Disclaimer: Like a Celestial body spinning through space, we drift through the randomness, only to be ushered back to our origins, by an entity beyond our reach.
I do not own Harry Potter.
At the risk of sounding like a forgotten friend messaging out of nowhere, How are you? It's been long enough that even I had trouble remembering parts of the story, so here's a brief synopsis.
Plot: Harry finds a set of playing cards in his school and like any kid with mysterious powers, he tries to experiment with them. Discovers that certain cards can be imbued with certain powers, in a mockery of spells like Cutting Charm, Blasting Hex, and Apparition; But, in his own words, even cooler. Meets Remus in an abandoned alley and rejects adoption faster than a street cat. Goes to Diagon Alley and tries to robs everything in sight. Ends up with Lucius' Wand, Bank Key and, something worthier than both, Hedwig. Ollivander is his creepy self and proclaims that Harry's magic is too powerful and versatile and awesome – At least that's what Harry understood – to fit a normal wand and drops a Silver wand in Harry's hands; Harry feels that he might have been swindled but doesn't risk meeting a creepy old man in a suspicious woodworks shop again.
Gringotts tries to advertise its security with a pretentious poem on the wall and unfortunately, Harry takes it as a challenge. Faces a dragon and obtains an Invisibility Cloak for his troubles. Quirrel dies in the ensuing escape from Gringotts; No one misses him. Dumbledore finds another DADA Professor before Voldemort even realizes his host is dead and it turns out to be Remus, to the surprise of no one but Harry.
Harry enters Hogwarts and somehow ends up in Ravenclaw. The sorting Hat tries to stabilize the timeline and puts Draco in Ravenclaw too; It doesn't work. Lucius gives Tom Riddle's Diary to Draco to pawn it off to someone in Hogwarts but Draco being quite the clever boy, keeps it for himself. The Chamber of Secrets has opened once again but no one notices...or cares.
Harry steals Scabbers from Ron by mistake and banishes the rat to a corner of his trunk. Then he forgets all about it. If it has been any other rat, it would've been animal cruelty but because it's Pettigrew, it's just a human rights violation. No one feels sorry about it. A newspaper article about Harry Potter jogs Sirius' memory of better days; Instead of drowning in nostalgia and regrets, he drowns himself in the ocean and escapes from Azkaban. Minister Fudge hears of this and sends Dementors to the only place where people are already used to creatures that suck the happiness out of students; A school.
Harry accidentally tries to murder Professor McGonagall by throwing her animagus form out of a window, then not so accidentally tries to murder Snape by throwing a harmful potion at his face; Both attempts are unsuccessful. Harry only regrets one. He wonders how he's still allowed into the school and then he finds out about Albus Dumbledore; The man attempts to murder everyone in the school with a conniving plan each year and he's still the Headmaster. Makes sense why Harry is now serving detention under the Headmaster himself for his attempted homicides. In a true Dumbledore fashion, the Headmaster is now teaching even more dangerous techniques to the reckless eleven-year-old as punishment.
Once again to no one's surprise but his, Harry mounts a broom and finds out he's a natural. He decides to be a chaser because there's more action than a seeker and he gets to throw things at people's faces and it's a point if it doesn't hit the person and goes into the hole. It's a win-win situation. He snoozes when the captain is explaining the rules and grabs the Snitch because it looks shiny. Dementors take offense to this blatant foul play and gang up on the hapless Chaser. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Harry doesn't hit the first base with the dementors; Snape looks visibly disappointed.
Professor Trelawney makes a sloppy prediction and Hedwig tries her best to make it come true. Harry and Sirius meet by the suspiciously intelligent owl's machinations and instantly become best friends through their shared interests; Like recklessness and Black humor. Two months into the semester and Harry is already bored enough to rob someone, despite the momentary fun of tricking Ron into thinking that the redhead is dying; So he does just that. With an unlikely crew consisting of a mass murderer, a talking hat, and an invisible cloak, he robs Lucius dry and frames the Malfoys for good measure. Amelia visits Hogwarts, hates the juvenile graffiti on the walls about some secret chambers, and arrests Draco Malfoy.
Harry is awfully affected by the dementors and decides to find out why. Daphne decides to tag in because of reasons beyond his comprehension – also because he wasn't paying attention when she finally did provide her reason – and they discover that Dementors are addicted to his magical cards quicker than a depressed adult is to crack. Dementors are weirdly submissive and Harry is inconsolable. Harry likes to think that he got closer to Daphne because of the adventure but that might just be his imagination; Not that the first time Harry got mixed signals from the girl, and peculiarly, he loves the mystery.
Harry pilfers a blank parchment from the Weasley twins and using some crypto-analysis and advanced magicks, Sirius turns into a map. They find Peter Pettigrew under Harry's bed to his horror and decide to provide the traitorous rat a new home in the shrieking shack. Remus and Sirius unite after eleven long years in a disgustingly sentimental scene and Harry threatens Pettigrew with bodily harm to retain his manliness after witnessing the sight. Harry plans to infiltrate the Ministry to absolve Sirius of his crimes and ropes, Susan, into his plan. Hermione overhears their dastardly scheme and seeks to inform it to higher authorities; Nobody believes her except a clearly delusional Ron.
Harry is optimistic for the first time in his life and tries to tempt fate by literally poking fun at a baby phoenix. Fawkes banishes him to a distant land that is a completely different universe compared to England, known as France. In a cliched, boy meets girl scenario, Harry falls on – not for – a beautiful French girl. She doesn't appreciate the Phoenix Delivery Service and knees the poor troublemaker in the stomach. Harry finds out that he's Far from Home and vows revenge on the son of a chick.
Good Lord, when I put it this way, it almost seems like this story has a proper plotline. Without further ado, let's start the show.
Phoenixes are immortal creatures, beings beyond the understanding of the common witch or wizard. At least that's the impression one would get when seeing the majestic birds from a distance but once you get closer, you would realize that they're just as capricious as any other stupid creature that roamed the earth.
On some days, his life felt normal, like a sailboat capsized in the middle of the ocean, and on other days like this, it was like a sailboat capsized in the middle of the ocean on a stormy night. If there's one thing he realized from all this, then it's that Fawkes was a dead bird flying. If there's a way to gain revenge on an immortal bird, he'd be on it harder than the Count of the Monte Cristo.
Thoughts of unholy vengeance aside, there was a shiver of excitement coursing through his body from being in an unknown location. France as a country might as well be a whole new dimension for him considering how much he'd traveled in his life. For a wizard with powers of teleportation, he had been to embarrassingly few places, something which needed to be rectified.
While he was lost in his musing, it didn't mean that he was entirely unaware of his surroundings; particularly the violent French girl. She seemed to get more annoyed with each passing moment of his continued silence and was probably wondering why he hadn't spontaneously combusted out of existence; Considering how he spontaneously combusted into existence, that wasn't an inaccurate train of thought. So he decided to break the ice in a smooth manner befitting his character.
"So, who are you supposed to be?"
Maybe he could've been smoother but it definitely fit his character. He could swear he'd seen her brow twitch.
"I should be asking that!" she snapped and Harry felt something akin to a magnetic field battering his senses. Her accent was cute though.
He hadn't completely taken in her appearance before he was violently shaken out of his stupor but looking at her now, it seemed like she was dressed for a marathon. She wore navy blue pants that tapered off at her ankles and a slim, form-fitting sleeveless shirt. She wore shoes that appeared to be a parody of the muggle hiking boots and grey socks that ended at her ankles. Her silver hair fell down to her shoulders and her ocean blue eyes were staring down at him. She was a few inches taller than him – surely because she's older, Harry reassured himself – and carried herself with quiet confidence.
"Well, I'm Harry. Harry Potter, part-time wizard, and full-time thief," Harry said with a flourish before pausing. "Wait, I got that in reverse. Harry Potter, part-time thief, and full-time wizard."
"What?" the silver-haired girl blinked in bewilderment. Then the name registered in her mind. "Wait, you're the Harry Potter?"
"I guess?" Unless there's a French version of Harry Potter running around, besmirching his name. Seemed like the stories of his exploits transcended dimensions.
"What are you doing in France?"
"I made fun of a Phoenix," Harry replied, as though that explained everything. For those who were aware of Phoenixes, it did. "You know, for a French girl, you speak pretty good English. You're not playing a prank on a clueless boy, are you?"
"My father's from Britain," she explained, a hint of disdain in her tone for the place. "He shifted to France when he married my mother."
For a girl who kneed him in the stomach without the slightest hesitation, she was pretty forthcoming with the details. Or it could be that for all his maturity, he still looked like an oblivious kid lost amongst the crowd in a strange place. How demeaning.
"That doesn't explain why we're in the middle of nowhere," he commented as he glanced around. They were standing at the base of a gigantic mountain that also seemed to be home to a massive forest. The area behind them was drier in comparison but with dozens of trees scattered around the vicinity. There was no end in sight but he could hear the noise of the waves in the distance. If not for the fancily dressed girl, he'd have assumed Fawkes might have thrown him back in time before civilizations existed just out of sheer spite.
"I have to get to the top of this mountain before the Sunset to get a core for my wand," she informed, staring intensely at the mountain as if searching for its peak. Given how tall the mountain was, even an Eagle would have trouble.
"Huh," Harry nodded, seemingly impressed by her mission. "We only have to suffer through an hour with a creepy old man while he measures every inch of our body with a suspicious-looking tape...Alone."
The girl looked visibly disturbed by his explanation.
"...you know what, I think I prefer climbing a mountain to that," Harry acquiesced with a nod. "So, what's at the top of the mountain? A dragon that we need to kill to extract its heartstring? A phoenix to capture and obtain its feather before selling it to a shady Headmaster? Spy on a Unicorn and snipe its hair without it noticing?"
With each passing moment, Harry got more excited until he was bouncing in his place. The girl appeared to be amused at the display, a glint in her eye that promised death by utter disappointment.
"I have my grandmother waiting for me with a strand of her hair," she replied with all the calmness of a saint.
"Alright!" Harry cheered before his mind processed her words.
"What!?" If there was a way to measure disappointment, he'd have broken the current world record. "This is worse than the time I evaded death by giant spiders in a dangerous forest just to end up with a pet dementor."
The girl seemed to have decided that questioning his weird answers would only beget more weird answers and resigned herself to accept the strangeness of his life. Or at least, that's what he assumed.
"Um, it's been a pleasure?...to meet you, Harry Potter, but I have to get going now if I plan to reach the top before sunset," the girl gave an awkward wave at the thought of leaving him alone to the figurative and possibly literal wolves and started walking away without waiting for his response.
She ambled a few feet forward and gave a cursory glance behind her, only to be startled out her wits at finding him walking behind her, appearing for all intents like a tourist on an exciting trip.
"What's our plan then?" Harry stared at her, waiting for an answer.
"Our?" she repeated with a confounded look on her face. "I don't understand. Why are you following me?"
"Surely, you can't get me all enthusiastic about an adventure and expect me to stand back and watch, mysterious French girl" he replied as if it's such an obvious fact. "We're getting that hair from your grandma even if it teleports me to Germany next or something and if not, I can just steal it for ya."
"...I think you got it wrong, Harry," she stopped in her tracks and explained it to him slowly and patiently as if she's talking to a particularly dim five-year-old. "This is not an adventure. It's a test. To prove that I am worthy of my Grandmother's hair strand."
"...and also, mysterious French girl?" she added as an afterthought.
"You didn't give me a name, did you? That's how I was referring to you in my mind," Harry pointed out. "and what's the deal about your grandmother's hair?"
The girl seemed to steel herself. "I'm a Veela, Harry, a quarter Veela to be honest. Veela are magical beings, like phoenixes, with powers of fire and Allure. My grandmother is a pure-blooded Veela and an especially powerful one. Her strand of hair, willingly given, is a magical core more potent than even Unicorn hair. So believe me, it's a great honor that she wants me to receive it."
Fleur spoke with such reverence that one could have thought that they were the direct descendants of the gods. That didn't make it any less impressive though. Magical cores were, in the words of Ollivander himself, curiously fickle things. Not every magical creature, no matter how powerful, could produce a magical core. Only creatures of legends, beings that were immersed in the tales of the yore, could come anywhere close to that status; This too could be mere speculation.
This was one of the reasons why the fact that he turned a simple set of playing cards into magical foci was such a unique thing. Most people would write it off as mere party tricks but those who looked closer would realize what a dangerous power it was; No wonder Ollivander lost his wits when he witnessed that.
Harry stayed silent for a few moments, taking it all in. To think that there were Witches and Wizards with such cool powers and he'd never even heard of them. Fawkes might have been a bastard but this opportunity made him realize that there was so much to learn of the world. While his goals till now were limited to coasting through his Hogwarts days with a bit of fun and mischief in between, there was a fresh desire welling up in his mind to see all that this world had to offer. If the sole opportunity of learning magic catapulted his life in such an unforeseen direction from the days in the cupboard, he could only wonder what more mysteries this world had concealed.
"...and my name's Fleur. Fleur Delacour, not mysterious French girl."
The aptly named Fleur on the other hand appeared to be almost resigned about something. As if him learning that she's a quarter Veela or whatever would change him. She's bound to be disappointed if she expected that a few fire powers and the weird glowy thingy would awe him, Harry thought.
"So, Flower, don't you have any of these cool powers?" Harry asked in curiosity. "I mean, you're pretty and all, but I don't see how that can be called a power."
He'd be damned if all the beautiful people in the world acted like it's a power bestowed upon them by the Almighty.
"It's Fleur!" she snapped and another wave of that magnetic field like thing battered against his senses.
But Harry wasn't phased. "If you think I'd get dragged into your French ways just because I'm in France, you're mistaken, Flower. Harry Potter is as British as Tea and Biscuits."
Fleur held her head in her hands as if suffering from a massive headache. She composed herself with a sigh before her eyes snapped open when it hit her that he said that he couldn't feel her power. "Wait...you can't feel my Allure?"
"Should I?" Harry asked rhetorically.
"You should!" Fleur answered with vehemence. "A Veela's powers are at their strongest after puberty. Maybe some could learn to control it as they get older but you can never suppress it completely. And I haven't even begun to control my Allure."
"How does this Allure thing work anyway?" Harry gestured with his hands wildly, miming some voodoo movements.
Fleur's eye twitched in annoyance but she disregarded it in favor of more pressing matters. "It's an invisible effect, you don't have any light show like with spells...it's hard to put it in words but it's like a feeling of attraction. You can't stop staring, you'd want to impress me with anything you can, it's like you're spellbound to me. To those unaware, it almost feels like love at first sight...or even an imperious."
"Sounds weird," was Harry's only comment. Before she could snap at him again, he continued. "You know, I think I almost felt something like it when I first saw you, but it's not like anything you said. It's just that you looked really pretty is all. But I feel this force field like thing whenever you get angry."
"...force field?" she furrowed her brows in confusion at the strange term. She ignored the warm feeling that him calling her pretty produced with prejudice. He was just a clueless kid.
"You know, like a push, a blast of wind but there's no wind and it's all on the senses, not on the body...it's like that," Harry put it as eloquently as he could, which wasn't much, to be frank.
"That does sound like Allure but if there's a cause, where's the effect?" Fleur murmured to herself. "Maybe I'm suppressing it without realizing...but he said that he can still feel it. Maybe it won't work on boys if they didn't even hit puberty..."
"Oi, I'm about as manly as an eleven-year-old can get," Harry puffed his cheeks cutely, a pout forming on his lips.
Fleur giggled despite herself and pushed the questions to the back of her mind; Maybe her mother or grandmother would have the answers. "Of course, Harry. Now, we've wasted enough time dawdling, so we have to hurry a bit."
They strode forward with a rushed gait and as they took their first step up the mountain, Harry felt a rush of static crawl across his frame. He glanced back with a frown as they walked, searching for the cause of the disturbance.
"It's an intent detection ward," Fleur answered without his prodding. "Those who try to climb the mountain with ill intent in their hearts would not be able to cross it."
Harry made a sound of understanding and remained silent as he gazed around. The thick foliage cloaked the narrow pathway in shadows, with arrow thin wisps of light piercing through the roof of the forest. The meager light allowed for a discounted view of the mammoth trunks of the humongous trees that surrounded them. Each of them was thicker than castle walls and twisted and writhed over one another on their path to the top. In the fight for the gift of sunlight, even the losers achieved heights that trees in most forests couldn't ever attain.
His mind couldn't help but draw comparisons to the Forbidden Forest and while the bleak and wet climate of Scotland led to thickets of moss and trees and darkness that even a Lumos couldn't drive away, this forest was only mildly better in comparison. His immediate reaction was to draw his wand to produce light but considering that Fleur didn't try it meant that there was a reason why that simple idea was rejected.
That could be due to the myriad of sounds emitted from the deep corners of the forest. If the melodious warbles of the birds distracted him from disquiet, the guttural growls and bizarre hums that echoed around him amplified it. It didn't help that Fleur was taut as a string, her wand pointed forward at an invisible enemy, while her eyes roamed from one corner to the other; Whatever horror stories she heard about the trek to the top, she certainly believed them.
Times like these made him realize what a great companion Daphne could be on dangerous quests. To have a person beside you who maintained a blank stare in the face of an army of acromantula made you realize that maybe you're freaking out beyond reason. Next time, he mustn't forget to drag Daphne along with him whenever he's teleported unwillingly to another country. She might try to eviscerate him with her patented 'I-will-kill-you-slowly-and-painfully-if-I-bother-to-actually-do-it' stare but at this point, he was practically immune to it. Something to add to the to-do list.
Their ambivalent stroll was interrupted by the noise of a resounding crash of a tree branch, followed by the rhythmic thudding of giant footsteps. More trees were harmed along the way until a troll the height of a double-decker bus was obstructing their path. Its leathery skin was a light brown, coated in a mixture of grime, crushed leaves, and scars. Its murky yellow teeth were crusted with blood and an amalgam of rotten substances, and it had a thick, broken branch clutched in its fist as a makeshift club. It sniffed as if it had come across an enchanting aroma of barbecue and spices and its beady eyes focused instantly on the two travelers.
Fleur instinctively took a step back and lifted her wand higher. She spoke in a hurry as she maintained a Mexican stand-off with the creature. "It's a troll, Harry. They are notoriously hard creatures to kill because of their magic-resistant hides and immense strength. You wait..."
She hadn't even finished speaking when something akin to a bullet zipped past her face and embedded itself right between the eyes of the troll. A trickle of blood slithered down from the spot and slid down its nose before spilling over the bridge. The troll stood frozen in time for what seemed like minutes, its simple mind unable to comprehend what had happened, before it collapsed backward in a shower of mud and twigs.
Fleur stared in abject shock as what appeared to be a playing card emerged out of the troll's fatal wound and flew back into the waiting hands of its owner.
"Man, this is going to be so hard to clean," Harry whined in disgust as he stared at the bloody card in his hands. "Do you know the Cleaning Charm, Flower?
Still lost in her incredulity, Fleur didn't snap at him for calling her 'Flower'. "Wha...What...What happened?!"
"Hmm?" Harry tilted his head in confusion, appearing for all intents like an endearing kid who didn't just murder a mountain troll in cold blood. "Oh, I didn't tell you, did I? I too have cool powers!"
He showed her a beguiling set of playing cards, and in the dim luminescence of the forest, the cards glinted ominously. Fleur alternated between staring from the cards to the oddly proud eleven-year-old until she couldn't contain her prominent thought. "That doesn't explain anything!"
"They're magical cards," Harry elaborated as if that explained everything.
"What do you mean 'they're magical cards'?" she reiterated. "You mean like Exploding Snap?"
"No, no, no," Harry shook his head violently. To compare the sheer greatness of his cards with that of some stupid wizard game was utter blasphemy. "I mean, they do explode, but that's not all they do."
Harry pushed a bit of magic into the cards and they burst out of the deck like a shower of sparks, fluttering in the air akin to a flock of birds. They began revolving around him as if they were planets and he was the Sun, spinning lazily in an eternal motion. They had begun to do that since his unplanned serenade with dozens of dementors during the Quidditch match. He'd loved to know how this was happening but if he could glean anything about why things happen the way they do around him, his life would've been a lot less chaotic.
Harry plucked the bloody card out of the air, an Ace of Diamonds. "Now this card here is perfect for cutting, most cards of the Diamond suit are. The Clubs on the other hand are perfect for exploding, you get much better results than if you use a diamond suit card. The Hearts are good for hypnotism...or confounding as magical folks call it. I am still not sure what the Spades are exactly for but they are a bit of a jack of all trades at the moment."
On one hand, Fleur felt like she was looking at what appeared to be a colossal discovery while on the other hand, she could barely comprehend what he was saying. Cards that were substitutes for spells? And specific cards for specific spells? What's the necessity for all this when there was a wand that could perform all the above spells perfectly? It just sounded like additional steps to achieve the same result. But the dead body of the troll proved that it wasn't as cut and clear as it appeared at first glance. Before she could wrap her mind around the concept, the green-eyed boy brought out another revelation.
"And this," Harry declared grandly as he placed a Joker card in his palm. "This is the best of them all, Teleportation!"
"Teleportation?" Fleur parroted in doubt.
Harry deflated like a punctured tire and let out a sigh that told that this was not the first time that he had had to deal with the ignorance of the Wizarding World. "Apparition, Flower, it's like Apparition."
"You mean you already know how to Apparate?" she stared in wonder. "That's a really advanced skill."
Harry preened under her stare for an instant before acting like he hadn't just done that. He was still unused to praise after the years at Cafe A La Dursley and it made reacting to it so damned awkward. Didn't mean that he liked it any less though.
Harry Potter was either a genius or a madman, Fleur decided in her mind. Only someone with a distorted world view could even conceive such an eccentric use of magic. Considering his antics, she was leaning towards the latter. "What about the whole flying cards act?"
While Harry was elucidating the wonders of magical cards, the cards themselves hadn't stopped revolving around him like a halo. It made him feel peculiarly powerful but call him Merlin if he knew why they were acting like that. "You know, I'm not sure. A few weeks ago, I had a terrible fall from a broom, with dementors chasing me like rabid Quidditch fans and since then, the cards started acting like this."
Fleur didn't know what part of that story she found odd but it painted a bizarre picture in her mind. She was starting to wonder if all his strange tales were anything but the overactive imagination of a child but the proof was standing in front of her at the moment. She never paid much attention all the boy-who-lived novels that Gabrielle, and a few of her friends, were enamored of but it seemed as if the real deal was much stranger than anything those authors could imagine.
Paying no heed to her befuddlement, Harry put his palm forward and all the cards flew back into his hand, forming a neat stack. He ambled forward, doing a nimble jump over the cooling corpse of the humongous mountain troll, not even bothering to spare a glance at the creature. The whole scenario was so outlandish that Fleur stood frozen in her place, still trying to force the world to make sense.
"Hey, Flower, you coming or not?" Harry called back, waving at her from a distance.
Fleur shook her head to rid her of her reverie, her silver hair bouncing around like flowers in the wind. Even from afar, Harry couldn't help but be captivated. How does hair get so shiny, and where could he steal it from? Maybe Fleur would be kind enough to part with one? But considering how big of a deal she made about a Veela's hair, he thought he'd be better off with stealing one. Like what they about asking for forgiveness rather than permission or something.
They continued their long trek in silence, the sounds of the jungle replacing the need for conversation, especially when both of them were lost in their own train of thoughts. They walked for what felt like hours, and it in fact might have been a few hours, but yet it appeared as if they hadn't even ventured far into the forest. His breaths came out as gasps and his legs strained to put step after the other. Fleur walked a bit ahead, and Harry trailed after her in exhaustion, his eyes glued to her back. To an accusing eye, he would appear to be a pervert but to an observant eye, he would probably still look like a pervert. But with his penchant for pilfering shiny things and the tiredness that clung to his frame, her hair was like a homing beacon.
It would explain why his mind didn't register the fact that they passed by the same tree three times by now. He could at least reason that he was distracted but Flower had no excuse really.
"Do you think we're lost, Harry?"
Damn. Foiled before he could even pin the blame on her.
"Hmm?" Harry sounded as if someone just woke him up from a deep slumber. It didn't really help his case. "I don't believe we're lost per se.. it's just we don't know whether we're on the right path."
"That's the very meaning of being lost," came the deadpan response.
Well, he tried being optimistic. Now it's time, to be honest. "I'm sure I've seen this very tree at least twice."
Harry pointed at a tree the size of a skyscraper, with its branches twisting in on themselves and its leaves the color of the evening sky. Its trunk appeared to be an amalgam of several trees mashed together until they resulted in the ugliest combination possible. It was impossible to miss it unless you're blind, and even then, it's a flimsy excuse because the tree smelled like a weird mixture of garlic and incense.
Before she could inquire regarding what got him so distracted, he took out a card and whisked it towards the tree. It embedded itself into the trunk, at which point Harry started walking again, this time making sure to be ahead of Fleur at all times. If this ensured that she couldn't notice the embarrassed flush on his face, and kept his gaze away from her hair, then it was merely a coincidence.
"Now, I can sense where my cards are at all times," Harry explained as he walked, not letting her get a word in edgewise. "So if we somehow begin walking towards this card again, it means we're walking circles."
Fleur made to say something but Harry was already resolute in going by his plan. By then she had no choice but to follow him if only to make sure that they don't end up stranded in two different corners of the forest. They set a hurried pace and after what felt like half an hour, Harry released a weary sigh as he surveyed his surroundings, which was an answer in of itself about how lost they were.
"This mountain is tricking me!" he declared when they reached the same tree again. At this point, he was ready to pin blame on anything that moved...and evidently, even on things that couldn't move.
"Nah, you're just dense," Fleur retorted, looking down at him with an air of smugness. Harry narrowed his eyes and gave a wave of his hand to signal her to continue. "If you had stopped to listen last time, I was about to tell you that I know what the issue is."
"Yes, yes, you're the wise one of us two," Harry sighed in resignation. "Now stop bullying the innocent eleven-year-old and just get on with it, Flower."
Fleur gave a dry look at the supposed innocent eleven-year-old, who had, not even an hour ago, murdered a troll in cold blood without blinking an eye. She pointed her wand at the tree and muttered a spell under her breath, and to Harry's surprise, the tree lit up in blue. "This here is a marker for a Redirection Ward. Whenever you cross this point, it essentially redirects you to a different location."
Harry replied with a nod of understanding. It was clear that their trouble stemmed from this lone, hideous tree, and it was readily apparent to Harry about what needed to be done.
"So...we're cutting off the tree?" Harry concluded in essence.
Fleur stared at him in bewilderment. "Is that your answer to most things?"
"Hey, if it works, it works."
"I don't think the people at the top would take kindly to us destroying their hard-put protections," Fleur replied before letting out a sly smirk. "But don't worry, I'm the best at charms in my entire year. I think I know how to bypass this ward."
"You just want to show off, don't you?"
Fleur didn't deign to respond. She twirled on her heels to face the tree and pointed her wand at the tree with a look of profound focus. She poked and prodded at thin air, a pale glow shining at the tip of her wand. The tree flashed a myriad of colors with each tiny movement of her wand, lighting up a pale green to an angry red to a pale orange before settling again on light blue. Every once in a while, a translucent barrier appeared in front of them before disappearing again in a shimmer of brightness, and each time, he could hear Fleur cursing under her breath in French.
Partial as he might be to flashy and powerful magic, Harry had to agree that there was something beautiful and serene about the way Fleur went on with her charms. He couldn't comprehend what she was doing or how she was doing it or whether she was even doing anything or just making a show of it but the way her magic interacted with the magic of the wards resulted in a spectacular display of light and colors, akin to the Aurora Borealis of the South. Maybe he would have to have a chat with the Head of his House about learning some of the subtler charm work. He had an inkling that this fell under the specific branch of charms that they wouldn't cover in class but he wasn't sure.
Just when he was about to tease Fleur about taking a break, a thin line of light connected the tip of her wand and the tree, and a triumphant look graced her visage. The translucent barrier materialized again but this time it didn't disappear. Fleur took a step back and the line connecting her wand and the ward seemed to drag a part of the barrier forward. She gave a twirl of her wand and that part of the barrier twisted into itself before collapsing with a dazzle.
A grin appeared on her face at her success, filled with excitement and without a hint of her usual smugness. To his eyes, it seemed to light up the entire forest. A sheen of sweat slid down the side of her cheek and a few strands of her hair fell out of their place to sway in the wind, completing the impression of slight exertion. But there was a glow of contentment around her, like the halo of luminescence around the full moon, and her ocean blue eyes were lit up in elation.
The way his heart hammered at a rapid pace reminded him of the day he met Daphne for the first time in the Charms classroom. If this was the beginning of another crush then he would very much love to smother it. He could barely deal with his current one and adding another was just waiting for disaster to happen.
Fleur turned to him, the grin still playing on her lips, and his heart skipped a beat. Was it too late to chalk this up to her Allure? He was terrible with emotions, dammit, and at least with Daphne, he could pretend that he was the normal one.
"Would you do the honors. 'arry?" Fleur inclined her head as she waved at the gap in the barrier.
Looked like her accent leaked out whenever she got excited...How cute.
"'arry, is it?" Harry teased as he slipped through the gap, walking backward to gaze at her expression as he did. A hue of red adorned her cheeks out of embarrassment but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. "But that was brilliant, Fleur. The best display of charms I've ever seen live."
The blush that emerged this time overshadowed the previous one in brilliance. It lingered on her cheeks as she trailed after him and his heart beat a tad faster. He looked away before she could notice the warmth that spread to his face.
'What are you doing, Harry?!' he screamed at himself in his mind.
'This is the exact opposite of ignoring a crush.'
Author's Note: What?! The Closer You Look is finally updated?
Is this the real life, is this just fantasy...?
This chapter is for all you people who stuck with this story despite it not being updated in years. You are the people who are keeping this site alive. Thank you!
If you're worried that I'll disappear after giving hope, I urge to remember the glory days of weekly updates and multiple stories. The Halcyon Days are back.
Don't forget to review!