Golden Haze : Prelude

AN: This is truly a story to figure out if there is interest. I have not written Harry Potter in quite some time. I have ideas for this story but not for an epic. This would be fairly condensed. Let me know what you think. ~ana

A huge thanks to shetan83 for her help betaing!

This was a truly unfortunate predicament. There was very little outside of those words to describe the sinking, dreadful feeling in the pit of her stomach as she observed, through carefully lined eyes half-hidden behind unnaturally long eyelashes, the scene before her.

It was a grand celebration - a party for their (lord and) savior. The Dark Lord had perished, as had far too many innocents. Still the party was as lavish as a rebuilding wizarding government could possibly allow. Bright candles twinkled merrily, and conversation was a dull murmur over a wizarding band that was doing very little to set the mood by playing positively pitiful slow songs that, while offsetting the mood, did little to ease the pain in her heart.

She felt strange on the arm of this man she did not love (nor he her), being heralded as a hero simply because she had survived. Surviving, she decided as she had walked into this party to great fanfare and to-do, was simply dreadful when she was surrounded by people who were more than content to continue this facade and act as though there was truly not a void within all of their cores.

The missing faces were as marked, a blight among the strained smiles of their once-peers.

Her husband (escort) bent down and brushed her impossibly straight blond hair away from her neck. "Would you please try to smile?" The question was hot breath on her ear, an unpleasant hiss as she was jolted from what had been (another) lapse in her well-practiced perfectly neutral expression. A gentle and yet firm squeeze on her arm reminded her that she was putting on airs here. She hated this feeling - they thought her a heroine for marrying him after what had been done to him, to love him despite his affliction (she had one of her own, but they all forgot about that as soon as they looked at her).

A pleasant smile on blood red lips - standing out so starkly against pale skin (unnaturally so). "Oui." It was as quiet as the breath that warned her that she was falling short of expectations. There were so many more now that it was done and over, and she felt completely miserable.

She did not trust her English in moments like this - did not trust how her voice would shake and how she would stumble over words that she really should have known after nearly a decade of studying the language. French was what she knew, what she lived and breathed and longed to hear again all around her instead of these crass voices and difficult to understand accents. It was par for the course though, normal, and she had grown used to that when she'd first taken up work as a curse breaker after finishing her mastery in spell creation.

She exhaled quietly, and inclined her head to the crooked old man who had seemed quite taken with her husband before he'd really looked at her. It was all a farce.

They'd talked, she and William, talked at length about their unfortunate situation. They, both curse breakers, had wanted separation from their families. His parents were overbearing and hers simply did not understand or refused to accept that she would never find what it was that was lost. It was not lost, it was merely a delusion on her part, and one that William helped her (perhaps unhealthily) to continue. He had offered her a way out, a loveless arrangement while he worked through his own more deeply buried sexuality issues.

And then the war happened, and they were thrust into a situation where their predicament had become a constant reminder of what they both lacked. Love... There was no love between them even then, and she had turned her thoughts inward to her present situation. There was nothing that could be done for herself and William. It was all a lie and not a very good one at that. They were the best of friends, even now, and nothing more than that.

And that, quite honestly, begged the question of what Fleur Delacour was doing in being completely complacent in a fate that had been thrust upon her quite by happenstance. She worked at Gringotts in a different department than William now - requesting a transfer as soon as they were to begin their farce - but now she wanted out. It was not the work, which was fascinating and invigorating. She merely longed for a chance to do something for herself for a change.

There was an older woman in the crowd with a quiet smile who had, just moments ago, offered her a job at that damn school that had ruined her life.

There was that golden threesome (Trio. They went by trio.) standing together, blinking awkwardly in the limelight of what they had achieved at the expense of so many. They looked truly uncomfortable and inexperienced. Innocent in a way that she could not find the words to describe.

There was that girl - the one who she was dead set on ignoring (until the monster that barely slept and hardly ate for the want of her took her over completely) - looking almost as heartbroken as Fleur felt.

There was the knowledge that those who had missed their year at Hogwarts would be returning to repeat for their NEWTs.

There was a sense, however faint, that maybe she could turn her life around.