Chapter 11 : Definitely a Contender
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Perhaps she had been overly optimistic to assume that she and the Weasley family would immediately become best friends, but she certainly hadn’t expected this. When she’d remembered the plump little smiling woman she’d first seen the morning of the Third Task, she’d assumed Bill’s mother would be as soft as her maternal appearance, just waiting to accept a new daughter into her already large family. She never could have imagined the woman would have a temper as fiery as her hair, and that someone in a flowery apron could be so much like a sabre tooth tiger when she wanted to be. Which seemed to be whenever Fleur was in the room.
Fleur just couldn’t understand why Molly Weasley didn’t like her. She’d been charming, she’d been graceful, and she’d even brought a present for her future mother-in-law on their first meeting. How was she to know those flowers would make everyone sneeze? It certainly wasn’t her fault, yet she was looked down upon because of it. She’d tried to get to know Bill’s siblings, but with no real success. Every time she tried to strike up a conversation with the youngest boy, Ronald, he’d turn red, mumble something incomprehensible, and then run from the room, leaving Fleur embarrassed and more than a little annoyed. She’d then made the mistake of enquiring after Bill’s brother in the Ministry during dinner on her first night. She hadn’t noticed Bill’s warning glances from the other end of the table until it was too late. Making Bill’s mother cry wasn’t what she’d set out to do. She’d even tried to sit down and have a chat with Bill’s sister, girl to girl. Well that had been her worst mistake yet.
She’d tried to interest the girl in the wedding plans, but barely five minutes into Fleur’s detailed descriptions of potential wedding dresses, Ginevra had stormed off. Perhaps Fleur shouldn’t have mentioned that her proposed pink bridesmaid dress would clash horribly with Ginevra’s hair, but still, she had taken rather unnecessary offence. Fleur had merely been stating a fact after all, she could also have mentioned that the colour yellow would clash horribly with her own hair but Ginevra had walked away before she could talk. All chances of sisterly bonding had gone out the window after that conversation and Flour couldn’t help but compare this brash, fiery little girl with her own mild-mannered, sweet little sister back in France. She knew Bill’s sister had no love for her either. On several occasions, Fleur had walked into a room to find Ginevra partaking in a cruel and completely unrealistic impression of how she flipped her hair.
Her favourite sibling of Bill’s by far was Charles, mainly for the fact that he was safely off in Romania, and therefore couldn’t offend her. She hadn’t met the twin brothers yet either, but she had been finding enough of their supposed joke items round the house to put her right off them.
She supposed she hadn’t got on too badly with Bill’s father. Certainly he had been the most welcoming of all the family and had even taken her out to his little shed in the back garden to show her his collection of Muggle items. She had found it interesting enough, and had been polite enough to fake a greater enthusiasm but she hadn’t meant to knock over that shelf of plugs, or whatever they were. She could tell Mr Weasley was upset, though he’d assured her it didn’t really manner, though he wasn’t exactly sure how to mend them.
She’d even tried to help Mrs Weasley in the kitchen, though she hadn’t the first idea about cooking and when she’d been asked to feed the chickens, she’d run away screaming when one of the blasted birds had tried to peck at her skirt. It was safe to say that Fleur hadn’t made the greatest impression on the Weasley family.
It had come as something as a relief when two of Ronald’s friends had arrived. Anything to break up the ever mounting tension that was gradually growing between them all would be welcome. Unfortunately for Fleur, the bushy-haired girl Krum had taken to the Yule Ball hadn’t proved an ally for her. If anything, she was as bad as the others, whispering conspiratorially with Ginevra and firing dirty glances from across the room. At least Harry Potter seemed to like having her round the place and would actually have a conversation with her, even being polite enough to ask after Gabrielle. She’d definitely have to mention that in her next letter home.
If it weren’t for Bill, she would have packed her suitcase after the first few hours in the Burrow and gone straight back to her little Diagon Alley flat, which was becoming more and more appealing the longer she spent away from it. She hadn’t realised just how much she enjoyed having her own space with her own bed made up just how she liked it and her own wireless where she could listen to whatever she wanted and her own bathroom. Ugh, having her own bathroom with her own towels and her own soap seemed like the greatest luxury in the world. She failed to see how the Weasleys could have survived for so long with only one bathroom. It was already driving her crazy and she’d only been here a few weeks! There was always a mile long queue for the bathroom in the morning, and no sooner would Fleur had sunk into the bath when there would be an impatient hammering on the bathroom door.
But still, the limited time she got to spend with Bill was what made her time at the Burrow bearable. Those rare moments she shared with Bill each evening when he finished work were the only things keeping her sane at the moment. If it weren’t for Bill, she would probably have been driven out of her mind long ago. Then again, if it weren’t for Bill she wouldn’t even be here in the first place, but the possibility of not having Bill Weasley in her life was too horrible to even contemplate. Still, it was hard not to think back to those early days of their relationship where they just sat in her flat and talked for hours on end with a kind of nostalgic longing. Still, this was their life now, and after they got married, well, they’d have all day, everyday just the two of them.
And now, for once, the Burrow was silent and almost completely empty. Everyone else had gone off to Diagon Alley to purchase school supplies. She supposed she could have tagged along with them, it had been an awfully long time since she’d seen the outside world, but then again, the lure of the little cobbled street was far less than the idea of spending an entire afternoon with Bill.
It was a little while before she realised she was no longer alone in the kitchen. Lifting her head from her hands, and blinking a little after the darkness in her hands, she saw Bill sit down opposite her.
“Well,” he said, that familiar smile she loved so much tugging at the corners of his mouth, “that’s everybody gone. We’re alone. Finally.”
She nodded. “I gazzer zis does not happen often?”
Bill laughed. “It is a rarity, when you have six younger siblings, that none of them are here, even if only two of them actually live at home these days. I know it hasn’t been easy for you. You only have one little sister, and I know I’ve really dropped you in the deep end here.”
Fleur raised her eyebrows. That was surely an understatement here.
“But I want you to know that you’ve been coping tremendously well, nothing less than I would have expected from the amazing Miss Delacour,” Bill continued.
Fleur tried to smile, but she found she couldn’t complete the simple action. She hadn’t been coping well at all, she didn’t feel welcome, the whole family hated her, and it was blatantly obvious that none of the Weasleys wanted her to marry Bill.
“Your family ‘ates me, Bill!” she burst out, unsure of where the words, or the sudden tears burning in her eyes had come from.
Bill looked startled, but nonetheless jumped up from his seat and ran round to place his arms round her. Disgusted by the tears now flowing freely down her cheeks, but unable to stop them, she sobbed into Bill’s chest while he gently stroked her hair and tried to whisper comforting things in her ear.
“There, there,” he whispered softly, “nobody hates you! Why would you say something like that?”
She pulled herself away from his embrace so she could look directly at him. “Your muzzer ‘ates me, your sister ‘ates me, your brozzer is embarrassed to be in ze same room as me-”
He cut her off. “Nobody hates you,” he repeated gently. “They just haven’t got a chance to get to know you properly yet, that’s all. And anyway, Mum just thinks we’re just doing things a bit quickly, that’s all. Ginny, well, she’s really stubborn, and she hasn’t been in the best of moods lately anyway. Ron, well yes, I’ll admit he doesn’t like being in the same room as you because he asked you to that Christmas Ball thing years ago and still hasn’t got over the fact you turned him down. Remember, the boy’s only sixteen, he’s rather easily intimidated by women. Especially those of dazzling beauty, like yourself.”
Fleur considered this for a moment, absently drying her eyes on her sleeve in a most unladylike fashion. “Your mozzer doesn’t want us to get married,” she stated simply.
“She just thinks it’s a bit sudden,” Bill admitted after a moment of hesitation. “But why does it matter what any of them think? It’s our decision, our lives, and we want to get married. What’s the problem?”
Fleur sighed. “Your family is ze most important zing to you,” she said slowly and deliberately. “You told me zat yourself.”
Bill nodded. “You’re right,” he replied. “Family is the most important thing to me, but you’re my family now, Fleur, you must know that.”
Fleur found she was able to smile again. “Well zank you very much.”
“I mean it though!” Bill insisted, his face so endearingl earnest. “You’re the most important thing to me, Fleur, and I can’t wait for us to get married. I almost wish it had been this summer, rather than next!”
Fleur laughed. “But at least zis way, we have it all to look forward to,” she pointed out.
“True,” Bill mused. “And I’ve been thinking a lot recently, don’t look so surprised, it has been known to happen, about what’s going to happen after the wedding. I know you mentioned wanting to actually have the wedding in France, and it’s fine by me, but do you want to move permanently to England, or stay in France?”
She was surprised he even had to ask such a question. “I want to be wherever you are,” she said simply and truthfully.
A glorious grin split her future husband’s face at her statement. It was true though, it didn’t matter if they were in France or if they remained in rainy England or even if they moved all the way out to Egypt, as long as they were together.
“I had been looking around,” Bill continued in what was clearly supposed to be a causal, offhand tone, though he couldn’t suppress the obvious excitement in his voice. “Just, you know, in case you decided to stay here in England. There’s a lovely little village I’ve been looking at, Tinworth it’s called, it’s great, just by the sea. Anyway, just on the outskirts, there’s a little cottage, it’s been lying empty for years now. It’s beautiful, you’d absolutely love it. It’s quiet, and there’s nobody around, and it just overlooks the sea. I don’t know if that’s something you’d be interested in...” he trailed off hopefully.
She stared at him in wide-eyed amazement. In her mind’s eye, she could already see the little cottage by the sea. She could envision living there, falling asleep next to Bill while the sea rocked back and forth outside. She could picture the two of them having breakfast at a scrubbed wooden table in the tiny kitchen, taking for hours on end by the fire in the cosy sitting room, taking long walks up and down the sea’s edge as the sun slipped down on another perfect day.
“That sounds perfect,” she whispered.
He grinned again. “Shell Cottage is definitely a contender then?”
“Oh, most definitely.”
There was silence for a while, each absorbed in their own thoughts of what the future might bring. Fleur knew now that their lives together wouldn’t exactly be the blissful peace she had always imagined, Bill’s family were certainly making sure of that. But Fleur Delacour was never one for backing down easily, she had been a Triwizard Champion after all, and she liked a challenge. She and Bill were going to get married, and the Weasley family could say what they liked. They would come to love her one day, she knew that, but in the meantime, well, they’d just have to get used to her, wouldn’t they?
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