"It's early. You shouldn't be up." She said, her eyes never leaving the not so picturesque sky. It was empty tonight. Barren in all its glory. Not a single twinkling star in sight. She didn't know how to feel about that.
"Neither should you." A soft voice came from behind her. She brought the rapidly shortening cigarette in her hand back to her lips, bracing most of her weight on the cold marble railing.
"I'm sorry." She murmured as she exhaled, the calm washing over her enough to clear her thoughts, even for a moment. "Did I wake you?"
"No." The voice was getting closer and it wasn't long before a familiar figure entered her peripheral vision. "Though the bed did get quite cold, Fleur." The beautiful brunette gave her a warm smile and braced herself on the railing very much like Fleur had done.
"Don't be." Came the reply. One Fleur was expecting. Her apology didn't seem to matter to Hermione, after all. After every mistake, she'd find herself forgiven long before she'd even muttered a pathetic 'sorry.' Fleur knew that probably wasn't the healthiest relationship to have, but what did it matter if it went both ways.
Slender fingers grasped her hand and guided the cigarette to a mouth not her own. Hermione exhaled a puff of smoke and Fleur couldn't help but stare. The brunette's face, usually so serious, looked so relaxed. She found it in herself to smile for the first time that night.
"Nasty habit." Hermione muttered, as she propped up her elbows on the railing and cradled her head in her hands.
Fleur couldn't help the chuckle that escaped her as she nodded, "One zat we share."
"Unfortunately." Hermione smiled softly once more before she tore her gaze from Fleur's own baby blues. Fleur watched from the corner of her eye as Hermione, just like she herself had done before, trained her eyes at the barren night sky. She deemed it a mystery, then, how it could be so empty and still so captivating.
"What's wrong, Fleur?" Hermione asked, and there was a way she said it, that had Fleur wanting to spill her guts out. It was devoid of accusations, expectations the complete opposite of badgering. It was Hermione Granger asking a question because she wished to solve the problem. The realization filled Fleur with a warmth that she'd come to relate to the endearment she felt for the brunette witch.
Fleur brought the cigarette to her lips once more before stomping it out on the marble railing and twirling it in her fingers, The remains of the used stick vanished, already on its way to the rubbish bin. "Is anyzing even right, Hermione?"
The brunette chuckled, whether it was because of the truth of her words or her blatant attempt to change the topic, Fleur didn't know. "Deflecting with humor is almost as bad of a habit as smoking, Fleur." Hermione said softly once she'd calmed.
Fleur let out a resigned sigh with a small smile on her face. Hermione didn't have to ask again. "It was a nightmare."
A single cigarette zoomed past them both and landed in Hermione's waiting hand. "I figured." The brunette looked at her expectantly and Fleur held out her hand before extending a finger, where a tiny little fire was brought to life at the very top. The lit cigarette was placed in front of Fleur's mouth and she let the smile on her face grow before extinguishing the fire in her hand and inhaling.
Fleur let out an exhale, relishing in the calm that washed over her as she watched from the corner of her eye as Hermione did the same. "Except it wasn't." She said, her voice shaking more than she'd like. "It wasn't... horrible."
Words that were on the tip of her tongue seemed stuck and she was at a loss. Where did her eloquence go? Where did the confidence of the once proud veela she knew herself to be go? "The only thing horrible in that dream, was me."
To her shock, a light twinkling sound that very much resembled laughter came from beside her. "Are you - laughing?"
Hermione calmed, though still occasionally letting out tiny little chuckles. "Forgive me, Fleur, but of all the things you are -" Hermione looked at her then, tearing her gaze away from the sky that really had nothing to show for to deserve her attention. The brunette held up an empty hand, counting as she listed things at the top of her head. "Beautiful, for one."
"Intelligent, charming, high maintenance-"
"Excuse moi?!" Fleur spluttered.
"Oh and you can be a bit of a bitch too, but-"
"But you're not horrible, Fleur." Hermione finished softly, " That word is reserved for those without an ounce of mercy. People like Voldemort. So unless you're planning to be the next rising Dark Lord, no, Fleur." Hermione brought the cigarette to her lips before offering it to Fleur, "You're not horrible. Far from it, really."
Fleur took the offered cigarette in her hand, bringing it up to her lips for nth time tonight before letting out a tiny chuckle. "It takes quite a character to be able to insult someone just to prove a point, ma belle."
Hermione scoffed, "I'd say being called high maintenance is far from an insult, Fleur." she said, fixing her gaze once again to that damnable barren sky. "What's tragic is being called entitled." Hermione shrugged, "And again - you're far from it, Fleur."
The blonde shook her head, tearing her gaze away from Hermione's form and fixing it this time on her hands. They were clean, though tinged with the smell of cigarettes, they were still clean. So unlike the bloodstained image she'd seen only hours before.
"I tortured her, Hermione." She whispered, horrified as memories of something that never even happened flashed through her mind. "Lestrange. She was on her knees, begging for mercy, and I didn't stop. I saw red and - and I couldn't stop." Fleur grit her teeth, letting out a shaky exhale through her nose before she gripping the cold marble of the railings until her knuckles turned white.
"I was smiling, Hermione." She muttered, this time looking up at the empty, lifeless sky. "Her screams - she was in so much pain, she was so terrified - and... and I was smiling." She let out a little chuckle, self deprecating in all its glory. "I was smiling until ze very end. Until the moment a flash of green left the tip of my wand and her body crumpled into a bloody mess I made it, on ze floor."
"What makes me any different from the wild feral veela that Lestrange made me out to be?" She whispered, not bothering to look at the brunette next to her. She didn't want to see whatever expression Hermione had. She didn't want to listen to the answer to her question. So looked up, stared straight at the barren sky almost faithfully. As if it had answers, as if she herself could fly up and join it, and be swallowed by the sheer emptiness. To be numb, Fleur thought, would be better than feeling the need to kill someone long dead. "What does zat make me?"
She heard Hermione let out a a large exhale, a puff of smoke entered her peripherals and still, she didn't risk looking away from the night sky,
"It makes you human, Fleur." Came the reply. Fleur had heard the brunette's voice time and time again, she had it memorized, imprinted it in her head, yet this was the first time she'd ever heard it so soft. "What do you think God was thinking, Fleur, when he made us?"
"Humans... we're all selfish." Hermione said softly. "Its a known fact. its why we don't like to share as babies and why schools have subjects like Values Education. I can't think of another race as rotten as ours, Fleur. Its pitiful, really." Fleur sees another puff of smoke and finally tears her gaze away form the damn sky to look at Hermione, their eyes meet and the small smile on the brunette's lips grow just a fraction, before offering the cigarette to the blonde veela.
"But I suppose that's what makes everything so beautiful, doesn't it?" Hermione watched as Fleur brought the cigarette to her lips, not hiding how her gaze lingered on pretty pink lips. "God gave us our self-serving disposition, he gave us free will, but at the same time, he gave us a conscience. He gave us the ability to feel guilt."
"That's what sets you apart, Fleur." Hermione whispers softly, before taking the cigarette from Fleur and taking another drag, "The selfishness? The outright maniacal desires? That's nothing new to every, single, human being on Earth. But the guilt that you're feeling?" Hermione exhaled, forming rings of smoke, something Fleur never really figured out what to do. "That's something the likes of Voldemort will never have."
"Wanting to hurt Bellatrix Lestrange in every way possible is a mutual feeling, Fleur. Wanting to do despicable things doesn't make you a monster, it makes you human." Slender fingers twirled around the cigarette until it disappeared. Fleur watched as a hand slowly but surely made its way to her own, intertwining their fingers. "And the will to fight against those desires? That makes you so much better than a lot of other people out there."
Fleur felt Hermione squeeze her hand, grounding her, reassuring her, comforting her, and warmth bloomed in her chest once again. Trust Hermione Granger to solve every problem she came across.
She opened her mouth to reply but a yawn escaped Hermione before she was able to say anything. Fleur smiled, squeezing the hand in her grasp back, "Let's get you to bed."
Hermione let out another yawn, "Come with me?" It was a question they both already knew the answer to.
"Always." Fleur chuckled, and she hoped then, that she was able to convey all the gratitude she felt with that one word. One day, she promised to herself, she'll be able to say those 3 little words. One day soon, she hoped. But for now this will have to do. She just wished that Hermione would be able to see it in her eyes. Thank you for everything.
And Hermione does see it. She always does. "Always," The brunette says, her voice is soft and dripping with so much sincerity that it brings a smile to Fleur's face.
"Come on, then." Hermione tugged at her hand, jerking her head to the direction of their bedroom. Hopefully this signified the end of all their midnight balcony escapades. Fleur turned around, just about to follow Hermione when something coughther eye.
She looked up slowly, and sure enough, there, surrounded by the empty night sky, a single twinkling star looked down on her, making the sky not so barren anymore. A smile tugged at Fleur's lips.
Hermione squeezed Fleur's hand, realizing that the blonde had stopped in her tracks. "What's wrong?"
Fleur shook her head, chuckling to herself, the smile still ever present on her face.
Fleur smiled, Hermione smiled and they both made their way back into the bedroom.
"Wild feral veela," Hermione said, repeating Fleur's earlier words. "Bellatrix called you that?"
Fleur nodded, not sure where this was going.
Hermione chuckled, shaking her head, "Merlin," She laughed, "She should see you in bed!"