Okay, first. Might be a bit OOC, but oh well. And to tell the truth, I really can't stand Fleur, but this just seemed like a good idea. It got stuck in my head. So I had to write it. Sorry if it's not too good.
Anyway. DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN HARRY POTTER OR ANY CHARACTERS, PLACES, OR OBJECTS IN IT. Well, I own a couple things. but oh well.
I sat at the edge of the lake, my knees drawn up to my chest, looking across the lake. I'd only lasted 34 minutes. All I wanted to do was jump back in the water and rescue my poor sister. But I couldn't. Madame Maxime had made that quite clear.
Still, as I sat there fearfully, I couldn't help blaming myself for everything that had or hadn't happened to poor Gabrielle. She was so fragile, so young. The droplets of water on my face could have been lake water or tears; I couldn't tell. I wiped them away and clutched my towel even tighter around my shoulders.
"Mind if I sit?" came a voice. I shook my head without looking at the person. Whoever it was sat.
"So...are you alright?" I mean, other then that you didn't complete the task." he said, for it was definitely a guy.
"Of course I am not! My little sister is 'eld 'ostage by vicious merpeople and I didn't 'elp 'er!" I said angrily. Still I didn't look, though. The clock by the judges' panel said it had been 39 minutes since the start of the task. Maybe after the hour had passed they'd bring her back...
"Yeah, I guess that was a bit stupid of me. But it's not like they'll let her get hurt." he replied.
"Zat is not necessarily true! She is so young, only eight, and she may be 'urt already, ze merpeople are not kind!" I said, my voice dangerous. The possibilities were running through my mind. Grindylows, merpeople, drowning, anything.
"You're pretty protective of her, aren't you?" he said.
"Of course! She is so small, so easily 'urt! She gets scared easily, she'll be terrified if she wakes up alone underwater!" I answered. He sighed.
"I've got a little sister, too. She's 13, and she hates me. I'm the family joke, really. None of them like me much." His voice is extremely bitter. "They never have, to tell the truth. I'm too different."
"My little sister relies on me. For many things. I am sure yours does not hate you."
"Trust me. She does. But it's my own fault." he barely finished his sentence before I stiffened and, without turning, became hostile.
"Meaning what? Did you 'urt your sister?" I heard him turn to me.
"Of course not! I'm just too ambitious, too...Anyway, why would you jump to that conclusion?" I didn't mean to answer him. I never answered questions like that. But for some reason, I did.
"When she was only four, an old family friend beat 'er up, as well as me. I was only 13, I did not know 'ow to stop 'him. I couldn't, and 'e did 'orrible things, to both of us, and 'e threatened us. It was so terrible and frightening. And so I tried to stop 'im anyway, I pushed him from 'er and 'id 'er behind me, and so 'e... 'e..." I burst into tears. It was the first time I'd ever told anyone of that day, and the memory was painful. Suddenly, I glanced at the clock and began laughing. 59 minutes.
"Why are you laughing? There's nothing funny!" he said incredulously.
"No, it is just, I 'ave only known you less than 20 minutes, and I 'ave just told you my deepest secret...Someone is finished!" Cedric Diggory, with a Chinese girl, the one from the ball. I laid my forehead on my knees. Of course it wasn't Gabrielle. If she died it was my fault.
"Of course not...stupid to think..." muttered the man beside me.
"What?" I asked bitterly. "'Oping to see ze famous Viktor Krum, or 'Arry Potter?"
"No...I know someone in there. Although to be fair, I was hoping to see the champion too, in all technicality, because seeing him would mean seeing the others."
"If Gabrielle dies, it is my fault." I said softly, more to myself than him.
"She won't. The judges won't let her...I would know."
"Really?" The temptation to look and see who I was talking to was strong, but it had become a sort of challenge for me. Besides...I didn't want to know. He knew too much about me.
"Yes...Someone else! It's Krum..." he said, his voice rising. I looked at the clock. It had been an hour and 16 minutes. If she wasn't back yet, maybe she wouldn't be coming back at all...and my protection of four years would mean nothing, if in the end I caused her death.
"Let's see...It's been 16 minutes since the time limit expired. But no one made it back in time. Though Diggory was only a minute over..." the man was muttering.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing, nothing. Look. Fleur. Has anything happened since? With...the 'family friend?'" he asked, sounding reluctant. I watched Krum talk to the girl he'd rescued, feigning interest as well as deafness.
"Fleur? If he is...then he could go to Azkaban."
I laughed bitterly. "You are...what is ze word...naive. It is not so easy. 'E is a respected man in France. 'E 'as many important friends. If I told someone 'oo could make zat 'appen, 'e would know too soon. 'E would kill 'er or me." He gasped in shock at my words.
"The system wouldn't...the rules..."
"Ze system is only 'uman. And zerefore it is easily bribed or persuaded. Ze system is useless for me."
"No, but there are some good people in the system." his voice was shy but earnest. He was still too trusting. If he had so much faith in the system, he couldn't be too much older than me. A couple of years at the most.
"Like 'oo? Name me a person 'oo is reliable."
"Potter! He's got Ron and your sister!" I stole a look at the clock. 90 minutes. She'd spent 56 minutes down there that I could have been rescuing her in. Then I realized what it meant. I raced to the dock and started to jump into the water, but someone snatched me by the arm. I shouted something wordlessly and began fighting and clawing against my captor.
"Gabrielle! Gabrielle! Is she alive? Is she 'urt?" I screamed, nearly succeeding in getting in the water. Potter was nearly to shore with Gabrielle; the young stand-in judge, Percy Weasley, was dragging the other boy in to shore. They let him help and not me?!? But then Gabrielle was safe and standing and I was free from Madame Maxime and I was hugging her, explaining brokenly.
"It was ze grindylows...zey attacked me...oh Gabrielle, I thought...I thought..." Then I hugged her tighter, silent except for my sobs.
"I need to clean you two up. Will you let me, now that she's back?" the nurse asked crossly.
"No. Look after Gabrielle." I told her. On my way to thank Harry and his friend, I saw Percy Weasley standing off to the side, having been torn off the boy who was apparently his brother. I wondered briefly whether he was the person I'd spoken to...but no. He was a judge, he wouldn't have left the panel. And why would his family hate him anyway? No, that was impossible.