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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47. Chapter 47 Grimmauld and Ron's Plan

*** July 23rd 1995 ***

"Severus," The high pitched voice of Voldemort hissed. "What news do you bring me?"

"My Lord," Severus said from his knee as he bowed in front of the Dark Lord. "Harry Potter is returning to England."

"Is that so? And why would Dumbledore bring him back?"

"Yes, My Lord," Severus replied and swallowed as he prepared himself. He knew his next words might bring on Voldemort's wrath. "The Ministry will be giving him and the female half-breed the Order of Merlin for...for the graveyard."

Voldemort lofted his wand and sneered as the shadow of the movement caused Snape to flinch. "So...the Ministry plans on rewarding him do they?"

"It's obviously political sir," Snape said. "A way for Fudge to garner Potter's fame for himself."

"Of course it is," Voldemort replied coolly. Inside he seethed at what it meant but knew he could not show weakness to Severus Snape. He desired nothing more than to disrupt the ceremony and kill the brat in front of the whole country, but he knew he could not. Voldemort knew that Dumbledore himself would be there ready to protect Harry Potter. Even if that wasn't the case, he knew with the latest fiasco with Potter, his capture and then escape in front of all of his Death Eaters, he could not risk another failure. "I have no care for the silly award, but Potter is another matter. When is he arriving?"

"Tomorrow my Lord," Severus answered. "The ceremony is the day afterwards."

"How is he returning?" Voldemort wondered if he might exploit some weakness in Potter's travels and lay his hands on the boy before Dumbledore could react.

"I...I do not know my Lord. Dumbledore is being very secretive on those plans."

"I thought you were his trusted agent Severus," The cold voice held a menace that caused a chill to run down Snape's spine.

"I am my lord, but as you know, Dumbledore shares few secrets."

"Yes," Voldemort hissed. "I'm sure Dumbledore himself will move the boy," He sat back and considered for a while. Finally he leaned forward again and looked down at Snape who still knelt in front of him. "Do you know where the boy will be staying?"

"No, my Lord. Dumbledore will not say but possibly Hogwarts," Snape lied carefully.

"Maybe, but I don't think so," Riddle thought of his own summers spent on the Hogwarts grounds. He knew the teachers came and went at their leisure and Voldemort was positive Dumbledore would not leave Potter unprotected even at Hogwarts. "What about where the boy lived? That muggle house?"

"The protective wards are completely down. Dumbledore definitely wouldn't send him there," Snape hoped Voldemort might dismiss the Dursleys altogether so he wouldn't have to visit them.

"Dumbledore sometimes can try to be more clever than he realizes," Voldemort said. "If he thinks we would disregard the possibility of him doing such a thing, he is very capable to trying to trick me and put Potter back there," Voldemort rose from his chair and paced a few steps. "Maybe I should send the Carrows to find out. It has been a while since they have tortured muggles."

"Yes, my Lord," Snape replied cautiously. He was tempted to let Voldemort do as he pleased, but then he remembered Dumbledore had said the Order would be watching. Severus carefully weighed his options. If he told Voldemort about the Order watching Privet Drive, Voldemort might attempt to kill one of them. On the other hand, if he allowed Voldemort to send Death Eaters, they might get captured and Voldemort would definitely blame him for that. He mentally sighed as he cursed Dumbledore's name. He knew he had to do what Dumbledore wanted.

"But might it not be a trap?" Snape suggested to Voldemort. "The Ministry would know where Potter lived and might be waiting for someone who is a suspected Death Eater to go there."

This caused Voldemort to pace a few more steps before replying. "That is a definite possibility and I do not have time to consult my spies in the Ministry," Again Voldemort seethed internally. He knew he couldn't risk any of his Death Eaters in the unlikely possibility of Potter being back at the muggles' house without wards, but the idea that Dumbledore might trick him was vexing. Voldemort continued to pace trying to determine what Dumbledore might do.

"I'll go my Lord," Snape suggested hoping he had the right tone of disgust in his voice. "I can always say Dumbledore sent me to make sure the muggles are all right. I would not be able to torture them…unfortunately."

Riddle paused in his pacing and stared down at his still kneeling servant. "Look at me Severus," He commanded.

Severus spent the split second that it took to raise his eyes to meet Voldemort's to ensure his occlumency shields were in place. Even then he felt trepidation as he felt the legilimency probe enter his mind. He fought to stay one step ahead of the probe, showing Voldemort what he wanted him to see while walling off thoughts and memories that would betray him. He didn't allow the relief he felt as the probe departed his mind to show on his face.

"Very well," Voldemort said. "Visit these muggles and find out what you can."

"Yes my Lord," Snape replied.

*** E E ***

"Magnifique!" The apparition instructor said with much enthusiasm as he watched Gabrielle appear inside her target circle. She was the last to complete the task. He examined the young Veela carefully. "Nothing appears to be missing," He murmured. "I think you will all achieve your license when ze time comes like Mademoiselle Delacour. He nodded at Fleur who had already had the lessons. She'd used the new lessons as refreshers and had taken her examination the previous day, passing with ease. "I am impressed with 'ow quickly you learned to apparate, especially given your ages," The bondmates had not shared the fact they were bonded or their abilities to pass knowledge to each other. "It 'as been only been five days and yet you 'ave all successfully apparated."

"You 'ave been a wonderful instructor," Fleur replied graciously. The truth was more to the fact that his mental exercises had been so boring and exhausting, the bondmates had been afraid if they'd not got the practicals done correctly, he'd had made them start again.

"Thank you, but it is easy to instruct when you 'ave such eager and intelligent students. Now for ze remainder of ze 'our I wish you to apparate to and from your circles to practice. Ze more you practice ze better and quicker you will become."

*** E E ***

"Have you heard anything from Marl and Tonks?" Harry asked Alain as they all sat down for dinner that evening. It was a standard opening question at dinner and this was the last day to get word before the bonded left the next morning for England.

"Non," Alain sighed. "Zere is a team off ze coast waiting to take zem as well as any women rescued away, but so far zey 'ave not been made ze signal."

"Ow will zey get so many people out?" Fleur asked as she spooned up some green pea soup.

"Carpets. Zere are six of zem ready to go with several volunteers on brooms for cover if necessary," Alain explained.

"Do...do you think something has happened to them?" Hermione asked.

"Eets too soon to say. Marl 'as enough polyjuice potion to last ten days. If we 'aven't 'eard anything by zen..." He didn't need to finish the sentence.

"That gives them another five days," Hermione said. "I'm sure they'll be fine," Her voice betrayed the fear her words were trying to hide. They had all liked Tonks, especially after rescuing Gabrielle.

"Oui," Alain replied as he spooned some soup into his mouth. "Are you packed for tomorrow?" He asked when he had swallowed.

"Dobby and Winky took care of it," Harry said. "Wouldn't let us near our trunks."

"Zat is not surprising. Now Albus will be here at eight in ze morning. 'E and Sirius will escort you back to England. Apolline, Remus and I will join you ze day after for your award ceremony. Do not bother bringing your trunks down in ze morning. Zey will be delivered separately to the Embassy and someone will pick zem up zere."

"Why?" Harry asked.

"For your protection. Zough we don't expect trouble with Dumbledore 'imself escorting you, it is always better to be prepared. If zere is trouble, your trunks would only get in ze way or possibly you'd 'ave to abandon zem."

"Oh…" That was from Hermione who had suddenly been concerned about the books that were packed in her trunk. "What should we carry with us then?"

Harry suddenly laughed. "No, I don't think you need to carry more than one book with you," He hadn't been able to resist peeking at her thoughts and found she'd already categorized at least eight books she was planning on carrying.

Hermione blushed as she turned a glare on her bondmate. "But what if…"

"Zey will only be a few minutes behind you," Alain assured her. "As soon as you're safely at the location you're going, someone will return for zem. When you return, you'll do ze same thing."

"When are we returning?"

"Whenever you wish to of course," Alain replied. "Apolline and I made some plans for your birthday, but if you'd prefer to stay…"

"No..no of course not," Harry replied immediately. "I definitely want to be back here before then."

"May I make a suggestion zen," Alain said. "Ow about you return ze morning of your birthday. Zat way you can spend ze morning zere and if zey wish to celebrate in some way, zey can."

"Luna mentioned Neville's birthday," Hermione said. "That's the day before Harry's. Staying until then would allow us to be there if he has a party."

"Zen it is tentatively settled," Alain smiled. "Zough if you find you wish to return sooner, I will understand," The last was said in a tone they all understood. "I just remembered I 'ave something for you," Alain reached into his pocket and pull out a small wooden box. "Zese were delivered zis afternoon to my office," He lifted the cover of the box to reveal four golden rings and a silver one gleaming in the light. There was a spot in the box for another ring that wasn't there. "Your portkeys."

"It worked?"

"Oui and ze 'ead of ze Auror department wishes me to convey 'is appreciation. 'E wanted to personally thank you but 'e knows you are leaving ze country tomorrow," Alain replied as he held the box out to teens. "Ze gold ones are for you, ze wider one is of course for 'Arry."

"I thought we were going to use our rings?" Hermione queried as she held up her left hand.

Alain shrugged. "If ze rings are detected as portkeys, I didn't want you to lose your engagement rings."

"Couldn't we just make them so they can't be removed except by us?" Harry asked. "Like our wands from our wand rings?"

"Oui but it is not a good idea."

"Why not?"

"Because nothing can stop someone from removing your finger or 'and," Alain explained causing Harry's cheeks to redden as he realized it was something he should have thought of.

"Ow do zey work?" Fleur asked as she lifted out one of the rings and started examining it.

Before her father could reply the elves appeared to remove the empty soup bowls and replacing them with plates filled with sea bass in a wine sauce served with various summer vegetables.

"As you know zere are three ways a portkey can be activated," Alain replied once the elves were gone.

"Oui, verbal, touch and timed," Fleur replied. It had been a question on her charms exam. There were a few subcategories such as the length of time and pressure required by touch like the one Alain had offered Sirius, but overall those were the three main ways to activate a portkey.

"Ze Protean charm could not duplicate ze verbal activation and of course touch would not work."

"So timed, but 'ow?" Fleur asked.

"Rune-based time sequence in conjunction with a normal time spell tells ze portkey when to activate," Alain explained. "Look at ze bands. See ze runes?"

Each of the bondmates rotated the gold bands and saw the very small etched characters.

"Zose runes tells ze period of time to add to ze current time. Numeric runes followed by runes for minutes, 'ours, days, years."Alain explained "Set it to zero seconds and zey activate immediately, or every 'ow much time you wish to add. As you can see, zey are currently set at ninety-nine years from now."

"Could you imagine…" Hermione started and then stopped as everyone turned to look at her. "Uh…never mind."

"What?"

"I think I've spent too much time around Sirius recently because I suddenly had the morbid, but unfortunately amusing thought of our bodies being portkeyed out of our graves in ninety-nine years because someone forgot to remove the rings from our fingers."

"Now that's excellent Hermione," Sirius spoke up. "It's good to see I'm having such a positive influence on you."

"Influence yes, but whether it is positive is still very much in debate," Hermione replied with a raised eyebrow.

"Zough amusing, it really isn't a concern," Alain said after the exchange. "Ze portkey magic will only last three years."

"What if we all are captured and no one can change the runes?" Harry asked.

"Sirius and I 'ave our own," Alain said as he lifted a hand and showed a silver band that looked like the gold bands the bonded now had. "Sirius, ze silver one in ze box is for you."

Sirius reached over to the box and removed the silver ring and started looking at it. "Excellent idea," He glanced over at Harry with an innocent look on his face. "When are you getting married again?"

"You interrupt MY wedding night with some silly prank," Fleur started knowing exactly what Sirius was joking about, "And zere will not be a place in ze world where you will be safe and nothing zat would control my temper when I find you. Comprenez-vous?"

"When WE find him," Hermione corrected her bondsister as she joined her glare at Sirius.

"I was just joking," Sirius said raising his hands in surrender.

"Well if you are finished, can I continue?" Alain asked. As everyone turned back to him, he continued his explanation. "Our rings are not portkeys. Zey only allow us to change your time runes so we can remotely activate your portkeys."

"Are you sure we have to let Sirius keep his?" Harry asked with a smirk at his Godfather.

"E, like myself are your legal guardians so yes we must allow 'im. When all of you are of legal age, you can designate anyone you want to carry ze ones we have or no one at all."

"All kidding aside," Harry said. "I'd probably still want you and Sirius to have them sir."

"I am deeply grateful for zat trust 'Arry," Alain replied earnestly. He gave a glance to Sirius and noticed the man's cheeks were a bit redder as he studied the other silver ring intently. He smiled to himself since he'd had many conversations with Sirius concerning Harry. He knew the man still felt unsure of how to be a guardian and this bit of assurance from Harry would go a long way to giving Sirius the confidence he needed.

"Where do zey take us?" Fleur asked.

"Zat was a bit tricky because of ze significant time you'll be spending in both France and England," Alain explained. "Zere is a final rune...see it on ze other side of ze ring? Depending on what rune it is set on you will either go to ze Embassy in London or to ze Ministry entry area in Paris. Both of zose areas already 'ave simultaneous portkey protection so zat stopped being a concern. Either way, if zey are used our rings will let us know so stay where you are until you are contacted by one of us."

"Of course Papa," Gabrielle replied.

"Two last things," Alain said. "Zough as I said, a verbal command was not a possibility to activate ze Protean charm, it can change ze Runes...so if you need to activate ze portkeys immediately, you need to say zis phrase," He wrote something down on a piece of parchment and passed it around. "Either in English or French."

"Just don't hurt my..." Hermione started in a confused voice when the parchment reached her but stopped when Fleur kicked her. "Oh," she mumbled when she realized what she had almost done. "Just don't hurt my caterpillar?" she said over the bond.

"I know eet sounds whimsical," Alain explained, "but ze Aurors actually 'ad a long discussion about eet and finally came up with a similar phrase. Ze first part...ze part where you say 'Just don't hurt my' is a common thing to say when you are at wandpoint. By adding a whimsical ending, it ensures you won't say it accidentally but ze words will not seem strange to your captors and zey will have no chance to react."

"That's brilliant," Hermione said.

"I will pass along you compliments," Alain replaied "Now ze last thing zey told me of ze portkeys. When ze time runes are changed, ze rings will warm noticeably. Zat will allow you to prepare to be portkeyed or to verify ze time if you're sure no one should have changed ze times. Now put them on and don't take zem off for any reason."

Each of the bondmates slipped the ring onto their right hand.

"Bien, now did I 'ear correctly zat you all can now apparate?"

"Oui," Fleur replied. "Gabrielle was successful zis morning and we 'ave practiced a lot," That meant they had apparated around the estate for several hours after the lessons. When Harry's ability to experience his bondmates thoughts and they his, they had realized they could apparate to any place any of them had ever been. They proved it by apparated to a secluded glen in one of the far reaching locations on the Delacour estate that Harry and Hermione had never visited.

"And your lessons with Remus?"

"He decided we needed target practice today," Harry said. "We spent an hour blasting levitated ice sheets at various distances this afternoon."

"And 'ow did you do?"

"At five meters we were pretty good, but by the time he got to twenty, we were having trouble."

"Keep practicing," Alain suggested as he lifted a glass of white wine and took a sip. "Accuracy in spells is very important. It can be ze difference between stunning your enemies or your allies."

They continued the discussion until the food had been eaten. As the elves set upon the tasks of cleaning the table, Alain spoke turn to the teens again. "Now zat dinner is over, I wish to see your apparition skills. I would like each of you apparate to ze beach and bring me a seashell."

Harry was the first to react. He rose, and with a smile to his bondmates, he spun and disappeared. The sensation of being squeezed through a tube was easier to handle now that he'd done it several times but it still was not enjoyable. A second later he found himself looking out over the gentle surf highlighted by a sun that was nearing the horizon.

An apparation crack made Harry glanced around knowing it was one of his bondmates arriving. It was Fleur; two more cracks sounded and Hermione and Gabrielle were there as well.

"What took you so long?" Alain asked several minutes later when the bonded returned and handed him the seashells.

"Ze sunset was too beautiful to 'urry away from," Fleur replied as she looked at Harry. They all had known it was the last time for a week they would see the beach and couldn't bring themselves to leave quickly, especially when the kissing started.

"No problems with your apparations? Excellent zen," Alain asked with small smile as he realized what had happened. "Now remember zat only Fleur can do magic while you are in London, but zat does not mean you are go without your wands."

"We never go anywhere without them," Hermione replied as she reached for the pendant dangling from a necklace and pulled hers free.

"Bien," Alain said. "Now is zere anything you need? Non? Zen maybe you should turn in early."

*** July 24th 1995 ***

After breakfast the next morning the young women were all sitting on the chairs near the fireplace while Harry paced back and forth in front of them. Ever so often he'd turn and look at the fireplace and then continue his pacing.

"You're not really going to ambush Dumbledore are you?" Hermione asked with a sigh.

"Why not? I want to know," Harry replied. "If it was Snape who…" He stopped as the flames in the fireplace turned green and roared high. The next second Dumbledore strolled out of the hearth.

"I'm glad to see you're ready to go," Dumbledore said as he saw the teens waiting. Then he then noticed the look in Harry's eyes. "Is there something troubling you Harry?" He asked in his best grandfatherly tone.

"Yes," Harry replied. "You can tell me who overheard the prophecy and told Voldemort."

Dumbledore's eyes lost some, but not all of the twinkle from his blue eyes as he gazed upon Harry. It was several seconds before he replied. "Harry, some things that happened in the past should remain in the past."

"Why? Why don't you want me to know?" Harry demanded.

A small sigh escaped Dumbledore lips as the rest of the twinkle left his eyes. He got a small reprieve with Alain entered the room.

"I thought I 'eard ze floo. Welcome Albus," Alain said. "I trust you'll ensure..." He stopped when he felt and saw the tension from Harry as he glared at the Headmaster. "Is zere a problem?"

"I asked Professor Dumbledore a question that he is having trouble answering," Harry replied.

"Is zat so? And what is ze question?"

"I want him to tell me who got my parents killed? I want him to tell me who told Voldemort about the prophecy."

"I asked zat same question and Albus was reluctant to share ze information with me as well," Alain turned from Harry to Dumbledore. "Why do you 'ide ze information?"

"As I just told Harry, some things that have happened in the past should remain in the past," Dumbledore explained. "The man is truly sorry for what he did and further condemnation would do no good," He looked at Harry. "I do know that at the time he had no idea the prophecy meant your parents. I'm sure he would never have done so if he'd known."

"So that's it? He's sorry and I'm supposed to say that's alright?" Harry asked.

"Everyone deserves a second chance Harry," Albus replied. "Tell me, what would you do if you knew his name? Would you seek him out? Try to kill him?"

"I'd stop being in the same bloody classroom he teaches in for starters," Harry snarled. "I know it's Severus Snape and you had the presumption to put the man who caused the death of my parents in a position of power over me?"

"Severus Snape?" Alain asked. "Ze former Death Eater? Ze Potions Instructor? 'E is ze one who betrayed your parents?" Alain's eyes bore into Dumbledore's. "Well Albus, is it true?"

"As I said, I will not reveal who overheard the prophecy," Dumbledore replied in an unperturbed voice. "Please Harry, for your own good do not pursue these questions. Tormenting yourself over this matter can only lead you to hatred."

"So? He's responsible for my parents being dead, why shouldn't I hate him?"

"A man can regret what he has done," Dumbledore said. "What good does it do to continue to hate someone for something that he himself hates having done? I can assure you he has suffered for the mistakes he has made."

"Mistake? That's what you call it? My parents are dead and the bloody bastard made a mistake? You don't get it do you sir? He is responsible for my family being killed."

"I understand fully what you are saying," Dumbledore countered. "And I insist you are wrong in your feelings."

"He was my mother's friend and yet she is dead because of him. HE BETRAYED HER," Harry exploded. "But what do you know of it? What would you know of betrayal? Of your family being killed? You and your everyone deserves a second chance..." Harry's voice ended in a glare directly at the Headmaster.

The briefest shadow of sadness passed into Dumbledore's eyes and then was gone. "I know far more than you can imagine Harry," Dumbledore said quietly. "I know about betrayal and of families being lost."

Harry was about retort but Hermione gave a mental shout that froze his words. "HARRY! Dumbledore's mother and sister. Remember what Bathilda Bagshot said about something tragic happening to Dumbledore's sister and mother. What if they were killed?"

Harry choked off the words he had on his tongue but he still glared at the Headmaster until Fleur's voice came into his mind. "Arry?"

Harry turned slightly and his eyes found the blue eyes of Fleur looking back in concern. "Is knowing worth antagonizing Dumbledore?" She asked. "If you mother and father wanted you to avenge zem, wouldn't zey 'ave told you zemselves who it 'ad been? Ask you to do it? Remember what your mother said about Snape? What she wanted you to tell him? She forgave 'im for what 'e 'ad done to 'er. Zat 'as to be what she was talking about."

"But…"

"I am not saying you 'ave to forgive 'im, but do not live to 'ate 'im. Live for ze love your mother and father 'ave for you, for ze love my sisters and I 'ave for you, for ze family we are and ze family we will be. Your love is what makes you special, don't lose it in 'atred."

Harry swallowed as he fought to keep the wetness from his eyes. He continued to stare at Fleur as he struggled to control his emotions. Finally when he had them under control he nodded to his eldest bondmate and turned back to Dumbledore. Green eyes that lacked any softness looked directly into blue. "Someday sir..." Again he fought to keep his emotions in check but then continued, "Someday I will expect an answer to that question, but I will not push it now."

Dumbledore bowed his head in a slight nod. "And someday I may be able to provide the answer you seek."

"Understand sir," Harry continued. "That I will continue to believe what I believe and if the person I believe is responsible threatens me or the ones I love, I will not back down. Year after year I've been the target of his abuse, but that has ended. I WILL defend my family, professor or no professor."

"Harry, I cannot allow you to threaten a Professor," Dumbledore replied in a firm tone.

"Arry..." Alain said as he put a hand on the young man's shoulder. "Allow me," He turned to Dumbledore. "Albus, I do not need to threaten your professor, but I will make a promise. If I find 'e is singling out my children and in zat I do mean 'Arry and 'Ermione as well, I will bring ze utmost political pressure I can upon 'im and yourself. You and your instructors still answer to ze school board and most of ze school board 'ave positions in ze Ministry."

"I will convey your words and concerns to Severus," Dumbledore replied evenly. "Though I'm sure Harry in his anger against Professor Snape is exaggerating the experiences he has endured."

"Exaggerating?" Harry exploded but it was Hermione who calmed him this time with a hand on his arm.

"Sir," Hermione started as she moved a step in front of Harry and faced the Headmaster. "I can tell you that Harry is not exaggerating anything, but to prove it, I shall start a journal detailing Professor Snape's treatment of Harry as compared to others in his class, especially the Slytherins. I will also gladly provide memories for your Pensieve to back up anything you wish to dispute."

"Provide me with a copy of zat journal every so often," Alain requested of Hermione but his eyes never left the Headmaster's.

Dumbledore sighed internally as he kept a serene external gaze at the people around him. He knew that Alain was correct. He could not protect Severus from both legal and political pressures if both were applied at the same time. With Madam Bones already focused upon Snape, Dumbledore could not afford to have further complications. "Alain surely you know that during these times, we should be concentrating on Voldemort, not worrying about how a professor teaches his class," He temporized.

"Zen you need to make sure I 'ave nothing to worry about," Alain replied in level but firm voice. "Is it really zat difficult to get a teacher to treat students fairly?"

Before Dumbledore could reply Sirius walked into the room rubbing his hands together. "Are we ready?" Harry's godfather stopped as he observed the tension in the room. "Did I miss something?"

Harry couldn't help it; between the look on Sirius' face and the comment he broke out in a grin as he replied. "A thing or two."

*** E E ***

Fifteen minutes later, after flooing to a heavily guarded entry room at the French Ministry, then being escorted to the exit area where they had portkeyed to the French Embassy in London and then finally side-along apparating, they appeared in a small dingy alleyway between two brick buildings. Trash was strewn everywhere while several discarded crates and boxes were piled in heaps that blocked anyone from seeing them from the street.

The first thought Harry had as he pulled his cloak tighter around him was how much colder it was in London compared to southern France. His breath was easily visible in the cool morning airs. He could see his bondmates also clutching their cloaks tighter around themselves.

"I think I owe you an apology," Hermione said to Fleur through teeth she was fighting to keep from chattering.

"Pourquoi?"

"Remember when I said I didn't really like you when I first saw you?"

"Oui?"

"Well one of the things was when you first got out of the Beauxbatons Carriage, you were complaining about the cold," Hermione explained. "I didn't understand why you didn't just wear heavier clothes. But now, I think I understand. Even knowing it was going to be colder, this chill sinks deep after being in the sun and beach."

"I'll forgive you," Fleur replied. "Do you wish me to perform a warming spell?"

"We'll be inside soon," Sirius said. "We're only going across the street."

"Where are we?" Harry asked.

"This way," Dumbledore said as he led them out of the alley. The moment they stepped out onto the street, sounds rose around them. They all stopped on a grass covered square as they took in the surroundings. They were in an obvious run-down part of town where several homes surrounded the area they were standing. The houses were old and many of them were in desperate need of repair. Paint was peeling from several doors, while many of the windows were broken and boarded up. A metallic groaning caused them all to look down the street where a wrought-iron fence surrounded the front garden of a home. Many of the bars of the fence were askew. It was the gate though, that made the sound. The gate hung from a single hinge and moved slightly in the chilled morning breeze. More noises were now becoming distinct. Two voices could be heard arguing through a window of another house, while music blared from a closer home.

"Can you see it?" Sirius asked as he pointed straight ahead.

"See what?" Harry asked as he looked around.

"The house."

"Remember the address I told you the other evening," Dumbledore instructed Harry.

As Harry brought the address to mind, "Number twelve Grimmauld Place, London," the scene in front of him changed. The two houses that had been directly in front of him seem to move on their own, pushing away from each other. Where the two properties used to meet another house now stood. As old and run-down as the other properties around but one that seemed far more ominous. Harry's eyes caught the tarnished brass numbers above the door. A one and a two. Number Twelve Grimmauld place now stood in front of them.

"What is this place?" Harry asked.

"It's home," Sirius replied ruefully as he pointed to the newly seen house "Or at least where I grew up before I ran away to live with the Potters."

"This?" Harry asked. It definitely had not been what he'd imagined the previous year when Sirius had suggested Harry come live with him.

"It's the ancestral home of the Blacks," Sirius said with a shrug. "I inherited it."

"In the middle of a Muggle neighborhood?" Hermione asked incredulously as she looked around.

"It wasn't one when it was built."

"We can discuss this later, but now we need to get inside," Dumbledore said as he started across the street.

"So Num..." Harry started but then realized he couldn't say the words of the address. He could think them easily enough. "Number twelve Grimmauld Place, London," He repeated several times in his mind but again he tried to say the words and couldn't.

"What are you doing?" Fleur asked. "Your thoughts go silent zen reappear?"

"Interesting, I realized I can think the secret, but I can't say it out loud. So we can't repeat the secret over our bond either? You can't hear me thinking it?"

"Non," Fleur replied. "Let me try?"

Harry could hear Fleur's thoughts and then a blank spot and then her thoughts again.

"Interesting..." Harry muttered but this time it was out loud.

"What is interesting?" Dumbledore asked.

"Oh...the secret. We can't hear it over the bond."

"Remarkable," Dumbledore said. "I hadn't thought about that possible weakness to the charm, but I am glad it proves effective even to such magic."

"It still might be revealed if someone is listening in the thoughts over a bond when you give the secret sir," Hermione added and then Sirius. "Is this really an Ancestral Home of a magical family?"

"Yeah," Sirius replied.

The home looked even worse as the made it to the steps. The surrounding gardens were a tangle of weeds and dirt while the windows were too dirty to see inside. The steps that led to the door were made of the same stone as the house, but large cracks were evident. The house itself soared four stories above them.

Harry led the way up the steps and by instinct he reached for the doorknob only to find there wasn't one. Neither was there a keyhole or handle. The only thing adorning the door was a large ornate brass knocker made to look like a very lifelike snake. "Your family liked snakes?" He asked his godfather.

"Slytherins through and through," Sirius replied with a shrug. "My being a Gryffindor brought them much shame."

"Am I supposed to knock?" Harry asked. "Oh wait there's a bell," His hand started for the small button inlaid into the door frame.

Sirius grabbed Harry's wrist before it reached the doorbell. "No, don't ever ring the bell. Here let me do it," Sirius said as he moved in front of Harry as he pulled out his wand. He tapped once on the door and a series of loud metallic clicks could be heard from the other side. When the last click had finished, the door creaked open with another sinister groan.

Harry looked back at his bondmates and shook his head in puzzlement but then followed Sirius through the door.

"I shall depart now," Dumbledore said once the party was inside the door. "I have much to do," He turned his long nose and stared directly at Harry. "Harry it is imperative you remain inside this house at all times. Do not wander away. Am I clear?"

Harry stared at the Headmaster. He'd thought about possibly going to the Grangers again and maybe even seeing Luna and Neville. "Sir, what about Hermione seeing her parents...they have wards up now."

"Please Harry, You are not safe anywhere but here. If you were to be seen at the Grangers you could bring unwanted attention to them even if you are not there at a later time."

"Fine," Harry shrugged. It was only a week.

"What about Neville's birthday?" Gabrielle asked. "Or Luna?"

"We aren't even sure if he's having a party," Hermione said.

"Even if he is, you must not leave this house," Dumbledore insisted.

"Do they know about tomorrow?" Harry asked. "We can see them then."

"We can invite Neville to your party," Fleur suggested.

"Luna too," Gabrielle added eagerly. "Zey can stay with us for a while."

"Do what you will as long as you stay here. You will see Alain tomorrow so you can coordinate your friends' returning with you if you wish." Dumbledore said. "Now again, I bid you a good day," With a slight nod, he turned a disappeared out the front door.

"Okay, you must be quiet," Sirius whispered as he led them down a dimly lit hallway once the door had closed behind the Headmaster. "We don't want to wake my mother," The hallway itself was lit by old-fashion gas lamps which caused shadows along the wall that showed peeling wallpaper around many portraits. Cobwebs gathered in every corner and around a large ornate Chandelier that hung suspended in the hall.

"Your mother?" Hermione said not too quietly. "But I thought…"

"Quiet…please," Sirius whispered urgently as he eyed a black moth-eaten curtain hanging on the wall. He pointed at the curtain and brought his finger to his lips as he shook his head.

Hermione, still confused, was staring at the curtain and missed the umbrella stand that looked like a leg of a troll. A loud crash echoed in the hall as she and the stand tumbled onto the floor.

Harry's first inclination was to lean down and help Hermione to her feet, but then the black curtain flew open causing Harry to look in that direction. At first he thought he was looking through a window; a window in which an old witch with a black cap had started screaming and clawing the air at them. In an instant, Harry had his wand out and pointed at the witch and only then did he realize he was looking at a portrait.

The noise around them increased as the portrait's screams awoke all the other portraits around them.

'Filth, scum, half-breeds…begone from my home. How dare you befoul the house of my father and my father's fathers…'

"Shut up you horrible old hag," Sirius boomed as he grabbed the curtain and tried to force it closed.

ʹYoooou!ʹ she howled, her eyes popping at the sight of Sirius. ʹYou've returned again after bringing that filth into my home. You're but a Blood traitor, abomination, I am shamed that you are of my flesh

"I said SHUT UP," Sirius boomed again.

"I'll get the other portraits Sirius, while you take care of her," A familiar voice ranged out behind them and Bill Weasley was there with his wand out.

"Give me a hand," Sirius said to the teens as he continued to pull on the curtain. "We have to get this closed or she'll never shut up."

The bonded all grabbed parts of the curtain and while Bill was busy stunning the other portraits, they struggled and finally managed to pull the curtain closed.

"Whew," Sirius said as he wiped his brow. "So," He said as he turned to face Harry. "What do you think of my mother?"

"Your…"

"Yeah, that's dear old mum. Lovely lady isn't she?" Sirius glanced back at the curtain. "When we first got in here, we tried to get her down but didn't have any success. We think it's a permanent sticking charm holding her up."

"Why don't you just cut the whole wall out?" Hermione asked.

Sirius had a chagrined look now. "Well we might have if Dumbledore hadn't already put the protection spells on the structure by the time we realized the portrait wasn't coming down. The way the spells are layered, we'd have to take down the Fidelius before he could remove those spells. It's not worth the time and effort, not to mention the danger to avoid an upset old hag's screams from time to time."

"Welcome," Bill said quietly as he came over at that time. His eyes seemed to linger on Fleur before he continued. "Everyone is in the kitchen eating breakfast."

"Who's all here?" Harry whispered.

"Dad and Mum of course. They weren't about to miss you coming. Ron, Gin, George and Fred as well as a couple of Order members. Not sure if you know Emmaline Vance and Mundungus Fletcher."

"We dealt with Mundungus during the year," Harry said in clear disgust as he remember the man trying to rip them off with the selling of the Basilisk.

"Let's head downstairs before we reawaken the bitch," Sirius said and moved past the bunch. The door Bill had come out of led to a set of very narrow stone steps going down. At the bottom Sirius led the way into a large cavernous room with a long table in the middle of it. Pots and pans hung on two of the walls while a large fireplace took up most of the far wall.

"HARRY!" Molly Weasley said as she moved faster than her short, squat frame suggested she could. Before he knew it Harry found himself engulfed in the familiar arms of Molly Weasley. "Oh dear. Let me look at you," She said as she held him out at arm's length. "At least you're eating this summer. And you've gotten a bit of sun I see. Good," She pulled him again into her arms before continuing. "You should have come here after that awful thing. I told Dumbledore he should have brought you directly here so we knew you were alright."

"I…I couldn't Mrs. Weasley," Harry replied. "You know Gabrielle was still in danger at that time."

The name of the youngest Delacour made Molly hesitate. She took a step back with a nervous look her face she addressed the young Veela. "Miss Delacour," Molly paused as she tried to find words.

"Gabrielle or Gabi, please," Gabrielle said.

"Gabrielle then, I…I wish to say I'm sorry for what I said, both in the Howler and at the station," Molly said. "I was wrong. I know that now, but I was truly doing what I thought was best for Harry at the time. I know that I was very much mistaken it seems in my beliefs."

"Madam Weasley," Gabrielle replied in a kind tone. "I know zat 'Arry thinks ze world of ze Weasleys and of you. 'E still 'as ze sweater you knitted for 'im for 'is first Christmas at 'Ogwarts. 'E 'as told me of ze kindness your family 'as shown 'im. I gladly accept your apology so 'e does not feel zere is need to choose between us," Gabrielle took Harry's arm. "I love 'im with all of my 'eart and 'ope you recognize zat is what it truly is, love."

"Thank you," Molly replied. She been touched by the mention of the Weasley sweater and that Harry had shared the meaning of it with the young girl. As she studied the two youngsters she could see the adoration in the Gabrielle's eyes as she looked at Harry. Molly couldn't help but feel a moment of sadness as her eyes flicked to where her daughter was sitting. She knew Ginny had a crush on Harry and the thought of the two of them together had been pleasant. She shrugged then because she knew young love was always fleeting. "Thank you," She repeated again to Gabrielle. Molly then turned to Fleur. "And you Miss Delacour, I hope you can forgive me for the things I said."

"Please Mrs. Weasley, call me Fleur, and I also accept your apologies," Fleur replied. "I am glad you 'ave come to know zat most Veela are not as you imagine."

"I have, thank you," Molly replied as her eyes left Fleur and found the last of the young women who had entered the kitchen. "Hermione, oh it's so nice to see you. Have you been enjoying yourself?"

"Very much so," Hermione replied. "The Delacours have treated me like family."

"What are you doing with your hair?"

"Oh..." Hermione hesitated, "I just like it like this better."

"It definitely suits you," Molly replied as turned back to the other Weasleys who were sitting at the table. Ginny had a large smile on her face while Fred and George were both grinning. "Do you know everyone? That's Emmaline Vance…"

A stately-looking woman wearing a shawl nodded. "Nice to meet you Mr. Potter. Read all about what you did against You-Know-Who. It was one of the reasons I joined the Order."

"Errr…Thanks," Harry replied.

"And that is Mundungus Fletcher," The words were more a sniff as she indicated a man who was studying a silver goblet intently. It was obvious that Molly didn't care for the man.

"Yeah we sort of dealt with Mr. Fletcher over the year," Harry replied as he eyed the scruffy looking man trying to hide what he felt about the man who'd tried to take advantage of them.

"Yeah that Basilisk earned a nice bit of gold it did," Mundungus replied with no hint that he felt sorry for trying cheat them. "Nice to meet you finally," He stood from his chair and offered his hand. Had anyone being paying any attention they would have noticed his other hand was busy slipping the silver goblet into his cloak pocket. After shaking hands with Harry and nodding to Hermione and the Delacours, he turned to Molly. "Beg pardon Molly, but I must be orf. I have business to take care of," He didn't bother to wait for a reply as he scooted past everyone and slipped out the door.

"He was the one we used to sell some of the Basilisk through," Harry explained.

"Well," Molly sniffed, "You should not have forced Arthur and me to take your money. It's your money and we don't.."

"Mrs. Weasley, please," Harry cut her off. "Just accept it in the kindness it was meant."

"Gabrielle," That was Ginny who had waited for the introductions, but now was racing toward her friend. "It'll be good to have more girls in the house," She said as she gave Gabrielle a hug. "I hope you don't mind, but you're staying in my room."

"Non, zat is wonderful," Gabrielle replied.

"Hermione and Fleur will share another room," Molly explained. "Harry, you can share Ron's room. Which reminds me. Ron," Molly had turned to her youngest son who was still sitting at the end of the table next to his father. "Don't you have something to say to the Delacours."

"Uh…yeah…uh.." Ron's face turned red as he looked from Fleur to Gabrielle. He swallowed, but then his eyes found Harry's. "Mate…uh before I say anything can I…I talk to you about the...uh you know what. That thing I mentioned in the letter."

Harry stared at his old friend for two seconds trying to force him to apologize by simply staring at him.

"It's alright," Fleur said in assuring her bondmate. "Find out what 'e wants. 'E needs to do it 'is way."

Harry sighed. "Sure Ron, what is it?"

"Uh…can we go to somewhere…private?" Ron's eyes flickered back to the Delacours and Hermione. "Just you and me?"

Harry was about to tell him whatever he was going to say, he could say it in front of everyone, but then he saw the almost pleading look in his old friend's eyes and relented with a nod.

"If you need us..." Hermione started.

"I'll be fine."

"My...my room is upstairs," Ron said as he started up the steps.

"He really must be nervous about something," Hermione said. "Most of his food is still on his plate."

Harry had to fight to keep the smirk off his face and he followed Ron. This time they turned away from the curtain covered portrait when they entered the hall. At the end was a very large staircase that had probably been elegant in its day, but had fallen into a sad state of neglect. Wood trimming pieces were missing while the carpet runner which was held in place by brass snakes carpet rods was badly soiled. Above them the snake-shaped chandelier gave off only a feeble light, casting eerie shadows everywhere.

Because of those shadows, it wasn't until they were right next to them that Harry noticed the shrunken heads mounted on plaques adorning the wall. He stopped and bent closer to look. "Are those House elves?"

"Yeah…" Ron replied quietly. "I heard Sirius telling mum about them. Seems one of his ancestors started a tradition of beheading them when they got too old."

"That's sick," Harry exclaimed.

"Yeah, it'll be interesting to see what Hermione thinks of them though," Ron grinned. "Wonder how SPEW looks upon lopping the heads off of elves?"

"I don't think you want to joke about it around her," Harry replied as he continued to stare at the heads. "But I can tell you that she's rethinking elves."

"So I can toss that SPEW badge?" Ron asked as he started moving up the steps again. When they got to the first floor he paused. "Ginny's room is over there," He pointed to a door down the hallway. "I think she plans on Hermione and that…uh I mean Fleur being in the other bedroom across from it. That room," Ron pointed at another door. "Is a drawing room. Don't go in there yet. We haven't got around to cleaning it."

"A bit of dirt isn't going to bother me," Harry replied.

"No…not that. This house is bloody filled with dark magic stuff. Things that'll kill you if you aren't careful."

"Oh."

"Come on," Ron said as he continued up the next flight of steps. "Our room is up on the next level."

When he got to the second floor Ron paused again. "Our room is right over there," He pointed to a door down the hall. "Bill has that room and the Master Bedroom is there," He pointed this time to double doors at the end of the Hall.

"I thought Bill had a place of his own," Harry said.

"Yeah...well a few days ago he offered to stay here while you were around, for protection you know..."

Harry nodded. "So your parents are in there?" He asked as he pointed toward the Master Bedroom.

"No, actually Buckbeak is in there. Sirius thought it was the best to keep him in his mother's old room," Ron explained. "Since it's the largest bedroom and all."

Harry tried to imagine the fantastic winged creature lying on a large regal bed and almost grinned but then a thought emerged. "I wonder if we can get Buckbeak's case reviewed now that Malfoy's dead and that Ministry executioner is found out to be a Death Eater?" Harry asked.

"He was?"

"Yeah, Amelia Bones told us on when we got off the train. He was trying to kill Pettigrew and everything."

"Well if it can be done it'd be great. Since Sirius has been gone, we've been feeding him. Bloody mess in there with all the bones and everything," Ron replied. "Anyway Mum and Dad as well as the twins are up one more level. Mum wanted to keep a closer eye on them to make sure they weren't making any more of their Weasley Wheezes."

"Is it working?"

"No, of course not," Ron replied as he opened the door to his room. "I took that bed, but if you want to swap let me know. Kind of nice not having the ghoul thumping all night, but I miss not being able to ride a broom especially since…" Ron's voice trailed away as he closed the door behind them.

"What?" Harry asked.

"Nothing," Ron replied as his ears turned red.

"Come off it," Harry exclaimed. "I know when you're trying to not say something."

"Well...I was thinking about trying out for the team this year. You know with Wood gone and no team last year I thought..." Ron shrugged. "Maybe I'd have a chance."

"Go for it," Harry replied. "You just about got Wood's enthusiasm. Thinking about Keeper then?"

Ron nodded. "But I'm going to need a good broom. With those galleons…" He looked down at his hands before continuing. "Thanks again for those."

"You and Ginny deserved them."

"Yeah well anyway…" Ron replied as he sat on his bed.

"So was that it, what you wanted to talk to me about?" Harry asked. "Quidditch?"

"No…" Ron started and then stopped. He was silent as he looked down at his hands but finally his eyes lifted to meet Harry's. "Look Harry, I wanted to apologize to you first. I…I'm really sorry for...for everything," Again Ron was silent as he looked around but then he came back to Harry. "I shouldn't have said anything to mum and...and everything," Ron sighed and Harry could see his old friend was trying. "Look I… I've been thinking and I wondered if maybe I was just jealous. I mean Hermione was showing interest in Krum and then you..." Ron stopped. "I mean Mum told me she was wrong and I better apologize as well but that's not why..."

"I think I understand what you're trying to say," Harry replied.

"I…I know it can't be the same," Ron muttered. "But…but I have a plan that I think that'll make it better."

"Better?" Harry asked. "What exactly is this plan of yours and how will it make it better?"

"Well if I'm jealous because you have a girlfriend, I thought…" Ron's ears redden even further, "maybe I should get one. You know then I wouldn't be jealous would I?"

"Get one?" Harry asked somewhat confused. "Get one what?"

"A girlfriend of course," Ron exclaimed.

You fancy someone?"

"Well, I really hadn't thought about it, not like that anyway," Ron replied. "But what I was thinking was, Hermione's a girl right? She must feel left out with you and Gabrielle always snogging. Well maybe she and I..."

"Hermione?" Harry asked incredulously. "You're thinking of just having Hermione for a girlfriend?"

"It's possible you know," Ron exclaimed as his face reddened. "Besides, I'm only talking about snogging and such, like you and that V…and Gabrielle do. You know, nothing serious or anything."

Harry sat down on the other bed as he stared at the red-head. "Nothing serious?" He wanted to laugh but he knew Ron was making a serious effort. He couldn't resist a quick mental conversation with Hermione though. "Hermione love, are you interested in being Ron's...uh snogging girlfriend?" He asked his best friend and fiancée as he tried to hold in the humor of his thoughts.

"WHAT?" Her mental reply came rapidly and overly harsh. "Whatever do you mean?"

Harry quickly gave her a quick synopsis of Ron's plan.

"That…that..." Hermione mentally stammered as Harry could feel the indignation pouring out of her. Finally she paused. "I'll be up in a minute."

"So what do you think mate," Ron asked as his eyes went back to the floor. "I thought maybe if you...you know suggested it, let her know you approved and everything…"

Harry didn't get a chance to answer because an outburst occurred below them and then the shouts of Sirius' mother started up again. Harry rose to go help but Ron shook his head.

"They'll take care of it," Ron said. "So…uh do think you could, you know suggest it?"

"Ron," Harry started unsure how to say what he needed to say. "look..." That was as far as he got before there was a knock on the door.

"Harry," Hermione's voice said as she opened the door. She stood there with Ginny at her side.

Harry could see Hermione looked pale and shaken. "What happened?" He asked.

"They…they're heads, elf heads on the wall," She said. "Didn't you see them?"

"Yeah, Ron said, "one of Sirius' ancestors started beheading them when they couldn't work anymore."

"WHAT? THAT…THAT'S BARBARIC?"

"Ssh…" Both Ginny and Ron exclaimed as Ginny shut the door. "One thing you don't want to do in this house is shout," Ginny said.

"Wait to you see the crazy old elf who lives here," Ron said. "He's a nutter."

"Don't talk about elves like that," Hermione said sternly.

"Yeah, well you'll be saying the same thing when you see'm."

"I seriously doubt it," Hermione replied before she turned to Harry. "Harry, don't you think it's time we went down and told everyone the news?" She raised her eyebrow. "Then I can SNOG my fiancé in front of HIM," Her eyes left little doubt to who HIM was.

Harry could see her left hand and how the thumb moved over the spot her engagement ring normally was. They had removed them again until the explanation could be given. "Yes, I definitely think so," Harry replied. "Ron, let's go downstairs. We have something that we have to explain to everyone. We can talk later."

Ron's eyes darted toward Hermione and back to Harry. "Uh...you're not going to tell anyone are you? I mean...uh about what I was saying?"

Harry's eyes danced from Ron to Hermione and Back to Ron. "I won't tell her anything she doesn't already know," Harry promised.

CRACK! CRACK! Fred and George appeared next to the bed. "Mum wants to know if you're finished your breakfast Ronikins," George asked. "She's about to take away your plate."

"You're apparating now are you?" Harry asked the twins.

"Took the test shortly after school was out," Fred replied with a smug grin.

"Yeah and you're driving mum nuts, apparating all around the house."

"You're just jealous dear brother," George replied. "Now, what shall we tell Mum?"

"We're coming back down," Harry replied. "We have our big announcement to make."

Fred and George looked at each other and grinned. "We're off then," They said simultaneously. "We need to make sure we have great seats…away from Mum if you know what we mean," They spun and were gone with another crack.

"Stupid," Ron muttered. "Always doing magic and apparating everywhere they go in the house just because they can. Not to mention their stupid prank shop. Going on and on about opening up a shop in Diagon Alley someday."

"But they'll be good at it," Hermione replied.

"Yeah, I guess," Ron sighed. "Mum isn't happy of course. She wants them to be a part of the Ministry like dad and Percy."

"We can talk about that later, let's go down and explain a few things and hopefully you'll apologize to Gabrielle."

Ron stole another glance at Hermione before he nodded. "Just…just don't say anything."

"Too late," Harry said to his bondmate who smiled back at him when Ron had walked past them to head back down the steps.

A/N Okay I have a pesky annoyance from Canon (one of many of course.) The Fidelius charm is suppose to protect the secret. That is why Snape is unable to say the address to Bellatrix in HBP. If that's the case, then how could Harry shout out the address to the floo in OOP. Yes he was alone, but with things like enchanted mirrors and such it seems the magic should not allow a person to say the address at all. I mean if you can say it while you're alone, then you should be able to write it down when you're alone.

Again it's just an inconsistent annoyance and has no bearing on this story except that I will not allow anyone to say the complete address openly.

 
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