Chapter 13 - Truths Uncovered
Harry’s heart thumped wildly in his chest as he eased through Honeydukes’ basement. He had used the secret passage between Hogwarts and Hogsmeade to arrive today—all to escape Fleur’s overbearing headmistress. He hadn’t brought his cloak, as he wasn’t really hiding, but he still didn’t want to get caught where he didn’t belong.
Listening carefully to the throng of students walking around above, he eased his way up the stairs and slid into the crowd with none the wiser of his sudden appearance. He breathed a sigh of relief when he made it outside, tugging his coat tighter round him as the cool winter air bit into his face. While it was a little irritating to have to go to these lengths just to spend time with Fleur, Harry did have to admit it was a little exciting. With a grin, he headed to the Three Broomsticks where he knew that Fleur and his two best friends were waiting for him.
Fleur sat somewhat awkwardly in the Three Broomsticks. She currently shared a booth with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger—Harry’s best friends. They had easily agreed to walk with Fleur down to Hogsmeade in Harry’s place, which they (Harry and Fleur) both appreciated, but Fleur wasn’t entirely sure how welcome she actually was.
Ron, for his part, didn’t seem to care too much one way or another. She did catch him staring at her a handful of times, but these types of stares Fleur was used to—and he was enough of a gentleman to stop when he realized he was doing it. Veela magic—temperamental and often difficult to control. He hadn’t said much on their way from the castle, which rather surprised Fleur because everything she had heard from Harry in her letters seemed to indicate that he was usually very talkative. Her gaze shifted to Hermione.
“So…” Fleur began, somewhat uncertain. She wanted to be friends with Harry’s friends, but she wasn’t sure exactly the way to go about it—especially considering the slight attitude Hermione had shown Fleur on their walk down. It had bordered on animosity though, to the girl’s credit, she had not been in any way rude or hateful:
"Fleur,” Hermione began as soon as they were far enough from other students that the risk of eavesdropping was minimal, “I want to know right now what your intentions are with Harry. I know that your Veela magic has enacted a Bond between you, but I need to know more than that. Harry hasn’t really explained what that means for both of you—apart from his obvious growth spurt.” Her tone was no-nonsense, typical Hermione. Ron didn’t seem flustered by her words or tone, so Fleur decided to take that to mean that Hermione was like this a lot.
She took a few moments to consider carefully Hermione’s question, not wanting the younger witch to feel as though she did not take the situation seriously. Still, the answer came easily enough. “To be perfectly honest, Hermione, I do not have any intentions toward Harry right now. We both just want a chance to get to know each other better—in person, rather than in letter. The magic between us fairly demands it, but as I see more of your friend, I find myself wanting that more and more too.” Fleur trailed off, feeling pensive. When she felt Hermione’s brown eyes boring into her with another question, Fleur held up a hand.
"Hermione, let me try to set you at ease here.” Fleur took a breath, pausing as she swerved around a shrub as they continued to walk. She could see Hogsmeade now in the distance—they would be there soon, and this needed to be said. “I have no intent to hurt Harry, just as I know he has no desire to hurt me. This is new for both of us. What it means? We are just two people, who now have an extraordinary connection that pulls us together. We’ll have to figure out what we want to do on our own, but we haven’t spent nearly enough time together for me to give you a more accurate answer.” Fleur glanced at Ron then, who seemed to be following her words with interest, before looking back at Hermione again.
Hermione’s eyes were filled with uncertainty, and Fleur could tell she was arguing with herself. She could tell the other witch didn’t much like her, but Fleur hoped she would come around. Hermione was, after all, one of Harry’s most precious friends. The things and people that mattered to Harry, now mattered to Fleur too. She couldn’t tell if those were her own feelings, or the magic between them telling her so.
Finally, Hermione nodded stiffly in response. “Alright Fleur. I’ll take you at your word—please see that I do not regret it.” Fleur gave her a solemn nod of assurance. She was relieved, for they had arrived in Hogsmeade, and she didn’t want to continue their private conversation when there were so many listeners standing around.
Ron’s voice broke into her thoughts. “Hey! Let’s go see Madam Rosmerta—it’s ruddy cold out here. She’ll warm us up!” He seemed so eager and sincere that Fleur almost felt bad laughing, but laugh she did. To her surprise, Hermione laughed a little also. Neither of them voiced the thought of just how Ron would prefer to be warmed up by Madam Rosmerta.
Fleur blinked. “Em…what?” She stared blankly at Harry’s bushy-haired friend.
Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. “You just said “So….“, and then disappeared somewhere.” Fleur frowned deeply.
“I…disappeared?” She responded in confusion, tilting her head slightly, unsure if she had heard wrong.
Hermione put a hand over her face. “Oh, not you too!” She sighed. “Disappeared in your head. You started to say something, and then got lost in thought about something else.” It was uncanny how alike Harry and Fleur’s responses were to that statement, Hermione thought wryly.
Fleur’s eyes widened in understanding. “Oh! Oh, pardon me Hermione, I didn’t understand you.” The other witch rolled her eyes, but Fleur continued. “I was just going to ask you about your classes—I thought it might be interesting to compare what you’re taking now with what I took your year at Beauxbatons.” At the mention of Academia, Hermione’s exasperated air abruptly vanished and she sat up in excitement. Ron groaned.
“Now you’ve done it Fleur. She’ll never stop.” The red-head advised. “I’ll just go get us some butterbeers, shall I?” He slid out of his seat even as Hermione launched eagerly into a full explanation of the courses she was currently taking, was planning on taking, and wished that Hogwarts offered at all. It was hard for Fleur to get a word in edgewise, and she finally gave up and simply watched Hermione’s animated face as she continued to speak at-length about her favorite subject: school.
Fortunately, Hermione was only a few minutes in when Fleur felt compelled to look up and by the door, looking windblown and ruddy-cheeked, stood Harry, green eyes shining in a way that may Fleur’s heart flutter. A broad smile stretched across his face and Fleur quickly realized it was a twin to her own happy expression. It wasn’t until Harry started to move through the crowd towards their table that Fleur realized Hermione had stopped talking, and that she herself was being rather rude. She focused back on Harry’s friend and gave her a sheepish smile. “Sorry…”
Hermione frowned at her a moment, before rolling her eyes and releasing a world-weary sigh of exasperation. From the corner of her eye, Fleur noticed Ron approaching with their drinks. Hermione’s voice drew her attention back. “You’re both useless. Useless! I’ll just sit in a corner shall I until you two are done making moony eyes at each other. Then maybe we can have a decent conversation!” She flung a hand up in the air to make her point and nearly knocked the butterbeers out of Ron’s hands. Fleur winced.
“Ach! Hermione, watch it!” Ron exclaimed. Harry by this point was close enough to grab one of the precarious butterbeers from Ron and steady his mate. He slid the butterbeer he’d grabbed in front of Fleur. Ron grinned at him gratefully and slid into the booth next to Hermione. Harry shyly sat down next to Fleur, his heart pounding again even though his two best friends were sitting right with them.
His shyness was temporarily forgotten, however, when Ron slid a fourth butterbeer in front of him. Harry looked up at his friend quizzically, and Ron laughed.
“Saw you walk in mate. No worries, I haven’t suddenly got better at Trelawney’s class!” Hermione snorted, and Harry laughed a little too. Fleur was grateful for the slight comic relief, for Harry seemed more relaxed now.
Harry turned to Fleur then and lifted his butterbeer into the air. “How about a toast then, to friendship and…”
“Madam Rosemerta…” Came Ron’s breathy voice, neatly finishing Harry’s toast unintentionally. Harry blinked, and Fleur and Hermione turned to look at Ron blankly. Ron, for his part, was watching the beautiful, buxom Madam Rosemerta making her rounds and was totally oblivious to what he had just done. Harry started to laugh. After a second, Fleur and Hermione joined him. Harry started laughing even harder as he imagined Lavender’s face if she’d been present.
Ron came out of his daze and looked at the three of them in bewilderment. “What?”
Harry looked first to Hermione, and then to Fleur and raised his butterbeer once more. The pair quickly followed suit. “Ready?” He was still laughing. They nodded, and together…
“To friendship and Madame Rosemerta!” Harry choked on his drink he was laughing so hard, and the others weren’t much better. The bewildered look on Ron’s face just made it all the funnier.
Ron looked around the table, frowning. “Seriously…what are you all on about?”
“So…detention?” Fleur asked. She and Harry had parted from Ron and Hermione a few minutes previously. They were now wandering near the Shrieking Shack…connected only by a slight intertwining of fingers. Fleur glanced at Harry and raised one delicate eyebrow.
Harry coughed a little, embarrassed. He brought a gloved hand up to rub his neck sheepishly. “Well…do you remember from my letters, me mentioning a guy named Draco Malfoy?” When Fleur nodded, he continued. “He was sort of antagonizing Ron yesterday…and I just kinda lost it. I summoned a bar of soap in his mouth.” He ducked his head, cheeks going rosy.
“You…literally…put soap in his mouth? As in, washed his mouth out?” Fleur clarified. When Harry hesitantly nodded, she laughed. Fleur’s laugh, to Harry, sounded like water running over stones. It was light, but surprisingly rich and he felt joyful at the sound of it.
“Yes…yes I did.” Harry thought back over his response to Malfoy’s taunts, and frowned slightly. “Rather unlike me to react so rashly…but I guess it was just a little too much this time. And of course Snape was standing right behind me. Thus, my detention.” He smiled as Fleur laughed a little more, shaking her head.
Fleur linked their hands more firmly; her heart jumped when Harry squeezed her hand lightly. She blushed faintly and looked away. It was a strange thing, that they should be so shy of each other considering their reunion. The Bond had pretty much forced them to be all over each other. While their embrace had been intimate…it had not been honestly initiated by either of them. Fleur guessed that she and Harry had come to the same, unspoken conclusion that that encounter didn’t really count. She squeezed his hand back and smiled when she saw his cheeks turn even rosier.
Harry drew them to a stop by the path leading to the Shrieking Shack. He was pretty sure there would be few, if any, passersby out here. He turned so that he and Fleur were facing each other.
“I was thinking,” Harry said, “That we could use this spot to start figuring out this Bond. I think we should see what it does, what we can do with it. There shouldn’t be anyone out here but us.” Fleur nodded—this sounded like a pretty good idea.
She cocked her head slightly, “Maybe first, we could try seeing if we can really sense each other with the Bond…and see about how far apart we can be?” Harry thought that sounded like a great place to start—and was relieved Fleur was getting them started.
“Sure,” he said, “That may come in handy.”
Fleur gazed off into the distance for a moment, thinking. What would be the best way to do this? “Ok, to start...” Fleur pulled her gloves off and stuffed them into her pocket, and waited until Harry had done the same. “Take my hands.” She said. His warm hands around her own caused her breath to catch for a moment. She forced herself to focus. “Close your eyes.” Her voiced came as a whisper. “I want to see if we can feel each other…feel the bond connecting us. Feel your heart beating…”
Harry’s voice came just as soft, “I feel it.”
Fleur focused inward, searching for that feeling, that connection that had only appeared sporadically so far, and otherwise been dormant. There, she thought. It was a pulse, and pulse that seemed to resonate with her own heartbeat… With a start, Fleur realized it was Harry’s. She could feel Harry’s heart beating too. She heard a startled noise come from Harry, and smiled.
“Can you feel it? Can you feel me?” She murmured, hands still gripping Harry’s.
Harry spoke, his voice filled with wonder. “Yes. It’s like, I can feel your heart beating…right next to mine.”
Harry and Fleur spent the next two hours testing the bond. First just getting used to sensing each other, and then trying to add distances into the equation. It seemed that, up to about two hundred feet they could feel each other without a problem. Further than that and the connection seemed to thin, and it was only with extreme effort that they could sense anything at all. Unless, as they discovered, if one was in distress.
At one point during their distance exercises, Harry came under attack. From snowballs. Thrown by a poltergeist. Harry had quickly gotten away from the mischievous ghost, but his sudden spike in adrenaline was enough to briefly open the bond between them and for Fleur to learn that he was in some kind of trouble. After that they experimented briefly with magic, and noted a similar phenomenon. While still bound by distances, they could tell when the other was using magic. It was like a sudden surge inside. They did enough practicing to discover also that they could not, in fact, hear each other’s thoughts (yet anyway), and exact feelings were still hit or miss. Both agreed, however, that it felt like the bond was growing.
“We’ll have to try and practice like this whenever we can.” Harry remarked during their walk back to Hogwarts. Fleur nodded.
“It’ll be hard to get around Madame Maxime all the time, but I think we must do it. We’ve accomplished so much in only a few hours; imagine what we could do if we could practice for a few days!” Fleur felt giddy just thinking about it. Or maybe that feeling just came from being able to feel Harry so much more acutely now.
Harry was silent for a few minutes, thinking. “Fleur…why,” his voice was hesitant, “why is Madame Maxime so set on you being in the tournament? And why can’t you just tell your dad that she’s forcing you? Surely he could help, since he’s the Minister.” This was a question that had been on Harry’s mind for some time now. He hadn’t felt sure that it was his place to ask, but he wanted—needed—to know.
Fleur stopped. Harry went a few paces without her before realizing and turning around to look at her quizzically. Fleur was looking around carefully for potential eavesdroppers. She wanted to tell Harry, but she didn’t want her headmistress to find out that she had. The results could be…unpleasant. Finally, she looked back at Harry. Keeping her voice low, she began to explain.
“The Madame…she has something on my father. Something that could get him kicked out of office, and maybe even thrown into Tenezbon. I know if I told him, he wouldn’t care but…” Fleur had a pained expression on her face, and Harry nodded—he understood. She wanted to protect him. He couldn’t fault her for that. He frowned suddenly.
“Erm, Fleur, what is Tenezbon?” Harry cocked his head to the side. He didn’t want to interrupt her, but he didn’t want to misunderstand something crucial. At Fleur’s surprise expression, Harry surmised that he should have known what it was.
Fleur’s eyes rose to look somewhere beyond Harry. “Tenezbon… It is like your Azkaban. Dementors are not the only creatures guarding that dark place…and they definitely aren’t the worst of them.” There was a heavy silence that followed, before Fleur managed to meet Harry’s gaze again. From the look in his eyes, she knew he understood the gravity of the situation.
“You have to understand that my father is not a bad man. What he did, he did only to protect me. When I was fourteen, I went to a friend’s party in Wizarding Paris. It was supposed to be this really fun event with tons of kids from Beauxbatons and other places. I wouldn’t know though, because I never made it there.” Fleur took a deep breath, and looked carefully at Harry. She had never revealed this to anyone, but his trusting green eyes were enough to convince her that he needed to know.
Fleur reached out for Harry’s hand and drew him off the path back to Hogwarts, and into the woods. In the shade of a tree, she continued her story.
“My father had only been Minister a year, and he had not quite established his power yet. There were many contenders he beat out in the election, and many of them were not happy. One of them, I never learned who, thought to threaten him. With me.” Harry’s eyes widened. He knew where she was going with this.
“On my way to that party I was kidnapped. Tied up in spell-binding rope prevented me from protecting myself. They…hurt me pretty bad. Being part Veela only made it worse.” Fleur wrapped her arms around herself. “Two of them kept trying to make advances on me, but there was this other wizard there who kept them from…” She shook her head, not wanting to finish the sentence. “It wasn’t out of any sense of pity or duty though. I think he just was smart enough to know that if they crossed that line, my father would hold nothing back.” Her blue eyes rose to meet Harry’s.
“My father held nothing back anyway. He came to the meeting point arranged for my return. It was a trap, of course, but it doesn’t matter. My father is a powerful wizard. He used to hunt Dark Wizards, and fought in the original war against Voldemort. These men were no match for his magic, or his fury. He killed all of them. And then he took me home.” Fleur watched Harry carefully for his reaction. She could see the anger in his eyes, but knew it was at the dead men, and not her father. Fleur breathed a mental sigh of relief. She had been worried.
Now she just needed to finish. “The part where Madame Maxime comes in then… I don’t know how, but she has evidence that my father committed those murders. For murders they were filed away as. An untouched memory recovered from one of the dying men, revealing my father as their slayer. While he killed them in defense of and retaliation for me, a court would recognize his command of magic as being clearly superior…and therefore that excessive force was used. They might well send him to Tenezbon.” Fleur gazed desperately at Harry. “It is worse than a death sentence. I can’t let that happen! Harry, I can’t let that happen. Not to my father.”
Harry stepped forward at the sudden anguish in her tone and engulfed her in his arms. Fleur buried her face in his chest and took a few shuddering breathes, trying to calm herself down. “I would rather…” Fleur didn’t finish that sentence, but she didn’t need to. Harry knew what she had been going to say. “But I still do not want to be in this tournament. I do not think I’m ready. Madame Maxime only wants to get more money from my father for the school. And I have no leverage against her.”
Harry walked with his arm tight around Fleur’s shoulders. He hadn’t said much since she had explained her predicament, and they were so close he could feel her worry. Harry wanted to say something that would set her at ease, but he didn’t know what he could possibly say. All at once, an idea occurred to him and Harry nearly stumbled over his own feet.
“Fleur!” His outburst startled her, he knew, but he kept going, too excited to stop. “Fleur, what about your father’s card?” Harry grinned breathlessly, and released Fleur so that he could draw the gift Jefferoi had presented to him months ago at the World Cup. Harry fumbled his wand out and muttered Revelio. The familiar words scrolled across the card:
The bearer of this card has performed a great service for France, and is thus entitled to aid such as is within the power of the person asked for assistance. Any outstanding costs should be forwarded to the French Ministry.
Harry held it out to her. “Can’t I give this to Madame Maxime, and she has to back off? Debt paid?” Harry was so eager, he missed the almost angry expression on Fleur’s face.
“Harry, no!” The vehemence in Fleur’s voice took him aback. Fleur pushed the card toward Harry. “My father gave this to you, for you to use. Not to use it on me!” Fleur could see that Harry was winding up to insist on using it on her anyway and backed up a step, away from him.
“Harry, you can’t solve this. That card is for you, and it wouldn’t work on Madame Maxime anyway.” Fleur was frustrated, almost irritated. She didn’t want Harry to solve this for her, even if he could. She had only wanted the relief of telling someone. This was her problem.
Harry was frowning, looking crestfallen. “What…why wouldn’t it work on her? She’s French! Isn’t she?” How useful was a card that wouldn’t work?
Fleur folded her arms and pressed them into her abdomen, feeling unutterably lonely now that Harry wasn’t touching her. This frustrated her more. She focused on answering his question. “Yes, she’s French. But that’s not all she is. That card only works on fully human witches and wizards. No one else is required to honor it, though they can if they wish to. Madame Maxime…is half giant. The other half of her is French witch, but it isn’t enough to compel her to honor that card.” Harry was staring at the card as if it had turned into something poisonous.
What was the use of a gift like this if it wouldn’t work when he really needed it?
Fleur’s hand covered his own, shielding the card from his blazing eyes. He looked up at her, feeling a little hurt by her reaction and helpless. There was no way he could help her.
“Harry,” Fleur spoke again, her voice gentler and remorseful, “Even if it would work, it would only make her keep my name out of the Goblet. It wouldn’t stop her from outing my father. And she would. That’s the kind of person she is.” She hadn’t meant to hurt Harry with her tone. “Thank you Harry, for thinking of me in this way…but right now, we still barely know each other. I would not want you to waste such a precious gift on me.”
Harry gazed into Fleur’s fathomless sapphire eyes, letting her words sink in. This was the only girl he had shared any intimacy with—albeit accidentally-, the only girl who could truly feel his feelings… He had magically bound all of his possessions to her already, and all that was left to give was himself. She was incredibly smart, he knew, and powerful. She was beautiful, and standing this close to her he could feel that inner beauty radiating outward and warming him. Fleur was wrong, Harry thought. He suddenly couldn’t fight the urge to show her how wrong she was.
“Fleur. You are my precious gift.” Harry leaned down and pressed his lips to hers. The taste of her soft lips overwhelmed him, and his heart picked up speed. He could feels hers beating equally fast, and couldn’t stop himself from reaching up to cup a hand to her cheek, feeling some of her soft hair against his skin. He may not fully understand this gift he had been given, but he recognized it as the most valuable thing he had ever been presented with. This Bond they shared…Fleur herself… He would protect their Bond, and protect Fleur, forever.
Fleur was stunned by the words Harry had spoken. His voice had been so sure, and his eyes were so clear. Before she could think, he had stepped closer and kissed her. His lips were soft and warm. Her eyes slid closed, and she slipped her arms around his waist to pull them closer together. His lips began to feel hotter and hotter, the heat spreading deep inside of her to warm her from her toes up. Fleur initiated movement, needing relief from the heat. Their lips moved together, and Fleur began to feel breathless. An unspoken agreement seemed to keep them from progressing further, and Fleur felt both pained and relieved when they at last pulled apart. Her breaths came faster, and she could feel Harry’s heart beating sporadically in his chest. She blushed. That reaction was for her.
When Harry finally opened his eyes, it was to see snow slowly swirling around them. As Fleur’s eyes slid open, his breath caught at her sheer beauty. The sapphire of her eyes against the falling snow was striking. He noticed her breaths were coming faster in the cold air, and he reddened. He had done that.
Fleur chanced a glance up, and noticed the flush on Harry’s cheeks. When she met his eyes, she knew they’d had the same thought. They both smiled shyly.
Harry became serious. “We’ll figure it out Fleur. If you have to participate, then I will help you. I know you’ve been practicing magic longer…but I’ll help however I can.” Fleur smiled at him, and it was hard for Harry to stay serious.
“I know you will Harry. I know you will.”
As one they turned and started moving back towards the castle. When they were as close as they could get without being seen, Harry pressed one last, quick kiss to Fleur’s lips and disappeared into the swirling snow.