AUTHOR: D. Geheimnis
PAIRING: Fleur/Hermione. (Mention of Lavender/Parvati)
SUMMARY: Love is like death, sudden and unexpected, long and drawn out. Fleur Delacour is no expert in the ways of love, the English or Hermione Granger. But in Hermione's seventh year, the learning curve is steep.
NOTE: This was written as an alternative POV to Dreiser's "No Defense for You," which was written after GoF but before OotP. Therefore, this story is set in both Rowling's canon for the story in general and Dreiser's canon for the seventh year of Hogwarts.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I would like to thank Dreiser for her continual help with my fanfic, both through our conversations and her dedication to reading the chapters as I write them.
WARNINGS: F/F, mild use of occasional profanity, minor angst, and mild sexuality.
DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and the original storyline are not mine; they belong to J.K. Rowling and Dreiser, respectively.

Aucune Defense Pour Toi

Ch. 1. Love, Like Death.

Death is sudden and unexpected. Always. A man, her uncle, was told he had six months to live when she was five years old. He said his goodbyes. His wife prepared his deathbed. But after that he continued to live (or continued to die) for ten years, somehow managing to hold on. Every night was to be his last, every morning a surprise that soon lost its novelty. And when he finally died, it was sudden. It was as unexpected as if he was crossing the street on his way to get milk and was hit by an oncoming bus. (Except that way would have been quicker and perhaps less painful in the long run.)

This is how death is. Always.

Love, like death, is sudden and unexpected. Even if you long for it as if your life depended on it (and, believe me, sometimes it does) and even if you wish for it every night before you go to sleep, it will catch you off guard and envelope you. There is no adequate forewarning for love. Like death, one will fight it, dance around it or outright ignore it. (Arguably, unlike death, escape is possible.) Even so, love is often an oncoming bus (it hurts like hell).

She was seventeen when she fell in love. It was like stumbling in front oncoming bus in an express lane; and it was like waiting ten years to die. Love, like death, has the amazing ability of being sudden and taking forever.

When Fleur Delacour was a child, she made foolish assumptions about love. Short of experience, she had wonder and the unwavering belief that she was destined for a modern day (French) prince. To her, love was an older, taller man with dark hair, blue eyes, a hairless chest (for some reason, this was important) and a kind smile. He would be the right kind of handsome, funny, and intelligent. It was in her nature to believe this. As a veela, it was her culture, her very being.

Love. As a veela…

When Fleur was a child, she asked her mother about love. She told her firstborn that as veelas, "we fall in love on first sight" (and in between the lines she said we fall hard…) "and only once" (… for life, so damn our souls, requited or unrequited). She did not explain the courtship ritual and when she did, Fleur was too charming and beautiful to heed any warnings about sickness and death that would ensue from unrequited love, from a failure to do the ritual.

What problems would she have? None. (She believed this. Mostly.)

But her last year of school was hell. Why did she ever choose to leave France to go to cold, wet England to compete in the Triwizard Cup? (Glory. Fame. Pride.) Her performance at best was unmemorable and disappointing. But who was remembered from that travesty? Cedric, who was remembered because he died (and in death, how long would he be remembered?). Viktor, who was famous already (Bulgarians). But not as famous as Harry Potter, who became the laughing stock of the Wizarding World for a year. Fleur, she wanted to be remembered because she did well. Not for being petty. Not for being part veela. It ate away at her (sometimes it still does, she could have done better).

Her miserable year in England. Sometimes she hated that country more than she hated that tournament. This hatred, which was all inclusive of everything English from its food to its weather, began on her first night there.

Her first night there she found a reason never to leave.

Her first night there it was raining (or, at least, she thinks it was raining. In her mind, it rains more in England than it really does. And she knows this). In the Great Hall the enchanted sky stormed overhead and crowds of eyes locked onto her blonde, beautiful figure (with purpose, with lust, with a parody of love). She was used to this; she was attractive, she was beautiful and she was part veela.

She was not, however, used to falling in love. Her eyes locked on a smiling figure and knew (that all was lost, all was won). Until that moment, she found people attractive purely in a theoretical, distant sort of way. An amusement. An observation. An appreciation. And now?

And now her heart stopped as her eyes dwelled. And when her heart started up again it was with a different beat, forever changed in that one instant. It was a strange, indescribable feeling. It felt right, but right and good can feel different.

Shock. Surprise. Stunned, not stunning. The person was by most vocabularies little, young and by all vocabularies female. A little girl. (She had imagined, always hoped… older, taller, male. She had feared, known that this would happen.)

When she looked at this girl, she knew.

This girl? This (little) girl wore the ignored perfume of natural beauty. In the folly of youth, her natural charms were hidden behind and overwhelmed by brown, bushy hair among other features and faux pas. (Fleur wanted to tuck the offending hair gently aside.)

Fleur knew (she loved).

She knew the moment she caught the glow in the girl's eyes, a curiosity, a hunger, a passion, a … a something. Fleur couldn't put her finger on it (she wanted to touch it whatever it was) but it was in the eyes.

The eyes of a girl who was barely entering puberty had caught her stunned. She was fourteen at most. And Fleur, who was fixated on this girl's mouth, her lips, and thoughts of the softness of her skin, the sound of this young girls voice… Fleur was seventeen. Seventeen and (victoriously) just emerging from puberty.

Fleur sat there simply staring.

"If you're wondering, that is Harry Potter," a small boy sitting near her spoke with his mouth half full of offensive English food, breaking her reverie.

"Hm?" Fleur tore her eyes momentarily away from the brunette. As they returned back to the young girl, yes, they found Harry Potter. It wasn't hard. He was sitting right next to her. They were talking in fact. Perhaps they were friends. That was to the only extent that he interested her.

"Ah, oui." She smiled and the boy blushed, finally swallowing the food in his mouth. Why couldn't the English be more like the French?

When she looked across the room at the other girl, she wanted to touch. To kiss. To meet.

She bravely crossed the distance between their two tables. Bravely she asked the general area for a nearby dish. She returned victorious. With the dish. (Of course.) Food first. Love later. She had time. She was young. And the other girl? Even younger.

It became a habit of Fleur's, as the year progressed, to position herself within sight lines of the Gryffindor table to observe her, to find out something more. By the first task that she learned her name. Hermione Granger. Beautiful, exotic; ordinary. English. She learned little else about the other girl. She was smart and spent a lot of time in library. (Common knowledge. Viktor followed her there.) She knew what classes Hermione had, or at least which ones she mentioned most as meal times. Fleur knew which house she lived in, who her best friends were, and what Hermione ate for most meals. She did not know her favorite color, her dreams, her pet peeves, why her eyes had that undeniable… something.

But Viktor Krum did and she hated him for it. She hated him for taking Hermione to the Ball, for being male and able to easily navigate a way to Hermione's affections. She hated him because he made Hermione smile when Fleur was still too shy to approach. (Shy? A veela!) He knew what it was like to hold her body when Fleur could only trace outlines with her eyes. He had tasted her, had kissed her when Fleur could only imagine, fantasize. To Viktor, their age difference did not matter. Bulgarians.

He took her to the Ball.

It was only in the briefest of moments when Hermione's eyes met Fleur's. Realistically the rest of the world did not melt away, but Fleur wished it had. It was still there (but it had stopped to matter). But a new song began and Hermione returned back to Viktor. Fleur closed her eyes and exhaled, looked at her date briefly before finding Hermione in the crowd once again. But, by then, Hermione was laughing at something Krum had said.

It was around Christmas that she begun to become ill. Unaware of (or ignoring) what was going on, she went untreated for the entirety of her time in England. And with Cedric's death, it was several weeks into the summer before anyone knew what was going on, what had happened in England.

Before returning to France, she sought out Harry (when he was with Hermione). She told him (them, her) that she was going to improve her English. Her eyes found Hermione's, but Hermione's did not find hers. She turned and left.

(Never mind the truth that she was fluent. Her thick French accent? An amusement. A trick up her sleeve. Perhaps even an attempt to seem somehow more mysterious, attractive. A rebellion against being in a country she hated. But, in the end, who knows why we lie?)

Three years since her first appearance Fleur was back at Hogwarts pressing her ears up against the door to her Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. It was her first day, her first lesson. She had changed her outfit several times, reviewed her lesson plan thoroughly and breathed deeply. Her palms were sweating, her heart was pounding, and she was spying on her students through the door.

"I reckon it's someone we never heard of." A male voice came from the other end of the door. "Tried to get McGonagall to tell us but she wouldn't hear of it."

"Of course not." It was a serious, playful tone, a familiar female voice though it had aged by a few years. Fleur's heart nearly stopped. "She has far better things to think about."

"You're just as curious as we are, Hermione." Harry Potter. Was he still little? Was she?

"Maybe…" Hermione's voice came again.

Fleur closed her eyes, exhaled.

And then?

She opened the door and entered her classroom in one smooth, fluid movement. Her eyes scanned the room of gaping faces, first finding the redhead Ron (he was related to a man she had a passionless situation with the year before when she had been lonely and he had been attractive) and Harry Potter. Her eyes quickly grazed over the two boys to find Hermione. No longer was she the bushy haired fourteen year-old. Oh no, she was no longer a girl oblivious to her natural charms. She had grown up beautifully. She was stunning, striking in form-fitting robes. Striking as she scowled at Fleur.

Scowling at Fleur, who smiled.

"Bonjour. I am Professor Delacour but please call me Fleur. We are all going to be good friends, hm?" She had poise, she had grace, and inwardly her legs were fighting not to visibly tremble and give way beneath her.

And Fleur smiled winningly like she had learned to do years ago. But she felt like death. She started her lesson as if she did not see the deepening scowl or if she did, that it did not affect her. (Lies.)