Chapter 8 - Letters
I am truly sorry for the flood of attention on you now—a result of the bond between us. I know that you, like me, do not like that kind of attention at all. I wish there were a way that I could help. As I'm sure you can imagine, I am in a similar situation back in France. How are you doing?
The reason I am writing you now is because we did not really get the opportunity to discuss our Bond in any depth. By that I mean, what the effects might be on you and me. Harry, some things about you might begin to change. I don't know precisely what because every Bond manifests differently, but I do know that there will be something that changes. The Bond tries to even things out between partners, typically. Each Bond has its own idea about what would accomplish that equality, however. No one really knows what the Bond is—whether just an extension of magic itself, or another entity altogether.
I guess what I'm saying is, please tell me about any changes that happen, no matter how small they appear to you. I know our situation is not one that either of us would have chosen, but I think that we should keep in contact and share our experiences. It's the only way we will grow.
Please send me a reply when you have the opportunity.
Harry sat back after reading Fleur's letter, letting his back rest against the cool stone behind his bedstead. He had received her letter in the midst of dinner—highly unusual for an owl to show up during dinner—but had decided to wait to open it when he got back to his room. His heart had leaped when he had seen his name on the envelope, in handwriting that simply must be hers.
Harry took a deep breath, smelling the faint, clean scent that was Fleur. She didn't smell like flowers or fruit like so many girls did. No, she smelled clean and crisp, like a fresh wind off the ocean or on the top of a mountain. Not that Harry had ever been to the top of a mountain, and he had only been to the beach once with the Dursley's when he was eleven. He took another breath. It was a wonderful smell, whatever it was.
The feast had been no better than feasts previous, but he had been able to see the sorting. Listening to the hat had been really fun, and Harry had relaxed enough to laugh and talk with Ron and Hermione again. He was still angry that they had allowed Mrs. Weasley to do what she had done, but he understood that ultimately they couldn't have stopped her.
Now though, reading Fleur's letter, it was hard to focus on anything else.
Harry pulled a roll of parchment toward him and dug out a quill that had seen better days from beneath his mattress. Peeves liked to drip ink on his face using his own quills while he slept—Harry had gotten into the habit of stuffing his quills under his mattress to hide them from the poltergeist.
Dear Fleur, Harry began, and paused. What should he say? He felt his face warm, and was glad none of the other boys were back in the dorm yet to see his face. He didn't want to say the wrong thing…Malfoy's words from the train came floating back to Harry unbidden. It was stupid, Harry knew, to expect Fleur to like him—to do more than tolerate him. She hadn't wanted this bond, whatever it was. Harry had to admit though that the effects, while startling at first, were rather useful. Turning back to the letter with a little more confidence, he continued.
I am really glad that you wrote to me. Some things have been happening that I think you should know, maybe you can even explain them. But first, I am truly, truly sorry about what the Daily Prophet said. My best friend's mum wrote to the Ministry about what happened to me, which is likely why that article got written.
As for what has happened… Well, I've grown about a foot. Practically overnight. When I woke up a few days ago looking liked I had aged several years, I'll admit I freaked out a little. When you see me again, I won't be shorter than you anymore. Don't worry too much—the extra height and reach is actually coming in pretty handy. My friend Hermione and my friend Ron's sister Ginny were ecstatic because I had to go clothes shopping.
Has anything changed for you? That's pretty much it for me. I guess the Bond sped up my physical growth to match yours? If what you're telling me about the Bond is right. Which I'm sure it is.
I know now about the Triwizard Tournament as well. I wish that you were coming before October—there is still a lot for us to figure out. But I guess I should just be happy that you are coming at all.
Harry paused, thinking. Was there anything else he could say? Suddenly remembering Dumbledore's speech about the Triwizard Tournament, and how dangerous it was, he felt a shiver of worry. What if Fleur was chosen, and she got hurt? That was another thing…if one of them got hurt, what would happen to the other? Harry would have to be more careful this year. And, for the first time since he had heard about this Tournament, Harry wanted to be a part of it. He was only 14, but he wanted to find a way to participate. He knew it was ludicrous to think that he could offer more protection for Fleur than she could provide for herself, but he wanted to try. Harry looked down at his letter and picked up his quill.
Fleur, I take from what you said to me before that you definitely will be entering into the Tournament. The way my headmaster spoke of it, this is a very dangerous event. Professor Dumbledore never exaggerates danger—if anything, he often understates it. Please Fleur be careful, I don't want to lose you before we've even gotten to know each other.
See you in October.
Harry finished his letter and looked it over carefully before rolling it up. As if anticipating his need, he saw Hedwig sweep in through the open window beside his bed. "Hey girl. I need you already." Hedwig hooted softly and landed on his knee. Harry took a moment to stroke her soft feathers and smiled. She really was his most prized possession—if such a dignified owl could be considered a possession. She had been his first real friend, even before Ron.
"I need you to take this to Fleur Delacour. She'll be at Beauxbatons." He carefully tied his letter to Hedwig's leg as he spoke. "I'm sure you can find her. I don't know how Beauxbatons does mail, so you'll have to figure it out." She nipped his finger affectionately, and Harry laughed. "Alright, I know. You know what you're doing, even if I don't. Off you go then." He watched as Hedwig spread her snowy wings and lifted silently out the window. He missed her already.
Fleur stared angrily at the blank parchment in front of her. She was supposed to be writing a paper for her Defense Against the Dark Arts class, but no words would come. She had to fill up a roll and a half of parchment deciding whether or not she should use a curse to dispel a hex. Fleur knew this was important, but it was hard to make herself care when she had so many other things to think about.
Like how Madame Maxime was using her to lever money from her father and curry favor with the ministry.
Like surviving a school day after that stupid newspaper article.
Fleur put her head down on the table, ignoring the other people around her in the dormitory. It was getting late, and more and more people were streaming in to go to bed. Fleur knew that she should try to write more before sleeping too, but she couldn't. She felt an overwhelming urge to talk to Harry. To be near him. She barely knew this boy, but she craved his presence now like an addict. She felt stupid for it. Which made her angrier still.
It was probably the Bond, Fleur knew, and Harry was probably feeling something similar. But it didn't make the reality of it any easier. She wouldn't be seeing Harry until the end of October. Fleur knew she would have to get her act together before then. She groaned aloud, a very un-ladylike sound.
A rapid tapping on the window brought Fleur around. She moaned in pain as she came to, feeling the incredible stiffness in her neck and shoulders. Slowly, painfully, she lifted her head from the table. She had fallen asleep in the common room. Fleur swallowed. Her mouth felt dry. "What?" She blinked and looked around, focusing on a white owl at the window, still busily tapping her beak against the glass. It took her brain a few seconds to process, and then "Oh!"
Fleur quickly got up, staggering as blood rushed into her limbs, and opened the window to let the beautiful owl swoop in. She settled on the desk and looked at Fleur expectantly. "Who could you be from?" Fleur sank back into her chair and carefully detached the letter from the owl's leg. She was the most beautiful snowy owl Fleur had ever seen, and she definitely didn't recognize her. The school didn't own any snowy owls either. "Let's see then." The owl continued to look at her expectantly, and Fleur caught up.
"Oh, here." She pulled a plate across the table that had a few rashers left on it from the night before. Fleur had brought it back to the dorm after dinner because she hadn't felt hungry. "They're cold, but help yourself." As Hedwig busied herself with the food, Fleur opened the scroll.
Fleur gasped in surprise as she realized that this letter was from Harry. A pleasant tingle worked its way from her fingers through the rest of her body, and Fleur read slowly. She didn't want to finish too fast.
As she read, a frown began to build on her face. She couldn't imagine the mother of a friend doing what this woman had done. Fleur wondered if she realized the damage she had caused. Fleur was being completely ostracized at school. Not everyone had known she was part Veela, but they all sure did now. Her father had had to deal with countless unending press conferences, and Fleur was sure Harry was suffering for it too, even if he hadn't said anything. That took an awful lot of nerve. She kept reading.
Harry had…grown? She would have to ask her father if he had ever heard of the Bond manifesting itself in such a physical way. She was relieved that Harry didn't seem angry about it, at least. For now. She shook herself. Finish the letter, then analyze.
Fleur couldn't help reading the rest rather quickly, and felt a faint flush rising in her cheeks. Harry was worried about her? Please Fleur be careful… She read the words again, her lips quirking into a smile. I don't want to lose you… Realistically, Fleur knew that Harry was just being kind, but this letter had been just what she needed. Fleur let herself enjoy his words for a moment longer before pulling the parchment forward that she had planned on using for her Defense Against the Dark Arts paper. That could wait, she thought, and this couldn't.
Despite what Harry had said about being fine, Fleur was sure he was at least a little uncomfortable. Having changes like that happen to your body overtime was disconcerting on its own, but waking up in a body that was different than what you went to bed with had to be more so.
She glanced up at the snowy owl, which was happily chowing down on her leftover rashers, and figured she wouldn't mind waiting for a reply to take to her master. Fleur dipped her quill into her inkpot and began.
Harry was down eating breakfast with Ron and Hermione when the owls came in. He immediately looked up, searching for Hedwig even though he knew she likely wasn't back yet. His eyes roved for a flash of white amongst the grey, tawny, and black, but he had no luck. His friends looked at him questioningly, but he just shook his head. He didn't feel up to telling them about Fleur, not just yet.
"Cheer up mate." Said Ron, glancing at their schedule for the day. "We lucked out for the morning—Herbology, and Care of Magical Creatures first." When Ron suddenly grimaced, Harry looked over at the schedule for himself and shook his head in irritation. They were still stuck with the Slytherins for Hagrid's class. Then Harry groaned as his eyes took in Double Divination.
"I swear, if Professor Trewlaney starts fortelling my death again…" Harry muttered darkly. Hermione tsked across the table even as she flipped through an Arithmancy book.
"If you had dropped it like me, you wouldn't be in this situation. Why don't you just drop Divination and take something else? There are loads of better classes!" Hermione finally looked up from her book and stared at Harry seriously.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Better classes like what? Muggle Studies? Runes? I've got no interest in those."
Hermione sighed in exasperation. "But either would be better than sitting in that smoky room being told you're going to die."
Harry had to admit she had a point.
After they departed for lessons, Harry and Ron fell in together in Herbology. As they had walked across the castle lawns to the greenhouses, Harry could feel that Ron wanted to talk to him. Their proximity to the Hufflepuffs had made it impossible until they started working on the Bubotubers.
Finally, "Harry…I…I need to talk to you about something." Ron was looking at him nervously, as though expecting him to explode, and Harry supposed it was to be expected with recent events.
Harry offered Ron a smile. "Ok, so let's talk." He wondered what could have his friend tied up in knots when ordinarily Ron was content to spill everything on his mind at any given moment.
Ron looked so relieved that Harry felt bad for his behavior the previous day. Ron kept his voice low, "It's about Lavender." Harry frowned, shooting a glance across the greenhouse to the girl in question, a Gryffindor. He wasn't sure what Ron could possibly be going to say about her. They'd barely exchanged a handful of words.
Ron continued. "She's been sending me letters." Harry felt his eyebrows rise at this. When? When had she sent him letters? "I was going to tell you at the World Cup, but then…well. And then I was going to tell you once things had settled down at home, and then…"
And then Harry had had his growth spurt, and again attention was on him. The Gryffindors largely had accepted the new Harry after a few initial good-natured jibes. Everyone just assumed he had had a growth spurt over the summer—not overnight. Harry felt bad that he hadn't known this was going on with Ron. He was determined to be there for his friend now.
"What was she writing you about?" Harry asked curiously, and Ron shrugged uncomfortably. Harry watched in fascination as his friend's ears turned pink.
Ron was silent for a few moments, and Harry decided to focus on pus-retrieval while he collected his thoughts. Whatever was going on, Harry thought, it was rendering his usually vocal friend speechless.
At last, "At first it was just "Hey Ron, how's your summer?", and I thought "wow, that's nice that a girl is actually talking to me"." Ron shrugged sheepishly, and Harry hid a grin. "So I decided I'd write her back, you know, just for something to do." Harry nodded, waiting for Ron to continue. "Now though, I think she thinks we're together." Ron's ears turned pink again and his eyes were very carefully studying his shoes. "After the welcoming feast she pulled me behind that witch on the third floor and kissed me." The words came out so low and fast that Harry wasn't at first certain he had heard right.
"She kissed you?" He asked, just to clarify. He was shocked, but he tried to keep that reaction out of his voice knowing how insecure Ron felt about himself.
Ron's eyes crept up to meet his. "Yeah." Harry could see the uncertainty there, but he didn't know what to tell his friend. What did you say in a situation like this?
"Well do you like her?" Harry settled on. He thought that was a safe enough question.
Ron looked somewhat bashful, which Harry hadn't thought possible, as he squeezed a bubotuber into a container. "Erm, I guess…I mean, I think I do." Ron glanced around anxiously then and stared at Harry.
"But what about Hermione?" Came Ron's voice pitched low.
Harry frowned. "What about her?" Harry felt lost as Ron' rolled his blue eyes in desperate exasperation.
"Don't you know anything Harry?" Ron exclaimed, "Hermione's been in love with me since we were first years!"