A/N 9/23/2020: Major rewrite in this chapter. This was one of the worst offenders as far as things not making sense in the overall storyline and discussions. Plus, more than one of you kind readers left comments about Fleur's character being horribly mistreated by myself.
I do have to say one thing: thank you to everyone who has continue to read and enjoy the story thus far. The fact that I have received 368 reviews for just the portion of the story that is posted right now is extremely encouraging and humbling. It is also one of the reasons that I have come back to writing fan fiction. I can't promise that updates will be quick, but I will do what I can. So, thank you all.
And to answer the question as to why Dobby was one of the Potter house-elves, I decided to change canon and make Dobby part of the Potter family from the beginning. In this story, he is one of Misty and Makon's children.
Wait, let me check...no, not there, how about... nope, still don't own the rights to Harry Potter. I just write this for fun!
As always read and enjoy, and if you can't find any enjoyment out of reading this story, go read someone else's.
So, Let Me Get This Straight...
The Next Morning
Number Twelve Gimmauld Place
Sabra Elizabeth Potter woke as the sun was making its presence known through the heavy curtains hanging over the windows that were set into the wall to her bed's left. It wasn't an instantaneous arrival at wakefulness, but a slow approach to consciousness that caused the now eleven year old girl to groan audibly as she rolled over in her bed to face away from the windows. The raven haired girl drifted back to sleep, not even aware of the door to her room quietly opening to admit a small house-elf with a gym bag full of clothes slung over her shoulder.
The house-elf silently padded across the hardwood floor to the side of the bed and said, "Young Miss needs to get up. We have guests and Missus Bella said you had to get up and come home."
This elicited a groan from Sabra, "Too tired. Go wake up Harry first."
Misty, the house-elf in question, shook her head and said, "Can't wake Young Master. He sleeping under potion with a guest."
That woke Sabra up, causing her to sit up and look at Misty, "What do you mean Harry's 'sleeping under potion with a guest'? When did we have guests over at home?"
Misty answered as she was starting to gather her young mistress's clothes from the previous evening, "Last night after World Cup. Lady Potter and Young Master came home with a young girl and had Misty take the girl's father to the house. Missus Poppy treated Young Master and the girl's injuries and gave them a potion so that they won't wake until this afternoon. Now hurry Miss Sabra, Mistress Bella be expecting you home in time for breakfast."
With that statement and a mounting curiosity, Sabra got out of bed and quickly dressed in a fresh set of clothes provided by Misty and then followed the house-elf out of the room and down the two flights of stairs to the first floor where she came face to face with her uncle, Sirius Black. She looked at him and frowned, "What's wrong, Padfoot? You look as if someone killed the cat or that Christmas came early, can't tell which."
Sirius had been shaken out of his musings by the sound of his niece's voice. Sirius looked up and saw Sabra looking at him with a concerned look on her face, "Nothing's wrong, Pup, just going over some plans for a bachelor party and debating on venue for said party. Also trying to figure out how much trouble the groom will be in if everything goes according to plan."
Sabra fully believed that her uncle was planning someone's bachelor party and knowing her uncle, whoever it was would be sleeping on the couch for at least the first month of his marriage because of it, she was eleven, not stupid. After all, Uncle Sirius, also known as Padfoot, didn't know when it was safe to stop with a joke, hence his previously arctic-kind-of-cold relationship with Forktongue because of a joke-gone-bad during their mutual time at Hogwarts. She felt the overwhelming urge to caution her child-like uncle, "Well, just remember not to get whoever it is into too much trouble. By the way, do you know what's going on back at Wyvern's Rock?"
The look her uncle had told Sabra that he knew exactly what happened at Wyvern's Rock after all of the other kids except for Harry used the portkey to get away from the World Cup and to the safety of Grimmauld Place. She frowned and was about to inquire further when a raven-haired missile came flying down the stairs and slammed straight into Sabra's back, causing both of them to fall to the ground with the other figure landing on top of her, knocking the wind from her lungs as everyone in the entryway heard a muffled thump from the second floor followed by a very feminine shriek from approximately the same location.
Sabra looked over her shoulder into the grinning face of a miniature Sirius Black with the exception of the pale blue eyes that the boy had received from his mother still lying on her back. She asked, "Do you mind getting up, Reg?"
The boy seemed to think about it for a moment and then said, his grin still in place, "Yes I do mind. I find it quite enjoyable to be laying atop a pretty lady. After all, if my father seems to enjoy laying atop mum so much, why shouldn't I like laying atop of a beautiful lady such as yourself?"
Sabra snorted as she shoved her cousin off of her and gave him a hard look as she sat up, "A couple things. One, you are my cousin. Two, we are not, nor will we ever be married. Three, eww. Four, you are just trying to get out of whatever just punishment you earned via whatever prank you pulled upstairs," she paused for a moment as her eyes flickered to the individual standing behind her cousin, "and lastly, good luck keeping your skin intact."
Reg opened his mouth to ask what she meant when a cold feminine voice came from above and behind him, "Regulus. Sirius. Black."
Sabra gave an involuntary shudder and whispered with a hint of fear in her voice, "All three names."
Regulus paled as his name was very specifically annunciated in a voice he knew meant only one thing: he was about to get beaten to within an inch of his life by his older sister, Susan Bones-Black. He arched his head back to look up into the thunderous face of his older sister who was standing over him and said, "Dad, a little help here?"
Sirius shook his head, "Wait let me think about it for a moment Pup... Nope, not helping."
Regulus looked at his father in shock and tried to plead his case, "But Dad, she's going to kill me."
Sirius gave his son the Marauder's grin and said in a voice full of mischief and mirth, "Well, you should have thought about that before trying to pull your little stunt upstairs," and paused for a moment to look at his daughter, "Susie, I think Kreacher said that the pantry was clean enough to be used for punishments, and no murder."
Susan nodded while mirroring her father's grin while answering in a sing-song voice full of poisoned honey, "Okay Dad, but can I at least take a little skin off, maybe just a pound. Then he's going to be cleaning up his mess both in the pantry and in my room."
Sabra rose to her feet, deciding it was high time that she got home before one of her cousins tried to appeal to her sense of familial loyalty, and made for the fireplace in the sitting room, took a pinch of floo powder and tossed it into the fireplace, announcing, "Cryfder mewn Teulu, Honor mewn Bywyd!"
A Little Earlier
Bellatrix Potter awoke just as the first rays of sunlight were starting to peak through the curtains on her east-facing floor-to-ceiling windows on that side of her bedroom. It wasn't the master suite, but it had been hers since she ran away from her family after learning that her parents were planning on marrying her off to Rodolphus LeStrange as soon as she finished her time at Hogwarts. That had been just before her third year at Hogwarts.
Her birth parents had been furious when they had come to collect her, thinking that they could force her into the contract with one of the rising stars in Voldermort's youth movement, but had left empty handed when they found out that she had gone through a magical and blood adoption ritual known as Usurper Gwaed (Blood Usurper) Ritual that had been overseen by the actual Lord Black at the time, Arcturus Black, a close friend of Lord Charlus Ignotus Potter since their days of fighting against Grindlewald.
At that thought, Bellatrix reflected on the ritual itself. The Usurper Gwaed (Blood Usurper) Ritual was a turning point in her life. It took her life from a path that would have undoubtedly led her to darkness and madness, maybe even to a point where she would have turned her wand against her own kin. Lord and Lady Potter had saved her life with that ritual, and the fact that it had been witnessed and allowed by the sitting Lord Black, had made the blood adoption legal and unassailable by her birth parents. The ritual itself was not something to be done lightly, especially with a child as old as she had been. It carried with it a higher possibility of leaving the subject of the ritual a squib the older a subject was with eleven being the typical cutoff point.
The ritual itself used a series of runes arrayed in a circular pattern around a ritualistic alter, along with a series of runes painted on the nude subject and the performers of the ritual, and coupled with a modified blood replenishing potion. The potion carried a sample of blood from the parents who were performing the adoption as well as being imbued with their magic. The ritual itself was performed in two parts: the first part placed the subject in a state of suspended animation before stripping away the subject's magic and blood. The second part required the blood replenishing potion to be poured down the throat of the subject by the one who would become the child's mother in a symbolic gifting of life followed by the father's invoking of the Family Magic's that would then flood the ritual circle and judge the subject's worthiness. This was the part that was the most dangerous for the subject because if the Family Magic's had chosen not to accept her then Bellatrix would have become a Potter by blood, but not by magic. Fortunately for her, the Potter Family Magic had deemed her worthy and she had become a Potter by blood and magic. In other words, she had died as Bellatrix Aiden Black, First Daughter of Cygnus and Druella Black, during the first part of the ritual and had been reborn as Bellatrix Dorea Potter, Daughter of Charlus and Dorea Potter, during the second part.
The reason it was so dangerous for older children is that most had already started learning the Family Magic's by the time they turned eleven. Which meant that most children's magical cores were already attuned to using the Family Magic's by the time they turned thirteen. That greatly increased the risk of the Family Magic's of the family trying to adopt the child had a greater chance of rejecting the child due to the potential disharmony between the child's birth family magic and the new family's magic. At the other end of the spectrum, the younger the child, the easier it was for the ritual to succeed with the most favorable outcome: the child becoming a member of the family by blood and magic. In the case of when she had performed the ritual to adopt Sabra, she had had to perform both parts as the mother and the father and there had been almost no hesitation between her invoking of the Family Magic's and its accepting of Sabra as a Potter.
Bellatrix recalled with a faint smile gracing her lips the scene that her new mum, Dorea Potter had described to her, after she had woken up three days after the conclusion of the ritual, about how her birth parents had been so enraged to find out that they had lost their oldest daughter that they had drawn their wands to attack the Lord and Lady Potter in their own London townhome and had found out why Lord Potter had been so feared by Grindlewald's forces during the war, as he had taken both of them to task by himself. As soon as Bellatrix had woken up two days after that incident, Dorea Potter née Black and her husband had taken her to Gringotts and filed all of the necessary paperwork, making her a Potter in blood, magic, and name while giving their son, James, an older sister to help raise him. After that confrontation, Lord and Lady Potter had moved their family back to their ancestral home, here at Wyvern's Rock.
Since then, she had loved her new little brother as she still loved her former sisters, who she saw all the time at Hogwarts and still did what she could to protect them from their manipulative and power hungry parents. Her sister Andromeda had been able to escape a marriage contract by eloping with her husband, a muggleborn wizard by the name of Ted Tonks, and they had a beautiful daughter by the name of Nymphodora. Unfortunately, Bella's youngest sister, Narcissa hadn't been so fortunate and had been forced into a marriage contract with Lucius Malfoy, also a member of Voldermort's youth movement who eventually became Death Eaters.
The fortunate thing was that he had been captured wearing Death Eaters' robes while attempting to circumvent the wards around Longbottom Manor along with Rodolphus and Rebastan LeStrange, who had been similarly garbed just a month after the death of James and Lily. The three had been interrogated with Veritaserum, tried, and sent through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries. The death of Lucius had freed Bella's youngest sister, Cissy from her loveless and abusive marriage and had allowed her to raise Draco in the way that she saw fit, turning him into a fine young wizard who was as close as a brother to her son, Harry, and her daughter, Sabra.
Sabra, she was currently at Grimmauld Place where th Sirius's family, which had been the agreed upon destination for the emergency portkey from the World Cup. She remembered when she had found the girl left in the phone booth that served as the front entrance to the Ministry of Magic, only a few months old, bundled in a blanket, and screaming at the top of her little lungs because it had been a cold December day and she had been left there for possibly a few hours. Bella remembered how the only reason she had found the baby at all was that she had decided to apparate to work that day.
She remembered picking up the crying baby and doing as she had done with Harry just two years earlier, started bouncing the baby in her arms while whispering softly to quiet the child even as she stepped into the phone booth and rode down to the atrium of the Ministry. That had been when she had seen the note attached to the baby's blankets that had sent her blood boiling and had made her contemplate murder for only the third time in her career as an auror. The note had read:
This child is a freak. We cannot stand to have freaks in our family. We were told by a friend that if we left the child in this phone box that she would be found by her own kind. Whether she was found or not, we don't care.
After reading the note, Bella almost wanted to hunt down her parents and end them, but her maternal instincts took over and she made her way to the nearest loo, where she had changed the baby, called for Misty to bring her a bottle of baby formula, fed the baby, and sent a patronus to her boss saying that she needed a personal day to take care of family issues. Bella had immediately left the Ministry via floo to the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. She had walked to Gringotts and asked to speak to Drakefang. When he had arrived, Bella had informed him that she wanted to adopt the little girl both by blood and magic.
Drakefang had readily agreed, especially after reading the unsigned note left with the child. They had performed the same ritual that she had gone through under the watchful eyes of her sisters Cissy and Andi, Sirius and his wife Amelia, and Remus, all of whom had been called to witness as well as Ragnok, the manager of Britain's branch of Gringotts. After the ceremony was completed, the baby's features had changed to match her new mother's, including her lavender eyes, and she had a new name, Sabra Elizabeth Potter. Bella had then brought her new daughter home and showed her to her then three-and-a-half year old son, who had been ecstatic to have a baby sister, swearing that he would be the "bestest big brother ever".
Since then Harry had been true to his word, always attending to his little sister's needs as best as he could, even playing what she wanted to play, even though he said it was "too girly" for him, but it was for his sister, so he did it. When he had left for school for the first time, Sabra had been almost inconsolable for the first few days until her mother had reminded her that she could still write to Harry and he could write to her.
Back in the present, Bella called out as she sat up in bed, "Misty."
The house-elf appeared before the now sitting Bella with a soft crack, "Missus Bella called for Misty."
Bella nodded, "Can you go to Grimmauld Place and get Sabra? If possible, I would like for her to be home by breakfast."
Misty nodded and disapparated with a crack, leaving Bella alone with her thoughts. She quickly rose from her bed and made her way to her private bathroom, shedding her night clothes, and started a hot shower. As she stepped under the hot running water, Bella let her mind mull over everything that Dastan had told her and Sirius last night as she showered. She was pretty sure that she knew what Harry was going to do, but it still pained her that his choice had been taken from him. Bella had wanted to see her son marry for love, not to save someone's life. Of course, the only way that that could change was that if he flatly refused to marry Fleur. As these thoughts were running through her head, Bella finished her shower, shut the water off, stepped out of the stand alone shower, and wrapped herself in a towel.
An hour later, Bella, Sabra along with Dastan and Apolline Delacour were sitting down to breakfast in the informal dining area that was connected to the kitchen. Sabra looked from her mother to the guests and back, unsure of what was going on and why these people, not that they weren't nice, were sitting at their table. She glanced at her mom and said with a forkful of eggs halfway between her plate and mouth, "So, Mum, what's going on with Harry?"
Bella looked at her daughter as Sabra finished the transfer of eggs from her plate to her mouth and pulled the fork out, all the while looking at her with a very expectant look on her face. She glanced at Dastan for a moment before looking back at Sabra and said, "Well, Sabra, the short of it is that your brother saved their oldest daughter's life and now she owes him a life debt, which for a Veela means that she either has to marry him or lose her magic."
Sabra, used to her brother's saving lives kick, said, "Oh, is that all?"
With that, Sabra turned back to her food and continued eating, seemingly without truly hearing what Bella had said.
Bella started a mental countdown in her head as her daughter brought her glass of orange juice to her mouth and taking a sip: 3
Sure enough just as she thought the word 'now', Sabra's lavender eyes went wide with surprise as the orange juice she had just drank sprayed from her mouth and nose across the table. Bellatrix judged the spray pattern on width and distance, holding up a conjured score card that read '7', as her daughter said in a loud voice, "Wait, did you say he has to marry her? As in: wedding gown, magical vows, honeymoon, 'Allow me to introduce Mister and Misses Potter', that kind of marriage?"
Bella gave her daughter an amused grin and said, "Yep," making sure to pop the 'p'. With that Bella told her daughter everything that Harry had told her about what happened after he had gotten separated from the rest of the kids.
Sabra frowned, "So, let me get this straight: because Harry has his whole saving people thing, he is now engaged to a Veela who is three years older than him and is, if her mother's appearance is any indication, smoking hot?"
Bella smiled at her daughter, "Got it in one."
Sabra sat back in her chair, "Bloody hell."
Bella reprimanded her daughter in a stern voice, "Language."
Sabra rolled her eyes at her mother, "Mum, I've heard you say far worse," she paused as she saw the score card, "Oh, come on! A seven?! Really? That was at least an eight-point-five."
Dastan frowned and cut off Bella's retort, "Lady Potter, why are you telling your daughter before we talk to the two that are the ones primarily concerned with the situation?"
Bellatrix looked at Dastan and answered, "I am telling my daughter because it concerns her as well, seeing as she is Harry's little sister and will soon be Fleur's little sister-in-law."
Dastan's frown seemed to deepen, "But Harry hasn't agreed yet, so this discussion may be all for naught. Don't you think that it would be wise to get Harry's answer before sharing the information with your daughter?"
Bella frowned, "No. I tend to try to not keep secrets from either of my children where the other is concerned. Besides, she would have found out eventually."
Sabra used that moment to cut in, "Uh, I am sitting right here."
Dastan looked at the girl, as if trying to decide something, before he sighed, "Sorry, Bellatrix, I'm just concerned about my daughter."
Bella nodded, "I understand, I would probably be just as cautious as you are if I were in your shoes."
A Few Hours Later
The rest of the morning passed quickly with the adults seemingly to become more and more anxious as time passed. Just as the four of them were preparing to sit down for lunch, the fireplace in the entryway flared to life and Poppy Pomfrey exited. She had barely exited the fireplace when Bella came into the entryway, having heard the floo flare up and smiled, "Poppy, how are you today?"
Madam Pomfrey returned the younger witch's smile and said, "I'm doing fine, Bella, thank you."
Bella nodded and said, "We were just about to have lunch, care to join?"
Pomfrey smiled, "That would be lovely, thank you."
Without another word, Bella led the way from the entryway to the informal dining area, which was situated off to the right, separated by a short hallway and a set of double doors. Immediately upon entering the dining area, Poppy noticed the silvery-blonde haired lady whose appearance was such that it was like looking at an older version of the girl she had treated last night, causing her to come to the conclusion that this woman must be the girl's mother. As she took a seat next to Sabra, Bella introduced her, "Apolline, Dastan, allow me to introduce you to Madam Poppy Pomfrey, she is the healer at Hogwarts and has been attending to my two adventure-prone children since they could crawl."
Dastan nodded to the older witch, "It is nice to see you again, Madam Pomfrey."
Apolline spoke, "It is nice to meet you, Madam Pomfrey."
The older witch scoffed as she sat down, "Please call me Poppy, neither of you were students at Hogwarts, nor are you likely to be."
Both Dastan and Apolline nodded and said that they would try to remember that. With that settled, the five people held idle conversation as they enjoyed their lunch...
Waking Up and the Answer
The first thing that Harry noticed as he slowly came back to consciousness was the weight and warmth of a body sleeping almost half on top of him, their slender arm wrapped possessively around his waist, and what was possibly their head resting on the left side of his chest, directly over his heart. The next thing he noticed was the delicate scent of jasmine and lilac that tickled his nose. The next thing he noticed as he cracked his eyes open was a mess of silver-blonde hair splayed across his shirted chest. The body pressed against his was decidedly feminine with a slender frame and her womanly assets pressed against his rib cage, separated only by the shirts they were wearing while one of her legs was draped over his thighs, as if her intention was to keep him in place as her personal under-blanket heater and pillow, again their skin separated by clothing.
As Harry recalled what had happened the previous night, he had a sneaking suspicion that this that the current situation he found himself in, with this particular angelic beauty half-pressed against and half-draped over him, was going to become the new normal for him, not that he minded in the least, he was a red-blooded teenage boy after all and she was the aforementioned beauty, but there was one problem, the close proximity of the girl had caused a certain part of his anatomy to react in a way that had his pajama pants tented in the front mere inches above the girls leg. Harry tried to send his thoughts to the girl while trying to extract himself from her grip, please don't move you leg up. Pretty please don't move your leg up. Pretty, pretty please don't move your leg up.
It seemed as his silent plea would go unanswered as he felt the girl's leg shift up a few inches, collapsing the tent that his pajama pants had been, and ensuring that the girl could feel his reaction to being in bed with such a vision of beauty pressed against him. He watched in horror mixed with amusement as she froze in place and her snapped wide open. The two locked eyes for a moment before the young woman shuffled across the bed so quickly that Harry could have sworn she had accidentally apparated. It was her back hitting one of the corner posts at the foot of the bed that kept her from falling off.
The first thing she noticed as her eyes snapped open was the same set of piercing emerald eyes that she had seen the night he saved her, whenever that was, only now they held a spark of fear and surprise. After that, she noticed the position they were lying in as well as his reaction to having her body pressed against him pressing against her thigh. Fleur reacted the only way she could: she moved across the bed so fast that she almost felt like she had apparated to the foot of the bed.
The two sat in silence for a few moments before Harry broke it, "So, uhh, good morning?"
From her new vantage point at the foot of the bed, Fleur was able to notice his messy, no messy didn't begin to cover the state of his black hair, unruly was far more appropriate description, followed by his handsome aristocratic features, and lastly his slender frame that was currently clothed in a simple forest green t-shirt and black shorts. She looked down and noticed that she was in a simple gray shirt and pants that hung loose on her, probably to protect her modesty, though the way the shirt hung, it gave the young man sitting across from her a good idea of the size and shape of her breasts. Wait, why was she even in his bed? The last thing she could remember was... him saving her from those thugs, no that wasn't quite the last thing she remembered. She was also dimly aware of the fact that she had wrapped her arms around his neck and refused... to... let... go. Oh no, she thought, Goddess, please tell me that I didn't...
As the thought passed through her mind, Fleur noticed that the front of the young man's shorts were forming a nice sized tent, and she could feel her cheeks heating up as she saw him blush as well. He took a moment to clear his throat as he discretely covered his crotch with the duvet, causing her eyes to snap up and lock eyes with him as he said in an uncertain voice, "So..."
Harry had lost the witty remark that had been on the tip of his tongue when her eyes had locked onto his and he found himself staring into the most amazing pair of dark sea blue eyes that he had ever seen. He heard her giggle at him and knew that he was making himself out to be a complete idiot in front of this girl, no young woman. She gave him a brilliant smile that seemed to make his heart rate increase rapidly, "Zo, I know zat I am beautiful, but ze ztaring is a little unnerving, oui?"
Fleur laughed as his face turned an even more brilliant shade of red. She watched as he suddenly realized his continuing problem and bolted from the bed through one of the doors on the left hand wall of the room. A minute later, she heard the water running, causing her to burst into another fit of laughter that only lasted for a minute or two as the slow realization of what happened dawned on her. The young man had saved her life and when he had picked her up, she had wrapped her arms around his neck and refused to let him go, even after they had gotten to what apparently was his family's home, and had subsequently spent the night in his bed, subconsciously pressing her body against his.
Fleur took a moment to look around the room, taking in the book shelves set into one wall and were full of books, most appearing to be magical in nature, the fireplace and mantle with the green banner featuring a basilisk-looking snake in the shape of an "S" in the center, and of course the dark hardwood flooring that seemed to give the house a warm and homely feel.
Just then the door to the bedroom opened, drawing Fleur's attention to those who were coming in through the door. The first person through the door was a stunning woman with glossy black hair falling in waves of ringlets past her shoulder blades, fine aristocratic features, lavender eyes that held the glimmer of a cunning intelligence, and an hour glass figure that would put many a Veela to shame with her amazing womanly curves coupled with what appeared to be an athletic build of finely sculpted muscles dancing just under her skin with every movement, if what she saw on the woman's arms were any indication of the rest of her build. She moved like a predator, quiet and graceful, deadly and beautiful. The second person she saw enter the room was a bear of a man that could intimidate just by his mere presence, his dark sea blue eyes focused entirely on Fleur, her father.
He was followed by a woman who appeared to be an older version of Fleur with the only difference being that she had icy-blue eyes instead of the dark sea blue that her husband and oldest daughter shared. Coming into the room behind Fleur's mother was a matronly woman who looked to be in her early sixties, with brown hair that was graying, watery blue eyes, stern yet pleasant features, and a figure that had once been athletic and stunning but had grown thicker, if only a little, over the decades since her youth. This woman was wearing the clothing that Fleur was accustomed to seeing in a healer: dark brown ankle-length dress that hid her figure with a white apron over the front and was carrying what looked to be a medical bag. The last person coming into the room looked like a younger version of the first woman and looked to be about eleven. If Fleur had to guess, this girl was Harry's little sister.
She watched as the first woman's gaze took in her state of wakefulness, the state of the sheets and duvet on the bed and the very noticeable absence of the young man in a single sweep of the room. The woman didn't have to ask where Fleur's companion from last night was as they all could hear the water running in the shower. Everyone seemed to be looking at each other, waiting for someone to speak first. They didn't have to wait long as the youngest of the group spoke up, a mischievous grin on her face, "So, you slept with my brother, huh. Dibs on naming my niece or nephew."
Fleur flushed crimson as her mother and father had the decency to look completely scandalized as the first woman who entered the room turned on the younger version of herself, her voice stern, "Sabra. Elizabeth. Potter."
Fleur shuddered involuntarily and whispered with a hint of fear in her voice, "All three names."
The woman that Fleur guessed was the girl's mother continued, "You will learn to keep a civil tongue in your head or I'll let Auntie Cissy have her way with you."
Sabra shuddered as she recalled the last time that she had 'etiquette education' with her youngest aunt. She remembered how Aun-... no, it was best not to think about it or she may have nightmares for the next week.
At that moment Fleur's father spoke to her as he gestured to the three women she didn't know, "Fleur, allow me to introduce you to Lady Bellatrix Potter, Matriarch of the Most Noble and Ancient House of Potter, her daughter Sabra, and the healer that attended you and Harry last night, Madam Poppy Pomfrey."
Fleur frowned as her mind started racing, wait, if she is Lady Potter and Papa said that Madam Pomfrey attended to me and Harry, then that would mean..., her eyes snapped wide as she put the proverbial 'two and two' together, that means that I was saved by THE Harry Potter. I was saved by The-Boy-Who-Lived!
She groaned as the other part of the equation clicked in her mind, that means... Oh Goddess, please let a life debt not-
Bellatrix speaking broke Fleur out of her internal dialog mid-thought as she spoke, sarcasm coloring her voice, "To finish that thought: yes, you now owe my son a life debt," pausing for a moment to give Fleur a grin that sent a shiver down her spine, and not the good kind of shiver, "welcome to the family."
Any response was cut off by Harry's voice coming from Fleur's right, "What's this about a life debt?"
Everyone's attention snapped to where Harry was standing in the doorway to the adjoining bathroom, a towel tied around his waist. Fleur's gaze took in the lean, steel-corded muscle that adorned his slender frame, noticing for the first time the jagged scar on his right forearm, as well as a couple of other scars adorning his upper body. She saw the clearly defined six pack before she looked away, her face heating at the sight of the almost completely nude Harry. She heard the younger girl giggle, "Harry, I think you broke her."
Fleur flushed even redder at the younger girl's comment. Bellatrix spoke, her voice full of mirth, "It would seem so," she then shifted her gaze to her son, "Harry, maybe you should get dressed. Then meet the rest of us down in the sitting room. We have some things to discuss."
Harry frowned at that comment, "Okay mum. Give me about fifteen minutes and I'll be down."
Everyone froze as there was a rather impatient clearing of the throat by the now-identified Madam Pomfrey, "Can I please check on my patients now that all of your gabbing is finished?"
Everyone except for Fleur and Harry looked like a group of scolded children as the elderly matron went about checking on her patients, brandishing her wand and casting her diagnostic charms silently and efficiently. After a few moments, the Matron of the Hogwarts Hospital Wing seemed satisfied and spoke to her two patients, "Now, Miss Delacour, you seem to have mostly recovered from your ordeal last night. The main thing you need now is rest. Preferably this would be bed rest with another sleeping potion, but due to your physiology, I won't do that. I want you to remain in bed for most of the day however, I will make an allowance for getting up to go to the loo for personal hygiene and to take meals. Also, absolutely no magic today."
Fleur nodded and said, "Merci, Madam."
Madam Pomfrey then turned to the young man who held the distinction as her most troublesome patient ever in her long career as a healer, and said, her tone turning icy, "Mister Potter, are you incapable of going even two months without doing something to warrant being under my care?"
At that, Fleur watched as Harry chuckled and rubbed the back of his head nervously, "Sorry, Poppy, but I had a good reason, honest."
Madam Pomfrey gave Harry a look that said, 'and I should believe that, why?', before she spoke, "Three cracked ribs and two more bruised. Rather light for you. Just rest today and take this potion in the evening before you go to bed. It will help take care of any lingering effects."
With that, Bella led all of the adults out of the room and was at the door before she looked back at the two teens, "Fleur, are you coming down or do you want to take a shower first?"
She responded, "I would like to zhower firzt."
Bellatrix nodded, "Okay then, join us when you are ready."
Fleur nodded, "Merci, Lady Potter."
She got off the bed and moved towards the bathroom as soon as the door to the hallway was closed behind the retreating figure of Lady Potter. As she moved towards the bathroom, she noticed that Harry hadn't moved so she stopped about halfway between the bed and the bathroom door. She looked up at his eyes to keep from staring at the rest of his body as he spoke, "So, what does my mum mean when she says that you owe me a life debt?"
Fleur sighed, knowing that she wasn't going to be able to take a shower until she answered that question, "When you zaved me lazt night, you incurred a life debt from me."
Harry nodded, "Okay, I get that, but why's that causing my little sister to make comments about us having children? What aren't you telling me?"
Fleur felt as if an iron weight settled into her stomach, "Can I take a zhower first? I promise zat I will anzwer all of your queztionz zen."
Harry locked eyes with her, causing her to lose her voice for a moment, as he said, "Very well, we'll talk before we head down to my family."
As soon as Fleur had went into the bathroom, Harry called his personal house-elf as he moved towards his small desk that contained ink and parchment and sat in a corner of his room, "Dobby."
With a small crack the overly-energetic house-elf appeared, "What can Dobby do for Young Master Harry?"
Harry had just finished inking a note to Drakefang, asking for a certain item out of the family vaults to be given to the house-elf as he said, "Can you please take this note to Drakefang and wait for him to give you the item requested then return to me as quickly as possible."
Dobby took the offered folded piece of parchment with an overly-enthusiastic nod, "At once Master Harry."
With that, the house-elf disapparated with a small crack.
Harry got up from his desk and moved to his closet, grabbing a pair of boxers out of his dresser on the way. As he was pulling on a forest green t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans, Harry called for another house-elf, "Misty."
The house-elf appeared with a small crack and spoke, "What does Young Master Harry need?"
He turned and looked at the elf, "Can you pop over to Madam Malkins and get some clothes and whatever feminine apparel as would be appropriate for Fleur? Tell her to draft it from my school trust vault. I need you to get back before she's done with her shower."
Misty looked at her young master, studying him for a moment as she realized that he had made a decision about what she had heard the Missus talk about last night with their guests. She nodded and asked, "Muggle clothing or robes?"
Harry thought for a moment and said, "Muggle. Make sure they're enchanted to adjust to her when she puts them on. Thank you, Misty."
Misty nodded, "No problem, Master Harry."
With that, the house-elf disapparated with a small crack. When the house-elf had disappeared, Harry had asked Makon to erect a privacy screen extending from the bathroom door to around the bed, which the house-elf had done without comment. It was only a couple of minutes later when Misty reappeared with the requested clothing, which Harry told her to leave spread out on the bed and leave. After the second house-elf had left, Harry had settled in to read one of his muggle fiction books while sitting in one of the high-backed comfortable chairs set next to the fireplace. It was nearly a half-hour later when Dobby returned with a small crack.
Dobby spoke, "Dobby be back, young Master with what you asked for from Mister Drakefang. Master Drakefang also said to tell you 'congratulations on your pending engagement'."
Harry smiled at the house-elf as he took the small velvet box from Dobby, "Thank you Dobby. Nothing is decided yet, but it never hurts to be prepared. Can you get some tea and pastries ready for when I call for them? After that, you can go help Misty with whatever she needs."
The house-elf, his eyes glistening with unshed tears of joy, nodded and disappeared with another soft crack, leaving Harry alone to wait for Fleur to finish her shower...
Fleur had taken her time with her shower, partly because she had cried tears of relief and hadn't wanted Harry to see them, and partly because she still felt disgusting from the events of last night. Events that, she swore to herself, would never happen again. Fleur was going to need to be able to take care of herself, but that was a discussion for another time. She still wasn't sure if that was going to happen, though. Harry had only said that they would talk after her shower, so it was a possibility that he could choose to let her die after she told him everything. Thoughts of that nature kept whirling through her head as she finished her shower and toweled herself dry while using her wand to cast a drying charm on her hair.
Fleur pulled her shoulder-blade length silver-blonde hair into a loose ponytail as she exited the bathroom, only to find herself in a bedroom that was divided by a thick privacy screen that went from the bathroom door to around the bed, upon which there was a bra, pair of panties, a silvery t-shirt, and a pair of dark blue jeans that looked as if they would match her eye color. She was touched by how considerate Harry seemed to be, giving her privacy while she showered and got dressed.
As she pulled on the underwear and bra, Fleur instantly noticed that they magically adjusted to fit her perfectly. Fleur stood stunned for a minute as she considered how considerate Harry had to be to think of having clothes brought for her that would magically adjust to fit her perfectly. She was still standing there when she heard his voice from somewhere else in the room, "Fleur, are you alright?"
Fleur shook herself out of her musings and said as she quickly pulled on the t-shirt and jeans, not surprised to find that both magically adjusted to fit perfectly, "I'm fine, zank you."
She then moved and opened the privacy screen, instantly spotting Harry rising from the high backed chair he had been sitting in next to the fireplace while placing his book on the side table next to the chair. Fleur blushed as she felt his eyes rove over her body for a moment before he returned the smile, "You should thank Misty and Madam Malkin for the clothes, they're the ones who selected them for you. I only told them to get you some muggle clothes that were enchanted to fit you."
Fleur arched a delicate eyebrow, "Oh, and whose idea was the privacy screen?"
Harry chuckled as he scratched the back of his head, "Mine," he paused for a moment before he quickly changed the subject, "What happened to your accent?"
Fleur shook her head, "Non, you do not get to change the subject. Whose idea was any of this?"
Harry swallowed as his face turned crimson, "Mine, I guess. I just wanted to make sure that you were taken care of and that you knew that I wasn't going to use this life debt to take advantage of you."
She gave him a mischievous grin, one that had a led weight settling into his stomach, "Oh, so you wanted to take care of me without violating my privacy."
Harry groaned at her teasing, causing Fleur to giggle. She was surprised at how easy it was to be around him, even though they didn't know each other at all. After a few more seconds of giggling at him, Fleur settled down and moved towards Harry. She felt a small thrill at how he watched her move towards him and then when she was near the twin of the chair that he had been sitting in, he said, "Please have a seat. Would you like some tea and pastries? I've had one of our elves prepare them for us."
Fleur nodded and took the proffered chair, saying, "Merci."
Harry nodded and as she took her seat, he called for Dobby, who promptly delivered the tea and pastries, as well as milk, sugar, and honey for the tea on a service tray. The two teens remained silent as the both prepared their cups of tea and selected from the pastries available. Fleur sighed, "Are you aware that I am a Veela?"
Harry nodded, "Yes, I could feel a very small pull towards you when I first saw you, and I saw the crazed expressions on the faces of your attackers. Actually, I can still feel a small pull towards you. Still not getting what that has to do with the discussion of this life debt."
Fleur sighed and took a sip of her tea using that action as a way to delay telling him what it meant. She was reluctant to ask for him to save her again. After all, what right did she have to ask him to give up his choice of who he wanted to marry? It was selfish in the extreme. It was times like this that Fleur wished that she hadn't been born a Veela. Fleur agonized over the decision to tell him or not for a moment longer before she spoke, her voice unsteady and her accent re-emerging, "Becauze I am Veela, our magic cannot exizt togezer wiz an unfulfilled life debt for more than one monz. At the end of zat time, if the debt ztill 'azn't been fulfilled by eizer zaving your life or another means, I will loze my magic and becauze we are beingz of magic and zus cannot exizt wizzout our magic, my life will end zortly after my magic iz gone."
Harry frowned as he leaned back in his chair and steeping his fingers in front of his face with his elbows resting on the armrests of his chair as he leveled a stare at her that told Fleur that he was growing impatient with her dodging the subject by omission, "Still not getting why that warranted the "welcome to the family" comment from my mum or my sister's comment about getting to name our children. So what is this other way you mentioned," she watched as he paused for a moment and she could see the proverbial 'click' in his mind as he understood, "the other way to satisfy the life debt is for us to get married, isn't it?"
Fleur sighed again, she seemed to be doing that a lot during this conversation, and nodded, "Oui, to zatisfy the debt wizzout me zaving your life iz for uz to become one through marriage and zee conzummation of zaid marriage."
She watched as Harry sat in his chair, his eyes unfocused and staring into the fire seemingly deep in thought. Then she heard him chuckle, surprising her, "Bloody hell. So, let me get this straight: to satisfy the debt, you and I have to get married and consummate the marriage before the one month time frame is up?"
Fleur nodded, uncertain as to why he would be chuckling about this, it was her life at stake, "Oui, zat is correct."
The two sat in silence for a few minutes before Harry broke it, "Is there a way to be certain that the debt exists? Also, how does a life debt form for a Veela?"
Fleur took a deep breath and sighed before she launched into a similar description to what her parents had given to Lady Potter last night after they arrived here. Throughout the description, Harry sat in silence, his piercing green eyes focused on her. After she had finished her description, that included the spell to determine if a life debt existed for a Veela, Fleur seemed to be sitting on pins and needles as she waited for any kind of response from her companion.
After what seemed to be an eternity of silence between the two, Harry shook his head as an exact copy of the grin Fleur had seen his mother wear just a little while ago spreading across his face and casting a mischievous glint in his eyes, "Well that is bloody brilliant. It would be worth agreeing just to see the Prewitt women's reactions to the fact that I am off the market."
Fleur frowned, her voice ice as she spoke, "I fail to zee how my life being at rizk is a laughing matter, and who are zeeze 'Prewitt women' you zpeak of?"
For some reason, Harry mentioning them sent a flash of... something through her system. Oh Goddess, she thought, don't tell me that my magic has already chosen him for my mate. I must speak to Papa to find out what color the aura was.
Harry's smile and mirth disappeared when he heard the tone of voice she used, "The 'Prewitt women' as you called them are the former Matriarch and the lone female child, not to mention the youngest child, in a very large and very poor pureblood family, the Weasley Family. There was a nasty split between the Patriarch and Matriarch of the family shortly after my parents died. It ended in a divorce and separation of family magics. The former Matriarch, one Molly Prewitt, took her infant daughter and the only son that chose to go with her, Percival Prewitt, and claimed headship of the Ancient House of Prewitt with Percival being recognized by the Family Magic's as the heir. I am good friends with the youngest three males in the Weasley family, as well as the Patriarch, and on friendly terms with the two oldest boys, one of whom is dating my oldest cousin, Nymphadora Tonks, but be sure to call her Nym or Dora and not her full name, she hates it enough to hex you into next week. She's going into Auror training starting this September."
Fleur narrowed her eyes at Harry, her tone still icy as she asked, "And why would zeir reactions to our marriage be funny?"
Harry's grin turned roguishly lopsided, causing her pulse to quicken, "Because, since the night my parents died, the former Weasley Matriarch has tried to secure me for her daughter so that she may gain access to the Potter family fortune and restore her own family's wealth. Hell, she even tried to persuade Professor Dumbledore that very night that letting her raise me would be the best solution, as she saw herself as the only mother capable of giving me a loving environment to grow up in. She has even gone so far as to brainwash her daughter into thinking that I belong to her and her alone. And even more outrageous, the bloated banshee has gone so far as to try to force my mother into signing multiple marriage contracts between me and her daughter with several conditions within the contracts that were: one, illegal and two, granting her access to my family's vaults and associated fortune in such a way that my mum couldn't block."
Fleur felt a sense of hope rise in her chest, "Zo, let me get zis ztraight, you are saying tha-"
Harry held up his hand, causing her to stop talking mid-sentence. He waited a moment before asking, "Is there anything else I need to know about this life debt?"
Fleur bit her lip as she debated telling him about what the aura colors meant when the Vinculum Revealing (Bond Revealing) Spell was cast. In the end, she decided to tell him, feeling that it was better to have everything out in the open. After she had finished, Harry asked the obvious question, "Do you happen to know what color our aura was? I assume that your father probably cast it on us last night while we were sleeping."
Fleur frowned and shook her head, "Non. I didn't think to ask him while everyone was visiting us earlier."
Harry nodded, "Well, since I don't have a lot of knowledge about Veela, why don't you share some information about the Veela and yourself?"
Fleur looked at him, "Only if you are willing to share some information about yourself. It only seems fair, non?"
Harry smiled and nodded his agreement. What followed was a series of back and forth questions and answers. It seemed like the two of them were starting to relax as they started sharing things about their lives in an effort to get to know each other. They were both laughing at funny stories and each doing their best to share parts of their lives with the other, Harry being careful to avoid some of his more harrowing adventures at school, at least for now. All the while, Harry was taking everything that Fleur had shared with him in and considering his course of action. This continued until there was a soft crack in front of them, announcing the arrival of the head elf of the Potter Family, Misty. Harry looked at the house-elf and inquired, "Yes, Misty, what is it?"
Misty looked between the two before focusing on Harry, "Missus Bella asks that the Young Master and Miss Flower join the rest of the family in the Family Dining Room as soon as Young Master is ready."
Harry smiled, "Thank you, Misty. Please tell my mum that we will be down shortly."
The house-elf nodded and disapparated with a soft crack.
Harry was feeling as nervous now as he had before his first Quidditch game at school. He glanced at the patiently sitting Fleur, her dark sea blue eyes focused entirely on him with a small glimmer of amusement in them. Scratch his earlier statement, he was about a hundred times more nervous now than he had been before that game.
He knew that what he was about to do would change the course of his life, but he would do it because it was what was right. Harry couldn't let her die just because he didn't know her before today, so sometime during their conversation he had made the decision to follow his 'saving people thing' and go through with this. Harry was thankful that he had had the forethought to ask Dobby to get the small box that was resting in his jeans pocket and now felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. He suddenly found himself unable to sit as he rose from his chair and started pacing the floor just in front of the fireplace, the small velvet box clutched in his hand in such a way as to be out of Fleur's line of sight as he moved. As he paced, Harry considered just what to say. He wanted to make this special for her, even though he knew that she was as trapped by the situation as he was.
Fleur had been growing even more concerned than she had been when he had asked her to sit down as she watched Harry pace back and forth the short distance in front of the fireplace. She was suddenly fearful that he had decided against marrying her. Fleur could understand why he would, after all, they didn't know each other and he probably had a girl he liked at his school. These thoughts were brought to a screeching halt as she noticed that he was standing before her nervously. The look in his eyes as he looked at her had her own butterflies dancing in her stomach.
Harry wet his lips with his tongue before he spoke, "I know that we don't know each other and that we were forced into this situation by magic. I have thought about this, including all of the ramifications and benefits. Granted, I haven't thought very long about it, but I just want you to know that I have thought about it."
Fleur asked, uncertainty coloring her voice, "You- you've thought about what?"
Harry decided that then was as good as time as any, so he dropped down to one knee before Fleur's chair and gently took her left hand in his right. The moment their skin made contact, he felt a little spark of electricity pass between them and looking up into her eyes, he could tell that she had felt it as well. He stared into her dark sea blue eyes, losing himself in their depths for a moment as he watched a myriad of emotions at play there. Harry couldn't name them all, but amongst them were fear, hope, and something that was barely there, just a small spark. He took a deep breath and spoke, "Fleur, as I said, we don't know each other right now, but if you will give me a chance, I would like for us to get to know each other. I feel like the conversation that we just shared has started us down the path to knowing each other and I think that we both know that it won't be easy, and that it will take a lot of work on both our parts, but I think that in the end, we can both find what we were looking for in this relationship."
She felt hope swell in her chest as she watched him produce a small velvet jewelry box, and felt her breath catch in her throat as she looked at the delicate ring nestled inside. It seemed to be made of the finest strands of what looked to be white gold woven together to form the band and resting in what looked to be an extension of some of the strands so that it looked like a soft pillow was one of the clearest diamonds she had ever seen. It wasn't large, at most maybe a half karat, but the rectangular diamond was breathtaking. She looked up into emerald green eyes that held no small amount of nerves, but held a steely determination as well as he said, "Fleur, would you do me the greatest honor a man can ask of a woman and consent to be my wife?"
Fleur was stunned as she looked at the young man kneeling before her with new eyes. Had she expected him to say yes to marrying her? If she was honest with herself, then no, she hadn't, and if he had, by some miracle, decided to give up his freedom of choice to save her life... again, she didn't expect him to do something like this, actually proposing as if they had been dating for years. She looked up from the ring and into those amazing emerald eyes, "Why?"
Harry never looked away from her eyes as he said, "Because letting you die for such a selfish reason as me wanting the freedom to choose who I marry isn't right. But besides that, I realized as I thought about it when we were talking just a little bit ago that maybe, just maybe, I could make this relationship go from being something forced upon us to something that we chose to pursue of our own free will. I felt that proposing to you would be a clear sign that I am not just accepting our circumstances, but choosing you, Fleur, not the hot Veela that everyone else sees, but you for who you are. I may not know everything about you yet, but I want this to be a symbol of my solemn vow that I will never shy away from you and that I will make an honest effort to get to know you."
Fleur was floored, there was just no two ways about it. His words and the sincerity that she saw shining in those emerald eyes made her understand that he had chosen her of his own free will. She now understood that the ring was the symbol of his commitment to their relationship, whatever that may end up being. The young Veela found herself so overwhelmed with emotion that she was unable to speak, so she nodded. Harry didn't seem to need anymore encouragement as he pulled the ring from the small box and slid it onto the ring finger of her left hand which he still held in his own hand. She watched in wonder as the ring magically resized to fit her hand perfectly followed by Harry bending his head forward and brushing his lips against the back of her hand, sending a small thrill through her.
After placing the kiss on the back of her hand, Harry rose to his full height, never letting go of her hand as he looked down at her with a warm smile on his face as he said while helping her to her feet, "Now for the fun part."
Fleur looked at him quizzically, "And what is that?"
Harry gave her that same lopsided grin that sent her pulse racing as he answered with mischief dancing in his eyes, "Meeting the family and telling them that we are now engaged."
A/N: Phew, that was a hard chapter to not only write initially, but also to rewrite to fit with what I am trying to accomplish with the story. I think that the end result more than justifies the numerous restarts I had to do just to get to the point that I wanted to be at when I finished this chapter. Over eleven thousand words!
As always, let me know what you think.