Reunited AT LAST
Chapter 10 - Reunited AT LAST
Harry was outside by the lake when Hedwig found him with Fleur's latest letter. It had been nearly a week since Harry had sent his own letter, and he had been worrying for days over her silence. Seeing Hedwig now he felt himself growing excited. "Here girl!" He called up to the snowy owl, standing up from the spot he had been reclining in. Harry held his arm out, and Hedwig swooped around and made a soft landing. He gently pulled the letter from her leg, and helped her launch away again.
Harry forced himself to sit back down again before opening the letter.
I am so sorry for the delay with this letter. Things at school have been difficult of late, and it took some time to get hold of my father to ask him about your growth spurt.
My father confirms your theory that the Bond is making us "equal". He also says to be very careful, as your spellwork may be suddenly enhanced in power. It will be like being supercharged for a while, until you get used to it.
Harry paused reading that, amusement making him laugh a little. Just two days past Harry had had cause to find out for himself just how much more potent his magic was. It had been during Transfiguration, when Professor McGonagall had asked for them to turn a hedgehog into a pincushion. Harry's casting was all too effective. His hedgehog turned into a pincushion alright—a pincushion that fairly bristled with pins it was all too happy to shoot at anyone who got near it. Everyone but McGonagall herself got stuck at least once while the professor subdued it. He grinned faintly. It had been a rather painful experience, but it was funny now remembering Ron with a pin sticking out of his nose.
Ever since, Harry had been exceedingly careful with the spells he cast, trying to get a feel for his new level of power. To say he was still having issues was an understatement. Harry shook his head and continued reading.
Harry, it pains me to write this, but I think our correspondence must stop for now. Madame Maxime is taking those of us permitted to enter the tournament on a trip that will culminate with us arriving at your school. I do not know where we are going, or what we will be doing, but I do know that message by owl will be impossible.
I shall see you and speak to you at the start of the TriWizard Tournament. Please be careful of yourself, and I will do the same. I can feel our Bond growing stronger every day, and my father says it might manifest itself in all kinds of different ways. The way our Bonding occurred was very non-traditional as well, so there is no telling what the magic will do. We will have to wait and see.
Harry scanned her words again, the bottom dropping out of his stomach. Not contact her anymore? Harry stared blankly out over the lake, barely noting the giant squid now sunning itself alarmingly near him by the shore. Harry didn't want to stop writing to Fleur—it was the only thing keeping him sane. The Bond was like an ever growing itch he could not scratch, and it was developing into a pain he could not relieve. The letters were like little pressure valves that arrived just in time to let off enough steam to keep him from bursting. Now though…Harry flopped backwards onto the grass and stared up at the blue sky.
"A trip…?" He muttered. What was Madame Maxime doing with her students? Harry closed his eyes, trying not to feel overwhelmingly dejected. He would be seeing her in a few weeks for the TriWizard Tournament, he reminded himself. That time seemed unbearably far away, though.
Ron and Hermione were exasperated.
Harry knew he wasn't being a great friend, being as distracted as he was, but he tried at least to do the things he had said he'd do. Neville, bless him, hadn't pushed him about talking to Ginny, but Harry knew he had better get a move on. The Tournament would commence that night.
After his last class of the day with Hagrid, Harry hurried back to the common room to find his best friend's sister. Hagrid's hut was a good distance from the school, and he had to hurry if he was to talk to Ginny before the arrival of the delegations. As Harry clambered through the portrait hole he espied one of Ginny's friends, Susan, standing by the fire. Harry hurried over to her.
"Hey Susan." He greeted. Susan jumped, startled, and spun to stare at him with wide eyes. Harry frowned faintly, surprised at her reaction. "Sorry, didn't mean to startle you…"
Susan swallowed, a faint blush highlighting her cheeks. "Oh..no. No! You didn't…erm…I'm just…jumpy." Her voice quavered slightly, and her blush deepened. Harry suddenly felt supremely uncomfortable. People had been acting strangely toward him all semester.
"Erm…yeah. Susan, I'm looking for Ginny. Have you seen her?" Harry wasn't one to beat around the bush. Susan frowned, her blush clearing as she considered his question.
"Ginny? I've not seen her much today, but I think she said yesterday that she had to finish an essay for McGonagall. She wanted to finish it before tonight." Harry felt a tingle at those words. "She's probably in the library."
"Thanks Susan, I appreciate the help!" Thinking of other things, Harry turned and walked back out the portrait hole, irritating the Fat Lady as he did so. He waved a hand at her as he went by, apologizing over his shoulder.
Harry found Ginny with her head buried in an advanced Transfiguration book. Transforming Your Body. Well. That was simple. Harry plopped down in the seat next to Ginny. She jumped, squealing a little at his sudden appearance, and flushing as red as her hair.
"H-Harry! That's not funny!" She said indignantly. Harry kept laughing. Ginny's scolding sounded so like Hermione that he laughed harder. He could almost see Hermione stamping her foot.
"Sorry Ginny, couldn't help myself." Harry took in a steadying breath and watched as Ginny calmed down, setting her book down primly. Another Hermione-like move. They were spending way too much time together, Harry thought.
"I might've hexed you, you know," Ginny said. Harry did know—it was common knowledge that she was becoming extremely proficient with the Bat Bogey Hex, along with a host of other even less pleasant ones. Her brush with Tom Riddle had left her with a desire to be ready for anything—an aspiration that Harry could admire. Most of the time.
"I know," Harry responded seriously. "I'm glad you didn't." Ginny looked somewhat mollified, so he continued. Originally, Harry had thought that he would set something up so that Neville could ask Ginny himself, but now there wasn't time. He allowed himself a moment of guilt before moving on. "I didn't just come here to scare you." He grinned at her glare. "Actually, I came to talk to you about Neville."
Ginny looked at him askance, before finally frowning. "Neville?" Her voice was questioning. Harry nodded.
"Yeah. What do you think of him?" Harry almost winced as soon as he said it, recognizing it for the cliché statement it was, but managed to keep a straight face.
Her brow still furrowed, Ginny thought about it. What did she think? She really barely knew him. She knew most of the 4th year boys through Ron, but Neville had always been an enigma. Quiet and shy. "Em…he seems nice?" She said doubtfully.
Harry had been hoping for a little more enthusiasm, but plunged on anyway. Neville needed to know one way or another.
"Ginny, this Tournament—during it, I mean—there's going to be a ball. He's really shy and nervous, so that's why he asked me—Neville did—to ask you if you would like to go with him." Harry felt nervous on Neville's behalf. "He fancies you." He added.
Ginny stared at him for a full minute, and Harry was thinking of ways to break the news to Neville when a shy, hesitant smile crept across her face.
"Yes…" She said quietly, her voice reminiscent of first year Ginny's, "I think I would like that. Tell him yes, will you Harry?"
Harry got up then, smiling broadly at Ginny. "Neville's a great guy. I know you guys will have fun!" He said by way of ending. He headed out of the library already smiling softly about his own special someone. He could feel the distance between them closing, and hurried back to the common room to get changed for dinner.
Fleur's heart was pounding as she at last climbed down from the Beauxbaton's carriage. They had been confined until the great feast, and she had been sitting still, unable to interact with anyone for the duration. Deep inside she fairly thrummed with the knowledge of his presence. It was a new, special agony to know she was so close, yet could not see him. The letters hadn't been close enough, but the distance had helped to dull what she was now feeling as a searing yearning.
Now that they had arrived it was only through strict discipline that she was able to keep from bursting from the carriage.
Fleur flattened her pale blue silk skirts with a hand absentmindedly, trying not to let Madame Maxime catch her eye as they walked up to the castle.
And wow, what a castle it was! Straight from Medieval England, Fleur thought. It was rough in the way that all ancient structures were, heavy with years and stories. Fierce stone gargoyles guarded the crenellations, a potential deterrent to visitors, and yet it felt as though Hogwarts were welcoming her. Perhaps because he was there. Whatever the reason, Fleur liked it. It was nothing like the pristine, white elegance of Beaxbatons, but it felt like it was meant to be a home, unlike her school.
Fleur took a deep breath as they entered the castle and met a tall, severe looking woman who asked them to wait. Fleur fidgeted uncharacteristically, and ignored the looks of her classmates. Her eyes were riveted on the doors of what she presumed to be the Great Hall. Harry had written much about it when she had requested that he describe the castle for her. She knew from the passion of his words that this was his home.
Fleur tried to remember what they were all supposed to do, and couldn't. She'd just follow along, she decided. Her eyes were still fixed on the doors as Professor McGonagall, she belatedly recognized from Harry's letters, lifted an arm towards them. The doors opened silently on well oiled hinges, and Fleur found herself staring at a sea of faces in a very Gothic Great Hall. She felt a tug, urging her eyes over to the flood of red and gold, but she couldn't find him from here.
Madame Maxime nodded, and the girls in front of her flowed elegantly into the hall, movements echoed by flights of doves. Doves? Fleur quickly fell in line and murmured the words, feeling the birds come into being around her. With every step she felt him. Closer…closer.
Her body suddenly would not let her take another step, and she knew that if she did it would be pulling her away from him. In the back of her mind Fleur felt that their Bond was going a little overboard with the dramatics, but she had no control just then. She forgot what she was supposed to be doing.
Her head turned of its own accord, sapphire eyes fastening on a figure rising from a bench, and now vaulting a table. He was tall, she registered first. Her eyes tracked over his thick, messy black hair, his features that seemed so familiar though she had only seen him twice before. Her throat was full when she was his green eyes—she couldn't get his name out, and she didn't try.
They stopped mere inches from each other, and Fleur found herself looking up at him. He looked so much older. Being so close was such sweet relief and agony all rolled into one.
Harry slowly lifted a hand, as if there were weights pulling it down and rested it on her arm.
Fire. Sweet fire raced from his fingers, and Fleur gasped. That breath allowed her one word.
"Harry." She breathed. She slid into him, her arms slipping snuggly around him even as his encircled her. She rested her head against his shoulder and sighed in relief as the world slid back into place. Deep inside, something clicked. It was as if she were whole again, in his arms and with her arms around him.
Finally. Finally. Harry had been waiting for years it seemed, instead of a few short weeks. At last, Fleur was here and in his arms. He dimly remembered seeing her immediately as the doors to the Great Hall had opened, enraptured as he was struck again by her beauty and grace. At last, as she drew ever nearer, Harry had gotten up. Impatient with the table in his way, he had vaulted it—ignoring his irritated classmates-and used his lengthened stride to cover the ground between them.
He felt it when her eyes locked with his and he stopped, only a hand's breadth from her, and swallowed. His heart was beating erratically, and he wanted so very much to touch her. A part of his mind was yelling at him that it wasn't supposed to be this way—that this was too fast, and all these feelings weren't really his. But Harry dismissed that part of himself. The Bond had only sharpened what was already there.
Hesitantly, he lifted his hand and rested it on her arm. He sucked in a breath at the shock he felt when he touched her skin. Another breath and he had his arms around her, and she had put her arms around him in return. Harry was suddenly gladder than he had ever been for his sudden growth spurt. Fleur was a tall woman, and his added height meant that they fit well together. As his arms settled around her securely, Harry sighed. His name on her lips was the only sound he ever wanted to hear again. "Fleur." He responded quietly. Fleur shivered slightly at the sound of his voice.
That was about when the world came rushing back to them both. Harry blinked and looked around, his face suddenly heating as he realized that everyone in the hall was looking at them. The professors, the Hogwarts students, and the Beauxbatons students. He could even see the Hogwarts ghosts watching them with expressions that ranged between bemused, appalled, unimpressed, and delighted. The Durmstrang students at least, he thought with little comfort, weren't in the hall yet.
His heart sank as his eyes tracked Professors Snape, Dumbledore, and McGonagall marching towards them with whom he could only assume was Madame Maxime approaching from their other side. Only Dumbledore's eyes seemed to twinkle with curiosity, and maybe amusement. Harry quailed to think what the other three were thinking.
A quiet sigh from Fleur reminded Harry of their predicament. "Fleur…" He murmured quietly, his heart starting to race again. "They're coming for us." His tone of voice, more than his words, alerted Fleur to the potential situation. She raised her head and looked around with her own growing alarm. She swallowed.
A part of her wanted to just hold Harry that much tighter, but the rational part of her mind convinced her that it was for the best that they let go of each other for now. She glanced back up into Harry's green eyes and saw that he had come to the same decision.
At the same time, they stepped back from one another.
They both promptly tripped, and fell over—their arms still securely wrapped around each other.
"Ah!" A startled cry left Harry as he landed flat on his back, Fleur sprawled on top of him. She groaned, her arms partially trapped underneath him. Harry immediately sat up, feeling a phantom ache in his own arms where hers no doubt were hurting.
Fleur blushed brightly as she found herself straddling Harry's lap, her skirts bunched up around her hips and revealing more leg than she normally did outside of a swimsuit.
"Potter!" Snape hissed furiously. "How dare you assault a Beauxbaton's student! Get away from her this instant!" He had pulled his wand, evidently prepared to use force.
"Severus, I hardly think force will be necessary!" Came McGonagall's irritated voice. "But really Potter, this is hardly a decent display!" Dumbledore had yet to say anything, just watching the proceedings.
Harry struggled to get up, trying to let go of Fleur as he did so. His own face bright red by now as well. Fleur helped as best she could, but found it just as impossible to release Harry. When they were both standing, faces red and feeling the scrutiny of the entire hall, they turned to watch their mentors apprehensively.
It was Madame Maxime who finally stepped forward. "Oh for heaven's sake! Let go of that boy Fleur. You're making a spectacle." Fleur glanced away, unsure how to explain their situation. Harry frowned at Madame Maxime. He didn't like the way she spoke to Fleur.
"With all due respect professors…we can't."
The hall erupted into whispers around them, and the professors, headmaster, and headmistress stared at them in disbelief.
"Forgive me, Harry," Dumbledore's soft voice was enough to silence the entire hall. "But what do you mean, you "can't"?" His eyebrows were lifted merely in inquiry, but everyone held their breath for Harry's response.
Harry took a deep breath, tightening his arms around Fleur as he did so—he felt her squeeze him in return. "What I mean sir," he said, his voice surprisingly steady, "Is that we physically cannot let go."