*wipes off dust and cobwebs* Hey, long time no see. huh? I suspect many of you were not expecting this story to be updated again. Well, I will just reiterate something I said before. I AM committed to finishing this story (though maybe I need to be committed for even considering this in the first place!), no matter how long it takes.
The writers block is still giving me grief, but I managed to pull this chapter together. It's more 'filler' really: I just can't see a way to make the daily routine of going to lessons exciting or interesting. But you're not here to hear me ramble. Onwards!
Chapter 47: Renewal, Endings & Beginnings
"How many are coming, again?" Harry asked nervously as he watched students step into the Room of Requirement. It was the first meeting of the old DA. Hermione and Daphne had both successful argued that with Umbridge gone, they no longer had to hide they actions. Indeed, McGonagall had signed off on their request to make the DA a formal school club without even really looking at the form… the slight twitching at the corners of her mouth telegraphing her thoughts on the subject.
"Not so many more than last year." Hermione supplied, her eyes running over a sheet of parchment she held. "Those of us who are still in school, plus some friends who didn't last year. And then there's the younger years…"
"And, of course, those who were not invited before." Daphne said softly.
Harry turned to regard her. "I'm sorry for my bias against your old house…" He began, but Daphne waved him off.
"I don't blame you Harry. Remember, I had to share a Common Room with those scum. While most of the house are not as rabid as the Death Nibblers, most are still sympathetic to Voldie's cause… or were more than willing to toady up to Umbridge."
Nodding in response, Harry turned to once again regard the door. Truth be told he was still nervous about all this. While the DA last year had been instrumental in enabling himself and his friends to survive the Department of Mysteries incident, this time around things were different. Last year they had formed the DA to get the practical experience in casting spells that Umbridge would not allow. Never mind the threat of the Death Eaters on Harry's own life… But now… this time, this was not about practicing spells to pass exams. No, this time, they really were forming an army. One to defend Hogwarts if all else failed. The responsibility was… daunting.
The clunk of the door closing prompted Harry to look back up, to see nearly everyone was watching him, waiting. Clearing his throat, Harry opened his mouth to start… then paused, when he noticed someone was missing. "Where's Tracy?" He asked softly to Susan, who was standing just to his other side from Hermione and Daphne.
"Just approaching the hall now." She replied, her eyes watching the parchment she held. Wary of the Death Nibblers getting wind of what they were doing and poking their noses in, Harry had asked Susan to watch the Map.
"So Harry, what's new?" Dean called out from the gathered students. Several others shifted, clearly wondering why they were still waiting.
"Just waiting for one more group to show…" Harry replied, just before the door opened once more. He smiled when Tracy stepped through…
"What the HELL they doing here!?" Eyes snapped to where Ron had stood, eye's narrowed at Tracy and the other students who'd followed her in. All of whom had green trimmed robes. "Go on, get!" Rom bellowed not even waiting for an answer. "This ain't for slimy snakes!"
"Ron…" Harry sighed, before carrying on. "They are here because I invited them."
Ron swung round, eyes wide. His mouth opened and closed several times even as the redness crept down from his ears to almost cover his face. At last he regained his voice… though most in the room considered that it was not a blessing. "What the fuck do you mean by that mate?"
Harry remained stoic, gaze levelled at his former best friend. "I meant exactly what I said Ron. This club is for all interested members of the student body. Including Slytherins."
"You can't trust those slimy good-for-nothings! They'll curse you in the back the moment they get a chance! Not one of them can be trusted!"
"Oh, and I suppose Gryffindor is spotless, then?" Harry almost sneered back, eyes narrowed. Everyone watching knew that this was between the two of them. Including Harry's family. Hermione knew that if she got involved, it would just make Ron worse, while Daphne knew that her stepping in would just add oil to the fire, and open them up to accusations of her 'corrupting' Harry. No, this issue was between Harry and Ron.
"Of course it is Harry!" Ron fell right into the trap.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Does the name 'Pettigrew' ring a bell?"
Ron looked stumped. "Who?"
"Don't tell me you've forgotten about him, Ron. Because I refuse to believe that." Harry snarled, eyes flashing dangerously. At Ron's continued blank look, Harry's look darkened. "You called him 'Scabbers' for ten years, remember?"
"Hold on, how does Ron's old pet rat relate to all this?" Seamus called out.
When Harry's gaze didn't move from Ron's face, Hermione answered for Seamus, and incidentally, the rest of the students. "Ron's pet 'Scabbers' was really a rat-form animagus called Peter Pettigrew. He was one of Harry's fathers' best friends." She looked at Harry apologetically. "He's also the one who betrayed Harry's parents to Voldemort. And managed to fool everyone into thinking he was dead, while Sirius Black - James Potter's best friend, and Harry's Godfather – paid for his crime."
The other students were now looking between the two boys, the looks at Harry sympathetic… the ones at Ron disgusted. After several moments, in which Ron's face had turned fully red and his mouth opening and closed – fortunately without any words coming out – Harry sighed as he closed his eyes, obviously reining in his ire.
"Ron… I don't want to fight. But this bigotry of yours' has got to stop. At the very least, leave it outside this room. In here, we are all the same. Which reminds me…" He turned to regard the rest of them, who had been hanging on every word. "Some of you must have noticed the selves either side of the door. From now on, when we meet here, leave your robes, ties and jumpers on them for the duration. In here, there are no Houses, just Hogwarts students."
Many of the students nodded at that, understanding what Harry was trying for.
"Now… I need to explain a few things." Harry began. "Last year, we formed the DA to give us the practical experience in casting the spells we needed for our DADA class and exam, as we certainly were not getting that from the classes." Some muttering arose. It was obvious that no-one had any fond memories of Umbridge. Harry pressed on. "We practiced casting, and learning the spells we would need to get us through the OWLS.
"However, this year, things are going to be different. I'm sure you've all heard the stories and rumours regarding what happened in June." Solemn nods answered his general question. "Yes, we survived, but it was only because the Death Eaters were holding back. From now on, they won't. Objectively, we were outclassed. We were playing with kids gloves, while they had knuckle-dusters. Stunners don't match up against lethal curses. Again and again, we stunned them, and each time, we failed to take them out of the fight altogether, as they just woke each other back up. When they hit however…" His eyes drifted to Hermione, then glanced to Luna. "…we were hurt. Badly.
"This year, we're changing things. While we will still practice casting spells, our focus is going to be mainly on using those spells. How, and when. We won't be standing in static lines casting at each other in turn. Instead, we'll focus on teamwork, spell combinations, and awareness of our surroundings."
"Sounds more like combat training." Justin spoke up.
Harry nodded grimly. "In short, yes. Over this summer, myself and others have had some… intense, instruction from an ex-member of the British Army. All for one end: to ensure that next time we get trust into a situation like what happened last summer, the Death Eaters will be the ones falling." At some of the paling faces, Harry sighed. "Please, understand: we're not going to be going out looking for fights. We're doing this to protect ourselves, to give time for the Aurors to arrive. To defend our families. I really strongly hope that none of you will ever have to use what we'll cover in these meetings. I really want to see us all meet again years from now, laughing about how paranoid I'm being right now. But… we can't be sure."
Sombre faces looked back at him. The haunted expression on Harry's face was conveying his message far more effectively than any words would.
"Right then. First, let's review what we already know…"
"… and so I reckon we should split the group that way." Hermione concluded. The 'family' were sat around the seating area of the Potter quarters, discussing the recently finished DA meeting. They had quickly discovered the disparate levels of skill in spell casting. The 'veterans' had all, by and large, maintained and remembered what they had learned last year. But those who had not attended – mainly the Slytherins, unfortunately – were behind. And of course this year they also had third years, who were far behind where Harry and their year group was in general.
Lily watched as Harry sat back, thinking, one arm around Daphne's shoulders. Thanks to her unique insight into his mind, Lily could easily picture what he was thinking. Hermione's proposal was, once again, brilliant. The main point was to break the DA into two tiers. The younger years – the third, fourth and fifth – would focus on spell casting, practicing the incantations. They would follow the model of the previous year's DA. Their goal was practice for OWL's.
The upper years however, would be focused on the tactics of both duelling and combat. The seventh, sixth and some fifth years would meet on another night from the younger set. It was the hope of the Family that these older year groups would be able to defend Hogwarts until help from the Ministry, or more likely the Army unit, arrived, if the worst should happen. Privately, Harry prayed that they would never have to do so: the risk of his fellow students being killed in such a clash would be very high.
"I agree." Daphne spoke up. "We don't want to dilute ourselves, trying to get everyone up to our level, nor hold back the upper years while we help the younger ones."
"Ideally they would stay behind in the common rooms, and not actually have to fight." Susan commented.
Harry shook his head at that. "Wrong Susan. Ideally, none of us would have to fight at all. Fate, it seems, doesn't like me however."
Silence fell as they all mulled over Harry's words. There was a certain element of truth to them.
"So we're agreed?" Hermione asked the group as a whole after a few moments. When they had all nodded or verbalised their agreement, she clapped her hands together. "Well then, shall we practice a bit more with our forms?" she proposed, and Lily only just managed to refrain from rolling her eyes. Ever since they had had that initial Animagus lesson during the summer, the teens had been following the practices and training to achieve the ability. With their forms known – with the exception of Harry – they had all decided to press onwards. As such, they were in the next step of the process, where one had to understand why they had such a form. What character traits within their own psyche it was born from. With meditation and contemplation, each one of them was slowly coming to grips with these issues. Lily liked the one description in the Potter Journals the best. 'You have to look inside yourself, understand your own being, till you find your animal form slumbering. Then you have to reach in and awaken it, make a connection, and allow your form to rise to the surface. It's not about control, its understanding and co-operation.' In addition to the mental exercises, they had also used the Ratenburg method to supplement the process, using minor transfiguration on both themselves and each other. While Minerva had no evidence, it was her conclusion that having their bodies already used to change would allow them to gain their full forms faster and easier.
Their success so far had been mixed. Luna was, unsurprisingly, the furthest along. Her natural dreamy nature allowed her to make the kinds of leaps of faith that the Animagus magics sometimes required. She had related that her form was awakened, but had yet to feel ready to come forth. Lily would not be surprised if she achieved the full transformation before Christmas.
Neville, Susan and Tracy were all at roughly the same level. Neville had awoken his form only the day before, while the girls were a couple of days before him. Though Tracy had joked that hers was still 'sleepy'. All three had a good grasp on what aspects of themselves their forms mirrored, and were well on their way to drawing the creatures forth.
Hannah and Daphne were only just behind those three, having touched and defined the beasts within, but as of yet not gotten them to awaken. Both had struggled at first; Daphne due to some lingering feelings from her families loss, while Hannah had to overcome a sense of self-doubt. Lily had worked with both to help them with these issues, and now both were well on their way. Fleur was also doing well. While she could not become an Animagus, she had confided that the exercises had already given her a greater sense of control over her Veela heritage and self. It was noticeable how much she'd gained, as her Allure was much less unrestrained, allowing her to act in her role of teaching assistant without all the boys in the classes losing their higher brain functions. She'd even practiced shifting into her avian, Veela form every now and again, though so far she'd not held it for longer than a couple of minutes at a time. Without the emotions that normally empowered it – either fear or anger – maintaining that form was tiring for her.
Hermione however was struggling. Part of the problem was her dual form, which meant she had twice as much to understand and identify within herself. And that was the bigger part of the problem, in Lily's opinion. Hermione was, despite all her strengths, weak in matters of faith and instinct. She had such an organised way of thinking and dealing with events of her life, that just letting go and acting on instinct and feelings was very alien to her. Except, that is, when she shared her bed – and body – with Harry. Then things went on auto-pilot. The innate understanding and comprehension of her own animalistic traits was something that Hermione was really struggling with, hence why she kept on pushing for more sessions, more lessons. She hated losing, or at least not succeeding, Lily had grasped. And the way Hermione resolved such issues in the past was practice, practice and more practice. Along with bucket loads of theory and study. But this was not something could read a book about and become an expert. This was all about instinct and feelings, much like flying a broom… and the whole family knew how Hermione felt about that mode of transport.
Most surprisingly, Harry was also having issues. It had been expected for him to pick this up faster, even be close to Luna in his progress by now. But he was almost as bad as Hermione. Without knowing what it was his form was, he'd had very little to go on as to what aspects of his character it came from. Some things they had postulated or inferred, however. In his dream he'd been alone, not in a group of such creatures, like Susan or Tracy had been. He'd flown, which had narrowed the range quite a bit. The location of his dream had also been noted; Animagus forms always, in the dreaming, appeared in their natural habitat. Harry's had clearly been at a high latitude, while the ocean view suggested somewhere in the region of Greenland. Harry had related that he'd felt filled with a sense of power and strength, a self-belief that nothing else could touch him. That suggested an apex predator or something like that.
Of course, Harry being Harry, his dream had also thrown up things that made things harder. Hannah had suggested a type of bird, maybe an Albatross, but Harry had quickly shot that down, as the one image he'd seen of his form had certainly not been bird-like at all. While he had not seen details, he had gained a rough sense of his forms head, at least. Flat but broad, with the defining feature being the two cat-like eyes, facing forwards instead of towards the sides like a birds. In his meditations he'd told her about how he could almost 'see' his form, all curled up asleep within himself. A black ovoid, the surface of which was slick and smooth, no hint of what lay within. It was certainly sleeping within, and very powerful; he had stressed that fact. Whatever his form was, it had a latent power that would not be denied. But all his attempts to awaken it had so far failed. Some of his character traits had been identified, such as his love of flying, but on the whole his form was a mystery.
Lily feared it was going to take something drastic to allow Harry to bring the beast forth. And when it did, things were going to be… interesting.
It was late in the hospital. Nearly all the patients were asleep or trying to, and only the night-shift of nurses and doctors were about. Almost nothing moved.
Except in one small isolation ward.
The patient admitted and booked into that ward was not sleepy in the slightest. Not even in the bed, but stood across the small room, staring at her reflection in the wall mounted mirror.
It wasn't much to see. Bandages were wrapped around her head so many times she looked like a mummy, broken only by small eye and mouth holes.
How could that… thing be her? Where was her elegant looks, her perfect hair? Why did they hide her whole face away? Her memory was vague and disjointed; bright flashes and heat, walls of flame and terrible roars. Pain still danced up and down her back, a remnant of her last memory, of flying bodily backwards.
Surely she wasn't that badly hurt. She had to know. The doctors never said anything, just looked evasively away the few times she'd asked. If she was to show her face in Privett drive once again, she had to regain her appearance. This… all wrapped up and swathed, was not it.
Her hands came up and at first slowly, but then more frantically, she began to tear at and unravel the layers of gauze and cloth. It was tricky at first, as her hands were also covered, all but removing her sense of touch and feeling. The skin on the back of them felt stiff, her fingers not flexing as they should, but she pressed on, regardless of any pain. She had to still be beautiful. She had too! Lily would not beat her in this!
She could easily recall the visit that her sister had made, shortly after she'd arrived in this… place. While she'd still been woozy from the pain medication, the sight of her hated sister, still looking like she had the day she'd been married nearly two decades before, had galvanized Petunia… and enraged her. She knew that it was because of her that everything terrible that had hit her and her family was due to her bitch of a sister. The humiliation and degradation, the arrests and charges. The explosion…
For a moment her hands stilled. The explosion that had put her here had also made her a widow. The police had arrived only a few days before, and had solemnly informed her of the deaths of her husband and sister-in-law. Petunia had demanded to see the body, but they had refused, claiming that to do so would not be wise, for her mental health! Eventually a few details had emerged, almost dragged from the inspectors throat. Her beloved Vernon had, apparently, been right next to or on top of one of the two explosions that had destroyed her home. The resulting damage to his body had rendered him only identifiable via dental records. Marge Dursley had been close by, and so had required the same method to identify. The inspector had muttered something regarding fragments of charges and rockets, the case being treated as suspicious, but Petunia already knew who was responsible for what had happened.
It was those damned magic folk! If only they had dumped the brat somewhere else, an orphanage, a waste bin, even the river, then they would never have had their lives troubled and marred by his freakishness! None of this would have happened!
She was down to the final layers now, and her hair was starting to show. Or rather, what was left. Her eyes widened at the sight of the barely half-inch stubble that her hair had been reduced to. Much of that length was blackened, burnt looking.
As the gauze came away, a white, sterile surgical mask was revealed, hiding her face under one last layer. She stared at the image, the bandages falling away to pile at her feet, before slowly lifting her hand up to run along the edge of the mask. Ignoring the newly formed and slowly growing red stains on the backs of her hands, Petunia pulled the mask away from her face.
The sight before her brought a horrified gasp to escape her now lipless mouth, as the mask fell from limp hands. Her eyes tracked over the raw, charred flesh that used to be her face, the bones breaching the surface like pale whales.
This could not be!
But it was.
Despair filled her, racing through her veins. How could she ever show her face again, when it was clear that she no longer had one? This… this thing looked like something that would have starred in one of her sons preferred horror movies. What kind of life did she have ahead of her now, with a monsters visage instead of her own?
As the anguish and despair rose higher, a cry of pain and loss, a denial of all that she had lost was torn from her, and she turned away, fleeing the room without direction or purpose. Her bare feet slipped on the lino flooring, but her desperate attempts to run away from that thing in the mirror drove her on. As she ran through the darkened corridors of the hospital, her wails of despair echoed throughout the wing, disturbing the other patients and drawing the attention of the duty staff. But they also rebounded and echoed around her, further fuelling and increasing her anguish. Petunia pushed herself even faster, trying to out run those echoes, heedless of the trail that she was leaving or the pains that her battered body was sending her brain. She didn't even notice the IV tube that she dragging behind her, the saline fluid bag torn and leaving a slick in her wake.
When she came to her senses Petunia found herself on the roof, the night sky above soaking up every sound she made. Only then did she start to feel the messages her body was sending her. The stinging of the roof against her bare feet, the agony that laced her back, the wetness of her blood soaking into the bandages around her hands.
But she could also feel the breeze whipping around her barely clad body… but not her face. Even turning into the wind, facing it head on, she felt nothing.
Within her, Petunia felt every hope, dream and desire fall into an abyss, her spirit plummeting. Stumbling, she reached the low wall around the edge.
Gazing over the lip into the darkness of the unlit rear loading area, Petunia felt the emptiness fill her.
There was nothing left for her now.
Faintly she heard a sound from behind her, but she didn't register it. A shout came from the open roof access, but by that time she was already standing on the rim.
The on-duty doctor caught a glimpse of her as she started her five floor fall to the hard, unforgiving concrete below.
"What was that potion you took?"
Fleur stilled, pale blue eyes jumping open, at Harry's question. Behind her, Harry continued to gently trace his fingers up and down her bare spine, keeping alive the tingling aftershocks of their multiple, mutual orgasms. Around them his bedroom was shaded in darkness; only a soft glow from overhead lit the room.
A sigh escaped her lips. "Why do you ask, 'arry?" She couldn't help the nervous tone in her voice.
"You didn't appear to want to take it, Fleur." Harry said softly. "In fact, you looked like you forced yourself to drink it. Then when you clutched your stomach…" His other hand slid underneath her to gently caress the region in question. "Are you okay? Is there something wrong?"
Fleur sighed once more. She could hear the concern in his voice, and realised that he wasn't going to let this lie. Besides, he deserved an explanation… "Non, 'arry. Nothing like that." She slowly sat up, the sheet sliding down to pool around her waist. "I'm more zhan fine."
Harry now sat up as well, a frown creasing his brow. Fleur did not sound fine… and her accent was coming back. Her English was greatly improved over where she had been even a year ago, but she still slipped back into her native tongue when stressed or upset. Or in the heights of passion, in which case Harry didn't mind one bit. "Fleur…" He said softly as he looped an arm across her shoulders, gently hugging her.
Fleur rested her chin atop of one raised knee, her arms looped around her leg. After a few moments she turned her head a little towards him. "It is, complicated, 'arry. And everything to do with what I am." She paused for a moment. "What am I, 'arry?"
Harry was taken aback for a moment. "You're Fleur Delacour, an incredibly beautiful, highly intelligent young woman. Caring and kind-hearted…"
"Non, 'arry. What am I?" Fleur cut him off firmly.
For several long moments neither spoke. Finally Harry spoke. "Is this about being a Veela?" At her nod, Harry rolled his eyes. "Fleur, I don't care about that! None of us do! It's not Fleur the Veela we love, but Fleur Delacour the woman, who came to love me…"
A small smile briefly appeared on Fleur's face. "Thank you, 'arry. But this, issue, is all due to my Veela blood. In my being a Veela."
I thought you were only a quarter one? I mean, I recall what you said back during the Tri-wizard… about your grandmother."
Fleur nodded. "It is a… misconception, that Veela follow the same breeding model that say, those with giant blood, do." Another sigh escaped her lips. "There are only two states of being a Veela 'arry, either you are a full Veela, or a half. There is no real difference between either state biologically. It is more of a… a mental state. The main difference is one's circumstances of birth. Pure Veela are the children of a Veela who has found her 'perfect partner'. If a Veela does not, her children will be 'half-Veela'. Like myself, my sister and my mother.
"Pure-born Veela, as we call them, have full access to all her Veela powers and control once she matures. She can change at will, not just when greatly angered or fearful. While Half-Veela can achieve such control, it takes years. A Pure-Born innately knows."
Harry slowly nodded, reaching across and taking her hand in his. "So… our children…" he said slowly as his fingers played across the ring on her finger. "Will be considered 'Pure-Born'?"
"Oui. Since it happens so rarely, we Veela treasure and celebrate such births. But more so because their births ensure that we will continue to exist."
"Okay… but how does that potion relate to all this?"
Fleur was silent for a long moment. "Being Veela… is not as easy as some like to think, 'arry. The jealousy of other witches, and the effects of our allure on weak-willed men… it is not easy to bear. But there is another factor. Veela, normally, have a very low fertility. We have great difficulty conceiving a child. It is rare for there to be more than one child to each Veela. Our numbers slowly decline with each year."
Harry paused in his ministrations, eyes widening. "You saying we won't have children?"
"Non, 'arry. Remember I said usually. When a Veela meets her perfect match, such as us…" Fleur interlaced her fingers with his, gripping tightly. "…her fertility vastly increases, sometimes to the point where it's harder to not get pregnant. Rest assured, my 'arry…" She now looked at him fondly. "…we will have many children, you and I. Many daughters for you to spoil, and even a few sons. For you see, while a non-matched pair only begets daughters, a matched pair do produce boys. The odds are still heavily in favour of us having girls, but there is the chance for a son to carry on my family name."
Harry breathed easily as what felt like bands that had been gripping his heart eased off. He then put two and two together. "So that potion…"
"Was a powerful contraceptive draft, oui. I can almost feel how fertile I am when we are together. That draft would last a normal woman a year. That was my second such draft since we started being intimate." Fleur giggled a little. "You burn it out of me very quickly."
Harry blushed as he dipped his head. "I guess it tastes horrid, then?"
Fleur sighed. "Oui, but it's more than that. My Veela instincts cry out to breed with you, to bear many children. But now is not the right time… for many reasons 'arry. Not least of which is that, to keep things simpler in the long run, your first-born child should be from 'ermione's loins, not my own. Trust me, it's easier that way. It's all tied up in the rules of succession and the like. Best to stay away from that mess and just ensure 'ermione bears your first child." Fleur paused. "There is also the issue of the war. This is not the ideal time for myself, or any of the others, to get pregnant."
Harry sighed. "I suppose not." He looked at her closely, brow furrowed. "Are you okay with this? Waiting for Hermione to decide she wants children? You could be waiting a long time…"
Fleur smiled. "Oui, I am. In fact I told 'ermione myself about this, and insisted that she be the first. In return, she promised me that I would be next." She giggled again. "As for waiting long, somehow I don't think we'll be waiting as long as you think, 'arry. Once Voldemort is gone… I foresee you having several randy witches eager for your children."
Harry flushed again, before he sobered. "That could still be a long time…" He said as he sat back.
"Non, 'arry." Fleur said firmly as she followed him back down, turning so that she was cuddled into his side instead of facing away. "You are more powerful that you know 'arry. And he is losing strength all the time. His only chance to win is to do so within the next few months. The longer this goes on, the more our people chip away at his power."
Harry had to agree with her on that. The army group had already done a lot of damage to Voldemorts forces, raiding a half-dozen Death Eater safe houses, and taking down three separate groups out on missions for the Dark Lord. And then there had been the engagement in Kent before they came back to school. From the grapevine, they had heard that no other giant tribe wanted anything to do with Voldemort… not after the last tribe had been so effectively put down. Six of their number killed in as many minutes made a rather convincing, if harsh, statement.
Deciding to put that issue aside, Harry turned his thoughts back to what Fleur had told him; about being a Veela. "Fleur… why do Veela have such, um… issues? Regarding children and such…"
Fleur sighed deeply. She had half hoped that Harry would not ask about that, though again he deserved to know. "That is… another complicated subject. One we Veela do not like to talk about much." She paused, taking a moment to put her thoughts into order and ensuring that she would not lapse into French. "We believe that the root cause is due to our… origins. Origins that the leading theory we have is not… one to be proud of."
Harry hugged her tightly to him. "We all have events in our past that we're not proud of, Fleur."
In response she lifted her head to look him in the eye. "…'arry, it is commonly believed, however much we would like not to, that we are descended from a union of Harpies and Succubus demons. Or perhaps some harpies that became such demons."
Harry's jaw dropped.
"As I said, we do not want to believe it, but all the evidence points towards that conclusion. Our supernatural beauty, the allure, our alternate form… even our affinity for fire and persuasion based magic; it all ties together with those two beings. Harpies almost live to breed, while succubi… well, I don't need to explain them, do I? Even our alternate form resembles a Harpy, mixed with a little demon to keep our arms separate and having the wings come our back. And of course, demons naturally excelled in controlling fire.
"Our earliest records talk of a time when our ancestors preyed on the normal humans. This was, from what we can infer, before even the pyramids had been built. Those Veela ancestors used their beauty and allure to lure men away, then kidnaped them to slack their lusts… all of them."
Harry gulped. "All?"
Fleur nodded. "Sex, offspring… and then eventually flesh and souls."
Harry looked into her eyes, trying to imagine this wondrous, caring woman acting in such a manner. A sexual predator, uncaring of anything but her own desires, using and then discarding men as she saw fit. It just… wouldn't gel. "So what changed?"
Fleur laid her head on his chest once more, snuggling into him a bit more. "A few were born, but the infertility of the demons had carried over, almost cancelling out the Harpies latent fertility. We're not sure what happened, but it seems that one of them had a change of heart. Perhaps she witnessed the effect her sisters deprivations had on the people around her. Perhaps she was innately a good person, we may never know. But it seems she encountered a being that later on became known as an 'Angel'.
"This angel cleansed her of the demon taint, freeing her from her base desires control. They had many children, the angel and her..." She paused significantly. "… Vel'la of Argos."
Harry breathed out. "Hence the name."
"Oui. But it was only when the children came of age that they discovered that the taint had returned in them, though not to the extent that she had been. And while her daughters had greater control over themselves, the infertility had returned as well. Until one daughter meet a man who was her equal in every way. The first 'perfect match'. Over the centuries since, the wild, aggressive ones died out, either to age or to vengeful wives or daughters. But Vel'las daughters lived on, each generation exercising a little more taint each time. By the time of the Greeks, almost all the taint was gone from Veela blood, but the effects remain. The most famous Veela of that time, even you would have heard of." Fleur smiled slightly. "Helen."
Harry frowned. "Helen… Helen… Helen and Greeks… oh what was it…"
Fleur giggled a little as he struggled to connect the threads. "Here's a hint, my love. It is said her beauty caused a thousand ships full of Greeks to set sail after her, to 'rescue' her from across the sea."
Finally the penny dropped for Harry. "You're talking about Helen of Troy!"
"Yes, her indeed. She was Veela. Her husband in Greece was a decent match, but Paris was a 'perfect-match', according to our limited records. What happened to her after the fall of Troy however… we do not know."
Both fell silent for a couple of minutes, before Fleur smiled wickedly and slid herself atop of Harry, her full breasts pressing against his chest. "So… 'arry…" she breathed seductively, her face inches from his own as she looked down into his eyes. "…how do you feel, knowing you're sharing your bed with the child of a sex demon?" She could already feel his member rising once more between her legs.
Harry looked at her seriously. "Honestly? I don't care about that. I care about the fact that you, Fleur Delacour, a wondrous young woman, are in bed with me. Yes, by any man's standards you are pure sex on legs… but you are so much more than that."
Fleur's seductive grin had morphed into a smile of pure happiness. "That is a very good answer, 'arry..." she cooed before lowered her head to kiss him with every ounce of love and desire she had for him.
Time passed as it always will, and as October drew to a close life went on within Hogwarts. Classes had to be attended, homework done and friends talked. The two main topics within the school were the reports from the Prophet, and unsurprisingly the group that had formed around Harry Potter. Whispers and rumours followed each one of them wherever they went in the school, however few dared speak too loudly while in their presence: Hermione and Daphne's reputations were still as strong as ever, and Susan was quickly showing that she would not tolerate any nonsense. Lily Potter had gathered quite a following in her own right, nearly all upper year male students. Whenever Harry caught their gazes at his mother he bristled, but the other ladies, and Lily herself, held him in check. Repeatedly, she assured him that if any of them tried anything, she would handle it herself. It would be the last mistake the bots would ever make… regarding women, at least.
When news of Petunia's suicide reached them, none of the family knew exactly what to think or feel. The woman had taken part in the torture of the young man they all held dear during his youth, yet she was also family, and any life lost is a waste. Lily spent a day in her room, crying for the sister she had lost years before. But she quickly was back to her role, the mother figure for the family, and Harry in particular. The question of what would happen to Dudley now was raised, but no one could come up with any clear idea. He was awaiting his day in court for his role in Harry's abuse: whether the court would go easier on him now that he too was an orphan was unknown. All of Harry's future wives were adamant about one thing though: he would have no further daily contact with Harry, unless he demonstrated clear, fundamental change in his view of the world and his behaviour.
During this time, Luna's Terrible Terror Familiar Gobbler was a godsend. The little dragon was constantly chirping and rubbing up against them all, bringing smiles to all their faces. The games he played with Crookshanks and Hegwig were a delight to watch too. Other students still stared at the little dragon when he showed his head, but they had all quickly learned that he was very territorial regarding Luna. The insults, name calling and other attempts to make her life miserable had ceased once he proved that he would flame up anyone trying anything.
Surprisingly, he was also a hit with the professors too, with the obvious exception of Snape, who only looked at the little thing with a mixture of disgust and greed, and the unexpected, though subtle, displeasure of Dumbledore. Why the old headmaster disliked Gobbler none of them were sure about. As for Snape, well, he hated everyone it seemed. None more so than Harry and anyone associated with him, though after Lily's little 'talk' he had toned down his vitriol. A little. And it was clear in his eyes that the burning hatred he held for Harry was growing stronger. He still mainly called on Harry for 'classroom demonstrations'. An excuse to publicly hex Harry without repercussion that everyone saw through. His lessons on Defence were… interesting. He clearly knew the Dark Arts, but once more his lack of teaching abilities were hampering the students learning, for he'd focused on silent spell casting, demanding that every student become proficient in it, but without explaining how to go about it. Needless to say, very few were making progress on that front. Each DADA class points dropped from three of the Houses like stones, Gryffindor in particular.
Of course, Lucius Malfoy had tried to have the little dragon confiscated and executed, but Amelia had come through and cut him off at the knees. It had been clear in her eyes though that she'd have preferred to have been using hexes over words and legal action to cut him down. Everyone 'knew' he was a Death Eater. It was the proof that was proving hard to get.
At the other end of the spectrum, Hagrid was like a kid visiting Father Christmas every time Luna brought Gobbler down to see him. He adored the little dragon – who had no fear of the half-giant in return, and seemed to find him fascinating – almost as much as Luna herself did.
The war against the dark forces dominated the Prophet. A number of minor non-pureblood families had been attacked, often with the aurors arriving too late to really help. Amelia was frustrated at this turn of events. She was more and more convinced that she had a mole in the DMLE. So far, Voldemort had not tried another big attack like before, but was sending out nuisance raids and terror appearances. Fortunately his attacks against the muggles had all but ceased: Captain Grangers force were deadly effective. The last battle between them and the Dark Lord's forces had been when a dozen of his followers had tried to rob a bank during the night. It had been against them from the start. CCTV had caught them as they apparated in down the street from the bank, and recorded as they tried to get in. When their unlocking spells failed to open the security doors, they resorted to blasting curses, which also set off the burglar alarm. The police had set up a cordon while the Army team, brought to site via a pair of portkey equipped Land Rovers, had moved in. The new recruit Death Eaters had been fumbling about, trying to work out where all the money was – not understanding that this bank dealt with electronic transfers, with any cash paid in removed to a secure facility at the end of the day – when the squad hit them in the rear. The two fire teams, linked by Captain Granger and one of the royal marines, had moved through the bank systematically, gunning down any figure in black they met. With anti-apperation and portkey wards set up by the teams auror escort, the Death Eaters had tried to flee out the back… only for the first two to step outside to fall to head shots. Having never seen the effects of a sniper in action, the Death Eaters had panicked, flailed about before trying to force past the Army force. Not one of them survived the attempt.
But even with the cloud of the war hanging overhead, the bulk of the students were eagerly looking forwards to the Halloween feast.
They would have been singing a very different tune had they known that as the 31st dawned, deep within the Forbidden Forest an ancient giant spider shuddered and breathed it's last. His death unleashed a tide of death aimed directly at the ancient castle…
Why yes, that is the oncoming sound of action! Hopefully the next chapter will come out more easily: it's one I've planned almost since I started writting this. I hope to post it November the 1st. Till then!