The Purpose of Wings @charlennette
Interlude: A Roost and Flock

Author's Note: Hello, thank you for reading my story. Please see my profile for information regarding canon compliance and a general timeline of my interconnected stories. While they are not necessary to read, my short stories add flavour and context.

Sincere gratitude must be given to HonorverseFan, M.J. Bradley (I guess), ArmsofAtlas and all the other great people who gave up their time to edit my story in the Harry/Fleur discord.

Big thanks to DavidTheAthenai for finally updating A Court of Flowers so that I could post this chapter.

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

Cheers.

Interlude: A Roost and Flock

Five Years Ago

Fleur Delacour peeked over the edge of the magical tome clutched tightly in her hands, the impromptu shield smouldering slightly. Enchanted binding sent out dark purple wisps of smoke emanating from the singed hole burned into the cover.

She blew a strand of silver hair away from its current occupation of tickling her brow, cheeks puffed in consternation at the disarray her lab was in.

Charred marks decorated her tables and walls in black streaks, not unlike a pattern of primordial cave drawings. Colourful bubbles floated in the air, refracting the lamplight in a myriad of pastel colours from pink to green. Each time the effervescent spheres made contact with anything they'd pop in a fiery flash of small detonations. Rainbow foam fizzled and hissed at the epicentre of the spell-site, melted materials scattered like debris from a battlefield.

Suffice to say, the experiment had not gone well.

The Charm was supposed to aerosolize Essence of Dittany so that it could be utilized in medical procedures for the lungs. The current methodology of using potions was obviously ineffective. Making someone drink a restorative tonic with spell damage to their throat or respiratory system? Surely there had to be a better way. Unfortunately, Fleur was struggling to weave a spell capable of changing the aspect of the medicine without simultaneously turning it into a cluster of floating mines.

She scowled down at the book in her hands. 'Spells for the Discerning Modern Witch,' it was utter tripe and her go-to shield for any low-level magical explosion. She got a perverse satisfaction from destroying the book her most ardently hated professor had penned during his tenure at Beauxbatons. Like most magical ledgers, the binding was enchanted for durability and thus, had a certain, small level of imperviousness towards spells. Textbooks used in classroom settings especially were protected, considering how often spells went awry when students were learning.

Fleur smiled gently at memories Harry had shared regarding the particularly explosive results of Seamus Finnigan.

A rap on her door caught her drifting attention. The sound instantly caused her body to reorientate so she was facing the entryway. She waved her wand so the door would unlock and let in whoever was on the other side.

The esteemed Research Chief of the Edrith Spellweaving Institute breezed into the room. Almeida was a potent force anywhere but a near deity in laboratories. Her sweeping eyes missed nothing in their detailed inspection of Fleur's workspace. Even though Charms was not the woman's forte, Fleur had no doubt that her boss deduced exactly what she was working on from that simple glance.

"Good day, Mrs Potter."

"Is it? The sky looked awfully gloomy when I came in this morning," Fleur replied.

A lip twitch was all she got for her efforts.

"Ahem… yes, well, I wanted to let you know, since it seemed rather odd, a woman requested to see you but left abruptly when one of our security wizards went to fetch you."

Fleur cast her mind back trying to think of some appointment or prior engagement she'd agreed to but couldn't remember one. "Did she leave a name?"

"Apparently not."

"Oh. Well then. What did she look like?"

"I didn't ask. I can give you the name of the security wizard if you want to question him."

Fleur puffed her cheeks out before letting the air escape in a huff. "No need, probably just a reporter or something. If it is important she'll come back."

"Speaking of important, how is your project going?" Almeida walked around the counter so she could trace one of the many rune arrays Fleur had constructed for containment. The woman used her wand to tap the symbols, causing them to glow a brilliant blue before fading.

"I've run into a small snag. Dittany doesn't do well when I re-construct its properties. I suspect that when I magically force it from a liquid it loses some binding agent that keeps it from becoming volatile when exposed to the air. I'm not sure what it is though."

"Have you attempted an Arithmantic expression? It could confirm your theory."

"I gave one a try but… it really isn't my field of expertise." Fleur bit her lip nervously, hoping Almeida wouldn't find the scribbled notes more akin to a madwoman's scribbles than the refined approach of a professional.

"You could always request the assistance of the Arithmancy Department." Almeida sighed when Fleur shook her head stubbornly. "You can't just avoid the Department altogether because of one person, Fleur," she admonished.

The Veela deflated. "I know that but… give me some time. I want things to settle since I just filed that complaint."

Almeida nodded understandingly before breaking her cool persona to brush Fleur's hair off her face in a tender motion. "Okay. I know it was difficult for you to submit but I'm glad that you told us." The hand left Fleur's forehead and, with it, her boss resumed her stoic professionalism. "Just don't allow this to interfere with your own work."

"Of course," Fleur said haughtily. "I am simply confident that I can work this out myself." A lie in part.

The Spellweaving Chief gave her a half-grin before walking away to continue her rounds. As she left Fleur deflated. It had been humiliating when it reached the point Fleur had felt forced to file a complaint about the new hire from Germany, Ernst.

The Artithmancer had been an obnoxiously boisterous person when he first arrived but his distasteful fascination with her had caused an unsettled feeling at work far too often for her peace of mind. The lascivious looks, small gifts, and uncomfortable visits to her lab had simply become too regular to ignore any longer.

Now he'd taken to reading vapid Veela romance novels and giving her gloating, knowing looks while he laughed with his posse of assistants and fellow slugs she'd avoided beforehand. She didn't understand how the public could read such contradictory garbage. Some stories had Veelas be evil seductresses, capable of enthralling men into mindless drones while others involved Veela being little more than sex slaves, dominated by a 'wizarding bond.'

Ernst wasn't the only man who read the stories, she'd spied many crimson-covered books in the hands of coworkers she respected. The genre had exploded in popularity when she'd married Harry and a resurgence had occurred at Lili's birth.

Fleur finished gathering up her belongings before locking up her office and laboratory for the night. She focused on dispelling the negativity clouding her mind so happier thoughts of tonight could replace them. The Potters were having their monthly dinner gathering with close friends and family, a night she always looked forward to. The group's numbers fluctuated over the years and tonight would be the smallest, most intimate it had been in some time. Mysteriously, everyone but Ron and Hermione had suddenly seemed busy.

A voice called out to Fleur as she walked down the meandering corridors of the Edrith Institute. She responded gaily with a cheerful wave but kept moving, not allowing herself to stop and be embroiled in conversation. She was already running behind.

Her speedy exit hit a snag at the security station. As her luck would have it, Ernst and some of his pals were waiting to be cleared for release. Fleur's steps slowed, her teeth catching on her lip. She glanced behind her at the corner she'd just turned from but steeled herself. In no world would she hide from such ridiculous men.

Raising her chin and straightening her spine, Fleur waltzed towards the back of the line so she could await her turn to check out.

Minutes passed and the line moved dutifully forward, an exhale of relief being cut short as one of Ernst's friends caught her eye. A nudge was given to a thin man with wide shoulders. His head cocked to the side as he turned to see her. She swung her gaze away pointedly.

Ernst was not quite as tall as Harry but broader. The German man was barrel-chested with a neatly-trimmed beard. Short brown hair flopped over a weathered face and brown eyes. A crooked nose that had been broken one-to-many times seemed to always be in a state of slight sunburn. He wore suits with expensive dragon-leather shoes even when experimenting, she supposed he thought himself rich enough to afford the numerous and necessary outfit changes.

The man often bragged boisterously, his loud voice filling up any room he was in. Fleur had disliked him almost immediately from that arrogance alone, yet his accompanying personality did little to offset that first impression. Regardless of her own feelings, the man was charismatic. He had an extroverted nature that drew people to him, most often the lowest denominator of people. He had just enough charm and intelligence to receive a pass for his unbecoming behavior and knew how to navigate social circles. In short, she thought of him as a shark.

Fleur could see the flimsy ego for what it truly was, however. After all, she had hidden behind a patchwork shield of her own - feigning confidence to mask insecurity.

She knew, from being close with Almeida, that Ernst had been trying to get into the Edrith Spellweaving Institute for seven years, yet had failed each application cycle. A sorepoint for a man who believed himself a genius. Now, after finally making it here, the height of spell-creation in the entire wizarding world, the man had quickly come to realize he had only been a big fish in a little pond.

Almeida had confided that Fleur's complaint was not the only one levelled against him, though hers was the only one stemming from harassment. Supposedly, missed deadlines and incorrect work product had been the hallmark of the man's first four months.

Regardless of his tenuous work status, he had delighted in making her employment miserable. A complaint didn't seem enough to force him to quit either, judging by the snide laughter and unhushed conversation the group of men were having not far from her.

Ignoring the blunt comments about Veela promiscuity and supernatural anatomy was easy, familiar even. Trying not to throw fireballs at the men pondering how often she opened her legs to reach her position as head of the Charm Research department was far more difficult.

The line moved forward, finally reaching the men who went quiet under the scrutiny of the female security-witch on duty. Irena had been a fixture at the Institute for over four decades and had a stare that cooled even the most hot-headed of tempers. She was a large woman, round and curvy. But her skill with a wand was well-documented and decorated. The Chief of Security did her round of inspections silently and efficiently, sending the men through the exit with practiced motions.

Not a word was spoken from them again.

As the last of Ernst's group left, Fleur let out the breath she'd been holding. The urge to hex bleeding away along with her tension.

Finally, her turn arrived. Irena gave her a quick once-over before nodding, a small smile barely curving the woman's plumb lips.

"Mrs Potter," she said in greeting.

"Irena," Fleur responded. "I hope you have a lovely weekend."

The large woman grunted in lieu of a reply as her wand traced through the necessary revealing spells.

As the last tingling sensation faded away, Fleur made for the door only to be stopped by a thick hand. "Careful, Mrs Potter, lots of reporters today."

Sighing, she thanked the security-witch before bracing herself. With a confident step, she opened the door.

For a glorious moment, she reveled in the majesty of the beautiful place in which she worked. Toruń was a gorgeous city. She had fallen in love with the place at first sight. Something about the ancient place emitted a warmth and joviality that modern cities lacked. Rather than the joy being leeched by the cold stone, it seemed to have settled within the brick and mortar making up many of the buildings and roads. History seethed just under the surface here, both magic and mundane.

A brief glimpse of the beautiful city was all Fleur got before bright flashes overtook her vision. She raised a hand to cover her eyes from the blinding deluge, though she was not foolish enough to forgo surveying her surroundings.

Security staff stood at the perimeter of the Institute, ensuring the international press didn't enter private property. However, because the wards also ended at the property line, Fleur would have to fight her way through the crowd so she could take her International Portkey home. Luckily, the security guards noticed her arrival from the suddenly mutinous rabble.

An older man, named Josef, turned away from the shouting press and sent her a kind smile, which she returned.

"Hello, Mrs Potter, lovely to see you."

"And you Josef, can I have a little help again today?"

"Of course, of course," came his genteel reply. He nodded at his fellow officers who began pushing the paparazzi back, opening up space for Fleur to occupy.

The noise washed over her like sludge. As familiar and normal as it had become, the uncomfortability of it all still stung.

"Please, Ms Delacour, let us know about your daughter! Is Liliana Potter, a half-breed, going to be heir to the Potter fortune?"

"Why haven't any pictures of Liliana been shown? The wizarding public wants to know if she is really Harry's or from one of your many lovers?"

"How do you respond to claims that the most eligible bachelor in the wizarding world has been nabbed by a dark creature?"

"Fleur, is it true Harry isn't allowed to leave your home?"

"Why did Mr Potter quit the Aurors?"

"What are your comments regarding allegations of you enthralling Mr Potter?"

"How many Veela does Mr Potter have bonded to him?"

"Ms Delacour, the wizarding public-"

Unthinkingly, her mouth opened.

"Potter."

The reporters paused as flashes went off. Accepting her subconscious decision, she turned to face the ravenous lot. She stood tall and proud, fingers clenched at her side. "My name is Fleur Potter." She stated firmly before taking the last step forward so she could activate the International Portkey bracelet that would whisk her to England.

As Fleur descended from the air she chewed her lip. It had been silly to engage the reporters, they would only latch on to her statement and create some exaggerated backstory to the simple comment.

She had despised the press who hounded Harry after the war but when their relationship became public, that fervor turned to her. She and her family had been bombarded with inquiries, death threats, and intrusive articles bordering on salacious lies.

The hardest aspect of the whole debacle, however, had been Harry's reaction. The moping and endless apologizing as though he was responsible for the behavior of fools. She had thoroughly wiped that ridiculous notion away.

Upon arriving at the boundary to the Potter home, Fleur turned sharply to apparate instead of walking up the gently sloping hill. With a crack, she appeared at Neville's backyard, dominated by a gigantic greenhouse.

She had struck up a fast friendship with the kind but shy Neville Longbottom shortly after the war. They'd bonded over gardening, a therapeutic respite from the spellfire and haunts of a war. They'd regrown charred parts of the Forbidden Forest during the rebuilding of Hogwarts and worked together to return the picturesque landscape of the castle to its natural state.

Neville had a way with plants that was nearly supernatural, a gift she was aware of considering her own. He'd asked respectful questions about her kind's ability to sing to nature and her fire's propensity to greatly accelerate new growth but never pried.

Now they met periodically to discuss different plant projects Neville was taking on, he enjoyed extreme and exotic species whereas she preferred the more aesthetic variety.

Upon Lili's birth, Neville had planted a specially cultivated peach tree on the Potter property that would bloom year round. Natalie and Neville had supposedly been working on it since she'd announced her pregnancy.

It was a truly beautiful tree and it bore her favourite fruit. Unfortunately, all the peaches tasted like crabapples, not that she'd ever tell either of her friends.

A small plant, already potted, was waiting for her when she opened the greenhouse doors. A single bloom rose from swaying tendrils of wriggling stems, the bud opening and closing as though breathing. A note next to the plant was picked up and read, causing Fleur to break out in a wide smile.

She looked at the plant Neville had given her. He was unable to make it tonight as he had finally mustered the courage to ask Hannah out on a date. It had been a long, long time coming. Ron, George, and Angelina even had a bet going regarding the two lovebirds.

Angelina would be quite happy when she learned of her victory.

The gift from Neville was a special flower from Puerto Rico that bloomed fully only once in its thirty-year lifespan. The note claimed that the petals 'breathing' was a sign the bud was close to opening and that he didn't want the spectacular sight to be missed if it happened while he was gone tonight.

Fleur grinned as she put the hastily scrawled note down so she could stroke the pulsating flowerhead. A silvery glow emitted from the hidden petals at her touch and the stems shivered in recognition of her presence. Thankfully, Neville had included the translated name of the flower - Dancing Fairy Waxleaf with his instructions. She'd need to give it warm water every two hours until the full moon rose tonight, at which point she should set it outside in a beam of moonlight.

Deciding she ought to get back home so she could begin preparing for company, Fleur hefted the plant before trudging her way back out of the wardline so she could apparate.

Before spinning away, Fleur sent out a silent wish for Neville's date to go well tonight. Hannah and he had been tripping around one another far longer than necessary. It was only right that they should finally stumble fully into each other's arms.

XXXXXXXX

The scent of shampoo wafted through the upper floor of the Potter abode. Fleur could hear the running water of the shower from the hallway where she had stopped to peek in on her daughter quietly dreaming in her room.

Every time Fleur saw her daughter her heart clenched in surprised delight. Even at two years old, Lili never ceased to amaze her mother. The fair skin, silver hair, and gorgeous green eyes. How she had made something so perfect shocked her to the core. Most would look at the chicklet and that would be all they'd see, the Veela. But the rounded nose was all Potter and the green eyes were so alike her namesake's. Andromeda would be by shortly to pick her up for the evening so that Harry and Fleur could relax as adults rather than parents, albeit briefly.

With one last lingering look at the slumbering angel, Fleur withdrew. Her feet stepped lightly towards the bedroom she had shared with Harry for so many years, or, the 'love nest' as he had designated with a garish but stupidly sweet handmade sign.

The door to the bathroom was slightly ajar and, without a shred of hesitation, Fleur crept to the crack even as the noise of falling water abruptly cut off.

Her eyes were drawn alluringly to the expanse of muscle and sinew that formed her husband's back. Harry was already drying himself with a fluffy blue towel and took no notice of her gawking.

The undulating ripple of his body as he moved captivated her, the constellations of scar tissue that she had mapped out years ago showed prominently after the heat from the shower. He was lean and muscled, his trim but powerful frame thrilled her with every innocent yet indulgent movement.

'Fleur's delicious house-husband,' as Angèle and her friend, Natalie, were fond of teasing. She couldn't help but agree. He'd stayed in fantastic shape even after leaving the Aurors.

The thought of Natalie inevitably brought up memories of Josephine, her other school friend who had drifted away after marrying her muggle husband, Durant. The last time Fleur had seen her was at Natalie and Bill Weasley's wedding a few years ago.

Thoughts of friendship withered as Harry plucked a clean shirt to slip over his head. The knitted curves of his muscles sent a molten thrill through her at the motion. Her eyes traced the jagged scars that stood out so prominent upon the tight, sculpted planes of him. Some were pale and smooth while others never lost their irritated redness. A few were a nightmarish black, unnatural and dark. He was a beautiful man, even more so for all his hardships and wounds.

Mine, a territorial voice whispered in her head as her pupils dilated. Feathers poked through the skin of her shoulders, leaving a tingling sensation in their wake. Her belly felt heavy and warm, a certain emptiness making itself known.

Her allure sung to him and she could feel its joyous reunion with the object of her most ardent desire. The frequency of the magic vibrated in a shimmer only her eyes could see through the air as it caressed Harry.

He shivered unknowingly, goosebumps breaking out along his shoulders, his magic recognizing her presence even if he did not. He was hers, utterly and completely and the thought caused satisfaction to purr in her chest.

If the allure was her music then Harry was the instrument. Just like her cello, he gave her an outlet to just be. To unburden herself from the shackles of day-to-day drudgery was a gift she had once thought could be found only in the dulcet tones of string and bow meeting.

Fleur had always considered herself strong and willful, at least, her mother certainly thought so. Yet, with Harry, she was able to let go of the stony shell around her heart so as to become soft and pliant. The trust, respect, and devotion of their love allowed her to expose the vulnerability she sheltered from the world. She loved the house he had built for her after the war. Adored the pieces of them that permeated the space. Yet, for all that, her true home was him. Just him.

That had ultimately been the realization that caused her to sink below the overwhelming tidal wave of primal need. She had been gripped by an obsessive, complete urge to forge a connection to the man she loved with all the essence of her soul. The courtship dance had been a tradition she had never truly considered before Harry. In fact, it was her ardour for him that brought out the baser, territorial, nonhuman nature that she had always shied away from. It was ironic in a way. The man who saw her for the woman she wanted to be also inspired the creature that the world saw her as.

But, at the end of the day, she was not human. Fleur had rebelled against the idea of such inequity as the courtship dance for a long time. The thought of irrevocably taking away something so precious as love from the man she adored seemed heinous. Something to be abhorred.

Her mother had never danced for her father, but had advised her to follow her heart anyways. She reassured Fleur that even though the magic of the act was unfair, she didn't have to be. She could choose to love him as he would love her. Singularly and utterly.

So, she took a leap and never looked back.

Now, years later, she was happier than ever before. Occasionally, as she was doing now, Fleur would catch herself marvelling at her husband even after all the time they'd been together.

The man who had slain Voldemort. The hero of the wizarding world. Yet, for all his forceful presence and commanding air, only she knew how ticklish he was behind his left knee or the way his sleep-mussed hair looked like a rooster-tail in the mornings.

He was all those things and more, the brave, noble, goofy lion that she'd fallen in love with. Though she knew, from her own papa, that the courage of a man and the courage of a father were as different as night to day. Harry would, undoubtedly, be the best of both.

One day his mane would grey and the green of his eyes would fade while she'd remain nearly untouched by time. Yet, when they both went to the Place Beyond the Trees, she would love him as purely and utterly as she did now. That would never decay or rot. Her ardour would remain as unblemished and beautiful as she would. In her estimation, Harry had given her all of him, so she would too.

Forever and eternally had been their vows, the meaning more significant than pretty words or hollow platitudes. The magic of their courtship was absolute and total. Fleur did not know what truly awaited after death but wherever she went, Harry would follow.

The burning gaze of green eyes, tender, with a colour only Veela could see, and framed by long black lashes broke her out of spiraling thoughts. Her mind tended to obsess and fixate over things, leaving her frozen in introspective bubbles of thought. Those bubbles popped immediately when she came in contact with the fragrant smell of fresh, clean male that sung in her nostrils as she breathed.

Husband and wife watched each other for a moment, soaking the other in, triumphing in the elation of togetherness.

"Hello," Harry spoke with a latent energy that hummed in each spoken syllable. It sent her pulse racing.

"Hi," she responded somewhat flat-footedly, as though caught in a trance.

Again, her mind scrabbled for a hold in reality but fell into instinctual compulsion.

Her husband was steadfast, loyal, dependable and was unafraid to love fiercely and totally. Whether it was Fleur and their daughters to the cobbled together family they'd made of friends, Harry's devotion to them was absolute. Such unapologetic faithfulness was a rarity and she treasured it appropriately. The boy she had fallen in love with and the man he became had inspired her to find the best version of herself.

Oh Merlin, how she loved him.

"I love you," she choked out, the 'L' sound snagging only briefly due to the heavy emotion swirling in her belly. It came from so deep inside that everything she'd ever said before felt like a lie.

Occasionally, a block would form around her tongue as she attempted words that began with 'L' or 'G' but far less often than when she was a little girl. Love had become such a ubiquitous part of her life that the word and it's letters had become much easier to say. Her mother's sly move to name her little sister Gabrielle had done similar wonders.

Harry cocked an eyebrow as a grin curled his lips wide and bright. He dropped the towel and made his way towards her.

She tracked his sinuous movements with the eyes of a hawk. Suddenly hot, she lifted the hair off her neck in an attempt to cool down. It did little to help the heat settling over hypersensitive skin.

He pressed her against the wall, his lean muscles hard against her hands, his lips ravenous.

"I love you too," he articulated between swipes of tongue and flashes of teeth.

They would most certainly be late for their own dinner party.

XXXXXXXX

Ron and Hermione arrived unceremoniously through the flash of green Floo fire. Ron strode forward confidently out of the fireplace before Hermione tutted at him. He turned a sheepish expression to Harry but stood still so his diminutive wife could siphon soot from his clothes.

Harry gave him an evil grin which instantly resolved Fleur to do the same to him every chance she got.

Hermione hugged Harry long and hard. Her bushy hair barely made it to the middle of his chest while standing on tiptoe. Yet the force of her greeting was potent, judging by the amused grimace on the black-haired man's face. He hugged her back just as fiercely, picking her up briefly before quickly dropping her back to the ground at a rapid admonishment.

Harry said something to make his friend laugh before moving to shake Ron's hand.

Fleur opened her arms preemptively as Hermione stepped towards her. The witches beamed as they greeted one another with warm hugs of their own.

"So good to see you," Hermione conspired into her ear before kissing Fleur's cheek.

"And you," Fleur replied earnestly. "You look divine, by the way."

Hermione blushed before smoothing the nonexistent wrinkles from her dress. "Thank you. Gabrielle actually gave it to me for my birthday. Ron said I had to wear it or it would be rude."

Fleur eyed the curves on display with a grin. "I think he may have had ulterior motives."

"The brute," Hermione said between giggles, flushing self-consciously.

The Veela rolled her eyes. "Men," she corrected.

"I take offense to that. Whatever it was," came a deep voice from behind Hermione as Ron sauntered towards the girls.

"Not if you knew what was said," Fleur teased in return.

"He'd definitely see it as a compliment," Hermione confirmed. "Much to my chagrin."

"Ooh, nice word-of-the-day use, honey," Ron enthused. "Positively pertinent."

The red-head's wife wheezed a long-suffering sigh. "Don't embarrass yourself, Ronald."

"Hey, I thought that was a good one!"

"Still trying to teach your circus pet new words, I see," Harry interjected as he joined the group after putting away the guests' overcoats.

Ron's indignant remark was ignored as Hermione nodded seriously. "It is the hardest project I've ever undertaken. And I work with bureaucrats for a living."

"Funny," Ron observed, "would have thought the whole 'deposing a Dark Lord' thing would have been the pertinent comparison."

"You've never worked with bureaucrats," Hermione muttered despondently.

As Harry, Hermione, and Ron's conversation winded through tangents, reminisces, and banter, Fleur couldn't help but find herself enraptured as always. The fastness of their friendship, the purity of their devotion to each other, was awe-inspiring. She loved watching Harry with his friends, his family not of blood but of choice. How carefree he became with his laughter around Ron or how affectionate and kind with Hermione

And with an ease that she sometimes found herself agog at, Fleur joined the three seamlessly.

She never would have guessed that the kiss she shared with Harry underneath a swaying Willow tree near the Black Lake all those years ago would not just give her a husband… but a sister and brother to call her own.

XXXXXXXX

"So, you are working on a Dittany aerosolization project? That is amazing!" Hermione enthused as she took a roll from the basket being passed around the table.

"Working may be a loose term considering my abysmal lack of progress," Fleur mumbled self-deprecatingly. "But yes, I am."

"Oh please, I'm sure you'll figure it out eventually. What is causing problems do you think? Bartholomew's Magical Properties Transference Law or something else?"

"No, I got around that by not actually binding the healing effects of Dittany to the air itself. Rather, I'm actually attempting to make the liquid turn into a gas based on Muggle theory."

Hermione vibrated in her seat from excitement. "Fascinating! Most magical liquids are incapable of changing state! Many can't even be frozen, let alone turned to a gas! If you can stabilize your project, the end-result could have limitless application."

"So long as I don't blow my entire lab up first," Fleur responded, only half-joking. "If I'm honest with myself, I need to do an Arithmantic Array to discern what is going wrong and where but…"

Hermione nodded consolingly. "I'm glad you reported him, it was past time."

Letting out a gusty sigh, Fleur shrugged. "You're probably right but it has certainly made things awkward."

"I'm sure it will get better. Just be patient!"

"Hmm."

Hermione, obviously sensing Fleur's waning interest in the topic, turned to the men who were embroiled in their own discussion.

"Oh, by the way, Harry, I wanted to share some news with you since I remembered you were following the situation closely as an Auror."

"What?" Came his startled reply. His interrupted Quidditch conversation with Ron imploding in the process.

The bushy-haired witch's face hardened and Fleur steeled herself for what was coming, sensing it wasn't good news. "The Ministry received word that the werewolf tensions in Armenia and Azerbaijan are getting worse."

Harry's head jerked up. "Worse? I thought the intel when I was an Auror showed improvement."

"There was improvement, until a Ministry election cycle occurred. The new heads of government are more punitive than conciliatory. Of course, the roving feral werewolf packs are not helping anything."

"Well, when every pack leader keeps getting assassinated problems tend to crop up."

Hermione looked at him with sadness etched across the fields of her eyes. "It is getting really bad, Harry. I heard the most terrible story of a woman losing her whole family to a werewolf pack. They turned her son and made him kill his siblings and father."

"Shit." Harry dragged a hand across his face.

"Agreed," Ron piped up as he ladled more mashed potatoes onto his plate. "No doubt they'll use it as a reason to tighten regulations on werewolves and other nonhumans."

"The poor woman," Harry muttered before his hands fisted on the tabletop. "We need to do something," he stated fervently. "Can't we look into passing legislation or something? Like what you wanted to do with S.P.E.W. Hermione?"

A scoff slipped from Fleur's mouth unbidden, snapping Harry's attention to her. She had been intentionally quiet during the conversation that had so filled her husband with fury but had accidentally given herself away at the end.

Fleur's eyes appraised him briefly before glancing at the other occupants resignedly. She let out a sigh.

"Look, as much as I and every other nonhuman would appreciate some legal protections, none of us believe it possible. Especially coming out of a war where 'dark creatures' sided with Voldemort."

"Most of them didn't know any better, let alone had another option in a world that hates them," Hermione responded, shaking her head.

Fleur puffed out her cheeks, letting the air escape as an inaudible hiss. She knew Harry didn't understand the words coming out of her mouth. She had always affected disinterest when he would rant about her rights or position in his life. He'd learned from her father recently, that only eight years ago both Apolline and Fleur would be considered 'property' rather than a marital partner. That had been a rough night for them both.

Fleur and her mother had discussed this topic many times, commiserating over loving men that could never fully grasp the divide between human and Veela. For as much as Harry loved her, he could never understand why she was so bitterly apathetic. As a man, as a wizard, as a human, he couldn't. Not through any fault of his own, just because he hadn't lived through the life of a 'creature.'

It had gotten worse now that they had Lili. He had been immediately and intensely protective of their precious, brilliant, wonderful daughter. Fleur loved that Harry was so devoted, it was a facet of his kindness, loyalty and generosity of self that so drew her to him. His commitment to seeing their daughter get everything she deserved in this world was an admirable, if slightly naive, quality.

She shook her head to clear it of rambling thoughts, focusing on the present. With a smile, she side-stepped the conversational land-mine.

"Let us speak of happier things tonight, no?" Fleur asserted firmly. "The world and its problems will wait. Surely we can allow ourselves one night to enjoy good company."

"Yes, that is perfectly right," Hermione said somewhat sheepishly. "Actually, we do have good news to share." Suddenly, the woman appeared shy as brown curls were wound and unwound around nervous fingers.

"Oh?" Harry vocalized questioningly. "What is it?"

Hermione reached out to clasp hands with her husband, their eyes locked together. Before she could say anything, Fleur knew. And joy detonated in every atom of her body.

"We're pregnant." Hermione's voice wavered slightly on the magic of the word, the sheer triumph of her tone causing Fleur's eyes to water. Her friend had been trying for so very long to be a mother, had despaired of ever conceiving, but finally it was here. Oh, good news indeed.

Harry stared open-mouthed at Ron and Hermione, back and forth his face turned between the two before he let out a wild, exultant whoop. With a jolt, he leapt to his feet in order to pull his closest friends up and into his arms.

"Merlin! Parents! I'm so happy for you both, I mean, no one deserves it more. Oh Merlin. And me! An Uncle!" Harry's elated jabber burst his audience of three into riotous laughter, Fleur's tears falling freely down her face.

"Actually," Ron replied after his sniggering died down, "we thought you'd be a better fit as Godfather."

Harry stilled and Fleur's eyes grew wide.

"We know you have Teddy," Hermione added quickly, "and we'd never presume to take away from him-"

"Yes." Harry stared at Hermione and she back at him. "My answer is yes, of course. I'm over-the-moon. Thank you."

That finally triggered Hermione's own tears as she hugged her lifetime friend fiercely once more. Fleur's heart swelled at the sight and news. Harry was so good with Teddy and she knew he'd be just as devoted to this new, precious addition.

Ron chuckled and met Fleur's eyes. "And you, of course, have to be Godmother."

"What?" Fleur squaked, caught off-guard.

Still hugging Harry, Hermione turned her head to regard Fleur. "Yes, you" she sniffled. "Only you would do."

Fleur's mind whirled. "I mean, I'm honored of course, but-"

"Don't be silly," Hermione asserted. "Just say yes."

The answer became obvious when her mind set aside the shock. "Yes."

"Grand," Ron remarked. "Now that the emotional stuff is out of the way, let's get back to eating."

XXXXXXXX

The night had been pleasant. The four friends had rapidly become filled with good food, bantered humor, and warm friendship. The news of a Granger-Weasley child had turned the gathering into a celebration. It had also caused Fleur's mind to stray, snagging on the idea of an addition to her own family. But, eventually, the night had to come to an end.

With a swirling roar that announced her arrival, Andromeda came through the Floo with Lili clutched in her arm and Teddy clasping her hand. The young boy shot forward like a spell from a wand to wrap his arms around Harry's knees.

Lili gurgled joyously, her mood buoyant at the sight of her godparents.

Hermione made a bee-line for the little chicklet as Ron and Harry dissolved into the ramblings of a seven-year-old boy.

Fleur kissed the cheeks of Andromeda in greeting. "Thank you so much for watching her, I hope everything went alright?"

"She was a dream," Andromeda assured. "Though, after Nymphadora and Teddy my standards might be a tad skewed."

"They were angels, I'm sure."

"Only when they accidentally broke something."

Fleur laughed, Teddy's inherited clumsiness a well-discussed topic.

"Unfortunately, we really have to be going. It is well-past bedtime for both of these munchkins."

"I'm shocked they are still awake," Hermione remarked while holding Lili who was burying her hands in the soft curls of her Godmother's hair.

"Teddy refused to go to sleep before he saw Harry and Lili has resolved to do anything Teddy does."

"Well thank you again," Fleur enthused. "We will come pick Teddy up tomorrow as usual and see you for Sunday brunch at the Burrow, right?"

"That'd be lovely." Andromeda looked over at the boys discussing in rapid but hushed tones. "Come Teddy, we best be getting back."

"Aw, Nana!"

"Don't 'Nana' me, young man."

With a haggard sigh, the black-haired boy trudged away from the two adults but stopped upon reaching Fleur. His hair turned silver and eyes blue. "Bye, Flowerpower."

Fleur crouched down so she could press her lips to Teddy's head, her heart full with love for the Metamorphmagus. "We will see you tomorrow, alright Teddy-bear?"

He nodded rapidly in affirmation before Andromeda reached down to grab his hand.

"Come on, let us get you to bed so you can see them again sooner."

The two disappeared in a rush of green flame, Teddy's eyes gazing forlornly back at her as she waved goodbye.

"He is so sweet," Hermione stated, rocking Lili who yawned widely.

Fleur made a noise of assent before taking her daughter into her own arms. She pressed her nose into the straight locks of platinum, breathing in the scent of her babygirl. In many ways, Lili was her first child. But in other ways, ways that counted, she was her second.

Hermione smiled at the two Veela before remarking on the need to get her and Ron's coats. She passed her husband who was headed to see his goddaughter.

"Someone looks sleepy," he declared.

"I think she is," Fleur observed, beginning to rock the drowsy chicklet.

"Well, her too. But I was talking about you."

"Oh, ha-ha."

The man let out a low chuckle as he stroked the hair of Lili fondly. The two adults stood together quietly for a while before Ron broke the silence.

"It was a lovely night," he remarked. "Even if the cottage pie was a bit burnt."

"You're lucky I'm holding a child."

The man laughed again as Hermione came up behind him and motioned to the fireplace.

"Thank you for coming," Harry announced from the other side of the couch. "Congratulations again."

"The pleasure was all ours," Hermione avowed.

Ropn gave a grunt of agreement before tickling Lili's nose. "See you soon, pretty girl. Be good."

With a snort, the toddler wrenched her face away from the offending digits. Blue eyes sparkled mischievously as a pink tongue shot from between her lips to points at her Godfather.

"I see she's learning her manners well," Ron noted dryly even as his lips curled.

"Lili, don't stick your tongue out at people," Fleur chided. But as Ron turned around, she stuck her own tongue out at his retreating back while her daughter giggled.

A final flare of emerald light filled the living room as Fleur's mind wandered once more. The comforting weight of her daughter inspiring a return of earlier thoughts.

Perhaps another little witchling should be on the way, she thought. After all, she'd always wanted to honor the grandmother she so adored by bestowing a child with Eloise's name. Harry wouldn't be hard to convince, she was sure. It was rather obvious, really. Recently, he'd taken to rubbing her belly on lazy Sunday mornings, as he used to when Lili had first started kicking.

Fleur met her husband's green eyes from across the room. She recognized that heated look by the way it made the muscles in the deepest part of her belly clench. How it sent a languid fire rolling through her body, the burn igniting an echoing and aching quiver that shivered its way through her limbs. At once she was both empty and needy.

She bit her lip as feathers sprang out along her body.

No. He would not be hard to convince at all.

XXXXXXXX

That night, under the muted but glorious glow of a blooming Dancing Fairy Waxleaf, Harry was thoroughly convinced.

As the stars gave way to the rising rays of early morning, two hearts beat as one. The instrument and the musician, the artist and her muse, two halves of the same whole. They slumbered peacefully in one another's arms, never stirring from the home formed by tangled limbs and twisted sheets.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Chapter 1 8789 0 0 2. Chapter 2: Muggle Relations 11496 0 0 3. Interlude: Love, One Size Fits All 1325 0 0 4. Chapter 3: Growing Pains 9690 0 0 5. Chapter 4: Life of the Party 13183 0 0 6. Chapter 5: A Matter of Masks 14463 0 0 7. Chapter 6: Riptide 12075 0 0 8. Chapter 7: May These Bruises Fade 12581 0 0 9. Chapter 8: Price of Circumstance 13201 0 0 10. Interlude: A Roost and Flock 7462 0 0 11. Chapter 9: Snowdrift 12498 0 0 12. Chapter 10: Obsessions and Answers 14963 0 0 13. Final Author's Note 1165 0 0 14. Final Author's Note 1232 0 0