Seems I need to repost this, as the separation between the two POVs did not show up. I've always said there's black magic in computers!
A/N: Well, my friends, here I am again with the first chapter of the sequel to my Harry/Fleur saga. I must say I find this new way of writing a bit difficult after the first part. Please tell me your opinions, there is still time to change the fundamental approach. And, yes, please: CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is not only welcome but absolutely necessary! "You should do this or that, and you messed up this one bcause.... In your place I would do this..." such things help me a lot more than the stereotypical "Great work, update soon!" Of course this is not to say I don't appreciate the praise, too; and instead of not reviewing at all, keep the laurel wreaths coming, by all means!
Thanks for all the interesting comments and ideas, especially LT200; you have the most fascinating insight into the nature of writng, how come you have not done anything on ffnet yourself? I'm sure it would be great! I tried to mail you directly, but the address that is given on ffnet is wrong. Would be nice if you could give me the correct one.
I'm starting a Yahoo! Group, too, where I intend to park Fleur's Diary, and some other tidbits of my writings. You're welcome to visit and discuss all Fleur-related stuff. The group is called FLEUR DE FOUDRE, which means Flower of Lightning, if my French is correct. But be patient, it will take some time until you can find anything there.
Anyway, here is the beginning of "THE SCORPION'S STING":
Chapter 1 – It's going to be a cold lonely summer
"Fleur!" Margaux was shaking her friend, who had been gazing dreamily out of the window for the last couple of hours, or so it seemed. "Fleur! We're going to arrive in a few of minutes!"
"What?" The silver-blonde girl replied, snapping out of her trance. "Oh-"
Her face fell, and the blue eyes darkened.
"Come," Iphigenie, who had moved to her side, interjected, "It won't be as bad as all that. We've promised to come visit you, remember? And we'll find a way…"
"Yes, I know, and I'm grateful for that," Fleur said in a low, dull voice. "But… you don't know my mother… And- and I'm missing him so already!" Her voice shook with suppressed tears.
"Come, it's no good, and you know it," Margaux said resolutely. "If you want to do anything about it, the first thing you need is a clear head! All that snivelling and crying won't make things better. And, who knows, perhaps your mother will be nicer to you now; you're a Triwizard Champion after all, and she may be glad enough to have you back. Perhaps what happened to Cedric has made her think about what could have happened to you…"
"Yes, sometimes these things take time to sink in," Iphigenie assisted. "Why don't you just wait and see how things develop? And we'll come to see you in a weeks' time. Let's see if she can refuse!"
"Yes, we're Beauxbatons graduates now, aren't we?" There was pride in Margaux' voice. "Ready to start an independent life of our own!"
Fleur couldn't help smiling at her friend's eager tone of voice.
"There you go, Margaux said, satisfied, "that's the spirit! Just don't let her get you down!"
Presently, the Expres Beauxbatons came to a standstill at perron 3 ¾ of Gare St. Lazare, and the students started leaving the train eagerly, happy to start off into their hard-earned holidays.
"Got to run!" Margaux shouted breathlessly. "We've got this new flat together, see… oh, I can't wait!" And she grabbed her girl-friend's hand and pulled her out into the corridor.
Fleur remained in her seat until the noise in the train had died down, then, with a sigh, she got up and slowly left the compartment.
The platform was nearly deserted, when she stepped on to it, heaving her trunk after her. She had not expected anyone to be waiting for her, and so she was completely taken by surprise when a small girl rushed towards her; she barely had time to react and open her arms before her sister jumped right into them.
"Gabie? What the…?"
Fleur couldn't believe it. The last thing she had expected after her mother's cool farewell was to be welcomed and almost toppled over by her sister. Concluding logically, that Gabrielle was too young to be travelling on her own, she looked around, and really, she saw her mother standing there, a couple of feet away, a rare smile on her face.
She put her little sister back on the ground and turned to her mother, unable to hide her surprise.
"Yes, cherie," Isabeau Delacour said, stepping up towards her and opening her arms. "I thought it would be a bit hard for you if you had to arrive here all on your own… After that terrible experience of yours, I've been thinking I've perhaps been a bit inconsiderate…"
Fleur was speechless for a moment; how long ago was it that she had heard her mother talk to her that way?
"No buts," her mother said quietly. "Won't you embrace your mother?"
Still surprised, but not unpleasantly so, Fleur complied.
This is a dream, she thought, and if I just go along, it may be some time until I wake up…
They left the station together, Fleur and her mother each holding one of Gabrielle's hands. Men kept turning their heads to look at the small group, and more often than not someone ran into something, because they had not been watching where they were going. Of course this was nothing surprising, Isabeau Delacour was certainly a stunning appearance in her exquisitely tailored silk trousers and jacket, clicking along on her high stilettos, her waist-long silver-blonde mane dancing in the rhythm of her steps.
I wonder, does she still possess the Veela charm? Can she use it at will?
"Imbecile", Isabeau muttered impatiently, hurling a devastating look at a uniformed man, who was standing in her way. The man turned a deep shade of red and slunk away.
Outside the station, the silver Rolls Royce was parked, - in the tow-away zone, of course. A grim-faced policeman was standing next to it.
"Is this-" He could not even finish his sentence; when the Veela smile hit him full force, his eyes turned glassy and his motions became machine-like as he saluted and stepped out of the way.
Fleur couldn't help grinning. So that's my question answered. That charm works all right.
Isabeau got into the car and motioned for Fleur to sit next to her. Gabrielle got in in the back, and noiselessly, and in an elegant curve the huge car started to move.
"Get in, boy, we haven't got all day," Vernon Dursley grunted when they had finally reached the car. He was huffing a good deal in the hot sun, as, of course, there had been no parking space available nearer than twenty minutes' walk from King's Cross. Moreover, they had just reached the Vauxhall when a policeman had started writing out a ticket, and it had only been with luck (the policeman's biro refused to write) that he had escaped a fine. Naturally, Vernon's normally less than amenable mood had reached rock bottom. "Don't know why I take the trouble to fetch you, really. Why can't those weirdoes look after you in the holidays, too? And is there any gratitude? No sir! But what else is there to be expected…"
His grumbling became indistinct as he folded his bulk up into the driver's seat.
"How long are you going to take with that bloody trunk of yours?" he snarled at Harry, who had been heaving his huge Hogwarts trunk along through the streets all by himself, and was now using all his strength to stow it away in the boot. ("No, I don't have a coin for you to use for the trolley," Vernon had said nastily. "Why don't you use some magic?" Of course he knew exactly Harry was strictly forbidden to do any magic outside school, and he enjoyed it a good deal.)
A last, feeling exhausted, Harry had managed to close the boot, and slipped into the back seat. He had no wish to sit next to his uncle, and Vernon did not comment on this.
The ride passed without any interruption, not even by a single word between uncle and nephew. The only sounds Vernon made were scathing remarks on other drivers' abilities of steering a car. When they finally pulled up at Privet Drive number 4, Vernon slammed the door and marched up to the house without looking back at Harry.
Harry, who had not felt like talking to his uncle anyway (he usually didn't), climbed out, got his trunk and dragged it up the front door, where his cousin was leaning, an unpleasant grin on his face. He seemed to have increased, if not in height then in width, although this had already seemed impossible when Harry had seen him last.
"Ah, so you're back, scar-face," he sneered at Harry. "Pity nobody turned you into a slimy slug or something…"
"Leave me alone, will you?" Harry replied quietly, pushing past Dudley, and could not help a slight feeling of satisfaction as he noticed the edge of his trunk grazing Dudley's shin.
"Look where you're going, fathead!" Dudley snorted and smacked the back of Harry's head forcefully.
Harry ignored him and started heaving his trunk up the stairs. When he had at last reached his room, he collapsed on his bed and closed his eyes.
Elegantly wending its way through the heavy traffic, the Rolls soon left Paris and after a short time (shorter than a normal un-charmed vehicle would have needed) they entered a well-groomed park and at last drew up in front of a large Empire-style mansion.
Still dazed with her mother's unusual behaviour (she had been chatting to her most of the journey), Fleur got out of the car and stretched her legs. Gabrielle jumped out of the car too, and presently the two sisters were happily dancing on the gravel path that led up to the front door, where the butler had just appeared.
In a haughty gesture that would have been very familiar to Fleur had she been watching it, Isabeau tossed the car keys to the butler and then approached her daughters.
"Welcome home, Fleur," she said with her beautiful smile. "It's so good to have you back. You and I, we must have a nice long talk some day soon."
Is she trying the Veela charm on ME? No, it can't be, I'm being paranoid…My own mother! But I must find out what has made her change so completely.
"Oui, Maman," she said dutifully, "I'm looking forward to it."
They proceeded into the salon, where the house-elves had arranged lunch – some ten different dishes, beautifully presented on silver dishes on the long table.
"I thought you might appreciate some real food after the horrors of British cooking," Isabeau said with another smile.
"But English breakfast is great," Gabrielle piped up. "I loved those baked beans, and the bacon…"
"And I have a surprise for you," Isabeau continued, completely ignoring her younger daughter. "Look who's here!"
And as Fleur turned round she gave a delighted gasp.
"Grand-mere!" she shouted and rushed over to embrace the tall woman who had just entered.
Nobody would have guessed that Vivienne Delisle was 150 years old; she did not look a day older than forty, perhaps, and the inexperienced observer could easily have taken her for Isabeau's (only slightly) elder sister. The family likeness was unmistakable.
"Fleur, ma petite!" she exclaimed, "oh, how wonderful to see you again after that long time! You'll have to tell your old grandmother everything about your adventures in foggy dark Scotland! So you didn't win, but so what, I've been telling your mother, it's no disgrace at all to lose against Harry Potter! You must tell me what he is like; you must have got to know him a bit, I expect?"
Was that a secret twinkle in her eyes? But she can't possibly know… Well, so it was her who made mother change her attitude…
"But I hardly know him at all, grandma, …"
Vivienne put a silencing finger on her granddaughter's lips, and now the twinkle was unmistakable.
"Not now, cherie, we'll have a lot of time later on, why don't we attack this beautiful lunch now?"
"You, boy!" Vernon's voice came barking from downstairs. "Get down here! Now!"
Harry, who had dozed off, woke with a start. From long experience he knew it was wise to follow his uncle's invitation. With a heavy sigh he heaved himself from his bed.
Why can't the old fool not just leave me in peace? I wonder what bloody stupid ideas he has now. Nothing pleasant for me, so much is for sure.
"I'll make one or two things perfectly clear, right at the beginning of these blasted two months," Vernon was saying, as soon as Harry had entered the living room. "I'm not going to tolerate any funny business from you. No visits of your weirdo friends, either. And you'll have to earn your living, too. You'll work in the garden and round the house, and do whatever we tell you to do. It's high time you do something to pay back the generous spendings we have been lavishing on you all these years…"
Generous spendings! Harry grinned bitterly and could only barely refrain from a sarcastic remark. I'm just helping them out so they don't have to throw away Dudley's old rags…
"Have I made myself perfectly clear, boy?"
"Yes, uncle Vernon."
Dudley, who had been clearly enjoying this, was smirking broadly.
"You might start tomorrow with cleaning up my room," he gloated. "Oh, please, Dad, make him clean up my room!"
"All right, Dud," Vernon seemed to enjoy the idea, too. "That room of yours needs a going-over, anyway, or so your mother tells me."
Dudley's smirk almost split his face in half by now. "Thanks Dad!" And to Harry he said, "You'll start as soon as I get up for breakfast, and take care not to break anything, unless you want your ass kicked!"
Harry's stomach was rumbling by now,- he had not eaten anything since the handful of chocolate frogs on the train, and that had been some time around ten in the morning,- but he would sooner have starved than asked his uncle for some food.
"Can I go to my room now?"
"Yes, and don't forget I want my breakfast at seven sharp tomorrow morning. I'm leaving early to see an important customer."
"Yes, uncle Vernon."
"Oh, Gabie, it's such a mystery to me!" Fleur said to her sister, when they were finally alone in the older girl's room. "How did she change like that? It's only a week, isn't it, that she left me, over in the hospital wing at Hogwarts, where she barely looked at me, and now… She's so completely different! It's almost frightening!"
"I don't understand it myself; she was like always for three or four days after I returned with her. Distant, and not paying attention to me, not talking of you either, most of the time busy somewhere else, I hardly ever saw her at all… Then grandma arrived, and, I do believe that's when she changed, became like she is now. Now, I'm not complaining, of course not, but I agree, there's something very strange about it… But,- well, let's just enjoy it while we can, shall we?"
"You are clever as always, Gabie. And Morgaine knows I can use anything to cheer me up!"
"Oh, yes, of course. Tell me, what happened after I left?"
"Cedric,- I shouldn't be telling you this, it's supposed to be a secret, but,- you are my sister, so what? Well, Cedric isn't really dead. Wait, I said 'not really', didn't I? It seems the curse missed or was deflected or something, and now he is something like Petrified, only much worse, and nobody knows what to do about it… but there is hope, at any rate."
"That's something, I believe. But, what about HIM?"
"Ah, Gabie! Imagine, we kissed!"
"You kissed him before, didn't you?"
"But we REALLY kissed this time! And he feels the same as I do!"
"But that's lovely! You've been waiting for this to happen for months!"
The little girl's face that had been beaming with joy suddenly turned serious.
"And now you don't know how you'll ever live through the summer without seeing him."
"AND through next year! I'll have to do one more year of school, don't you forget it! Merde! What if something happens to him, and I'll not even be near him? What…"
Fleur's voice choked in a sob. Gabrielle put her arms round her soothingly.
"Things will work out," she whispered. "I know this is something special you are having here, and that's why I'm sure everything will be all right."
She jumped down from the sofa they were sitting on.
"Do you know, she gave me a broom for my ninth birthday! So why don't we go for a spin round the park? It will do you good!"
Harry's rumbling stomach kept him awake for some time. He had managed to sneak down to the kitchen to get a sandwich and a glass of milk after the Dursleys had gone to bed, but it was far from enough to appease his hunger. But finally he fell asleep in spite of it.
He found himself in the dark graveyard that he knew only too well, he watched the Dark Lord rise from the cauldron, and he heard Wormtail say the curse. He had been dreaming the same dream for the last couple of days, and had always woken with a scream. This time, however, when the first sound of the curse was uttered, there was a powerful swish of wings and a white owl flew straight into his tormentor's face, who vanished in a bright light.
Suddenly there was no owl any more, SHE was there, in front of him, her beautiful face, those fascinating deep blue eyes, the silver aureole of her hair enveloped him, her lips were coming nearer...
He couldn't have said what had woken him up, but he sat up in his bed, for a moment at a loss where he was and what was going on.
"So typical, Hedwig," he said to his owl that seemed to be watching him from her perch on top of the wardrobe. "There I seem to be having my first good dream for I don't know how long, and then of course, I wake just when it starts getting interesting."
Hedwig gave a low hoot, as if listening.
"Do you know," Harry continued. "She looked exactly like you, when she flew at that blighter Wormtail. In fact, I thought it WAS you... Before she told me, of course... Weird, isn't it? I wonder will I ever see her again? I already feel like I'm missing something, like I'm not complete... She'll be with that awful mother of hers... And she'll have another year of school to do... Merlin knows what can happen in such a long time... sounds so far away and long ago, somehow.. Was it really only a few days ago? Fire and water... Do you think there's really something to it? Are we meant to...? Is this a real prophecy? There must be something behind it, Hedwig, I mean, why else would a girl like her get involved with a guy like me? "Little boy," she called me, when she first noticed me... How embarrassed I was when she caught me polishing my wand... And how I felt sorry for her when she all but panicked before going out to meet that dragon... And the first time she kissed me, down at the lake... I wouldn't have been surprised if there had smoke been coming out my ears... "I deserved zero," she said.... The fun we had flying... the way she hexed flowers on to Malfoy's head... Sirius likes her, too, and he hardly likes anybody... And then, in that maze,... She saved my neck there, I'm sure... but perhaps, if the Skrewt had got me... Cedric would have taken the Cup on his own... perhaps they'd not have hurt him... No, I can't seriously wish for that, we'd never have kissed then... Wonder what she's doing now, if she's thinking of me... perhaps I'll dream of her again?"
Gradually, Harry's eyes drooped, and he drifted off to sleep again. His sleep was perfectly dreamless, however.