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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41. Chapter 41 Marl and Grandmother

"I thought dueling was fighting," Hermione said. "I mean in our second year we were shown how to duel..."

Marl shook his head as he sighed. "Let me guess, you were shown two people bowing and all that crap right?"

"Well yeah..."

"Do you think Death Eaters are going to bow to you? Wait for you to get your wand out? Think one'll offer to make you a cup of tea while you dig your wand out of your book bag?"

Hermione blushed as her eyes glanced at her bag. Her wand had been in there.

Marl's eyes went back to Harry, "As for tricking you...hell isn't that exactly what Voldemort did to get you away from Hogwarts? Didn't he have a polyjuiced person in the school that could have killed you any time he wanted?"

"I...yeah I guess."

"Then don't be angry at me for not fighting fair just now. Your enemy cheats, so you need to be ready for it and learn to do it yourself. Hell if you think you're going to win this war or heck even stay alive by fighting fair then you might as well go jump off that bluff now," He pointed toward the ledge that overlooked the sea below. "It'll save me a lot of trouble."

"But..." Harry started again.

"But what kid?" The American Auror said. "There are two ways people come out of wars; Alive or dead. Which do you prefer to be?"

"Alive of course," Hermione replied.

"Then if you do have to fight against Death Eaters or worst, Voldemort, the whole key is to make sure they are the one who don't finish the war," Marl glared at the four teens before he started speaking again. "And that means you do whatever it takes to make it happen. In fact I'll go so far as to say if you're fighting fair, you're doing it wrong."

Silence fell over the group as the teens looked at each other.

"There was an American military general, a muggle of course," Marl started again in a less gruff voice." His name was Patton and he fought in this very country fifty years ago. He once said something that I've taken to heart. It goes something like 'the object of war isn't to die for your country, but to make your enemies die for his'. That's the attitude you must have. This isn't about honor or anything like that, this is about life. If you have to fight Voldemort's group you'll be fighting to stay alive for they won't care about killing you or..." He glanced at the woman around the table, "worse." A look of sadness crossed his eyes as he seemed to remember something, then they refocused and his glare returned.

All the teens remembered the story Fleur had told them about Marl and the young lady. No words were spoken but they all got the idea of what he meant.

"Now let's see if you can think," Marl said breaking the silence that had sprung up. "Tomorrow I do believe you're going shopping right?"

"Oui, Maman is taking us to Marseilles tomorrow," Gabrielle said.

Marl nodded. "Tell me, what is the first thing that should go through your mind if two Death Eaters suddenly confront you?"

"Uh..." Harry stammered and then thought about Marl specifically saying there were two of them. He instantly decided on an answer. "Try to stun one of them so it's easier to fight the other one?"

"WRONG!" Marl exclaimed as his slammed down on the table making the teens jump. "Your first thoughts should be 'how do I GET MY ASS OUT OF HERE!"

"But...but you mean run away?" Harry exclaimed. "What if they were innocent people around?"

"Kid, when it comes to battling Death Eaters or any other criminal, the winner and loser is decided by whoever is alive and who isn't," Marl snarled. "You're only what...fifteen? Do you really think you can take on Death Eaters and win?"

"That's what we thought you were here to do, teach us how to defeat them," Harry said as his voice clearly showed his frustration. "Besides I...I've fought a few things before."

"Hero type aren't you?" Marl asked as he eyed the young man in front of him. "You rush into things without regards to your own safety, don't you?"

Harry blushed but he looked defiantly at his instructor.

Marl unexpectedly started laughing as he looked at Harry. "Don't get me wrong kid, there will be a time to fight, but unless it's otherwise unavoidable, it should ALWAYS be at the time and the place of your choosing. Then you kick the bastards down and stomp on them. Now as for any innocents being around, they'll be in a lot more danger if you stop and fight. Especially if you show you'll try to protect them."

"What?" Harry exclaimed in obvious confusion. "How does that make sense?"

"About the innocent people? Come on kid, use your brain," Marl growled. "THINK! If Death Eaters know you'll stop and help anyone they threaten, guess what they'll start doing? Threatening people on purpose JUST to get your attention, force you to fight when they want you to fight and where they want you to fight."

Harry's scowl slowly left his face as he thought about what Marl had said.

"Let's get one thing straight. You four are not Aurors; you are students who seem to draw attention from the wrong people. So yes, running away is EXACTLY what you should do until you are sure you can win the fight," Marl's voice dipped a little as he continued. "Let's say you did turn and fight those Death Eaters. During the fight you take out both of them but in doing so, one of you ends up dead, would you say you won the fight?" He pointed a finger at Fleur. "Let's say it's you who died," He then looked back at Harry and the rest of the group. "Fleur's dead but the two Death Eaters are either dead or captured, did you win?"

Harry swallowed as he looked at his oldest bondmate. He remembered the Acromantula almost killing her, he remembered the graveyard. Her eyes met his for a second but his gaze immediately dropped to the table; it was several seconds of silence before Harry's eyes finally rose to look at Marl. "No..." He whispered.

"Exactly," Marl said. "There are no guarantees in this war but I'll tell you from experience, it's a lot better to get the hell out of Dodge when you aren't sure you can win than to lose someone because you had too much pride to leave. Don't be stupid and think you can take on the world. Remember that stupid people usually die first when the fighting starts. As I said before, you aren't Aurors, you aren't soldiers; you're kids who are drawing the wrong people's attention. You have no reason to stay and fight if threatened. So I repeat, until you are sure you can win, don't take chances. Run away, retreat...call it what you want. Just avoid fighting until you are sure you can win."

Harry looked at each of his bondmates. He didn't like the idea of running away from Death Eaters but he knew the American Auror was right. He could not afford to lose any of the women he loved. Again his eyes found Marl's and he nodded.

"Good, so that means the first thing to teach you will be how to avoid fights."

Hermione raised her hand again. "Sir what...what kind of things will you teach us."

"I'm not your professor girl so don't keep raising your hand. Ask me what you want; you'll know if you annoy me."

"She's not a 'girl'," Harry said irritatedly as he rose from his chair. "Her name is Hermione."

Marl shook his head as he sighed. "You need to learn to control that temper," He pointed at Hermione. "I know her name. Hermione Granger, British as you are, muggleborn, daughter of Richard and Jean Granger. She owns a half-kneazle. She's extremely smart, top of her class at Hogwarts. Gryffindor and according to Alain one of your bondmates."

Harry looked at the man in surprise.

"Yes Alain told me. He knew it was necessary. Now I'm not sure how a witch who is not Veela became part of it, and it's not that important to me," He paused for a second before continuing. "Shall I tell you all that I know about the Delacours as well? I could tell you much more about them because I've known them their whole lives," Marl eyes leveled on Harry. "Surprised you didn't I? Did you really think I came unprepared to whom I'm teaching?"

"I...I guess not."

"And if you can you should do the same when it comes to fights. It's best to know your opponents. You might be surprised that the smallest thing about them can be their biggest weakness. Like I know you have a temper and I can use it against you. Call you a few names and you'll lose your focus."

Harry gritted his teeth but said nothing.

"I actually called her that on purpose. I wanted to see if I could rile you, push your buttons enough for you to flare," Marl said. "Which obviously I did. Now first rule of avoiding fights is easy; don't let the small stuff bother you. Look at Hermione," Marl instructed him as he pointed at the witch in question. "Did she get hurt by me calling her a girl? You know the old kids saying about sticks and stones? Live by it."

"He's right Harry," Hermione said trying to placate her bondmate.

"Now back to Miss Granger's question of what am I going to teach you? We are going to have practical lessons where you learn magic and then there will be lessons that require you to think."

"What do you mean, think?" Harry asked.

"I mean I'm going to make you do exactly that. I'm going to give you scenarios and you'll have to figure out what to do. Some of those will be tactical in nature which means given a certain situation what would you do now or in short term. You need to learn to think quickly and correctly. Then there will be more strategic scenarios. Those will get you thinking longer term. We'll examine what you decide in both situations and look at the possible consequences."

"Oh...Ron would have loved those," Hermione whispered to Harry.

"Should I know who this Ron person is?" Marl questioned.

"Ron Weasley," Hermione replied. "He's a...well he's a friend. He's very good at chess. He can beat anyone and would probably be very good at these kinds..."

"Chess?" Marl said with a chuckle. "You think being good at chess would make you better at battles?"

"Well...yes," Hermione replied as her voice wavered. "I mean that's what chess is, battles and strategy and...and everything."

"No. Chess is a game where there are rules. In the game every piece HAS to move in a certain way. You can know EVERY possible thing your opponent can do," Marl said. "That is not the case in fighting real battles. In fighting there are no rules and no boundaries; more so in magical fighting. Your opponent might know spells you've never experienced. With polyjuice potions and Imperius your own people might be used against you, with apparition and wards, movements can be instantaneous or limited," Marl paused as he gazed at Hermione. "Since you're muggleborn I presume you've played the game Monopoly right?"

"Yes..."

"Are you good at the game?"

"Somewhat. I mean I can beat my parents."

"So you're ready to go take on the business world? Start a hotel empire?"

"No, of course not."

"Same difference. Just because you're good at a game that simulates something, doesn't mean you are good at that in real life," Marl explained. When he was sure he had everyone's attention again he continued. "Now, back to my original thoughts. As I said we'll also do practical magic as well. My first priority there, is helping you avoid fights," He looked at Harry. "Alain described your encounter with Voldemort in the graveyard; can you tell me the one big thing you did wrong?"

"Wrong?" Harry exclaimed. "I was tricked into going there, had to fight a Death Eater, then had a giant snake sneak up behind me and of course had my arm sliced open and Voldemort returned. If it hadn't been for Fleur and..."

"So you don't think you did anything wrong?" Marl asked cutting Harry off again. He looked around at the others. "Anyone want to tell me what his primary mistake was?"

"He..he shouldn't have stayed," Hermione spoke up hesitantly.

"Exactly," Marl said and actually smiled at Hermione before he looked back at Harry. "You should have got the hell out of there or at least moved to a defensible location as soon as you could."

"It wasn't like I knew Voldemort or Wormtail were there," Harry argued. "Besides what was I suppose to do? Run away just because I don't know where I am? If that's your idea of right, I don't agree. I'm not a coward."

"No...no you're not," Marl agreed. "I know what you did in that graveyard for Fleur, but you are foolish and stubborn if you think leaving a place you were tricked into is a sign of cowardice," He held up a hand to stop Harry's retort. "That's enough of that for now. We will discuss it another time, but tell me would you have stayed if you had an instant way back to get back to Hogwarts? Would it be cowardice to portkey or apparate away?"

Harry was still simmering but answered. "Sirius offered me his portkey but I wasn't allowed to have any form of magical travel in the contest. Though it seems the cup was still a portkey I had no idea it was one."

"That wasn't my question?"

"It's a useless question because I don't know how to apparate and I didn't have a portkey," Harry said angrily.

"Fair enough," Marl replied. "Has Alain given you your portkeys yet? I didn't see any when I took your wands."

"Non, Papa 'asn't," Fleur answered.

"I'll be discussing that with him this evening when he gets back from Paris. Once he does give them to you, I don't want to see you without them, is that clear?"

Four heads nodded.

"Also starting next week you four will start learning to apparate."

"But...but we're not old enough," Hermione stammered as her hand went half way in the air before it stopped. "Fleur is but...you...you have to be seventeen and..."

"What's the penalty for underage apparition?" Marl asked cutting Hermione off.

"Uh...I don't know," Hermione admitted.

"In Great Britain it's a fine of ten galleons," Marl replied. "Now what's your life worth?"

"..." Hermione had opened her mouth but she didn't have an answer.

"I'm not saying you should apparate around the country, but it is the fastest way to get out of a dangerous situation. With you being underage, it's unlikely they'll have wards up. It's also better to pay ten galleons for apparating than having your family pay that much for a headstone," Marl asserted. "At my insistence Alain hired an apparition tutor. They'll be here an hour each day until you are proficient. By the time you can apparate we should be finished with how to avoid fights and have started on how to kick people's asses. If there is time left in the summer, I'll try to show you how to apparate while fighting. I will warn you now though, don't try it until you are very very comfortable with apparating. If you splinch yourself badly in a fight, you're dead."

The four teens glanced at each other.

"Now as I said my first priority is to avoid fighting," Marl reminded them. "So outside of apparition we'll begin with things like how to disillusion yourself, the supersensory charm so you can sense people and things around you and several revealing charms to detect people in hiding. Since those damn Dementors will be on Voldemort's side soon we'll also try for the Patronus but that's..."

"Zat's somezing zat Papa didn't tell you," Fleur said interrupting their instructor.

"What do you mean?"

Fleur winked at her bondmate and bond sisters. With a mental coordination they each brought up their wands and said the incantation. An otter soon stood at the feet of a brilliant stag and doe while a silver Osprey circled them.

"Damn..." Muttered Marl as he watched the four patronuses until they disappeared. "Impressive," But that was all the ground the Auror gave as his focus returned. "At least that will save time. That might allow us time to get into silent casting. There are two of those that I really want you to learn. The spell cancelling and summoning charms."

"Why those two?"

"If you get silenced you have to be able to cancel the hex. If you can't do it silently, well you can't do it can you?" Marl explained. "As for summoning...Harry stand up," He motioned for Harry to stand in a spot ten feet away from him. "Know your shield charm?"

Harry nodded.

"Then block these stunners," Marl said as he started verbalizing the stupefy spell. He went slowly, giving Harry plenty of time to react with his shield. After four stunners, Marl's wand moved slightly different, but then continued in the stunning spell pattern.

"Ouch.." Harry exclaimed as a small rock hit in the back of the head. His concentration broke and the next stunner hit him full on.

It was Hermione's face he was looking into when he was revived again.

"Guess I should have expected something like that," Harry said to her as he climbed to his feet. "Maybe the Dursleys would have been better."

"Better than this?" Hermione asked as she kissed him. "Or sleeping with me tonight?"

"Well if two are finished," Marl said when the two finished their kiss, "we can continue."

Harry and Hermione took their seats.

"A silent summoning spell can be extremely effective in a fight like I just proved."

"You could have just told us why," Harry muttered as he rubbed the sore spot on the back of his head.

"You'll find I like demonstrations much better," Marl replied. "It gets the point across more effectively."

"And painfully?"

"That too. Now when you learn the supersensory spell, you won't fall for that so easily," Marl said. "If you'd had that protecting you, you'd have sensed the rock coming at you."

"Can we learn that one first then?" Harry asked. The spot on the back of his head still smarted.

"Yeah, no problem," Marl smirked. "Now that's a start of what we'll be doing, does anyone have any suggestions on things they'd like to work on this summer?"

"Sir..." Harry said as he remembered something from the Graveyard. "What about wandless summoning? Voldemort was able to summon his wand from his robes when he returned. It seems if we are away from our wands or drop them, it would be very useful."

"Damn useful I agree, but it takes a lot of time to develop the mental discipline to do wandless magic and I'm not sure we have that much time," Marl considered for a second. "No, it would take too much time. I'll get you some books and you can work on it on your own when you have time. Will that work for you?"

They all nodded.

"Now, how fast did you do your run today?"

"Uh...we haven't run," Harry admitted and then seeing the look on Marl's face he added. "But we'll go get changed and run now."

"You're correct you'll run now," Marl agreed testily. "But they'll be no changing," He reached into a pocket and brought out a watch. "You can start..." He paused as he waited for the second hand to reach the top, "now."

"But our shoes..." Fleur started. She and Hermione were both wearing thong sandals.

"Think a Death Eater is going to let you change your shoes?" Marl snarled and pulled out his wand. "Stinging Hexes for anyone not running in five seconds."

"But where do we run?" Hermione asked. "We don't...ouch," The last said as a silent stinging hex hit her left arm.

"Leave her alone," Harry said angrily as he stepped in front of his bondmate and raised his own wand.

"Kid put your wand away before you get hurt," Marl said as stared lazily at Harry. "Thirty seconds already gone..."

"Harry, come on," Hermione said pulling his wand down. "We knew we were supposed to run."

"We don't have to..." Harry started as he still glowered at Marl.

"Yes we do," Fleur said silently. "It's another test to force you to control your temper. Do you really want to keep proving 'im right?"

Harry gave one last glare at Marl before he nodded and the four teens started jogging. Fleur led the way and soon they were jogging through the garden paths in front of the house. Fleur and Hermione had kicked off the sandals they had been wearing and ran barefoot. As soon as they were out of sight of Marl, they both quickly cast cushioning charms on their feet.

"Good pace," Marl said fifteen minutes later when the teens collapsed back at the table. It was a very warm day and sweat poured off of them.

"Dobby, Winky?" Harry gasped.

"Bun joy Harry Potter and...and mad-mo-snails," Dobby said when he popped in.

"Dobby, it's mad-wo-zeels," Winky corrected Dobby, incorrectly.

"Eets Mad-mwa...mwa wiz ze wa sound," Gabrielle corrected them. "Mad-mwa-zelle."

"You can work on your french later, but could you two get us something to drink and wet towels as well."

"OUI!" Dobby said and he and Winky disappeared.

"At least they got that right," Hermione said.

"Or it just might have been an exclamation of glee," Harry replied with a smile.

Marl looked at the lack of shoes on Fleur and Hermione's feet. He also noticed they weren't hurt. "Cushioning charms?" he asked as he motioned toward their feet.

"Oui," Fleur replied and waited for him to make some kind of disparaging comment.

"Good thinking," Marl said instead. "The kind of thinking you need to do," He looked at Harry. "I'm not trying to intentionally make your life difficult, just presenting real life to you. If you get attacked and have to make a run for it, you have to be prepared to run," He looked back at Fleur. "There used to be a shoe store in Rue de la Ménagerie Magique that made shoes that can convert from one style to another. Stop there tomorrow and see if they have something you like but can convert to running shoes."

"Thank you," Fleur said.

"You might also want to look for wand rings," Marl said. "You'll have to ask for them in a wand shop since they have to be custom made for your wand. They're not cheap either but they're worth it."

"What's a wand ring?" Hermione asked.

"One of these," Marl said as he pulled a necklace out of his shirt. At the end of it was a small silver ring around a solid black center. Marl took his wand and pressed it into the center black and pushed. His wand started to disappear into the blackness. When only an inch was remaining he stopped and let it drop. His wand was now just an inch long piece of wood with a silver ring around its top dangling at the end of a necklace. "Now, if I need it," He reached up and grasped the wood and yanked. The wand slid back out of the ring and in an instant it was back in Marl's hand.

"How...how does that work?"

"Ever seen a bottomless bag or magically enhanced space?"

"Yes. We had a tent last week that was magically expanded."

"Same principle," Marl said. "You can get them charmed so only you can pull your wand out. They are decorative enough to be worn in public in the muggle world, but easily accessible. They sell wrist holders and ankles holders as well, but I think these are the best solution."

Dobby and Winky returned at that time and put out several pitchers of drinks including ice water, lemonade and juices along with a platter of fresh fruits and cheeses. They also had several damp towels. These the teens took and started removing the sweat from their bodies.

"Now," Marl said when the teens had served themselves drinks. "At least you're not too out of shape. Starting tomorrow, I want all of you to levitate a stone and run while keeping it levitated."

"Non, zat's impossible," Fleur exclaimed.

Marl silently levitated a stone from the ground and started jogging. He ran a hundred yards, turned and ran back. The rock wavered a couple of times as it hung in the air beside him, but never fell. "No, it's not impossible," Marl said when he returned. "But it's a damn good way to improve your concentration in a short time. You have to be able to focus even when other things are happening around you. You have to do magic and still move. Standing still in a fight will get you killed," After a pause he continued. "Okay now let's get started on today's lesson. As Mr. Potter requested, we'll start with the Supersensory charm. It's an advanced charm that will allow you to sense movement around you. It won't tell you what it is, but no one is going to sneak up on you while it is active. When you learn the spell I want you to start using it regularly. You need to get use to the effects it has. It's sort of like your peripheral vision; you can train yourself to see what you're not really seeing," He then demonstrated the correct wand movements and incantation and set them to practicing.

Marl sat down and poured himself a glass of lemonade as he watched the four teens start working on the spell. He was pleased that all of them were putting significant effort into the spell. "You need a little more wrist action Gabrielle," He said. "You're turning your wrist too much Potter."

Marl wasn't surprised when Fleur picked up the spell after only thirty minutes. She was the oldest and had three more years of school. He was shocked with what happened next though. All of the teens stopped when Fleur made the spell work. First Harry seemed to concentrate as Fleur did the spell three more times. He then got it right on the first attempt. Marl then watched Hermione and Gabrielle concentrate and Harry performed the spell several times. They too completed the spell perfectly after that. Within twenty minutes of Fleur learning the spell, all the teens could perform it correctly.

"You 'ave to admit zat was impressive," a voice said from behind them.

"Hello Alain," Marl said without turning around. "Back a little early aren't you?"

"Ze Minister wrapped up 'is interviews earlier zan expected and I decided to come 'ome."

"Where are the kid's Portkeys?" Marl grumbled. "Thought they were going to have them the moment they got here."

"Remember zey are 'ere a week earlier zan expected," Alain explained. "I picked zem up today and zey are in ze 'ouse," He turned to the teens. "Apolline said you should go get ready for zis evening. 'Er mozzer will be 'ere soon and she wants you...presentable."

The teens, who had sat back down and started refilling their glasses rose to their feet and as one looked at Marl.

"Remember to levitate the stone on your run tomorrow. Knowing Apolline I doubt you'll back from Marseilles in time to do much afterwards, but if you are, we'll review the spell you learned and start on the next one. Remember to practice it as much as possible."

Alain stayed when the bonded teens started toward the house. When they were out of earshot he turned to his old friend. "Well old friend?"

"Potter's got a temper, but I think they'll do alright as long as I can get them thinking," Marl responded. "If they can pick up spells like they did today, we'll be able to cram a lot into them but do you have any idea how they did it?"

"Zey are using ze bond," Alain explained. "When one learns a spell, Harry can experience them performing it. The other two can then learn from him performing it."

"That's a neat trick."

"Oui, do not underestimate zem Marl."

"Guess that's how they learned the Patronus? Should have told me about that."

"Aarry learned it over a year ago. 'E was ze one to teach ze rest, but yes it was ze first thing zey taught each other with ze bond. As for telling you, I figured zey should surprise you at least once."

"It did, so now you've had your fun. Anything else I should know?"

"Don't threaten ze young women or you'll upset 'Arry. 'E is very defensive of zem."

"I noticed. He needs to learn to control his temper though. Don't think I'm going to take it easy, if I have to sting the girls a bit..."

"Non Marl, you do not understand. 'E is more powerful zan 'e looks. 'E is probably more powerful zan you are."

Marl chuckled. "Good joke."

"I'm serious my friend," Alain said. "Ze boy drove off over a 'undred Dementors with 'is Patronus and sliced a fourteen foot Acromantula in two pieces...with a standard cutting spell."

Marl was about to laugh again at Alain's joke but then saw the look in his old friend's eyes. "You're not kidding are you?"

"Non, 'Arry is very powerful and 'e will use zat power to protect zose young women. Tread carefully when it comes to zem because 'e won't back down. Ze boy's faced Voldemort on more zan one occasion and killed a thousand year old Basilisk with a sword, 'E's not going to fear a crusty old Auror."

"Crusty my ass," Marl fulminated. He glared at his friend. "Kid's really done all that?"

"Oui."

"You could have told me all of this earlier you know."

"I didn't think some of zis should be discussed in a letter. Since I didn't expect zem 'ere until next week, I thought I'd 'ave time to tell you all of zis before zey came," Alain explained.

"Apparition instructor still due next week?"

"Oui, but let's go to my study for the rest of his discussion. I 'ave a bottle of 1972 Chateau Angelus waiting to be opened."

"Lead the way then," Marl replied. "You can tell me more about the kid's exploits."

*** E E ***

With his arms filled with the clothes he was going to change into once he took his shower, Harry opened the door to the bathroom and then stopped short. "Uh...sorry Hermione," He said as his face turned red when he saw her sitting on the toilet reading a book. He immediately backed out of the bathroom and closed the door.

"Harry," Hermione called as the door shut. "Harry, it's alright."

"I didn't know you were in there, I should have checked..."

"And if I was really concerned I could have locked the door. I know you've seen me nude before and as far as I can tell, it doesn't smell in here. If you can still actually love me after seeing me use the bathroom you are more than welcome to come in and take your shower. We do need to hurry."

The door opened a crack. "Are you sure?" Harry asked.

Hermione shrugged. "We are going to be spending a lifetime together; I don't think we'll..." She stopped as a loud two second burst of flatulence escaped her. Her face turned red as she looked up at Harry who had walked all the way in. "Sorry..."

Harry smirked. "Why Hermione, I didn't think you had it in you."

"Well actually, it's not anymore is it?" Hermione replied setting the two off laughing.

"Well at least it doesn't smell," Harry said after the laughter had settled. "Unlike Ron's. He can make the whole bathroom unusable for hours."

"Ginny warned me when I got to the Burrow before the World Cup," Hermione remarked. "Fortunately I didn't have to experience it. Now get in the shower. I'm finished and I'm not sure our relationship is ready for you to watch me wipe."

Harry smiled as he reached into the shower and started the water. When he looked back at Hermione she was watching him with a gleam in her eyes. "What?" He asked. "You said you've seen me naked before."

"Yes, but watching you take your clothes off is a bit more exciting than you seeing yourself in a mirror. Now get on with it. Remember we're in a hurry."

Harry reached over his head and pulled his shirt off. As he dropped it to the floor he looked at Hermione again. He could feel her nervousness, but she kept her eyes on him. He reached for his pants and after unbuttoning them, slid them down and step out of them. As he stood in front of his bondmate in nothing but his boxers he again gazed questioningly at his best friend.

Hermione was nervous. It really was different for Harry to completely undress in front of her than to just see him naked in front of a mirror from his own eyes. She swallowed and smiled at him and nodded. "Go on..."

Harry shrugged and lowered his underwear.

"It's a bit more impressive in person you know," Hermione said as she studied her bondmate in all of his glory. She'd of course had felt what she could now see pressed against her on a couple of the mornings she'd wakened next to Harry but still, seeing it in person made her realized that it wouldn't be too long before their relationship moved to that level. She realized at that moment that the thought of being intimate with Harry no longer concerned her; in fact she was starting to look forward to it.

"So not disappointed?" Harry asked.

"Even if it wasn't as..." Her eyes flickered downward and then back up to his emerald green ones, "impressive as it is, I don't think you could ever disappoint me Harry."

Harry could feel the love she had for him. He smiled. "I love you Mione."

"I know and I love you. Now I've had my show so get in the shower," Hermione directed. Harry smiled and walked into the steaming water.

As Hermione walked past the shower on the way to her room, she hesitated. She thought about joining Harry but then she shook her head and continued to her room where she got her own clothes and waited for Harry to finish.

*** E E ****

When the bondmates came down the steps a short time later, Apolline was waiting. "Maman is waiting in ze library. She is most eager to meet 'Arry and 'Ermione."

"Est-elle de bonne humeur?"

"She's in a good mood though she is anxious about something she would not share. She is eager to know ze wizard who 'as captured 'er ze 'earts of her petite filles."

Fleur nodded and they started toward the library. "If possible, always ask what grand-mère's mood is before you see 'er," She warned Harry and Hermione. She opened the doors to the library and entered.

Harry's first glance of Fleur's grandmother showed an extremely attractive woman with regal airs sitting in a chair. He couldn't help but think she'd look just as fair sitting upon a throne. Her white-gold hair was short, only shoulder length and it fell in gentle waves that framed her face. Though he knew she was Fleur's grandmother, she didn't look any older than his Aunt Petunia, not that he'd ever compare the two of them in any way. Her actual age could be guessed by the gentleman who sat in a chair beside her. What little hair that existed on his head was white and cut very short. He had a grey beard that was also trimmed short. Wrinkles had already begun to form on his face, especially around his eyes. If Harry were to guess, he'd say the man was well into his sixties.

"Fleur, Gabrielle," The woman said in a voice that was almost musical as she rose from her seat and made her way over to them. She hugged her granddaughters and turned her gaze at the other two teens.

"Grand-mère," Fleur said as she and Gabrielle both took one of Harry's hands. "Zis is mine and Gabrielle's bondmate, 'Arry Potter. And zis is our bondsister, 'Ermione Granger. 'Arry, 'Ermione zis is Aglaia Laurent, our grand-mère and zis is Sebastian Laurent, our grand-père," She finished when the balding man had joined them.

"Bonjour Monsieur Potter and Mademoiselle Granger," Aglaia said in her musical voice. "Eet is nice to meet ze man who 'as stolen ze 'earts of mes filles and of course ze witch whom I've 'eard so much about," The last was said with an undefinable tone. Her eyes didn't seem to hold the same warmth when she addressed Hermione.

"Bonjour," Harry replied hoping he didn't sound like an idiot. He first clasped Fleur's grandfather hand in a firm handshake and then turned his gaze to Aglaia.

"Kiss her hand," Fleur silently directed when Harry took Fleur's grandmother's hand in his.

"Bonjour Madam," Harry said as he raised her hand while also bending. As he kept his eyes on her, he pressed his lips to the back of her hand and released it.

"Vous êtes un gentilhomme," Fleur's grandmother commented.

"She said you are a gentleman," Fleur translated for him.

"Thank you is merci right?"

"Oui."

"Merci Madam. I apologize, but without Fleur I am hopeless in your language," Harry said.

Aglaia nodded regally to her granddaughter's bondmate. "My own excuses...eh apologies," Her eyes met his before she continued. "You do not know ze 'appiness zat I felt when my filles' ...eh...carelessness brought zem 'appiness instead of what could 'ave been."

"I think I'd prefer to call it fate ma'am," Harry replied. "They have given me much more than I could ever give them."

"Welcome to ze family," Aglaia replied as she pulled Harry into a hug. When she let go she turned her attention to Hermione who was waiting nervously. The Veela's eyes roamed over the English witch as if studying her. "And you mademoiselle, I understand you are part of ze Veela bond?" She emphasized the word Veela.

"Oui Madam," Hermione replied nervously. "I...I am very happy that my bondsisters allowed me to join with the man I love."

"Is zat all Veela means to you? A magical way to connect with a man?"

"No ma'am," Hermione replied. "I...I..." she tried but was unsure what to say. She remembered the admonishment from Apolline earlier.

"What do you know of my race," Aglaia asked as a single eyebrow rose above an eye.

"Uh...I don't know nearly enough," Hermione admitted trying to hide her apprehension, "But...but I want to know everything I can. I mean before my last school year and the Quidditch World I'd never heard of...of your race. I mean I've now read many books about Veela now..."

"Books?" Aglaia scoffed.

"Non, you can not 'elp," Fleur said to her bondmate when Harry was about to speak up. "Gabrielle?"

"Oui," Gabrielle replied.

Together Fleur and Gabrielle both took up positions on either side of Hermione. Each took one of Hermione's hands and squeezed.

"Grand-mère?" Fleur questioned. "What ees ze problem?"

"It's alright," Hermione told Fleur but returned the pressure to each of her bond sister's hands. She took a deep breath and let it out as she locked eyes with Aglaia. Hermione felt less nervous facing the older Veela with Gabrielle and Fleur beside her; supporting her. She also could feel Harry questioning her if she needed his help. Her voice was stronger and more determined when she continued. "Yes books. As I said, I had no knowledge of Veela before last summer. Even then my first impression was less than favorable," At this statement, Aglaia's eyebrow rose again but Hermione pushed on. "It was a shallow opinion formed with no knowledge of your race except that my friends were acting strangely because of the Veela at the World Cup. Even when I first met Fleur my opinion of her was..." she looked at her bond sister and smiled a small smile before continuing "not favorable, but that was because I thought she was stuck-up and arrogant, not because she was Veela. Now though, your granddaughters are my sisters in more than just this bond. I love them truly AS sisters and I respect who they are. I respect Apolline and truly want to consider her another parent of mine. Though even with that, I have to admit outside of the two Veela who helped with the bonding, you are the first full Veela I have met personally. So I can only truly say what I know comes from books and of course Gabrielle and Fleur but...but I want to know so much more. I want to know all I can about my sisters and their heritage; I want to know what allowed me to share in the beautiful gift the bond is; I want to know what it means to be Veela."

"But what is your true opinion of Veela?" Aglaia asked in a challenging voice. "Understand zat I AM a Veela, not a 'uman with certain magical powers. Ze English 'ave long prosecuted zose who are not 'uman. Can you say you do not?"

"I have no biases against your race," Hermione declared. "Nor any race..." She stopped when it started. As soon as she saw the older Veela's skin start to change, Hermione remembered that a full Veela could change without provocation. She also realized it was a test. She swallowed as she fought down her fear. Hermione forced herself to keep her eyes locked on the older woman's all through her transformation. Hermione heard the rip of fabric as Aglaia's wings tore through the back of her dress. She then watched the beauty of the woman's face distorted as it elongated into its avian shape. Before too long a full avian transformed Veela stood only two feet in front of her; The beak sharp and dangerous along with eyes that had turned black. Still Hermione refused to take her eyes away from the Veela.

"I do not fear that which is part of my bond sisters' heritage nor do I think less of them because of it," Hermione said forcefully. "I know Fleur and Gabrielle would prefer to not transform, but it IS a part of them and I fully accept them and love them," Hermione paused she tried to figure out what else she could say. Finally she thought of a way to get her point across more quickly. "I may not have Veela blood in my body nor born to the heritage..." Hermione paused and closed her eyes and allowed her hair to change into the long straight hair that Fleur liked to wear. When it was complete she looked again at the Veela in front of her, "but it is part of me and I would want it no other way."

Aglaia's bird eyes blinked and her head tilted to its side and then straighten. Slowly the bird features started melting back into her body. "You have manifested Veela magic?" She asked when her head was once again of human shape.

"Yes Ma'am," Hermione replied. "Some anyway. The professor from Veela Magical who helped with the bond is due later in the week to help us understand why it might have happened. I welcome it though, how much or how little it doesn't matter because it means something I can share with my sisters."

Aglaia stared at Hermione for several seconds until finally she smiled. "Please forgive me Mademoiselle and welcome to ze family. I just needed to know."

"Know what?" Hermione asked as her body seemed to deflate from the nervous excitement.

"As I said; your true opinion of Veela," Aglaia replied, this time in a much friendlier voice. "We are a very misunderstood race. Many see us as only beautiful humans with tempers or creatures zat must be controlled or worse, used. Many Veela 'ave fallen for 'umans mistaking ze lust ze man felt, for ze love ze Veela thought was zere. As you know once a Veela bonds, zere is no way to undo it. Can you imagine it? Connected to a man who only wants you for your body? To find out 'ow little you mean to 'im on ze day zat should be ze 'appiest day of your life? And zen be reminded of it every single day for zat life?"

Hermione nodded and swallowed as she imagined such a possibility, but she didn't reply because she knew there was more.

"What Fleur and Gabrielle did was very foolish and could 'ave cost zem zeir lives or at least zeir 'appiness but zey were fortunate zat zeir bond is with a young man with a good heart. When Apolline told me ze young man now returned ze love of my filles, I rejoiced, but zere was still an unknown, you. An unknown at least when it came to Veela. Apolline 'ad many things to say and all conveyed you in a glowing light, but zat was of you as a person. Unfortunately many fine people are also very bigoted. I knew you loved Monsieur Potter, but what about Veela? What did my race mean to you? Did you 'arbor ill feelings or biases toward my people? If you 'ad children in ze future would you think your pure 'uman children might be better zan Fleur or Gabrielle's part Veela ones?"

"NO! Of course not," Hermione gasped. "We...we haven't really discussed children..."

"Winky has," muttered Harry.

Hermione glanced at Harry and then back at Fleur's grandmother. "As I was saying, we really haven't discussed children but I would hope that..." she looked at Gabrielle and then Fleur before returning her gaze to Aglaia "that we all consider any of our children to be all of our children."

Aglaia smiled. "I know now…"

"And you could 'ave just asked Gabrielle are myself instead of zis...zis foolishness," Fleur said angrily to her grandmother. "Ermione…"

"Fleur, please." Hermione said softly and squeezed her bondsister's hand. "It's alright. I'd prefer to suffer any questions than for her to harbor any doubts about me."

"Sabastian?" Aglaia smiled at the man beside her. "Pourriez vous reparer ma robe?"

"Of course love," Her husband replied and pulled out his wand and started repairing the holes that had been created in Aglaia's dress where her wings had ripped through. When he'd finished, he spun her around playfully and kissed her on the lips.

"Merci mon chéri."

"Am I interrupting?" asked a male voice from behind them.

Harry turned when he recognized the voice. "Well who let the stray dog in?" He asked. "Thought you were going to be late Sirius."

"Might have, but what I needed to do didn't take as much time as I thought it might," Sirius replied. He then looked past Harry and his eyes lost a little of their focus. "And…uh…and who is the beautiful woman."

"Fleur's grandmother," Harry smirked. "That is her husband standing next to her."

"Gran…grandmother," Sirius replied in shock. He could not believe the woman could be anyone's grandmother.

"Oui," Gabrielle said as she playfully smacked the shoulder of her bondmate's godfather. "She is too old for you."

Introductions were made and as other guest arrived, they all were soon mingling on the back area next to the pool.

"My daughters are furious with you," Apolline said to her mother in French. She swirled her glass of white wine and drunk a swallow before continuing. "I can't believe you ambushed Hermione. Even after all that I told you? What were you trying to do, convince them to live in Great Britain instead of here?"

"I had to know Apolline," Aglaia responded with a sigh. "I had to see it in her eyes. You yourself had your own difficulties in her country."

Apolline grimaced as she remembered a time many years past. "I know."

"So what do you know about Mr. Black?"

"He's Harry's godfather which you know. He was Harry's father's best friend. Was falsely accused of betraying the Potters and spent many years in that disgusting Azkaban. He escaped and was recently cleared. According to Alain he inherited quite a bit of money from the Black estates. Why?"

"Do you know if he has any biases against Veela?"

"Doubtful, he loves Fleur and Gabrielle and his best friend is a werewolf."

"A werewolf? Really?"

"Why are you asking?"

Aglaia shrugged. "Just wondering if I should dissuade his interest in Bernadette," She motioned with her glass at the pair standing next to the pool talking. "It's been years since I've seen Berdine that...energetic in speaking to a man."

"Maybe she's just trying to get him to model for her line of Basilisk skin clothing," Apolline said. "Though she doesn't know it, he did spend the most time near it," But as she watched the two, she could tell by the casual way her old friend would reach out and touch Sirius on occasion, that there was more interest than business. "Well she could do much worse than Mr. Black," she said to her mother. She turned her attention back to her best friend and smiled. "She definitely could do worse.." she repeated in a murmur.

*** E E ***

Several hours later the dinner broke up and it was time for bed. Harry kissed Fleur and Gabrielle goodnight and made his way to his bedroom. He was brushing his teeth when Hermione opened her door to the bathroom. Harry stared. Hermione's bathrobe was tied loosely around her waist and it was obvious she only had her underwear on. In her hands was her sleep-shirt.

She stopped and gave Harry a nervous smile. "I...I thought it would be only fair if you got to see me as I saw you...right?" Her bottom lip burrowed under her lip at her nervousness.

Harry quickly rinsed out his mouth and looked at his best friend. He could see the Hermione's curves through the opening in the robe. The powder green bra lifted her breast to near perfect curves. "Only if you want love," Harry replied finally. "I...I know what you look like but if you're uncomfortable then you don't need too."

That assurance from Harry helped calm Hermione's nerves. She smiled. "I don't mind, but maybe..." She held the ends of her robe's sash out to Harry as she slowly walked closer to him, "you'd like to help?"

Harry took the ends and gently pulled. The simple knot parted and the robe fell completely open. Harry immediately realized it was different to see Hermione undressing for him than just seeing her nude. He reached up and slowly moved the robe from Hermione's shoulders and let it drop away.

"You're beautiful," Harry whispered as he gazed at Hermione who stood only in her bra and knickers.

Hermione's smile carried a hint of bashfulness but she didn't stop staring at Harry. "In the back," She said.

"What?" Harry asked in confusion.

"My bra, it opens in the back," Hermione explained as she turned away from Harry.

"Uh..." Harry said as he stared at the three hook and eyelet catches. "How...I mean..."

Hermione sent him an image of how the hooks were undone. Five seconds later the catches were loose and Hermione held the bra over her breasts. She turned back to Harry and as she looked him in the eyes, she allowed the article of clothing to fall to the floor.

"Impressive," Harry said mimicking Hermione's earlier comment.

"Not disappointed?" Hermione repeated Harry's words.

"Never," Harry replied and he kissed his bondmate and best friend.

 
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