For Men's Football Round 2 in the 2012 Hogwarts Games. Seamus/Gabrielle
Also for the Fanfiction Tournaments — December. Write about Christmas.
So many accents I'm ignoring for this fic :D
First, they almost meet.
She's eight, nothing but a child, shivering, drenched. He's riding the high of watching his classmates tie up the Triwizard Tournament. They're within feet of each other, but their eyes don't meet and their paths don't cross and it's nothing but what will always remain an almost.
And maybe — probably — it's better that way.
The second time, they do meet.
They're different. She's different, especially — no longer naïve, now completely aware of who she is and what she can do to people. She's slim, lithe, graceful, and it's not even arrogant when she calls herself beautiful because she undeniably is. And she knows it, and she's not afraid to use it when she must.
She's jaded as well, too used to people trying to use her, only caring about the physical. She used to get angry, but she's twenty-five and she's stopped bothering, because it just isn't worth it.
She's twenty-five, and she's in the country because it's an odd year, and in odd years the Delacours visit the Weasleys instead of the even years, when they all meet in France.
She likes the even years better. People in France stare less. They're used to her, and she's used to them, and it's all just mutually all right. Here, people stare when she walks by, stare when she talks, starestarestarestarestare.
She's not the only one who's different, though. He's not fourteen anymore. He's thirty-one and Merlin, doesn't that sound old? Seems like a day ago he was seventeen.
He's seen the world from underneath a set of Auror robes and he knows the brutal reality. He knows that people do terrible things and that bad things happen to good people. That doesn't stop him from grinning at the world, though. It's how he survives, always has been.
In Diagon Alley, their paths finally collide. Literally. He has his arms full of packages and she's got her head down, trying not to see the stares. When they collide, the packages fly everywhere.
"Sorry!" he chirps, too cheerful for having just been smashed into. His eyes skim her face and then sweep down to her feet, but that's it. His gaze shifts to his packages as he starts scrambling to pick them up.
"Have you never heard of a Shrinking Charm?" she asks, but there's not as much venom to is as her usual defencive snap.
He grins somewhat sheepishly up at her from his crouched position. "I always forget about those."
She rolls her eyes, but a smile twitches at the corners of her lips. She bends to help him pick up the remaining packages.
"Anything shrink-damageable?" she asks lightly.
"Nope!" He pops the 'p', something she hasn't heard in ages. It makes her smile just slightly.
She taps the packages one by one, shrinking them all before handing them back to him. He pockets them and shirks the rest, pocketing those as well. He sticks out a hand.
"Gabrielle, but if you value my sanity, you will call me Gabi."
He's meeting her eyes. She's stuck on that. He's actually meeting her eyes. It loosens something in her that's been tightly wound for a long time.
Without thinking, the next thing that comes out of her mouth is, "Seamus, are you doing anything tomorrow?"
And Seamus grins. "It sounds like I am now."
She smiles genuinely. "I will meet you in the Leaky Cauldron at 7, oui?"
Laughing lightly at her language flip, he agrees.
She half expects him not to show up. In a way, she feels like the fact that he wasn't captivated by her physical appearance means there's nothing to draw him to her, and she hates that feeling. Is she so corrupted by a society dependent on beauty that she thinks it's her only trait worth anything?
Her thoughts are interrupted by a man with a leer. She sneers at him, knowing it twists her face into an unflattering shape. His lips just curve up higher at her evident defiance.
"Hello, beautiful. What's a fireball like you doing in a place like this all alone?"
"Oh, do not even try it," she moans. "I am waiting for someone, not that it is any of your business. But trust me, I do not need him to take you."
The man takes a few steps forward. "I like you, fireball. You've got some spice."
"And you have about ten seconds to back off before I show you what I do to men like you."
Another step forward and a hand reaches out, but before it can close around her wrist, she's already unsheathed her wand and shot off a Stinging Hex. He yelps.
"Do. Not. Try. Me." Her voice is cool as steel.
"You b-" But before he finishes the obscenity, a hand clamps on his shoulder.
The expression on Seamus' face is not the amiable one from the day before. It's hard as rock and cold as ice. "Is there a problem here?" His voice is firmly menacing.
The man looks between them before beating a hasty retreat.
Gabi is furious. "I did not need your help!"
"No," he says calmly, tucking his wand away. "You didn't."
The anger drains out of her. "What?"
"I said you didn't. You didn't need any help. You clearly had it entirely under control. But that doesn't mean I was going to stand there and watch."
A weird warmth suffuses her. She didn't expect that answer, and this is one case where she can't say she didn't enjoy being surprised.
"Thank you," she murmurs softly.
"For what?" he asks, puzzled.
"For believing in me."
That date is the first romantic setting in a long time where she's actually felt at ease. She laughed in a way she hasn't in too long. She's not a child and she won't call it love, not yet, but she's cautiously hopeful for the first time in a while.
They set another, and then another, and for the first time she's grateful that her parents dragged her along to Britain almost a whole month early, because it means she has some time with him, although she's ever conscious of how little.
It's the 22nd of December before it even occurs to her that perhaps she ought to buy him a Christmas present, despite the short time she's known him. She's closer to him than her cousins, after all, and she buys them presents.
She picks out a scarf — red and gold, for the Gryffindor side of him she adores — because she's seen him shiver and noticed his lack of one.
She wonders, momentarily, if this will cause any awkwardness, because she knows full well that there's a possibility that he won't have a gift for her in return, but she doesn't really care. She wants to give him this and so she will.
Christmas day, after a mad breakfast with the whole Weasley clan, she makes her way to an unfamiliar address that he's given her. It's a block of flats a ways off from central London on a quiet street. Brick. Unremarkable.
She rings the buzzer to the flat lettered C and hears the buzz of the door opening in return. With no small amount of trepidation, she steps inside and closes the door firmly behind her, package brightly wrapped and tucked under her arm. After only a moment's hesitation, she knocks on the door to flat C.
The door is opened by a massive grin. " 'Lo, Gabi! Happy Christmas!"
"Joyeux Noël," she replies, and he smiles.
With the slightest touch of shyness, she hands him the package. He beams and darts into the other room. He comes back with a package of his own, brightly but sloppily wrapped.
She laughs when she opens the paper. It's a scarf, nearly identical to the one she got him, only striped silver and gold. "It is perfect," she says.
Seamus grins almost shyly. "I figured silver and gold would suit you. Half-Slytherin, half-Gryffindor — far as I can tell that's you to a T."
And she smiles at the thoughtfulness of it. "Thank you, Seamus."
She hands him her package. Unlike him, she's put hers in a box before wrapping it with neat, crisp folds and perfect corners.
He laughs aloud when he opens it. "Great minds think alike!" he says as he pulls it out.
"You needed one," she states.
He smiles. "Yeah. But scarves… I don't know. I've always felt like scarves are just something you get as a gift, not something you buy yourself." He laughs lightly. "That's probably why I haven't had one since September of my seventh year, when I gave it away."
There's something very pained in his eyes, and Gabi is smart enough not to ask. She knows — in the vague sort of way that she's made a guess at his age and can do basic maths — that his seventh year would have been just about right in the thick of Wizarding Britain's Dark Years — the thick of Lord Voldemort's reign. Logically, she knows this.
She also knows that she cannot possibly comprehend what that truly means.
And she also knows that he doesn't want to talk about it.
Instead she cracks a joke about a snowman and watches him smile with his lips and not his eyes. She wraps the scarf around his neck and murmurs, "Happy Christmas." A small smile twists at the corner of her lips as she notices the decoration above their heads.
"Mistletoe?" Her voice is soft.
His lips curl up. "What can I say? I'm a romantic at heart." He grins, and then he leans down.
Gabi doesn't want to think about her holiday from work ending and leaving the country. So she doesn't. She just revels in her current Christmas miracle and kisses him, winding her hands in the scarf and tugging him closer.