Thank you all for your well wishes. You are such a nice group. I am still trying to find my rhythm again writing, but hopefully I will get back to pace soon.
Thank you Uniquely Named for keeping me on track and for your sweet wedding message.
Hermione turned and buried her face in her lover's neck. Having been around Fleur's parents for the evening reminded her of how much she missed her own. This particular issue was one of the reasons that she and Harry lived so well together on the run. They largely avoided the subject entirely. It was a pain they shared though for very different reasons. The young witch was on the verge of meltdown, and the only thing holding her together was the beautiful blonde whose arms safely encircled her.
"Come, ma petite. Bath and bed. You look like you are about to collapse."
"I feel a bit like it."
"Today was more over overwhelming zan I had planned," she said walking them to the bedroom.
"I am glad to have met your parents. They were overwhelmingly friendly."
"Do you feel like you know a little more zan before?"
"Yes. Hearing your father talk about what it was like for him made it feel much less like I am the only one to have felt this way." Midway through her sentence, she had begun to undress. The blue eyes followed her every movement, while nimble hands removed her own. They stepped into the warm water Fleur summoned into the tub.
"But you miss your parents?"
"Yes. I do terribly, but I know I made the right decision."
"I will do anyzing I can to help you bring them back."
"I know. When the time is right."
"What do you think the men are doing?"
"Resting and planning I 'ope."
"Do you really think that they can plan this without me?"
" 'Onestly? Non. I zink zat we will go back to a great deal of work."
"I feel as though I should feel guilty, but being with you and not them. But I just can't seem to. Does that make sense?"
"Oui, I zink so. I zink zat it has been a very long time since you've done somezing for yourself. And I zink zat you 'ave endured some terrible zings." She paused to chastely kiss her. "And I zink zat you deserve some happiness."
"Are you real?"
"Hmm I am not sure. 'ow about you tell me," she said teasingly sliding her fingers gently between her legs.
"Zat is good to know. You are sore, non?"
"I am a bit."
"Zen I have proven myself today. And wiz zat, we should go to bed. You 'aven't been resting nearly enough."
"Whatever you say, darling."
The witches slept peacefully until a roaring fireplace roused them. Simultaneously they grabbed wands and ran to the living room. The fireplace roared again, but no one stepped through. Bill's head appeared in the green flames.
"Fleur. Thank goodness you are there. Its Harry. He's had a dream. I can't say more. You'd better come."
"Oui, Bill. 5 minutes and we will apparate back."
He nodded and disappeared.
The blonde turned to Hermione. "Zere are clothes already togezer in the closet. I 'ave a bag packed. And bring zat blasted wand."
"Ok," she said and threw her arms around her afraid to let her go.
"It will be alright, 'Ermione. I will be wiz you ze entire time."
"Ok," she whispered and rushed back to the bedroom to put on the clothes. She turned to see her lover bag in hand starting to put on her own clothing. Hermione paused just to watch her. She wasn't entirely ready to go back to reality. Their short retreat stabilized them, but it just didn't feel like enough time. Though perhaps there could never be enough time.
"Are you ready, mon amour?"
"We can do this. Come," she said extending a hand and leading her outside. Systematically she took down the wards, stepped outside them then reapplied them. "Take my arm, my love."
Hermione did as she was asked and felt the pull at the back of her bellybutton. Her feet landed on sand just outside the cottage door. She was quickly ushered inside and was once again face to face with her friends. Harry was sweating and stressed, as he always was after the nightmares. Ron looked at her guiltily, though she couldn't quite decide why.
"Harry, what's going on," she asked in a deadly calm voice.
"He's angry really angry. He knows we are hunting horcruxes. He knows we've found several."
"We are out of time," she said completing her sentence. She felt a wave of unease wash over her. Immediately a calming hand touched the base of her spine. "Ok then, what's the plan?"
"We go back to Hogwarts. There is at least one there."
"But how are we going to do it?"
"I think we just wing it," he said with a shrug. "All of our plans go to shit anyways, not to mention land us on this beach."
"Hogsmeade is crawling with Death Eaters," Bill interjected.
"We've dealt with worse odds and you know it," Harry answered looking directly at Hermione.
"You are right. Ok, we will go to Hogsmeade to find a way into the castle. Bill, go and gather the rest of the order. We'll get a signal to you when we've managed to get inside. The final battle is coming."
"So what's Fleur going to do," the younger redhead butted in.
Hermione felt the French witch flinch, but chose to answer for her. "She is coming with us. She is incredible with wards and a good duelist."
"And you can't stomach being apart from her," Harry concluded in his gentle wiseness.
"I can neither stomach it, nor do I wish to try. She comes with me," she said firmly.
"Now that is the Hermione Granger I know and love. Ready then," the chosen one said cheerily.
"Before we go," Fleur interjected. "What 'appened to ze cup?"
Harry mumbled something over his shoulder.
"What was that, Mister Potter?" she asked in an insistent tone.
"We couldn't destroy it. We have to bring it with us."
The blonde shot a poignant look at Bill. She was clearly disappointed.
"Zen we should get on wiz it. Be safe, Bill."
"You all as well."
The small group walked out of the cottage together. Bill and Fleur stood side by side resecuring the safe house. The three teens stood side by side as they had so many times before watching the witch and wizard. Bill stepped away, smiling slightly before disapperating.
"Ok. Everyone ok to apparate outside of Ollivander's old shop? It will be deserted, but it's our best bet," Hermione said resolutely. The boys nodded at her. Instinctively she slipped her arm into Fleur's and gazed up into her blue eyes. The blonde nodded that she would apparate them together. "On three?"
As soon as their feet hit the cobbles alarms sounded. Hermione slipped her fingers through Fleur's pulling them inside the hollowed out shop, crouching down low. The boys followed on their heels. Before they could decide their next move and before the Death Eaters could pinpoint their location an elderly wizard swept them into his home. Aberforth identified himself and the conversation steadily went downhill from there. Unlike his brother, he didn't believe in the task to which the three had dedicated themselves. He warned and pleaded that they should save themselves. As always Harry stepped forward and spoke with passion about what they were doing. Over the years he had become quite the spokesman. After the DA was formed he learned how to be a leader other places than the quidditch field.
Hermione couldn't help but smile at him proudly. He had become such a good man right in front of her eyes. She leaned back slightly, knowing that her lover was within reach. The slight contact calmed her nerves. Her fingers touched the wand in her pocket. She knew it would obey her, but hated to use it. She felt a soft kiss against the back of her head. She couldn't stop her hand from reaching back and pulling the slender body fully against her. She sighed quietly gathering her strength.
The old wizard and Harry came to an agreement, and the portrait of his sister was disappearing into the background. Hermione thanked the old man as he left the room. She watched mesmerized as the young girl in the portrait walked back towards them. When the portrait swung open to reveal a bruised Neville, she couldn't help but smile. The group moved quickly through the tunnel emerging into the Room of Requirement. They were immediately surrounded by smiling faces. Hermione watched with pleasure as Harry saw Ginny for the first time in months. At the same moment a hand touched the base of her spine, stroking slowly. She hoped the two Gryffindors could find what she had so recently acquired. She flinched at the mentions of Death Eaters in the castle and the summoning from Snape.
"I'm going with you, Ginny," Harry said. "Anyone have a robe I can borrow?" Hands immediately appeared holding out a dozen different robes.
"Alright," Hermione said calmly, "everyone else into your robes as well. Act as normally as possible as you go and when you are in the room. Harry, we will meet the Order and bring them in a few minutes later."
"Right. No time to waste."
Hermione, Ron and Fleur waited until the students filed out with serious faces.
"Ok zen. Wands out, Oui? Move quietly and be prepared." She squeezed Hermione's hand before leading them out of the room. They moved as quickly as they could. They heard footsteps coming around a corner. The three formed a defensive stance preparing themselves for a duel. The first sight of bright purple hair the wands were lowered.
"Tonks," Hermione whispered excitedly.
"Oi. Rumus. We found them. Hurry up you three. We have a date with the Death Eaters."
They quickly fell into the ranks of the Order. Fleur and Hermione walked side by side. The formation paused outside the door, but when they heard Harry's voice rise the werewolf threw the doors open. They strode in looking very much like superheroes, at least that was the only thing going through Hermione's mind. She was grateful when Professor McGonagall stepped between Snape and Harry. For all of the young wizard's gaul, the current Headmaster was a far more accomplished wizard. Once he disappeared in a cloud of black smoke, a moment of pure celebration erupted. It was quickly silenced by the eerie disembodied voice of Voldemort requiring Harry's surrender. In spite of the Slytherins', who were subsequently locked in the dungeon, best efforts the majority of the student body joined the Order.
"It's starting now," Ron said quietly to Harry and Hermione. They nodded in response. "How are we going to do this?"
"I've got to find the last Horcrux and we need to find a way to destroy them."
"I have an idea for the last bit," Hermione interrupted. "Basilisk fangs. It worked with the diary."
"That's bloody brilliant, 'Mione," Ron replied dreamily. "We can go together."
Fleur had turned an exceptional color of red at that particular idea. She was saved from the many sharp things she considered saying, when Bill took his brother by the shoulder.
"Sorry, Ron. But you've got to come with me. Fleur and Hermione can go to the Chamber of Secrets. Fred and George need a bit more Weasley power if you know what I mean." The youngest redhead male grinned at the idea that his family needed them.
"Yea, of course Bill. You two will be fine though, right?" Though it was phrased as a question, he was already walking away.
"When zis is over, we will have to buy zat man a very nice present. I should not kill other members of the order, but he is testing my patience."
Hermione tenderly took the beautiful face in her hands. She took a long moment to stare into her lover's eyes. With a quiet and shaking voice she said,
"I love you, Fleur. I don't know how all of this will end, but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't tell you."
She watched enraptured when the eyes shifted gold. The possessive kiss stole her breath in more than one way.
"I will always love you, mon amour."