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More Alive Than Ever Before

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*

As soon as Fleur puts her name into the Goblet of Fire, she giddily skips out of the Hall.

There's no better feeling of her accomplishments. Fleur leads her inner circle of friends right to their next scheduled visitation in the castle, pirouetting on her tiptoes as light as air and twisting her fingers delicately over her wand. The core element being a single Veela hair — from a deceased family member.

*

Before her grand-mère left this world, she asked to hold Baby Fleur.

Apolline Delacour, Fleur's own maman, recalls that Fleur's grand-mère laid upon a bed of white french silks and feathered pillows. Being fussed over and admired by the servants. No one with Veela blood could be entranced, or manipulated by another Veela. Fleur's maman told her that Grand-mère appeared sickly, heavily perfumed and ashy in her complexion. Not a wrinkle in sight. Pure-blooded Veelas do in fact age, as non-Veela do, but she appeared to only be forty or fifty instead of eighty-five years old.

In her last moments, Grand-mère complained about the pink satin quality of Baby Fleur's dress, and how round and plump her cheeks were, instructing a dietary change to an infant getting strictly breastfed. Apolline, thankfully, did no such thing, feeding her darling daughter whenever Fleur had been hungry.

Perhaps it's best that Fleur had never properly met her grand-mère. A severe and beautiful creature.

Goodness knows what she would have said about Gabrielle's bony, little knees poking out of her tulle-layered skirts and the windswept tangles in her white-blonde hair. As a child, Fleur would not tolerate a dismissive or cruel remark even from the famed Monsieur Delacour about her little sister.

Maman and Monsieur Delacour eagerly sent Fleur off to the mountainous regions of the Pyrenees.

Eager to rid of her, she supposes.

Too outspoken. Too fiery about her convictions and too soft-hearted.

*

Beauxbatons, and the Headmistress Olympe Maxime herself, welcomed a young Fleur all-too graciously, enamored by her magical linage and beauty and scale of intellect.

A huge, powder blue chateau sat isolated and teeming with natural and powerful sources of magic on the grounds. A towering water-fountain of immaculate, pale marble in the courtyard believed to heal wounds and clear impurities since as blemishes and redness from flesh. A portion of the northern garden-trees held magical-saturated wood and bark to forge new wands. Most ideal for charm-work and beginners. The enchanted forest where Wood Nymphs lived, dancing and twirling, singing for them during Yuletide.

She knew every stair, every glowing, bright painting and speck of dust.

Hogwarts is far too dark and endlessly empty for Fleur's liking, with a sour-spice odour permeating the nearly damp castle walls.

The powder-blue chariot that Fleur and her classmates arrived in repels any foreign dirt, as well as the trained and winged horses now kept in a massive, outdoor stable.

You must do the same, my sweetlings, Headmistress frets, magicking out the casks of single malt whisky. Remember where you come from.

*

Fleur only knows perfection and criticism.

The British education system here is lacking, and there's no diamond-shimmering ice sculptures. Most of the students attending act like unruly children as well.

She gravitates towards the Ravenclaw Common Room eventually, discovering fellowship with those who value diligence, wit and wisdom, as well as a gentler and more palatable nonconformity. On the eve before the name-drawing, Fleur cozies herself in the Ravenclaw Tower, silently examining the midnight-blue carpet and the huge, domed ceiling glittering and blinking with stars conjured from nothing.

Raindrops patter against the elegant, arched windows.

Fleur smooths her hands over her pale blue, silk robes, identical to the other Beauxbatons students.

The girls remain on the floor with the Ravenclaw girls wearing different colored nightgowns and two-piece buttoned pyjamas, combing each other's hair and gossiping quietly. And the boys, however — either they crowd together by the gigantic bookcases, lifting their noses snobbishly and muttering, or they engage playfully with the Ravenclaw boys.

They're far more beautiful than any of the Ravenclaw boys or girls for that matter. Fleur spots two Beauxbatons boys: Louis with rich, chestnut hair and Daxton stylishly tossing back his auburn locks, ensnare the attention of a smaller, bashful group of Ravenclaw boys. She witnesses Daxton lean in to whisper in Marcus Belby's ear, grazing his lips over Marcus's cheek and delighting in the flushing.

Fleur rolls her eyes good-naturedly. Boys are impossible no matter where they attended schooling.

She focuses back on the other girls, wincing. Her stomach feels a bit nauseated. Hogwarts serves meals like Yorkshire pudding and tangy pumpkin juice and roast beef. Horrid. Fleur misses dinners at Beauxbatons. Egg batter grilled ham-and-fromage sandwiches. Blueberry honey crepes. Cassoulet and potato gratin and fresh fruit tarts, chilled for hours and lightly drizzled with a dark chocolate sauce.

Padma Patil and Mandy Brocklehurst go from fawning over her, giggling and bragging not-so-subtly about their talents, to arguing vehemently about who will braid Fleur's long, white-blonde hair. A twinge of pain creeps from Fleur's stomach, and shoots right into his temple. Noisy. Irritating.

On the far side, Cho Chang gushes about her boyfriend, smiling radiantly.

Dark eyes. Black hair. Alabaster skin as flawless as her own. Fleur listens to her, nodding when appropriate. Cedric sounds too nice. Or perhaps it is all of the gushing. In any case, Cho is very pretty and deserving of someone who can recognize her for who she is. A needy but lovely sort of girl. She wishes to be cared for and doted on.

Fleur compliments Cho's knitted, wool stockings, and teaches her to properly kiss someone 'hello' and 'goodbye' with friendly, warm lips upon Cho's face. The other girls huff in the background, jealous of Fleur's affection turning from them. But to Fleur's astonishment, Cho does not seem interested in her. The inherent Veela allure seems to have limitations with Fleur, who is only a quarter-Veela herself.

Suits her fine.

Professor Flitwick emerges from the doorway, clapping his hands and instructing everyone to sleep. They all collectively groan and trudge up into the Dormitories.

Cho doesn't kiss her goodnight, grabbing onto and nudging her best friend Marietta Edgecombe, gleefully heading up to another tower-level. Fleur whispers cheerfully to another Ravenclaw girl, feeling an arm slipping to her waist and hugging her.

She's on her own for the Tournament, as soon as Fleur's name rises and flutters into the air.

Heaven help her.

*