Fleur closed her eyes and tried her best to ignore the scrutinising gaze of the student population. Her days of self-pity over her extraordinary beauty were long over, she had accepted her fate by now. It was just a fact and there was nothing she could do about it. Wallowing in self-pity was definitely not a good way to cope with life. A flash of irritation emerging occasionally couldn’t be helped however, she was only human. Well, three quarters at least.
Her impenetrable mask was firmly in place as she calmly walked over to the table with the sea of bronze and blue, idly aware of her fellow peers following her lead. As soon as she sat down however, her gaze shifted to the table and she studiously ignored any attempts of greetings. She knew she was being rude but to be fair the day had taken quite a toll on her and she was too tired to feign interest in other people. There was a reason she gained her reputation as ‘the ice queen’, a title that both saddened and shielded her. The curse of the Veela, her grandmother used to tell her. She vaguely registered her fellow Beauxbatons peers introducing themselves to nearby Hogwarts students, who claimed to be Ravenclaws, whatever that meant. While she felt many pairs of glazed eyes watching her, no one tried to talk to her; not with her carefully crafted ‘don’t speak to me’ mask she currently sported. It was for the best after all. In her experience, people mostly tried to flirt and chat her up. No one really cared about getting to know her, only about her beauty.
Fleur silently walked through the library, doing her best to remain undetected. Fortunately, so far no one had spotted her, or if anyone did, they let her be. A momentary blessing. She took her time browsing the selection Hogwarts provided, always eager to find new books. She was curious to find out if this library exceeded the one in Beauxbatons, which she found unlikely but resolved to not judge beforehand. She was looking through the Magical Creatures corridor when she heard voices.
“I don’t know what got your knickers in a twist ‘Mione, it’s not as if she heard me,” an annoyed male voice complained loudly.
“Doesn’t matter if she heard you or not, you were being disrespectful,” a feminine voice responded.
“Why does that matter to you? You don’t even know her,” the male spoke again.
“It’s the principle of things Ron, you shouldn’t objectify women,” the female sounded exasperated. The conversation piqued Fleur’s interest, despite herself.
“Whatever, she’s probably used to it anyway,”
“Which doesn’t justify it. In fact, it only makes it worse,” Fleur crept along the rows of books and peeked between the shelves. At the far end of the other section, she noticed a table holding three people, two males and one female. They were younger than Fleur herself, maybe fourteen, fifteen. The girl, a pretty brunette with bushy hair was glaring at a gangly red hair, who seemed just as irritated with her as she was with him. They wore the traditional black Hogwarts school robes adorned with gold and red. Gryffindor, Fleur recognised the emblem. She didn’t fully understand the sorting system but she vaguely recalled Gryffindor represented bravery.
“Bloody hell ‘Mione, you’re so uptight,” the red hair rolled her eyes.
“I’m not uptight!” the brunette protested angrily. “You’re just being a prat,”
“A prat? I’m a growing teenager filled with hormones. I’m allowed to think girls are hot,”
“Of course, you are allowed to appreciate someone’s beauty. That doesn’t give you to the right to objectify or saying crude things about them. Show some respect,” the girl frowned.
“Merlin woman, you’re being ridiculous. Harry you agree with me, right?” the red hair turned to the other boy, who wore glasses and his raven hair was the very definition of bed hair. He looked like deer-caught-in-headlights, as if he desperately wanted to be anywhere else in that moment. Both the brunette and red hair were staring at him expectantly.
“Err…” he scratched his head awkwardly. “I reckon Hermione is right. You should treat women with respect,” the girl nodded in approval while the other boy rolled his eyes.
“I just don’t understand why you’re reacting like this all of the sudden. You’ve never commented on this before,” the red hair paused. “Well not this strongly at least. If I didn’t know any better, someone has a crush,” he wiggled his eyebrows in a quite ridiculous manner. Fleur observed as the girl blushed at the words.
“I don’t have a crush,” she denied vehemently, although the blush remained. The red hair snorted and elbowed the other boy.
“She had never shown interest in anyone before, trust it to be a Veela to finally catch her interest,” Fleur stiffened at the words. They were talking about her. The blonde sighed to herself, figures.
“I don’t have interest in her,” the girl frowned.
“Then why does it bother you this much?” the raven-haired boy asked, although more curiously than teasing. The red hair smirked at the question, like he had won the argument. Fleur couldn’t explain it, but she suddenly felt the urge to deck him for that smug expression.
The girl was silent for a moment, obviously gathering her thoughts. Without meaning to do so, Fleur leaned slightly in, curious of the answer.
“It bothers me because she carries herself as if she’s used to being objectified, her face carefully neutral and rarely makes an eye contact or shows outer reaction when people leer at her in the Hall or in the hallways. Sometimes beauty can be a curse,” she finally uttered, and Fleur blinked in surprise. She was surprised by the observation. The red hair rolled his eyes, but the other boy seemed contemplating her words.
“You think so?” he asked carefully. The girl nodded seriously.
“I think you’re just imagining things ‘Mione,” the red hair exclaimed dismissively, and the brunette shot him a glare.
“I think not. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who sees it, since everyone else is so busy gawking at her,”
“Sees what?” the raven-haired boy wondered, which Fleur silently echoed in her mind.
“How sad she is,” Fleur reeled back in shock, feeling oddly exposed in that moment.
“She doesn’t look sad to me,” the red hair said skeptically.
“That’s because you’re too busy eyeing her chest,” the girl snarked. “It’s her eyes,”
“Her eyes?” the raven haired boy repeated.
“They give her away,” the girl explained in a sorrowful tone.
Fleur slowly backed away from her position, careful to not alert them of her presence before quickly making her way out of the library, books forgotten. With this new information, she avoided looking anyone in the eye as she hurriedly fled to the Beauxbatons carriage. It wasn’t until she was in the privacy of her quarters that she allowed herself to relax. Someone had noticed her, seen through her façade. That was definitely unacceptable. Something that felt a lot like panic squeezed at her chest. From now on she would avoid eye contact with everyone, she couldn’t afford being seen as vulnerable. More importantly, Fleur vowed to herself to avoid that brunette among the sea of red and gold.
Fleur kept her vow for her entire year at Hogwarts and three years passed until she saw the brunette again. She wasn’t equipped for it and while it should have been expected, it was disarming all the same. Hermione Granger had the remarkable talent at seeing through her. Fleur both resented and appreciated her for it.