Disclaimer: I am not J.K Rowling and so have no claim over any names you recognise.
Hermione smiled as she caught sight of Fleur's face in the distance and she could only imagine what the French witch was currently thinking. How Hermione's fact finding mission to Shell Cottage had gone as a small visit with just her, Malfoy and Healer Johnson to the entourage that was walking alongside her she had no idea.
Apparently, the Auror's had outright refused for Malfoy to leave the protective wards of the Manor seeing how he evidently couldn't control his unpredictable actions. Orders had come from Kingsley himself that Hermione and Healer Johnson would be joined by two of his Auror's on their evening excursion.
But that didn't explain why Rose, Zabini and James were also present on this little trip. Hermione tried to ignore the fact. All she wanted to do was to get the answers she needed and she was desperately hoping that Fleur would be the one providing them.
And therefore, she could hardly stop herself from the running the short distance, from the apparation point on the beach, to the front door of Shell Cottage. Fleur looked as beautiful as ever despite the wide expanse of her very pregnant belly. It had become a frequent joke at Weasley dinners over the last few months that Fleur resembled a penguin when she walked and in turn, she had threatened her husband, that this child best be a male for she refused to become pregnant again.
Hermione's smiled as she remembered the good natured ribbing and her smile widened as she caught sight of a five year old Dominique cuddled up to her mother's side. Her tiny girl arms were barely able to cover half of Fleur's distended waist.
Hermione watched Dominique as she neared until the little girl caught sight of her. She could almost imagine hearing her familiar squeal and she watched her arms drop so she could run over to Hermione. But she was stopped when Fleur wrapped a protective arm over her daughter's chest, halting her movement.
Dominique looked up at her mother in confusion before she looked back at Hermione, her feet fidgeting as she waited for Hermione to reach the front door.
Hermione quickened her gait and from beside her, she heard Malfoy let out a growl. She jerked her head over to face him and flicked her gaze over his features. His narrowed eyes were, for once, not looking at her and instead, he was looking at Fleur as if she was going to attack them.
"Fleur's a friend. Stop looking at her like that."
Hermione sighed. It was becoming increasingly difficult to understand Malfoy when he refused to speak in full sentences and spent most of his time communicating in possessive or threatening sounding growls.
"Pardon me?" she asked him.
He didn't turn his gaze from Fleur. "Veela." He repeated.
"Yes, Fleur is a Veela. But like I just mentioned, she is a friend so stop looking at her like that. You'll frighten Dominique and Victoire!"
Hermione watched Malfoy flick his eyes down to glance at Dominique who he'd obviously dismissed. Then his gaze turned calculating and he looked at her.
"What will my Mate give me?"
Hermione looked at him, puzzled. "Pardon me?"
"What will my Mate give me for not scaring the child?"
Hermione sent him a deathly glare as she snorted. "Don't push your luck Malfoy. You're lucky I agreed to let you come in the first place."
"Veela." He said in an annoyed snarl.
"My name is Veela."
Hermione merely let out a sigh of exasperation before she crossed her arms over her chest and she went back to ignoring him.
Please let Fleur have the answers she needed.
"I'm sorry Hermione; I don't know what to tell you. If what you say is true-" Fleur flicked a nervous glance Malfoy's way, "then he's the first of his kind. I've never heard of my grandmother talking about Male Veela's."
Hermione slumped down in her seat and hugged Dominique's body closer to her. The girl had immediately settled into her lap as soon as Hermione had sat down and was busy fascinatingly playing with her Healer ID.
She jerked suddenly forward as she felt one of Malfoy's claws trail along the length of her nape. She shifted forward but Malfoy's palm clamped down on the curve of her right shoulder so she couldn't retreat any further. Hermione watched Fleur's attention divert to his hand and her sharp intake of breath let Hermione know that her friend knew how serious the situation was.
"It's okay. I didn't expect you to know much about Male Veela's." Hermione hesitated before continuing. Merlin, why had it been decided that they should all congregate in the cottage's kitchen for their discussion? Sighing, she got straight to the point. "Have you ever heard of a case where a Veela's chosen Mate…well wasn't her actual Mate?"
The hand on Hermione's shoulder tightened at the direction of her questioning. Fleur looked puzzled as she shook her head.
"I don't remember there ever being such a case. I would have to ask my grand-maman for more information but I remember her talking about how she and my grand-père fell in love. She said that her Veela side drew her to him and allowed her human side to fall in love with him."
"But why did her Veela side recognise him as her Mate?"
"No one knows what the reason is. There have been many hypotheses put forward but none have been proven."
Hermione had many more questions to ask but there was no way she could voice them with the present audience. And so she cuddled Dominique tighter to her chest and hid her misery in the girl's sweet smelling hair as she listened to Healer Johnson take over the questioning.
"I was hoping you would tell me more on the physical attributes of the female Veela. There seem to be a few differences between what we know and what we are seeing from Mr Malfoy."
"Differences? But surely if they used female Veela DNA than his Veela characteristics will be similar to normal Veela."
From beside her, she felt Healer Johnson shift. "Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case." He turned to face Hermione. "Perhaps it would be best if we showed Mrs Weasley and then she can tell us what the differences are."
Hermione nodded but said nothing. It was only when most of the eyes turned to her that she realised they were all waiting for her to talk to Malfoy. She straightened and turned her neck to look up at him. He was looking down at her with a frown over his face.
"Um, Malfoy…if you want to…" And then she trailed off with the realisation that Malfoy might not be able to control his change. She turned back to Healer Johnson.
Thankfully it seemed the idea had dawned on him too. "Um well, Mr Malfoy's claws seem to be pale coloured instead of black." Hermione began to say until the hand on her shoulder slid around to the front of her throat causing her to squeak in alarm. One long finger came up to tap on the end of her nose and Hermione watched in silence as the claw that had nearly just blinded under, disappeared under her throat and tilted her head backwards. She swallowed as she looked up at an upside down facing Malfoy.
"Veela, Mate. I will not remind you again." And then with a gentle motion, he righted her head until she was staring at Fleur once again. The witch was looking at Hermione with wide blue eyes that didn't blink.
Hermione shuddered and she forced herself to continue as if that little incident hadn't just occurred. She suddenly felt very warm. "Veela has black feathered wings." She managed to choke out.
Fleur replied, albeit somewhat belatedly. "Female Veela have pale wings and black claws."
Hermione nodded. "Veela's eyes are darkened to what they were."
Fleur nodded. "When a Veela turns into her animal form, her eyes usually turn black. But they always turn back when she turns back to her human form."
"What about their teeth- Mal- Veela's teeth…change...a lot." She finished off lamely.
Fleur frowned. "How much is a lot? Grand-maman used to tell me her teeth used to get a little more pronounced whenever she was in her Veela form. It's a mechanism to ward off something that threatens your mate or kin. Oh and of course they would be changed for the bonding ceremony."
Hermione's head jerked. "What? What was that about the bonding ceremony and teeth?"
Her gut started screaming and she had to force herself to swamp down her rising panic and listen to what Fleur was saying.
"- blood exchange so the teeth are able to break the skin. And then they retract."
Hermione's head swam as she filled in the blanks of the conversation she had zoned out for. "I'm sorry- did you just say that there is a blood exchange during this bonding ceremony and that female Veela bite their Mates when having intercourse?"
Fleur nodded. "It's not like a vampire's bite. I've heard that would hurt but a small nip will do for a Veela."
Hermione's eyes flicked over to Zabini and his stony expression as he looked out of the window. She turned back to Fleur. "Are you sure it doesn't hurt. Veela's teeth are just like a vampire's."
Fleur shook her head. "That's not right. A female Veela's teeth are just a little more pronounced than normal. Nothing like a vampire's."
Hermione cuddled Dominique closer to her once again. Difference number three it seemed. A foreboding feeling settled in her stomach. She wanted to know more about this bonding ceremony but she didn't say anything as Healer Johnson steered the conversation away from the topic.
"How is the change controlled? Do Veela only unleash their animal form under the two conditions you mentioned?"
Fleur turned her gaze to him. "Grand-maman used to explain it as having two people in one body. One human and One Veela. Through the first few months after the Veela awakens, they live in a constant battle but the Veela realises that in order to find her Mate, she needs to allow the human side to take the dominant position. Of course she needs to assert her dominance over her Mate during the bonding ceremony so she overtakes the human side then. This way she is able to scent her Mate."
"Scent her Mate?"
It wasn't Fleur that replied but Malfoy. "Ward off any other Male. Mate is for Veela only." He said as he idly stroked her neck.
"And then she comes out when she needs to protect her Mate. Physically, the Veela side is more powerful than the human side." Fleur continued.
Then why was Malfoy stuck in some form of his Veela side permanently?
"Do Veela wings have protective properties?" she questioned.
Fleur shook her head.
"Mr Malfoy is unable to recollect any of his previous memories before he was taken from Azkaban." Healer Johnson continued.
Fleur looked at Malfoy. "I-I do not know." She flicked her eyes back to Hermione. "He doesn't remember who you are?"
Hermione shook her head and Fleur's eyes widened. There was silence in the room for a few awkward seconds before it was broken by Healer Johnson clearing his throat.
"Mr Malfoy seems very…protective of Healer Granger whom he believes is his Mate."
It was the first time anyone had spoken the fact out loud and hearing it in such an indifferent tone had Hermione's heckles rising.
"A Veela will be on guard until the bonding ceremony is complete and then she calms down. Although I'm not sure if that will be the case in this situation." Fleur said as she followed Malfoy's slithering fingers.
Embarrassed, Hermione tried to shift her body so Malfoy's fingers would slip from her skin but with Dominique on her lap, there was no such luck. Malfoy's annoyed growl however, showed he didn't appreciate her trying.
Hermione was about to snarkily ask Fleur her earlier question on whether she was 100% positive there had never been a case of mistaken identity when it came to a Veela finding his Mate when Bill apparated into the kitchen.
"Daddy!" Dominique squealed.
Hermione managed to see a momentary flicker of surprise on Bill's face when he saw his guests before her vision was obscured by Malfoy's wings wrapping around her and Dominique.
The little girl let out a cry of fright and Hermione shifted her body to look at Malfoy angrily. "What are you doing? Back down- it's only Bill."
Malfoy's head cocked to the side in confusion as he apparently studied Bill. "I sense…wolf."
Hermione sighed out in frustration as Dominique huddled further into her body. With her arms, she tried to soothe the girl but she kept her eyes on Malfoy.
"Bill was attacked by that wolf Greyback in our sixth year- no thanks to you for letting them into the castle with that bloody cupboard, now stop it. You're scaring Dominique."
Malfoy looked down at her, obviously having no idea what she was talking about. Hermione gritted her teeth but couldn't bring herself to apologise yet. She kept the steely expression over her face. She was surprised when Malfoy completely ignored her and turned back to study Bill critically.
Hermione sighed. Raising her voice- she spoke to Bill. "Um Bill- could you just tell him that you aren't going to harm me?"
There was a moment of silence before Bill spoke. "Of course I'm not going to hurt you. What's going on? Fleur?"
Malfoy studied Bill for a short moment before Hermione breathed in a sigh of relief as his wings settled back. She let Dominique off her lap and watched her run over to her mother where Fleur cuddled her.
"I'm sorry." She mouthed to Fleur.
Fleur smiled and shook her head but Hermione couldn't help but feel guilty. One thing was certain- it was most definitely time to leave.
"Maybe it would be best if we leave. I still have a few more questions but if you would permit me to Owl you?" Healer Johnson said to Fleur as if he had read Hermione's mind.
Fleur smiled and nodded her head. With the help of her husband, Fleur managed to lift her body off the chair and she walked over to Hermione, keeping a careful eye on Malfoy as she neared.
"Could I have a word- in private?" she said.
Hermione nearly let out a yell in thanks. She turned to face Malfoy and gave him a stern look. "I'm going to have a word with Fleur. A private word. Stay here."
Malfoy growled and Hermione actually, to her everlasting embarrassment, lost her temper and stomped her foot on the ground. "I mean it Malf-Veela! You already know Fleur isn't going to hurt me."
And without looking to see how Malfoy took her words, she stormed out of the room. Thankfully, Fleur followed her. The two walked in silence until they were down on the beach and Hermione hoped they were far enough for no-one to overhear their conversation.
"Hermione- what's going on?" Fleur asked her, the worry in her tone coming out freely now that they were alone.
Hermione turned to face her. "I don't know. Malfoy thinks I'm his Mate! He keeps on trying to bond with me and I don't know how to stop it!"
"You haven't bonded with him have you?" Fleur asked quickly.
Hermione wrinkled her noise and gave her a disgusted look. "Of course I haven't done it! Who do you think I am? Just because he's lost his mind doesn't mean I have. I just need to figure out a cure…or something."
She watched Fleur hesitate. "Have you thought that maybe he's not crazy?"
Hermione blinked twice. "What? He has to be- it can't possibly be true."
Fleur's hesitation grew. "I suppose- I mean as long as you can't smell the bonding scent then everything is fine."
Hermione's entire body actually jerked when Fleur said those words.
The French witch looked at her with wide eyes. "Oh Hermione, you haven't smelt the bonding scent have you?"
Hermione quickly shook her head. "Of course I haven't…I don't even know what a bonding scent is let alone what it smells like."
"It's an individual scent that each Veela emits. It's another marker of how they know they've found their Mate. The Mate will be able to smell the distinctive scent and it prepares their body for when they are going to have sex. Hermione…"
"N-No. I haven't. I-It has to be his cologne." Hermione denied as she remembered the musky citrusy smell she had smelt earlier. And then the pessimistic voice in her mind reminded her about how she wasn't allowed to wear perfume because it interfered with the patient's hypersensitive smell.
Fleur grabbed her arm as she swayed. "Hermione…Please tell me you haven't smelt Malfoy's bonding scent!"
"I-I it can't be. It has to be something else. There's no way- it can't be!" She said quickly as wave after wave of dread hit her.
Fleur drew Hermione's body to her and Hermione hugged the older witch tightly. "It will be okay. Maybe Malfoy's Veela is different?" Fleur said optimistically.
Hermione closed her eyes as the reality sunk in. Her life as she knew it was going to change no matter how much she tried to deny it.
She allowed herself to wallow in her rapidly rising self -pity for two minutes before she gathered herself. Now wasn't the time for pity. It was the time to arm herself with information.
"Malfoy was in a coma and my blood was the only thing that could bring him out of it."
"I'm not 100% sure but it could be because your blood carries your scent."
"I have a bonding scent?!"
"It's not a bonding scent per se. But it's powerfully addictive to a Veela."
"Addictive. Malfoy's addicted to the smell of my blood." Hermione stated woodenly. As if it couldn't get any worse!
"Maybe addicted is the wrong word. It's an aphrodisiac. What do you know of Veela's mating rituals?"
Hermione shook her head. "Practically nothing. They didn't exactly teach us that in Care of Magical Creatures!"
Fleur rubbed her arm in a soothing motion. "For Veela's, when they are having sex with their Mate, they like to bite when they…orgasm. The smell of their Mate's blood helps push them over the edge as it were."
Correction. It could get worse! Hermione couldn't take in the information coming out of Fleur's mouth.
"Without regular exposure to their Mate's blood once they've found them- they can weaken physically as one form of sustenance for the Veela is being denied to them."
"Please tell me that you're not saying I have to let Malfoy bite me to keep him out of a coma! I absolutely refuse-"
"Hermione- what I'm telling you is for a female Veela. Please try to remember that it may be different for Malfoy. He's already different physically- this could be different too."
Hermione swallowed the bile rising in her throat and forced herself to breathe in the crisp sea air. She turned to face the water and watched the reflection of the rising moon on its surface. After a minute, she dragged her fingers through her hair and turned back to Fleur. The witch was rubbing her distended stomach and looking at Hermione with a sad expression on her face.
This couldn't be good for the baby, Hermione realised. She swallowed the million other questions she had and smiled. "We should go back inside. You shouldn't get stressed. It's not good for the baby."
Fleur waved a dismissing hand. "The baby is fine. I'm more worried about you. What are you going to do?"
Hermione shook her head. "I have no idea. I can't believe this is happening to me. Zabini said that until I bond with Malfoy- he'll be following me around everywhere. That's what I need to deal with first. One problem at a time."
Fleur didn't look convinced at her plan. Hermione wasn't either but she couldn't deal with the rest of it tonight.
In silence, the two walked back up to the cottage.
"Hermione? Are you okay?" Bill asked as soon as they stepped back into the kitchen.
Hermione nodded. "I don't think I'll be able to come over for dinner for a while. I'll owl Molly but please tell her I'm sorry." She told him.
Bill nodded but kept his silence as the congregation in the kitchen stood from their various seats and began shuffling out of the room. After saying her final goodbye to Bill and Fleur and getting Dominique to douse her face in kisses, the group made their way back to the apparation point, Malfoy flanking her once again, and they apparated back to the Manor in silence.
It seemed all hell had broken loose when they apparated back to the Manor. Dozens of Auror's were walking around, chattering loudly and giving out orders.
"What's going on?" Hermione asked one of the passing Auror's loudly.
"There was a leak. Somehow the public found out the location of the Manor and a group has gathered outside the boundary of the wards." The Auror told her in a hurried voice.
"What do they want?"
The Auror looked at her. "They think they're not safe. They're angry that the prisoners haven't been sent back to Azkaban but are being put up here by the Ministry. They want them gone."
"Gone." The Auror repeated in a deathly final tone. "And not just back to Azkaban."
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter. As always, there was still a reader who asked for a sneak peak when they've disabled the PM feature. So if you wanted a sneak peak and didn't get one- you know what to change for this time around! I hope you enjoyed the chapter and cheers for the tips on breaking my little nasty habit. As always, please state outright if you want a sneak peak of the next chapter. Thank you for reading and until next time, Curiositykils.
P.S. I've been thinking up names on what I can call this new population of half humans half creatures for the next chapter. I think I know what I'm going to use but I'm still interested in knowing if you can come up with anything better that what's in my head!