Title: Strange As Angels
Author: Carol Anne Caiafa/sweetcarolanne
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Fleur Delacour/Gabrielle Delacour
Spoilers: Contains plot details for several of the Harry Potter books, including Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Please do not read this essay if you do not want spoilers!
Disclaimer: These pretty ladies, sadly, do not belong to yours truly, but to Ms. Rowling. All the profits, ditto. She can keep the money, I just wish the Veela gals were mine!
Word Count: 1,855 (excluding long quotations and recommendations list)
Notes: When I refer to canon in this essay, I am talking about the Harry Potter books rather than the movies, as there are differences between the books and the films in terms of plot and characterisation.
Over the years I have been a reader and writer in many fandoms, but Harry Potter is the fandom I have produced the most work for under one nom de plume or another. Since the canon has come to a close with the publication of the seventh and final installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I have drawn away slightly from this particular fandom. Even so, I am occasionally pulled back to it by irrepressible plot bunnies and images of such breathtaking beauty that I cannot resist them, even when my favourite horror movie fandoms beckon with their own tempting muses. Such images may have to do with a plot idea, a loose thread left dangling by canon, or a pairing. The ‘ship that is Fleur/Gabrielle is one of those images that continues to entice and tempt me.
I tend to prefer slash and femmeslash in this fandom, both as a reader and writer, and much of the femmeslash I write these days features a minor, but delightful, character named Gabrielle Delacour. She is only a child in the books, so is not paired up with anybody in the end – therefore she is a perfect character to imagine a future for in her adulthood that may include a romantic relationship with another woman. I have written fan fiction about the grown-up Gabrielle that features her in a number of lesbian pairings. These range from those that could fall within the realms of possibility all the way through to the very unlikely (due to, for instance, very large age gaps, Gabrielle not having even met the other woman in canon, or the other character being dead by the end of Book 7).
So why, with all those possibilities available for dear Gabrielle, have I chosen to write an essay concentrating on the notion of a sexual and romantic bond between her and her older sister Fleur? Why an incestuous relationship, with all the social condemnation and dire consequences likely to result from it, when I could have chosen to write about Gabrielle-centric pairings with a more light and fluffy angle, pairings that I adore both reading and writing fic about? I could have chosen to do an essay about Ginny/Gabrielle, for example, or Luna/Gabrielle…
But Fleur/Gabrielle it is, however, in all its darkened glory and forbidden allure. The pairing returns to haunt me time and time again. And I shall go on to explain, dear readers, how that has happened and why I think the pairing, unhealthy though such a connection would probably be in the real world, works in fiction.
I invite you now to meet these two beauties, and will attempt to offer my insights as to why I think they could fit together.
Fleur Delacour (seen here in the Goblet of Fire movie, as portrayed by Clémence Poésy) is the eldest daughter of a Frenchman and a beautiful half-Veela named Apolline (the Veela, in the Harry Potter books, are a type of enchantingly lovely nymph with the power both to entrance men and to transform into dangerous, fire-throwing, bird-like creatures). It is from their Veela grandmother that Fleur and younger sister Gabrielle inherit their good looks, particularly their distinctive white-blonde hair. Veela hair apparently has magical properties – at the core of her wand, Fleur has a strand of her very own grandmother’s hair. Fleur’s first and last names translate into English as “flower of the court” or “noblewoman”.
When we first meet Fleur, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) she is seventeen years old. She is selected to represent her school, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, in the prestigious Triwizard Tournament. Although she comes last in the tournament due to unfortunate events, she is a very talented young witch who makes a valiant effort in competition.
Initially she seems cold and unfriendly, but after the story’s protagonist, Harry Potter, appears to save the life of her sister Gabrielle, she becomes more kindly disposed towards him, his school (Hogwarts), and the British wizarding world in general.
Fleur later moves to England and takes a job at the wizarding bank, Gringotts. She becomes engaged to Bill Weasley, older brother of Harry’s best friend Ron, much to the dismay of some of Bill’s relatives, but they warm to her after she stands by him in the wake of Bill being attacked and disfigured by the werewolf Fenrir Greyback.
Before and after her wedding to Bill, Fleur continues to show a courageous streak. She assists in Harry’s escape from his aunt and uncle’s house and from the villainous Death Eaters at the start of Book 7, and fights alongside the heroic Order of the Phoenix in the Battle of Hogwarts later in the book. Even though Fleur marries, her affection for little sister Gabrielle remains undiminished, as will be further explained later in this essay.
As with Fleur, we first see Gabrielle Delacour (played here by Angelica Mandy in the Goblet of Fire film) in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She is eight years old at the time, and very like her sister in appearance, with the same deep blue eyes, silver-blonde hair and ethereal loveliness. Her name is a feminine version of Gabriel, the name of the Divine Messenger, one of the most important of the archangels (and was a partial inspiration for the title of this essay). Perhaps author J.K. Rowling thought it fitting that such a radiant beauty should have an angelic name.
Gabrielle has a part to play in the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, where each champion must rescue a “hostage” held underwater in the lake at Hogwarts and guarded by the merpeople. These hostages are the people that the champions will miss most if they are gone, and for Fleur the chosen hostage is Gabrielle. It goes without saying that Gabrielle is a very brave little girl to agree to participate in such an exercise, exhibiting courage much like her older sister’s.
Held back by Grindylows (a type of water demon), Fleur is unable to rescue Gabrielle from the lake and becomes distraught, presumably thinking that her sister must have perished. However, Harry Potter rescues Gabrielle in addition to his own hostage, and earns Fleur’s eternal gratitude and Gabrielle’s admiration.
Gabrielle, along with Bill Weasley’s sister Ginny, is a bridesmaid at Fleur and Bill’s wedding in Deathly Hallows, clad in a golden dress and looking more lovely than ever, and still deeply adored by her beloved sister Fleur.
When pairing the Delacour sisters, I tend to set their romance well into the future, since Gabrielle is only eleven years old at the end of the Harry Potter books and I’m not into chan (in my own writing I make sure that Gabrielle has grown up, or at least reached the age of consent in my country). So, the relationship becomes sexual long after Fleur’s canonical marriage to Bill Weasley, making Fleur and Gabrielle’s love not only incestuous, but adulterous.
How, then, does this pairing not only work for me, but appeal to me so deeply, on a fictional level? In my view of the pair, there are several factors as to why I like it so much.
One is the appeal of the forbidden – the relationship’s nature of being a taboo romance (as a lesbian myself I don’t see the same-sex factor in the relationship as contributing to its “forbidden” nature, but some fan fiction writers who choose to view the wizarding world as not approving of same-sex love may do so). Not only are Fleur and Gabrielle blood relatives, but there is a large age gap between them, and Fleur has taken vows of matrimony (and according to the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, later becomes a mother). So many classic tales of love are about forbidden romance, rather than that which is approved of by conventional society. Forbidden passion is often more exciting to read about than socially sanctioned connections.
Another factor that piques my interest in this pairing is the idea of “what if” that so often is an enticement with fan fiction pairings. In this case, what if Fleur, though she loves her husband Bill dearly in canon, finds out after a period of time that he can no longer satisfy her? And what if Gabrielle (who I like to visualise as preferring other women as lovers – the only interest she shows in a boy in canon is a childish crush on Harry Potter, which it is possible she may grow out of. And she does bestow a dazzling smile and a hug on Bill’s mother Molly, which could be read by the enterprising femmeslash writer as an attraction to older women…) found that none of her girlfriends measured up to her beloved older sister? What if these two blonde angels found nobody else could be as glorious, as exquisite and as perfect as each other? And what if, after they have got beyond any angst, guilt and fear that may plague them over incest and adultery, they decided to give in to their desires? With their mutual Veela heritage, marking them as different from other witches, they would be in an excellent position to both understand and be able to please each other.
Supporting these ideas is the very real affection between the sisters in canon, which seems to be very intense, perhaps more so than is usual. When we see them as youngsters, there appears to be no sibling rivalry between the girls, and none of the rambunctious though good-natured pushing, shoving and teasing that occurs amongst other siblings, for example the Weasley children.
A very telling sign of the strength of Fleur and Gabrielle’s affection is the fact that for the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, it is Gabrielle who becomes the hostage for Fleur to rescue – she is the one whom Fleur will “sorely miss”. Gabrielle is the person most precious to Fleur – not one of their parents, or some male suitor, but her dear little sister. When Fleur fails to save Gabrielle and believes that she may have come to harm, she becomes distraught, as evidenced by this scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
Meanwhile Madame Maxime was trying to restrain Fleur Delacour, who was quite hysterical, fighting tooth and nail to return to the water.
“Gabrielle! Gabrielle! Is she alive? Is she ‘urt?”
And it is worth mentioning that, in Deathly Hallows, Fleur and Gabrielle sleep in the same room the night before Fleur’s wedding (though I firmly believe that nothing sexual would have happened between them at that stage due to Gabrielle’s extreme youth). Is this merely a means for the bride to remain chaste before the wedding, or a show of tenderness between sisters who adore each other above all else? There is room to speculate that the relationship between Fleur and Gabrielle could very possibly become more passionate in years to come.
Their love is a forbidden one, a love that must be kept secret or be condemned by the whole world. Yet the idea of these two together fascinates me – two exquisitely beautiful women with an intense bond that has existed since childhood, growing to want each other passionately, understanding each other like nobody else possibly can… this, to me, explains the appeal of the pairing Fleur/Gabrielle.
Ma Belle Ange, by wishing_wounds, NC-17. Warnings: Incest, bloodplay, breathplay, flogging, bondage.
Je Ne Sais Quoi, by wishing_wounds, NC-17. Warnings: Incest, vampirism, D/s.
Duality, by fall_into_life, R. Warnings: Incest, rough sex.
Fascination, by fall_into_life, R Warnings: Incest
Bond, by fall_into_life, R. Warnings: Incest, bloodplay, character death.
Reasons, by fall_into_life, R. Warnings: Incest.
Forever, by animimares, PG. Warnings: Implied incest.
Consolation Prize, by miki_anderson, PG-13. Warnings: Implied incest and non-explicit underage.
Comme La Pluie, by pogrebin, R. Warnings: snuff films, incest, porn-type ideas.
I have also written several fics of my own with this pairing, most notable so far being Gossamer (R, teenage sex, though legal in my own country), Christmas Angels (NC-17, rough sex and slight blasphemy), and Zombie (Hard R, contains horror violence).
La Petite Morte, by canellaphile, Hard R. Warnings: Incest, vampirism, bloodplay. NWS.
Fleur et Gabriella, by bitterfig, PG. Warnings: Implied incest.