1 One Debt
Harry groaned as he started awakening. His body was aching all over. He could smell the hospital wing even before opening his eyes. That brought back the memories of the previous night – the third task, the goblet, Cedric and Voldemort. He groaned again, and then he felt a tender hand resting on his forehead, caressing it lightly.
He stayed put a little longer, enjoying the feeling of being caressed. He knew his mother had probably done it, but he couldn't remember anybody caressing him before. This was a feeling he could easily get accustomed to.
Yet he had to wake up. The pressure in his bladder was mounting and he needed go to the toilet before it became insupportable. He moved his hand, grabbing the one that was caressing him as he opened his eyes. He couldn't see too well without his eye-glasses. He only saw a blurry image of silvery-blonde hair and light face. He was expecting to either see Hermione or Mrs. Weasley, as they were both sitting at his bed when he had fallen asleep. This one was clearly none of them.
He grabbed his glasses, put them on and looked again.
"What are you doing here, Fleur?" he asked, quite surprised.
"You saved me," she stated simply.
"I don't understand. Please wait for me here as I need..." He wasn't sure how to phrase it. He just pointed in the general direction of the restrooms.
"Of course. Do what you need to do. I'll wait here."
He returned a few minutes later, finding Fleur in the same spot. He set himself back in bed, as expected.
"So?" he asked.
Fleur smiled a bit. She then took a deep breath and tried to explain. "You saved me, so I owe you a life debt. I'm here now and I'll stay with you for as long as you wish."
"I don't expect you to do anything due to a life debt. You can go on with your life as you wish."
She smiled again, sadly, this time. "Had it been a normal life debt, your words could have been enough, but my Veela heritage makes it more difficult."
"The Veela magic dictates that once I owe you a life debt, I can only pay it by becoming yours in every way possible. I'm practically your slave now. You can do with me whatever you want."
It took Harry some time to understand. His male teenage mind led him in one direction mostly. "You mean you are my sex-slave?"
"That as well. You can mate with me as much as you want, make me do whatever chores you want or even take my life at will."
"I'll never do that! Can I set you free?"
She shook her head sadly. "No. It's for life."
His mind was still numb from sleep, but it was starting to function. "Well, if you must be my mate, then it should be a mating of equals. You can't be my slave, but I'll accept you as my wife. It's just fair, isn't it?"
As soon as he said it, a bright flash appeared, almost blinding them with the intensity of the light. As their eyes readjusted, after the light disappeared, they noticed that each was now wearing a wedding band.
Fleur seemed bewildered and surprised. "You married me?!" she said with disbelief.
"I did?" He didn't believe it either.
"You must be a very powerful wizard," she noted.
"I'm just average," he shrugged.
Fleur shook her head and said nothing.
"I don't think we should let everybody know about this right now," Harry said. "It may be dangerous for you."
He tried removing the band, but it wouldn't budge, as if it was now a part of his finger.
"You can't remove a magical wedding band," Fleur explained, "but you can usually command it to stay invisible."
"How can I do it?"
Fleur put her hand forward and concentrated. Her ring faded, making her finger look as before. "Try thinking at the ring to become invisible," she suggested.
Harry tried as instructed. His ring disappeared from view, yet he could still feel it on his finger.
"Well done, Lord Potter," she said.
Fleur sighed. "Don't you know that you are the head of an Ancient and Noble house, or should be, at least?"
He still looked bewildered, yet they couldn't keep this conversation. The door opened and Hermione ran into the hospital wing. "Oh, Harry! I'm so glad you're finally awake!"
She hugged him tightly, as always, and then held him at arm's length and looked him all over. Not seeing anything suspect, she let go of him and sat on the edge of his bed. "I was so worried for you throughout this year. I'm glad it's almost over now and you're safe. I don't know what I would have done had anything happened to you!"
'Many things happened last night,' he thought bitterly, but said nothing. He knew what she really meant.
Madam Pomfrey chose that moment to come from her office for the morning check up, shooing the girls away. They only moved to the adjacent bed, which was empty. She checked Harry over, taking special care of his arm and his leg, where he had been wounded that night. "Everything seems fine, but you should still take the potion against the cruciatus after-effects twice a day, until you go home. You can leave now."
"You've been hit with cruciatus?" both girls squeaked with surprise.
Harry just shrugged. He took the bottle of potion and put it on the night stand. He put his shoes on and then his worn robes, making sure to take the potion with him.
"I think that my parents are eager to meet you," Fleur said. "Why don't you come to the Beauxbatons carriage with me?"
"He's not going alone anywhere!" Hermione responded before Harry could even process the request.
"He won't be alone. I'll be with him," Fleur said. Hermione didn't seem to appreciate it much. "You can come along, if you wish," she added after a short consideration.
It was a bit awkward, Harry thought. He was sandwiched between the two girls who were somewhat suspicious of each other. Each was holding one of his hands quite possessively, yet it gave Harry a good feeling. He felt protected. He even felt... loved? He wasn't too sure about it. It was certainly a feeling he had not been experienced with, yet it felt good, like a warm chocolate drink warming you inside. He could certainly get accustomed to it.
The French carriage looked like a small palace inside, much larger than its outside dimensions. After having seen the magical tents during the Quidditch World Cup, this didn't surprise either Harry or Hermione. A house elf, wearing a miniature version of the school uniform, greeted them at the door and led them to a modest-sized sitting room, where the two elder Delacour were waiting along with Fleur's younger sister, Gabrielle.
It was only her father's hand on her shoulder that prevented Gabi from running straight to her sister. Mr. Delacour then invited them all to sit. He seemed surprised when Harry and his two escorts sat on a sofa, with Harry in the middle.
This didn't seem to affect Gabi, who started talking to Fleur in French at such a high speed that even Fleur seemed to have difficulties catching up. A glare from her father stopped her, although both her mother and her sister tried to hide a smile. Harry didn't even try. Being with these two girls had affected him in a way he couldn't understand. He felt happy, really, despite what he had to endure just a few hours previously, and despite the looming summer vacation, when he would probably be forced to stay with the Dursleys again. The way Gabi was chatting made him smile happily, something that was so rare that he couldn't remember when or if it had ever happened before.
Fleur let his hand go as they sat down, as if feeling that it was not necessary to hold onto Harry now, once he was surrounded by her family. Hermione only held his hand tighter, as if silently promising to be with him under any circumstances.
"Good morning to you," Mr. Delacour said. "I'm not sure I know who you are and why you are here, Mademoiselle," he addressed Hermione.
Her expression turned determined as she grabbed Harry's hand even tighter while replying, "I'm Hermione Granger, Harry's best friend, and..."
"Papa, I wanted her to come. This may save some unwanted complications," Fleur cut in.
"I see," her father said, looking a bit troubled. "Well, let us proceed to the introductions. I'm Alain Delacour, Fleur's father, and the lovely lady at my side is my wife and the mother of our daughters, Apolline. You've already met our young daughter – Gabrielle."
Harry nodded politely. Fleur started talking. "Papa, Maman, this is Lord Harry James Potter and the lovely lady at his side is his best friend and, as I believe, his secret love."
Both Harry and Hermione looked at her with disbelief. Each thought that these feelings they had towards each other were a well kept secret. Fleur noticed their surprise and added, "I've flashed my Allure at you when you were hugging, and Harry didn't even turn his eyes in my direction."
"Well, this makes things more... interesting," Alain said. None of the youngsters seemed to understand.
He turned to Hermione. "Miss Granger, have you heard anything of what my daughter spoke with Harry?"
She frowned a little. "No, nothing of importance. And please call me Hermione."
He smiled kindly at her. "Very well, Hermione. Let me tell you some of what happened during the task last night."
He sat down, making himself comfortable, before continuing to talk. "You know that Fleur was the last to enter the maze. She was well prepared and none of the first few obstacles posed any problem to her. She was then attacked from behind by another contestant."
Hermione gasped. She already knew that Fleur and Viktor had been dragged out of the maze not too long after Fleur went in, but she didn't know why.
"It was later found out that Mr. Krum had been imperiused to take down both Fleur and Mr. Diggory, so that Harry would grab the goblet, which was actually a portkey, intended to bring him somewhere else."
Harry noticed that Alain was refraining from going into details. He didn't know the cause, yet he appreciated the gesture. He didn't feel like confronting the events of the night so soon.
"Luckily, Harry was able to find Fleur before any of the monsters found her. He sent red sparks to call for help. He then stayed at her side until help arrived, before continuing with the task. He later found Mr. Krum casting cruciatus on Mr. Diggory. He stunned Krum, and helped Mr. Diggory to his feet before continuing the task. If it wasn't for Lord Potter..."
"Please, just call me Harry."
Alain smiled. "Well, if it wasn't for Harry, Fleur would have been in terrible danger and could have even died there before anybody found out."
He waited a moment for his words to sink in.
"Now, as Harry saved Fleur selflessly, putting himself in danger as well, this has created a life debt."
Hermione frowned deeply, tightening her hold on Harry again, almost to the point of pain. "Harry wouldn't cash on that life debt. Would you, Harry?"
Alain lifted his hand, preventing Harry from answering. "That isn't really relevant. You've heard that Fleur's grandmother is a Veela, Harry. Haven't you?"
Harry nodded and Alain continued speaking. "What we all try to make others forget is that all daughters of a Veela are Veela as well."
Hermione gasped, understanding the implications of his words. Harry just looked bewildered, unsure what to think.
"As Hermione has just understood, this means that Apolline, Fleur and Gabrielle are all Veela."