From the moment my name was called, I knew that it would be a year for adventures. I entered the room behind the staff table ready for anything- for dragons and mermaids and mazes.
Could I have known, looking forward at that year, that these were not the biggest adventures I would encounter? That these tasks would become the backdrop for something more?
Had I known at that moment I cannot tell how I would have acted differently. Perhaps at the moment he entered the room, I would not have stood, would have remained sitting near the fire and allowed him to find his own place. But I didn't know and so I rose, smiled, and introduced myself to this boy who in time would be both my competition and my savior.
Cedric Diggory, his name was. He was the picturesque champion- the knight in shining armour. Through the explanation of the rules I felt the glances of both he and the other champions- whether because I was the only female champion or because of my fortunate heritage, I do not know. Still, as the HeadMasters argued the thought of my fellows were pushed from my mind- those except Harry Potter. That he should compete seemed out of the question, but when the matter was decided, I accepted it, as is my wont. I left the room with Madam Maxime, speaking mutinously with no intentions of carrying out our threats.
My sleeping quarters in the carriage became my place of serenity as I studied my lessons and prepared for the unknown, but the time came occasionally when I was required ot venture in the Hogwarts library. It was on one such occasion that I again encountered the other champions.
As I scanned the shelves of the library, in some hurry to escape the oppressive feeling of the musty books stacked high above me, I spotted the Durmstrang champion- Viktor Krum- lurking in a nearby column. His brooding nature disturbed me slightly and I hastened to leave, resulting in a narrowly avoided collision with the other boy whom I had met on that fateful night- Cedric Diggory. As I stepped backward to avoid toppling into him, I disguised my surprise with the look that fell almost naturally into my features- one of haughty indifference and superiority.
The truth was, I was curious about this boy. He intrigued me- not only because he was handsome, though that supplied part of my reasoning. It was because from what I had seen of him, he seemed so utterly unconcerned with the tasks he had been given.
I was a flirt. I did not deny it. But beneath my carefully composed mask of French delicacy, I was drying up. I worked myself harder than many; between the Tournament, my advanced classes at school, and my many extracuricular classes (dance, art, choir) I found little time for peace. And the truth was, I had no idea where my work would take me. I was hardly suited to be an Auror, could not stand politics. Where then could I go after school that would not bring shame upon me, that would fulfill my tastes?
To meet another creature so self posessed and sure of himself was intriguing. I dropped my egotistical facade and replaced it with a smile for his benefit. He smiled back and I considered this progress. I wanted to know him- to know what made him to certain, so warm towards others who had shown him no acts of kindness. I did what I was best at- charm.
"Hello again. We met the night of the ceremony, yes?" I spoke as warmly was I knew how, allowing my eyes to rest on his. I felt at once an unfamiliar tug at my heart. I reacted in fear at this unknown emotion, dropping my gaze over his left shoulder, but he was speaking to me and so I hesitantly raised my eyes to meet his once again.
"Fleur Delacour, right? From Beauxbatons? What brings you to this section of our humble castle?"
I noticed how very tall he was. "Reseach... for school and for the Tournament."
"Ah, of course, competition aren't we?" he laughed.
She smiled. "Not until the task. Until then we're merely aquaintances."
"Aquaintances? That's cold! How about friends?"
Under the gaze of his smiling eyes, the reply I normally would have given, something along the lines of "No. Just aquaintances," was lost somewhere along in my lungs. Instead I just nodded , and immediately felt foolish. He, however, didn't seem put off at all- instead, he took the books from my arms.
"Fance a bit of study with a friend?" he invited. Again, I would, under any other circumstances, have replied with a cold "No thank you" and left. But I couldn't help myself- this boy, with all his friendly chatter, had someone melted a part of me. I followed him to a table in the corner and though my eyes scanned the pages of the books in front of me, I took in little information for the next hour. My mind was elsewhere, and however I longed to bring it back from the place I had not before dared to enter, my thoughts betrayed my reason.
Others may find it easy to allow their heart to lead them. But for me, it was the harder than any task the Ministry could have thought of. Each time I looked up from my book, I felt the same quickening of my pulse as his eyes met mine. I would tear my eyes back to the page, forcing myself to concentrate, to leave this unexplored corner of my heart. At seventeen, I had on other occasions been attracted to boys, but never had they had this power over me.
My fear grew as I found it impossible to force myself not to enjoy his presence. He had power over me now, something I had fought viciously not to relinquish. That night I couldn't sleep and several times had to fight back frustrated tears.
The next day, sufficiently ashamed of the shadows under my eyes, I retrieved breakfast- two pieces of toast and an apple- and left to sit under the sun that weakened slowly as Autumn took its hold over the castle. The Durmstrang ship rocked slowly over the lake, creaking, as I comtemplated the past few weeks. I had met Cedric several times in the library and each time ended up sitting with him happily for an hour or two. But I knew I would have to be more careful- I refused to be taken over by someone I barely knew.
The bell rang in Hogwarts and a bell chimed near the carraige, indicating the start of lessons. I made my way to the unused classroom within Hogwarts that had been provided for teaching the guests from Beauxbatons.
I shuddered as I passed through the solid front doors. The castle seemed oppressive to me, with its harshly solid walls and stern looking suits of armour. So unlike Beauxbatons- how I missed my school. The gracefully winding morning glories that hung around the grand staircase and the view of the sea through French windows. The school was light and airy, and in contrast, the dungeon-like classrooms of Hogwarts suffocated me.
My lessons always interested me, but Charms was by far my favorite. Charms were such pretty spells that hurt no one. As I practiced in the classroom with the twenty or so other students, I let my mind leave the frustrating corners it had been inhabiting and I was back in the airy classroom at my school, with Madame Alein writing instructions on the board. As the bell rang, however, I was brought back into the present, in the dark classroom with Madame Maxim beginning the Transfiguration lesson.
That night I knew I would have to return to the library, but I was reluctant to do so at the risk of meeting him again. As dinner ended, however, I grew annoyed with myself. I would not stay away at the risk of some silly crush emerging. I packed up decidedly and entered the library several minutes later, my resolve set but my steps somewhat cautious.
I found the book I needed and on a whim began searching for a general spells book. I would face the first task in little more than two weeks, and would like to feel a little more prepared.
As I slid the heavy book from the shelf, I happened to glance over my shoulder and stiffened. He had returned to the library. And he had seen my glance and of course would come to talk.
I had been correct in my speculation. "Hello again," he said cheerfully. At his presence my carefully constructed mask came shattering down again. "Hello," I said smiling at him. "Need a hand?" he asked me, as I stood on tiptoe to reach the book I had selected. I consented gratefully and he reached the book easily, but held on to it. "Advanced Spell Work for the Seventh Year?" he read off of the binding. "Schoolwork or preparation?"
"Preparation. Only two weeks now!" I replied conversationally. "Well as theres only two weeks left to be friends, care to join me?"
I meant to refuse. I meant to go back to the carraige and read in peace, perhaps with one of the other girls who still trusted me (there weren't many, for all my years at Beauxbatons I had recieved the attentions of many of their boyfriends). I meant to study quietly until it was time for dance. But confronted with his presence I knew it was no good. I accepted the invitation and allowed myself to enjoy the conversation- for soon the books lay abandoned. He told me of quidditch, of his father and Hogwarts. I was happy to let him talk, but it seemed (impossibly) that he was just as fascinated by me as I was by him. Soon I was speaking too, of my sister and favorite classes at Beauxbatons. An hour and a half had passed happily, with laughter and charm, before I realized what I had done. I stood up quickly and he looked at me alarmedly. "What is it?" he asked.
I swept my hair out of my face as I replied. "I've missed one of my extra lessons! Madame Maxime will be so disappointed, I've never missed dance before! Ce qu'elle doit penser! Je devrai aller immédiatement et expliquer..."
Just as I left the library, he caught my arm. "Can I meet you again? Tomorrow?" he asked me.
I forgot about my missed lesson. My reason had long since gone, but I had sense enough to remember my schedule. "Not tomorrow..." I replied.
"Saturday then. It's a Hogsmeade trip. Meet me outside the Great Hall."
"But... if someone sees, what will they think?" I said worriedly.
"Of course, they'd assume we were cheating... in Hogsmeade then. Theres a buidling called the Shrieking Shack. " He looked intently at me and I knew I couldn't refuse.
"I'll try," I said, before hurrying off.
In truth, I never wanted Saturday to arrive. How could I have let one boy breach my defenses? I had never intended to love anyone- only to make a respectable marraige with someone who's company I enjoyed. A memory swam before my eyes as I ran.
I was five and sat curled in a chair, reading a book of fairy tales. My mother entered the room and I quickly straightened my posture. My mother was not a harsh woman, but she had expectations for my behavoir.
"What are you reading, my love?" she had asked me gently. I held up the book as I replied. "Cinderella. Its a lovely story, mother."
My mother, for whatever reason, had looked worried. She patted the bed next to her and I climbed up carefully. "It is a lovely story, Fleur. But you must remember it's is only a story."
I looked at her puzzledly. "Of course I remember, mother. It's only a fairy tale."
"Yes, thats right. Remember, Fleur, what I've told you," she said.
"True love is only for fairy tales," I recited obediantly. She smiled indulgently at me. "Yes, thats right dear. Love makes you vulnerable. Never give up your power, my love."
"Love makes you vulnerable."
My mothers voice swam through my head and I frowned. I could not love someone I had met only days ago- but I knew I was fast on that track. I never expected to meet a person who could bring out such a side of me, who could melt away my careful act. Would it be so bad to be vulnerable to a person like that?
I immediately chastised myself for this thought. I couldn't let him win, wouldn't give up the only powers I had over my life. This new found warmth in my heart could never be worth it- would only hurt me in the end. My mother was not always correct; she often spoke from bitterness and regret. But she spoke from experience and I knew that she only wanted my happiness in the end. It would hurt to give up the butterflies that fluttered in my stomach at the sight of him- but it would hurt more to accept them and then to be cast aside.
With these thoughts in my head I did my best to forget the boy that evoked them. He was, after all, competition. I would stay away from this meeting place he suggested- the "Shrieking Shack". I could do it, even if it hurt. I could do it because I was smart. Because I knew what would happen if I met him there. There would be no going back.
As Saturday dawned I opened my eyes with a vow. I would stay away. No matter how much I wanted to just give in, I would stay away from the place that I knew would be my downfall. I ate breakfast and accompanied two of my classmates from Beauxbatons into Hogsmeade, distracted but able to force down my misgivings. But even as I repeated to myself, I will not go. I will not go in the pub, I saw a familiar figure walking casually toward the end of town. My heart fluttered and I knew it was too late. It didn't matter if I went or not- I just couldn't make myself forget his face.
I excused myself from the table and left the pub with feelings of both trepidation and excitement. Retracing his footsteps I wondered how this might have happened to me after just a few hours in the library. Did it even matter?
As I walked carefully up the hill toward the building I could now just see, his shape came into view. He stood as he always did when I saw him- at ease with his surroundings, peaceful. As I came closer I reckognized the tension in my own carefully straight shoulders. Did I always stand with such perfect posture? Didn't I ever slump, even a little?
My delicate footsteps didn't alert him to my presence, so I reached out and touched his shoulder lightly. He turned around expectantly and at the sight of me he smiled. I wondered how seeing me could make him happy- I knew I was blessed with beauty, but it was cold and foreign, shimmering only on the surface.
"Hi," I whispered.
For the first time in memory, I was nervous because of a boy. I quickly covered up my hesitancy, but this vulnerability seemed to please him. His hand cupped my face and I looked hesitantly into his eyes. The warmth I met there scared me, and I closed my eyes rather than confront it. Even as I did, I knew what was going to happen, but not the consequences of it.
His lips brushed mine softly and I nearly cried with the tenderness of his touch. My mind, usually so full of conflicting voices, was suddenly quiet and I returned his kiss with the same softness, afraid to break the spell of the late afternoon. As we broke apart I was afraid to open my eyes, terrified of meeting regret or disappointment. But as I looked, I found neither- only a heartbreaking yearning that I knew must be reflected in my own gaze.
We knew at that moment that what we were doing would only end in tears. We knew that this was wrong and couldn't last- not between two so different. But we gave a convincing show of being unaware of the consequences. We kept each other a secret, meeting late at night on the edge of the forest or by the lake, sometimes to talk, sometimes merely to sit and bask in each other's forbidden presence. To be discovered would mean disaster- two rival champions, from different schools, could only cause outrage among others. But for the first time in a long time, I was happy to be who I was- even if only I knew it.
Several days after that eventful day at Hogsmeade, I discovered that I would not be facing the unknown after all. Madame Maxime had seen the dragons. As she told me in hushed tones, what I was facing, I wondered if Cedric knew. Would I tell him? I was unsure, briefly, what to do. Would he be disappointed in me for cheating? Could I stand his accusing glare?
I needn't have worried, for there was another, more noble than I, who had seen the danger. Cedric knew, and I could once more delight in our secret.
Sitting in the library, carefully hiding the title of the book I was studying (The Dangers of Dragons) I thought anxiously about the next day. It had finally arrived- the first task was upon me. I was glad that I knew now what it was, but facing a dragon was still a terrifying thought. I had discovered a spell in a book that seemed likely and hoped that it would work, as I had no backup plan.
The next day dawned bright and ominous in my mind. I kept myself looking composed, but inside I was anxious. I glanced up at the clock several times and felt rather sick when I saw that it was time to go get our instructions. As I entered the tent, I saw that I was the third one to arrive. Glancing briefly at Cedric, I felt reassured.
Collect the golden egg. The task seemed simple enough and I was almost sure my spell would be effective. As Cedric left the tent I gave him the hint of a smile which he returned. It was strange to be competitors now. The crowd gasped and screamed and I felt rather sick, pacing around the tent.
Entering the enclosure, I felt faint as I looked up at this roaring, writhing mass of teeth. Even as it opened its mouth ferociously, I spoke the words of the spell in a quiet voice and nearly cried in relief as it fell into a trance. Collecting the egg without major damage to my person looked a lot easier while the dragon was alseep.
As I left the champions tent, I felt a grip on my hand leading me back inside. I smiled, for I knew who it was, as I leaned against the wall I spoke softly.
"I was worried," I said. Cedric rested his forehead against mine as he replied. "You shouldn't have been," he said, and I kissed him softly. I felt an unfamiliar urgency in him as his mouth met mine, and I knew he had been worried too.
The clue to the next task proved absurdly easy for me to interpret. The moment I opened the egg, I reckognized the song of the mermaids that played in the sea outside Beauxbatons. It only took a quick bath to discover the meaning. At Cedric's request, however, I didn't tell him. Then in December came an obstacle we hadn't forseen- the Yule Ball.
As soon as I was informed of the event, I left the carraige to find him. I didn't need to look far- he met me in the entrance hall and pulled me into an empty classroom. He held both of my hands in his as he looked at me worriedly.
"We need dates," I said resignedly. "Couldn't we-" he began, but I interrupted.
"No. We couldn't, and you know it."
He sighed and cast his eyes to the ground. I kissed him lightly and turned around to leave, but he didn't let go of my hands.
"What are you so afraid of?" he asked me. I couldn't answer- how could I explain the fear that I still held in my heart of him? But a glance in my eyes told him what he needed to know. He kissed me gently and my eyes filled with tears. He had uncovered what I never meant to show to him. He brushed my tears away and I cried quietly into his shoulder, not because I was afraid anymore- but because I knew what I had to do.
He knew me now. He had gotten too close. I could let him in as far as I had, but if I didn't leave now, I knew he would want to know more- to explore the hidden corners of my heart that I had never revealed to anyone. Before that day in Hogsmeade, I had been scared, but my mind now was terrified. How could I go on like this, knowing that he had the power to reveal such parts of me? There were parts of my past that I knew could never be shown to anyone, and he had just gotten too close. Tears flowing freely now, I tore away and ran out of the classroom to the grounds, his worried voice running after me.
My Dearest Cedric,
I do not expect you to forgive me for what I have done. But I know now that I went too far, playing with your emotions like this, and I am sincerely sorry for making you feel that I may have returned your feelings for me. I hope that you can find it in your heart to understand my actions, but I will not be surprised if you cannot.
With Deepest Remorse,
I sent the letter to his dormitory by owl and lay down in bed, though it was only six o'clock. From the moment he had kissed me in the classroom, I had seen the only thing that I could do.
I hated lying to him but I knew that I was helping him this way. Better for him to hate me than to hold out false hope... I cried quietly at the thought that the only boy I had ever loved would never love me again.
When I found out Cedric had been killed, I didn't cry. I met a man named Bill Weasley. My fiance. I do love him, truly. But since that year I have never allowed anyone to come closer to my heart than Cedric did. I have never told anyone about the occurences of those months, and I never will. It wouldn't matter anymore if I did tell anyone. But for now, I'd prefer to keep that for myself. It will remain, for now and for a very long time, perhaps forever, one of the deepest, and most precious secrets of my heart.
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