Chapter 6 - New Clothes
Harry lay curled up under the covers of his borrowed bed reading by wand light a thick, old book called Veela and their Ties to Wizard-kind. He had borrowed it from Hermione ostensibly because he had been fascinated by the Bulgarian mascots at the Cup. Her expression had darkened, and he could swear she had muttered something like "I know exactly what you're fascinated with" but it was not in his friend to deny knowledge to anyone.
She had loaned him the book, saying he could borrow it for as long as he wanted—she had already read it four times. Hearing that Harry had desperately wanted to ask her what she knew about Veela, but he knew he wouldn't be able to lie to her if she asked him point blank if his interest in the subject only had to do with the mascots from the match.
So here he was, squinting at the old pages and hoping to find out more about Fleur's heritage. Having grown up in a decidedly non-magical family (understatement) there were many gaps in his magical knowledge even after three years at Hogwarts. Harry had never even heard of Veela until he saw them at the Cup.
Everything he knew now he had learned from Fleur, and that didn't sit well with him. He wanted to understand what was going on. So he read.
It is unknown exactly where Veela originated from…for there are records of their existence dating back to our own earliest writings. No witch or wizard has ever learned the truth, for it is in the nature of Veela to be mysterious—or just plain tricky. The little confirmed information available is compiled in this book.
Harry frowned. So no one knew where Veela came from? That seemed strange. Surely Fleur must know, he thought, if her grandmother was one. But maybe not, if they were a secretive race…he continued to read.
Most Veela encountered today by witches and wizards are not full-blooded. They are mere descendants of the true Veela—all of whom, records indicate, are female. It is unknown if true Veela are able to produce other true Veela in any way, as there has never been a recorded encounter with anything resembling a male Veela. There have been many recorded male part-Veela descendants, the product of wizard/Veela pairings, which puts to rest any doubt that Veela can only bear female children.
It is also unknown if it is possible for a true Veela to die a natural death.
Harry stared at that line in interest, for it took up an entire page by itself—testifying to its importance. Were full-blood Veela immortal? Surely Fleur was not, Harry thought. He shook himself. It was getting late, and he was tired. There was information he actually wanted to know about—needed to know about. He flipped impatiently through the large tome until he found a section titled "Bonding". His heart sped up as he scanned the pages following, looking for the more vital tidbits:
…bonded partners of Veela will share their increased lifespan—though unnatural deaths may still occur and are actually quite common…
…both partners in a Bond will gradually acquire attributes exhibited by the other…
Harry paused, irritated with the book. It was like someone had to be Hermione to understand this!
…essentially a Bond is meant to make partners equal, both physically and with their individual magical capabilities…
Harry frowned. Equal? He wondered what it would mean to be equal to Fleur…Harry shivered. Even with this Bond thing, he thought, it was unlikely. Not that Harry didn't believe in himself a great deal. When he was on the Quidditch pitch, Harry felt invincible. When Professor Lupin had been putting Harry through his paces last year, he had been proud to excel so quickly. Fleur was just older, and from an entirely different breed. Literally and figuratively. Harry didn't know how he could match up to her—at least, not yet.
Suddenly tired, Harry rubbed a hand over his face. He gazed at the words, but they weren't making sense anymore. Not that they had made much sense before, he thought in dim amusement. Harry tried to blink, but his eyes wouldn't open again. He surrendered to sleep.
Harry's head slammed into the book, his glasses snapping as something plowed into his back. The muffled laughter told Harry it had been a someone. Harry dazedly collected his thoughts.
"GroffmeRon-" Harry grunted, face still painfully mashed against the book. The weight on his back shifted slightly, but in no way diminished.
"What was that?" Came a falsely innocent voice. The effect was somewhat spoiled by the muffling of the blanket. Groaning in resignation, Harry abruptly braced his hands against the mattress and heaved—the weight on his back flew off so quickly Harry was astonished at his own strength. Usually he ended up wrestling with Ron for a while.
He shoved the blanket off himself and climbed out of bed, one hand clutching his broken glasses. Everything was blurry, but he could tell by the relative silence of the three redheads before him—two were remarkably similar blurs—that something astounding had happened. Ron broke the silence from across the room.
"Blimey Harry…you're…you're…well look at you!" Ron's voice was hushed. Frowning, Harry repaired his glasses and put them on. Ron and the twins came into view.
Harry tilted his head, even more irritated. "Well spit it out Ron, you're the one who woke me up!" His voice was agitated, but he stopped as his ears caught up to his mouth. Or rather…his voice. His voice was deeper. Harry groaned inwardly. He wasn't still going through his voice-changing phase, was he? He'd thought he was done with that ages ago.
Ron looked even more bewildered, and slowly stood up. Harry watched in confusion as Ron approached him slowly, looking up at him with eyes wide.
Harry's brain froze.
He looked around slowly and came to the conclusion that he was definitely seeing from a greater height than before. Harry dashed across the cluttered room, knocking into things and thoroughly whacking his head on the way out the door. That sped him on his way even more. Since when had he needed to duck?
Harry sprinted into the bathroom, passing a very startled Ginny. Ordinarily he might have found her gaping mouth comical. He only had eyes for the mirror though, and his mouth fell open, mimicking Ginny's. He looked into the green eyes that reflected back at him—they were the only part of himself that resembled the 14 year old boy he had gone to bed as.
Black hair sprouted from his head in a virtual mane-the spiky result probably bed head—that reached nearly to his shoulders. There was an overnight's worth of growth on his face too, and he felt his chin in awe. His eyes fell below his face, taking in the broad shoulders that would easily dwarf his narrow 14-year-old frame. Hesitantly, he lifted his shirt and was astonished to find a flat stomach with the beginnings of a six pack. Harry swallowed. He looked back up into the mirror.
Was this real? Was this happening? It was like he had become 17 overnight. He braced his hands on the sink, ignoring how much bigger they were now too. Judging from his height, he could probably match Fred and George now. He felt so…so high off the ground. Harry closed his eyes and tried to think.
Whatever had caused this…what could have caused this? An aging spell, perhaps? Did such a thing even exist? Harry's eyes snapped wide open as an idea popped into his head. Something he had read…something he had just read.
…essentially a Bond is meant to make partners equal, both physically and with their individual magical capabilities…
He had thought that an odd statement the night before, but now it became painfully clear to him. Fleur was older than he was. Only by a couple years, but at their age that was a lot when it came to physical development. The magic…the bond…must have sped up his growth rate to match hers. No doubt an easier path than making her younger. Harry placed a hand over his face and groaned.
Just then, Hermione appeared in the bathroom doorway. She was looking over her shoulder at someone Harry couldn't see. "Relax Ginny," Hermione called, "I'm sure it's just some stupid joke." Her head came around and the words died in her throat and she looked at Harry. More like stared at Harry. A faint blush rose in her cheeks. "Oh..oh my."
Harry realized she wasn't going to say anything else. "Hermione?" He asked uncertainly. Her blush inexplicably deepened, and Harry found himself reddening in embarrassment as well. Still, hearing his voice seemed to snap her out of her momentary daze.
Hermione spoke, a trace of her usual self back. "What happened Harry? Did you try some kind of aging potion? Why?" Hermione didn't even know what to ask in this situation. Harry just shook his head.
"No, but I think I know what happened. It's…it's so strange." His voice grew softer as he stared at his hands, which now seemed utter strangers to him. "I'll explain, but I think it best to talk to everyone at once. Could you gather everyone in the kitchen?" His green eyes caught her gaze, hoping she would understand. Hermione looked at him for a long moment, before nodding. "Thanks."
"I'll get everyone." She said, unable to hide the worry in her voice. If Harry wanted to assemble everyone, it had to be serious. After she had gone, Harry turned to look at himself in the mirror again.
He spoke to his reflection, "I didn't want to tell everybody yet. But I think I've got no choice left in the matter." Resolutely squaring his shoulders, Harry headed downstairs to explain himself to everyone. Even if he did only half understand what was going on himself.
Fleur sat quietly before Madame Maxime. One always sat quietly before the Madame, but Fleur was even more reserved than usual. She sat up straight and looked attentive enough, of course, but she was hearing very little of what her headmistress was telling her.
Fleur was a little busy thinking about Harry Potter. It had been over a week since she had seen him at the Ministry now, and school was about to start. Fleur hadn't heard anything from Harry, and she was worried. What must he be thinking? Had he even thought of her once since the Ministry?
A part of her thought she was being silly about this. After all, she could as easily have sent an owl to him. Fleur wasn't sure what she had expected, but complete radio silence wasn't it. Then the greater fear—what if something had happened to him? He was Harry Potter after all, the Boy Who Lived—and the Boy Who Was Still Hunted. Surely she would have heard something if that had happened though—or felt something?
"Miss Delacour!" Madame Maxime's voice cracked like a whip over her, and Fleur realized belatedly that her headmistress had been trying to get her attention for a while. The large woman eyed her severely, and Fleur tried to make herself look apologetic. "I don't know where you were just then, but you need to pay attention! What I am telling you is important. You are going to be our school's champion in the Tri Wizard Tournament." The Madame's voice sounded proud and happy. Fleur blinked.
Her voice came out harsher than she'd intended, "What?" Fleur shook her head. "What!" She said again, blue eyes practically on fire, "What if I don't want to be this "champion"? Do I not get a say in this?" Fleur realized she was out of her seat, but she was still shorter than her seated headmistress. Madame Maxime met her eyes coolly, and Fleur could see the steely resolve there.
The headmistress's voice came softly, but carried no hint of leeway, "Fleur, you were not chosen for this as punishment. This is a great honor, and there is no one as fitting as you." Fleur stared at her in disbelief. Fleur was pretty good in her studies, and she fancied herself a decent duelist, but she was by no means the best. Her eyes narrowed as she caught on to what Madame Maxime was saying.
Fleur's voice was an uncharacteristic growl, "This is about my father." It was not a question. This was all political. Fleur hated politics, she hated all of the games people continually played with her and her father. Maxime didn't deny the statement. Her chair creaked as she leaned back.
"This school needs financial assistance. I will be blunt. Your father is in a position to help us—it never hurts to offer him an incentive." It was clear that this was the final word in the matter, and Fleur turned her back on Maxime, enraged. She didn't want to be a public spectacle. This was not what she needed right now!
Without a word, Fleur left Madame Maxime's office. She had to go back home and pack for the school year. She was glad she had not brought her things with her ahead of time. She needed to think—and she needed to write to Harry.
Harry sat at the Weasley's kitchen table, staring at a raised grain in the wood. He could feel everyone staring at him, absorbing his words and..well, absorbing him. There was Mrs. Weasley, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione. Bill and Charlie had already gone back to their respective jobs, and Mr. Weasley and Percy had left early for the Ministry that morning.
"So…," began Mrs. Weasley, "This Veela…this Fleur?" She paused, only continuing when Harry nodded. "She's bound you to her? With this Veela Bond?" Harry looked up sharply at that, detecting the rising mama bear in Mrs. Weasley.
He shook his head firmly. "Not on purpose Mrs. Weasley, definitely not on purpose. It was an accident." He took a slight breath, continuing before she could speak. "Fleur didn't seem any happier about it than I am. From what I can understand, the mingling of our blood at the Cup, along with our high-running emotions, was enough for this Bond to take place." Wow, thought Harry, usually he bungled explanations pretty badly. Probably a result of actually reading a little up on this.
Mrs. Weasley frowned, leaning forward as she eyed Harry doubtfully. "But dear, is there no way to reverse this? Being Bound unintentionally like this…it's not right. And look at you! This magic is changing you already." He could tell from her voice that she was worried about him, and he was grateful. Mrs. Weasley had always treated him like one of her own.
"No," he answered, "There's no way to undo it—one of us would have to die." That had been an unspoken truth he had picked up from Fleur, and also something he had read in the book. Harry braved looking around the table at everyone.
Fred and George looked like someone had just played a great joke—they were hiding smiles, and Harry thought they would be teasing him about this is if their mother wasn't sitting at the same table. Ron looked confused, Hermione skeptical, and Ginny dumbfounded.
"What're you going to do mate?" Ron spoke up, looking at Harry seriously. Everyone's gaze on him sharpened, and Harry felt briefly overwhelmed.
Then he smiled, and stuck out his arm—revealing several inches of pale skin beyond the end of his sleeve. "Well, I had thought I should go clothes shopping." There was a stunned silence, and thenthe three women squealed a little. Ron groaned. Harry just laughed. At the moment, he didn't know what he was going to do. He would just have to take all of this one step at a time. Maybe when he saw Fleur next, she would be able to help.
Harry didn't have a whole lot of time to go shopping, as he would have to make the Hogwarts Express the very next day. With Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, and Ginny's help in London and Diagon Alley, he soon had a whole new wardrobe. In addition to new robes—and dress robes, which he needed this year for some reason—Harry had bought himself new Muggle clothes. The older students at Hogwarts often forewent the traditional robes in favor of jeans and sweatshirts, though it was still considered proper to wear an outer-robe over top, at the least.
He had acquired a few pairs of dark jeans—that Mrs. Weasley assured him could be casual or dress—as well as some dress slacks. He had found some t-shirts and button-up tops he liked as well, and Mrs. Weasley had promised to knit him some new sweaters for when the weather turned colder. More than satisfied, Harry had snuck away from the three women with Ron to go and find some ice cream. They ended up at Florean Fortescue's, and sat outside his parlor, eating and talking.
Ron looked at Harry seriously. It was a look Harry hadn't often seen on his friend's face, and he mentally prepared himself. Now, at last, they would have an actual conversation about what had happened. "Mate," Ron began at last, "You didn't really go into detail about this whole "Bond" thing. Are you sure you're okay with it?" Ron took a lick of his Mint Worm ice cream cone as he waited for a response. (It was called such because it tasted like mint, but glowed green from cave glow worms.)
Harry took a breath, staring bracingly at his Double Chocolate Ear Wax sundae. He had known he would have to talk about this with his best friend. He was just glad it was only Ron, for now. For all that he loved Hermione, there were some things he didn't like to talk about in front of her.
"I don't know Ron," Harry spoke honestly for the first time, relieved to confide in someone. "This is all so strange," he held one of his hands out in front of himself—it felt larger than life to him at the moment. Harry had been struggling all day with his new body. Well, he guessed it wasn't exactly new, but it was bigger. Harry was suddenly several inches taller than he had been, and it had made for some awkward moves.
He looked up at Ron, thinking about this Bond thing with Fleur. "But I guess I'm not not-okay with it? I just don't understand it all yet." On some level, Harry knew that what he had with Fleur now was serious. He had yet to grasp the ramifications. For once, Ron was ahead of the curve.
The redhead sat back in his seat, blue eyes appraising Harry worriedly. "Harry, this means that you already know who you're going to be with, forever though. Right? I mean, I know a little about Veela —Bill mentioned once that he works with Veela—and there's no escaping. There are couples my brother knows that really dislike each other, but can't have good relationships with other people because they are so tightly bound to each other. I didn't fully get what he meant until now." Harry's brows drew down at this—he hadn't really considered that what had happened between him and Fleur had effectively sealed his romantic fate. He had also never heard Ron speak so authoritatively on a subject. He was suitably impressed. He didn't remain so long, however, as Ron's words hit him.
Did this mean that he now belonged to Fleur? That they would be together, whether either of them wanted it or not? Harry felt a surge of irrational anger. He slammed his hand down on the table, green eyes blazing. "This is stupid!" Harry abruptly found himself standing, and didn't care. "Don't we get a choice in this? What about what Fleur and I want?" Ron was leaning back, holding his hands up placatingly, but Harry didn't pay him any attention.
"And look at me! I've probably just lost two years off my life thanks to this magic, and who knows how long that's going to be with Voldemort running around?" Ron was standing now too, and Harry felt his friend take his arm.
"Sorry—I didn't mean to get you all riled up. Take it easy, okay?" Ron wasn't great at being a calming influence, but people were starting to become alarmed, especially when Harry had used the Dark Lord's name. "Let's just eat our ice cream," he said, guiding a still-fuming Harry back into his chair, "Mum, Ginny, and Hermione ought to be finishing up soon and we can go home for a last game of Quidditch before the summer ends, eh?" Harry at last nodded, and took a half hearted bite of ice cream. "Look at it this way, mate, at least you got bonded to a knock-out like Fleur! Any guy would consider himself lucky if she gave him the time of day—and now she's all yours!" Harry just rolled his eyes, but was grateful for Ron's companionship.
He didn't say another word the entire trip back to the Burrow from Diagon Alley, too lost in his own mind. So he and Fleur were stuck together—they would never be allowed to find true love? He felt a pang as he thought of Cho Chang, a Ravenclaw girl he thought was really pretty and sweet. He would have no chance to ask her out now. Harry doubted the Bond would be able to physically stop him, but it didn't seem fair to date one girl when he was bound to another. Poor Fleur, he thought. She hadn't even ended up with someone her own age. And as a Veela, or part Veela, she understood this whole predicament a lot better than Harry did. Harry was suddenly grateful for his own ignorance—he doubted he could handle the whole truth.
Once back at the Burrow, Harry ended up declining a game of Quidditch with Ron and his brothers. He wasn't in the mood. Instead Harry went to bed, missing the looks of concern the others cast after him.
Once he was safely out of earshot, Mrs. Weasley turned on her children and Hermione. "Alright. There'll be absolutely no teasing about this, understand?" This comment was mostly directed at Fred and George, who groaned in unison. "This is a very serious matter," she continued sternly, "and each of you is going to have to do your best to help Harry through it. I've already sent an owl to the Ministry about this—surely someone there can sort this out." Mrs. Weasley said this with such conviction, that Ron groaned.
Hermione cast him a strange look, and he knew she didn't understand. His meddling mother had just made things worse for Harry. There was nothing, he knew, that the Ministry could do about this short of sending a Hit Wizard squad after Fleur—which wouldn't happen. Even if Harry was the Golden Boy of England, Fleur was the daughter of the French Minister for Magic. No, the only thing Mrs. Weasley had succeeded in doing was ensuring that the Daily Prophet would hear about what had happened. Harry was about to make another front page debut, Ron was sure.
He turned toward the stairs and started up them to go and warn his friend. "Suddenly," said Ron, "I don't feel like playing Quidditch either." The ride to Hogwarts on the morrow was going to be infinitely uncomfortable.