My heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Nachtrae for taking the time to read, edit and comment on this Chapter. She does amazing work and I'm lucky to have her as my beta. Also my thanks to my wife for taking the time to comment and poke holes as always.
Flames and Scars
He made his way home, only to find that the mansion was empty. That was not uncommon as Moony lived his own life, but something felt strangely… wrong as he stepped out of the travel room and in to the manor itself. The Fidelius charm that protected his home from all who were not keyed to the charm and wards also allowed him, for lack of a better word, to feel the presence of others in his home. It was a presence that he could not find, "Fleur," he whispered.
He found himself slightly relieved that both Colin and Luna were "taking care" of something on their own in Diagon Alley. He had shrugged and given his permission. He wasn't naïve enough to not know what they were getting up. He just pretended he didn't. By the same token, they knew that he at least suspected what they were "taking care" of, but keeping the veneer of "not knowing" prevented them all from having a rather awkward conversation. "Dobby! Winky!" he snapped. His elves appeared before him, "Where is Fleur?"
They met each other's eyes for a long few seconds and then Dobby met Harry's gaze, "Last time we saw Ms. Delacour," said the elf carefully, "she said she wanted to be in left in the bedroom, alone."
"She's not here Dobby," said Harry quietly, "Where is she?"
"We is not knowing," interjected Winky. She hesitated, clearly knowing more than she was letting on, "She was packing trunks when we saw her," Harry blanched, "several hours ago."
Most men, most wizards even, would have probably broken in to sprint at that moment. Harry did one better as he vanished, opting to apparate. He reappeared with barely a sound outside the closed door. He took a moment to calm himself and then knocked on the door. "Fleur?" he called.
Silence reigned and he knocked again, "Fleur?" the same deathly silence and this time he tried the door handle. Unsurprisingly it was locked, and locked with magic. He drew his wand, and reached out with his magic. The manor was centuries old and thought originally built by muggles, but Harry had spared no expense once he bought the property, having the Goblins cast all manner of charms and enhancements upon the building. It had taken many long days, a lot of blood and magic and he wasn't even sure if it worked. Now, was as good a time as any. "Manor," he thought, "Awaken."
Nothing moved, and all was stock still except for a presence that Harry could feel in his mind. It was growing, and spread outwards from the basement of manor, across the grounds to the very edge of the perimeter and then in rolled back in on itself, "I am awake," it replied, "Master."
Harry shook his head, "My name is Harry, not master."
"And what is my name Harry?" it asked in reply.
"What do you wish it to be?" he thought, "It is your name after all."
"I have many of your memories, your knowledge and thoughts," it replied, "it is after all, your blood that gives me… life, after a fashion." It paused, as if a thought had just occurred to it, "Based on the sentience of Hogwarts Castle itself? But I am no Rowena."
"No, you are not," he agreed.
"Alnwick," it decided suddenly, "Aln, for short."
"Better than "wick" eh?" thought Harry, "is there anyone inside this room?"
"A witch… blonde, speaks with an accent," replied Aln, "I believe her name is Fleur Delacour. And she's about to cast something with a wand."
The entire exchange had taken only a few seconds, having taken place at the speed of thought and Aln was right. Fleur cancelled the locking spell and opened the door. He smiled as he entered, but froze at the scene of chaos before him. He felt something in his chest freeze up, and shatter. The shards like knives cutting through his lungs, and stomach. He couldn't breathe, he wanted to be sick. All at once and yet, he could not move.
Two large trunks sat on the bed. The cupboards were thrown open, hangers lay askew everywhere. She was packing, everything she owned. He didn't need it spelt out for him, but he asked anyway, "Leaving?"
She looked up at him, and he could see that there were no tears in her eyes, no puffiness, nothing. She didn't speak, just nodded ever so slightly. He could guess at the reason why. He could understand why, but to end it, to close it, he wanted, needed her to say it, "Tell me why."
"Pourquoi? You ask me why Harry?" she said. There was anger, there was sadness, and a touch of hatred in her voice, "You know perfectly well why!" she threw another few items of clothing in to her seven compartment trunk, slammed it and opened another compartment and began throwing more of her belongings in to it, without a care in the world, "Vous… you know! You know what our relationship has cost me! You think I would not hate you for it?"
"I knew you would be angry, I.. thought you would hate me, for a while, that somehow, we would be able to work past it…"
"Do you know the full extent of my injuries?" it was more the way she spat the last word, like a curse. Pomfrey had not told him anything more than he needed to know. Aimee was gone. What else could there be, that was as terrible as that? To him, there was little that could be as bad, or worse, "Je… I do not know if it was something that the Death Eaters did, or something your acquaintance did to me when we fell through the veil…"
He bit back a retort, considering that he had lost more than she had when they went through that thrice damned veil in the Chamber of Death. Several words whizzed by him, before he caught the tail end of her tirade, "… have children again!" The tears she had been holding back finally spilled down her cheeks, her hands clenching the sides of the trunk in anger, "Pas des enfant," she whispered, as she racked him with a burning gaze, "I can never have children because of what those… animals did to me…" she slumped on to the bed. "It would have been kinder if you had not brought me back!" she sobbed.
He collapsed next to her, and tried to take her in his arms, just to hold her, only to be pushed away. He held his ground, only to be thrown back against the wall with a crack as flames and magic forced him across the room. "I lost my child, and I can never have children, ever!" she screamed, her eyes blazing as her features shifted, "I am leaving you, Harry James Potter!" she snarled, "And if you try and follow or find me I will kill you!"
Lying against the wall, he looked away from the furious half veela for a moment as she raged, to assess his wounds. The burns were not really deep, or anything to worry about – he'd had worse. But as the trunks shrank and vanished in to a pocket of her jeans. It struck him with full force that if he let her leave, then she would never come back. He cursed himself for having spent too much time reading. Veela will fight to the death to defend a mate, or their children, and however unfair it was, she blamed him, not only for the loss of Aimee, but for the loss of her ability to have any more children, ever.
He picked himself up, ignoring the pain as his flesh on his arms, where she had grabbed him, began to blister. His chest was sore, and raw. Perhaps a rib or two had cracked. None of it mattered. He was not going to let her go. Not like this, "Fleur," he said, trying to find the right words. In the end, he only found one, "Please."
One word, six letters, but it was how he said it. It rocked her to her core. Severing the bond was no easy feat, and the way he said that one word, sent a wave of emotion through her. She could feel his pain, his guilt, the sorrow, all of which he deserved. But at the same time, she could feel, almost see the death of his personal hopes and dreams, of having someone to love, to hold, someone to stand by him and help raise a child, or children with him. She smiled bitterly as she faced him across the bed they had shared for months.
She shook her head, pulling her mind back from all the memories that they had made, the dreams they had shared, and even the sex… god, especially the sex, she thought. It had been, so liberating to have been able to just, let go of all her inhibitions. No. she shook her head. She was not going to let her thoughts dwell there, "I do not want anything more from you! You've taken more than I could ever give you!"
He recoiled as if he had been slapped, and stepped away from the door, "I won't make you stay," he said woodenly, "I never… wanted what happened to you to happen." He shook his head, clearing the tears away, "And you honestly think I made the wrong choice? I cannot, imagine your pain. But if you are going to go.." words failed him as he struggled to find the right ones.
She walked past him, "I gave up something I wanted, to have something more," he said, "I gave up our child, because I didn't know, what had happened. I still don't." she stopped and stared at him, disbelief written on to her face, "Madame Pomfrey, never told me. If I had asked, she probably would not have told me. I am… was the father, never your husband." He walked out, only pausing to throw a remark over his shoulder, "I could, still spend the rest of my life with you, if you give me the chance."
He stared straight out of the room, as the tears slid down his cheeks. No matter how much he loved her, he was not going to give her the satisfaction. Not an ounce of satisfaction. He gave a mental command and Aln sealed every door in the manor, except those leading to the Travel Room and out in to the expansive gardens and back to the bedroom, and the kitchen. "Travel Room is open. I'm, heading out. If you are not here, when I come back, then," he shrugged, making the entire gesture as careless and carefree as he could.
She was not fooled for a moment, and knew full well that he was pretending not to care. For all the effort he was putting in to the act se had to give him some credit, but for all the good it was doing, he should not have bothered at all, "Just consider this: There are children out there, who dream, who deserve a home, people they can call "mom" and "dad" and perhaps even want other children to call "brother," and "sister." Just, think on that." He left, and never looked back, "Good bye Fleur."
Ensconced in glamour charms, he had no problem walking out of the Leaky Cauldron and in to muggle London where he wandered the streets in a fairly aimless fashion until he found himself in what was clearly a "bad part of town." In truth, he had no idea where he was, not that he really care, when he felt it.
It was a hard, wrenching, almost tearing like feeling in his chest. Stars and static danced before his eyes for several agonizing moments as he collapsed against the closest wall for support. He could feel his blood thundering in his ears and his own breathing seemed to be far too loud. He recognized that for what it was. Fleur was gone. He didn't need anyone to tell him. He just knew. What he was not prepared for was the sudden emptiness he felt inside, as if it was right beneath his skin and trying to tears its way out. He'd felt it, once before, a year ago, he still felt it during the worst of his nightmares.
With a growl he pushed off the wall he had been leaning against and made his way down the street. There were no tears, just anger, rage. It helped keep the void inside him, but he knew he needed an outlet, he needed to do something. A part of him wanted to just reign it in, bury it and then do some physical training to burn it out. But a larger part of him wanted him to do something else: Let it out. There was no question of when, or where, but the question was what?
"Beat the crap out of somebody," his mind suggested.
Harry snorted, "Dudley isn't around," he replied mentally to himself. He ducked in to a darkened alley and apparated back to Potter Manor where he made his way straight to the training room, programmed in what he wanted and set to work. His magic reflected his frame of mind. While he had long known a number of dark and illegal curses, he had never used them. This night, he unleashed everything he had in his arsenal.
Three Unforgiveable Curses are but a speck of sand along the beach. Anyone with any knowledge of magic can easily attest to that. But many of the so called "dark" and "illegal" curses did actually have a practical use. Many of them were in fact related to the culling of livestock. Not the training dummies were in any position to object as he cast the killing curse, the skinning curse, and the entrails expelling curse amongst many others that made clear to watching Colin and Luna that an interruption was not a good idea.
"She's gone isn't she?" said Luna quietly.
"I… checked their bedroom," he said quietly, "empty cupboards and drawers, looks like she almost set fire to the room as well. I know the bed got scorched – and not in a good way."
"So she really is gone," she confirmed, "And Harry's…."
"Harry's being Harry," replied Colin, "He will be there for every mother's grandchild, but he won't let anyone but those he chooses close to him." He glanced at Luna, "To be there for him, when it comes to personal stuff, and I don't think either of us really qualifies."
"Well you don't, but at least I'm the right gender,'" she deadpanned.
Colin snorted, "Yeah, you got that going for you," he said equally deadpanned. He hefted the sealed parchment scroll in his hand, "So do we give this to him or do we just leave somewhere convenient for him to find?"
She gave him a look and he sighed, "Guess we either jump in and join him, or wait for him to finish." He flicked his wrist and his wand snapped in to his hand, "I wouldn't mind jumping in."
She flicked her wrist and her wand snapped in to her hand, "Let's play."
The curses leapt from both Harry's wand and his off hand, obliterating yet another of the training dummies. A pair of curses flew in, over his shoulders from the left and right of him, "Friendly!" shouted Colin as he executed a baseball slide in to cover on his Commanders right. Luna had circled wide, also going right to flank the latest group of training dummies that she obliterated with a trio of rapid blasting curses.
"How'd she spell chain those together?" asked Harry, "the start and end motions are contradictory."
"Oh that?" replied Colin, "tickling jinx as the linking spell."
"I'll make a note of that," replied Harry, "There's I think another five waves of them."
"Let's kick some ass," said Colin.
"It's what we do best," agreed Harry.
Each wave of training dummies was composed of between five and seven attackers that were using spells powerful enough to incapacitate but having spent a year in training, and ranking amongst the top students in their respective years and houses, the dummies posed no real challenge, and were obliterated in very short order.
By the time they were done, his kids had just broken a sweat but Harry had been at it far longer and was tired enough. Luna watched him for a long moment and decided they were better off getting it out of the way now, "Give it to him."
"Give me what?" he asked between pulls on a water bottle.
"It's from Fleur," Colin said. He hesitated for a moment, "She showed up at Neville's place, put this in our hands, wished us all the very best of luck, and then left." He locked gaze with harry, "She's gone isn't she?"
He nodded stiffly, "Yeah," he eyed them both critically for a long moment, "You want to know why, don't you." It wasn't a question, but a statement of fact.
"Honestly," said Colin, "Yes. We both do."
"But only when you are ready to talk about it," interjected Luna, "We just… want you to know, that we're here for you, if you want to talk."
He nodded once more and taking the roll of parchment, absconded upstairs, his mind pondering what the parchment could have possibly said, his feet followed an age old pattern and it was only after he had flicked on the light and shut the door behind him did he realize where he was standing: Their bedroom. He looked around at the recently ransacked room, and shrugged, as he brought the fire place to life, "Winky, a bottle of firewhiskey and an ice bucket please." She appeared, and vanished so fast it was like she was never in the room. "Should have asked for cheap firewhiskey," he muttered as he sat down in one of the two arm chairs by the window.
He stared at the parchment in his hand and without putting it down, unscrewed the cap from the bottle took a pull straight from the bottle. In burned going down, but it was a good kind of burn. He stared at the parchment scroll again, "I ain't drunk enough to read that yet," he said aloud, and took another pull on the bottle.
Perhaps half an hour and a quarter of a bottle later did he find the courage to actually break the wax seal on the parchment. But it was another half hour and a third of what was left in the bottle before he was courageous – or drunk - enough to unfurl the parchment and actually read what it said.
I don't know how many times I have started this, and never finished it. But after what I said, and what you said, I know how to write this. Firstly, I want to thank you, because no matter what happened, and what happens next in your life, or in mine, the time that we shared together, was something that we both needed, as much as we wanted it.
You once said, that we are both damaged by the hell we have lived through. That you have suffered more than I did, once upon a time I would not have disagreed with. But now, I think we are both equally broken, equally damaged.
They captured me, but only at the cost of three of my friends. We fought back and it was only because they wanted me alive, to trap you that I survived. They knew, Harry, they knew you were coming. That was when, Voldemort simply handed me over, for the amusement of his Death Eaters.
You can imagine what they did to me, because I loved, love you. They could have killed me, but they did not. They wanted to use me to break you. They broke my body perhaps, but they did not break my spirit. If they had… I would have died. I knew you would come for me. But I was torn between wanting you to rescue me, and you staying safe and away from their trap.
You came; you rescued me, but too late for the damage was done. Aimee would have probably not survived but that does not change what you did, to save me. There is but one thing more precious to those of Veela blood than their mates, and that is their children. While children are perhaps the most precious, the Witch in me knows that Aimee, probably would not have lived, and if she had, none can say what her life would have been like.
I understand that your choice was the best choice you could have made given the situation, but that does little because the Veela in me cannot accept, cannot understand the choice. The Veela within me, is who I am. Fleur Delacour, the witch you love, can only come back in to your life and bring with it the anger and hatred of the Veela.
If I stay, no matter how much I love you, I will still try to kill you. The Veela is a part of me, as much as the Witch, and just as the Witch is stronger in some things, in others, in matters of maternal concern, of children, and perhaps even of love, the Veela reigns supreme.
Perhaps one day you will understand why I have done this, what you no doubt see as an act of cruelty. I pray, and hope that one day you can see it for what it is: An act of Love, to keep you safe from me.
Our love was the brightest of flames and I will not ask for your forgiveness, but I hope that you can give it. Hate me if you need to, because I know that I deserve it. But know that just as Hermione is never far from your thoughts, you will never be far from mine.
Au revoir mon amour.
His fingers curled, scrunching the parchment in his hand. His grip grew white knuckled, and he vaguely felt his nails digging in to the flesh of his palms. His hands shook and he didn't care. The tears he had held back finally spilled down his cheeks as he crumpled to his knees and for the first time, let himself cry, let himself feel everything that he had locked away, everything that Fleur had helped keep at bay. He surged to his feet, eyes blazing as lightning and sparks flew from his fingertips. Magic boiled out shattering windows, and eradicating the fire blackened and charred furniture in wave of raw destruction.
Only two things saved the mansion from needing repairs to its structure and foundations. The first was that it was Goblin strengthened which meant that it could take a significant amount of punishment to begin with. The second was the living presence within the mansion. Aln was quick to channel the magic in to the foundations of the manor house itself, where there was the capacity to store such an outburst of magic.
There was no telling how long it actually lasted, but by the time Harry was done, and had collapsed on the floor, the entire bedroom was scorched black. The walls, ceiling, and even the fireplace had been burned black. The only thing left of the bed was a heat warped metal frame. In the space of perhaps fifteen minutes, he had expended more magical energy than all of the combatants at the Department of Mysteries had expended. Not that he noticed or cared as he crumpled against the charred wall and slumped to the floor, and just sat there.
The outpouring of magic was of such intensity that despite being hidden behind a Fidilius Charm, on an unplotable property surrounded by other wards, the Ministry's magic sensors actually picked up the disturbance. That was enough to get a pair of Aurors dispatched to investigate. Given that it took them half an hour to actually arrive on site, there was nothing to investigate by the time they arrived. Luna and Colin had something akin to ringside seats to Harry's meltdown. They said nothing and did not intervene in what essentially a private affair. That and they were fully aware that there was little they could do, short of stunning him. It was perhaps a cruel choice, but ultimately the correct choice, to let things end.
Doing the right thing was never easy. Doing the right thing meant leaving Harry alone as the first days of the summer dragged by slowly. Harry said little to anyone, and seemed to eat next to nothing, and sleep even less. It was only at the end of that first week did he begin to come out from the new shell that had grown over him emotions. Only the six witches and wizards closest to him could clearly see the changes in him. It was mostly in his eyes, his laugh and smile. Admittedly, Harry had never been the most vocal of people, but where he used to be a part of the group, he seemed to just fade away from the social scene. He was physically there, but he wasn't there, mentally. His friends talked quietly over ice cream in Florean Fortesques in Diagon Alley, but Harry Potter couldn't bring himself to participate in the light hearted conversation about Quidditch, or anything else. Attempts to talk to him were more often than not met by a sudden start. Questions seemed to drag him out of some memory he was in the middle of reliving. It just, didn't matter anymore. The storm clouds had been gathering all year, and the storm front was now upon them.
When conversation eventually rolled around to the topic of war, it was frightening to behold the change that came over Harry. Everything he had suffered, all the pain, the anguish, it hardened him. Fifteen year old Harry James Potter past two years had been hellish to say the very least. His first love brutally murdered, his Godfather lost, his second love, his daughter. And those four were just the personal losses he had suffered. What fate had done to Luna and Colin still haunted him somewhat, and he found himself wondering, on more than one occasion, how he was supposed to fight a war?
A few dozen death eaters were a threat... but there were dozens of Death Eaters in custody now, and seemingly an endless number of them, coming from somewhere. This was not going to be a shadow war of short sharp engagements. This was going to be the wizarding equivalent of muggle world war two.
His mind was a jumble of thoughts, the faces of Fleur and Hermione, melded together with those already lost. He bore scars no man, let alone a child should have upon their soul and it was clear that he had changed when he summoned them together, for the first time towards the end of June with July was only a few days away, "We've done a lot," he said bluntly, "we've done some good." he met the steady gazes of the six teens gathered before him, "Now it's time to do more."
Silver rings on the hands of the six grew warm. Across England, on the coast of Spain, In Egypt, scattered in countries across Europe, and for several, as far away as China, Hong Kong, and even Australia, another two hundred and thirty one silver Legion rings grew warm. His voice was dangerously soft and quiet, "I am Harry James Potter," there was a mix of steel and ice cold hate in the way he said the words. It was a mix that made clear that he was different, and that there was little left of the Harry that they had known, "I call the Legion," his voice would have sent a shiver running down Snape's spine, "to war."
Well, that concludes Part Two of Years at War. I have portions of part three completed, but It's going to be a while before that comes online - early February at the earliest. Life has thrown me a number of Christmas and New Year unrelated curve balls and catastrophes that are going to take most of January to deal with.
Thank you all for taking the time to read, and I hope you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy the rest of my saga.