Chapter 1 : Firefly
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Gabrielle Delacour sits under a pear tree, holding a small empty jar and looking to the sky; she is ever to wonder what makes sunsets so picturesque. Maybe it is all the fuschia and violet, the magenta and crimson; colors that enamour the heart, spread upon the most liberating of canvases. Or perhaps it is the soft chirping of the dragonflies, the aroma of the oncoming summer days, or the gently dying warmth of the ever-setting sun.
It could have also been the mood this time of the day brings; the calmness and security, the profound and surreal tranquility. Safe. Yes, safe is how she feels as she lays in the thick grass, counting dragonflies as they flutter by. "Vingt, vingt-et-un, vingt-deux..." are all that she recounts before drifting off.
Usually, she sleeps there, beneath the pear tree, for hours -- the reconstruction of the school is a fatiguing thing for such a young girl -- only to awaken by sounds of the crickets; the night's personal symphony. But on this day, she hears a peculiar sound during her slumber. She first dismisses it as the opening overture but when it grows louder, she groggily shakes herself awake. She hears sniffing followed by pouting. The sounds, first distant and somewhat subtle, grow closer, closer still. She raises her head slightly; just enough to peer over the tall grass in order to see who has awakened her.
It is a boy not too much older than she. His arms are folded and head is dangling downward as he leans against a willow a few yards away from her. He continually wipes his eyes of his tears, though they replenish just as quickly. His scarlet and gold robes, emblazoned with a Gryffindor insignia, are dingy and tattered; his amber locks seem grimey and unkempt, and his unpleasant odor suggests that he has not changed in days. He unfolds his arm, revealing a camera hanging from a thin strap on his neck. More tears roll down his cheek, and he removes the strap from his neck. For a moment he gives it an accusatory glare, as if to blame it for the most awful of things. He raises his head, revealing his entire face to her -- his brown eyes complement his many freckles. His face is blackened and unwashed, with the exception of two symmetrical tear-stains running from his eyes to either side of his chin. Half-heartedly, he launches his camera across the yard. The camera hurdles through the air, hitting a branch, high within the pear tree Gabrielle lays under. The noise as the camera fumbles through the intertwining branches scares away nearby dragonflies, but for fear of scaring away the boy, she doesn't budge. She only looks up to watch and by the time she realizes it, it's too late.
"Oh!" She shrieks. "Ça fait mal." She raises her hand to rub the knot on her head where the camera hit her. She raises to her knees only to realize that the boy had heard her.
"Who's there?" The boy calls out, drawing his wand, ready to duel. "Who's there, I said!" He calls again as she hesitates, the tip of his wand burning a violent shade of red.
She raises to her feet, dusting off her floral sun dress. He quickly turns around, and lifts his shirt to dry his face of his tears, and she pretends not to notice; he seemed not to want to appear vulnerable.
"What do you want?" he says as he turns back to her.
"Je ne te comprends pas; je ne parle pas d'anglais," she says.
He looks at her confusedly, then, cautiously approaches her. "Did I hit you when I threw the camera? I mean, did I do that to you? I'm sorry."
She simply smiles at him. She feels foolish being the only one on the castle grounds unable to converse with anyone, with the exception of her sister Fleur.
The boy thrusts his hand up to her head, and caresses her bruise. She shudders and takes a step back. He frowns, repeating something she can't understand, desperation and apology in his voice. He places his wand to her bruised head and mutters a charm familiar to her, instantaneously reducing the pain.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," he utters words so universal, so cognative, that she can comprehend as he begins to walk away. She hesitates again. She is unsure if she should yell at the boy who had just thrown a camera at her, or ask him why he threw it in the first place – ask why he is so upset.
The boy walks toward the willow where he had stood before, and she follows him.
"Excuse-moi, excuse-moi," running after him, she tries to get his attention. He turns hastily and she nearly runs into him. "Merci." She says, gesturing toward her head. He smiles, and keeps walking, passing the willow and heading toward the lake.
Gabrielle runs back to the tree, picks up the camera and the empty jar, and hurries back toward the boy. He stands now by the lake, skipping some small soft stones atop the water. He doesn't notice her approach him from behind, so she clears her voice. "Hm." At first he stops, as if to turn around and acknowledge her, then picks up another stone to throw. She clears her voice again and waits. Still he ignores her.
The third time, she makes her way in front of him and offers him his camera back. He snatches it from her and throws it into the lake.
"Je crois que c'était evident que tu ne voulais plus l'appareil-photo la première fois que tu l'as lancé," she says. He looks at her menacingly before skipping one last stone and sitting down. He begins to speak again, and she stays by his side and listens as if to understand.
"I'm not going to be needing that anymore. There's no reason to use it if..." His voice trails off weakly as he tries to suppress tears. She kneels down and wipes away the tear rolling down his cheek. He turns away ashamedly and continues, "I promised myself I wouldn't cry."
She frowns and places a consoling hand on his shoulder; her gesture is the only means she is able to fathom that would portray that someone cares – that she cares – but he shrugs her off.
"Never mind," he dismisses her, "this is stupid."
Her eyes follow him as he stands back up. He sniffs hard, and kicks up the dirt. Turning around, he wipes his face on his robes again and again treads away.
"Attends!" she calls to him.
"Forget it," he says, waving her off.
Gabrielle is disheartened, wanting to help but not having the means as to do so. She contemplates for a moment on whether she should follow him once more but a distant light flickers in the corner of her eye. This light is the event she'd been waiting for all evening; the firefly hunt, an annual ritual of the Delacour family. She opens the top of her jar, eager to harvest the first crop of the season.
She skips along to the edge of the wood, where she had witnessed the flicker of light and chases the firefly around, acting as though it were too fast for her, giving it, by chase, a final thrill of freedom, then swiftly traps it in her jar.
"Ah, je sais!" she exclaims, an idea popping into her head as she catches it. Hiding the jar behind her back, she runs back over to the boy. He now is standing beneath the willow again, wearing the same frown as before. She kneels before him and takes the jar from behind her back. "Pour toi," smiling, she offers it to him.
He takes it willingly and looks it over, inspecting the bug inside from every angle. As it glows, tears once more fill his eyes and he cries.
A/N: French Translations
*Vingt, vingt-et-un, vingt-deux - Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two
*Ça fait mal- That hurts.
*Je ne te comprends pas; je ne parle pas d'anglais - I don't understand you; I don't speak any english
*Excuse-moi, excuse-moi - excuse me, excuse me
*Merci - thank you
*Je crois que c'était evident que tu ne voulais plus l'appareil-photo la première fois que tu l'as lancé - I guess it should've been obvious that you didn't want the camera anymore when you threw it the first time.
*Attends! - Wait!
*Ah, je sais! - Oh, I know!
*Pour toi. - For you.