A/N: I made the mistake of starting a LOT of stories simultaneously. And with how lazy I am on a normal day, my rate of update is pathetic.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter
It's not cheating if your wife does it as well. That's the thought running through Bill's mind as he mingled with a co-worker. The pub was mostly deserted and his companion has been hinting, quite blatantly, for them to leave. Together. From the corner of his eye, he saw the bartender glancing at them disapprovingly. For just a second.
Bill couldn't really blame the man, both him and Fleur frequented this place often enough for the bartender to recognize that the woman he had his arm draped over wasn't his wife.
Bill didn't really know if the woman he's with is more interested in him or in the fact that she can actually snatch a man away from a Veela. Either way, the evening was not shaping out well for the cursebreaker.
In all honesty, he never once imagined that his married life would turn out like this. Just a series of meetings in hallways, a casual peck on the cheek, and the occasional sex that's required in a marriage. Aside from that, their lives seem to be at a standstill.
Furthermore, he was slowly coming to realize that he might not have children with his wife due to some cosmic glitch in her DNA-unfair to place it on her, yes but that doesn't change the fact that she will never bear his children.
At one point, Bill almost wanted to strangle Harry for his heroic stunts. This was his doing, albeit unintentional. He knew how unreasonable he sounded but anyone could understand how unfair this was to him. Bill felt someone tugging onto his arm, he frowned a bit at the woman clinging to him.
Bill never did like weak women. This woman was the opposite of what he normally wanted. And maybe that was why he wanted her. So he paid the tab for their drinks and left. The frown from the bartender burning a hole on the back of his jacket as he escorted the woman out.
It's not cheating... and Bill knew that it was wrong to see it as 'cheating' because Fleur didn't choose to get saved by Harry freaking Potter, Fleur didn't choose her heritage, everything was just one ironic coincidence of the disastrous kind. And the couple plus one was in the midst of it and Bill can't really tell the difference at this point.
Fleur was getting used to the not-so-gloomy interior of Grimmauld place, with two house elves currently maintaining the furniture and decor, it has vastly improved compared to its previous look. She's already unpacked her suitcase, placing each article of clothing carefully on the bed. Most of her dresses were still purchased from France, at her insistence. Another source of annoyance for Mrs. Weasley and Ginevra but the basics were something that she cannot part with. Her mother always said that a good dress or two is always better than a closet filled with rags. And she applied this to everything in the household, from the linens and kitchen utensils down to the soap that she used.
Again, something that the Weasley's, including Bill, did not understand.
Fleur called out to one of the elves, "Binly!"
Binly was one of the house elves that was previously assigned in the Potter manor, but with their Master gone, some of them were asked to maintain the upkeep of Harry's other holdings.
"Yes, Mistress?" Binly was wearing an overly large sweater with a large H emblazoned in front.
Fleur was exasperated by his continued insistence on calling her by that name, "Again, Binly, I'm not the mistress of zis house... I only come to vizit, oui? 'ave you heard from your master or any news of of 'is whereabouts?"
It was almost a ritual, Fleur would always ask after Harry. And the elf would shake his head in negation before his large ears drooped in sadness.
"No, Mistress... Master still not here. He sent letter..."
"Letres?" She asked, startled, Harry never corresponded in the five years he's been missing. "May I see it?"
Binly nodded, enthusiastically bobbing his head up and down. "Binly will get it, Mistress" He popped out for a second and returned clutching a white stationary envelope. His elf ears were perking up in anticipation.
Fleur hesitated before plying the flap open; she almost felt guilty for having to see the letter ahead of the Weasley's or Hermione. And at the same time, she found herself wondering why Harry preferred to communicate with the house elves more than his friends.
The first thought that went through her head upon seeing it was: this is Harry's handwriting... the too deep grooves of penmanship from pressing down too much on the quill, the splashes of ink stains from a person that was trained to use a pen first before a quill, and even the sharpness of the Ts were all indicative of Harry's personality.
It was a brief message, almost cold in its succinctness. It simply said:
"Dear Binly and Tammy. How are you? I hope that everything is well in England.I, myself, miss all of you and hope to see you soon, Harry."
The note was painfully lacking of any clues of his whereabouts and almost aloof in its succinctness but the ending phrase of 'see you soon' had both house elves' ears dancing in anticipation.
"Um, iz it possible for me to make a copy of zis?"
Both nodded enthusiastically again.
Hmmm, how curious."Thank you" she smiled gently at the two wide-eyed creatures.
"Mistress Fleur is always welcome" Tammy squeaked before both of them popped out.
Harry's house elves were unique in a way that Harry remained their Master but they were definitely given more leeway and care compared to other house elves. For one, both were wearing clothes. Binly had a very bizarre hat with a scarf made up of neon colors while Tammy wore a fuschia pink and lemon yellow striped dress. Harry once said that house elves needed the security and a feeling of belonging, something that he could relate to somewhat... coming from an unwelcoming family himself. So as long as he doesn't abuse his position, he figured it was okay to own house elves.
It was something that Fleur greatly admired. Her family were also very kind to their own house staff (as her Maman insisted on calling them) because as Veelas, they were in a unique position of seeing both sides.
Once, she's acquired a copy using a simple replication spell, Fleur decided to retire in the sitting room. Grimmauld place improved greatly and she smiled at the somewhat homey feel it now exuded. It was nearing October and the wind in London, as predicted, became more unforgiving but the confines of the house was well-protected with smells of cinammon and sweet bakings coming from the pantry.
She sat down in the large armchair and tucked her feet under, doodling on the note and marking possible arrival dates of the boy wonder. It's been five years. Five years of the wizarding world searching, of the Daily Prophet guessing, the whereabouts of the hero of the wizarding world. And now, he's decided to come back.
"Mistress, supper ready" a soft voice interrupted. Tammy was wringing a towel with her hands, looking at her expectedly.
"Oh, yes of courze! can you just serve it here, Tammy?"
The elf nodded enthusiastically again running off to do her bidding.
Stretching her back, Fleur walked to the fireplace and opened a line to her home in Shell Cottage. No one was answering. After 3 missed calls, she gave up and redirected it to her family in France.
Gabrielle was the one who answered. "Gabrielle!" Her sister was becoming more and more gorgeous as time progressed. She was a bit curvier and smaller than Fleur but remained beautiful just the same. And she always had a cheerful smile that was reflected in her eyes even when she's not outwardly smiling. It was something that Fleur was very appreciative of because it meant that she's protected her sister enough to raise her as an optimist. Fleur always had a steely countenance in front of strangers; the complete opposite of Gabrielle's welcoming charm.
"Fleur! comment allez-vous?" then Gabrielle squinted a bit "ou etes-vous?" trying to decipher her location.
"I am at Grimmauld place"
Fleur hesitated before answering "'e is staying at ze cottage"
"I still do not understand why he couldn't just stay in 'arry's 'ome with you. It is clozer to ze the Gringgots bank, oui?"
"He prefers to be near his famille during break times and Shell Cottage is nearer the country side."
"Still. It iz most odd to separate almost half ze year just for zat reason. After all, you can simply floo to ze the Weasley's if needed"
Fleur shrugged, she couldn't likely tell Gabrielle of the actual reason, which is insecurity in the part of Bill less she degrade her husband's character more to her sister. Gabrielle was not a big fan of Bill's.
"How iz school going?"
"It waz wonderful! We learned about the second wizarding war and how 'arry haz vanquished Voldemort and I got to boast that my sizter is a hero!"
"Hardly... you know that Harry was the only one that actually defeated the Dark Lord"
"But you were there! you 'elped a lot! Harry mentioned it numerous times that without you, the Weasley's and the Order, he never would have been able to defeat Voldemort"
"That was most kind of him but I tell you, the bulk of the work was done by 'arry"
"Well, he iz the Boy-Who-Lived!" Gabrielle shrugged as if such a sentence could explain the miraculous tasks that Harry has accomplished. Gabrielle looked down and then up again nervously, "haz there been any news of sightings of him?" similar with 3/4 of this female generation, Gabrielle was likewise very interested in the whereabouts of the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Non. Gabrielle if 'arry doezn't want to be found then I assure you that no one can"
"Why did he leave?"
Fleur was distracted momentarily when Binly propped a meal table beside her. She briefly checked the dishes, nodding in approval at seeing french gourmet. One of the perks of living in Harry's home is the diversity in food that his elves are familiar with.
"I do not know. Even Hermione is baffled during those first weeks of disappearance. He has not contacted anyone from both the wizarding world and the muggle world. It iz most frustrating" Fleur's brow crinkled in irritation and tiredness.
"I heard from Maman zat you might need him..." Fleur's breath caught. She kept that last breath as long as she could. Holding it in as she asked.
"Has she told you the reason on why I might need Harry?"
Gabrielle nodded sadly, "She wanted to warn me to be aware of the implications of being a Veela. It seems that there's alwayz more consequences to it... I- I am sorry Fleur for my part in it"
"Non! do not blame yourself, ma cherie! I waz the one who wanted to compete in the triwizard. To tell you the truth, I still feel guilty for involving you in it"
Their conversation lasted well into the night and by the time Fleur decided to end the call, it was already past midnight.
She sighed and stretched her back. Tomorrow was work day and she should have known better than to keep Gabrielle up this late.
Upon entering her bedroom, she sighed in happiness once again.
Fleur wasn't entirely honest with her husband when she said that her visits were due to security. In all honesty, Shell cottage is becoming more and more foreign to her. There were too many sad memories clinging to its walls while Grimmauld offerred something different. It changes with the season, whether that was the trick of an ancestral house or something else; she wasn't sure.
Looking down, her brow furrowed remembering Harry's wordings. He will be here soon and Fleur didn't know the feeling that kept pestering her at his imminent arrival. It was similar to the jolts she received when competing during the Triwizard tournament. A sort of excitement mingled with dread... and anticipation! so much anticipation.
"What do think of zis, 'ermione?" Both have grown quite close since Harry's disappearance. Hermione was currently studying advanced magical law and aiming to be the first muggleborn to be admitted into wizarding parliament. With her reputation and Harry's backing, Fleur has no doubt that she would be able to accomplish it.
"It seems fairly straightforward, Fleur. Harry's coming back" Hermione smiled teary eyed. Of all the people that bespoke of missing Harry, Hermione is the most affected by his sudden disappearance.
"But why is ze letter so basic? wiz no details?"
Hermione explained, smiling sadly "Harry was never much of a correspondent, he's very secretive so I'm not actually surprised with how this letter was worded. His relatives... Weren't the nicest muggles and the last thing that he wanted from his best friends is pity so he kept it light and general like weather and spells he's confused with. But no worries, we can confront him about it when he gets back and on that note..." Hermione turned back to her assessingly, "how are you going to broach the topic of your circumstance to Harry?"
After learning of her predicament, Fleur became torn between tearing her hair out or just staring at a blank ceiling. In the end, it was Hermione who actually approached her. And wanting another point of view, Fleur spilled everything to the bushy haired best friend of the source of her misery. "Non. I do not even know if I should tell him anything. What can he really do?"
"A lot of things. Harry's never been faced with something that he couldn't counter. And I also think that he has a right to know of your condition"
"Zer iz no condition!" Fleur bristled "I am not anyzing! I cannot even get pregnant so zer iz nothing to talk about!"
"Talk about what?" someone uttered behind them. Hermione and Fleur whirled and found both Ron and Bill standing by the door.
Before Fleur could give some little white lie, Hermione answered truthfully, "Harry's coming back."
It was amazing how much people can reveal when shocked. But what was more baffling was the mirrored emotion that fleetingly touched both Weasley faces. Mainly because it was hatred. Fleur noticed it and from Hermione's stiffening shoulders, she also saw it.
The smile following the look seemed fake.
"That's good news" Ron exclaimed while walking towards Hermione. Ron has grown to similar height and build to Bill. The only difference between the two was that Ron kept his hair short while Bill still leaned more towards his ponytail.
Bill still looked constipated when he walked towards Fleur. And they amicably for a while, mostly small talk but never delving back into the topic of Harry's imminent arrival.
"Hermione, would you mind if I borrow Fleur a bit?"
"Oh, of course!" Hermione threw Fleur a last smile before departing with Ron, exclaiming, "This is going to be great, Fleur! Harry will be home by christmas if I calculate correctly!"
The air seemed oppressive as they stared at each other.
Bill scratched the back of his neck nervously, "So... Harry's coming back. I wouldn't have thought it-"
"It makes sense, Bill. 'Arry has been out of Britain for half a decade. It's high time zat he comes back"
"I know that, it's just weird that's all. You know, him coming back...now?"
"I thought you'd be more pleased with this news. He was like a younger brother to you prior to his departure"
Bill gulped before squaring his shoulders, "I know. And I do feel happy with the news but maybe ecstatic is not the right word for this feeling. I mean, don't get me wrong. I think that Harry is one of the greatest guys or wizards to have ever walked the modern world but he always brings with him something..." At Fleur's darkening expression, Bill backtracked "both good and bad! It's just that I can't help but feel that this peace that all of us are enjoying will come to an end when Harry Potter steps foot in Britain again"
"It iz not his fault that Voldemort decided to make his family and him a target! I would think that most wizards should feel a bit thankful to 'arry for bearing the brunt of Voldemort's hatred"
"I know that, Fleur! I'm just saying that the boy tends to bring trouble wherever he goes that's all!" Bill crossed his arms in front, looking defensive. "Besides, I'm also glad that he's coming back...maybe this way we can solve um you know. That thing" He nodded his head towards her abdomen much to her chagrin.
"What do you mean, thing?" She asked scathingly.
Bill started going red. "You know what I meant, Fleur. No use repeating it"
"Well, since I heard that you're already looking for alternatives in your own way, I was half convinced that you wouldn't want to do anything about it" With that, Fleur whirled around and exited haughtily. She wasn't stupid. Bill's been coming in later in the evening with half baked excuses of being 'busy' at work. She was loathed to admit it but her current state was painfully cliched; a soap opera complete with a barren wife and a slutty mistress.
End of Chapter 3