The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.
Important Legal Jargon: As much as I want to, I do not own anything you recognise in this story.
A Gentle Bossa Nova
A Friendly Twin Advice Wedding Story
Part III: Regarding Fleur and Bill
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with him, too, before the night is over
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown, waiting for you tonight
--“Downtown”, lyrics by Tony Hatch
It was only an orientation meeting, but Fleur Delacour had no idea that what would happen there, at that meeting, would change her life in ways she had not known it could change.
Fleur knew, at times, when she tried to be cautious, that she came off as haughty. So when she had warily walked into the Gringott’s orientation meeting, concentrating on keeping a neutral face, she was horrified that she gave an audible gasp at the sight of Bill Weasley’s red ponytail.
It had not been many days since the last time she had seen him at the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. He had been a wonderful mystery to her then. And seeing him at that meeting, and seeing him turn around at her gasp and raise his eyebrows slightly and smile at her – it made her heart melt more that she was willing to admit.
I am a lucky girl, she had thought longingly for a moment. And when Bill suggested that she join him and a couple of friends for drinks that evening, she really started believing it.
* * *
Fleur had moved to London with the romanticised hope of adventure. She wanted to try something new, and thought that improving her English would be a good starting point.
If there was one thing that she learnt from the Triwizard Tournament, it was that she had a lot left to learn about people and decency and friendship and strength and weakness. A lot left to learn about everything, it seemed, but most importantly about herself. And the first thing she learnt as she sat quietly by herself in her new flat off of Diagon Alley was that she was lonely.
She didn’t know anyone in London. The only people she would consider writing a letter to were her mother and sister, and she had already written them a long letter and had sent it off with her owl, Tournesol. There were no former schoolmates she felt the least bit of desire to write to.
Her dormitory at Beauxbatons was filled with more jealousies than sympathies, and after she was named Champion, she was ignored with stiff formality to her face and gossiped about heartlessly behind her back.
All she had ever wanted was to be included.
She had been scared of them, although she was yet unaware of it. As a frightened eleven year old girl who had never been away from her parents, yet was so excited that she had not slept in several days, she went away to school. She had been too timid to speak to her new classmates, but had been certain that in the morning she would be comfortable enough to talk their ears off, like her mother and grandmother said she did to them.
But it was already too late. The other girls called her vaniteux, and left her to find her way to their first lesson herself. She didn’t understand: she had wanted them to like and accept her so much, yet when she tried to be their friends, they would not let her.
Eventually, they fell into a grudging pattern of acquaintanceship, but by then Fleur had learnt a lesson. She had been too hurt to understand why and she rarely extended herself as much again. She was not unpleasant, but certainly not friendly. She forgot to be lonely. She said what she felt, regardless of what others around her would think.
As a result, she never had a best friend or even a good friend. She was determined that she would have one in London. And she wanted Bill Weasley to be her first true friend.
* * *
The pub they met at, the Saudade, was not in Diagon Alley. It wasn’t in Wizarding London at all. It was a Muggle pub – Portuguese or Brazilian from what she could tell – and Fleur was too nervous to go in by herself. So she waited beneath the bright sign, listening to the sounds of the cars and buses rushing by and the rhythmic music coming from within the building.
Fleur was beginning to believe that Bill would never arrive. She sighed deeply in relief when she finally caught sight of him and his two friends strolling on the opposite side of the road.
They had all chatted freely while eating esfirra – which she found disgusting – and drinking capeta batida and beer. Fleur found Bill’s friends a bit tiresome and wished more and more as the minutes passed that they would leave so that she and Bill could talk privately.
The pub had some kind of box that played different songs when someone would insert coins in it and press a few buttons. Edwin and Caroline excused themselves to pick out a song. They didn’t immediately return, but danced with each other amid the other couples who had jumped up when the song started.
‘Good friends we have, oh, good friends we’ve lost.’
Fleur had never heard the song before but she didn’t care as long as she finally had Bill to herself. But to her utter embarrassment, she was so nervous she found herself unable to form coherent sentences in English. She twisted her napkin in frustration, nodding in agreement to the things Bill was saying, willing herself not to cry.
Bill took a long sip from his beer bottle. In desperation, Fleur listened intently to the song, hoping that she could ask him a question about it.
‘My fear is my only courage.’
These lyrics strengthened her. She didn’t want to be scared of Bill like she was scared of her dorm mates. And without really realising what she was about to do, she asked, ‘Would you care to dance with me?’
His face brightened immediately. ‘Yes, but first let me pick out a song.’ He hurried away to the brightly lit box and returned for her hand when the next song began to play.
She didn’t recognise the new song either and didn’t want to join everyone else on the dance floor, but Bill said, ‘This song is about the most beautiful girl in the world, and I want to dance to it with you.’ And, although it was the kind of thing that many men would have said to her, she couldn’t help herself.
‘Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes
Each one she passes
Bill demonstrated where she should hold her hands at her stomach and above her head, snapping her fingers in rhythm with the soft drums.
She grinned slyly at him, feeling the need to test him, to see if really was like all the other men and boys she’d met who couldn’t see past her face or if he was someone more than all of them, someone who wanted to know her, and to be her friend. The smile was the test.
‘Have you come to know many of the goblins at Gringotts?’ he asked.
‘A few, yes,’ she answered warily. No one had ever spoke to her about goblins, even if they were her co-workers.
‘Do any of them seem to be worried about the news of You-Know-Who’s return?’ he asked casually.
She smiled genuinely and painstakingly gave her opinion about the impending danger and how she thought the goblins might figure in to the impending war that Dumbledore had spoke about.
That night, after a long conversation with Bill about all sorts of things and ideas, as friends would have, Fleur no longer believed that she was a lucky girl. She knew it.
* * *
The morning of the wedding, Fleur awoke to a nightmare: a blemish, a big red one, just below her left eye. Having never had a spot before, Fleur was unsure of how to proceed. She knew that she could not just ignore it and she never learnt any charms or had any potions to get rid of it. She never had a reason to. She didn’t dare try an unknown or new charm or – even worse – try to pop it.
Her mother would not be arriving from France until lunchtime and she didn’t want to bother Molly with something like this. ‘Imagine not knowing how to treat a blemish!’ she could already hear Molly muttering under her breath. Consulting with Bill was out of the question: she could not see him before the wedding. Possibly Hermione could help…
Hermione! she thought. But then she remembered that Hermione was staying at the Burrow and asking for her assistance would mean that Molly most certainly would find out.
Fleur sighed and, as she sat down at her vanity, had an epiphany. The only logical thing would be to ask for Fred and George’s assistance. They had got rid of the horrible black eye that Hermione had last summer, after all. They probably have an entire section in their shop to treat blemishes, she reasoned.
She hurriedly dressed in old robes and quickly walked down the lane to Fred and George’s flat, not bothering to give them advance notice. It was situated at the rear of the joke shop and was only accessible to those who knew of its existence. She knocked loudly for several minutes until George, bleary-eyed and rubbing his head, answered.
‘Fleur!’ he exclaimed, surprised. He stepped aside and ushered her inside.
She found Fred and Charlie, looking equally bleary-eyed and surprised, at the small kitchen table, slowly sipping tea. They were all hung over.
‘We didn’t expect to see you this early today,’ Charlie said. He rubbed his temples gently and groaned. Fred poured him another cup of what looked like tea, but was sparkling green and smoked for a few moments.
She suspected that Bill was in a similar state. It took her mind off of her zit for just a moment.
Fleur started to say, ‘Now is not the time to nurse your hangover,’ but in truth, what she did say was, ‘Maintenant n'est pas le temps de soigner ta geule de bois.’
She couldn’t speak or even think in English! She balled up her hands and pursed her lips in frustration and was on the point of stamping her feet like she used to do when she was young when Charlie said softly, ‘Hey, it’s all right.’ He stood up, reached for her hand, and led her to his chair. ‘Take a deep breath,’ he said very calmly.
‘Or you could continue speaking in French,’ suggested Fred, ‘and we’ll try to understand what you’re saying.’
She laughed and, when they saw that she understood the joke, the twins and Charlie laughed as well.
‘I need your ‘elp,’ Fleur said earnestly to George and Fred.
‘What do you need?’ they asked in unison, just as earnestly.
She leaned toward them and gestured at the spot under her eye.
George moved in a little closer. Fred did as well. They looked at Charlie, who shrugged and shook his head slowly.
‘Er, what are we looking at?’ Fred finally asked.
‘Thees!’ She pointed at the spot. ‘Thees blemish!’
‘Fleur? You don’t have a spot.’
‘Of course I do. I can feel eet. Right here.’ She pointed angrily below her eye again.
‘There’s nothing there,’ George said gently.
She pursed her lips and breathed in sharply. ‘I can feel eet, Fred or George. Please ‘elp me get reed of eet. Eet ees my wedding day and I must not ‘ave a blemeesh.’
The twins glanced at each other. Fred silently stood up and walked out of the room, returning with a small purple bottle labelled “Un-ugly Unguent.”
‘Here,’ Fred said as he handed her the bottle. ‘Use sparingly on unsightly spots –’
‘– or else those spots with turn into unsightly warts,’ George interrupted.
Fleur blanched, but Charlie and Fred burst into laughter. Finally realising that it was a joke, a funny one at that, she joined in.
‘What do I owe you for thees?’ she asked.
George waved her off. ‘Nothing for you, Fleur, you’re our family.’
She started to protest, but remembered that she had said something similar to Ron just a few days before. She bowed her head in gratitude.
‘Now,’ Fred said lightly, ‘if you were Ron, of course we would charge you twice for this.’
They all shared a friendly laugh before Charlie ushered her out, admonishing her for wasting time with them when she should be making herself dazzling for their brother.
There was a time when that kind of remark would have been the cause of much resentment, as if looking beautiful was all that she could and should do. But she didn’t mind very much now: these three men were her friends and her brothers. She had never had neither male friends nor brothers. Now she had both, many of them, who loved her for herself.
And in a few hours, she would have a husband as well, all as the result of an orientation meeting.
Esfirra is a ground beef dumpling that’s popular in Brazil. Lyrics in this chapter are from “No Woman, No Cry”, lyrics by Bob Marley (yes, I know that it’s supposed to be “My feet are my only carriage” but “Fleur” heard something slightly different) and “The Girl From Ipanema”, English translation by Norman Gimbel.
Thanks, as always to my alpha reader redlightspecial and my beta reader Chary, and to Dernhelm and Arya for translating French for me and to Kit the Brave for suggesting “Saudade” for the pub’s name many, many moons ago.