Here's the final chapter- it's pretty long. It hasn't been beta'd either, so please excuse any mistakes. Thanks for following this, and look out for my next Fleurmione fic, hopefully out soon. Peace.
The sun shone brilliantly through the windows of the classroom as Professor Flitwick continued covering the proper way to cast a Chameleous charm. Some students were paying attention, but most were gazing longingly outside at the warm spring day, the first one of the season. Two of these were paying attention simply to keep them from staring at the person directly across from them.
The attraction pulling at them to look across the room was strong; it burned their insides to mush. They had to fight the urge with almost all their strength. I'm mad at her, Fleur had to continually remind herself. She knew it wasn't Hermione's fault Viktor was a lumbering tower of idiot who wouldn't take no for an answer, was it?
Then why am I pretending to still be mad at her?
I don't know.
And while it froze her on the inside, Hermione knew that she deserved whatever punishment Fleur decided to give her. They hadn't spoken for a whole week. It killed Hermione to watch Fleur scorn her from afar, but she earned that scorn.
The Third Task was in a few days. Shortly after that, the year would be over and Fleur would depart for France. They had to talk before then, they just had to.
But Hermione couldn't bring herself to be the one to break the silence.
The few short days passed in a quick span of eternity. Not a single word was said between the two witches. In her Champions tent, Fleur put on her gear slowly. The Third Task was always the deadliest, Madame had said. If she had anything important to say to anyone before she potentially died, she should have said it before this last day. Unfortunately, the person she had the most to say to was avoiding her like the plague.
The Champions were called to the center of the ring made near the four entrances to the hedge maze. Harry, Cedric, and Viktor were all there, dressed and ready to go like she was. Harry's wand was gripped so tightly in his hand that his knuckles shone white in the fading light of the day. Dumbledore, Madame Maxime, and Karkaroff stood behind their respective students as the officials went over last-minute details pertaining to the task.
Fleur was half-listening; her eyes scanned the crowd nervously for Hermione. Her eyes caught a flash of red and her heart leapt; Hermione was sitting next to that little bit of red. Fleur's heart fell when she saw that her eyes were looking everywhere but at her: the sky, the crowd, the maze, the other Champions; everywhere but her.
The four were wished good luck and sent to their respective entrances. As she looked inside the dusky gloom in front of her and the mist swirled menacingly, the enormity of her situation punched her hard in the gut, almost physically knocking her backwards. Sounds swirled into her head in a rush: the chanting of her French classmates as they danced along in rhythm to the music, the rowdy shouts ringing clearly from the Durmstrang section, the Hogwarts band blaring out a bouncy tune to keep the mood light and somewhat cheerful. The world seemed to come into a sharper focus now; colors were more vivid. She turned her head away from the gloomy haze in front of her and found Hermione in the crowd.
She was looking at her. Their eyes met and held.
The world around them melted away into nothingness as they just looked at each other, memorizing every minute detail about the other silently. Icy blue eyes bore into endlessly warm hazels. An apology passed between the two, but before it could be accepted the cannon shot rang in the air. The world returned noisily as cheering erupted around the circle. Fleur turned and entered the maze, not daring to look back.
The excitement died down quickly after the Champions disappeared into the maze. The crowd had no way of monitoring their progress; all anybody could do was sit and wait for red or green sparks to shoot up from somewhere in the gloom. The professors all sat down with their students, talking quietly or just sitting there waiting. Most of the assembled students were chatting with their friends, bored with the lack of activity in the circle below them. Malfoy could be heard loudly praising Krum while simultaneously mocking Harry.
Hermione's anxiety in the stands increased with each passing second. Her eyes darted back and forth steadily over the top of the hedges, hoping to catch any glimpse she could of a blast of magic, or preferably, a flash of blonde hair. Her search yielded nothing. Her heart began to pulse faster and faster within her, increasing her anxiety. An uneasy feeling settled in her stomach. Try as she might, she couldn't make it go away. It gnawed at her, burning and twisting her normally-confident self into a ball of uncertainty.
Totally unaware of his best friend's growing unease, Ron was talking to Dean about next year's Quidditch team and whether or not he had a shot at making it. Ginny, sitting between her brother and Hermione, realized how quiet the latter was being when she heard a quiet whimper coming from behind her. She turned and watched as a small drop of moisture ran from her friend's eye down her cheek.
A hand raced up and wiped the offending tear away as she turned her face away, not saying anything. Hazel eyes scanned the distance for any sign of something, anything. They were once again rewarded with nothing but quiet.
"Hermione, what's wrong? If you're worried about Harry I'm sure he's…"
She had stopped listening. Of course Ginny would assume it was Harry she was getting upset about, not Fleur. Never Fleur. Why should she be upset over some snooty French girl who never spared anyone that didn't belong on the runway a second glance? Because Fleur wasn't like that.
Fleur was kind. Fleur was gentle. Fleur was funny, graceful, beautiful wonderful amazing down-to-earth perfect smart imperfect insecure self-conscious human-
Because Fleur was Fleur-
-and, Hermione realized with a start, because she loved her.
Her realization was met with a flare of red sparks from the right side of the maze. The crowd responded immediately, suddenly interested in something other than their friends around them. Officials sprang into action within moments of the flare being seen-they took off in the direction of the sparks. Many stood up to watch.
Her stomach burning fiercer than before, Hermione waited with growing dread until figures reappeared from the maze carrying a body between them. An excited murmur ran through the stands, making the hair on the back of her neck stand up.
Fleur- its Fleur-Fleur…
The sight of her limp head being set gently onto the ground by Professor McGonagall sent her racing from her seat down to the grassy area below. Ginny, surprised and confused by her friend's sudden movements, got up and ran after her.
The teachers surrounding Fleur tried to keep Hermione at bay while Madame Pomfrey looked her over. Professor McGonagall had the best grip on her, her lips pursed in a frown.
"Miss Granger, I know this is a very upsetting situation, but-"Hermione struggled ferociously against her, making her wince, "please try and control yourself."
Tears ran freely down her face now. Fleur wasn't moving. The dim light made it hard to see if she was even breathing. Madame Pomfrey was mouthing the words to healing spells as Hermione looked on. She slowly stopped struggling against the teachers holding her. Ginny came up and placed a hand on her shoulder comfortingly.
"Hermione, it's okay. I mean, I know you and Fleur were close, but…" she trailed off, uncertain of what to say next.
A dry laugh escaped her lips. "Close? Ginny…" Her head hung low on her chest. She raised it fully now, eyes open wide, and looked only at Fleur. "I love her, Ginny."
The redhead behind her was silent, absorbing this information slowly. Ron had come down and joined them now, but he didn't hear the confession. McGonagall heard it and pretended not to have; it wasn't her place to say anything now.
Madame Pomfrey stood now, wiping her hands on her skirt. She looked tired; sweat was making her brow slick. "She'll be fine, lucky thing. Just a scrape or two now, nothing major; I've taken care of the worst of it. Looks like one of the shrub traps got her and one of the others was gentleman enough to rescue her before she was taken completely." She spoke quietly to those assembled close. A smaller version of Fleur materialized under the arm of Madame Maxime and stood there quietly, staring at her older sister. Gabrielle suddenly looked years older than she was.
The words "taken completely" resonated in Hermione's mind. So she had come close to losing Fleur that night to the Tournament. With the hold on her lessened, she moved quickly to kneel at her side, taking in the damage. Madame Pomfrey had taken away most of the injuries like she said; there was still a small cut on her right temple and a bruise snaked down from just under her chin to disappear into the collar of her shirt. Those were the only visible marks on her otherwise perfect body; Hermione silently thanked whatever gods there were.
The crowd quieted down again once the action was over. After a few minutes the faraway sounds of fighting could be heard. Suspicious excitement ran through the crowd of students again, but when no more sparks shot into the sky the quiet resumed.
Hermione was content now that Fleur was safely back with her. The teachers moved away to give them some small amount of privacy at the order of Dumbledore, but they remained close in case of some sudden turn for the worse. Hermione didn't notice; she was too glad to be holding Fleur's smooth pale cheek in her hand to care. Gabrielle stood to the side, watching silently. An odd look adorned her face, a mix of uncertainty and disapproval.
She looks so serene, Hermione thought. Her expression was smooth as glass, despite the smudges of dirt on her cheeks and forehead. Her eyes were shut and she looked like she was asleep. A soft smile tug at the corner of her lips as she gazed down at her girlfriend.
Icy blue eyes fluttered open, hazy at first but focusing on the lovely face floating above. A smile mirroring the other came to her face. It was quickly replaced with a pained wince as her head reminded her what had happened earlier that evening.
One of the teachers noticed that Fleur was awake and informed the others. Flurries of questions were directed at her, which she answered as best as she could. The story was: she had been walking through the maze when Viktor appeared around a corner, his eyes glowing with an inhuman light. He attacked and paralyzed her, and he would have killed her if one of the other two hadn't come and distracted him. It was like he was possessed, she said. But one of the hedges began to take a hold of her with its roots and branches, pulling her under. Her rescuer took up her wand and sent the sparks up after freeing her from the vegetation. Then he took off, not wanting to be the one removed from the Task.
With her story sorted out, she and Hermione were allowed to stand off together until the Task was complete. An hour passed between her waking and the next round of excitement. They had been talking and Hermione knew that she had to tell Fleur how she felt.
"Fleur, there's something I've got to tell you."
Fleur was tired, and it showed in her weary smile. But she was focused solely on Hermione now. "What is it, dear?"
"Fleur, I…I-" The sudden appearance of Harry with the trophy in one hand and Cedric's newly dead body in the other cut her short as screams erupted around them.
The rest of the night was a blur for the two of them. So much happened so quickly that it was hard for anyone to be sure of what actually occurred. Harry disappeared with Professor Mooney, only to be found out later as Barty Crouch, Jr. Voldemort was back, Harry said, and he killed Cedric. It was a dark day indeed, and not even Fleur's smile could brighten it for anyone, even Hermione.
The ceremony for Cedric was a somber affair. Everyone attended, wearing their finest black dress robes and mournful expressions. Even Malfoy was behaving himself for once. After the speeches were made and the tears were shed in his honor, it was time for the visiting schools to pack for the taking of their leave the following day. Many were sad; they had made friends throughout the year and didn't want to say goodbye.
It was especially hard for new couples to part ways. Hermione and Fleur spent every possible moment together once Fleur's packing was done. Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Claire gave them their much-needed privacy. Gabrielle, who would normally have been clinging to Fleur now, stayed away from them.
Finally it was time to say goodbye. The throng of Hogwarts students lined the outside walkways, saying their goodbyes to their new Durmstrang and Beauxbatons friends. Fleur and Hermione found a quiet, secluded corner and were talking quietly about future plans for the summer and beyond. Hermione had been fighting with herself to say what she had meant to the night of the Third Task, and knew that it was now or never.
During a lull in the conversation, "Fleur, there's something I've been meaning to tell you."
She had Fleur's total and undivided attention. Somehow she felt that Fleur knew what was coming. "Oui, ma chere?"
Hermione averted her eyes, looking everywhere but at Fleur while she gathered the courage to say what she had to. The clock tower began to strike noon elsewhere on the school grounds, signaling the loading of the Beauxbatons carriage for departure. Fleur was looking off in the distance when Hermione finally looked at her again.
"Fleur…" Something in her voice made Fleur turn, a soft look in her eyes.
"I love you," she whispered.
Arms enfolded one another.
"I love you, too" she whispered back softly in her ear.
They parted, walking hand in hand quietly towards the group of students. Nothing more needed to be said between them now; the warmth of the other's hand in theirs said enough. In minutes the warmth would be gone from their hands, placed instead in a special area at the bottom of the heart reserved for things that cannot be expressed with simple words.