The waves of the Black Lake were hypnotizing. The gentle crashing was perfect to soothe Harry's restless mind.
The Triwizard Tournament was overwhelming. He had already escaped death twice in the last few months, once with a dragon and another at the bottom of the lake was was staring at. In just less than a month, he was to face the last task, a maze filled traps, puzzles and whatever creatures Hagrid supplied. Knowing the gamekeeper, they were probably fiercer and more dangerous than anything seen so far in the competition. On top of all of that, many from each school still believed that he cheated his way into the tournament and shunned him for it.
These thoughts had kept him awake way longer than any of his roommates and led him down to the shores of the Black Lake. Closing his eyes, Harry focused on the crashing of the waves to try to clear his mind. He entered a meditative state, the only thoughts in his consciousness being of the water in front of him. Then music joined the lapping of the water.
Harry opened his eyes and looked around. The nearly full moon provided him with enough light to see all around him. Then he found the source of the music. Walking along the shore and towards him was a person. They strolled along slowly, obviously in no hurry to go anywhere.
As the figure approached, Harry realized the music he was hearing wasn't music, it was singing. He was able to discern that the feminine voice was singing in French. This was a Beauxbatons student.
Harry didn't move as the Beauxbatons student grew closer to him. Part of him enjoyed the solitude, hoping that she would not realize he was watching her and continue on her midnight walk. He was under the shadow of a tree, so he would probably never be noticed. But another part of him wanted to call out to her. It wanted to end the isolation and enjoy some human contact.
The girl, still singing, stopped not too far from him. She sat down on a flat rock and transfigured a few more into logs, setting them ablaze with a flick of her wand. She stopped and gazed into the flames, seemingly in a trance like Harry had just been in. Her face illuminated by the flames, he realized who he was watching. The girl in front of him was Fleur Delacour, Beauxbatons Champion.
Harry still had the chance to leave. He could slip away without a trace. The two of them could be just two ships passing in the night.
"It's not polite to stare, you know." Fleur suddenly announced, looking directly at him. "I suggest you come out of the shadows before I have to hex you."
Harry rose from his seat and stepped out of the shadow of the tree. "Hi Fleur." He stood in the light of the fire so she could see his face.
"Harry Potter? What are you doing out here so late?" The veela cocked an eyebrow.
"I could ask you the same thing."
They watched each other while the fire crackled before Fleur finally relented.
"I was taking a walk to clear my head." She said simply.
"Same, except I was listening to the water." Harry waved a hand over the water. "You know I didn't mean to watch you, right? I was just sitting here when you decided to walk by."
"Relax, Harry. You were sitting here first and I just randomly decided on a place to sit down at. Don't worry." She smiled softly. Moving over, she patted the space next to her. "Come, sit." After a moment, Harry obliged and joined Fleur by the fire.
They both stared into the flames, each quietly enjoying the company of the other. Once again, Fleur interrupted the crackle of the flames and crash of the waves.
"If you don't mind, what did you want to clear you mind of?" Fleur turned her head and look at him. "My mother always said that the best way to get your mind off something is the talk about it."
"The tournament." Harry repeated. "It's just too much. The dragons and the lake." He shook his head as if to clear it. "I never wanted to participate."
"Are you serious?" Fleur had a look of disbelief.
"Look, not everyone wants to be in the stupid tournament like you do, Fleur." Harry barked. "Some people don't want to be the center of attention all the time." He almost stood and stormed off before Fleur stopped him.
"Harry wait," The blonde placed a hand on his shoulder. "You misunderstood me. I don't want to be in it either." Harry's expression quickly turned to one of shame from his outburst.
"I don't want to participate in the tournament, I never did." She explained with a smile. "I can't believe another champion doesn't want to do this either." The veela chuckled to herself.
"Why though?" Harry asked, still not quite believing the girl in front of him. "I mean I have my own reasons, but I can't think of why you wouldn't want to compete."
"It's... a long story. You wouldn't want to hear it." Fleur spoke hesitantly, her smile faltering.
"Then give me the short version."
Fleur considered it for a moment before speaking. "My first six years at Beauxbatons were eventful. I was always one of the top in my class, played quidditch and was dueling captain. At first, I had a lot of fun. Academics came easily to me and I enjoyed quidditch and dueling. But it became harder as the years went on. Classes became more advanced and started to take up more of my time. So I decided to drop everything and focus on my classes and graduation my last school year. But Madame Maxime had other plans for me. I was hand picked along with a handful of other girls as candidates for champion. We all had to drop our names into the cup. Some of us were more willing than others." She sighed and frowned slightly. "And now I'm here."
"Fleur... I didn't realize..." Harry didn't have words.
"Like I said before, don't worry." Fleur's frown flipped into a small smile. "What about you? Why don't you want to compete?" Harry had relaxed with Fleur's admission and attitude, becoming more willing to share his perspective.
Harry chuckled before answering. "It's funny, Fleur. We're in pretty similar situations. The last few years have been eventful for me too. They've all been pretty dangerous. Every year, it's just been one thing or another that's been out to get me. Couple things came close. Coming into this year, I hoped that I'd have just a regular, calm year in school. Then someone entered my name into the cup."
"And here you are."
"And here I am." Harry echoed. His words drifted off into the night, being replaced with the water and fire.
The pair returned to quiet contentedness. Neither was keeping track of time. It could've been a few minutes later or an hour when Fleur spoke again.
"What did you mean by 'dangerous'?" Harry started laughing at her question.
"Well, I think I'll start with Fluffy in my first year..."
The morning found the pair sleeping against each other, still by the lake.
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