True Love Isn't Always Conventional

A Rude Awakening

Disclaimer: I surely don’t own a thing to do with Harry Potter.

Last Time: Harry and Fleur argue over whether he should go with a painful, risky procedure to repair the damage to his back. Eventually Fleur concedes, but only after she has declared Harry to be family, and the once lost young wizard finds himself completely overwhelmed by this show of affection. Harry goes through with the procedure, and it is a success! He wakes and learns from Fleur that he will be released soon. He is just about to drift back to sleep...

As suddenly as his peace descended, it was shattered. CRASH. The doors to the hospital wing were flung open violently, causing Harry to shoot up in bed, a cry of shock and pain escaping him as his back protested the sudden movement. Fleur also rose immediately and whirled around, wand gripped tightly in her hand. The Minister for Magic, flanked by two Aurors, entered the room. Their faces were grim.

“It is time, Potter, for your reckoning. You will answer for the destruction of an ancient magical artifact of incalculable value, and you will explain your reason for it.” Fudge walked in, his voice thundering as if he’d used a volume spell like he had at the Quidditch World Cup. While the Minister himself looked relatively comical, the two powerful Aurors at his side did not.

Before Harry could respond, Fleur moved to block their view of him, effectively putting herself between Harry and the Ministry. “He will not.” The nearly feral snarl that tore from her lips shocked Harry, and it seemed that it surprised the Minister too from the look on his face. He could feel through their connection that she was at her wits end, and after what the Minister had put her through, she had no patience for him at all. Fleur would not be letting them take Harry anywhere. She raised her wand even as she saw the Auror called Max flick his wrist. A muttered spell from her severed the ropes that had shot up from the floor to bind her. “Fool me once..” she growled.

Harry scrambled to get out of bed; he couldn’t let this get out of hand. Where was his wand? Where was it? “Wait, don’t do anything-”

Red streaked across the room toward Fleur, and the French witch let out a shriek of rage as she countered the spell. “No!” Harry shouted, “Stop!” He frantically dug through the little table and drawers by his bed, ignoring the screaming of his back at this unwarranted level of movement. He shoved the pain down, it wasn’t near as bad as it had been before, and whirled around as his fingers finally closed on his wand. Before he could get to Fleur’s side a binding spell hit him full on and Harry felt his limbs clap together against his will. His mouth still worked though, even as his brain tried to figure out how to get out of the spell. “Don’t hurt her! Fleur, Fleur!” He was trying to get her attention, but something about his mate had changed. He watched in shock as feathers started to sprout from her, threading through her silvery hair, and the shape of her eyes changed even as the blue of them deepened in color until they were almost black. The lines of her face became more pronounced, her cheekbones proud and sharp. He could feel the fury emanating from her and something else...something...alien.

“Get back Minister!” Max declared as he stepped in front of Fudge. “Let us deal with the creature. We won’t allow this rogue Veela to hurt anyone.” Fleur shrieked again in rage and, to Harry’s shock and awe, fire erupted from the hand not holding her wand. The fire became hotter and fiercer the more potent her anger became, until finally the Veela unleashed it on the Aurors. They were not unprepared, unfortunately, and it was quickly countered by Kingsley even as Max slapped another binding spell on her. Harry watched in horror as Fleur’s body was lifted into the air even as she struggled.

“No, no! Let her go!” Anger suffused him and he strained his muscles against his magical bonds. Why was he always so helpless?

Max ignored him and smiled grimly at Fleur. “Don’t worry, this won’t hurt a bit.” Before the words were even out of his mouth, Harry felt as if time slowed. One heartbeat...two. He couldn’t let them hurt Fleur, not over him. Three heartbeats.

He summoned every ounce of willpower and strength he had in his tired body, and tried to draw a little extra from Fleur too, and focused everything he had on dissolving the magical bond around him. His mouth muttered the words as he strained his fingers to manage the tiniest wand-motion. It was lucky Hermione had spent so much time working with him and Ron on binding spells in their first year.

The world sped back up and the bonds around Harry vanished. He staggered under his own weight for a second before launching himself across the floor, his body colliding with Fleur’s and knocking her wide of the spell Max had launched. He wrapped his arms around her, presenting his bare back to the Aurors and the Minister, even as she struggled and yelled. “Fleur, Fleur!” He tried to get through to her. Harry knew she would never hurt him, but he feared that if she didn’t regain control of herself, they wouldn’t be able to work together to protect themselves from the Aurors.

Just as Max raised his wand again, Madame Pomfrey charged into the room, face red and livid. “What is the meaning of this!” She yelled, and her wand whipped up with a perfect, powerful counter to Max that sent him skidding across the floor-right into the waiting arms of Jefferoi, Dumbledore, and Professor McGonagall, who had just come running in themselves. Jefferoi immediately tackled Max, angry as he spotted the state his daughter was in, and Professor McGonagall found herself facing off with Kingsley. She eyed him regretfully, and his face was regretful as well as they both raised their wands, prepared for a fight. With Max’s concentration off, the binding around Fleur vanished and it was suddenly all Harry could do to hold her. Fudge backed away from the fighting but yelled at Max and Kingsley to “secure the Potter boy!”

Dumbledore took one look at everything that was going on and strode forward with a grim look on his face. He tilted his head up slightly, and boomed out with a deep voice-”STOP!“. Everyone froze, even Fleur, who had been fighting to get past Harry and back into the fight. Harry took the opportunity presented to him and pressed his lips to Fleur’s, seeking to reconnect with her. It didn’t matter that she looked little like his Fleur right now-Harry was desperate to get her to come back, to regain control. For a moment more, she struggled against him-he could feel the fight still in her-and then she relaxed. He felt recognition spread through her as the rage faded. Harry drew back as he felt her arms finally come around him in return. When he looked at her again, her blue eyes had returned to the shade he was becoming so fond of, and the rest of her features were returning to normal as well. She gazed at him in wonder, and Harry, despite their situation, couldn’t help but smile at her. Fleur found herself smiling back.

A voice clearing behind them brought them both back to the situation at hand, and Harry reluctantly released Fleur and turned to Dumbledore and the other adults in the room. His arm found its way around Fleur, and he drew her close to him. Happiness flooded him when she wound an arm around him as well. Too soon, however, his adrenaline fled as Dumbledore took charge of the situation, and pain began to register. He gasped as the feel of her arm around him now felt like a white hot brand. Fleur removed her arm before he could say anything to her, and he was at once grateful for their mind link and still struggling with the pain of all this sudden movement. He realized suddenly that the arm he had put around Fleur was the only thing holding him up. Dimly, he felt Fleur’s worry and heard her talking to him, but Harry couldn’t distinguish the words. Overwhelming fatigue swept over him, and his knees buckled.

Fleur tried to get Harry’s attention, tried to stabilize him, but he was slipping fast. Dumbledore was busy talking to the Minister and his lackeys, and her father and McGonagall still had their wands out and ready, just in case. Her eyes fastened desperately on Madame Pomfrey who was but a few steps away. “Please, help!” She felt his knees buckle just then and despite knowing it caused him pain, she swept her arms around him again to support him as best she could so he wouldn’t just crash to the floor. “Help!” She felt tears welling in her eyes, tears of frustration, anger, desperation, and fatigue. Couldn’t they just rest?

Madame Pomfrey had heard Fleur, however, and was at their side immediately. With a muttered word and a flick of her wand, Madame Pomfrey made Harry as light as a feather. Fleur breathed a sigh of relief and now, easily supporting him, helped Madame Pomfrey get him back into bed. “On his stomach, dear.” Madame Pomfrey said. Fleur nodded and, between them, they got Harry settled. A sigh of relief nearly escaped her until she saw Harry’s back. It was scarlet and inflamed. She gasped and met Madame Pomfrey’s eyes, her expression stricken.

The older witch spoke soothingly. “He’ll be alright, Miss Delacour. He just put too much strain on his body too soon with all this fuss. He’ll be right as rain tomorrow, after a good sleep.” Fleur only felt marginally relieved. She was back to having no contact with Harry whatsoever. He was passed out, and not asleep-she could barely even feel that he was alive. Her eyes fastened on his prone form, and she could feel the events of the past few days catching up with her. A hand settled on her shoulder.

With a startled yell Fleur jerked away, bringing her wand around immediately. How could she forget there were wizards in the room intent on hurting Harry? Flames licked over her fingertips at the thought, but immediately died when she saw her father standing behind her. Fleur quickly lowered her wand. She looked away shamefully. “Sorry, Papa.” She murmured.

Jefferoi did not hesitate. The French Minister reached out and pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly. ”My child.” He murmured, slipping into French. “I was so scared for you.” Fleur let her head rest on her father’s shoulder, taking comfort from him for the second time in as many days.

She sighed. “I’m okay, Papa. Mostly.” She wanted to talk to her father further-discuss what had happened-but their reunion was short lived. Dumbledore approached them, with Professor McGonagall in his wake. She could see the Minister standing in the corner of the Hospital Wing, talking uneasily with his two Aurors. She scowled in his direction once before focusing on Harry’s headmaster. She and her father ended their embrace, but Jefferoi kept an arm tight around her shoulders.

Dumbledore met her gaze gravely, and she saw that his blue eyes were serious-absent was the twinkle of amusement that Harry had so often described. “I have spoken with our Minister. I had thought that I had made it quite clear after his incredibly inappropriate behavior with you Miss Delacour that he was not welcome at Hogwarts.” His eyes shifted to Jefferoi, and she saw the faintest hint of apology on his face as he said, “It would appear that he did not heed me in the slightest.” Dumbledore eyed Harry’s form on the hospital bed, and let out a resigned sigh. “I will be reporting this to the Wizengamot. I do not know that they will do what they should in this matter, as it concerns the Minister, but if nothing else it will scare him into better behavior. The charges against him are serious. He very nearly created an international incident, in addition to endangering a young witch and wizard more than once.” Dumbledore fell silent for a moment, before drawing himself up to his not inconsiderable height.

“That said, Harry will still need to divulge what happened here two nights ago in as much detail as he can.” Fleur opened her mouth to object, but Dumbledore held up a forestalling hand. Fleur held her tongue...for the moment. “This is not only to satisfy the Ministry,” he continued. “We must know if the man who harmed Harry was an agent of Voldemort.” Both Fleur and her father flinched at the name of the Dark Lord being spoken so casually. “I am sure, Miss Delacour, that Mr. Potter has informed you of his encounters over the years?” When Fleur frowned in confusion and worry, he shrugged. “No matter. There will be plenty of time for him to fill you in when he wakes. Nevertheless, we must be prepared if this is a new plot.”

The headmaster seemed finished, so Fleur used the opportunity to voice one of her questions. “All due respect Headmaster, but did Harry not already contribute his memory of the event? Is that not proof enough?” Indeed, it seemed like that should cover it. When Harry and Fleur had been in doubt after the World Cup, they had both given memories to prove their innocence.

The old wizard nodded, some of the twinkle coming back to his eyes. “Normally, yes. Harry’s memory, however, revealed something that we must corroborate with Harry himself before proceeding with. It deals with delicate matters that must be approached in the correct manner.”

Now Jefferoi spoke up, and Fleur could hear the frown in his deep voice. “Surely Dumbledore, you’re not suggesting that the stability of the Ministry is more important than the safety of the wizarding world?”

“No, not at all, Minister Delacour. I just acknowledge that if Harry’s memory proves true-there will be much trouble in our Ministry over it. It would be better not to start that ball rolling unless we must, or else the Ministry will be ill-equipped to help the wizarding world as it should.” Dumbledore’s voice was smooth and confident, but Fleur could feel that her father was not satisfied. Still, he subsided.

“In the morning,” Professor McGonagall cut in, “Mr. Potter will be required to appear before certain members of the Ministry to report what happened to him here in the Hospital Wing,” she paused, and continued curtly, “And he will need to explain himself once and for all about all this mess with the Goblet of Fire.” Dumbledore nodded in agreement. “I believe everything is settled then. We’ll leave Mr. Potter to rest until tomorrow, and you as well Miss Delacour.” Fleur nodded, her mind racing.

She watched them walking towards the doors out of the Hospital Wing, collecting the Minister and his lackeys along the way. She knew why Harry had destroyed the Goblet. She thought his action had been foolish, but she didn’t want him to get into trouble over it-he had only been trying to protect her overall. But if she explained the situation, she would also have to reveal her reason for being unable to simply not put her name in the Goblet in the first place. Fleur bit her lip. Was she willing to do that? It would put her father at terrible risk. Her gaze swept over to Harry, and then glanced surreptitiously up at her father, who still had an arm wrapped around her. The witch finally let out a sigh and slipped over to a chair where she could sit by her bondmate. “I’m sorry Harry.” She said through their link, though she knew he couldn’t hear her. “We’ll figure something out.”

“Is he awake yet?” Something clattered to the stone floor of the Hospital Wing, loudly.

“Stop it Ron! For goodness’ sake, you’ll wake him! Harry needs his rest.” The prim voice sounded familiar, but it was taking a moment to place.

“Sorry Hermione.” The first voice sounded sheepish now. Ron?

Harry cracked his eyes open, disoriented, but awake. He blinked. Had he just dreamed the voices? He didn’t see anyone-just beds stretching away to the end of the room.

“Honestly Ron, I would hope that you would have learned by now to have a little more respect for the Hospital Wing. Especially after last year!” Hermione’s prim voice came again, and Harry smiled faintly. They were on the other side of his bed. He took in a deep breath and prepared for the pain as he lifted to shift his head so he could see his two best friends.

Harry grinned at their stunned faces as he looked at them, his green eyes clear of pain for the first time in over a week. “I don’t think either of you could be quiet if you wanted to be.” Amazingly, he felt no pain at all. Carefully, he sat up and stretched his back experimentally. Before he could test it out too much, he found the bodies of his two friends suddenly wrapped around him in an embrace. Startled, Harry nearly fell backward.

“Glad to have you back, mate!” Ron said gleefully. The red-haired wizard pulled away quickly, content with a quick hug. Hermione, however, hung on for a moment. Harry awkwardly patted her back and shared a look with Ron.

“Er, thanks Ron.” Harry said, giving his friend a smile. He felt a shiver pass through Hermione as she finally pulled back, and he was shocked to find tears standing in her eyes. “Hermione, what’s wrong?”

The bright young witch huffed a laugh in response to his question and rolled her eyes. “What’s wrong, he says. Good grief Harry, we’ve almost lost you nearly three times in a row, in barely three weeks! That’s what’s wrong. Thank goodness you’re okay!” Harry was nearly bowled over when she came in for another hug, but this time he hugged her back more genuinely.

“I’m sorry to have worried you both,” Harry said sincerely. It was great to have two friends who cared so much he reflected, as Hermione let go of him again. He offered them both a warm smile. Hermione beamed back at him, and even Ron grinned in his bashful way.

“But Harry,” Hermione began, and Harry knew he was in for one of her lectures, “I can’t believe you went through with such a risky procedure! Why, anything could have gone wrong. It’s dangerous to try untested...” Harry knew she meant well, but he couldn’t help tuning out the rest of her lecture on the dangers of untested magical medicine. Still, he nodded along in the right places-something Ron couldn’t manage nearly as well. A swift glance around the room told him something he already knew-Fleur was not here. He nodded at something Hermione said, offering a sheepish look of repentance to satisfy her as she continued on, before sending out a questing feeling through their bond. Wherever she was, he knew that she wasn’t hurt or scared, or in distress in any other way. This was of comfort to him, and assured him that she’d just stepped out.

When a feeling returned to him, followed by joy at his lack of pain and coherent awareness, Harry couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. He knew she would be back soon.

“Harry, are you even listening to me?” Hermione had her hands on her hips, and looked quite affronted. Harry tuned back in immediately and tried to look contrite.

“O-of course Hermione! You were just telling me, erm, that I need to be more careful, that I should have done much more extensive research before trying that potion?” He probably would have satisfied her if he hadn’t ended that statement in a question he thought, as she suddenly threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.

“Boys!” She exclaimed. Harry thought she used entirely too much venom when she said that word, but smiled guiltily anyway.

He cleared his throat, and both Ron and Hermione looked at him curiously. “So, em, not that I’m not pleased to see you both, but why are you here now?” Harry tilted his head in curiosity, wondering at their timing.

Ron and Hermione looked at each other, and surprisingly it was Ron who stepped forward to answer. Harry watched him expectantly, and the Weasley boy ran a nervous hand back through his red hair before beginning. “Well, you see Harry, after your little...fight...with the Minister and his Aurors last night, it was decided that you would have to speak to the Minister and others about what happened to you a couple nights ago, with that man impersonating Mad-Eye. Dumbledore has asked us to help Fleur keep an eye on you, along with professors sometimes, to make sure that the Ministry doesn’t bother you while you rest again.” When Ron seemed unsure if there was more, Hermione continued. A frown on his face, Harry turned to listen as Hermione finished.

“There was supposed to be a professor here guarding you last night too-but apparently there was a “mix-up” with who was supposed to be on shift,” her voice had gone sour, and Harry had a feeling he knew which professor had failed to show up, “and so only Madame Pomfrey was here when the Minister showed up.” Her gaze fastened on his with clear concern. “Harry, they seem to think you’ve committed a crime-they might try to bring you before the Wizengamot.” When Harry only looked at her blankly, Hermione sighed in exasperation. “Harry, the Wizengamot is essentially the wizarding world’s high court. In Britain, at least. They’re the ones who judge...erm...criminal cases that are presented to them. They aren’t known to be very forgiving, Harry.” He met her eyes and read the worry there for a moment before gazing down at the white sheet clenched in his hands.

“Well,” he reasoned, “If they call me before this Wizengamot, then I expect I’ll have no choice. In the meantime though, do you two think you could rustle me up something to eat? I’m starved.” Ron blinked at Harry’s proclamation, and laughed. Hermione looked almost affronted at his quick dismissal of the situation, but she knew this was Harry’s deflection tactic. When he wanted time to ponder something on his own, it was his habit to change the subject. Finally, she gave a rueful smile and nodded.

“I’ll see if I can find you something.” She said, shaking her head as she did so. “Now that you’re awake though, I would imagine that there will be someone along to take you to the Ministry in the near future.” Hermione headed out of the room, intent on getting a little something from the house elves who prepared meals for the Great Hall. There was no meal going on currently, so they were the only way she knew to get food for Harry.

Harry waited until Hermione left to turn a serious look on Ron. The other boy’s chuckle died on his lips, and he assumed an equally serious expression. Ron might be a hopeless case sometimes, but he did know when it was time to get down to business. “Ron,” Harry said, keeping his voice low, “Don’t sugar coat it for me. How bad is it out there?” Harry knew that Hermione would try to shield him from the truth, and Fleur would no doubt try to protect him. As well-meaning as that was, Harry wanted to know exactly what he was up against. He could always count on Ron to speak plainly.

Ron shifted awkwardly from foot to foot for a moment, and ran a pained hand through his already messy red hair. “I’ll be straight with you mate. It’s not looking good. The Minister has drummed up all kinds of charges against you, and that damned Rita Skeeter somehow found out the whole thing. She’s been running headline after headline about how you’ve gone dark and...” Harry’s brow had drawn down at Ron’s words, and the other boy looked at him nervously until Harry nodded impatiently for him to continue, “and that if the Ministry is smart, they’ll throw you in Azkaban.” Harry took a deep breath and sat back. Well. This was even worse than he had imagined. Ron stood by quietly as Harry processed this.

“ is the school taking it?” His voice was stiff and uncomfortable, and he looked straight ahead as he said it. Harry didn’t know how exactly to ask if any of his other friends-Neville, Dean, Seamus-were still with him. Ron knew what he was asking however, and answered quickly.

“Neville’s still on your side, he doesn’t believe any of the Prophet’s nonsense. He’s even taken to telling anyone who’ll listen not to believe that rubbish. You know how Seamus is though...and he and Dean are best mates. I don’t think they’re outright against you, but they believe the Prophet.”

Harry grimaced as he felt the pain of friendship lost. “I’m glad you and Hermione still trust me.” He said finally. Through their link, Harry could feel Fleur sending a questioning thought at the pain he had just experienced. He sent her a reassuring flicker back. While he wanted to see her, Harry wanted a chance to compose himself first.

Ron clapped him on the shoulder with a grin, and Harry winced from habit, though it didn’t actually hurt. “Of course! While we don’t exactly know why you destroyed the Goblet, we know there must have been a reason. And no one got hurt, aside from you!” Harry chuckled faintly at that. When Hermione returned, he would finally talk to his friends about what he had done, and why. But first...

“Ron,” Harry said suddenly, “Could you find me some parchment, quill, and ink? I think it’s past time I wrote to Sirius.” The mention of Azkaban had brought Harry’s godfather immediately to mind, and Harry knew he needed to explain things to him. And maybe ask for his help. As he waited for Ron to return with the necessaries, his mind turned to Fleur. He wondered what she was doing that she hadn’t returned yet.

Fleur’s head hung low as she finished her explanation. “And that’s why, Papa, Harry did what he did. I am so sorry I did not tell you before; I was scared something would happen to you, because of me.” Fleur and Jefferoi sat alone in an office space that Dumbledore had graciously loaned them, as Fleur had requested she speak to her father at length about what had happened. She had not been prepared to tell the British Minister, but she knew she couldn’t keep the truth from her father any longer. Once she was assured of Harry’s recovery and safety, Fleur had led Jefferoi away and sat him down to give her explanation. That is, that Madame Maxime had blackmailed Fleur into entering her name into the tournament. She explained to him how her headmistress had planned to make certain that Fleur’s was the only name in the Goblet, and that the headmistress’ goal had been (at least as far as Fleur understood) to do everything possible to make Fleur win, and bring untold glory to Beauxbatons...and to Madame Maxime herself.

Very, very quietly, she told him what the Madame had blackmailed her with. The memory of a man who had survived and witnessed Jefferoi’s brutal dispatching of the men who had once kidnapped his daughter. His attacks were vicious enough, according to her headmistress, to warrant a trial and possible sentencing to Tenezbon, the French Ministry’s Azkaban.

Silence filled the room after Fleur had finished, and finally the young woman lifted her eyes to look at her father. She was prepared for anger, for scorn. What she saw made her gasp in surprise-tears. Jefferoi could not contain the overwhelming emotions caused by his daughter’s story. To know that she had been suffering in such fear, and that he had known nothing about it was unlike anything he had ever experienced. To know that she had suffered in fear for him was almost beyond imagining. “My girl.” He finally spoke, his voice rough. He wanted to tell her that he would protect her. He wanted to tell her that he would not let this stand, that Madame Maxime would pay for what she had done. He wanted her to know that he was not angry. But mostly, he just wanted to hold her. Wordlessly, Jefferoi held out his arms. With a cry of relief, Fleur launched herself into them, tears escaping her own eyes as they comforted each other.

Fleur relished moments like this, when it felt like truly, everything would be alright. Of course it was a naive thought, but for a moment she let herself believe it. Soon she would return to Harry, and they would face this mess together. But for now? For now, she was content to pretend that everything was okay, and that her Papa could protect her from anything.

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