Negotiations with the French @charlennette
Chapter 1

Author's Note: Hello, thanks for reading this rather ridiculous one-shot. Truth be told, I wrote this in a few hours so I could meet the requirements for beta reading. Probably not the most auspicious of motivations, but...

I own none of the rights, nor make money, nor gain fame, or anything else from Harry Potter.

Cheers.

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"Good morning, I'm here to see -" A tinkling crash sounded just outside the ajar mahogany door, cutting off the young man who had just walked through said entryway. The dark-haired individual winced at the noise and the interruption. He surreptitiously slid his wand back into the sleeve holster from which it had snapped from at the sound. He was nervous enough from a war only two months gone without loud noises happening in his blind-spot. He tuned out the people rushing about shouting to clean up the mess of supplies a hapless intern had been carting.

"You are here to see Monsieur Delacour, yes?" The secretary said, picking up the conversation. A nameplate in front of her read Angèle Bibot.

Grateful, the man breathed out. "Yes, I should have an appointment. 11 o'clock."

The secretary busied herself with her boss's schedule in front of her. "Harry Potter?" She looked up at him briefly from her papers, eyes zeroing in on his scar.

He grunted in affirmation.

Harry could have sworn he saw a flash of what looked like amusement cross her undeniably pretty face. She tucked a strand of long blond hair behind her ear, running her fingertips down the length of cheek before settling her chin against her palm. He inwardly groaned.

Her voice, which had been clipped and professional before mention of his name suddenly seemed much smoother and intimate, "it is such a pleasure to meet you, monsieur. I've heard so much about you." She leaned forward, looking up at him from below her lashes. "Perhaps you could tell me what is fact and fiction sometime?"

Her blue eyes met his until he looked away pointedly towards the door situated beyond her left shoulder. "I apologize but I am really quite busy today," Harry responded.

When Harry refused to meet her eyes for a prolonged period of time she gave a quiet sigh. "He is ready for you now." She breathed.

Harry gave a sharp nod and walked towards the entrance, nerves redoubling.

The office was refined, not elaborate or ostentatious like most of the Ministry officers he had been subjected to – regardless of the nation. This one appeared elegant but understated. Harry could appreciate the taste and its message. Light maple wood paneling along the shelf-lined walls. A calm pastel blue paint peeked out between the pictures and degrees on the walls. And there were many degrees. Sunlight filtered in through a window to the left of the imposingly large desk on the opposite side of the room. The office was meticulously well-kept. Not even dust motes seemed to float in the air saturated by the natural light. A ridiculously comfortable looking sofa sat to his right but Harry made his way to the chair facing the desk of the man he was here to see. It did not seem nearly as comfortable or inviting as the sofa looked.

Stopping behind the chair he introduced himself. "Monsieur Delacour, I'm Harry, your 11 o'clock appointment." The man threw down his pen in disgust, whether his frustration stemmed from the interruption or the paper he was reading, Harry couldn't be sure. Mr. Delacour was a rather plump individual with a carefully crafted short, black beard. The hair on his head was thick and dark. His charcoal suit was exceptionally made. His eyes were brown but lacked any of the warmth the color typically inspired. In fact, they glared at the newcomer.

Harry fought the urge to shuffle his feet or scratch the back of his head. Nervous habits that others had pointed out and encouraged him to break.

Mr. Delacour, head of the French Ministry's Magical Law Enforcement department – a news clipping of his appointment hung on the wall proclaimed behind him – cleared his throat. "Ah, yes." He paused. "My 11 o'clock. Tell me, which one is it?"

Harry stared rather dumbly at the man. "Excuse me?" He started tentatively.

Mr. Delacour waved his hand in a breezy motion as though already unconcerned with the conversation. "Is it Gabrielle or Fleur that you're here for? Perhaps both? I swear, if I have to hear one more marriage proposal-"

Harry's confusion dissipated in shock. "Uh, what?" He blurted intelligently.

Mr. Delacour's eyes snapped to Harry's. "Do you have any idea how many imbeciles come through my office asking to marry one or more of my daughters? I swore I told Angèle to start screening any foolish looking boy from my schedule…"

Harry's indignation melted the last vestiges of his shocked stupor. He attempted to temper his flare of heightened emotion before speaking. "Sir." He ground out. "I am not here to make a buffoon of myself-." Harry paused, realizing something was wrong. "Wait, you mean she hasn't talked about me? You don't know who I am?" Harry immediately cringed at his lack of tact. He certainly hadn't meant that to sound so entitled.

Mr. Delacour's eyes narrowed. "Voldemort was a boil on the nose of Magical Europe but was mostly Britain's problem. You'll not find half as many sycophants here as you likely do across La Manche."

Harry thrust his hands upwards in a placating gesture. "No sir, I didn't mean it like that. Please don't take offense. I simply meant… Well, I thought your daughter would have mentioned me by now."

Harry noticed Mr. Delacour's right eye twitched. "Hmph. Well, I suppose Gabrielle has mentioned you a few times, since that disaster of a lake event your ministry planned all those years ago. But let me remind you, sir," Mr. Delacour put a heated emphasis on the word, "that she is not of legal age."

Harry was spiraling. This conversation had so quickly derailed and he couldn't figure out a way to salvage it. He was pretty sure if he tried hard enough to apparate through the ministry wards he could splinch himself to a degree he would require medical intervention, thus extracting him from this trainwreck. He took a deep breath.

"No, sir. Not Gabrielle, I meant Fleur. I was surprised she hadn't mentioned our relationship before." Harry took another breath, mastering himself and considered how to go about this delicately. "We've been together for a few years now, since the end of my fourth year. I thought she would have told her family." Harry searched the man's face for any hint of recognition. He saw none.

The 2nd most powerful man, and certainly the richest, in France grumbled. "And when, pray tell, would she have informed her parents of any such relationship? When the ministry was screening owls of anyone that you knew even tenuously for information to discredit you? Or when every owl was screened for information regarding Britain's most wanted fugitive after the ministry fell? I'm sure a letter declaring a relationship with Harry Potter would have been akin to signing a death warrant."

Mr. Delacour leveled a gaze at Harry. It was unsettling. Harry gulped.

The next words were given no less harshly as he continued his deconstruction of the situation. "Aside from that, am I to believe heiress Delacour fell for a boy a number of years her junior and never once mentioned him to her parents regardless of the compromised nature of owl post?" The French man leaned back in his chair and slid a hand down his face, tugging at his beard in aggravation. His eyes roamed about the ceiling in exasperation before snapping to Harry's. "Understand this, Monsieur Potter, ever since Fleur was 12 years old I've gotten letters and visitors nearly weekly for her hand in marriage. She is a talented, beautiful, not to mention rich girl that draws unsavory-minded people from all over Europe. I've heard many ludicrous tales, but her dating a little boy is one of the more outlandish."

Harry felt rather drained. He supposed he could understand the logic Mr. Delacour used, even if was fairly painful to listen to. He had a hard enough time convincing himself that he was worthy of Fleur Delacour but he was near certain she had mentioned going home for the holidays once or twice in the last few years…

Harry's head snapped up, he tapped a staccato rhythm with his fingers upon his knee. Everything fell into place. Especially from that last comment. "You're taking the mickey out of me aren't you?" Harry's voice was carefully bland, a statement of fact, less than a question.

Mr. Delacour met his gaze from across the desk. He resettled in his chair, steepled his fingers, and said, "I've never quite understood that British phrase. Who or what is mickey, exactly? The muggle mouse?" Amusement flashed across his face. "But in answer to your question… I suppose Fleur might have mentioned you, once or twice," he drawled.

Harry stymied the urge to hex the man in front of him. It wouldn't do to anger his lover's father, especially in their first meeting. Not if he wanted to sleep anywhere other than the bloody couch tonight. Damn uncomfortable, lumpy thing. Actually, now that Harry considered it, he was sure it was a far more comfortable piece of furniture when he had bought it just a few weeks ago. He suspected a certain Veela's vindictive magic was involved the single night he had found himself on it. Bringing himself back to the present, and erasing the ghost of a smile that had arisen on his face as he thought of his feisty little flower, Harry considered the man in front of him. "So, you knew about my relationship to your daughter this whole time. Was there a purpose in all this or were you simply having a slow day at work?"

Mr. Delacour smiled, his entire demeanor seemed to shift with the flash of incredibly straight, white teeth. "Well, to be perfectly frank with you, Monsieur Potter, one of the few things Fleur has emphasized to me about you is how incredibly easy you are to tease," he paused thoughtfully, "if anything, she undersold it."

Harry glared at the man charmingly smiling across from him. "So she put you up to this did she?"

Mr. Delacour shot him a sharp look of surprise before speaking, "not at all. I expect she does not know of this conversation you sought out today." A contemplative look passed his face, tapping his chin with his forefinger as he seemed to evaluate the young man in front of him. "You are here for a reason involving her, are you not?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably, fighting once again the urge to scratch the back of his head. He settled for clenching and un-clenching the toes in his shoes instead. "Yes, I am." Harry paused as though thinking before adding, "sir."

Mr. Delacour wagged his finger at Harry, "none of that. No need to be so formal now that I've had my fun. My name is Mattise, please use it." Seeing Harry's nod he continued, "so I was right beforehand, no? You are here in secret to meet the father of the woman you are dating. Only one conclusion can be drawn from such a scenario, although my previous comment was flippant it was not incorrect."

It took a moment for Harry to process what Mr. Delacour meant before flushing brightly. "N-no, sir. I-," Harry stopped at Mr. Delacour's raised eyebrow. He calmed his flustered state before starting again, "no Mattise, I'm not here to ask for your blessing on a proposal to Fleur. I simply felt it was long overdue to meet her parents formally."

Mattise smiled at Harry appreciatively before speaking in a warm tone, "ah, a thoughtful gesture. But why meet me in secret? Without Fleur as a buffer? I'll admit to not having half the courage when I met Apolline's father." He chuckled good-naturedly. Harry cracked a smile, his first genuine one since arriving at the French Ministry. The tension bled out of the room.

"To be honest," Harry began, "I thought I'd meet you in private so you could ask questions that you might not have felt comfortable asking in front of Fleur."

Mattise barked a laugh. "You mean ask questions that would have caused Fleur to tan my hide?" Seeing Harry's embarrassed face he laughed again. "You do yourself a credit, monsieur. Any time I can avoid the tongue-lashing of my daughter is an occasion to look forward to." He gave an exaggerated sigh, "she gets it from her mother you know. Are you sure you understand what you're getting yourself into?"

Harry grinned in humorous commiseration, "she certainly keeps me on my toes. Although, I'd have it no other way."

"Quite right," Mattise muttered. His fingers drummed a quick beat on the desk while giving Harry's face a searching look. He grew serious. "There are many questions left unanswered by your ministry after the Battle of Hogwarts. The newspapers only report the barest of information, so you are right that I have things to ask. Things I'd like to understand." Harry nodded. "But those things are heavy topics that would best be discussed over some food." Matisse looked at his watch before glancing at Harry, "I know a delightful place right down the street if you have the time and inclination."

At Harry's affirmation they both rose. Matisse extended his hand to Harry, "it is a pleasure to finally meet you Harry."

"Likewise," Harry smiled while shaking the older man's hand.

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As the two men walked out of the office the secretary, Angèle, stood up. "Early lunch, sir?"

Mr. Delacour shot her a boyish grin, "yes my dear, please leave any incoming documents on my desk. I'll get to them later."

Angèle looked over at Harry, twirling a blonde curl around a finger. "I hope to see you again, Monsieur Potter," she said with a saucy wink.

Harry stood frozen in flustered dismay. He once again reevaluated his splinching idea. A medical emergency seemed preferable to being flirted with in front of Fleur's father. Harry jumped at Matisse's chortle. Swinging his head around he saw the Frenchman was looking at him while laughing.

As his humor settled Matisse turned to his secretary, "come now Angèle, we've both nettled poor Monsieur Potter enough today." Seeing the befuddled expression on his young companion's face he continued, "besides, we wouldn't want your cousin to think you were making moves on her beau." Both the secretary and the ministry official guffawed at Harry's flush of realization.

Harry shook his head, wondering how he had missed the family resemblance. Along with how he was going to survive a family full of tricksters. "You knew the entire time, didn't you? Everything that happened this morning was part of a scheme," Harry accused.

The minister and secretary glanced at each other conspiratorially. "Not planned per se," Angèle began.

"But we both wanted to test out the authenticity of Fleur's claims about you." Matisse finished.

Harry ran a hand over his face. "Well, did I pass muster?"

Angèle looked at him with an oddly predatory grin, "I can certainly see my cousin's interest in you," she said eyeing him appreciatively. She giggled when Harry stiffened. "Especially with how easy it is to make you blush."

Harry scratched the back of his head and Mr. Delacour came to his rescue. "Alright, let us be off. We have many things to talk about over good food and pleasant company."

Harry smiled gratefully. This morning had been a whirlwind of confusion and emotions. He was rather looking forward to an interrogation about the war in comparison.

XXXXXXXX

"I'm surprised at how fluent your french is," Mr. Delacour complimented Harry as they sat awaiting their food.

"I've had an eager teacher," Harry confessed. He left out just how eager his teacher really was.

"Regardless, it is a point in your favor that you would go out of your way to learn your partner's language. Fewer than you might assume would put in such effort." Matisse glanced at him as he took a sip from his glass. "My daughter is a strong woman, one I am most proud of. But I will admit to my," his face grew blank as he thought out his next words, "displeasure, I suppose, when she decided to leave her home-country to fight in England's war." The gentleman sighed, "but she was adamant and stubborn. Just like her mother and, should I care to admit it, myself."

Harry smiled but grimaced as he remembered the worst fight Fleur and he had ever been embroiled in with one another. "I was not keen on her participation either," he admitted, "if I had my way she would have been in a safe-house in Antarctica until just last month." Harry rubbed the stubble along his checks and chin. "But, as you say, she is a strong woman. She wouldn't listen to my request and I respected her too much to take away that agency. Even if it bloody terrified me," Harry muttered.

Matisse nodded. "I'll be honest, my interest in the war is quite shallow." Harry looked up in surprise and the Delacour patriarch grinned at him, "Voldemort is dead, for the last time, correct?"

Harry nodded before adding, "completely."

Mr. Delacour stared across the street for awhile in thought. When he finally spoke Harry had to shake himself to refocus his attention. "Do you know how many Death Eaters are still loose?"

Harry's blood boiled just as the bottom of his stomach dropped out. He had considered this long enough himself to understand what Matisse was really asking. "There are a number of notable members missing from the known inner circle. Minister Shacklebolt nor I know the real number of low-level thugs that escaped."

Harry rubbed the end of his jacket sleeve between his thumb and forefinger. "The place I – my home, is under the Fidelus charm and warded extensively, arguably better than Hogwarts and Gringotts combined. It is unplottable and all records of its existence have been redacted. I promise, she will be safe there." Harry met the eyes of Fleur's father, willed him to understand the devotion, time, and expense he had gone to for this very reason.

Mr. Delacour gave a thin-lipped smile in response before it widened, "I imagine it has the added benefit of keeping pesky reporters out of your personal life, no?"

Harry gave a genuine chuckle in response, "indeed, they have always been my auxiliary arch-nemesis."

Matisse once more became serious. "Harry, I want you to know that I have absolutely no problem with your relationship to my daughter. I beg of you to not take offense. Rather, take my fear at face value as a father who loves his children more than anything else in this life."

"I understand," Harry responded solemnly.

"Please keep her safe," Matisse continued. "The biggest threat may be gone but you will always have a target on your back and by extension those around you. It is not fair but it is reality and to turn a blind eye to it is foolish. Trust me, my job has made me many enemies as well."

Harry uttered an agreement just as the food arrived. They ate in silence for awhile, Harry was unsurprised at the quality of the food. Fleur had often let slip her father's predilection as a gourmand.

In the lull of scraping utensils and quiet swallowing, Harry considered his morning, while it had certainly started unexpectedly, he couldn't fault the result. He felt as though Mr. Delacour had met him as a peer, with respect and friendship, a far cry from what Harry had feared when first contemplating this encounter. He had heard horror stories from his friends of what 'meeting the parents' looked like and Harry knew how utterly important Fleur's family was to her. That was ultimately what had motivated him to travel to France unbeknownst to her today.

Matisse interrupted his musings, "have you considered your future, Harry?"

Harry picked at his sleeve again. "Not as much as I should," he admitted. "Truthfully, I was unsure a future awaited me outside of Voldemort. Now that it is here, I-," he trailed off. Matisse gave him an understanding, gentle smile.

"It is hard, I imagine, to think outside of the chaos that has burdened you for so long. If there is anything I can do to help, please know that I am here for you. Not as Fleur's father but as a comrade." Harry then understood why, outside of the theatrics of their initial meeting, Matisse had treated him so respectfully. He didn't see Harry as his daughter's suitor but a brother-in-arms. Just like Harry imagined Mr. Delacour, the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, viewed the Aurors under his command. A surge of appreciation rose within him.

"Thank you, sir," Harry said, forgetting momentarily the informal nature Matisse had requested in his genuine gratitude. He felt compelled to offer some insight into his future plans, vague as they may be. "I've been told I have a shot at professional Quidditch but I know I'd struggle with the… social aspect of it." Mr. Delacour nodded his understanding. "I considered being an Auror, and no disrespect to you or your force, but I'm exhausted from chasing dark wizards. Perhaps, later in my life I'll feel the call again."

Harry stopped for a moment, considering. "I also don't want to make Fleur worry any longer, I know what my role in the war did to her. I can't put her through that again."

Harry was jolted and looked up in shock when he felt Matisse grip his arm. "You are a good man, Harry. Perhaps the only man I feel is worthy enough to have my daughter's love." Harry frowned uncomfortably at the praise, squirming in his seat. Matisse just chuckled softly under his breath. "Believe it or not, but my opinion has very little to do with your role in the war or the fame it has brought you and everything to do with what Fleur has told me."

The older man sighed, his hand slipping away from Harry's forearm. "Being with a Veela is… difficult. For a number of reasons. They are a misunderstood race and all-too-often unjustly scrutinized. She has told me of your easy acceptance of her nature and its quirks. Not many could claim to be half-so-accommodating."

Harry scratched the back of his head. "I love her, the parts of Fleur that are human and the parts of her that are Veela," Harry confessed in a whisper. "I admit I was surprised at first, when I learned of some of her race's peccadilloes but nothing she has said or that I have observed has come close to making me question my ardor for her."

"Good," Matisse grunted out in satisfaction. "That is how it should be."

Harry shifted and felt a weight in his pocket move with him as though reminding him of his guilty conscience. "Matisse, I want to be honest with you. My intentions today were just as I said them to be but after what you said this morning I feel I should come clean," Harry stopped when he saw Mr. Delacour's obvious confusion. He decided to plow on.

"I've not come today to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage but," Harry brought out the small black velvet box in his pocket and laid it tenderly on the tablecloth between them, "I think it fair that you know my intentions."

Harry met Mr. Delacour's intense gaze. Silence reigned as he was scrutinized. Harry focused on showing Fleur's father his conviction, his devotion.

The quiet was broken along with the locked eyes as Matisse gently pushed the box back towards Harry. "When you are ready," he began softly, "you will have my blessing."

Joy suffused Harry as he beamed brightly at the man across from him. "Thank you, sir. You don't know what that means to me."

Matisse grinned, "you forget I had to ask my wife's father for his blessing as well years past. I know exactly what it means." He continued in a quieter tone, "but I can appreciate our differences in circumstances as well." Matisse watched Harry thoughtfully, warmly. Matisse leaned over and grasped his arm again. "You are always welcome in our home, Harry. Please know that. You are practically family and will be officially someday."

Harry gaped slightly before schooling his features. His insides were a mess but he struggled through and affixed a shaky smile to his face. "Thank you. Truly, I- I don't know how to express how grateful I am."

Matisse waved him off. "Continue to treat my daughter as well as you always have. I have no doubt you will exceed such expectations even had I not asked."

Harry felt bolstered by Mr. Delacour's approval and trust. Suddenly, he knew his earlier answer was not near good enough. "Matisse, sir, I want you to know that I'll take my future seriously. I will make sure Fleur lives the life she deserves, supported and well-"

"Loved," Mattise interrupted him. "Loved, Harry. Just," Matisse gave a watery smile before continuing, "just make sure she is loved."

Mattise visibly mastered himself. "We both know that between the Potter and Delacour family fortunes neither of you, or even far-flung descendants, have to work. She does not need your financial support but your friendship, understanding, acceptance and, yes, love. These are all the things that she will long for and need. There has been a vast disparity between the material and emotive in her life. Strong relationships outside her family are hard to come by. Like I said," Mattise sighed, "loving a Veela can be difficult but being a Veela more so. But she chose you not for what you could give her but the life she would have with you. Keep it in mind, it is a lesson I took too long to learn with her mother."

Harry nodded in agreement and appreciation of the lesson.

"Besides," Matisse grinned, "I doubt you will have trouble finding job prospects with your name."

Harry shook his head but gave a wry grin at Matisse's attempt at injecting levity into the conversation. "Remind me to forward you some of the offers I've had mailed to me already. Fleur's started reading them before me just in case the proposed amenities are too... hands-on for her taste."

Mr. Delacour blinked owlishly at him before throwing his head back and laughing.

XXXXXXXX

Harry rolled his shoulders upon entering the door to his home. International portkeys always made him feel stiff. Or at least the inevitable fall to the ground did. He stopped midway through taking off his suit jacket. He sniffed the air. Something was burning. Cautiously he made his way forward, sliding his wand into his palm silently. With a quick twirl in the air around his head he rechecked the wards, nothing appeared amiss.

Harry edged closer to the first room on the right past his home's entrance. But stopped as a litany of angrily muttered french curses filled the air. The pieces fell in place. Rounding the corner Harry stopped and leaned against the door frame. Even through the smoke he had a rather fetching view of a platinum-haired witch bent over at the waist zapping a charred something in the oven with her wand. More curses followed. Harry winced, memories of his afternoon spent looking over a childhood photo album with said witch's parents flashed through his head. Hard to believe someone so angelic looking as a youngster could be so inventive with vulgarities.

Harry grinned.

With a lazy flick of his wand smoke began to gather and get siphoned from the room via his wand-point. Harry reminded himself to thank Mrs. Weasley the next time he saw her. His house would have burned down in the first few days had she not taught him some extremely helpful household charms.

Noticing the smoke's unnatural movement the witch stopped her fruitless endeavors with the blackened lump plastered to the oven's rack and straightened to her full height while turning towards him. She eyed him evilly, daring him to speak. He knew what was good for him and remained silent, schooling his face to be impassive. Amusement could be fatal at this stage. The last of the smoke was sucked into the tip of his wand, clearing the air.

Fleur Delacour, a talented, powerful witch with a rare, prodigious talent for charms huffed haughtily, flipping her long, waist-length hair over her shoulder. She narrowed her eyes at his blank features, no doubt looking for any cracks of humor in his facade. He slowly, tentatively, moved forwards. Upon reaching her he drew the young Veela into his arms. Resting his chin on the crown of her head. He brought his right hand up to gently stoke her hair down her back. Unhurriedly. Up and down.

When he spoke, he did so cautiously. "We should really look at getting the oven replaced," Harry murmured, "it seems to always be a higher temperature than what we set it to."

Fleur, who had slowly relaxed in his embrace and from his wandering hand, stiffened slightly before once again melting into his arms. She burrowed her head further into his chest. He felt her lips move against him but couldn't make out any words. She lifted her head, dislodging his own from its perch. Luminescent blue eyes met his and, as always, Harry's heart beat a tad faster. He gazed down at her, the brilliant young woman who had been his touchstone all these years past. From this angle and in this light, Harry could make out the barely noticeable freckles that dusted the smooth skin right below her eyes. She had such long lashes and impossibly full lips. Harry sometimes found himself second-guessing his tolerance to her allure. Even though he knew she bewitched him entirely on her own.

He couldn't help it. His lips touched hers. Silently, sweetly. Once. Twice. Three times. A thumb ghosted over nearly non-existent freckles as his hand cupped her cheek. A dainty hand, so slender and soft, trailed up his back and neck before long, artistic fingers wrapped in his dark hair.

"You are a smart man, 'Arry Potter," Fleur breathed, lips feather-light against his own. A shiver ran down his spine. Her supposed inability to say his name unhindered by her french accent was a long unacknowledged pretense. And he loved her for it.

Fleur gazed at him fondly. "Come, my heart. My side dishes are edible still, as they required no fire to prepare." She chuckled throatily. "A new oven indeed."

Harry allowed himself to be led by clasped hands over to the kitchen counter, where he helped gather dishes before transporting them to the small, intimate dining table in an adjacent, connected room to the kitchen. As he set the plates down Fleur reached out and pinched the candlewicks between her thumb and forefinger, lighting them. Small flames flickered cheerily as they settled across from one another.

Harry reached out and grasped her hand over the tabletop. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand.

Fleur gifted him with an affectionate smile. "What did you do today," she asked, "did you go see Teddy?"

"No," Harry replied, "you know I would have taken you with me if I was visiting him."

Fleur shook her head slightly and gripped his hand tighter. "He's your godson, Harry. It's good to bond one-on-one with him," she grinned wickedly, "besides, it won't stop me from visiting the adorable tyke on my own and spoiling him rotten anyways."

Harry shot her a look of mock outrage. "You better keep your corruptive influences away from him," Harry stated, affecting a commanding tone.

If anything, Fleur's grin only grew more sinful. "Funny you should say that, I'm quite certain I remember you corrupting me."

Harry glared at her as she laughed behind the hand he wasn't still holding. "You'd do well to remember it was a mutual corruption, madam," Harry said pompously. He looked away from her as he began musing, "and I seem to recall you being the one who started it… wearing those damn scraps of lace-," nails digging into the back of his hand effectively terminated his reminiscing.

Harry made eye contact with Fleur who was sending him a sugary sweet look, "perhaps if someone hadn't been so obtuse I had to beat him over the head with what I had been hinting at for over a year…" Fleur didn't bother continuing, her point made.

Harry drew himself up. "I prefer the word noble to obtuse, madam," he finished with a flourish.

Fleur gave him an unimpressed look before bursting into peals of laughter. Harry was left with a rather foolish grin on his face at the sound.

They ate in silence for awhile before Fleur brought him back to her original question. "So, what did you do today if not visit Teddy?"

Harry rubbed his jaw. "I visited your parents."

Silence.

"What?"

Harry met Fleur's shocked eyes. "I made an appointment and visited your father. We had lunch and popped over to visit your mother briefly before I had to catch my international portkey back here. They all say hello by the way."

Harry watched in fascination as his witty conversationalist of a partner combated her unusual case of tongue-tied-ness.

Just as she seemed to get her bearings and opened her mouth to speak Harry set out to make her off-kilter once again. "The baby picture of you on the bearskin rug was adorable by the way."

The effect was immediate. A flush unlike any he had witnessed before surged along her cheeks and suffused the tips of her ears. She muttered something that suspiciously sounded like an oath to murder her mother in cold-blood.

Tossing her head back imperiously, Fleur looked down her nose at him. It was an impressive move considering he was taller than her, even while sitting down. "What exactly inspired you to visit my parents?"

But Harry wasn't quite done. "You had the cutest bottom as a-," nails once again dug in his hand. Harry winced. Fleur batted her eyelashes at him.

"What was that, song-of-my-heart," she trilled.

"Nothing, nothing at all," Harry conceded. He chuckled briefly. Harry knew he'd get the last laugh. He had magically copied the photo after all. And enlarged it. He may also have framed it but that was besides the point. The important part was that Fleur's baby picture of her bare-bottomed on a bearskin rug was going to be hanging in their bedroom for her to find by nights close. Finally, she would get her comeuppance for that stunt she had pulled at the Burrow two weeks ago.

Harry broke out of his plotting to continue the conversation, Fleur was obviously becoming increasingly frazzled and impatient. "I wanted to meet your father formally was all, give him a chance to know me."

Fleur gave him a searching look, "are you alright, did he say anything-."

"He was great, we had a good conversation," Harry lightly interrupted.

Fleur gave him one last look before sighing. "Thank you," she said softly, "it was kind of you to do that."

Harry rubbed circles on her hand with the pad of his thumb. He wasn't surprised she figured out his real intentions with her father, she knew him far too well not to. "He is important to you, love," Harry said tenderly, "and he was bound to have questions. It was good for both him and I to talk it out privately."

Fleur nodded and graced him with another fond smile. Harry returned it. "I also thought we could visit them this weekend. We could leave Friday, I hope you don't mind but I already asked your parents."

Any worry he had at overstepping his bounds washed away at the effervescent look upon Fleur's face. "It's been too long since you've spent a meaningful amount of time with your family," Harry continued contritely.

Fleur shook her head. "I popped over when I could," she fixed him with a significant, determined stare. "My place was here, with you."

A wave of gratitude washed over Harry, and, not for the first time, he wondered at the gift known as Fleur Delacour. She had given of herself so freely to a young boy that had been so lost after the graveyard. After Cedric. His hand tightened its hold on hers, marveling at its delicate construction.

"Well," Harry began, "now we have all the time in the world." Fleur's blue eyes gazed at him affectionately. "I'd really like to spend that time getting to know your family."

"Someday they will be your family too, my heart," Fleur whispered as she leaned across the table to press her lips lovingly against his own. Once. Twice. Three times. Harry's heart beat just a tad faster. His last absent thought before deepening the kiss was hoping that whatever his future held, kissing Fleur was a major component.

XXXXXXXX

The picture earned him a night on the sofa.

But, as always, Fleur appeared an hour after his banishment to drag him upstairs to curl herself against the curve of his body.

Sleep just wasn't the same without one another. Harry wouldn't have it any other way.

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