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Sunday Brunch by academica
Format: Short story
Chapter 2: Saturday Evening
Ball gown, sparkling silver, full skirt, fit for Cinderella? Check.
Glittering light grey shoes, a mother’s gift for being elected champion? Check.
Crystal pendant and earring set, Parisian tokens of a father’s affection? Check.
Fair blonde hair, perfectly coiffed into an elegant bun? Check.
Fleur stood nervously before the huge double doors that led into the Great Hall, trying to ignore the long stares bestowed upon her by male students and their jealous girlfriends. In just a few moments, she and her escort would lead the procession to the dance floor and engage in the traditional ritual that began the ball – the dance of the champions. She wasn’t worried about her ability to waltz; ballroom dancing had been a pastime chosen for her by her mother when she was just a little girl, her way of making sure that the small Delacour flower grew up to be a lady. She wasn’t concerned with her date, either; she had boldly approached the handsome Ravenclaw herself at dinner one evening and watched his eyes glaze over as she requested that he attend the ball as her date. She had already been asked by twenty-five others before she saw Roger Davies.
His brown hair was a little long, but he had a friendly face and a polite demeanor. When he finally snapped to attention after an awkwardly pregnant pause, he had agreed that it would be lovely to attend the ball at her side, expressing his excitement for the upcoming event. A few glares of death had been extended toward him upon her retreat, but most of the attention was on Fleur, many of those around her thinking that she was just a little too pretty to wind up with any human male. Still, for an ordinary boy, Roger was good-looking and charming. He would do.
She folded her arms over her small chest, pulling her stomach in slightly as she watched other girls from her school stream in without partners. She felt a small sense of pride at this. The Beauxbatons girls seemed divided in her opinion of her; some of them worshipped at her feet, constantly asking how she got her nails so clean and her hair so silky, while others tended to avoid her, talking amongst themselves in the bathroom about how stuck-up and stupid she was. They were all jealous in their own ways, but it never bothered Fleur much. She had just been born this way, and she didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to enhance her blessed looks. Though Madame Maxime doted upon her, in truth, she preferred to be alone or with Gabrielle.
With Rita Skeeter around, surely a story would come out about how all the Beauxbatons girls had chosen the same dress, conspiring to outdo one another with expensive cosmetics and designer jewelry. The reporter would probably say that Fleur hired a celebrity hairdresser that none of the other girls could afford. The thought brought a wry smile to her face. She liked the dress, and she had chosen her accessories well and styled her hair to the best of her ability. The fact remained, though, that she looked stunning in anything. There was really no contest.
She tapped one heel impatiently on the floor, and Roger appeared, like he’d been summoned.
“I’m not late, am I?” He asked breathlessly, adjusting his collar. He looked as if he’d put a little too much product in his hair, and she smirked despite herself, reminded slightly of the surly Potions master that hung about with Karkaroff. She couldn’t fault him for vanity, though.
“No, not at all.” The words rolled off her tongue, kissed one by one by her smooth French accent. She wanted to get back to her home country soon. English was far too taxing.
“Good.” He felt a tap on his shoulder, turning to see Cedric Diggory standing there with Cho Chang on his arm. Fleur smiled, greeting the pair, but her heart wasn’t in it. She was focused on keeping steady, arching her back slightly as she walked, maintaining an image of perfect poise.
Behind them, the orchestra began to play, and Professor McGonagall ushered the champions and their escorts into position. On cue, Fleur stepped lightly into the Great Hall, putting one foot in front of the other and smiling impeccably as she passed through the crowd of excited students. When they reached the dance floor, Fleur offered Roger her hand, placing her free one delicately on his shoulder. She smiled a little more when they began to waltz. He had been practicing.
When they tired of dancing, Roger asked her if she wanted a glass of punch.
“You know, I really theenk zey should have held zee Tournament at Beauxbatons instead.” Fleur mused, sipping from her glass and talking with Roger as they rested on a bench just outside of the hall, the softly falling snow decorating their hair. She watched as the greasy-haired Potions master went through the carriages parked by the castle, sentencing romantically-inclined pairs of students to detention and trying to evade Karkaroff’s irritating attempts at conversation. “Zee people here are zust not refined as ve are.” She looked up at the night sky, the bright stars adding an extra touch of décor to the frosted evening. “Ze academy ees based in a zerry-well maintained palace, and ve are serenaded by nymphs as ve enjoy ze evening meals.” She looked over at Roger, having gotten lost momentarily in her dreams of home, and saw that his eyes were glazed again.
“Roger, are vou listening?” She demanded softly.
He blinked, breaking his stare. “Yes, of course.” He looked at her dress. “You look lovely.”
Fleur tried not to roll her eyes. So typical, a man thinking that a woman’s only obsession was her own looks. Or did she herself create the illusion of her own vanity? Was it an illusion at all?
She looked back at him. He was still staring at her, but now, he looked into her eyes. She smiled softly, trying not to blush, hesitantly reaching out and brushing a piece of his hair back away from his face. It felt soft, not oily, and his deep brown eyes expressed a very tender kindness.
“Roger.” She said quietly. “Do you theenk Karkaroff and the other one have gone?”
Roger looked at her questioningly. “I dunno, Snape tends to be everywhere at once…”
She didn’t care. She grabbed his tie gently, pulling him back with her behind a couple of snowy rosebushes and pressing her lips to his. It would smear her lipstick. Her gown was wrinkled now.
Then again, without some imperfection, there would be nothing to refine.
The older, married Fleur stared into her cup of tea, her fourth that evening. Six trays of finished muffins, each a representation of the available varieties of berries in their garden, lined the flat expanse of the counter next to her. She would go to bed early and wake up while it was still dark, her usual Saturday evening routine. In the morning, she would busy herself preparing French toast, applesauce, sausage, and bacon. She would choose from the selection of jars in her pantry, trying to figure out which homemade jam would be the crowd-pleaser this week. Finally, she would pick bananas and peaches from the garden, using them to fill out the glass centerpiece.
Bill and Louis were out with Arthur, George, Ron and Percy, having decided to take in a Quidditch game for their men-only activity of the week. Ginny had requested that Dominique and Victoire come over for a play date with Lily, leaving Fleur alone in the seaside cottage. She liked her peace and quiet, and it was certainly conducive to muffin-baking, but tonight she felt strangled by memories, overwhelmed as she tried to sort out her worries about Roger Davies.
She was in love with Bill, there was no doubt about that. What she puzzled over now were Roger’s feelings. What if he had specifically requested to come to brunch, hoping to rekindle their one-time fling? She couldn’t imagine such a thing, though, and he seemed very level-headed. If he was trying to make a move, surely he would be more discreet about it.
She closed her eyes, terrified by this thought. He would sit there at the table with her, stealing glances when he could, and he would sneak off after her when she got up to use the bathroom or check to make sure she had turned off the stove. With so many people under one roof, one of them would inevitably witness him trying to kiss her. What if she somehow kissed him back?
Merlin, I hope he brings a date, she thought.
She glanced at the clock on the wall. It was almost eleven at night, and she had meant to go to sleep an hour ago. Sighing, she abandoned her cooling cup of tea and headed upstairs, setting up multiple alarms next to the bed as she changed into her nightgown and tucked herself in.
It would be very unbecoming of her to oversleep.