Universe: Harry Potter, 4th year

Rating: T


Gabrielle was crying.

She'd been crying for an hour, since the door had shut behind them.

Harry couldn't blame her. She was scared. She was separated from her family for the first time in her life. She didn't know what was going to happen to her.

Harry couldn't hug her and tell her it would be OK. She was terrified of him. Harry didn't blame her. To be honest, he was a little scared of her, or at least the situation they were in.

He wasn't any happier about their "marriage" than she was. A forced marriage – to an eight-year-old! – had been the last thing on his mind when he walked out to the lake that morning.

He couldn't go over and hug her, but at least he was able to talk to her. Dumbledore might have been a useless bastard all year, but he'd cast a translation spell on Harry this afternoon, after the Delacour parents had been yelling at them both for ten minutes. It was temporary, but Dumbledore had said it would last long enough for the newlyweds to get to know each other. The way things were going, that meant about five years.

"We can make it better, Gabrielle. We can figure out a way to get you back with your family and you not die."

"I want my mother!" She burst into renewed tears.

He'd been trying to console her for a while, once he'd realized she wasn't going to stop crying. He'd run out of things to say. He never was the best at talking to people, and this was too much for him.

Harry was at his wits' end. He didn't want to spend the night with a crying little girl. He didn't want to spend the night alone with a little girl even if she wasn't crying. And he most especially didn't want to be married to a little girl, crying or not.

And why had the adults left them alone, even if it was their "wedding night"? He could believe it of the Hogwarts staff; they had an unbroken record of not seeing, not caring, not bestirring themselves. But what about Gabrielle's parents? They couldn't be happy about their eight-year-old daughter spending a night with a teenage boy.

Didn't there used to be a custom with arranged marriages, a chaperone sitting in on a child bride's wedding night? Why weren't they doing that now? Why weren't her parents insisting on it?

Gabrielle was still crying. Harry couldn't take it any more.

"I'll try to get your mother to come here, Gabrielle. Just wait, or try to go to sleep."

There was no answer, except maybe a momentary reduction in the volume of the sobs.

Escaping "their" room through the only exit, Harry immediately saw Gabrielle's sister, who paused in her pacing and turned a furious glare on him.

"Oh, good! I was wondering how I'd find your mother but you're good enough." Harry was so relieved to see her that he didn't wonder at Fleur being awake and here despite the hour. And didn't notice her outraged look at being referred to as good enough. "Come in. Gabrielle's been crying and I can't get her to stop."

"What did you do to her, you animal?" Fleur growled.

"Nothing! I never touched her." Wasted words. She had already brushed past him to rush to her little sister.

Even with the translation spell, Harry couldn't make out the murmuring of the two sisters. He just flopped himself into one of the room's two chairs and tried to relax enough to sleep.

No such luck. Fleur tucked Gabrielle's covers around her before standing up from the bed and then sitting in the other chair.

"She exhausted herself crying but did confirm that you did not force yourself upon her. Perhaps I was hasty in accusing you."

It wasn't an apology. Despite being in a bedroom – a marriage bedroom with a very beautiful young woman, Harry wasn't at all interested. Her arrogance and mood swings were not at all attractive. It couldn't just be a beautiful woman thing because Parvati wasn't at all arrogant. Maybe that was how the Delacours had raised their girls, or maybe all part-veela were like that. If that was true, Harry didn't want to have anything to do with either of them.

Except he had to. He was married to Gabrielle.

Sighing, Harry asked in French, "Would you mind staying here the rest of the night? Even if she doesn't wake up during the night, she'll still wake up in the morning, and probably start crying if it's just her and me here. You can have the bed with her. I'll sleep on this chair."

"Yes, of course I will keep my sister safe and secure. Good night … brother in law."

Author's Note: Yah, I went with the idiotic veela-life-debt-forced-marriage trope, but only to point out a way to take care of one potential problem. Of course the Potterverse magic-raised people wouldn't think of such an obvious solution, but that's because their IQs are somewhere in the low double digits. In the real world, in some cultures child marriages for political reasons had chaperones in the room to make sure the groom didn't force himself on a prepubescent bride. Byzantines: 1. Fanfic authors: 0.

The reason I wrote this was because I just read a one-shot in which the weeping veela child bride trope was used, and used badly. Don't ask; I've repressed the name of the story and I won't embarrass the author or the person who put that bit of rubbish in his favorites.