AN: This story idea was given to me by Spectre4hire, all I've done is bring it to life. Would like to thank him for giving me the chance to write as I think it's a great story. I hope you do too. I don't own Harry Potter.
Hogwarts shone against the dark night sky, clouds eclipsed the stars and the half-moon making the castle's lights even brighter than usual, the only colour on a dark canvas. They shimmered against the mirror-like surface of the Black Lake. Darkness engulfed the grounds, shadows curling around the rocks that stood on the lake's shore shying away from the little light that shimmered on the lake. Hagrid had long since retired for the night, the lights of his hut extinguished. But despite the darkness the grounds were not empty; Harry Potter sat on one of the many rocks that surrounded the lake, staring into its depths.
Somehow, he wasn't sure; he had ended up by the Black Lake. He hadn't been able to face going to the Hospital Wing where he knew the fate of his friends now lay. Dumbledore had told him they would be fine but that didn't stop the guilt that had settled in the pit of his stomach, like the flakes of an impending snowstorm, and threatened to overwhelm him. It was his fault, they wouldn't have been near the Ministry if he hadn't been so stupid, none of them, Ron, Hermione... Sirius, who had been safe in Grimmauld Place, out of Voldemort's reach. If it hadn't been for him Sirius would still be alive instead of falling through that veil.
Tears, unbidden and unwanted, filled Harry's eyes, it was his fault. No matter what Dumbledore said, trying to shift the blame onto himself, Harry knew the truth, it was not Dumbledore's fault it was he, Harry, who had fallen into Voldemort's trap and dragged Sirius into the firing line. He tried to calm his breathing and the guilt that tore at his insides but there was no stopping it, the only family he had left was gone and he was to blame. Every fibre of his body hurt.
He let out a shaky sigh, brushing the tears, which clung to his cheeks, away roughly. Distractedly he snatched up pebbles that lay scattered on the rock below him before tossing them at the mirror-like surface of the lake, shattering the illusion in an instant, giant ripples raced across the lake as the pebbles plunged underneath the surface. His mind wandered as he continued to throw the pebbles, not caring that they didn't skip across the surface.
How much longer would he feel so empty? How much longer would he be gawked or ridiculed by the world around him? How much longer could he carry the weight of a world on his shoulders? How much more could he sacrifice? Questions raced through his mind, each more demanding than the last, but no answers sprang to mind, he felt nothing but pain. He let the pebbles fall through his fingers, scattering on the rocks he sat on and falling into the darkness. A darkness that Harry felt was consuming his life.
Harry would recognise that voice anywhere. He turned to see the Beauxbaton Tri-Wizard Champion walking slowly towards him. He found it odd to see her dressed in anything other than her school robes, wearing instead a thin blue blouse and jeans. In the moonlight she looked even more beautiful than usual. Her silvery blonde hair fell past her shoulders, a few stands framing her pale face, complimenting her icy blue eyes perfectly. Eyes, which Harry, like many others, had thought were cold but could now see the hidden warmth in their depths. She had an unnatural beauty that most women would die for and most men would drool over.
"Fleur?" Harry asked, trying, and failing to hide his confusion.
"'Ello, 'Arry, eet 'as been too long."
"A year," Harry answered, another pang of pain jolting in his stomach as he remembered the terrible events of the end of the Tournament, more death and destruction. How much longer could it go on? He tried to banish is from his mind, forcing a smile on his lips as Fleur joined him on the rock, her smile fading as she looked at him.
"Are you okay, 'Arry?" Fleur asked softly, her smile replaced with a concern, real, genuine concern.
"I'm fine," Harry said quickly, trying to push his thoughts to the back of his mind, just as he had done while Snape assaulted his mind. She nodded, not pushing him any further, though he could tell she didn't believe him but he was glad she didn't ask him anymore, he didn't think he could take much more.
Silence ballooned out between them and Harry returned to staring out at the Black Lake, but the pain now felt somehow dimmed because unlike before he was no longer alone, it was feeling he had only ever felt with Ron or Hermione, knowing that someone was there that would listen. Fleur had come to find him, not the other way round, for Harry that was enough, more than enough. "'Arry, may I ask you somezzing?"
"Why did you do eet?" Fleur asked, her voice changing slightly, the concern that had filled it moments before being replaced with curiosity, though it lost none of its friendliness. "Last year. Why did you save 'er?"
Harry didn't need to ask who Fleur was talking about, Gabrielle, her sister. The sister, that Harry, under the impression that she was in mortal danger, had saved. Under the water, surrounded by mere-people and the clue reverberating in his ears, he had thought that she was in danger, that she would be lost if not saved once the hour was up. The judges had called it 'moral fibre' but Harry, even after his high score, knew he had been stupid to take the clue so literally.
"I took the clue seriously," he answered after a moment. "I thought she'd be stuck down there."
"Eet was vairy noble of you to save 'er zen, 'Arry."
"No it wasn't," Harry argued, remembering, with another twist of guilt in his stomach, how the attitude that had propelled him to rescue Gabrielle had thrown Sirius in harm's way. "She wasn't in any danger, none of them were."
"'Arry, you weren't zee only one who took zat clue seriously." Fleur said, her voice so hushed now that her words were almost lost in the soft breeze. "I thought I 'ad lost 'er down zere, zat I was never going to 'er again. But zen you came up, 'Arry, not just with your 'hostage but with mine. I won't forget zat, 'Arry."
"Anyone else would have done the same," Harry replied, uncomfortable with the praise she was giving him. Praise always made him uncomfortable but that night especially because that night he did not deserve praise. "It was nothing."
"Non, it wasn't. Ze ozzers did not do ze same, 'Arry, zey left with just zier 'ostages but you stayed. You 'ave a good 'eart, 'Arry, don't forget zat."
"I'll try," he replied, forcing a small smile to reflect Fleur's. They fell into a comfortable silence, Harry couldn't think of anything to say but in that moment he didn't want to say anything, he just wanted to sit there with Fleur because while she was with him he was not left to focus on his thoughts.
"Zey are worried about you," Fleur said, her smile fading slightly as she looked again at Harry, worry flickering in her blue eyes. "Your friends."
"You've seen them?" Harry asked quickly, the fate of his friends had been on the forefront of his mind since he had avoided the Hospital Wing. Questions filled his mind, part of him wanted to know if they were okay, if Madam Pomfrey would be able to heal their wounds, but part of him did not because he didn't want to know that she couldn't.
Fleur nodded, "with Bill and his family, zey are fine, 'Arry, zey should be out in a few days."
A wave of relief washed over Harry, they were going to be okay, even Hermione, who had suffered worst of all. They were going to be fine. The words echoed around his mind, lifting some of the guilt that had settled in his heart.
"I hope so," Harry found himself saying, for the first time that night, a smile pulling at his lips. They were going to be alright. But underneath all the relief that was cascading over him he realised just what she had said and it only made his smile grow wider. "Bill? You're dating Bill?"
"Qui," Fleur nodded, though her smile, while happy, somehow didn't reach her eyes. "We met at Gringotts. Though I wish 'is family would be as 'appy for us as you are, 'Arry. Zey do not like me vairy much."
"The Weasleys?" Harry asked, a little shocked, somehow unable to believe what Fleur was saying. He had known them since he was eleven and every time he had been there they had been more than welcoming, treating him like family, he couldn't imagine them to dislike anybody without good reason.
"Qui, especially 'is muzzer and 'is sister. Zey zink Bill can do better zan me." It was clear in her voice just how deep her fears ran, how much she wanted their approval. The smile faded off Harry's face as he looked at Fleur, he knew how she felt; it was the same fear that had gripped him when he had come to Hogwarts. "I wish zere was somezzing I could do to change zeir minds."
"Just try and be yourself," he said softly trying to give her a consoling smile, after all it had work for him, whenever he had been round the Burrow Mrs Weasley had welcomed him with open arms, maybe all Fleur needed was time. "They'll come around," He couldn't understand why Mrs Weasley and Ginny were so opposed to Fleur. However they imagined her couldn't be further from the truth, she was far better than most people, because most people wouldn't be out in the cold consoling a person they barely knew. Most people wouldn't be with him right now.
"I 'ope you are right, 'Arry."
"Me too," from what he had seen of Fleur she really did care for Bill and what his family thought about her, she deserved better and Harry had expected her to be treated better, he still couldn't quite believe that Mrs Weasley would react like that to Fleur.
"You are vairy sweet, 'Arry," Fleur said with a smile that, this time, reached her ice blue eyes, making them sparkle in the moonlight. It was in that moment that Harry realised he had rarely seen Fleur smile. When she had been the Beauxbaton Champion she had always been calm and collected, sometimes distant. He much preferred her as she was now, away from the pressures of representing her school, with a smile on her face.
"Thanks," he muttered, as his eyes met hers. "For tonight I mean, thank you."
"Zere eez no need to zank me, 'Arry," Fleur assured him. "We are friends, no?"
"Yeah," Harry nodded, a genuine smile pulling at his lips. Before tonight he had never thought he had friends outside of Hermione and Ron, never even dreamed that it was possible. But Neville, Luna, Ginny and even Fleur had proven him wrong, despite the pain that gripped his heart a small glow of happiness burst inside him which, before her words, would have been muffled by his grief. It was still there, still threatening to crash over him but it wasn't the only thing that burned inside him, not anymore. "Yeah we are."
Fleur looked like she was about to say something else when another voice interrupted her, a voice Harry recognised as Bill Weasley's. "Fleur! There you are!" Harry turned, behind him stood Bill a grin plastered on a face that Harry had feared would be full of anger. He hurried towards them, his hair running out behind him, the ponytail that usually kept it in place had been abandoned, probably when he had rushed to the Hospital Wing in the dead of night as Harry knew it now must be, he had lost track of time in the Ministry.
"Dumbledore thought you might be out here. Hi Harry, how are you feeling? I heard about Sirius..." he trailed off as his eyes fell on Harry, concern and worry filling them.
"I'm fine, Bill," Harry said quickly, grief filled pain twisted at his heart once more; he did not want to talk about Sirius. He knew that Bill was only trying to help, that he was only concerned, but that didn't stop the grief that filled him. Nothing could stop it but he did not want it to consume him again, at least, not that night. "Thanks."
Bill nodded, but he could not understand and Harry knew it, for his family was not gone out of reach, his family was still alive unlike Harry's. Bill turned to Fleur, who, like Harry, had risen at the sound of Bill's voice. "Madam Pomfrey reckons we should go, Mom and Dad are staying with them though, there's not a lot we can do now apart from wait."
"But she thinks they'll be okay?" asked Harry, despite himself, he had to be sure that his friends were alright, that they were safe. "Doesn't she?"
"They'll be fine," Bill assured him. "Don't worry about them, Harry, you'll see them soon enough. By the way, Pomfrey wants you in there tomorrow so as she can check you over she would've come and got you earlier but Dumbledore told her not to. She wasn't happy about it."
Harry groaned but nodded, he hated going to the Hospital Wing. No matter how hard he tried to avoid it he always seemed to end up in one of the beds, usually the same one, Madam Pomfrey probably saved it for him. "I'll see her in the morning." Harry said with a sigh, at least he would be able to see his friends, even if that did mean swallowing another of the matron's potions.
"Good plan," Bill grinned, patting him on reassuringly on the shoulder before turning to Fleur. "Are you ready to go? I can wait in the castle if you want."
"No, we can go now, I just wanted to see 'Arry before we left." She turned back to Harry and before he could say anything she wrapped her arms around him, pulling him into a comforting, warm hug unlike those he got off Hermione or Mrs Weasley, hugs that left him gasping for air afterwards. This was full of warmth, just as her smiles had been, and without even realising Harry hugged her back. After a brief moment she pulled away and stepped towards Bill, taking the hand that he offered her. "Goodbye, 'Arry, I shall see you soon."
With a final wave she and Bill turned into the darkness leaving Harry on the rocky shore of the Black Lake, but unlike before he no longer felt alone.