A Boon for Bill
a HP fanfic by canoncansodoff
Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Chapter 1: An Alluring Difference
There was a light on in the kitchen window as Harry Potter and his Headmaster approached the back door of the Burrow after their successful recruiting trip.
"Somebody is still up at this hour?" the teen wondered.
"Arthur has been working long hours at his new post," Dumbledore noted. "Almost everyone at the Ministry has, now that Voldemort's return has been confirmed."
"Ah…perhaps that is his story to tell," the Headmaster replied sagely, as he stepped up to the thick wooden door and knocked. In order to gain entry, Dumbledore was required to answer a challenge through the door crack. Harry's price of admission into the Burrow's kitchen was a bone-crushing hug against Molly Weasley's bosom.
Once released, Harry spotted two younger witches sitting at the kitchen table with mugs in their hands. The one with her back to him had mousy brown hair. The other, who was facing Harry, was so breathtakingly beautiful that he couldn't help but stare.
Now, a charitable person might attribute the teenager's bad manners to the witch's tall, willowy frame, or to her long blonde hair that appeared to emanate a faint, silvery glow. A less charitable person might instead place the blame on the thin, nearly translucent dressing gown, or to the amount of cleavage revealed by that gown's loosely knotted sash.
Molly Weasley fell firmly into the latter camp, and proved it by growling out a spell that transfigured the witch's gown into a thick terrycloth robe that closed tightly at the neck.
"I'll not have you dressing like a scarlet woman in front of my boys," Molly spat.
"But…I was covered, and you said that 'Arry would not be making his arrival until ze morning?"
Dumbledore took a step forward and held his hands out as if to separate the two witches.
"I must accept the blame for this," he stated. "We were lucky that Slughorn proved far more agreeable and the effort far less time-consuming than I had anticipated…Harry's doing of course. Ah, hello, Nymphadora!"
"Hello, Headmaster," the third witch replied, turning towards the arrivals. "Wotcher, Harry."
The-Boy-Who-Lived could hardly believe that this was the same witch he'd first met during his previous escape from Privet Drive…not just because she wasn't sporting her usual mop of bubble-gum-pink hair, but because she hadn't immediately challenged the use of her first name, or teased him for his age-appropriate indiscreet manners.
"Hiya, Tonks…how are you?"
"Just peachy, thanks," she replied, pushing back from the table. Tonks then pulled her cloak around her shoulders and nodded. "Well, I'd better be off…thanks for the tea and sympathy, Molly and…Harry, you remember Fleur Delacour, don't you?"
"Erm…yeah, of course."
"Eet 'as been too long, 'Arry," the part-Veela declared warmly, as she too rose from the table. It took only a few light steps for her to cross the room, place her hands on Harry's shoulders, and lean forward to kiss each of his cheeks.
"Ah…yes. Eez good," he stammered, feeling the places where her lips had touched burn.
Molly muttered in the background.
Fleur tilted her head towards the older witch's words, then smiled and greeted Albus Dumbledore in mostly the same manner (her lips finding far more air than cheek). The Headmaster accepted the attention with good-humor, and begged forgiveness that he would not be able to stay.
"Tonks, dear, are you sure that you have to go?" asked Molly. "Bill should be arriving home with my husband before too much longer."
The metamorph's eyes met Fleur's, and they shared a small smile before she insisted on saying her goodbyes, and headed out the back door towards the designated outbound apparition point. Dumbledore was close behind, leaving Harry alone with Molly and Fleur.
"Are you hungry, Dear?" the Weasley matriarch asked him. "Have a seat at the table…I've got some onion soup on the simmer."
Harry's eyes darted towards the stove and smiled.
"That sounds wonderful, Mrs. Weasley…thanks."
With his attention focused on the delicious aroma, Harry missed Fleur's frown behind his back.
"Come sit next to me, 'Arry…I 'ave been longing to see you," she said.
The Boy-Who-Lived turned, surprised by the request, and by the way that the part-Veela was almost caressing the section of wooden bench closest to her.
"Really?" he asked, sitting a respectful distance from the witch. She gave him a mock pout, then grabbed his arm and slid her bum over until they were thigh-to-thigh.
"Oh, yes…I 'ad no opportunity to zank you for saving me zat night in ze maze."
"Oh, well…you would have done the same…" Harry replied nervously, his brain focused on the leg contact.
Fleur shook her head and squeezed his arm. "Or to zay my thanks again for saving my seester. You remember Gabrielle, no? She never stops talking about her 'Arry Potter. She can't wait to see you as well."
"Is she here too, then?"
"No, no…you are so silly!" Fleur smiled, as she squeezed his arm. "I mean next summer when Bill and I wish to…ah, but you do not know, no?"
"I don't know know what?"
The melodic laugh that escaped from the blonde-haired witch was carried on a mint-scented exhale that brushed against Harry's face like a warm wind.
"Bill and I are intended to be married!" Fleur declared.
"Oh, erm…congratulations," said Harry blankly.
"Zank you,'Arry," the part-Veela replied, pulling him into another embrace.
When Harry looked over Fleur's shoulder he noticed that Molly had a stern look on her face, as she stared down at the pot of onion soup and stirred with far more force and speed than was necessary.
"Bill eez very busy these days," noted Fleur, "working very 'ard at ze bank, and sometimes 'elping with 'is father's work as well. I only work part-time at Gringott's for my Eenglish, and Bill and I have been staying here…to help with the watching, but also to save money for ze down payment on a house once we are wed."
Molly let out an audible sniff. Fleur, having already heard something similar on many other occasions, paid her no mind.
"I was so pleased to 'ear zat you would be staying 'ere as well…zere isn't much to do 'ere unless you like cooking or throwing ze garden gnomes! And I know zat 'Ermione 'as been so anxious to 'ave your arrival…"
Harry's eyes lit up at the news. "Hermione? Is she here?"
Molly let another inarticulate sound escape her mouth. "She arrived a few days ago," she then stated.
Confirmation of this news came to Harry when he felt something else brush against his leg…something warm and furry. He ducked his head underneath the table and smiled.
"Crookshanks! How are you doing, old boy?"
The part-kneazle looked up at Harry, then glanced at his thigh-against-thigh point of contact with Fleur. When he reached down and offered Crookshanks a spot on his lap, the familiar shook his head, then darted out from the other side of the table.
"Where is he off to?" Harry wondered, as the part-Kneazle scampered towards the opened doorway that led upstairs.
"'Ermione's familiar has been playing ze lookout for her," Fleur answered.
"Ah, I see," said Harry. He stood up and braced himself for the hug that would follow a shout of surprise, then the pounding on stairs as his best friend barreled her way down to see him. It wasn't until later that he realized that Hermione's silent arrival was intentional, so as not to wake up certain others.
The bushy-haired witch smiled when she poked her head into the kitchen, then practically leaped into her best friend's arms.
"Harry, I would have…" she mumbled into his shoulder. "But they said that you wouldn't…."
"Ssssh…s'okay, Hermione," the Boy-Who-Lived whispered into her ear. "I really wasn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow."
Fleur stood and slipped onto the bench on the opposite side of the table. Harry acknowledged this with a mouthed "Thanks" as he guided Hermione down onto the spot that had just been vacated. The Muggleborn then pulled her head back from Harry, and carefully scrutinized his face. He knew what she was thinking, and really didn't want to talk about how he'd been coping over the loss of his godfather. So he took the initiative.
"Mrs. Weasley is making soup for me," Harry told Hermione. "So how about I tell you all about our new Potions Professor in between sips?"
"It's late, Harry," Molly noted, as she levitated a bowl of hot onion soup onto the table. "Wouldn't you rather wait until morning, so that you won't have to repeat the story for Ginny and Ron's benefit?"
"Oh, I don't mind," Harry said with a smile. His eyes sought out Hermione's, and then Fleur's, but they were both too focused on the soup bowl to return his attention. He frowned a bit in confusion, and then added, "Unless Fleur would rather fill me in on the details about her engagement to Bill?"
Molly pursed her lips. "They aren't actually engaged yet, you know."
"Only because my Bill wishes to do ze 'onorable thing and ask for ze permission first," Fleur countered.
"Whatever…now off to bed, you two!" she ordered, waving both Hermione and Fleur away from the table with her fingers. "Harry will be following right behind after he eats his soup."
Not wishing to get involved in this disagreement, Harry instead focused on filling his stomach. He looked down at the table and frowned, certain that there had been a spoon there next to the bowl. As he ducked his head to look to see if it had fallen to the floor, Fleur reached across the table and lightly grasped Hermione's hand.
"Molly, while I am 'appy zat you will be my future mozzer-in-law… I am an adult, and 'Ermione only a few months from ze same…"
"Yes, but this is my house and…"
"And we are not your daughters," Fleur gently countered. "And I am not yet your daughter-in-law, and 'Ermione is not even zat."
"You can say zat again!" Hermione muttered, just loud enough for Harry to hear as he rose from the bench.
"What can I get you, Harry?" Molly asked.
"Oh, no worries…I was just going to get a spoon from the drawer…"
"There was one on the table…oh, never mind. Sit down…I'll get you another one."
The Weasley Matriarch was just about to pull out the silverware drawer when she saw movement in the corner of her eye.
"Oh! They're coming!" she exclaimed, pointing towards the clock that was propped up on the kitchen counter-top. Both Bill and Arthur's hands had swung from "Mortal Peril" to "Traveling."
And sure enough, a few moments later there was a knock on the back door. Forgetting all about missing cutlery, Mrs. Weasley hurried to it, pressed her face against the wood, and called out her husband's name. Fleur stood and made her way towards the door as well, anticipating the arrival of her intended. Molly and Arthur then started down a humorous exchange of challenge questions and answers that involved flight mechanics and embarrassing nicknames. Mr. Weasley and Bill were let into the house and, once they broke away from their respective welcome hugs, dropped down onto the bench opposite Harry and Hermione.
"Harry! We weren't expecting you until morning!" Arthur said, reaching a hand across the table as his wife set two more bowls of soup onto the table.
"Thanks, Molly," he said warmly. "Been a rough night…good thing our son the curse-breaker was right there by my side."
"Ah, it was nothing," Bill said with a wave. He kept that hand extended out as Harry gave it a firm shake.
"I hear that congratulations are in order, Bill."
"Thanks, Harry," the curse-breaker replied with a grin. When Fleur leaned over his shoulder and draped her arms around his neck he patted her arm and added, "I still can't believe that she said yes."
"These three were just heading up to bed," Molly blustered, trying to get her way though some passive aggressiveness. "Harry, Dear, you'll have Fred and George's room all to yourself..."
"Why? Where are they?"
"They've been sleeping in the flat over their joke shop," said Molly. "Go on then, Harry. Their room is just off the first floor landing now."
"First floor?" Harry confusedly asked.
Arthur asked, "Haven't been given the grand tour of the new upstairs?"
"He's only just arrived," Molly said defensively. She turned to Harry and added, "We've done a little bit of remodeling since your last stay here, Dear."
"A little bit of remodelling?" Bill snorted. "Found my old bedroom then?"
"William!" Molly chided. "Harry can get a tour in the morning." Addressing the black-haired teen, she added, " Go on, then...just one flight of stairs and to your left...your trunk and owl are already set up."
"Er…thanks," Harry replied, looking across the table towards the family curse-breaker.
"Did your bedroom really get lost?"
Bill smiled. "Dunno. I was out of the country when it supposedly got up and walked away."
Harry imagined a bedroom with legs as it ran down the road. Given all that he'd seen magic do, he wondered if the comment was to be taken literally.
"Why aren't you sleeping in Fred and George's old room, then?" he then asked. "I really don't need a room to myself…I'd be happy to share with Ron again."
Bill snorted. "Sorry, old man…but I'm already bunking with my little brother."
"Really?" asked Harry. "What about Percy's old room…is he back, then?"
Molly choked back some tears and turned away from the table.
"I'm afraid Percy is still…on his own," said Arthur. "Hermione is using his room at the moment."
"I am sharing with my future zister-in-law," the French witch answered. "And getting to know 'er very, very well."
"Ah, I see," Harry said. He stood, but instead of moving towards the stairs, he walked towards the silverware drawer. Molly blocked his way.
"Oh, so sorry…with all of the excitement. You sit down, and I'll warm that soup up for you, and get you a new spoon."
Bill spotted Hermione and Fleur's attention to Harry's bowl and arched an eyebrow. "I'll take care of the soup, Mum," he stated, drawing his wand.
The warming spell was slightly overpowered, causing the broth to boil and spill over the edge of the table where Harry's lap would have been had he still been seated.
"Oops, sorry about that…end of a long day and all that," the curse-breaker said apologetically.
Molly shook her head and vanished the boiling contents of Harry's soup bowl from both bowl and bench.
"I've got plenty more, Harry dear," she noted, patting his shoulder.
As the teenage wizard sat back down next to Hermione, he spotted her staring at Fleur and Bill, holding a wordless conversation with head nods and eye movement.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"No…not at all, Harry," Hermione replied.
"Are you sure, 'Ermione?" Fleur asked.
The Muggleborn witch glanced nervously at Harry and bit her lower lip. She made a decision, then nodded her head slightly to Fleur and whispered, "We have to be sure."
"Sure about…?" asked Harry.
Hermione cut off his question by reaching down and squeezing high up on his thigh.
"Brace yourself, Harry," she whispered.
"What?" he asked. While turned towards his best friend, Harry didn't notice as Fleur closed her eyes and relaxed her shoulders. Instead, he noticed Hermione's eyes dilate, and heard a low-pitched moan escape from her lips as she clamped her knees together and squeezed down harder on his leg.
"Y-y-yes, Harry?" the Muggleborn stammered, before biting down on her lower lip in an attempt to limit any other sounds from following.
"Are you okay?" he asked. Hermione was now taking shallow breaths, with her eyes shut and a grip on Harry's thigh that was moving northward.
"I'm fine," the Muggleborn purred.
Harry was far more nervous than fine as his best friend's nipples visibly hardened underneath her gown, and her fingers ran up the inside of his thigh. He reached down and covered Hermione's hand just before it could cup his bits.
"What's going on?" he hissed, shifting his attention from Hermione towards Bill. The red-haired wizard placed his hand out with palm facing Harry, and mouthed the words "Hold on!"
The-Boy-Who-Lived cocked his head, and was about to ask Bill for an explanation when a loud moan caused him to completely lose his train of thought. He turned, and caught his breath when he realized that it was Mrs. Weasley that had moaned, rather than the witch that was now squirming by his side.
"Arthur…time for bed!" she ordered, placing her hands on the table and thrusting her ample bosom towards her husband's face.
The Weasley patriarch gasped, more than a bit embarrassed by the obvious signs of his wife's sexual arousal. But not so embarrassed as to look a gift shag in the mouth.
"Erm…right then," he stammered, as he rose from the table. "You four don't stay up too late, right? Goodnight!"
Harry watched with his mouth agape as Arthur scrambled up the stairs, keeping one step ahead of his wife and her groping hands.
Just as soon as Mr. Weasley was out of sight Hermione bolted away from the kitchen table and dashed through the entrance to the adjacent front sitting room…one hand groping her own breast as the other furtively untied the sash of her robe.
"What the hell?" Harry demanded.
"Sorry, it was the only way," said Bill.
"But Hermione…what's wrong with her?"
Bill reached over and grabbed Harry's arm when the black-haired teen rose to check on his best friend.
"Sit, Harry!" he ordered. "Hermione doesn't need your help right now."
"Pleaze, 'Arry…listen to Bill," Fleur added, as she stood and canceled Molly's transfiguration spell. The shift from thick terrycloth back to thin silk caused her restored dressing gown to fall completely open in the front, revealing a black lace demi-cup bra and high-cut knickers underneath.
The attention Harry paid to the part-Veela's state of undress was short-lived…the perky pink nipples half-exposed by her half-cups were breathtaking, but not quite a match for the incredibly sexy moans coming from his best friend's mouth in the other room.
"Ohhh….fuck….!" Hermione hissed loudly.
Fleur followed Harry's eyes and blocked the threshold in between the kitchen the sitting room. As she casually retied her dressing gown she said, "Relax, 'Arry…'Ermione has ze situation well in 'and."
Harry doubted this assertion when he heard another loud moan coming from the other room.
"What are you two on about? What have you done to her?"
"Fleur released a variation of her allure that affects women, rather than men," Bill replied. "Defense mechanism when a Veela doesn't want to be the centre of men's attentions."
"Eet waz ze only way to get you away from Molly and 'er soup," added Fleur. The part-Veela then looked back towards the sitting room, pulled her wand, and thought to cast a silencing spell.
"What about Hermione?"
"She'll be fine, once she…releases the effects of the allure," Bill replied. "She's gone through this before, Harry…and she did agree on the need."
"Once she releases the effects? You mean that she's in the other room right now, rubbing one…?"
"Yes she is…and if she isn't too embarrassed over the fact she can explain why later," said Bill. He then pulled a small vial from his pocket and set it down on the table. "Right now, I need you to focus…and drink this potion."
"It's an antidote for Amortentia," Bill asserted. "That's a type of love potion."
"What would I need that for?"
"Because we're certain that Mum brewed up a batch last week, and we can't be sure that she didn't already slip some into your soup."
Harry scowled. "You think your Mum wants me to fall in love…with her?"
"No!" Bill nearly shouted. "With Ginny, you berk. Now will you just drink it?"
"This is ridiculous," Harry muttered, shaking his head. "You expect me to believe that Fleur did something that caused your Mum and Hermione to…get so that they have to…oh, Merlin, so that means that right now your Mum and Dad are…?"
"Yes, Harry, they are," Bill said with a sigh. "They probably didn't think to silence the room again, either." Harry then heard confirmation of this statement when the sound of rhythmic banging drifted down two flights of stairs.
"Oh, that's just…" Harry moaned. He shook his head and added, "Well, so long as they are busy upstairs, maybe you two could back up and start this story from the beginning?"
Bill sighed, and nodded his head. "Fleur and I have been here for a week and a half. We're staying here for the summer because…well because of you."
"Yeah, but…well off-point for now. The point is that when we arrived here and announced that we intended to get engaged, Mum went through the roof. She's convinced that Fleur is using her allure to trap me, and would rather I settle down with the nice English witch that she's picked out for me."
"Ze metamorph…Tonks," Fleur claimed. "Although she eez not part of Molly's schemes, as 'er 'eart belongs to another."
"Either way, within a couple of days of our arrival, Mum had her cauldrons on the boil," Bill said. "She claimed that she was just making medicinal potions, but…well easy enough to tell from the owl-mailed ingredients."
"But if she wanted to use the love potion on you…then why would I need to worry?"
"We might be completely off-base here," Bill admitted. "But you could be a target of opportunity…so long as she's got the potion brewed, and is still dreaming of her one big happy Weasley family…"
"Molly weeshes Bill to wed Tonks, and to match 'Ermione with Ronald, and to pair up you wiz Ginny," Fleur declared.
"Why would she…that's just so hard to believe," Harry decided.
"I know, I don't want to believe it myself," Bill admitted. "But with Mum almost bragging about the fact that potions were used to get Dad in the right mind…"
"Yeah," said Bill. "Dad laughs about it now, saying 'all's well that ends well'…claims that the potion can't create what isn't there just under the surface to begin with, but…"
Harry shook his head as he eyed the vial.
"Not to doubt what you're telling me," he said, "but if this is all true, why are you helping me?"
"Because it's the right thing to do?" asked Bill.
"True, but…to go against your own family…"
"I think that I'm actually helping the family by helping you, Harry."
"And 'elping 'im start 'is own family," Fleur added with a grin. She turned towards the sitting room after catching movement in the corner of her eye. "Ah, I knew it would be quick with you 'ere, 'Arry…eef you will excuse me?"
The teenage wizard shook his head again as Fleur walked into the sitting room. Then he thought of what may have just happened in the sitting room, and couldn't help but lean forward and twist his head for a look.
"Eyes here, Harry" Bill hissed, covering Harry's arm again. "She's going to be embarrassed enough as it is, don't you think?"
The black-haired wizard thought for a moment, then sighed and leaned as far back as he could without falling off the bench.
"So what did Fleur mean about you helping yourself?" he asked.
Bill started to glance back towards his girlfriend, but caught himself in time.
"Best that she be here to explain," he decided. He then looked down at the vial and asked, "Would it help if I took a vow stating that the vial contains a love potion neutralizer, and that everything else that I've told you tonight is true, to the best of my knowledge?"
Harry stared down at the vial and shook his head.
"That won't be necessary," he decided. "I suppose that you've already dosed yourself?"
"Yeah," Bill replied. "Hermione did as well, once she arrived and we warned her off."
"Yes, Harry…really," Hermione declared from the entrance to the kitchen.
The Boy-Who-Lived looked up towards his best friend. Her hair was in place and her dressing gown tied modestly across her chest. Any sign that she had been sexually aroused…and acted in response…were gone, so long as you considered her flushed cheeks to be due more to embarrassment than excitement.
"Hey…are you okay?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she muttered, as she cast her eyes downward and walked around the table to take her seat next to Harry.
"Well…erm…thanks," Harry stammered. "For willing to…you know…"
"No worries," Hermione said quietly. "Just make it worthwhile and drink that bloody neutralizing potion before Molly finishes up and comes looking for us."
Given the situation, Harry did not care to hear the words "Molly" and "comes" in the same sentence. But he took this advice to heart and brought the vial that Bill had placed on the table to his lips.
Hermione didn't care for the way that those lips were smiling as he downed the neutralizer.
"Something funny, Mister?" she challenged. "I would have thought that you'd react more maturely about this…not like you're Ron…"
Harry's eyes widened at this chastisement. He waited until he'd finished off the vial's contents before responding, however.
"Sorry, Hermione…I was laughing over the fact that you just swore, not that you just…"
"Well, never mind then," she replied, finding it hard to look Harry in the eye.
He decided that it would be best for his eyes (and thoughts) to focus elsewhere as well, so he turned to Bill and Fleur and asked, "So what about you two starting a family, then?"
It was Bill's turn to experience reddened cheeks. He turned to his girlfriend, who nodded and placed her hand over his in support.
"Bill and I…we wish to be married, but we can not do zis without your 'elp, 'Arry."
"My help?" asked Harry.
"Oui," the part-Veela replied. "Because of last year…when you saved both ze life of my seester and myself…"
"What?" asked Harry. "What does…not that I think that I actually saved your lives…although I was happy to help…you would have done the same…no need to…."
"But zere eez a need," Fleur declared. "I can feel it in my 'eart every time zat I zink about fully giving my 'eart to William."
"You…you feel something about me in your heart?" Harry asked incredulously. "Not that I'm not flattered, Fleur, but…"
Hermione decided that she could no longer hold her tongue and entered the conversation.
"Harry, it's not that Fleur has feelings for you…she just feels that she can't act on her feelings towards Bill with the life debt or debts that she thinks are hanging over her head."
"Not zink, 'Ermione…I know," Fleur insisted.
The raven-haired teenager furrowed his eyebrows. "Even if there was a life debt here, which I kind of doubt…why would that get in the way of anything? I could just forgive the debt, or have it paid off with a promise not to betray me, or something?"
"Eet doesn't work zat way with ze Veela," Fleur replied. "We are ze creatures sexual…if ze life debt eez created eet must be repaid with body and soul…"
"Body and…you mean that you have to give me your body...but I thought that this was about you two?"
"Eet eez, 'Arry."
"You aren't suggesting that you need to give me your virginity, or something like that, to satisfy this debt you think exists?"
The serious expression on Fleur's face lightened considerably with this question.
"Eet would be too late for zat, zanks to my William, 'ere," she replied coyly.
Harry's attention turned towards Bill, who had his eyes firmly focused on the table in front of him. He tried his best to ignore the thoughts associated with Fleur's last comment, and asked, "So in plain terms, Bill…how can I help you two? Do I need to ask Fleur for a kiss, or something?"
The older wizard shook his head. "When she said heart and soul, Harry…we're talking more than just a kiss."
Bill let out a deep sigh as he looked straight into Harry's eyes.
"By granting me a boon, milord!" he stated firmly.
There was silence in the room as the four dwelt on that statement. Not that noise couldn't still be heard, mind you, given what was carrying down the stairs…
"Plain terms, Bill?" Harry finally asked.
"Fleur is certain that her debt to you has to be repaid sexually," the older wizard explained. "But that doesn't mean that there has to be a direct repayment…you could give Fleur to one of your liege-men as a boon."
"Give Fleur to somebody else?" asked Harry. "Like she was my property or something?"
Hermione shook her head and squeezed Harry's hand.
"No, Harry, it's not like that…okay, well maybe it is, but…"
"Not helping, Hermione…"
"You wouldn't be giving Fleur to just anybody…you can give her to Bill as a boon from his liege lord, and then they can become engaged for real," his best friend countered.
"I can?" Harry asked. "And if I did, they could?"
"Oui, milord," Fleur said with a smile.
"And what is all this milord business?" asked Harry. "I'm not a Lord." He then turned towards Hermione and weakly added, "Right?"
His bushy-haired friend smiled and shook her head. "Not that I can tell, Harry…at least not yet."
"You mean that I…"
"As Heir Apparent you can become Lord Potter on your birthday…maybe Lord Black as well, depending on what Sirius set out in his will."
"But I'll only be sixteen? And while Dumbledore said that Sirius left me everything, he didn't say anything about me becoming Lord Potter or Lord Black?"
"I'm not surprised," Bill said. "More than once I've heard him and Mum talking about you needing to enjoy your childhood for as long as possible. But the fact is, as the Potter Heir Apparent you have the right to claim your lordship at sixteen and be recognized an adult a year early."
"Yeah, well that first bit I can believe," Harry said cynically. "So let me see if I've got this right. When I turn sixteen next month, I can become Lord Potter, and then you can swear fealty to me, and then you can ask for a boon, and I can transfer Fleur's life debt from me to you so that you two can get married like you should be able to in the first place?"
Bill thought for a moment, then nodded. "That's it, more or less."
"And that would make me square with the Delacour family?"
Fleur giggled. "Wiz me at least. My seester will insist zat she still must be sitting on your hook."
Harry closed his eyes and groaned, while Hermione squeezed his hand and said that there would be plenty of time down the road to worry about Gabrielle sitting on Harry's hook.
"So what would it mean if you become my liege-man, Bill?" Harry asked, his eyes still shut.
"It would mean that I would become your man…you would have my loyalty above all others."
Fleur cleared her throat. Harry opened his eyes while Bill turned towards his girlfriend and blushed.
"Erm, except for my wife, if you don't mind, milord."
This qualifier earned Bill a kiss on the cheek. He then turned back to Harry and said, "Not counting my wife, Harry…but counting my Mum…or Dumbledore…or even Gringott's if it ever came down to it."
Harry mulled this over for a moment. Or at least tried to…it was hard to mull giving the distracting noises coming from upstairs.
He nodded towards the empty vial.
"So that's why you gave me this antidote...in case your Mum spiked my soup?"
Bill shrugged. "I would have done it anyway, but…yes. While I can't actually swear fealty until you assume your lordship, I think that I can prove my worth to you between now and your birthday."
"You don't have to prove anything to me, Bill," Harry said dismissively, as he reached out his hand. The red-haired wizard smiled, and grabbed further up Harry's arm, as a kinsman might shake hands.
And then the moment of camaraderie was ruined by Molly's coarsely-worded encouragement for her husband to ride her like a hippogriff.
Bill, Harry and Hermione all winced. Fleur chuckled.
"Why don't you sleep on this?" Bill asked. "We should be able to find some more time to talk over the next few weeks."
"Without going to the same extremes, hopefully," added Hermione.
Harry nodded in agreement as he looked across the table. "You two are really going to stay here over the summer?"
Bill looked towards Fleur and shrugged. "When we joined the Order last month, our first orders from Dumbledore were to spend the summer here at the Burrow. Two extra wands, in-house protection during your stay and all that. Can't say that the sleeping arrangements are ideal…"
"Or ze 'overing of zee Queen Bee," Fleur added.
"Zat too," Bill teased, adding, "But we'll muddle through somehow."
A cry of passion caught all of their attentions. Bill looked towards the stairs, shook his head, then smiled slyly.
"Now if you'll excuse me, milord…I'd like to do a bit of muddling with my girlfriend while there's still a chance."
Hermione snorted. "Muddling? Is that what you kids call it these days?"
"You might zink about a bit of muddling yourself," Fleur said playfully, as she rose and pulled Bill towards the back door.
"Goodnight, you two," Bill said rather sheepishly. "Don't do anything that we wouldn't do."
Hermione chuckled. "Don't think that I don't know just how much latitude that gives us."
"Latitude?" asked Fleur with a wink. "Eez zat what you kids call it zees days?"
"Goodnight, Fleur…Good night, Bill," Hermione said with a wave and a sing-song tone of voice.
Once the older witch and wizard slipped outside, Harry and Hermione turned towards each other…each searching for a safer topic of conversation than talking about the elephant in the room (i.e. what she had done in the other room).
"So…not that I'm not happy to see you," said Harry. "But weren't you planning on spending more than a week or two with your parents?"
Hermione nodded. "That was the plan, until Madame Pomfrey made a house call last week."
"Poppy?" Harry asked. "You mean…you haven't fully healed yet?"
"Mostly," she replied. "Turns out that I almost used up my magical core fighting that curse…it's coming back, Harry, no worries. I'll be right as rain for the start of term…but she suggested that I help the process along by doing small amounts of magic each day."
"Yes. Not supposed to do anything complicated right away…First Year spells for the first couple of weeks, then work my way up," Hermione explained. "I could have just as easily done this at home, if it weren't for those Underage Magic laws."
Harry frowned. "Can't you get a medical excuse, or something?"
Hermione sighed. "I could try, but the Ministry would need to approve it, and with me being Muggleborn…"
"It might get approved the day after you return to Hogwarts," Harry agreed. "So what makes being here different?"
This question earned Harry an eye-roll. "It turns out that the Ministry's sensors can't tell who casts a spell within a magical household. They monitor locations, not wands."
Harry frowned. "That makes sense, given the warnings I got for Dobby doing magic at my Aunt and Uncle's…or when I did accidental magic and blew up my Aunt Marge…but that means that last year, at Grimauld Place…"
"Exactly," Hermione replied. "We could have used magic to clean out all of those rooms, even though Molly claimed that we weren't allowed."
"Figures," Harry spat. "So you can do magic here, and the Ministry won't know?"
"You can too," Hermione nodded. "Just don't let Molly see you do it."
"Does she know that you are using magic?"
Hermione nodded. "The Headmaster and the Matron worked together to convince Mrs. Weasley. She didn't want to at first, but…she eventually agreed, so long as I promised to keep it a secret from Ron and Ginny."
"But not from me?" Harry asked.
His best friend shrugged. "Maybe she forgot?"
A loud shout from up the stairs caught their attention.
"Or maybe she was distracted by Fleur?" Harry asked playfully.
Hermione blushed, and looked down at the table, causing Harry to curse his stupidity.
"Sorry, didn't mean to be a git about it," he said.
She looked up and gave him a thin-lipped smile. "It's okay, Harry…just so long as you know why I did it, and don't make a big deal about it."
"Erm, okay, I can do that."
Hermione looked for the truth of that promise in his eyes. "Are you certain?" she asked. "Because I wouldn't want what happened to change things between us."
"Do you just want to pretend that it didn't happen?" Harry asked. "I guess that I could try, but honestly, that would be rather hard for me…"
"No, I couldn't hold you to that kind of promise," she admitted ruefully.
A funny thought came to Harry's mind, causing him to snort.
"What?" Hermione asked.
"Alright," Harry sheepishly replied. "I was just thinking that there was a way to put us back on an even footing."
" What? How?"
"Simple," Harry grinned. "You stay here while I go into the sitting room and…you know…"
Hermione blushed the deepest shade of red yet that evening.
"Harry!" she hissed. "Don't you dare!"
"Why not?" he asked glibly. "You know I'd do whatever it took to make things right between us."
"Yes, but…still, you just can't…"
Harry snorted. "Of course I can…not like I haven't done it before...wouldn't take any time at all, given what's gone on tonight."
Hermione winced and cradled her face in her hands. "I'm never going to hear the end of this, am I?"
"Not unless you let me square things up."
"You're serious, aren't you?"
"No, I'm Harry, Sirius is my…"
The cheeky, playful attitude faltered at the reminder of his late godfather.
"Oh, Harry…" Hermione said, pulling him into a hug.
And in that quiet moment, hormones won out over grief and Harry realized that his chest was pressed against hers. And then they both realized that the silence was a truer silence than they had heard over the past fifteen minutes.
Hermione broke away from the embrace and scowled. "She'll be checking on us soon enough," she whispered.
Harry grinned. "Guess you'll have to just imagine what I'll be doing tonight in my bed."
He waggled his eyebrows as he glanced towards the sitting room entrance.
"What?" he asked with a grin. "Maybe I'll just be dreaming about Molly's delicious onion soup?"
"But the soup's on the boil over there," Hermione noted, pointing over his shoulder.
"It is, isn't it?" Harry grinned.
"Well you'll need this, then," Hermione said dismissively, as she handed him the spoon that had gone missing.
"Ah…you nicked it so that I couldn't…clever," said Harry. "But where have you been hiding it all this time?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?"
"Wouldn't he like to know what, Hermione," Molly asked from the stairwell.
The two teens turned towards Mrs. Weasley. She had, unfortunately, a certain look about her that was related to what she'd just accomplished with her now sleeping husband.
"Know how we did on our OWL's, of course," Hermione quickly stated.
"Where are Fleur and Bill?" Molly asked.
"He said something about checking the ward line," Hermione lied. "And since nobody is supposed to be out there alone…"
"Well of course she would volunteer," Molly snapped. She scowled, and looked down at her clock. Not seeing any immediate cause for even more concern, she looked back towards the two teens.
"Thought that you two were going to bed?" she asked.
"Oh, we were…hope you don't mind, but the soup was so good, I was just about to help myself to a second serving," Harry lied.
Molly smiled. "Of course, dear, but still…"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, Mrs. Weasley…we'll be off to bed now."
The matronly witch nodded in approval, and escorted the teenagers up the stairs. Percy's bedroom had also apparently migrated from the second floor to the first, with Ron's bedroom and a bathroom in between it and the Twins' old room.
Molly's careful eye kept Harry and Hermione from gaining any kind of resolution to many of the things that had been said and done that night…but not all.
"Sweet dreams, Harry," said Hermione, as she pulled him into a closely monitored hug.
"Of course…I promised, right?" he asked.
Hermione tilted her head back, then shook it as she broke free.
Harry winked at her as he wished her to have sweet dreams as well, then turned and wished Molly a good night. She kissed his cheek and shooed him into Fred and George's old room inits new place.
It looked exactly as he had remembered it before, except there being a number of storage boxes and half-open crates. Hedwig was waiting for his arrival on her perch, set beside an opened window. She greeted Harry with an owlish sort of scowl, expressing her frustration over the late hour, and the fact that he hadn't sought her out sooner. He apologized, she nibbled on his finger for his penance, then flew out into the night in search of a good meal.
This left Harry alone with his thoughts as he opened his trunk, changed into his pajamas, and crawled into bed. He considered what Bill and Fleur might be up to outside, then dwelled on what Hermione had allegedly done in the sitting room (And where, exactly? On the sofa? One of the chairs? Lying on her back on the floor with her legs in the air? How would he be able to spend time with her in that room without thinking about it?).
The consideration of these questions forced Harry to realize that he could never again think of his best friend as anything but a sexy and very attractive young woman. The scenes that he imagined alongside these questions…these smutty imaginings...they goaded him into slipping his hand down the front of his pajama bottoms, and making good on his promise as he relieved the hormone-driven pressures.
He had been right about it not taking any time at all.
As he cleaned up, Harry wondered if Hermione had been in her bed while he wanked, focusing on what he was doing and the promise he'd made that he would do it.
Down the hall, inside Percy's old room, Hermione lay in bed with a smile on her lips. While she was quite certain what Harry was doing in his bed, she did allow herself to wonder whom he was thinking of while he was doing it.
But would she have the courage to ask Harry that question in the morning? That unanswered question made her dreams that night far more unsettled than sweet.
A/N: I figure that most of the readers upset that this isn't an update to Muggle Summer or one of my other WIPs would still rather see where my muse has taken me than not. This is a fleshed-out bunny born from another bunny born from a draft Python Defense update. It begs to be continued, and begs to test my ability to keep a story from morphing into another runaway fic.
What this fic really does, though, is address my unhappiness and unanswered questions with HBP's "An Excess of Phlegm" chapter. Why would Hermione be as catty as Ginny making fun of Fleur? Why would Harry leave that cattiness unchallenged? What was Hermione doing at the Burrow, two weeks into hols…don't her parents want to spend time with her? Was Harry saving Fleur from an Imperious'ed Viktor any less life-debt generating than what he did for Gabrielle? And where were Fleur and Bill sleeping that summer? Wouldn't have been under Molly's nose, unless there was an underlying reason (At least not if I was Bill, and engaged to a part-Veela.)