Summer of '92
Harry Potter, first year Ravenclaw student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was dead on his feet. He must have looked like an Inferius to the rest of Hogwarts, so tired was he right now…
It was the day after he spotted Pettigrew on the map in Gryffindor tower and he was walking, more like slouching actually, through the hallways of Hogwarts at that moment. He had barely gotten any sleep yesterday, not having been able to close his eyes for more than a half hour before he had to check the map again to verify what he saw.
When he was sure of his observations, the gears in his mind went into overdrive once more and the young Ravenclaw started the thought-process all over.
'Peter Pettigrew is on the map, therefore he is alive and not a ghost because ghosts are clearly not shown on the map. Peter Pettigrew is alive, therefore Sirius Black did not kill Pettigrew that day ten years ago. Why didn't Peter come out of hiding when Sirius was captured? What has he got to hide?' This line of thought went on for a few minutes ending up in some rather unlikely speculations before Harry shook off the conjecture and went back to facts.
'Peter Pettigrew is in the Gryffindor tower at this very moment. He is alive and not running so he is clearly not worried about being caught. Why is he in the Gryffindor tower in the first place? How did he get there? Why hasn't he been found if he's so in the open?' It took a while before the young boy came to his next conclusion which brought even more questions than answers. 'They were all animagi! Peter must be in his rat-form!… He's exactly on the spot of where Ronald Weasley usually sleeps so he must be either on or hiding under the bed… Why? And why there?'
Unfortunately, Harry couldn't think of anything beyond that. His upbringing, sense of hygiene and general revulsion of rats didn't allow him to understand or even suggest in his mind that someone could keep a rat as a house pet, as was the case with Ronald Weasley. However he was reasonably sure of one thing which was that the map didn't lie. Therefore, he was certain Peter Pettigrew was alive and hiding in the Gryffindor first-year boys' dorm at that very moment.
His mind had briefly entertained the idea that the Weasley twins might have found a way to deceive the map and were trying to prank him this way but Harry dismissed it shortly after. Remus had explained once that the map was somehow connected to the wards of Hogwarts and would be impossible to deceive by anyone other than the Headmaster of the school. This was one of the many reasons that the Marauders never showed the map to anyone else because it could negate one of its main purposes.
Still, a glance at the Gryffindor table the next morning during breakfast confirmed his dismissal of the fleeting suspicion simply because the twins weren't wearing their anticipating faces, not even attempting to conceal it. They had been looking a bit subdued to Harry, which was probably caused by the same reason that kept him awake all day.
It started in the morning when Ronald Weasley was spouting out some exaggerated story about how Neville Longbottom had fought off an evil Dark wizard the night before. Combining that with the fact that the famous Boy-who-lived was absent during breakfast, lunch and all of his classes, made the rumors spread around the school almost faster than the new Nimbus racing broom was able to fly. Harry had trouble separating the embellishments from the real story and vaguely wondered the whole day what had actually happened.
Apparently, Hermione Granger had been lying in wait that night down in the common room because she suspected that Gryffindor's resident idiots might go to the forbidden third floor corridor. They thought that they would go and protect the Philosopher's Stone (Harry had to fake a look of surprise once he heard about the item) from Professor Snape who was, according to them, waiting for Dumbledore to leave the school. Granger, after some arguing, followed them to prove that the stone wasn't in any danger of being stolen because "Professor Snape would never do anything like that."
According to the grapevine, when they arrived at the scene, they found the protections disturbed and went ahead to check it out. From there on out, the story became too unrecognizable for Harry to even consider it being genuine because of his knowledge of the real 'defenses'. He did manage to make out that one; the stone had not been retrieved ('Duh! That's because it's sitting in my trunk…..') due to the last 'protection' having been destroyed by the Dark wizard which apparently obliterated the stone, and two; Neville Longbottom had been hurt severely enough to have to stay overnight in the Hospital wing.
Harry couldn't help but notice the irony there that by failing to come out of it unharmed, Longbottom managed to come across as even more heroic instead of foolish (to go after an adult wizard in the first place) and incompetent (he got hurt, didn't he?). That, combined with the fact that he miraculously recovered quickly enough before dinner, made the rumors only escalate even further…..
When Harry finally arrived in the Great Hall for the End-of-Term feast, almost everyone else was already seated at their respective tables. Many of the students seemed to be talking in hushed whispers while occasionally glancing towards the Gryffindor table. Harry chose to ignore it and headed for the Ravenclaw table, taking a seat next to Kevin while giving a grateful nod to the Muggle-born for keeping a seat open.
It was impossible to overlook the Slytherin colors of green and silver with which the Hall was currently decorated with. Behind the staff table was even a giant banner showing a serpent in honor of Slytherin House winning the house cup. While looking around, Harry quickly spotted Neville Longbottom at the Gryffindor table, looking a bit pale but otherwise seemingly unharmed. A short glance down the staff table revealed a suspiciously absent chair for an equally absent Professor Quirrell.
Everyone slowly quieted down when Dumbledore rose from his seat and started his end-of-year speech.
"Another year gone!" The headmaster spoke cheerfully. "And starting tomorrow, you will all have the chance once again to empty your minds during the summer." He said with a grandfatherly smile on his face.
"But for now, the house cup needs awarding and the points stand thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor, with seven hundred and seventeen points; in third, Hufflepuff, with seven hundred and forty-one; for Ravenclaw, eight hundred and three points and Slytherin house has eight hundred and sixty-six points!"
Slytherin House burst with applause and many students stood up during the ovation for themselves. A few students at the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw table clapped politely, including Harry who was happy for Blaise and Daphne even though he couldn't care less about the cup, but the Gryffindors were sulking over their loss. Dumbledore however kept standing and, after the noise quieted down a bit, made shushing motions so that he could continue.
"However," the pause here made Harry roll his eyes about the Headmaster's flair for dramatics. "Recent events have to be taken into account, and therefore I have a few last-minute points to hand out." Another pause, however this one generated complete silence from the crowd.
"First….. To Hermione Granger, I award forty points, for her unwavering trust in the faculty and the cool use of logic in the face of fire."
The young Muggle-born girl received a polite applause while she hid her face in her hands. It seemed she still wasn't fully accepted in her house.
"Second….. To Ronald Weasley, for the best game of chess Hogwarts has seen in a long time, I award him, fifty points." Dumbledore stated.
Harry watched as the youngest Weasley boy seemed to inflate with self-importance while his face still managed to turn the same colour as his hair. Students at the Gryffindor table cheered loudly for the first-year that managed to score so many points with a game.
"And last….. For standing up against evil with outstanding courage, I award Neville Longbottom, sixty points." Harry's mouth fell open in disbelief, figuring it out quickly. "This means, if I'm not mistaken, that we need a change of decorations. Congratulations Gryffindor House!" Dumbledore announced and with a flick of his wand, the banner changed to show a lion and the colors switched to Gryffindor red and gold.
The Gryffindors went wild at their table when they realized they had won the house cup, while most Slytherins were looking at Dumbledore with menacing looks. Harry was tempted to do the same; even though the majority of the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables were enthusiastically applauding the Gryffindors for their win. He thought it was cruel, the way Dumbledore chose to favour his old house and the Boy-who-lived. He shook his head in disappointment, not even slightly caring who took notice of it.
Soon the next day arrived and before long, the students were on their way to London via Hogwarts Express. Harry, Kevin, Blaise, Daphne and Tracey were sitting together in one compartment, either dozing off out of boredom, reading (in Harry's case) or conversing quietly between each other.
Though Kevin was technically Harry's friend while Daphne and Tracey were Blaise' friends, all of them got along with each other just fine. Their interests and backgrounds varied of course, but there was nothing that prevented them from being sort of friends, like would be the case if one or more were pureblood bigots.
Tonks had departed from the school that morning, choosing to apparate back home from the Hogsmeade station instead of riding on a train all day. Harry smiled a goofy smile as he remembered their goodbye on the platform of Hogsmeade station…..
"Harry?" Tonks called out to him.
The first-year Ravenclaw in question turned around and saw a nervous looking young woman standing before him. As soon as he made out just who had addressed him, a happy smile lit up his face.
"Hi Tonks," Harry replied. "I thought you'd left already when I didn't see you at breakfast. Where were you?"
"I wanted to ask Professor Sprout a few last-minute things about Herbology so I packed my things during breakfast. But I'm apparating home from here and I just wanted to say goodbye to you." Tonks said sadly.
"Oh right…. Though it's not like we won't see each other again, right?" The boy asked, not really knowing what to say.
"Off course we will Harry. I'm going to be very busy though with Auror training the next few months, but I'll make sure to come by the inn sometime. Just promise me one thing?" The Metamorphmagus asked emotionally.
Tonks came closer. "Don't change…." And with that, she kissed Harry softly on the lips.
The young Ravenclaw boy was momentarily stunned at the unexpected gesture and the unfamiliar feeling of a pair of lips touching his own. By the time he recovered, the kiss had ended already and Harry dazedly touched his lips with his fingers. With a questioning look, he turned to the young woman in front of him and said the first thing that came to mind; "Thank you?"
She simply chuckled in reply and gave him one last hug. "You're welcome Harry. Anytime…"
Harry returned the hug with force, savouring the last few seconds of companionship with the older girl in front of him. It wasn't the end of a friendship, but it certainly would be a while before he saw her again.
Thinking of their goodbye made him feel a bit sad as well. He and Tonks had gone through a lot together, both in their friendship and their joint practice of magic. Harry doubted that he would have achieved as much if it wasn't for that run-in on the stairs towards the owlery that day. He probably wouldn't even have completed his Animagus transformation this year, considering the number of hours he had been allowed to practice Human Transfiguration on the Metamorphmagus. All Tonks did those hours was simply sit (or stand) around for him and read books about duelling, usually things that she wanted to practice afterwards.
The young Ravenclaw wondered what her reasoning was behind that kiss. Harry would never admit it out loud but he had definitely fantasized of such a thing happening after the graduation ball…. not while saying goodbye at the Hogsmeade station. It was his first ever kiss, but what did it entail?
Harry shook his head, getting rid of those thoughts. Tonks and he were good friends, nothing more. She was almost seven years older than him and though she was a very beautiful witch, both in her original form and her standard appearance, Harry did not have a crush on her….. 'Not anymore at least,' he thought.
"Back with the living?"
Harry looked up to see Daphne staring at him, obviously expecting a reply of some sort.
"Yeah, sorry about that." He briefly looked down to see his book still lying in his lap and wondered how the girl in front of him knew that he had been lost in his thoughts. His questioning gaze must have been enough, because Daphne answered the unspoken question,
"Your face. You were going through all kind of different emotions plus the fact that your book has been on that same page for the past 25 minutes." The girl said with a soft smile.
"Oh," was all Harry could say to that.
"I suspect we'll be arriving soon, so you might want to wake him up." The Greengrass heiress said with a nod towards Kevin.
Harry looked to his right side a watched as Kevin continued to sleep, undisturbed by the conversations in the compartment. The Muggle-born boy was drooling on his own shoulder, propped up with his head against the window-side of the compartment and looking like he was almost in hibernation.
Harry turned to his friend and decided to do as the girl in front of him suggested, he would soon be home!
"How was your second term at Hogwarts, Mr. Potter?" A voice behind him asked.
Harry didn't have to turn around to know who it was that had addressed him. The deep, accented and cultured voice was easily recognizable but in combination with the fact that the man had approached him soundlessly made the soon-to-be second year Ravenclaw completely certain.
"Jasper!" Harry enthusiastically greeted as he hopped off the bar stool and embraced the now surprised vampire.
It was the evening of the day after Harry had returned from Hogwarts and he had been working on his summer assignments at the bar to keep Remus company. There were just a few late-night patrons in the room that were either quietly conversing with their associates or simply enjoying a nightcap before they planned to turn in.
As an inn/bar, they didn't have an exact closing time. When things turned down for the night, Remus would simply spell the door in such a way that it kept any new customers out and signalled to the remaining customers that he would soon be retiring. They were free to finish their drink in peace, and might even have refills from his elf, Hugo but usually people cleared out quickly enough after.
Something about 'lacking the proper and comfortable atmosphere'….
His werewolf uncle had once tried to explain that a bartender didn't merely provide the customers with their drinks, but the following hour-and-a-half speech was so boring that he fell asleep after the first fifteen minutes. Harry didn't have the heart to tell the man that he couldn't even remember those fifteen minutes…
"So?" The vampire prompted once he was released from the hug. "How was it?"
"It was alright."
"Alright?" Here the man paused for a moment as if thinking of something. "Not 'totally awesome', not 'a bit disappointing' and not even 'rather tiring'?"
Harry smiled, recognizing his own words thrown back at him. He thought for a moment before coming with an appropriate answer.
"It was… rewarding," he said with a grin.
"Ah, I see."
"So what are you really doing here?" Harry asked, thinking it best to stay away from the topic of his Animagus transformation in such a public place. "I doubt that you came all this way just to ask about my school year."
"While my interest in your education was sincere, you are indeed correct..." Jasper started.
"You see, I actually wanted to speak to you before you left on your trip to France. Remus mentioned your plans when he told me that he was looking for some help with the running of the inn while you two were away. However, the moment I let my wife know you had plans to visit my home country, she insisted on inviting you to dinner at our house one evening to get to know you herself."
"You have a wife?" Harry blurted out in response, surprised that the first vampire he met was married and that he hadn't ever heard of it before.
"I do….." The vampire drawled, clearly amused by Harry's reaction to his revelation.
Now that Harry thought about it, the questions he typically asked of Olivier Jasper Moreau were always about vampires in general. Dietary options, sleeping habits, magic usage, etcetera. Never had any sort of question come to him about a personal life that the vampire before him may, or may not have had. And seeing the amusement practically written on Jasper's face, it was clear to Harry that he was an idiot for not thinking of the possibility sooner.
"Well," Harry said, thinking about the invite and looking at Remus behind the bar who nodded once. "I don't see why not….. I'll be safe though, right?"
"I'm sure Clémence will be able to behave herself on behalf of my friends. Even if you are English…." Jasper trailed off, seemingly commenting the last bit to himself.
Harry nodded in acceptance of that. While Jasper had explained many things about vampires, there were still things about them that the Ravenclaw was weary of.
Although vampires were not exactly the bloodthirsty monsters out of horror stories, their need for blood as sustenance was still quite real. Magical blood, that is the blood from witches, wizards and other magical beings, was according to most vampire guests at the bar the best that they ever had. Naturally, Harry wanted to confirm that he wouldn't be the dinner before he accepted such an invitation.
"Then we'll accept." Harry replied firmly. "I'd love to meet the woman who managed to stay settled with you for over a century or however long you have lived."
"Lovely." All Jasper did in response after that was grin at him, showing more than just a bit of his fangs.
It was two weeks after that visit that Harry and Remus arrived at their hotel room in the centre of Paris. The younger of the two seemed to be bouncing with excitement at being in the city of lights while the older seemed to be slightly ill.
"Why exactly did we have to travel by Muggle means? I would have been perfectly happy with an international Portkey, especially after that nightmare we travelled with just this morning." Remus moaned out.
Harry snickered. He simply couldn't help it. His werewolf uncle had been complaining about their trip across the Channel from the moment they had set foot upon French soil. He still couldn't believe the man had gotten seasick within twenty minutes of their departure from Dover, only to have to suffer through it for another hour. Considering they had just had a two-and-a-half hour train journey behind their backs and Remus still wasn't feeling better, well Harry thought it was all rather funny.
"I'm sure your stomach will have settled before dinnertime," the young boy soothed. "Now, can you please enlarge our suitcases so we can change and go explore? And by the way, did you follow the conversation I had with the receptionist down in the lobby? She asked which of my parents was from France because since I spoke it so fluently, one of them had to be from here." Harry said smiling at his accomplishment.
"Yes, yes, we all heard you repeat it loud enough in the lobby so everyone could hear." Remus replied with a sigh while enlarging their luggage with a wave of his wand. "So today we explore, then tomorrow we start with sightseeing throughout the city and then after Tuesday we visit the magical side of Paris, right?"
"That's what I thought would be best. Hogwarts' library didn't have much information on the subject of France but from what little I did find, the fourteenth of July or 'Quatorze Juillet' is solely a Muggle celebration. According to the folder on the ferry, next Tuesday which is the 14th will see the streets of Paris filled with activities," the coming second-year Ravenclaw explained.
"Then it's settled."
"Bienvenue, a Rue de Magie!" Harry called out, imitating his uncle from a few years back when he first got to see Diagon Alley. However, comparing the place they had just entered to its English quaint equivalent was almost impossible to do.
Diagon Alley was accessible through the courtyard behind the Leaky Cauldron, a dark and shabby, unimpressive pub that rented rooms, had several private parlour rooms and a large dining room. The English shopping street behind it stretched out for about half a mile before ending in a split between Knockturn Alley and several other side streets. The shops looked rather old-fashioned with mostly wooden shop fronts and their goods on display both within and outside their stores. Overall it looked like a picturesque village from the early 19th century.
Its French counterpart though was much more impressive. The various access points were plain illusionary buildings that hid the entrance to the shopping centre which were warded against Muggles. At first sight alone, the street was wider, livelier and much more colourful. The stores, for they couldn't be labelled as shops, had large window displays with extra lighting to show off their merchandise, price tags on everything and at least several employees running around rather than just one shopkeeper. The place seemed much larger as well, due to the number of retail stores for shoes, high-end fashion, Muggle fashion, lingerie, etc., instead of just one or two general clothing stores.
But it didn't end there.
Remus and Harry had their eyes almost popping out of their sockets from the sheer number of stores. Instead of just one apothecary, there was also a pharmacy (medical potions, bezoars, anti-venoms), a plant store (fresh plants, seedlings, dragon dung fertiliser), a florist (flowers, delivery service), an animal harvesting store (animal parts, animal harvesting service, live animals for harvesting) and more. There was also both a wand store and a wand crafter, several stores related to flying (a large Quidditch store, a broom store), a few bookstores (second-hand books, general bookstore, rare and antique collectables), jewellery stores and some stores that sold various normal or enchanted items. Along the street were also more than a few cafés/bars/restaurants spread around, such as a coffeehouse, sandwich store, pub, fancy restaurant, you name it.
All-in-all, the French shopping centre made such a good impression on the two that it would become the preferred place to buy their supplies for many years to come.
While Harry and his uncle were exploring the Rue de Magie for their first time, looking every which way to take in the sights and discussing between each other what stores they wanted to check out, another pair of visitors to the commercial street were walking past them.
"Maman, we still have to visit the wandshop for my birthday present," a girl with silvery blond hair said in French.
"And what might we be getting at the wandshop, dear?" The gorgeous woman that was walking next to the girl replied in the same language. If one were listening closely, they would hear the humour in the elder female's voice.
"You already know that I want a wand holster for the duelling course at school this year mother! Plus if we get it now then I can even show it to Jean-Claude at the duelling tournament this Saturday. Papa said he had gotten backstage passes from the Ministry this year and that there was a good chance we might get to meet him." The younger of the two spoke enthusiastically.
"I know Fleur, but we'll go there afterwards if we have the time. First we have to pick up the order for your father and then get you some new robes. The ones you're wearing are still okay but you've outgrown the others in your closet this year." The lady explained patiently.
Remus, with his terrible understanding of the French language, simply couldn't follow the conversation and found it amusing to see the teenage girl stomp her foot like a spoiled little child. It was easy for him to see that the pair was obviously mother and daughter, considering their similar blond hair and beautiful features. The girl, who according to Remus' guess was about fourteen or maybe fifteen, had an attractiveness like her mother that made the werewolf quickly turn away in shame when he realised that he'd just been ogling a teenage girl. A glance to his side that showed his nephew being entranced by the teenage girl confirmed his deduction that they were at least part Veela.
"Huh? What just happened?" Harry asked confusedly. "And whatever I did, did you have to hit me that hard?" He exclaimed while rubbing the back of his head.
"You were staring at that girl like lovesick puppy…. If I hadn't slapped you out of it, you would probably still be on cloud nine about her." Remus explained exasperatedly. "Come on, Romeo. You can ogle teenage girls when you're older."
"Hey! I was not staring! She's just very beautiful, that's all…" Harry trailed off, looking over his shoulder attempting to get another glimpse of the girl while following his uncle.
"I'm sure…." Remus deadpanned. "The fact that she is also part Veela has nothing to do with your sudden enthrallment."
"A Veela? What's that?" The raven haired boy asked.
"Veela are a race of semi-human women that appear to be unnaturally beautiful to others. They have a different kind of magic than our own which doesn't require the use of a wand and they exude an allure that makes men and even some women become mesmerized by them. Like you were just a few seconds ago," Remus told him amusedly.
"So there's nothing you can do about it? I mean, you didn't become all awestruck about them and I'm pretty sure that the woman was the same as the younger girl. Or does that have to do with you being a werewolf?" Harry enquired.
"While I was not as captivated as you were, I assure you I still felt the effects of their charm. I'm not sure whether my being a werewolf has anything to do with it but I know there are some men able to resist it at least to some degree."
"I see." And he did see. There was some characteristic that allowed them to ignore or at least withstand the allure to a degree. Harry didn't know whether it was magical power, some kind of item or even perhaps a genetic trait but it was possible to do. And therefore he reasoned that he could become able to resist it as well. Now, how to approach the other thing he wanted to know…..
"Uh-oh, I know that look. Let me guess, another side-project?" His uncle asked almost hesitantly, like he was afraid of the answer.
"Not exactly, though I wouldn't mind being able to do some extra research about the subject." Harry replied, making Remus sigh in relief.
His nephew was sometimes just too much like his mother and could become almost obsessed with the search for more knowledge about something new. The fact that he, like her, was usually also able to obtain that knowledge in the end made it a bit of a scary trait.
"No, I was thinking of something else… Did you per chance overhear what they were talking about?" The young boy enquired.
"I caught the words 'gift' and 'birthday' together with the name 'Jean-Claude' so I'm thinking the girl was asking her mother about what kind of present to buy for her friend?" Remus suggested questioningly.
Harry shook his head and merely smiled. For a man as studious as his werewolf uncle was, he was just unable to grasp another language, besides Latin. It was a constant source of amusement to the young boy that he was the interpreter during this vacation.
"The 'girl'", Harry emphasized, "was talking about getting a wand holster for her birthday so that she could show it to someone called 'Jean-Claude' at a duelling tournament this weekend."
"Oh….." Remus said, wondering why his nephew was telling him this. "And?"
He obviously couldn't connect the dots that Harry wanted him to.
"I was thinking we could see about getting tickets for the tournament ourselves and go see it this weekend. It would be cool to see a professional duelling match for the first time." The boy explained, enunciating the first sentence slowly as if he were speaking to a small child.
Remus nodded, thinking of the duelling matches he had seen in his past. "Sure, why not?"
Their exploratory visit to the French shopping centre turned in a different direction as the pair tried to find out where to get a hold of a pair of tickets for the duelling tournament they heard about. They discovered that it was the annual national duelling championship of France and that tickets might be difficult to obtain so shortly before the actual event. It was Remus who came up with a possible answer to their problem.
"Perhaps Jasper would know how to get tickets this late?" He suggested as the two were walking back towards their hotel.
The dinner Harry and Remus had agreed upon beforehand was scheduled for the next day, so they decided to ask the old vampire then. Even though they had no idea on how to get to the Moreau estate, Remus had apparently arranged a meeting place and time with Jasper somewhere at Rue de Magie.
And so, the next evening the pair of them were dressed rather formally and waiting for Jasper to arrive since they were a few minutes early.
"Good evening, gentlemen," the vampire mysteriously greeted them out of nowhere.
Both adult and teenager jumped at the sudden appearance of their host for the night.
"I thought I asked you not to do that again," Harry snapped, trying to bring his heart rate back to normal.
"Yes, you did," the finely dressed man before them concurred. "However we are not in your business anymore. We are in my home country now." The vampire stated rather dramatically.
"Whatever, old man. Let's just get this over with." Harry said while walking away a bit, chagrined by the fact that he still hadn't gotten used to the vampire's antics.
"Sorry about him, but you know how he gets when he gets spooked about something." Remus apologized to their soon-to-be host.
"No worries. But that will mean that he stays like that for a while. There's no doubt in my mind that Clémence will try to do the same thing…." Jasper trailed off. "She will most likely succeed too."
"Harry will be prepared, trust me. You told me he took you by surprise the first time you met him. I'm sure he'll do the same to your wife. He's like that." Remus mentioned while the vampire nodded at that in agreement. "Now if you don't mind, how are we travelling to your house tonight?"
The man in front of him smiled rather sinisterly before he vanished in black smoke all of a sudden. Sooner than Remus could react, the vampire appeared behind the werewolf and laid a hand on his shoulder, alerting him to his presence. "Like this," Jasper said.
And with that, both disappeared in black smoke before reappearing next to a bewildered and still irritated black-haired teenager. "Come Potter, Clémence is waiting for us," the boy heard.
Once again, they vanished only this time by taking Harry with them and leaving behind nothing but a few late night visitors in the French shopping centre.
"Wh-What was that?" The raven haired boy asked once he was firmly back on his feet.
"That, gentlemen, was one of the many options by which vampires travel." Jasper replied, taking a moment to take in his surroundings, as though he was searching for something.
"Olivier?" A throatily voice called out from above.
Harry turned his head to see who'd spoken and immediately froze. His mouth fell open from astonishment, his cheeks reddened because he suddenly felt very warm and the teenage boy only barely refrained from drooling at the sight above him.
There was a black-haired woman leaning over the balustrade of the indoor balcony. She was wearing a simple silver, silk bathrobe that was loosely tied around her waist. The combination of black hair, her flawless face, the hourglass figure and the hypnotizing dark eyes associated with being a vampire made her look like a goddess. The woman's cleavage showed clearly that she wasn't wearing a bra, which made the vision she presented all the more enticing.
"Ah, I see you've brought dessert with you. Give me a moment and I'll join you, okay dear?" She spoke towards them as she turned around, flashing them her lovely backside and moved back into an upstairs room.
'Gods, even her voice was exquisite,' Harry thought before he realised just what the goddess said.
"And that would be my lovely wife, Clémence Jeanne. Don't mind what she just said, but whatever you do, don't ever call her Jean." Jasper whispered. "Come, and I'll show you around before we head to the dining room. I'm sure by then Clémence will be ready to join us.
Remus nodded and followed their host, even though he did look a little dazed. It seemed Harry wasn't the only one affected by the sight of such a gorgeous woman.
After that they were led around the house, showing that even though they slept during the day and preferred the dark, vampires did appreciate a good view seeing as the house had lots of windows. When Jasper offered them refreshments, Clémence came back and though this time she was properly dressed, she still mesmerized the two guests in her black evening dress.
"Hello boys. Don't you look lovely… I am Clémence Jeanne Moreau, but you can call me Clémence." The woman purred as she offered her hand to Harry.
Harry, though unusually controlled but still a teenager and therefore thoroughly blushing at the sight of such a beautiful woman in front of him, stammered out; "H-H-Harry P-Potter, mademoiselle. Enchanté." With that, the boy briefly kissed the back of her hand in a small bow.
The lady before him let out a musical laugh and she gazed at him fondly. "I can see why my Olivier is so fascinated by you, Harry. Or should I say 'Lord Potter'?"
"Harry is fine, ma'am. May I introduce my former guardian, Remus Lupin?" The boy gestured to his side where Remus stood rather nervously.
"Ah yes, the wolf…." Was all the woman said with a nod to Remus, not moving to allow the same greeting as she did with Harry.
This seemed to set the norm for the rest of the evening. Clémence apparently wanted to know everything there was to know about Harry and barely even acknowledged Remus' presence. The werewolf seemed to take it all in stride and held himself appropriately, not even attempting to intervene in their conversation. The teenager did notice Remus and Jasper trading looks every now and then, seemingly in silent discussion about something he, Harry, did not realise.
Neither Jasper nor Clémence knew of a way to get their hands on tickets, mainly because vampires were not allowed at such an event and the pair simply couldn't be bothered since it held no interest of theirs. They did have a few interesting anecdotes though on some renowned figures of the past. Harry hoped that he stayed friends with these people for a long time, recognizing the vast wealth of experience and memories they had for what it was…..
The real reason for their vacation to France didn't become clear to Remus until Harry brought it up. Though the older man was by no means complaining; between their visits to all the non-magical sights of Paris and of course the palace of Versailles, their amazing experience at the ritual sites of Carnac (you could still feel the wild magic in the air around) and the plan to acquire tickets for a duelling tournament, Remus had enjoyed himself more than he could practically remember.
It was the day after their dinner at the Moreau estate that it all came out.
"Where are we going, exactly?" Remus asked from beside his 'nephew' in the underground or metro as it was called.
"I already told you, we're heading to the stop of Hotel Ville." The younger boy said, smirking at the non-answer.
"Yes, that clears it up completely," the werewolf drawled. "Let me rephrase, what are we going to do there?"
"Fine, spoil my surprise," Harry answered. "We are going to visit Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel."
"The alchemists?" Remus replied, shocked at the mention of two of the most famous people in the magical world. "But no-one knows where they live! There's even a rumour that they live in a flying castle."
"While that may still be correct, though I prefer not to believe in rumours, I have a different theory on where exactly they currently reside." The oncoming second year said, knowing his 'uncle' would be proud of his reasoning.
Remus simply sighed. "Never mind then, I'd rather not know. Knowing our previous record, you'll have some incomprehensible theory that normal reasoning would rule out completely…"
Harry interjected, "and which is usually correct anyway in the end."
"Yes, that. Therefore I'd rather not know."
"Why exactly are we walking up and down this area with no real direction?" Remus Lupin asked his nephew that he was still obediently following.
"I'm counting Remus, and it has only been like ten minutes so be patient."
"Oh yes, I'm sure it's fascinating to know exactly how many houses are on this street." The man pointed out sarcastically.
"I thought you said you didn't want to know my theory?" Harry asked, throwing an amused look over his shoulder.
"I think I changed my mind….." Remus said uncertainly.
"Very well!" The boy said enthusiastically, as if he'd been waiting for it the entire time.
"We are currently traversing on the intersection of 'Rue de Perenelle' and 'Rue de Nicolas Flamel'. These two streets were named after the couple by Charles VI of France in 1390 as a reward for services to the Government. Rumours circulating at that time proclaim it was for replenishing their coffers with gold created by their (then) recently created Philosopher's Stone during the Hundred Years' War. These were never proven of course because even though the Statute of Secrecy didn't exist back then, openly practicing magic could still earn you a death sentence."
"History shows us that Charles VI went mad sometime in 1392 and tried to undo this act later on, only to find that he couldn't somehow. The Flamels were blamed and the couple faked their death in Muggle France in 1418, right after their house was seized by the government. The library in London had a book mentioning that that house, residing at 51 Rue de Montmorency, currently holds a restaurant therefore making it unlikely for their current residence."
"My 'theory' is that Nicolas and Perenelle were proud of having it named after them both and therefore purchased a residence there in that time. Because when the king tried to rename the street and found out that he couldn't somehow, proves that there was magical interference."
"The reason that we are walking up and down this area is because I believe that they never got rid of that house. Since the stone has been highly sought after for the past six centuries by both good and evil wizards/witches, it is highly likely that their house is thoroughly warded and thus hidden from normal scrutiny. I am simply counting the numbers of the houses to see if there might be an obvious skip in them that might account for a house being hidden by magical means. It seems that we have arrived at our destination."
Remus said nothing; he simply continued to stare at his nephew in open-mouthed astonishment. They had stopped walking during the explanation and Harry was looking back at his werewolf uncle waiting patiently for the man to gather his wits.
After a few minutes and repeatedly shaking his head, Remus came by and looked at the two houses before him. Sure enough, the house on the left was number 34 and the house on the right was number 38. The houses across the street showed them to have the numbers 33, 35, 37 and 39, giving no explanation for the missing number 36. "Two questions…."
"Yes?" Harry inquired.
"What are we going to do now?" Remus asked. "I mean, we can't simply ring the doorbell (because we can't see the house), neither of us is competent at breaking wards, and I doubt you're willing to stake out the place waiting until one of them comes out."
"However more importantly, why are we here, possibly in front of the house of the Flamels, in the first place?" The werewolf asked loudly, nearly freaking out at their current situation.
"Calm down, Remus." Harry said softly. "The reason why we are here is something that I'd like to talk about with the Flamels. As for your first question…." Here the older male watched as the young boy opened his backpack that probably identified him as a tourist and took out a speakerphone? "I thought long and hard about how to contact them in the first place, knowing that owls would probably be redirected or they wouldn't even reach them at all and thought that this might come in handy." Harry said with a mischievous grin on his face.
"What if they're not home?"
Harry stayed silent, not having thought of that.
"I just know I am going to regret this but go ahead. Even I can't find anything wrong with your reasoning and am curious to see if it pays out." Remus replied dazedly.
"I knew you were going to say that." Harry said smiling in triumph. "Ready?"
Remus nodded simply.
Harry took a deep breath and turned on the speakerphone, preparing to announce himself to the hidden house. 'That may or may not be there', Remus thought to himself.
"I am sure that won't be necessary now, will it?" The two males suddenly heard from behind them on the sidewalk.
Both Remus and Harry jumped in surprise, though only Harry was inwardly cursing himself for still not having rid himself of that particular reaction. The pair of wizards turned around to see a brown-haired, middle-aged man standing there looking faintly amused at their reaction. The younger of the two squinted his eyes a bit, thinking he recognized the man but couldn't remember exactly wherefrom.
"And why would that be, sir?" Harry asked respectfully, inwardly frowning about being interrupted.
"Oh, no reason really." The man commented casually. "However I do believe that it is my attention that you are trying to get in the first place."
"Your attention?" Remus spoke up. "Are you Nicolas Flamel?"
Harry scoffed. This man couldn't possibly be the renowned alchemist.
"Were you expecting anybody else?" The man then turned to Harry. "I must say, your explanation about the location of our home was remarkably well thought out. The only problem I could find with your plan was that it required us to voluntarily come out of our very well protected home. Would you have been a person of questionable intentions I doubt that it would have worked out so well."
"You don't think our intentions are…. questionable, as you say?" The younger of the two asked politely, still questioning whether this man was actually Nicolas Flamel.
"While you two may not exactly be as pure as a unicorn, I sincerely doubt you're here to do us harm. Especially with what is currently in that bag of yours." The man remarked.
Harry's eyes widened. The man before him knew that the Philosopher's Stone was hidden in his backpack that very moment. No one had even known that he had that stone in his possession. As far as he could presume, Dumbledore thought that the stone was destroyed when Quirrell obliterated the mirror, which must have broken the enchantments and with it, the stone if it still would have been there.
But this man before him somehow found out that it wasn't destroyed. That it was actually a mere five feet removed from him. The only person that could know something like that must be its creator, or so Harry reasoned.
"Okay…, let's say that you are Mr. Flamel. Could we discuss this somewhere more private?" Harry asked, not wanting to lay his cards on the table here in the open.
"That's what I was actually out here for," the man proclaimed. And with that, he produced a piece of parchment from his left pocket. Remus, who was up until now silent, recognized the action and knew that Harry would be unfamiliar with the action.
"You have to read Harry. Then concentrate on what you've read and look right in front of you." The werewolf explained.
Harry was fascinated to see the house 'appear' between the houses 34 and 38 on the street and suddenly recalled something. "The Fidelius Charm," he breathed in awe.
The Fidelius Charm was a complex spell that he was only told about in stories before. Remus had explained why he was always especially reluctant to talk about the brotherly relationship between Sirius Black and his father, when that same man had been the secret-keeper for the Potter family and gave out the secret to Voldemort's Death Eaters. Remembering the other details about that man made the young boy think about the fact that Peter Pettigrew was currently still alive. Harry reminded himself to act on that particular piece of information when he arrived back home.
"You are correct. Shall we?" Mr. Flamel said and motioned towards the house.
Meeting Perenelle Flamel was interesting, since not only did she look about the same age as her husband (around 40, despite the fact that both had to be over 600 years old), she also acted like she was his mother. Looking him up and down with a proud look, hugging him regardless of his hand that was offered and last but not least, offering him something to eat and drink while saying that he had to eat properly since he was still a growing boy.
Only when they were all seated with a cup of tea in front of them did Harry remember what he was here for exactly.
"Oh!" He said suddenly. Quickly turning around a fumbling a bit with his backpack, he removed the stone from a cleverly hidden pocket and placed on the table in front of their hosts.
Remus gasped, recognizing the stone for what it was and gazing curiously at his nephew. He wasn't mad, some things are better not to share with others and he knew that the oncoming second year wasn't a thief. Then he realised it. That thing he had been asked by Harry to look into, Dumbledore mentioning something deadly, the Gringotts break-in and of course, his nephew suddenly not bringing it up anymore since springtime.
"That's it?" Mrs. Flamel asked with audible astonishment.
"Yes…?" Harry said uncertainly, now suddenly a lot less confident about removing it from its place.
"No demands, no trade, not even a simple deal?" The woman continued….
"Well….," Harry started and thought her cynical look turned to smugness but it disappeared as he continued. "I have some questions, if you don't mind that is. I mean, I know that's not mine but why didn't you have it in the first place?" Remus looked proudly at his nephew and turned his silently questioning face towards their hosts, also interested in the answer.
"We thought we gave it to a friend for protection." Nicolas spoke softly, bringing the attention back onto himself. "But we are most curious about how you came to be in possession of it actually. Last I heard was that the stone was destroyed by a Dark wizard failing to obtain it."
"Oh…. Um…." Harry said, not knowing how to explain the reason that he felt he needed to obtain the stone only for giving it back to its owners in the first place.
"If you have trouble explaining it, I might have a way to help if you need it." Mrs. Flamel said in a friendly tone.
Harry just nodded.
"Do you know what a pensieve is?"
Harry nodded once again, having read about the device that somehow enables you to stores and view memories.
And so it was that Harry showed the memories of his obtaining of the stone. After Mrs. Flamel explained how to extract the memories from his mind, he decided to fill the bowl with all of the pertaining ones. He showed them Dumbledore's announcement at the start of the year, the reading of the article about the Gringotts break-in, the event in the library that made him figure it out, the trial on the third-floor corridor and finally the rumours in the Great Hall about the event of Neville, Hermione and Ron.
Colourful cursing was not what he had expected when the three (Remus went along, since he didn't know about much of it) exited from the device that he'd been admiring to occupy his time.
"Well…," Nicolas said dryly when it was quiet once again. "That certainly differs from what we were told by Albus."
Mrs. Flamel wasn't quite as finished cursing after all, Harry found out.
"Thank you for removing my stone from that rather easy trap, Mr. Potter. I know that you don't wish anything in return for giving it back to us but is there anything we can give you as a reward?" Mr. Flamel asked with a smile.
Harry started to shake his head negatively, not wanting anything in return before he thought of something.
"Well….. As I said, I have some questions…" He said uncertainly.
"The story that I know about the Philosopher's Stone is that it is able to turn any metal into gold and produce the Elixir of Life which supposedly makes the drinker immortal." Harry started and looked to Mrs. Flamel to see the smug look at her husband appear again. "I don't want that." The look disappeared again.
"But seeing you the way that you look now….., doesn't fit." Harry continued, not sure how to explain it better. He looked down at the table while deeply in thought, not seeing the looks of apprehension on their hosts' faces. "I'm guessing that the Elixir of Life is more like the mythical 'Fountain of Youth', in that it returns the drinker to a younger age. Consequently, this still makes the drinker immortal as long as he drinks the Elixir regularly; depending on how much it rejuvenates the body." The young boy looked up again to the apprehensive looks and repeated, "I don't want that either. Besides….., I'm nearly twelve."
"However," he started while keeping eye contact this time. "Water from the 'Fountain of Youth' was also said to have healing capabilities." Harry trailed off and saw Remus' eyes widen from the corner of his eyes.
"My mother is currently a patient at the Long-Term Care Ward of Saint Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. She is in a coma from the result of spellfire originating from Bellatrix Lestrange during an attack on my family in January 1982." Harry pointed to the Philosopher's Stone that still lay on the table, untouched. "Is that able to cure my mother?"
Mr. and Mrs. Flamel slowly turned to each other, having heard the silent plea from the boy in front of them. Finally, after a minute or two, Mr. Flamel gave a tiny nod to his wife and turn back towards their guests.
"No." The man said but Harry could hear he had more to say. "That," here he pointed at the stone on the table, "is not able to cure your mother….. And neither is the real stone."
Harry's eyes widened this time with his werewolf uncle's. That made so much sense!
The Flamels refused to elaborate on the subject of curing his mother though Harry even asked if they knew of a normal way that might be able to lift the coma. His reasoning was that the old pair would have more knowledge than Harry would be able to gather in his own lifetime. However what did struck him with hope was that they didn't mention that she wasn't curable.
The foursome ate a light lunch, since Mrs. Flamel said she was unable to send out their guests while hungry. During it they discussed other things, with the subject of the Philosopher's Stone no longer coming up.
Remus and Mr. Flamel formed a tentative friendship, their love for history coming out in a simple comment which flowed into an hour-and-a-half conversation. Meanwhile, Mrs. Flamel mothered Harry while the boy asked regular questions. He had over three plates of lunch since she kept reloading it before the young Ravenclaw said he could take no more. The subject of the oncoming duelling tournament came up when Harry and Remus were about to leave and the hosts were happy to give them the tickets they needed, saying they could hardly let them leave with nothing for returning their stone, ignoring Harry when he said it wasn't real anyway.
The tournament turned out to be a real highlight of the vacation. They saw two matches of the main tournament, with one of them being between the last 16 contestants. It seemed the finals were booked way in advance and were separate from normal tickets. Though still, even Remus seemed to really enjoy the show of combat magic but it was an eye-opener for Harry himself. These people seemed to know so much about magic that the simple practice he did alone or with Tonks in the Room of Requirement was practically nothing. Everything from esoteric curses, to overpowering DADA spells, to simple household charms were used in harmony to form a fluent, silent and amazingly quick duelling strategy with the sole purpose of defeating your opponent.
The junior tournament was just as interesting to the pair of observers. These contestants were under seventeen, which was the only requirement to be able to enter. And though many seemed to be near the border, being 15 or 16 year of age, several of them were younger and still able to hold their ground. Harry was just vibrating with energy about the whole thing and couldn't wait to enter himself, though he did realise that he would have to train a lot more.
This event seemed to mark the ending for their holiday, since they had visited just about everything they came to see. Beauxbatons Academy of Magic was unable to schedule in their visit but Harry didn't mind; he had already seen so much and was ready to return home.
Fortunately for Remus, Harry had agreed to magical transportation for their return home and with an international Portkey from the Rue de Magie, they were back in Diagon Alley within seconds.
That night when the pair returned to the inn, a sleepy Harry mumbled goodnight before heading to his room. Once there, he noticed the blank parchment still lying on his desk from before they left and remembered why it was there. He sat down, thought about it for a moment before picking up the quill.
Dear Madam Bones,
You may not remember but we met briefly a few months ago during the graduation ball at Hogwarts. I was accompanied by the lovely Miss Tonks who, if I'm not mistaken, is currently in your employ at the Auror Academy. However, that is not the reason for me contacting you this summer.
I've come upon something curious and I was hoping to do a little research before bringing it to anyone's attention. I've searched the public archives for the transcript of the trial of Sirius Black, however….
My apologies for the long wait, for the cliffhanger and the particularly long chapter.
As always, grammatical mistakes, typo's or just plain errors may be reported in the reviews or as a personal message and I'll do my best to correct them a.s.a.p.
The points awarding scene is partly copied from the original version of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'.