Disclaimer: Don't own the Harry Potter rights, don't profit. Besides fuzzy, fluff feelings. Those are nice. I think I rolled just a little too low on my cuteness overdose roll.
Italics is French, unless they're thoughts. Thoughts are always in the native language of the thinker. Unless they're really fluent in any other language. Always found it interesting, the idea of being able to think in two languages simultaneously...anyways, story!
Chapter 2: The Bonded Parents
Harry slowly stood up, looking around. In comparison to plenty of other places he'd seen, such as Malfoy Manor, he'd never really seen something that spoke of artwork in a house. An old-style painting taking up a wall, near-regal chairs and place sets on a nearby table, fine china, he felt like he was very much outside the norm here. Especially compared to Hogwarts, it felt brightly lit just from the setting sun, having numerous large windows that gave brilliant views of the landscape beyond.
It wasn't surprising to then see a fairly well-dressed man walk up, if a bit plump, but sharing at least some similarities to Fleur, "Ah, I was wondering when I'd see you next my daughter. Just as beautiful as I last saw you," he complimented easily with a large, welcoming smile. Fleur looked back at Harry, and waved him forward.
"Come, meet my father, Jean Delacour. Papa, this is 'Arry. 'Arry, meet my father," Fleur introduced happily, Jean moving forward and easily capturing Harry's hand in a handshake, smiling at him. Harry gave a hesitant smile, before wincing.
"Ah, you've still got scrapes and bruises, no? Why has no one attended to them?" Jean asked, frowning at him. Fleur did much the same.
"I did not know either, papa."
Harry sighed slightly, looking down a little bit out of embarrassment, before answering, "It felt wrong. I couldn't just take medical attention from the wounded who needed it more than I did-and I could scarcely move without someone coming up to me and swarming me. It was...a bit overwhelming," Harry finished. He looked back up to see Jean nod.
"I see. Yes, I will agree with you Fleur, unselfish to the degree of near self-harm...or maybe I should say that is what I pulled from your letters. She was surprised by just how many problems you tried to shoulder for yourself, worrying that you would stress yourself too much. You've probably heard much the same before?" Jean asked delicately. Harry shrugged. Jean frowned again before beginning to move away from the room with a declared, "I will find my wife, she is much better with diagnostic spells than I, though my healing spells are better."
It left the two occupants in a little bit of a stiff awkwardness before Harry attempted to break it. "So-nice dad. Lovely house," Harry rattled off, unsure of whether she'd start the conversation. She looked outside at the sun as she moved to one of the seats, sitting down delicately with a wistful smile.
"Yes. I must admit, I had an easy and comfortable home life. Beauxbatons was difficult, but that was to be rather expected, being part Veela," she responded, before turning back to him and gesturing once more, "I should apologize. I feel I rather railroaded you to here, which may be a part of the awkward feeling."
"No! That's not it at all. I'd probably not have come if you'd not offered, and then tried to convince me. One of the things I thought about was going up to Gryffindor Tower and having Kreacher make me a sandwich when it was all over! I've never had a real vacation before," Harry half-blurted, half confessed. Fleur's smile seemed to take on a happier quality.
"Good. Then you will have nothing but the best. My parents will ensure it. Not as some savior, but because you're my friend," Fleur quickly clarified, before Harry could grimace at the thought it was hero worship. That was, before Fleur's smile changed to a smirk and she continued, "And the best is typically French, is it not?" she asked, as another dry chuckle came from Harry.
"Heh. I think you're biased, Fleur."
"Moi? Biased? Never!" Fleur declared, faking hurt for a moment before both began laughing. Harry was about to comment something else when he more felt someone coming into the room than anything else, and Fleur's face light up in recognition and greeted, "Maman! I've missed you," Fleur called out, as Apolline strode smoothly nearby Harry. Oh, so that's where Fleur picked up the gliding is what Harry's mind provided, before he slipped back to reality.
"I've missed you too, mon cher. And I take it you are 'Arry? I am glad to finally meet you. Imagine my surprise when Fleur shifted from talking about you a little to much!" Apolline said, causing Fleur to roll her eyes.
"Maman, I'm not some teenager talking about a crush," Fleur retorted, causing her mother to smile and shift her attention back to Harry.
"I must offer an apology, I've yet to introduce myself. I am Apolline Delacour. Gabrielle is at Beauxbatons," Apolline commented smoothly. Harry gave a nod, before deciding to add a bit of a tease of his own.
"I'm Harry Potter. And apparently Fleur decided I needed a vacation."
"You didn't mind when I told you, 'Arry."
"Ah, Fleur! You took 'Arry back home on a vacation? You do realize this is the first boy you've actually brought home, no?"
"But why should we not be happy about this?"
"Oh very well, I'll stop my teasing. Fleur's had a bit of trouble finding someone appealing who can defeat the Allure, and indeed one of the first qualities is indeed being able to think while under it," Apolline explained. Fleur's blush, there since the very first start of her mother's teasing, deepened just a little more. Harry grinned as Jean joined them.
"Does this mean we should celebrate or something? I knew we should've waited a day Fleur, your parents could've gotten a whole party together," Harry added, causing Fleur to mock-glare at him.
"Oh, don't you start 'Arry. I learned more than a few prank spells from Fred and George," Fleur threatened, poking him in the shoulder. He laughed, smirking slightly before turning back to Apolline.
"Mrs. Delacour, please please please be around more. It's not often I get to tease Fleur back," Harry nearly begged, relishing in the moment as Fleur continued her act with a disdainful sniff and crossing her arms with a huff. It held for a moment before Harry broke down in laughter, Fleur following after a moment. Apolline simply smiled again, waiting for them to compose themselves.
"'Arry, I'll be using diagnostic spells. It won't be anything truly invasive, but I'd like you to remain still. It's been a while since I've used them," Apolline took care to note, drawing her wand. She waited for a form of assent from Harry before beginning to whisper spells, sighing as she felt more and more. She had a rather grave look when she turned to Jean, looking unhappy.
Jean sighed from the obvious rationalization that it was bad. She merely confirmed it, "Traces of the Cruciatius, another Killing Curse, burns, bruising, cuts, exposure to Dementors-merde, is there something you've not seen over there?" she asked crossly, frowning. Fleur turned to Harry as she started to hear as well, surprised beyond all else herself as Harry gave a hesitant laugh.
"Uh-a vampire? Weren't any at the battle," Harry joked, a bit less hesitantly, before adding, "But I feel...well, I don't feel well per se. If I'm to be honest, I feel simply like I'm holding on well enough for anything else," he finished, his voice evening. Fleur flicked his ear.
"No, you are not if that's what Maman came up with! And you were letting all those people go ahead of you, when some of them merely had cuts and bruises? You are far too hard-headed for your own good!" Fleur called out in annoyance, which caused Harry to sigh. Apolline glared for a moment at her daughter's outburst, as Jean picked up the thread of discussion.
"Well, as much as I'm sure Apolline and Fleur would love to cart you to an infirmary...I cannot bring myself to put you under that spotlight. We'll simply have you recover here, if that's fine by you. That means we take things slow, Fleur, and not cart him around various celebrations," Jean admonished, causing Fleur to blush lightly for a moment.
"Papa, that was years ago!"
"Yes. And I know how you are when you get excited. If you choose to stay here, 'Arry, then we can ensure that you will be up and about while recovering. So long as you do not overexert yourself and we truly do not need to take you to a hospital, of course," Jean warned, causing Harry to nod before sighing a breath of relief.
"I would be quite happy with that...er, Monsieur Delacour," Harry hastily added, smiling. Jean gave an amused snort.
"A friend of my daughter's need not call me 'Monsieur Delacour'. I am not old enough for it yet. It's Jean, much like what you'll likely hear from Apolline," Jean responded, a slight smile sliding onto his face as Apolline nodded in return. Harry's smile went a little crooked for a moment before it changed to a frown. He nearly sighed before nodding. That changed to a frown.
"Mr.-uh, Jean? Would you mind if I borrow an owl some point? I need to write somebody," Harry muttered out softly. Jean gave a nod as Fleur's eyebrow rose, before she gasped.
"Oh! Teddy. You want to make sure Andromeda can care for him?" Fleur asked, with a slight frown of her own. Harry gave a nod.
"After...well, I didn't think about him. But there for a little while I didn't think I'd be able to make it to be his godfather. But now...I don't have an idea of what to do," Harry admitted freely, looking back up to see Fleur snort in derision.
"Oh please, 'Arry. It's simple now. You will be a major part of his life," Fleur answered without hesitation. Harry's frown smoothed, before he nodded.
"Yeah. Does that mean I should start taking care of him or...?" Harry asked to the three in general, which seemed to be mixed overall. Apolline was the first to verbalize an answer.
"In truth? It depends on what the will states, and the grandparents," Apolline answered, which caused Harry to sigh softly.
"Grandmother. Teddy is named after his grandfather, who died before my godson was born," Harry noted even softer before straightening back up. He'd not even noticed he'd slouched. Jean shook his head softly.
"You can use our owl, if you would like I can lead you to your study," Jean said smoothly, just as he rose from his own chair. Harry gave a weary nod, following as the two women stayed behind.
Apolline looked appraisingly at her daughter for a moment, causing Fleur to give her a perplexed look. It continued for a moment before she questioned, "Yes, Maman? Is something wrong?"
Apolline's mouth scrunched just a tiny bit before she could answer, "No. I'm glad he couldn't be enraptured by the Allure. Some men have trouble with it-not much, but at least some. I am glad you finally brought at least one man home-"
"But I wish he were more than a friend. You mentioned Bill was resistant quite some time ago, and yet that fell apart why...?" she finished, not even caring about the interruption. Fleur groaned softly as she sat back herself.
"He's a good man, but it didn't feel right. I know he would've been a good match, and is attractive...but age was one problem. He treated me well typically, yet he felt some of our arguments were due to my being 'immature'. We had more than a few fights over petty things, some of them getting a little more than heated. I am not some mantelpiece to be kept at home, I have ambitions of my own. I would not mind playing housewife-for a short time, but that's all. I did not go to a magical school, become one of the top students and a Triwizard Champion all for naught but household and cooking spells!" Fleur exclaimed, a fire seemingly dancing in her eyes. Apolline's mouth opened for a moment, before she laughed.
"Ah, that's my Fleur. As stubborn as ever," Apolline commented, ignoring Fleur's glare for a moment before smiling. She looked directly at her as she retorted, "You cannot say you did not expect it. It's a natural thing for a Pureblood family. Especially English Purebloods. You do have others who don't, but they're few and far between," Apolline explained, as Fleur gave a rather sad huff.
"The irony is that Ron seems to readily accept how far Hermione will achieve past him, I talked to him once and he finally resisted the Allure well enough to answer and not be overwhelmed by it. I was wondering how he'd managed, before I learned about it," Fleur muttered, before shaking her head slightly. Apolline gave her a questioning look as Fleur changed to a smile.
"Oh, I just wanted to take a bath, that's all Maman. I'm quite content to just finish that awkward conversation, anyways," Fleur said easily and happily. Apolline's eyebrow rose as Fleur smiled and said, "Maman, it really is that. And I want to take a bath-a long one. When could dinner be served?"
"Before you arrived, it was 6:30. We can easily push it back an hour, if you'd like," Apolline offered as she stood up, Fleur mirroring for a moment before walking away.
"Thank you Maman, would you mind telling Harry?" Fleur asked as she turned back to her mother at the door. Apolline gave a small nod. Fleur flashed another smile before leaving, Apolline shook her head.
"Every time she gets something in her head, she makes it so obvious what it's about," Apolline muttered to herself, left to her own thoughts. It's obvious, at least to me, that she just made a comparison. Not in favor of Bill, but someone else. Her mind churned for a moment as she walked to Jean's study, giving a slight smile as Harry let the owl go and watched it fly off, a little saddened by its leaving. She explained it quickly, easily, about dinner before Jean offered to show Harry to a bathroom. It wasn't until Harry left the room an odd thought hit her.
It couldn't be-but my Fleur has made odd choices before. And it's not like he doesn't seem like he'd need it.
The question is-does she realize? And does he harbor some feelings for her?
Harry, amazingly by this point, was almost getting a bit used to the Chateau. He'd barely been in it two hours, but even with his earlier 'eloquent' description he had to admit it still felt like a home. Not an education institution with secrets at every turn like Hogwarts, or the complexity (and inanity) at the Ministry, but a place decorated and lived in by caring people. It reminded him in some ways of the Dursleys, yet alien until he realized it was warmth.
If for nothing else, he had to still further admit that the 'informal dining area' was still fancier than that of the Dursleys either. And yet, just like the rest of the house, it still retained warmth. It probably helped that Jean was with him, making small-talk and smiling. His accent was a little worse than his wife's, but he still was fairly easy to understand. He also both seemed to avoid explaining about every individual piece in his house on the little tour he'd received, but whatever Harry seemed interested in. He seemed far more focused as well after having Harry's permission to use a few healing charms to handle some of the injuries.
In this case, an oddly-shaped rectangular bowl (and a long one at that!) centered on the mantel of the small fireplace probably first intended to keep the place warm. Jean's smile seemed dazzling as he noticed the interest and began explaining, "That is actually from Apolline's family. From here, it's hard to distinguish, but it's a centuries-old piece. I couldn't believe they'd gift it, but it's an old Veela creation. They make it entirely by hand and magic, and then use it to spell familial history in picture form.
"While even about a relatively minor family of the Veela, one as old and in as good a condition as it is without a permanent charm besides the original enchantment is incredibly rare. I have heard of three others such as this, two of them royalty. Of course, while minor, Apolline's family was rich and could easily afford to keep it safe," Jean noted, before giving a small laugh and glancing at Harry. Harry's head tilted.
"I think I see, Jean. But that's why it's so expensive then? Or is it something else?" Harry asked, as he tried to make out figures and the like. It was impossible at the distance, and the style was slightly rough to tell.
"The reason so few exist is because it also adds to itself as time moves forward. When they made it, they wanted it to be a living history, that adapted to the future. The magic cast on it is automatic. They succeeded-but didn't realize it would make the clay more brittle and thin. At first, it was strong. Now? It's as delicate as fine china, if not more. I have repelling charms against movement regularly refreshed around it so it holds still and steady. I should probably provide another charge soon, actually," Jean muttered.
Both turned when they heard the door to their left open, Jean giving a wide smile at the now entirely clean and near injury-free Fleur, who smiled in return as she moved to a chair opposite Harry. Harry gave a more firm, and happy, greeting. It was amazing what a shower and shave could do for the soul after a battle. It was definitely reflected on Fleur's surprise, before she smiled even wider.
"Someone seems to be feeling quite good, eh 'Arry?" Fleur asked, eyes glinting slightly in exchange for the smile. Harry chuckled.
"Feels nice to be clean. And to realize I might not have things on my plate for a while," Harry admitted easily, looking around before adding, "Probably helps that this feels like a home still mostly."
"Of course, 'Arry. I wouldn't offer if it was as cold and stiff as I saw some English homes. Luckily, my father and mother are very much doting parents," Fleur responded smoothly, giving a slight nod to her father, who laughed.
"Oh, is that what you call spoiled?" Jean teased, causing Fleur to shake her head quickly.
"No! Spoiled? My sister and I? Never!" Fleur shot back. Amusement was obvious in her voice, before she looked back to Harry and continued, "And I felt that a warm, happy family would be good."
"I'm thinking I'll do well, thanks Fleur," Harry voiced, smiling a bit as Apolline came into the room not so much later. Apolline sat down just as easily as her daughter, making it look effortless as Apolline called for a house elf. Instead of Apparating, it walked a large platter in that was positively filled with food.
The house elf noted it needed to get more (so Fleur told Harry, as the house elf spoke French) because of the guests, and quickly popped away as Apolline gave a few small chuckles before explaining, "Ah, our house elves got a little excited. They don't often get to cook for informal guests, and while they don't mind being the gourmands they are, they love foods that can be experimented with a little," Apolline explained, as she pointed to the plate simply.
"So...that's chicken? But it looks a little lo-" Harry cut himself off as he saw the slight chuckles. Fleur answered for him.
"Duck. The sauce next to it has various spices in it, and the juices from cooking it. Judging from the smell, anyways. That next to it? That's-" Fleur continued as Harry's eyes widened and focus dropped looking at the next platter. Needless to say, when Harry sat back after a rather quiet meal, he was well-sated. And he ate far more than he expected, he'd not really eaten much for the past day and a half almost.
As the dinner ended, a little bit of small-talk between Fleur and her parents kept going with occasional small questions asked to Harry. While he was rather happy to be included, he still had quite a bit running through his head. As it was, Harry was still surprised when Jean smoothly shifted from conversing to Fleur to looking at Harry.
"So, 'Arry. I've been wanting to ask, but I wished to let you have dinner first," Jean's voice trailed off as Harry internally groaned, wishing beyond belief that he won't here what he might. Instead, he nearly jumped as he heard, "What is it you would like to do on your vacation? I am afraid I have my work, as does Apolline, but I would like to know what I can suggest," Jean asked, his smile creeping up a little at the badly-covered surprise.
"Er...well, I need new clothes. But I've not got a clue, I'm sorry," Harry admitted lamely, which caused Jean to simply chuckle. He inclined his head towards Fleur while doing so.
"Very well. If you're curious, you can always ask Fleur to join you. I'm sure she'll enjoy it quite a bit. The French Gringotts will recognize you still mon cher, so if you need money it's open," Jean offered easily. Harry frowned at the thought.
"I'm not poor Jean, I should be able to handle my own."
Jean waved it off with a laugh and a smile, "Ah, 'Arry. It is nothing. I am quite sure of that, the Potters were never poor. In fact, I would think you still have quite a bit of money. Consider it your 'Welcome to France'. You'll find my family is a bit zealous about it all. I do know that eventually Fleur would prefer to be independent, but I should like to handle it for awhile longer," Jean answered. Harry sighed, before simply accepting it slightly. Fleur smiled.
"If you're that worried about it, 'Arry, then maybe I will let you pay for a dinner. Assuming it is not too much?" Fleur asked mischievously, smiling for a moment as Apolline glared at her daughter for a moment. Fleur gave another laugh, before dropping it with, "Ah, I would not do that to 'Arry, Maman. I have no reason to, he's a gentleman. Though I might not mind a friendly dinner at a small cafe still," Fleur said, Harry nodding once in response.
"Very well. Just keep in mind I need to go to lunch for that one restaurant you love again in a couple days," Apolline commented off-handedly, a slight smirk pushing its way onto her face. Fleur's eyes widened, before she smiled wide.
"Really Maman? Ah! I'm definitely not going to miss that. I just wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, it bugs me at times to forget it. But 'Arry? They have some of the best foods! If anyone else comes, I'd like to say we could help pay?" Fleur asked nervously, before Jean chuckled.
"Yes, Fleur. We can," Jean said happily in response, smirking a little before giving a glance to Apolline. Apolline merely seemed to chuckle to herself before giving a satisfied nod. Unlike Jean and Apolline, Harry shook his head, though he continued to wear a smile.
"Man Fleur, and I thought you were supposed to be more mature than I am," Harry teased at Fleur's easygoing nature with her parents, causing her to smile.
"They are my parents, 'Arry. And there are many things worth getting myself worked up about, especially if they're French. You British can keep some of your overcooked meats though," Fleur responded, seeming to grimace slightly as Harry gave a small laugh.
"Alright, alright. I guess I'll learn then. But I probably will still prefer British since I grew up in it."
"You wound me, 'Arry! You're saying you'd never prefer French foods?"
"Didn't we have this conversation before? And again, simplicity. I...didn't have much time to experiment when I was younger. Hogwarts had a lot more variety than I was even used to."
"Ah. Fine then, I guess. Maybe French food will simply be too amazing for you palate I suppose..." Fleur's voice trailed off, before both began laughing. Almost immediately, Harry yawned. Fleur's eyebrow rose, before her smile returned full-force.
"How about you go to sleep, 'Arry? Just keep in mind we'll be starting right after both of us eat, if you'd not mind," Fleur offered, smiling softly. Harry nodded happily.
"Of course," Harry said smoothly. He ignored the Allure tickling in the back of his head, as Fleur smiled just the slightest bit wider.
"Fantastic. Here, I'll show you to your room, if you do not mind Papa? Mama?" Fleur asked, her parents smiling in response. They simply shared a nod, giving a good night to both before receiving one in kind. As Fleur busied herself off to help Harry, Jean gave another set of chuckles.
"Yes, yes. I will agree with you my dear. She seems to unusually care for him as a friend," Jean voiced easily, Apolline smiling a little mysteriously.
"I told you Jean. But what seems odd is that it's not the beginnings of a real bond."
"Mmm. You were the one before that thought a non-bonded couple required more trust and patience."
"Maybe. But it wouldn't change how I felt about ours. But I am hopeful Fleur's found someone she can love, Harry seems to need someone strong next to him," Apolline commented idly, before looking amused at Jean.
"Strong, yes. Overbearing? No. Sensitive to him? Yes. If Fleur was involved with him at the battle, she would've ensured he'd received care because she likely knew he was injured, but wouldn't say anything. I half think she came here as quickly as she did so as to get a jump on him with it."
"Ah, and there's my insightful husband. I agree. She cares for him a lot."
"Yes, she does. As it stands my dear, let's let it lie for now. Our daughter's smart, she'll figure herself out," Jean responded, before getting up after a glance with his wife. He smiled as they linked arms, her leaning slightly on him even if he was shorter to get a little more contact.
Well, I did partially rethink my bonds thing...but in a different way. Jean and Apolline have one, albeit a little more on the minor side. Harry and Fleur, as I've said before, will work for their relationship more.
Technically speaking, there's two paths this story can take, depending on the outcome I'd want. A canon one would have a divergent point probably in the next chapter. Fluff still has some drama, and drama's nothing like a promise perceived to be broken. For those curious on what I mean, I'm referring to Harry's promise to Ginny near the beginning of book 7 about dating and Veela. Well, maybe not exactly 'promise', but it can be regarded as rather poignant how he seemed to want to stay with Ginny.
In this non-canon route, Ginny shows up to be a point of duality and not returning paramour, even though I hope to portray her humanly. She's a bit brash, and I thought she could be considered a little overbearing and headstrong. Yes, couples can be fine with those tendencies. However, a relationship has to have a balancing force. My girlfriend dislikes conflict, and sometimes is shy to voice her opinion or thoughts or concerns. I have to gently prod her to open up about them, even a year and a half in of doing so anyways. Harry would be a little worse at times, I'd think.
As some have noted, this does NOT mean Harry is getting with Ginny in this story. This is Harry/Fleur. Non-canon.
Fleur seems headstrong in the books as well about what she believes, but she would likely also be a very encouraging person as well I'd think. Maybe I've slightly romanticized her character, but oh well. Comes with fluff, I'd say.
Sorry for the late upload as well, been a bit busy a couple weeks. I'm a naturally slower writer as well, for which I apologize. Finished this really early in the morning, so if some of it's a little shaky I'm sorry. Let me know and I'll see what I can do to edit and replace it.
For those who reviewed, thank you so very much. I was glad to receive every single one. On most of my other stories I barely received one or two a chapter, but here I got so many I was surprised. I thank you. For those who commented on it, I partially did this to write one of my favorite non-canon couples, and to put a different spin on it. For those who sent constructive criticism, I'll respond to it here in a day or so in a PM.