Harry Potter and all related characters and places are owned by JK Rowling - I just make them dance for my own amusement.
Well, here we are! Sorry it's a day late - I had an art commission that I had to pull an all-nighter to complete due to computer problems, and had no time to finish this chapter. Still, it's here now, and we can get the ball rolling on this here sequel. I hope everyone's made the jump from Entwined, and I hope you all enjoy the next part in my Fleurmione saga.
Oh, one last thing, for those that read my note at the end of the last fic - someone mentioned the fics being a trilogy. Yeah...with the amount of post-DH fic ideas I have, you're looking at a lot more stories than that...
Hermione Granger took a deep breath as she stepped down from the Hogwarts Express onto Platform 9 ¾. The air was thick with steam, billowing from the scarlet steam engine. Filling her ears as much as the steam filled her vision, the chatter of her fellow students populated the air, only growing louder as more and more left the carriages. It was always on odd experience standing on the platform; both literally and figuratively a final barrier between the wizarding and muggle worlds. It looked almost like an ordinary station platform; save for the flyers adorning the walls advertising a new type of Bertie Bott's Bean that changed flavour as you chewed it, and another advertising the Weird Sisters' new album. The latter gained a small smile from Hermione; she had seen them perform live, though her attention had of course been on something – someone – else.
Lost in thought for a moment, she was brought back to reality when a rather excited First Year rushed past her, knocking into her schoolbag. Shaking her head with a small smile, she picked up the cage containing Crookshanks – who was looking even more grumpy than usual – and set about finding a trolley for her trunk. As she did so, Harry and Ron emerged from the train behind her. After the long journey, Harry looked a lot more at ease than he had done when it began; his face had more colour to it, at least. Ron looked his usual self, having spent most of the trip back to London stuffing his face with the mountain of sweets he and Harry had purchased from the food trolley.
Soon, the three of them were pushing their fully-laden trolleys across the crowded station and towards the barrier. Ron and Harry seemed to be placing bets on how much larger the bespectacled boy's cousin, Dudley, would be, but at this point Hermione remembered something. She paused for a moment, reaching into her bag. Harry and Ron stopped and looked over at her.
"I'll just be a minute," she said, still rummaging. "Our little friend needs letting out." As she said this, she withdrew a small glass jar. Inside, the beetle was still sat upon a leaf. It seemed to be glaring up at Hermione. The brunette simply smiled pleasantly, and took the jar to one side, while Harry and Ron looked after her trolley. She paused beside an empty bench, and – making sure no one was looking – unscrewed the lid of the jar, turning it upside down and dropping the beetle onto the arm of the seat. She leant down, eyeing the insect carefully.
"One year, you hear me?" she said, her tone almost dangerous. "And if you print so much as one snide word, I'll know about it."
Had Rita Skeeter been in her human form, she would most likely have attacked the younger witch. As it was, all she could do was look up at her for a moment, before scurrying off, unable to transform back in such a busy area. Satisfied, Hermione screwed the lid back onto the jar, and returned to her trolley.
"You sure it's a good idea just letting her go like that?" Ron asked. "What makes you think she'll do as you say?"
"Oh she'll do as she's told," Hermione answered, doing her bag back up and slinging it over her shoulder. "Otherwise she won't be slandering anyone ever again in the papers."
It was always an odd experience walking through the magical barrier to the rest of King's Cross, especially emerging back into the muggle world. When they emerged, they were instantly greeted with the sight of Mrs Weasley. Ginny was already waiting with her, and Hermione could only assume that Fred and George were not far behind them. To one side, she saw Harry's uncle standing rather stiffly, frowning at the solid wall from which they had emerged. She felt a pang of guilt, knowing that just outside the station, her parents were waiting for her, while Harry had to leave with a man that didn't even greet him. Luckily, Mrs Weasley was on hand. She pulled Harry into a hug, and whispered something in his ear. As quickly as she had moved forward, she pulled away, and said her goodbyes. Before too much longer, Fred and George emerged from the barrier. They both shook Harry's hand firmly, thanked him again for the gold, and followed their mother towards the exit.
"See you, Harry!" Ron called. Harry nodded, before turning to Hermione. She smiled, and pulled him into a tight hug.
"You take care, Harry," she said. "Try not to get into too much trouble before next term."
"'Too much'?" the boy repeated, grinning. "How much am I allowed?" The bushy-haired girl laughed and shook her head. "Say hi to Fleur for me."
"I will," she replied, biting her bottom lip as her cheeks coloured.
As she pushed her trolley in the opposite direction to her friend, she had to wonder why he was so cheerful. It was sad, but perhaps he was simply enjoying the last fleeting moments before his inevitably intolerable Summer began. Hermione stepped out into the car park, momentarily dazzled by the afternoon sun. Before too much longer, she spotted a familiar car, and put on a little burst of speed. Her parents were standing beside it, and held out their arms for her as she approached. She left the trolley and embraced both her parents tightly. For a moment, she was suddenly aware of everything that had transpired at the end of the previous term, but forced the thoughts from her mind and focussed entirely on the two people hugging her.
Her father stepped back first, and smiled down at her. "Good year?" he asked.
"Yes," Hermione answered before she could even begin to decide how much to tell them. Apparently her subconscious had decided on divulging absolutely nothing. "Yes, it was great."
"I'm sure you've grown since you left," Mrs Granger said. Hermione just smiled; at least one of her parents said that every year. "And you need a haircut."
"I could run my 'ands zrough zat 'air all day…"
"Actually, I prefer it like this," the brunette began, hoping her cheeks hadn't gone red again. "…people say it suits me better." She was thankful that her parents hadn't caught her momentary lapse in attention; the memory of those slender fingers delicately running through her messy hair was a rather distracting one.
"And how's Crookshanks?" her father asked, bending down to look at the cat, who seemed to be enjoying his cage even less than he had been a few minutes ago.
"Oh he's fine," Hermione replied. "Still struts around the castle as though he owns the place."
"He's a cat, dear," her mother said, smiling. "That's what they do."
"Well then, shall we get going?" Mr Granger said. Hermione turned to her trunk, but her father stepped forwards. "Oh don't worry about it, I'll sort it. You get yourself in the car."
She nodded gratefully, picked her cat's cage up, and settled in the back seat of the car.
The drive home was always a relatively quiet one; mainly because her parents knew there was far too much for their daughter to tell in the space of one car journey. They always waited until dinner for her to recount the year's events, and usually stayed up until the early hours. After making sure Crookshanks was (relatively) happy, Hermione looked out of the window, lost in memory. Just how could she tell her parents about Voldemort's return? They were both rather protective of her, and while they were proud of her success at school, and understood that Hogwarts was the safest place for her, she had a feeling they would think twice about allowing her to return if they knew the truth. Besides, how could she even begin to explain her relationship with Fleur to them, as well as asking to visit her in France, while they were still absorbing the news of the Dark Lord's return?
She let out a quiet sigh and leant her head against the glass, watching the cold concrete buildings fly past. Seeing the muggle world again was always strange; it was familiar, of course – nothing amazing, and yet she was always away from it just long enough that some things seemed strange to her. It was always interesting to see how things had changed after the best part of a year away; what did the newest cars look like, what did the music sound like, what fashions were prevalent; it was all fascinating to her, despite having grown up in a muggle home. These conflicting feelings of familiarity and intrigue were all familiar to her, but this year something was very different. As her thoughts wandered further, her mind's eye was filled with the image of silvery-blonde hair, dancing in the wind as the sunlight glinted off it.
She could almost see Fleur's smile when she closed her eyes; that toothy grin that always betrayed the French witch's mischievous side, the way she would tilt her head to the side while talking, and best of all, her voice. Hermione had never made much of a fuss about her girlfriend's accent during their time together, apart from the one conversation the previous day. That part was the hardest of all to swallow – it had only been yesterday. She had said goodbye to Fleur only that morning. And yet it felt as though it had happened in a different time, completely separate from the place she was now. Driving those disheartening thoughts from her mind, she returned to her previous train of thought; that heavenly voice Fleur possessed; the way Hermione's name rolled off of that delicate tongue.
She smiled, completely wrapped up in her fantasies. Warm arms were enveloping her, holding her close. Her vision was filled with golden hair.
Full lips were moving against her own, deftly seeking entrance. She had never been kissed like this before; never been kissed at all, for that matter. Those hands were tangling through her hair again.
She tried to sit bolt upright, jerking backwards as her seatbelt locked and stopped her. She looked to the side; her father was leaning in through the open door. Behind him, she could see her house. By this point, the sun was beginning to dip behind the houses. "Oh, sorry Dad," she mumbled, going rather red. "I must have dozed off…"
"No need to apologise," he said, smiling and standing back to full height. "But something tells me you wouldn't say no to a nice big dinner, hm?"
Hermione smiled and shook her head. She climbed out of the car, bringing Crookshanks with her, and stretched, feeling her spine click rather horribly as she did so. The Grangers' house hadn't changed at all since she had last seen it; save for the fact that her parents had finally followed her advice and removed the weeds that had begun sprouting at the edge of the driveway. As she entered the warmth of her house, she was struck by just how unchanged everything was. Then again, this was always the case – she arrived home expecting everything too look different, and without fail, it was as though she had been gone a week at most. Still, she found it was far from an unwelcome thing; she could at least pretend that she hadn't missed much. She could hear her mother in the kitchen already preparing dinner; Hermione had to wonder whether she had even taken her shoes off before starting on the food. The brunette's trunk had already been carried into the house, and was waiting for her in her bedroom when she climbed the stairs to it.
Like the rest of the house, Hermione's room was eerily similar to it's appearance on the day she had left for Hogwarts, though at least here it was understandable. She glanced around; everything was still where she had left it. Then again, there wasn't much to begin with. There was her noticeboard; one side was empty – her homework planner had resided there before term – and the other side was filled with photographs; some moving, some not. Of course, by now the photos were out of date; she could see her Third Year self smiling back. How things had changed since then.
She had only gathered a few photographs of Fleur; all of which she hadn't even been aware of the existence of before the train ride back to London. Colin Creevey had visited their compartment, and had given Hermione a bundle of pictures. He explained that while he had been testing his new magical camera over the year, he had ended up with a few pictures of Hermione and Fleur together. Had they been muggle photographs, they would have been useless; however, as she pulled them out of her back pocket, she saw her photographic self move to the foreground, smiling up at her, before turning back to the girl beside her.
Just seeing Fleur's face again – even in a photograph – was enough to make Hermione smile. She watched as the photographic Fleur placed a quick kiss upon the cheek of the photo's other occupant. Pulling her eyes away, she flicked through them; she and Fleur at the Yule Ball together, their eyes focussed entirely on each other as they twirled around; Fleur alone by the side of the lake, looking absolutely freezing and worried – understandable, given that Hermione herself was, at that time, at the bottom of the lake; a few more candid pictures; and then to the final shot. That last picture was almost hypnotic to watch, in a bizarre way. It had been taken only that morning, just before Fleur had left. They had been so busy with each other, Hermione hadn't even noticed the flash going off; but there they were, arms around each other's waists, quite happily kissing each other without a care in the world. That photograph was most definitely not going on the noticeboard. As for the others, she was going to have to wait to see her parents' reaction first, before she started 'showing off' her girlfriend.
She flopped back onto the bed, closing her eyes again. Subconsciously, she reached up and placed a hand upon her collarbone; the pendant worn beneath her clothing was an ever-present reminder of the beautiful girl that had won her heart. As she waited to be called down to dinner, her mind began to wander; just what was Fleur doing at that moment? Filling her mind with thoughts of the blonde part-Veela, she whiled away her time, as content as she could be, without Fleur at her side.
The Seventh Years' dormitory at Beauxbatons Academy was usually alive with activity, especially at this time of night. Having no house system, and only female students, many more were required to share the living quarters, and as such, the room was a lot larger than anything at Hogwarts. And of course, being Beauxbatons, it was far grander. And yet, tonight it sat empty; cold and dark, save for one person. Fleur Delacour sat upon her bed, gazing out of the window into the night sky. She was still wearing her uniform; imaculate as ever, save for her hair, which had been freed from it's ponytail and was now hanging loosely, mostly hiding her face from view. The other Seventh Year girls were all gone; their exams completed. Even those that had accompanied her to Britain had finished their examinations while at Hogwarts, having nothing else to do other than cheer the Beauxbatons Champion on.
So that left Fleur, completely alone. She had been allowed two weeks to prepare for her exams; a small concession, given that she had spent her entire final year on the Triwizard Tournament. Nevertheless, she was Beauxbatons' star student – she had to pass these exams. And besides, at the end of them, when she was able to return home to her parents and sister, she would be free to play host to the most important person in her life.
"'Ermione…" she murmured, sighing to herself. "Tu me manqués…"
I miss you.