A/N: This one-shot is dedicated to Emily. Much love from the FlowerPot community and myself. May you pull through everything that life throws at you and I hope this story helps you, even just a little.
A/N 2: And for the readers, this is an AU one-shot set in fourth year. Voldemort had no horcruxes so he died that Halloween night.
Shoutouts: To all the FlowerPotters who helped put this event together (Discord link in my profile). Thanks to HonorVerseFan, Darkness Enthroned (and the willow tree), Kit Willow, and 102xRedDragon for their awesome beta work!
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Une Seule Danse
By Darkened Void
This was not good.
How could he have allowed himself to be in this situation? He chose to ignore that it was his own doing.
Harry's eyes flitted around his dormitory, searching for something, anything that could help him. His roommates, busy as they were preparing for the Yule Ball, would be of no help. They'd only give him some piece of lewd advice that would be of no use to him.
His heart thudded against his ribcage as he pictured dancing with her in front of the entire school, his steps stumbling, awkward. Harry's eyes landed on a clock in a corner of his dormitory. Its ticks, which reverberated off the room's stone walls, were overpowered by the blood roaring through his ears with the rushing violence of a river.
He still had time to back out, if only to avoid embarrassment. It would be easy to stay in the dormitory, wouldn't it?
She would never forgive him. And he doubted she would ever forget. She was not the type to do so easily, as he well knew. Besides, he'd promised her that he would be there. No, he would endeavour to keep his word.
Releasing a sigh between his downturned lips, Harry Potter chanced another look at his attire for the evening. Fabric covered him in loose waves. He seemed a man drowning amidst a veritable sea of black and silver. The dress robes swallowed him whole. He should've listened to Mrs Weasley and bought a respectable set in Diagon Alley.
They made for a comical sight when combined with his messy hair and horrid glasses. His appearance didn't measure up to the suave gentleman he'd prefer to appear as. His half-hearted efforts to find a decent set of dress robes at Hogsmeade had not borne any fruit.
Harry's eyes darted toward the sounds of muttered cursing and the tearing of cloth, his lips quirking at the sight that met his eyes.
Red hair peeked out from beneath the white frill of Ron's old, brown dress robes. Harry's nose and upper lip drew back into his face as the stale odour of mothballs invaded his nostrils from across the dormitory.
His best friend had complained about the dress robes his mother had sent him for the past fortnight. After much deliberation, Ron had set to remove the offending lace from the horrid robes. A mountain of crumpled brown cloth and hewn white lace engulfed his loud, red hair.
At least he could take some comfort in the fact that he would not be the worst dressed boy at the ball. Though Harry did feel a small amount of guilt at being relieved by his friend's misfortune.
Harry shook his head to rid himself of the thoughts. "Mate, I'm heading out to meet my date. I'll see you at the ball, yeah?"
The sounds of cloth being ripped asunder stopped. Ron's flushed face became visible as the boy turned to look at him with a half rueful and half taunting grin. His stooped appearance reminded Harry of the pictures of stereotypical witches and wizards in Dudley's old children's books.
"You're a lucky sod, you know that? You landed the best bird in the entire castle even after she turned down dozens of offers from older students. Give her a good snog for me, you specky git."
Suppressing a cringe, Harry shot him a glare. Even though the red-headed wizard was unaware of it, she had been his best friend since he was eleven. "She does have a name, you know. Besides, we're just going as friends since she had problems finding a suitable date. No snogging. And you know as well as I do that I asked her because of your stupid bet."
Ron raised his hands in supplication, his eyes narrowing at the dangling white threads on the cuffs of his sleeves.
"Was just a joke, mate. What's got your knickers in a twist?" The taller wizard sighed and lowered his hands when Harry did not let up his glower. "Fine, I'm sorry, alright? No snogging. But you still can't deny that you want to."
A roll of his eyes answered Ron's smug grin. Normally, Harry would join in on Ron's ribbing, but tonight his nerves were too on edge to participate in the levity. The raven-haired wizard turned on his foot and marched toward the exit of the dormitory.
"At least give it a try, Harry!"
Harry responded with a two-fingered salute as he opened the heavy wooden door.
"Piss off, Ron."
Cackling, breathless laughter chased after the frustrated wizard as he made his way down to the Gryffindor common room. Harry loved his friend dearly, but sometimes his tendency to make a joke of everything grated on him.
It was completely the opposite with her.
Frustration melted into little more than a jumbled mess of emotions and hormones as he thought of the girl he was to meet. The abnormally quiet atmosphere of the common room, nearly bereft of students, was completely lost beneath the crushing weight of his musings.
She was witty where Ron was blunt and crass. Her voice, though he'd only heard it for the first time recently, was lilting and graceful whereas his was dull and clumsy. Conversations, both serious and light, came naturally with her.
Though, Harry supposed that was only true because they'd spent the last three years communing through letters. Such things made conversation easier, even if it was delayed while waiting for owls to deliver them.
Their interactions since the tournament had begun were a rarity since it consumed much of her free time. It had been awkward and somewhat forced at first. Luckily, they'd decided to meet in private to avoid rumours. As a result, Harry hadn't made a public spectacle of himself yet.
Now, however, they'd be seen in public for the first time. The prospect rattled him. It was not what he'd expected would happen when he asked her to accompany him to the Yule Ball.
Harry was no philanderer, despite his relative fame. It was a known fact throughout the school. The few dates he'd been on in third year had seen to that. The young man was not a bumbling mess around the fairer sex, most of the time at least. But his time with the Dursleys had kept him from properly socializing with others his age for quite some time.
Around her, though, he found himself tongue-tied more than he'd like. It was a constant source of consternation for him and brought her seemingly endless mirth.
All things considered, both good and bad, Harry could not stop a small smile from gracing his pale face as he traversed the stone stairs. As terrifying as the prospect of dancing with her was, asking her to the ball had been amusing. Hogwarts' many walls and adornments escaped his notice as he recalled the event that happened two weeks prior.
"WILLYOUGOTOTHEBALLWITHME? YOU'RESOBEAUTIFUL. PLEASESAYYES!"
Roaring laughter and baleful blue eyes met the incoherent request.
Harry and his group of friends at the Gryffindor table, save Hermione, could not help but take enjoyment from Ron's situation. The redhead slunk back to his house's table; his face was red as the hair his family was famous for. The teenage boys clothed in black and red robes held the stitches in their sides as Ron took his place at the table between Harry and Hermione.
"The bloody 'ell was that, Ron?" Seamus choked out between breathless gales of laughter. "Even Neville 'ere could've done better than that!"
"Oi," the pudgy wizard shouted with a scowl that was diminished by his attempts at wiping mirthful tears from his flushed face. Hermione's remonstration for Seamus' language went unheard amidst the rabble. "Stuff it, Seamus. At least I've already got a date for the ball. Where's yours?"
The Irish wizard looked at Neville, his freckled face smug. "Already got me a fine lass for the ball, mate. Least with mine, I'll 'ave me a chance at a good snog, maybe more. If'n you try that with wee Ginny Ron'll be the least o' your worries."
The group's guffaws grew as Neville's flush deepened, the young man letting loose a moan. He muttered something, but the group could not make it out as he'd buried his head in his arms on the table.
"Really, must you all be so crass?" Hermione's nose scrunched, her brown eyes fixed on Seamus. The young witch had grown accustomed to his humour, but his colourful wit never failed to coax a reaction from her. "There's more to a girl than just getting into her knickers. You, of all people, Seamus, should know that. How many times have you been slapped for treating women like objects?"
Seamus sent the lone girl a roguish wink, waggling his eyebrows. "Less times than you'd think, lass. Perhaps you'd fancy a go, yourself?"
Dean Thomas leaned forward in his seat beside Seamus. One of his favourite pastimes was watching his best mate crash in a ball of flames. Much to the dark-skinned wizard's amusement, Seamus had been attempting to woo Hermione since the beginning of the year and had failed each time.
Rolling her eyes, Hermione snapped her Transfiguration book closed. "As if I'd ever consider doing something so utterly disgusting with a barbarian like you, Seamus Finnegan."
Peals of laughter echoed throughout the Great Hall as Seamus shrugged his shoulders. Ron, interestingly, had not joined in on the laughter, his thoughtful expression closer to that of someone who had a mild case of indigestion. It would not have surprised Harry, however, as his friend had consumed enough food to feed a small village.
"Urgh." Rolling her eyes, Hermione stood, her book in hand. It seemed that the witch had had her fill of their humour for the morning. Not a rare occurrence when Dean and Seamus sat with them. "Boys!"
"Hermione, wait up a minute, yeah?" Ron's voice cracked, but his request had its desired effect. Hermione turned, one eyebrow raised toward the fidgeting wizard. "You're a girl."
The boys quieted at the curious remark. Hermione seemed to know where the conversation was headed. Her eyes narrowed. The boys leaned forward, their ears strained to pick up every word.
"Astute of you, Ron." Brown eyes gleamed. The boys around Ron shrank back, experience warning them of the looming danger. "I am, in fact, a girl. And it only took you three years to notice."
"Well, erm..." Ron tore his eyes from hers. The small group of friends could feel the impending explosion. "Seeing as you're a girl and don't have a date to the ball yet, I was thinking we could go together."
Hermione's eyes narrowed to slits, her nostrils flaring. "For your information, Ronald, I already have a date to the ball. And I am not your contingency date."
Leaving in a snit, Hermione did not see Ron's head hanging as the boys around him attempted to console him. Whispers broke out across the Great Hall, the Hogwarts rumour mill's cogs working overtime at the new gossip.
"Rough break, mate." Neville clapped a hand on his friend's shoulder, his eyes warm.
"Don't worry, Ron," Dean added from across the table. "Hermione will get over it soon enough. She always does. Besides, I'm sure you'll find a decent bird to go with."
"Not if'n 'e keeps puttin' 'is foot in 'is mouth, 'e won't." The corners of Seamus' mouth formed dimples. Ron sent the Irish wizard a glare that did nothing to temper his amusement.
"Dean's right, mate." Harry brought his hand down on Ron's other shoulder, the smile on his face belied by the twinkle in his eyes. "Besides, I'm sure Eloise Midgen would be more than happy to go with you."
Blood rushed to Ron's ears, a sure sign of his mounting anger.
"Sod off, Harry," Ron hissed, knocking his friend's hand off his shoulder. "I know you don't have a date yet. At least I'm trying. You haven't even asked a single bird."
"Perhaps, 'e's 'olding off for dear Draco," Seamus snickered. "What d'ya say, Harry? Want to dip your wand in the Serpent's Den?"
The boy in question shuddered. "No thanks, Seamus. After what happened with Dean last year, I think Draco's more your type."
"I told you I was sleepwalking," Seamus spat over his friends' laughter. "'Sides, Ron's got a point, don't 'e? You're the resident Casanova. If you're made o' such stern stuff, Potter, why don't you try baggin' Delacour for yourself?"
Heat suffused Harry's cheeks. He was Fleur's friend, but none of them knew that. Would it be weird for him to ask her? She was nice enough, he supposed, but he did not want to ruin the friendship they had built over the years.
He'd been the one to seek her out via letters when he read that their fathers were friends in James Potter's journal. Would she never want to speak to him again if he asked? Would she think him a joke?
Harry shook his head. No, she was too kind a person.
His stomach churned despite his mental reassurance.
But, on the same token, if he didn't then he'd never hear the end of it from his friends. Harry shuddered.
They would never allow him to live it down.
"I could do it easily." The words passed through his lips without thought. His stomach roiled like a boiling potion. "I just haven't found the right girl to ask yet, is all."
Turning in his seat, Harry prepared to make his way over to the Beauxbatons Champion.
"Then what're you sitting here for, mate?" Ron asked, a devious grin on his face. He gave Harry a shove, forcing the other boy to his feet with a stumble. Harry shot the boy a glare before making his way to the Ravenclaw table.
"Two sickles says 'e crashes an' burns."
Harry heard Seamus' whispered remark as he made his way to the Ravenclaw Table. The other boys whispered excitedly while Neville muttered something unintelligible. Shaking his head, Harry approached the lone group of students garbed in periwinkle blue among a sea of black.
Their French tittering, spoken too quickly for him to decipher, came to an end when Harry stopped a few feet from Fleur Delacour. The silence in the Great Hall rang in his ears as the platinum-haired witch turned in her seat. Fleur looked up at him with one brow raised, her demeanour aloof.
"Bonjour, Mademoiselle Delacour." Harry suppressed a wince at how poor his French sounded, even to his own ears. Ignoring the pounding in his chest and his sweaty palms, Harry forged on. "I'd like to apologize for my friend's behavior and for interrupting your breakfast this morning. I would like it if you would allow me to make it up to you by permitting me to escort you to the Yule Ball."
If he were honest, he'd say he was rather impressed with his ability to get all that out in French with minimal stumbling or stuttering. Fleur, however, stared him down, her eyes sheets of blue ice that rooted him to the stone floor.
"Your French is 'orrible, Monsieur Potter," she replied in English, ignoring the giggling surrounding her. Harry flushed but maintained his posture. Something flashed in her eyes, but it was gone before he could identify it. "Though your attempt at civility is appreciated, unlike the barbarians 'oo 'ave asked up to this point."
Harry shifted in place, the sound grating against his ears. Sweat rolled down the back of his neck and beneath his shirt. It itched horribly, but he made no move to relieve himself of the annoying sensation.
"And your answer, Mademoiselle?"
Blue eyes narrowed at him; Fleur's nose crinkled. Harry swallowed the lump lodged in his throat, the silence of the hall deafening.
"And tell me, 'Arry Potter." The Beauxbatons student paused to flick her long, silvery-blonde hair over her shoulder. "Why should I allow you to escort moi? I 'ave been asked by many who are older than yourself. Perhaps they would make for a better dance partner, no?"
Looking around the room, Harry found the answer to her question easily enough. Suppressing his jittering nerves, he gave her a confident smirk that felt out of place. It was a trick he'd read from his father's journal. Harry had used it on more than one occasion, despite James Potter admitting that it had never worked on Lily Evans.
That smirk and false bravado had been the reasons Harry had landed dates in the past. However, most of those outings had unfavourable conclusions, hence Harry's nickname, 'Casanova'.
"I think you can see the answer to that question easily enough by looking around, Mademoiselle." Harry waved his hand around the room. Fleur cocked her head, her gaze piercing through him. "I'm the only person here who isn't drooling or staring at you as if you're little more than a piece of meat."
Fleur's deep blue eyes took in the occupants of the large room, though she hadn't needed to. She was already more than aware of the effect she had on the male half of society. Turning back to Harry, she nodded, a soft, hidden shimmer in her eyes.
"A fair point, Monsieur." The gorgeous witch's attitude would've been seen as dismissive to most, but Harry could hear the underlying teasing tone. "But I cannot 'elp but wonder what makes you think you would fare any better than them should I agree?"
A shrug met her question, causing her friends to begin speaking to one another again. Harry could make out enough of their words to know they were wondering why Fleur hadn't sent him away yet.
"The simple answer is that you can't." Her pale brow lowered, her eyes losing their previous lustre. "However, I've spoken with you this long and I've yet to drool or make a complete fool of myself."
She nodded, long silver hair catching the sun's rays. Fleur held out her hand between them, looks of confusion passing between her friends.
"Let me see your 'and, Monsieur Potter."
Raising a brow, Harry placed his hand on top of hers. The witch closed her eyes and began to hum, her timbre something he'd never heard before. Magic thrummed around him, tickling the edges of his senses. It was light, airy as a spring breeze and altogether foreign.
After a few seconds she released his hand and nodded to him. He opened his mouth to speak before Fleur cut him off.
"My magic is my own and not for you to know," Fleur whispered, the edge in her voice sharp as steel. "Tell me, Monsieur Potter, why do you wish to take moi to the ball?"
"Because I wished to." Harry shrugged his shoulders, his smirk diminishing. Something had changed as they spoke.
Fleur pointed at something behind them. He turned and caught sight of his friends trying and failing to appear innocent. Rolling his eyes, Harry turned back to Fleur.
"Or is it because your friends put you to it?" Fleur's eyes narrowed, her pupils dilating. Harry looked away. "This is true, no?"
Harry ran a hand through his raven tresses. "Yes, but I wouldn't have done it if I didn't actually want to. In fact, you're the first witch I've asked. More than a few have asked, but I've turned them all down."
A light 'hmm' vibrated at the back of her throat. Shivers raced down his spine. If she noticed the effect the sound had on him, Fleur did not show it.
"Interesting," she mused, one slender finger held to her delicate chin. "'Owever, I must say no."
The remainder of Harry's smile vanished. He'd not held out much hope, but it had been there, nonetheless. At least he would've been able to spend the evening with someone who would'nt fawn over him because of his fame.
With a short nod, Harry turned to walk back to his table.
"For now." Her voice brought him up short. Harry turned to look back at her from over his shoulder. Whispers broke out across the hall. "I believe you are telling moi the truth. If I do not find a better suitor, I will let you know."
Harry gave her a small smile and a nod before turning to make his way back to the Gryffindor table. He ignored the excited French babble behind him and shot a victorious smirk to his gobsmacked friends.
A smile on his lips, Harry walked across the Entrance Hall. He braced himself for the moment he opened the large oak doors and was greeted by the cold December air of Scotland.
Thankfully, Fleur had found him four days later and told him that she'd accept his offer.
For a reason he could not identify, Harry found himself anticipating this date, even if they were going as friends. This eagerness, and nervousness, wasn't something he'd experienced since he'd gone on his first date with Susan Bones last year.
Unfortunately, the girls he'd gone out with were either star struck by him or weren't looking for the same things he was in a relationship.
With Fleur, he didn't have to worry about such things. That didn't mean he wasn't nervous. No, his emotions were running rampant, and he was lost amidst them. It was a new experience, foreign. It left a sour taste on his tongue.
But why did he feel that way?
It perplexed him. There was nothing between them other than a strong friendship. There was no logical reason for his anxiety. Yet, it was something he'd obsessed for days. Much like his Transfiguration homework, the answer eluded him.
The thoughts were shoved from his mind as the cold Scottish Highland air blasted against his face. Curling into himself, Harry hastened into the quiet stillness of the night.
Harry pressed through the courtyard, ignoring the Yule decorations in favour of seeking warmth. Looking up, he saw stars twinkling in the heavens. The constellations declared their glory eternal to a mortal audience in silent song. Their aethereal voices declared their majesty in tandem with the moon, gifting man sight and direction while the sun slumber.
Gravel and dirt crunched beneath his feet, echoing into the silence of the night. Bringing his gaze down, Harry took stock of his location. He wasn't far from the carriage. Harry looked across the shadowed Hogwarts grounds before coming to a rest on the foreboding trees of the Forbidden Forest.
It wasn't a place he'd ever ventured into, but he'd heard stories from the older students, primarily the Weasley twins, of what lurked inside. It had always held a sort of haunting and ominous beauty. The darkened trees, most bereft of leaves, swayed in a gentle breeze, whispering warnings to those who'd dare to venture within.
Luckily, Harry wouldn't be doing so this night nor any night in the foreseeable future.
Arriving at the carriage, Harry raised a fist to knock upon the elegant door of the Beauxbatons carriage. Shuffling could be heard on the other end. Harry turned his attention to the grazing Abraxans near Hagrid's hut. The horses were stunning and elegant, if not a little ill-tempered. He wondered, not for the first time, if riding one would be similar to flying on Buckbeak.
Seconds passed by in relative silence until the door was opened by a tall, muscular wizard garbed in eloquent dress robes. The French wizard stared at him down the length of his nose, his expression reminiscent of Professor Snape.
"Good evening," Harry greeted, his French clumsy. "I'm here to escort Fleur to the ball. Is she here?"
The older wizard sneered in his direction before shouting in a stream of French too quick for Harry to understand. Without bothering to look back at Harry, the unnamed wizard shut the door in his face.
Scowling at the door, Harry wrapped his arms around his wiry frame. Despite having lived at Hogwarts for three years, he doubted he would ever grow accustomed to the cold of the Scottish Highlands.
Finally, the door opened to reveal the witch Harry had been awaiting. He fought to keep his mouth closed, though he could not help but stare at the vision before him.
Fleur was a beautiful young woman. He knew that, but he'd been unprepared for what stood before him.
Silky silver shifted over the pale witch in elegant streams, the cut of her dress enticing yet tasteful. A matching shawl covered her shoulders, enhancing her stunning figure. Platinum blonde hair, adorned with jewelled clips, was pinned up in an elegant yet messy bun. Two curled strips of hair framed a stunning face.
In a word, entrancing.
Harry opened his mouth, his stomach jumping into his throat. His heart thrashed against its cage, desperate to escape. Beaded sweat left glistening paths down the nape of his neck, the night's chill an afterthought.
Words, apparently, had fled from his mind.
Fleur's lips quirked upward, the soft moonlight bouncing off her lip gloss. Harry's stomach leapt and squirmed in his torso.
"I see that I do 'ave the ability to make you lose your voice," Fleur teased, the dim light sparkling in her eyes. Harry wetted his dry lips, thankful that she had at least spoken in English. "Perhaps you boasted too soon, Monsieur Potter."
Shaking his head, Harry forced his gaze to remain on her eyes. It did little to relieve the tightness in his chest.
"You, erm…You look b-beautiful, Fleur." Harry winced, his easy smile forced.
Blue eyes traveled over him and the lump in his throat returned. Harry knew his dress robes had been a poor choice. Her petite nose scrunched.
'It's just one dance, Harry. You can do that, at least.' Harry could only hope that his lessons under McGonagall's watchful eye would keep him from making fools of them both.
"Despite your ill-fitting robes," she began, her tone careful, hesitant, "you do look rather 'andsome, 'Arry."
A genuine smile bloomed on his face and Harry offered her his arm. The two strode toward the castle, Fleur huddled close to him. They kept their conversation light. Though, Harry did rather little in the way of conversing.
"I do wish to apologize for my absence as of late, 'Arry." Red tinged her cheeks. Not trusting his voice, Harry cocked his brow. "When I 'eard of the Tournament from ma Papa I was excited to come to 'Ogwarts and meet you. I fear the Tournament 'as taken more time from me than I anticipated. We 'ave 'ardly seen one another."
Breaking away from her, Harry moved to open the door to the Entrance Hall, a small smirk adorning his features.
"It's not a big deal, Fleur," he replied. He felt as if he was on even ground again. "I expected that to happen as soon as your name came from the Goblet. Honestly, I'm just glad to have spent any time with you this year, but the Tournament comes first. Let's just enjoy ourselves tonight, yeah?"
The French witch gave him a quiet thanks and a small smile as she moved past him into the Entrance Hall.
Returning the smile, Harry hurried in behind Fleur. The sounds of excited chatter blended together in a low din. Students of different houses mingled as if they were old friends, something Harry had never witnessed at Hogwarts.
Heads turned to take in the pair, many of the searching eyes glazing when they noticed Fleur. Grunts pierced the hall as miffed ladies elbowed their dates. Harry, uninterested, turned to take in his date for the night.
Fleur, for her part, bore the negative attention from the female students with her usual haughty grace. But he could see their effects in her blue depths. Leaning in, he poked her side. Fleur turned to him, eyebrows drawn together.
"Ignore them. All they ever do is talk, but they aren't worth your time." His whispered words washed over her, her forehead smoothing. Noticing movement out of the corner of his eyes, Harry continued, "It looks like McGonagall wants to tell all the champions something."
Heat surged through Harry's palm and up his arm when he placed his hand on the small of Fleur's back. Despite just having come in from a Scottish winter night, Fleur radiated heat in waves. He decided to instead focus on the clack of her heels against the stone floor.
"Good of you to join us, Miss Delacour, Mister Potter." The Professor sniffed when they arrived. "In a few moments, the students will gather in the Great Hall. All champions are to remain here until they are formally introduced. After introductions are complete, we will open the Yule Ball with a feast. Once concluded, the champions will open dance."
It was at this point that Harry stopped listening to the Head of Gryffindor House. Hyper aware of his hand on Fleur's back, the young wizard opted to take in the students gathered behind McGonagall. Harry saw his friends waving at him from across the large room. It was odd, however, that he did not see Hermione and her mystery date standing among them.
When McGonagall left he turned his attention back to the champions. An unfamiliar girl held Viktor Krum's arm. The girl Krum was escorting was a rather beautiful girl. Harry knew she was a Hogwarts student, but he could not place a name to her face. This was in no way unusual, but her familiarity prodded against his mind.
"Staring is rather rude, Harry." The boy's eyes widened. "Plus, you really should pay more attention to your date."
Harry's mouth opened and closed in an imitation of a fish out of water. At his side, Fleur hid an amused grin behind a hand.
"Hermione Granger," Hermione said, extending her free hand toward Fleur. The French witch reciprocated the gesture. "I have to apologize for Harry's lack of manners. He's usually not this uncivilized, I promise."
"Fleur Delacour. 'E 'as been the perfect gentleman," Fleur replied, humour leaping to her eyes. "But I fear you 'ave broken my date. 'Opefully he will regain function of 'is brain before our dance."
Krum's quiet chuckles and Cedric's deep-bellied laughter knocked Harry out of his shocked state. Harry crossed his arms in a show of annoyance. "In my defense I didn't recognize Hermione. It's not like she dresses up very often."
"Honestly, mate." Cedric's low voice carried tinges of his laughter. Harry glowered at him. "I don't believe that not recognizing one of your best friends is a valid excuse."
"'E is right, 'arry," Fleur teased, ignoring the vacant look that crept into the Hogwarts Champion's eyes. "It was most unbecoming. And 'oo is your enchanting date, Cedric?"
Harry huffed. "Traitor."
Glazed, grey eyes sharpened and the Hufflepuff cleared his throat. Behind them, students were filing into the Great Hall in their usual, boisterous manner.
"Fleur, this is my date for the evening," Cedric announced, his chest puffed out, "and my girlfriend, the lovely Cho Chang. Cho, Fleur Delacour."
While the newly acquainted ladies exchanged pleasantries, Cedric looked over to Harry. The older wizard's grey eyes glinted. Dread clawed and settled in a pit in his stomach.
"Good on you for bringing Fleur." Cedric's words caught the group's attention. "Don't let this one go up in flames, yeah? It'd be a right shame, Casanova."
Harry grumbled, cursing the older boy to the lowest pits of hell.
Arching an eyebrow, Fleur turned her attention from the Hogwarts Champion to her date. She opened her mouth to ask him about the remark but was interrupted by Dumbledore bidding Krum and Hermione to enter the Great Hall.
The studious witch let out a surprised eep and all but drug Krum into the adjoining room. The surly wizard, for his part, took his date's excitement in stride.
A minute later, Harry and Fleur were called. Fleur's critical eyes swept over him, but there was nothing to be done. Shoulders squared, the two made their way into the Great Hall in what they hoped was a more dignified manner than the previous pair.
Harry had long since become accustomed to eyes following him everywhere he went. This, however, was odd.
As they entered the Great Hall, students' eyes had once again glued on them. But this time most of them were staring at his companion. Harry shot a glance at Fleur. The witch's face seemed as though it was made of stone.
Turning his head, Harry looked around the Great Hall. Hogwarts had always been beautiful during the holidays. This year the teachers had gone above and beyond. It was nothing less than breathtaking.
Colours he didn't know existed exploded from every direction. Rays of light refracted off masterful sculptures of ice. It left an impression that the heavens descended to join mortals on Earth's surface, even if for only a moment. Snow, pure and delicate, drifted on a listless breeze to greet the denizens of Hogwarts in elegant waves.
Sights such as the one before him showed the true beauty of magic.
Turning his eyes to Dumbledore, he saw the man at the front of the hall send him a subtle wink.
"What did Cedric mean, 'Arry?" Fleur asked as they made their way to stand beside Krum and Hermione at the front of the Great Hall.
The sight of her, beams of light dancing across her hair and skin, gave him pause. His heart hammering against his ribs, he replied eloquently.
Fleur rolled her impossibly blue eyes, the corner of her lips twitching. Harry hardly noticed that they had stopped their slow walk.
"When Cedric called you…What was it?" she paused, her eyes tracking Cedric and Cho's entrance. "Ah, yes. When 'e called you 'Casanova'. What was 'e talking about?"
Heat tore through Harry, feeling as if he'd been on the receiving end of an Incendio. Harry stared at an ice statue to their side, though he didn't see it. He resisted the urge to pull at the collar of his undershirt.
"Erm, well." Harry felt, rather than saw, Fleur raise an eyebrow at him. "It's rather embarrassing. A running joke, really. You know who Casanova is, right?"
"'E was a womaneezer." She asked, her tone neutral. Chillingly so.
"Yes, he was. 'Womanizer', by the way."
Fleur's grip on his arm tightened. Harry winced, feeling as though his extremity was in a vice.
"So, you are a womanizer?" she whispered. Danger dripped from her words. "You never told moi of this in any of your letters. Is this why you asked moi to the ball?"
His head whipped to meet her eyes. Her normally placid eyes had melted into molten, blue pools.
"No." Harry's whispered reply tumbled from his lips. "It's just a bad joke, really."
Her body radiated her disbelief in tangible waves. Harry swallowed. He didn't want to ruin their friendship, especially not over a childish jest between friends. He opened his mouth, his stomach feeling as if it held a brood of writhing eels.
"I-I've been on a few dates," he offered. Her expression didn't change. "Alright, more than a few. But they've all ended poorly for one reason or another. Rumour has it that I can't keep a girl around longer than one date. That's how I got the nickname."
"And the truth?" Her face softened but her blue eyes remained guarded.
"Really, it always came down to us looking for different things." Harry looked away from her intense gaze. "The rumour mill just ran with whatever it heard first."
Silence filled the air for a few moments. The pair was distantly aware of Dumbledore making a speech a few metres behind them.
"And what are you looking for, Monsieur Potter?" Fleur's features changed again, her expression unreadable.
"I'm…" Harry trailed off, feeling like a man adrift at sea. "I don't really know. I thought I did, now though… I'm not certain I ever really knew."
The corner of Fleur's mouth twitched, though the expression was stifled in but a moment. Something was there. It was nothing Harry could identify, but it was there, nonetheless. It was heady, bursting through his mind with the grace of a bull. It was a magic all its own, unknowable.
Fleur opened her mouth, her breath tickling his face. Whatever he'd seen in her eyes before had intensified. Harry's stomach lurched; his heart pounded a staccato. Nerves were set aflame in a towering inferno. What was happening to him?
Something important was to be said, the intensity in her blue gaze held promise. And something...more.
"And with that, I would request the Champions join myself and the other judges at the Head Table to begin the festivities."
A polite smattering of applause banged against his eardrums. And the moment, whatever it had been, shattered like fine china dashed against the ground.
Fleur gathered herself, her expression morphing. She wore a polite, small smile that, he finally realized, was entirely false. It was not her.
Blinking like an owl, Harry allowed himself to be led to the dinner table.
Harry had heard of 'out of body experiences', but it was never something that he'd personally put much stock in. It had never been something he had experienced.
Yet, if someone had bothered to ask, Harry would've found himself unable to recall what had been said during dinner. Mind adrift, his body had moved and spoken of their own accord. He knew he'd spoken with Fleur, but the words escaped him. They were there, just beyond his grasp. Only Dumbledore announcing the beginning of the dance shook Harry from his reverie.
Robotically, Harry stood and offered his hand to Fleur. His mind nearly shut down when she placed her palm atop his own.
'So soft. Impossibly so.'
Blue eyes looked up into his, her expression a complete mystery. His mind slowed to a crawl. Fleur's lips moved but the sounds were lost amidst the clamour in his chest. Harry's body harboured a tempest that threatened to toss him astray.
His eyes sought her out of their own accord as they walked, her hand on his arm, to the centre of the Great Hall. The rush of blood buzzed in his ears, drowning out Ludo Bagman's speech. His heart boomed an uncomfortable cadence. Surely, she could hear it. How could she not?
His stomach lurched when his right hand contacted the bare skin just beneath her shoulder blades. His face burned in a raging firestorm. Breathing, once calm, became laborious as her right hand rested atop his left. What was happening to him?
"You are nervous, 'Arry," Fleur whispered. He'd hardly heard her. "Why? Are you worried about your dancing skills?"
"N-no." Harry shook his head. Beads of sweat crawled down his back. "I p-practised enough. But I'm not sure why I'm so n-nervous."
She smiled that damned smile that was just…so her. It was kind and taunting and oh so mysterious. Her eyes were an ocean of emotions and he found himself drowning.
"Calm yourself, 'Arry." Fleur leaned in, her breaths tickling his nose. "Une seule danse."
'Just one dance,' he told himself as music vibrated through his body.
He closed his eyes and began the steps to a basic waltz. His body was once again on autopilot thanks to McGonagall's lessons, but his mind was elsewhere. He'd hoped his eyes being closed would help to calm his nerves. It had only served to make his mind aware of the scent that invaded his nostrils. Fleur smelled of cherry blossoms and something else. Harry was quite sure he'd never smelled a smell so wondrous.
"'Arry, look at me." Her voice was soft, inviting. Harry forced his eyes open and lost himself in a swirling sea of blue and shimmering silver. The fractalized light flooding the Great Hall set her aglow in a halo of radiant flame. Magic covered him in a comforting blanket. "Relax. Focus on moi and the music. This is meant to be a special night and you should enjoy our dance, no?"
And so, he did.
Harry knew not how long they had danced. One song had bled into the next. And, despite his self-imposed limit of one, the two had continued. Time had passed him by in a blur of music, colours, and promises to be fulfilled.
After some time, Fleur had announced her need to rest her sore feet. He'd been reluctant to break away from her, but he'd begun to tire as well.
And so, the two found themselves walking hand-in-hand through decorated gardens on the school's grounds in search of a place to rest.
Though, this proved to be a more difficult task than Harry had thought. Apparently, many other couples were of a similar mind. The others, however, were more daring in their outings than Harry would've been comfortable with.
Harry turned to look at his companion as they exited the gardens. Her nose was scrunched. It was rather cute.
"Misters Weasley," Snape's voice whipped out from the gardens behind them, "I'll see you both in detention for the first week of next term. We are meant to represent our school, not make a mockery of it with such…disgusting displays."
Harry snorted, prompting Fleur to turn to him with a raised brow.
"It's nothing, really." Harry brought his free hand up to run through his hair, a small smile pasted on his flushed face. "Just Snape. You can always trust him to be dour, even when it's supposed to be a happy occasion. I've not the foggiest why he's even allowed to teach here. Perhaps you'd be willing to take him?"
"'E does seem to be an unpleasant man," Fleur giggled, the sound throaty and so very unique to her. Her nose in the air, she adopted a haughty expression. "Of course, you would never find such a man at Beauxbatons. Madame Maxime would never allow for something so 'orribly...British."
Harry couldn't help but chuckle. Fleur's wit and disdain for anything British had always amused him.
"Of course not," he replied after his laughter abated. "How dare I even insinuate such a thing. I seemed to have momentarily forgotten France's superiority in all things dining, architecture, and education."
"You are learning, Monsieur Potter," came her teasing reply as they crested a small hill. Her gaze, however, was fixed firmly on his face. "I 'ave feared many times over the years that my teachings would never properly sink in. Perhaps one day I may even convince you to leave this 'orrid place for better shores."
Laughter rumbled through his chest. "Unlikely, though I might be-"
Harry jerked to a halt when he noticed Fleur had stopped walking. He turned, a question on his lips, but the sight that met his eyes stole his words.
She was a vision, despite the apprehension painted on her angular face. The moon, nearly full, seemed to cast its dim light upon her and only her. The world around him was muted, a tapestry of dull greys and blacks.
But why did this keep happening?
He shook his head. It was not important.
"What's wrong, Fleur?" His voice was low, a flutter of wings on a breeze.
Fleur's hand left his own to cross her arms under her chest. Harry felt less than before, a piece of him missing in that moment.
"I-I know what is to happen in the second task," she replied, her eyes glued on the Black Lake's sparkling surface. "Something…or someone will be placed at the bottom of the lake. We are meant to retrieve it within an hour."
Glancing at the lake, Harry watched the giant squid make its way across the surface, its tentacles peeking above the shining depths.
"That seems…barbaric." The attempt at comfort sounded lacklustre in his ears. "Let's go somewhere else then. There's no sense in sticking around here with you moping."
She turned to him, hands on her hips. Harry could not have stopped the teasing smile that crossed his face if his life depended on it. "I do not mope, Monsieur Potter."
A heavy sigh left her lips.
"But non," she continued. "We should stay. I know it is a special place to you. I should not 'ave-"
"No," Harry interrupted, a smile stretching across his face. The witch made to argue until he stopped her with a raised hand. "I know of another place. A better one. Besides, this is supposed to be a special night. A rather intelligent witch told me so earlier."
Grabbing her hand, Harry led her through the grounds.
"An intelligent witch, you say?" Her eyes danced in the moonlight and Harry knew he'd made the right choice. Her next words caused him to stumble. "Would you say she is pretty, 'Arry?"
Harry's cheeks blazed at the question, one which had been posed in far too innocent a manner.
"N-no." Harry cursed his raging hormones. "B-beautiful, actually. But far more importantly, she's the best person I've ever known."
"Hmm." Fleur placed a finger upon her chin. Harry attempted to swallow the lump forming in his throat. "She sounds like quite the catch, 'Arry. Perhaps you should ask 'er on a date before someone else does."
A rueful chuckle left him and hung in the air between them. "Honestly, I don't think I'd stand a snowball's chance in hell. She's out of my league, you see?"
"You'll never know if you don't ask, Monsieur Potter."
Harry shook his head, a ghost of a smile on his lips. They continued their walk in an amiable silence.
Upon reaching his intended destination, he unlinked their hands. Behind him, Fleur cocked her head to the side.
"'Arry, I'm not sure what you have 'eard about dates," she drawled, "but I am sure that broom sheds should not come into the equation."
A snort met her statement. Pulling a small package from his robes, Harry set to picking the shed's lock. After several minutes of silence, the lock gave a rusty click. Harry pocketed the lock picking set the twins had gifted him. Opening the door, Harry chose a school broom that looked reliable.
"I see you've kept your deviant nature from me too, Monsieur Potter." Blue eyes scanned the old broomstick clutched in his hands. "Where did you learn to pick locks?"
He shrugged off his robe and placed it over her shoulders when she let out a shiver.
"It's a useful skill when you live with the Dursleys. But a teammate, Katie, taught me how to pick this lock since it's a bit more complex than your normal fare."
Fleur clicked her tongue. "Surely you know it is bad form to speak of other women on dates, 'Arry? Perhaps your nickname is well earned?"
"Katie's a friend," he replied, dismissing her question with a wave of his hand. "Nothing to worry about. Ready for a fly?"
An incredulous look met his question. "I'm not sure if you noticed, 'Arry, but I'm wearing a dress. It is not so good for flying."
Ignoring her, Harry mounted the broom. He made sure to leave room behind her and patted the bare area.
"Nothing crazy," he promised, excitement coursing through him. "You can ride side-straddle. I know you enjoy flying back home. Come on, it'll be relaxing."
Fleur huffed, a strand of platinum hair billowing at the puff of air. "That is different, and you know it."
Shrugging, Harry looked back at her. "Fine. Enjoy watching me have fun then."
Growling as she approached, Fleur sat behind him on the broom. Her arms wrapped around him tighter than was strictly necessary, but he didn't comment on it.
"Rude English cochon."
He couldn't help the smile that bloomed on his face.
"Prissy French witch," he returned without heat as he kicked off the ground.
The two rose high above the Quidditch pitch, the grounds beneath them cast in deep shadows. Harry's grin widened as he flew lazy loops around the stadium. Slow, graceful turns, dips, and rises was all Harry was comfortable with, despite his skill at the activity. Fleur's safety was more important than his own enjoyment.
They were silent for a time as they flew. Soft, cold gusts of air washed over their faces, the chill of the night turning their cheeks red. Soon, Harry felt the girl behind him begin to relax. Fleur enjoyed flying, though she normally did so without a broom.
"You love this as much as I love taking to the skies," she said as he flew to a standstill in the middle of the pitch. "I can feel your love for it. Your letters did not do those feelings justice, 'Arry. Though I will never understand your love of Quidditch."
Looking at the stars, the dots closer yet still so far away, Harry thought over her words. It was strange that she could feel such a thing. He wrote it off as one of those 'veela things' he wasn't allowed to know of. He was curious, but he knew better than to press her.
"I love Quidditch," he said, his cadence slow and measured. "But I love flying more. Quidditch is a connection to my dad, but it's just an excuse to fly. When I'm up here… It's hard to describe."
"You feel so much bigger," she picked up, her tone soft and understanding. Harry felt her hands clench at the front of his shirt. He suppressed a shiver. "You feel as if you are more than what you are when you are on the ground. You defy the very laws of the world when you're 'ere."
Harry shook his head, turning his head to look at her from over his shoulder.
"I'm free." His eyes were wide, his emotions clear. "Up here, nothing can touch me. Nothing can hurt me. I'm my own person, free to do as I please."
It was something he'd not told another person, even Fleur. This had been his secret for three years. And now it was laid bare before her.
People assumed he just loved Quidditch, but they were only partially correct. His love of flying was his secret, his treasure. It was the only thing all his own. And now he was sharing it with his oldest and best friend.
"Then you understand," she muttered. "So few do."
Chancing a glance at Fleur's eyes, he found understanding, companionship. There was not a hint of judgment in her stare. Of course she would understand. How could she not?
Her form, though shadowed by the moon at her back, was haloed by the heavenly body. The stars at her back painted a poor contrast, dull in comparison to her radiance. Her eyes, though.
It was her eyes that stood out to Harry, just as they had since he'd first seen her. She hid her emotions from the world behind a stony wall. But he knew her, the real her. She knew he was a private person. She knew he did not share his secrets without a great deal of trust.
And the emotions swimming in her eyes were open for him to see. It was captivating, entrancing. He understood all of it and none of it at the same time. There was too much to place.
A gust of wind puffed about them, blowing her hair that wasn't held in place. The platinum locks flowed with the current, their movements teasing. She looked an angel, pure with an elegance all her own.
Fleur opened her light-rose lips to reply, his eyes tracking their movements. Harry looked back to her eyes. It was there, plain as day.
Indecision. Hesitance. Conflict.
He could change that. Harry knew he could. One small action could change everything.
Harry's heart thudded against his ribs like a hammer against a board.
Such an easy thing.
"You should take me back to the carriage, 'Arry." And in the blink of an eye, it was gone. His heart lurched, its protest a stabbing pain in his chest. "It is getting late. Madame Maxime will worry."
"Of-of course." Harry turned his head forward, unwilling to let her see his disappointment.
Cursing his cowardice, Harry steered the broom to the carriage. The once companionable silence had become unbearable.
Thankfully, it took no time for them to reach the Beauxbatons carriage. The two dismounted the broom. Harry walked her to the door, their pace slow and measured. They paused a few feet from the entrance.
Harry knew not what to say. What could he say?
Thankfully, Fleur took matters into her own hands.
"Merci, 'Arry," she mumbled, her eyes cast at the ground. "Thank you for a wonderful night. You were right, after all."
Harry's brows scrunched. "About what?"
She raised her eyes to meet his inquisitive gaze. He froze.
There it was.
Indecision. Hesitance. Conflict.
But there was something new.
For what felt like the thousandth time that day, his heart threatened to leap from his chest. He swallowed against it, the sensation akin to sandpaper scraping his throat. Harry's palms grew clammy, and he forgot how to breathe.
"You were the best choice."
Her words were a whisper carried on a breeze. Her eyes expressed everything to him that she couldn't with words. This was it.
She took a step forward, her hair floating in a breeze he could not feel.
Her hand grasped his own. The world ceased to exist.
Her eyes shined, a small, knowing grin on her face.
This was it.
Fleur leaned forward. Time slowed to a crawl. He revelled in it, celebrated it. Harry cursed it, hated it.
It was too slow. She was torturous in her movements, exquisite.
Blood roared in his ears, a typhoon of noise. His heart boomed in his chest, vibrating through his body. He felt it all, but it did not matter. Not in this moment.
And still, she moved far too slow.
His brain ceased to function. She was so close.
And finally, her soft lips found their mark...on his cheek. Fleur lingered there for untold moments, but it was over far too soon. She pulled back, the same soft smile on her face.
"Goodnight, 'Arry," Fleur whispered.
By the time his mind caught up to him, she was already gone.
He'd been wrong.
With a sigh, Harry shoved his hands in his pockets and trudged back to the castle.
6 Years Later
The Ministry Atrium, the largest room in the building which housed Magical Britain's government, was empty of its usual occupants. Harry's foot struck the black, marble floor, the tapping echoing with the intensity of a drum. His eyes narrowed at the watch on his left wrist.
Tap, tap, tap.
She should have been here by now.
Tap, tap, tap.
She'd told him what time to meet her, and she was never late. At least, she never had been before.
Tap, tap, tap.
He'd made reservations for them, too. If she didn't arrive soon their table would be forfeit. Harry's left eye twitched when he noted that she was more than ten minutes late. Perhaps she'd decided to not come. No, she would have owled him.
Tap, tap, tap.
"Mate!" Harry turned to take in the room's only other occupant. The night security guard was a doughy man whose blue hat only served to cover his balding head. "If you don't stop tapping your bloody foot, I'm going to rip your shoe off and jam it up your-"
"Oh, piss off, Sallow." Nostrils flared, Harry stared the older wizard down. The man gawped when he realized just who he had threatened. "You know damn well you're not allowed to read magazines on duty. I should write you up."
Sallow's mouth opened and closed, his face imitating a fish. It would have been humorous had Harry's temper not been hanging by a thread. A bead of sweat trickled down Sallow's temple. The man began to stutter, his words incoherent.
"'Arry!" The voice brought a smile to his lips. She'd arrived.
"But, seeing as I'm in a good mood, I'll let it slide." Harry looked over his shoulder, seeing a blonde woman in a red sundress and black heels approach the two of them. He looked back at the hapless guard. "Have a good night, Sallow."
He'd made it all of one step before she crashed into him. Platinum hair obscured his vision as the woman greeted him with a kiss to each of his cheeks. Her arms surrounded him in a gentle embrace. The scent of cherry blossoms and something unidentifiable overtook that of cleaning products. Harry lifted his arms to wrap them around her waist, a chuckle vibrating from his chest.
"It's good to see you too, Fleur." Harry pulled back a step and shoved his hands in his jeans' pockets, his eyes taking in the woman he hadn't seen in six years. "You haven't aged a day."
"And you look older than you should, Monsieur Potter." The blonde witch smirked. He felt as if he'd stepped into a cool spring rain after one of Wood's Quidditch practices.
It was almost as if nothing had changed.
"Not all of us have magic that keeps us looking like we just graduated from school." Harry shook his head and extended his hand from his side. "Come on. We've got reservations."
"Is it custom in England to take a witch on a date without first asking her?" Fleur had changed very little over the years, it seemed. Harry snorted and placed a hand on her back to lead her to the employee apparition point. "Must you British do everything backwards?"
Harry ignored her teasing. Her wit and humour were the same as ever, but he had learned about banter during his time in the Auror Corps. Six years ago her words would have left him a gibbering mess, completely unable to riposte. Time had flown and he had grown.
"How's Antoine?" Harry smiled at the hitch in her step. "Has your mother convinced you two to tie the knot?"
The question was asked casually, far more so than he'd been capable of when they last met. Harry saw her blush, her gaze narrowed, from the corner of his eyes. First strike went to him, it would seem.
"'E was cheating on me." Fists clenched at her sides, her arms shaking. "I caught 'im with that pute a few months ago. 'E said it was because I would not sleep with 'im. Ma mere 'as been pestering me to find another wizard."
Taking hold of her arm, Harry looked at her. The French witch jerked her head. Taking her affirmation, Harry disapparated them to an abandoned alley.
Muggy, summer air greeted him and the clamour of traffic thrummed in his ears. His eyes scanned the dark passage. Muggles passed by them, though none saw them in the dusk. Satisfied they had not been overseen, Harry led Fleur into the throng.
"Sounds like you dodged a bullet then." He grabbed her hand, giving it a small squeeze. "Antoine's an arse and you deserve better. Found anyone else then? If only to keep Apolline off your back."
Fleur's platinum hair shimmered under the city lights as she shook her head. She pressed against him, the throng around them forcing them close. Eyes glazed as she walked past, but neither of them paid it any mind.
"Non," she muttered, her eyes taking in the sights on offer. "None of them measure up. But what about you, 'Arry? 'Ave you finally been able to stay with a girl longer than a few weeks?"
"Measure up to whom?" The question never passed through his lips.
Instead, he snorted. "You'd know the answer to that if you ever wrote. But I'm afraid none of them measured up."
The corner of her mouth twitched, a spark twinkling in her eyes. Fleur let out a throaty 'hmm'. The familiarity of the action washed over him.
"You never change do you, 'Arry?" Fleur looked up at him. He knew the look in her eyes. "Still the same Casanova. What do you think is wrong with us, 'Arry?"
Her last question was asked amidst chuckles. Harry pushed past the people standing in front of a small Italian restaurant. Letting go of her hand, Harry opened the door to the establishment.
"We've had a string of bad luck, I suppose," Harry replied when he caught up to her. His eyes swept over the short host behind a podium. "Potter, reservation for two."
The muggle man nodded and led them through the restaurant. It was a small, family-owned business. They walked past various couples sitting at small wooden tables. Candles were placed at each of them, covering the establishment in a warm, welcoming ambiance.
Harry looked at the woman at his side. Candlelight flickered over her lustrous hair, his mind travelling back to their night at the Hogwarts Quidditch Pitch so long ago. His stomach lurched at the memory and the sight of her.
Even six years later, she still stunned him.
"I hope you have no issue with the table, Signore." The host nodded his head at a small table with only one booth and no other seating. "It is the only table available now, but another one will be available in an hour or so."
His eyes sought out Fleur, who only shrugged at his silent question. Harry drug his hand through his hair and nodded at the man.
"This is a very romantic restaurant, 'Arry." Fleur looked at him through teasing, half-lidded eyes as she took her seat beside him. "Perhaps I should have accepted when you asked me for a second date after the Yule Ball."
Scoffing, Harry opened his mouth. He closed it upon flickering flame catching his eye, a small smile left in its place. The young Auror mulled over her words, testing them in his mind. He'd hardly given it a thought in years. Years ago, when he'd been a clueless boy, her teasing would have turned him into a melted puddle of incoherence. Now, he realized just how much he'd missed her.
"'Arry." Her hand found its way to his arm, her warmth embracing him. Harry's heart skipped a beat. "Did I say something wrong?"
A waiter approached their table, the person's movements caught in peripheral vision. Waving the man away, Harry continued gazing upon the flickering light atop the candle. He could feel Fleur's questioning gaze. Yet, for a time, he stared in silence, a small smile on his face.
"Sorry." Fleur flinched at his breaking of the silence. "Just...memories. But to answer your question, I brought you here because I like it here. I'm a regular. We shouldn't talk about that though. Let me tell you about the job you've been hired to do. The past isn't important right now."
Fleur's graceful brows bunched together. "Non, we can speak of work tomorrow. Tell me, what memories 'ad such an effect on you? I know this is important."
Her question hung in the air. There was more to it than could be seen from the surface. Harry looked down at the hand that was on his arm, her magic permeating the air. Lip quirked, Harry thought of the 'veela things' he'd tried and failed to find out over the years.
Eyes following the length of her arm, his gaze settled on her deep, blue eyes. Something changed the moment their eyes met, that much he knew. The eyes staring into his own coruscated in a swirl of warm emotion. Harry felt small, insignificant in that moment, fourteen once more.
"Your teasing," his words breathed more than spoken. Fleur arched a delicate brow and he paused, weighing his words. "It just reminds me of the Yule Ball. It was one of the best and most disappointing nights at Hogwarts."
Muggles scurried in and out of sight in the window behind her. Their movements were like the passing of the years. Always moving forward without rest, changing as they moved. Yet, in the end, they remained as they always were. Just like them.
"We've known one another for nearly a decade, 'Arry." Fleur's words were odd, but something was there. It was there, hidden, just beneath the surface. "You know me better than most, just as I know you. It is unlike you to 'old to the past so staunchly."
He opened his mouth.
"Do not bother denying it." Her grip on his arm tightened. "I can feel it, 'Arry. You regret something from that night, but you 'ave never told me what it was. Even now, it 'olds you in its grip."
Harry paused. He'd buried it so long ago and he had no wish to dig it up again. A sigh escaped his lips at the determination in her eyes. Fleur had never been one to acquiesce to being denied.
"We went as friends to the ball." The words tumbled from his mouth, his eyes distant. "And that was fine...at first. I was so scared, intimidated by you. When we were on the pitch. I've never had a moment like that again. I wanted to kiss you then and there, to make you mine."
Blue eyes widened for a fraction of a second, replaced by a look that mystified him. His heart hammered a staccato in his chest. Just like it had then.
"Then why did you not?"
"I was scared." Harry shrugged and let himself become lost in her eyes. "I didn't understand what was happening, too young to know. I didn't think myself good enough for you. Take your pick. But I've always wondered 'what if', you know? We're just friends. It's stupid, pathetic really."
Fleur shifted in her seat, turning her body toward him. She leaned forward, intensity shining in her deep blue eyes. Her hair flared in the low light and his world shrank, just as before.
"Non, it is not stupid." Her breath tickled his nose. His body burned in a sweltering blaze, his very blood set alight. "I was also scared. You were so young, and I was set to graduate. We were destined to live apart from one another. You 'ave always been more than just a friend, though. You are the best man I've ever known, 'Arry Potter. Even now, I also wonder 'what if?'"
A pause, a fire sparking to life in her blue eyes. Caught in the roaring blaze, thoughts lost meeting.
"But 'ere we are, 'Arry." Her eyes consumed him, leaving him half a man, incomplete and imperfect. "The past is gone, its story complete. Ink dried on a page. The future is ours to determine. And now, 'Arry…"
Half her face in wavering shadow, the light of the candle set her flushed cheeks aglow. Her hand moved a torturous, delightful path to rest on his chest. His mouth felt like the Sahara at midday, the thudding in his chest mysteriously absent.
And he was lost.
"And now, Fleur?" A breath, a moment in time. Ever changing, yet altogether the same.
Fleur smirked and leaned into him, her face a hand's breadth from his own. The smell of food, once so prominent, washed away under cherry blossoms and a scent all her own. His lungs hitched and his breath fled.
"And now." Blue eyes simmered under hooded lids. "Now, 'Arry Potter, you make up for past mistakes."
Harry closed the distance between them, his eyes shutting of their own accord. Time crawled, its grip absolute. His hand moved over her shoulder and behind her neck. Her hands held the front of his shirt like a vice. He was a man lost at sea, trapped in a tempest he had no desire to escape.
Seconds stretched into an infinite expanse and the world ceased to exist, his purpose clear. And finally, their lips met in a slow, sweet embrace. Fleur invaded his every sense, and he relished it. His body melted under a scorching sun as their lips moved in a dance as old as the human race. Eyelashes fluttered against his cheek with a torturous tickle. A low sigh escaped her, and he was lost to the woman in his arms.
And Harry Potter knew.
This was it.
4 Years Later
Fear, all encompassing.
Harry Potter felt all those things and more as he stood in a drab, white room in St Mungos. It was a rush, a high he'd never experienced in his life. Nothing else came close. The smile on his face was completely at odds with his surroundings. Most would have thought him a loon, his smile was so wide.
It was unbelievable, beyond explanation. But…
There it was.
Green eyes honed in on the figure snoozing on the hospital bed. His wife, the woman who had stood by his side for the last three years. She'd made his dreams come true, just as she had so many times before. His face hurt from the smile on his face, but Harry could not find it in himself to care.
He looked down at the bundle in his arms.
Their daughter slept in his arms, wrapped in white swaddling.
And she was perfect.
Ten years prior he would not have thought this possible. Yet, here he was.
Tender eyes looked back at his wife, peaceful in her slumber. His chest was fit to burst.
And everything…all the pain, the time spent lamenting, had been worth it. She had been worth it.
His date with Fleur at the Yule Ball had ended poorly, at least in his mind. The rest of the year had continued much as it had before. They'd spoken little, absorbed as she was in winning the tournament.
Harry had borne her no ill will, but he had always wondered 'what if'? Over the coming years he'd gone on many dates, living up to his old nickname of 'Casanova'. There had never been that spark he'd felt with Fleur that night. In retrospect, it was obvious. None of them could compare. He'd been smitten from the start, only he'd been too dense to realize it.
Their only regular correspondence had been through letters after fourth year. Even that slowed over the years. Fleur had graduated and apprenticed under a Charms Master. Harry had gone on after graduation to join the Auror Academy.
Life got in the way and they'd fallen out of touch, only hearing from one another at the holidays.
Dates came and went, but none of them had satisfied him the way she had. Harry always compared them to Fleur, and they were always found lacking in one way or another. It had been the same for her, despite her mother's wish for her to marry and give her grandchildren.
One year into his tenure as a Junior Auror their paths had crossed again. Whether it had been a stroke of luck or divine intervention he would never know.
His team had been assigned a rather dangerous mission and found themselves in need of an enchanter. The Ministry appointed enchanter had retired two weeks prior. Luckily, Harry had known just the person to contact. He'd taken her to dinner the night she arrived in London. Her dislike for the English had not diminished over the years. It had amused him then and still did to this day.
A little over a year later they had married.
And now? Now he held the most perfect angel snugly in his arms.
Emilie Rose Potter.
Harry looked down as the tiny girl began to fuss. Wanting his wife to rest, Harry began to sway her.
"Shhhh," he whispered. "Let's let Mummy sleep, Emilie."
But the babe continued to fuss, despite his efforts. Harry looked up, seeing his wife begin to stir despite having been awake for over two days.
Then an idea formed in his mind. It took root and would not let go. But, perhaps, it would work.
His sways became more exaggerated, and he began to step in a simple box pattern.
"Shhhh, Luv," he whispered, love and tenderness for his daughter permeating his soft words. "It's time to sleep, sweet Emilie. But first…Just one dance."
To Emily: I hope this story has brought you some happiness and helps you in some way. No matter what happens, just remember that you have people who love and care for you. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this for you, and I think I can speak for the rest of the FlowerPot community when I say they did too. A lot of great people jumped at this opportunity and it's the least we could do. You have our support and our love.
I wish you all the best.