Chapter 7: Baptism of Fire
"Teams Two and Six, approach them from the northern street! Teams One, Three, Four converge from the west and pick off any stragglers. Team Seven, with me!" Hawke barked out hurriedly as the Unspeakables assembled into their teams and apparated to the scene of the battle.
Seven was the number assigned to Harry's team as they followed Hawke out to meet the rest of the Unspeakable teams. It had been decided that it was best to keep a low profile and keep the fact that Harry Potter was training with the most skilled wizards in Britain a secret. It was as much for his own safety as it was for the rest of the Unspeakables. There was no telling if Voldemort would be bold enough to attack the Department directly in an attempt to get to him.
There was already a small detail of Aurors fending off the Death Eaters when they arrived on the scene, but it was apparent even to Harry's untrained eyes that they weren't going to last much longer. The Bones residence was a rather sturdy cottage with stone walls and strong wards, but the curse marks on the wall was evidence enough of the fierce onslaught that had taken place.
Fortunately the arrival of the Unspeakables tipped the scales in their favour. Still, he couldn't help but be impressed by a single witch who was throwing spells with cold fury at any target that came too close. He recognised her as Amelia Bones from the photograph Hawke had shown him. A small part of him was filled with awe at the courage of the woman and knew there was little doubt why she was a forerunner for the post of Minister of Magic.
The rest of him, however, sprang into action. They had apparated to a point closest to the fighting, placing them between Madam Bones and the Death Eaters once they drew their attention. Harry, Fleur and Tonks were whelps as far as the Unspeakables were concerned and would not have been chosen for this task, but Hawke and Titus wanted to see first-hand if their time spent in training was paying off.
"Bombarda!" Harry and the two witches with him yelled out as they aimed at spots in the middle of the Death Eater formation. Three explosions engulfed the Dark wizards and would have left those closest to them fatally wounded, but it wasn't enough reason for them to stop throwing spells. Curses pierced the cloud of dust their explosions had kicked up, giving the Death Eaters no room to recover.
"Get Madam Bones, we'll cover you!" Titus growled as he stepped forward with his two partners and resumed the battle.
The trio complied immediately and moved towards their objective. There was a defiant stare in Amelia Bone's eyes that told Harry had she not seen him curse the Death Eaters, he'd be duelling her as well. She stepped out from behind the pile of demolished wall that had been giving her cover and stepped towards Harry. Her wand wasn't raised at him but could easily raise it to defend herself.
"Madam Bones, if you'd come with us, we'll get you somewhere safe." Harry managed to say while a few Death Eaters were using any openings they found to send stray curses right at him. Fleur and Tonks were covering him as best they could, but it was apparent that the enemy was determined to assassinate the prospective Minister tonight.
"My niece and bodyguards..." She managed weakly as another curse shattered the door frame beside her head. Harry swore loudly and sent several curses back in the direction of the offending caster.
"We'll see to them, but the bastards want your life most of all, madam. We need you out of here, now. Your men are trained for this." Harry urged.
"My niece isn't!" Amelia yelled in frustration. "Susan! Come here now, quickly!"
Susan? Susan Bones? Harry wondered. It made sense when he thought about it, but felt stupid for not realising it sooner. He glanced over his shoulder into the house to see the familiar face of the Hufflepuff running out from the living room.
"Going somewhere, Amelia?" A cold voice sneered. It chilled Harry's blood as he felt a presence pounding against his Occlumency barriers. There was only one person that voice could belong to. A black mist floated in above the barrier and formed into the body of Lord Voldemort as he stared at the woman standing in front of her home.
"Get the two of them out of here." Harry ordered Fleur and Tonks as he stepped forward to challenge his archenemy. Questioning looks and worried expressions filled the eyes of his two lovers, but he stared them down. Their silent argument was concluded as quickly as it began as the two of them moved to cover the Bones.
"Out of the way, fool. I will forgive your insolence if you step aside and-"
Harry did not let Tom Riddle finish his threat. Curses deadly enough to kill on contact were sent flying at Voldemort with such ferocity and speed that anyone watching closely could see the slightest falter in the Dark Lord's expression.
He knew the curses would be easily deflected by Lord Voldemort. After all, Riddle had the wizarding world trembling in fear of his name for a reason. His assessment was proven right after a shield was conjured to absorb every last one of his spells as equally deadly curses were sent back his way, almost at the same time from Voldemort's wand. A yell of anger rose from his opponent's throat as Tom Riddle unleashed his anger into every spell. The nerve of the fool to interrupt him!
The power of his opponent would have had him wondering how to react, how to make it out alive before. This was no longer true for Harry Potter. As he dodged and blocked every curse, he could clearly see every opening left by the lack of a coordinated aim from the Dark Lord. The Gryffindor was no longer struggling to survive the fight, he was thinking of how to win.
Every space in Riddle's attacks was filled with Harry's own spells. Around them, Unspeakables and Death Eaters stopped their own duels to watch the two wizards battling for an advantage. He noted wryly that despite all their training, Hawke and his team were the only ones with enough sense to make use of the distraction to take down the remaining targets.
A near miss made him shift all of his attention back on the man before him. That's right, powerful and evil as he is... He is only a man. It was this thought that strengthened him as he continued to trade spells with Voldemort. The cackling laugh of Bellatrix punctuated the brief moments of silence between the sound of colliding spells and conjured shields. She was one of the few Death Eaters who weren't shocked into inaction.
It was becoming clear to Tom Riddle that his adversary was no amateur and was quite skilled. The fool would have made a fine addition to his forces, but chose to oppose him instead. It was pity that a wizard of such calibre would go to waste for opposing his power. Still, the hubris of Lord Voldemort was not so great that he was blind to the fact that his opponent had held his own all this time. The battle had to be decided soon.
Did it, though? He did not come to challenge some nameless fool wearing a mask. He came here to assassinate Amelia Bones. A smirk crossed his features as he realised the fastest way to end the duel and come out the victor.
"Fuck!" Harry cried as Voldemort blocked and evaded his last barrage only to fly off in the direction of Tonks and Fleur. There was no point in him being a decoy if the bastard didn't take the bait. He couldn't catch up to Riddle without a broom, and he did not wish to test his skill against Voldemort while racing on his Firebolt even if it was on his person. He needed to get to Tonks and Fleur before-
The image of their faces, the taste of their lips and the smell of their hair filled his mind as he spun on the spot and apparated straight to them. When he materialised in front of them, however, he cried out in pain. There was a reason why the Ministry needed wizards to get a license to apparate. It was to prevent brash fools like Harry Potter from attempt apparition with practice and getting splinched. A chunk of his left arm was missing and his body was thrown off balance by the pain. His foot crashed painfully against a tree trunk and he felt his ankle twist.
"He's coming!" Harry yelled through gritted teeth as his partners came to check on him. The Death Eaters had been through enough to throw up Anti-travel Jinxes far enough to give them room to chase down any stragglers. They were close to the edge but still too far to make it before Tom Riddle caught up to them.
Tonks was trying to help him but he shoved her arm away. "GET THOSE TWO OUT OF HERE, NOW!"
The cold laugh of his enemy rang out through the trees. "Skilled enough to face me alone in a duel, yet you fail to apparate such a short distance properly? I overestimated you."
"Don't be a fool, Tom. I'm giving you a handicap." Harry growled defiantly as he forced himself to stand, twisted ankle be damned.
"Yes, I dare. You think yourself a god when you are but a man." He had to be crazy to taunt the Dark Lord like this. Tom Riddle roared in anger and continued his onslaught of curses. Harry could only defend himself this time, his injuries too severe to allow him to move properly. Even so, he returned fire and gave his opponent no space to breathe. It was the only way to buy enough time for the others to escape.
"Crucio!" Tonks' voice yelled from his left. She had doubled back and tried to flank her target. It would have worked had she not tried it against a wizard of Voldemort's skill.
"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort yelled as he swung his wand around to point at Tonks.
Just as Tonks had anticipated Harry's use of the Killing Curse when Vernon Dursley attacked her two days ago, this time he foresaw Riddle's use of the same spell and dove straight at Tonks. The distance was too great for him to cover, but somehow strength had filled his legs and cleared the distance with no problems. Unfortunately it did not prevent the Killing Curse from hitting Harry Potter in the back.
The air was thick with magic. Fleur turned around just as she felt it, a chill running down her spine. There was only a few things that would have caused such a large outburst of magic. She steeled herself and produced the escape portkey that would bring the Bones to safety. Tonks was with Harry and wouldn't let him die so easily. She had to trust in the two of them.
There was a jerk behind her navel as the portkey transported them into Hogsmeade, inside the Shrieking Shack. The Bones were obviously surprised by the choice of destination, but Amelia picked up on the reason quickly enough. "Hogwarts, the one place Voldemort wouldn't dare try to attack, am I right?"
Fleur nodded and led the way up to the castle after ensuring that the Bones were wrapped in traveling cloaks and their faces obscured. It wouldn't do for someone to spot them on the way up to the castle. Albus Dumbledore was already standing there, ready to greet his guests.
"Madam Bones! To what do I owe the pleasure of this late night visit?"
"You-Know-Who at my doorstep, that's what! I need refuge for the time being, and Hogwarts is the safest place there is."
The old man's smile faded quickly. "Ah, I feared as much. Come then, I expect Miss Bones would prefer her own bed in the Hufflepuff dormitory?"
There was some small talk, but Fleur paid no attention. She simply turned and prepared to leave. She wanted to make sure Harry was safe.
"Thank you, miss, whoever you are." Amelia Bones shouted after her. She gave the slightest bow to acknowledge the thanks before disapparating away.
Why was he waking up in King's Cross station? Harry could not shake off the feeling that something was amiss the moment he opened his eyes. Had he died? It was the only explanation for why he was in a very different place. He remembered the duel with Voldemort and jumping in front of the Killing Curse meant for Tonks. Then he opened his eyes and he was in a train station.
"Harry." It was a voice filled with so much affection it felt alien to him. Yet it sounded so familiar as well. He turned around and saw faces he'd only seen in photographs older wizards left to him.
"Mom?" He could not believe it. Lily Potter was standing before him. He walked forward and embraced her, feeling warmth despite the fact that she was dead.
"My son..." Lily Potter's voice choked as she held him. It felt strange for him to desire something so strongly when he had never known it before. It was tempting to stay like this for eternity.
"I'm... dead, aren't I?" He asked softly as he broke the embrace.
"Yes... and no." A second voice answered. Behind his mother was a man that had his messy hair and very familiar features. Harry knew then why everyone said he looked just like his father. It was almost as if he were looking into a mirror. "You took a Killing Curse, but it was not you who died. You are somewhere in between life and death... and free to choose either."
"Think back on what happened before you were here." His mother asked him.
"I jumped in front of Voldemort's Killing Curse to save Tonks."
"Yes, and in doing so called upon old magic that has saved you since the night he came for you."
"You mean... when you died to protect me?"
His father spoke up this time. "Yes... When Voldemort killed you that night he left a bit of him inside of you. It is why you're a Parselmouth and why you can see inside his head. It's why you get a headache every time you're near him. A piece of him resides within you. When he killed you moments ago, he killed that bit of him. Had the curse from one of his Death Eaters, you'd be dead. Well, technically you are."
"Why am I here then?" Harry asked, curious. If it was Voldemort's soul that died, why was he here?
"You met Death as an equal, Harry. When you knew Tonks would die you made a choice, however unconsciously, that you would trade your life for hers. You did not fear death and did not hesitate to meet it."
"Wait, doesn't that mean that she..."
"Yes, the same magic that saved you from him that night now flows in her veins, thanks to you. Tonks is now protected from Voldemort just like you are." Lily Potter said with a smile.
"So what happens now?"
"It's entirely up to you." James Potter replied a hollow smile on his face. After all, he finally had a chance to talk to his son, and would like nothing more than to have more time with his own flesh and blood. Yet there was a war that needed Harry Potter in the world of the living. "You can return to the world, or... move on."
"Voldemort's not dead though. I still have to defeat him."
"No he isn't." Lily Potter confirmed. "That man has gone to great lengths to ensure his own immortality. He has abandoned his humanity altogether. As to whether you have to defeat him, it's a question of choice, isn't it?"
"What do you mean? The prophecy-"
"The prophecy says one of you will die at the hands of the other, which just happened, didn't it?" James Potter answered with a laugh. "You have to end this not because of some stupid prophecy, son. You'd never be able to live with yourself, figuratively speaking, if you didn't return and put an end to it, would you?"
"I guess not." Harry answered truthfully. His father was right - prophecy or not, there were too many things he held dear to him that Tom Riddle would destroy. It was reason enough to fight.
"Then you must return. Don't feel bad about us, Harry. We died protecting our son. No parent could ask for a better death. We're proud of you, and we'll always be watching." James Potter stepped forward and embraced his son, now a man, for the first and last time.
"Always," Lily Potter echoed as she placed a kiss on his forehead.
Harry immediately wished he could have stayed in that realm a little longer. His ankle was still twisted and his left arm was still splinched. Something wet was hitting his face, however. Was that sobbing he heard? He opened his eyes a little wider and saw only black cloth.
Tonks was holding him to her, sobbing over his supposedly dead body. He was facing her breasts, delightfully supple and firm. He could stay like this forever- Not while she's crying, you twat! He berated himself as he moved and caused the witch holding him to jump back with a yelp of surprise.
She didn't get very far as Harry held her close with his right arm while his left arm remained limp at his side. It seemed to protest its inability to hold the witch by causing Harry more pain. She continued to sob into his chest until her emotions settled down. "How..."
"No idea... It seems I am now the Boy Who Lived Again." He managed a weak joke but groaned in pain. He had to tend to his wounds now or he'd pass out from the pain.
"Oops, forgot about that." Tonks produced her wand hurriedly and quickly reversed the damage to his arm and ankle. "There, as good as new."
His wounds were still sore, but he wasn't bleeding or in excruciating pain anymore.
"Where's Riddle?" Harry asked, now that his sensibilities were returning.
"He escaped. I guess it was a bit much to hope that he'd die tonight." Hawke replied dryly as he stepped into the clearing. It was apparent that the Unspeakable had been hopeful the war might have ended tonight.
"He stumbled after you were hit with the curse, and disapparated. The Death Eaters followed shortly after." Tonks explained.
"Bloody load of good tonight did us!" Titus yelled in frustration as he joined them. "Bastards had emergency portkeys on their wrists. Every single one we dropped escaped and we've only got corpses to interrogate!"
The following half an hour was a blur as they cleared the streets and ensured that there were no Muggle witnesses. The corpses were identified and searched before being transported back to headquarters. Harry moved slowly, still reeling from all the things he witnessed tonight.
"Can't tell right from left, I take it?" Hawke called out to him. His trainer was sitting on a piece of stone masonry, resting.
"Yeah, this isn't how it usually goes when I face Voldemort." Harry replied. "Other people normally take care of cleaning up the mess I leave behind."
Hawke chuckled at the joke. "The first time you haven't been fumbling about as well, then?"
The young wizard could only nod. For the first time, Harry Potter felt like he survived due to his skill as much as his luck. He remembered telling the DA last year that he had been more lucky than skilled. He would be amending that statement once school started.
"Go home and get some rest, Potter. We'll sort everything else out tomorrow."
Fleur ran and embraced Harry the moment he appeared in the Sanctuary with Tonks. Tackled would have been a more appropriate term. "I feared the worse when I felt that wave of magic!" She managed to say through her sobs.
Harry embraced her tightly. "Not even death can stop me from returning to you, Fleur."
Another pair of arms wrapped around him from behind, shortly followed by Tonks' cheek on his back. "I'm still trying to convince myself I was dreaming."
"You can see, hear and touch me now. I'm still alive." He replied softly.
"Yeah, we can smell you too. You need a bath." Tonks chuckled softly against his back.
"Hey, the two of you smell just as bad as I do and I'm not complaining." Harry shot back. His retort earned him a smack on the back from Tonks and a light jab in the shoulder from Fleur.
"Prat! Don't ever tell a girl she smells bad, even if it's the truth."
"I was just saying we all need a bath." He wiggled his eyebrows in an attempt to be seductive. It only caused the two witches to laugh at the implicit suggestion. It was a much better alternative to the two of them sobbing over his near-death experience.
Ten minutes later Harry was in the tub with Fleur and Tonks, trying his best not to look at either of them. They had called his bluff and he was now caught in the tub with two naked witches on either side of him, washing him gently and eliciting a very visible response from his groin. It did not escape Tonks' notice as she kept washing his legs and brushing against his erection, giggling every time she did.
Fleur upped the ante when she washed the soap off of Harry's neck and planted kisses where the soap was washed off. "Forget Tom, you two are going to give me a heart attack." He managed to rasp out through his ragged breaths.
The Veela planted a kiss on his lips, her tongue brushing gently against his own. "Dying in the arms of two beautiful witches? There are worse deaths than this." She managed smirk as she broke the kiss. Harry groaned loudly, both at the loss of contact with Fleur's lips and the feeling of Tonks' hand wrapping around his member.
Tonks moved to replace Fleur's lips with her own, as the French witch moved down Harry's neck and her hand joined Tonks'. Harry decided to return the favour as well, moving his hands to caress the witches beside him. His left hand cupped one of Fleur's supple breasts while the other slipped between Tonks' thighs and a finger brushed against her clit, drawing a gasp from her.
He broke the kiss with Tonks and moved to Fleur, kissing her softly on the lips before making his way down her body to her breasts, planting a ring of kisses around each one before planting his mouth on a nipple. His tongue flicked against it, drawing a moan from the Veela. His ministrations caused the two witches to tighten their grip on his member, which in turn served to encourage him further. His free hand soon moved down to stroke Fleur's womanhood as well.
He moved his lips on to lave attention on Tonks in a similar fashion, and the sounds of their pleasure filled the bathroom as the three of them reached their climax together. The witches' grips on his erection loosened as he softened, and his fingers slipped out from between their legs, the evidence of what they'd just done washed away immediately by the bath water. Fleur and Tonks were still panting into his neck as he put an arm around each one.
They left the tub and towelled each other off slowly, enjoying the tender care and affection in the action. Harry shared a chaste kiss with each of them before all three of them moved to the bed and let the tiredness take the three of them into the next day.
"So, how does someone not die when they're killed?" Titus asked.
"Yes, I think we are all quite curious to know what exactly happened." Hawke continued. They had all gathered in his office the first thing in the morning, eager to piece together all the things that had happened last night.
Harry recounted everything from the moment he shielded Tonks from the Killing Curse. Hawke was quiet and nodded at intervals, as if all the information he was being presented were simply clues to a puzzle, and not a strange tale of unheard magic. Titus and Nutrix were less composed but still retained their calm demeanour. They were Unspeakables, after all, and probably knew more about magic from the research being carried out within the department than most wizards dared to dream of.
"You saw a glimpse of the afterlife? No, perhaps that's the wrong term for it... but there is no question that it could not have been a hallucination." Hawke was thinking aloud more than he was trying to explain the situation to Harry. "Perhaps it's time for you to learn the truth."
Harry stiffened. He had heard similar words from Dumbledore before, when the prophecy was revealed to him. He didn't find it strange at all that the Unspeakables would know things he didn't. He was simply curious as to what could be so grim as to cause a visible change in Hawke's partners.
"What you described, what your parents said Voldemort destroyed, is what is known as a Horcrux. A piece of a wizard's soul held within an object. While a piece of a wizard's soul remains earthbound, he cannot die. You've come across one of them yourself."
"Tom Riddle's diary was a Horcrux!" Harry gasped in realisation. It seemed so obvious now. The Riddle that had emerged from the diary had been more than a piece of Voldemort's memory held within its pages. It was aware and took life from Ginny Weasley to hold on to its own. There was no way a simply diary would do such a thing if it were just another one of Riddle's old school things. It seemed more likely that the diary would have been destroyed, to remove all connections between the boy named Tom Riddle and the Dark Lord Voldemort.
"Yes, the diary. If your experience tonight is any indicator, when Riddle hit you with the Killing Curse, he also destroyed the piece of his soul within you. How you came to be one of his Horcruxes... that is another matter entirely. I suspect it was the night at Godric's Hollow, when he first tried to kill you, that he unwittingly made you one. It also means that defeating him has become that much tougher."
"What do you mean? We know how he's keeping himself alive; we know how to defeat him!" Harry asked excitedly.
"Yes, it would seem that way. Then let me ask you again, Harry Potter. How does a wizard split his soul and hide it in an object?" Hawke's voice was grim and serious.
"Murder," Tonks answered for him. "Taking a life before it is meant to be ended is the greatest violation against nature a wizard can commit."
"Yes." Hawke confirmed simply. "There are other ways, of course, all of them equally vile. The main thing to note is that simply taking a life won't do. You have to do so without remorse, without feeling guilty. If you had killed Voldemort tonight, your soul would remain whole and unblemished, because you were simply defending yourself against an adversary. Mercy killings are another example, when the victim is in so much pain or is beyond rescue and all you have done was to grant them a dignified death. The point is, Harry, a man like Tom Riddle has taken countless lives, feeling nothing for his victims and enjoying the power he holds over them."
"So his soul has been split several times, is that it?" Harry asked. The Unspeakables nodded their heads.
"My guess is that his soul has been split so many times it has been rendered unstable, like a piece of glass with too many cracks on its surface. If a piece of it could latch onto you without his knowledge, how many Horcruxes has he already made?" The air was grim and cold, as if all hope had gone from it. It was as if Dementors had entered the room during the conversation.
Titus spoke up next. "We don't know how many of them he has created, even if we do know he has made more than one."
"We do know one of them has been destroyed, the diary." Harry spoke up. "Tonight, he destroyed another unwittingly. Our job is difficult, but not impossible."
Hawke gave a laugh. "Hopeful even when faced with such news. Though I can say that we do know where another one lies. At least, I hope its whereabouts are unchanged."
Tonks, Fleur and Harry leaned forward, eager to hear news of another Horcrux. Titus and Nutrix tensed instead. "Hawke, are you sure?"
"Potter has earned the right to know." Hawke replied simply and removed his mask. It was the first time Harry saw the man's face and immediately he noted a strong resemblance-
"It can't be… Y-you're Regulus Black!" Tonks exclaimed. "You're supposed to be dead!"
"I am, as far as anyone else is concerned. I'm surprised you recognised me."
"I should, your room at Grimmauld Place is the one I've been using whenever I stayed over."
He chuckled. "Ah yes, I forget you're part of the Order. Well, perhaps I should start from the beginning."
All eyes were on him now, a dead man, a relation of Sirius, who had come back to life.
"I believe my brother Sirius would have told you that I was a Death Eater. I was young and foolish then, eager to please my mother and her pure-blood bigotry. Seven years in Slytherin made the choice easier to accept of course. I was eager to prove my worth, eager to make a name for the Blacks. My sisters were wed to other families, and I was to bring 'honour' to the house of Black with my service to the Dark Lord.
"The more quickly I rose through the ranks, however, the more I could not deny conscience. I was no killer, and definitely not a rapist. I would strike a man down in a fair duel, but not while my comrades held wands to his family. The last straw was when a few Muggle women were brought before us, and their purpose for being there became clear. There was a young girl with them, barely in her teens. She was brought to satisfy the more... queer apetites of my fellow Death Eaters. I gave in to the voice in my heart then. I could no longer be a part of this.
"Still, I had accepted the Dark Mark, and my fate was tied with my service to Lord Voldemort. The only way out once you took the Mark was to die. I would have thought it a fair price to atone for my sins, but I could not do it. Perhaps I had more in common in Sirius than I liked to admit, for I could not take the coward's way out when I was in a position to fight from within their ranks.
"So I started finding a way to undo Voldemort. I continued to play the part of the perfect Death Eater, though I never engaged in some of their darker activities. I refused to touch filthy Muggle women, I lied to them, and never again was I called to be present at their revelries. One night, I found the answer I had been searching for.
"He asked for a house elf. He had never required one and it was a strange request. I volunteered Kreacher because I saw an opportunity. It did not go to waste. Kreacher almost didn't return, but I called his name and he answered the summons. Voldemort was a fool to underestimate the magic of house elves. I learned of what happened in a cave far away and found a locket. I had seen the engraving on it enough times to know that it was the emblem of Salazar Slytherin. It was one of his Horcruxes. I retrieved it, after drinking the same potion that almost drove Kreacher mad. I could not make him do it a second time. I ordered him to take the locket and leave, to destroy it once he made it back. I was too weak and a great thirst claimed me, no doubt the effects of the potion I drank.
"I reached the edge of the water and tried to drink from it. Riddle had Inferi swimming the lake, and they dragged me beneath the surface. Kreacher returned just in time to grab the tip of my finger and apparated me outside. It was there the Aurors caught up with me. I was too weak to resist, so I obliviated Kreacher to let him think I had died, ordering him back to Grimmauld Place to try and destroy the Horcrux."
"Then the Unspeakables came and recruited you, once they learned what you had." Harry finished Hawke's story for him. Despite being younger than Sirius, the expression on Regulus' face made him look like a man who had seen as much of life as Dumbledore.
"It was a mission entrusted only to the three of us, who were all new recruits at the time." He continued. "William Rookwood was a spy for Riddle, and the Unspeakables did not know who they could trust. A Death Eater who had just signed his own death sentence by stealing one of Voldemort's links to life was a godsend." Regulus gave a wry laugh.
"So how many Horcruxes have you found?"
"The locket is the only one. We've had many leads but all of them have ended in disappointment. Riddle covers his traces well. We suspect he has several more hidden away, but we don't know exactly what he'd use as Horcruxes. Those that we know of - the diary and the locket - were both items with strong personal ties to Tom Riddle. He has gone to great lengths to bury his past. Even with our resources, we don't even know where Tom Riddle began his transition into Lord Voldemort."
"So all the training I've been doing is all for naught, then? If we can't kill him-"
The Unspeakables laughed. Titus spoke up this time. "You fought Voldemort to a draw tonight. You tell us if your training was for naught. He cannot die, no, but recall how he was before he regained his body and power."
Harry Potter remembered the night at the graveyard, and the words Tom Riddle had spoken to his Death Eaters. I was less than spirit... less than the meanest ghost...
"There is another reason why you must absolutely beat him the next time you clash." Nutrix interrupted. "You survived the Killing Curse he threw at you tonight because what he really killed was the bit of his soul residing within you. Do not count on surviving a second time if he does manage to kill you again. Though we can't know for sure, not when the magic connecting you and Tom has reached depths unexplored for ages."
Titus continued. "So, assume that the next time you meet him will be the last."
The rest of the week passed by quickly, as the now official Team Seven threw themselves into their training with renewed vigour. Tonks didn't even grumble about the extra lessons she was getting from Nutrix to overcome her lack of psychomotor skills. Harry had learned how to apparate so he would not splinch himself again.
It wasn't until Tuesday of the next week when Team Seven assembled before Hawke once more. "There isn't much else we can teach you three, as far as skills are concerned. We worked the three of you harder than any other recruit we've ever gotten and I can honestly say you've all taken it better than expected. The only thing left is to give you three some field experience, so expect to tag along with a few other teams for the rest of the summer. I say you three deserve the rest of the week off after burning your last weekend here, so I won't call you back unless it's an emergency."
The three departed the facility soon after Hawke had confirmed the completion of their training. Fleur left Tonks and Harry to return home first while she dropped by Diagon Alley. They had found it strange that she insisted on going alone, since they had all agreed not to venture into that particular stretch of London any more after the Death Eaters attacks. Still, Fleur seemed to have some personal business to take care of, and she didn't want to involve the other two. They grudgingly obliged, only to find that Fleur returned shortly after they had apparated into the Sanctuary.
Despite the fact that Hawke and Titus had made them run through everything they've learned in the past few weeks that day, his two lovers seemed pretty energetic that night. They had dragged Harry out on a walk to get a proper view of the grounds, and explored the surrounding area on broomsticks, invisible to everyone else. They landed in a dark alley of a nearby town and shrunk their brooms before Tonks dragged the two of them into a pub.
"Tonks, I'm not old enough-" Whatever the young Gryffindor wanted to say was cut short as Tonks slapped his Unspeakable mask on him and adjusted the illusion over it to show the face of a much older man. Sighing in resignation, Harry wrapped his arms around Fleur and Tonks, changing his posture to match that of someone much older than he was. He had just officially completed his training as an Unspeakable and now he was using it to sneak into a pub.
There was soft jazz music playing in the background as the trio settled down into a quiet booth, and Tonks called drinks for the three of them. Fleur had a rather amused expression on her face as she watched Harry fidget about in his seat. "Relax, they're all Muggles and none of them will see through you unless you keep twitching." She assured him.
"I'm twitching because every other guy is looking our way, I'm not sure if I should thank you or Tonks for that. I can almost smell the jealousy coming off of them. I might be skilled in a duel but don't count on me in a brawl."
She chuckled lightly. "I forgot Muggles get affected by my allure as well. I suppose Tonks' pink hair does draw quite a bit of attention here."
"Crap, I forgot. I normally change my hair colour when I need to walk among Muggles. Sorry, Harry."
"Don't apologise, if one of them tries to fight me over one of you I'm going to duck behind you." He replied wryly.
The looks he was getting remained just that, however, as the other men in the pub remained in their seats and seemed to be content with the occasional glance in their direction. Though the raven-haired boy was certain the kisses the two women were planting on his neck and lips every time a fellow patron was watching were not helping his situation.
A game of football soon aired over the television in the pub, which drew attention away from the three of them. Harry explained the game to Fleur while they watched the game. While the Dursleys had never been fans of the sport, they watched enough games every now and then that Harry could explain all the rules of the game to Fleur. The rest of their time at the pub was spent watching the match and as soon as it ended, the trio left the pub.
It was well past eleven by the time they flew back to the Sanctuary. Harry was smiling from ear to ear, since he hadn't enjoyed himself quite this much since the summer began. For once, the Dursleys were not around to spoil the mood or threaten his safety.
"Well, he's yours for the rest of the night." Tonks said aloud to Fleur before hopping up the steps and turning towards one of the guest rooms. Harry turned to the Veela, curious.
"Come with me." She instructed gently as she took him by the hand and led him up towards their bedroom. There were candles floating in the air, filling the room with the scent of vanilla. "Close your eyes." She whispered softly in his ear.
He obeyed silently, his curiosity growing. He tried to use his hearing instead to guess what Fleur was up to, but failed miserably. Their stealth training had obviously come in useful for her as she gave no hint of what she was doing, save for the sound of a drawer opening.
"Open your eyes." The instruction came just as the midnight bell chimed from a clock. Harry opened his eyes to find Fleur dressed in a light blue negligee, holding a box in her hands. "Happy birthday, Harry," she wished him with a smile as the box was passed into his hands and she planted a light kiss on his lips.
He had forgotten that it was his birthday, with the intense training they had been having for the past week. Apparently Tonks and Fleur had not forgotten, and had made plans. The outing was just an excuse to keep him up till midnight. He gently undid the ribbon that held the box shut, and opened it.
The box held a wand, sleek and slender. "It's made from Hawthorn, twenty-one centimetres long and with a strand of Veela hair as the core – from me."
He picked up the wand in his hand and immediately felt a sense of connection with it, as if it were a part of his arm he lost and had just reattached. "This feels much better than my original wand."
"It should, this wand was made specifically for you." Fleur answered. "It is a physical representation of love, and made for a wizard who fights for it. Do you remember what Ollivander said when he examined my wand during the Triwizard Tournament? He said that Veela hair was temperamental. He was only half-correct, you see. Veela hair has to be willingly given, and a wand made from it will only serve those whom its owner loves. It is a wand made out of love, for love. I had Ollivander make it the other day, when the joke shop was attacked."
"Thank you, Fleur. It's beautiful." Harry whispered as he planted a kiss on her forehead. The stirring of emotions for the French witch seemed to resonate with the wand. He gave a short wave and immediately extinguished all the candles in the room, bathing the both of them in darkness.
"Wow, all I meant to do was put one out." Harry exclaimed in surprise as he flicked his wand once more and relit the candles. Fleur was smiling widely.
"The wand works better than I had hoped, then."
"This means a lot to me, Fleur." He gave her another quick kiss on the lips. "Why did Tonks have to give us privacy for this, though?"
The Veela blushed immediately. "Ah… Well, there's a second present, you see."
"What is it?" He could scarcely believe there was a second gift after Fleur's first one.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips. "Me." She replied softly, blushing even more. His new wand clattered to the floor as Harry gaped in surprise. He had little experience with girls, but he was not thick enough to misunderstand what she meant.
"A-are you sure? Not that I don't want to, but just because it's my birthday doesn't mean-"
She silenced him with a kiss. "I've wanted this for some time, and I don't think I could wait any longer. I'm certain, and I'm not drunk or doing this just because it's your birthday. I want to be your first, Harry, just as you are mine."
She brought her lips to his once more, this time the kiss was needy and demanding. There was no more teasing, only raw emotion. The couple retreated to the bed, where they broke the kiss only so they could position themselves properly on the bed. Harry's cloak had already fallen to the floor along the way, and Fleur was undoing his belt. His own hands were caressing her soft skin, as he slipped the straps of her negligee off her shoulders. His lips moved down her neck, kissing the length of her collarbone before moving down to her now bare breasts. He lifted his head just enough for her to slip his shirt off, before he returned to kissing down the length of her body.
Every centimetre of skin that was bared as he slipped the negligee down her body was covered in kisses. Heat was building in her belly as she kicked off the piece of cloth and lifted her hips so Harry could slip her knickers off. His kisses trailed along the length of one of her milky white thighs before coming back up the other. When his lips reached the apex between her legs, he stopped and looked up at her. The uncertainty in his gaze was met with a nod of her head as she parted her legs to allow him to place his leg between them.
He gave a tentative flick of his tongue along her slit, eliciting a moan from the witch. He proceeded slowly, listening for gasps and moans that told him when he was doing something right. He did not wish to hurt her, not during their first time together. Soon, Fleur's legs were wrapped around his head and her moans grew louder as he found a rhythm. Her juices flowed freely and it wasn't long before she screamed out her climax. He lapped up her juices as her legs tightened their grip on him. He kissed his way back up to her lips while she recovered, their tongues softly brushing against each other while Fleur recovered from her orgasm, tasting herself on his tongue.
She pushed him off of her gently and returned the favour, kissing down his body slowly and exploring his new toned physique his exercise regime had given him. She pulled off his boxers, freeing the evidence of his arousal from its confines and stroked it gently. She kissed the tip before licking along the underside and sealing her lips around him. His fingers combed through her hair as her head bobbed up and down gently, the French witch just as uncertain as he was. The feeling of her tongue on his member had Harry quickly approaching his climax. As overwhelming as the pleasure was, Harry retained enough of his senses to realise that Fleur might not enjoy the prospect of him spilling into her mouth. "Fleur, I'm about to…" He groaned out as his release came.
She moaned around the tip of his cock and flicked her tongue against it, sucking hard as he came. His semen hit her tongue as she continued her ministrations on his softening cock, bringing it back to hardness while she swallowed his ejaculate.
When he was fully erect once more, she slid up until their bodies were flush against each other and kissed him, the taste of each other mingling on their tongues. Harry rolled both of them over so that he was now on top of her and looked into her eyes with a silent question. Her eyes were filled with unbridled passion as she nodded and wrapped her legs around his hips, one of her hands moving to position him at her entrance.
He entered her slowly, which took all of his willpower to do. She gasped as his tip entered her, grimacing a little. He wanted to stop but she shook her head and gave him a reassuring smile. He continued to penetrate her until he felt a resistance. Fleur's face was flushed with lust and a hint of pain, but she nodded once more and with a buck of his hips, he pushed past her maidenhood and claimed her body as his. She gasped in pain, wincing at the breaking of her hymen. Harry stopped pushing into her and let her recover. She rocked her hips, encouraging him to continue.
Careful to minimise her pain, Harry thrust slowly until he was buried fully inside of her. Fleur's breathing was ragged and he lowered his head to kiss her tenderly, not moving any more until he was sure she was fine. She ground her hips against his, letting out a moan of ecstasy as she did so, giving him the signal to continue. They rocked slowly against each other, his hands caressing her sides, while her hands mapped the contours of his back and chest. The warmth of her around him was getting too much for him and Harry soon found his second climax approaching.
He took longer thrusts in and out of her, eliciting louder moans from her. Fleur began bucking her hips against him as well, her legs tightening around his waist as her own orgasm neared. With a final thrust, they went over the edge together as Harry spilled himself inside of her, their hands clasping around each other's, fingers intertwined.
Harry collapsed beside her and she giggled girlishly when he planted a kiss on her forehead, pulling her closer to him. She threw a leg across his hips and an arm across his chest, using his shoulder as a pillow while his arm snaked around her back and came to rest on her waist. "Thank you, Harry. That was wonderful."
His free hand took the hand on his chest and held it tightly. "Thank you as well, Fleur, for giving me something so beautiful. I want to fall asleep like this every night for the rest of my life."
She lifted her head to meet his eyes. "Is that a proposal?"
"Do you accept?"
"Not until you get a ring!" She chuckled. "I'm sure I'll say yes when you do, though."
The sun was hitting his face when he awoke the next morning. Opening his eyes, Fleur's silvery blonde hair was the first thing he saw as she continued to sleep, curled up against him. They had turned in the middle of the night, so she had gone from sleeping on his shoulder to spooning against him.
He planted a trail of kisses along her shoulder and neck, rousing her slowly from her sleep. She smiled prettily when she opened her eyes and turned her head to look at him. "That's a sight to wake up to." She murmured affectionately, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. He planted one more kiss on her lips, which turned into a morning snog.
She rolled around so she was lying on her back and Harry positioned himself over her as they continued to kiss. When her leg brushed against his morning condition, however, he was reminded of what they had done last night. He had heard enough of the off colour conversations in the boys' dormitory to know that Fleur was probably sore from their exertions.
"Are you alright?" He asked tenderly. He had tried his best to be gentle with her last night, although he was just as inexperienced as she was. The last thing he wanted was to have hurt her during their coupling when she had entrusted her body to him.
"A little sore, but no worse than the training we've been through." She answered with a grin, planting another peck on his lips. "We need to get up or I might ignore that and make you ravish me."
His groin twitched in response to her comment, demanding that he ignore her words and make her scream his name once more. He suppressed the urge and peeled himself away. Fleur sat up and her hand brushed against his erection, gripping it lightly. "I see that might a little difficult to do right now." She joked as she moved down his body until he could feel her breath against his member.
"If you're still sore…" He began to protest, but her tongue covering his tip in her saliva silenced him completely.
"My tongue isn't." She smirked as she took him in her mouth. Despite the fact that they were both virgins before last night, the Veela was eager to please him. I am the luckiest man alive right now. He thought as her tongue swirled around his cock, experimenting and exploring his sweet spots. Her fingers wrapped lightly around the base of him and she began gently stroking him towards his climax while her mouth tended to the remaining length of his penis.
It didn't take long for him to spend himself inside her mouth once more, his cock growing flaccid as she moaned at the taste of him, savouring it and swallowing his cum. She moved back up to kiss him, but he sat up and embraced her instead, planting kisses along her jawline before meet her lips. "Now we really need to get out of bed before you test my resolve further, woman!" He insisted with a laugh. "You're going to be the death of me."
Fleur entered the bathroom first, giggling as she shut Harry out. He groaned in mock protest, though he knew that had she allowed him in, they would be leaving Tonks alone for breakfast, possibly till lunchtime.
"I'd ask you how everything went last night, but the looks on your faces just answered that question." Tonks teased as the two of them sat down for breakfast. Both of them blushed, thankful that Tonks had started the ribbing before they had put any food in their mouths.
The Metamorphmagus leaned in closer as Harry was biting into his toast and whispered in his ear. "You're getting your present from me tonight." He choked on his breakfast, drawing a laugh from Tonks as she patted his back lightly to help him with the discomfort.
"You two are conspiring to do me in, honestly!" He whined as he took a sip of juice and finished the rest of his breakfast quickly before one of them decided to continue their merciless attack on his composure.
"Not until I've had my wicked way with you, mister!" Tonks laughed as she leaned in to kiss him and apologise for her teasing. He accepted it with enthusiasm. "Happy birthday," She wished him as they broke the kiss.
"Oh, and we're going out to celebrate later, I hope you didn't have any plans." Tonks chirped cheerfully. He had almost forgotten that they weren't expected to report for training any longer, and that they had the rest of the week to themselves. His mood soared considerably, even more than he thought possible with the events of the past few hours, as images of spending his birthday with Fleur and Tonks filled his mind.
Fleur and Harry made their back to the bedroom to change into outfits better suited for a day out. She had insisted on dressing him when he haphazardly threw on a simple shirt and jeans. Perhaps it was the result of their love making the night before, but her Veela charms seemed to have a greater effect on him as she dressed him. She gave the impression of the perfect wife, and the wizard's imagination took over from there as he pictured her doing this for the rest of their lives.
She hadn't bothered to ask him to turn around as she changed as well, and he was treated to the sight of her in just her underwear as she picked out a dress to wear. Her pink bra and panties matched her milky white skin perfectly, and he thought she looked sexier in just her underwear than in the nude. It took a great deal of effort to remind himself that she had admitted she was sore from last night and to restrain himself from taking her right there and then.
They met Tonks back out in the hallway and before he could ask where they were going, she threw a Portkey around his neck and he was transported roughly to their destination.
"Harry, he's here!" A familiar voice yelled out as a bushy-haired missile tackled him. He smiled as he saw Ron stumbling out the kitchen and waving at him while Hermione removed herself from him.
"Happy birthday to you, mate!" Ron wished heartily as he stepped forward, still in his pyjamas, and shook Harry's hand. Hermione echoed Ron's wishes as the rest of the Weasleys came to greet him.
The sound of Tonks and Fleur arriving drew everyone's attention. There was murmur of surprise at the French witch's presence, and Harry decided it was better to just get things out of the way. "I think most of you recognise Fleur Delacour. She competed in the Triwizard Tournament. She's, uh, my girlfriend."
"Wait, we thought you and Tonks were… From the way she was…" Hermione began to speak, but it was clear the words she needed were not coming to her. The pink-haired witch stepped forward and took Harry's hand while Fleur took his other.
"Well, you're not wrong, Hermione." Tonks affirmed with a laugh. "I kind of left out the part where Harry has another witch watching over him as well."
A glance at Mrs Weasley told Harry that the woman was going to have a fit soon. The shock was apparently too much for her; even Ron and Hermione were sputtering and trying to find words to say. Though he noted that Ron was drooling while staring at Fleur. He remembered that his best friend had been rather affected by Fleur's allure in their fourth year and had asked her to the Yule Ball in a disastrous display of stupidity.
"I am glad to finally meet the family Harry has been talking so much about. I've heard a lot from Bill of course, while I was working at Gringotts."
He noted a rather bemused expression on her face as she glanced at Ron, though it was hidden well enough that only he and Tonks would know it was there. She apparently remembered his rather clumsy invitation to the Ball as well.
"WHAT IN THE NAME OF MERLIN IS GOING ON?" Mrs Weasley managed to roar when the shock had subsided.
I guess it was too much to hope for that she'd keep it cool for a while longer. Harry thought to himself.
A/N: So I finally bit the bullet and finished this chapter. I wanted to include the rest of Harry's birthday in this chapter, but the scene between Harry and Fleur was threatening to give me a heart attack and I don't think I could've handled writing a second one (Tonks has yet to give Harry his "present" as well, after all)
Some of you had originally guessed Hawke's (and Nutrix's) secret identities to be James and Lily… I was chuckling when I read your reviews, and I hope you were pleasantly surprised. The mystery behind what Fleur had in the vial has been answered as well.
Also, a lemon drop goes to Monkeymandb for pointing out to me that I've been spelling Metamorphmagus wrong for the past 6 chapters.
I'll try to get another chapter up before 8 March, after which my enlistment in the army will take away a considerable amount of time (I will be confined in camp for the first 2 weeks or so, which sucks)
Hope you enjoyed this chapter and once again, a big thank you to all my readers and keep the reviews coming!