A/N: This story was inspired by "Allure Immune Harry" by Racke. I got bored of allure immunity being the thing that makes Harry special, and so I asked myself: what if that wasn't impressive?
When the French girl walked up to the Gryffindor table, and Neville was sitting only a few places away. He didn't quite hear the exchange she had with Harry and Ron, but he could definitely feel the allure. The desire to keep looking at her, the impulse to impress her, the yearning to be with her that took away all rational thought … it wasn't until she walked away that he came to his senses and frowned.
This wasn't the first time he had encountered a Veela. He had met a few when accompanying his Grandmother when she visited her friends, or they visited her. However, he had been much younger back then and remembered being mostly confused. In stark contrast, his reaction today had been much more intense, and he was embarrassed. Fortunately, he wasn't the only one thus affected, and escaped notice.
Neville did notice that Harry had been completely unaffected by the allure. Neville did not know what to think about it. He remembered that Harry had been able to resist Moody's Imperius too, and so this was probably similar. Although even Harry had taken a few tries to throw it off completely, so maybe one could resist the allure with some practice. But the only way to practice was to face it repeatedly, but Neville knew that being anywhere near the Veela girl would draw a lot of attention, and he had absolutely no desire to inflict that upon himself.
As the people around him resumed their conversations, he shook his head a bit to clear his mind and focused on his plate again.
"The champion for Beauxbatons," announced Dumbledore, "is Fleur Delacour."
Neville recognized the girl from yesterday as she stood up and walked towards the Headmaster. The effect of the allure was far more restrained today, and he wondered how much control she had over it. Unlike the day before, she looked more focused and calm right now.
He had heard stories of Veela using their charms to seduce powerful men, and then using that power to live comfortable lives. Society seemed to both value them and simultaneously discriminate against them. Unlike Krum, her schoolmates seemed genuinely disappointed that they hadn't been selected, and the mere fact that they had had hope, told him that she wasn't being given special treatment. His respect for her rose slightly, but his resolve in avoiding her remained unchanged.
By then, Dumbledore had announced that Cedric would be the Hogwarts Champion, Neville cheered for the older boy, but he couldn't match the enthusiasm coming from the Hufflepuff table. He was happy for Cedric, who had been unfailingly nice to him the few times they'd spoken at and outside of school. Angelina was nice too, but Neville wasn't as close to her as Harry and Ron were.
But then Harry's name came out from the goblet and Neville looked at his friend, heard him say "I didn't put my name in," and immediately believed him. Neville couldn't help sympathy for Harry. His friend did not like being the center of attention any more than him. Harry looked scared as he walked towards Dumbledore, and Neville felt guilty that he was thankful that he wasn't in Harry's place.
The next time Neville even thought about her was when the Prophet published the article about the Champions. It included some information Viktor Krum's Quidditch career, Fleur Delacour's heritage, barely a sentence about Cedric before extensively elaborating on Harry. Neville looked at the attached photograph: Viktor looked bored and Cedric looked excited. His eyes paused on the Fleur's face as he realized that this was the first time he was able to clearly look at her without being under the influence of her allure. Even without it, she was extraordinarily pretty.
But then he noticed Harry in the picture, who looked extremely uncomfortable, and sighed. He knew that Ron did not believe that Harry did not put his name in the Goblet – it had led to multiple tense moments in their dorm. Neville didn't understand why Ron didn't believe Harry, but did not feel comfortable bringing it up with him.
"That French champion is hot," said Seamus with a grin. He had been sitting next Neville, noticed the article, and at least had the decency to speak in a low voice so that others couldn't overhear.
"She must have been smart, to have been chosen by the Goblet." Neville replied diplomatically.
"Sure," Seamus said dismissively. "But what I wouldn't give to have some fun with her," he raised his eyebrows repeatedly in a crude, suggestive manner.
Neville did not reply. Stereotyping of this sort always bothered him, because he was often the subject of it too. The clumsy boy who no one took seriously, always the butt of the joke. He resolved to be nice to her if he met her, before remembering that he had already decided to avoid her in the first place.
Neville felt her presence before he actually saw her. He had been helping out Professor Sprout in one of the greenhouses after classes as a way to relax, and this one was right next to the path to the Beauxbatons carriage. He wasn't entirely sure what he was feeling before he turned out and noticed the lone figure of Fleur Delacour.
She was far enough away that the effect wasn't strong. Neville did his best to ignore her, but as she walked closer, he decided that it was safer to just wait. He didn't want to make a mistake and hurt the plants, and working with them while under the influence of her allure was dangerous.
She didn't notice him as she passed by the greenhouse. Once she was sufficiently far enough, Neville continued what he was doing, and slowly relaxed again.
This had apparently become part of her routine. Every evening, she would take a walk around the castle, most likely to clear her mind, he guessed. She was occasionally accompanied by a friend or 2, but mostly alone. While Neville wasn't there every evening, he was there frequently enough for her to start noticing him, and give small nods of recognition when she passed by. He returned them to be polite, but always pretended to be busy with something.
They had never actually spoken, and Neville had no intention of changing that, until the day that he had been too focused and not realized her presence until too late. He was tending to the Bubotuber plant, and suddenly lost control, causing the pus to erupt and land on his face, resulting in boils.
She heard his exclamation of pain, and ran over to him to see what happened. She looked at the plant, and then at him, and he could see the recognition in her eyes.
"I am sorry," she said, and looked it too. "I was too relaxed, and did not consider that you might be doing something dangerous. Please, let me help." She took out her wand, and pointed it at his face, and he immediately felt the pain starting to go away.
He nodded, and could feel that she had restrained her allure, but could still not reply. He made an apologetic face at her, and then rushed towards the castle to return to his dorm, barely catching the flash of disappointment on her face.
He refused to meet her eyes the next evening. He would have stayed in the common room to avoid the situation entire, but he had given his word to Professor Sprout. He could see her waiting for him to finish his task, unwilling to interrupt him, but he pretended that he did not notice.
She tried again the day after that, and again the day after that, but Neville remained resolute. And then she stopped trying. She couldn't avoid the greenhouse as part of her circuit around the castle, but it felt like she made it a point to rein in the allure while walking past it, whether she could see him or not. He was grateful.
Neville was walking back with the other Gryffindors towards their tower, and happened to pass by the Beauxbatons students. Neville kept his eyes on the ground, and made sure to pay no attention to Fleur, unlike all of the other boys around him. This proved to be a mistake.
Harry nodded at her, which made sense since they were both champions, and probably spoken before. Meanwhile, Dean was staring at her, Ron and Seamus were outright gaping. Parvati and Lavender looked angry for some reason. Hermione, however, had noticed both recognition and disappointment of Fleur's face, and realized that it was not directed at Harry, but behind him. She turned to see who was there.
Neville didn't realize any of this at the time. Once they were back in the common room, he sat on a comfortable chair, and was staring at the fireplace.
"Hey Neville," a voice jerked him out of his reverie. He found Hermione sitting near him, looking at him with concerned eyes.
"Hermione! D-Did you need something?" he asked.
"Not exactly," she replied, "but I noticed something odd just now, while returning to class."
Neville didn't say anything, but as she explained what she'd seen, he could feel himself turning red.
"Is there a reason you're avoiding Fleur?" Hermione asked.
"Uhh -" he tried to delay, but then sighed. He did not want to lie to one of his closest friends, and so he took a deep breath and explained. "She takes walks around the castle every evening. A couple of days ago, there was an accident, and I got Bubotuber pus on my face, and she had to heal the boils, but I couldn't speak to her properly, not even to thank her …"
Hermione looked confused for a few seconds before her expression changed to that of understanding. "Her allure," she whispered, more to herself than him, but he nodded anyway.
"I'm not like Harry," he admitted, "I can't ignore it, and I don't want to make it worse."
Hermione nodded with sympathy. "It's unfair," she agreed, "but you still need to say something."
"How?" He asked. "I still can't speak properly around her."
"Why don't you write a small note to her?" Hermione asked. "Express your gratitude properly, and then give it to her the next time she comes by."
"It's not a bad idea," Neville replied. He had been feeling terrible the whole thing too. "Thanks Hermione!"
She gave him a smile, and they sat in companionable silence.
Neville scratched out his third attempt at writing the message for Fleur. He wasn't sure what he wanted to say, but a simple "thank you" did not feel sufficient anymore. He felt like he had to add something more, to help her understand. He tried again.
I wanted to thank you for what you did the other day, helping heal me when I was hurt. I had wished that I could say this to you directly, but unlike some people who are able to resist your charms, I am not immune. It takes me considerable self-control to maintain dignity when you are not actively limiting your allure, and to be honest, I will admit that you are intimidating for me even without it.
I was too embarrassed to rectify my mistake over the following days. You have been nothing but kind to me, and a friend helped me realize that the way I was treating you was unacceptable. I hope you can forgive me.
The next evening, Fleur stared at him with confusion when he called out for her. He wasn't sure if it sounded more like a squeak. "I-" he tried to speak, but the words wouldn't come out, and so he just held out the message he had in his hand.
She walked up to him, and he desperately held on to his mind. Sometimes he wondered if his lack of confidence meant that he was affected more than his classmates.
She took the piece of paper, and quietly read it, at first frowning, but then her features softened. She could see how hard this was for him. "There is nothing to forgive, Mr Longbottom," she looked up to him, "I was the cause of that accident, it is I who should apologize to you."
Neville heard the words, but it took him a few seconds to process them. He shakily nodded, hoping that she understood, and then turned to walk away.
"Wait," she called out from behind him.
Neville winced, but he looked back at her.
"I would like to make it up to you," she said with some uncertainty.
Neville did not reply. He couldn't. He barely knew what was going on.
"I would like to help you be more comfortable around me," she continued. "And the best way to do that is to spend more time with me. Would you like to accompany me during my evening walks? I only ask for your presence, I will not ask you to talk unless you are comfortable with it."
Once again, he took a few seconds to comprehend, while she waited patiently. "C-Can I -" he gestured towards the piece of paper in her hand, and she understood, and returned it. He walked away from her, into the greenhouse, still in her line of sight, but far enough away to be in control of his own actions, and wrote a reply.
Thank you for being so kind. I'm not sure if it is a good idea for you to been associating with me in public. While it would be nice to build up some resistance, I'm not sure if it is a good use of your time. I'm just a random Hogwarts student who happened to encounter you, and I believe you have far more important tasks to worry about …
When he handed note to her, she quickly read it, scowled, and immediately declared, "I will decide who I associate with. And I will decide how I want to use my time." Suddenly she paused, tilted her head as though deep in thought. "I believe I have a solution that works for both of us," she finally looked at him with a gleam in her eye.
Neville looked at her with curiosity, still unable to speak.
"I do not know what the proper term for this is," she began, "but there is a faster way to build up resistance. Instead of getting used to my natural allure, I can increase the intensity and focus on you. I never need to do this normally, but it will definitely be more efficient, but more difficult for you too. We can use these greenhouses to prevent anyone else from being affected, which also addresses your concern about being seen with me. I can only sustain this for a few minutes at a time, which works out too. Does that sound acceptable?"
There was a long pause while she looked at him expectantly, but he finally nodded, not entirely sure what he had just agreed to.
She smirked, and then grabbed his hand as she dragged him inside the greenhouse before closing the door. Neville was mortified, but in no position to resist.
"I apologize in advance," she said, "but for my own safety, I must temporarily bind you before we begin. Is that okay?"
Neville squeaked in an attempt to agree, but she got the message.
She pointer her wand at him, and non-verbally cast a spell that he immediately recognized as Petrificus Totalus. He could not move anymore.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
The only thing he could do was blink, and so he did.
Fleur took a deep breath, and then looked at him with such intensity that he thought his tenuous grasp on his sanity disappeared, even before he felt the full force of her allure. And when he did, he become incapable of even contemplating anything beyond her. She was the reason for his existence, his only purpose was to show her that he was worthy, to be please her, to be closer to her, to be with her …
He did not remember how long it had lasted, but by the time he could begin to start thinking clearly again, he could see beads of sweat rolling down her face. "That is all I can do for now," she said as she removed the body bind. Neville immediately collapsed, and she rushed towards him with concern. "Are you okay?"
He nodded, but he couldn't help the blush as he realized what had been going on in his mind.
If she noticed it, she ignored it. She helped him on to one of the benches, and then sat down beside him. "I'm sorry, this has been more difficult for both of us than I expected, and I lack practice too." She turned to him, "I would offer to escort you back to your dorm, but I'm not as familiar with the castle as I hope to be, and I'm afraid I will get lost on the way back."
Neville tried to smile, but based on her expression, he wasn't sure it had worked. Neither spoke for the next minute, as they recovered some energy, and he decided that he could walk back now. He looked at her and managed a complete word: "Thanks".
She smiled and said "Of course. I will be here around 7pm every day until we can have a proper conversation."
That set the routine for the next 2 weeks. Fleur would show up every evening towards the end of her walk, place the body bind on Neville, and then make him experience the full force of her allure for a while, before releasing him. She would then try and make conversation about whatever was on her mind, and he could see that talking to her was slowly but steadily becoming easier. He still had a hard time forming in complete sentences, but before the day of the First Task, he was able to say "Good Luck" in his normal voice.
She beamed at him, put her arm around his him to give a friendly sideways hug, and replied, "Thank you. I hope you'll be rooting for me tomorrow!"
Neville felt guilty because he wasn't sure who he supported more. While Harry had been his friend for the last 3 years and had always been nice, Fleur had been taking the time from her busy schedule to help him every day for the past few weeks, and she did not even know him! He was unable to choose one over the other, and so decided that he would hope for a draw between them.
The next day, Neville watched in amazement as Fleur used the same technique that she had been using on him to put the dragon in some sort of trance. He was not sure about the effect of her allure on a female dragon, but it just looked confused and that was apparently enough time for her to acquire the golden egg. There was a scary moment when the dragon snorted out a jet of flame that set her skirt on fire, but she put it out and ran.
Harry's performance was admittedly more thrilling to watch. While Neville had finally achieved basic competence using a broom, Harry was exceptional, and Neville had complete faith in his abilities. Harry drew the dragon's attention towards himself, trying to draw it away from its eggs. And when the dragon finally took to the air, Harry immediately took advantage of the lack of defenses and grabbed his target.
Neville had screamed himself hoarse with excitement after both of their turns, and it did not go unnoticed. That afternoon, after she was done making sure Harry was alright, Hermione found him sitting in front of the fireplace in the common room again.
"I should have asked this much sooner," she began, and Neville jumped as he hadn't realized that she was next time him. "How did your conversation with Fleur go? Did the written message work?"
Neville nodded, and Hermione smiled.
"I'm glad," she replied. "The whole point of this tournament is making friends across schools and countries. I couldn't help but notice that you were cheering for her too."
Neville immediately blushed and tried to find the words to explain how Fleur was helping him. Hermione, on the other hand, chuckled.
"It's okay," she told him. "I just wanted to make sure you were fine. But I will talk to you later, I promised Harry that I'd go to the owlery with him and Ron." She was gone before he said a single word.
"You focused – on dragon?" Neville asked jerkily the next day.
Fleur laughed and explained, "Yes, since you were so concerned that helping you was not a good use of my time, I had the idea to use our training to my benefit too. Not only was the dragon a different species, but a female too. The allure obviously does not work as usual, but when I focused hard enough, it disoriented the dragon, which was sufficient."
"You – amazing," Neville exclaimed, and she bowed her head, accepting the compliment.
Neville's training with Fleur continued. Each time she focused her allure on him, it was becoming easier to not lose his mind, and she seemed just as pleased as him about their progress.
However, his daily trips to the greenhouses did not go unnoticed. About 2 weeks after the first task, Neville was making his way there after dinner, and Hermione followed him. He had never found a good moment to explain to her the training that Fleur was putting him through, and he decided to take this opportunity.
"I need to tell you something," he admitted to her as they made their way.
"I think I know," she teased him. "You're going to meet a girl, right?"
"Well, yes," he admitted, and she clapped with delight.
"I'm so happy for you," she beamed at him. "Who is it? Who is this mystery girl who has captured your heart? I want to know everything!"
Neville chuckled. "It's not like that," he explained, "I'm going to meet Fleur!"
Hermione stopped dead in her tracks. "You're going out with Fleur Delacour?" She tried her best to hide the disbelief in her voice, but Neville did not notice it at all.
"No, she's just a friend! She's been helping me get used to the allure! She wanted us to have a normal conversation after I apologized based on your advice."
"Oh," she said, ashamed of her reaction. "That is … really nice of her." And then she started getting animated again. "That actually makes a lot of sense! How long as this been going on? Are you able to talk to her properly now? Can I meet her?"
"Sure," Neville replied uncertainly as they reached the greenhouse.
Hermione was too excited about the whole situation for her to be any help as he tended to the plants. It was supposed to be soothing activity for him, but it was only after he banned her from doing anything that he felt that way. In the background, he listened to her chatter on about how she was proud of him for embodying the spirit of inter-national cooperation, how other students who idolized champions were being stupid, and literally everything she knew about exposure therapy.
"Excuse me," Fleur's voice caused them both to look up. "Am I disturbing something?"
"N-No," Neville replied. "This is my friend. S-She was the one who s-suggested that I write down that apology note f-for you."
Hermione rushed towards Fleur and extended her hand. "I'm Hermione Granger. I cannot express how pleased I to meet you! Neville told about how you're helping him resist the allure, that's so nice of you! I can't believe that you did this when you were supposed to be preparing for the first task! I can't imagine how you found the time, I was so worried about Harry, we spent all our time trying to figure out what works against the dragon! Not that we were supposed to know about the dragon in the first place, but I think you knew about it too, right? I know they say cheating is considered a traditional part of the tournament, but I'm not sure, it feels unfair. Even with normal classwork, I don't mind helping people understand, but I don't let them copy my work entirely …"
Fleur smiled at her bemusedly, politely shook her hand, and only interrupted once it became clear that she was not stopping. "I am sorry, I cannot keep up, your English is too fast."
Hermione slapped her hand against her mouth. "I'm sorry. I was just so happy for Neville that I got carried away," she explained in a small voice.
In the background, Neville was chuckling. He had been able to keep up with the stream of consciousness initially, but by the time she was explaining SPEW, he was completely lost.
Fleur smiled. She was glad to see that Neville had a good friend. He had mentioned her during their conversations, but it was hard to tell how close they had been.
"It is fine. We usually practice first and talk later. Will you be observing us today?"
Neville stepped up, and Fleur cast the body bind, causing Hermione's eyebrows to rise. When Fleur focused her allure on him, she could see Hermione looking at the both of them with intense concentration. And when she finally released Neville, he still looked somewhat dazed, but nowhere close to how he had been when they had begun.
"Wow," exclaimed Hermione. "That was intense. I can normally ignore that feeling, but …"
"Would you like to give it a try too?"
Hermione blushed, but nodded, and stepped in front. A few minutes later, Fleur smiled as she released Hermione. "It appears that you do not need this training. Unlike when Neville and I started this, I barely felt any pushback against the body bind."
"It wasn't easy though," she replied, her face still red. "Thank you for the experience though."
Fleur nodded in acknowledgement and gestured for them to take their seats. She asked Neville a few questions first to make sure he hadn't regressed, before turning to his friend. "So, Hermione, tell me more about yourself."
It was an hour later that Fleur and Hermione finally decided to end their discussion for the day. They had truly enjoyed sharing their knowledge and reveled in the insights provided by the other. At some point, Neville told them that he was going to return to the castle, and that they should feel free to continue talking, which they did.
It was only when they were about to finally head for their dorms that Fleur remembered something.
"Hermione!" She called out and the other girl turned. "I have a question for you."
"What is it?"
"Are you truly Neville's friend?"
"Of course! Why do you ask that?"
"The day he gave me the written apology note, I suggested that he accompany me during my evening walks. He was concerned that my being seen associating with him in public would not be a good idea. Do you know why?"
"Oh Neville," Hermione replied sadly. "As you already know by now, he has some … self-esteem issues, and I think he was worried about what it say about you if you were seen talking to someone like him. I also think that he might have been worried about the attention for being on friendly terms with you."
Fleur sighed. "Thank you for helping me understand. Good night!"
It had been a few says since Professor McGonagall had announced the Yule Ball.
"Hey Hermione, do you have a moment?"
"Sure!" She looked up from the Potions homework she had been reviewing before their class in the afternoon.
"Umm," Neville gathered all his courage, and finally blurted out, "Would you like to go to the ball with me?"
Hermione looked shocked for a few seconds. Neville had already prepared himself to be told that she wasn't interested in him that way and was about to reassure her that it was fine, when she finally replied. "I'm so sorry, Neville, I already said yes to someone else."
"It's okay," he wasn't sure who he was consoling. "I figured that would happen, so many people must have already asked you." He started to get up.
"Wait," she pleaded, "I want you to know that I would have said yes if I hadn't already promised someone else!"
He looked at her eyes and decided that he believed her. "Thank you."
"Today," Fleur declared, "we will try something different. No more body bind."
"Are- are you sure?" Neville asked.
"Yes," Fleur replied with confidence. "I have faith in you."
Neville gave her a small smile and then braced himself.
"What is on your mind?" Fleur asked once they were done.
Neville did not have the will to lie to her either. "I asked Hermione out to the ball, but she already had a date, and I don't know who else to ask."
"I am so sorry," she offered, talking his hand in hers. "I know she is important to you."
"It's okay. I'm glad she is my friend regardless."
Fleur considered him for a few second. "Is there truly no one else?"
"Well, I could ask Ron's sister, she's nice to me. Or one of the girls in Hufflepuff who are also nice, but I'm sure they already have dates. I'm don't anyone else will even want to go out with me, even as friends …"
"You're wrong," she said simply.
Fleur Delacour asked calmly: "Neville Longbottom, would you like to go to the Yule Ball with me?"
"Was I unclear?"
Neville still seemed too shocked to respond, and at this point, Fleur was confident it was not because of her allure, which she no longer restrained around him.
She looked into his eyes and hoped that it conveyed her sincerity.
"I don't understand – how do you not have a date?" Neville still looked dumbfounded, as he slowly explained his reasoning. "Pretty much everyone in fifth year and above asked you! I heard Roger Davies asked you, I know for a fact that he is your friend and that he's immune to your allure! How have you not said yes to any of them?"
She gave him a sad smile. "Looking at statistics, about 1% of all wizard kind has natural immunity to the allure of a Veela. I do not consider it that special. And I know Roger Davies well enough to see that he is arrogant, and I do not wish to spend that evening with him."
"But – what about the others?"
"I am a reasonably good judge of character, and none of them felt right. And you can understand that I wasn't concerned about finding a date."
"Of course, but – why me?"
"Because you have become my friend. You put in the effort to build your resistance to be able to have real conversations with me, I know it has not been easy, even if you didn't do it for me. You have shared enough about your life with me that I believe you are a good man. And finally, Hermione explained to us about importance of inter-national cooperation, no?"
Neville was speechless.
"Are you declining my request?"
"No!" He immediately responded. "It's just – I can't believe it."
"Isn't this supposed to be every boy's dream?" She teased him, slightly nervous herself now.
After a long pause, he finally replied in a quiet voice. "No one will believe me."
Ron Weasley had been walking past Cedric and the French Veela talking near the entrance of the Great Hall. He wasn't sure what came over him, but he stepped in front of her and blurted out: "Fleur, will you go to the ball with me?"
Fleur blinked and looked at him for a long moment.
Ron suddenly realized what a horrible mistake he had made. He was about to start running back to his dorm, when she replied.
"I'm sorry, I have already chosen my companion for that event."
Trying to preserve whatever dignity he had left, Ron replied, "That's okay, I was just checking." There was a smattering of laughter from the people near them.
She rolled her eyes, and then walked towards – hold on, the Ravenclaw table where the rest of the Beauxbatons contingent was sitting was on the other side, where was she going?
As more heads turned out of curiosity, Fleur walked alongside the Gryffindor table, until she reached the remaining fourth years. All around them, people started hushing each other so that they could hear what was about to be said. She drew the attention of one of them by tapping on his shoulder. Ron started to get angry. It wasn't fair that Harry always – wait, what?
"Neville Longbottom," her voice carried across the Grand Hall. "Would you be willing to accompany me to the Yule Ball?"
There was absolute silence, except for the loud squeak that came from Hermione who was sitting nearby. Ron gaped at the pair, was she actually asking Neville? Silly Neville that they all made fun of? What was she thinking? What this a joke? The boy they knew would be either be mortified by all this attention or drool due to her presence!
Instead, Neville gave her a shy smile, and replied, "I would be honored."