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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32. Chapter 32

Lord Voldemort wandered the empty house that had become his refuge of escape. It was the long-forgotten home of Evan Rosier. He had been the last of his line when he fell fighting Aurors. With the home being located in a remote location no one had been interested in it and it slowly slipped from people's minds. It was by no means luxurious as Malfoy Manor, but it was still better than the forest of Albania or the decrepit Riddle Manor. After the Dark Lord verified there were no hidden traps or detection spells on the property, he conjured a large chair and settled into its soft cushions as he considered what he needed to do.

"Servants," He thought as he glanced around the disrepair of the house. "I need someone to clean and to cook," Though Voldemort could conjure most anything else, including water; food was the major exception. Any possibility of him sullying his own hands in such menial tasks didn't even cross his mind.

"I have enough food for several days," Voldemort had magically removed a large amount of food located from Malfoy Manor when he left. For now he would transfigure and warm that food, but he would need servants very shortly.

His mind wandered to his biggest problem. "Lucius, what became of you? Did you betray me or were you captured?" He hadn't heard anything from Narcissa yet, but he understood that until he knew what had become of Malfoy, he couldn't risk calling his Death Eaters again. "I must be stronger before confronting Aurors."

The seat Voldemort had conjured was more throne than chair. More grandiose than the chair he had used at Malfoy Manor, it was in fact very similar to the chair Albus Dumbledore used in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. As he settled into it, he opened the Daily Prophet he had acquired by summoning and killing a passing delivery owl. Calm fury swept through the Dark Lord as he read the headlines. His plans for his resurrection to occur unknown to the Wizarding world lay in ruins. Voldemort didn't care about the issue of Sirius Black except it would mean the Aurors now searching for him could now be used against the Dark Lord making his rise to power more difficult. The final headline concerning the Boy-Who-Lived with a picture of Harry Potter caused Voldemort to pause. He visualized the previous night, of the boy lying dead from being hit by the killing curse only to be back on his feet and fighting seconds later. As he sat there and stared at the boy's picture, he knew what he had to do before anything else. "I have to know about the Prophecy," He thought. "There must be more, something that is very important," Severus had told him that many years ago that it had been Trelawney who had made the Prophecy to Dumbledore, but she couldn't be touched since she never left Hogwarts. A thought from a conversation a long time ago emerged. One of his followers and most gifted spies had described the various things that happened in the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry.

"..and in another room, there are shelves and shelves of every true Prophecy ever made," Augustus Rookwood had said. "Blue orbs.."

Voldemort had not really been interested at the time. He believed all he had to do was kill the two infants that the prophecy might have referred to to end any threat they might pose but that had not been the case. "Unfortunately Rookwood is still in Azkaban and I'm not strong enough to free him or my other loyal servants yet."

The Dark Lord continued to contemplate his plans and how badly things had gone the previous night after a year of planning and execution. "It is but a minor setback though," He thought. "I am immortal and have all the time in the world. It might take longer than expected, but someday the world will kneel at my feet," Finally Voldemort rose from this throne and pulled out his wand as he started thinking of the wards he would deploy around the house and property.

*** E E ***

When Harry and his bondmates had left Dumbledore's office, the Headmaster had asked the rest of the adults to remain. There was much to discuss.

"I still disagree with you asking 'Arry to return to zat 'ouse," Alain said.

"Alain, surely you can understand my reasons," Dumbledore replied. "Harry will definitely be safer there, besides I'm the one who made the Dursleys a part of this. If I hadn't left Harry on their doorsteps, they would not be in jeopardy."

"So you are using 'Arry to make yourself feel better?" Mr. Delacour replied in disgust. "As I said earlier, I will make my own arrangements with ze Dursleys. But if zey 'urt 'Arry or any of my daughters, zey will regret it..." The words tapered out but the stare between the two men was very much in effect.

"Your eldest is of age and should be able to deal with anything that arises," Dumbledore said. "Two weeks is hardly any time at all."

"To you and me Albus two weeks is nothing, but to a young man like 'Arry it can seem like an eternity."

"You may be right," Albus agreed with a sigh. "I do forget what it is to be young," He nodded at the Alain. "Let me know if there are issues with the Dursleys," He then turned to Remus and Sirius.

"Remus, I'm going to need you to make contact with the werewolves..." He started but Remus was shaking his head.

"I know what you're going to ask me to do Albus, but I am hoping," He glanced over at Alain Delacour, "that I will be employed next week. If I am, then I will still be able to be in contact with the werewolves, but not answering to you," Lupin looked slight abashed. "I'm sorry, but this is an opportunity that I can't let go."

"May I ask who you would be working for?"

"Me," The French Deputy Minister replied. "I am hoping zat Monsieur Lupin will take up a very challenging position for my government."

"I see," The Headmaster replied staring at Lupin. "You would let the werewolves fall in with Voldemort so you could have a job?"

"Eadmaster, zat was entirely uncalled for," Alain said. "As 'e said, 'e would still be able to make contact with zem and I will make sure if 'e does discover information zat might be useful to you, it makes it back to you. But 'is first responsibility will be to ze werewolves zemselves and ze people of France."

"I think overall I will do a lot more good this way Albus," Remus said. "I presume you would want me reintegrate myself back in the pack and try to garner information?"

"That was my overall idea yes."

"It would take months or years to build up the trust you need to get the information that is most useful," Remus explained. "But as someone who is looking out for their interest, helping them legitimately to find a better life, I think I would be much more successful. Understand that as Mr. Delacour said, it is the werewolves who come first, not the information they may have against Voldemort."

Dumbledore looked disappointed but nodded at Lupin.

"Maybe your country can start thinking about better laws in regards to ze werewolves as well."

"With the current makeup in government, it would never happen," Dumbledore replied as he sat back in his chair. "Most of the population consider werewolves dark creatures and automatically align them with Voldemort. Any softening of the laws would trigger a political backlash at this time."

"Most of ze population..." Alain murmured to himself before looking at the Ancient Wizard behind the desk. "Ow long 'ave you been 'eadmaster 'ere Professor Dumbledore?"

"Twenty-five years, but what does that have to do with anything?"

"You've 'ad twenty-five years to change ze opinions of ze students who learn at zis school," Alain stated bluntly. "Tell me, 'ave you put any effort at all in ensuring zat particular subject is taught in a more enlightening manner?"

"It's not that simple Alain," Dumbledore replied. "There is only so much I can do."

"Sir, he did go to a lot of trouble to allow me to come to this school," Remus interjected.

"Non, 'e allowed Remus Lupin to attend zis school oui," Alain said. "And 'e went to great lengths to protect ze student body, but 'e did not allow Remus Lupin ze werewolf to come. 'E 'id your condition from ze school, it's not ze same."

"I did what I could," Dumbledore stated with a shrug of his shoulders. "Would it have been better not to have invited Remus at all?"

"Non, but I'm saying you 'ave done very little but seem to claim a lot of credit for what you 'ave done."

"Okay, that's enough," Remus interjected in the argument between the two men he admired the most. "We are all on the same side, and I think since we are all very concerned for Harry as well committed to the fight against Voldemort."

"I will 'elp ze young man anyway I can," Alain admitted. "E is my family."

"Then let's concentrate on Harry okay?" Remus suggested. He looked at Dumbledore. "From the people I contacted last night, I presume the Order is being reactivated?"

"Yes," Dumbledore replied. "And there are a lot of things that needs to be done."

"Anything I can 'elp with?" Mr. Delacour asked.

"You discussed the matter with your Minister last night? What are his plans?"

Alain shrugged. "My Minister is wary at ze moment. 'E wants to see what ze English Ministry does. 'E 'as no intentions of fighting zis war for your country. If you require something specific, 'e might be able to 'elp. I did 'ave to explain about 'Arry and my daughters so 'e would understand why ze young man is coming to France zis summer."

Dumbledore nodded his understanding. The international community had stayed out of the conflict the last time Voldemort had rose in power. Some countries out of fear, but many of them because they felt the English government and magical society had brought the darkness upon themselves. Unfortunately he had to admit that there has not been much improvement over those years. He just hoped they could keep one step ahead of Riddle while they tried to find his horcruxes.

The meeting lasted for a few more minutes before breaking up. Sirius had made plans to meet Harry during the night and after getting Buckbeak out of the castle, he would take off for parts unknown. Though the capture of Pettigrew gave him hope, there was still a lot of Aurors looking for him, not to mention the Dementors. He would return either when Harry made it to the Delacours or when the Ministry was ready to conduct his trial. Dumbledore and Alain set up a signal that would be an ad in the Daily Prophet if either were to happen. He again thanked Alain for all he had done for Harry and for the emergency portkey he still had in his pocket.

"No need to thank me," Alain replied. "Good luck and we shall see each ozzer in ze summer."

A short time later Remus and Alain left Dumbledore's office and started down the revolving staircase. As they descended Remus turned to Alain and said. "Sir, I think you were a little harsh on Dumbledore, he really has been trying."

Alain sighed. "Maybe so, but trying does no good without results," They got off the stairs and started down the hallway before the French politician spoke again. "Dumbledore is 'Eadmaster of zis magical school. 'E is also Chief Warlock of your Wizengamut, two of ze most influential positions in zis country. Ze people believe 'im to be almost a deity, yet nothing 'as changed. With as much political power as ze man 'as, something should 'ave changed if 'e truly wanted zem to."

Remus was stunned. He really hadn't thought of that before. What had Dumbledore done over the last decade? He could have easily stepped in as Minister five years ago, but quietly refused even being considered, even though everyone knew that Fudge was an inept and weak minded politician fronting some powerful people.

Alain saw the troubled look upon Lupin's face. "I do not think 'e 'asn't tried some," He said. "But I do believe 'e tries to do too much. Even now 'e is planning on leading ze people against Voldemort while still doing everything else," He stopped and looked at the werewolf. "Zere is only so much a single man can do. Only so many 'ours in a day, but 'e insists on doing everything 'imself. It's almost like 'e doesn't trust anyone," He frowned as he remembered something from the previous night. "Yet 'e says 'e trusts a former Death Eater with 'is life. Tell me Remus, do you know why Dumbledore trusts Severus Snape as much as 'e does?"

"Severus spied for our side against Voldemort. It was only his personal vouching that allowed Severus to not be convicted at his trial," Remus replied. "Almost immediately after that day, he was offered the position of Potions Master."

Alain frowned. "Would you ever trust someone who betrayed 'is old master? A man willing to switch sides in ze middle of a conflict is likely to switch back at any time."

"Albus always said that Severus had good reasons for going against Voldemort."

"Did 'e ever say what zose reasons were?"

"No...only that he was satisfied with them."

Alain Delacour shook his head and a few word of French were uttered. "Sorry my friend, but ze man 'olds too many secrets and expects everyone to just trust zat 'e knows best."

"He usually does."

"Unfortunately I 'ave not been zat impressed. Ze whole matter of ze tournament and Moody, of many things over ze years. Especially of ze way 'e 'as treated 'Arry," Alain smiled at Lupin. "I know 'e 'as been good to you. Just be careful. Don't follow 'im blindly. Even ze best of men can make ze worst of mistakes and you know zat when great men make mistakes, people usually die."

Remus nodded thoughtfully at him.

"Good, now Apolline is waiting to 'ave lunch. Would you like to go with us to ze zree broomsticks?"

"If you're sure I wouldn't be taking time away from you and your wife, I'd be happy too."

Back in Dumbledore's office, he had turned his Floo back on and had just sat down at his desk to work on the many issues that needed his attention when the floo flared and the voice of Molly Weasley boomed out.

"DUMBLEDORE... is it true? Arthur is getting conflicting answers at work. Is You-Know-Who really back? Did all the stuff in the Prophet happen? How's Harry? Did he really get hit with a killing curse again? Oh the poor dear," Her questions poured forth without a chance for Albus to get a word in.

Finally the head of Molly Weasley stopped with her questions and Dumbledore replied in a very tired voice. "Yes Molly. I hate to say it, but Voldemort has returned. The accounts in the Prophet were more or less accurate. Harry is fine and yes he did survive getting hit with a killing curse again."

"That poor dear," Mrs. Weasley repeated. "You get him to the Burrow as soon as you can this year Albus. Oh the poor boy," she added once more. "Maybe I should come up there today? He's probably so distraught."

"I'm sorry Molly but I don't think you need to be concerned about the young man."

"Of course I do," Molly exclaimed. 'He's...he's like my own son. He's been so confused this year. Maybe you can let him leave school early and come here for the summer."

"Molly, I know he has other plans for this summer," Dumbledore replied. "Currently he is not planning on coming to the Burrow, but I shall ask to see if he wishes to now."

"He said that same nonsense yesterday as well," Molly admitted. "Obviously it's the influence of that...that Veela. Did you know he even said he was going to spend the summer with her?"

Dumbledore sighed. He knew Molly Weasley wasn't usually this biased. She liked Remus Lupin and of course Blood Purity meant nothing to her, but for some reason she has always believed the witches' tales of Veela. He could only guess that it came from the articles that would appear in the magazines like Witch Weekly and the numerous romance novels that she read, many of which had plots of Veela stealing lovers away. He also remembered that Celestina Warbeck was her favorite singer and one of her all time popular songs had been 'Guard your Wizard's Heart' which has a few lines dealing with Veela as well.

"Molly," Dumbledore said. "Right now Voldemort is a much bigger issue to deal with, but if you really care about Harry, you really need to think about what you are saying. You did read the part about Fleur Delacour being instrumental in saving Harry's life didn't you?"

"Nonsense," Molly sniffed. "It was probably her fault he was there. The poor boy was probably under her influence when he jumped in front of that curse too. You have got to do something about it Albus."

"I can only tell you that you are wrong," Dumbledore replied. "But I will not discuss it any further though. Please let Arthur know what I have said about Voldemort and also that I am organizing the Order again. Good day Molly," And with a flick of his wand he closed the floo connection. He shook his head as he considered Molly Weasley. He knew she was a very loyal motherly person. But he also knew that when she believed something to be true, it was very difficult to get her to change her mind.

He looked at the pile of paperwork again and sighed. He was about to start on one of them when again the Floo lit brilliant green again and the head of Cornelius Fudge could be seen.

"Dumbledore?"

"Yes Cornelius?" The Headmaster answered wearily.

"Why haven't you contacted me?"

"I thought when you left last evening you made it very clear you didn't want me to contact you."

"No, no," Fudge replied. "I mean from this morning. I asked Dolores to contact you three hours ago."

"I'm sorry, but I haven't heard a word from Madam Umbridge," Dumbledore replied.

"Odd. Well never mind her," The Minister of Magic said. "Look, I uh... about last night..." Fudge stammered.

"Yes Minister?"

"Blast it Dumbledore, you were right. There I admitted it," Fudge said.

Dumbledore nodded graciously at the fireplace. "Truthfully Cornelius, I truly wished I hadn't been."

"About uh You-Know-Who. What should we do? I mean what can we, I mean I..." Fudge looked panicked.

"We were very fortunate last night Minister," Dumbledore replied. "It seems his original plan would have been for him to resurrect himself with no one but his supporters knowing about it. We were supposed to have wasted a lot of time looking for Harry Potter while he quietly built up his power. As you know, he failed at many levels."

"Yes. I can see we were fortunate but what do I do?" The Minister almost pleaded.

"Do what you did last night," Dumbledore suggested. "This is a matter for Magical Law Enforcement so turn the entire investigation over to Madam Bones. Ask her what she needs to do it successfully and help her get it. Then tell the public the truth."

"Yes, that might work," Fudge replied but still looking very nervous. "About young Mr. Potter; is there any chance he would be willing to pay a visit to my office?"

"I do not know," Dumbledore admitted as he sat back in his chair. "Though if you wish to start making a path toward young Mr. Potter, it starts with Sirius Black."

"He... was it really Pettigrew?" Fudge asked. "How can that be?"

"Yes it was though I am sure Madam Bones has relayed that to you already."

"But how? I mean he really was a rat? For twelve years?"

"Yes," Dumbledore replied. "I was fooled as well Cornelius. Remember that it was I who originally told the Ministry that it was Sirius who was Potters' secret keeper."

"But it..."

"Cornelius, remember that is was not you who originally did the injustice. The main culprit was Barty Crouch Senior and according to the testimony of his son, he is now dead. If you need to pass the blame for this, then do so, but for now just call off the Dementors."

"I already have, I had Dolores..." Fudge's head in the fireplace looked noticeably more nervous. "Maybe I better check with Amelia to make sure she got that message."

"By all means Cornelius," Dumbledore replied.

*** E E ***

End of year testing was still ongoing for Hermione and Gabrielle. Though reluctant to leave Harry, they finally departed for their classes; Transfiguration for Hermione while Gabrielle left for Charms. Fleur was studying for the French Equivalent of the NEWTs but she grabbed a couple of her textbooks from her room and sat next to Harry in the shade of a large tree near the lake.

Harry didn't want to think about the prophecy and what it meant, so he kept his mind off of it by staring at his oldest bondmate. Her magic had already made the scratches that had adorned her face the previous evening disappear. He watched as her blue eyes moved as she read her text, occasionally marking a passage with her quill. Every so often she'd look up only to find Harry's eyes on her.

"Ow am I supposed to study with you staring at me?" She asked smiling.

"How can I not stare when you're there in front of me?" He returned.

Their eyes stayed locked together. They didn't need to verbalize or even think what they each needed to say; it was clear what the eyes of the other was communicating; love, respect and other many things that had no words, but were clearly felt. As the experience with the Troll in the first year cemented a relationship with Hermione, the previous night meant something to Harry and Fleur.

"Maybe we could go to my room?" Fleur suggested.

Harry wanted nothing more than to kiss her and to hold her but it was not to be for now. "Hermione would kill us. If she were to miss a question because we distracted her..."

Fleur laughed. A sound Harry loved to hear; a sound that washed away the pain and fears of the past day. It was a contagious laugh as well, and soon the two of them couldn't help but start the other giggling by just looking at them. Soon a shadow fell over them and the laughter stopped immediately with both of them having their hands on their wands before even turning around. Cedric stood there, a copy of the Daily Prophet in his hands.

"Sorry," He said. "I didn't mean to interrupt you. I can come back if you want me too."

"Zat's fine Cedric. 'Ave a seat," Fleur replied as she waved her hand at a spot of grass.

Cedric settled down on the ground across from them and the three of them sat in silence for a short time until Cedric nodded at the paper and asked. "Did it all happen? I mean, I know what Professor Dumbledore tried to tell the Minister but..."

Harry looked at the older Hogwart's Champion and shrugged. "Yeah, mostly like that."

Cedric looked at Fleur, "I'm glad you made it to him," He turned his gaze to Harry. "She was ready to fight her way back out of the maze to get to you. If Dumbledore's phoenix hadn't shown up..."

Cedric watched the two look at each other as if they were talking. Finally he remembered what Fleur had said the night before. "So... you two can really...eh I mean talk in your heads?"

Harry's eyebrow went up in question as he queried Fleur. She spoke out loud when she replied. "I was nervous and rambling about you love. I 'ad to explain 'ow I knew what was 'appening to you."

"When she first started I thought she was losing it," Cedric admitted. "Had me believing we were the ones in danger."

Harry looked over at Cedric. "Yeah we can. Good thing too or who knows what might have happened last night."

Cedric took a few seconds to digest the information before asking the obvious question. "So if you two are... what did you call it last night?"

"Bondmates," Fleur replied.

"So if you are bondmates or married or whatever it is with Fleur, then why are you pretending to date her sister Harry?"

Harry looked at Fleur. "Maybe we should just announce it now. It's becoming pretty widely known anyway."

"Non, no one knows we don't trust," Fleur replied. "Think about ze next week if ze people you don't like find out."

"True," Harry agreed and then turned to Cedric. "Okay, it's a secret until later in the summer. If you can agree to that, we can tell you."

"Sure Harry," Cedric replied. "I hope you know I'd never go behind you."

"Not even Cho can know Cedric," Fleur stated.

"Why?"

"I like Cho, but she likes to...to gossip. Especially wiz 'er friend," Fleur explained.

Cedric nodded to show he understood. He had heard Cho and Marietta Edgecombe chatting a few times about various people, some of it not so flattering.

Harry looked at Fleur and smiled before bringing his eyes back to Cedric. "Do you remember after the second task when none of us were around?"

"Yeah I heard later you were magically exhausted from everything."

"I was but while I was recovering, we, I mean Fleur, Gabrielle and I, spent a lot of time together," Harry explained. "I fell in love with both of them," Harry looked at Fleur as he said the little lie. "And they did the same with me. Veela have something called bondmates. It's...It's a bond that connects the people in love by their love. To a Veela it seems it's very much like a marriage or at least a permanent connection. Well they both bonded their love to me."

Cedric was just looking at Harry and Fleur. Finally he asked. "So you're married to both of them?"

"It's not a real marriage," Fleur replied. "But to Gabrielle and I, it's ze same. Someday maybe zey'll be a real wedding."

"Wow, I don't know what to say besides I wish you two or I guess I should say three, the best then," Cedric said. "So you've been hiding it because..."

"Skeeter, Slytherins, bunches of reasons," Harry replied. "We originally had planned to announce it over the summer to let people get it out of their system before the next school year but now..." Harry shrugged. "Hopefully they have a lot more things to be worried about besides my love life."

Cedric nodded at the paper lying in front of him. "Can you tell me anything about that? I will understand if you don't want to talk about it."

Harry again shrugged. "Nothing else really to tell actually. The cup was a trap," He looked at Cedric with an extremely serious look. "Can't help but think what might have happened if you had taken the cup while we were arguing."

"Guess it pays to be a Hufflepuff," Cedric replied with a grin. "Though I wouldn't have minded helping you."

"Thanks. I wished I'd had help," Harry replied. He looked at Fleur. "But Fleur saved me. She risked her life to help me get free."

"You actually fought You-Know-Who?"

"I tried," Harry replied. "I got lucky when he... well he wasn't expecting me to be alive."

"So you really did survive..." Cedric nodded at the paper again to finish the sentence for him.

Harry looked again at Fleur. He could feel her emotions. He knew she was thinking about him dying again. He turned back to Cedric and again shrugged his shoulders. "I'm alive, but I'd prefer not to talk about that. It's..." He looked again at Fleur, "still not something we want to share."

Cedric smiled at the two of them as he got to his feet. "I understand. Look, if you ever need anything..." He held out his hand to Harry.

"Thanks Cedric," Harry replied and shook the older boy's hand.

Cedric turned to walk away and then stopped and turned back. "Hey, you'll invite me to the wedding when it does happen won't you?"

Fleur smiled. "Of course."

Harry thought about what he didn't tell Cedric, specifically about Hermione. "Cedric, when the story does come out, there'll be one other detail we didn't tell you. I hope you'll understand."

"Of course Harry. It's your life."

Unfortunately people seeing Cedric talking to them opened the floodgate and other students started coming by and trying to make small talk with Harry. Some wanted to wish him well while others wanted to ask about the battle the previous night. A lot of them brought up his surviving the killing curse again. This forced Harry and Fleur to abandon the tree and retreat to Fleur's room.

A short time later Hermione's voice made its way into Harry's head. "Love, Ron wants to talk to you. He said he wants to apologize."

"What do you think?"

"I don't know, he sounds sincere but..."

Harry shook his head as he thought about the person he considered his best friend. "Just like the first task isn't it?"

"I really don't know Harry. It's all different now, back then I was trying to see both sides but now I know he's been wrong."

"Okay. Tell him that you'll tell me when you see me."

"Already have."

"Love you."

The twins organized the party for that night. Harry and his bondmates really thought Gryffindor tower and the school in general could use it after the news from the previous night so this time they did not object. Shortly after they arrived Harry noticed Ron over in the corner occasionally looking at him. Finally Harry knew it was time to talk to his old friend. He went over and tapped him on the shoulder and nodded toward the steps. Shortly the two of them were in the fifth year boys room.

Harry sat on his bed and stared at his red-headed friend waiting for the apology. Ron had a nervous look about him and paced until finally.

"Harry I...look maybe I was wrong."

"Maybe?" Harry asked sarcastically.

"I was just trying to look out for you. I thought, you know, the Veela were..."

"And I told you that you were wrong," Harry replied testily. "You made a choice but more than that Ron you didn't believe me. That's twice this year that you refused to believe me when I told you the truth, this time you even made it worse by writing your mother."

"I'm trying to apologize for that," Ron exclaimed. "I was wrong and I'm sorry."

"You don't get it do you?" Harry asked. "A simple I'm sorry doesn't do it. What would make me think you wouldn't do it again? Look I really need to know that my friends are really my friends Ron," Harry lowered his voice since it had been constantly rising. "Let it be for now, there's going to be a few more things that might cause problems over the summer. So we'll talk then or when school starts back in September."

Ron ears were red and he was looking at the floor as he mumbled something.

"What?"

"Nothing," Ron replied as he got up and left the room.

Harry just shook his head as he watched Ron leave. As he thought back over the last few months, Harry had to admit, that he really hadn't missed his friend that much. At first he had, since Ron had been a mostly constant companion for over three years, a connection to the Weasley family. Now Harry had his own family and he wasn't sure exactly where Ron would fit. The thought of friendship made Harry remembered the favor his mother had asked of him.

A couple of minutes later he was back in the party and he found a dark haired young man sitting by himself watching everyone else. Harry sat down beside him and said. "How is everything Neville..."

*** E E ***

Later that night, Harry and Hermione sneaked out of the Gryffindor Tower under the invisibility cloak. Though they had cleared their plans with McGonagall and Flitwick, there were other people they wished to avoid. Snape and Filch were at the top of that list. They made their way outside and by use of the Marauder's map and quickly found who they were looking for, a large beetle that sat upon a tree branch.

They were concerned that Rita might be followed so they waited for several minutes. Finally Hermione ducked out from under the cloak and made her way over.

"Hello Rita," she said. "No...stay in your beetle form. I'll take you."

The beetle took flight and landed on Hermione's shoulder and the two of them set off toward the Forbidden Forest. Harry remained under his cloak as he followed. Occasionally he'd stop and review the map under the light of his wand.

"Still no one following," He told Hermione several minutes later.

"Then we'll presume she's alone," Hermione replied and altered her course toward the Whomping Willow. When they got there, she again verified with Harry that no one else was around. When he confirmed they were alone, she levitated a small branch and made it touch the knot on the tree. As soon as the branches had stopped moving, she quickly climbed into the small opening at the base of the tree. Harry followed quietly behind them. When they made it into the Shrieking Shack, Hermione made her way into the small bedroom that brought back memories of the previous year. Sitting in the middle of the room were two chairs.

"Here's where it will happen," Hermione said when the Prophet reporter had transformed back into her normal middle-aged self, Hermione cast a few spells. Finally satisfied, she said. "No locating spells on her. You can come in," The last was said more loudly. She turned back to Skeeter. "Here's your interview Rita."

"Sirius Black?" Rita said as a man entered the doorway.

"You know it's me Skeeter," The man said grumpily. "Now let's get this going so I can get out of here."

"By all means," The reporter said as she reached into her bag and pulled out parchment and a quill. "Before we begin, did you know the order for you to be kissed on sight has been lifted?"

"No," Sirius replied as a bit of tension could be seen leaving his face. "Are you sure?"

"The paper will be publishing it on the front page tomorrow. That's why I wanted the interview tonight. It will go well with that news."

Sirius only nodded before saying. "Well let's get this over with. I have places to go."

"Very well," Rita replied. "For the first question tell me why everyone thought you were the Potters' secret keeper."

"To answer that you have to understand..." Sirius and Rita started what would end up being an hour long interview.

While the interview itself was going on, Harry slipped back out and met up with Fleur and Gabrielle. Soon they were headed for Myrtle's bathroom to help in the release of Buckbeak.

"I wonder," Harry murmured out loud.

"What?" Gabrielle asked.

"Oh, I was just thinking that if the piece of Voldemort soul gave me the parseltongue ability, if I've lost it now?"

"Zat..zat is unlikely," Fleur said.

"Why?" Harry asked. "Dumbledore said it was that which gave me the power in the first place."

"Yes, but..." She stopped to explain further. "Ze bond. Ze Veela magic. It has been protecting you from ze piece of 'is soul zat was in you."

Harry nodded as he realized what she was saying, "But I've still been able to use parseltongue."

"Exactly," Fleur responded as she started walking again. "Zere is a quick test though," She said. She turned away from him so he could not see her lips and said "Open" then turning back to Harry she asked. "Did you 'ear zat?"

"Of course but why did... you said that in parseltongue didn't you?" Harry asked.

Fleur smiled at him before she replied. "I think zat proves you still are a parselmouth, non?"

Gabrielle remained in the bathroom as a lookout while Fleur and Harry descended into the chamber. They banished the table and chairs and packed up the tent. They secured the room that had all the Basilisk ingredients that they had Moony store for them and with a final look around they led Buckbeak out and up the stairs which was much easier said than done, but after a struggle they finally managed to coax the noble animal up them.

Once again the window had been banished and no Filch or other unwelcome people were around as Harry and Gabrielle climbed aboard the Hippogriff and took off for the outskirts of the forbidden forest.

"We're on Buckbeak," Harry said to Hermione.

"I'll let Sirius know. He's tired of Skeeter."

"We'll meet you where we agreed."

Gabrielle was happy. As she held tight to Harry she could feel her charm bracelet on her wrist. She remembered the last time they had ridden Buckbeak in getting him in the castle. Her thoughts went to Harry and her life as it had changed in the last few months.

"Arry, can we just fly for a few minutes. It's very beautiful."

"Of course my Angel."

It was twenty minutes later before they landed the Hippogriff in the clearing. They had spent the time overflying Hogwarts and the lake. Hermione was already there with Sirius and Fleur had joined them as well. Once they had clambered off the Hippogriff, Sirius bowed and then climbed on Buckbeak's back. He looked down at his godson.

"Take care you four. I'll see you in a few weeks at the Delacours if not earlier."

"You too Sirius," Harry replied. "And...thanks for everything."

"No. I actually owe you an apology," Sirius said. "Twice I've gone after Peter instead of watching over you."

"You did what you needed to do Sirius," Harry replied. "If he had escaped last night, I'd have been really pissed at you."

Sirius grinned. "I still plan to make it up to you."

"No need."

"Maybe not, but I can sure as hell want to," Sirius replied. "Now if those relatives of yours do give you any problems..."

"I will deal wiz zem if zey do," Fleur said with an intense glare in her eyes.

Sirius gave the French witch a small bow. "Then I leave him in your more than capable hands," He looked at the other two witches as well. "In all of your hands," With those words Buckbeak leapt into the air. Harry and the women he loved watched the two disappear into the night. To Harry and Hermione it brought back memories from a night a little more than a year ago. This time though, they weren't as concerned about him. With the Dementor's kiss order having been lifted, even if was captured, he could escape if he wanted with the emergency Portkey.

"Rita will be back tomorrow night for your interview Harry," Hermione said finally.

Harry rolled his eyes as he replied. "Great, an ideal way to spend a Friday night."

"She's told me she's writing my apology tonight as well. She thought it would give more incentive for you tomorrow night."

Harry just shook his head. "You know, at least she's honest about it," They all knew that Rita would do what's best for Rita. Harry gave Hermione a smile. "It should also be incentive for her to write a pretty good apology as well," He grabbed her hand and brought it up to his lips before looking at her again. "You deserve it."

"It's just going to get lost in all the things about Sirius and Voldemort," She said.

"Non," Fleur said. "More people will be reading ze paper tomorrow zan ever before. Anything connected with 'Arry will be read thoroughly," Fleur put her arm around Hermione. "Though no matter what, ze people who matter are right 'ere."

"That is true," Harry said as he smiled at his bondmates. "Shall we go to bed? It's been a very very long day."

"Can we go back to that room again?" Gabrielle asked.

Harry glanced at Hermione and Fleur before taking Gabrielle by the waist. "I think I'd like that." He said as he started back toward the castle.

It took a while to get there as they needed to avoid teachers and Peeves, while only being able to get two people under the invisibility cloak at a time. Finally late in the night they found themselves climbing into the same large bed as they had the previous night. This time it was Gabrielle who found herself in Harry's arms. Though the young ladies quickly slipped into slumber, Harry found himself lying awake deep into the night. He kept thinking of the prophecy and what Fleur had said about bondmates suffering after the death of the other.

As he laid there holding Gabrielle, he realized if he were back in his dorm he would have gone to the common room and spent time in front of the fireplace. The thought had barely left his mind before a cracking sound emerged and a faint glow appeared in the room. He wiggled free of the women surrounding him and look around. He found that a fireplace and a loveseat now existed in the room.

He crept slowly out of the bed trying to not disturb the women that shared it with him. Finally winning free he crossed the room and settled onto the seat. As he stared into the yellowed flames and listened to the crackling of the fire he couldn't help but feel a sense of despair wash over him. He looked over toward the bed and in the flickering light he could make out the blonde hair of Gabrielle. "I finally thought I could be happy but now I'm going to cause the death of them," He thought. "How can I fight Voldemort and win?"

Again he turned toward the fire and buried himself further in his thoughts and sadness. He was so lost in those thought he didn't feel one of his bondmates wake up and walk over to him. He almost jumped out of his seat when Gabrielle wrapped her arms around him from behind and kissed him softly on the cheek.

"Mon amour," She said quietly. "Why do zis?"

"Do what?"

Gabrielle moved around the loveseat and sat down beside Harry and leaned her head on his shoulder. "You know what. You 'ave been sitting over 'ere believing zat you are...are going to die and cause all of us to die."

"It's true."

"You are just giving up zen?"

"Of course not!" Harry exclaimed in a loud whisper. "But...but how, I mean what can I do?"

Gabrielle pulled back a little so her eyes could look into his. "Zere will be a way. Zere must!" She said determinedly. "Zis is our trapdoor to our future," she held up her wrist that had the bracelet on it. "We 'ave a long way to go on our journey and we...will...find...a...way," Each of the last words were punctuated by her poking his chest with her finger.

Harry couldn't help but smile at her. He first took her finger that had been poking him and lifted it to his lips. Then he wrapped his arms around his youngest bondmate and pulled her into his arms. "Okay Angel, we'll find a way."

After a while the two of them rejoined Hermione and Fleur in the bed and this time Harry managed to drift off to sleep.

*** E E ***

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with SIRIUS BLACK!

by Rita Skeeter

Last evening my dear readers, in pursuing the information you need, I met with none other than Sirius Black; the man the Ministry of Magic has been pursuing for two years. As I mentioned in my article yesterday this man who had been accused of betraying the Potters, who had been put in Azkaban for the murder of Peter Pettigrew and twelve muggles on a street in London, was part of the rescue of our own Boy-Who-Lived-Twice. Yesterday I raised the question of why Albus Dumbledore would call upon this man to aid in the rescue of the son of the very people he betrayed. Last night I found the answer to that question and more. In fact it appears this man has been the victim of the greatest miscarriage of justice imaginable. What would constitute such a declaration? Well in preparation for this interview I made a visit to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement for the records of Mr. Black's trial. No one in the Magical Records Division could find any trace of any file concerning the trial of Sirius Black. In fact the only record they had on Sirius Black was a citation for public urination. Presuming that sometime in the past two years someone had removed the file to aid in Black's capture, I asked for the date of the trial so I could pull the story from the Archives at the Daily Prophet. Again after an hour of searching their records, no one could find the entry for the trial. Infuriating but I just presumed the Ministry being the Ministry had just done a shoddy job of record-keeping again. One of Mr. Black's first answers of the evening put to rest that presumption. "I was never given a trial," Mr. Black said when asked if he could provide the date of that event. "I was sent to Azkaban by Barty Crouch Sr. based purely on the erroneous information provided by Albus Dumbledore that I was the Potter's Secret Keeper." Yes my readers, as I alluded to yesterday, Sirius Black is innocent. He's a man who was left at the mercy of the Dementors of Azkaban for over twelve years without a trial.

As the story unfolded over the next hour, I learned that to further confuse the forces of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Mr. Black had convinced the Potters to use Peter Pettigrew as their secret-keeper when they went into hiding. That very admission brought the man I was interviewing near tears. Though he never betrayed his brother in all but name, he feels the guilt of the Potters' deaths as if he did.

So was it that guilt that brought Sirius Black to fight alongside the forces of light in the graveyard? No my readers, it wasn't the guilt; he was there to fight for the life of his godson. Yes my readers, I said his godson. Sirius Black is Harry Potter's godfather. Everything he has done since breaking out of Azkaban has been to protect the child of his long-lost friend. While the country, myself included, thought he had broken out of Azkaban to kill Harry Potter, I discovered he did it to save the young man. Though he wouldn't tell me how he escaped, he did let me know that he discovered that Pettigrew, in a rat animagus form, was in a position to cause the Boy-Who-Lived-Twice harm. Once he performed his miraculous escape, he proceeded to Hogwarts where he tried to apprehend the traitorous Pettigrew himself. A feat he managed but unfortunate circumstances and the untimely interference of Severus Snape (Potion's Master at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) allowed Pettigrew to escape once again.

I now call upon the Ministry to right the wrong they have done upon this man. Either hold a trial in an open court to rightfully determine his innocence, or admit outright that the man who you currently hold in custody and who has confessed to the crimes that were attributed to Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew is the guilty one. Proclaim the innocence of this man as you proclaimed his guilt. The Daily Prophet stands ready to assist in that announcement.

Expert opinions on how Black escaped from Azkaban. Pg 2

What the Ministry knew. Was there a cover-up? Page 4

Order of Merlin to be rescinded for Pettigrew? Page 5

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HARRY POTTER SOON SO SUBSCRIBE TODAY TO INSURE YOUR COPY OF THE PROPHET.

That story took up the entire front page of the newspaper. The story was published around a picture of a much younger Sirius Black surrounded by the Potters on their wedding day. Lily Potter was in her wedding dress smiling and waving; James Potter wore dark dress robes and had a grin the size of Hogwarts plastered on his face. The younger Sirius had an arm around both of them with a large smile of his own.

"Wow." Harry murmured as he put down the paper. "Sirius might not even need a trial."

"E was never convicted," Fleur said. "Zere is enough evidence to allow your ministry to just proclaim 'is innocence."

"I wonder where we would have lived," Harry asked. His eyes hadn't left the picture in the middle of the story. The sadness that used to settle into his heart every time he saw his parents was surprisingly absent though.

"Where who would have lived?" Hermione asked.

"Oh, I was thinking if all of this had happened last year, and I had gotten to go live with Sirius, where it would have been," Harry said. "He's never mentioned if he has a home or even if any of his family is still alive."

"You know this will be the last time you ever go to that place again?" Hermione asked. "The Dursleys can rot for all I care Harry. So next summer or maybe even some of this summer you can live with him if the Ministry does the right thing."

"Only if there's room for three ladies I happen to be very much in love with," Harry said. Then another thought occurred to him. "Your apology," He said looking at Hermione. "Did she write it?"

Hermione's smiled and turned Harry's paper to page 2. In fairly large letters the headline at the top of the page announced.

A Reporter's apology to Hermione Granger

by Rita Skeeter

As I mentioned in an earlier article, I felt I needed to re-examine earlier stories where I relied heavily on the accounts of young Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy. Due to that examination, I felt I needed to correct a serious inaccuracy and offer a heartfelt apology. There is a young Muggleborn student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by the name of Hermione Granger. My readers will remember the name from an article I wrote in Witch Weekly accusing the young witch of possibly using love potions to ensnare the love of Victor Krum and Harry Potter. In that story I used very unflattering quotes from young Malfoy and his friends about Miss Granger.

At this time, I, Rita Skeeter offer my deepest, most heartfelt apology to her for that article and for the emotional pain the story caused her. I recently had a chance to speak to the young witch and found her to be intelligent, charming and very determined. Her support and friendship of Harry Potter, our valiant hero of the graveyard, has enabled him to overcome many challenges in his life. It is a friendship that has existed since their very first year at Hogwarts. In the coming times when our young Hero needs his friends above all else, I can guarantee that this young witch will be the first to stand by his side.

I call upon my readers to help me in correcting the wrong I imposed on the young lady. I ask that you thank her for her friendship and unwavering support of our Hero.

"Heartfelt?" Harry questioned. "She has a heart?"

"One directly attached to her ego," Hermione replied as she spread honey on a biscuit before taking a bite.

"And 'er moneybag?"

'Exactly. She's expecting a hefty bonus for your interview tonight. Harry."

"Do I really have to talk to her?" Harry asked.

"Oui," Fleur replied. "Eet won't be zat bad, and we'll be zere with you. Besides she will eventually be writing about us and we want 'er to keep writing stories like zat," she nodded at the front page of the paper.

"Yeah fine," Harry muttered as he stabbed at his food. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to Rita about the questions she was going to ask.

"At least it will be better than the article she wrote about Professor Dumbledore," Hermione said. She turned the prophet to page three where someone had drawn an animated cartoon of Dumbledore putting his head up his backside while another image kept transforming between Barty Crouch Jr. and Alastor Moody depending on where Dumbledore's head was.

The article went to details of how Barty Crouch Junior had been able to polyjuice himself as the famous auror Alastor Moody for a whole year under the very large nose of Albus Dumbledore. Rita held nothing back as she ridiculed the Headmaster. She made it sound like Dumbledore should have noticed Crouch Junior the very night he showed up at the castle. She pointed out events that in hindsight made it odd that Dumbledore didn't realized what was going on.

"I hope so," Harry replied as he watched the animated Dumbledore once again bend at the waist and twist his body in a fashion that was physically impossible before completing the insertion once again. "I sure hope so."

 
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