AU. Voldemort is defeated, and all's well in the Wizarding World. Why has Harry abandoned it?
Author's notes: This is the first time I'll write in the first person perspective, so forgive me if there are some errors. I was inspired to write this story when I read Rachel Cusk's "A country life".
– blu (still stubbornly writing without a beta)
Bridport, Dorset, England
I sat patiently on bench right outside the train station watching a few pigeons fly around the treetops and buildings. Moody told me that my new employer was supposed to meet up with me at noon, and it was half an hour past that. I was getting hungry, since I hadn't had enough time to properly pack my belongings and skipped lunch. I was sure I left most of my clothes and possessions back in the apartment that the Ministry had set up for me.
The man behind the ticketing booth was eyeing me curiously, and I almost raised my hand to cover up the scar in my forehead with my hair before I stopped. It wasn't there anymore, but it had become a habit of mine, a defensive reflex whenever someone was staring at me since I knew they would ask if I remembered the night eighteen years ago when I defeated the Dark Lord.
I ran my hand through my hair, feeling the strange sensation of smooth, unbroken skin of my forehead. The moment Voldemort lay dead by my hand, my curse scar – the one I received from an AK courtesy of the bastard himself, immediately throbbed, and a few hours later was completely healed.
Of all the rewards, titles and praise that were given to me shortly after Voldemort's defeat, I considered the removal of my scar to be the best gift I received. It was after all the symbol of the tragedy that had befallen my family, and caused me endless hours of grief from overzealous fans who even wanted to touch it, thinking it could answer their prayers or give them luck.
My unmarked forehead also allowed me a sense of anonymity in the wizarding world. People were so used to seeing me with my famous scar that I could practically walk around Diagon alley (without my glasses of course), relatively unmolested with only the closest aurors that have trained me since the age of six capable of spotting me.
"Something wrong, son?"
I looked up from watching a few pigeons in an aerial duel and noticed that the man in the ticket booth had closed his station and was now standing in front of me, wearing a concerned look on his face.
I shook my head and smiled faintly at him, trying to be polite. He might know the location of a nearby eatery, and his cooperation depended on my manners.
"Nothing sir. I'm just waiting for something."
"Well you're going to have to wait a bit more I'm afraid." He looked at his watch. "The next train won't arrive till a few more hours."
"Oh, I'm not waiting for the train. It's just that I agreed to meet my new employer here, and he's late." I heard my stomach grumble and continued. "Do you suppose you know the nearest eatery? I'm quite famished."
"Then you're in luck lad. I'm on my way to get a bite, and I won't mind showing you the best pub in town." The man said brightly.
"Is it near?" I asked, worried that it might take too long to get there and that I would miss meeting up with my new employer.
"It's just down the street. Look, you can see it from here." The pointed at a distant speck down the main road, and I squinted, struggling to see without my glasses. Even here amongst muggles, I still couldn't risk it.
"Oh yeah. Looks nice." I lied.
The man let out a chuckle. "I know, it looks like it needs a few repairs and a fresh coat of paint, but Hugh's serves the best food in these areas, and it's cheap to boot. A few pounds and you'd have a complete meal."
The man led the way, and I shouldered my duffle bag and walked alongside him, relieved that I would be able to afford the establishment we were heading to. I only had a twenty pound note in my pocket, and a handful of knuts and sickles that were completely useless to me now.
The man from the train introduced himself as Patrick, and I introduced myself as Harry Parker. I was proud of my new, quickly thought-up surname. It was the perfect alias, since Parker was a fairly common name around Britain and I can claim to be from around some part of the country without raising suspicion.
Patrick's boast about Hugh's culinary excellence was fairly accurate, or perhaps I was really starving. Aside from the slight smell of grass and earth, the food was served in generous proportions without draining my meager budget. I learned that this was the working man's favorite diner.
Farmers, some smallholders, a butcher and a few fishermen are regulars of the pub, eager to spend a few hours drinking their favorite pint while exchanging stories for the day. One smallholder was excited about his pig called Maggie that was about to give birth anytime, while two farmers were debating what produce to sell for market day that weekend and what was most profitable.
Patrick began once he noticed that I had finished my mashed potatoes. I realized he was waiting for me to finish my meal before he asked his questions. I looked around and noticed a few of the regulars were trying to listen in. I wasn't surprised, people from smaller communities who basically knew each other were always curious of visitors.
"What's a young bloke like you doing around these parts?" Patrick asked genially.
"I'm here for a job." I answered and took a sip of locally ale to wash down the food in my throat. "I was supposed to meet my new employer right outside the train station, but they didn't turn up."
"Anyone I know?" Hugh, the owner of the pub asked.
"I never knew his name. My former boss just gave me this address." I handed a piece of paper to Hugh, and the regulars around him leaned in for a closer look.
"I know this place." Patrick said. "It's beyond Bridport, a few kilometers, no maybe more. There aren't a lot of houses that way."
"The one near the cliffs?" The farmer that mentioned his pig Maggie asked.
At Patrick's nod, the farmer faced me with a very serious expression on his face.
"That place's haunted lad." He told me, making me wonder if he was drunk or earnest in his statement.
"Haunted?" I asked.
"Yeah." The farmer nodded, and leaned closer as if to whisper, though his voice was loud enough for anyone in the room to hear without difficulty. "That old house was abandoned years ago, when the owner died. Rumor has it that the house itself was in a horrible state, caved in roof and rotting beams. Then one day a couple of years ago, I was hunting for wild mushrooms and passed the Red House."
"The red house?"
"It's what we call it, with its distinct red brick walls and red tile roof." The farmer said. "Anyway, imagine to my shock when I saw how pristine it was! The overgrown weeds were gone and the big fallen tree oak was cut up and stacked neatly, and the fence and gate mended. I thought I ate the wrong sort of mushroom!"
"What's the big deal then?" I asked. None of what I heard made me think that my new destination was haunted. And if it was haunted, so what?
"The big deal?" The farmer snorted. "There's only one road towards that place. We never saw the trucks that carried construction materials or the workers that fixed it up. And it should not have been that quick to completely refurbish that large of a house."
There, it was a sign of magic. I smiled to myself, glad that I finally found the right house.
I said goodbye to my new friends and declined an offered ride to the infamous Red House, a much talked about topic amongst the locals. Patrick from the train station told me that it would be the hottest topic again in the pubs and the market, since I was the first person they had met that was confirmed to be staying there.
After receiving directions from Hugh, who told me that a young, sprite man like me would be able to walk to the Red House in no time, I continued on my journey on foot with my belly full and a slight buzz of alcohol in my head.
Around ten minutes into my trek, I could already smell the sea, and relished as the sea born breeze that cooled me from the hot summer sun. I hadn't noticed it at first, but I already felt the back of my neck and arms were tingling from the direct sunlight, and realized I was going to have a bad case of sunburn if I didn't find shade soon.
I increased my pace, and just as I was about to reach the crest of the hill where a road was built on, a roar of a car engine scared the hell out of me, and a moment later a vehicle appeared out of nowhere and headed right towards me.
I only noticed the driver's shocked and scared eyes before my brain kicked in and forced my body to leap aside. It was close, I could tell since I felt the rushing air displaced by the runaway car brush past my body. I was lying on the ditch, breathing heavily and realized later that I did not come out of the near accident unscathed.
My duffel bag was a victim of hit and run.
I was cursing the driver in every imaginable language I had learned as I picked up bits of my clothes that lay across the road, lamenting some of the ruined shirts and trousers that I was sure could not be fixed even with magic. Some of my undershirts were soaked in mud, and some were missing. The car went past me so fast that I had no idea what model it was, it was painted gray, and I only got a fleeting glance of the driver's scared and shocked eyes.
I fixed my torn and abused duffle bag with a simple Reparo, and after cleaning of the blades of grass and dirt that was stuck on to my own clothes, I continued on my way, wondering if the place I was about to work to was indeed cursed. First, my future employer forgot to pick me up – I was sure, since I passed by the train station after eating to see if they were waiting for me. Second, I almost died due to a devil car, and third, my trusty duffel bag had fallen victim to an inept driver who hadn't even bothered to stop and check if I was fine.
I promised to myself that if I met the driver again I'd give them a piece of my mind.
I stood in front of the Red House, admiring the structure and the surrounding vegetation. The Red House was appropriately named - the walls were made of bright red brick, with two chimney stacks rising out from each end of the darker red tiled roof. There was a barn and a tool shed, and a gravel path from the gate leading to just outside the house. The owner (and my future employer) obviously loved gardening, from what I could tell there were several neatly flower beds with colors ranging from yellow, to pink and blue.
I stepped closer to the gate, and immediately I felt a slight tingle in my fingers as I reached to touch the metal bars. It was a ward of some sort, and from what I could tell it was what most home owners use to alert them of visitors.
I stood around for a minute, watching the scenery and observing what would be my new place of residence if everything goes smoothly. Then I noticed a figure walking up towards the gate, and I took a deep breath to ease my nervousness and smiled.
"Yes? What can I do for you?"
I was surprised by his accent, but I didn't show it. Instead I held my smile and waited for the middle aged man to step closer to the gate.
"I'm here for the job?" I said faintly.
He frowned and had a confused expression on his face. He had a dark brown hair, and was wearing work clothes. He held in his left hand a pair of rubber gloves, but I could see the tip of a wand peeking from his sleeve.
"You must be mistaken." The man said. "Perhaps you have the wrong house?"
"I was given this address by Moody." I replied and held out a piece of paper that the crazy auror had written on. "I'm quite sure this is the right address."
"Moody?" He looked stunned for a moment. Maybe he thought that I was a muggle lost in the back roads of Dorset. I knew I looked strange, with bits of grass and dirt that I haven't managed to remove clinging to my shirt and pants.
"Moody." I repeated. "Alastor Moody. He told me that you were looking for a tutor, and I was uniquely qualified for the job."
I saw realization dawning on his face that I was a wizard. "But, I thought..." He shook his head and opened the gate and allowed me to step through. I noticed him appraising me, and I stood a little straighter, my shoulders thrown back to appear more competent.
"You're certainly not what I expected." He said after a moment. He seemed to be thinking hard for a moment, until he nodded. "Well, if you're what Alastor Moody sent, then I'll trust in his judgment."
"I can assure you sir that I'm a fairly capable wizard." I said. I didn't mean to sound boastful, but I knew I was quite a dueler, with a handful repertoire of spells and curses. "I'm also quite good at transfiguration, potions and charms..."
"I didn't mean about that." The man said, looking me in the eye. We were about the same height, though he was of heavier build. "When Alastor told you that you would be uniquely qualified, did you know why?"
I thought for a moment before I answered as we walked along the gravel path. "I assumed that you needed a wizard that could teach almost all the basics of magic. Am I wrong sir?"
He laughed for a moment before he coughed and I look at him with concern. Those coughs sounded retched and painful, I actually expected him to spit out blood.
"Are you alright sir?"
"I'm fine, I'm fine." We reached the Red House and he invited me to come in, and we he led right to the kitchen.
"I'll explain when my wife and daughters arrive, and then you'll understand." He said as we both sat down.
The glass of cold water soothed my parched throat and I had to drink carefully not to spill on my chin.
We both turned around at the sound of a melodic female voice and my eyes widened at the sight of perfection. It was a blond woman, with blue eyes and a dainty nose, with milky white skin. Her hair reached her waist, but even at its length, it was impossibly straight and shiny.
I swallowed and looked back at my employer and I realized that we hadn't introduced ourselves to each other. He was looking back at me, observing my reaction to the woman and I immediately schooled my features, though it was quite hard not to ogle.
The woman swept across the kitchen and leaned down to kiss the man who was obviously her husband before she stood slightly behind his chair and looked at me with curious eyes.
"And who is this?" She asked. They exchanged glances but no one spoke.
I felt a strange, fuzzy feeling in my head, and forbidden thoughts came unbidden in my mind. I wanted to beg the woman to marry me, to get down on my knees and propose to her in front of her... husband? I struggled and fought the strange sensation off, noticing that it wasn't natural and the seductive whispers in my ears slowly died out.
I was frowning, wondering what caused this sensation and I looked at the couple facing me. The woman was smiling at me, while the middle aged man wore a satisfied expression on his face.
"Veela?" I asked, recognizing the effects on my mind (and my libido).
The woman nodded and gave her husband an approving nod.
"We haven't been introduced." The man said finally, offering a hand across the kitchen table. "I am Julian Delacour, and this is my wife, Apolline."
I took the hand and shook it, and wondered if Julian would have offered his hand, if I didn't pass what I recognized now as his impromptu test.
"My name's Harry Parker." I said evenly, slightly annoyed that I was lured into a test, though I knew the importance of passing it. I was also embarrassed, having thoughts about his very vivacious wife. It must have shown on my face because Apolline laughed.
"Forgive me for being rude earlier, but I didn't want to get too acquainted with you if you had a weak mind. It seems that Alastor was right that you are uniquely suited to be my daughter's tutor." Julian said.
"You needed someone who has a natural resistance to allure given off by those with Veela heritage." I replied.
"Yes." Julian nodded at me. "I was skeptical at first. Usually men who are older and have families have the resistance against the allure. I was actually expecting and someone older."
I nodded. That made sense. Men with the natural resistance to the allure had to have strong will. Moody knew I was suited since I was resistant to the imperius curse.
Apolline then offered her hand, and I made my first mistake when I shook her hand instead of kissing it, as expected of a cultured and polite gentleman. I was grateful that she ignored my mistake, and I thought they both found it amusing.
"I was expecting to be of employ to an English family, to be honest." I said. "I was surprised when I heard your accent, Mister Delacour."
They were living in English soil after all, so I decided to use English terms. Besides, I don't know a single word of the French language, besides the bastardized version of Bonjour.
"How old are you, Mr. Parker?" Apolline asked me.
I stood to help her carry the three mugs and plates to the nearby sink. "I'm twenty, mam." I replied politely.
She looked surprised and peered at me again, assessing my appearance. Now that I was standing up, the near death experience I had an hour ago was more noticeable.
"And what happened to you?" She asked.
"I almost got run over when I made my way here." I remembered the careless driver and my irritation with him spiked up. "Stupid driver, I almost died." I muttered.
"I thought you were picked up by Julian?" Apolline asked, now looking confused.
Julian's demeanor changed, and he looked embarrassed with a shaky smile on his face. I wondered why.
"I apologize, Mr. Parker." Julian said. "I'm afraid that I relied on my eldest to be responsible for once. I asked her yesterday to pick up Gabrielle's new tutor, and like all young people she must have forgotten."
"And in her haste, she rushed to get to the meeting place, nearly running over Mr. Parker, who had to walk all the way from town to get here." Apolline finished, looking annoyed. "I'll have words with that young woman."
"Darling! You know her relationship with that Englishman is not going well! They had recently separated, and she has a lot on her mind." Julian tried to reason with her wife.
Mrs. Delacour's reply was in French, but somehow I got the context of their conversation. It seems that Julian was, once again, spoiling her daughters, and Apolline wanted to enforce some discipline and order around the house.
I heard a rumble of an engine and both looked out the window in time to see a gray, two door car head into the barn that they must have used as a garage. The Delacour couple continued their argument in whispers until a voice stopped them.
"Mama! There was no one there!" A woman wearing a scarf on her hair and shades walked in and immediately headed to the icebox to presumably get a drink. She opened the cap of an orange juice soda bottle and I watched in amusement as she drank it, nearly finishing the contents and let out a satisfied burp.
"I waited, and waited, and followed Papa's instructions on where he should be sitting, but no one was there! A few men were giving me strange looks and so I decided to leave. Such rudeness! Typical of the English!" She ranted, unaware of my presence.
"Fleur!" Her mother said in a harsh whisper but she was ignored.
"And when I was on my way to the town, there was this crazy person! Walking along the road like some lunatic, unmindful of the vehicles passing by! The road is built for vehicles, not for pedestrians to walk along like in a park! Luckily for him, I managed to avoid him!" She continued.
I was not walking along like I was in a park. I was hot from walking, and was just relishing the smell of the sea and cool wind. And Fleur was obviously arranging the story to suit her. Well, I decided to tell the other side of the tale.
"Fleur! We have a guest!" Julian stopped her daughter to save her from further embarrassment.
The young woman looked around and stopped when she looked directly at me.
"Who are you?" She asked rudely.
"I'm the lunatic Englishman you nearly killed." I said pleasantly, honoring Britain with a traditional reply full of sarcastic, dry wit and with a dash of humor.
Later, when I was unpacking what was left of my salvageable clothes, I realized that I should have kept my mouth shut, since I realized that embarrassing the daughter of my employers was not a good idea. Luckily, Apolline found it amusing while Julian hid a smile as he watched her daughter gaping at me. She knew who the real liar was.
My job was description was more than I expected. All I knew was that I was to be a live-in tutor, but from the conversation I had with Apolline and Julian, it looked like there was more. Though it wasn't spoken directly, it was implied that I was expected to help around the house, and they were willing to pay more. I understood their request. I figured that hired help able to do a man's work was hard to get in a house with Veela heritage.
My request to have my salary in pounds was accepted without question, though I knew they thought it was unusual for a wizard to be paid in muggle currency. I was still wary into coming into contact with the wizarding world, even a small branch office of Gringotts, and Moody assured me that this quaint place in Dorset was the last place they would look for Harry Potter.
I was given the third floor, the attic of the Red House to be my room, and though it was small, I found it charming in its own way. I had a nice bed, my own loo though there was no tub, and a nice view of the sea through the large window with a small veranda. It was even better than I hoped for, my hideaway from the Wizarding world.
I haven't met my student, Gabrielle, as we ate dinner. Apolline told me she was still with her friends and other relatives in France, having a vacation. The Delacours loved their vegetables, and I didn't complain, it was certainly well prepared. They weren't vegetarians, but Julian was proud to show off the fruits of his labor to his family.
I had finished my dinner and was about to head to my room when she walked in. Fleur looked at me with wariness and sat down opposite me in the small kitchen table. She was obviously pissed at me for embarrassing her earlier, but I paid it no mind.
I was not one to hold a grudge, and even if she nearly killed me earlier, she had a perfect excuse. She was a woman, and women drivers should be given allowances for almost all traffic incidents they caused except when they killed someone.
Most especially hot, veela women drivers.
I thought that evening would be a quiet one, as I started drifting off to sleep. I opened my windows, letting the sea breeze into my room on the hot summer night. The sound of the waves crashing lulled me gently to sleep when an ear piercing scream snatched me back from the dream world.
"HE did it! HE did it!"
I slowly walked down and relaxed once I understood that my employers were not under attack by the death eaters. There was a loud chattering in French, and some I picked up as English. I slid my wand back into my wrist holster and walked towards the living room.
There was a mini Fleur jumping around, obviously tanned as she waved a newspaper around her arms. The large text was obviously in French, but I could still read my name. Apolline was trying to snatch the paper from the mini Fleur while Julian tried to placate the girl.
Fleur only gave me a glance and returned her attention to the girl that is obviously her sister.
Apolline was a fast draw. She had the wizarding paper in her hands with a quick summoning charm before even Gabrielle realized it was missing from her hands.
"Merde." I heard Apolline whisper as her eyes quickly read the front page news.
"What is it Gabrielle?" Julian demanded.
"Papa! The Dark Lord is defeated!" Gabrielle said breathlessly. "It happened yesterday! He did it! Harry Potter won!"
I cringed. I did not win. It was just a fluke, an accident, or something like that. My duel with him was not the awe inspiring epic battle that the Daily Prophet probably depicted in tonight's special issue. I had expected this would soon trickle down to remote wizarding homes like the Delacour's but I didn't realize that it would be this quick.
The Delacours quickly discussed the latest news on the second wizarding world war, and I noted the enthusiasm and genuine emotion of happiness and relief on their faces.
Apolline glanced around the room after she passed the paper to her husband, and I noted her surprised look when she noticed me. Maybe she wasn't yet used to having someone else not from her family around the house, but she quickly smiled and beckoned to me come closer.
"It looks like today is full of surprises, albeit good ones." She said, once the excitement died down. "First, the Dark Lord has been defeated, and now Gabrielle's new tutor has arrived."
"Mama?" Gabrielle looked confused. She still hadn't spotted her new tutor, with her back turned to me.
Apolline turned her shoulders around and I saw the surprised look on the teenager's face. "Gabrielle, this is your new tutor, Mister Harry Parker."
I could tell my new student wasn't pleased from the frown on her face. It was barely two weeks since the summer season started for those that studied at magical schools, and I assumed she was looking forward to taking a break from learning.
I myself hadn't experienced attending a normal school since muggle kindergarten, and I guessed she wasn't looking forward to doing homework while her own friends are having fun.
"But the Dark Lord is defeated!" Gabrielle exclaimed. "Beauxbatons will open this June Papa! I don't need a tutor!" She turned to her mother with her large blue eyes. I could have fallen for the act if it was directed at me. "Mama?"
Apolline frowned at her daughter, and I guessed that she was used to this display.
"No. Madame Olympe is not even sure if Beauxbatons will open after the extensive damage it received from the war. Count yourself lucky Gabrielle. I know for a fact that several of your friend's parents are planning the same thing this summer, and it is difficult to get a competent tutor."
"We are lucky enough to have Mr. Parker here to teach you." Apolline finished. She eyed her husband, and as if waiting for him to support her in convincing their daughter.
Julian took the hint, though his face was less stern than his wife's. "Gabrielle, I asked Alastor Moody three days ago if he wanted to teach you."
I smiled when I saw Gabrielle's widen even more. I knew she recognized the name.
"He was injured in the last battle, and could not participate at the war effort since he needed rehabilitation for a few more months." Julian said. "I thought perhaps he could use a vacation, spending a few hours a day teaching my daughter the finer points of magic. But even injured, Moody was still needed in the war because of his experience. Luckily, he sent me a missive that he would be sending Mr. Parker as his replacement."
I remembered that Beauxbatons had suffered extensive damages, not just to the school's structure but as well as its teaching staff. Even if Hogwarts was at the epicenter of the second wizarding war, it had survived relatively unscathed, due to some sort of perverted respect that Voldemort and his followers had for the school. Perhaps it was because most of the death eater's children studied there and both the British Ministry of Magic and Voldemort's forces had a silent agreement in limiting casualties in the area.
Voldemort didn't want to risk losing his followers by endangering their children, and Hogwarts, aside from the groundskeeper Hagrid and Charms professor Flitwick, had a relatively pure blood teaching staff and low ratio of muggleborns to purebloods.
Beauxbatons however, had a reputation of accepting wizards and witches with mixed ancestry. Madame Olympe was a prime example, I was sure she had giant blood like Hagrid, and there were rumors in the auror barracks that their teaching staff was mostly composed of beautiful veela witches. Voldemort didn't care for hot veela witches, and his brutal attacks on the Beauxbatons forced most of the students to stay at their homes or even hide.
Gabrielle said something in French, and it must have been rude because her sister snorted while Apolline took a deep breath.
"Gabrielle! That is very rude!" Apolline said. "Apologize to Mr. Parker at once!"
Julian was shooting me an apologetic gaze and I knew this would be difficult summer.
I was sure Fleur was out to kill me.
I woke up early the next morning, slightly confused on where I was before my memories of yesterday rushed back into my head.
I spent a few minutes stretching my legs and enjoying the smell of the sea, it was really pleasant to wake up hearing the waves gently crashing down on the rocks. It was still early, the sun hadn't yet risen but I could see the dawning sky from my window.
Since I haven't seen a sunrise in ages, I decided to lean out on the small terrace of my attic room and wait for the rising sun out there. It was so peaceful, and calm, that I even had a slight smile on my face.
My peaceful morning was rudely interrupted when the door to my new room flung open, making me jump in surprise. I nearly fell over the wooden rail, and I spent a few moments wiggling my arms in panic while my feet struggled to remain on the floor. Once I regained my footing, I turned to her and found her slightly amused face.
"What was that for?" I asked.
She didn't answer my question and just informed me that breakfast was ready.
"You could have knocked." I said evenly.
She acted like she didn't even hear what I said and turned her back to me and headed down the stairs.
I must have looked like a fright when I finally joined the Delacours because Gabrielle covered her mouth to stop herself from giggling. I knew I wasn't looking my best, since I had already worn my most presentable clothes. And thanks to someone, the rest of the clothes I had left were ruined, missing or waiting out to dry in my own room.
I was wearing gray and a blue, worn sweater. I knew my hair was a mess, even with my new haircut and a quick combing, it stuck out all over the place.
"Not a morning person, are you Mr. Parker?" Gabrielle said.
I hadn't talked with my new student last night, and decided to answer her even with her slightly mocking tone.
"No, I usually wake up early." I said, grabbing a few pieces of toast from the table. "It's just that this is a new place after all, and I was a bit disoriented when I woke up."
"Where are you from?" Apolline asked curiously.
"I'm from London." I figured that If I stuck to my real story and omitting a few details along the way that I'd be fine.
"And how do you know Alastor?" Julian asked. I noticed that he was wearing his gardening clothes. He must really like gardening for him to start this early.
"We knew each other from the ministry. Moody taught me a few things."
"Are you an auror?" Gabrielle asked. She looked excited, as if she thought I'd teach her powerful curses and hexes.
"No. I'm not from the auror force. I work for another department, but I'm not allowed to say."
"Unspeakable." Fleur murmured, looking straight at me. Apolline looked surprised, but Julian hid his reaction better. Meanwhile, Gabrielle was practically emitting excitement from her seat with the way she looked at me.
I didn't confirm what Fleur said. Let them think what they want, if I was some secret agent working for some mysterious department, or just an employee. It was further away from the truth, further away from my real identity.
The momentary silence in the room was disturbed with the arrival of two, tired looking brown owls. Apolline was expecting them, since she had a few knuts nearby to pay for the papers and a platter of food for the birds. The owls must have been flying nonstop all morning making deliveries, since they immediately flew down near the sink and immediately started eating the bits of meat.
Apolline told me yesterday that they didn't subscribe to the daily prophet when they moved to Britain, fearing that it would attract the attention of the Dark Lord's supporters. It was a bit paranoid of her, since the chances of a death eater finding their location by following a delivery owl was slim. I guess she was just being a mother, protecting her family.
I wondered if the ministry had realized my escape, and the answer was confirmed when Apolline, after reading the front page for a minute, announced to us what was the latest news.
"It looks like everybody's celebrating, and everyone's praising the hero of the hour." Apolline read the other paper, while Julian grabbed the daily prophet to read it for himself.
"Albus Dumbledore's making a speech today at London." Julian added.
"Can we go?" Gabrielle asked. "Maybe Harry Potter will be there!"
"Pfft." Fleur blew a stray lock of her long blonde hair that was bothering her nose. If she wasn't wearing a frown I'd have called that gesture cute. "No. He might be there. I do not want to see that stupid man."
Fleur must really dislike me, since she even hated my real identity when I realized she wasn't talking about Harry Potter.
"We won't go." Apolline decided. She raised her hand to cut off Gabrielle before the girl could protest. "There are too many people, and while the Dark Lord is defeated, not all of his servants are willing to concede defeat. It is too risky."
Apolline was a smart woman. She was not only beautiful, but cautious, and had tons of common sense. I haven't even thought of that. I never really saw the war from a civilian family's perspective. The Delacours had survived by keeping a low profile, and moving to an isolated location far from wizarding populations.
Gabrielle understood, and she didn't start anymore protests even though I could see she was disappointed. I decided to talk to Julian about my plans for Gabrielle. He invited me along to see the rest of his garden and we headed out of back door, facing the sea.
I hadn't noticed the narrow small gate at the edge of the cliff from my window in the attic, but when I stepped closer to the rail I saw a flight of stone stairs carved into the face of the cliff heading down the beach.
Julian's garden was full of vegetable patches suited for the summer season, and paths made of gravel that crisscrossed the land allowed a person to walk around the backyard without getting their shoes muddy.
"So what's Gabrielle's strongest subject?" I began.
"She's good at charms, like her mother." Julian said. He inspected his plants, touching a few of the leaves before turning to the next. "Before we pulled her out of Beauxbatons, her grades with the other core subjects are average. But considering their lack of proper teachers due to the war, her scores are admirable. Gabrielle's a capable witch, like her sister."
Julian was the doting father type, and obviously he thought the world about his girls.
"Right." I ran a hand across my hair to allow the wind to soothe my scalp. My mind was racing, thinking on what to teach a fourteen year old girl. "I'll prepare a practical test to evaluate her skills in the subjects."
Julian nodded, but before I could head back inside, he called my name and I saw his entire demeanor of a gentle man change. His accent was even more noticeable than normal. "I completely trust Alastor Moody, and since he obviously trusts you to teach my daughter, then, I too will put my trust in you. Please do not abuse this."
"Don't worry." I said, suddenly feeling nervous. "The last thing I want is to hurt your daughter, or any of your family. I only want a peaceful, quiet life, Mister Delacour. And don't worry about your daughter. I'll make sure by the time I'm finished teaching Gabrielle, she'd be at the top of her class, and she would be able to hold her ground against an inner circle death eater."
I probably shouldn't have said that part, since Julian looked surprised for a moment. But then he smiled kindly at me, and patted my shoulder before he headed deeper into his garden. I felt like we had an understanding, and I headed back inside, thinking about suitable exercises to evaluate my student's current ability.
End of chapter 1
A/N: I dislike silly, long author's notes.