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2 - Paris

By Jeconais

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Harry looked at himself in the mirror, as he did up the buttons of his black dress shirt.  Hermione had insisted that he improve his wardrobe, and she had dragged him around Muggle London one Saturday to ensure he had clothes that were suitable for his new job.

He bent and quickly did the laces on his black shoes, absently rotating his shoulder as he did.  It felt better than it had in a while, but he had been told, very firmly, just how fragile it really was.

He absently ran his fingers through his hair, which was still unmanageable despite Hermione’s best efforts.  He had drawn the line when she had wanted to start casting identification spells to see if his hair had been cursed.

There was a gentle knock on his door, and he opened it, letting Gabrielle in.

Gabrielle was wearing an off the shoulder ivory coloured pleat dress, with a black blazer over her shoulders, and flamenco black patent and cream sandals on her feet. 

“You look very smart,” Gabrielle said with a smile, looking him up and down in a way he hadn’t expected.

“Thank you,” he said, turning back to the counter and pulling on his watch.  “You’re looking very good as well.”

“Why, thank you,” she replied with a wide smile.  “It’s an Yves Saint Laurent special.”

“Muggle designer?”

“One of the best,” she nodded. 

“It suits you,” he smiled.  “Shall we?”

“But of course,” Gabrielle said with a cute little curtsy.  “I thought that we could start outside at the Quidditch Pitch.”

Harry smiled, “Sounds like a good idea.”  He followed her out of his room and down one of the corridors. 

“You shouldn’t get lost here,” she said.  “It’s very logical.  All rooms are called after the floor they are on and their location.”

Harry nodded.  “In Hogwarts, some of the rooms move when they feel like it.  It makes it very difficult at times.”

“Hogwarts has always fascinated me from an academic perspective,” Gabrielle smiled.  “But I don’t think I would want to go to school there.  It doesn’t seem very friendly to the students.”

“It’s not that bad,” Harry replied.  “It just means that you have to pay attention a lot more.”  They descended one of the wide staircases and walked outside into the sunshine.  “I could get used to this weather.”

“You’re not blonde,” Gabrielle laughed.  “If I spend too much time without protective spells, I turn into a hideous lobster.”

“I doubt you could be a hideous anything,” Harry replied, before stopping himself from saying anything else.  He was a little concerned that he was engaging in mild flirting with a future student of his.

Gabrielle smiled at him and turned the corner.

“This looks new,” Harry said, as he looked up at the Quidditch Pitch.

“It is,” Gabrielle agreed.  “And the students can’t wait to learn how to play properly.”

“Sorry?” Harry asked, a little confused.

“We have never played Quidditch at school before,” Gabrielle explained.  “It was considered to be too dangerous for students to play.  However, after the embarrassment of our national team being knocked out by Gambia in the World Cup, our politicians decided that we needed to be taught how to play at a young age so that we could find the natural talent and develop it.”

Harry smiled slightly.  “So I’m going to be helping France find the people who will be playing against me in the future.”


Harry nodded and walked out into the middle of the pitch.  “It looks very familiar,” he smiled.

“It should be, Madame Maxime borrowed the plans from Professor Dumbledore.  Over here,” she said, walking to one corner.  “Is the equipment shed.”

Harry followed her and hid a smile.  A shed, it was not.  Like the rest of the school he had seen so far, it was luxurious.  Against one of the walls were twenty brand new brooms, all of them top of the range.  He walked over and examined each one closely.

“The brooms were donated by each of the French League clubs.  They wanted to encourage this project.  They all pointed out how you and Oliver Wood, to name two, were products of the Hogwarts scheme, and Viktor Krum of Durmstrang.”

“Do you have the equivalent of Houses over here?”

“We don’t,” Gabrielle sighed.  “I believe that Madame Maxime will be talking to you about the best way to encourage competition between the students.”

Harry nodded thoughtfully.  He’d probably suggest a House type system, only without the Sorting Hat.  The idea of interschool competition itself was a good one, but when you had houses sorted by personality, you didn’t get much of a diversity, which in itself had led to Slytherin being a breeding ground for Death Eaters.

“How are the students separated, for sleeping purposes?”

“We are separated by year,” Gabrielle explained, as she led him back outside into the sun.  “Each year has its own common room and dormitories attached to it.”

“As Head Girl, how do you think the students would react to the concept of Houses?  I don’t want to go down the Hogwarts route of separating people by personality, but a random grouping to match people of all talents and experiences.”

“I think they would find it strange, but also a little exciting.  I think that we have suffered from lack of competition for some time.  Once in the real world, we often find it hard to compete with the rest of the world for a few years, until we get used to the fact that life isn’t fair.  Last year I did a project where I interviewed some of our alumni, to see what they thought of life after Beauxbatons.  It was very illuminating.”

Harry smiled faintly at her.  “Fleur didn’t seem to have any problems with the Tri-Wizard Tournament.”

“You mean apart from coming last?” Gabrielle pointed out.  “She was out of her depth and used her arrogance and Veela powers to cover it neatly.”

Harry nodded.  Back in the school, they walked into one of the common rooms.  It looked like a giant library, with study desks grouped into four that were scattered around the room.  There were several large fireplaces with comfortable-looking furniture arranged in front of them.  “This room wouldn’t have lasted long in Hogwarts,” he said with a smile.  “Especially not in Gryffindor.  We had old furniture for a reason.”

“Because of the pranks?” Gabrielle asked.  “We do not have many played here.”

Harry smiled crookedly.  “They can be good for breaking the tension, especially at times of stress.”

Gabrielle nodded and didn’t comment, giving him the impression that she wasn’t sure he was right.

She glanced at the slim watch on her wrist and looked at him.  “We have time to see one of the classrooms, before we will meet for dinner.  Is there any class in particular you would like to see?”

“How about Potions?” Harry asked, curious to see how it compared to the Dungeons back in Hogwarts.  As they didn’t have much time, he decided to see the more important rooms later.

Gabrielle nodded, “That is on the fourth floor.”

They walked out and up two more flights of stairs.  Harry paused by a window and looked out. 

“The view from the roof is even better,” Gabrielle said with a slight smile as she looked out at the grounds. 

Harry nodded and followed her down the elegant corridor to the classroom.  Inside was an obviously custom-designed room.  Each desk had a small cauldron and fire built into it.  Around the walls, between the large windows, were informative posters, reminding students about proper behaviour, which showed them how to do some of the simpler tasks.  It was something he would have found very useful, rather than the endless shouting he had endured from Snape.

Gabrielle looked at her watch again. “If we leave now, we should be suitably late,” she said with a smile.

“Late?” Harry asked.

“But of course,” Gabrielle smiled.  “It is never polite to turn up on time, fifteen minutes late is much preferred.”

Harry nodded and followed her downstairs, squaring his shoulders a little.  It had been a long time since he had eaten with a number of people, and he was more than a little nervous about it.

“Don’t worry, Harry,” Gabrielle said softly.  “Part of my job is making sure you fit in and have a nice time.  Just follow my lead, and you’ll be fine.  You may be asked some personal questions; if you don’t want to answer, say so politely.  Madame Maxime and I will be careful to make sure people don’t cross the line with you.”

He tilted his head slightly and looked at the girl and slowly smiled.  It was a little disconcerting that she could read him so well. 

She paused in front of an imposing set of double doors, and then reached up and lightly pressed a small corner of one of the panels.  The doors swung open regally before them, revealing a room that was simply magnificent.

Mahogany cabinets flanked each wall that were separated by statues and paintings, most of which were magical.  Along the centre of the room was a long, single table, although there was room for a lot more.  Unlike Hogwarts, the ceiling wasn’t enchanted; it was painted a light blue with white fleur-de-lis shapes imprinted in it.

Around the room, smalls groups of people were standing engaged in conversations.  Everyone seemed to be holding a wine glass.  He could see Olympe at the far end of the room.

“Papa,” Gabrielle said, as an older gentleman approached them.  “I would like to introduce Harry Potter, Harry; this is Jean-Sebastian, my father.”

Harry held out his hand, and as the other man grasped it, he clapped his other hand against the man’s elbow.  “It’s good to see you again, Jean.”

“As it is you, Harry,” Jean smiled.  “I wasn’t sure if you would remember me.”

“How could I not?” Harry smiled.  “If it hadn’t been for your help, we might never have got the French Aurors involved in the fight.”

“It was the least I could do,” Jean smiled.  “Can I offer you an aperitif?”

Harry nodded and raised the glass he was offered to his nose, sniffing it.  He was hit by a rich aroma and smiled slowly.             

“Château de Laubade, 1948,” Jean said with a smile.  “One of our best.”

Harry nodded and took a sip, hiding his surprise that Gabrielle was drinking as well.  He’d forgotten that Hermione had told him that French children were often allowed to drink wine with their elders.

“Has Gabrielle shown you the Quidditch Pitch yet?”

“She has been an extremely helpful and patient guide,” Harry replied with a smile.  “She was more than willing to stand around while I had a look at each of the brooms.”

Gabrielle flushed cutely at the praise.  “It was nothing.”

“Some of our professors will be arriving by Portkey shortly,” Jean said.  “Dinner will start soon afterwards.”

Harry nodded.  “This whole place is beautiful.”

“It is indeed,” Jean agreed.  “I am fortunate enough to be on the board of Governors here.  I try to spend at least one night a week here.  It also gives me a chance to keep up with my daughter,” he finished with a fond smile at Gabrielle.

“Papa,” Gabrielle smiled and gave him a quick hug.

“Gabrielle mentioned that you’ve been having a second honeymoon?”

“I have indeed,” Jean replied with an easy smile.  “We came home yesterday after spending some time in the Canary Islands.”

A large clock in the corner rang six and a half times, and with a slight pop, four more professors arrived.

Harry was moving before they even finished appearing.  His senses were in full swing; his magic raised to its full.  “No one move,” he snarled in a French accent that was a little more common than the one he had been using before.  His wand was in his left hand; his right hand was glowing slightly.

There was absolute silence around the room, as everyone stared at him. 

“One of you is carrying Dark Magic; who?” he demanded.  It was another product of the war, the ability to sense Dark Magic – magic designed to inflict death or misery on others. 

As none of them moved, he made several sharp gestures with his right hand, separating the four and lining them up.  With quick movements, he shot a beam of white light at each of them.  One of them glowed for a second.  With a casual movement, he released the other three and stalked towards the single professor left. 

She reminded him a bit of Trelawney, with the same bird-style hairdo and unruly robes. 

With his left hand he pointed his wand at her, moving it up and down.  It stopped at her right hand, pointing.  Without really thinking about it, he froze her in place, with a modified Petrificus spell.  As carefully as he could, he magically pulled a ring off her hand and summoned a bowl of water next to him.

He placed the ring in the water and whispered, “Reveal yourself,” under his breath in English.  Half of his concentration was still on the professor.  If she moved, he was quite prepared to kill her first and ask questions later. 

A gasp echoed around the room as small hooded figure appeared above the water.  “I am the Ring of Assassination,” it intoned in French.  “One touch from me with the command of power is fatal.  I have killed forty-six times.”  The figure sunk back into the water, and was gone.

Harry turned to the professor who was staring at it in shock.  “Exactly why are you carrying an assassin’s ring?” he demanded coldly.  He released his control over her head so that she could respond.

“I-I-I-I didn’t know,” she replied.

“Liar,” Harry spat.

She looked around desperately.  No one seemed willing to help her or cross him.

“It’s a family heirloom,” she said.  “I’d heard rumours about it, but that’s it.”

“Why are you wearing it?”

She looked away from him.

“Look at me,” he snarled.  Her head snapped back towards his.

She slowly blushed.  “I had heard rumours that you could detect Dark Magic, and I wanted to see if it was the truth.”

Harry looked at her disgustedly.  This was exactly the sort of thing he had wanted to avoid, acting like some form of show pony.  He growled and used his temper to power a spell aimed at the bowl of water containing her ring.  The bowl burst into flame, the water evaporating instantly.  He poured more of his magic into it, till he felt the Dark Magic vanish, signifying the ring had been destroyed.

He looked around and sighed, as people were staring at him in shock and dismay.

He turned to Olympe who was looking at him curiously.  “If you’ll excuse me,” he said with a sigh.  “I’ve lost my appetite.”  He didn’t wait for her reaction.  He waved his hand to free the professor, and walked out of the Hall, the doors opening for him and slamming shut behind him. 

Gabrielle watched as Harry stalked out of the Hall and shook herself slightly.  She’d heard, mainly from Ron and Hermione that he could be the most imposing person on the planet, but hadn’t really believed it until she had seen that display.  She’d never felt so much pure magic in her life.  It had made the hair on the back of her neck stand up on edge.

It was suddenly very clear to her how he had defeated Voldemort.  Things like self-preservation went out the window, to be replaced by the determination to do what was needed, regardless of personal cost.

She turned to face the professor and tried very hard to keep her temper in check.  It wasn’t working, so she took a step forward, prepared to tell her exactly what her opinion was, in the basest possible way.

A hand on her shoulder stopped her, and she looked up.  Her own temper vanished as she saw the expression on her father’s face.  The quiet rage was visible in his eyes, and she was thankful it wasn’t aimed at her. 

Like Harry had earlier, Jean stalked forwards.  “Exactly what were you thinking,” he hissed.

The professor looked up nervously.

“Do you have any idea how hard I worked to bring Mr Potter to Beauxbatons?” he demanded.  “I gave my word to his friends that he would be able to heal here, to remember what it is like to be a normal person.  I promised them that it would be beneficial for him. 

“I saw him when he defeated Voldemort.  Whilst you were cowering in your classroom, an eighteen-year-old boy was standing up to the most evil creature I have ever seen, and he won.  He was magnificent, taking punishment that had me wanting to tell him to stop, to give in.  But he wouldn’t.  He pushed himself for the rest of the world.  He fought so that you would be safe to continue to teach.

“The French government, in a rare display of competency has given me full backing to make sure Harry is looked after here.  France always pays her debts, and we owe that young man an impossibly large one.  Every government in the world would love to be in the situation we are in, to give him some reward.  Although he has not been presented with it, he has been awarded the Legion of Honour.

“His courage and ability is only outshone by his modesty.  He truly desires nothing more than to be treated normally.  It was something that I felt that Beauxbatons would be perfect to provide for him.”  He paused and turned to glare at everyone else in the room.  “I hope there will not be a repeat of this,” he said quietly, the thinly veiled threat evident in his voice.

“There will not be,” Olympe rumbled firmly.  “Madame Prévoyez, you will wait for me in my office.”

The professor nodded and literally ran out of the room.

“I am sorry, Jean,” Olympe said quietly.  “I should have expected someone would be stupid enough to do that.”

Jean sighed and walked over to a seat and collapsed down into it. 

“What I want to know,” Professor Bayard, who was Beauxbatons’ defence professor, said.  “Is will he be willing to work with our defence class?  That was some of the most impressive magic I’ve ever seen.”

Jean smiled slightly.  “You should see him when he really gets angry.  I don’t know. I suspect that if you ask him the right way he might not be too objectionable.  But don’t forget that he was trained for two years with some of the best in the world, and like all good students, it didn’t take him long to outshine his teachers.  And when you combine that with an intractable will and determination, a firm set of morals that guide him clearly in matters of right and wrong, you have a Chevalier.”

“Papa,” Gabrielle said as she walked over to him.  “Harry hasn’t eaten since lunch.”

“How are you doing with him?” he asked.

She thought for a second.  “It was going fine until Professor Idiot interfered.”

“You’re not worried about the magic?”

“Of course not,” she sniffed.  “I do not carry Dark Magic on me.”

Jean smiled slightly and reached into his pocket.  He pulled out his wallet and handed her a number of notes.  “Here; Muggle money.  Take him into Paris and get him something to eat.  He should be okay with just the two of you.”

“How will we get there, I cannot Apparate?”

“Harry could probably Apparate the whole school,” Jean said dryly.  “He won’t have trouble with one girl.”

Gabrielle smiled and gave her father a quick kiss on the cheek.  “I’ll do my best to reassure him that she was an idiot, and he shouldn’t judge everyone else by her.”

“Good girl,” he praised.  “Now go; he’s probably feeling a little guilty about the way he handled it.”

“I agree, although I don’t see why,” she sniffed.  “I would have hit her.”  She grinned at her father, offered a formal bow to Madame Maxime, and dashed out of the room.

She ran up the stairs to Harry’s room, and listened carefully at the door.  She could just make out the sound of swearing.

She calmed herself down a little and lightly tapped on the door. 

There was a pause, before the door swung open, and she had to restrain a gasp.  His eyes were passionate balls of emerald fire.  His shirt was slightly unbuttoned, showing off some of his chest, and his sleeves were rolled up. 

She wanted him to look at her like that.  She wanted to see him that out of control due to her, she wanted him to kiss her looking like that, as if all he wanted to do was consume her soul.  She wanted him.  Badly.  Right now.

She ruthlessly thrust those feelings away.  “I am sorry,” she said, looking down.  “We didn’t expect Professor Idiot to do something so stupid.”

There was a pause, and she looked up hopefully.  The passion seemed to leave his eyes, replaced by amusement.  He leant against the doorframe and laughed under his breath.  “Professor Idiot?”

“An informal nickname,” Gabrielle replied with a small smile. “Her real name is Prévoyez.  She is our divination professor.”

Harry sighed audibly.  “My divination professor was obsessed with predicting my death.”

Gabrielle nodded; she had heard about Trelawney.  “Anyway,” she said softly.  “My father tells me that you can Apparate two people?”

Harry nodded, looking at her quizzically.

“In that case, let us go and get something to eat.”

Harry looked surprised.

“You do not want to eat with the others tonight, correct?”

He nodded.

“Then I shall take you into Paris, and we shall eat among the Muggles, where we will be left alone.”

He smiled at her slowly.  “I think I would like that,” he confessed. 

“Then come,” she said.  “You will not need a coat; the weather this evening will be perfect.”

He nodded and stepped forwards, absently doing up one of the buttons on his shirt. 

“My father is most upset with Professor Idiot,” she said, as she guided him away from the entrance and down another hallway.  “He made a promise to your friends that you would not have to deal with that sort of thing here.  He feels that his word has been broken, and he made his feelings very clear.”

Harry frowned, “It wasn’t Jean’s fault.  I have always found him to be an honourable man.”

Gabrielle opened a door to a room with an intricately-patterned doorway.  “This is our Apparition point,” she said.  “The wards will allow you to leave from here, but not come back.”

Harry smiled slightly.  “This would have been useful at Hogwarts.  Where are we going?” 

“Can you take the destination from my mind?” she asked.  She had no worries about him reading her mind to deeply; he simply would never do that.  He was much too honourable to do so.

He nodded and then paused, looking at her, a little embarrassed.  “I’m afraid that you’ll have to be close for me to Apparate us,” he explained.

She smiled at him.  That sounded perfect to her.  She walked forwards and hugged him, feeling his arms go around her.  She turned her head to one side and felt the warmth of his chest, and could hear the reassuring thud of his heartbeat.  She felt so at home, as only the touch of her mate could allow her to feel.  Her head fit under his chin perfectly.  She started to struggle to keep herself from responding to him.  She really wanted to move against him – her Veela nature was calling for it with a passion she had never experienced before. 

There was a brief feeling of nothingness before they arrived in an alleyway.  She had chosen it because it was out of the way and they would not be seen by Muggles.  She felt him release her, and she moved backwards reluctantly.  She missed the feeling instantly and used it to fire her determination.  Life being held by him was what she wanted with every fibre of her body, and whatever it took, she was ready to do.  Well, nearly anything.  She was not prepared to tell him the truth – she didn’t want him like that, no matter what the cost was for her.  She would rather go insane than trap him for life because of her own stupidity.

“Down here,” she said as she smiled at him, shaking of her depressing thoughts and pointing towards a busy street.  She had only taken a few steps when four youths dressed in red leather jackets walked around the corner.

“What have we here,” one of them sneered.  “It’s our lucky day.  Give us your wallet and the girl,” he said to Harry.  “And we might let you live.”

Gabrielle felt a cold hand of fear wrap around her heart.  She looked at the four, unable to move.  She’d never been in a situation like this before, and she found her mind blank as she tried to remember her Defence classes.

“Or,” Harry drawled.  “You turn around and run away, and I don’t kill you for interrupting my evening.”

The thug pulled out a large knife.  “Yeah?” he taunted.

She took a step closer to Harry, moving behind him a little, needing to be closer to him as she stared at the man in front of them.

Harry simply smiled, and they gasped.  “You are messing with things you cannot understand,” he said chillingly.  “You can expect to pay the price.”

She felt his arm wrap around her, lifting her easily.  “My beautiful lady,” he said, his voice echoing up and down the alleyway hypnotically.  “You will wait here for me; you will not move.  I will take you to the utmost ecstasies as you submit your life force to me.  But for now, I shall teach these ruffians what happens when they interrupt Nosferatu’s dinner.”

Her eyes were locked on the fangs she hadn’t noticed before, as he turned away from her.  She couldn’t move anything but her eyes, so she looked at the four thugs.

”What the hell are you talking about?” the lead demanded.

Harry laughed chillingly.  “Little boys playing with knives in the dusk.  Four more statistics for the police.  Come to me.  Come to your eternal sleep.”

There was a moment of perfect stillness. 

As one, the four men turned and ran as fast as they could, straight across the street, causing some of the cars to brake hard and swerve to avoid them.

He turned back to her, the fangs gone, and smiled softly.  “Are you okay?”

She burst into tears and felt him pull her close.

“Shhh,” he whispered.  “It’s okay.”

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed. 

“Whatever for?” he asked.

“I just stood there,” she cried into his shoulder.  “I froze; I didn’t even try and help you.”  She felt so guilty, like she had let him down personally, and hated the feeling.  She’d never been so afraid before, both for him and for herself.

“Shhhh,” he whispered, patting her back gently.  “It’s okay.  Honestly, it’s fine.  They were never going to be a problem.”

“But I should have done something,” she whispered.  “I’m a Veela, I should have enthralled them or something.  Done anything, not just stand there like a lemon.”

He laughed softly.  “Do you want to go back to the school?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head.  She didn’t want to return as a failure to her father.  She had said that she was going to make sure he was okay, and she was going to do that.  “Let’s go and have dinner.”

He smiled at her and turned.

“Just one second,” she called.  She reached into her pocket, pulled out a mirror, and had a look at the damage her crying had done to her face.  Luckily, it wasn’t much, and she was able to repair it with a tissue and a quick burst of her Veela power.  She squared her shoulders. 

It had seemed so easy beforehand.  She had learnt to duel in classes like the others, and had been the best at it.  Academically, she had the skills, but the first time she had a chance to impress him, she had frozen and been worse than useless.  It was something else she was going to have to work on.  She needed to be able to deal with her fear so that she could stand beside him.

And then there was his vampire impersonation.  He had looked dark, mysterious, and elegant.  He looked like he was dangerous, like a wolf.  It was by far the sexiest thing she had ever seen.  Even through her fear, the idea of submitting her life to him, having him drink from her was the most erotic thing she had ever experienced.

Gabrielle walked into her room and kicked off her shoes.  She threw her jacket onto the bed and casually stripped the rest of her clothes off.

“Back, are we?” Fleur’s voice asked through the Floo.

“Come on through, Fleur,” she called, as she walked into the bathroom.  She returned a few minutes later, dressed in a pair of pyjama bottoms and a baggy t-shirt.

Her sister was sitting in a chair, sipping a cup of coffee.

“How is he?”

“Sexy? Beautiful? Amazing?” Gabrielle said as she walked into her little kitchenette and made herself a cup of tea.

“How can you drink that stuff?” Fleur asked.

“It took practice, but I’m a little addicted now.”

“Dad told me about what happened.”

Gabrielle nodded and curled up in the chair opposite her sister.  “I went to get him, and I saw what he looks like when he’s feeling passionate about something.  It took everything for me not to jump him there and then.

“He put his arms around me so we could Apparate, and I could have spent the rest of my life there in perfect pleasure.”

She took a deep breath.  “And when we arrived, four thugs tried to mug us.”

“What?” Fleur demanded.

“Four thugs tried to attack us,” Gabrielle repeated.

Fleur started to laugh.  “Oh dear.  Did Harry leave them in a recognisable state?”

Gabrielle smiled slightly.  “He was amazing.  He did a wandless charm to make himself look like a Muggle’s idea of a vampire.  He told me to stay still, before he told them they were going to pay the price for interrupting a vampire’s lunch. 

“I think one of them lost control of his bowels, as they all turned and ran like, well, a vampire was on their tails.”

“And?” Fleur asked.

Gabrielle looked down at her toes.  “I froze.  I was so scared.  He was taking care of the four of them, and I forgot that I was even a Veela and a witch.”

Fleur walked over in front of her and dropped to her knees.  “It’s okay.  I froze the first time as well.  Most people do.  If you’re lucky, you’re with someone who can look after you.”

“Harry didn’t freeze the first time.”

“You can’t compare yourself to him.  Harry is a hero – he’s unique.”

Gabrielle sniffed and nodded.  “Well, afterward we did have a good meal.  And he transported me back in his arms again.

“But he’s going to think that I’m useless.  Or worse, like that Chang girl.”

Fleur laughed softly.  “No, he’s not.  He’s going to think that you’re Gabrielle.  And that’s a good thing.”

“It is?”

“Yes,” Fleur said firmly.  “It is.  Now, it’s late, so get to bed.  I’m going back to Bill’s for the next few days.  If you want me, holler.”

“Thanks sis.”

“You’re welcome,” Fleur smiled.  “And hang your clothes up before you go to bed,” she said as she hopped into the fire.

Gabrielle sighed and walked around the room, turning the lights off, before she popped into the bathroom to wash and do her teeth, and eventually she climbed into her bed.

She tried to imagine what it would be like to have Harry in bed with her, the body heat he would generate, and how it would feel to have him there, under her fingertips. 

She felt a tear run down her face and land on the pillow beneath her.  For the first time she was sorely tempted to tell him the truth.  It had been easier to have her morals before she had met him, before she had been held, no matter how platonically, by him.

As the tears continued to fall, she curled up around a pillow, and eventually fell into a troubled sleep.

“Good morning,” Harry said, as he entered the Headmistress’ office.

“Good morning, Harry,” Olympe smiled.  “Did you sleep well?”

“I did, yes.  It took me a few minutes to get used to the bed, but I was tired.”

“Did you enjoy Paris?”

He smiled and nodded.  “Look, I want to apologise for yesterday.”

“You have absolutely nothing to apologise for,” Olympe interrupted firmly.  “It was the most idiotic thing I have ever seen.  Madame Prévoyez and I had a very long talk about her behaviour, and she is now on probation.  That sort of thing is not tolerated here.”

Harry smiled slowly, pleasantly surprised.  “Thank you.”

“I do have one question though.”


“Would you mind having a talk with our defence instructor?  He was very excited with seeing you in action, and he would love the opportunity to discuss some of the techniques you have used and how he can teach them to our students.”

Harry looked thoughtfully at the half-giant.  “I’ll meet with him,” he said slowly.  “On the condition that he doesn’t push me for answers I don’t want to give.  I’m sorry, but there are some things about me that are not for public consumption.”

“Of course, Harry,” Olympe said with a smile.  “I’ll have a talk with him myself beforehand, to emphasise the point.  Has Gabrielle been looking after you properly?”

“She has been doing a splendid job,” Harry said with a smile.  “I am a little worried about propriety though.  I remember from my school days that I was never in a professor’s quarters.”

Olympe nodded.  “The rules don’t really apply to Gabrielle,” she said carefully.  “Apart from being Head Girl, she is a Veela.  Do you know anything about them, Harry?”

“Very little,” he admitted freely. 

“They grow up at different rates to humans, but as they live in the Wizarding Society, they have to follow the same rules as we do.  We have tried to help her out, by allowing her to be Head Girl early.  In some ways, she is far beyond her years.”

Harry nodded.  “She did well last night.”

“May I ask what happened?”

“We had some Muggles try to rob us,” he said with an amused grin.  “She was scared, but kept her head enough to move out of my way and do exactly as I told her.”

“What did you do to the Muggles?”

Harry smiled, showing his teeth.


Harry nodded and smiled again as his teeth vanished.  “Yep.  I made them think that they had interrupted a Nosferatu feeding on Gabrielle, and they ran like the wind.”

Olympe laughed softly.

“Gabrielle was quite harsh on herself, as she felt like she should have done more than freeze.  To be honest, I was pleased she didn’t do anything.  It could have got messy otherwise.”

“She is at the top of her defence class,” Olympe said slowly.  “But with very little practical experience.”

Harry nodded.  “I was more impressed with afterwards.  She didn’t let it get her down and carried on as normal.  I was quite grateful for a quiet evening.

“She did talk to me about some plans you have for starting a Quidditch series here?”

Olympe nodded and tilted her head, staring at him.  “I think, Mr Potter that I am going to be a lot more forward with you than I thought.  I’m going to be in Paris for a few days.  When I get back, I’d like to hear your proposals for Quidditch and how you would like to set up the teams as well.  I expect you to work with Gabrielle closely, as she is the students’ representative.”

Harry smiled slightly.  “Can I make recommendations further than that, or stick strictly to Quidditch?”

Olympe grinned at him.  “You can make recommendations about anything you like.  I don’t have to follow them.”

“True,” Harry grinned.  “Is there a way I can talk to Jean?  Gabrielle said that he was a little upset last night about what happened, and I wanted to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault.”

“An excellent idea, Harry,” she said, as she turned to her Floo.  She threw some powder into it and whispered a name.

“Olympe?” Jean’s head asked.

“I’m on my way to Paris,” she replied.  “But Harry wanted a word with you, so I’ll leave you two alone.  Harry, I’ll see you in a few days time.”

Harry nodded and took her seat as she walked out.

“Hi, Jean,” he said with smile.  “I just wanted to tell you not to worry about last night.”

“It was an idiotic thing for her to do,” Jean sighed.  “But I’m relieved that you are still in shape.  Fleur told me about what happened in Paris last night.  I have to admire your restraint.  From a legal point of view, if you had done anything else, it wouldn’t matter.”

“I don’t like fighting,” Harry replied.  “But I will to protect others.  They weren’t even a slight threat.  I could have stopped them without magic, but decided a good scare might be more effective in the long run.”

“The Muggle police picked them up this morning.  They were very drunk and talking about Vampires drinking the blood of Angels.”

Harry laughed softly.  “Gabrielle can have that effect on people.”

Jean nodded and smiled.  “Why don’t you come to my home for the weekend?  Fleur and Bill will be here, and my wife would love to meet you.”

Harry nodded.  “I will,” he agreed.

“Excellent,” Jean said.  “I shall see you then.”  He bowed and vanished from the Floo.

Harry reached up and grabbed the Floo powder, and called Ron and Hermione.

“Alright, mate?” Ron said with a grin.  “How’s France – met any onion sellers yet?”

“Ron,” Hermione sighed and pushed him to one side.  “Hi, Harry,” she smiled at him.  “How’s your first day been?”

“Interesting,” he said with a slight sigh, as he made the mental change to speak in English again.  “I went to dinner last night, and one of the other professors thought it would be a good idea to bring an assassin’s ring in with her.”

The two faces in the flames winced as one.  “Your Dark Magic detectors went nuts?” Ron asked.

“Yep.  I destroyed it, but it was the sort of thing I was really hoping to have left behind me.  Olympe and Jean have both apologised though, so it’s dealt with.”

They both nodded, causing him to smile.  “So, apart from alienating most of my future colleagues, I think I made a friend.”

“Who?” Hermione asked.

“Gabrielle Delacour.”

Ron and Hermione both smiled.  “She’s a wonderful person,” Hermione said.  “And if you’d come to a few more family functions, you’d have found that out beforehand.”

Harry shrugged.  “You were right, by the way, Hermione.  Muggles are terrified of Vampires.”

“What have you done now?” Hermione sighed.

Harry walked slowly through the school, looking around at some of the amazing details.  He stopped occasionally to have a chat with the paintings, and he found out that there were no ghosts in Beauxbatons. 

Without really realising it, he ended up outside the door that Gabrielle had indicated was hers.  He knocked gently.

“Harry?” she said with a smile, as she opened the door.

“I’m going for a fly,” he said.  “I thought I’d invite you, as Madame Maxime has recruited your services for me.”

“As more than a guide?” Gabrielle asked.

Harry nodded.  “I’ll explain later.”

“Let me just get changed,” she said.  “Come in.”

He followed her in.  Her room was a little like his, only with a much smaller kitchen area.  He guessed it was because she would eat most of her meals with the other students.

He sat down on one of the chairs and smiled slightly.  The room had some of the clothes she was wearing the night before strewn around carelessly. It gave the room a lived in look, which combined with the pictures strewn around haphazardly, added to a domesticated feel.

Gabrielle walked out of her bedroom; she’d changed into a pair of jeans and a white shirt.  “Ready?” she asked.

He nodded and they walked to the Quidditch Pitch. 

“You’re not using your own broom?”

“Nope,” Harry said, as he pulled two of the school brooms off the rack.  “Mine is a little over the top for here.  It’s a custom model; the Firebolt Corporation built them for Viktor and me to use in the World Cup.

“I need to be using the same broom as you anyway, so I know what they can do.”

Gabrielle nodded and followed him to the centre of the pitch.  “How good a flier are you?” he asked.

“Average,” she said, smiling. 

“Well, let’s get up in the air.”  He watched as Gabrielle methodically placed her broom on the ground, and then called it to her hand.  She mounted it daintily and flew up to around fifty feet. 

“Coming?” she yelled.

He smiled slightly and casually leaped into the air, sliding his broom between his legs, and taking off in a single movement.  A second later, he was hovering in front of her, upside down.  “That was a very formal take off,” he noted.

“That was the way we were taught,” she explained, looking down a little.

“What did you do after you were in the air?”

“Laps,” she explained.  “The purpose of flying a broom is to get from point A to point B with as minimum fuss as possible.”

Harry slid his broom to one side, performing a horizontal loop so that he was the right way up.  “Your teacher told you that?”

Gabrielle nodded. 

“Haven’t you even flown for fun?”

“We’ve not been allowed to,” Gabrielle explained.  “Flying is a little boring, unless you’re playing Quidditch.”

Harry shook his head slowly.  It sounded like the person he had replaced had sucked all the fun out of flying.  “Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Of course,” Gabrielle replied instantly, as if it had been a silly question.

“Follow me down,” he commanded and dropped like a stone, pulling up just before his feet brushed the ground.

Gabrielle came down more sedately, touching the ground with absolute precision. 

“Climb onto mine,” he said, sitting back a little.

She nodded, and left her broom, walking over to him.  She sat in front of him, in the same formal pose she had used before.

He reached out and grabbed her waist, pulling her back against him.  He was a little surprised by how light she was again.  “Right,” he said into her ear.  “Your teacher forgot one of the most important things about flying.”

“What’s that?” she asked.

“To have fun,” he grinned and shot the broom up vertically.  He held on tight as Gabrielle’s back pressed into his chest, as he urged the broom on.  He pushed the broom faster and faster, before pushing it into an arc.

“Swallow a few times,” he shouted, “It will normalise the pressure in your ears.”

He felt her follow his advice, and then turn her head and twist to look at him.  “Are you insane?” she asked, a wide smile on her face.

“But of course,” he grinned.  “All Quidditch players are insane.  Ready to have some fun?”

“I’m yours,” she laughed.

“Then hold on tight,” he smiled, as he nudged nose down, sending them into a corkscrew dive.

He could hear her scream over the rushing wind.

Olympe sighed and kicked off her shoes.  Far from being cut, her budget had been increased for the coming year.  She knew exactly why, and she wasn’t sure she should be happy about it.  The French Government, as Jean had predicted, were falling over themselves to ensure that Harry was doing okay.  The political kudos that they were gaining from all over the world was making them very happy.

The fact that Harry had left his own country and taken residence at Beauxbatons was a source of great pride to them.

Harry just wanted to be left alone, to be allowed to live his life.  He didn’t care for the political side of things, and that was why she felt guilty about her budget.  She felt like she was benefiting from the things that made him unhappy.

She was very curious to see what he was going to come up with for the Quidditch matches.  The excitement from the professional clubs in France had been immense when they had heard that Harry was going to teach at school, and she had been practically ordered to allow them to help.  The result was the finest Quidditch training ground in the world.

“Olympe?” a voice called from her fireplace.

“Albus?” she said with surprise, as she walked over.

“It’s good to see you again,” the Hogwarts headmaster said cheerfully in perfect French.  It always made her a little uncomfortable that his French was better than her English, and she wasn’t sure if he did it on purpose.

“And you,” she replied dryly.  She still hadn’t forgiven him for putting Gabrielle in danger, and while he had claimed to be as ignorant as her, she wasn’t so sure. 

“I hear you have one of my former pupils working for you now.”

Former pupil were not the words she would use to describe him.  “I have,” she agreed.

“Excellent,” Albus smiled. “I believe that you are going to play a few Quidditch matches this year as well.”

“Albus,” she sighed.  “I’ve had a long day; I really don’t want to play games with you.  Can you please get to the point?”

“I thought it would be nice if we had an inter-school Quidditch tournament,” he said with a smile.  “I’ve already talked to Durmstrang, and they are willing.”

“I hardly think that we should be participating our first year,” she sighed.

“Nonsense,” Albus disagreed, his blue eyes twinkling merrily. “It would be good to get the students involved in some gentle competition that is slightly less dangerous than a Tri-Wizard Tournament.”

“I’m sorry, Albus,” she replied.  “I might be more interested next year.”

“Of course,” Albus said, as if he hadn’t heard her.  “I would be willing to put a prize up.  Say, the Cup of Throbus.”

“You have that?” she gasped.

“Indeed,” he said with a smile.  “It would be a fitting prize for the winning school, don’t you think?”

She frowned, realising that she had been manipulated into accepting.  “Fine,” she gave in with a sigh.  She couldn’t risk her kinsfolk hearing that she had backed away from a chance of winning their ancestral heirloom.  “We’ll play in your tournament.”

“Excellent,” Albus said with a smile.  “I’ll have a talk with Durmstrang, and we can arrange the matches.  I propose we each play each other, and the two teams with the best results, play a final match to determine the victor.”

She nodded.  “That sounds acceptable,” she agreed.  “Obviously, each team will be made up with students who are already attending each school, so transfer students would unfortunately be forbidden.”

Albus paused for a moment, and then nodded.  “I agree.”

“In that case, Albus, if you will excuse me, I’ve had a long day.”

“Congratulations on your budget,” he said, and closed the Floo.

She walked over and sat in front of a large mirror, suddenly very worried.  “How am I going to tell Harry that he’s going to have to go back to Hogwarts?” she asked her reflection.

“So, what did you want to talk to me about?” Gabrielle asked, as she sat down daintily on the grass.

Harry frowned slightly and snapped his fingers, a blanket appearing in his hands. 

It was that sort of casual display of magic that she found hypnotic to watch.  To most people, magic was a musical instrument.  It was something they practised with a lot and could normally manage to only produce a decent tune.  For Harry, magic appeared to be a part of him, like thinking or breathing.  It was as if the normal rules had looked at him and decided that he wasn’t going to follow them, so they wouldn’t even talk to him.

She had no idea if he had conjured the blanket, pulled it out of a hidden storage area, or even Accio’d it.  He’d just decided that he wanted it and had made it happen.  She wondered if he’d let her do a project on him.  On the positive side, it would give her a fascinating subject to do a dissertation on, but on the other hand it might invade his privacy a little too much.

He spread the blanket out on the grass and he lay down on his side comfortably.  She crawled over to the blanket and then sat cross-legged in front of him.  She hid a blush as she realised that if she’d worn a skirt, he’d be in perfect position to see up it.  She followed that quickly by cursing herself for not thinking ahead and wearing one.  Nowhere in the books she’d read, had it said that you should always plan ahead in case an opportunity came up.

“What did you want to talk to me about?” she asked, shutting away the distracting thoughts for now.

Harry smiled at her, and she wished he’d take his sunglasses off.  As good as they looked on him, she couldn’t see his eyes and she didn’t like that.  “I talked to Madame Maxime, and she graciously gave me permission to make any suggestions I like about the organisation of the school on a competitive level.”

She smiled and pulled out a quill and note pad.  It was a movement she had practised endlessly, and she could now do it so fast, most people thought it was magic.

“You didn’t use magic to do that,” he said.

Most people but Harry, obviously.

“How did you know?” she asked.

“I was watching your magic,” he said with a slight smile.  “There was no flare.”

That was possibly the strangest thing she had ever heard.  She had no idea what he meant at all, and decided that she would talk to Ron and Hermione for advice on how to ask him to let her study him.  She nodded, filing the information away for later.  “So do you want to go down a House-type route?”

“Not really,” he said with a frown, rolling onto his back and staring into the sky.  “I don’t want to change anything too radically, especially not if it would involve changing the sleeping arrangements of the students.  And I kind of like the idea of people in the same year together like that, as it means that everyone will meet everyone else at some stage.  There were people in my year that I’d hardly even met.

“But we do need a way of drawing people together in a way that will inspire pride.”

Gabrielle absently nibbled the end of her quill.  “There’s probably too many regions of France to use.  How many do you want?”

“Four or Five is a good number,” he said absently.  “How about important buildings in Paris?”

“Hmm,” she said thoughtfully.  “We could have Pont Neuf, Notre Dame, Versailles Palace, and La Bastille.” 

“I’ve heard of Notre Dame, but what are the other three?” Harry asked.

“Pont Neuf is the oldest bridge that crosses the Seine.  It was made in 1548 by some of the best engineers in France, and some of the best wizards.  It has stood up to every flood since. 

“Versailles Palace started out as a small hunting lodge for Louis XIII.  It was Louis XIV, with the help of his council of Wizards, who expanded it into the huge palace it is today.  It’s famous because the Muggle first World War ended there, with the signing of the Versailles treaty.

“La Bastille is the home of the French Ministry of Magic.  As far as Muggles can see, it is a monument to the Bastille, the prison that was stormed by a mob in 1789, which marked the start of the Revolution.”

“They sound perfect,” Harry said softly, as he looked at her in a way she hadn’t seen from him before.

“We could also make it so that each group does an academic project on the magic and Muggle mix behind each one.”

“Good idea,” Harry smiled, rolling onto his side again.  “You know about Hogwarts points system?”

She nodded.  “Our discipline procedure is based on personal responsibility.  If you do something bad, you get bad grades, and you fail the course.”

“Adding a point system to that might add an element of competition, but might also take it too far.  Rather than points, how about a merit scheme?  You do some good work, you get a positive merit you do bad work, and you get a negative.  At the end of the year, they get totalled up. 

“It takes away the arbitrary nature of points, and stops one professor adversely affecting the results.”

She nodded and noted down everything he had said.  It was obvious he was basing it on the Hogwarts scheme but trying to fix the deficiencies.  “Will each group have a Quidditch team?”

“Of course,” he grinned at her.  “And a captain, chosen by me.  Any one in the school will be eligible to play for their group.  And we need to come up with a name for them.”

She smiled slightly.  This was fun, lying in the grass in the bright sun, talking with her mate, having an intelligent conversation.  If only it had the promise of a kiss at the end of it.  “I think we might end up with houses,” she said slowly.  “Every word I can think of sounds wrong.”

“Yeah,” he agreed.  “Okay, so we’ll call them houses anyway.”

“We need to make sure that people who are doing well academically get rewarded as well,” she said after a few minutes of silence.  “Maybe we should have an art competition at the end of the year and some form of quiz.  Art and Academics should be equally as important as Sport.”

He sat up and folded his legs, sitting like she was.  “And that means more people can be involved,” he said.  He flashed her a brilliant smile.  “Good idea.”

“Thank you,” she said, fighting both a blush and the urge to jump him. 

“What’s the plan for this afternoon?” he asked.

“What do you want to do?” she returned.

“Fly,” was his simple answer.

“I like your ideas, Harry,” Olympe said as he finished presenting them.  The last two days had been spent mainly with Gabrielle, exploring the school in depth.  He was pretty sure he knew his way around now. 

He was ready to Floo with her to her parents’ house this evening.

“But before I give an answer, I’m afraid I have to tell you something.”

“Oh?” he asked, wondering what it was.  He’d had a good time so far – the best he’d had in a very long time, as there hadn’t been a single press photographer that he had seen.  The press coverage of his visit had been factual and low key, something he was very grateful for.

“While I was in Paris, Albus Floo’d me.”

“Oh?” he said again, aware that his voice had gone cold.

She nodded and looked a little nervous.  The expression seemed out of place on her large face.  “He asked Beauxbatons to join Hogwarts and Durmstrang in an inter-school Quidditch tournament.”

“I really don’t want to go back there.”

“I know,” she sighed.  “And I said no, but Albus pulled out his trump card.  He has the Cup of Throbus, and is offering it as the prize.”

“What’s the Cup of Throbus?” he asked slowly.

“It’s the equivalent of the Holy Grail,” she explained quietly.  “It’s the cup that the first Giant carved back in the dawn of time.”

“And typically,” Harry snorted.  “A priceless item is being used to play his petty little games.”

“I couldn’t say no.  My people would never forgive me.”

“You do realise that the chances of us winning, with students who have never played competitively before, is slim to none?”

She nodded.  “If anyone can do it, it would be you.”

“I find your faith comforting, if misplaced.  I’ve never taught people how to play Quidditch before.”

“That is the least of my worries,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.  “Are you going to help me?”

“It’s my job,” he said, sounding resigned.  “I should have known that I might escape the press, but I will never escape the manipulations of that old man.”

“You don’t have to do this,” she said softly.

He tilted his head and stared at her.  “What example would I be to the students if I didn’t turn up to their match?”

“Harry, can I ask why you are so reluctant to go back to Hogwarts?”

He frowned and then sighed.  “It’s not so much Albus, him I can deal with.  What I can’t deal with is my opposite, their flight instructor.”

“Who is that?”

“Draco Malfoy,” Harry spat.  Even saying the name filled him with a desire to Apparate to Hogwarts and finish him off once and for all.

“I thought he was a Death Eater?” Olympe asked, looking confused.

“He claimed he was under the Imperious, the same defence his father used.  He used his fortune to bribe the judges, and escaped innocent but broke.  Albus gave him a job, claiming that it was for the best.”

“And you don’t think so?” she asked.

“He cast the Cruciatus Curse on Hermione.  He was not under the Imperious Curse when he did it.  I broke his nose, but didn’t have time to do anything else.  From what I hear, he is exactly like Snape.  Between them, they are ruining another generation of Slytherins.”

“Wouldn’t it be a challenge to beat him?”

He smiled slightly, recognising her tactics for what they were.  “In a fair fight, he wouldn’t have a chance, which is probably why Albus has organised it this way.  So be it, if he wants a tournament, he’ll get one.  It might cost him his flying instructor, but that’s a small price to pay.”

“You can be quite scary at times.”

“I know,” he said, a little glumly.

“It’s not a bad thing, Harry.  At least when you aren’t the target.”

He smiled slightly.  “Thanks, I think.”

“In that case,” Olympe smiled.  “I will check your proposals over with Jean.  I do like the idea of Sports, Arts, and Academics being given equal footing. I would have probably turned it down otherwise.”

“In which case, you were very wise to assign Gabrielle to me.  It was her idea.”

Olympe nodded slowly.  “I thought as much.  Well, if you’re going to Jean’s tonight, you better get going.”

Harry nodded.  He stood and bowed to the Headmistress, before walking out the door and up to his suite of rooms.

He looked at his watch and then jumped onto the bed, stretching out.  Something very strange was going on, and he wanted to know what it was.  Everyone was being very encouraging towards him and Gabrielle, and it didn’t really make sense.  Even if she was older than normal, he was still a professor. 

He’d noticed that she was certainly interested in him.  He’d dated enough girls to recognise the signs of that by now, and he wasn’t exactly fourteen anymore and a lonely virgin. 

Gabrielle herself wasn’t a problem.  Apart from being the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, she was smart, well educated, and could hold a conversation.  She also treated him as if she’d known him all her life.  When Fleur had tried to Enthral him, it had been very different to when Gabrielle had done it, and it had made him a little suspicious.

He walked over to the Floo, and threw some powder into it.  “Hey Harry,” Ron said cheerfully.  “Looking forward to the weekend?”

“Yeah,” he replied in English.  “Look, I’ve got a question.”

“Go ahead,” Ron said, sitting down in front of the fire.

“Do you think it’s right for a professor and a student to get involved?”

“That depends on the student,” Ron said promptly.

“Gabrielle,” he said.

 “Well, you’re not really a professor,” Ron pointed out with an easy smile on his face.  “And Gabrielle is a Veela, and we all know that they grow up differently. And she’s a complete fox, so I’d go for it.”

“Would you, Ronald Weasley?” Hermione demanded, as she sat next to him.

“If I didn’t have a beautiful wife,” Ron said with a smile.

Hermione rolled her eyes.  “I like Gabrielle,” she said to Harry.

“I didn’t know you’d spent that much time with her,” Harry replied slowly.

“Oh, I spent some time with her over the summer,” Hermione admitted freely.

“So you think she would be someone I could date without trouble?”

“I do,” Hermione said firmly.

“Okay, thanks guys,” he said.  “I might pop over and see you on Sunday.”

“Bring Gabrielle,” Ron suggested.

“I just might,” he agreed and closed the connection.

Now he was very suspicious.  That whole conversation had the feeling of a snow job.  He sighed softly; despite his occasional mood swings, he was no longer a teenager.  And if being with Albus for so long had taught him anything, it was how to recognise when he was being manipulated.

But why, was the question.  And why with such attractive bait.  Why was everyone so eager for him to get close to Gabrielle?  Why was Jean, a man he knew to be honourable, completely at home with him taking Gabrielle to Paris for an evening?  Most fathers that he knew would at least be a little curious about their relationship.

He sighed softly again; it seemed that no matter where he went, he couldn’t escape being the pawn in someone else’s game, and he was more than a little fed up with it.

He shook his head and made a decision.  He wasn't sure if he wanted a relationship with the girl, but tonight he'd ask Jean directly for permission to date Gabrielle.  It might seem a little underhanded to deliberately push the situation, but he needed to know that he wasn't being paranoid, and it would give him a very good indication of whether he was being manipulated, or if it was just all in his head.

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Author Notes:

As always, thanks to Cami, Susan, Rachael, Leslie, Ellie, and Julie for their help with this.

And a special thank you to Grégoire Jean for his help and advice.