogwarts, in that maze- to Cedric- she had been packed up and expected to return to life as normal. She had tried as hard an anyone to move past it, to think of it how Madame Maxine had told her as they had flown away from the wretched castle, patting her hands.
'It eez not our problem, mon petit, ze Eenglish have so much violence within them. We are best to stay out of eet.'
And then she had turned her head to look out of the window, seeming to enjoy the view from the sky. Fleur had had to suppress the overwhelming urge to be sick. Would her headmistress be looking out the window the same way if she had won the tournament? Fleur did not find it so easy to turn a blind eye to the death of a boy-her fellow champion- who could easily have been her. She thought of the Potter boy too, so young, yet a look in his eyes that told her he had seen things that she wouldn't dare to imagine.
Therefore, it had been back to England, much to her parent's chagrin, and her sister had thrown a three-day long tantrum in protest of her leaving. When she had arrived in the first week, before she even started at Gringotts, she had been sure that she had made the wrong decision. She had contemplated how bad the burn of shame would feel at returning home after not more than one week.
She laughed at it now, but the number of tears she had shed in that time had been embarrassingly high. She had managed well enough at Hogwarts, but that was when she still had all her French classmates around her, and all the foreign students knew very well that she was French. They hadn't minded talking slower or repeating their sentences. Here, people spoke in gruff tones and strange patterns. She had to strain her ears to comprehend what they were saying, and they often got angry when she asked them to repeat themselves.
One woman had shouted at Fleur, in the middle of Diagon Alley no less.
'Ask someone else! I'm not an elf, I have better things to do than repeat directions a third time to a foreigner!'
Then she had grabbed her husband and marched away- Fleur had suspected the woman's husband had largely contributed to her anger- a blatant stare and dazed expression had been on his face since she had stopped them to ask where she could find Flourish and Blott's, and the woman had actually struggled to pull him away, down the street.
Fleur reasoned that she could have handled that situation better than firing a string of French expletives the woman's way, but she had already had a trying day at that point, and- thank Merlin-the woman hadn't actually been able to understand what she had said to her.
Besides the language, there was an inexhaustible list of things that Fleur had learned about the British, and a vast majority of them she did not very much enjoy. The food for one was bland, at Hogwarts they had catered French food for them, it had been a comfort to her, eating familiar dishes throughout that time.
In this city however, she could not find certain ingredients, or the authentic French restaurants were far too expensive for her budget. Compounded by the fact that she could not find the energy, nor the skill to create any of the recipes her maman was so skilled with, she had been left with a diet of bangers and mash, fish and chips or watery salads. The greasy food made her feel heavy, like her hair was always dirty and as if she had dull skin.
Despite how she may have felt, she obviously still had the same effect on British wizards as French ones, and some bold witches too. The shy one's would simply gawk, pause whatever they were doing and stop and stare as she passed, but the confident ones were often lewd and disturbing.
Fleur didn't even understand the veela part of herself. Sometimes she could walk down the street and no-one would take any more notice of her than they did the wrinkly witches in their frumpy skirts and thick glasses, other days it was as if she was walking with a beacon above her head.
"STARE AT ME".
Although she had reconciled with this fact of her life long ago, that didn't mean that the comments and looks hurt any less.
When she had walked down Diagon Alley, on her first day working for Gringotts, no-one had stared at her. She had breathed out a sigh of relief as she walked down the street and the crowds passed over and around her like water, unfettered by her appearance. There had been an extra spring in her step as she had bounced up the stairs to the bank. She had greeted the goblin at the nearest desk and been taken off into a side chamber of offices, leading to her mentor.
Then she had been confused, because she had walked down Diagon Alley, waved to the dustbin men outside her apartment, passed her downstairs neighbours, and none of them had acted the way they usually do when her veela heritage was working its enchantments- yet Bill Weasley had acted as if he'd been smacked in the face when he first met her.
She wouldn't have taken him for a shy man. Even when- yes, she still remembered- she had first seen him at that school. The tousled, tied up hair and tall stature, coupled with tattoos and casual clothing had carried an air of confidence and danger that betrayed the way he had first looked at her when she entered his office. The goblin had stood awkwardly between them for a few minutes while Bill had tried to form a coherent sentence (Fleur hadn't had much faith in his ability to teach English at that point).
Fleur smiled in bed as she thought about the day they first met. She knew now that he had looked at her that way simply because her found her, just her, attractive. He claimed to feel or see no difference when her veela charms were on, Fleur didn't know if it was a bad thing that that meant so much to her.
Bill had managed to make living in London bearable, enjoyable even. He had taken her out for drinks and shown her all his regular pubs. They talked about Egypt and France, and tombs and history. When they had drank a bit more they talked about last year, the tournament, Voldemort. Bill told her that things were bad. That he had come back to England to help, and he was going do so through some secret group.
'Let me 'elp too!' she had demanded.
He had only assessed her with his startlingly blue eyes, taken a long sip of his draught, and mumbled something that sounded like "maybe".
That had surprised her. The usual "you're too young", "you're too pretty", "you can't fight" had been more along the lines of what she had expected.
Her English improved greatly with his help. Soon he was not only teaching her English, but she was teaching him French. He knocked on her door one evening carrying a hold-all full of pans and vegetables and slices of meat, overflowing with selections of spices.
'You said you missed it, so I found some recipes and got all of the ingredients, tonight we're cooking French.'
He had been incredibly enthusiastic about it all, and between her tips and tricks and his rather impressive cooking skills, they had managed to conjure a delicious dinner. Not one that reminded her of home exactly, but one that made her feel warm inside. She could imagine herself cooking it over and over only to recapture some of the feelings she felt that night,
And then he had kissed her.
After a few months of working together he had finally kissed her. That had only been a few days ago, and it had been in the middle of one of his French lessons. He had been distracted the whole day. His French had seemed only to be growing worse as they carried on. Then she had recited a sentence for him to repeat to her, but when she had looked up at him, he was staring at her, an intense look in his eyes. She had given the slightest nod, and then everything had changed.
She had been with one other boy before. A close friend of hers, one that she trusted, but that had been nothing like being with Bill, she sincerely doubted anything could be like it.
She traced his jawline with her finger, thinking about the previous night. He shifted in his sleep and let out a soft grunt. His eyelids lifted slowly, blearily, to look at her. 'Good morning,' he mumbled, a smile tugging at his lips. She leaned in to place a kiss on them.
Yes, she had not expected to find love in London, she had been looking for answers. Perhaps, however, she had managed to find both.