Interlude: Paid Holidays? Blasphemy!
Harry rubbed his neck tiredly after a long night of hard work. Maybe if he was lucky, he would be able to sneak in an hour or two's sleep; suddenly, his phone rang shrilly, signaling the start of a new day.
I guess not, Harry thought wistfully. How many days has it been since he has it been since he has slept? He paused. He promised himself that he would sleep yesterday, but he said that the day before that as well.
He shrugged the thought off; work waits for no one. After all, it's not like he can just take a day off from teaching- how could he leave his brats unsupervised for a day? There might not even be a school for him to return to if he did that.
Harry showered in a hurry and grabbed his suit jacket from the back of his chair. He quickly gobbled down half of the breakfast Dobby had set aside for him; he just didn't have the appetite for all of it. Before he left, he swiped a bottle of Pepper-up from his potions cabinet. He downed it in a flourish, expecting the energy to rush to him.
Instead, all he saw was blackness.
Fleur locked the door to her apartment as she headed out to her car; tomorrow was the last day of her little "probation". She still hasn't decided whether she would stay in Ouran or not; Renge looks to be greatly enjoying her time in Japan, and it was nice to catch up with Harry again. However, why should she stay? Her presence isn't required. It was rather… extraneous. Renge seems to be handling herself just fine. Harry did a fine job of keeping the kids in line before she came along. The twins' fashion sense is more than competent for their role. Perhaps she would just sequester herself back to France and let the world pass by around her.
She clacked her way down to her garage and drove away towards the school in her Porche. On her way, she saw Harry's car still parked in his usual parking spot.
He must be running late, she thought. That's odd of him; he is usually quite punctual.
Well, it would certainly give her a reason to tease him mercilessly whenever he does get to school. Fleur drove away in high spirits.
"Hey, have you seen Potter-Black-sensei?" A brown haired girl whispered to her friend.
"No, have you?" Her friend asked back. "Ms. Trepe had to cover his class this morning."
Hikaru looked disinterested and flicked his fork towards the two fangirls as if he could banish them with a mere thought. The two are known fangirls of Black-sensei's fanclub; they are practically its president and vice-president. If his memory serves him correctly, one of them is Osakada Tomoka, a rather shrill and obnoxious first year. It was rumored that Black-sensei had to break one of her cameras to get her to stop taking pictures of him.
Regardless, what they said was indeed true, Hikaru thought as he picked over his lunch. Their teacher was uncharacteristically absent today. During a break between classes, Tamaki asked his father where their missing teacher was, and he merely replied that the man hadn't showed up this morning. All calls to his home and cell phones went unanswered. It was rather irresponsible of Black-sensei, and their teacher was anything but irresponsible.
To add to their confusion, not even Delacour-san knew about their teacher's absence. When she walked into Black-sensei's classroom with Renge several hours ago, she looked completely surprised to see Ms. Trepe standing at the teacher's podium. She looked even more surprise to see that other blonde wasn't leaving. Once class began, she quietly slipped out of the classroom and did not return for the rest of the lesson. The twins guessed that she left to track down the errant teacher, and they could only hope that she would be successful in her endeavor- from what they have gathered, no one has seen Black-sensei today.
If the man still hasn't shown up by the end by the end of club activities, they would have to resort to drastic measures.
Fleur steepled her fingers, a deep frown etched on her face. She watched Tamaki flirt shamelessly to a number of clueless girls, but her mind was on another matter entirely; it doesn't take much brain power to do both actions at the same time, especially when the scene before her eyes was completely pointless to begin with. No, what was really bothering her was the lack of one Harry James Potter.
She never realized this before, but the host club without Harry was just… boring. The decorations, the food, and the people were still the same, but there was something missing… There was no one to keep her occupied, no one to trade snide remarks with her, no one to make her laugh, no one for her to talk with. Instead, she just sat at an empty table, completely removed from the merriment around her. She became an observer- there, but never present. Seeing without being seen. To her, it merely emphasized the nature of her stay.
She tried to reach Harry by phone, but he would not answer. She texted him, but he did not text back. Even if he ignored calls and messages sent to him by other people, he would not ignore the ones sent by her, which means he either flew out of the country, or he was physically unable to return her calls.
She highly suspected that it was the latter.
Fleur sighed and combed her fingers through her hair. She knew it- she just knew that something like this would happen. She sneaked looks at the hosts, or as she calls them, Harry's brats. They were talking and flirting as they usually did, but they kept glancing at the spot where Harry used to be there, as if expecting the man to loom over them.
Host club activities for the day flew by quickly; she spent most of her time staring out of the window unmoving. She paid the silly girls no mind as they left one by one, leaving her alone with the hosts.
The hosts looked at each other, then the silent woman. As one, they glanced worriedly at each other; they wanted to talk to her, but who would break the silence? After a while, Tamaki got up, but Honey beat him to the punch. He promptly marched over to the blonde lady and presented her with his bunny. She blinked slowly at him as if wondering what she was supposed to do with it.
"Hana-chan," he began cutely- Fleur's lips twitched up at the nickname. "Is Kuro-sensei alright?" He tilted his head to the side and peeked out from behind Usa-chan.
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "I called both his cell phone and home phone numbers, but he didn't pick up," she added.
The twins glanced at each other; Tamaki's princely expression melted off his face.
"Why wouldn't he pick up?" Haruhi muttered to herself, "unless he's away-"
"Or otherwise unable to." Fleur finished for her.
"It is rather odd for Sensei to not leave lesson plans upon his absence," Kyoya noted and adjusted his glasses.
Fleur nodded in agreement, "Harry wouldn't do that. Despite his jokes, he's actually quite serious about teaching."
Hikaru frowned thoughtfully. Delacour-san said that she was not sure about Sensei's situation, but she seemed awfully certain that the missing teacher was unable to answer her calls, not that he ignored them on purpose. Something tells him she at least had a good guess as to what happened to their mysterious teacher.
"Delacour-san," he said- she looked at him straight on- "what do you think happened to Sensei?"
She was quiet for a long time before answering with a question- "Tell me, how much time do you think teachers spend planning lessons and grading homework?"
Hikaru raised an eyebrow at the off-topic question but did some quick calculations nonetheless. He knew that Black-Sensei had at least three classes a day- if not more- not counting the host club. Assuming that each class averages at around twenty students, which would be sixty students- sixty students that the teacher would be responsible for. Given the heavy workload of Black-sensei's classes- he assigned one essay per week, not counting research and reading- he would probably have to spend quite a lot of time grading his assigned work.
"A couple hours a day, I suppose." He answered dutifully.
Her lips twisted into smile that looked a bit like a grimace. "Now, how late do club activities typically end every day?"
"Five to six in the afternoon." Tamaki replied. That still left a good five to six hours of work time per day- enough time for even the harshest teachers.
"Now tell me- how much time does it take to manage an insanely large stock portfolio and look after a large company every day?" Fleur asked dryly.
Tamaki blanched. Kyoya paused in his writing and adjusted his glasses. "Enough," he replied shortly.
She shrugged elegantly in agreement, her lips still betraying her mood.
"Sensei's not daft enough to juggle both at the same time," Haruhi argued weakly- both teaching and portfolio managing were high stress, full time jobs.
"You would be surprised at how reckless Harry can be sometimes- that knucklehead." Fleur muttered and rolled her eyes skyward.
"So you think Sensei's sick." Kaoru summarized.
"More likely passed out on his bed from complete exhaustion, but yes, he could be sick as well," she said.
Tamaki shot a worried glare at Kyoya. Do something, he thought exasperatedly.
"Delacour-san, what would you suggest we do?" Kyoya inquired politely.
"What can we do?" She half laughed. "Harry's always been like this- stubborn, silly, and arguably stupid. You won't believe the crazy stunts he has pulled in the past even if I wrote you his autobiography," she said somewhat bitterly. "But no, we're not going to leave him passed out in his own house with no one to take care of him," she said before any one of them opens their mouths in outrage. "How do you kids feel about a fieldtrip?" she grinned. The twins looked at each other and ran to grab their permanent markers.
Fleur snorted. "I'll meet you all at the school entrance. Have your driver – one will be plenty- follow my car; it's bright blue. Just give me a minute or two to organize things, okay?"
Fleur stalked down the hallway as she made her way to the parking lot.
Once she reached her Porche, she opened the passenger seat and made a big show of digging through her car as if she was trying to find something. After a moment, she paused, her head still bowed.
"Sassy," she called quietly for her diligent house elf. She appeared quietly in the back seat. Luckily, the elf was short enough that the seat hid her from view.
"Yes Miss?" She asked. "What is yous need of Sassy?"
Fleur smiled at her enthusiastic house elf. "Sassy, I need you to go to this address," she hurriedly wrote down Harry's address on a post it note and gave it to her, "and tell the house elf in charge there that his master will have visitors in an hour or two. Tell him that I know his master is probably in no state to receive guests, but I will be coming over with a potion remedy for pepper-up overdose. I'll be bringing several muggle children with me; they are his students, and they are very worried about him. Therefore, it's vital that he makes sure all traces of magic or magical objects are hidden. Also, can you ask him to unlock the door before we arrive? I don't think his master is in any condition to answer the door. If his master is awake, repeat this message word by word to him:
We're coming over in an hour or two; your kids are insanely worried about you, you reckless numbskull. This isn't up for debate; you can get as offended as you want later, but I'm not leaving you passed out on your bed lest it turns into your deathbed. Consider yourself warned- you know very well that you're in no condition to keep me out. Besides, I'm bringing pepper-up addiction cure potions with me; yes, I knew you were addicted. I'll grill you for that later."
Sassy nodded and popped away. She reappeared a second later, "Dobby says it is alright, Miss. He says he placed his master in bed; his master is in bad shape, but he is awake, Miss. Sassy is giving the Master Miss' message. He is hissing at Sassy" She shook her head, causing her ears to flap about.
Fleur sighed. That idiot. She made a note to bring more potions with her; she kept some in the moleskin pouch in her purse. "Thank you, Sassy." She said as the elf disappeared once more.
She climbed into the driver's seat, trying to suppress her urge to turn the nearby trees into charcoal. If she couldn't burn down the shrubbery, then she'd just burn rubber. With loud wail, she raced off.
Haruhi sighed at the shiny new Porche parked at the school entrance. Of course the world famous designer would have a sports car. It was bright blue, yes, but she conveniently forgot to mention that it was a bright blue sports car. It didn't even look out of place in this school where money might as well be toilet paper.
"Well, what are you guys waiting for?" The window rolled down to reveal Ms. Delacour.
Haruhi raised an eyebrow.
"I managed to reach Harry," she said, catching everyone's attention, "I told him that we're coming over, and we're not taking no for an answer. He's well enough to curse at me," she grinned. "Anyways, get in your car and follow me." Ah yes, the personal drivers driving Bentleys and Benzes. How could she forget? At the club members' insistence, she climbed into the most comfortable car she has ever been in.
They followed the Porche as it sped away.
In the Bentley, Honey brought up a very important issue that has been on everyone's mind as of late.
"Ne, do you think Hana-chan will stay?" Honey asked with a floppy-eared Usa-chan in his lap. None of the hosts were wearing seat belts, Haruhi noted with a sigh. Being the commoner, she was the only one who wore hers.
The hosts all mused over the question. All of them remembered that Delacour-san's month was almost up, but none of them knew whether she would stay. Personally, Haruhi thought there was an even chance of either scenario; the designer fit in well in the school, but she did look rather forlorn at times- as if she didn't belong. Haruhi knew exactly how it feels to be an outsider, so she would not blame the blond woman if she chose to leave. Wealth as a common factor may not be enough to make her stay.
Kyoya paused in his writing. Having Delacour-san stay would be quite beneficial both him and the club. Not only did she act as a calming presence on both Renge and their strict teacher, but she also drew in additional revenue, increased exposure to their non-target populations, and served as the photographer for their calendar.
The question weighed heavily on their minds. How would their club be different if she left? What did she mean to them- and their teacher? They did not forget that the French lady had access to Black-sensei's personal numbers and his address. Given their teacher's fierce love of privacy, he would not hand out his private information to just anyone, meaning that she was close to him- closer than any of his students.
Despite her sudden appearance, her presence was an unexpected boon for Harry-sensei. As students, they have rarely ever seen their usually overprotective teacher so relaxed on campus. Haruhi personally thought that the teacher wasn't aware of how the tensing of his brows eased up or how his tensed shoulders relaxed. Just by body posture alone, she could tell that he was quite relaxed around her. Of course, the way he spoke to her betrayed that fact as well. She knew that there would always be a chasm between them and their teacher; it is expected, and in some senses, it keeps them from truly understanding their teacher. However, Delacour-san stands next to Harry as an equal- well established and famous in her own right. Even if Delacour-san did not stay, Haruhi was glad that her teacher found someone who shared so many things in common with him.
Little did Haruhi know just exactly how right she was.
The sleek blue racecar quickly pulled into a large driveway after passing by a richly decorated –and guarded- gate. The guard waved Fleur's car in instantly, but he stopped the hosts' car; luckily, the top-notch designer rolled down her window and explained the situation promptly; they are guests who will not be staying the night. Fleur registered the hosts under her name; thus, the guard waved them through without any further trouble. Moments later, the club members' car pulled up next to the Porche.
Haruhi got out of the car and gaped at the large apartment building before her; it was more of a house than an apartment, really. It had a rather modernistic feel with a dramatically sloping white roof and one side made entirely of glass. The design of the house was vastly different than that of other houses; it must have been heavily redecorated at some point- though by who was anyone's guess.
Delacour-san stepped out of her car and hurriedly unlocked the front door. "Welcome to my house," she said as she deposited her car keys on a wooden dish next to the door.
"Your house?" Haruhi asked.
"Of course. Surely you didn't think that we would visit a sick patient without bringing anything." She said as she unlocked her house. "Welcome," she pushed open the door.
The twins eyed the interior design of the living room with keen eyes. The interior of the house was a rather interesting mix of modern minimalistic designs and rustic traditional elements. The two redheads observed the multi-colored stone fireplace with approval; the room was dimly lit- the light glanced off of the redwood flooring, adding to the warm and homey feeling. The clean white walls and large windows kept the house looking clean and fresh. Honey promptly jumped onto the burgundy couch and sank deeply into the satin cushions.
"Well, come on," Fleur's voice echoed. The teenagers filed into the kitchen, which was rather large with an island in the middle made mostly out of recycled wood.
"I would set out refreshments, but we are not here for afternoon tea," Fleur said and slipped a piece of hair behind her ear. "I believe I have all the ingredients for chicken noodle soup," she fluttered about the kitchen like an artist through the studio.
"We want to help too," Kaoru insisted. His worse half nodded enthusiastically; Fleur paused in her search for ingredients and looked carefully at them. She honestly doubted that any one of them –minus Haruhi- has ever even held a knife before before, but she understood their need to contribute. Someone they cared quite deeply about was sick, and they wanted to help. She wasn't sure how much of a help they would be though; still, giving them jobs to do would minimize the boredom-induced chaos in her own home. She pursed her lips thoughtfully and nodded.
"Well, this would go quicker with a couple more hands." Fleur agreed, her head still stuck in the fridge. "I'll go get the Tylenol while you guys can start on measuring and washing the ingredients. Don't start cutting yet since you guys- with the exception of Haruhi- aren't too familiar with knives, I don't want you to use them without supervision." Her voice was oddly echoed as she spoke.
Fleur emerged from the fridge with her arms full of ingredients which Mori quickly helped carry towards the sink. She nodded in thanks and withdrew a large stockpot, which was full of stock she had made the night beforehand for risotto. "Could you wash those thoroughly?" She asked. "Except the onions," she added as an afterthought.
While the vegetables were being washed, she reached for two packs of egg noodles in the pantry next to the stove. She passed the noodles to Haruhi along with a deep pot. "Could you blanch the pasta and shock it? The olive oil and salt are next to the stove." The girl nodded and did as she was told, already knowing how to prepare the dry pasta.
Once the vegetables were thoroughly washed, she grabbed the twins each by the shoulder and steered them towards the sink, where she made them wash their hands thoroughly before touching anything. "Now, Hikaru, Kaoru, you two are in charge of the celery and garlic. Take only what you need, okay? The recipe is on the counter. You should see the amount that you need for both ingredients there." Both twins looked equally baffled, but Fleur gently showed them what the recipe needed and what each term meant.
That handled, she quickly set Honey to shredding the roasted chicken (a task which he completed happily), and Kyoya to picking the herbs from the herb garden in the balcony. She showed him which herbs were which and how to properly pick herbs. Next, she herded Tamaki away from the corner of her kitchen before he could cultivate mushrooms; she handed him two carrots, two potatoes.
With everyone working together, gathering the ingredients did not take very long. Fleur rushed to the medicine cabinet and dug out several doses of pepper up addiction remedy. Just to be safe, she grabbed some Tylenol as well; Harry probably wasn't feverish, but she would rather take it with her than to be underprepared. Besides, he might end up needing to take it for the pain that accompanies Pepper-up withdrawal. One advantage of muggle medicine is that it rarely if ever interferes with potions.
Once Fleur returned to the kitchen, she was quite pleased to see the vegetables properly washed and the noodled in the process of being blanched.
"Great!" she said happily. "Everyone, come over here. I'm going to show you how to peel and cut vegetables."
The club members looked happy at the praise and gathered as told.
"Now, with the peeler, you peel away from you. Imagine you're painting in long, fast strokes or splashing someone lightly with water. You start at either end of the vegetable and you skim over it very briefly- just enough to take off the skin." Fleur held up a peeler and demonstrated how to peel a carrot. The hosts looked a bit baffled at the analogies. She ignored their looks of utter confusion and looked through her drawers for another peeler for hosts.
"That's good," She nodded to Tamaki, who awkwardly peeled off a crooked piece of skin from the potato. "Be careful; the vegetables are slippery when their skin is off," she warned.
Hikaru, wanting to try, wrestled the peeler from Tamaki and tried to peel a carrot. "Careful," Fleur warned. "You're not holding the peeler properly, and you're peeling towards yourself." She said gently as she held Hikaru's hand. "Here's how you do it- hold it gently and peel outwards." Hikaru paid close attention to Fleur's motions; he noticed that Fleur's pale hands were surprisingly soft. Once she was certain that the hosts could at least peel vegetables without skinning themselves, she moved on to other matters.
"Now, for cutting, remember to hold whatever you're cutting with the tips of the finger. Again, when you're cutting, cut away from you. Be careful, and try not to cut too close to yourself." Fleur said, demonstrating with an onion that she hurriedly peeled. "With round objects like onions, you have to be extra careful because they can slip. What you do is cut off a slice first, so you can have a flat edge to work with." Haruhi nodded, surprised that the wealthy designer knew how to cook.
"Now, with the celery and garlic- to devein celery, first you have to find the veins; they are on the green edge of the stalk. With a small knife, go behind the veins, cut, and pull gently. Don't worry if the vein breaks midway through- just devein as much as you can. You also use a small knife to take the skin off garlic cloves. The skin is white; the meat- or the part that we actually want- is yellow-ish. When you're done with peeling the skin, take this" she held out a small flat meat tenderizer "and give the garlic a good tap- try not to damage my counter though. You do that to remove the sprout of the garlic." She held out a small, green, curved sprout.
"Once you're done with that, put the rest of the garlic in a small bowl; I'll mince it up. I can handle mincing the herbs as well. The chicken is already shredded, and the pasta is almost done." She pulled out a small bowl for the garlic.
"Now, get to work, kids! Tell me if you need any help; be careful and don't rush. Remember, you're working with sharp objects here. Haruhi, I'll need your help with this," she laughed.
Haruhi nodded and began peeling and rinsing the onions. Everyone else took up knives and began peeling or deveining the vegetables awkwardly. Fleur took a sharp knife and began mincing the herbs deftly. Once she was done with that, she took the somewhat smashed garlic bits that Mori peeled and began mincing them as well.
Thirty minutes later, the hosts put down their knives with a collective groan. Who knew cooking can be so exhausting? Thankfully, none of them got hurt in the process; even more so, they gained a new appreciation for their cooks and maids.
Hikaru stared balefully at the bowls of unevenly and partially unpeeled chunks of carrots and badly deveined celery pieces. Is this really alright?
Fleur expertly lined up the ingredients without minding their appearances. "You guys did well for your first time," she said. "Take a break for a bit, alright? Haruhi and I can finish up."
The boys watched in awe from the vantage point as the two females worked in the kitchen like true professionals; while sautéing the vegetables, Fleur flipped the contents up and down through the air like a chef. She dully ignored Tamaki's cries about a feminine Haruhi for about five minutes before she sent a spatula soaring through the air towards his head. It hit him dead on. The twins snickered at their "lord's" misfortune, but Fleur ignored them as well.
"I said to watch, not to be a nuisance." She said shortly.
Within minutes, Haruhi was cracking in the black pepper and sprinkling the salt. Fleur gave the soup a taste and turned down the heat. Mori handed her a ladle; she accepted it gracefully and spooned half of the soup into a large pot. To the hosts' surprise, she ladled out the rest into eight bowls- enough for each of them.
"I doubled the recipe on purpose," she said. How sneaky of her, the twins thought.
"You kids worked hard on this, so it's only right you get to taste your own cooking. This is product of your labor." She smiled.
Haruhi eyed the bowl warily wondered if she would get a stomachache from the soup. It looked innocuous enough, oddly shaped vegetables aside. With some hesitance, she took a sip; to her surprise, it was delicious.
Her look of shock was likewise echoed on the faces on the boys' faces.
"It's really good," Kaoru said.
"Tono, you didn't peel the carrots properly," Hikaru teased, pointing at the bit of unpeeled carrot floating around in the soup.
Tamaki shook his spoon at the mischievous redhead. "Quiet, you devils! My carrots are perfect just the way they are," he said proudly
Mori and Kyoya stayed quiet as they drank their soup, more used to silence during their meals. Still, both of them were surprised at how good the soup tasted.
Fleur's lips twitched at their antics; really, it doesn't matter how unevenly cut the vegetables are or how much of the peel was left on. The fact is they worked hard for their food; their feelings of compassion and worry for their teacher are very clear; their kind feelings are what made the soup delicious. There is something unique and special about their cooking; everyone's cooking tastes differently even if the ingredients or spices are the same. It's nice to have them learn that food that they labored over tastes extra delicious; things that they earn are worth more.
Fleur sipped languidly on her soup. There is something magical about the taste of this soup. She chuckled quietly to herself, somehow, I think Harry will appreciate this very much.
She turned around when she felt something fluffy poke her in the back gently.
"Can I have more?" Honey asked cutely.
Fleur laughed, interrupting Tamaki in mid-rant. These kids, she mused, as she shook her head with a smile.
"Alright, Haruhi, can you carry the pot?" Fleur asked as she double checked her medicine. She shook off a pair of curious twins with ease.
The petite girl nodded, holding up the heavy ceramic pot with ease.
"Would you mind riding in my car?" Fleur held up her keys. "I don't want the soup to be jostled too much." She said, well aware of how rowdy the hosts can get.
Tamaki pouted slightly while trying not to look too disappointed. Kyoya smirked knowingly, guessing at the cause for the blonde's sudden mood change.
"You kids (monkeys, she thought) can follow me by car. Harry's house isn't far from here; we live in the same gated community, so he's just down the street." Fleur scrambled for her keys and slipped on her pumps.
She can walk in those? Haruhi eyed Fleur's four-and-a-half inch pumps wearily. By all means, they appear to be more like deadly assault weapons than proper footwear.
"Well then, let's go!" She pushed open the door and gestured for the highschoolers to hurry.
Fleur and Haruhi waited in the car as the hosts struggled to find all their belongings and put on all their clothes.
"They're taking a long time," Fleur said somewhat impatiently. You would think highschoolers would know better by now, she mentally grumbled.
"The soup's going cold," Haruhi muttered, looking at the still chunks of green and orange.
"That's fine; I doubt Harry's going to be awake when we get there. He's probably completely exhausted, so he might not wake up quickly. I thought to bring him soup because goodness knows that man eats out of necessity more than anything else," Fleur sighed.
"You care a lot for Harry, Delacour-san," Haruhi noted frankly.
Fleur turned her head to look at the girl fully. "I suppose I do. He's an old friend; we've been through a lot together." She said reticently.
Haruhi blinked; the look on Fleur's face was odd- it was nothing like any expression she has seen before.
"I wouldn't want him to work until he drops, but he's just the type of person to push himself to the limit." Fleur shook her silvery mane in exasperation. "He is used to ignoring his own needs for other people; our friends used to joke that he has a "saving people" thing. He didn't believe us at first, but we managed to convince him soon enough. One of our friends- a particularly bookish girl- used to joke that he would race off a cliff if someone else jumped first. From what I've seen, he hasn't changed much in ten years, so when I found out that he had not shown up for work today, I knew that he probably worked himself sick."
"You know him really well," Haruhi looked at Fleur with her brown doe-like eyes.
"I suppose I do," Fleur mused, one hand propping her chin up. "We were really good friends right up until he dropped off the face of the Earth ten years ago. When I saw him again, he was on the front page of a magazine; by then, I already had enough to worry about, so I did not contact him. I never thought that I would find him here- teaching a bunch of kids at that." She laughed lightly.
Haruhi went quiet and merely looked at the woman. Fleur paid her no mind and looked right back.
Their starring contest broke when Hikaru's driver gave a light honk, signaling that they were (finally) ready.
"Well, that took long enough. Off to Harry's house then," Fleur said and hit the accelerator. Meanwhile, Haruhi held the ceramic pot's lid tightly as the car suddenly jerked forward with a loud wail.
Somehow, I think I'll be better off in Hikaru's car… Haruhi thought uneasily while triple checking her seat belt.
"Well, here we are." Fleur pulled up into the driveway of a fairly normal looking house in the community; it was not elaborately redesigned like Fleur's was. In fact, it looked just like any other house in the gated community.
Fleur pulled on the parking break and waved a hand to the driver following her; he stopped as well.
"Haruhi, do you need help?" Fleur asked, about to step out of the car; the girl shook her head and fumbled with the seatbelt while trying to balance the pot of soup. The French woman took pity on her and clicked the release button.
Once everyone got off, they made their way towards the silvery-blond woman who was standing in front of a perfectly boring wooden door- one that they presumed belonged to their teacher.
"Well, this is Harry's house. Try to keep the address to yourself, okay? I don't think Harry would appreciate his fangirls swarming this place every day." Fleur said dryly. "Also, be quiet when you enter; Harry is probably sleeping right now. We did take an hour or so to prepare the soup, so chances are, he fell asleep waiting."
The hosts nodded and made a zipping motion with their hands. Fleur knocked softly on the door twice before entering the house, finding the door unlocked. She stepped into the house, her steps echoing.
What was inside blew her away.
"Is that IKEA?" She said incredulously as she fingered a cheaply made lampshade. "Blasphemy!" She muttered angrily under her breath. "A multi-billionaire using IKEA! What a complete and utter waste! I'll have to talk to Harry later about redesigning his house… Hell, I'll even cover the costs- anything to get him to dump his furniture. "
Behind her, Hikaru and Kaoru were nodding so much they looked like bobble heads.
Haruhi ignored the commotion as usual and set the chicken soup on the dinner table. "What's wrong with IKEA?" She said out loud. It was cheap, practical, and had good designs.
This time, everyone- not just Hikaru, Kaoru, and Fleur- stared at her.
"Everything," Fleur said as if it made perfect sense. To her, it probably did, but to the average commoner, it explained nothing except for her somewhat questionable mental status.
"The quality isn't good," Kaoru offered a more reasonable explanation. Confused, Haruhi chalked it up to a rich people quirk. The list has grown quite long.
"Is Kuro-sensei sleeping?" Honey suddenly appeared from behind Fleur, nearly startling her. When she told them to be quiet, she didn't think that Honey would take the statement so seriously.
"Good question. You guys stay here, and I'll check. It shouldn't take long." Fleur said. "I think his room is this way? It should be if his floor plan is the same as mine." She muttered and pointed towards a corridor.
"Delacour-san, don't take too long!" Hikaru grinned devilishly.
"Otherwise we might think you got lost," Kaoru finished with an equally evil smile.
Fleur rolled her eyes. "Oh, I'll try not to take too long. Knowing you two, if I take more than thirty seconds, Harry won't have a living room left, you walking natural disasters." She mocked back. "Well then, if no one has anything else to suggest, I'll be right back."
She shook off her pumps and her coat but took her purse with her.
Fleur tiptoed her way to Harry's room, careful to suppress her magic. At this point, Harry's magic would probably be flaring wildly, making him extremely sensitive to other magical presences. By the time she reached Harry's door, she had suppressed her magic to the point of nonexistence.
She opened the door quietly, carefully standing just outside the room.
"Harry, are you awake?" She asked softly. She saw the bundle of blankets shift ever so slightly.
"Harry?" She asked amusedly; mumbled hissing was her answer. The blanket ball coiled tighter.
I didn't even know hissing can sound mumbled, she thought. "Harry, I can't understand you," she said calmly.
The hissing grew louder and more distinct.
"Harry, you're not speaking in English." She said, holding back a snort. The hissing stopped as a mop of black hair emerged from beneath the blankets.
"I said, I'm awake." Harry said sleepily and pushed away some of his blankets.
"I'm sure you are," Fleur said dryly. "Here's a Pepper-up cure." She held up a small vial filled with glowing green liquid. Harry attempted to sit up; he accepted Fleur's offered help gratefully, knowing that he did not have the energy to sit up at this point.
"Might I remind you that what you did was completely and utterly reckless?" Fleur asked as she fetched a couple of pillows to help Harry sit up.
He mumbled something unintelligible but did not deny anything.
"I brought enough doses to tide you over for a day or two, but after that, you're on your own. You should know the dosage by now- once in the morning and once at night, one vial each. I'll make sure Dobby knows about your new potions regime." Fleur said professionally. "Go ahead and take this dose now."
Harry nodded blearily, wincing as he stretched. The older woman laid a small hand on Harry's forehead. "I don't think you have a fever," she said. "I brought some Tylenol for the pain, so you might want to down one after eating."
Harry groaned as he remembered the pain that accompanied Pepper-up withdrawal; why did he get addicted to Pepper-up again?
"Are the kids here?" Harry asked, his mind clearing rapidly from the potion. He became aware of just exactly how parched he was; he could feel the dry heat emanating from his skin.
Fleur nodded in affirmative. "They were worried sick for you. I was going to visit you after club activities, but the brats wanted to come with me."
Harry sighed. "That sounds like something they would do. Is the school still in one piece?" he asked sarcastically.
"I suppose," she shrugged. "It's still standing if that's what you're asking." She flipped her hair.
"Oh, by the way," She said with an odd glint in her eyes. "The brats made chicken noodle soup for you."
Harry's glasses just about slipped off his nose in shock. "They what?" Harry asked. He wondered if he was hearing her properly.
"They made chicken soup for you." She repeated.
"Is it edible?" Harry asked hesitantly.
"It won't kill you," she replied succinctly, mischievously hiding the fact that the soup tasted quite good.
Harry grimaced. "And just where did they get the ingredients?"
"My house, of course," She said as if it was the most natural thing to say.
"Of course," He sighed.
"Anyhow, the kids are very worried about you, and I left them without supervision in your living room," Fleur announced. Harry blanched, to Fleur's amusement. Just as she was about to leave, she said,
"By the way, you should probably put on a shirt, Black-sensei especially since you're such a stickler against indecent exposure." She teased, not embarrassed in the least.
Harry snorted and fumbled around for his shirt. "Like you didn't enjoy the view, Mademoiselle Delacour," he rebutted, completely comfortable.
"You don't have anything I haven't seen before. I've already seen you in your swimming trunks, remember?" she raised an eyebrow.
"Fourth year- right. Just another crazy year in my crazy life," he recalled.
"You took a long time, Delacour-san," Hikaru and Kaoru sang.
"Harry was sleeping; I had to wake him up," Fleur shrugged. "He doesn't have a fever; he's just overworked and exhausted. Haruhi, is the soup warm?" she asked.
The hardworking girl nodded. "Sensei seems to have only one set of everything though." She noted.
"Since he's living alone, he probably didn't need more than one." Fleur nodded.
"His refrigerator is empty," The twins chorused. The only responsible adult in the room sighed; it was just like them to look through someone else's refrigerator.
Kyoya looked at the living room with observant eyes; he noticed that the room was rather devoid of personal belongings; no photographs, no keys, no letters- the whole place looked like a showroom. Even in Delacour-san's house, she had keys, various letters, and writing utensils in various places. Here, there was nothing to mark the house uniquely as Black-sensei's.
"Alright, let's go then; be careful with the soup," she said, swiping the silverware in one hand and holding a tall glass of water in another.
"Black-sensei, we came to see you," the teenagers chorused.
"I can see that," he said, his expression caught somewhere in between a smile and a grimace. He was sitting upright in his bed, a large T-shirt hastily thrown onto his muscular frame. It was the most unkempt and unguarded that Kyoya has ever seen him. But then again, he is sick, the teen thought more or less to himself.
"Kuro-sensei, we were so worried." Honey pouted. He held up his bunny, who seemed to nod in agreement, defying all laws of physics.
"I'm fine, really," he tried to assure them before the animate bunny could break his brain any further.
"Right, because you're doing such a splendid job of taking care of yourself," Fleur teased.
"Yes, so well- a full ten out of ten," Kaoru voiced, an exaggerated grin on his face.
"In fact, you did such a splendid job that you couldn't stay awake" Hikaru looked at his twin in mock shock.
"Maybe he passed out from excitement," Kaoru proposed, having reached an epiphany.
"Or maybe he decided that he would take a day off since he did such a good job," Hikaru nodded to his twin.
"But then he would not be able to because Black-sensei doesn't get any paid holidays!" Hikaru's other half gasped.
"Blasphemy! Tono! Tell your dad to give Black-sensei more paid holidays!" They chorused in unison.
Harry scowled playfully at their ridiculous train of thought while Fleur hid her giggles behind a hand.
"Hai, hai, that can wait," Haruhi said firmly as she balanced the large bowl of soup in her hand. "Here, Sensei. Be careful; it's hot."
Harry stared uneasily at the bowl of soup for a long time. It smelled alright. He swirled his spoon in the golden liquid. It looked alright- minus the odd chunks of vegetables and pieces of celery vein floating around.
It would be rude not to try it, a traitorous part of him sniped. Slowly, he lifted a spoonful of the soup from the large soup bowl to his lips. Harry's eyes widened; it's surprisingly good. Certainly, it wasn't perfect- far from it, but there was something about the soup that made it delicious.
"How is it?" Haruhi asked as Tamaki dramatically reenacted how they "labored over a hot stove."
Harry paused in his eating. "It's good," he said calmly, putting down his spoon.
The hosts looked at each other and beamed.
In the end, it had taken Fleur's every effort to convince them that Harry was a patient suffering from over exhaustion and that he needed rest more than their "nursing," which was really more organized chaos than help.
"I'm fine," Harry said for what seemed like the hundredth time. "I'm not sick; I'll be back tomorrow."
"No you won't," Fleur interrupted firmly. She had let him abuse Pepper-up potions because she thought he knew better, but this time, she will put her foot down since he obviously didn't know any better.
"Yes I will," Harry insisted stubbornly. You can't tell me what to do, a teenage part of him said petulantly.
"Harry, you need to rest and sleep off your medication." She said, looking pointedly at the open box of Tylenol by his bedside.
"No I don't; Tylenol doesn't make me that sleepy. I'm behind on my lessons," he rebutted, ignoring her reference to the disgusting potions he had to take.
"I can give Quistis your lesson plan tomorrow." She replied. Meanwhile, the hosts looked at them back and forth like one would a tennis rally.
"She doesn't know what I want to say." Harry crossed his arms.
"She doesn't have to." Fleur snorted. "Whatever it is, it can wait."
"I give them an essay every week. If I'm not there, then they don't know what to write." He replied.
"I know you do. There are five days in a week; it won't kill them if you're gone for two. They're high schoolers; they don't need to be spoonfed every piece of information. " Fleur countered.
"I have to look after the Host Club," He tried to convince Fleur from a different angle.
"They managed just fine by themselves for the past three years." Fleur was suddenly glad that she had decided to research about Renge's fixation.
"They have themed days; I should be there to supervise," Harry said, ignoring that the objects of their conversation were listening intently.
"You don't wear costumes anyways," Fleur stated, waving her hand in dismissal of his claim. "If you must have someone to supervise, I can do it. I'm there every day watching over Renge anyways. A little more effort won't kill me."
"You're a guest; you shouldn't have to supervise." Harry said weakly, knowing that he lost this argument.
"I'm your friend. I do believe your wellbeing is worth three hours of my time," She remarked with finality and a touch of sarcasm.
Harry looked to the hosts for help, who –with the exception of Kyoya- looked rather dumbdfounded.
"What Delacour-san said is logical. Tomorrow is a Friday, Black-sensei," Kyoya said sneakily.
Harry glared balefully at the bespectacled boy. So much for help.
"Besides, I believe a delayed assignment or two will not impact our grade very much," he finished slyly.
So that's what you're going for, Harry grumbled in his mind.
"Well, seeing how you all labored over a hot stove for me," he said, surprising Tamaki by showing that he actually listened to the boy's rants, "I suppose I can delay your essay just this once. I expect two essays next week though," he relented.
The twins cheered and high-fived each other, much to Harry's annoyance.
"It's getting late; you lot go on ahead." Fleur said, picking up the now empty soup bowl. "I'm staying to talk to Harry about his lesson plan for tomorrow."
As the woman shooed the hosts out of the house one by one after they had said their goodbyes to their bedridden teacher, Fleur pulled up a chair next to Harry's bed.
"Fleur, are you staying?" Harry asked, still looking quite pale and exhausted.
She looked at him oddly. "Of course I am; you need to give me your lesson plan," she said, playing dumb.
Harry deadpanned. She knew full and well that wasn't what he was asking.
Fleur sighed. "I didn't want to, but it looks like I'm going to have to since you apparently lack the ability to look after yourself," she sniffed.
Harry scowled. So she was staying for him? How flattering, he thought grumpily. He could do without the unneeded flattery though.
"Why didn't you say something?" Fleur's tone told him everything he needed to know; she was disappointed with his choice.
"It wasn't your problem," Harry shrugged lightly. "I could have handled it."
"Yes, and I can see how well that turned out," she said bitterly.
"There was just some trouble with business," he said evasively. "It was nothing to worry-"
Fleur interrupted him mid-sentence, seizing him by the shoulders. "You idiot!" she snarled. "I don't care one whit about your muggle businesses. I thought living through the war would have taught you not to be so careless about your own wellbeing, Harry. Your life- your health- is worth so much more than what you think it is worth. Did you forget how much everyone risked to keep you alive all those years? No one can take care of you if you won't take care of yourself. You're old enough to make your own choices, and you're old enough to make them responsibly."
Harry looked at her, a bit surprised by her outburst. It has been many years since someone last spoke to him in that manner- not that he didn't deserve or anticipate the lecture.
"I suppose," he said casually, trying to hide how unnerved he was. "If you would pass me my laptop, I can show you tomorrow's powerpoint and the worksheets." Fleur huffed and glared but complied with the man's request.
Thus, Fleur found herself a full-time job as Lord Harry James Potter-Black's nanny.
Omake One: Fleur's surprise visit
"Master Harry" a voice echoed in his foggy mind. Was someone calling him? Why are his limbs so heavy; they feel like they are made of lead?
"Master Harry Potter-sir," the voice sounded vaguely apologetic. It seems like someone was calling him. He tried to turn over but failed. Instead, all he could manage was a tired moan.
"Master Harry, Miss Fleury's elfy has a message for you." The squeaky voice said. Someone-or something- snapped its fingers beside him.
"We're coming over in an hour or two; your kids are insanely worried about you, you reckless numbskull. This isn't up for debate; you can get as offended as you want later, but I'm not leaving you passed out on your bed lest it turns into your deathbed. Consider yourself warned- you know very well that you're in no condition to keep me out. Besides, I'm bringing pepper-up addiction cure potions with me; yes, I knew you were addicted. I'll grill you for that later" a feminine voice intoned. It sounded familiar- Fleur? Wasn't she still at Beauxbaton? She should be graduating soon, he thought tiredly.
No, you brainless fool. She's not at Beauxbaton; she's at Ouran, and she has already graduated. A scathing part of his mind- one that surprisingly sounded like Snape- snarled.
Oh yeah. She has. What did she want again? Harry's sluggish mind struggled to process the request. Another figment of his mind wondered just how he ended up in this situation and why his occlumency was going haywire.
Did she say she was coming over? He thought tiredly after minutes of mental strain. Yeah, she did, he thought. Kids? What kids? Harry questioned his mind.
You know, those kids. Remember them? Those brats who are always up to no good? The brats you want as your intern? Your mini-me? Suoh's spawn? The bunny kid and the cousin who looks nothing like him? The redheaded duo from hell? A part of his mind, which sounded surprisingly like a mix of Hermione, Ron, and Ginny, said.
Redheaded duo? Fred's dead. Harry thought, confused.
Get with the pace, you moron! His Snape voice said menacingly. Which decade are you in?
This one, he replied dumbly.
You're in Japan; you got a teaching job at Ouran High School, remember? The kids are in the host club; you're their advisor. His Luna voice said patiently.
Luna voice? Since when did he have a Luna voice? And why did that voice sound… odd?
"They're visiting… Shit," Harry finally croaked; his throat felt like the Sahara, Gobi, and Namib Deserts combined.
"Dobby," his mind supplied "Make sure all traces of magic are gone. Lock all the upstairs rooms except this one, but leave the front door unlocked, okay?"
"Dobby is already doing that Master Harry sir."
"Oh, okay." Harry murmured childishly and sunk back to sleep.
Harry, look out for the Moon Rabbits for me while you're in Japan, okay? His oddly realistic Luna voice intoned before Harry finally lost his battle against sleep.
Moon Rabbits? What on Earth are those? He thought sleepily. Maybe there is something wrong with my mind after all…
Omake Two: Fleur's First Day on the Job
The Day came quickly enough for the Host Club; today would be the day that decides whether Fleur Delacour, designer extraordinaire aunt of Renge Houshakuji, would stay or leave. The twins, wanting very much for Fleur to stay, were particularly disheartened by Fleur's absence during club activities the previous day.
Kyoya, whose focus was on maximizing profits (as usual), had capitalized on every advantage he had, including Renge. He managed to convince her that Fleur's presence was greatly beneficial to the club, and that as the manager, she should do her part in helping the club flourish.
The deluded girl was more than happy to comply, though Haruhi wondered if her effort were for the club or for Kyoya alone.
The somewhat oblivious brunette did remember to tell the hosts that her aunt is a very independent person; her word may not mean much to her. Nonetheless, she would ask.
Haruhi was perhaps the calmest one of the lot besides Honey and Mori; she thought that if anything, Fleur would stay for Harry.
Honey and Mori, oddly enough, were not concerned at all about The Day after their visit to Harry's home. When asked, Honey just replied cutely that he doesn't think Fleur would leave. However, neither one of the seniors deigned to elaborate why.
Tamaki asked his father one day at lunch whether or not Fleur will stay, but even the elder Suoh did not know. From what his father told him, Fleur has not contacted him at all during the past month. However, the father subtly hinted that it would be best if Fleur could stay.
Thus, it was with confusion and anxiety that the club members faced The Day.
"Good morning, Class." Harry walked into the classroom right as the bell rang and not a moment before. He looked much healthier compared to before, especially since he was more or less forced into taking sick days by a rather pushy Fleur.
"Sensei looks grumpier than usual," Hikaru noted blandly. Kaoru squinted his eyes and agreed after a moment's observation.
So you're saying he normally looks grumpy, Haruhi mentally sweatdropped.
"Before we take attendance today, there is something I would like you to know," Harry said, catching the attention of all the students present.
"I'm sure you all have noticed the presence of our guest- Miss Fleur Delacour- over the past month" he began.
The twins sat up straight at this and paid more attention than usual.
"I am sad to announce" the twins' high spirits deflated instantly, "that we will now have a teacher's assistant from now on."
"Please welcome Miss Fleur Delacour," Harry said grudgingly.
Hikaru and Kaoru had grins that stretched from ear to ear and discretely high-fived each other. Judging by Harry's less than happy look, they were not discrete at all. Haruhi sweatdropped for the second time today; why is he sad? she thought.
A very familiar rhythmic clacking filled the air as the classroom door opened to reveal an unusually happy French blonde. Haruhi thought she looked like a cat that got the canary.
"Hello everyone," she said, unusually gleeful. "I am Fleur Delacour, the new teacher's assistant. You may call me Delacour-sensei."
Haruhi sighed; just when she thought her life couldn't get any crazier, this happens.
If Harry didn't have a more dignified reputation to maintain, he would have pouted. Maybe he should really talk to Suoh about those paid holidays…
Mandy: Well, that's a wrap! This is my belated Christmas gift to you all; I had this scene planned for a while, but it didn't really come out the way I wanted it to. This chapter just kind of wrote itself? Harry being sick was definitely included. From now on, Fleur will be there to make sure Harry doesn't overwork himself. In a sense, she keeps him in line- that's her purpose here. I haven't really edited this chapter yet, and it is a bit shorter than my usual chapters (including author's note, probably around 9.8k ish words). However, I had to rush a bit to get this chapter out, and even then, it's still late lol. Anyhow, now that I have updated both of my fics (I actually started another fic that's a HP/Fairy Tail cross because sometime this semester I fell in love with Fairy Tail), I can start studying for next semester. As it is, my parents have been asking me why I haven't started studying yet (even though I am on winter break). Though I really should be studying and not wasting my time… Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed the chapter! I won't have time for another chapter until I get another break that's actually a break and not a glorified study session, so that would probably summer break. I'm planning on taking summer classes or maybe joining a research program during the summer, so I have no idea just when in the summer I would be able to write another chapter. As usual, my grammar is probably not perfect. In fact, I'm looking for a grammar-nazi beta right now who can go over the existing chapters and correct the grammar mistakes. It's not a routine kind of thing, and I'll still post the chapters first. I only need help with the grammar though; I've got everything else handled. Anyways, if anyone's interested in the job, feel free to PM me- we can talk about the details then.
Edit: … And the server is down. Whoo. I actually finished editing this 11:30 pm on Christmas night, but I guess I won't be uploading it until tomorrow morning. Why on Earth is FF constantly updating servers anyways? So I guess it isn't my fault after all?
Edit two: It is now 1:38 PM of the next day, and FF is finally working for me. Dear god.