It was decided that the new French professor and the Trio will feign ignorance to Fleur's new position at the school so as not to draw attention to her involvement with the Order. It was all fine and well with the rest, though Ronald was vocal in his disappointment of not being able to see the 'couple' cuddling up to each other (to which Hermione responded with a hearty knock to his head wearing a tinge of blush on her cheeks). Ginny sulked silently in the corner as all these went on, her face betraying nothing. Fleur professionally agreed to the arrangement, but had the good grace to shoot a wink towards Hermione, inflaming her face even more.
And as the train chugged its merry way out of the station with a teary Molly Weasley waving her stubby arms in farewell, the Trio (plus Ginny) sat quietly in their carriage, not knowing what to say to each other. Hermione and Ginny, not surprisingly, had placed as much distance between each other as possible, with the brunette right next to the window and the red-head by the door. Harry sat opposite Hermione, ironically trying to appear engross in a book while Ron sat snoring one seat away next to her.
The brunette stared distractedly out of the window for the next hour, her brows creased as jumbled thoughts disrupt the peace of her mind. She paid no heed to the scowling young woman in the same carriage, not even when Ginny stomped out with an excuse to look for Luna Lovegood. Not even when the door of their private carriage slid open once again.
"My, what a surprise!'
The brunette whipped her head around at the sound of the lilting French voice to meet twinkling blue eyes staring amusedly at her.
"Hi Fleur," Harry responded politely as Hermione tried to find her tongue. "What are you doing here?" For the sake of appearances, they were told to play along with the scenario.
Fleur laughed and Hermione could have sworn that she nearly melted at that. She strode over to the empty seat next to Hermione and slid down, laying a slender hand on the younger woman's thigh. "It's all right, Harry; no one knows that I am in here. It's safe; I've checked. I was simply bored out of my mind and thought that I would just pop in to say 'hi'". She gave a sideway glance at Hermione and winked.
Hermione felt her face burned redder than ever.
Fleur leaned in closer and whispered teasingly in her ear, "relax, mon chere; you look as though I am about to eat you up. Just be normal."
Hermione exhaled shakily and turned to look into those startling blue eyes once again, eyes which offered her reassurance and comfort. Her hand found the one on her thigh, and both intertwined naturally. Harry surreptitiously glanced at the two and let out a barely audible sigh of relief as he saw Hermione relax. It was not long before he drifted off to sleep, joining the chorus of light snores coming from Ron.
Hermione was silently glad of the absence of an audience.
"What's on your mind, beautiful?"
"I shall let that question pass for now," Fleur whispered teasingly. "Now, where's your good friend, Ginny?"
Hermione tensed and shot a glare at the blonde, "you know she's not exactly my good friend these days."
"Oui, that I do know. You haven't spoken to her yet, I presume?"
"Not since that disastrous attempt, no."
Fleur raised her other hand and began absent-mindedly toying with a lock of Hermione's hair. "You ought to find out what exactly's wrong, darling. It's bad to let the ill-feelings fester." Then, with an amused tone, "You know, sometimes I suspect that she's jealous of me."
Hermione shot Fleur an incredulous look, at which Fleur chuckled.
"Yes, from the way she has been looking at you ever since our 'coming out'. I don't know why I did not notice it earlier. There's a good chance that I am wrong about which Weasley likes you."
The brunette felt her stomach sink hearing Fleur speak so casually about people liking her, as though she did not cared that others pine for brunette.
Is this faux relationship really nothing to her?
"Don't worry, my dear; it'll work out in the end. Just let me know what you want; I'll do my best to help you get it."
What if I want…you?
Before they knew it, the sliding doors zipped open revealing a red-faced Ginny Weasley. She glared at the 'couple' as Harry jolted awake at the sudden noise.
"I thought we were suppose to pretend that we do not know you?"
"Ah. There was no one around for us to play pretend, Miss Weasley."
"Well, there is now, Professor Delacour."
Fleur simply shrugged and gave Hermione a small grin before laying a gentle peck at the corner of her lips. "I guess I better head off now, Miss Granger. Have a pleasant ride and I'll see you in the castle." Yet another wink.
The feast ended with excited chatters and giggles and lots of blatant staring towards the staff table. Quite obviously, the new appointment in staff was a welcomed change to the students. Hermione could not help but feel a strong wave of jealousy rearing up within her as talk of the new DADA professor, the Triwizard Champion of Beauxbatons, the hot French Veela reached her ears. It did not help matters that Ginny Weasley seemed to have noticed her discomfort and was enjoying it greatly, smirking with a painfully mocking look in her eyes.
The brunette could not hold her emotions in any longer. With the dismissal of the feast, she stood up immediately and headed for the doors.
Her silent retreat was not unnoticed by a certain blonde at the staff table though.