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.



8. Chapter 8 Let's Try This Again

Hermione Granger sighed as she stared at the food on the plate in front of her. She didn't have an appetite but she was trying to eat anyway. Though at that particular moment she didn't even have a utensil in her hand and she definitely wasn't thinking about food. She was thinking about her friend Harry Potter.

"I wonder if it's over?" She thought as her eyes involuntarily glanced in the direction she knew the medical wing was in. She was worried about her best friend and for their friendship. She felt like she'd failed her friend and in that failure she had cost Harry his future. It had all started four days previous when Fred and George had shown up in the library to tell her and Ron to go to Professor McGonagall's office where they'd been told of being hostages and put into the enchanted sleep.

"I should have gone back," She chastised herself, not for the first time. "I should have said no and went back to help Harry. Maybe we could have found something or Dobby might have found him earlier or...something, anything that might have changed what happened under the lake."

She glanced down the table and saw her other friend, Ron Weasley. He didn't seem to be bothered at all. "But he doesn't know does he?" She reminded herself. "What will it be like when Harry's bonded? How will Ron take it when he finds out?" She snorted at that. She knew Ron would be jealous. "Two beautiful girls when Ron had to get Harry to get him a date to the Yule Ball?" Hermione shook her head, knowing that she'd probably end up going between the two of them again...unless.

"But will they even be here?" She wondered. "The Delacours both attend Beauxbatons so will Harry move to France? Is that possible?" The possibility that she'd never see her best friend again made a shiver run down her back. "Even if he does stay, can I still be his friend?" She didn't want to come between Harry and his bondmates especially since..."No, I can't think of that, it can't happen!" She shook her head to clear those thoughts. Hermione once again glanced at Ron who was chatting with Seamus Finnegan.

"What about Ron?" Hermione thought. She started examining her second friend; analyzing him like an Arithmancy problem. Hermione knew he had several character flaws; one of the most serious was his jealousy. He had always been jealous of Harry; of his fame and money and possibly even his courage. It had even been that jealousy that had caused him to react as he did in that first year charms class that lead to Hermione almost killed by the troll. The jealousy was always there, simmering right below the surface, ready to rear up whenever something happened to set him off like Harry's name coming out of the Goblet earlier in the year. When it did surface, it would turn her red-headed friend into someone who was to be despised.

"If Harry does leave, would I be the brunt of that jealousy?" Hermione asked herself. "Would he turn his jealously to my intelligence, my ambitions? What if I made new friends, would he be jealous of them too?" The answer was obvious. "Yes, but then again what would our friendship be based on? Without Harry, we really have nothing in common," Hermione remembered all the times Ron had belittled the things she loved like her books and her love of learning. A pattern that had continued even after becoming her friend. "No, without Harry we can't be friends. What would we do if we were? I don't care about Quidditch, at least not when Harry's not playing. I don't play chess and he hates books, at least those without pictures anyway," The last was with a little laugh as she remembered all of the Adventure of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle comics Ron had in his room.

"Harry," Hermione thought of her friend again. Along with those thoughts came the pang of her failure, and again she looked toward the hospital wing. "When will I know? Would he just leave without saying good-bye?"

"Good-bye?" Tears formed in her eyes as she thought of that word; of a possible life without Harry in it. She remembered her life before Harry. The years growing up had been fraught with loneliness. It had been a time of being bullied and being called names like geek, nerd, bookworm and beaver face. That had just made her lose herself in more books as she strove to prove herself better than those people.

"Then I found out I was a witch," Hermione thought as she fingered her vinewood wand. It had given her hope as she realized she'd be going somewhere she'd be like everyone else. She would finally fit in. But it had been the same when she got to Hogwarts; name calling, bulling and rudeness. It was even worse than it had been because there were no parents to comfort her. She'd spent a lot of nights crying herself to sleep. But all of that had changed on that Halloween night and all because of Harry.

Hermione remembered the experience as if it had just happened. She could almost feel the toilet seat she'd been sitting on in the girl's loo crying because Ron had insulted her once again. She recalled hearing the bathroom door opening and the stench that had flooded the room. Hermione remembered opening the door of her privacy stall and coming face to face with a fully grown mountain troll. She'd read about them, but never expected to see one, especially in the girls' loo. Fear had frozen her in place and she knew she was going to die that night in that loo.

Then the miracle had occurred. A boy barely a third the size of the troll was there. "Harry was there," He had burst into the room and started yelling and throwing things at the troll. Then he'd done what Hermione recognized later as the bravest and most stupid thing she could possibly imagine. He'd launched himself onto the back of the troll lodging his wand up its nose.

"For me," Hermione thought. "He did that just for me," No one had ever stood up for her, or come to her aid before except teachers and her parents. She hadn't believed it at first, but there he was, attacking a creature three times his size for her. Risking his life for her. When the troll had been knocked out, Hermione had looked into Harry's eyes and for the first time in her life, she'd seen someone looking back at her with kindness and friendship. From that moment on she would have done anything for Harry. She finally had a friend who cared about her. Over the last three years, they had been inseparable, well outside of the time with the broom last year. Hermione, with Harry's and Ron's friendship had blossomed into a confident young woman.

"I'm sorry Harry," Hermione thought for the hundredth time in the last four days. For all their friendship, she knew she'd failed him badly over the years. "I should have known that bottle was self re-filling," She thought as the memory of their first year adventure. "All the clues were there. Someone was obviously ahead of us. The broken winged key, the knocked out troll, but yet the small bottle was full. If only I'd seen it then, we could have put it in something and waited for it to refill. I should have been there helping him," But she hadn't, she'd went back and left Harry to fight Quirrell alone. Even to this day, she still felt guilty.

"Then the Basilisk," She thought of the day she'd been petrified. "Why did I have to prove I was right? If I'd just told him what I thought it was, maybe Harry and Ginny might not have nearly died."

Last year had been different. Though she almost lost Harry's friendship over the broom that was delivered, she wouldn't have done it differently. It had been a tough decision but it came down to that fact she would prefer Harry mad at her and alive than being her friend until the broom caused his death. If that broom had harmed or killed him and she hadn't acted, she wouldn't have been able to live with herself. But their friendship had survived and that time she had been there with Harry at the end. He finally had someone beside him when he faced the challenges to save his godfather and it had been her.

Hermione's thoughts turned to this year and the challenges it had brought. She'd helped him get through the first task with the summoning charm. She remembered Harry's flight against the dragon, how she'd raked her skin with her nails in worry as he'd ducked and dodged the giant creature.

"But for all of that, it does not excuse my latest failure. The one that is going to cost Harry his future," She remembered the second task, having searched the grey surface after climbing out of the frigid water; waiting for Harry to emerge. The turbulent following moments would be forever etched in her mind. The relief of seeing Ron's red hair appear, only to be replaced by anxiety when Harry failed to appear. Then after the longest couple of minutes she had ever endured; the wave of relief that washed over her as she saw Harry's black hair break the surface turned to ice at what followed; The scream by the Beauxbatons champion, the floating body, Dumbledore, Madam Pomfrey's actions. Then Hermione had watched in horror as Harry had collapsed between the two Beauxbatons. She'd tried frantically to get to them but was forced to stay away.

"WHY? Why didn't I go back to Harry? He needed me," It wasn't until the previous day that she'd found the penalty for her latest mistake. She'd first thought he'd ONLY risked his life to save another and had almost died from it, but when Madam Pomfrey hadn't let her see Harry nor would tell her what was wrong with him, she'd really started to worry.

It was in that worry that she'd found out the worst part, at least for her. Two nights after the task had ended; Hermione had been lying in her bed reading book after book trying to figure out what might have happened to Harry. As she swore to herself she'd never let him down again, she'd realized the truth. Harry Potter had become the most important person in her life. He was more than just a friend, or even a best friend. In the pain of not knowing what was wrong with Harry, she realized she had fallen in love with her best friend.

Hermione thought of that night with its attached misery. She'd even allowed herself to think that maybe Harry felt the same way. She had planned to start hinting at it as soon as he was well. She even had taken his hand yesterday and for a brief moment she'd seen something in his eyes that had given her hope that he did feel the same. Then she had found out about the bond and that Harry really didn't have a choice in accepting it and her thoughts of them being together were dashed into a million pieces along with her heart.

Her thoughts then drifted back to the previous night when Harry had found her and asked for her help. "He can never be what I might have wanted," She thought. "But I will still always be there for him," Her eyes watered again as she remembered the last time she'd seen him. He'd walked out of the common room to have dinner with two girls he didn't know, but would spend the rest of his life with. Once he had left, the girl who knew Harry the best went to her bed and cried herself to sleep again wondering what might have been.

While Hermione was lost in her thoughts, back in Professor Dumbledore's office another conversation was underway concerning her and Harry.

"You asked if Harry had anyone he trusts completely," Professor Dumbledore said to Professor Berceau. "What do you have in mind?"

"As I said earlier, we have to fight his self-doubt," Rachelle explained, "Obviously we cannot actually cure it in such a short time, but if there is someone who he trusts absolutely, there is a technique to send the person into the bondimage during the bonding. That person would guide Harry and his bondmates to his heart. If he trusts this person enough he might be able to ignore the images of self-doubt and move on," Rachelle turned to Fleur and Gabrielle. "I know you tried, but as of right now he doesn't trust you enough. When you are bonded, that trust is something you will be able to build."

"I understand," Fleur said, while Gabrielle just nodded.

"So this Hermione, is that what you said her name was?" Rachelle asked as she turned back to Dumbledore.

"Yes, Hermione Granger," Dumbledore said.

"Could we talk to her? To see if she thinks Harry trusts her? Since she is in his heart already she might be the best hope."

"Of course. Fawkes, could you take this note to Minerva in the Great Hall?" Dumbledore asked the Phoenix sitting on his perch. He picked up a quill and quickly jotted a letter. "Wait for her, if she says Miss Granger is not there, find her for me please. This is most urgent."

The phoenix took the note and was gone in a flash of fire; a second later he appeared in the Great Hall. The majestic phoenix circled the room once before landing next to the deputy Headmistress.

Hermione was still lost in thought when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She immediately looked up, hoping to see Harry but found herself looking at Professor McGonagall.

"Miss Granger, you need to go with Fawkes to the Headmaster's office. According to this note, it is extremely urgent and has to do with Harry."

"Harry? Fawkes?" Hermione said not taking in too many of the words. Then she noticed the red and gold phoenix flying toward her.

"Yes, just grab one of Fawkes' tail feathers when he offers them," Professor McGonagall explained.

Hermione reacted to McGonagall's word more than actually comprehending them. When Fawkes stopped and hovered right over Hermione's head, she reached up and gingerly took a feather in her fingers. Instantly she found herself weightless and being pulled out of her seat. With two flaps of Fawkes' wings and a flash of fire, the Great Hall disappeared and in its place was the Headmaster's office. She looked around in confusion at what she saw.

"Excellent Fawkes, thank you. And thank you Miss Granger. Please sit down he have much to discuss," Professor Dumbledore said.

Hermione was still blinking trying to adjust to the abrupt changes in the last minute. Then finally she found herself. "Professor McGonagall said this was about Harry?" Hermione asked but then seeing Fleur and Gabrielle but not seeing Harry worry overcame her, "Is there something wrong with the bonding? How is Harry? Is there anything wrong with him?"

"Please sit," Professor Dumbledore requested again. "So you know about the bonding? May I ask how?"

"I ran into Harry when he was coming to your office yesterday," Hermione said as she took a seat next to Fleur and Gabrielle. "He told me."

"Did he tell anyone else?" Professor Berceau asked.

When Hermione looked questioningly at the Veela professor, Dumbledore spoke up, "I apologize, Miss Granger, this is Professor Rachelle Berceau of the Veela Magical Institute."

"So there is a problem?" Hermione asked.

"Yes there is Miss Granger. I apologize if some of my questions are blunt or do not seem to apply but we have little time left to work around the problem and complete the bond," Rachelle said. "Did Harry mention it to anyone else?"

"Uh,..no," Hermione replied. "He actually lied to our other friend to get him to leave so he could tell me."

Rachelle gave a significant glance toward Professor Dumbledore before turning back to Hermione. "That's good. Miss Granger, do you think Harry trusts you? I mean completely trusts you, even to put his life in your hands?"

Hermione sized up the person speaking to her, and then she turned to Professor Dumbledore who gave her a nod. She returned her gaze back to Professor Berceau. "He has before, but it all depends on the context of the problem."

"What do you mean?"

"In our first year, we came across a logical puzzle," Hermione looked over at Dumbledore again to make sure he wanted her to continue; when he didn't object she continued. "It was a series of potions, some were poison, but there was a logical solution. Harry believed me and drunk the potion I told him was the solution and it was correct. Had I been wrong Harry might have died, so yes he trusts me as long as he hasn't already made up his mind. When he thinks he is right, then there is nothing anyone can say that will change his mind."

"What about emotionally?" Professor Berceau asked. "Does he trust you at an emotional level?"

"What...what do you mean?" Hermione asked as a blush crept across her cheeks.

"Would he take your advice or suggestions when it comes to emotions?"

"I don't know. I would like to think so, but he is very complicated when it comes to emotions."

"How do you mean?"

"He...he will give of himself but he never seems to want to take from people," Hermione explained.

"That sounds about right. Miss Granger, in your opinion who does Harry trust the most in the world?"

Hermione started going through the people Harry knew until she finally came up with a list of three people Harry would trust. "He would trust Professor Dumbledore."

"Ah… I think in this case he might not, as lot of the problems Harry is enduring right now can be laid at my feet. I take full responsibility for them and I will speak directly with Harry when time permits concerning them," Dumbledore said. "Also Miss Granger if you were thinking he might trust his well behaved dog, that might not work in this case either."

Hermione looked at the aged Headmaster, "Well in that case," She started as she bit her lower lip before she replied "it would be me."

"Miss Granger, what do you know of the Veela bonding process?" Rachelle asked her.

"I read some things about the bond itself, but not about the process of the actual bonding," Hermione replied.

Rachelle explained the bondimage process and the heart and the entry required to complete the bond. "But Harry can't get through his self doubt that someone would love him."

"And how can I help?" Hermione asked.

"There is a way to put you in the bondimage with Harry and the Delacours, and we hope he trusts you enough to overcome those doubts," Rachelle said. "If he does, you'll be able to lead them through the uh...obstacles."

"Does Harry know about what you're asking me to do?" Hermione asked.

"Not yet. I understand he was unconscious again when they left the hospital to come here to request my help," Professor Berceau said. "We have been trying to get as much in place as we can since time is running out. If you agree to help, we would want you to see the memory of the bonding process and what went wrong before so you will know what to expect."

"I would do anything for Harry, Professors, but he has to want me too," Hermione said. "Can you bring him here or let me go there and talk to him?"

"I think we should pay a visit to the hospital Albus," Rachelle suggested. "I would like to examine Harry if he is awake and I can talk to your nurse at the same time. I think it would be prudent to verify the time left anyway. If possible, we can bring Harry back here if he is better since this is where the pensieve is. I also suggest we leave the young women here together. Give them a chance to talk among themselves. A familiarity between them now will help in the bondimage."

"Certainly," Professor Dumbledore said. "Mr. and Mrs. Delacour, do you want to join us or maybe have a quick bite to eat in the Great Hall?"

The elder Delacours didn't look like they wanted to leave their daughters, but after a few seconds of staring between them and Professor Berceau they relented, and decided they would head for the Great Hall. Professors' Dumbledore and Berceau left shortly after them headed for the Hospital wing."

It was awkward for Hermione once everyone had left. She sat beside Fleur and Gabrielle for two minutes but none of them spoke. Finally Fleur broke the silence. "I…I want you to know zat I do love 'Arry Miss Granger and zat I am truly sorry. I know 'e is your friend."

"Please call me Hermione. I am glad for Harry. Well glad isn't the word I don't suppose. Just I...I really hope it all works out," Hermione said. "If Harry wants my help, I will do everything I can."

"E spoke about you a lot last night," Gabrielle offered. "E told us you 'ad saved 'is life. You kept 'im safe from ze Devil's snare and zen 'e said zat 'ad you not figured out about ze Basilisk 'e would not 'ave known what was in store for 'im and probably would 'ave died in ze Chamber."

"If I had told someone about what I thought it was before getting petrified he might never have had to go into the Chamber," Hermione responded. "Did he tell you about the Troll he saved me from in the first year? How he jumped on the back of it and his wand got shoved up its nose?"

For the next few minutes they exchanged stories about what Harry had said happened and what Hermione's versions were. Hermione started realizing the blonde-haired Fleur she had detested earlier in the year was not the same woman who sat nervously near her.

"It's not surprising," Fleur told her when Hermione mentioned it. "Eet is frustrating when men constantly stare at me for my beauty. I want to believe I am more zan zat. But zey don't care what I am like in 'ere," she put her hand to her chest, "only what my rear or my face looks like. Women tend to not like me because of ze effects I 'ave on zeir boyfriends. So I just usually keep to myself and it appears rude sometimes, but to my friends, I think I am a much better person."

"I guess I can understand that, though I'll never have that problem," Hermione replied.

"I think you do not give yourself enough credit 'Ermione. You are very lovely, and many many young men were staring at you because of how beautiful you were at ze Yule Ball."

"They were just surprised about my hair," Hermione replied disregarding the compliment. "Normally it's like this," She indicated the bushy display of hair on her head.

"Non, zat was not it. Maybe I should 'ave traded partners with you zough. Davies drool was getting to me," Fleur said with a little laugh. "Zough why didn't 'Arry ask you?"

Hermione explained about Harry's crush on Cho Chang and his attempt to ask her and then not asking anyone until the last minute.

"Ermione," Fleur said gently, "I think you need to know something," Fleur sighed but continued. "Zis is difficult because of what is going to 'appen, but I want to be entirely truthful wiz you. It might even make you not want to 'elp and...and we'll understand if zat is so."

"What?" Hermione asked.

"It's something that can be verified in ze bondimage," Fleur explained as she took Hermione's hand in hers. "Arry might 'ave 'ad a crush on someone else, but 'e is in love wiz you."

It took a few seconds for Fleur's word to register. All of the thoughts from the night before last came back. "What...How do you know? Are you sure?" She asked.

"I didn't notice it when it was 'appening but Professor Berceau and your 'eadmaster were discussing it earlier," Fleur explained. "You are in 'Arry's 'eart in bondimage and zat can only means 'e loves you. 'As 'e never told you?"

"Uh…no. I...I don't know what to say," Hermione replied in astonishment. "He…we...uh…no. We have just been friends."

Gabrielle remembered her conversation with Harry from that morning. "I don't think 'e knows. 'E told me zis morning zat 'e doesn't know what love is."

Hermione looked at the younger of the two sisters as she thought of her friend. She knew some things about his relatives and his home life. "How could I not think of that?" She thought to herself. "I...I should have thought of that, what kind of friend am I?"

"A very good one, I think. Zough I'm sorry if I upset you," Fleur said. "I just thought you should know."

"Thank you," Hermione replied still trying to comprehend the revelation. Then she saw Fleur looking questioningly at her and knew what she wanted. "I'll still help. I..." She swallowed as she stopped what she was about to say. "But how do you feel about it? He's going to be your bondmate. Is it going to be a problem if I'm his friend?"

"Ermione," Fleur started as tightened her grip on the younger witch's hand, "I want 'Arry to be 'appy. I've seen ze pain and suffering 'e's endured in 'is life," Fleur paused as a look of sadness crossed her face, "If I could undo ze bond I would and let 'im be 'appy with you. Gabrielle and I could choose not to complete ze bond, but I think 'Arry would never forgive 'imself if we did zat. So don't even think for a second zat Gabrielle or I would ever stop you two from being friends. I just 'ope someday you can call me a friend as well."

"Me too 'Ermione," Gabrielle added.

"Even if I were to tell you that I realized I was in love with Harry as well?" Hermione asked wanting to completely clear the issue between them.

"Even zen," Fleur said. "Just please don't be jealous of us when we are bonded wiz 'Arry."

"I'll try not to be," Hermione replied honestly but then wondered if it was even going to be an issue. "So have you and Harry discussed where you'll be living?"

"Ere of course," Gabrielle replied. "Arry is giving us our lives by agreeing to ze bond, ze least we can do is not take 'is life away."

A sense of relief washed over Hermione at those words. She knew things would be different between her and Harry but at least he would still be around and his bondmates wanted to be her friends as well. "That's good. I...I have a feeling that Ron, that's our other friend is not going to understand though."

The conversation continued on until the door opened allowing Professor Dumbledore, Professor Berceau and Harry to re-enter the room. As soon as he entered Hermione was out of her seat, launching herself at her best friend, giving him a hug that would make Molly Weasley jealous. Around both of them came the arms of Fleur and Gabrielle.

"Can't breathe," Harry wheezed, then seeing the first person to hug him. "Hermione what are you doing here?"

"What else do I do, I'm helping you," Hermione said forcing herself to smile. "That is if you want me too. But how are you? I've been very worried."

"I've had better days," Harry said then turning to Fleur and Gabrielle, "I'm sorry. I want you to know that I am not consciously fighting this bond."

"We know 'Arry," Fleur said. "We're going to get through zis."

"I think we have a way to get you bonded Harry," Rachelle said. "But I have one question to ask you. Do you trust Hermione?"

Harry looked confused and then looked at Hermione before responding, "I trust her with my life."

"Harry you know what you saw in your bondimage, would you let Hermione see those images?" Rachelle Berceau asked and then indicated the basin. "This thing is a pensieve and that will allow Hermione see Fleur's memories of what happened."

"Why? What is her part in this?" Harry asked. "It isn't that I don't want her too, I…I just don't want it to burden her."

"Harry, how many burdens have you borne of mine," Hermione asked. "How many times have you protected me? Let me help you now. If Professor Berceau thinks I can help in your bondimage, let me."

"Help? How?" Harry asked as he looked around in confusion.

Rachelle spent several minutes explaining how they would put Hermione into the bondimage with Harry and the Delacours; how she hoped Harry would let Hermione guide him through the obstacles he faced and to his heart.

Harry turned to Hermione. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Harry, I...I would do anything for you. Now, tomorrow, forever, all you have to do is ask."

"Thanks, I...I…thanks Hermione," Harry replied.

"Hermione, why don't you and Fleur view the pensieve together? She can tell you what you are seeing," Professor Berceau suggested. "In the meantime, Professor Dumbledore, I need to request two full Veelas to join us from the institute. I will need their magic to push Hermione into the bondimage when it's time."

"Of course. Make any arrangements you need and let me know when it's time for them to come through."

Hermione and Fleur went over to the Pensieve and Fleur told Hermione what to do. As their faces touched the liquid they felt themselves falling into the white silvery memory. A few minutes later they were back and Hermione was visibly shaken. She walked over to Harry and put her arms around him. "Fleur was right in there you know," She said softly. "That is not you, none of that is your fault, nor would it ever come close to making me think less of you. But I also think you now have three witches who plan on hexing your Aunt and Uncle to oblivion at the soonest opportunity," She paused to look into her friend's eyes. "I am thinking of some very creative curses at the moment."

"But you can't do magic there," Harry said. "You would get in trouble."

Hermione glanced over to Fleur, "Fleur, I do believe you are of age as you're in the Triwizard? If I tell you which curse I want on each of his relatives, would you do the honor of casting it for me?"

"Gladly, though only after I've done my own."

Harry couldn't help but smile at the thought.

It was slightly more than an hour later that Harry was back on his hospital bed. Fleur and Gabrielle were once again on either side of the bed hold his hands. Hermione sat on the bed holding the free hands of Fleur and Gabrielle. The two full Veelas were positioned on either side of the bed, each of their hands were on top of the bonding persons' coupled hands.

"Now try to relax Harry," Rachelle instructed. "Trust Hermione and I think we can get through this. Are you ready?"

Harry once again eyed Fleur and then Gabrielle, then his eyes found the worried but determined expression in Hermione's almond color eyes. He then noticed that as she stared back at him, it seemed she was trying to fight back tears. Harry tried to smile to comfort her and then turn to Rachelle. "Yes."

"Then begin," The Veela bond expert said. "And good luck."

Once again, Fleur and Gabrielle brought Harry's hands to their lips as they released their magic into the bond. This time, the magic came from the full Veelas as well. The golden glow surrounded Harry and his bondmates, as well as Hermione.

As before, Harry found himself in front of the house of his dreams. Hermione was the first to join him. As her eyes swept the home and gardens they fell on the window of the library. There, just as it had been when Fleur had pointed it out in the Pensieve memory, she saw herself sitting in the glowing yellow light. Hermione was about to comment on it, when she reconsidered. "No, it's can't be, so why make it worse," She thought. She took a deep breath to fight the rising emotions. Finally she said, "It's a beautiful house," and then lapsed into silence. She was glad when a moment later Fleur and Gabrielle came up beside them, each taking one of Harry's hands in theirs.

"Lead the way Hermione," Harry said.

Hermione observed the house across the street. It looked so close physically, but she knew how far away it was psychologically. She swallowed nervously but then steadied herself as she thought. "I will not fail Harry, not again," She took the first step and then the next. Harry along with Fleur and Gabrielle moved behind her. She'd just got the first hint of confidence when it started again.

"FREAK!" Vernon said as he materialized in front on them. "No one would ever want the likes of you."

"No Harry," Hermione exclaimed. "It's not real. Come this way," She stepped to the left only to find Dudley now in front of them.

"What a waste you are Freak. Nothing but a waste of perfectly good food, just like Mum and Dad say you are."

"SHUT UP!" Hermione yelled at the image but it did no good. Another step and Aunt Petunia stood there, another and Aunt Marge was now laughing, "Ripper got sick when he bit you," Each way Hermione tried to lead them the images appeared. She even tried to force her way through but it was impossible. She turned to Harry and saw the look on his face.

"Trust me, please Harry trust me. It's not real. This is not you. You deserve happiness, you deserve love," But she knew she was losing. "I will not fail, not this time," she thought as her mind searched for an answer. Only one thing came to mind, one way to prove it, to prove he was loved. That she loved him. She pulled Harry close and kissed him. She pressed the kiss as deeply as she could. They might be only in Harry's mind, but the kiss felt as real as it could. The world around them froze. The sounds of Harry's relatives ceased. Silence.

As the kiss ended, Harry looked at his friend in surprise. "Why…what?" he asked as his eyes found hers.

"Because I love you. I truly do and I'm not going to let you fail," Hermione said as tears were welling in her eyes. "I realized you are the most important person in the world to me and I want you to be happy. Get rid of your doubts Harry. Trust me, trust me when I say I love you, trust that Fleur truly loves you and so does Gabrielle. You deserve happiness, you deserve love. Please let Fleur and Gabrielle give it to you."

Harry could only stare at Hermione as he tried to comprehend what she'd said and what she'd done. He could still taste her lips on his. He looked at Fleur and Gabrielle and he saw the love in their faces, he could almost feel the love that reflected in their eyes. He turned back to Hermione and as his eyes found the same love in her almond colored eyes he knew she did love him. The golden light from inside the house flared even brighter and in that light the images of the Dursleys faded from view. Nothing remained except Harry, Fleur, Gabrielle, Hermione and Harry's heart.

Hermione looked around and as she saw the empty street she felt a sense of relief and then a sense of loss and sadness. The sadness threatened to consume her but as she turned back to Harry she refused to let it show. She glanced at Fleur and Gabrielle and forced a smile toward them. "Take care of him; give him the happiness he truly deserves."

"We will," Gabrielle replied. They were all walking casually now, strolling toward the house that was Harry's heart.

It was difficult for Hermione to climb the steps to the front porch. Her heart ached. Knowing that Harry loved her but could do nothing but take these two women for his lifelong companions hurt more than she thought possible. "I didn't fail him though, not this time," In that thought she took what comfort she could. The door loomed large now. It took a couple of seconds for her to take her eyes from it. She swallowed and again forced a smile. "Good luck," She said as she gave Harry and the Delacour women hugs.

"Thank you," Fleur whispered to the younger witch.

"Just love him," Hermione answered and then not knowing what else to do she turned and started walking away, trying to keep Harry from seeing the tears that were threatening to escape.

Harry watched his friend walk away from him. "Hermione?" He called to her.

She paused before she turned, but when she did; her eyes were wet with tears.

"So this is the price I have to pay? The price for being Noble?" Harry asked her. "To give up the one person who's always been there for me?"

"I'll always be there for you Harry," Hermione replied as she sniffled. "Always. No matter where life takes us, I'll always love you. Fleur and Gabrielle also love you. Believe in them and let yourself be happy," Once again she turned to leave. She knew she couldn't watch, it would be too difficult.

Fleur looked questioningly at her sister who responded with a nod of her head. "Wait 'Ermione," Fleur called to Hermione.

"What?" Hermione asked as she turned toward the two young women. The tears were now flowing freely.

"Join us."

"What do you mean?"

"You can bond with 'Arry as well. 'E loves you and you love 'im."

"I…I couldn't, I can't. I'm not Veela," Hermione said but in her heart she wished she was.

"Non, but you are 'ere because of Veela magic and you love 'Arry. Ze bond would form if you join us," Fleur explained.

"It...it would?" Hermione asked. "But...but why? Why are you asking me? He's your bondmate."

"Because I truly want 'Arry to be 'appy. Zat's what love is. 'E is giving us 'is future to save our lives. Zis is our way of giving something back to 'im," Fleur explained. "Someday we can hope 'e loves us as much as 'e loves you now, but we can all share in zat love 'e 'as for you until maybe zere is love for us as well," Fleur said. "Share zis with us. Be our sister and our friend."

"Join us 'Ermione," Gabrielle pleaded. "Elp us give 'Arry 'appiness. Be my friend and my sister."

"But...but I'm only fifteen years old, I don't know if I can commit myself to a lifetime," Hermione replied but there wasn't much fight in her argument.

"It's your choice," Fleur replied. "We want you to, but you 'ave to want it as well. Do you really love 'Arry? Can you accept Gabrielle and me as sisters sharing ze same man, to possibly share ze same 'usband someday."

"I...I do love him," She said as a bit of hope, of sunshine seemed to fight its way into her heart. She turned to Harry who was looking on in confusion. "I do love you. Do you want me Harry? Would you want me to be part of this bond?"

It took a few moments to realize what had been said and offered but finally Harry found his voice. "You have been a part of my life for years Hermione, and I really don't ever want to think of a day when you aren't. I'm committed to Fleur and Gabrielle, but if you...well I guess what I'm saying is yes. If you can accept Fleur and Gabrielle and this whole situation, then of course I want you to be a part of my life."

Hermione retraced her steps back to Harry where for several seconds she stared into his eyes. Slowly her eyes closed as she leaned forward until their lips once again touched. This kiss was less desperate, more tender than the first one. His lips parted as he returned the kiss. It deepened as the love the two of them shared flowed between them. When it ended, she looked again into Harry's eyes. "Are you really sure Harry? Can you put up with me for a lifetime?"

"As many lifetimes as you can put up with me," He assured his friend. "I'm sure."

Hermione turned to Fleur and Gabrielle, "Are you really sure?"

"Oui," The replied together.

Hermione turned back to Harry. "Yes Harry I choose to bond, but with one condition."

"What might that be?"

"You have to tell my parents," Hermione replied. The tears were now gone, replaced by a smile. She turned and stood with her sisters to be.

Harry mouth opened in surprise and then he smiled and nodded. "Fine, but it's your fault if they kill me," His eyes seemed to catch all of the women standing there waiting. "Are we ready?" He asked.

"Oui, let us into your 'eart," Fleur answered for them.

Harry grasped the knob on the door and turned it. With a slight push the door open in front of them. There was a brilliant golden glow that seemed to fill the very air inside the house.

"It's beautiful," Hermione said.

"It's 'Arry's love," Fleur replied. She put her arms around both Gabrielle and Hermione and pulled them closer to her. They all walked through the door, into Harry's heart.

Back in the Hospital wing, the people watching the bonding saw the glow start to disappear from the bondmates and they waited. Each looked to another, all nervous to know what had happened.

Harry was the first to open his eyes. All around him people were staring, waiting and wondering. A smile broke out on his face as he felt something like pure sunshine pouring into his heart. He could feel happiness, and not just his own. He looked around at his bondmates, and each of them was looking back at him. Then the noise started, but he couldn't tell from where. It sounded like several people talking at once, just a word here or there that could be made out. But as he looked around, he saw no one was speaking.

"Thoughts," Harry realized. "I'm hearing their thoughts but...but is this how it's suppose to be?"

Rachelle asked the question all of the people surrounding the bed wanted the answer to, "Was the bonding successful?"

Harry immediately put his hands to his head as the pain coursed deep inside his brain. The question was echoing loudly in his mind. It was like he'd heard her ask it four times, each time slightly off from the others. Then it got worse. The thought of the question had been heard in his bondmate's minds and it echoed back to him. Over and over it occurred.

Rachelle immediately guessed what the problem was and immediately started pulling Fleur and Gabrielle toward Madam Pomfrey's office. Fleur pulled away from her and said "Bring 'Ermione too, she's bonded as well."

At that statement another verbal pandemonium broke out causing Harry's head to feel like it would explode as the words being spoken echoed endlessly in his mind. Harry's bondmates could feel his pain and realizing they were causing it right now, followed Professor Berceau into Madam Pomfrey's office. Once there, Rachelle put her finger to her lips suggesting they be quiet, then returned to the rest of the people surrounding the bed.

Without the echoing of the voices coming from his bondmates, Harry could start to understand the questions and comments being posed.

"What is going on?" Professor Dumbledore asked Professor Berceau. "Why did the ladies need to leave the room, and why is Harry in pain? Did something else go wrong?"

"No, I think the bonding completed fine this time, right Harry?" Rachelle asked the young man in the bed.

Harry nodded.

"Remember Albus, they hear each other's thoughts now," Rachelle said, "He is hearing everything they think, so when they hear something he hears it as well. Each time someone speaks when they are all in the same room, Harry will hear it three times," She turned to Harry, "or is it four? Did Hermione join the bond?"

Harry nodded.


Again Harry nodded.

"He will hear everything four times, each possibly offsetting the others. This appears to be setting off echoes from each bondmate as they hear what he is thinking which then returns to him in their thoughts and so on."

"But..." Dumbledore started.

"Now in a normal person to person bonding, the echo is minor annoyance for a short time, but with three bondmates, the echoes and the various random thoughts he will have a much more severe time of it for right now."

"You say for right now? What does that mean? He'll be alright?" Concern was evident in Dumbledore's expression.

"The mind is a wonderful thing Albus," Rachelle explained. "Harry and his bondmate's minds will learn and adapt. With the Veela magic, it will develop means to shift and sort through the information, recognizing what is meant for him, and what isn't. It will also learn to protect itself as it protects the bond."

"You mean like Occlumency then?" Professor Dumbledore asked.

"No, not really. Occlumency requires you to actively protect your thoughts. This is the mind protecting itself. His mind will be protected subconsciously by the Veela magic and the love from the bond," Rachelle said. "With three bondmates, the level of that protection may very well be unimaginable."

"Why does the number of bondmates make a difference?"

"Think of it in terms of normal magic in a dueling situation," Rachelle said going into her Professor lecturing mode. "Say you were dueling a single person and you only had to protect yourself. Your offense and defense is pretty straight forward, a single shield to protect you and single spells to cast. That represents a normal Veela bond of two people. You have to defend your mind from the constant barrage of thoughts while also keeping the connection going and finding the thoughts meant for you and allow your thoughts out to your bondmates."

Dumbledore nodded.

"Now what if you had to protect another person in that duel and you had two people attacking you at the same time," Professor Berceau continued. "That is a much more complex situation, a more powerful shield along with more fluid defensive strategies. You would need more spells to cast and know to whom to direct those spells at. That would be similar to a bonded mind having to deal with two bondmates. Now consider in that duel, what happens if you had to protect two other people and fight off three people attacking at the same time. That is the complexity that Harry's mind will come to grips with. I would daresay that no one, not even the most skilled legilimens would get past that nature of that protection. But it will take a few days depending on Harry's willpower."

"Thank you," Professor Dumbledore said. "I never considered the complexity that bonds might require."

"You do not work with them on a daily basis," Rachelle replied and then turned to everyone in the room, "Obviously the bonding completed successfully," She could see the visible signs of relief in the faces of the elder Delacours, "It does seem that Hermione Granger joined the bond while in bondimage, so it is a four person bond. We will tackle that issue later when we can speak to them all at once. Now for the time being, please only talk to one of the young women at a time and away from Harry. Take pity on the young man," She continued. "After all he now has to deal with three girlfriends and that can't be easy," She then pointed to the two full Veelas who had helped. "Please thank these two wonderful people who helped make this possible."

Harry was feeling better as his head cleared. He could still hear the chatter of the random thoughts of his bondmates and he could feel the mixed emotions they felt. It was very confusing. But then he heard it clearly through the rest of the chatter, "I love you 'arry." Those words from three distinct voices echoed throughout his mind. He looked over at Madam Pomfrey's office and saw his three bondmates all smiling at him. He smiled back at them, "I love you too," And he meant it. He realized his love for Hermione was radiating through all of the bonds and could not isolate one from the other. "We can feel it," came a response he was sure was Fleur. Harry realized that they could hear every thought he had. "My life just got very interesting," He thought, and three distinctive responses came agreeing to that sentiment.

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