Perhaps a Solution
Chapter 12 - Perhaps a Solution
“You missed everything Harry!” Ron exclaimed. They were walking through the corridors headed outside for Care of Magical Creatures. Even though he had finally been able to see Fleur again, Harry thought glumly, he still had classes to attend. He glanced over at Ron, barely listening.
“What?” His brow furrowed as he worked himself into the conversation. Harry had waited until late to sneak back into his dormitory the night before—he’d wanted to avoid an interrogation from the other boys. Now though he was feeling tired, and regretting his decision to not just get the whole thing over with. At least Ron didn’t seem to be in an asking mood. Yet.
Ron rolled his eyes and cuffed Harry on the shoulder. “Bloody hell Harry. Have you not been listening? I was telling you about what you missed last night! You and Fleur never came back!” Ron’s eyes became a little glassy when he said Fleur’s name, but Harry couldn’t bring himself to feel put off. Ron was his best friend, after all, and Fleur was…well. Fleur.
“Just tell me again. I’m listening now.” Harry requested. He really did need to be a better friend. Now that Fleur was here, maybe he could be. Ron rolled his eyes again, but obliged.
He filled Harry in on the arrival of the Goblet and the commencement of the Tournament. “Ludo Bagman was there Harry, and Barty Crouch from the Ministry!” Ron’s blue eyes got very wide and excited. “Best of all…” his voice was hushed as he gazed at Harry fervently, “from Durmstrang…Viktor Krum! The Viktor Krum Harry! He’s here! At Hogwarts!” Ron’s fists were balled in excitement. “I can’t believe it!” Harry grinned, wanting to join in Ron’s excitement.
A snotty voice sounded behind them, “Yes Weasel. Krum’s here—have yourself an orgasm why don’t you.” Harry turned and glared full on at Draco Malfoy and his laughing cronies.
“Malfoy,” sneered Harry, “Should have known you’d want another reason to get your mouth washed out. Seems you love the taste of soap—get that from your filthy father?” Harry would have laughed at Draco’s confused expression, but he acted instead. He whipped his wand out and muttered Lavatio Ore. Draco’s big mouth was suddenly full as a white bar of soap appeared between his teeth. The boy immediately started choking as he worked to get it out. Now Harry laughed, “Maybe now you’ll learn to watch your mouth.” As Harry turned, he saw Ron gazing at him in astonishment and admiration. Before he could say anything though, he ran into Snape. Damn. Seems he forgot they were still in the castle…and that certain Potion’s professors had an irritating penchant for showing up at the exact WRONG moment.
“Going somewhere Potter?” Snape’s voice was low, with a distinct thread of malevolence in it. The Potions Master gazed down at him in disdain; a look Harry was all too familiar with. How, he asked himself inwardly, was Snape always around to catch him like this?
“Erm, I was going to Care of Magical Creatures…” Harry responded hesitantly. No need to take a flippant tone now…it would only land him in more trouble than he cared to be in at the moment. Snape was gazing at him in triumph, and Harry had a sinking feeling.
Snape’s pleased tone proved it a second later. “Perhaps…but I think Mr. Potter you will also be joining me for detention in the dungeons tonight. Don’t be late.” Snape swept away before Harry could protest, black robes swirling about him as he passed Draco, giving the boy a faint smile as he did. Once Snape had passed on, Draco tried sneering at Harry and Ron again, but they ignored him.
Care of Magical Creatures went quickly that day. Harry wasn’t paying much attention though, and received a burn from his skrewt for his carelessness. At one point Ron leaned over when they were out of earshot of the others to ask him, “So where’d you learn that spell?”
Harry just grinned and whispered, “Your mother.” Ron’s ears turned pink, and they didn’t speak much during the rest of the lesson.
As the day wore on, Harry found himself thinking increasingly about Fleur and the little sojourn they’d shared the night before. It had been so good to finally be with her physically, like the pressure that had been building inside of him had finally been released. Now he didn’t feel the insanely pressing need to be with her. At least, not like he had before. The Bond felt more muted now, somehow, reminiscent of the first days he’d sensed it. It seemed like, now that they were together—sort of—the Bond didn’t need to be as active.
Strangely Harry felt both relieved and disappointed.
He found himself hoping to catch a glimpse of Fleur throughout the day, but he never did. He noticed a number of other Beauxbatons students wandering around, and a few from Durmstrang, but never the silvery haired beauty that had so often occupied his thoughts the last couple months.
It was with some trepidation and excitement that he entered the Great Hall for dinner that night. At last he would see Fleur again…and maybe get an idea of where they stood with one another.
Fleur was frustrated. Every attempt she had made to seek out Harry today had been thwarted. Mostly by Madame Maxime but other times by coincidence. She just wanted to talk to him, to see him—like a normal person, and not because the Bond was forcing them together. It seemed she wouldn’t get that chance though. Not if her headmistress had her way.
“Fleur, you cannot be with this boy. He will distract you, and we cannot have that! Not when the pride of Beauxbatons is at stake!” Madame Maxime had boomed at her early, when Fleur had tried to slip away during lunch to find Harry. “If you make this difficult, I will be forced to confine you to the carriage.” Madame Maxime had finished, and Fleur had trouble keeping the horror from her face at this proclamation. “Do you understand?”
Fleur had been forced to nod. “Yes, I understand.” She responded bitterly, not meeting the woman’s eyes. This meant exploring her connection with Harry would be exceedingly difficult. She went back to her studies reluctantly, determined not to miss dinner and her last chance to see Harry before the day ended. She wanted to know how he was faring after the night before. Had he been made fun of? She had certainly been on the receiving end of several disdainful looks and sniggers from her classmates. She hoped Harry had not had a similar experience.
Walking into the Great Hall, Harry felt his eyes immediately slide over toward the Ravenclaw table, where he spotted a familiar blue-clad girl whose very presence made him feel hot and cold at the same time. He smiled. “Fleur.” He murmured. Almost as if she could hear him, he saw her look up and around. Perhaps it was a little perk of the Bond, he thought, being able to spot each other in a crowded room. Ignoring the questions of his friends, Harry headed over to where Fleur was sitting.
“Hey Fleur.” He said quietly, pleased to find a spot beside her open. He sat down next to her. He would have to move soon back to the Gryffindor table (for the start of the meal), but for now he had a few minutes to talk to Fleur.
“Harry.” Fleur responded, her blue eyes flashing with relief and what Harry could only recognize as worry. He noticed her hands were clenched tightly in her lap, and her eyes kept shifting to the head table where the professors sat.
Unsure of himself, Harry slid a little closer to her and lowered his voice. “What’s wrong?” he asked. His concern was evident, and Fleur looked at him gratefully. Even if they weren’t dating, their connection made it pretty much impossible not to care about each other. And Fleur could tell that Harry was just that kind of person anyway.
“It’s my headmistress,” Fleur explained quietly, “She does not want us together. At all. She told me if it gets too much, she will confine me to the carriage until after the tournament.” Her voice was resigned, and nervous. “Harry—I don’t want last night to be the only time I get to spend with you.” Her eyes had a hard time finding Harry’s; her heart was pounding so loudly she thought he must be able to hear it. A warm hand took hers, and Fleur started, her eyes coming up unintentionally to meet Harry’s blazing green ones.
“No way Fleur. We’re not going to let anything stop us from figuring this whole thing out!” Harry felt riled up. How dare her headmistress make an ultimatum like that? This was his bondma-erm, friend. Could he at least think of her as a friend? He thought that was alright. There was magic connecting them now that they needed to understand, and instead of helping them this woman was putting her own agenda before the needs of her student.
He gazed intently at Fleur, only dimly registering the faint blush on her cheeks at his sudden vehemence. “We’ll figure this out Fleur. If she tries to separate us, trust me—I will find a way. It is our right to be near each other now…isn’t it?” His voice up to this point had been steady, but now it faltered. Maybe Fleur didn’t actually want to spend much time with him? He certainly didn’t want to be as bad as Madame Maxime and force his presence on her…his heart felt a pang at that thought. The cool hand in his own was now gripping his hand fiercely, and Harry looked up to see sapphire eyes that had been unsure, but now were full of the same intensity he himself had just displayed.
“You’re right Harry. It is our right. We will find a way.” Now it was Harry’s turn to blush, and he reluctantly stood from his spot beside Fleur as he saw Dumbledore stand from the corner of his eye.
“I have to go back to my table…but wait for me after supper tonight. I want to ask you something.” Harry gave Fleur a parting smile that warmed them both and which was eagerly returned, before departing back to his table. He slipped into the spot saved for him by Ron and his other mates and waited for Dumbledore to signal that supper had begun.
Harry had been equal parts anxious and excited all supper. He was having a hard time getting his food down—nerves were tying his stomach up in knots. Realistically, he knew he had little cause for worry with his plan, but he couldn’t help it. Hermione was exasperated, and Ron was oblivious.
Finally, Harry’s bushy haired friend could take it no longer. She set her goblet down with a little more force than necessary and glared at Harry. Harry, though a good several inches taller than his friend now, cowered under that gaze.
“Harry,” Hermione began, looking at him intensely, “What on earth is the matter with you? I’ve been trying to have a conversation with you all this time, and you keep going somewhere else.” When Harry just looked confused, she sighed. “In your head. You’re going somewhere in your head.”
Harry’s eyes cleared, and he looked a little sheepish. “I’m sorry Hermione. I just have something to ask Fleur after dinner…” His cheeks turned pink. Now both of his friends were watching him with interest, and a little concern. “It’s got me nervous, that’s all.”
Hermione leaned forward and took Harry’s hand in her own, her eyes urgent. She glanced around before lowering her voice so that only Harry and Ron would hear her. “Harry…” she paused, double checking no one else was paying them any mind, “You’re not…I know it’s not my business, but you’re not planning on asking her to…to marry you, are you?” Her voice was quiet, but so serious, so earnest, that Harry just stared at her.
He stared at her for a full minute, before bursting into laughter. Hermione sat back, looking miffed, but that only made it funnier to Harry. Ron thumped him on the back and smiled a little too, earning a glare of his own from Hermione. “Look Hermione,” Harry gasped after he had regained his composure, “Fleur and I barely know each other. I’m not going to ask her to marry me, Bond or no Bond.” Hermione seemed satisfied, and turned back to her meal primly. Harry shot his friends a playful look. “Besides, give me a little credit. If I’m going to ask a girl to marry me, it’s not going to be after dinner in the Great Hall.” Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes.
“Honestly,” she muttered, “I was just trying to look out for you.” Harry shook his head but smiled kindly at her until he was sure she wasn’t really mad. He also magnanimously refrained from reminding her that he was only fourteen, no matter how old he may look. Ron laughed and turned to get back into a conversation Seamus and Dean were having about the Cannons. And Harry just sat bemusedly looking at the half eaten food on his plate.
But…being married to Fleur… Harry shivered. Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all.
Supper couldn’t end soon enough for Harry. It was all he could do once the plates were cleared to walk out of the hall like a normal person instead of sprinting out the great doors.
Once out, he stood to the side of the doors as students exited to return to their dorms or whatever pursuits they fancied, green eyes casting back and forth in an effort to find Fleur. A tightening in his chest caused Harry to shift his gaze left. His eyes immediately found what they were searching for, and he grinned when he saw sapphire orbs watching him in return. As Fleur drew nearer, Harry deftly leaned into the crowd and took her hand, pulling her discreetly into the shadows behind an old statue. Nerves hit him as soon as they were alone, and he released her hand…afraid that his was sweaty. “Hey.” He managed, somewhat shakily.
Fleur, for her part, had felt her heart begin to race when she spotted Harry looking for her. The smile that curved her lips when he saw her was meant only for him, as she somehow knew that the bright light in his eyes now was only for her. She gasped when he took her hand, but followed him willingly. Fleur had a feeling she would follow Harry Potter willingly to the ends of the Earth. She tsked inwardly at her own foolish thoughts. Surely she could do better than that? Bringing her focus back on Harry, she watched him curiously. She could practically feel the nerves rolling off of him in waves and smiled faintly in amusement even as her delicate brows drew down in curiosity. She wondered what he could possibly want to ask her that would make him so nervous.
Harry, for his part, was having a hard time meeting Fleur’s gaze now. For all his plans, in the moment now he felt foolish. This was going to end badly, he quailed inwardly. Nevertheless, Harry Potter never backed down from a challenge (however unintentional that trait may be). He squared his shoulders and brought his eyes back up to Fleur’s. “Erm…” Harry cleared his throat and took a breath before trying again.
“Fleur…I don’t know if you know much about Hogsmeade, but here at Hogwarts we students are allowed to visit on the weekends…” His voice trailed off and he watched as Fleur’s expression became tinged with confusion. She wasn’t sure where exactly he was going with this.
Harry swallowed and gathered his courage. “I figure Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students will be encouraged to visit too and so I was wondering…if you would like to come with me this weekend to Hogsmeade?” He hunched his shoulders a bit, as though preparing to ward off a blow, even as he saw Fleur’s eyes brighten in pleasant surprise.
She smiled widely at him. “Harry, of course I would love to go with you!” The idea of getting to spend a whole day with Harry made her stomach flutter with excitement. She wondered if he meant it as a date…could she dare to hope? Even as she started thinking of the things they might get to do together, a crashing reality presented itself. “Oh no, Harry, how will we go? Madame Maxime would never let me go if she knew that you were also going!” Well, thought Fleur, there went that plan. She felt immeasurably disappointed.
Harry though, was grinning like a cat in the cream.
“Not to worry, I’ve got a plan!” He glanced around to make sure that they were indeed alone now, and drew closer yet to Fleur so that he could speak more quietly of his idea. Fleur’s drew a breath in at their sudden proximity, and gazed breathlessly up at Harry, even as he met her eyes with a breathless gaze of his own. It took Harry a moment to find his voice again. Fleur was just that beautiful. “You can go the normal way to Hogsmeade. I know a back way, and I can sneak out there and meet you. Why don’t you go with Ron and Hermione? They can show you where I’ll come out, and then I can join you. With Madame Maxime here…it can be just you and me.” This last came out a little bashfully, and Harry glanced away nervously.
Fleur thought over his idea and smiled, stepping slowly back into his line of sight. “I like this plan of yours, Harry Potter. This is the perfect chance for us to…get to know each other better.” Hesitantly, she reached out and let her fingers gather some of his shirt material around his side, craving the closeness, but unable to breach the physical barrier.
Harry caught her hand, and felt a quiet sigh escape his lips as his fingers seemingly laced through hers instinctively. It felt so good to hold her hand again. “That was my thought too,” he murmured. They really did need a chance to spend some time together. Reluctantly, Harry knew he had to go. Snape would be waiting for him in the dungeons. He squeezed Fleur’s hand in his for a moment, his heart feeling light when he caught her smile. She was going with him to Hogsmeade this weekend, he thought, his heart beat accelerating with excitement. It was hard not to practically quiver with joy. She had said yes! Not even detention with Snape could ruin this moment.
“I wish I could stay here with you, but I have detention. I will see you tomorrow.” Harry paused before releasing Fleur’s fingers, and slowly, haltingly placed a kiss on her cheek, dangerously close to the corner of her mouth. His lips burned from the contact, and he knew he’d had the same effect on Fleur when she gasped in response, a light blush dusting her cheeks.
Fleur only reluctantly let her fingers part from Harry’s, her other hand coming to rest on the place his lips had been a moment before. She could still feel them on her face, and she smiled as he walked away, happy that he had initiated it. As he rounded a corner she frowned. “Wait…detention?” Fleur knew she’d have to ask him about it at the next opportunity.