Summary: The Yule Ball. There is a long, pregnant silence as Cedric stares at the ground and Fleur stares at the top of his head. Oneshot.
Disclaimer: I just play with them occasionally.
A/N: For Amanda. Second in a series of seven.
The first dance is supposed to belong solely to the champions, and she is thankful for the space between couples, because she is having a difficult time focusing on Roger. Halfway through the song, however, Professor Dumbledore takes Professor McGonagall's hand and the two of them lead the throng of students onto the floor, waltzing and spinning in tandem with each other.
Fleur exhales harshly.
"You seem a bit tense," Roger murmurs, tugging her closer. She offers him a smile and tightens her grip on his hand in response.
"I 'ave not danced in a while," she says. "Remembering ze steps," she continues, flipping her hand absently. He smiles at her and slides his hand to the small of her back.
"Don't worry about it. I've got you," he promises, twirling her in gentle circles around the floor. They move fluidly between other couples on the floor, and she notices with some horror that Cedric and Cho have moved directly into her line of sight.
Almost immediately, Fleur's attention is focused on her fellow champion; the way his robes frame his figure, the way Cho looks too small in his arms, the way he has not taken his eyes off of her once since she descended the stairs to the entrance hall nearly an hour ago.
Taking a deep breath, she turns into Roger and plants a kiss on his cheek. He looks slightly stunned; she giggles quietly and tucks her head against his shoulder as the song changes. The next one is slower, and she recognizes it immediately. The summer before she was chosen to go to Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament, Madeline found a collection of muggle records in her mother's things and fell in love with the pianist, forcing Fleur to endure hours of sonatas and concertos that she couldn't help but appreciate for their intricacies.
Roger runs his fingers up her back gently, smoothing the fabric of her dress robes. When they turn again, Cedric is staring at them over Cho's head, which is resting quite contentedly on his chest.
He seems troubled, though nothing but the tense set of his shoulders gives him away. Fleur shifts a bit so that she is as close to Roger as she can be without having to initiate any sort of romantic contact, and then she feels terrible for using such an exceptionally kind boy to make another jealous. So far, her stay at Hogwarts has only proven to her how truly lucky she is to be a citizen of France and a student of Beauxbatons.
Only her contact with her fellow champions -- particularly Cedric -- and Roger has given her any hope of enjoying herself while she is in Scotland. With that thought in mind, she raises her head from Roger's shoulder and presses her cheek against his for another soft kiss of encouragement.
When she pulls away, Cedric has turned his attention back to Cho and Harry Potter's red-headed friend is glaring at some unknown point just over her shoulder. Fleur chooses to ignore the latter; she is merely thankful that he is not staring at her for once.
"Roger is a lucky bloke."
Her skin is frozen from the chill in the garden, but she doesn't mind. She can feel him behind her, too close to explain away should one of their dates appear, but far enough away that neither of them will be punished by Professor Snape as he raids the rose bushes for promiscuous couples.
"Porquoi?" she wonders, almost to herself. Cedric enters her peripheral vision and she carefully picks a red rose from the bush in front of her, twirling it between her palms as she continues to walk along the carved path of the garden.
He clears his throat. "You're stunning," he murmurs. Fleur turns her head sharply to look at him, to gauge his sincerity. He does not have the glazed-over look that many of the boys get when they try to compliment her beauty. To the contrary, his eyes are quite clear, and so sincere.
"I can't imagine that those dress robes provide much protection against the cold, though," he says, obviously noticing her discomfort. Fleur shrugs slightly, but in the next moment he has removed his cloak and draped it around her shoulders.
"Merci beaucoup." She smiles brightly.
"Je vous en prie," Cedric replies, surprising her. "Are you enjoying yourself?" he asks, resting his hands behind his back as he walks.
"Oui," she replies. "Ze Hall eez beautiful. 'Ow is your evening?"
"I suppose," he murmurs. "Not one for dancing, really." At this, he nods toward the lit windows of the Great Hall, offering her a telling smirk. She continues to roll the stem of her rose between her fingers, biting back a gasp when she pricks her index finger on one of its thorns.
If he notices, he doesn't comment. Fleur is thankful for small favors.
They walk in companionable silence for a while, eventually making it back to the entrance of the castle. She sighs heavily and stops near the steps, gently peeling one of the petals from her rose. "I do not understand zis ridiculous obsession with roses," she proclaims, focusing all of her attention on her task.
Cedric is silent for a moment, and then he bursts out laughing. The sound is loud in the solemnity of the garden and she starts, dropping the flower to the ground.
"I'm sorry," he gasps, clutching his side. She narrows her eyes dangerously. "I've just never met a girl opposed to flowers before."
"Clearly you 'ave not met very many girls," she replies haughtily. No one in her family appreciates the supposedly overwhelming beauty of roses. She understands the symbolism of their colors, sees the way the symmetry might possibly be appealing to someone, but cannot find a love for them no matter how hard she tries. It might be because she is tired of beauty being recognized as such a fantastic, remarkable thing.
He has sobered by the time he manages to grab her attention again, though she is still annoyed with him for mocking her. "Cho les aime, non?"
"I don't remember mentioning Cho," he says quietly. Something occurs to her suddenly and she stiffens slightly, her heart beating more rapidly than she would like to admit.
"Where is she?"
"She was tired, so I walked her back to her common room."
"And you came back down? Why?"
There is a long, pregnant silence as Cedric stares at the ground and Fleur stares at the top of his head. She clenches her hands around the edges of his cloak, breathing slowly, wondering if Roger has given up on her or if he will spend the rest of the evening with her. She had told him she was going outside to get some fresh air nearly twenty minutes ago.
Cedric carefully bends down to retrieve the rose from where it has fallen. She watches through hooded eyes as he pulls his wand from the inside pocket of his dress robes and swishes it once.
A gentle flick of the wrist turns the rose into a snap dragon that is the exact shade of her dress robes and she gasps, instantly reaching for the flower. He pulls it back teasingly and replaces his wand as she locks eyes with him. There is a challenge there and she revels in it; competition keeps her sane.
"The last dance is at midnight," he tells her. Closing his right hand around her left, he gently lifts her palm to his mouth and presses his lips to the skin of her wrist. "I'll be waiting for you."
He tucks the flower behind her ear with his other hand, fleetingly resting his fingers against her jaw. A moment later, he has disappeared into the castle, and she is left standing alone at the bottom of the stairs, gazing at her wrist in something like awe.