A.N. Hey! I've completed the A's! I've conquered the A's! So now I'm officially back!
I think I have tortured you guys long enough with the dreadfully slow pace. Haha. This is what I am sure you guys have all been waiting for. Trust me when I say that from now on, the story will move faster. Promise :)
Reviews will make me one happy writer. :D Do let me know whether this chapter meets your expectations.
Lure: Chapter 13
"Madame Maxime! A pleasant surprise! For what do I deserve the honour of this visit?"
"Bonjour Albus. I 'ave come to check on the progress of...our 'ope."
"You mentioned that time we met zat eet ees dangerous to use ze owls regarding zis matter. Floo ees out of ze question as well. But I 'ave to keep myself in the know. So 'ere I am."
"That I did, my dear Olympe. I trust that Beauxbatons is doing well?"
"Bien sûr. Eet ees ze 'olidays, I trust zat my deputy 'ead can 'andle ze school wiz'out me for a few days. So, 'ow is Fleur doing?"
"Miss Delacour seems to be doing fine. I had a little chat with her a few days back; she seems to be adjusting well."
"Zat ees good to 'ear. And about their… relationship?"
The elderly gentleman narrowed his eyes, forehead creasing slightly. The sudden shift in his demeanor did not go unnoticed by the giant woman, who mirrored his expression.
"They 'ave not…?"
"I'm afraid not. At least from what I have heard from Miss Delacour. It would seem that Miss Granger is being rather… difficult."
"Ees zere any'zing we can do?"
"I'm afraid not. But the good news is that this is a sign that it is progressing well. I trust that you know about the uniqueness of the Veela bond?"
The large woman nodded her head, but lines of worry still framed her features.
"The bond grows stronger as they overcome the tests that stand in the way of their relationships. I'm afraid I do not have much of an idea yet; this is merely my prediction. But I have a good feeling that it will be happening soon."
Hermione lay in bed, unable to sleep. She has difficulty entering her dreams ever since she crashed into the Delacour a few days ago. Needless to say, her lack of rest has affected her studies. Minerva McGonagall had not been pleased with her favourite student's performance in class; several professors have also commented on her lack of energy in class. But at least, McGonagall has returned from her long break, and Hermione did not have to go through the torment of facing Delacour in class. After that little confrontation they had three days back, there was no questioning that it would be the most uncomfortable of moments when they meet. At the very least; to Hermione.
Hermione could not help that aching feeling of guilt that slowly devoured her during the past few days. She brushed it off at first; thinking that it would fade with time, but the feeling of guilt bugged her even more as days passed. It seemed to get worse the longer she went without seeing the blonde; which was ironic.
It was quite an encounter; definitely not one in which she made the best impression. But who cared about impressions? It was pretty obvious that they have not been on the best of terms with each other.
Still, there was no need to make things worse. And Hermione knew that. She silently cursed her atrocious habit of not thinking properly before she spoke; as a result offending the high and mighty Fleur with her words. She was willing to bet her grades that Fleur had never been rejected or shot down like that before.
Maybe I was too harsh, she was just concerned. At least she had the courtesy to be concerned; or to show concern even if she wasn't really concern. Whatever the case, she tried, I know! Okay, I admit that I was too harsh, bu-but it was not as if I could help it! I mean, she is...she is- she has no bloody idea what she was doing to me! All right, perhaps she didn't mean to, but that doesn't lessen my suffering the least bit so what I did was completely justified!
Hermione stuck her head into the pillow forcefully.
Ah damn, Granger. Stop finding lame excuses.
The brunette inhaled deeply, held her breath for a few seconds and then let out the air in her lungs with a deep sigh.
Who the hell said that taking deep breaths helps to calm one down?
Okay, no excuses. Everything is just so confusing. I can't even stand in front of her without making a fool of myself. This can't go on, definitely, but how do I end it? It would be so much better if there is a guidebook or something. Ha. I doubt so. Loving by the book sounds so stupid and stereotypical.
'Hey Fleur, I would like to proclaim my love for you with this sonnet!'
'Oh my darling Fleur, let me sing my love to you!'
'Oh, my sweet flower, I pray thee, let me woo you with poetry and music! Wait, what's the page again?'
Fine, I guess I have to tell her on my own. Maybe I can just blurt it out. Not like it will be any different from how I usually embarrass myself in front of her anyway.
But that's not all...
She's a female.
I'm a female.
The Slytherins are going to have great fun.
And there's stupid homophobia. Harry would probably be fine with us, but Ron... He's not exactly from a very modern family. I will give him the benefit of the doubt though. Think it will be very likely that he would want to watch us 'snog' or something crude. Gross pig.
But first, I still need to make 'us' a reality.
Hermione Granger; count it on your brainy head to get yourself into such a fix. You are officially on the road to self-destruction.
Hermione Granger found herself standing outside the door to a certain Delacour's office the next day. She was determined to set things straight, but not before she has built up the courage to step in. The door was left slightly ajar, as though beckoning her to enter. Hermione was sure that Delacour was inside; she managed to catch a glimpse of the blonde while standing there. Though said blonde was still oblivious to the presence of the brunette outside her office.
So much for being a Gryffindor.
All right, take deep breaths, Hermione; you can do it.
"Um, Professor- Professor Delacour?"
Fleur was sitting at her desk, shoulders slumped with her head in her hands, a picture of defeat. She jerked her head up when she heard the tentative voice. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the brunette, and she immediately stood up and walked towards her room door with strong strides.
It was obvious that she was not in the best of moods at that moment. And Hermione knew that she was not the person that Fleur would like to talk to at that point in time. But Hermione was not going to back down after the long period of torment that she went through.
"Wait Fl-fleur…P-professor Delacour…can I talk to you?"
The tall woman stopped in her tracks, defiantly looking straight ahead. Fleur did not throw a glance at Hermione; she just could not do so. Fleur was not one who took humiliation kindly.
"Oui? 'ow can I help you?"
There was a cold, sharp edge in her tone as she stood with her back to Hermione, facing her room door. The shorter woman winced slightly when she caught the bit of sarcasm that the Delacour had injected into her voice.
"I'm sorry…for yesterday, for my…bluntness. I really didn't mean it that way. I do want to be on better terms with you, if you are willing. I apologize for my harsh reaction, for speaking without thinking."
Hermione paused. Her chest was bursting with the urge to just let go of everything. She could feel the mental dam she placed on her chaotic emotions threatening to give way. No longer could the young woman stand keeping everything bottled up inside. She realised that she craved the interaction with Fleur, no matter hostile or not. It was a masochistic desire to be close. Hermione subconsciously knew that she would be willing to take on anything for Fleur, though she has no idea where this feeling stemmed from.
Hermione has decided that she could not go on anymore.
Everything has to be thrown into the light. Including her...less-than-appropriate feelings.
"But really, things are more complicated than you know. I'm sorry for upsetting you if I did, for keeping it from you just now. I've never meant to hurt you with my words. Your concern really means a lot to me, more so than you are aware of. "
"Forget it. I'm not going to hide it, not anymore. Fl-fleur, I…like you. Your personality, your character, your beauty, you. Just looking at you makes me feel so much, all that I shouldn't be feeling. I'm drawn to you, so deeply drawn to you."
"I know that in the past, I haven't been giving you the best of attitudes. No more am I going to keep up with the façade anymore, to continue trying to keep you out and hiding my true self from you."
"I am letting you in. No, I am letting you have the choice. I know after what everything that I have done, you probably wouldn't give a damn about me. But I...need y-you."
"NO, let me talk. I need to get this all out before I lose the courage to do so. I don't want to face your rejection all over again. I know that it's impossible between us; after all, you don't even like me that way. I doubt you even swing this way. I'm confused still, at myself, at what I'm feeling. My mind's a mess; so is my heart. I don't even know who I am now, and this really scares me."
"You need not say anything. I know that we are two very different people; and that it's impossible for us to be together. You are a professor; I am just a mere student. You are so perfect, so much so that you are perfectly, completely out of my league. I know that it's wishful thinking on my part. But even so, I can't stand keeping it all inside and not saying how I feel. I just hope that you won't avoid me too much after knowing this. I understand if you do, but I still hope that we can…remain as friends."
"I have fallen deep. There is no way I'll be able to go back to life before I had noticed your beauty; before I had fallen for you. Everything will never be the same again. My feelings will never change, even though it may hurt me. If you are happy, then I am satisfied. Even though I know that I will never be the one who can bring you this happiness. But I cannot bear the thought of not having you in my life. I just...need to let you know...I will take whatever you are willing to give me."
Hermione turned to leave, eyelids trembling as she struggle to contain the tears. She was not going to break down and make herself look like the pathetic lovesick fool that she knew she was.
All the while, Fleur just stood rooted to her spot. Hermione could not see her reaction to her words, since Fleur's face was turned away. Hermione sadly thought that maybe it would be better that way; she could not imagine handling the look of disgust or aversion etched on that beautiful face.
Hermione took the silence as her cue to leave. To her, that was much better than a downright and direct rejection. The young woman could not promise that she would not let loose all restrain if she was shot down brutally. She would be more likely to make a fool of herself if that had happened.
Hermione's eyes were wet, and the tears were threatening to spill any moment. She immediately started towards the door, not wanting to cry in front of the other woman. She did not want her to get the satisfaction from that. If Hermione had any say in Fate's doings, she did not even want to have anything to do with Fleur Delacour. That, of course, was impossible. Hermione Granger had already fallen deep into the abyss; too deep to wrench herself out of it.
A strong hand suddenly wrapped around Hermione's wrist, holding her fast. Hermione tried to wrench her hand free and stomp away, but Fleur was stronger than she appeared to be. The Frenchwoman continued to hold on tightly, resisting the brunette's stubborn pull, anchoring her down in the last place she wanted to be at that moment.
In Hermione's frustration, she threw her entire weight forward to get away, tears breaking free of her eyelids. The next thing she knew, strong arms were around her waist.
Frustration rushed forth and lashed at her captor in the form of words.
"LET ME GO. Now you are happy, aren't you? You have so much control; so much. It already hurts like crazy to tell you all this, especially when I know the outcome! Why can't you just make everything easier for me?"
Fleur did not flinch, nor did she move her arms. Instead, she pulled the younger woman closer and rested her chin on the top of her head.
In desperation, Hermione jerked and twisted, whacked and tugged, but strong, unyielding lean arms held her hostage, imprisoning her in the embrace. An embrace in which she always yearned to be in. An embrace of warmth. An embrace of pain.
Hermione did not want sympathy.
The desperate girl could feel her torturer behind her; so close, yet so far. Being locked in Fleur's arms made her feel weak and even more pathetic. She looked straight ahead towards the door through her tears; hating the blonde for not allowing her the peace and solitude to wallow in self-misery.
The dam finally burst. Tears flowed like a ceaseless stream down Hermione's face. She stopped resisting. The girl had lost herself. Lost herself in the arms of someone she hate and love.
Fleur seemed to sense that Hermione had stopped trying to escape and slowly turned the brunette around to face herself. Hermione's hands subconsciously found their way to the blonde's arms and gripped them tightly, fearing that she would slipped away out of her reach, out of her touch, out of her life. Hermione was scared to look into her face. She was frightened of what she would see there. She was frightened to see a gloating face laughing at her naivety. Instead, she buried her face into her captor's neck, craving for contact as the warm tears continued to burn and sting their way down her face.
The atmosphere was tense, but oddly calming at the same time. The two women shared a quiet moment. A slender, French-manicured hand found its way to the chin of the crying woman. Soft, smooth skin caressed the curves gently, capturing the escaping tears. Slowly, gently, the hand lifted Hermione's chin up, tilting her face so that the enigmatic Fleur Delacour could look into her eyes.
Then, lips met in the bittersweet moment.
Hermione pushed the intrusive woman away. She was angry at Fleur for messing around with her head, her heart; everything. She was angry at Fleur for being so gentle when all she expected from her was harshness. She was angry at herself for not being able to understand Fleur. She was angry at herself for loving the feel of Fleur's lips on hers.
"What do you think you are doing? I don't want your sympathy at all! Why can't you just leave me alone? Leave me alone! Please- please, stop it... Stop giving me false hope. I don't wan- I can't take it."
The look on Fleur Delacour's pristine face was one of annoyance; annoyance at getting pushed away once again. However, beneath the thin layer of annoyance was a hint of something else.
"Who said I pity you? Who said I am giving you false hope? I'm surprise, Ms 'ermione Granger. I thought you were never wrong, but eet seems like you are not always right."
The younger woman looked up in surprise into a face which held an expression that seemed to be a mix of bemusement and exasperation.
"I feel ze same way too. But I never knew 'ow to proceed with zings, when you always seem to avoid me, or treat me with hatred. I thought zat zat day after ze encounter een ze library I will finally be able to get through to you, to find out what's wrong, but non. 'owever, today's not too late either."
The woman broke into a smile; a soft, sweet one. A shimmer of affection decorated her cerulean blue orbs.
"And non, I don't zink we can remain as friends. Not when we can be more zan zat."
"Zis, mon cheri."
And now, the air seemed thick with warmth and affection. The tall, slender woman closed the minimal gap between her and her partner.
Brown eyes closed to savour the moment as the blonde took the affirmation and leaned in for a kiss. Her hands rested on her partner's lower back, pushing their bodies closer together in desire. A small gasp escaped the surprised brunette who hesitated slightly before responding tentatively.
The kiss started slowly and sweetly. It all seemed surreal and unbelievable to both parties; though none of them cared to point it out, choosing instead to bask in the pleasures of the moment, to reaffirm reality through the touch of their lips. There was no urgency in the kiss. What they had, was time.
At least to them.