Author's Note: AU things to come. Breaks will likely indicate a POV switch.
Chapter 4 - Almost
"Alright there Harry?" asked Mr. Weasley, as he and Harry stepped out of one of the fireplaces at the Ministry. Harry's jaw had dropped when he saw the vastness of the entryway—all the fireplaces lining the walls, and the incredible numbers of witches and wizards streaming every which way…hundreds! Harry supposed this shouldn't come as so much of a shock, seeing as he had just attended the Quidditch World Cup, which had hosted 100,000 witches and wizards…but that had been people from all over the world. This…these people were mostly English, as far as he could tell. It was hard to believe there were so many witches and wizards just in Britain. Dimly, Harry remembered that Mr. Weasley had been speaking to him.
"Er—yes, sorry Mr. Weasley." Harry managed finally, sheepishly. He had been feeling strangely down all morning—a feeling he couldn't manage to shake off. Arriving at the Ministry and being shocked by a sight he had not expected had the effect of snapping him out of it. Mr. Weasley clapped him on the shoulder and laughed. Harry smiled weakly, relieved that he had managed to throw off his bad mood.
"Yes, the Ministry can seem a bit daunting at first. I had forgotten this would be your first time here. Come then, we've got to get you over to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Only a trained Hit Wizard or Inquisitor is allowed to review the contents of a Pensieve." Mr. Weasley spoke quickly, drawing Harry over to the security station. Harry felt numb as Mr. Weasley drew him through security, and onwards to the elevators. He wasn't paying attention when Mr. Weasley hit the level two button, or started talking to him about what to say and do. It was a strange feeling, almost like he was only half there. The other half of him…he wasn't sure where it was. Ordinarily, a dim part of his mind was trying to tell him, he would want to pay attention. What was a Hit Wizard? An Inquisitor? What did they do? What was a Pensieve? These were all things Harry was unsure about, and things he would ordinarily have wanted to know. Mr. Weasley must have noticed the glassy look in his eyes, because he stopped talking, and simply guided Harry silently from office to office until he found the one he wanted. "Ah," said Mr. Weasley, breaking into Harry's thoughts, "Here we are. Office of Hit Wizard Sean Allan. He's on the payroll as a hit wizard, but he specializes in memory work. Come on then." Harry's heart sped up as, even before Mr. Weasley opened the door, he realized that the other part of himself he had been missing was about to be restored. The world fell back into place around him as he came face to face with Fleur Delacour.
Her silvery hair was as beautiful as ever, and her sapphire eyes drew him into the room. He felt an immense relief, being in her presence. It was so odd, and yet Harry felt more alive now than he had all morning. He suddenly became intensely aware of his own messy, shaggy black hair, the worn-out jeans and converse he had on. The only thing he was wearing of any redeemable quality was the hand-knit green sweater Mrs. Weasley had given him for Christmas last year. He was fervently glad he hadn't gone for the old Chudley Cannons t-shirt he had been eyeing. He swallowed. "H-hi." He managed weakly. With a start, he realized that there was another person in the room. Harry flushed, jerking his eyes painfully away from Fleur's and looking at an unfamiliar man. "H-hello sir. You must be Mr. Allan?" Behind the desk sat a tall, extremely thin man with a hooked nose and the beginnings of white feathering through his mousy brown hair. He wore a small pair of spectacles that rested too far down his nose to do any good, Harry thought, but he was also smiling. This last Harry took for a good sign.
"Well, I'll just leave you lot to it then. Harry, if you need me, I'll be just down the hall." Mr. Weasley nodded to Mr. Allan, and backed out of the room. Harry guessed it was just going to be him, Fleur, and this wizard Allan. Hesitantly, he took the seat next to Fleur. She offered him a tentative smile, and Harry felt his heart skip in his chest. She was so beautiful and…as he had seen the previous night, she was powerful. Harry knew he was beyond attracted to Fleur, and he also knew that nothing could ever work out between them. She was two years older, almost certainly, and she was way too…well…Fleur…to be with him. And she lived in France. Hadn't someone once told him that long distance never worked? Wait. Maybe that was a Muggle saying. God or gods above, Harry hoped it was a Muggle saying.
Harry had liked girls before. In his last year at Hogwarts in particular he had positively flushed every time Cho Chang of Ravenclaw passed him in the corridors. Cho was very pretty, and so were the few other girls that had caught Harry's eye…but there was something about Fleur. A kind of…magnetism. He wanted to look at her forever. Harry flushed at the thought, embarrassed at his own stupidity. He hurriedly turned back around to Wizard Allan, over focusing on the man in his attempt not to over focus on Fleur.
Allan, for his part, was evidently finishing some paperwork. The silence stretched for a minute, two, and then—"Ok. All done. Now we get to the fun part." He gestured to a large, silver basin sitting on the desk in front of him. Harry's eyes latched onto it; somehow he hadn't noticed it upon entering. "This is a Pensieve, in case you weren't aware. We are going to take the memories you have from the night after the Cup and view them here, to corroborate your story about being attacked." Harry bristled, his interest in the Pensieve gone. His green eyes flashed as he looked at the man behind the desk.
"Our 'story'?" he grated. "Why would we make something like that up?" Harry knew he was being irrationally angry, but his sudden confusion over Fleur, combined with the stress of the previous evening, was beginning to build up. A soft hand suddenly gripped his, and Harry looked down in surprise to see Fleur's hand there. He forced himself to relax. Sean Allan, for his part, didn't seem perturbed. Which just irritated Harry further. As if she could sense this, Fleur tightened her grip on Harry's hand, and again Harry took a moment to breathe. "Fine. Let's get on with it then." he managed. Harry knew he was being childish, but he hated being called a liar. Even if that wasn't precisely what Allan had intended. Allan nodded and drew his wand from his pocket.
"Now, all I want you to do is touch your wand to your temple, like this…" Alan touched his wand tip to his own temple to illustrate, "then bring up the memory you want, and whisper 'extractum'. Then the memory will adhere to your wand, and you can cast it into the Pensieve. Miss Delacour, how about you first?" Harry had a feeling that Fleur already knew how to do this, because it only took her a moment to pull a silvery substance from her head. For a moment, Harry thought it was some of her hair, so similar were the colors. With a wave of her wand, Fleur released the memory into the Pensieve. "Excellent. Now we all need only lean into the swirling mass in the center, and we will be transported into Miss Delacour's memory. Shall we?" The wizard gestured for Harry to go first. With an apprehensive look at Fleur, Harry stood, and leaned into the Pensieve…and suddenly he was falling. Harry sucked in a fearful breath just as he was deposited safely on the ground. He straightened up just as Fleur and the ministry wizard joined him. They had arrived just as Harry and Fleur were running into the bad men. Fleur started explaining what was happening to the other wizard, but Harry could do nothing but watch in awe. It was as if they were actually there, in the moment again! He stared in fascination at himself. His fascination quickly turned into renewed horror as he watched the events unfold. He remembered his fear, and his anger. Two emotions that had been strong in him that night. Turning, he sought out present-day Fleur, and moved to stand next to her. He saw her wince when the greasy man approached her memory-self. Impulsively, Harry took her hand. Fleur shifted her weight so she was shoulder to shoulder with Harry. It didn't seem to matter that Fleur was a little taller than him. Holding her soft hand send a thrum through Harry that made him feel seven feet tall. He smiled slightly, despite the disturbing events unfolding before them. He was happy to be able to offer Fleur a little reassurance. The hit wizard wasn't paying them any mind as he took notes on what he saw, and made very detailed sketches of the men. Harry spoke quietly to her when he felt a tremor pass through her.
"They're all gone now, you know. Chances are, we won't ever see them again." his voice was low, not wanting to attract unwanted attention. Harry felt rather than saw Fleur smile.
"I know. It iz just not fun to see zem again…even in memory. Thank you for coming, 'arry. It would 'ave been…difficult without you." Harry flushed slightly.
"Oh, here we run now. We should keep following Mr. Allan." Harry murmured. He walked after the other man, still holding tight to Fleur's hand. They made it just in time to see Harry get disarmed, and Fleur urge him to keep moving. Suddenly, memory Harry and Fleur stopped. Harry couldn't hear what they were saying, but he remembered what had happened the previous night.
"Fleur," Harry said, "Why did you apologize so much to me right then?" Harry held out his injured arm, pulling back the sleeve of his sweater just enough to reveal the white bandage beneath. He hadn't wanted to bother Mrs. Weasley about it, and so had had Hermione stitch it up for him. Having dentists for parents came in handy sometimes. "The wound really wasn't that bad…and you certainly weren't the cause of it." Harry felt Fleur freeze up beside him and frowned. He was even more alarmed when Fleur carefully took her hand back from him.
"'arry, zere is something I need to tell you…" Fleur whispered. Right then, Allan popped back up.
"Sorry you kids! It seems Miss Delacour was telling the truth about the night's escapades. Now it's time to check Harry's memory." said Allan, with way too much enthusiasm. Before Harry had a chance to say anything, he felt a nauseating pull and found himself falling up and up, back out of the Pensieve.
Harry blinked, and the room swirled around him. Dazedly, he realized they were all back in Allan's office. He was sitting in the chair, like he'd never left. Harry struggled to shake off the nauseous feeling. He felt a light touch to his knee, and turned to see Fleur sitting beside him looking concerned and not at all nauseous. Allan broke in.
"Ah yes," he said apologetically, "Didn't think to warn you. Your first time in a Pensieve can leave the brains a bit scrambled. I'll just give you a minute, shall I?" Allan got to his feet, and Harry turned to look at him in confusion. "I'll be back in a few minutes," said Allan, "I just want to get these sketches over to Mr. Crouch. I have little doubt that your memory Harry, will be the same. When I get back, we will check for sure." Before Harry could find his tongue to respond, the older wizard was gone. Leaving him alone. With Fleur.
If Harry's brains weren't scrambled before, they were now.
Fleur got up, and walked around until she was in front of Harry, leaning against the desk. "'arry, you are making me feel ill. I am going to 'elp you now…hold still." Her quiet voice sent a shiver through him, even in his somewhat addled state. He didn't fully register her words, because soon she had placed a cool hand to either side of his face and leaned in close. Harry found himself drawn to Fleur's sapphire eyes. He gazed deeply, reading her concern…and her fear. He wondered what she was so afraid of, and wished she would tell him so he could take the fear away. Dimly he heard her murmur something, but he was too engrossed with the beautiful blue of her eyes to catch the words she spoke.
All at once it felt like a bucket of cold water had crashed over him. Harry straightened in his seat abruptly and his green eyes widened as the fog in his mind cleared. He stared at Fleur, who was still touching his face. She was staring at him with such an odd expression, Harry didn't know what to think. He reached up and gently took her hands in his own, bringing them down from his face. He whispered, "Fleur?", half afraid to break her trance. Fleur closed her eyes in response and took in a breath. As she did so, Harry remembered what she had said to him before they were pulled out of the Pensieve. "Fleur." He tried again, and at last Fleur opened her eyes and tentatively met Harry's. He held her gaze silently for a moment. "What did you want to tell me?"
Fleur took a deep breath. She did not want to tell him, but he had a right to know. "'arry…you know I 'ave Veela blood in my veins, yes?" She did not wait for a response, but plunged ahead. "I do not know what you know of Veelas…but the blood of a Veela has special properties. My blood has special properties…" Harry tried to interject, but Fleur held up a hand. He could see she was determined to get this out, all in one go, and so he fell silent. Fleur took a steadying breath. She wasn't sure where exactly to proceed. It was suddenly more difficult than she had anticipated, trying to explain pretty much her own existence to a boy who knew nothing of Veela. "The strength of the original Veela matriarch, in zis case my grandmother, and the strength of the blood in a descendant—which iz really something only chance dictates—certain…abilities…become possible. Not every Veela 'as the same…magic?" Fleur paused, scrunching her nose cutely as she tried to think of a better way to phrase it. "It iz like wizards…witches and wizards excel in different things…yes? It iz the same with Veela. Sometimes these abilities get passed down to 'alf blood or, in my case, quarter blood descendants." Fleur's voice trailed off as she looked at Harry, to see if he was following. His green eyes seemed a little puzzled at this information, but he didn't seem confused. She continued. "One trait is the same in all Veela, and in all Veela descendants, however…" she took a breath, this was it, "and that is-" The door crashed open and Sean Allan, Hitwizard, sauntered back into the room. Fleur broke off, startled. Harry had leapt to his feet at this sudden intrusion, his wand half drawn. Allan had the decency to look sheepish.
"Sorry for the scare there, kiddos. Didn't mean to slam the door open." His voice was apologetic, and Harry started to relax. He glanced back at Fleur, and could see the frustration on her face. He felt that frustration himself. She had been about to tell him something, something he knew was very important. He suppressed a groan and sat back in his chair, Fleur settling beside him, as Allan came back around his desk. He pushed the Pensieve forward and looked at Harry expectantly. Harry let out a resigned breath and brought his wand to his temple, as he had seen Fleur do.