Harry barely had time to think about Fleur when Percy kept owling him on a regular basis, wanting to know if he had given up his unfortunate Floo Powder habit, whether or not he had seen a doctor, and when he planned to tell Ginny about his problem. Ginny was starting to get suspicious about the amount of letters that came from the same owl day after day, but Harry simply told her that it was a work-related matter and that she shouldn't worry about it.
The fact that he and Percy both worked at the Ministry made things even worse. Harry couldn't spend an hour at his desk without getting interrupted by memos full of lectures and pretentious advice that should be punishable by law. There must be Dark magic involved in such memos. Would Harry be abusing his position if he rounded Percy up and held him in custody for a few days on suspicion of Dark magic? Probably, but it would sure be amusing.
Harry was in the middle of his lunch break, trying not to stare at a pale-haired secretary who reminded him a bit of Fleur, when somebody cleared his throat. Harry shuddered.
Only one person on the face of the earth could clear his throat in such a pompous yet awkward manner.
"Sod off, Percy," said Ron, who sat next to Harry. "If this is another speech about the safety of Auror equipment, we don't want to hear it."
"It was the safety and regulation of Auror equipment," Percy corrected. "And no, that is not what I wish to discuss. I'd like a word with Harry."
Harry wondered if Percy woke up every morning thinking, Hmm, I have come up with a new way to ruin Harry's life. I'm sure he'll appreciate it tremendously."What is it, Percy?"
"Did you read the memo I sent you titled Twelve Reasons Why Floo Powder Abusers Endanger the Workplace? I enjoyed writing that one immensely. I even sent a copy to Minister Shacklebolt."
Harry was relieved that Ron put on a pair of earmuffs the moment Percy started talking. "Of course I read it," he lied. "Very, uh, informative."
"Why thank you," said Percy, beaming with puffed-up pride. "One of my finest works, if I do say so myself. But as much as I enjoy composing documents on your habit, Harry, I believe it is time to take more assertive measures."
Harry's eyes had strayed towards the pale-haired, Fleur-like secretary, but Percy's words quickly distracted him. "Assertive measures?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"
"Assertive is an adjective that indicates confidant and positive behavior that leads to successful—"
"No, Percy, I know what the word means. What kind of assertive measures are you talking about?"
"I'm glad that you asked," said Percy. "I have scheduled an appointment for you at St. Mungo's. The doctor expects to see you at precisely five-fifteen today."
Precisely. Percy had to be the only wizard under the age of sixty who actually said "precisely" on a regular basis. Even Hermione didn't say "precisely." But Percy's vocabulary was the least of Harry's worries when he was doomed to the Most Awkward Appointment Imaginable in a few short hours.
"Don't you think it's a little unnecessary?" he asked.
Percy gazed at him sternly through his horn-rimmed glasses, wearing his classic Push-Me-Any-Further-and-I-Will-Subject-You-to-an-Hour-Long-Lecture-on-Your-Wrongdoings face. "Of course it is necessary. You did read that informative memo I sent, didn't you?"
"Yes, of course," Harry lied.
"Then I'm sure you understand the utmost importance of seeking medical care. In case you have forgotten, you are engaged to my sister, Harry, and you are partially responsible for the safety of the wizarding community. I will be escorting you to your doctor's appointment to ensure your attendance."
Harry had stopped listening somewhere around "utmost importance." The Fleur-like secretary laughed at something another secretary said, throwing her head back so that her pale hair danced around her shoulders, and Harry realized that he couldn't continue his charade any longer. He would have to tell Percy the truth of what happened at the Weasley picnic.
Ron continued to wear his earmuffs, blissfully unaware of the conversation, but Harry lowered his voice anyway.
"Percy, I haven't been entirely honest with you," he said.
Percy twitched a little. He hated dishonesty almost as much as he hated rule-breaking, insubordination, and wrinkles in his perfectly smooth robes.
"I'm not actually addicted to Floo Powder," Harry continued. "I've never abused Floo Powder in my life."
"Denial is a step in the wrong direction, Harry, and—"
"I was cheating on Ginny with Fleur," Harry interrupted. "I snogged her while the rest of you were enjoying the picnic, and I was about to snog her again when you walked in on me."
Percy blinked. He coughed and adjusted his glasses. He blinked again, then finally cracked an awkward smile. "Harry, that is the most preposterous cover story I have ever heard. Do you honestly expect me to believe that you engaged in inappropriate, extra-marital behavior with your future sister-in-law?"
"Didn't you read the memo I sent you yesterday? The one titled The Seven Most Successful Recovery Steps For an Addict Who Lacks Clear Initiative? Admitting that you have a problem is the first step, Harry. Ever since I caught you at the Burrow, you have failed to take heed of my advice and subsequently deluded yourself into thinking your problem is not a problem at all, hence your reluctance to see a doctor and your concoction of completely absurd stories."
Merlin's beard. What did Harry have to do to make Percy understand? Summon Fleur and kiss her right in front of him?
On second thought, that wasn't such a bad idea. Except for the fact that it was a horrible, horrible idea and he shouldn't be thinking of Fleur at all. Fleur was partially the reason he was in this mess with Percy in the first place.
"All right, Percy," he said with a sigh. "I admit that I have a problem."
"Splendid," said Percy. "Remember, five-fifteen precisely."
The moment Percy strolled away, head held high with the haughtiness of success, Ron removed his earmuffs and heaved a sigh of relief. "Blimey, I thought he'd never leave. What did he come to talk about, anyway? Safety regulations for making an investigation?"
"Yeah, something like that," said Harry.
Five-fifteen—precisely, of course—arrived all too soon. Percy escorted Harry to the office of Dr. Cringleworth, lecturing all the while in his most boring, sleep-inducing tone. Harry nearly fell asleep on his feet, but they reached the office just in time and he quickly wiped the glazed look from his eyes. Then proceeded to stare like an idiot.
Merlin's great buggering eyebrows.
Seated in the room with Dr. Cringleworth, a wrinkled, gray-haired wizard with a pursed-up mouth worthy of Aunt Petunia, was Fleur in all her silvery-haired, tantalizing glory. Harry didn't know if he should kick Percy, tear his own hair out, or grab Fleur and run off into the sunset with her like a maniac.
He settled for looking uncomfortable and stammering a bit. "Er, Percy? Why, uh, is Fleur in the doctor's office?"
"Percy invited me," Fleur explained, smiling at Harry in a way that made him feel faint.
"Since Fleur is the only person aside from myself and Dr. Cringleworth who is aware of your addiction, I thought her presence would be helpful," said Percy. "George and Angelina agreed to watch Victoire."
"Oh," said Harry.
He was fully convinced that the whole universe wanted to ruin his life.
"Well, enough senseless chatter," said Dr. Cringleworth, sounding like an elderly version of Percy. "Mr. Potter, how long have you been using?"
"Using what?" asked Harry, confused.
"The Floo Powder, young man," said the doctor. "How long have you been using the Floo Powder?"
"His brain has been sadly addled," said Percy with a shake of his head. "I offer my apologies, Doctor."
Would Harry get into trouble if he put a silencing charm on Percy? Most likely.
"Only a few months," said Fleur, answering the doctor's question. "His case is not a serious one."
"Every case is a serious one, Mrs. Weasley. This is not a matter to be treated lightly. Now Mr. Potter, have you made any effort to cease your addiction?"
"Sure," said Harry. "I've been flying my broomstick a lot, and uh, focusing on work, and drinking plenty of butterbeer—"
Dr. Cringleworth's bushy gray eyebrows shot up toward his forehead. "I hope you haven't been drinking and flying," he said sternly. "Though butterbeer is non-alcoholic, it has been proven to cause broomstick crashes when consumed in large amounts."
"Indeed," said Percy. He had taken out a quill and parchment and was actually writing down everything the doctor said. "I have been trying to get the national Quidditch teams to make butterbeer consumption illegal among players, but this problem remains a battle I am still fighting."
"Mon dieu," Fleur muttered under her breath, rolling her eyes.
The next fifteen minutes proved to be more excruciating than an O.W.L. exam. Dr. Cringleworth tutted loudly and made rapid movements with his eyebrows as he questioned Harry on his supposed habit in great detail. Luckily Harry had experience with making things up, since he had spent years coming up with fake predictions for Professor Trelawney's class, and he answered the doctor's questions with Fleur's occasional input. Dr. Cringleworth then proceeded to examine Harry, which would have been awkward enough without Fleur in the room, and Harry used some handy nonverbal spells to cheat the physical tests.
"Well, well," Dr. Cringleworth said at the end, raising his bushy eyebrows for the hundredth time. "Based on this appointment, Mr. Potter, I recommend that you take three drops of this medicine daily and attend our weekly support group." He handed Harry a vial full of potion and an appointment card for the support group, which met on Sunday evenings at six o'clock.
"Thanks," Harry muttered.
Percy put away his notes and cleared his throat. "Harry, if you need an escort back to your home—"
"Oh, no, do not worry about it," Fleur broke in. "I will make sure Harry returns home safely."
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but no words came out.
"Very well," Percy said stiffly. "I leave him in your hands then. If anything goes wrong, I expect you to contact me immediately."
And suddenly Harry was left all alone with Fleur, which could turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing. Or both. As soon as they arrived at the flat he shared with Ginny, he realized the place was empty and found a note from Ginny telling him she had gone shopping for Quidditch supplies. "What a horrible old doctor," Fleur grumbled as Harry read the note. "A horrible old codger, as you English say. And Percy will be exactly like him in thirty years, maybe even twenty years."
"Or ten," said Harry, laughing. It was a shame that Fleur and Ginny disliked each other when they both had a knack for describing people in unflattering terms.
"Yes, probably ten," Fleur agreed.
They looked at each other for a moment, suddenly awkward. "And I suppose this is the moment where we start kissing each other, apologize afterwards, and don't see each other for days," said Harry.
"Oh, don't be silly," said Fleur. "I love Bill."
"And I love Ginny. But I also like to snog you and I don't know why."
"I don't know why either," said Fleur. "I have always liked you since you saved Gabrielle, and yes, I have kissed you on the cheek many times, but it is different when we snog, as you say." She frowned. "What an ugly, terrible word."
"But you like snogging. And you like snogging me too, don't you?"
"What are we going to do?"
"Well," said Harry. "We can either talk this out like reasonable adults, or we can find a nice sofa."
They succeeded in behaving like "reasonable adults" for about three and a half seconds, then spent the next five minutes on a sofa acting like they hadn't seen each other in years. And to Harry, who missed the softness of Fleur's lips and the bright sheen of her hair, it did feel like it had been years. He enjoyed kissing Fleur for exactly five minutes (or "precisely," as Percy would say), but as soon as those five minutes were over he remembered that he was in his own home, on his own sofa, where he had kissed Ginny just a couple of days ago.
He didn't feel guilty, exactly, but it was definitely unsettling to know that he had lost self-control in his own home. Except that loss of self-control had felt wonderful and he would rather like to lose it again.
"I don't want to wait days before I can see you again," he told Fleur. "Let's meet somewhere tomorrow. It will be Saturday."
"Bring little Teddy over tomorrow," Fleur suggested. "He can play with Victoire."
"That's a great id—"
"Harry, are you home?"
Bollocking banshees. Ginny had come back. Fleur apparated so fast, Harry didn't get a chance to kiss her goodbye, but he supposed that was for the best and sat on the now empty sofa, waiting for Ginny to appear.
"Er, I'm in the living room," he called out. "I'm really tired. Rough day at work today."
Ginny entered the living room with a shopping bag from Quality Quidditch Supplies and kissed Harry on the forehead. For one terrifying moment Harry wondered if she could somehow detect Fleur's former presence, and if she could then she would hex Harry within an inch of his life. He wouldn't be able to walk for days.
But no, that was far too kind. If Ginny found out that Fleur had been on her sofa just a moment ago, she would castrate Harry. And then he would never be able to father any children and name them after dead people like he had been dreaming of for years. Albus Severus had a nice ring to it, though Ginny claimed it was awful, which would give her even more of a reason to castrate him.
"Did you have dinner?" Ginny asked, smiling brightly at him.
Perhaps Albus Severus would have a chance to exist after all. "No," said Harry. "Did you?"
"No, but I'll prepare something as soon as I put my things away. You'll help me practice Quidditch this weekend, won't you? I've got a tournament coming up."
"Sure," said Harry. He watched her walk away and knew that he did love Ginny, but perhaps he got engaged to her a little too soon. He didn't want to be like Remus Lupin and marry a little too late, of course, but perhaps he and Ginny should have waited a year. Or two, or three.
Or maybe he should get his head checked because snogging Fleur so many times had clearly scrambled his brain. He didn't need to snort Floo Powder when he had something just as dangerous and equally addictive on hand, but he had a feeling that quitting Fleur would be a lot harder than quitting Floo Powder.
He would have never attended Victoire's birthday party if he had known it would lead to so many problems.
Note: Though the story is incomplete, this is the end and I won't be writing any more chapters. Sorry! I'm merely reposting an old story that I abandoned ages ago, so please don't expect me to update. This is the end!