Harry Potter and all related characters and places are owned by JK Rowling - I just make them dance for my own amusement.
Been a while again, which certainly wasn't my intention. Still, after seeing Deathly Hallows Part 2 twice now, we're back on track. This is something of a short chapter, but that's mainly to help the longterm structure of the story. The wait for the next chapter shouldn't be as long.
By the time Fleur and Hermione made their way back to the Delacour mansion, it was mid-afternoon. The blonde had given Hermione a proper look at the dilapidated stables, as well as a few other points of interest around the expansive grounds, and they had agreed that any straw and hay tangled in their hair was the result of falling over in it, and absolutely not due to the two of them throwing it at each other before rolling around together in it. The brunette was rather glad Fleur was the only other person present, as she was well aware that Ron and Harry would likely brand her a hypocrite, given how often she rolled her eyes at their snowball fights. Still, the sight of Fleur Delacour, hair messed up beyond belief and panting heavily, was far from unpleasant. It served as a reminder of just how different the blonde behaved around her, and as the mansion itself came into view again, she thought back to Fleur's words that morning. Was she really willing to behave this way in front of everyone else now? It would certainly shatter their perceptions of her as the ever-graceful Veela seductress, but perhaps it would once and for all show them just why Hermione was so enamoured with her.
As they drew closer, the back door opened and Gabrielle came speeding out, bounding across the lawn towards them. She skidded to a halt in front of them, doubling over and panting. "Gabrielle, what is it?" Fleur asked, bending down to talk to her breathless sister.
"Fleur, Grandmere est ici!" the younger blonde said brightly, looking up at them with a large grin. However, Fleur looked less than thrilled.
"Ah," she replied simply, straightening up. Gabrielle just waved enthusiastically and rushed back into the house. Hermione gave her girlfriend a curious look.
"Is your grandmother being here a problem?" the brunette asked. Fleur sighed.
"Not exactly," she said. "I adore my grandmere, it is just…well, you zink Maman goes too far wiz all ze Veela talk sometimes? Try talking to a full-blooded Veela about it." She shook her head, not even noticing the small piece of straw falling from her hair as she did so. "She is going to want to meet you, of course," she continued. "In fact I would not be surprised if zat was ze reason for 'er visit…" She sighed again. "Come, we 'ad better get zis over wiz."
"I don't mind," Hermione replied, giving an encouraging smile. "I'm a big girl, Fleur."
"Just bear in mind zat she will probably size you up," the French girl said, shaking her head distractedly. "She might even make you sound like a piece of meat."
Once inside the cool shade of the kitchen, and to Hermione's great surprise, Fleur quickly disapparated and almost instantly reappeared, now no longer carrying her sketchpad. Before the brunette could even ask why magic was needed for such a brief trip, she answered. "Ze stairs creak – Grandmere would not be 'appy if I did not immediately go to see 'er." Hermione nodded slowly, now rather nervous about meeting this woman. Would she really have reacted badly had Fleur made a brief detour to deposit her belongings? "Come, let us not keep 'er waiting," Fleur said, taking Hermione's hand in hers and leading her through the door, quickly directing her to the large sunlit lounge. Hermione had only seem the room briefly as they had passed it earlier; it was roughly the same size as the Delacours' dining room, with many large armchairs arranged around it, with the wall opposite the doorway dominated by a large fireplace. Though given the sweltering weather, the grate was of course dark and empty. Fleur's parents were sat together on a nearby sofa, and smiled brightly as the couple entered.
"Ah, zere you are," Apolline said. "We were beginning to zink you 'ad got lost in your own garden."
"Is zat why you sent Gabrielle out?" Fleur replied, quirking an eyebrow. "To find us?" Fleur's sister just stuck her tongue out from where she was seated opposite her parents.
"Ow long do I 'ave to wait for ma petite-fille to greet me, hm?" a new voice said, and with a great deal of surprise Hermione realised that the closest armchair – facing away from them – was occupied. Fleur shot the younger girl a look, before releasing her hand and stepping forward, into view of the chair's occupant.
"Pardonner moi, Grandmere," the blonde said, leaning down and kissing her grandmother on both cheeks. "I was not aware you were even coming 'ere until moments ago."
"Ha!" the eldest Delacour laughed, and Hermione briefly caught a glimpse of her head over the chair. "More like you were too preoccupied wiz your mate!" Fleur's cheeks turned an uncharacteristic shade of pink as she briefly glanced up at her girlfriend. "So, where is she? Where is my petit Fleur's chosen?"
"Here," Hermione said tentatively, stepping forward and smiling pleasantly. Fleur's grandmother was almost exactly how she pictured her; similar in appearance to Apolline and Fleur herself, but simply older. Clearly Veela genes were incredibly dominant, at least in terms of physical appearance. She seemed a little shorter than Apolline, but her position in the armchair made it difficult to discern. One thing that was definitely certain was that she shared Fleur's toothy grin, something very apparent as she smiled up at Hermione.
"So, zis is 'Ermione Granger," the Veela said, rather obviously looking the brunette up and down. It really was as Fleur had predicted – Hermione felt as though she was being sized up. "Well, you could 'ave done worse, Fleur."
Hermione raised an eyebrow, and looked over at Fleur. The blonde was smiling, and the younger witch got the distinct impression that this was one of those 'from her, that is a compliment' situations. She turned back to Fleur's grandmother, who was still regarding her intently.
"Hm, 'er bosom is raz'er small."
"Well, that was quite possibly the most awkward dinner of my entire life," Hermione was saying that evening. She was lying upon Fleur's bed, staring up at the ceiling. "And I'm starting to think today should be named after my chest, with all the times it's being mentioned."
"In Grandmere's defence," Fleur began, chuckling to herself as she stepped out of the bathroom, having already changed into her nightdress. "It was you zat mentioned it earlier, not 'er."
"You're the one that decided to snog it," the brunette retorted, repressing a grin. Fleur rolled her eyes and sat upon the edge of the bed.
"And you are ze one 'oo was so willing to reveal all for ze sake of art," she said, flashing that wide grin of hers.
"Well…" Hermione murmured, blushing slightly. "It was a very nice drawing…"
"Zat it was, if I do say so myself," the blonde replied, tucking her legs up beneath her and flopping to the side, resting her head against the other girl's stomach. "But I 'ave to say, I still prefer ze real zing."
"You're too kind," the younger girl retorted waspishly. However, her smile quickly returned, and she gently wove her fingers into Fleur's hair. It was unusual for them to be in such a position; the blonde curled up atop the other girl, but it made a nice change. "There is one thing I wanted to ask you…"
"Oh?" Fleur tilted her head up. Hermione sighed and continued playing with the blonde's hair.
"Did you get the impression your grandmother thinks we've…you know…" she trailed off, cheeks reddening as the memories of the rather prying questions returned.
"Que signify- …oh!" Fleur lifted herself from Hermione, her own face a little pink. "You zink so?"
"Fleur, you haven't…" She paused for a moment. "…said anything, have you?"
"What are you implying?" the blonde asked, looking rather puzzled. "Zat I would lie to 'er about somez'ing so…intimate?"
"Well, she seemed very keen on us being together – that was nice, by the way – but I got the impression she thought we were…well…further along, shall we say."
"She is a Veela," Fleur replied, looking away for a moment. "You know 'ow sexual they-" She sighed. "-we…are…"
"Well yes, but does she really expect us to be doing that?" Hermione asked, her tone incredulous. "Does she even realise I'm only fifteen?"
"It is raz'er funny, really," the blonde said, smirking briefly. "Children often claim zey are old enough to do whatever zey want, and yet you so willingly restrain yourself."
"It has nothing to do with restraint," Hermione replied. "I just…I just want to be ready, is all…" Obviously sensing she had touched a nerve, Fleur's smile faded, and she shifted a little further up the bed, drawing level with the other girl.
"'Ermione, is some'zing wrong…?" she asked quietly. The younger girl looked up at her, watching those deep blue eyes regarding her carefully.
"No," the brunette sighed. "No, it's just…I know what you want, Fleur. And I know how much you want it. What am I saying? I want it too. But I want it to happen when the time is right."
"And so do I," Fleur replied. She gave a warm smile, and gently stroked a finger down Hermione's cheek. "You are still so young, mon amour; I do not want to force you to grow up faster than you 'ave to. Per'aps it is because my Veela blood is diluted, but I feel no compulsion to force you into anyz'ing. I zink ze two of us can admit to getting carried away every now and again – nude drawings aside – but I 'ardly zink we would be unable to stop ourselves. Like you, of course I want zings to go furz'er at some point, but only when we you are ready." She chuckled. "Besides, it is not as zough I am any more experienced zan you are."
"People think so," Hermione said, managing a small smile. "They think you've already had a string of lovers and are very experienced in the 'art of love'." She let out a small laugh, and Fleur just raised an eyebrow.
"'Ermione, I only turned eighteen last week," she replied incredulously. "You are ze only person I 'ave ever been wiz."
"Say 'and the only person I want to be with', and I'll hex you," the brunette snapped, giving the older girl a playful shove. "We're getting sappy again, Fleur."
"I am being romantic," the Frenchwoman replied, her smile widening. "And you are not allowed to use magic, so I believe am I quite safe." She paused for a moment. "'Ermione, did you bring your wand?"
"Oh, yes it's in my coat pocket," Hermione replied, gesturing at the garment, which was hanging alongside Fleur's own coat from a hook on the back of the door. "Why? As you so gleefully pointed out, I can't use it?"
"I want to try somez'ing," Fleur said, sliding off of the bed and retrieving her girlfriend's wand. She returned, this time properly lying beside the younger girl. She twirled it between her fingers, closely inspecting the intricate vine patterns that ran the length of it. "It really is a beautiful wand…"
"You have seen it before," the brunette reminded her, but Fleur just continued smiling and observing the wand.
"I know, but…" The older girl paused for a moment, holding the wand steady, before giving it a gentle flick, sending several strands of silvery blue light from the tip. They hung in the air for a moment, before slowly dissipating. "Zey say zat couples are able to use each oz'er's wands almost as well as zeir own. Somez'ing to do wiz ze wand sharing ze loyalty and devotion of it's master." She smiled, holding the wand at arm's length. "It would seem to be ze case…"
"I'll have to try yours at some point," Hermione said, watching as Fleur casually levitated a nearby clock over their heads, slowly rotating as it went. The blonde shrugged.
"You could try it now, if you wanted," she said. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"You know I can't. The Trace-"
"Ze Trace?" Fleur interrupted, chuckling to herself. "Mon dieu, people are always so worried about ze trace! You do realise zey cannot even tell 'oo is using magic wiz ze Trace? Was 'Arry not wrongly accused of using magic when a spell was simply performed near 'im?"
"Well…yes," Hermione said. She didn't enjoy hearing rules picked apart like this; she got enough of that from Harry and Ron.
"Ze Trace only detects magic being used close to underage witches and wizards," Fleur said. "Ze French Ministry knows you are 'ere – 'ow are they to know it is not me using magic? Zis is ze 'ouse of a magical family, afterall."
"Well…be that as it may, it's the law," Hermione tried, but Fleur wasn't having any of it.
"Come now, do you really zink zere is a single witch or wizard zat 'as magical parents 'oo 'as not performed at least a few spells outside of school?" she asked, and Hermione knew there was no way out of this.
"Oh alright," she said. "One spell. Honestly, I think you're getting some weird kick out of this."
"Well of course I am," Fleur said, grinning widely. "It's like wearing each oz'er's cloz'es – oddly arousing."
"Swapping clothes would be less likely to get you expelled from school," Hermione muttered. "Alright, pass me your wand and we'll get this over with." Unsurprisingly, Fleur held Hermione's up and used it to levitate her own from her bedside table into the brunette's hand. "Thank you," she said, pausing to have a closer look at the wand itself. Befitting it's owner, Fleur's wand had a rather elegantly shaped handle, with what looked like leaves carved along most of it. It was surprisingly warm to the touch, just as Hermione's was. It felt almost…familiar, as if it were her own. She smiled.
"Well?" Fleur asked expectantly, watching her wand intently.
"Give me a moment," Hermione said. "We're not all blessed with your predilection to perfectly perform every spell non-verbally."
"As if you couldn't," the blonde replied fondly, earning a small blush from the other girl. Hermione concentrated hard for a moment, before giving the wand a quick wave, conjuring a shower of lilac sparks over them. Fleur watched happily, with an almost childlike glee. "Magnifique…"
"Hardly advanced," the brunette admitted. "But you're right: it feels very…cooperative. Almost the same as my own." She smiled. "But if it's all the same, I'd quite like to have my own back."
"Of course," Fleur replied with a grin. "Zough I was definitely right. It was raz'er nice seeing you use it." They swapped wands, before both placing them on the two tables on either side of the bed. "'Ard to believe today was your first full day 'ere," the blonde mused after a few minutes of silence. "It already feels as zough you'ave been 'ere a while."
"Mmmm," Hermione responded, resting her head back down upon the pillow. "We seem to have that effect on each other." She turned to the side, facing the other girl. "It's almost like we weren't away from each other for those two weeks…"
"Hmm, two years we were parted, two months we 'id our relationship, zen two weeks parted again…" Fleur sighed, but Hermione just rolled her eyes again.
"Now you're pulling coincidences out of thin air," she muttered, earning a sly smile in response.
"I'm being romantic again," the part-Veela said, her smile widening into her usual toothy grin. "I don't see you doing ze same."
"If I give you a snog, will you stop being so irritating?"
The next day, Hermione was surprised to find a letter waiting for her at breakfast. She was curious as to who knew where to find her, but was rather unsurprised to discover that the letter was from Professor Dumbledore. What was surprising was the content of his message; he first wished her an enjoyable holiday, and then went on to request that she refrain from informing Harry of any news she may read in the papers over the Summer. He gave no explanation, and she couldn't even find any clues as to exactly why the headmaster wanted Harry to go without updates on what was happening in the wake of Voldemort's return. He finished by asking her to pass on his regards to Fleur, and his hopes that the two of them continued to be happy together. All in all, it was a rather baffling message, but what really confused Hermione was it's appearance that morning – why had it not been sent as soon as she had returned home from Hogwarts? How did Dumbledore know she hadn't already sent Harry any messages? Truth be told, she had in fact been planning to do exactly that the very morning Dumbledore's letter arrived. The man really was scary sometimes.
Either way, she had no choice but to abide by his request. She didn't know his reasons, but she was sure he must have them. She wasn't happy about it; after all, Harry needed updating on current events now more than ever. Hermione had already seen reports of several unexplained disappearances in the newspaper, and Harry would probably want to know. However, Dumbledore knew best - at least that is what she told herself - and he was still her headmaster. Hermione felt rather guilty, picturing Harry alone with the Dursleys, miserable and without anything other than the vague message she had sent, while she herself was quite literally frolicking in the sun with her girlfriend. Still, Fleur was right with what she said later that same day – Hermione being unhappy wouldn't help Harry in any way, and so, with admittedly diminishing guilt, Hermione returned her focus to her girlfriend.
The Summer days were long, and the nights warm. Hermione couldn't remember a time that she had been so content, even while at Hogwarts with Fleur. Here, they were free to do as they pleased, whenever they pleased. They roamed the grounds during the day, sometimes heading down to the town over which the Delacour Estate stood. And in the evenings, in trips that would become something of a ritual for them, they walked along the deserted beach, hand in hand. They watched the sunset almost every evening, before heading back up to the mansion. In short, everything was perfect. It wasn't just the time they were able to spend together; it was knowing that they would be able to do the same thing the next day. There was no rush to do anything, or any need to cram as much activity in as they could. Fleur's family sometimes laughed at how they were able to spend entire days doing absolutely nothing other than smiling at each other and exchanging gentle kisses, but they let them laugh, and sometimes even did the same.
After two weeks of bliss, they inevitably came to their final day. Hermione had been in frequent contact with her parents, and they had arranged a suitable date for their return to England. It left them with just over a month until the start of term, as Hermione was anticipating another invitation to stay with the Weasleys. She hadn't asked about Fleur being allowed to accompany her, but decided that in hindsight, she didn't much care; if Fleur wasn't welcome, then she would much prefer to just stay with her parents and girlfriend. On their final evening in France, as they enjoyed the sunset from the beach one last time, things became a little heated. Hermione didn't know exactly how they had ended up naked in the sand, their hands tangled into each other's hair; all she knew was that if the sea hadn't started lapping at their feet, they might well have gone further than they had intended. She wasn't quite sure how to feel about the fact that they had been interrupted. Half-relieved that such an important moment had not occurred so soon, especially after the conversation she and Fleur had had on the subject, and yet somewhat regretful – had they not been alerted to the outside world, neither of them would have stopped – and she would have been quite alright with that.
As they lay together in Fleur's bed later that night, Hermione wondered just what she had done to deserve this positively angelic girl; so full of life and laughter. Again, she decided to ignore the 'why', and simply focus on the fact that it was real. Fleur Delacour was hers, and she was never going to let her go.