You, Fleur, are the queen of the lilacs.
And I - I have a butterfly heart.
Sweetheart, I flock to you.
I remember seeing you first. You, in your powder blue cloak, you with your waterfall hair and cream-and-sugar skin. Your whole school walked into our great hall and yet every boy's eyes were on you alone.
So were mine.
And I - I was the only one you looked back at.
Oh, only for a moment, for sure, but enough. Enough to dry my mouth and skip my heart a beat; enough that my eyes didn't leave you for the rest of the night, hoping for another fix of your gaze on my skin; enough that later, when I tossed and turned in my four poster trying to force myself into sleep, flashes of your face danced across my eyelids for hours.
There was a pause, after that, after that first too-incredible moment, and I guess for a while you receded in my mind. You kind of had to - I was never so deluded that I could survive on a single glance alone, and while I saw you about the school, those next few days, while I got the occasional look at you and my heart skipped again, your eyes never did seem to settle on me again.
Then, the choosing of the champions. Then, your name in a flame, like I had no doubt it would be, because your perfect bravery always did shine through on your face. It was so shortly afterwards that us began.
My lilac girl, I could just drink your name right up.
It was the day after the your name in the Goblet of Fire that I remember you seeing me first.
I was sat with my friends. Angelina; Alicia; Cho. The three of us were somewhat of a group at that stage, though now I haven't seen any of them in years. We were doing homework - I forget what lesson, after all this time, because you knocked all that learning straight out of my brain when your gaze settled on me. We were doing homework and talking, me and my friends, talking in hushed voices in case Madam Pince was wandering near by, talking about nothing much, gossip and boys and the like.
Then, I looked up, just by chance, just a flick of my eyes for no reason at all, and there you were. Standing by a bookshelf just a few tables away, your body half shielded by it, your silken waterfall of hair tumbling across your shoulder in a neverending wave as you leaned. Your usual crowd of babbling followers was absent. You were alone.
And you were staring at me.
When I caught your gaze, you smiled. This lilting, teasing, inviting little quirk of the lips, and you moved your head, just a little - beckoning me. My butterfly heart sped up its wings, breaking out of its steady beat, erratic, unsure what to do. I licked my lips; didn’t mean to, but did.
I made some excuse. I don’t remember what, I needed a book I suppose, a book that would take me a while to find. My friends didn’t care, were too absorbed in their current conversation to give me more than a passing glance as I left the table.
I walked towards you. When I reached you, you walked backwards, further into the stacks. Your hips were swaying, your smile turning wicked, one of your hands out, index finger curled upwards, drawing me towards you.
I followed you, Fleur, mindlessly, just like you knew I would. I followed you into the darkest corner of the History of Magic section, where nobody would find us, where nobody would think to look.
I was fifteen, and had never kissed a girl. I’d kissed only one boy, a sweet Hufflepuff who took me to Hogsmeade a few times in my fourth year, and it had been nice. He’d seemed to like it more than I did, though, and I’d not got what the big deal was about kissing, really, when he’d done it to me. I said that to Angelina, afterwards, and she’d laughed lightly. She was always trying to play mentor to me, being older. She’d said, “your first few kisses are always weird, don’t worry. It’ll get better when you know what to do.” When the weirdness lasted more than a few kisses with my Hufflepuff boy, I’d ended things with him, and thought that maybe it was me, maybe there was something wrong with the way I worked that I didn’t like the things other people seemed to like.
And then, there was you.
You kissed me before I had a chance to realise what was going on, and your lips lit me up and broke me down, knocked me to the ground, head first, they pushed me and I fell into an abyss, a waterfall, a great tumble of sparkling light. Every nerve in my body lit up, my knees weakened, my stomach flipped a full turn inside my body.
You kissed me that once, without saying a word. It wasn’t a long kiss; just wrong enough to get inside me and rewrite everything I knew. Your hands rested lightly on my arms, as you did it. I didn’t know where to put mine, eventually put one up to brush the back of your neck, as though I thought I could hold you there forever. Your skin was soft, and cool to the touch.
You broke away, after a moment. A moment that was too short and too imperfect, too perfect, too much of something I couldn’t put my finger on and too little of everything else. You took my hand, moved it away from your neck. Placed one last brush of your lips against mine. Walked away without looking back.
I remember how nervous I felt when I returned to my table. I felt they would know for sure what had just happened; that I would give it away, somehow, with my expression or a wrongly chosen word. I felt the need to compensate. Overcompensate, you would probably say.
“So, who else has a crush on Viktor Krum?” I asked my friends at the next lull in conversation, leaning in towards them conspiratorily, my voice still a little breathless from your touch. “I think I might ask him for his autograph!"
I knew Cho favoured Cedric Diggory, but Alicia and Angelina giggled about Krum so much at Quidditch practice that I knew it would distract them. Sure enough, we talked about him for the rest of the afternoon, long after my butterfly heartbeat had settled back into its normal, steady pace.
Fleur. Fleur, even your name a flower, I want to touch every inch of you. The insides and the out. I want to feel your mind wrap around my mind; your legs wrap around my legs.
I wonder what your guts look like, Fleur. Your kidney, liver, spleen. Heart. Would they, too, enchant me? The gooey bits of any being tend to turn my stomach, but with you, I reckon even the gross is part of the story. Part of the magic.
Sweetheart, oh sweetheart, I love you through and through.
Our love affair was not the way I had pictured it. Though I had been hooked on you from the very first glance, I’d never expected you to look at me, too. Even when you kissed me that first time, it seemed just a game - and I didn’t mind that, Fleur, oh boy how much I didn’t mind, but your playful smile and the way you didn’t speak and the way you were in control of everything that happened - well. It was obvious you could have had anyone you’d wanted. And I was, am, just a plain scrap of a thing, and you are all that you entails, and I knew you could enchant anyone you cared to. I thought there were probably a few of my carbon copies scattered around the school, girls and guys you had hanging on a thread. I thought you were strumming the lot of us to create some beautiful music that only you could hear; some bigger picture only you were evolved enough to see. And we would all hang on, hoping for a scrap of whatever you could spare us of yourself, because we recognised that you were something altogether perfect.
But later I realised what I still think today - it wasn’t a game, for you. Maybe I was absorbed in you a little more than you in me, but you cared, you wanted, you needed me in some way. It shone through in the way you were around me. We never told anyone about us, of course, Fleur, but in private - in private, you showed it.
You wrote me tiny notes in French, on scraps of milky blue parchment, and I would spend all night translating them with the dictionary I’d found in the library, only to find that they were a little, poetical snippet about my hair, my eyes, my freckled skin. You would make your giggling group of friends walk long and winding routes through the castle, just so you could be passing as the bell rang and I left whatever class I was in, and you would shoot me the sweetest hint of a glance. You would pull me aside if ever we were in a crowd together, would shove me into the nearest secluded space - an alcove, a broom closet - and kiss me, once, long and hard on the lips, even though it was risky and you knew we could get caught. At the Yule Ball; at the Yule Ball when you were dancing with Roger, you had this look on your face, it made you seem an angel; it was this smile, open and innocent, vulnerable in a way, this honest bare smile that lit up your face and had everyone staring at you. And it looked like you were smiling at Roger, but you weren’t. I was stood at the front of the crowd behind him, watching you dance - and you were smiling at me.
After the dancing was over, you and Roger left for the gardens. I remember the surge of jealousy that shot through me when I noticed you headed that way; there was little pretence about the fact that only couples went out there, to snog or do more, and the whole night you’d been looking at me so much that I’d never even thought of that funny-looking boy as any competition, until you were leaving with him down Lovers’ Lane and I was standing stupidly, abandoned, by the punch bowl, rage churning up my stomach.
But then you looked over your shoulder, caught my eye.
I knew to follow you, then, you the lilac pied piper, you the purple puppeteer who could set me in motion with no more than a twitch. I put down my punch and slipped out into the gardens after you. You were waiting, just outside the door.
“I made Roger think I had run off,” you told me softly, taking my hand and dragging me away from the doors, into some secluded corner where we could never possibly be found. “Like a game of ‘ide and seek - ‘ee ‘as gone looking for me.”
I smiled, laughed a little under my breath, pushed myself up onto my tiptoes and captured your lips because I couldn’t contain it anymore. Your lips were, always, sweet, like you’d crusted them with sugar, and I just couldn’t get enough. Every time we touched, even for a moment, it set something loose inside of me, something that craved you to its very bones. But after I’d kissed you, I forced myself to pull away, for that was never all our relationship was. I pulled away, grinned, dug my fingers in under your ribs. You couldn’t hold in your screech of laughter; you always were so ticklish.
Sometimes, that’s what I remember most. I knew it was love, because we were silly together. We had mad crazy passion that lit up my stomach, and we wrote each other love poems and kissed deeply whenever we had a moment to and sighed out of windows when thinking about the other - but, at the same time, we joked, we laughed, we played. Sometimes when we were kissing, when we had a while and didn’t have to rush, I would pull away and make a funny face at you. You would make one back, and we’d both dissolve into giggles. We had tickle fights and told each other spooky stories.
Sometimes, my darling, I wonder if you’re silly like that with him.
I knew of my butterfly heart long before I met you. There’d been boys and girls before who’d walked past me with a flower. Enough to catch my interest, make me look their way. Make my heart pick up a little, the wings beating faster, wondering if I should, perhaps, pursue. There was never one quite enough to set me into full motion, though, so my heart remained put, cocooned inside my chest.
But you, Fleur, are called a flower, and they seep from your very presence. A childhood friend had caught my interest with a petal. You captured me with the whole damn garden.
It’s no wonder I forgot how to let go. I would have happily died in you, as the summer of my life came to an end.
A lot of the time, it was easy to forget that you hadn’t come to Hogwarts just to trail through my life. It was easy to forget that you would be in danger, there.
I never did get much involved in the tasks. It churned my stomach too much, the thought of you gaining even a scratch, the thought of you even afraid, alone, inside some unknown danger. Thinking about it made the bile rise in my throat; I was never brave, like you, it was something I couldn’t handle.
But I tried, and sometimes, when you’d ask, I’d help a little. Like with the egg - remember that, my darling? We went to the prefects’ bathroom together, because I’d been sent my badge that summer and nobody had been all that surprised. We stripped down to our underwear and climbed into the tub. Splashed each other with bubbles. Held our breath and each other’s hands as we listened to the mermaid’s song under the water.
You figured out what it meant so fast. You always were the smart one.
Things took a turn for the worse as the year grew to a close, though. Not with us, though the thought of your return to France did haunt us both, a little. But - Cedric, and rumours, rumours of Harry Potter and Voldemort, and nobody knowing what to think. I couldn’t deal with it all. I had to focus on you. I knew we might not have much time.
We slept together for the first time the night before you left. It was, like everything you do, perfect. Afterwards, lying tangled in your arms, I had kissed the top of your head, felt your cool silk hair against my lips.
“What will become of us?” I’d whispered.
“Katie,” you’d said, in your beautiful, lilting voice, drawing out the e in that way you had that made my butterfly heart stutter. “Do not be so sad, all the time. Try to think of the happy.”
The next day, in the mad rush of the goodbyes, it was hard to find you. I could see the Beauxbatons students starting to board their carriages, and turned frantic, near crying - the thought of you leaving was unbearable, but the thought of not being able to say goodbye, even worse. You found me, in the end, rushed up behind me and grabbed my wrist. I knew it was you without looking, would have recognised that cool, soft skin anywhere.
You pulled me into the most private spot you could find, tucked away behind an empty carriage, and kissed me, deeper and with more feeling than you ever had. It wasn’t enough, it wasn’t enough to leave with and we both knew it, but there was nothing else we could do.
You pulled away, and opened your mouth; I waited for your beautiful words, the ones I knew would make everything okay, because you were perfect and always knew what to say, what to do. You would fix this.
“Don’t write to me,” you said, and left.
You left, and I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel I had anything left inside myself to let out.
I became a hollow girl, after that, butterfly heart tucked sound away and sleeping in my chest.
Fleur, oh my flower, oh my lilac girl. I didn’t like the colour purple, until I met you. Until you painted it all over my world.
Sometimes, I still don’t like it, and I hate you because it’s all I can see.
The next time I saw you, you were pregnant.
Oh boy was that a shock to me.
I always figured you were the kind of girl who’d never let one guy tie her down. Or one girl. I guess that was why I let you go so easily - I may have been the butterfly heart of our relationship, but you, Fleur, you have wings in your own way, and I knew that you needed to fly.
And yet, there, five years later, I saw you. And you had a ring on your finger and a swell in your belly and a screaming redheaded toddler swinging off your arm.
And you - of course, you were taking it all in stride.
The glass still didn’t shatter, then. If it were anyone else, Fleur - if it were anyone else I saw after five years had passed from our love, and back then my child self had thought them perfect, if it had been anyone else and they’d had circles under their eyes to scream of motherhood and messy hair and banana mashed on their shirt, and they’d been bloated with a baby and tinged green like they might be sick at any moment -
It it had been anyone else, but it was you, so of course, you remained, still, perfect. There’s was happiness in your eyes that lit them up, in a different way than you had seemed lit up with me. Not more, and not less, but different altogether.
We were in a shop, for this reunion, a little bookshop in Diagon Alley, and I’d been away. Oh boy had I been away, far and for long, chasing something - maybe running, maybe running from you. And there’d been girls along the way, five years is an awful long time, there’d been girls, and they mostly had long blonde hair and milky skin. I never stayed with one of them for long, though, Fleur. It wasn’t hard for me to see that they were pale imitations, and eventually, for each and every one of them, there came a moment where they were no longer of use. The clouds in front of them, the mystery, it had to fade, reveal who they really were. I grew to hate them all, because who they were was never you.
Fleur, your child with Bill had red hair. If you and I could have a baby, if the Gods and biology were kind enough to allow, they would be the most beautiful thing to live. I love you down to my very genetic makeup, my darling, and my genes would surely recognise that they should let you take the charge. Our child would be your carbon copy, then, but maybe with my deep eyes, the thing you always did love most about me.
Imagine us, Fleur, curled together with our baby between. A flat in Paris, the handmade driftwood cot that’s been passed down through my family for generations. If we had a girl, we could name her Lilac, for I know my butterfly heart would love her just as steadily as I always have loved you.
I ache to think of it. You and me, my darling, and our love in human form. If the world weren’t so cruel, if you weren’t so gone, if my butterfly heart weren’t so goddamn frail.
You asked me to a party. That’s what I remember, that was your first response to seeing me.
“Katie!” you’d said, surprised, and your accent had faded a little after all this time, your voice didn’t lilt on the e of my name in the way I’d used to love. “‘eet ‘as been too long!" You'd brushed your hand against my arm, smiled. "You should come to a party me and Bill are ‘aving tomorrow for our friends.”
Like that. Like I was a friend you’d had, a long while ago, and had missed, a little, since losing touch. Like we’d been nothing more than that. Like you liked me. Like you’d never loved me in every way there was.
And I, after all those years, was so desperate for a fix of you. So desperate to stand close enough to smell your sweet perfume, to hear your lilting voice, to watch your face light up with a smile, even a fake one. I was desperate, so I came to your party.
Your party was actually a barbecue, in your cute family cottage by the sea. There were lots of kids there, and their parents, who wore jeans and were eating burgers. It was the most normal thing in the world, and it didn’t fit you. It was like I could see your wings, folded up against your back, being crushed by the weights upon your shoulders of responsibilities you should never have had to bear.
If you’d stayed with me, we could have travelled the world. We could have flown together.
As soon as you saw me, just after I arrived, you smiled. I fell, as usual, deep down into the abyss that was loving you. And you came straight over, a hint of a waddle in your bulging step, and took my hand.
“Bill!” you’d called across the garden; he’d raised his head, payed you half his attention. “I am going to show Katie something in the ‘ouse, keep your eye on Victoire.”
You took me inside the house, and I didn’t know what to expect. If I’d be shown a nursery full of other children of yours, or perhaps a keepsake of our time together that you wanted to return, no longer needed. Strangely, my butterfly heart was keeping perfect time, through all of this. My throat, though, felt as though it might close up.
And then, you’d taken me to a room with a bed in, and things I recognised that must have been yours, and the things of a man, as well, so Bill then. The bedroom you shared with your husband.
You closed the door behind us, and kissed me before I had a chance to breathe.
Oh, god, Fleur. Indescribable, impossible, the thing I had never dared to hope for again. Your sugar-painted lips, the coolness of your hands against my waist. Your swollen belly stood between us, we couldn’t press so close as we had years before, but I didn’t care, it made no difference. I wound my arms around you as best I could, fell into you, lost myself, found myself, found you and I together. Five years had passed and I’d thought I’d been starting to get over it, but the second your hands were on me again, I knew it was just that I’d become numb to the pain. Kissing you again, it released the hurt in me, released it and cured it in the same moment.
We couldn’t stop, neither of us could, we had been apart for too long. We were back, we were five years ago in stolen moments, the prefects’ bathroom, the Beauxbatons carriages, the safety of my four poster bed, curtains drawn. My head was spinning, and I felt almost sick with the wanting. You had infected me, once again.
We were on the bed, a year or minute later, both flushed and crazed and in love all over again, when we heard the knock at the door.
You were up off me in a flash, hands flying to your face, calling, “‘ang on!” at the door as you scrambled for your clothes.
“Maman,” came a young voice from the other side of the wood, and your shoulders sagged a little in some form of relief. “Daddy wants to know if you want a burger or a hotdog?”
“Um, an ‘otdog, mon cheri,” you called back. “Tell ‘im I will be down in just a moment.”
“Oh-kay,” she singsonged, and we listened together to her footsteps, skipping down the stairs.
I knew better than to reach for you again. You stood there, silent, still, for a moment. Then, your lips parted, and you let out one long, shaken breath.
And that - that was when the glass shattered. That was when I saw you as you were, are, as a flaw, as a broken human being. When you were wiping the smudged lipstick off your mouth, when your hair was messy, flyaway strands whispering of my hands running through them only moments before, when your hand was shaking, just slightly, as you ran the tissue over your mouth, one hand clutching at your belly, like you were afraid someone was going to try and take it away from you. When you were uncertain, and your world was shaken, when things looked like they might start falling down around you.
Fleur. I saw you for who you are at last, I saw your cracks and the places you’d been clumsily stitched back together and all the imperfections it had left you with, and my butterfly heart merely loved you more.
“Come with me,” I’d said then, because I had to, because how could I not. “I know you love me, darling. And you’re all I’ve ever wanted, you’ve known that from the start. We should be together.”
“I ‘ave a child, now,” you’d said, after a pause that was a lifetime for my heart, your voice cracking, eyes watering. “I ‘ave another on the way. There’s nothing I can do. Bill is their father, and I care for him. I cannot just leave.”
“You could bring them with you,” I’d said, and I’d meant it, oh Fleur, I’d love anything that came from you. “We could raise them, together. I have a job, now; we could get a house. Bill, he could still see them, at weekends and stuff. People do that, now. And the kids - they’ll be happier if you’re happy.”
I could see the cracks running down you, Fleur. I could see the toll the world had taken. You were, always, too good for this land, too good for any of the people. Far too good for me, and certainly, certainly, too too good for anyone who loved you even a fraction less than I did. I could see the cracks in you as you shook your head, hopelessly, pressed a hand up to your lips to stop them tremoring.
“I am ‘appy with Bill,” you’d said.
I couldn’t tell if it was a lie or not.
My butterfly heart curled up inside my chest, coccooned itself off. I moved to the door, to leave. You grabbed my wrist, pulled me back, kissed me one last time.
The tears had washed away your usual sugar lips, replaced them with salt. My mouth tasted bitter the whole way home.
Fleur, it’s been years since that day.
I’ve kissed you twice, since then, and you’ve had two more children as well.
One day, I’ll quit you. One day the scent of your lilac skin will fade into something else, or my butterfly heart will wither away for good, and we’ll both be out of this whole, sad, sick mess.
And besides, I read recently - lilacs aren’t really a butterfly’s favourite flower. If I meet a heliotrope princess, my darling, we’ll be done for good.
Until then, my queen, I am left under your spell, flocking to your call whenever you put it out. Aching for your glance.
And you are there, my love, with him.