Harry Potter and the Price of Being Noble

Harry helps Fleur in the second task of GOF and pays the price. HP/Fleur/Gabrielle/Hermione. A Veela bonding fic based on love. T Rated and it will stay that way. Thirteen year old Almost fourteen Gabrielle to start the story. Good Dumbledore.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5403795/1/Harry-Potter-and-the-Price-of-Being-Noble

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17. Chapter 17

The following morning Harry awoke feeling something amiss. Opening his eyes, he found himself in his four-poster bed in the Gryffindor Tower. Though it had been where he had slept for most of the last four years, he missed the bed he had slept in for the last few days. The one he had woken up the last two mornings to find one of his bond mates sleeping beside him. The memory of Hermione sleeping in his bed the previous morning brought a smile to his lips and his heart. He searched his bond with her and knew she was still asleep. He next turned to Fleur and Gabrielle. Gabrielle, who was now sleeping in the Beauxbaton carriage in her sister's room, was still asleep but Fleur was awake. "Good morning ma Fleur du Matin. Did I get that right?"

Harry felt her smile and warmth radiated in the bond. "Good morning love. If you are trying to call me your morning flower, yes you did well. When did you learn zose words?"

"I looked at one of the books you gave Sirius. I wanted to know if your name had a meaning," Harry replied. Harry paused when thinking about the languages. "Why don't you think in French?"

"I'm quite sure I do love."

"But when I hear your thoughts I hear you thinking in English."

"And I 'ear your zoughts in perfect French, but when you think to me, as now, it's English or whatever you are saying."

"But how? I don't know French, and why do I hear your accent?"

"I 'ave to presume its ze bond 'Arry and ze way your mind interprets my thoughts. We can ask Professor Berceau sometime if you would like. As for ze accent, it's ze only way you've 'eard me speak, whereas I've never 'eard you butcher my language as I do yours."

"I like your accent Fleur. Your voice always makes me smile."

"Zen I 'ope to make you smile as much as I can. And 'Arry," Fleur thought," I love being your flower," Harry felt her love warming him.

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At the breakfast table, Harry looked down the table at Ron who was sitting with Dean Thomas. He sighed then turned his attention back to the lovely ladies who were sitting next to him. When he did, he noticed Ginny Weasley had sat down next to Gabrielle.

"Ready for your first day at Hogwarts?" Ginny asked Gabrielle.

"Non, but what can I do?" Gabrielle replied with a shrug.

"I'll get you through it."

Gabrielle looked at her carefully, "No problems wiz what we discussed?"

Ginny's glance flickered past Gabrielle onto Harry, then back to Gabrielle. "I am trying, but it won't happen overnight. But," She again glanced past to see if Harry was listening but noticed he was talking to Hermione, "he seems happier now so you must be good for him."

"Thank you. 'E deserves 'appiness and I'm glad I can 'elp 'im feel it," Gabrielle replied. "You know, your brozer, 'e said some things yesterday."

"Yes I know," Ginny sighed as she glanced at Ron and then back to Gabrielle, "He came to me afterwards complaining. He said he was going to send an owl to Mum. But I don't believe what he believes if that is what you want to know. Mum, well she's mum. I love her but she believes everything she reads, especially if it's in Witch Weekly or the Daily Prophet."

"So what made you decide to be my friend?"

"Ron told me what Harry said about choosing," Ginny explained quietly, again glancing to see if Harry was listening. "I'm not sure if he told you, but basically he told Ron that if he was forced to choose between you and Ron, it would be you," Ginny shook her head. "After thinking about it, I...well, I prefer to be Harry's friend rather than nothing to him, and I know that friendship must start with you. I…uh... I really don't know anything about your heritage so if I do say something wrong please let me know."

Gabrielle smiled at Ginny as she herself felt Harry sighing in relief. "Listening again?"

"Sorry, but after Ron yesterday I really didn't want you hurt."

"I'll be glad to Ginny," Gabrielle said to her new friend. "So we 'ave Charms first thing zis morning?"

"You'll love Professor Flitwick," Ginny said smiling a little in relief. It wasn't long before the two of them were discussing the various classes and professors.

Harry looked at Fleur and saw her looking at the two younger girls with a smile, Fleur turned to Harry. "I'm glad she's got someone to 'elp 'er today."

"I am too, though I'll still worry about her in Potions. Snape really hates me, and if he takes it out on her, I'll…."

At that time the mail started being delivered and a cluster of owls were landing all around Hermione, all jostling for position. Harry grabbed her goblet before it was knocked over.

"What on earth - ?" Hermione said, taking the letter from the gray owl, opening it, and starting to read. "Oh really!" she sputtered, going rather red.

"What's up?" ask Ginny who was now looking at them.

"It,'s - oh how ridiculous -"

She thrust the letter at Harry, who saw that it was not handwritten, but composed from pasted letters that seemed to have been cut out of the Daily Prophet.

YOU ARE A WICKED GIRL. HARRY POTTER DESERVES BETTER. GO BACK WHERE YOU CAME FROM MUGGLE.

"They're all like it!" said Hermione desperately, opening one letter after another.

"'Harry Potter can do much better than the likes of you. . . .'

'You deserve to be boiled in frog spawn. . . .'

"Stop," Fleur told her bond-sister. "Don't worry about zem 'Ermione. Eet just people who are responding to zat magazine. Papa gets letters like zis all ze time. If you let it bozer you, zen zey win zeir little game."

"But..."

Fleur shook her head. "You can't reason with zem. Is zere any letters you want to keep in ze pile?" When Hermione shook her head negatively, Fleur pulled out her wand. "Evanesco," The pile of letters in front of Hermione disappeared. "Zat's ze best thing to do. Don't let zem win."

"And I can't do better than you and this summer I will tell the world," Hermione heard and she looked up into those emerald eyes. "You know I love you," Harry continued and Hermione felt the frustration disappear.

When Harry and Hermione made it to Herbology, Ron came over and said to Hermione, "See I warned you not to mess with Rita. I warned you," He then turned to Harry, "Like I warned you, maybe now you'll listen now."

"Ron, if this is about your warning concerning my girlfriend, then no, I will not listen now or ever," Harry replied coldly and turned his back on his longtime friend as he pulled out all the homework he needed to turn in and prepared for class.

"Help me Hermione," Ron who now was red-faced said as he turned to his female friend. "It's Veelas, you can't really believe this is going to go well for Harry can you?"

"Yes Ron," Hermione replied sharply. "Yes I can. I don't know what rubbish your mother is feeding you, but Gabrielle is not going to hurt Harry," She turned her back on her friend as well.

As Harry and Hermione left the greenhouse for their Care of Magical Creatures class, they saw Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle descending the stone steps of the castle. Pansy Parkinson was whispering and giggling behind them with her gang of Slytherin girls. Catching sight of Hermione, Pansy called, "We couldn't help but notice how much you enjoyed your fan mail."

Hermione just ignored her; not wanting to give her the satisfaction of knowing how much the mail had irritated her.

Hagrid was waiting for them outside his cabin with a fresh supply of open crates at his feet. Harry's heart sank at the sight of the crates - surely not another skrewt hatching? - but when he got near enough to see inside, he found himself looking at a number of flurry black creatures with long snouts. Their front paws were curiously flat, like spades, and they were blinking up at the class, looking politely puzzled at all the attention.

"These're nifflers," said Hagrid, when the class had gathered around. "Yeh find 'em down mines mostly. They like sparkly stuff. . . . There yeh go, look."

One of the nifflers had suddenly leapt up and attempted to bite Pansy Parkinson's watch off her wrist. She shrieked and jumped backward.

"Useful little treasure detectors," said Hagrid happily. "Thought we'd have some fun with 'em today. See over there?" He pointed at the large patch of freshly turned earth. "I've buried some gold coins. I've got a prize fer whoever picks the niffler that digs up the most. Jus' take off all yer valuables, an' choose a niffler, an get ready ter set 'em loose."

Harry remembered seeing Hagrid last night with a shovel when he was flying Buckbeak. "So that's what he was doing," He took off his watch, which he was only wearing out of habit, as it didn't work anymore, and stuffed it into his pocket. Then he picked up a niffler. It put its long snout in Harry's ear and sniffed enthusiastically, causing Hermione to laugh "Do you have a treasure in your ear Harry?" she asked before reaching down and picking up her own niffler.

"I believe it's your mind that's a treasure," Harry replied causing Hermione to blush. "As for me, he was probably trying find an empty space to sleep later."

"That would be Ron," Hermione replied silently as they looked over at their old friend who was looking excitedly at the ground as he held his niffler. "Being someone who can read your thoughts, I happen to think you have a wonderful mind."

It was easily the most fun they had ever had in Care of Magical Creatures. The nifflers dove in and out of the patch of earth as though it were water, each scurrying back to the student who had released it and spitting gold into their hands.

Harry noticed that Ron's niffler was particularly efficient; it had soon filled his lap with coins.

"Can you buy these as pets, Hagrid?" Ron asked excitedly as his niffler dove back into the soil once again, splattering his robes with dirt.

"Yer mum wouldn' be happy, Ron," said Hagrid, grinning. "They wreck houses, nifflers. I reckon they've nearly got the lot, now," he added, pacing around the patch of earth while the nifflers continued to dive. "I on'y buried a hundred coins."

Ron looked disappointed, but he started counting his coins.

"Well, let's check how yeh've done!" said Hagrid. "Count yer coins! An' there's no point tryin' ter steal any, Goyle," he added, his beetle-black eyes narrowed. "It's leprechaun gold. Vanishes after a few hours."

Goyle emptied his pockets, looking extremely sulky. It turned out that Ron's niffler had been most successful, so Hagrid gave him an enormous slab of Honeydukes chocolate for a prize. The bell rang across the grounds for lunch; Ron and the rest of the class started up the slope to the castle while Harry and Hermione stayed behind to help Hagrid put the nifflers back in their boxes.

"Yeh've been doing alright Harry?" Hagrid asked. "I've seen yeh with that young lady. Seems like you two are hitten it off."

Harry smiled at his half-giant friend. "Gabrielle is special," He glanced over at Hermione, "I wish I could tell him about you and Fleur as well."

"And we know how well Hagrid keeps a secret," Hermione replied. "Can you say Fluffy?"

"I met her father yeh know. He was asken about yeh since yeh had saved his daughters' lives and everything," Hagrid continued. "Told em that just the way yeh are," He looked around. "And where's Ron?"

"He doesn't think I should be seeing someone of my girlfriend's heritage," Harry replied.

"Veela?" Hagrid asked. "That's just silly that is. Some of the nicest people yeh ever could meet. Fierce tempers though."

"Yeah I've heard."

Hagrid scratched his beard looking thoughtful, "Maybe I'll have to get yeh some dragon hide for yeh ter line your robes with. That fire they can throw, well it can sting a little," Hermione stifled a laugh at the look on Harry's face. "As fer Ron, well hopefully he'll come around. Yeh can't tell people how ter think."

The three of them chatted for a while longer with Hermione telling Hagrid about the hate mail she had received that morning.

"Aaah, don worry," said Hagrid gently, looking down at her. "I got some o' those letters an all, after Rita Skeeter wrote abou me mum. 'Yeh're a monster an yeh should be put down.' 'Yer mother killed innocent people an if you had any decency you'd jump in a lake.'"

"No!" exclaimed Hermione, looking shocked.

"Yeah," said Hagrid, heaving the niffler crates over by his cabin wall. "They're jus' nutters, Hermione. Don' open 'em if yeh get any more. Chuck 'em straigh' in the fire."

"That's sort of what Gabrielle's sister said," Hermione said.

"Yer a smart one Hermione, do the smart thing," Hagrid replied.

"I hate that Skeeter woman though," Hermione burst out. "I will get her back."

They chatted some more before Harry and Hermione made their way to the Great Hall for lunch. Fleur was sitting next to Gabrielle who was chatting with Ginny. When Gabrielle saw Harry, she threw her arms around him and kissed him and started telling him how much fun she had had in Charms. "We learned cheering charms today," She exclaimed and proceeded to kiss Harry again so show him how cheerful she was.

During double Divinations in the afternoon, Harry wished he had let Gabrielle cast the Cheering Charm on him before he came. He found himself following the thoughts of his bond mates. Gabrielle was in Herbology while Fleur and Hermione had gone to the library to study. Even the arithmancy Hermione was working on seemed more interesting that discovering why Venus was so important to astrology.

"Why take the class if you don't like it?" He heard Hermione question.

Harry looked over at Ron who was sitting with Seamus. "Well I used to have a friend in the class."

"I know Harry. I'm sorry," Hermione replied. "Maybe work with Neville. Or you can switch classes next year and try to catch up with Gabrielle. Or maybe Ron will come around."

"Maybe…crap, everyone is looking at me. Trelawney probably predicted my death again."

"Pay attention Harry," Hermione chided. "I need to get back to studying. Fleur and I are going down to the Chamber shortly to see if they need anything. We'll see you at dinner."

"Fine, leave me to my suffering."

They decided to have dinner in the chamber that evening with Remus and Sirius. Harry and Hermione went to the kitchens to give Dobby his socks and to see if the elves could prepare some food for them to take down.

The house-elves gave them a very cheery welcome, bowing and curtsying and bustling around making a nice dinner and packing it up. Harry couldn't believe all the food they were putting in the basket. Dobby was ecstatic about his present.

"Harry Potter is too good to Dobby!" he squeaked, wiping large tears out of his enormous eyes.

"Dobby a lot has happened because I was in that lake that day," said Harry. "I was only in the lake because of you. Not only in waking me up, but in finding me a way to breath underwater. Because I was in the lake, I was able to save Gabrielle and Fleur. That means I owe you a lot more than two pairs of socks. This is only a start. You're my friend Dobby."

"Dobby, where's Winky?" said Hermione, who was looking around.

"Winky is over there by the fire, miss," said Dobby quietly, his ears drooping slightly.

"Oh dear," said Hermione as she spotted the elf.

Harry looked over at the fireplace too. Winky was sitting on the same stool as last time, but she had allowed herself to become so filthy that she was not immediately distinguishable from the smoke-blackened brick behind her. Her clothes were ragged and unwashed. She was clutching a bottle of butterbeer and swaying slightly on her stool, staring into the fire. As they watched her, she gave an enormous hiccup.

"Winky is getting through six bottles a day now," Dobby whispered to Harry.

"Well, it's not strong, that stuff," Harry said.

But Dobby shook his head. "'Tis strong for a house-elf, sir, very strong," he said. "She pines for her family and nothing Dobby does will persuade her that Professor Dumbledore is Winky's master now. She keeps saying that Mr. Crouch needs her."

"Master is needing his - hie - Winky!" whimpered Winky. "Master cannot - hic -manage - hic - all by himself. . . ."Master is - hic - trusting Winky with - hic – the most important - hic - the most secret..." and the bottle of butterbeer she had in her hand dropped to the floor as she slid off her stool onto the heart snoring heavily.

The other elves started covering her with a tablecloth. Seeing Hermione was about to say something, "This isn't the time love."

"But they're just covering her up. They should be trying to cheer her up instead," Hermione insisted.

"Maybe there is a head elf you can talk to about it," Harry said. "But right now, let's go down and eat."

"But it's not right Harry," Hermione said. "They shouldn't be slaves."

"Maybe there's something we don't know. I mean Dumbledore isn't a bad person, but you just heard Dobby say he was their Master," Harry thought. "Ask him about them. He might give you a better idea of what it all means. You might also ask Fleur, it's possible her family has house-elves."

The thought that her bond sister and friend might herself have house-elves stunned Hermione. The thought to Fleur was out before she could think anything else, "Fleur, does your family have house elves?"

"Of course. We 'ave three."

Hermione was stunned. Her bond sister's family, who said she was part of their family, enslaved three beings and she immediately thought back. "How could you? How can your family enslave intelligent beings?"

Fleur took a mental step back at the pure loathing in Hermione's voice. "Ermione, what do you know about 'ouse-elves?" She asked cautiously.

"I know they're intelligent and can be nice and that they are enslaved and not paid or anything."

"So you're equating zeir slavery wiz ze enslavement of man over man aren't you?"

"Of course, slavery is slavery!" Hermione argued vehemently. "No one should own another being."

"You own a cat don't you?" Fleur asked. "Which is 'alf-kneazle. 'e's intelligent."

"I…I...crookshanks isn't my slave," Hermione sputtered.

"E isn't?" Fleur asked. "And 'ow many times 'ave you asked 'im what 'e wants to do? Or if 'e wants to come to 'Ogwarts? I agree it's not quite ze same, but zere are all kinds of bonds and relationships zat bring people and beings together. For example, are you 'Arry's slave?"

"WHAT? Of course not."

"But you are bound to 'im for ze rest of your life."

"But…but that's different, that is love and he can't force me to do anything. He doesn't own me."

"True, but you and 'e 'ave ze capability of making each others lives miserable or 'appy depending on 'ow you use ze bond. You enjoy feeling ze love 'arry 'as for you don't you?"

"Yes, of course."

"What if ze bond were to disappear? 'Ow would you feel if zat feeling of love were to disappear?"

Hermione considered this, even after so few days, the love that flowed over that bond had become an integral part of her being. "I would miss it desperately."

"And you would want eet back wouldn't you?"

"Yes, of course but what does this have to do with house-elves."

"Ouse-elves love work 'Ermione. I know you find it 'ard to accept zat, but it's a proven fact in ze magical world. Zey get ze same joy out of working zat you get out of being loved," Fleur explained. "Ze elves get similar joy out of being asked to do work as you get when 'arry tell you 'e loves you. Ze bond to zeir families gives zem work to care for zem, ze constant needs of ze families is to zem like ze constant love you feel from 'Arry. To zem to be set free, is like you losing your bond with 'arry."

"But Dobby…."

"Was abused and told to do things zat 'e 'ated, just like abuse of a person by someone zey love can override ze love itself, 'e wanted to leave and 'e is afraid of recommitting 'imself to a bond. But I know 'e loves 'arry. If 'arry were to ask 'im to be 'is elf, 'e would agree without a moments 'esitation."

"But why won't they take money?"

"In your love with 'Arry, do you think someday you and 'e will be intimate?"

Hermione thought back to the previous morning's conversation with Harry, she blushed slightly. "Yes, of course, when the time is right."

"And would you want money for being intimate with 'im?"

"Of course not," Hermione exclaimed, "That would make it seem like I was a…" and her words trailed off.

"Exactly, it's ze same wiz elves, zey feel it cheapens ze experience for zem. 'Ermione, it's not perfect, just like a lot of marriages aren't perfect. You know spouses and children are abused, so should marriage be outlawed?"

"No," Hermione sighed. "I'm sorry Fleur. I guess I did a Ron and have been acting without really thinking on this one. I've been letting my non-magical upbringing influence how I view things in the magical world."

"Zat's not a bad thing 'ermione. A fresh outlook is always good, but remember to try to understand both sides before making your conclusions. Wanting to defend elves shows me you 'ave a good 'eart and I do agree zat zey should not be abused. Concentrate on 'elping zem zat way, not by trying to set zem all free."

"Thanks," Hermione said as she looked around the kitchen seeing the house-elves all working and at particularly at the tablecloth covered package that was Winky. She thought of what Fleur said and compared it to losing Harry's bond and a wave of understanding broke over her. She turned and said "Dobby, take care of Winky please."

"I try Miss," The little elf said. "But she's not wanting my help," He handed the basket of food to them and turned sadly back to his friend.

Harry and Hermione joined the other in the Chamber a short time later where he found out that Remus had had Hermione escort him out to see the twins and Dumbledore and to finally order the books and equipment he thought he would need for Basilisk job. When there were all sitting around the table he told them what he wanted to see Dumbledore about.

"When I was talking to the Weasleys, they made an excellent suggestion and I confirmed it with Dumbledore," Remus said. "On Saturday we all are taking a trip to Surrey. The twins suggested we needed, as they put it, 'to survey the battlefield.' We need a better idea of how to disrupt a muggle household. So this Saturday we will figure out a way to get your Aunt and Uncle out of the house for a few hours and we will go take a look around. Harry you can describe their typical day, while those of us who have lived amongst muggles can describe the various muggle devices and such to those who are not so familiar."

"You've lived in the muggle world?" Harry asked.

"Yes Harry. There is very little work on the correct side of the law in the magical world if you're a werewolf," Remus explained. "I've had a lot of jobs, some in the magical world, and some in the muggle. It's hard to hold down a job in the non-magical world when you disappear for two or three days a month and come back looking like you've been on a drinking binge the whole time but can't explain what has happened to you."

"I still wish you were teaching here Moony," Harry said. "I mean Moody knows his stuff, but he's not you."

"Thanks Harry. That means a lot."

"Remus," Fleur said looking at the Werewolf. "Try to learn some French. If you can start speaking it passably, I'm sure my father can get you a job somewhere in France."

"I...I don't like to take charity Miss Delacour."

"Charity it would not be, I assure you," Fleur said. "Zough 'aving seen some of 'Arry's memories of previous defense instructors, I can't say zat intelligence must be a 'iring factor 'ere at 'Ogwarts. You impressed both 'Arry and 'Ermione wiz your knowledge and teaching skills. You 'ave the courage and intelligence to take on challenges zat you have no experience and I would hazard a guess zat you do zem well. I would also guess zat you scored very well on your OWLs and NEWTs?"

"Well enough I suppose."

"Moony is being modest. He was near the top of our class," Sirius said. "Would have been top, if he didn't have to lose so much time to a furry little problem and having to keep a bunch of friends in line."

Remus snorted, "Yeah like I was able to keep you and James in line."

"So, it wouldn't be charity," Fleur said. "I would say it would be ze French tapping a potential ze English do not realize zey 'ave."

"I guess we can approach the subject later on," Remus replied looking a little embarrassed at the praise. "Learning another language is always a good skill to have, no matter what the outcome."

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Later in the evening when Harry was getting ready for bed, Ron said. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Harry sat down and looked over at Ron, "Tell you what?"

"About the gold."

"What gold?" asked Harry bewildered.

"The gold I gave you at the Quidditch World Cup," said Ron. "The leprechaun gold I gave you for my Omnioculars, in the Top Box. Why didn't you tell me it disappeared?"

Harry had to think for a moment before he realized what Ron was talking about.

"Oh . . ." he said, the memory coming back to him at last. "I dunno ... I never noticed it had gone. I was more worried about my wand, wasn't I?"

Ron rolled over and muttered, "Must be nice to have so much money you don't notice when it disappears and everything else as well."

Harry felt a bit of anger rise in him. "Yeah well it must be nice to have parents and a family."

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At breakfast the next morning, Hermione received additional hate mail and Fleur continued to make them disappear unopened. The last owl to arrive resembled a large grey feather duster and it landed not in front of Hermione but in front of Harry. Attached to the leg of the ancient bird was a red envelope. Harry recognized the owl as Errol, the Weasley's family bird, and he knew the envelope contained a Howler. Harry took a second to glare at Ron who was sitting down the table staring back with an embarrassed but determined look on his face. Harry remembered Neville's warning to Ron two years earlier about not ignoring the things, he reached over and removed it from Errol and opened it. Instantly the Great Hall was filled with Molly Weasley's magically enhanced voice.

HARRY POTTER WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING CAVORTING ABOUT WITH SOME VEELA HUSSY. RON TOL….

The envelope burst into flames directly in front of Harry and as he looked up he could almost see fire in the eyes of Fleur as she put away her wand. Harry could see her struggling to stay calm as he felt her anger. He looked over at Gabrielle and felt her anger as well as the tears in her eyes. Ginny whose face was redder than her hair was speaking softly to the younger Veela. He looked at Hermione and could see her concentrating and knew she was trying to comfort the two Delacours. Harry could also hear the laughter coming from the Slytherins and several other students. All of this he noticed, but it all seemed detached as well. He was riding a surge of anger at his friend and his friend's mother. It was at least a minute before he returned to what was happening around him.

"Harry," Ginny said at last, "If I can borrow Hedwig, I'll write to mum."

"And we'll throw in our glowing recommendation for the fine lady ourselves," Fred and George said as that sat down on either side of Fleur.

"We're sorry mate," George said.

"No excuse for Mum on this one," Fred agreed.

"Thanks guys. I appreciate that. Have you met Gabrielle's sister Fleur?" Harry asked motioning to the person between them.

"Well we knew who she was of course. The beautiful Beauxbatons Champion."

"Their beauty runs in the family it seems."

"Of course she might have enchanted us," Fred said grinning at his brother.

"It so, she can enchant me anytime," George answered.

"Nice to meet both of you," Fleur said smiling at them with her perfect smile. "Your reputation 'as proceeded you zough so no trying anything.. As for enchanting you, I'm sorry to say my 'eart is already spoken for," She glanced at Harry, "and 'e 'as ze most gorgeous eyes."

"Too late again," Fred said to George hanging his head, then to Harry. "Hey did you know Professor Lupin was one of the original Marauders?"

"Really?" Harry asked trying to act surprised.

"Yeah, he approached us yesterday about pranking your relatives," George said. "We tried to find you last night to ask you about that. I mean we're definitely in, but why is Lupin interested in them anyway?"

"Because the Marauders were best friends," Harry said. "And Moony is very interested in the Dursleys because they weren't too nice to the son of another Marauder," Harry waited for a second before continuing, "Guys, Prongs was my father."

Fred and George stared at each over Fleur, then they turned back to Harry and stared at him like he had grown six arms, "Really? So you know who Padfoot and Wormtail are also?"

"Yeah, but I'll tell you about them another time. Right now we've got to get to class," And leaving the twins looking frustrated, Harry gave Gabrielle a quick kiss and left with Hermione out of the Great Hall.

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In History of Magic, Harry discovered one very annoying thing about the bond with Hermione. Her willingness to use it to keep him awake in class. Each time he was ready to follow most of the class into slumber, she would do or say something to keep him awake.

"Just let me sleep Hermione."

"No Harry. You need to learn this."

"Why? Are we expecting Goblins to rebel again?"

"You never know what might happen. If nothing else, at least read the material. If you fall asleep, there'll be no kisses from me today and I'm sure I can get Fleur and Gabrielle to agree as well."

"That's bloody mean," But Harry was sufficiently motivated to not fall asleep. With a glare at Hermione he opened his history book and started reading. Hermione had a smile on her lips as they left the classroom while Harry was mentally grumbling about blackmailing bondmates.

Harry had been dreading Potions and when they arrived later in the afternoon; only five minutes into the class, he realized his dread did not nearly cover what he should have been feeling. Pansy Parkinson had another copy of the Witch Weekly and Harry could hear Hermione's sigh. Draco was flashing his Potter Stinks badge every couple of minutes. When Snape entered the dungeon classroom, his eyes immediately fell upon Harry. "Well, well our hero of the lake has decided to join us. I'm sure you were just looking for more publicity for your ego weren't you Potter?"

Harry hated the man he saw glaring at him. He could feel the anger build inside, until Hermione and Fleur both started talking to him.

"Non, 'Arry. Don't let 'im bother you."

"Harry he's just trying to anger you. You already have detention tonight and he wants to add more. Don't give him the satisfaction."

Harry felt the anger settle and he answered evenly. "No sir."

Snape stared at him for a few more seconds before turning to the blackboard. "Today we will be working on Wit Sharpening potions. Something Mr. Longbottom should stock up on. Instructions are now on the board; by the time class is over your potion should be a light blue in color."

As Harry and Hermione started getting out their ingredients and setting up the cauldrons, Pansy took an opportunity of Snape's back being turned toward the class to toss the magazine onto Hermione's desk and proceeded to act like she was writing a letter. She and her gang of girls giggled.

Hermione rolled her eyes and was about to toss it back when Professor Snape was there and took it from her, "Ten points from Gryffindor for having inappropriate reading material out in class. Ah yes the infamous Mr. Potter's complicated love life," He sneered as he looked down at the magazine.

Harry could feel his face burning as Snape started reading the article out loud to the class, pausing at the end of every sentence to allow the Slytherins a hearty laugh. The article sounded ten times worse when read by Snape. Even Hermione was blushing scarlet now.

"'. . . Harry Potter's well-wishers must hope that, next time, he bestows his heart upon a worthier candidate.' How very touching," sneered Snape, rolling up the magazine to continued gales of laughter from the Slytherins. "It didn't take you long to find another groupie did it Potter. Whether she is a worthier candidate, well after that Howler this morning, one might not think so."

"You leave Gabrielle out of this," Harry snarled as his eyes flashed at the Potion's Master, his anger rising again.

"Fifteen points from Gryffindor for the cheek Potter, and since it's obvious that Miss Granger has broken your heart, maybe we should separate you two in class. You can take the table in front of my desk."

Harry looked at Hermione who looked back at him, "Don't let him get to you Harry. He's trying to push. Ignore him," He grabbed his potions kit and Cauldron and made his way down to the table Snape had indicated. Snape followed him and as Harry started unpacking his ingredients again Snape sat down beside him.

"All this press attention seems to have inflated your already over-large head Potter," said Snape quietly, once the rest of the class had settled down again.

Harry didn't answer. He knew Snape was trying to provoke him; he had done this too many times before.

"You might be laboring under the delusion that the entire wizarding world is impressed with you," Snape went on, so quietly that no one else could hear him. Harry started pounding the scarab beetles the potion called for. He pretended each beetle was a little Snape, soon he had them to a very fine powder as Snape continued "but I don't care how many times your picture appears in the papers. To me, Potter, you are nothing but a nasty little boy who considers rules to be beneath him."

Harry tipped the powdered beetles into his cauldron and started cutting up his ginger roots. His hands were shaking slightly out of anger, but he kept his eyes down, as though he couldn't hear what Snape was saying to him.

His bond mates had picked up his anger and started trying to calm him. Hermione was pleading with him to ignore Snape.

"So I give you fair warning, Potter," Snape continued in a softer and more dangerous voice, "pint-sized celebrity or not - if I catch you breaking into my office one more time -"

"I've never broken into your office," Harry replied. "Why would I?"

"Don't lie to me," Snape hissed as his fathomless black eyes bore into Harry's. "Boomslang skin, Gillyweed, both come from my private stores, and I know who stole them."

Harry stared back at Snape, determined not to blink or to look guilty. In truth, he hadn't stolen either of these things from Snape. Hermione had taken the boomslang skin back in their second year - they had needed it for the Polyjuice Potion - and while Snape had suspected Harry at the time, he had never been able to prove it. Dobby, of course, had stolen the gillyweed.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Harry lied.

"You were out of bed on the night my office was broken into!" Snape hissed. "I know it. Potter! Now, Mad-Eye Moody might have joined your fan club, but I will not tolerate your behavior! One more nighttime stroll into my office Potter, and you will pay!"

"Right," said Harry coolly, turning back to his ginger roots. "I'll bear that in mind if I ever get the urge to go in there."

Snape's eyes flashed. He plunged a hand into the inside of his black robes. For one wild moment, Harry thought Snape was about to pull out his wand and curse him - then he saw that Snape had drawn out a small crystal bottle of a completely clear potion. Harry stared at it.

"Do you know what this is Potter?" Snape said, his eyes glittering dangerously again.

"No," said Harry, with complete honesty this time.

"It is Veritaserum - a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you spilling your innermost secrets for this entire class to hear," said Snape viciously.

"Now, the use of this potion is controlled by very strict Ministry guidelines. But unless you watch your step, you might just find that my hand slips" - he shook the crystal bottle slightly - "right over your evening pumpkin juice. And then, Potter . .. then we'll find out whether you've been in my office or not."

"Eet's five years in prison in France for ze illegal use of truth serum," Fleur said. "Probably similar 'ere, 'e wouldn't risk it."

Hermione made a suggestion to Harry that caused him to smile. Turning to Snape he said, "Thank you sir for the warning. I think I will notify my Head of House of it, just in case you know. How many years in Azkaban is it for that illegal use of that potion?" Harry mentally grinned at his next statement, "Maybe they'll give you Sirius' old cell," Harry felt the look on Snape's face was worth whatever punishment he knew was coming.

"Potter.." Snape snarled menacingly, but before he could continue there was a knock on the dungeon door. Looking around at the door he called "Enter," Then looking back at Harry he snarled quietly, "This isn't finished Potter," And he walked to his desk.

The class looked around as the door opened. Professor Karkaroff came in. Everyone watched him as he walked up toward Snape's desk. He was twisting his finger around his goatee and looking agitated.

"We need to talk," said Karkaroff abruptly when he had reached Snape. He seemed so determined that nobody should hear what he was saying that he was barely opening his lips; it was as though he were a rather poor ventriloquist. Harry kept his eyes on his ginger roots he was cutting, but he was curious to what Karkaroff had to say to Snape.

"I'll talk to you after my lesson, Karkaroff," Snape muttered, but Karkaroff interrupted him.

"I want to talk now, while you can't slip off, Severus. You've been avoiding me."

"After the lesson," Snape snapped.

Under the pretext of holding up a measuring cup to see if he'd poured out enough armadillo bile, Harry sneaked a sidelong glance at the pair of them. Karkaroff looked extremely worried and Snape looked angry.

Karkaroff hovered behind Snape's desk for the rest of the period. He seemed intent on preventing Snape from slipping away at the end of class. Keen to hear what Karkaroff wanted to say, Harry deliberately knocked over his bottle of armadillo bile with two minutes to go to the bell, which gave him an excuse to duck down behind his cauldron and mop up while the rest of the class moved noisily toward the door.

"Harry what are you doing?" Hermione asked.

"I want to hear what Karkaroff has to say to Snape."

"Haven't you angered Snape enough for one day?" Hermione replied in exasperation but recognizing the stubbornness of her bond mate she mentally shrugged. "I'll be right out here waiting."

"What's so urgent?" Harry heard Snape hiss at Karkaroff.

"This," said Karkaroff, and Harry, peering around the edge of his cauldron, saw Karkaroff pull up the left-hand sleeve of his robe and show Snape something on his inner forearm.

"Well?" said Karkaroff, still making every effort not to move his lips. "Do you see? It's never been this clear, never since - "

"Put it away!" snarled Snape, his black eyes sweeping the classroom.

"But you must have noticed -" Karkaroff began in an agitated voice.

"We can talk later, Karkaroff!" spat Snape. "Potter! What are you doing?"

"Cleaning up my armadillo bile, Professor," said Harry innocently; straightening up, he showed Snape the sodden rag he was holding.

Karkaroff turned on his heel and strode out of the dungeon. He looked both worried and angry. Not wanting to remain alone with an exceptionally angry Snape, Harry threw his books and ingredients back into his bag and left at top speed.

When he caught up to Hermione he asked "Did you listen?"

"Yes," Hermione sighed. "But mostly to make sure Professor Snape didn't try to kill you. You really didn't have to add that part about Sirius's cell. All I said was to tell him you would let McGonagall know about the threat."

"You heard his threats to me and his insults," Harry replied. "He's been doing it for years."

"I know, just be careful."

"Any ideas on what Karakaroff's thing with Snape meant? He was showing something on his forearm," Harry asked.

"No. Maybe a rash and he needs a potion?" Hermione suggested. "There are some embarrassing diseases in the magical world."

When they asked Sirius later in the evening, he didn't know either. "I just don't know why Dumbledore has him teaching here. Snape's always been fascinated by the Dark Arts, he was famous for it at school. Slimy, oily, greasy-haired kid, he was," Sirius added, "Snape knew more curses when he arrived at school than half the kids in seventh year, and he was part of a gang of Slytherins who nearly all turned out to be Death Eaters."

"Professor Dumbledore keeps telling me that he trusts Snape," Harry said.

"Well he must have his reasons," Sirius replied with a sigh.

When Harry told Sirius about Snape threatening him with Veritaserum, "Fleur was right, Snape wouldn't risk it. The test for it is pretty easy and the blame would fall on him very quickly. Now as funny as mentioning my old cell to Snivellus was, you have to be careful Harry. He can make your life miserable."

"And that would change things how?" Harry asked.

Harry had to leave almost immediately afterward to make it to his detention with Snape who made him spend the entire two hours cleaning his personal store room. Harry suspected him of trying to catch him pilfering. His bond mates kept him company during the entire time, and no matter what Snape did to antagonize him, Harry refused to answer or respond in anyway.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

The rest of the week passed pretty quickly; Hermione continued to get hate mail, and even a few Howlers appeared. Fleur had taught all of them the vanishing spell and the Howlers vanished before they could even start to yell. Hermione was still fuming about Rita Skeeter and after their next Defense against the Dark arts class she stayed behind and asked Professor Moody if Rita might have been under an invisibility cloak at the second task and he confirmed she wasn't.

"I want to know how she's listening into private conversations when she's supposed to be banned from the grounds!" said Hermione. "If it's illegal, I'll have her."

Friday morning Hedwig returned with a letter to Ginny who had by then developed a good friendship with Gabrielle. She took the letter and turned red as she read it. When she finished reading it she looked up to see everyone's eyes on her.

"Well...uh…obviously it's from mum. She still not very happy with your...uh...choice of girlfriend Harry," Ginny looked nervously at Gabrielle, "She even mentions that..she thought...well...she thought that I would make a better match for Harry. She also said to tell you that," Ginny turned further red, "Remember these are my mum's words, not mine. She said that no matter what mistakes you make she'll always think of you as her son, and you're always welcome at the Burrow."

"Let me guess," Harry said, "Gabrielle isn't though."

"She didn't actually say that, but she underlined the 'He' in the 'He is always welcome' when she wrote it," Ginny replied.

"Thanks Ginny. I appreciate you trying," Harry said.

"Harry, if she could see how much happier you are, she'd come around," Ginny said. "Maybe this summer…"

"I doubt I'll be coming to the Burrow this summer Ginny," Harry interrupted her. "I'm not sure what Dumbledore has planned for me yet, but I've been invited to the Delacours."

"Oh," Ginny replied.

%%%%%%%%%%%%

Later while Harry was forcing himself to stay awake again in history of Magic, he felt a wave of sadness from Gabrielle, who he knew was currently in her Arithmancy class.

"What's wrong?" Harry asked her.

"Zere is a Ravenclaw girl who no one ever sits with. She's been in a couple of my classes and it's been ze same in both of them," Gabrielle said. "Ze others go out of zeir way to be mean to 'er. Zey call 'er Loony."

Harry could see the girl in question; she had straggly, waist‐length, dirty blonde hair, very pale eyebrows and protuberant eyes that gave her a permanently surprised look. He felt Gabrielle go over to the girl's table and sit down beside her.

"I'm.." Gabrielle started.

"You're Harry Potter's girlfriend," The blonde girl said dreamily. "I hope he treats you better than he did Parvati Patil at the Yule Ball. Her sister Padma said he and his friend Ron weren't very nice to them. Oh...I'm Luna. Luna Lovegood."

Gabrielle was slightly taken aback by the opening remarks of this girl, but continued, "I'm Gabrielle, Gabrielle Delacour, yes I am 'Arry's girlfriend and 'e treats me very well."

"That's nice," Luna said.

The two of them started what Gabrielle later defined as an extremely odd conversation.

%%%%%%%%%%

Friday afternoons were torture for Harry. It meant being stuck in the dungeons enduring double potions with his least favorite professor. Fortunately, Snape wasn't taking his hatred of Harry out on Gabrielle who made it through the class unscathed earlier in the week. Though she had complained thoroughly to Fleur about the quality of education he provided.

Snape once again had them working on a different antidote. Frustrating to Harry was that even when he did everything Hermione was telling him to do, his potion was still not quite right. It was red in color instead of a vibrant pink it was supposed to be earning him a sneer from Professor Snape and another failing grade.

"Arry love," He heard Fleur say, after he had put away his ingredients and cleaned his cauldron. "Will you do me a favor? Run your finger over ze interior of your cauldron below ze curve at ze top."

Harry, though confused at the request, did as his bond mate had asked, and when he looked at his finger it was covered in an oily residue.

"Love," Fleur sighed, "You're not cleaning your cauldron well. Ze condensation from ze boiling liquids will leave residue zere, and ze next potion might get it mixed in. When you do a cleaning spell you must remember to think about ze whole interior of ze cauldron, not just what you can see. Also before you start any new potion, run a rag over ze interior just to make sure."

"How did you know?" Harry asked.

"One of ze ways for zat antidote to turn red is if eets contaminated with ginger root. You were working wiz zat ingredient last time," Fleur explained. "It's a common mistake in potions. Any competent instructor should 'ave pointed it out to you a long time ago."

"Thanks my Flower," Harry said, and could feel her happiness and relief. He realized she had been concerned that he wouldn't take the criticism well. "Never think that. I appreciate everything you do for me."

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

After dinner they went down to the Chamber for a short time to check on Sirius and Remus before going back up to the Gryffindor Common room for the Party the Twins had promised that night. They found Sirius and Remus spitting out French sounding words to each other. When the two Marauders saw the four of them, they had some exciting news.

"Harry," Sirius said. "We found another one of those Runes symbols like the one in the bathroom on the wall over there. He pointed to the wall between the legs of the Statue of Salazar.

"Found it?" Remus asked, "Your unique statue cleaning method cleaned the dirt out of it you mean."

"Well it worked didn't it?" Padfoot replied grinning.

All of them walked over and looked, a certain area of the wall looked like it had been wetted down was cleaner than the surrounding area, and they could clearly see the outline of another Eternity Rune.

Harry was about to utter the word to open, when Hermione stopped him. "Wait Harry. Remember the traps Professor Dumbledore had to disable on the steps? What if this is trapped in some way? Or another dangerous creature is behind that door? I think Professor Dumbledore needs to be down here before we try to open it."

"Yeah you're right, but we need to get back to the Common room for the party," Harry replied.

"Let's tell him about it tonight and maybe after our little visit to Surrey tomorrow we can see what that is."

"That works. If there is a door there, it's been closed for at least fifty years and maybe a thousand, another day won't be a problem."

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

Three hours later, a highly embarrassed Harry was sitting on a 'Throne' made by the twins with a slightly smaller throne for Gabrielle. The story of what happened under the waters of the black lake had been told much to Harry's further embarrassment, and Fleur had unofficially been adopted into the house. As Fred told the common room when he proposed the adoption, "We have to claim them if Harry doesn't throw them back." Harry also told everyone that this time there had been no clues to the next task.

"You're going to win it Harry," Neville called out.

"I doubt it. I've just been lucky so far. Something tells me the third one is going to be a lot harder," Harry replied.

"And you don't give yourself enough credit my love," Fleur said.

The party finally ended, Fleur and Gabrielle headed off to the Beauxbatons Carriage after a whistling crowd got to see Harry's good night kiss to his girlfriend, and finally Harry and Hermione went off to their separate dorms.

 
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