It had been a hell of a month. The British wizarding world had finally found them. It had taken the incompetent fools at the Ministry two years. Incredible! Warning had come via owl-post, to the quaint forest of Passerelle Pont where Claudine had brought Harry. Nestled within, was the beautiful and mostly Veela-populated village of Vieux Chênes. Claudine had lived here throughout her childhood, and she'd had this place in mind during her pregnancy as the only place where she could happily raise a child. It was, then, completely natural to bring the toddler wizard here. Acceptance had come slowly, and Harry had been introduced to several other veela children, and had shyly started to make friends among them.
They had taken up residence in a small cottage near Claudine's childhood home, and although it was not grand, it suited the tiny family perfectly. The kitchen and dining room were combined, full of pastel yellows and greens and silly, ruffled curtains. There were two bedrooms, a master and guest room, with the master being decorated largely in soft blue, and the guestroom a slightly horrifying shade of pink. The rent was a fair price, and Claudine had found part-time work at a quaint chocolatiers in the neighbouring muggle town, where she was allowed to bring Harry in with her. The smiling old man who owned the shop adored him. She'd wondered later if that was the reason why he'd decided to hire her.
She settled into the small house well, adding her feminine touch to wherever was needed, and tried to not let her taste for aesthetics twist the house too artistically to still be homely. The pink room had to be changed almost immediately, however. She had no love for the colour herself and wanted Harry to pick out his own room colour later, when he was older. She firmly believed that a child's room should be their own space, a refuge. It needed to be more than just a place to store things and for them to sleep in at night, it had to support their personality and reflect their own choices and tastes. For now, a dull cream would be acceptable until Harry became old enough to move out of the crib in her room to a bed in the second. When not redecorating, working or looking after the needs of an energetic toddler, Claudine began to take an interest in magical law. From the moment her eyes locked with Harrys she had known that she would be his mother, but understood the precarious position in which they were both placed currently – she had no legal authentication of guardianship. Many nights were spent in quiet contemplation with Claudines nose in a law book and Harry slumbering on her lap.
She had started with locating a copy of the Potter family's will, it was with a small surge of hope that she realised that all of the currently listed candidates were unfit for the role. There was no mention of Harry's extended family, the Dursleys of ever being suggested for potential guardians. Puzzling, due to the 'adoption' letter Harry had on him when he was left the doorstep of Number 4, Privet Drive. In fact, all the names that were on the list were all completely unsuitable: from criminals, to the already dead, to even a disgraced werewolf. Hope had blossomed.
This could be her solution. After a short correspondence with the Dursley family, she attained written proof of their disinclination to raise the boy themselves. This officially made Harry an orphan, able to be adopted. She sent this, along with completed adoption papers to (what she considered a stroke of genius) the orphanage associations in France, and not the U.K; stating her belief of his increased protection away from the last known location of the Dark Lord who had murdered his real family. She also played on the chance that the French Magical Government, Le Forum de la Magie would greedily snap up the chance to have the now famous and rumoured very powerful baby-wizard grow up in their own country, as a French citizen, and not in Britain. She mentioned nothing of her being a Veela, but included a photograph of her with Harry held softly in her arms. This way she could never be accused of hiding her heritage, and possibly appeal favour from whatever reviewer that was dealing with this case.
It had worked. A few months later she had been officially installed as the step-in guardian for him. It had felt so wonderful, Claudine felt like she could let out a breath she'd been holding for months, that their lives could now continue. It had, quietly, for almost two years, until that owl had arrived. It sat quietly outside on a low branch of a nearby tree, until she had felt his presence and went to the window to let him in. Owls were fellow creatures of the moon, and unspoken bonds existed between them and the Veela. The owl announced himself with a knowing stare as Flutterwing. The Veela could not understand the myriad of squawks the birds made, he did not 'tell' her his name, it was more that the owl would Incline to the Veela what it meant, and the Veela learned over time how to interpret the combination of tangled thoughts, smells and wild emotions the birds hard running through them, as impulsions. From these, they could often deduce what they meant. He held himself proudly – a messenger for the Ministry of Magic was no common job for an owl, and he had been chosen specifically for his speed in flight. Claudine had smiled at this, but her heart had almost frozen in panic. She inclined her head politely towards him, asking his permission for the mail he carried. Flutterwing puffed out his chest feathers and elegantly held his leg out for her. With fingers that trembled slightly, she undid the letter and her fears were confirmed.
It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Magic that you are illegally in possession of one Harry James Potter, son of the late James and Lily Potter, and defeater of the Dark Lord. A team of elite Aurors have been dispatched to your location and will be arriving soon to ensure the safe return of the child. You will be arrested for his kidnap, and brought to justice.
Ministry of Magic,
She ran for Harry even as she heard shouts and 'pops' outside the house. She held him tightly to her breast and panicked. She had nowhere to run, and no defence. Peeking through the ridiculous curtains, she saw them approach the house, her heart hammered harder with every step closer they took. They had their wands raised in unison and tears rose unbidden to Claudine's eyes. She couldn't look away from the line of imposing wizards. They lifted their wands higher and blasted the door of the small cottage into pieces. Claudine screamed and clutched a now bawling Harry tighter, sheltering him from the threat of any flying pieces of wood and sinking to the floor. Flutterwing was unlucky; a piece of the doorframe had caught him as he'd alighted into the air to escape. He fell out of the air and landed eerily silently. Claudine was crying through her panic in earnest now, horrified.
Just then, she heard more pops, and shouting. An enraged mesh of English and French filled the air. She spun around, eyes wide, and looked through the hole in the wall to see two groups of wizards arguing furiously at each other. The group who had arrived first were obviously the Aurors from the British Ministry, clothed officially in black. The newly arrived group sported sanguine-red robes; she recognised them immediately to be from Le Forum de la Magie. It seemed that the mass apparition of Aurors from Britain to France without the government's permission had alerted the French Magical Committee and incensed them enough to send a team of their own, to her defence! She thanked the moon and all the stars whose names she knew.
The situation outside was calming down somewhat; it was a political stalemate of sorts. The Aurors were enraged that they could do no action to recover their lost Boy Who Lived, while the French Magi were livid at the lack of formality that the Ministry had displayed, by not only not requesting permission for an arrest within their country, but also for their lack of regard for casualties. The Mage who appeared in charge of the French section (the one who was shouting the loudest) dispatched two younger Magi in a tight-lipped rage, to enter the house and discover the conditions of Claudine and Harry. Upon assuring the young mages that they were indeed unharmed, they were offered a safe haven while the 'authorities sorted this mess out'. Claudine consented immediately, not wanting to remain anywhere near the angry looking wizards outside. As she was helped up and out towards the door, Harry gave another small cry and pointed hurriedly at the ground towards their couch. On top of it, was a very seriously injured, but still alive and faintly moving Flutterwing. Claudine's hand covered her mouth, and she cautiously approached the owl, trying to block out its Inclines of rolling pain. Decidedly, she scooped the owl up into her arms with Harry, and tried to disturb it as little as possible as they and the two Magi exited the cottage, and were Side-Along Apparated away, as the arguments turned fever-pitched once more.
Le Forum de la Magie had somehow managed to come through for Claudine, and there was a patchy, uneasy peace over the current care and guardian placement of Harry. The Ministry was very loud in voicing its judgements over the alienation of the Boy Who Lived from Britain, going so far as to call him the Boy Who Was Stolen in their magical newspapers, and their outrage that his care was being handled by a 'magical creature' and not even a proper member of the magical community. There were howlers daily from the public, but no one could change the fact that the adoption of Harry Potter had already been legalised months prior. After much negotiation, it was decided that every three months the toddler was to be assessed by a neutrally-minded healer on his health, physical and mental development, and any magical growth or occurrences. Heavy restrictions were placed on Claudine too; they were monitored where ever they went, constantly throughout the day and night, shopping trips and et cetera had to be partitioned for, and permission granted. Protections additional to those ancient that were evoked eons ago for the safety of Vieux Chênes and its inhabitants were constructed and placed. But all and all, it was a life, and little Harry was still hers to care for.
A soft coo woke Claudine from her memoirs of the last month and she looked up at Flutterwing. He had survived their attack, although even with all the magical healing available he would never again lift himself up into the skies. She picked up the owl and comforted him with a hand; she would look after him as well, until the end of his days. How could she not? They were both broken creatures.