Thanks to Kokopelli for betaing this for me.
Life has changed in some weird and crazy ways.
When he woke up, he was feeling better. His energy levels were about seventy five per cent, and that should be enough.
Ben and Lisa had both continued their progress to the semi-finals as well.
As he looked up, his crowd seemed to have grown. Harry noticed that everyone was still grouped into their normal social groups.
“Muggles,” Ben explained in amusement. He had a black eye. “They wanted to join the party. Our lot are having such a good time.”
Harry smiled. “Time to go entertain them again.”
“Harry,” Lisa said seriously. “The last guy was a lot better than this one was. Try and end it quickly, save your energy for the final.”
Harry nodded and did his now normal entrance. The roar of approval was louder.
He felt confident this time, confident in his own abilities. He was happy to take the fight to the other guy.
He won in round three, a straight knock out from a flying knee to the sternum.
He acknowledged the crowd, and then vaulted back to Ben and Lisa.
“Lisa’s final is first, then yours, then mine,” Ben said cheerfully. “It doesn’t matter how we do, the fact that we are in all three finals is brilliant.”
“How are you feeling, Leece?” Harry asked.
Lisa smiled warmly at him. “Pretty damn good, boss. Slightly sore right shoulder, but that’s it.”
Harry reached out and pulled her t-shirt off. He knew that she fought in a sports bra. “Hold your bra up,” he ordered, as he slid one of the straps down and gently touched her shoulder.
She winced slightly under his touch.
He frowned, and pulled back slightly. He clapped his hands, then rubbed them together hard until he could feel his hands get hot, and he gently placed them back on Lisa’s shoulder, and started to massage.
“Ooohhh,” Lisa moaned softly.
Harry spent more time concentrating on not accidentally using magic than on what he was doing.
“That’s good,” Lisa said after a few minutes.
“No magic,” Harry whispered. “Muggle massage techniques.”
Lisa slid the strap of her bra back up, and then did a few stretches, followed by a couple of jabs.
“I am so going to kick that bitch’s arse,” she vowed, as they were called to the only remaining ring left.
“Damn right,” Harry agreed. “Lisa, do my entrance.”
She looked at him in surprise.
“It will get the crowd going, and I’ll be doing it as well.”
Lisa took a deep breath and nodded. She put her mouth guard in and waited. As she was called forward, and while the crowd cheered, she jumped onto the ring, grabbed the top rope, and used it to swing on to the corner, before doing the backflip with twist.
The roar, centred on all their friends, was huge.
Lisa danced in the centre, looking eagerly at her opponent, a small oriental girl, who moved like greased lightning.
The fight was far more technical than previous ones; opportunities for direct hits were scant, with each girl being able to react with no delay.
As the fight went on, Harry knew Lisa was going to win. The other girl was getting frustrated that her speed wasn’t working, while Lisa was sticking to the plan.
The fifth round it entered, a small mistake was all Lisa needed, and a cross-right had the other girl unconscious.
Harry vaulted into the ring and lifted Lisa high into the air, screaming. Lisa had both her gloved-fists raised to the crowd. Their friends were on their feet, screaming just as much, and the noise was almost deafening.
Ben took Lisa from him, and gave her a huge hug, and Harry could feel the pride the father had for his daughter.
They cleared the ring, and stood around for ten minutes, waiting for Harry’s fight to start. Ben and Lisa told them everything they knew about Luke, Harry’s opponent in the final.
The guy was fast, clean, and had deadly accuracy.
Harry looked at the crowd, and made eye contact with Kate. “Relax,” she mouthed.
“Wake me up thirty seconds before they call me,” he ordered, and sat down in a lotus pose.
He took a deep breath, exhaled, and sunk into a meditative state as fast as he could.
“Harry, Harry, Harry?”
Harry slowly opened his eyes and smiled. He didn’t acknowledge Ben or Lisa as he moved through the crowd to the ring. He jumped up to the corner, and did his backflip.
He smiled as he landed. Luke looked like he was a distant cousin to the Malfoy family. He pulled the memory of murdering Snape to the front of his mind, and looked at the boy.
Luke’s eyes went wide.
Harry locked the memory back in its place, and waited for the fight to start.
Luke landed the first punches, a straight jab caught him in the centre of the chest; Harry smiled in response, and launched a flurry of punches, finishing with a series of kicks that worked their way up Luke’s body.
The last move of the round was a swinging right kick, that as the bell rung, he turned into a dance move, and twirled on the spot twice, before he bounced into a forward flip, landing on his hands, and pushing off.
“What the hell are you doing?” Ben demanded.
“I can’t beat him normally,” Harry said, “but he doesn’t know that. I’m playing games with him.”
Unfortunately for Harry, a series of punches in the next round had the confidence flooding back in to Luke. Harry tried his best to knock that confidence back, but they were too close in skill for that to work.
As the fight continued, Harry realised he had two choices. The first was to do something really stupid, and maybe win. The other was to admit that he was going to lose on points – which would be honourable.
He glanced at the crowd, at his friends cheering him on, at Kate, at Sirius, at Gabrielle, at Melissa, at Hermione, at Christophe, even at Dumbledore.
Stupid it was!
In the next round, he started to feign tiredness, making his punches sloppier, raising his guard slower.
Luke upped the tempo, and Harry started to defend desperately.
Harry dropped his left hand slightly, and Luke attacked, throwing everything into a straight right.
Harry dipped his head slightly, taking the punch just above his eye. His head was knocked back hard, but his back leg was already braced, and he lowered his knee, and then launched forward with a double-punch that caught Luke straight on the chest.
Luke, his balance moving forward, caught the full force, and for a second, his hands went out, as he tried to regain his balance.
It was all the invitation Harry needed. As with his first punch of the tournament, he put everything he could into it, and prayed that it hit. It did, right on the chin. Luke’s head was thrown back violently and the jaw was forced back and upward, toward the brain. The sudden and sharp burst of movement, forced Luke’s brain to move, effectively shutting it down for a few seconds.
Harry felt his legs go as the effect of Luke’s punch kicked in with a vengeance, but before he hit the floor, Ben and Lisa had him lifted straight into the air.
“You are fucking nuts,” Ben roared.
“Great fight, boss,” Lisa added.
Harry could see his friends on their feet, jumping up and down, and hugging everyone within reach.
Lisa was almost pushed out the way, as Luke stumbled over, and hugged Harry hard.
Harry clung on to him.
“It was a trap, wasn’t it?” Luke demanded.
“Yeah,” Harry said, still feeling groggy. “You were kicking my arse.”
Luke groaned, and hugged him again. “You have balls of steel.”
“And a head full of pain, now,” Harry agreed.
Luke laughed. “You moving up to the Adult division next year?”
“Yeah, he is,” Ben said.
“I’ll see you then for my rematch. Good luck in China.”
Harry clapped him on the back, and decided that the guy clearly had no relationship with the Malfoy family, although he did wonder what a tea-service had to do with anything.
“I need to sit down,” Harry muttered.
“You’re going to have a right shiner until we get you to the nurse,” Lisa said.
“I’m keeping it,” Harry mumbled. “I earned this.”
“Okay,” Lisa agreed, and helped her father sit him down.
After five minutes, his headache lessened enough that he could function again. He took a deep breath, and looked at Ben.
“We’ve done our part; it’s time for you to do yours.”
“Don’t forget the entrance. Your guy has already seen Lisa kick arse, me win with a suicidal move, and will know that you trained us. He’s going to doubt himself already.
“You know you’re the best, we know you’re the best, they,” he added, pointing to the crowd, “don’t know it yet, but they will. Now, get in there, kick his arse, so we can all go out and celebrate all evening!”
Ben nodded again, his expression focused. “Get in there,” Harry roared.
Ben ran to the ring, and did the now standard entrance, before fixing his opponent with a glare.
This fight didn’t last long. Ben was all over him, attacking fast and furiously. Watching him, Harry realised how much he was going to have to practice if he was going to get into the adult matches successfully.
The sheer pace and angles used were awesome, and he tried to remember so that he could use them himself next time.
Four straight knees to the chest, followed by a down-swinging punch to the face finished the fight with a knock-out.
Harry and Lisa jumped into the ring, to lift Ben upwards, to the cheers and shouts from the crowd.
As they let him down, Ben hugged them both, and Harry could feel the pride this time.
“Great fight,” Harry told Ben. “There is so much that I still have to learn.”
“I’ve had more years practice,” Ben said, a huge smile on his face. “We’ll get you there. Both of you.”
They climbed out of the ring, and waited while a small platform was built. An official came over to them, offered her congratulations, and led them to one side where they would wait for their medals.
An announcer introduced himself, welcomed everyone to the ceremony, and then started with the junior female division. After announcing the two runners-up, he took a deep breath.
“And, our winner, from the Turpin stables in Middlesex, our new National Champion, Lisa ‘The Rocket’ Turpin!”
There was a huge roar, as Lisa bounced out excitedly, waving to the crowd.
“National Champion?” Harry asked Ben slowly. “I thought this was a small event!”
Ben smirked. “And you would have frozen if I’d told you the truth.”
Another thought came to Harry. “Luke said something about China?”
Ben nodded. “That’s where we’re going this summer. We’ve qualified to represent England.”
“Fuck,” Harry muttered.
“Pay attention,” Ben ordered.
“And, our winner, hailing from Surrey, trained by the legendary Ben Turpin, and first-timer in any competition, Harry ‘The Hitman’ Potter!”
Harry stumbled out as Ben pushed him hard, and then blinked as a wall of sound hit him. He slowly smiled. This was better than Quidditch. In Quidditch he had a team around him to help him out, to rely on. In the ring, it was just him and his opponent. He stood and failed on his skills, and this time he’d won.
He walked over to the dais, and as he bent, he had a gold medal put around his neck, before he was handed a tall silver trophy.
He raised the trophy to the sky, and saluted his friends. They shouted and screamed their approval. Harry could even see Dumbledore caught up in the emotion, as he clapped as hard as he could.
Harry hugged Luke and the guy who had come third, and then moved to the side so he could cheer for Ben.
They had to wait for the senior ladies winner first – who smiled ruefully as she got a good cheer, but not of the same volume that Harry and Lisa had received.
Finally, Ben ‘The Assassin’ Turpin was summoned. He got the third biggest roar of the evening, behind Harry and Lisa, and he saluted the crowds, before raising the main trophy.
After posing for a few photographs, together, and alone for KickBoxing Magazine, they were finally allowed to shower, get changed, and meet up with the others.
They had been patiently waiting for thirty minutes by the Competitor’s Exit.
They surged forward, as the three walked into sight, Gabrielle, as always, far in front of the rest, as she dived at Harry.
They were soon surrounded and hugged, kissed, patted, and generally congratulated.
Harry, managing to free one hand, put two fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly.
Everyone turned to face him, going quiet.
“Right, listen up,” He said loudly. “We’ve got a coach out front taking us into London, where I’ve booked us a private room at a restaurant; we’ll then go to a nightclub.” He paused. “There is some champagne coming, but no one gets drunk tonight, we’ve all been hitting the parties a bit hard recently. Now, let’s get out the front, as it’s a ninety minute drive.”
Harry strolled off, Kate and Fleur fell into step, closely followed by Sirius, Albus, Michael and Marie. The others trailed along.
The coach was huge, and was a revelation for most of the Wizards and Witches. There was a large TV at the front, and smaller ones in the back of every headrest. Music flowed around, as people took seats, sitting in their groups.
Harry nodded to Dumbledore, Sirius, Michael, Marie and Kate, getting all the adults together. “I think we need some charms,” he said softly. “An expanding charm on the inside, and illusion charm on the driver, and something to make sure we all get there safe.”
“I’ll take care of the driver,” Kate offered.
“I’ll do the safety,” Sirius said.
“And I’ll enlarge the carriage,” Albus said.
“That leaves us with keeping the sound inside, and some wards for our protection,” Michael finished with a look at Marie.
“Harry,” Marie said, “I’m afraid I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of you. Do you mind if I publish them?”
“If it’s only about the kick boxing, then no. I’m proud of this.”
Marie nodded and hugged him, before taking Gabrielle from him.
As soon as Kate stared talking to the driver, the others started to move. The interior of the coach quadrupled in size, and Harry could feel more spells being cast outside.
“Okay people,” he shouted. “The driver’s seeing us sitting like good citizens, so let the party start!”
Fred and George appeared with a pop, steadied themselves, then started handing out bottles of butter beer.
Harry took one and moved over to Michael and Marie. Gabrielle had already fled her mother, and was sitting with Hermione and Viktor.
“I wanted to say thanks,” Harry said. “For the pressure you helped put on the Ministry when I was arrested.”
“It was our pleasure,” Marie said firmly. “The French press had a field day, there are rumours in the press circles that you are coming to France next year, and everyone wants to keep on your good side. And as the facts came out, well, our government used the opportunity to score a few points against the English.”
“And as for the Veela Royalty, well, I’m afraid their support came at a price.”
“Oh?” Harry asked slowly.
“Yup, you’re invited to Court later this year, as a special guest.”
Harry slowly smiled. “Okay.”
“Now, Harry,” Michael continued, “It’s important that you knock them dead.”
“I’ll see if I can drag Kate along,” Harry promised.
“If it helps, you’ve both changed in the past few weeks,” Michael said slowly. “You’ve lost some innocence, and maybe, she’s gained some.” The male Veela shook himself.
“Moving on swiftly,” Harry said. “How do I handle the fact that Gabrielle wants to climb into bed with me?”
Marie laughed softly. “And this is one Michael can definitely answer.”
Michael shot her a half-exasperated look. “Thank you, dear,” he said in a dry tone. He pulled out his wand and elegantly cast a privacy spell.
“I need to learn how to cast like that,” Harry said slowly. “It’s impressive.”
Michael grinned as he put his wand away. He took a slow drink of butterbeer, and fixed Harry with a look.
“What she wants is intimacy. There is something extremely intimate about being in the same bed as another person, and that’s what she desires. For her there is a line between intimacy and anything else. She feels that she can be in bed with you, and not be hit with you wanting her sexually.
“There’s a fair chance that if she found you in bed with another female, she’d still do it. Perhaps more so, as she’d know that the target of any remaining sexual desires would be the other girl.”
Harry sighed and nodded. “It’s not wise for her to climb into bed with anyone, well, apart from you, obviously.”
“Welcome to the world of having a female Veela daughter,” Michael said. “You have no idea how hard it is for us. When you are in the position we are, you hear all the excuses from different species – and even our own – for taking advantages of our girls.
“I’ve heard them all. The favourite is, ‘They are Veela; they mature faster’. Which is absolute shit. Yes, their bodies do mature faster; it doesn’t mean that their minds do. The Veela age of consent is sixteen, the same as the Muggle world, for a reason. Children are not capable of making that sort of decision until they have the maturity to understand the consequences of their actions.
“I’ve heard ridiculous things about how sleeping with an underage Veela is acceptable because of some form of ‘mating’. As if somehow a sentient species could evolve where they could be kept as slaves!
“And of course, there’s the ever popular, ‘She enthralled me into raping her.’ I can’t even begin to explain what’s wrong with that statement!”
Michael took a deep breath and made a visible attempt to calm down. “As I’ve said, when Gabrielle asked to come to Hogwarts, I might have gone a little over the top on the threats to Olympe and Fleur, which was why Gabrielle was locked inside the Carriage.
“When I heard about you, I had you investigated from top to bottom, and if I had found anything, I would have had Gabrielle out of there instantly.
“Fortunately, you were fine, better than we could have hoped for, in fact. So I was able to go back to my normal state of trying to work out how to let Gabrielle grow up without turning her into a brat, and at the same being terrified that someone might misunderstand her, or worse, that someone will try one of the excuses out after they have abused her.”
Harry felt a coldness settle through his heart as he thought about what Michael had said. “Gabrielle’s earrings are now charmed. If she is ever in danger, I will know. And if she is in trouble, I will break my promise to Kate.”
Michael was pale as he looked at Harry. “You’re so cold,” he whispered. “That is where your innocence went. What happened?”
“I made a decision, and stood by it.”
“Snape,” Marie gasped. “It was him, wasn’t it?”
Harry looked at her. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Michael slowly grinned. “You’re lying,” he crooned. “But we’ll move on.”
“Yes,” Marie agreed with a cold smile on her face.
“So, yes, if Gabrielle climbs into bed, kick her out if you’re tired, but if you don’t care, let her get what she wants.”
“Okay,” Harry said with a smile. He looked at Marie, “save me a dance later?”
“Of course. And congratulations on your win.”
Harry grinned at her. “Thanks,” he looked at Michael. “See you later, sweetie,” he purred, and moved away.
His next target was Hermione, she was with Viktor, and he dropped in opposite them. “Having fun?”
“Yes,” Hermione said primly. She sighed. “Let me heal that awful bruise.”
“No,” Harry said, “I earned this, I’m keeping it.” He grinned at her, “partly to remind me not to do anything so stupid in the future.”
Hermione grumbled under her breath, before she looked at Harry. “So you did that on purpose?”
“Yeah, I was losing, and I figured I could either lose on points, or gamble on a stupid idea. I looked at you lot, and figured I’d rather go down in a blaze of glory. So I let him hit me, and then went for it.”
“And it was brilliant,” Viktor added reverently. “Lisa and Ben were always going to win, but we couldn’t tell with you. You have to play Quidditch professionally, Harry – I need someone else on the league who understands that.” He smirked, and lightly poked Hermione’s arm, “and don’t think I don’t remember how you reacted.”
“Yes, well,” Hermione said huffily, although her eyes were dancing with mirth.
“I’m not sure about Quidditch,” Harry admitted. “Everyone says that I got my talent from my dad. In kick boxing, it’s just me, and I like it.” He looked at Viktor. “It’s like a Quidditch match with only the Seekers. It’s your skill and training against his.”
“I understand,” Viktor said, nodding slowly. “However, Hermione would kill me if I switched sport.”
“Damn right,” Hermione said with a grin. “I’m going to spend some of the summer with him.”
“Cool,” Harry said cheerfully. “I think I’m going to China for the World Championships.”
“We’ll be there,” Viktor said, “There’s no international tournament this summer.”
Harry leaned over and hugged Hermione – who hugged him back tightly. “I was petrified,” she whispered, “but you were brilliant.”
The next stop on Harry’s bus tour was Fred and George, who were with the other Gryffindors.
“Have fun?” Harry asked.
“Brilliant day,” Katie said. “Really.”
“Okay, you guys are friends, you see each over all the time, when we finish this conversation, I want you scattered.”
They all looked a little abashed and nodded. “It’s habit,” Alicia said.
“Drop it, cliques are always bad.”
“And if we don’t,” Fred said, “we now know that Harry can really kick our arses.”
Harry laughed, and chatted for a few more minutes, before moving on. Christophe, Adrienne, Melissa and Gunther were all together, and he slid in next to Melissa.
“I’ve just told the some of the others off for not mingling; do I need to have the same conversation with you?”
Melissa politely stuck her middle finger up at him. “We’ll circulate,” she promised. “Kate’s nice.”
“Yeah,” he agreed with a smile.
“And Sirius is a hoot,” Adrienne added. “He spent all the time he wasn’t watching you watching the Ladies fight.”
Harry smirked, “Really? That’s interesting.”
“And that,” Christophe said, “is his evil smile.”
“I practice,” Harry said modestly.
“I sent Jeannie a letter half an hour ago,” he continued, “along with some pictures of you. I want her to take them to school.”
“Why?” Harry asked with a frown.
“So that the next boy who thinks about asking her out realises just who her big brother is friends with.”
Harry laughed, he could appreciate the protectiveness.
“So how was your day out as Muggles?”
“Surprisingly logical,” Melissa said. “It actually threw into contrast just how bad we are at organising some things.”
“Yeah,” Adrienne agreed. “And it was fun, your bodyguards, when they weren’t cheering you on, made sure that everyone was safe. There was the odd Muggle who tried to get a bit friendly, but they soon backed away.”
“Apart from one,” Gunther interrupted. “He threatened Smasher with his kick boxing skills. Crusher, Nasher and Thrasher seemed to materialise, and invited him to go ahead, while they subtly displayed a number of the weapons they carry.”
Melissa laughed. “He went a walking soon afterward.”
“I’m glad you had a good time,” Harry said. “Now, go circulate. I’ve got to continue my own.” He slid away, and went around the coach. He complemented Fleur, and received a hug from Cho, before he caught up with Sirius.
“So, female kick boxers, eh?”
Sirius pouted at him. “Great day out,” he said, ignoring the question. “No one recognises a smart Sirius Black.”
“And to be fair, no one expects a wanted criminal to be in a crowd at an arena.”
“I know you told me you’d been learning this stuff, but Merlin, Harry, you should have seen yourself. They had one of those big tv things, and when you got in the ring for the final, the look you gave him told him you weren’t going to lose!”
Harry laughed softly. “I was out of my depth slightly. But Ben and Lisa have been fantastic teachers.”
“And you pushed yourself when you were using the Dilator.”
Harry nodded. “Yeah, helped me keep sane when I got through the pesky parts of being a teenager.”
“Those years are supposed to be the best of your life,” Sirius pointed out gently. “Growing up is supposed to be fun.”
“Have you seen Kate?” He demanded.
“And heard about the other girl,” Sirius replied. “I’m so jealous I can’t speak straight. So, yeah, it has worked out for you. And don’t side-track me, I’m trying to be responsible here! Sacrificing your childhood isn’t a good thing.”
“My childhood was like sucking monkey-balls,” Harry said, using speech he knew that Sirius would appreciate. “My young adulthood has included a kick boxing competition, Kate, a massive food fight, and being arrested.”
Sirius laughed. “Tell me, how do you know what sucking monkey-balls is like?”
“Guess work. You’re the only one I know who likes to lick his own balls.”
“Touché,” Sirius smirked. “Kate’s been talking to Albus for fifteen minutes now. You might wanna go save her.”
Harry stood and winked at Sirius.
“Harry?” Sirius said. “If it means anything, I approve.”
Harry nodded. He slid down the coach, pleased to see that new groups had formed, and people were having a good time.
He slid into the chair next to Kate, who was opposite Dumbledore. “Nice suit,” he said cheerfully. “If you’ll excuse me for one second.” He didn’t wait for Dumbledore, as he reached up to cup the side of Kate’s face. He brushed one thumb gently over her lips, before he leaned in and softly kissed her. “Thanks,” he whispered.
“What for?” she asked, her eyes dancing in amusement.
“For being you.”
“Very good,” she praised. “Top marks.”
“Have I earned another kiss?” he asked roguishly.
“Maybe,” she replied.
He leaned in and lightly kissed her again. “I’ll take what I can get.” He allowed his fingers to whisper down her cheek, before taking her hand and turning to a highly amused Headmaster.
“I’ll give a hundred points to Gryffindor if you do that to Minerva,” Albus offered.
“Sorry,” Harry replied, “Aurora’s far more to my liking. Professor McGonagall is a little too strict.”
Albus raised his eyebrows. “You got her name?”
“She told me.” He paused, “it had to do with spandex.”
“I’ll have to take your word for that. I hope you don’t mind me tagging along today.”
“I was surprised,” Harry admitted.
“Ben cleared today with me,” Dumbledore explained. “And I decided that I had nothing better to do, so I would watch as well. I only meant to stay for the first fight, but I am glad that I stayed and watched the whole thing.
“I have honestly never seen that many Wizards and Witches in a Muggle place for so long before, without any problems. Of course, Miss Granger and Miss Pastwa were very firm in giving out explanations.”
“I grew up Muggle,” Kate explained. “Before going to the Ladislas Institute of Magic.”
“A fine school,” Albus approved. “I think that our Muggle studies classes would benefit from a similar excursion, and I will speak to Ms Granger about it.”
“Good plan,” Harry agreed.
“As for the fighting,” Albus said. “It was not what I expected.”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “Yes, I expected it to be a lot like our duelling competitions. I didn’t expect the respect and sportsmanship that was on show. It was quite remarkable seeing how a few seconds after you were each trying to knock each other out, you were hugging and talking.”
Harry nodded. “It was one of the best things, I think it’s because there isn’t as much testosterone involved after the fight. We’ve both stood up and given it our all, and losing isn’t a slur, it just means we have to work harder. So there is no point in being antagonistic, we can learn from each other.”
“I quite agree,” Albus said. “And lunch was superb.”
“Wait until you see what I have planned,” Harry grinned.
“Where are we going?” Kate asked.
“La Rochelle,” Harry said. “I booked their private room this morning.”
Kate blinked. “You got the private room this morning?”
“Sure, Jonathan and I are friends, he helps me out. I phoned him for advice – woke him up too – and he arranged it all for me.”
“Good work,” Kate said approvingly.
“And Jean-Sebastien is doing something special for us. His sous-chefs will be taking care of the normal guests.”
“And Richard is picking us some splendid wine,” Harry finished. “It should be a meal to remember.”
Kate smiled. “You’ve done well.”
Albus raised his hand. “Who are these people?”
Kate turned to Dumbledore. “The maître d’, sommelier, and head chef of one of the best restaurants in the country. Harry took some advice I gave him, and made friends with the most important people there – the people who actually run the restaurant.”
“I brought a vineyard in France recently,” Harry added. “It’s got brilliant terroir, Christophe is going to run it for me, and we’re going to sell the wine exclusively in their restaurant. It means we’ll be able to charge a fortune for each bottle, and have instant global credibility, which means I’ll start to recoup my investment in around three or four years.”
Kate nodded slowly. “Are you planning on living there?”
“No, I’ve already promised it to Christophe and Melissa. I may buy a nearby Villa as a holiday home though.”
“May I ask what you plan to do for the final task?” Albus asked.
Harry smiled. “The Tri-Wizard Tournament will end in a draw, but no one should be disappointed. I’ve found this spell that should do what we need.”
“As much as I expected this Tournament to go one way, I have been impressed with the way you all worked together in the Second Task.”
Harry looked at him for a long moment.
“I apologise,” Albus said. “I did not know until later how badly injured your people were.” He sighed. “Hogwarts doesn’t tell me as much anymore.”
“She’s mad at you. She blames you for allowing Snape in the school.”
“Was he really that bad?”
“You know the answer, but you ignored it.”
Albus nodded slowly. “I think I have ignored a lot,” he admitted.
“Moving on,” Kate said, “That is an impressive bruise, Harry, but we are not going out with you looking like that.”
“But I earned this.”
“Good for you,” Kate said, as she pulled out her wand and healed him. She leaned forward and kissed him. “There, all better. I’ve left a small mark for you, so it will look like you are covering it with make-up.”
Harry just pouted at her playfully.
Fred and George sat at the back of the coach, sipping butterbeer, while their girlfriends danced with some of the Durmstrang students in the large aisle between the seats.
“Good day,” Fred said.
“Being able to disturb Padfoot is always fun,” George agreed. “You know what we need to do?”
“Work out how to make Canary Creams taste of black pudding?”
“Yes. But that wasn’t what I was thinking off. We need to work out a way of playing that last fight in the Great Hall. Show everyone that if you try and take Harry on, he will accept what you give him, to a point, then he’ll suck you in, and then he’ll win.”
“Very true,” Fred agreed. “Something like a projector for a Pensieve. It might also shut our idiot younger brother up. He’s been saying that he could take Harry in a fight if it wasn’t for the bodyguards.”
George sniggered. “Let’s make that happen,” he suggested. “What are we going to do about Kate?”
“Nothing at all. We like Kate, we like Harry. This is our time to back out and forget everything. Let them make the mistakes together. Something has changed between them.”
“Something to do with a dot-named-Potter and a dot-named-Snape that faded away after a few minutes of being in the same room?”
“That’s probably it,” Fred agreed softly. “You know, I think that’s why we’re happier taking a back seat, and why we’re following him for real, not for a lark like when we started.”
“Because he’s at the front, leading?”
“Precisely. Now, we have two boys dancing with our girls. What would we use to do?”
“Correct. What do we do now instead?”
“We take a leaf from the book of Harry,” George said. “Coming?”
The two walked to the impromptu dance floor, and said, “Do you mind if we cut in?”
The two Durmstrang boys with Alicia and Angelina backed away cheerfully, allowing Fred and George to move in. A second later, the twins were dancing a romantic slow dance with the Durmstrang boys, leaving their girlfriends laughing.
By the time the meal had ended, Harry felt that he had opened a lot of people’s eyes to Muggle culture. As he had come to expect, the meal itself had been simply outstanding, and he was trying to work out a way he could get Tilly trained by Jean-Sebastien.
Tilly and Dobby had supplied smart clothes for everyone, so that they weren’t out of place. They had to visit Kate and Ben’s places, but everyone else had decent clothes at Hogwarts.
He slipped out to the front and took care of the bill, making sure to have a chat with Jonathan and Richard.
Kate had told Jonathan about the tournament, and he had to answer several questions, before bashfully admitting that he’d won his division.
Richard had instantly gone for a bottle of champagne, and they had all shared a glass. Harry ignored, as did the others, the looks they were getting from the other diners, who probably hadn’t seen Jonathan be so friendly and open.
“We’re going to walk down,” Harry said.
“Walk?” Jonathan asked, totally horrified. “Nonsense. You will take some taxis. Go back to your friends; I will sort it all out. Go, go.”
Harry allowed himself to be shooed away, back into the private room. He did his whistle again. “We’re leaving shortly,” he said. “Finish up; we’ve got some dancing to do.”
As everyone got their coats, there was an air of excitement that promised a great evening.
Jonathan regally summoned them out, and they trooped through the restaurant, in to a fleet of taxis. The trip through London was fast and efficient, and the taxi driver pulled to a stop directly outside the door, next to a traditional red carpet.
Harry opened the door and stepped out, after the driver said that it was on account. He handed over a tenner tip for each of the cabs with a wink. He tried not to wince at the “Cor, thanks Guv,” cockney response.
He helped Kate, Fleur, Melissa, Michael and Gabrielle out of the cab, allowing it to pull forward for the next cab to appear.
Kate slid into his personal space and undid his tie, sliding it off, and opening his collar.
“Mr Potter,” an energetic thin man bounced out of the club. “Welcome, Jonathan’s told me so much about you, it’s just fabulous to have you here.”
“Thank you, Mr?”
“Oh, I’m Iain.”
“And I’m Harry,” Harry said, holding out his hand.
“We’ve cleared out the VIP section for you.”
Harry smiled and palmed his credit card, he passed it to Iain. “Please see that everything is taken care off.”
“But of course, Mr Potter.”
“It took me a while, but I broke Jonathan of that habit, I can break you as well.”
“Sounds fun,” Iain said with a slight grin.
“Harry,” Harry said firmly.
Iain looked behind them. “All here? Excellent. Follow me. We’ll need to mark the under-age members with this pen, so that the bar staff know not to serve them anything alcoholic.”
“Of course,” Harry said, and called the ones who were obviously underage forward. Iain didn’t question his judgement.
“And you,” Iain said in perfect French, “must be Miss Delacour.”
Gabrielle smiled brightly and performed a perfect curtsey, despite the fact she was wearing a straight skirt and a jumper.
Iain bowed solemnly. “You grace our club with your presence.”
Gabrielle favoured him with a bright smile. “Thank you, kind sir,” she said in incredibly formal French. “Your greeting honours us.”
“Oh my,” Iain said, switching to English, and clutching his chest over his heart. “She is delightful; I’m quite in love with her already. As always, Jonathan is an excellent judge of character. Come, all of you.”
Harry followed them into the loud nightclub; he didn’t have to weave through the crowd, as a couple of bouncers cleared the path before them. They headed toward some stairs, and another bouncer held back a black velvet rope.
After looking at the table, Harry leaned into Iain. “Six bottles of your very best champagne and orange juice for the young ones, then the adults will switch to wine. If any of the older ones wants a drink, get your barmen to check with me first. I will, of course, take care of everyone.”
“Of course, Harry.”
“See,” Harry grinned, “That wasn’t hard, was it?”
Iain laughed. “I do hope you have a delightful evening.”
“We will, my last time here was brilliant.”
Iain bowed and moved off smartly, summoning several waiters with an imperious click of his fingers.
Harry moved over to Kate, and put his hand in his pocket so he could touch his wand, and cast the sound muffling charm he’d used so successfully last time. He slowly moved around the entire group, casting the spell over and over again.
Gabrielle was looking around, absolutely fascinated as the dark lights made different colours glow.
Harry grinned and moved over to one of the waiters. He whispered a request, and the man vanished. He returned a few minutes later with several pots.
“Thanks,” Harry said.
The champagne arrived next, and was poured expertly into glasses. Harry stood up, and looked at all his friends. “To friendship,” he said firmly, “And to Ben and Lisa, for teaching me what they have.”
“To friendship,” everyone said back.
“Now, dance, chat, have fun!”
About half the people headed immediately for the dance floor.
Harry turned and picked up Gabrielle, he dumped her down on the table in front of her parents. They’d chosen to sit with Sirius and Dumbledore, both of whom were looking around as curiously as Gabrielle.
“Arms up,” Harry ordered, as he pulled her jumper up and over her head. Gabrielle moved obediently, she was wearing a dark t-shirt under the jumper.
Harry put his finger in the first pot and drew a circle on her shirt. The fluorescent pink glowed in the dark light.
Gabrielle gasped in delight, and allowed him to paint her. He put two lines under each of her eyes, one in pink, the other in yellow, before he drew a swirl on each of her cheeks.
When he had finished, she dashed to a mirror, made some faces at herself, before squealing and throwing herself at him for a hug. She turned and dashed off, and he watched her move over to Fleur and start dancing with her.
“Harry,” Fred said, “we couldn’t help but notice that young Gabrielle has some interesting paint on her.”
“Quite,” George agreed. “We want some.”
Harry laughed and showed them the pots. “You can do each other.”
Fred and George each picked up a pot, and attacked each other. They stopped, exchanged pots, and continued.
When they finished, they had identical faces, in opposite colours. They almost looked like skulls. They grinned, showing gleaming white teeth, and vanished.
“Want to do me?” Kate purred.
“Yes, repeatedly, in multiple positions, but I think that Sirius, Professor Dumbledore, Michael and Marie would object. And there are indecency laws in the Muggle world.”
Kate laughed, as Michael muttered, “I wouldn’t object.”
Harry sat Kate on the table as well, but unlike with Gabrielle, he slid her jacket off, then ripped her shirt, leaving her stomach clear. He knelt and started to paint her stomach with his fingers, making his movements soft and sensual.
Her skirt was already short enough, so he didn’t have to worry about that, although he did abuse his position to caress her legs.
He looked up and met Kate’s dark eyes. They were twinkling at him, showing how amused she was. He slid up her body slowly, running his fingers in careful patterns, before he put a few small streaks on her face, under her eyes and down her jaw.
“Thank you,” she said calmly, before giving him a soft kiss. She ripped open his shirt, tearing the top four buttons off. “If people still want to be painted in a few minutes, give them the pots and come and dance with me.” She strutted down to the dance floor, freeing her hair, before she started to dance.
She captured the attention of everyone around her with ease, the way her ripped shirt flicked and flickered, and the effects he’d painted on her stomach showed off the way she moved.
There was a cough behind him, and he turned. Michael and Marie had moved in front of the table. “Us next,” Marie said firmly. “For tonight we’re going to forget that we have two children.”
“Good,” Harry said, as he looked at them. As always, Michael was immaculate, in an expensive suit with a white shirt. Marie was wearing a smart skirt and a white shirt. With the light, he could see a camisole underneath it.
He moved over to her first, invading her personal space confidently. He fixed her with his eyes, and smiled softly. Her eyes said she knew exactly what he was doing, and approved.
He slid his hands up her shirt, and then down the buttons, before easing it off her shoulders. He took the paint, and slid down, so that he could paint her stomach as well. He made the pattern different to Kate’s, before he made some marks on her camisole. He finished with some on her face, and stepped back.
Marie turned and looked in the mirror, before she shot a look at her husband. “Don’t take long,” she ordered, “or I might find someone else.”
She slinked down to the dance floor.
“Tonight is going to be brilliant, the last time she had look on her face, Gabrielle was conceived, and I needed a week to recover!” Michael had an excited look on his face.
“Forgotten me already?” Harry teased, as he removed Michael’s jacket, and started to paint his shirt. He undid a few buttons from the top, and put some paint of on the male Veela’s chest.
Michael shook his head, and almost ran after his wife as soon as Harry had finished.
“Professor Dumbledore?” Harry asked.
Dumbledore blinked in surprise, and then laughed.
“Oh no, Harry, tonight, I am happy being the older statesman. I’m quite fine here with this glass of champagne and all these wonderful sights to see.”
“Sirius? There are probably a lot of single woman here.”
Sirius laughed. “Maybe later,” he said.
Harry turned to Fleur.
“Kate sent me to be painted,” she drawled slowly.
Harry looked at her and shook his head. “You have the body of a Greek goddess, combined with fashion sense of a Swiss nun,” he sighed mournfully. “Come here.”
Fleur looked startled.
Harry reached out and removed her cardigan, leaving her in a patterned white blouse. He undid the blouse, and looked at her plain white bra, before sighing. He looked around, and then moved her to a booth. He quickly pushed her down so that her torso was out of sight, and pulled off her shirt. Before she could protest, he removed her bra, took a second to admire her figure, before putting her shirt back on. He tied the tails of the shirt together, using the fabric tension as a make-shift bra.
“Far better,” he praised as he pulled her back up so he could paint her. “You are incredibly beautiful.”
The normally composed French Part Veela blushed, as Harry slid down and painted her stomach. As he was down there, he hitched up her skirt and rolled up the waist band, showing off her legs some more.
“Fleur,” he whispered, as he stood up. “No one here cares that you’re a Veela, all they care about is that you’re a beautiful woman. Go down there, break hearts, have fun.” He pulled off his watch and attached it to her left wrist. “If you feel uncomfortable, touch the button here, I’ll be with you within a second. You’re safe; you’re always safe with me.”
Fleur’s clear blue eyes were studying him, as if she’d never seen him before.
“Go,” he ordered.
Fleur slowly smiled at him, and did as she was told. Harry watched her, as she made her way, almost automatically, over to Kate.
Kate sent a smirk up at him – even though there was no way she could have seen him, before she hugged Fleur and started to dance with her.
“Harry, can you please teach me to do that?” Sirius croaked.
“Do what?” Harry asked.
“You just half-stripped her in public, and didn’t get slapped!”
“It’s confidence, Padfoot,” Harry said. “You have to know how to do it. I could probably do you if I fancied you.”
“Yeah,” Harry smirked.
“I’m thinking that I’ve slightly missed the boat on the birds and the bees talk.”
“And the birds and the birds, and the bees and bees,” Harry agreed. “And let’s not mention the fun that is the bird and the bee and the bird’s friend from the next nest over.”
“But right now, there are two beautiful girls down there dancing, there are far too many men looking at them in awe. I think that I’m wasting my time talking to two old men.” Harry shot them a teasing smirk, and grabbed the rail. He braced and pulled himself over it, falling the fifteen foot to the ground in a controlled manner.
Tonight, his confidence was sky high. He could see Michael and Marie dancing, their bodies bouncing to the music. Marie looked brilliant, but Michael was something else. The male Veela was concentrating on his wife, and was dancing just for her, and it was breath taking. Women all around him were watching, and looking envious.
Gabrielle was dancing with his bodyguards, who had surrounded her, so that no one came close to the young girl.
As he moved closer, Kate and Fleur both ignored a couple of guys who tried to approach them. He smiled faintly; they’d approached with the tack of rampaging hippogriffs. Kate looked up, and gave him a challenging smile, before flicking her eyes at Fleur.
He had no idea what was going on between the two of them, but was willing to have fun for now and find out later.
He moved between them, as the music changed beat.
In time to the music, he reached out, and caressed Fleur’s face, his hand going to hers, as she started to back away. He yanked softly, forcing her against him, before he released her and span.
Kate was moving away, but he could see the pride in her eyes before she turned her back on him. He reached out and stopped her, his hands on her shoulder, and he pulled her back.
Kate bent her knees, falling backwards, and he caught her, his hands around the base of her neck, supporting her, as he leaned over and stared in her eyes. He raised his hand fast, throwing her into an upright position.
He turned, span on the spot, and looked at Fleur. He reached out, in time to the music, and grabbed the knot of her shirts, his fingers brushing against the sides of her breasts. He pulled her close, locked her into position, and started to whisper into her ear. “Relax, have fun, there are no promises here, just a chance to dance like you’ve secretly dreamed, and know that at the end of the day, nothing happens. You’re completely safe.”
He pushed himself away from her, and stalked toward Kate. She just stood, softly swaying to the music in a way that captivated attention. Her look challenged him, and it was a challenge he accepted.
He span around her, his hands in the air, looking at her from all angles, before taking her in his arms and pulling her back toward Fleur, moving both girls closer to each other.
He released her and twisted, his hands going to Fleur’s hips, sliding up to the side of her stomach, and pulling her back against him. He slid his right leg between her, and held her tightly, dancing back and forth for a few seconds.
He turned, and danced around Kate, his hands on her hips. He held her back against his chest, and subtly led her into an intricate series of dance steps that she followed with the skill and grace that he expected from her. They ended with her facing toward Fleur, as Harry moved from her and back to the Veela.
Fleur was using a touch of her charm, and her expression was haughty. He moved into her space, taking firm hold of her hips, leaning forward as she leaned back. He supported her and lifted her up as he swayed back himself. He balanced her carefully, as he leaned forward and lightly kissed the base of her throat, before pulling her back up right. He spun, keeping Fleur close to his back and pulled Kate in.
The three of the moved in unison, simple back and forth steps, that would look impressive from the side, and was quite difficult to achieve with one more person than normal.
He slid out from between them and moved them closer. Kate’s arm snaked around Fleur, and pulled her close, as Harry dropped to his knees, just as the music stopped.
Harry grinned up at them, and they both started to laugh.
“Woooo,” Sirius’s voice cut through the atmosphere, as people started to applaud.
Harry ignored them, and looked at Gabrielle. She had a yearning expression on her face, and he nodded at her.
Gabrielle sprinted over to them, and started to dance with him as the music started again. Kate and Fleur went back to having a conversation as they danced together.
Over Gabrielle’s head, Harry noticed Iain leading a few more bouncers in, and pointing at him, Fleur and Kate. He met Iain’s eyes, and nodded his thanks.
Iain smiled widely at him, as Harry concentrated on his miniature dance partner. Without warning, he lifted her up and threw her high into the air.
Gabrielle shrieked with pleasure, tucked her knees in, somersaulted, and arranged herself to be caught, which he did, holding her against his chest, as he danced around in a circle, clearing some space.
The techno music changed, a rock and roll beat underplayed the next track, and he smirked. He grabbed her hands, slid her down through his legs, then up high into the air.
She was easy to dance with, as she was so light, but she knew how to hold herself, how to make things easy, and how to fly.
After dancing with Gabrielle, he had closer dances with Fleur and Kate, neither of whom wanted to actually talk – he was happy to stay quiet.
He danced a few dances with some of the other girls, but wasn’t that interested in them. His dance with Marie was hysterically funny, as they both did outrageous moves that always stopped just short of the decency line, while teasing Michael.
He moved back to Fleur and Kate, and they danced together – nothing as dramatic as the first dance, just three people having fun.
Harry turned, as a long pair of dancer’s legs attached themselves to his waist, his hands automatically went to a well-muscled derriere, and his lips were stolen in a hard kiss.
“You just have to be Annie,” Kate said dryly.
“Either that, or his charm was really improved,” Fleur agreed. “Getting women to jump him like that.”
Annie unwrapped her legs, and looked at the other two women. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry,” she said, blushing furiously. She blinked. “You’re gorgeous, both of you.”
“Thank you,” Kate said dryly.
“Erm, have I just treaded on some one’s toes?” she asked. “Because Harry didn’t know I was going to be here tonight…”
“It’s complicated,” Kate said, as Fleur nodded in agreement.
“Don’t ask me,” Harry said with a shrug. “So, how have you been?”
“You should know,” she said, “you got me the job!”
“Whoa,” Harry said firmly. “I don’t do charity, and I don’t give out jobs. What I did was give you a chance. If you weren’t a great dancer, if you didn’t work your socks off, if you didn’t do everything that you have done, you wouldn’t have got the job. It was down to you and you alone.”
“Harry is right,” Fleur agreed. “All he gives is opportunities.”
“Well, thank you, you didn’t have to do that. You didn’t promise me anything.” She blushed again as she looked at Fleur and Kate.
“Neither of us was dating him at the time,” Kate said, “and clearly we both know about you; stop being embarrassed. So, you’re a dancer?”
“Yes,” Kate said. “I was at work earlier, when one of my friends said that a familiar face was here, so I came as soon as I finished.”
“Want to dance?” Fleur asked. “I’ve never had a chance to dance like this before, and it’s fun. Just a dance, nothing about later.”
“Hardly a surprise,” Annie muttered. “I feel like I’m the ten year old fat kid back at school next to you two.”
“Hey,” Harry said sharply, moving into her personal space. He raised her chin and stared at her. “You are beautiful, as beautiful as Fleur and Kate, and I won’t hear you put yourself down, understood?”
Annie gulped, “Understood,” she croaked.
He released her, and she took several deep breaths. “Does he talk to your souls directly as well?” she asked.
Kate and Fleur both nodded.
“Do you find it the strange mix of abject terror, incredible warmth and deep arousal?”
They both nodded again. “Thank God it’s not just me,” she said in relief. “Let’s dance.”
Kate sat at the bar with Annie. They were both watching Fleur and Harry dance. Harry’s shirt was now draped over his back and shoulders, the buttons undone, and he had some Gabrielle-painted patterns on his chest.
He was gorgeous. The kick-boxing had helped sculpt his body into leanness with a purpose, but it was his confidence and stance that made him truly stand out.
He knew that no matter what situation came up, he could handle it, and it showed.
She hadn’t meant to spend the day with him, she hadn’t meant to watch him fight, but when Fred and George had sent her the message, she’d not been able to resist.
Her heart had been in her mouth for most of it, but she had appreciated the way he’d sought her eyes out.
She looked at Fleur, and smiled. The French part-Veela was perfect for Harry. She was gorgeous, pure, and untouched.
Fleur was the sort of girl Harry needed.
Kate knew Harry was starting to have feelings for her, and that she’d broken her single rule in life, and started to have feelings for him as well.
She’d almost screwed up earlier, when she’d reacted to Fleur with jealousy, before remembering her promise not to get involved with Harry herself.
She needed to help them get together, although she hoped she wouldn’t have to sleep with both of them to manage it. She hated giving out freebies, and it would be too difficult to try and charge for it.
The music ended, and Harry and Fleur were pressed against each other.
She grabbed Annie and moved over, deciding to help drive him mad, so that Fleur would have no problems later.
Because Fleur would be perfect.
After all, she had been paid to help Harry get Fleur, and she always did what she was paid for.
Gabrielle sat on her bed, with her legs crossed. Frankly, she was confused.
Her parents had vanished, and she was pretty sure what they were up to. She hoped so, anyway. It would be nice to have a new sister.
All her friends had gone to bed.
But what confused her was what had happened after the end of the party. Kate had gone home, Annie had gone back to her flat, Harry was in his bed, and Fleur was here.
It didn’t make sense. There had been so many emotions on display earlier, so much unresolved sexual tension, so why was everyone in their own bed?
She watched as Fleur brushed her own hair, slowly. She could feel her sister’s sadness, even from across the room. It didn’t make sense. She should be in bed with Harry, not here.
“Fleur?” She asked softly.
Fleur paused for a second, and then continued to brush. Each stroke was identical to the last.
“Why are you here?” she tried.
Fleur slowly put her brush down, and moved over to her bed. She sat, propped up against the headboard, and held out her arms.
Gabrielle scampered across the gap between them, and sat on her sister’s lap.
Fleur held her close, tightly, in a way that she hadn’t for years.
“Fleur?” she asked again, starting to be a little scared.
“When Kate sent me up to Harry, he removed my cardigan, my shirt, my bra, and then did my shirt up again.”
Gabrielle nodded. “You looked amazing.”
“Thank you,” Fleur whispered. “I’ve never let another man see me in anything more revealing than a swim suit, and yet he had me topless without any effort.”
“And it was exciting?” Gabrielle prompted.
“That, and terrifying. I can’t be what he needs, Gabrielle, and he can’t be what I need.”
“Huh?” she asked, now really confused.
“I need someone more normal.”
“But you are Veela.”
“Part,” Fleur corrected gently. “My Veela side wants him passionately. And my human side is terrified of him. I cannot go through life unbalanced like that.”
“Is it Kate?” Gabrielle asked, not understanding.
“Yes and no.”
“She’d share,” Gabrielle pointed out.
“Oh, Gabrielle,” Fleur said, hugging her tightly. “All this knowledge in your golden head without the understanding needed beneath it. Kate doesn’t want to share, and neither do I. In real life, sharing doesn’t happen. Look at Mum and Dad.”
“They both like Harry,” Gabrielle said.
“They do,” Fleur agreed. “Very much, but they are adults, as is Harry. They laugh and they flirt, but that is it, there are limits they all agree to, and they all follow. Mama is amazing, a human woman with a male Veela, she has to be so strong, because all the time, woman try to seduce Papa, but Papa isn’t interested because he loves Mama more than life.
“Harry has been playing with that, turning it around so that a male is doing the flirting with Papa, not a female, and it disarms them both completely. Mama doesn’t feel jealous, or frustrated, or scared, because she can feel that it’s just in fun, and it is funny. Both Papa and Harry are heterosexual.”
“But they kissed.”
“They’re also very secure, and Harry did it to play with people’s minds.”
“You didn’t think that before, though.”
“I hadn’t touched Harry like I have now; I know a lot more about him than I did then. Harry also likes Mama, and flirts with her as well, and Mama likes it, because it gives Papa an idea of how she feels a lot of the time.
“Papa trusts Harry with Mama, as he trusts Harry with you. He knows that Harry would never cross the invisible line they have with each other. So, for others, it looks like they would all go to bed together, but that would never happen. They would all imply it, or pretend, because it makes them laugh, but at the end of the night, Mama and Papa go to their bed, and Harry goes to his.”
“But Kate did share before,” Gabrielle tried, trying a different track.
“For reasons other than because she wanted too,” Fleur said gently. “There is a history in her that is dark and disturbing, and I didn’t go into it. It wasn’t any of my business.
“The thing is, Kate can handle Harry, whereas only part of me could, and that isn’t good enough.”
Gabrielle sighed deeply. “So why aren’t you at least having a fun first time?”
“Because I think I could get addicted to him. Maybe if I was older…” Fleur trailed off.
“These sound like excuses,” Gabrielle said. “It’s like you’re denying yourself something that would be great and you’re trying to work out why.”
Fleur’s embrace changed, to one of protectiveness, and that confused her even more.
“Gabrielle,” she said quietly. “Harry is not perfect.”
“What?” she asked, she didn’t think he was perfect. Close to it, but not absolutely.
“There is a darkness inside Harry, Gabrielle. And that is the real reason.”
“A darkness?” she asked.
“Yes,” Fleur said softly. “Behind the smiling face, the charm, the ability to dance like an angel, there is something deep and dark. It is his will, his desire, and I don’t know how to temper it, or how to help control it. I’m afraid that something would set him off, and I couldn’t stop it.”
“Harry would never hurt you!”
“I know, I know,” Fleur said soothingly. “I know it would never be aimed at me, but one day, someone might hurt me, and Harry would react, and it would be terrifying.”
They were silent for a while, before Gabrielle felt Fleur start to cry.
She turned, kneeling up so that she could try and be the big sister. She opened herself, and felt the desire her sister had for Harry, and the matching fear that she’d be swallowed up by him, and the way the conflicting emotions were tearing her apart.
Slowly, Gabrielle realised that in making himself grow up, Harry had lost something integral, he’d spent too much time alone, and trusted himself more than anyone else. He had people who could give him advice, but if he didn’t agree with it, he wouldn’t take it, and no one and no thing could stop him.
It had the potential to be devastating for the people close to him, or the people against him.
But her sister was very wrong. It wasn’t scary, it was wonderful. She knew that if anyone hurt them, Harry would deal with it, and the world would then be scared to hurt them in the future. It was a beautiful darkness that would keep her, and everyone she loved, safe for the rest of their lives.
Harry always wanted to help the people he cared about; that was why he was doing what he did, not for himself, but for everyone else, so that he could protect them.
She gently eased Fleur down as she fell asleep, so that her sister was comfortable. She covered her with a blanket, and kissed her forehead gently. She did love Fleur, almost as much as she loved Harry.
Gabrielle slipped on some shoes and walked out of the carriage, unafraid of the dark. There may be monsters out there, but the monster’s monster was her personal God.
The monster’s monster was like stone.
She almost stumbled as thoughts raced together.
He was like stone. He could be cold, hard, and ruthless. Like stone. Like living stone. Like Hogwarts. There was a distinct similarity between how Harry felt at a deep level, and how Hogwarts could project herself.
She smiled widely. That was so cool!
She looked at the sky and twirled under the stars. If she prayed for Harry, he would be there for her. If she needed something, he would provide it. If she had enemies, he would smite them for her. If she needed comfort, he would provide it. If she needed to know something, he would teach her and make her earn the answer. And if she needed someone to make the right decision, no matter what the cost, he would make it.
She had everything, she felt like she was his first angel, entrusted with a role more important than creation. In return for everything he provided, all she had to do was worship him with every part of her being.
And worship she did, without hesitation or doubt.
She walked up to the ship, and nodded as Crusher opened one eye to look at her, and then went back to sleep.
She walked down stairs, passed Hermione’s room, and straight into his. She stood by his bed and lightly touched his shoulder, putting a pleading look on her face. She deserved this, she’d stayed away from him as much as she could all day, and sat with others when all she wanted to do was never be out of touching distance.
He opened one eye long enough to focus on her, before he muttered, “Fine,” and went back to sleep.
That was good enough for her. She kicked off her shoes and climbed into bed with him. She was about to sleep, when she could hear her father’s voice warning her not to do this. Just to be absolutely sure, she reached out and gently touched him, opening herself completely, checking to see what he was thinking about.
She snatched her hand back and giggled, before blushing furiously.
There was definitely no sexual desire aimed at her. Lots and lots of desire directed at Fleur, Annie and Kate, oh yeah. Although she didn’t think her sister was that flexible, or that Annie liked girls that much, or that Kate would be comfortable in that position.
Still, there was nothing wrong with his imagination. And the quality and clarity of his imagery was simply unbelievable.
She giggled silently again, snuggled close to his back, and went to sleep.
When she awoke, she found herself cuddled against his chest. She smiled happily, and then slipped out of bed. That last thing she wanted was a return of his silly human morals.
She looked at the large clock, and winced. They were going to be late for breakfast. “Harry,” she called, climbing back onto the bed.
“Hey,” he rasped sleepily.
He yawned and stretched, before inhaling. “Yeuch, I need a shower,” he stated. “Then yes, breakfast.”
She didn’t bother trying to tell him that he smelled fine, because he was a tad smelly. He hadn’t showered after the tournament – just used a cleaning charm – and had gone to bed immediately. She’d showered before her discussion with Fleur.
She called for Tilly to get her some clothes, and got dressed while Harry was still in the shower, and then made sure she was busy while he got dressed.
She got him to carry her to breakfast, and relaxed, happily absorbing the love he always gave her. “I love you,” she whispered, and kissed his ear softly. The flow of love back seemed to double, and it took all her willpower not to groan in pleasure. She knew he didn’t like her making those sort of sounds.
Hogwarts welcomed them back into the school. Now that she’d realised there was a connection between the two of them, it was easier to sense it.
Gabrielle is an eight year old Veela. Her concept of divinity is rather different to everyone else. So just because she thinks that Harry is as close to a God as exists, does not mean that Harry actually is.
So, a lot of fighting in the last two chapters - and I did get a question as to why. My main points were a) showing Harry doing something that was completely and utterly his. It's great following in your father's footsteps (pranks) and your mothers (studying well) but there comes a time in life where you have to step out of your parents' shadows and do something for yourself. And b) Exploring something completely different. The Birmingham NEC, isn't a bad venue. And while long winded, the other point is establishing credentials for use later in the story.
Next chapter will be in a couple of weeks - and some more clues about the power that Harry appears to have. After that, we finally light the blue torch paper.