Author notes: This turned out much differently than I thought it would. Originally it was going to be Fleur/Neville, but then I realized a very possible loophole. Veelas don't attract women. If you haven't gathered from that, this is femmeslash. It's mild here, but there will be more. Perhaps I could even toss some Cho in here... hmm. Anyway, onward!

Beautiful

She wears a coat of color

Loved by some, feared by others

She's immortalized in young men's eyes

Lust she breeds in the eyes of brothers

Violent sons make bitter mother

Close your eyes; here's your surprise..

--"Beautiful" by Creed

Ever since I was a child, I knew I was different. None of the children I saw had the blonde-gold hair I had, got the looks Gabrielle and I did.

We were different. Mother said it was because of Grandmother--we were veela. Veela, beautiful sirens of dance and song, created to attract men.

I grew, and I learned. I encountered men. The way they salivated at a look at Gabrielle or me disgusted me. It was not their fault, I knew, but nonetheless, it disgusted me.

I grew. I grew accustomed to the looks. I even was attracted to a few men--ironically, attracted by their looks.

I asked my mother why she married our father. "Belle," she said, "I loved him."

Love. A curious word. Affection, caring, desire, lust, sympathy and tenderness. The dictionaries didn't agree, and every entry was hypocritical to the next.

I asked my mother what love was, why she loved our father. She gave me an odd little smile and said, "You'll understand when you're older."

Now I'm older, and I still don't understand.

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Veelas aren't all song and dance and beauty. There is a reason we are considered a curse. Beauty rarely comes without its pain; "Every rose has its thorns," I believe it is said.

In the eyes of men, we are angels, creatures of light. There is a darkness to every light.

It's hard to notice, because it happens so rarely.

Whenever we get upset, it escapes. Your nails grow sharper--this is when I realize it is happening. If I can't stop it here, the transformation completes in a moment--I become the monster.

If you despise things, you can always dispose of them. If you despise your own blood, however...

Because I bore the blood of the veela, I would never love, and never be loved.

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I was at that dank, drafty castle of cold stone that is called Hogwarts when I was 17. I hated every moment, of course--the whole castle just reeked of all that was British. Thick, cold, confusing and not at all elegant. Their ghosts: one with blood all over him, a fat little friar and the rudest poltergeist I had ever encountered! I ached for the beauty that was Beauxbatons, but nothing could be done.

The only place I could stand was the library. It had the distinguished class of stained wood, tall bookshelves, and none of those ridiculous ghosts. I have always enjoyed libraries. It usually had at least one solitary corner where one could read. Books are an escape, and we all need one of those, don't we?

I was chosen as school champion for Beauxbatons for the Triwizard Tournament. Gabrielle and my mother came as soon as they heard. My father did not, and I still don't know why.

Of course, the Tournament is always accompanied by a Yule Ball, which the champions lead in dance. As a champion, I had to choose a partner. The very thought of choosing any of these English boys or those hairy Bulgarian creatures disgusted me. I looked upon the men of my school and was disappointed again by the arrogance of our own.

Many approached me. I found one quite suitable. A Hogwarts boy, a Ravenclaw--the house of wit and wisdom, as I had heard. He seemed rather intelligent, even as he stuttered at me. I had to go with somebody, but with this Hogwarts boy, Roger Davies? Madame Maxine would be proud, and that was just as well. The battle between wits and veela blood, as I have said, does not last long. He lost his wits the moment he approached me.

I would have preferred the first Hogwarts champion--Cedric. He was handsome, but had been taken by a rather pretty Asian girl who must have been a Hogwarts girl. The Potter boy also had a pretty date, an Indian girl who wore the most atrocious shade of pink. Viktor had taken that girl with the awful bushy hair and the odd name--really, he had the strangest tastes. She had talked about me behind my back, and that had not endeared her to me.

The food of Hogwarts was so rich, I was glad I could fit in my dress robes--robes of finest silver satin that picked up surrounding color. Roger barely ate his food, and I thought better of him for it--although it might have been because I had shunned it. It is hard for a man to disagree with a veela.

Dinner passed and the music began. I ignored his stare and led him along the dance floor; we'd have been going nowhere had I not played the 'man' in our couple. I led him to the side after the first dance and fetched drinks. He had started talking to Cedric's date, the pretty Asian girl.

"Oh, Fleur," he said. "This is Cho Chang. Cho, this is Fleur Delacour."

Her dark eyes flicked up to meet mine, and she shook my hand. "Nice to meet you," she said.

"Indeed," I said.

"I'm the Seeker for the Ravenclaw team. Roger's quite a good captain." Cho laughed. "But I suppose he already told you that."

He had barely talked at all. "No, but I am sure he is."

Cedric came over with two drinks, and handed one to Cho. He gave me a friendly smile. "'Ello, Fleur."

I nodded to him graciously. "You did well with the Swedish Short-Snout. That was fascinating Transfiguration."

He toasted the drink to me. "Cheers. That was an amazing Hypnos Charm."

"Merci." I raised my cup and put it to my lips. I turned to Roger. "Would you like to walk?"

He blinked. "Walk? Oh... sure."

I led him out, along a garden of rose bushes. I was aware of the irony. "I'm the Quidditch captain of Ravenclaw, you know," he confessed.

"Yes," I said. I didn't care much for Quidditch. How barbaric. "I have heard."

"It's a pity there was no Quidditch this year. I wish you could see us play." He gave a weak, almost terrified smile. "I'm quite a good Keeper."

"I am certain."

He kissed me. I was startled--it may be hard to believe that one such as I had never been kissed before I was 17, but it is true--and did not protest. I could feel him almost quivering with the fear that I might pull away.

The old bitterness rose, and that was how it started.

I felt my fingernails pierce into my skin. The crawling feeling along my skin of the beginning of feathers... I had to force it back. I felt almost sick. I reached up, gently removed his face from mine. "I am sorry," I whispered to the dazed boy, and ran to my room in the Ravenclaw dormitories. My nails went back to being elegant and shapely rather than deadly claws, and my eyes were the same silver-grey as always.

I caught my breath.

And then I cried.

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It is not easy to be what I am. Gabrielle is yet young; she has not experienced how lonely it can be. The life of a socialite rarely is.

It was difficult, at Hogwarts. Roger had been quite hesitant to bother me after the Yule Ball. Apparently he had thought I had rejected him. No, Roger, I wanted to say, I rejected me.

The poor Gryffindor boys, though. It was not my fault; I maintain that the quarrel would have started even if I hadn't been there. Twins. The first one asked me to this place, Hogsmeade. I didn't respond, and even so, the other came up and shouted at him. The other shouted back. They came to blows.

It took a stinging slap across the face to bring me to my senses, to not continue to look on this sickening fraternal brawl. I turned, clutching my smarting cheek, to see my attacker.

A girl, a brunette with plaits in her hair glaring at me. I recognized her as the girl dancing with one of these twins at the Yule Ball. "How dare you?" she said.

"What?" I was quite confused.

"How dare you make Fred and George fight? You're just some shallow, ditzy French girl--how dare you turn brother against brother?" she snarled in my face. "Who do you think you are?"

I stared at this girl for a moment, considered explaining my side, until I felt my feelings stir and felt my nails growing into my palm. I bit my lip, murmured an "I am sorry" and fled to the first place I could think of. The library.

I had myself claimed a corner as my own--in the far eastern corner, in a windowsill where there was a padded seat. I would take a book there at noon and enjoy the sunshine, cuddling into the warmth like a cat. This spot was not unlike one of my own back home.

I fell into it, huddling into myself, letting the tears course down my cheeks. No one would be here. I let it all out, pitiful sounds of anguish and fervent sounds of anger.

No one would be there. No one was ever there.

Nonetheless, to my surprise, a hand touched my shoulder. I raised my head, sobs still shaking me.

It was a girl with bright red hair drawn into a plait. I didn't quite recognize her, but I was reminded of the twins that had drawn me into this state of almost sick depression. "Are you all right?" she said, her voice hushed.

I choked out the last few sobs I had, managed to say, "I believe so."

The girl seemed hesitant. "What happened?"

I pulled a silk handkerchief from my pocket and began to clean myself up. "I... I hurt two boys. Without realizing it. And..." A sob hiccupped up through me again. I sank back into myself.

To my surprise, the redheaded girl drew me into an embrace, and I felt myself calmed by merely being within her arms. I raised my head. "I'm Ginny," she said.

"I am Fleur," I said. I paused, sniffed. "Why are you...?"

She released me. "Because I wanted to help somebody," she said. She took my handkerchief, dabbed away my tears, and smiled. "And you need it."

I smiled, then laughed.

She began to laugh, and it was beautiful. I stood, and drew her into another embrace.

"Merci, Ginny."

"De rien, Fleur," she said as I left.

I felt unburdened for the first time ever. She had freed me from the oppression of life without love with her care.

Love: Affection, caring, desire, lust, sympathy and tenderness.

It was then that I understood I could never love a man, when a woman could be so tender and care so deeply.