AN: Sorry this chapter took so long to post. I'm currently between jobs; which means that until I get my new job in a cubicle, I'm cleaning out rental homes in the hot sun for a few weeks. Human beings are some of the most disgusting and vile creatures to ever invade the earth, let me tell you…And once I finally found some time between that and family drama to sit down and write…I had no idea what to write! Interesting how once I get to the very thing I started this story to write, I completely lose my shit and can't think straight! *Sigh* I guess writing's just tough when you don't have an insane megalomaniac to kill.
AN(2): I know that in this chapter, it's going to seem like Hermione totally forgot about Harry dying, but please just bear with me. This chapter is kinda more of a set up for the upcoming chapters, which will focus solely on Hermione and Fleur emotionally. Not just their relationship, but also the aftereffects of war and losing loved ones. Believe me, Hermione's got a TON of issues that we're going to have to work through! Guess that's what I get for pretty much torturing her for thirteen chapters…Oh well, no one wants to read "happily ever after", anyway! We just want to read the characters' journey to that point!
DISCLAIMER: Okay, clearly Gringotts's "vaunted protections" aren't as good as we've been led to believe. Worry not, dear people of Wizarding Britain! Because your money is being carefully and fiercely protected by a race of bloodthirsty warriors who hate your guts! More importantly, that race of bloodthirsty warriors can easily be Imperioused by three teenagers who literally have absolutely NO training in how that curse works! Seriously, three teens think to try that, but the guy who tried to break in seven years earlier, and who pretty much throws that curse around like candy, doesn't? Don't you just feel so very safe? Not me, because I don't own these books…
Chapter 14: Running Away
Hermione floated the shrunken trunks and bags up the wooden staircase into her and Fleur's new room. It had taken three more weeks for things to finally settle down and for Fleur to get her hands on a portkey to her little cottage in France, but it had been well worth the wait. With a wave of her wand and a thought, all of the clothes and items were put away, and the trunks were whisked into the attic for storage.
'I love magic.' She thought with a small grin as she headed back downstairs, where Fleur was dusting the little kitchen off. She absentmindedly waved her wand at the living room, cleaning out the dirt and dust and setting a cozy fire in the fireplace. Her tasks complete, she sat at the bar separating the kitchen from the living room and watched as Fleur bustled about, putting the food in the pantry and cupboards and clearing out any dust and other signs of neglect.
Hermione didn't mind the dust and cobwebs. After all, the cabin had been sitting empty since before the war, and Fleur had been thoughtful enough not to send any of the Delacour house elves to clean the place up before they got there. It was an action that truly touched Hermione. The blond knew how uncomfortable her lover was with owning house elves, and instead of trying to lecture her about "they don't know any different", or "they like cleaning and cooking", Fleur had simply stated that as long as the concept bothered Hermione, she would not employ any house elves in their home. Of course, Hermione understood that Fleur couldn't tell the rest of her family and friends how to run their own households, but the action touched her nonetheless. The brunette put house elves out of her mind for now. She was tired of saving the world, and was ready to just be selfish for a while.
Fleur finished up with the kitchen and glided over to Hermione, leaning against the bar and taking her hands.
"Well, do you like it? Is it big enough?" The blond asked with a hint of nervousness in her voice that almost made Hermione giggle.
"It's perfect, baby. It reminds me of you: warm and elegant." The Muggleborn replied whole-heartedly. A hint of crimson colored the Veela's cheeks, making Hermione smile in response.
"Would you like to walk around the grounds?" Fleur asked.
"That sounds lovely, Fleur."
"Careful, Hermione. That shed's in a bad state right now." Fleur gently admonished as she pulled the brunette away from the rickety structure.
"Sorry." Came the bashful reply as Hermione snuggled back into Fleur's side, pulling her coat tighter against the chill that not even warming charms seemed to be capable of warding off.
"It's alright. I should have warned you. The previous owners built the shed to hold their gardening tools, and I've never really had much use for it with magic and all. I guess I just never got around to getting rid of it." Fleur mused.
"Don't?" Hermione asked hopefully, looking up at Fleur with those big brown eyes.
"Why not?" Fleur asked, confused.
"I think I'd like to fix it up." Hermione admitted. "To, you know, work in. I could make my Runestones in there, or just fiddle around with different hobbies."
Fleur smiled, knowing that a busy Hermione was a happy Hermione. "All right, then. But promise me that you won't work on the shed unless I'm here with you? The place is rotted badly, and I don't want you to get hurt and me not be around to help."
"I don't need a babysitter, Fleur." Hermione groused good-naturedly.
"No, but it wouldn't bode well for my old heart to know that you were messing around with this old place with no one else around." The blond sighed dramatically.
"Oh, don't be a drama queen, Fleur! You're only three years older than me!" Hermione poked her side, giggling.
"And I just know I'll feel every single one of those years if you work on that shed without me around!" Fleur wailed in an overly-dramatic way, clinging to the laughing smaller woman.
"Alright, alright! I won't mess with the shed if you're not here. I promise." Hermione agreed with a smile, her heart feeling lighter at her lover's actions.
"Oh, thank you, darling! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" The Veela exclaimed happily, jumping up and down and grabbing the other woman's coat in an overly-dramatic way. The brunette couldn't contain her giggles at the sight.
"Okay, great, we're both happy! Now stop pulling at my coat or you're gonna-ACK!" Hermione was cut off by the force of one especially-strong pull, which dragged her to the ground and caused her to end up pinned beneath the giggling French witch. The English witch sighed in amusement and allowed her head to lower onto the ground, cushioned by her bushy hair.
"Well, hello, beautiful!" Fleur giggled, causing Hermione to blush crimson.
"Hey, gorgeous." The pinned witch replied wryly. "Plan on staying a while?"
"But of course! It's so comfy and warm, and I love the company." The blond replied, nuzzling her lover's neck and causing a pleasant sensation to zip through the younger woman's body. A soft purr rumbled in the back of Hermione's throat. She could get used to this.
"Mmmmmmmm…Fleur…" The blond looked up with a sly smile.
"I need to tell you something…" The brunette murmured softly, her eyes lidded with pleasure. Fleur licked her lips at the sight and leaned in closer.
"And what's that?" She asked, moving closer so that their lips were mere inches apart.
"…Your nose is cold." With a deft flick of her wand, Hermione sent the now-shrieking witch flying backwards a few feet, where she landed on a strategically-placed Cushioning Charm. The brunette cackled as she jumped up and took off back to the little cottage.
"Why, you little minx! Come back here!" Fleur called, chasing after the smaller witch. The two ran back up the hill to the little house, the leaves crunching beneath their trainers and their laughter being carried away by the wind.
"Hermione?" Fleur asked as the two witches cuddled on the couch, warming themselves by the fire.
"Hmm?" Came the sleepy reply from the curled-up brunette.
"I've been thinking about us." Hermione's groggy eyes looked up seriously at the blonde's statement.
"I hope you realize how horrifying that sentence sounds?" The younger witch asked, only half-jokingly.
"That's not what I meant, silly!" Fleur giggled, lightly slapping Hermione's shoulder in admonishment. "I meant about setting, you know, some rules."
"Rules? About what?" Hermione asked, genuinely confused.
"You know…" The blonde replied, a telling look in her eyes. The Muggleborn's eyes widened in realization.
"Oh! You mean…oh…" The brunette's face flared and hid in Fleur's chest.
"Yes, I mean 'oh'." Fleur laughed lightly, watching Hermione's shoulders shake in response.
"Um, okay." The brunette replied, pulling her flaming yet smiling face out of the blonde's bosom. "So, uh…what, um, what kind of rules were you…uh…thinking about?"
"Well, how about we start slow? We'll set a few ground rules and see how we feel about them after, say, a week or two?" Fleur offered.
"Sure, that sounds like a good idea." A now-awake Hermione replied, sitting up. "So, how do we start this?"
"Well, what boundary do you want to set for me?" The brunette blinked.
She blinked again.
"W-wait, I thought this was you setting rules for me?" She asked, confused. Fleur smiled gently in response.
"No, sweetheart, you need to set your boundaries, too. Just because I'm the Dom in this relationship, doesn't mean that I don't have to follow the rules, too. If there's something that makes you uncomfortable, or hurts your feelings, then I want to know it so that I don't damage your trust in me. Trust is vital in any relationship, but even more so in one such as ours." The blond explained patiently.
"Okay…well, then, I guess my first rule would be…ummmmm…" Hermione's lips disappeared into her mouth, and it was all Fleur could do to fight the urge to kiss and nibble it back out. "No breath play or blood play."
Now it was Fleur's turn to blink in silence.
"…I won't lie, sweetheart, I thought your rules would be more along the lines of how unclothed you were willing to be during the day…" The blond admitted, causing her lover's face to erupt in an even fiercer blush.
"Sorry, I guess that was pretty dumb…" Hermione admitted.
"No, no, sweetie, that's not it at all!" Fleur quickly reassured. "If that's a rule you want to set right now, then there's nothing wrong with that. I'm glad you were willing to share that with me, because now it's something that I know." She kissed Hermione's reddening nose. "Your feelings are important to me, Hermione. I'll never call your opinions dumb or purposely belittle them."
"Thank you, Fleur." The brunette whispered, cuddling up to the blonde's side. "So, um, what's your first rule?" Fleur giggled in response.
"Well, I won't lie to you, dear. I've been wanting to see you with kitten ears for well over a month, now…" Hermione 'eep'ed adorably in response to that request.
"Is…is that even possible?" She asked, her brown furrowing as she tried to recall any spells that could do that.
"Of course, sweetheart! I've learned a trick or two in my time at Beauxbaton's." Fleur assured as she pulled her wand, careful to make her movements deliberate so as not to startle the war veteran. "May I?"
"Um, sure. Yeah, why not?" Hermione swallowed a bit as she watched Fleur elegantly raise her wand. After a muttered spell, she felt a strange tingling sensation along the sides and top of her head. She reached up to where her ears were…not!
"My…my ears!" She exclaimed, feeling only the skin of her neck and jawline. Fleur giggled and quickly conjured up a small mirror, holding it up to the brunette. Again, Hermione 'eep'ed as she saw that she now had a pair of brown, furry kitten ears on top of her head.
"Awwww, they're even cuter than I thought they'd be!" Fleur smiled, reaching out to run a slender finger along one ear, which twitched in response.
It was such a strange feeling, Hermione realized as she watched her ears flicker in the reflection of the little mirror. It was almost like a minor muscle spasm in her ears, but it tickled a bit and didn't hurt at all. Her ears also felt warmer, likely due to the newly-acquired fur covering them. Other than that, she didn't feel any different. Her balance was still the same, and her hearing hadn't seemed to change. Then again, her incident with the Polyjuice Potion in second year had already granted her slightly enhanced hearing, so it was possible that such Transfiguration could have an effect on normal ears.
"Well, do you like them?" Fleur asked, a hopeful and slightly nervous tone in her voice. Hermione smiled at her lover and hugged her tightly.
"I do. They don't feel as weird as I thought they would." She admitted. "It's almost like…well…"
"Like they were there all along?" Fleur asked, receiving a shy nod in response. "So, this kitten thing's not so bad after all, is it?"
"No, I guess not." She smiled, laying her head on the pale shoulder before her. "My turn?"
"Of course, dear kitten." The blonde replied, kissing Hermione's new ears and giggling as they flickered in response.
"Ummmm…is it okay if we keep this aspect of our relationship private? I'm not ashamed of you or us, I just…well…" Hermione stuttered lamely before the blond mercifully responded.
"You worry that they won't understand, and would treat you differently if they knew?" Fleur asked, getting a silent nod in response. "That's fine, baby. We'll keep this private for as long as you want. If you want to tell anyone about what we do behind closed doors, then that's completely up to you. I won't pressure you one way or the other."
"Thank you, Fleur." Hermione whispered sincerely. "So, your turn."
"Well, you've got the ears," the Veela began, twirling her wand idly "maybe you'd be okay with one more little…attachment?"
"Um, okay. What is it?" Hermione sat back up, giving the taller woman room to work.
"Do you trust me, Hermione?" Fleur asked seriously, looking into the chocolate eyes before her.
Hermione swallowed and nodded in response, never doubting her answer for a second. Fleur smiled and waved her wand. Hermione felt a strange pressure against her pants.
"What is…" Hermione trailed off as she stood and tried to crane her neck back to see what was happening. Fleur giggled and gently grabbed Hermione's jeans, carefully inching them down a bit. Suddenly, a fluffy brown tail poked out of the base of the Muggleborn's spine and swished back and forth, stretching out and working out any kinks in the muscles.
"Oh my God, Fleur! I have a tail!"
Reviews are awesome! They're delicious, nutritious, and even stay crunchy in milk!