Author's Note: Hello, thank you for reading my story. Please see my profile for information regarding canon compliance and a general timeline of my interconnected stories. While they are not necessary to read, my short stories add flavor and context.
I own none of the rights, nor make money, nor gain fame, or anything else from Harry Potter.
Chapter 1: A Gown of Feathers
Quiet crooning drifted upon the air as Harry Potter made his way up the stairs to his home's second floor. The house was dark. Muted lamplight the only illumination as Harry crept slowly, lightly placing his feet where familiarity promised the floorboards wouldn't creak.
Harry breathed out a sigh of relief upon reaching the top floor, right before banging his toe against the topmost banister as he turned. Eyes watering, he bit the knuckle he'd shoved in his mouth to muffle his pained exclamation. It was not lost on him that, even in his mind, the curses he used lacked a certain color. Hermione would be proud.
Still nursing his toe, he began moving towards the slightly ajar door which spilled out warm light and song into the otherwise dark, silent hallway. Shuffling, so as not to abuse his toes further, he arrived at his destination just as the singing ended.
Peeking through the entryway's gap, Harry saw his wife laying on her side upon a bed slightly too short to comfortably contain her willowy legs. Her platinum hair shone in the orange light of the lamp placed on the bedside table. A green, knitted sweater hung loosely on her slender frame. Her head was propped up by a single hand, and the other dragged long fingers through tumbling curls of burnished gold. Fleur met his spying eyes and began singing again.
Not wanting to intrude, or rile up the precious girl slowly falling asleep to her mother's lullaby, he simply stood half-hidden by the door in the hall. The song was a familiar one, a favorite of his little witchling. With a strong, lilting voice, Fleur sang the story of a young Veela that lived in the woods. How one day she met and befriended a human child that lived in an adjacent village. The song gradually became quieter as their daughter's eyelids drooped over tired blue eyes.
With a soft toss of her head, the snuggled girl yawned widely, trying in vain to stay awake. His wife quirked an eyebrow at him in amusement before returning her gaze to their child. Harry's heart clenched. His skin felt tight and too hot as molten emotion swept through him. That look, Fleur's obvious, abject adoration of their little girl made him weak in the knees. She was such a good mother, and he loved her impossibly more for it.
Without pause, the mother continued her lullaby, a folktale of her people. The oral history of the Veela was long and enchanting, passed down from mother to daughter in song just as Fleur was doing now. Her dulcet tones were warmer than the glow of the lamp, more comforting than the quilt tucked around their child, as the tale warbled in the air.
The story spoke about how the human girl would sneak away from her village to play with the Veela in the woods. But the games were always human games for the little girl couldn't take to the sky to frolic with her friend. It made the human girl sad that she couldn't fly alongside her forest sister.
The older woman smiled as their own little Veela's eyes finally lost their battle, closing completely. She continued the tale, not daring to leave it unfinished or arrest their daughter's descent into dreams. Her eyes stayed locked to his as she crooned about how the Veela thought long and hard about what to do. How she started to collect her molted feathers and, using magic born of love, spun a beautiful gown made of silver plumage. With it, finally, the young girl could take to the air as though she had wings and play Veela games.
The story complete, Fleur leaned over to kiss the head of their snoozing child. Before carefully extricating herself from the bed so as not to disturb its occupant. Harry opened the door quietly, slipping inside. Tiptoeing forwards he smiled at his wife who watched from the other side of the bed as he pressed his lips to the same spot she had. With a final tender caress to Fayette Eloise Potter's blonde ringlets, he bade goodnight to his daughter. Turning, he moved to follow the sway of slender hips towards the hall. Harry gave one last fond look at the cutely snoring chicklet, before shutting the door with a click.
Warm arms wrapped around his chest, fingertips caressing his collarbone from behind, as a soft head pressed against the hollow between his shoulder blades. He sighed contentedly at the embrace. A tap of his wand to the bedroom door cast a muting charm, so his daughter would remain undisturbed through the night. After a few moments he broke the silence, "A Gown of Feathers, again I see," he whispered bemusedly.
He felt rather than heard her chuckle against his back. "She is just excited about her sister's big day tomorrow," a husky voice responded.
Harry hummed in understanding. Tomorrow was one he had mixed feelings about. Excitement, loss, pride, and anxiety swirled about his chest. It made his head ache. With a sigh, he thumped his head softly against Fayette's closed bedroom door in resignation. Tomorrow was his eldest daughter's first day of school, whether he liked it or not.
Objectively, he knew it was important for a number of reasons, not least of which was Hogwarts' disinterest in teaching math or writing. Of course, his wife pointing out how important the few years a Veela had to be social and make friends before her allure manifested was crucial to their development had ultimately tipped the scales. Didn't mean he had to be happy about it.
He could remember the penultimate day clearly. He had been annoying Fleur with his indecisiveness and general dragging of feet for weeks. Not that he didn't think about the decision constantly but because choosing a school just made it feel so final. She hadn't taken kindly to him moping about the kitchen, muttering about finding a school later. Said mumbling had been interrupted the day she had stormed in with a list of the top schools in the United Kingdom. Brochures of her particular favorites had been slammed onto the counter and, glaring, she'd said, "choose one."
Harry chuckled, remembering how he'd heaved a sigh as his fingers began to riffle through the names listed on the brochures. Right before the perfect one caught his eye. With a coughing laugh he had pointed to the selected school. With a victorious smirk at him, she peeked over at the indicated institution. Her eyes, when they met his again, were narrowed dangerously. "Really," she had stated, exasperation thick in her tone.
Feeling his chuckle, Fleur turned him around to face her, eyes searching his for the source of his amusement. "Just reminiscing," he explained at her bemused look. A light of understanding dawned across her face before a familiar narrowing of the eyes occurred.
Pulling her to his chest, he laughed again quietly, although unnecessarily.
"I still can't believe you picked Liliana's school based on its name. What is with you English cochon and your predilection for -," she began.
"Hey," Harry interrupted, "Hogsthorpe is a great school. You even chose its brochure."
She rolled her eyes. "Yes, but you picked it for no reason but its name," her tone accusing.
He let the allegation pass unanswered since he couldn't really deny it anyways.
Tomorrow, his seven-year-old daughter, Liliana Jaime Potter would begin attending Hogsthorpe Primary Academy in Skegness.
The Potters had visited Skegness a few times, to check out the area and ward the school. It was a lovely, sleepy seaside town in Lincolnshire, right on the coast of the North Sea. Liliana loved it.
Looking down the hall at his eldest's door, Harry let out a melancholic huff. Little Lili had been so excited for the next day she'd gone straight to bed after dinner, wanting morning to come as fast as possible. He jolted at the sting of his nose being flicked. Fleur eyed him mischievously. "Come mon cœur, take me to bed. I will distract you from your misplaced anxiety over an empty nest."
She let out a throaty chuckle at Harry's incredulous expression, gently tugging him out of the hallway and towards the master bedroom.
After closing the door firmly behind them, the alluring silver-haired woman let go of Harry's hand, drifting over to the large dresser where she kept her night clothes. Harry fondly remembered a time before night clothes, when the only barrier to her skin and his own through the night were tangled sheets. Children had changed that, with night terrors and thunderstorms. Their bed saw tiny, extra occupants more often than not.
Occasionally, he would miss that former freedom of intimacy but it helped to know that it would eventually return when the girls were in Hogwarts. Besides, he thought to himself, waking up and feeling their tiny hands wrapped around his arm or clenched in his shirt were moments of cherished wonderment.
Of course, the witchlings had their quirks. Fayette softly snored just like her mother, not that she'd ever admit it, and Liliana was a most combative bed-hog. He had been woken a number of times by sharp kicks to his thigh or a jab to the ribs.
Harry's mind stuttered to a halt as Fleur disrobed. Moonbeams and lamplight caused wicked shadows to dance over the curves and valleys of her body. She moved lithely, innocently even, as she went about her nightly rituals of changing. She peeked at him from between the tumbling waves of her hair as she bent to pull out her sleeping gown from the bottom drawer. He stood there dazed, heart hammering and palms slick. Just like the first time he saw her clothed in naught but air and shadow.
An indulgent, if slightly evil, smile graced her face as she slinked towards him, dressing gown left forgotten in the pulled-out drawer. Her rolling gait drew his eyes to her hips, a hard-fought battle with other fascinating parts of her anatomy on display.
Stopping in front of him, Harry looked up, locking eyes with Fleur's. A dark fire burned in the sapphire hue of her gaze. Her fingers danced up his chest before gripping the back of his neck, tugging him down and towards her lips.
Words died and thoughts ceased at the feel of her against him. The taste of her was true magic, the feel of her bliss. If paradise existed, it was in the garden of Fleur's heart.
Harry lay bonelessly in bed. Fleur's head rested in the crook of his arm, fingers tracing the jagged lighting bolt scar on his chest from the preordained moment in the Forbidden Forest. Their legs tangled together in warm, rumpled sheets. His own hand wandered down the curve of her spine, up and over the hill of her hip in a well-worn path, back and forth.
"It has been too long," she murmured into the night. Shifting slightly to press herself closer against Harry's side.
He tried valiantly to ignore the pressure of delectable curves, "you mean too long since this morning?" He snorted, "perhaps the tales of a Veela's insatiability-"
Fleur pinched his nipple threateningly, effectively shutting him up.
His wife let out a throaty chuckle. "What I meant, was that it has been too long since we could take our time. Unhurried by fears of interruptions in the mornings or quick detours in the shower."
He sighed out his agreement, "we haven't been taking up Mrs Weasley or your mum's offers to take the girls lately. There's just been so much to get ready with Lili starting school."
"I know," she said quietly, propping herself up on her side as she carded a hand through Harry's thick hair. "It doesn't change my desire to not let you out of my grasp, however."
Tilting his head to meet her tender gaze, he grinned. "Nor mine," he agreed, pressing his lips to hers. "I'll floo call Mrs Weasley tomorrow after we drop Lili off, see if she can take the girls Friday night. She usually has either George's or Ron's brood anyways."
Fleur nuzzled her nose into his neck in tacit agreement. When she spoke, her lip's vibrations against his skin sent a shudder zigzagging down his back. "Will you cook for me?"
Harry buried fingers in the river of her hair. "Of course, anything you want."
"Something French," she breathed drowsily.
He silently laughed, trying to suppress the noise so as not to disturb his partner.
A small puff of air against his bare chest heralded the soft snores that would soon follow. He touched his lips to the top of Fleur's head before grabbing his wand. A deft flick caused the blanket around them to slide up before transfiguring into night clothes. A sweep of his wrist caused a cover to whoosh out of a cupboard to settle on their bed. Satisfied, he relaxed, burying his head in platinum hair, her familiar scent evoking images of fresh rain and fall forests. Sleep came easily.
A loud thud echoed through the house followed by the scampering of tiny feet. Harry quickly shoved his wand back into the holster attached to the side of the bedframe and re-settled in bed just as the door exploded inwards, followed by a silver comet crashing onto the mattress. With a muffled groan, Fleur rolled onto her side away from her rambunctious family in sleepy irritation. He fought the urge to chuckle as he continued to feign sleep. She had always struggled with waking up early. Especially when the cause was an unexpected noise resulting in him pulling away from her warm body in taut readiness.
"Papa, papa," an excited voice giggled out in French, "today is the day, wake up!" He felt the bed shift as his eldest daughter bounced happily. Even though he fought it, a small smile pulled at the corner of his lips.
Knowing the game was up but refusing to admit defeat, Harry started snoring. Loudly and obnoxiously, causing Lili to burst into peals of laughter at the familiar act. "No, no, papa," the tiny voice sang, "you can't fool me. I saw you smile."
He peeked one eye open at his daughter's beaming face before tightly screwing it shut and resumed snoring. Tiny fingers dug into his side, tickling him in retaliation of his facade. With a great growl, he heaved upwards, wrapping an arm around his little girl who squealed in delight. Even through the suddenness of the action, Harry took great care in gently placing Liliana onto the bed before getting his vengeance by tickling her.
Little fists pounded at his chest and arms as she cried out, breathlessly laughing. Suddenly, his sides were once again attacked as his wife decided to sleepily come to her daughter's rescue. He rolled to his side, curling up to reduce the area he had to protect as mother and daughter teamed up against him.
Panting, Harry announced his defeat. He glanced up at Lili's smug smile before his eyes drifted to Fleur's deliciously disheveled form. Half-lidded eyes and tousled silver hair. Lips pouting and full even as she smirked knowingly at him. With a groan, he shoved thoughts of morning's past back where they belonged before refocusing on his daughter.
Lili wiggled back and forth on her knees, waving her hands exaggeratedly as she babbled about her upcoming day at school. Harry listened attentively. Hermione had gifted her goddaughter the lavender pajamas she was currently wearing. A lilac unicorn pranced across the front of the sleeping gown, stopping to paw at the ground occasionally before continuing its trek.
"Come ma poulette, let your father up so he can make us breakfast," Fleur said, ruffling her daughter's hair, the same platinum sheen as her own. He gazed fondly at them, Liliana was a near perfect copy of her mother but for two emerald green differences.
Chirping in agreement, Lili flounced out of bed and towards the door, undoubtedly heading towards her sister's room to wake her up as well.
A curtain of hair fell across the side of his face as Fleur leaned over him. Harry breathed in the spiced wood smell and closed his eyes as her thumb traced his cheekbone. "Arise mon amour, hungry Veela await," she said as she brushed her lips against his.
He lay in bed for a while longer, savoring.
After dressing and running water-soaked hands through his hair in an attempt to tame his bedhead, he headed downstairs. Fleur glided about the kitchen, fixing coffee for herself and tea for him. Lili's feet swung in the air at the table in the adjacent room, gabbing.
Harry tossed his lovely wife a smile as she passed him, handing over the cup of tea in the process. With a pop from his stiff knees, he bent to pull out a large skillet from one of the blackwood cabinets spaced throughout the kitchen; absently flicking the oven to heat on his way back up.
Whistling a merry tune, he began to lay out eggs and strips of bacon in the warming pan.
Sunlight shone through large glass windows. He loved his kitchen. Fleur had helped him design it just right, so that natural light would bathe his place of duty with warm rays.
The pop of grease and the sizzle of the eggs was soon accompanied by three voices, singing the words to his whistled ditty. The three females had naturally gifted voices, even little Fayette all of four years of age. But Fleur's held a power and mysticism to it that the young girls could not duplicate. Not until their Telling anyways.
He flipped the bacon as he considered the changes his life was about to undergo. This was a day that would bring about many new beginnings. A big day. An important one.
Harry remembered a day not too dissimilar from the present. When Fleur had taken his hand in hers and pressed it to her belly with a whispered confession. That had been a moment of great change as well. He had quit the Auror force the following week. Ron, his partner, had been miffed but understanding. He'd even followed Harry's footsteps when little Rosie was born a few years later.
Fleur had given birth to Liliana Jaime Potter later that year and Harry's life had changed again. The new parents had agreed that letting Lili socialize with kids that weren't her family was important, especially muggles. His wife had spoken of her good experiences as a girl in the muggle school she had attended and attempted to coax him to her point of view. It took some work, as he did not have similarly fond memories.
However, that had proven to be the easy part. Fleur had also had to educate him on the challenges of raising Veela chicklets. Namely, their inability to control their nature until seven or eight. There had been many temper tantrums featuring a short-beaked Liliana, downy fluff coating her arms. He found it quite adorable really. His squalling daughter's partial transformation also had the added benefit of turning her screaming fits into trilling birdsong, which was preferable, all things considered.
Harry shunted the done eggs and bacon off his skillet and onto a plate before adding more, changing his whistled song to one he knew would make Fayette in particular belt out excitedly.
There had certainly been a learning curve, dating and marrying a Veela hadn't prepared him much for raising them. Apolline, his mother-in-law, had graciously sat him down to discuss the finer points of Veela culture with him. Fleur's father, Matisse had also dispensed some human wisdom from his own experiences.
Now, in just two short years, Liliana would undergo her first ritualistic ceremony as a Veela chicklet. The Telling. Males weren't allowed to attend and little information had been provided. It was a sacred ceremony with deep roots to the Veela race's very inception... and a jealously guarded secret. What Harry could gather was the rite of passage would allow his daughter to shift fully into her Veela form for the first time, not just a beak or a few feathers here and there. It would simultaneously manifest her allure.
He had been relieved to find out that a nine-year-olds allure did nothing other than inspire protectiveness in those that felt it, rather than the lascivious feelings a mature Veela's could arouse.
Both Fleur and Apolline had spoken of their Tellings in hushed tones filled with wonder, leaving him unconcerned about whatever it may entail. He hoped his daughters had similar experiences.
Fleur had confessed that the Telling was one of the few times she felt good about her heritage as a child. That it was so significant it had helped her through her rough Beauxbatons years. Being one of three Veelas in an otherwise completely human school had led to some tension. It was partly why she was so close with her two cousins who had attended with her, Estelle and Angèle.
He desperately didn't want Liliana and Fayette to go through similar experiences. England had just as few Veela as France did, but at least Hogwarts would be filled with cousins and children of family-friends to support them.
Harry's whistled tune ended as he plated the remaining bacon and eggs. Snapping his right hand smartly, his wand slid into place from his sleeve holster. An absent flick caused bread to sail into the now heated oven where they'd brown pleasantly.
Strolling through the open entryway into the dining room, he placed the cluttered plate full of bacon and eggs down. Fayette lunged for a piece of well-done bacon as Fleur decried her table manners. He chuckled, ruffling the pig-tails Fleur had pulled their youngest's hair into. Liliana was a focused, intelligent witch, taking after her mother and godmother. Fayette, however, was all Potter and as mischievous as her namesake.
Lili nibbled on a piece of bacon while reciting her number tables in-between bites.
A twirl of Harry's wand summoned the toast from the oven, landing on an empty plate Harry had set upon the table. A simple fare, but well accompanied by the sliced apples and oranges Fleur had already prepared before his arrival.
Contented chattering filled the room as the Potters ate. A slight melancholy overtaking him. For seven years he had stayed at home to raise his chicklets. He hadn't been able to bear the thought of leaving them each day for work and couldn't entrust them to a stranger to raise. It had been Fleur who had been the one to suggest the idea originally.
At first, he'd felt unsure. He had been taught all his life that a man was supposed to provide for his family... but the incredulous look Fleur had given him when he'd told her as much swayed him from the notion. He had only joined the Auror force a few months before he had proposed to her, wanting to show he was moving on from the malaise of post-war life and ready to take on the responsibility of a husband.
Of course, he'd also wanted to catch the rogue Death Eaters with Ron and Neville.
It had been an exciting job but the long missions were a strain on his relationship with Fleur, who visibly wilted every time he was assigned. Harry hadn't wanted to keep putting her through that, especially while with child. Not to mention the overwhelming fear that had gripped him about leaving his family alone because he got killed in some stupid raid on some dark wizard crime ring.
It had been an easy choice.
Homeschooling his children had been a joy that he took seriously. Having had a lacking muggle education himself, he had studied the first three years of Lili's life, ensuring his competency. Hermione had been a huge help, offering old subject books and preparatory material. She had a positively possessive affection for her goddaughter that caused no shortage of humor for the Potter parents.
In the end, Hermione had been successful in instilling a love of reading into Liliana. Ron's accomplishment as godfather, however, had been making her into a fan of the Chudley Cannons. An affliction her father hoped he could break.
Harry had been so proud while teaching his eldest daughter. She grasped concepts far quicker than he did. She had her mother to thank for that. This year, he would start to teach Fayette, who had turned four a few months ago while Lili attended muggle primary school. A couple instances of well-placed spellwork had forged documents of her previous schooling which the muggle English government said should have started at five years of age.
To her credit, Lili had worked hard, training to keep her Veela side from blooming unexpectedly so that she could attend muggle school and make friends. He'd been proud of that too. The Potters openly tried to encourage their daughters to be comfortable with their lineage. But it was one thing to strut through the privacy of their own home with fluffed feathers, and another to scare a muggle teacher witless.
The food finished, Fleur whirled her wand about her head, sending the plates off to begin washing, as she rose. Turning to Harry, she rose an eyebrow and he nodded in response as he stood. She smiled prettily at the girls as she moved to face them. "Let's go get dressed while Papa finishes cleaning up," she said before whisking them upstairs.
With a luxurious groan, the dark-haired man stretched, his joints popping pleasantly. Pushing the chairs in at the table, Harry made his way over to a kitchen cabinet, well out of reach of seven-year-old hands. Peeking in, he extracted a brightly wrapped present, which he placed in the back pocket of his jeans. Turning, he made his way upstairs to help get the girls ready.
Passing Fayette's door, where he saw Fleur trying to convince their daughter to don something charming rather than the comfortable pajamas she was currently wearing, he continued on to Lili's room. He fully expected Fayette would accompany her sister to school in the pink bear onesie – complete with paws for feet and a hood with ears – that she was currently wearing. As long as Fleur could charm it to stop growling when the hood was up, Harry didn't mind.
Knocking on Lili's slightly ajar door, Harry announced his presence. Lili was standing in front of the mirror in her sleep clothes, pressing her school uniform to her chest just as she had seen her mother do with her own dresses many times before. He felt another wave of melancholy threaten to take him out at the knees. His little girl was growing up.
"You'll look awfully pretty in that, love," he choked out, squatting down so he could be eye level with her.
Liliana beamed at him before placing the uniform lovingly on her bedside. Turning to him she lifted her arms up in request. He moved forward, pulling her pajamas up and over her arms before wrapping her in the white blouse, tidily doing up her buttons. After pulling on her skirt and teaching her how to tuck in the blouse he held out the jacket for Lili to slip her arms through the sleeves. Twirling in front of the mirror, Lili's eyes shone and Harry's watered.
A quiet gasp from the doorway behind them caused him to turn his head. Fleur was staring at their daughter in wonder. A babble of sweet French poured from her mouth as she walked up behind Lili, putting her hands on her shoulders and looking her up and down in the mirror.
She brushed the long silver hair over Lili's left shoulder before conjuring a brilliant green ribbon which she tied Lili's tresses up with. The bow sparkled, perched atop the little girl's head. Her straight locks confined to a simple, elegant tail that hung down her back. He smiled softly as his wife crouched down and pressed her cheek to her daughter's, whispering sugared words.
Harry's heart ached, they looked so alike but for the color of their eyes. Lili's the color of a namesake she would never know and Fleur's a miraculously shifting blue. The private moment between mother and daughter felt so intimate that Harry suddenly felt out-of-place, his presence intrusive.
Fleur looked at him in the mirror as he stood suddenly awkward and unsure behind them. Her brilliant, loving smile washing away the foolish, sour emotions swirling in his chest. Her eyebrow rose, eyes darting from him to Lili, her message clear.
Stepping forward, he pulled out the gift from his pocket. Placing it in the hands of his daughter, who had watched him with growing eyes as he approached from behind her in the mirror.
Looking down at the long, slender package, Lili looked up at him and then towards her mother. A question evident on her face.
"A present for your big day," Fleur said, kissing her blushing cheek.
Tearing away the paper, the girl's hands trembled when a jewelry box was revealed. Shaky fingers opened the clasp to reveal a silver necklace. A platinum heart glinted in the morning light, two jewels, one green and one blue, placed in the apex of each rounded peak.
Fleur, obviously deciding to break the shocked gaping of her eldest, pulled the necklace out by the chain before fastening it around a narrow neck. "Something to remember us by while away at school," She whispered, kissing the girls cheek again. "A woman should receive jewelry on important days." She speared him with an amused look. "Something your father has never failed to forget."
Harry blushed. Even after all these years, the woman knew exactly how to most effectively tease him. His lady had never been one for jewellery, having never been particularly fond of ostentatious adornment, but Harry had become so infatuated with seeing her wear pieces he'd gifted her that jewellery had become a common gift. He wasn't completely thoughtless however as he always made sure to pair the trinkets with a gift of a more personal significance to his wife as well.
Lili's smile as she looked at the necklace in the mirror shook him by the heart. As if the mirror shifted he could see the woman his daughter would become in but a few short years. It hardly seemed fair that she had to grow up at all. A huge hug was given to both her parents' knees before she dashed out the room to show her sister. A hollow feeling grew in his stomach.
Fleur reached out a hand, touching his cheek, her gaze one of sympathy.
"I know," he muttered, looking away sullenly, although he still saw her lips twitch from the corner of his eye.
Rising on her tiptoes, she pressed a tender kiss to his cheek. "It's time to go," she whispered.
Harry stepped out of the floo, carrying Fayette. Fleur was just finishing up banishing soot from Liliana's clothes when she turned to do the same for the new arrivals.
He looked around at the small, modest home he had bought a few months back. It was entirely muggle except for the installed floo, keyed to accept only his or his wife's wands. Along with an obsessive amount of magical protections. It had been bought to avoid suspicion from the muggles of Skegness who might wonder why they didn't know where the new family lived. It would serve as a safe way to travel back and forth from their real home without scaring some poor fisherman by apparting down at the docks daily.
Fleur nodded at her assembled family and, satisfied at their immaculate appearance, took Lili's hand in hers before leading them towards the front door. He shifted Fayette in his arms whose mother had managed to get her to wear a cute, blue cloth dress that was thick enough to be worn in the slight bite of August.
His wife was dressed in her typical work attire, usually consisting of a blouse of a varying color, and a smart business skirt. The hose on her legs however, seemed entirely unprofessional, at least to his mind. Something about them always jump started his pulse, shoving away from that particular train of thought, Harry refocused. He'd embarrassed himself enough times over them to last a lifetime already.
Walking outside, the Potters were assaulted by the salty tang of the sea. The seaside town of Skegness was alive and busy, cars scooting down the roads and neighbors rushing out their doors. Due to their property being on the end of a street corner, he waved jovially at their only neighbor. The extremely elderly woman paused her task of knitting to raise a hand in reply, continuing to sway in her rocking chair upon the porch.
"Mrs Gadys is looking good this morning," he remarked cheekily to his partner as they walked down the sidewalk towards the school.
Fleur snorted, "tease all you want but I'm pretty sure if she was twenty years younger I'd have serious competition."
"Try five," he quipped, laughing at her mockingly indignant expression.
Hogsthrope was strategically only a quick stroll away so the Potters arrived in the middle of a group of parents rushing to drop their children off before heading to work.
Harry scowled when one father dropped his son's lunchbox as he dumbly gaped at Fleur. He fumed silently. Her allure was barely noticeable to muggles unless she focused on them, her control having been perfected over the years.
Ignoring the man, and the many others ogling her, the Veela proudly led her family to the front gate where the headmistress, Ms Mckinney was waiting.
After exchanging pleasantries the matriarchal woman peered down at Liliana who was trying her best not to fidget from the intense gaze.
"A beautiful girl," the headmistress stated, "and one with a good head on her shoulders judging by her transcript."
Lili's nerves seemed to vanish as a blinding smile lit up her face.
Ms Mckinney nodded in approval, checking off Lili's name on the attendance sheet attached to her clipboard. "You're in room three, young lady. Say goodbye to your parents and head inside." Turning, the headmistress moved to greet other arrivals.
"You'll do great, ma poulette," Fleur assured their daughter, crouching down. "I'm so proud of you." She then kissed both cheeks before rising up, letting Harry take her place and extricating the oddly quiet Fayette from his hold.
He bent down, wrapping his arms around his tiny, precious lily flower. For a moment the urge to apparate them both away was nearly overwhelming. Instead, he pecked the top of her head before standing up. "Go get 'em," he said, looking down fondly. There was no doubt in his mind that Lili would astound the class and teachers. She was her mother's daughter after all.
Sparing one last smile at her parents and sister, the bright young witchling turned on her heel and skipped towards the school's door.
Harry felt Fleur's arm wrap around his waist, her head leaned against his shoulder. He could hear Fayette sniffling sadly, clutched to the other side of his wife.
Feeling slightly empty but oh, so proud, Harry squeezed Mrs Potter tight before they turned and began walking back the way they came.
Harry had spent the day gently guiding Fayette through her first lesson. She'd been worn out after her cry and asked continually when 'sissy would be home.' Harry couldn't help but agree with his youngest's sentiment. The house felt larger and lonelier today. Heaving a sigh, he figured it was time he started getting used to it. At least Lili would be home at nights, soon not even that luxury would remain.
Looking over at the time, he decided that moping around halfheartedly trying to keep Fayette engaged in her reading wasn't much use. So he stood up and told his student to put her shoes on so they could go pick up her sister.
She bolted away.
Chuckling, he opened the closet door to pull out his jacket. Fleur had gone to work today, having only taken the morning off so she could see Liliana to school. She wouldn't be home for a while yet. A new project had been frazzling her team at the Edrith Spellweaving Institute, a premier spell-creation think tank. She took an international portkey to Poland twice a day to and from work, often coming home ready to exuberantly discuss her progress on innovating magic itself. It never failed to make him melt.
Tugging on his shoes, he picked up Fayette, who had returned from her own excursion. "Ready, sweetie?" He asked, pulling floo powder from the bag on the mantelpiece.
"Go daddy," was the impatiently cross reply.
Harry and his daughter waited with varying degrees of patience outside the gate of Hogsthorpe. A scattering of mums had similarly assembled. He tried to hide his smirk as some of the women eyed him incredulously, a stay-at-home dad an obvious rarity.
His youngest's patience was becoming frayed, her jittery movements an easy tell. "When Lili come?" She questioned fretfully.
"Just a few more minutes, sweetie."
Fayette shook her head, sending her twin-tails shimmering in the air. "Now, daddy," she said sternly.
He smiled, kissing her on the side of her face. Suddenly a voice spoke to his left, causing him to cock his head to the side, "are you new here?"
The woman who spoke was short in stature, her hair gave the appearance of careful messiness. A white, wide smile graced her face as she met his eyes. She was pretty, he supposed, but how any woman could pick her child up from elementary school while wearing high heels eluded him.
"Moved just a few months back," Harry responded politely. "You?"
"Me? No, my family is practically an institution here. One of the founding families, you know."
He didn't know. Although, he was amused that even muggles apparently thought being a 'founding family' of anything meant something impressive.
Making a noncommittal noise, he looked across the way at the other mothers who seemed to be watching in interest. The woman's voice drew his now confused expression back. "My name is Olivia Ansley, it's a pleasure to meet you."
The black-haired man cocked his head to the side as he scrutinized her quickly, trying to guess her game. "Harry Evans," he responded, using the last name his family adopted for muggle purposes. It never hurt to be too careful when out in the open, especially when you couldn't be sure if former Death Eater's were still trying to find you.
Quickly sizing the woman up, Harry's mind raced at possibilities. There were no magical communities near Skegness but he couldn't be sure wizarding folk wouldn't be around either. Not that a fake name would stop someone from recognizing him or his wife. He and Fleur had considered changing their appearances when taking their children to school but had decided against it. Undoubtedly it would have caused Lili to ask questions they weren't ready to answer yet.
"How old is your daughter?"
The voice jolted him out of his thoughts. Looking at Fayette, he smiled. "Tell the lady how old you are, chicklet."
She shyly held up four fingers before burying her face in his neck. Harry chuckled, "still a tad shy around strangers," he said.
Olivia nodded understandingly, "my boy, Elijah, is eight. What of your eldest?"
Tension ebbing, he relaxed at the normal conversation. Mentally chiding himself that muggle strangers shouldn't be treated with the same suspicion as magical ones, he responded. "Liliana is seven."
"Fayette and Liliana, unusual names. French?"
He nodded affirmatively.
"Unusual but pretty." The woman looked at Fayette who was peeking out from her hiding place. "A pretty name for a pretty lady. She has the most beautiful blue eyes."
"Just like her mother," Harry said proudly. His confusion redoubled as the woman's face turned guarded.
Before further conversation could begin children started pouring out of the school gate. Olivia uttered a goodbye before stalking away. His bemusement only deepened at the change in behavior but such thoughts quickly evaporated when he caught sight of his daughter.
Harry quickly crouched down as Lili ran towards him, engulfing her in a one-armed hug. Fayette started babbling at her sister in greeting, patting her head which was buried in her father's chest.
Smacking a kiss to the crown of her head, he spoke, "had a good day sweetheart?"
Nodding enthusiastically against him, she backed up. "Oh, it was the best," she gushed, "I already knew all the questions and the teacher said I was very bright." Lili's head suddenly whipped back and forth, her strip of silver hair waving behind her. Spotting what she had been looking for, she pointed at another little girl who was talking to an elderly woman who appeared to be her grandmother. "I even made a friend," Lili exclaimed.
Images of a train ride, a toad, and red hair flashed across Harry's mind. Effervescent joy bubbled in his chest. "I'm so happy for you Lili," he murmured. "Can I meet her?"
His daughter nodded rapidly, already tugging him by the hand. The elderly woman looked up at their approach before smiling. "Jasmine was just telling me about her friend, Lili," she said, her voice kind, "would that happen to be you sweet girl?"
Lili beamed at the older woman while grabbing her friend's hand. "Jasmine is super nice, we sat together all day."
As the girls began talking among themselves, with Fayette looking on enviously, the older woman met Harry's eyes. "Good to meet you," she offered, "I'm Prisha Mehta, and you must be Lili's father."
Harry nodded, taking her proffered hand in a warm shake. "I'm lucky to be," he said smiling. "My name is Harry Evans and this is Fayette," he continued, bouncing her against his shoulder. Prisha blinked owlishly at him.
"Two beautiful daughters, a father's greatest curse."
A genuine grin pulled at his lips. "I blame their mother," he joked.
She looked at him apprehensively before her eyes trailed over behind his shoulder. Turning slightly, he saw Olivia buttoning up her son's jacket while casting furtive glances at them.
"I'm not sure your wife is entirely to blame Mr Evans."
At his confused expression, Prisha laughed. "I'll look forward to getting to know you and your family. Perhaps we can have the girls get together for a playdate soon."
Looking down at Lili gaily talking to Jasmine, Harry smiled. "Indeed."
Lili broke down her entire day for Harry on their walk back home. He had heard the name of every single child in her class, even if he had forgotten them immediately, and the minutest detail of the subjects taught. He listened attentively while sparing her fond glances as she skipped at his side.
The hours back at home passed rapidly, Fayette had been re-energized with her sister's presence and infectious excitement. The two girls dragged their father through the house to play different games, sometimes multiple at the same time.
By the time Fleur arrived home from work, Harry was exhausted. Fayette had passed out after an intense game of hide-and-seek and Lili was reading a Quidditch starter book gifted from her aunt Angelina.
He watched from the kitchen where he was preparing the evening meal as his wife kicked her heels off in the entryway. With a whoop, Lili rocketed off the couch to hug her mother in welcome. Fleur gave him a tired smile in greeting.
Their daughter began to regale Fleur with the details of her day as Harry quickly put the finishing touches on dinner. Satisfied everything was how it should be, he left the kitchen and followed the voices upstairs. He entered the master bedroom to see his young girl bouncing on the bed while her mother changed out of her work clothes.
He walked up behind Fleur, digging his fingers into the knots on her shoulders, causing her to bonelessly quit her attempts at taking off her skirt. Undeterred, Lili kept talking a mile a minute about her day at school.
Harry pressed kisses to the slender throat exposed to his ministrations, causing her to melt a little more against him. "Long day?" He breathed questioningly against her skin. His wife hummed in response.
Letting go of Fleur's shoulders, to her moan of protestation, he turned to his daughter. "Sweetheart, let's give mama some time to get ready for dinner. You can tell her about your day while we eat, alright? Come help me set the table."
Lili nodded seriously before hopping off the bed and prancing to the door.
"Take your time," he said, looking over at Fleur. She smiled appreciatively at him before unzipping her skirt. He forcibly tore his eyes away from white lace and headed back to the kitchen.
She joined the family a while later, freshly showered and energetic. Immediately, the new schoolgirl launched back into her debriefing as her mother sat down at the dining room table. Harry flicked his wand, summoning the magically-heated pan of ratatouille to the table. Fleur sniffed appreciatively as he began to dish out the food onto their plates.
"Looks delicious," she complimented, eyeing him.
"You did say you wanted something French last night."
"I think I'll want something English later this evening," Fleur murmured coyly.
Harry looked down at his plate and ate a mouthful of food to hide the stupid grin he was sure was on his face.
It wasn't until after dinner and the girls bathed and ready for bed that he got to ask Fleur about her day. She heaved a gusty sigh, "my Charms group got pulled into a project that Desmond's Wards and Oaths team has been working on. The Arithmancy behind it is fascinating but definitely not my forte." She pulled down the covers of their bed before sitting primly on the corner, holding a brush out for Harry's use.
He sat behind her, reveling in their nightly ritual. An easy, comfortable intimacy to end the day.
As the brush gently worked tangles from her hair, she continued. "A number of issues have been cropping up in the spell formulation, it's a new kind of ward supposed to erase all magical properties that pass over it. Similar to the Goblin's enchanted waterfall. Their magic works so differently from ours that we are having trouble replicating it. I'm not even sure it is possible." He nodded, motioning for her to continue, noting that in Fleur's relaxed state, feathers were sprouting along her bare shoulders and arms.
"Maybe you could ask Hermione or Luna about the arithmancy." Harry suggested, "you know they'd love to help you."
She lightly laughed before letting out a relaxed sigh. "Then I really won't understand it. Besides, Hermione is busy preparing to present her Equal Protection proposal for Sentient Beings to the Wizengamot. And Luna is...somewhere in Polynesia."
"Ron told me last weekend that the proposal looked like it might pass, now that the court got reformed," he said absently. "But you are probably right, Hermione would try to help but overcomplicate it whereas Luna would simplify to an unhelpful degree."
Fleur hummed in agreement. "Anyways, we can't seem to find the right combination. Wards are finicky enough on their own, but the additional charms we are layering on them for the dispelling properties make it doubly difficult." She laughed, "actually the experimentation has led to some pretty funny outcomes. Desmond's eyes apparently turned green last week and Roberta's breath became permanently minty today. I'd like to learn how to replicate that effect for some of my other coworkers."
Harry grinned. "How is working with Desmond's team?" He asked, "not butting heads over chain-of-command?"
Her crown of platinum hair shook before stilling when she realized the brush was still in her tresses. "No, he and I get along fine. It's the Arithmancy expert on his team that irks me."
He scowled. "Ernst?"
"Ja," Fleur replied, giggling.
Rolling his eyes, he responded, "you speak terrible German, no wonder he doesn't like you."
"He likes me too much is the problem."
"I can dream."
Fleur turned around, gazing at Harry critically. "You'd rather someone dislike me rather than like me?"
"What can I say, I'm a jealous man," he answered lightly.
His wife sighed, curling up in his lap. The hair brush lay forgotten on the bed. "I wish he didn't like me either, I hate how he looks at me. I feel so dirty coming home." Her feathers shrank away along with her mood.
Harry tensed, his irritation flaring. But that wasn't what his wife needed right now, so instead he wrapped his arms around her and hoped it would give her some measure of comfort.
"You aren't at fault," he said into her hair. When she didn't respond he tightened his hold, "relax, love. Let it go, don't be ashamed."
His tense posture loosened slightly as feathers once again formed along her skin. The nightly preening ritual was supposed to provide quiet intimacy between a Veela and her mate. Allowing her two natures to blend, witch and Veela, in a safe environment. Harry imagined it was a special sort of release after a day of hiding away half your soul.
"Lili was happy," Fleur murmured against his chest, grabbing his attention. "She said you met her new friend?"
"I did, both Jasmine and her grandmother. Seemed like good people."
"We should invite them over sometime, make use of our home in Skegness."
"I love you."
He kissed Fleur's forehead before pressing a kiss to her lips, which had turned yellow and grown slightly hard, the middle-phase of her metamorphosis. He looked down at the woman who'd picked up the pieces of him after the war; who had then married him and given him children. Her love, a gift that still left him humbled by its intensity. His throat felt tight as he whispered his adoration for her into the night air.
A day of change indeed, but there were certain important parts of his life that never would.
Rotten floorboards creaked ominously as heavy booted steps passed over them. A hooded form flitted from room to room, searching for the insignia of his brethren. His order had been shattered by fools years ago but there still remained those loyal to the righteous cause.
Pausing, the figure took stock of the dust-covered room. It was a library, ransacked of any valuable books. Bare shelves lined the walls and cobwebs hung thick. Stepping lightly into the room, the trespasser ran a crooked finger along the edge of the empty shelves. The fingertip swiping away the obscuring coat of grime. Finally, the mark was found where one shelf corner faced the wall. The raised insignia rough against skin. Pressing it, the bookshelf collapsed in on itself, revealing a small alcove filled with foodstuffs, emergency potions, and galleons.
It took no time at all to ransack the small hideaway. Turning, the figure started to make their exit only to realize that they were no longer alone.
A person sat upon a torn and ratty armchair deep in the shadowy corner of the room. Pressed gray slacks and expensive shoes the only discernible features. One leg atop the other, a slight bounce causing the foot in the air to sway up and down.
Momentarily stunned the pillager lunged into action. Drawing a wand was as far as they got before a stunning spell spat across the floor. Momentarily paralyzed, a man's heavy body fell to the floor, his hood falling away from his head. Dark hair spilled out and furious eyes stared at the still swinging foot of the unknown enemy.
A rich, aristocratic voice spoke from the direction of the armchair. "My oh my, Antonin Dolohov. Renegade Death Eater, killer of muggles and wizards alike, reduced to raiding pantries."
Antonin struggled in vain upon the dirty floor, his nerves refusing to answer his call. "Don't worry or squirm," the voice rolled across the room like honey, "you are among friends. No one is going to the Aurors tonight. I just needed you to listen without interrupting."
A nonverbal spell flipped Antonin's position, causing him to land on his back. The breath whooshed out of him and he stared slightly dazed up at the ceiling. Vague starlight shone through holes in the roof, a spiderweb gleamed directly above him. There was a muffled sound as his assailant rose from his seat followed by soundless steps only discernible from the vibrations they sent along the ground.
"Tell me, friend." A bright, white smile and hateful eyes shone in the dark. "What do you know about Harry Potter?"
Author's Note: Fayette is a French name that means "little fairy."
Language Issues: It should be noted that, as in most bilingual families, both languages – French and English in this case – will be used interchangeably. I won't bother noting when people are using French vs. English because it isn't important to the characters speaking. Harry and his family would typically use French in their home, to expose their children to it, as Lili and Fayette will get exposed to English far more often by nature of where they live. However, if I use a French term such as "mon amour" please assume the language spoken surrounding the phrase is English, which is why the French stands out.