The middle-aged man sits at his computer desk, his eyes red from long hours and many tears. A box sits on the corner of the desk, which hasn't been there before. On top of the box is a couple of photos, one from the early 1920's and one from the early 1980's. Behind him is a Japanese looking man standing about 5'6" with a black outfit vaguely resembling a kimono. The undergarment is a sky blue turtle-neck to match his swirling eyes, and he appears to have a katana slung across his back. He seems to be standing behind the man providing some comfort. The middle aged man, however, to betyping away after the better part of a month or so of neglecting recording of his world's history.
The door bell rings, and the man with the sword moves off to answer it. He returns a little while later saying, "DrgnMstr'san, there's some people here to see you.
The middle aged man motions to the speaker to let them in. After a minute or two to fetch the people in question, the newcomer leads in four more newcomers, Harry, Hermione, Fleur, and Gabrielle.
"Hey man, who's this guy?" Harry asks in curiosity without realizing the condition of DrgnMstr. "And where's you're significant other? The house looks trashed, and we haven't heard from you..."
The girls quickly start to divert Harry's questions when they see the box and DrgnMstr's face. But DrgnMstr smiles and shakes his head, letting the young women know that he as fine. "Sorry for not getting back with you all, but there's been... complications over the past month or so." He motions the messenger forward and says, "This is Tenaka Kenichi. He's a shinigami. He's been kind of watching over me."
"Monsieur DrgnMstr, what happened to her?" Fleur asked, sounding as if she was hoping what she thought had not happened.
"She's dead Fleur. She died just before Thanksgiving. That's why I haven't been doing much with you," the writer replies. Hermione went immediately over and hugged the man to comfort him. After a few moments he said, "Harry, I'm not up to doing an entertaining disclaimer. Can you just do it for me please?"
Harry, somewhat shocked, nods. "DrgnMstr would like to me to let you all know that he does not own any character you may recognize from the Harry Potter universe, nor from any other universe. He does not speak for, suggest policy for, or even know the Crown of the United Kingdom, nor does he condone any illegal acts." He then looks over to the writer for a moment and then announces, "He'd also like to dedicate this chapter to his Significant other, without whom he would never have gotten the courage to write. She will be missed."
Harry Potter and the Veela Bond
Chapter 11: Decisions and Consequences
A prison guard led Harry, Bill, Hermione, Hermione's parents, and his wives through a maze of rune enhanced steel bar barricades and doorways into a plain and for the most part unadorned room within the main French magical prison. The French, unlike the English, didn't broadcast to all and sundry where their prison was. In fact, the location of said prison was considered the French equivalent of an official secret. The only way in or out was via a portkey to a room, followed by a second portkey to another room, followed by a long trip through corridors with no outlet or reference point to the outside. No windows, no doors, nothing but twisting corridors to the first of a series of runic steel bar barricade and door combinations that served as a visual reminder that they were indeed in a prison. The buildings of the prison themselves did have access to the outside, but there were massive confusion runes and misdirection runes on the outer walls that kept people from figuring out where they were. In fact, no one had ever figured out the location of the prison, for anyone who could look beyond the runic fence surrounding the property would see farm generic fields that spread as far as the eye could see.
But even seeing the fence took an effort, mainly due to the runic wards. In addition, the prison had its own farm and ranch fields, upkept by the inmates under direct supervision by the guards. These fields were so vast that the fence was hard to see from the prison buildings. These fields produced food for the complex, and water was provided via the same kind of magic runes that served so many wizarding houses throughout the world. This was all that was commonly known by the majority of France and any people who had to stay or regularly visit here.
What was not so commonly known is that the ranch and farm for the prison produced more than what the prisoners and the prison employees could ever use. The excess was sold to both the muggle and the magical worlds, mainly outside France, with a smaller portion supplementing the local economy to keep people from going hungry. In fact, the Magical Commonwealth got half of its food supplies from this arrangement. The funds earned from this arrangement was meticulously recorded and reduced the operating expenses. In other words, it made the entire compound more self sufficient. Harry had to admire this, for at least the magical prisoners were being productive members of their society. Not for the first time he wondered if he should lead Britain to adopt such a system. It was, after all modeled after what the Scottish did before their prison was demolished in favor of Azkaban.
A soft whimper from Hermione brought Harry out of these musings. He looked up at her, then followed her gaze to find two guards escorting Ron inside. Harry reached over to gently squeeze Hermione's shoulder, causing her to jump before she turned her attention to him. He let a tiny fraction of his allure go before smiling comfortingly at her. She smiled and relaxed a little, which allowed Harry to turn and sit down at the table. He was immediately bracketed by both Fleur and Gabrielle, with Bill standing by Fleur. He schooled his gaze into neutrality before turning his gaze to Ron.
Harry wasn't really as much surprised by Ron's hateful glare as disappointed and saddened. He looked like he wanted to run up to Harry and start pounding on him, but the guards had him shacked and were watching him closely. From what he was told by the guards, this was not standard procedure. Once the guards had his former friend seated, he looked at the one on Ron's right and asked, "Are those really necessary?"
"My apologies Your Grace," the French auror replied in English. "But this prisoner has been uncooperative and belligerent. We already have a prisoner requiring treatment for a broken nose." Harry could almost hear Bill wince at this explanation. Everyone but Ron appeared to understand this was not going to help his case at all.
Indeed, Harry was most upset to hear about this, but he did his best to keep his expression fixed at mild distaste. Instead he turned to his first friend his age and began his formal speech. "Ronald Bilius Weasley, of Ottery St. Catchpole. You stand charged with treason..."
That was as far as Harry got before Ron exploded. "Just who the hell do you think you are? You sit there, acting all hoi poloi when we all know you're nothing but a little rich orphan with no consideration for his friends and a head the size of a Quidditch Field. Treason, just where the bloody hell do you get off? You're..." Ron was then silenced by one of the guards before the guard faded back into the background.
Harry at this point didn't even let it faze him. Instead he merely sat up a bit straighter before saying, "Whatever you may think Mr. Weasley, you'll find that you are wrong. Let me put this in simple enough terms so even you can understand." He then held up his right hand, allowing Ron to see several rings on it. "I'm sure you can recognize the Potter ring, can you not? It's on my pointing finger. You won't recognize the ring on the middle finger though, but that one is the Evans ring. Between those two alone I hold a Duchy and a Barony. On my little finger is the Dracon ring. That one we'll have to come back to. But right now on my ring finger is perhaps the most important one to these modern times, and the most pertinent to the current situation."
Harry watched as Ron at first didn't seem to care about what rings Harry was wearing. In fact, for the first two he could see that Ron was declaring him some kind of poofta. But when Harry mentioned the Gryffindor Ring, he could see Ron become alert and slightly pale. Then Harry brought Ron's attention to the ring finger. Though it was true that Ron did not apply himself much in school, had an inferiority complex at least a mile wide and two miles long, and apparently cared for little other than the quickest way to wealth and Quidditch, Ron was above all else a pureblood. And nearly every pureblood family out there still taught their children to look out for the coat of arms facing him now, though the reasons varied wildly. "I see you recognize it, don't you Ron. That's my magical Royal Ring. It can't be faked, due to charms on its very existence. It can't be subverted. It can't be altered. It can't be worn by anyone not proclaimed by the ruling Monarch of the British Magical Commonwealth to be her ruling Prince, or for all intents and purposes, King. Once I reach of age, which will be in little over a year, the Monarch of the Muggle Commonwealth will once again become an Empress, with me as King directly below her. But even as Crown Prince, I am the crown as far as the British Magical World is concerned. That said, I believe the issue of just who I think I am is rather clear isn't it?"
"Now that we have that part settled," Harry said as he watched his supposed best friend squirm, "Let's move on to the second issue, shall we? What do I mean by treason? Well, I suppose you could put attempted murder in its place and be more accurate, but with you missing some knowledge that would have made the attempted per-meditated, I'll just have to stick with that charge. You see, you were part of the plot to make sure that Hermione and I never got together and that I married your sister Ginevra. And while you are charged with the attempted murder, conspiracy to blackmail, and attempted kidnapping and slavery charges against Miss Granger, the part relating to her does not connect to the treason charge. For you and your "family," such as it appears to be, had it wrong. It wasn't Hermione that I was getting closer to, that I am soul bound to. No... that goes to my lovely wives Fleur and Gabrielle Delacour."
"Harry..." Bill stated, his tone giving a slight warning.
"I'm sorry Bill, no disrespect is meant toward the majority of your family," Harry said quickly. "But even you have to admit that it currently isn't looking too good for the continued unity of your family. You have your middle brother who is siding with the Ministry even against his own family. You have your two youngest siblings who can very easily find themselves charged with treason and a host of other rather unsavory charges, and finally as much as I hate to say it there's your mother, who also can fit the same category as your brother here. All of these people, with the exception of Percy, at one time espoused I was considered a member of the family."
A moment of silence reigned as Fleur looked at Bill intently before the young man sighed. "You're right Harry. I'm sorry. Just... they're family, you know?"
Harry turned toward his fiance's/wife's last male lover and nodded once. He did indeed understand. "Perhaps we should continue this?" Mrs. Granger asked as she watched her daughter become more and more distraught.
Catching the Granger matriarch's message, and with a side glance toward Hermione, he turned his attention back to Ron. "Yes, I said I was, or more to the point am, soul bound to them. The mental link was already there before I left school. Do you understand now what that means Ron? If you, your sister, and your mother were successful in your plans I would have been either in the long term care ward of St. Mungo's for a very, very, long time, or dead. That makes it attempted murder against me. Since I am the Crown's representative, and Crown Prince, that makes it attempted murder against the Crown. And as the laws of the land so state, any action against the Crown of the Realm is considered treason against that Crown. So you see,Ron, there's at least a foot of parchment's worth of charges I could apply against you, Ginevra, and your mother. I know you're stubborn, and I know you feel entitled to the things you want without earning them. But for once in your life use that brain of yours for something other than chess or Quidditch and bloody think."
Harry ignored the various chiding remarks about language, the promise of lectures covering decorum, and even the gasps and giggles around him. Instead he focused on Ron, his eyes watching the boy intently. At first Ron seemed to want to argue some more. But as the Weasley boy could not do anything, or even say much in his current condition, Ron eventually stopped raging. "Ron, think over what I said for a minute. You know what I've said about my status in this world is the truth. You know the laws of the British Commonwealth, so what makes it so hard to believe that I'm telling you the truth here? Why can't you understand that you've betrayed me again, and that this time the consequences are more than simply the loss of my friendship? And make no mistakes, I'm not here as your friend. I'm here as Duke Gryffindor, Crown Prince of the Magical Commonwealth of the United Kingdom. No, that doesn't make a Crown Prince in the Muggle Commonwealth, but I am rather high up in the lines of succession there too."
Finally seeing Ron lower his head in defeat, Harry sighs and looks over to Hermione. "You'll note I haven't said all that much about what you did to Hermione, save a simple overview of some of the charges against you on her behalf. That's because she herself wanted to confront you on what you've done. And the mind healers agree with my decision to let her." Out of the corner of his eye he sees Ron's eyes snap wide open in surprise. "Yes Mr. Weasley, you heard me correct. But I'll let Hermione tell you about that, if she wants to."
The room was silent for the next few minutes as Ron looked over to Hermione. Her head was hung low, and her parents were trying to be supportive. Mr. Granger was just about to say something when Hermione's whispered voice seemed to echo throughout the room. "Harry, can you have them remove the silencing charm?" After they did so the room was silent, but there was a feeling of an impending doom that seemed to grow heavier and heavier with each passing second. Finally it reached a crescendo as the witch's whispered voice asked one question. "Why?"
Ron blinked for a moment as his brain refused to engage rational thought. So his mouth insisted that his foot should be put in it. "Why what?"
"Why... Ron... why... WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME!" she finally screamed, even though she remained firmly in her chair. "I thought I was your FRIEND! I thought you were Harry's best friend. We were the Golden FUCKING Trio for God's sake. We've been through hell and back again together. We've bled together, we've cried together, we've been close comrades and all but blood for FIVE FUCKING YEARS! Hell, you even told other people you FANCIED me! And yet you couldn't bloody well ask me out, like any other normal teenager, could you? No, you had to go act like Malfoy and threaten my life, tear apart my self worth, endanger... no, tear apart the most important relationship I had outside of my mum and dad. And for what? So you could posses me like some DAMNED OBJECT? I thought you liked me? But I guess I was wrong, for you sure as hell don't treat a friend, much less someone you profess to love, like a cheap, dirty slave like you did me. It's bad enough I'm pregnant without ever having the pleasure of actually having sex first, but then to have someone who I thought loved me treat me like worse than an animal like you did... WHY?"
The guards were quickly waived off by Harry as they started to approach in the middle of Hermione's outburst. Truth be told, he wanted to know the answer to this question himself, and in secret he was all for letting Hermione get a few good punches in on the bastard. He knew he couldn't let that happen though, so he watched on. If worse came to worse, he could blast the room with his allure to stop the now most loyal part of what was once the Golden Trio.
'You don't want to do that Harry,' Fleur's voice filled his head. 'Not unless you want her to tear off both hers and your clothes and basically rape you right here.'
'What do you mean?' Harry thought in return.
'Harry,' Gabrielle said next, 'Do you remember what we told you about Veela and their "Best Friends?"'
'Yeah... something about how you both have people that could be refer to being your best friends, and that in Veela culture, that is synonymous with what the Yanks would call "Friends with Benefits." It's basically necessary for soul bonded Veela due Veela physiology. Why?'
'Because Harry, you are part Veela. You may be male, but that makes no difference. You still inherit all the powers... and all the drawbacks,' Fleur spoke up again.
'Yeah, I remember you saying...' Harry stopped as he realized just what they were inferring too. 'BLOODY HELL! You mean me... Hermione?'
'Look into your heart Love, and you'll see. That's why your allure hit her so strong. That's almost always a sign,' Gabrielle spoke up again.
'Well, if it had to be anyone for my first...' Harry thought. But that's where the mental conversation ended as he looked back at Ron's face. He could almost feel the coming explosion. 'This is not going to be pretty...'
"Because you gave me no bloody choice!" Ron finally snapped. "All I ever heard was "Harry this, Harry that." Well, I got sick of it. Every time I thought of approaching you, you'd go on some rant or concern about the bloody King sitting there. You've fancied him since he pulled me to save you from that mountain troll, and nothing I could do would even put a dent in that. Well you know something, a bloke can only handle rejection for so long before he gets desperate. I tried everything I could before that. I gave you gifts, I tried to get you mad so you'd be open for an advance, but it never happened. You never understood Hermione, YOUR MINE! Harry can't have you! For once the prat is going to have to face that he can't get what he wants. For once I decided that Ronald Weasley was going to be on top. Yes, you'd hurt for a while, at least until you realized that I was doing it for your own good."
Harry winced at this in several places. At the same time he had never seen Hermione more hurt and... broken than he had the past couple of days. He only hoped that Hermione could weather this, because he was afraid he couldn't handle it if this destroyed her. He felt a brush on his mind which caused him to look first at Fleur then over to Hermione. What he read in her face in those last couple of seconds before she blew both comforted and scared him. For once he was glad that the guards confiscated their wands.
"You know," she said, starting out low as her tears dried up, "I never thought I'd say this, but I may owe Malfoy an apology. I equated you to him before, and now I can see just how wrong and insulting I was in that comparison. He may be a foul loathsome little cockroach but he did not deserve being compared to YOU. I'd call you a pile of beetle dung save I'd be insulting beetle dung everywhere! HOW DARE YOU! I am not now, nor have I ever been, yours. The only way I ever thought I was yours in any way shape or form was as your friend. But you know something, you don't have any friends. You don't even know the meaning of the word!" She then turned toward Harry and said, "I'm sorry Harry. I am truly and sincerely sorry. When this walking pile of troll foot fungus deserted you in our 4th year, I should have told you to just let him go. We could have befriended Malfoy and had a better friend than him."
Harry winced at Hermione's rant even while becoming even more thankful that she didn't have her wand. He doubted that there'd be anything left of Ron. Not that he was too pleased with his former friend himself. Oh no... if anything he downright livid at how Ron answered Hermione. So he just gave her a gentle smile and said, "It's alright Hermione. We all make mistakes. I even made one then, since Ron never even sincerely apologized. We both dropped the ball on that one." As his best friend returned his smile and nodded, he turned his face toward the traitor, losing the smile as it went. "Well, I said before that our friendship is over, but now I know I was wrong. You haven't been our friend since 4th year. I happen to agree with her, Malfoy the arrogant idiot would have been a better friend than you. At least him we could count on to be honest in stabbing us in the back. Unlike you. I don't know what happened to you to make you feel this way. Maybe it's because you are inferior to your bothers? Maybe it's because you're so lazy you have let what precious few talents you had dwindle to nothing? I don't know. But what I do know is that this has to stop. Full Stop. The End."
Harry takes a deep breath as Ron starts to shout again, but a simple gesture of Harry's hand causes another Silencio to be applied. Finally Harry speaks, his voice low. "I'm not exactly sure what the normal sentences are for all the crimes you're charged of. And quite frankly I don't really care. I'm here to give you a choice. One choice, one chance. That's it. That is all I'll ever owe the friend we had in our first year. As of right now, if we were going to trial over your crimes, we have enough evidence to not only get a conviction, but with your confession we could toss your arse through the Veil in a heartbeat. But... given everything, I decided to offer you a choice."
"Your first option is allowing the unspeakables to trim off all your hair, everywhere, and toss off into a little vial three times, and give them a sample of your magic. These ingredients, when combined with the right mixture of potions, will produce a permanent stabilizing potion for Hermione's baby. Don't ask me how they will take a sample of your magic, I don't want to even think about it. It's not pleasant for you, that's all I'll say," Harry says giving a shiver. Really, there are thinks Harry was glad not to know, thank you very much. "Then you will swear a magical, binding oath to never come near us save under lawful business or other circumstances as part of the greater Weasley family. That you will never attempt to communicate with us in any way, shape, or form, even through someone else, unless it is under that same business. Also you will swear that from this day forward you will never speak of us as if we are friends, in any manner, to anyone. And lastly, save for business, the aforementioned familial reasons, or school, you are to avoid approaching within 50 feet of us again, ever. Your other option is death, and we'll still get what we need, only by force. You have shown no remorse, no guilt. All you can do is blame other people, and feel sorry for yourself. And that lead you to try to kill us both. Well Mr. Weasley, I'm in the middle of a war, and you've proven yourself to be a traitor. Traitors are killed in wartime immediately. I'm being as lenient as I can be, considering the charges. So think on this well, Mr. Weasley, and don't talk yourself into a lifetime of prison."
Bill was understandably pale by the end of the choices. He could never have guessed until he read the file provided him that it had gone this far. And yet he held out hope, as he explained to Harry privately before they got here, that Harry would be lenient. One look at Bills face and anyone watching could tell it saddened the eldest Weasley son that it had gone that far. Harry wondered what could he expect though, given Ron's tirade. His ex-best friend just admitted that it was premeditated, and that their friendship was a lie. Turning back to Ron, he saw that for the first time today Ron looked scared. Ron probably felt at first that Harry would scare him, then beat him up, and then it would all be over. No, Harry was not going to go for it this time. He noticed the youngest red-head look around the room, finally resting pleading eyes on Hermione. Oh... was that a mistake...
"Don't you dare look at me. I don't have any mercy for you any more. Not after you gave me a choice between slavery or death. Frankly, banishment from the Royal Presence is too good for you. I'd rather see you spend the rest of your life here, working for your food and shelter. Maybe then that would give you some appreciation for everything you threw away. Give you the same choice you gave me. That would be justice." After he heard that, Harry had to agree, that would be justice. Too bad slavery was outlawed, and anathema to the Queen, or he might be tempted to take it further. No, Hermione's wishes would be ideal given the malice with which this was done.
"Neither," Ron said as he spoke up. "If you're going to turn on me like a bunch of Slytherins, then so be it. Hermione can die right along beside me, for I'll kill myself before I let her have what she needs," he snarled.
"Ronald Bilius Weasley, this was not up for negotiations." He then faced the guards and says, "Remove any and all items that he can use to kill himself from both his person and his cell. He's to undergo suicide watch in solitary confinement. Have a group of unspeakables come and collect what they need, then schedule him for..."
"WAIT!" Bill called out in a pained and pleading voice. "Please my lord, as Heir to House Weasely, please hear my request. I would beg a boon of Your Grace. As House Weasley is a vassal house of house Potter, please, I beg of you, please hear me."
Harry sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. He really hated this, he hated to have to pronounce a death sentence on his first friend, but Ron gave him no choice. Still, he could do worse than listen to what Bill had to say. "Speak, but know my patience is at an end."
What Bill did next surprised him. He watched on as he got up, walked around the others in the room, and knelt on one knee in front of Harry. "My liege, I know you and your Best Friend are angry. I know your bond mates share that anger. I know that you are justified in your anger, and that the decision you gave my younger brother was a just one. I mourn the fact my brother is too self-centered and pig-headed to see the wisdom of your choices. I share in your anger. Never had I thought one of my own family would embarrass and shame the House of Weasley as badly as this one has. I know the same is true for my sister and my mother. But our houses have been linked as Liege to a Lord for centuries. Please, I beg of you in the name of this bond to have mercy on my brother. At the very least, let me talk to him, and see if I can get him to give you what you need peacefully. If I can, would you consider a sentence other than the one you were about to give?"
Harry at this point wanted whatever was to be done, done. He really didn't want to deal with this any more. He considered, for one moment, refusing Bill's request, but he knew it would go back on his vow of Knighthood. "You do realize that because he is guilty of being a party to treason, and he has refused my initial deal, the only other choice is life imprisonment, do you not?"
Bill hung his head low at this and nodded. "Yes my liege. I do. But at least if he is imprisoned some place like here, we can visit him. I doubt My Liege would be vindictive enough to transfer him to Azkaban."
"Some would argue that he deserves Azkaban," Harry observed candidly, which made Bill's face even more pale. "Some others would say I'm stretching it with the treason charge. But given the consequences of breaking a Soul Bond, I would say not. Still... treason is not the only charge against him. House Granger, what say you?"
The Granger parents had been spending most of this time watching the proceedings, alternating between parental outrage and concern for their daughter. The seemed rather indignant that Bill would plead for leniency, but after Harry's words they saw it made some sense. So instead of answering immediately they decided to confer with their daughter. The whispered conversation grew heated in a couple of areas as each Granger wound up looking indignant at one point or another. Ron, thankfully, seemed to develop a much belated sense of self-preservation and kept his mouth shut. Finally the three of them reached an agreement that they all seemed to hate the least.
"If the scu..." Mr. Granger started, only to be elbowed by Mrs. Granger. "If the boy gets an appropriate jail sentence for his crimes, and agrees to having the story of all of this printed in both the English and French Wizarding papers, with the acknowledgment that it was only a small portion of the Weasley family that did this, and that the others were tricked and fooled, along with a listing of his full crimes and punishments, then and only then will we allow anything else other than the death penalty now. We recognize that some details will have to be left out for the official secrets act, but surely there is enough there to make his shame be known."
Bill looked at Harry, his facial expression showing true fear at what the answer to this would be. And he had reason to worry, but Harry was already on top of this, "Know that I'm not trying to lessen your demands in any way, but would you permit the French Papers first run, delayed by one month, followed by the Commonwealth's two weeks later? The only reason I ask is not to mitigate the damage done to Ronald Weasley, but to mitigate inadvertent damage to those you appear to not want to damage. You see, there is currently no accountability in the Commonwealth's media right now. They can, and have on a fairly regular basis, taken true facts, and sometimes complete fiction, and twisted it to print an article they presented as fact. I sense you would see the damage done to Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Fred, and George Weasley kept to a minimum, while punishing the guilty and making people leery of the ones still free, correct?" At Hermione's and her mother's nods, he nods back. "If we published tomorrow and held of from the Commonwealth press, the Daily Prophet would still get hold of the article and twist it in such a way to make all Weasleys appear to be in on it. I need that month and a half to make sure that does not happen. Will you give me that time?"
Mr. Granger looked to the women in his life and sighed. "Your Grace, I appreciate the fine line you walk, and feel for you right now. I think we both understand one another in what we'd rather do in this case. I can afford to be petty and vindictive, you cannot. I know without asking both of the ladies in my house agrees with your counter proposal, while I personally want little to do with anything Weasley ever again. My apologies, William." Bill nodded at that, fully understanding where the man was coming from. "But like you, I must bow to my mandates, in this case my wife and my daughter. Therefore I agree. But if that little shite so much as breaths the "N" in no again, I will call for a champion for our honor. I beg of you William, convince your brother. For if he refuses this time, only death will satisfy us."
Harry spared a glance over at Ron, and though Ron looked pale and a little sick, he was also looking like he was going to stand his ground. "Very well. William Weasley, Heir of House Weasley, you have 10 minutes to convince your brother away from this stance. If you succeed, then he will serve no less than 75 years imprisoned here, half that time in hard labor, and undergoing rehabilitation. If, after that 75 years he proves to licensed, independent mind healers that he is over all of this, and he makes the aforementioned oath, then he will be allowed monitored freedom until he dies. If not, he will spend life in prison. Those are now his two choices. He might as well get used to the fact that he has lost, and we will get what we want, one way or another."
Seeing that Ron is just about at the end of his ropes, and realizing from his training that he is about to jump up and attack, Harry quickly adds, "If he makes one hostile action to anyone here, he will be bound, we use force to get what we need, and he will die not even 10 minutes later. Do not test me on this." Inside Harry felt sick, he really did not want to do this, but he has now been pushed into a corner. In the Muggle world they would still have a trial, he knew. Also, he would have had to put the role of judge and/or juror into somebody else's hands. And that they were not having one weighed on him heavily, for it reminded him too much of Sirius. But Harry witnessed it himself just now. The guards here were much better than Azkaban's and would not be fooled by polyjuice or imperius, so he had to accept Ron's words as an admission of guilt. What truly sickened him is that Ron seemed proud of what he had done! He spared a glance over toward Hermione even as Fleur and Gabrielle were supporting him telepathically, and saw her looking at him in a way he'd never seen before. She looked... fearful? Reticent? He wasn't sure, but he knew it was not the time or place to ask. Instead he inwardly sighed, only being prevented from assuming the worst by his bond mates.
But Hermione saw Harry's expression, and guessed correctly at his first thoughts. But she was too ensconced between her parents to move. Instead she shook her head and gave him a warm smile, mouthing "thank you," to him authoritatively with fresh tears in her eyes. Harry sighed and smiled back, resolving in his mind to talk about it to her later. He then looked over to Bill and Ron, and saw Bill talking very animatedly toward Ron. Ron was looking less belligerent than before, but was still appearing to not budge. He then looked at the clock and noticed 8 minutes had passed. Finally he turned to his wives and talked to them telepathically. 'I don't want to have to kill my best friend.'
'Oh Harry,' Fleur sent as he wrapped her arm around his back one-handed. 'I'm sorry you have to go through this. If I could do anything to take this burden off of you, I would. I know this grates on your morals, and your sense of honor is conflicting with them. But really, you're doing the right thing. I hate that it is turning out this way. I may not like Ron, but I do like Hermione, and she is being torn apart by this. I think she'll need her Best Friend tonight.'
Harry didn't even want to go over the implications of that, so he cleared his mind of it and then shook his head. 'I'll be there for her as much as she'll let me Fleur, but I doubt very seriously she wants me to try to get into her knickers right now. That will have to wait. But I'll give her as much emotional support as she can stand. I hate what this is doing to her more than I hate what this is forcing me to do. I considered him my brother. I don't want to kill my brother!'
Gabrielle got up and put both arms around her bond mate, propriety be damned. "It's a'right 'Arry," she said sadly, squeezing him tightly. "I know this hurts." Telepathically she said, 'Did you ever think that if you showed him how much this was hurting you it might help? Don't look now, but both William and Ronald are looking at me. Go along for a moment, I have a feeling about this. Trust me.'
Harry did trust Gabrielle and nods his head minutely before sighing aloud. "I hope so Gabby. It's just... I don't understand why it has to be this way. I really don't." Inwardly Harry says, 'Because he's a jealous prat that can't even see the forest, much less the trees. And unfortunately its that jealousy that's killing him. I would have given anything to have a family like he had. But he had to get greedy.'
"'Arry, 'e does not understand 'ow much value you put on family. You, who 'ad nothing but abusive relatives, would do anything to keep t'em safe. 'E endangers 'is for 'is own desires and pride," Fleur responds openly. 'I agree on the greed part. He doesn't appear to care about anyone other than himself. Let's stop this now, they seem to be more animated in their discussion.'
Harry straightened up, nodding as he returned to his seat. He decided to not keep to the time schedule exactly, and allowed them a few more minutes. Finally Ron slumped in defeat, nodding. The brothers separated, returning to their chairs. Ron slumped into his seat rather petulantly before speaking. "Fine, the kno... Hermione can have what she needs. You're siding with her anyway, and quite frankly I don't care any more. We're through. I'll take the imprisonment, if for no other reason than I never have to see you again."
Harry worked hard to keep a scowl off of his face, but took it in stride as he had achieved what they needed, and what they wanted. "Ronald Bilius Weasley. Having confessed of your crimes before the Crown's Representative, Harry Duke of Gryffindor, Crown Prince to the Throne of the United Kingdom's Magical Commonwealth, I pass judgment on your crimes. In all crimes save treason, I find you guilty as charged. In the crime of treason, I find you guilty with mitigating circumstances. Under my oaths as a Knight of the Realm and the laws of the land, I hereby sentence you to life imprisonment with a possibility of parole in 75 years. Should after those 75 years a panel of 3 independent, licensed mind healers find you to be no longer a threat to human life, you will be released upon swearing never to approach the Crown of either the magical or non-magical thrones as well as Hermione Granger and all publicly acknowledged close friends and or relatives by blood, adoption, or marriage. The only exclusions will be lawful business before either Crown or Ms. Granger, or upon being called upon by either. At all other times you are to keep a 1 mile distance from these individuals. Do you understand these conditions."
Harry could tell this was grating on Ron deeply, but by some miracle he managed to keep his temper. "Yes... Your... G...grace."
"Very well. Your prison time will be at your current facility, here. The first half of your 75 year sentence will be in hard labor. During this time you will undergo rehabilitation training. Thus I have proclaimed, thus it shall be. With this Harry rose up, nodding to the guards to take him away. Once the guards had Ron well in hand, Harry turned and strode to the door, intent upon leaving as quickly as possible. He did not say another word, verbally or telepathically, the entire way home.
Delacour Family Estate
Hermione loved her parents very much, but they were polar opposites sometimes. Her mother, Emma, was perhaps the most laid back of mothers out there. Her father on the other hand was protective of her, if not over-protective. Still, they were her rock through all of this mess. She simply could believe Ron! She had figured out when he first blackmailed her at Hogwarts he wasn't what he had appeared to be. But to hear him today broke her heart. She just couldn't understand how she could be so bad at reading his character. Normally she was very good at that.
After assuring her parents that she was fine, she went up to her room feigning exhaustion, though it wasn't too much of a lie. Without so much as a thought she pulled out one of her skimpier negliges and slipped on after disrobing. She had put the flag up for no visitors as she really did not want to have anyone see her cry, and boy did she have one coming. She wasn't comfortable showing such emotions in front of the Veela sisters, even if she had been on the edge the entire time. They were just too new for her, and despite the little voice in her head that sounded an awful lot like her grand-mum telling her to trust them, she just couldn't bring herself to do so yet, at least not fully. Thus she couldn't go to them.
Her mum and dad, as much as she loved them, were also out. She couldn't believe she used that kind of language in front of them. Much less talked about having sex in front of them. This only proved to her that she was under considerable emotional stress, which she needed to relieve. And even though they were very supportive beyond their initial reactions, with everything tied up and jumbled up together she just didn't feel comfortable enough to talk about it right now. She knew she would later, but not right now.
With the elder Delacours being out for the same reason as the Veela Sisters, that left Harry. Now there was a fine pickle. She considered herself to be a very smart, logical young woman. She was at the top of her year, she had near total recall of everything she ever read, and she was, despite what Pavarti and Lavender always alleged, a well balanced woman. Just because she didn't let her activities be known to all and sundry did not make her a prude. In fact, she considered herself to be quite a bit more adventurous than her dorm mates, just less experienced, if even half of the rumors were to be believed. She had long ago read books such as "The Joy of Sex" and its companion book, the Kama Sutra (translated, for she was not quite fluent in Hindu yet), and several other books and magazines. Her parents were the type to think of sex as natural, and weren't afraid to answer questions. At the age of 12 she was given, under an assumed name of course, a subscription to Playgirl and a couple of other such magazines by her mother. She just did a good job of glamoring the magazines while at Hogwarts.
All of this meant she was a well rounded, adventurous woman who, while very much inexperienced, knew what she liked. At least, that's what she thought. But with her two boys as they were, she suddenly found herself questioning that. Ron just completely threw her for a loop. Her judgment of his character was so far off, it just wasn't fair. How could she have been so blind! As she thought back, she could remember all the fights they had when they first started Hogwarts. Not to mention the troll incident! Why did she not run screaming from Ron to begin with? How did he fool her for so long. Her question of why was supposed to relieve the feelings of guilt over that failed relationship, but instead for some reason it only heightened her anxiety. It was absolutely infuriating!
Of course, once she thought about it she knew why she stuck near Ron. Harry. Harry Bloody Potter. How that man both infuriated her and at the same time endeared her she'll never know. The school work she could understand. Believe it or not, and most people chose not, her end-all and be-all was NOT studying. Yes, she was a bibliophile. She freely admitted it, and made no pretenses otherwise. But books could be wrong, no matter how much she pretended to be otherwise. The books that she clung to that were later proven wrong came recommended to her by so-called experts in books. Thus she stuck strongly to them, for they were both a refuge and an invaluable resource that didn't laugh at her for not knowing everything.
For Harry, she had long ago proven her suspicion that school work was just another way or reason for his family to torture him. She could tell before her first Christmas that he was abused. The signs were obvious. She still remembered crying in her mother's arms when she got home and they discussed school. She wanted him out of there, he was too good a person, to noble a boy, to be with that filth. Her parents told her exactly what she needed to find to get him free of that place, and she spent all the next term collecting it. She had thought she had it all in her trunk. But when her parents asked for it, and she went to retrieve it, it was all gone! Her parents found her up in her room crying, and soon joined her when she told them what had happened. She spent each term of each year, save the end of their fifth year, gathering evidence, only to have it disappear somewhere en route. She never could figure it out, until it was explained to her what was going on. In a word: Dumbledore. So Harry wasn't at fault for his grades, they were a product of his forced environment.
No, what really infuriated her about Harry wasn't grades, it wasn't even his "saving people thing." That got /her/ saved after all. No, what got under her skin about Harry was his ability to "go with the flow." Situations that would have her in tears with exasperation he just strode right on through as if it didn't even matter. Take this latest development in his life, and part of the reason for her all-over-the-place emotional state, for example.
Not only did the Boy-Who-Lived wake up one morning to find he had two Veela mates, literally, but not even a short time later he found out he was the last of some great warrior race, he was part Veela himself, and he was a Duke. A Duke of all things! And not just any duke, oh no... he was to be the next titular ruler of the Magical Commonwealth of the United Kingdoms! And beyond a brief one hour overload session, he just rolled with it like it was nothing! Yes, she supposed he had to be used to the strange and unusual happening to him with alarming frequency, but that didn't mean he had to look so in control, handsome, and undaunted by it! She only wished she could take everything that has changed in her life so well...
She rested her hand on her stomach, feeling the slight bulge there. Her whole world fell apart when she was told she was pregnant. And truth be told, she didn't believe them at first. She never had sex before after all, and immaculate conception was supposed to be God purview, right? She really didn't know what to think about God herself. Her parents were only nominally religious, and often went to church just to appease the neighbors. She herself had stopped going after that incident with the preacher after her first year.
No, getting into an argument over his "witchcraft" sermon that sorely tempted her to break the International Statues of Secrecy convinced her parents, in a rather public way, that perhaps it was best if Hermione never went back to that church again. And after a long talk with her parents over the course of the following week, they decided that she would, publicly at least, follow a new age religion called "Wicca." Add a few pieces of quartz and cheap semi-precious stones, and she really didn't have to hide much. And the books they found on the subject were not only misleading, but informative, at least in a scholastic way. So after using non-magical ways to cover the books, anyone coming upon her "Standard book of Spells book" would see a cover of some kind of Wicca spell book. Tonks took one look at the setup before their fifth year and laughed so hard it took her ten minutes to get back up. A week later she got a card proclaiming that her setup passed the "Muggleworthy Excuse Committee Guidelines."
No, religion had never been a problem, and thus the morals that went with the Christian religions really didn't play much here. It wasn't in any way really sinful, but it was, in both her and her parents' minds, far too early for this. And she had no idea what abortions would do in a normal magical pregnancy, so that stopped her from doing anything until after the Unspeakables had told them aborting it would kill her. That was, of course, long after they recovered from the shock over the very idea of doing such a thing. Children were far too prized in the magical world, even if society turned their backs on them for things that weren't in any way their faults.
And if that weren't enough, while they were still reeling from the "no abortion" clause, they told her that "the father" was told what was needed for her to carry the baby safely. This of course nearly caused the Unspeakables to require beds in the very infirmary she was resting int, especially when they wouldn't tell her what was required. They only said to talk to her "boyfriend," as he had asked to be the one to tell her. Then he dropped the bomb on her. He told her point blank that Harry nearly got her killed by dragging them to London, and if she wanted to live, she would reject Harry. She was furious, and wanted to hex him into oblivion, but Ginny, who was right by him, told her if she did they wouldn't help her and she'd die. Hermione tried to argue with them, but Ron cut her off with the threat that if she said another word against them he'd cut her off, and she'd die. At that point and time, she was certain that she didn't even know Ron at that point. But she saw the futility of trying to stop them, so she folded.
Those days were the most horrible she had ever experienced. The lowest point was Harry's threat: turn on him now and he'd never forgive them. That threat devastated her. It caused another long argument in an empty classroom between her and Ginny that resulted in her medicine being a day late. That day was absolute agony for her. Little did she know that the pain was from the baby coming out of stasis and tearing at her from inside. Ron showed up the next day before they left for the train with a warning, "Argue with us again, and you'll die. I don't want you to die Hermione, but you're not being sane about what's best for you. Don't you understand? Stay with Harry, and you'll die. Please stay away from him." And then he forcefully kissed her before handing her the vial. "I need you," he said quietly before leaving for the days activities.
Then there was the confrontation on the train with Harry. Hermione didn't understand what they were doing. They kept telling her to disavow her friendship with him, but at the same time they wouldn't leave him alone. It wasn't until later, when Ron's letters started to get more and more possessive, and his insistence that she join him at the Burrow grew stronger, that she understood. They were setting Ginny up to be with Harry, and she had been promised to Ron. That was when Professor McGonagall showed up and started helping her.
Then Gabrielle had shown up at the front door, looking ready at a moment's notice to hex her. At first Hermione could not understand why the little, or not so little, Veela acted that way, but it was obvious she was very upset at something, but the English witch could not figure out what. Her eyes promised great amounts of pain toward Hermione if she did not get the answers she was wanting to hear. Those eyes were soon joined by her words when Hermione had to refuse at first to tell the younger Veela what exactly was going on. But when Gabrielle turned into that avian form and started holding blue balls of fire, Hermione knew she had to talk. By the end of it both girls were crying, and Gabrielle promised to help after apologizing for being so heavy handed. She did not know, after all, if the Granger house was being watched. Hermione knew then that Gabrielle would do anything for Harry, even intimidate his best friends into talking. On some level that comforted her immensely.
The letter from Gringotts was the only letter she received after that, and it did little to settle her nerves. Then the will reading, and all that went on with it drove her nearly mad. But Harry was there, just like usual. She couldn't do the lie any more, and thus was very happy when he intervened. She couldn't even remember much about what happened after the battle was done and she and her parents were brought to France, all that she knew is that she eventually went to bed with a million questions.
The next morning she got up and tried to find Harry to ask her questions, only to be caught in his allure. She had never even considered him that way before! Not that she did right then either, for she never could open the door. No Apolline found her on the floor masturbating herself, and at that point she didn't even care that she was caught! She couldn't even begin to look Harry in the eye, then. Not only because she was caught masturbating outside their door, but because she was thinking of Harry doing things to her while she was. Thankfully the girls knew what to do, and with the talk they had with her they managed to make her a little less mortified.
But all that disappeared when she saw Ron sitting in that prison, smug as you please. She couldn't believe he thought that little of her. It was then she snapped, and she did something she almost never did, she used language that would make a sailor blush, in front of her parents no less! She knew she was shocking everyone, but at that point she was broken, and just didn't care any more. She wasn't even upset when Harry threatened his life. At that point, the Golden Trio was no more, and Ron cost her everything, including Harry. She just knew that Harry would never be as close to her as he once was again. Ron forced her to burn that bridge, and Harry was not one to forgive betrayal easily. Honest mistakes, or mistakes made to protect him, yes, he'd forgive those. But out and out betraying him like she was forced to do? Not hardly.
This thought brought on a fresh wave of tears which caused her to hug the pillow she was holding even more tightly than before. Her life as she knew it was over. Ron and some of the Weasleys were never what she thought, portraying an illusion of what never was. Harry was with two beautiful women and had to deal with her betrayal of him. Even if she was worth forgiving, why would he? After all that happened, why would he need to?
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. It wasn't the tentative knock of her father, nor the slightly more sure of herself knock of her mother. And it definitely wasn't Harry's. "Who is it?" she called, looking up from the pillows.
"Hermione, its Fleur, can Gabrielle and I come in?" Fleur's voice echoed from the opposite side of the door.
"I'm not really in the mood for company. Besides, I'm sure Harry needs you right now. You should be with him." For some reason she couldn't keep a slightly bitter tone out of her voice just now, which caused her to blush a bit.
"Hermione, please let us in. Harry asked us to come," Gabrielle said in a slightly worse French accent that seemed even less than it was before.
'The bond must be really improving their English,' Hermione couldn't help to think reflexively. Then the part of Harry sending them penetrated her mind. She quickly tried to dry off her eyes before calling for them to come in. But she could tell the moment she looked into their eyes she wasn't fooling anyone.
Gabrielle, the more tactile of the two, almost ran up to her and threw her arms around Hermione, which nearly caused her to break into tears again. But unfortunately for her, or maybe fortunately, Fleur joined them in the hug. This was more than the bushy-haired witch could take before breaking down in tears again. They didn't say anything at first, opting instead to merely hug her and let her cry. Finally Hermione's tears slowed, which gave Gabrielle a chance to speak. "I'm sorry Hermione, that must have been the most 'orrible experience anyone could ever have on top of all that you've been through. No one blames you for blowing up at that... bâtard. In fact, your father thought you went too easy on him."
Hermione gave a snort of disbelief at Gabrielle's statement while Fleur gave a snort of derision. "Gabrielle Delacour, what did we tell you about calling people names? If you're going to do it, do it right. Otherwise you're insulting the bâtards of the world. How ever did you put up with him for five years?"
The English witch couldn't help but to giggle at Fleur's antics and finally said, "I must have become blind," she replied. "Either that or I wanted to be around Harry so much I'd put up with anything." What she didn't realize when she said it was that her tone said more than she had wanted.
This of course was not lost on either Delacour. The sisters looked at each other for a moment, silently communicating before Gabrielle spoke up first. "Hermione, you know that Harry is soul bonded to the both of us, non?"
Hermione's hand went up to her mouth in horror as the tears started to flow again. "I'm so SORRY! I'm not trying to cut in between you three... I could never..." With this she broke down into a sob again and threw herself into her pillow. "You must hate me!"
The younger sister nodded to the older and slipped out of bed for a moment to go to the bushy-haired witch's dresser to find something. Fleur in the meantime gently picked the crying girl up in her arms and hugged her. "Non, we don't hate you. We know you'd never do that. You're too honest. Besides, remember that he is a Veela now. We're Veela. We know all too well the reaction most members of the opposite sex have toward Veela, male or female. We're just thankful that you are largely immune."
"But I'm not!" Hermione nearly wailed. "You're mother... she caught me..." She flushed red even as the tears fell harder, unable to say what happened.
"Mama caught you giving yourself pleasure outside our door," Gabrielle finished for her. "We smelled it as we came down to breakfast, but didn't say anything. But that doesn't mean you're not immune. That means something entirely different." She finally found something, one of Hermione's skimpier nightgowns. "This will have to do, I suppose. We need a girl's day out for shopping."
Fleur nodded in agreement to both of her younger sister's points. "Oui, we do. Hermione, you've seen how boys act around me with my allure turned on, right?" At the witch's nod she continued. "It works the same way in a male Veela's case with the girls. They go stupid, and try to please Harry in whatever way they think would be the best. You don't do that."
"No I just get horny," Hermione spat out, agreeing with her. "That's why I can't be immune. It's not that I don't have a reaction, just an atypical one."
"Non," Gabrielle spoke up as she approached the bed again. "I would be willing to bet if we stood you in the living room with everyone surrounding you and asked Harry to let his allure go, you would just stand there, dry as anything. It's not the allure that's causing that. It's something else dealing with Veela. Do you remember what we told you about "Best Friends?" I know we went over that in our discussions about Veela."
"Veela are magical beings closely related to humans who's entire physiology is based around love and anger. They are beings of extremes with both emotions, though love governs a greater portion of their lives. They are more affectionate toward loved ones and friends. Furthermore they often meet the people that will eventually be known as "Best Friends" at a quite young age, then eventually move on to have sexual relations with them, much like the exploratory "playing doctor" of childhood, save more intimate. They develop deeply emotional bonds with these people for their entire lives, even after meeting their true mates. Outside of these people, and their mates and families, they are faithful. This did not happen with Harry quite the way it normally does because his magic was sealed by his parents in order to keep him from being further ostracized by his peers. Or worse yet, having all the strange sensations and ideas show up with no one to help guide him." Hermione spoke up, still not understanding how Harry was involved in what they were talking about, and wondering if they meant what she thought they did.
Fleur looked back at Gabrielle and rolled her eyes. "Hermione, Gabrielle and I are Veela. There's no such thing as a 'part Veela.' There's Veela, and there's everyone else. Harry is also Veela. Of course he's also a Dracomagus and a human shape-shifting Magi as well, but those are irrelevant for this discussion. He's a Veela. And as a Veela he has "Best Friends" just as we do. Our magic does something quite different with our "Best Friends" than it does with everyone else. It makes us, and them, more sensual... I believe you call it "touchy feely?""
Hermione's eyes scrunched together as she started to put the pieces together before she exclaimed, "But I'm not... Ron always was..."
"Harry never quite saw it that way Hermione," Gabrielle said as she tried to pull Hermione up. Once the bewildered witch was up, she started to get her to take off her pajamas in favor of the nightgown. "First, if it were anyone else other than Harry, then I would have said that he probably did see Ron as a potential "Best Friend." His reaction to Ron's betrayal would be indicative enough. Veela for the most part don't care about the genders of their "Best Friends" after all. But this is Harry, who is very, very, heterosexual and also a Dracomagus. Like the dragons they are partially descended from, they can be very vicious in their tempers and even more vicious in matters of betrayal. They're very loyal to those they care about, and will protect them at any cost. Remind you of anyone today?"
Hermione could only nod, as that described Harry to a tee. It all fit there, and made behavior that she had thought she'd never see out of Harry quite reasonable. Fleur, apparently seeing that the bushy-haired witch saw the point moved on. "So Ron is out of that contention. But he has done everything in his power to protect you. Even threatening, very sincerely I might add, his former "brother's" life, manhood, and family. Neither Gabrielle nor I were in danger there. The only one in serious danger was you, Hermione. And he protected you with everything he had and didn't have. He even went against his own sense of fairness, and tore himself to pieces in telling Ron there would not be a trial for him. That part was a lie by the way."
"What do you mean? Ron could be set free?" Hermione exclaimed, very frightened by that thought.
"Non. You might have noticed a few people there who were dressed as guards but weren't exactly the type?" At Hermione's nod she smiled and continued. "No one outside of him, the Warden, and those people knew this, but those people were his jury. A jury of Ronald's peers. Harry was wearing a bracelet that let him know their thoughts, some very advanced charm work. And he used his occlumency to keep it from us. They found him guilty. Ronald had his trial, though he never knew it. And Harry should be finishing the last of the paperwork on it just now."
Hermione could only stand there with her mouth agape. "That's... that's... that's absolutely Slytherin of him! Whatever made him come up with that idea?"
"Our father," Gabrielle said aloud. "Papa is a consummate politician. He could point right at what people would think if Harry arbitrarily passed judgment. The Weasleys for the most part would understand, and Ginevra and Mrs. Weasley would be too afraid of Harry doing that very thing to them to protest. But the British Government could and would take exception. But Harry needed Ron to believe he was being judged by the crown. Otherwise something would have been left uncovered, and we would all still be in danger. But we are getting off the topic, oui?"
"Oui," Fleur replied. "Harry did all of this for one person that was still threatened by them. Who was that?"
"Me," Hermione said quietly. "Are you trying to imply that I fall into that "Best Friend" category? I wouldn't... I'd never... I can't come in between the three of you like that! But wouldn't that stunt his growth? That would cause him to have even more emotional problems than he has now!"
"NON!" Gabrielle shouted, grabbing Hermione by the shoulders and forcing the English witch to look into her eyes. "Oui, you are solidly in the "Best Friend" category where Harry is concerned. But no, you are not coming in between the three of us. Bill is not coming in between the three of us, and he's one of Fleur's "Best Friends." We had, when we first talked things through, decided we would hold off seeking "Best Friends" for him for a while so we could work on us. We decided, for at least the first year, that we'd keep to the three of us. But things change, I believe the saying goes, and today changed a couple of things."
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked, totally confused.
"Harry is hurting," Fleur said succinctly. "He tore himself apart today, tearing out a part of his heart so that the rest of it could live. He, through absolutely no fault of yours, was put between two people that not too long ago he called his best friends. He did love Ron, but as a brother. He thought he loved you as a sister. That was before his Veela side awakened though. Now... it is different. But he did himself great emotional damage. Damage neither Gabrielle nor I can cure."
"And he's worried about you Hermione," Gabrielle said, sounding vulnerable. "Today decimated three lives. Ron's, Harry's, and yours. Fleur is right, we can't heal him from this. While we share his soul, it was the soul itself that was damaged. We can only keep him functioning, keep it from spreading. Because we share his soul we too are damaged. There's only one person that can help him Hermione. That person is you. You are torn up as well. I can tell Ron nearly destroyed your self worth. Harry saw that, and that's a big part of what has him worried. You think that because Ron turned on you like this, because he lied to you all these years, you don't have any friends do you?"
"I... I was thinking that, yes. Harry scared me today. I know he didn't do it on purpose, and my mind knows he'd never hurt me... but what I saw today brings back his words at the school at the end of the year. He told one of our professors that he was tired of the betrayals. That if we walked away and didn't talk to him about it, he would not be willing to take us back when we did. I had thought, until you showed up, that I lost him because of that slimy excuse of pond scum," Hermione said with new tears.
"When I gave your letter to Harry and told him that it was true, he became very worried about you. He was still hurt, but we both could tell that was fading fast," Gabrielle explained as she drew the brown-haired witch into a hug.
"He came to grips with it before the will reading," Fleur added as she remained on the bed. "And I could tell when he saw you at that reading a part of him broke inside. He still kicks himself for not having faith in you."
"Unrealistic? Unreasonable? You're right, it is. But we can't tell him that. Only you can," Gabrielle interrupted. "Those filthy Muggles nearly broke him. He has the patience of a saint in some ways, and he's extremely tough in others, but a person can only take so much. Everyone has a breaking point, just some are further than others. Today was very nearly Harry's. He'll come back, but he needs help. He needs his "Best Friend." And you need him. And neither one of us," she added, pointing between her and Fleur, "can ignore that fact."
"So we told him tonight the same thing we're about to tell you. Our original deal still stands. But it does not count where you are concerned. We didn't seek out a "Best Friend" for him, fate dropped you into our family. You're not part of our soul bond, but you are part of those privileged few that are in orbit around us, loved deeply by one, loved all around otherwise." Fleur said, getting off of the bed to put her hands on Hermione's shoulders. "We know you won't abuse it, but you will get an option that none of our other "Best Friends" are getting. Join us in our bed tonight, and for at least the next few. We don't need to have sex, but you and Harry need to spend time in each other's arms, working things out. If you don't, no-one is going to like where we end up."
"But..." Hermione started.
Gabrielle put her finger on Hermione's lips and shakes her head. "You are not putting us out. You are not driving yourself in between us, and you are not putting yourself where you are not wanted. We're asking you to join us Hermione. Please, for Harry's sake, join us?"
Hermione ran out of arguments, knowing that if they were saying something was wrong with Harry, it couldn't be disputed. Sighing, she nodded and then smiled a watery smile. Fleur smiled as well, grabbed Hermione's hand, and led her out of her room.
A/N: A special thank you to Brigrove for betaing this for me. This chapter could not have been easy for him, as I missed a lot on my Alpha Edit. I hope you all enjoy this. Thank you for reading.