Fleur looked at the clock on the nightstand. It was six o’clock, and she hadn’t slept a wink.
She sat up in bed, putting her bare feet on the floor with a sigh. She reached into the closet and withdrew a simple white sundress and a thin beige sweater to wear over it, slipping her toes into Bill’s slippers. He was still asleep on the other side of the bed, having come in only a few hours ago, and she was always the one more likely to complain of a chill. Tying her hair back into a loose bun, she traipsed slowly downstairs, hoping the children would sleep in for a while.
Her first task was to arrange the muffins on two identical decorative stands, building a pyramid out of the mounds of fresh dough sprinkled with color. She flicked her wand, sending them carefully to their places at either end of the dining room table. Next, she began to cook the French toast, opening the charmed refrigerator for butter and finding an unused roll of cinnamon dough in there as well. She pulled it out, setting it aside to be prepared later. Might as well pull out all the stops, right?
As usual, Victoire was the first one downstairs. She had a fantastic sense of smell.
“Mum, can I help with the bacon?” She offered.
“No, darving, I’ll do that.” Fleur replied. “Why don’t vou go and choose zee fruit?”
Victoire scowled slightly, feeling that this would be a job better suited for one of her younger siblings, but she headed outside to the garden all the same. In a moment, she would return with fresh bananas and peaches, and perhaps a mango or two from the new tree. They would fill the glass bowl that served as the family’s centerpiece, satisfying the healthy eaters like Hermione.
The door opened, and George and Angelina came in. They sat at the table chatting with Bill, who had finally awakened to impatient cries from Louis, to whom he had supposedly promised a turn on his broomstick before brunch was ready. Fifteen minutes later, the Potters, Hermione and Ron arrived, bringing with them a large group of young children. Molly and Arthur turned up shortly after them, offering warm embraces to all who were present, including Fleur, who tried to keep a close eye on the cooking sausage as Molly spoke at length about how healthy her hair looked.
When the table had been set, Fleur took her seat at last, barely hearing the thanks offered to her by her guests for her culinary performance. Two places remained empty: one was for Percy, and the other for their surprise guest. She swallowed, hoping that Percy would choose the one directly across from her. If Roger sat there, he might be a little too close for comfort.
She had just taken her first bite of a blueberry muffin when the door opened once more.
“Sorry if I’m late.” Percy said, strolling in and kissing his mother on the cheek. A tall boy with a slightly muscular frame entered the cottage moments later. His hair had gotten a little longer than Fleur remembered, only a bit, but his brown eyes were just as soft as they’d seemed that night at the ball. He smiled awkwardly at the others, embarrassed that he was the last one to arrive.
“Everyone, this is Roger Davies. Some of you might remember him from Hogwarts.” Bill stood up, shaking the hand of the former Ravenclaw. “He’s interning at Gringotts now, with me.”
“Oh, are you interested in curse-breaking?” Ron piped up, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. Several others at the table looked up with interest; Bill’s profession certainly had its share of bravado and mystique.
“Yes.” Roger said, choosing the seat across from Fleur. She tried not to make a face. “Professor Flitwick seemed to think I had a talent for Charms when I was a student, and I became interested in breaking curses when the war broke out. I wanted to do my part to combat Dark Wizards.”
“Well, we’ll need people like that, war or no war.” Arthur said approvingly.
After some lengthy conversation about curse-breaking, the brunch guests turned to more traditional topics: the children, happenings at Hogwarts, rumors in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Fleur fell into a bit of a daze, dividing her time between watching her old flame and getting up to get more food from the kitchen when supplies of one delicacy or another began to run low.
Before she knew it, Harry and Ginny were standing up, gathering their children to leave.
“It was lovely, Fleur, thank you.” Ginny said softly. The whole family had grown to love Fleur after she spoke so tenderly about Bill’s brush with Fenrir Greyback, but Ginny still felt awkward standing in the shadow of a part-Veela. She preferred brief interactions with her sister-in-law.
After Harry and his family departed, the others began to exit in slow succession. George and Angelina promised to organize a play date for the children sometime soon, and Hermione picked a few berries from the garden so that she could attempt to re-create Fleur’s muffins in her own kitchen later that week. Percy left next, taking a tin with some leftover French toast with him. Molly and Arthur took Bill and the children out to their new flying car, having brought gifts. They bestowed these tiny surprises on each of their grandchildren once a month, and this weekend, it was Victoire, Dominique and Louis’s turn.
Fleur watched as Roger dutifully carried his plate into the kitchen, heading for the sink. She took the opportunity to escape out the side door, not wanting to let him use this moment to ambush her. She found herself standing out on the rocks by the sea, watching the waves go in and out.
“Fleur?” She heard his voice behind her.
“Yes?” She said perhaps a bit too cheerfully, turning to face him.
“Thank you for brunch. It was really lovely. I think the family is lucky to have you.” He smiled, and she felt herself go slightly weak in the knees. She stared into his eyes, forcing herself to return the smile nervously and nod a reply.
“Listen, I noticed that you had a couple of the blackberry muffins left. D’you mind if I take them back to my girlfriend? They were so delicious, and blackberry is Juliet’s favorite.” He asked.
Fleur blinked. Girlfriend?
That was even better than bringing a date.
“Of course not.” She said at last. “Ve alvays haf plenty of zem left over.”
“Great.” Roger smiled at her again, and for just a moment, she thought maybe he was admiring her features. Then he glanced down at his shoes, sticking his hands in his pockets before meeting her eyes once more. “Thanks again.” With that, he turned and walked back toward the house.
Fleur couldn’t help but smile as she watched him go, pulling her sweater closer around her to keep out the chilly ocean spray that rained upon the ground with each passing wave. Over by the car, Bill waved to her, and her children ran toward her, eager to show off their new presents.
She waved back to her husband, taking a last look at her one-time fling.
He always was an extraordinarily polite boy. She was silly to have expected anything different.