Chapter 4 : In Which an Accident and Feelings Occur
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There was quite a commotion in Huntington Park yesterday involving the Misses Delacour, Mr. Neville Longbottom and one Mr. Weasley—Mr. William Weasley, to be precise. While this Author was not fortunate enough to witness the spectacle, she did learn that it started with a Yorkshire terrier and ended in the lake.
The dog appeared the victor.
- Mrs. Harriet Hortescue’s Societal Observations in the daily edition of The Prophet
The sharp yipping was starting to grate on her nerves.
“Winston! Get over here!” Fleur knew that her voice was reaching an unbecomingly high pitch but at this point, she didn’t really care as she hoped that it would resonate in the small terrier’s ears. Her earlier attempts to get the dog to heel had failed and she was resorting to the less softer arts to leash her mother’s pet.
Why her mother insisted on having such a small and relatively useless pup around was beyond Fleur’s practicality. However, he’d been in the family since before her father’s death and though they’d gone through some very tough times, she wasn’t about to suggest to her mother that they sell him. Not that the thought hadn’t crossed her mind. Several times.
Standing in the doorway to the downstairs sitting room to the left of the foyer, Fleur hoped to block any escape for the Yorkshire terrier. Winston crouched in front of the fireplace, his black eyes assessing his odds of escape, a tiny growl issuing from his caramel colored body. The dog truly felt he was the size of an Irish wolfhound with the heart of a German shepherd. Fleur would be smiling if she wasn’t so annoyed with him. Her mum had asked her to walk Winston before the evening’s activities and so Fleur had spent the better part of the past half hour trying to wrangle him onto his leash.
Fleur took a menacing step forward, her eyes never leaving Winston. He yapped at her before charging forward, a fatal tactical error on his part as she leapt on his small form and succeeded in attaching the leash to his collar.
“Yes!” she crowed, keeping a tight rein on him as he futilely attempted to shake off her hold.
“Impressive,” said a deep, dry voice behind her.
Fleur straightened with a sudden force that she effectively shocked the small dog into momentary stillness with the sharp tug to his leash as she turned to face the intruder in the doorway.
Mr. William Weasley. Of course. Fleur just managed not to roll her eyes at the inevitability of the universe’s ironies.
The white cap of the Delacour maid visible behind his shoulder was the only evidence of how he’d gotten into the house. Fleur leaned around Mr. Weasley who shifted so she could address the maid.
“Suzanne, could you get my mother?” She tried to keep the annoyance out of her voice. It wasn’t the maid’s fault that she had been making so much noise so close to the front door that she’d missed the arrival of their guest. Though really, Mr. Weasley could’ve waited a bit more in the foyer and pretended not to see her in such an improper activity. It would’ve been the gentlemanly thing to do. She mentally huffed. It just proved even more how much of a rake he was and how mismatched he would be with Gabi.
Suzanne hesitated only a moment before bobbing in the doorway, softly saying, “I’ll fetch your mother, miss,” and heading upstairs. Fleur was old enough that being left unchaperoned for a few minutes wouldn’t be disastrous. Still, it stung just a little bit that she was relegated in the category of “too old to be worried about.”
With Suzanne upstairs, this left Fleur standing in an awkward silence with Mr. Weasley and a hyper dog whose huffing was currently the only sound in the room. Mr. Weasley was ignoring the dog however and instead was looking at her with those green eyes. This was somewhat rude but Fleur was surprised to note that irritation wasn’t the only thing she was feeling. Fleur pushed the thought aside and struggled to remember her manners.
“Mr. Weasley,” she said, bowing her head slightly as she curtsied.
“Miss Delacour,” he returned, dipping a bit at the waist.
Pleasantries aside, they were back to where they were only moments before. There was something about William Weasley that put Fleur on edge, something that she couldn’t put a name to. Maybe it was the gossip she’d overheard; maybe it was the aura of arrogance and power he wore casually around him like a cloak. Or the way his hair was a touch too long for society’s standards and that he wore a fang earring. Or maybe it was the way his green eyes watched her with no faintest sense of propriety, an amused smile lingering on his sculpted mouth. The corners of that mouth turned up even more.
At which point, Fleur realized she was staring.
Mortified, Fleur tore her gaze away from that mouth and bent down, ostensibly to fix Winston’s collar as she willed the blush to fade away from her cheeks. Silently she cursed her pale coloring.
“That’s a rather…fine dog you have, Miss Delacour.” She didn’t miss the inflection in Mr. Weasley’s tone. For some reason, this made her feel defensive over the little terrier, completely pushing aside her earlier diabolical plans for the poor thing.
Straightening again, she pasted on a polite smile as she smoothed down her powder blue skirt. She knew that her cheeks still had a tinge of pink in them but she hoped that it could be put down to her natural skin tone. Though, judging by the glint in Mr. Weasley’s eyes, he wasn’t buying it.
“Winston is a fine dog. He’s quite well-behaved. For a male.” Fleur bit the inside of her cheek and mentally groaned. Why did she just say that?
Mr. Weasley gave a bark of laughter, taken by surprise at the biting comment. A grin lingered on his lips as he stepped further into the room to look down at Winston, putting him just a touch away from an improper distance from Fleur. “He doesn’t seem too well-behaved right now.” Mischief threaded through his words.
Ignoring the sensation that ran through her at his nearness and his low voice, she glanced down to find that Winston had managed to tangle himself around one of the room’s chairs and struggling mightily to untangle himself.
“Winston!” she admonished, sinking down once more to handle the troublesome dog, missing the fact that Mr. Weasley had taken it upon himself to do the gentlemanly thing and attempt to disentangle the dog. Their shoulders bumped as they bent down and her bare hands brushed his larger warm ones, causing a hot tingle to run through her fingers and a rush of air to pass through her lips before she could stop it. Flustered, she stood up quickly, distancing herself as he proceeded to unwrap the dog from the chair. She let go of the leash in the process of him doing so, too occupied by her reactions to him to be concerned over it.
What was happening to herself? Was it him? Is this what women felt when they fell prey to his charms? Angry at herself for acting like a young school girl instead of a full-grown woman, she unfairly turned her irritation to the dog, who was occupied with sniffing at the boots of Mr. Weasley.
“That will be enough of that, Winston,” she said sharply with a slight tug on his leash. Reluctantly, the terrier relinquished his task of shining Mr. Weasley’s toe with his wet nose and turned his dark gaze up to the irritated girl. His wasn’t the only look that Fleur could feel upon her.
Her eyes moved up from the dog, almost on their own volition to meet Mr. Weasley’s. She felt her mouth open—to say something, to sigh—she never really knew as her mother’s voice lightly cut whatever shivering thread had started to twine itself between them
“Mr. Weasley! How unexpected yet delightful it is to have you come calling.” Her mother’s bright eyes and smiling face entered the sitting room. After the slightest of hesitations, Mr. Weasley’s eyes cut away from Fleur’s as he turned to greet her mother with a polish that he’d certainly not bothered to exhibit with her.
“Madame Delacour, the pleasure is all mine,” he murmured as he took Apolline’s proffered hand. The older woman smiled in response.
“To what do we owe this visit?” She asked, moving into the room as he let go of her hand. Taking a seat, she gestured for Mr. Weasley and Fleur to do the same. Fleur hesitated, intending to take the dog out now that she’d gotten him on his leash as well as being reluctant to remain in proximity to the disturbing man. Mr. Weasley noted her hesitation and did not move to sit. Her mother raised a slight eyebrow at her, silently willing her to be nice.
Holding back an unladylike eye roll, Fleur gingerly moved to take a seat on one of the chairs, holding herself on the edge and ready to jump up once released. Amusement evident on his face, Mr. Weasley slowly took his own seat on a chair across from hers. With one glance at Fleur, he turned his full attention to her mother.
“I wanted to call upon you and your lovely daughters.” Apolline gave an acknowledging nod to his compliment. “I also wanted to see if I would be able to take Miss Gabrielle on a drive this afternoon.”
Fleur tried not to flinch, but she must’ve given away some movement as he slid his eyes to her. Her mother either didn’t notice or ignored her.
Mrs. Delacour clapped her hands together. “Oh, I’m sure Gabrielle would enjoy that!” Her smile faded a bit as she recalled where her daughter was. “Except, she is out with Mr. Longbottom at the moment. I don’t expect her to be back for another hour or so.”
Fleur couldn’t help raising her eyebrows at Mr. Weasley in unmistakable challenge. What are you going to do with that, Mr. Weasley?
Unfortunately, he caught the look and returned it with one of his own. A slight smile curved his appallingly perfect lips as he spoke to her mother. “I suppose, then, that I will just have to pass the time in your lovely company.”
Her mother giggled. Giggled! Fleur’s jaw dropped slightly before she could stop herself. Apolline ignored her.
“No, I can’t have you do that, Mr. Weasley! You’d be bored within the quarter hour.” Apolline glanced at Winston and the leash attaching him to Fleur. A light entered her eyes as an idea formed. “Why don’t you go with Fleur as she walks Winston and perhaps you’ll come across Gabi and Mr. Longbottom?”
Fleur’s eyes widened at this neat maneuver. What was her mother trying to do?
Mr. Weasley glanced sidelong at Fleur as that mischievous smile graced his face once more. “I would love to.”
They had been walking for a number of minutes, the silence between them not quite awkward but not comfortable either. Bill had kept his eyes focused on the dog who pulled as much as possible on the leash and on the street around them. The rows of houses passed sedately by, the sky clear and a slight breeze kicking up here and there. For some reason, he felt it necessary to not look at the prickly Miss Delacour at his side. He thought it was due to self preservation (the woman might chop him if he looked at her wrong). There was a small part of him that suspected it was a different sort of self preservation than the physical kind. He ignored this.
“I won’t have you pursuing my sister, you know.”
This less than surprising statement momentarily stopped him in his tracks before he continued on down Miller Street. Ever since he’d met her at the ball, she’d been unlike any other debutante he’d dealt with: bold where others were demure, frank where others shied from the truth and not the least bit concerned with her appearance. So for her to come out and declare such a thing, wasn’t surprising. Though it was a bit rude.
He noticed a faint blush rising on the part he could see of her face underneath her hat as the silence stretched on. Ah, so she wasn’t completely immune to the niceties of society.
“What makes you think you have the power to stop me?” This earned him a cutting glance from her gray eyes. He had to admit, that while the girl wasn’t necessarily the most stunning creature, she had certain features that were pleasant. Quite pleasant. He mentally shook himself as he followed his original train of thought. “I mean, you’re not your sister nor are you her parent with a say-so on who might choose to court her.”
They paused as Winston found an interesting bush on the sidewalk and investigated it. She looked down at the dog before tilting her head up a little to address his question. “Maybe I don’t have the power to stop you, but my sister does hold my opinion in high regard as she knows that I will look out for her. She has stated more than once that she won’t marry a man I don’t like.”
“Ah, so the way to your sister’s heart and hand in marriage lies through you?”
That blush graced her cheeks again at the sarcasm in his tone. Or maybe it wasn’t a blush but the flush of anger. Either way, it made her look more appealing. No! Not appealing, just…nice. Yes. Nice.
“Not per se,” she hedged, glancing at the small dog as he started rooting at the ground before meeting his eyes once more. She wasn’t one to back down. “Just that, she respects me as the eldest. For so long it’s just been my mother, my sister and I. I guess I’ve tended to become protective of them.” She gave a slight shrug and then visibly realized that she’d said a little to much to a man that she had plainly disliked from the moment they’d met.
Hey eyes held a trace of embarrassment at them. Maybe a moment ago he would’ve taken advantage of that to tease her and get her back up but her statement of being protective of her family rang true with him. It was something he understood, this need to ensure the best survival of those one loved best. It was the burden of the eldest child and it was good to share this feeling with someone.
He smiled into her clear, gray gaze, cataloguing at the back of his mind that her eyes also held a ring of blue at the edge. “Why is it that you hate me so?” he softly asked.
Her eyes widened at his forward question. “I don’t hate you,” the words were out of her mouth without a thought, “I just don’t think I can like you.” Winston started walking again, pulling her along.
He let the silence stretch for a minute as they neared the edge of Huntington Park where there were a few people scattered about enjoying the clear day. “And why is that?”
She stopped to look at him, ignoring the small terrier as he strained to move forward to the cluster of trees just meters away. “You’re a rake. They make the worst sort of husband,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I suppose you know a lot on this subject?”
Her chin tilted up in defiance. “I know enough to know that you would hurt my sister if you married her and continued on with your roguish activities.”
He deliberately dropped his voice and moved closer to her. She tilted her head up, refusing to give an inch. He admired her boldness at the same time he began to feel the prickles of annoyance at her presumptions. “And where, might I ask, did you hear of my ‘roguish activities?’”
“One hears a lot of things at different events,” she said in a decidedly affected air. “In fact—“
Her words cut off as the sprightly spring breeze chose that precise moment to tug at her hat which had only been loosely tied under her chin. Her hands flew up to catch it but missed. Bill had automatically reached for it himself, being right there and he did get it before it hit the ground.
However this put him in extremely close proximity to Miss Delacour, one arm practically around her and his face almost level with hers. His breath caught as they gazed into each others’ eyes. He noticed the fine wings of her light blonde eyebrows, how her nose was pert, her lips were full and that the color rising on her cheeks was definitely not of anger and he was going to do something just then that would have been supremely stupid given their very public location when Winston gave a high-pitched bark and bounded off towards the copse of trees he’d been attempting to pursue for the past several minutes.
The moment (whatever that moment had been) was lost and Miss Delacour was after the damned dog, yelling “Winston!” in a very unladylike manner at a very unladylike run.
Momentary shock held Bill in place until he realized that the only course of action for him at this point was to follow at a decidedly ungentlemanly run. He ignored the amused and astonished faces of the other people he passed, focused on reining in this woman who didn’t seem to know what propriety and social dictates meant.
Breaking through the line of trees, he saw the light blue figure of Miss Delacour, the caramel colored body of the terrier as he ran directly for the lake where a curricle was parked and a woman who looked similar to the Miss Delacour he was chasing standing with a chap whom Bill could identify as Neville Longbottom at this distance with the awkward stance the man seemed to always have. He could also see the imminent disaster as the pup headed straight for Miss Gabrielle Delacour who turned in surprise at the yapping and the entourage Winston had seen fit to have. She had no time to prepare as the dog leapt into her arms, and Newton’s second law of motion was fully realized.
He closed his eyes as the girl dropped into the shallow end of the lake, Neville’s arms uselessly stretched to catch her and Fleur Delacour wading in after her.
He was going to kill that dog. But only after he killed Fleur.
Author’s note: Hey! Look a chapter! I made it longer due to the long wait. Hopefully you enjoyed this and will enjoy the rest of the story. Thanks elleinaD for getting me writing again. :)