True Love Isn't Always Conventional


Chapter 15 - Aftermath


Fleur finds herself dragged into a dream with Harry-a dream of Voldemort’s making. Sensing Harry’s distress, she is able to wake up. She then hurries into the castle, allowing the Bond’s protective magic to help her navigate Hogwarts. She manages to get past the Fat Lady, and at last is by Harry’s side. Using her connection to try and draw some of his torment away from him, Fleur is able to tear Harry out of the dream-that-is-not-a-dream.

Now, after their momentous night...

Harry sat anxiously at the Gryffindor table, foot tapping ceaselessly. There was a plate of food left untouched in front of him-periodically added to by Ron, who sat next to him and seemed to have no problem wolfing down the offering before them. Hermione was sitting further down the table today, talking to Ginny and a few other girls. His fingers agitatedly rapped against the worn wooden table.

“Stop fidgeting.” Ron finally said, swallowing down a mouthful of food. “She’ll get here. Now eat something before you give yourself a crick in your neck from turning to look at the door.” Ron knocked his shoulder playfully against Harry’s, trying to ease his friend’s tension.

The fourth year boys had sworn to secrecy the night’s events, though Harry had doubts about Seamus’ ability in particular to keep what happened to himself. He guessed it didn’t really matter-just more fodder for those in the school who hated him. But Harry didn’t want Fleur to face anymore trouble. He knew that word getting out about her foray into the Gryffindor tower would not be received well. Not that he thought his fellow Gryffindors would care, but he knew the teachers would-and she would be an even greater target to the Slytherins and other cruel students. Harry didn’t want to let that happen, but he feared he couldn’t prevent it. Another prod from Ron pulled him from his thoughts.

Harry reluctantly turned back to his food and picked half-heartedly at the bacon rashers on his plate. Food didn’t hold his attention long. His eyes rose and found that there were several other Beauxbatons girls in the Hall, mostly mixed in with Ravenclaw, but there were a few sitting with Slytherin too. None sat with Hufflepuff, and only Fleur would sit with them. Interesting, a distracted part of his mind thought. He managed to get down one piece of bacon before getting up. Ron gave an exasperated sigh next to him, but said nothing.

Harry’s longer legs quickly led him to the Ravenclaw table and he stopped next to a Beauxbaton’s student. “Where is Fleur?” He asked peremptorily. Normally, Harry was a polite boy. But he felt that something was amiss with Fleur right now, and he knew that Fleur’s schoolmates had not been very kind to her in regards to her current situation.

The girl tossed back her black hair and looked up at him with irritated hazel eyes. He could hear the murmurings from some of the Ravenclaws around him remarking on his rudeness, but he ignored them.

“What a rude little boy you are.” She said haughtily. “I don’t see why I should help you after such...impertinence.” The girl turned to go back to her meal, but Harry wasn’t finished. Angry, he reached out and grabbed a fistful of her blue silk robes at the shoulder, and hauled her out of her seat.

“Tell me,” he said, voice icy, ”now“. He held her close to him so she couldn’t look away from his eyes. Harry’s green eyes were flat with anger, their normally vibrant green depths now dark and rigid. There was no give in them. When he was angry, really angry, the fury inside was hard like ice-and he literally became the calm before the storm. His worry for Fleur was rising in him like a wave, and he knew that he wouldn’t hesitate to do what needed to be done to find her. Most of the eyes in the hall were on him, and he was sure teachers were hurrying to them now. Harry didn’t care, and his eyes never shifted from hers.

The girl gave a cry at being hauled from her seat, but shut up when she saw the look in his eyes. Swallowing, she finally answered. “I don’t know, okay? All I know is that Madame Maxime came to speak with her this morning before breakfast. I haven’t seen her since.”

Harry mused over the information a moment before finally letting go of the girl, who quickly hurried back to her seat. His eyes lifted and caught those of Professor McGonagall, who was headed his way with Snape not far behind her. He had perhaps a few seconds before they reached him. His eyes lifted to see that Professor Dumbledore, curiously, was absent. Ruminating over this information, Harry turned on his heel and strode out of the Hall, ignoring the protests of the Professors behind him.

A few minutes later, he stood before the gargoyle that would deny him entrance to Dumbledore’s office. He knew that the professor used sweets as passwords, but he had no idea what it might be. Harry had half a mind to pull his wand and do his best to blow the gargoyle to hell, but something about the tilt of the statue’s eyes warned him that this would be a terrible idea. Nothing for it, he guessed. “Lemon drops. Chocolate frogs. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. Fizzing Whizbees...” Harry went down the list trying to name every candy or sweet he could think of, pausing after each one to see if it was right. The gargoyle remained resolute. Angrily, Harry finally stopped. Why couldn’t the Bond help him now, as it had helped Fleur the night before? Perhaps it meant she wasn’t in any physical danger.

Well, that was good at least, he thought. The Bond itself wasn’t telling him anything. He didn’t feel any particular distress, apart from his own. In fact, he couldn’t feel much of anything at all. Harry frowned and laid a hand over his chest. Not that he really felt a pull from there or any specific place-it just seemed like the right action.

No, he thought. He couldn’t feel anything of Fleur. Nothing. Harry focused intensely, even closing his eyes, though that didn’t really make a difference. Why couldn’t he feel anything? Ever since their “date” and the time they had practiced, there had been a connection between them that he could feel with each breath. How had he not noticed its sudden absence? Anxiety rose in him as he recognized what had been driving him to distraction. The Bond was gone!

Try though he might, Harry couldn’t reopen their connection. Apart from a reassuring feeling that Fleur was not hurt in any physical way, he had nothing. Opening his eyes, Harry glared at the statue. Worry and anger swirled through him in equal measure, and he could feel his magical power building inside of him in a big way. There was nothing for it. He met the statute’s cold stone gaze head on. He was going to destroy the gargoyle. Harry took a deep breath.

"Licorice Snaps.” A voice right in his ear made Harry jump. Heart racing, he spun around with wand outstretched, gargoyle forgotten. He didn’t recall pulling his wand out, but he was grateful to have it firmly in hand.

“Who’s there?” He demanded, eyes searching every crevice of the corridor around him, eyes straining to look in the shadows not touched by the light streaming in the windows. He could see nothing in the old stones lining the corridor, no silhouette in the high windows or shadows cast upon the cold floor.

A high, nasaly voice responded with a hint of sarcasm. “Why, wittle Potty has forgotty?” A cackle reverberated around him. “It is Peevesy of course!” The trickster poltergeist suddenly materialized and shot right through Harry with a shrill laugh.

Harry stumbled back with a gasp at the ice cold sensation of having a ghost pass through him. It was like a bucket of ice water had been dumped over his head. “Peeves!” He gasped. “What the devil do you want?” His eyes followed the poltergeist as he maneuvered around the great columns and disappeared periodically as he passed through sunlight. His patience was already thin as thread-he felt himself ready to snap. What could this pest want?

“Wee Potty...Aren’t you going to thank me? I’ve just done you a great favor! And all you think to do is be cruel to poor Peevesy!” The poltergeist pulled an unhappy face and floated by Harry again upside down. “Dumbledore set the Bloody Baron on me-he did! I thought I would get back at him-but you don’t seem to care.” He released a big gusty sigh. Harry watched him in perplexity. What was he talking about?

Peeves shook his head and shot up to the ceiling. “Well I shan’t say it again! Figure it out yourself!” He disappeared through the stone, his cackle floating behind him.

Harry shook his head and stared after the ghost. What on earth had he been on about? Groaning, he struck the corridor wall beside the gargoyle in frustration. “What the bloody hell? Licorice Snaps? Ruddy fool ghost.” Anger rippled through him again at this newest delay. Harry almost wished Peeves would come back. He had learned a spell or two from Ginny to send the little poltergeist reeling. (She had learned it to keep him from pinching her bum)

Suddenly, he noticed movement from the corner of his eye. When he turned his head, the gargoyle sprang to life and leaped aside. Harry shouted in surprise, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste to get out of the way. Peeves had given him the password!

Without taking much time to marvel at that, Harry raced past the gargoyle and up the stairs. He was going to find out what was going on.

As he neared Dumbledore’s office, he felt the connection between Fleur and himself waxing stronger. This had been the right place to come after all. As he reached the door, a sudden wave of anxiety crashed over him and he drew his breath short much like he had when Peeves had passed through him. Fleur! He could feel her again, and he knew she was not happy.

Harry forced their connection wider, hoping she knew he was now here, before throwing open the door to Dumbledore’s office. “What the bloody hell is going on?” He stated, deep voice rolling out with a determined confidence that surprised even him. He decided to go with it as his eyes landed on Dumbledore, who stood behind his desk observing him with mild surprise, and then Madame Maxime who stood opposite him and who now looked at Harry with great affront. His eyes finally made it to Fleur, who was looking back at him with blue eyes filled with relief and gratitude that she was no longer alone.

Harry immediately strode across the worn, dark floors to stand beside Fleur. She was sitting down, and he rested a comforting hand on her shoulder. Their connection immediately intensified at the physical connection, and her emotions were plain to him, as his were to her. He could tell she was agitated--had been disconcerted by the break in their Bond as he had been--and was nervous sitting here before both headmasters. Who were standing, veritably towering over her. Harry gritted his teeth and leveled his eyes at Dumbledore in silent accusation, attention not distracted for a moment by Dumbledore’s office which on any other occasion might have held him awestruck.

This time, however, the whirring silver instruments, bits and bobs puffing smoke and puttering away, portraits of former headmasters and mistresses, and even Fawkes with his brilliant, flaming plumage, held no allure for him.

“Harry, there really is no need for language like that.” Dumbledore finally responded. “It is good you’ve arrived, however, as this conversation involves you too.” Harry’s eyes narrowed. He was like a lit fuse getting closer and closer to gunpowder, his patience about to snap.

Suddenly Fleur’s hand covered his own. Harry looked down into her liquid blue eyes, and found a silent message there. Just listen. He felt a soothing feeling spread through him, and his blood pressure dropped dramatically. Unwillingly, he pulled his eyes away from hers to look at Dumbledore again, now much calmer than before. He squeezed her shoulder in thanks. As Harry studied Dumbledore’s pale blue eyes, he detected a sparkle there--a kind of reassurance that all was not as dire as it seemed.

“Thank you, Miss Delacour.” Dumbledore said, inclining his head slightly in Fleur’s direction before returning to Harry. Madame Maxime stood silently beside him, but looked perplexed. Harry wondered why she wasn’t speaking.

“It has come to my attention that Miss Delacour was in the halls of Hogwarts last night, in an area restricted to all visiting students.” Those pale blue eyes leveled on both of them. “But I am also given to understand that she did this only to aid a Hogwarts student in distress, and so I feel no need to press the matter any further, other than to warn you Miss Delacour that Hogwarts can be a dangerous place to outsiders, if you do not know where you are going. Be careful.” Harry felt relieved, and he could feel the same from Fleur. A smile began to cross his face.

“Now just a minute Professor Dumblydore! I think it is clear that Fleur was ’ere to visit ’arry Potter, and I do not approve of this fraternization!” Came Madame Maxime’s strident voice. The smile dropped from Harry’s face immediately and he felt his anger returning. He opened his mouth with every intent of giving Madame Maxime what the muggles call a “verbal smackdown”, but again found himself cut off by Dumbledore.

“Ah, I think you’ll find, Madame, that we have no proof that Miss Delacour saw Mr. Potter at all last night. In fact, I have it on impeccable authority that Mr. Potter was in his bed in Gryffindor Tower all night.” The twinkle in Dumbledore’s eye was only for Harry and Fleur’s benefit. Madame Maxime seemed stumped. From the corner of his eye, Harry could see some of the headmasters in their paintings smirking in their sleep at Dumbledore’s cleverness. He carefully schooled his own expression. He did not want to give Madame Maxime any reason to lock Fleur in the carriage.

“Now,” Dumbledore continued, voice business-like, “I have some matters I wish to discuss with you Olympe. What do you say we let these young people leave for now? After all, the Cup will be revealed this evening. Then you will have what you want.” Harry felt a chill at those words. Madame Maxime cast a disdainful look at Harry, and a warning glance at Fleur, before finally relenting.

Harry helped Fleur up from her seat, and they both immediately headed for the door, footsteps whisper soft against the worn hardwood. Harry didn’t look back as they made it safely through the door and into Gargoyle Corridor. Neither of them spoke as they descended rapidly and exited past the gargoyle. By unspoken consent they paused and took a good look around to be certain they were alone before turning to teach other to speak.

Fleur spoke first. “Harry, I didn’t know what was happening. It took me some time to realize that I couldn’t feel you anymore, and then I didn’t know what to do. I’ve been up there with them for an hour.” Her blue eyes revealed the turmoil Harry knew had been inside her from the moment he’d felt her through the door to Dumbledore’s office.

“Me neither. I was in the Hall, and I couldn’t find you. I got so angry.” He winced. “I may have scared one of your classmates pretty badly. I just didn’t know where you were. And strangely, like you said, I didn’t realize at first that I couldn’t feel you at all. That must have been what agitated me so much.” His green gaze reflected the agitation he had been feeling earlier. Glancing up and down the corridor, Harry reached out and touched Fleur’s silk-clad arm, guiding her gently into a shadowy alcove so they could speak in peace even if someone were to wander down this way. He knew he was late for Professor McGonnegal’s class now, but he didn’t care.

Once out of the way of prying eyes, Harry didn’t hesitate to slip his arms around Fleur, drawing her as close to himself as he could. He felt her arms pass around him in return, a faint tremor making it’s way through her body. He could feel her more deeply while she was in his embrace, and he found himself resting his cheek on her soft, silky hair and breathing in the faint traces of her shampoo.

They stood silently for a time, each listening for the other’s heartbeat, and feeling comforted. It was so strange to think of feeling any other way now. When he had been disconnected from Fleur, Harry realized it felt like there was a huge hole inside--a darkness that gaped wide with no sign of filling. He hadn’t felt that way before he had known Fleur, before he had been bonded. But now that he had experienced the wholeness that came with being a Veela’s bondmate, he knew he wanted no other life. He could never go back to how he was before--and that was okay.

Something snicked.

All at once it felt like his mind was laid bare, and he was drawn into a swirling mass of memories and emotions that were not his own. Harry gasped as he felt his mind nearly being torn from his body, and was unsure if he had actually made the sound--if he could even breathe anymore. He floundered helplessly, trying to fight the current, but found himself swept endlessly onward. His mind cried out for help. What was happening? He couldn’t feel his own body anymore.

It felt like a hand suddenly took his own then, and the rush of memories halted abruptly. Harry looked around in awe at the frozen, still pictures around him. A little girl with silvery hair in the arms of her Papa. A preteen version of the girl receiving her wand from Gregorovitch, made with a Veela hair core. So many other images, a lifetime--Harry felt overwhelmed. And then he felt the hand holding his give him a tug, pulling him back, back, back away from the images, the rush of emotion, the over whelming tide of consciousness.

With a gasp, his eyes flew open, green depths dazed. “Wh-what happened?” His lips felt strange to him now, unwieldly. His limbs felt heavy, and he realized with a start he was practically leaning on Fleur, who herself looked somewhat dazed and confused. With effort, Harry managed to straighten up, arms slipping from around Fleur, hands trailing to link with hers. “What just happened?” He said again, voice stronger this time.

I don’t know. It was were inside me--inside my head.

“Yeah...It was like I was leaning against a wall, and that wall suddenly disappeared. If you hadn’t pulled me out, I think... I don’t know...” Harry looked down at Fleur and frowned to see surprise written all over her face.

Can you hear me?

“Well of course I can hear you, you’re speaking plain as-” Harry broke off and stared. No, Fleur wasn’t speaking. Her lips hadn’t moved.

If canon is deathly important to you--please know this: the next chapter will take us into some deeply AU territory. Fair warning.

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