The last of leaves of the willow tree drifted from its branches across the river into the long grass and the fading autumn sun’s weak warmth dappled across Fleur’s face. She lay her head back in Harry’s lap and closed her eyes, letting the faint heat soak into her cheeks. He cradled her head against him with one arm and ran his fingers through her hair.
Perfect. A small smile graced her lips. As always.
The warmth faded from her face. A spot of wet struck her cheek and trickled down to her jaw. Fleur opened her eyes. Dark, blue-grey clouds crept over the sun.
Harry brushed the droplet of her cheek with the tip of his finger and kissed her on the temple. ‘We should head back to the chateau. It’s going to rain.’
Fleur uncurled from his lap. ‘Gabby’s waiting to ambush us…’
Harry laughed. ‘Are you going to apparate me? Or do I have to walk in the rain?’
‘If my parents were around you’d be offering to walk,’ Fleur replied.
‘I suppose it’s easier for you.’ A touch of ice crept into the green of Harry’s eyes as he put his glasses back on. ‘There’s nobody else close to me you need to worry about.’
Just Katie Bell. Guilt lanced through Fleur’s stomach. But he’s right. Maman and papa are being deliberately difficult. I’ve set fire to enough copies of the Daily Prophet to warm the whole chateau for a month.
‘I’ve nothing against your family,’ Harry murmured. ‘I understand why.’
‘You get on with Gabby well.’ Fleur leant against his shoulder and smiled. ‘But you did bribe her with Clafoutis, so I’m not sure it counts.’
‘It wasn’t a bribe. It was a deal. I gave her the Clafoutis and she would stop pestering us about being romantic.’
‘Well, it’s worked so far.’ Fleur held her hand out and watched the first spots of rain dot her palm. ‘Although you’ve only seen her for about five minutes since the clafoutis ran out.’
The rain came down in a fast-paced staccato, drowning out the sound of the river beside them.
‘Let’s go.’ Fleur took Harry’s hand and apparated them back into the middle of a pile of Gabby’s shoes in the entrance hall. The soft snap of their arrival echoed through the chateau.’
‘Did you kiss in the rain?’ Gabby bounded down the stairs, a stack of magazines and a newspaper in her hands.
Harry sighed. ‘No…’
Gabby pouted. ‘You’re supposed to kiss Fleur in the rain. It’s your raison d’etre.’
‘It’s ok.’ Fleur patted Harry on the shoulder. ‘The deal lasted a lot longer than I expected.’
‘Five minutes is not a long time,’ Harry muttered.
‘Are you going back outside to kiss?’ Gabby danced down the last few steps. A mischievous glint appeared in her eyes. ‘Can I come instead of Fleur?’
Fleur levelled her best glare at Gabby. ‘I will hex you.’
Gabby stuck her tongue out. ‘I’m bored, there’s nothing to do except read and I’ve been reading all morning. I even read that silly English paper.’ She shook the stack of magazines in the air.
Harry’s brow creased. ‘Not the best read, that.’
‘I’ve read it,’ Fleur said. ‘There’s nothing about you, for once.’
‘Just a big article about an escape from Azkaban,’ Gabby added.
Harry extended a hand. ‘May I?’
Gabby tugged the Daily Prophet out from the stack of magazines and put the rest of the stack down on the stairs. ‘Keep it if you want. It’s rubbish.’
Harry skimmed the front page with cold eyes, then flicked through a few pages and scanned a few columns of writing. ‘What nonsense.’
‘Is any of it true?’ Fleur stepped to his shoulder and craned her neck.
‘Some of it.’ Harry took a deep breath and closed the paper. ‘I’ve no doubt that these prisoners have escaped, but it wasn’t Sirius Black that helped them.’
‘I thought Black was a Death Eater too?’ Gabby asked.
‘He wasn’t.’ Harry folded the paper up, then handed it back to Gabby. ‘Do you want to help me practise hex deflection, Fleur?’
Oh? He’s changed his mind about duelling practice. About time.
‘Of course, mon Cœur.’ Fleur tossed her hair back over her shoulder and pointed downstairs toward the cellar.
Gabby closed her eyes, then bright blue flames sprang up on her palms and the paper burst to ashes. ‘Can I help?’
‘Only if Fleur agrees and you promise not to ask any more questions about kissing in the rain,’ Harry said.
Gabby turned to Fleur and put on her best pout and big eyes. ‘Please, Fleur?’
You can help, little chick.’ Fleur smirked. ‘We’re going to be hexing Harry until he learns to block and deflect spells.’
Gabby grinned. ‘Sounds fun.’
A faint hissing echoed from the kitchen.
‘My hot chocolate!’ She scampered off.
‘No promises for you, Harry,’ Fleur whispered in his ear. ‘You underestimate Gabby’s deviousness.’
Harry chuckled. ‘I suppose I can try more bribery.’
Fleur rolled her eyes. ‘Don’t. If you keep buying her sweets, she might actually try and steal you for herself. I’m not one for sharing.’
Mirth glowed in Harry’s green eyes. ‘No, you really aren’t, are you? But it’s not going to happen, I’m not sure I can even afford to just buy sweets for you. You go through sugar like a basilisk through schoolchildren.’
Fleur’s heart squirmed. ‘Come on, mon Cœur. ‘ She gave him a gentle push in the direction of the basement and grabbed his hand. ‘You can tell me about Sirius Black on the way while Gabby is distracted.’
Harry let her lead him away, chuckling under his breath.
She paused on the stairs and poked him in the stomach. ‘Well?’
‘Sirius is my godfather. None of what they say about him is true. He never betrayed my parents and he certainly didn’t help anyone escape from Azkaban.’
Fleur pursed her lips. ‘So what really happened?’
Harry quirked an eyebrow at her. ‘Voldemort broke them out…’
‘I meant at Godric’s Hollow, idiot.’
Harry grinned. ‘Ah, that makes more sense.’ The humour wilted from his face. ‘Sirius was supposed to be the secret keeper for the Fidelius Charm, but it was decided that he was too obvious, so they switched to Peter Pettigrew at the last moment. The rat was the traitor. He faked his death and Sirius ended up in Azkaban.’
‘He’s still alive? He better hope we never get our hands on him.’
The corner of Harry’s mouth twitched. ‘He’s dead.’
Good. Fleur’s gaze traced the small curve of Harry’s lips and a faint suspicion crept in amongst her thoughts. Did you do it, mon Cœur? She tried to picture him over a body, wand outstretched. The image formed with ease. Harry’s cold green eyes and dark wand above the shadow of a corpse. He could well have. She turned her nose up. And so what. Pettigrew deserved it.
Gabby’s footsteps pattered toward them.
I will ask him. Fleur buried a small twist of fear. As long as he tells me the truth, I’ll be fine. Nobody cares what happens to one murderer, but he better trust me as much I trust him.
She pulled Harry on toward the room at the far end of the basement. ‘Ready?’
Gabby darted through the door and set her hot chocolate down on the floor by the wall. White foam and chocolate trickled down the sides of the mug. ‘Did I miss anything?’
Fleur pulled her wand out and vanished the mess. ‘We haven’t even started. I was just about to explain to Harry what he’s trying to do.’
‘I read a bit about it at the start of last year,’ Harry said.
‘Gabby will be learning about it soon anyway.’ Fleur shrugged. ‘Beauxbatons has duelling as an extra-curricular. We may as well start with the basics for her sake.’
Harry smirked. ‘You just want to play teacher.’
Heat crept onto Fleur’s cheeks. So what if I like explaining things to someone I know wants to listen?
Gabby giggled. ‘Go on, Professor Fleur.’
Fleur tutted. ‘Hush, class, or it will be detention.’
‘I don’t think Harry will mind getting detention with his Professor,’ Gabby snickered.
‘Too right.’ Harry’s gaze dipped from her face, then flicked back up. A touch of desire gleamed in his eyes. ‘Every school boy’s fantasy is the hot, foreign teacher. Would be a shame to waste the chance…’
Fleur flushed and raised her wand at the pair of them. Gabby pressed both hands across her mouth to stifle her laughter. Harry grinned and let his wand slide out of his sleeve.
‘Deflecting hexes is based off the effect created by two colliding curses,’ Fleur said as the warmth faded from her cheeks. ‘If two spells meet in the air, then they can ricochet off one another or just stop dead. You’re trying to achieve a more controlled effect by projecting your magic through your wand to deflect spells away.’
‘So it’s like conjuring a mirror to reflect spells,’ Gabby said.
‘Gabby got it first,’ Fleur jibed.
‘I already knew that,’ Harry muttered. ‘And even if she did, so what? We’re the same age!’
Fleur stepped back. ‘Then you’ll be able to deflect this. Expelliarmus.’
Red light flashed from her wand. Harry side-stepped and made a show of pretending he’d never seen it. Gabby giggled.
Fleur huffed and turned her nose up at him. ‘You’re a terrible student.’ A smirk curved her lips. ‘Terrible students don’t get rewarded by their hot, foreign teacher, mon Cœur.’
Harry laughed and raised his wand. ‘I’ll deflect them.’
Gabby eyed the slender piece of ebony. Her fingers curled into the folds of her black dress and she bounced on the balls of her feet.
Tempted to listen to it, Gabby? I wonder what it’d feel like for you.
‘Move a bit further away, Gabby. You don’t want to be hit by the deflected curse.’ Fleur thew a stinging hex at Harry.
Harry yawned and flicked his wand in the direction of the approaching curse.
She sighed. Well, that’s going to hurt a bit, mon Cœur. Maybe I should’ve used something else.
The stinging hex flashed back past her head and fizzled away against the wall.
Fleur smoothed her hair back down and narrowed her eyes at Harry. ‘You’ve done this before,’ she growled.
‘I haven’t.’ He raised his palms. ‘I’ve only seen it done.’
A hint of a pout crept onto her lips. ‘Did you intentionally direct it back at me?’
‘Maybe…’ Laughter danced in his emerald eyes.
Fleur’s heart lurched and she swallowed a sudden rush of emotion. He’s so perfect.
Gabby giggled and pulled her wand out of her dress’ cleavage. ‘Can I help?’
‘Of course, little chick.’ Fleur shot the front of her dress a long look and Gabby turned a little pink. ‘Just very light stinging hexes, Gabby. I don’t want to have to explain to maman why we accidentally killed Harry in the basement.’
Gabby nodded, then her expression brightened. ‘But… tragic romance?’
‘I’m not a fan of sad endings,’ Fleur replied. ‘They make for terrible stories. Who’d want to read one of those?’
Harry shifted his footing and balance, raising his wand. His green eyes sharpened and froze. Fleur’s heart squirmed and wriggled under her ribs. A strong desire to crush her lips against his flared through her.
Later, mon Cœur. Fire coursed through her blood. And soon, more than just kisses, too. You’re mine.
She cast her hex. Harry deflected hers, sending it hissing off to one side. Gabby’s struck him on the hip.
‘Ow.’ He winced and rubbed at the skin under his robes. ‘Stinging hexes? Really?’
‘Not at the same time, Gabby,’ Fleur chided.
‘Sorry.’ Gabby’s broad grin ruined her apology. ‘Sort of.’
‘You’re pushing too much magic into it, Harry,’ Fleur said. ‘You want it to be enough to redirect the hex, not to try and hammer it away from you.’
‘Again?’ Gabby beamed and raised her wand.
‘Does she get to practise this as well?’ Harry shot Gabby a flat look. ‘I can do better than stinging hexes…’
‘Not until she’s older,’ Fleur said. ‘Hex him, Gabby.’
‘We’re the same bloody age,’ Harry muttered.
He deflected the stinging hexes Gabby hurled at him with less and less force until it seemed he was flicking them away off the tip off his wand. Fleur cast a few of her own into the mix, but he kept going, even when she left him only a second or two to react.
Something smashed by the door.
Merde. Fleur twisted round, then released a long sigh when she saw the door was shut. Not a bottle.
Gabby let out a small squeak of despair. ‘My hot chocolate…’
A small, steaming pool of foam and chocolate spread across the floor. Fleur repaired the mug with a wave of her wand and vanished the mess.
‘You spilt my hot chocolate. You owe me.’ Gabby turned the full force of her pleading look on Harry.
Harry grinned. ‘It doesn’t work for her now, either. I can ignore it.’
Fleur’s narrowed her eyes. Liquid heat pooled in her bones and feathers prickled along her arms and down her spine. I warned you, Gabby.
Gabby threw a nervous look at Fleur. ‘I’m not using my allure. I promise.’
She’d better not have. Fleur shot Gabby a serious look and felt a swoop of relief when Gabby nodded. If you repeatedly use the allure on someone, it can leave a permanent mental association. I don’t need Harry stuck with a lingering desire for my little sister. She wrinkled her nose. Urgh. That’d be awful.
Harry’s eyebrows shot up. ‘You mean that’s natural?’
Gabby’s lower lip quivered.
Harry slipped his wand away and sighed. ‘Alright. I owe you.’
‘Can I touch your wand?’ Gabby stuck out her hand.
Harry cracked a wide grin. ‘I don’t think your sister would approve.’
Gabby spluttered, red-faced. Fleur wrestled her own flush back.
‘Revenge is sweet,’ Harry said. ‘You can. Don’t try and cast anything with it, though, my friend got burnt when he tried. It’s very closely bonded to me.’
Gabby took the ebony wand from his hands, holding it between her forefinger and thumb. ‘It’s cold…. like I’m gripping an icicle.’ She frowned. ‘I don’t think it likes me holding it. Do you mind if I listen to it?’
Harry’s brow wrinkled. ‘I’m not sure what you mean, Gabby.’
‘You remember I told you that we can feel magic to a certain extent?’ Fleur waited for him to nod. ‘I’m fine with things enchanted to last and powerful or emotive magic, but Gabby’s a lot better than me, she–’
‘Let me explain, Fleur.’ Gabby pouted. ‘You always make it sound so strange.’
‘It is strange, little chick.’
‘I can get a really good idea of the feelings or intent of magic when I listen to it,’ she chirped. ‘Like you would if you studied an enchantment. Fleur only gets a fraction of what I do.’ Gabby stuck her chin in the air.
‘What do you feel from a wand?’ Harry asked.
‘Wands hold the echo of any magic cast through them, so if I really focus, I can get a kind of impression of what your magic’s like, or at least, your overall intent.’ She shuffled her feet. ‘It’s quite a personal thing, but you’re Fleur’s now, and Maman said I can listen to anyone’s wand if they’re part of the family.’
A faint, soft smile flickered across Harry’s lips. ‘Listen away. I’m curious to hear what you feel.’
Gabby took his wand in both her hands and pressed it against her chest, scrunching her eyes shut. ‘It’s so alive,‘ she whispered.
That’s not how you’ve described anyone else’s. Fleur frowned. She said my magic felt like running her fingertips across warm silk, or hot rose petals. Soft, but strong.
‘It’s like holding my hand in the river in winter. The current’s strong and it’s ice cold. I can almost hear the water whispering.’ A wide, dazed smile spread across Gabby’s face and she screwed her eyes shut tighter. ‘I’m sure if I could just listen a little harder, I’d be able to hear what’s it saying.’
Harry pried his wand from her grasp. ‘I think that’s enough.’
Gabby scowled, stuffing pale, purple-nailed fingers into her armpits. ‘But I want to listen to the whispers.’
‘Don’t try stealing it later.’ Fleur let a hint of stone creep into her voice. ‘Harry’s wand is quite unique; it has a liquid core and seems to be very closely bonded to him. It was reluctant to respond to you were pouring your magic over it to listen, and that was when he gave you permission, please don’t try it later.’
‘It burnt Neville when he tried to use it even after I gave him permission.’ Harry replaced his wand up his sleeve. ‘It wasn’t particularly painful, but it looked quite uncomfortable.’
Gabby sulked. ‘I wasn’t going to.’
Fleur shot her a sharp look.
‘Ok, ok.’ Gabby giggled. ‘I really won’t.’
‘Getting back to why we actually came down here,’ Fleur said. ‘Harry’s got the idea. It won’t be as easy deflecting different spells at different speeds and still be able to control where they go, and you could probably do with working on your reflexes to make sure you’re as fast as you can be, but that’s the gist.’
‘Has the lesson ended? Are we free to leave, Professor Fleur?’ Gabby chirped.
‘Shoo, Gabby.’ Fleur watching her snatch her mug and scamper off.
To make another hot chocolate and twice as much mess, probably.
Harry stepped to her side, a thoughtful expression on his face. ‘Your mother runs a potions shop, doesn’t she?’
‘Yes.’ Fleur sidled into his embrace. ‘Why?’
‘Did you mean what you said about not caring what I did?’ he murmured.
A tight knot pulled itself taut in her stomach. Fleur slipped her arm round Harry and pulled him close. ‘As long as you’re mine,’ she whispered.
‘All yours.’ He pressed his lips to her forehead. ‘Always.’
‘Do you trust me?’ Fleur wriggled under his arm and leant her head into the crook of his neck. ‘I don’t mean with little stuff, or normal stuff, with everything.’
Harry stared down at her, a strange gleam in his eye. ‘Of course. Why’re you asking, Fleur?’
‘I want you to tell me things.’ She pursed her lips. ‘I want you to want to tell me things. Everything. No matter what it is.’ Her voice shook and she huffed. ‘I – I don’t share myself readily, you know that. But I’ve shared everything I am with you. I want to. And I want to know that you do, too.’
A small little smile crept onto Harry’s lips. ‘I do. I very much do.’ He grimaced. ‘I’ve not told you everything, I know. Sometimes… sometimes I still fear that I’ll disappoint you and you’ll disappear…’
Like all the other things you wished for?
‘I won’t.’ Fleur kissed the side of his neck and the small knot of unease loosened a little in her belly. ‘I’ll prove it. What happened to Peter Pettigrew?’
Harry tensed, then sighed. ‘He died… badly.’
‘You killed him,’ Fleur murmured. ‘I wondered, when you said before, and I think I knew, even then.’
A thick silence crept over them.
He killed someone. Murdered them. Fleur picked through her feelings, seeking some disgust, dislike, fear, or fury; apprehension crept in only with the idea of aurors. So long as he’s not caught and taken away from me, it doesn’t matter. And if they try, he can just come here.
‘I don’t care,’ she said. ‘I don’t. What does Peter Pettigrew mean to me? He deserved it. Just don’t get caught. I would miss you if you they stuck you in Azkaban.’
‘I didn’t just do it because of that,’ Harry whispered. ‘It was… It was necessary.’
‘You’re not their hero,’ Fleur said. ‘You’re mine. And I don’t want a silly, shallow hero’s caricature, I couldn’t love anyone like that. I want someone like me.’ She curled her fingers into his robes. ‘Besides. Heroes die.’
‘I won’t die.’ Harry‘s grip tightened. ‘Nothing’s going to steal you away from me. Nothing and nobody. Perfect wishes don’t come true often, so I’m not losing mine. I’ll pay whatever price I must to keep you with me.’
Warmth flooded through Fleur’s chest and swirled in a thick ball in her throat; hot tears prickled at her eyes. ‘Now you sound like you’ve been reading Gabby’s favourite books. Have the two of you been sneaking off together?’
He let out a quiet chuckle and gave her fingers a squeeze. ‘I think maybe they were your favourites too, once.’
He knows me.
Fleur pressed her face into his neck, but her tears trickled free from her lashes, tracing little hot lines down her cheeks. ‘A long time ago, maybe they might’ve been.’
Harry drew back a fraction and wiped her tears away with the ball of his thumb. ‘Fleur?’
‘Désolé,’ she murmured. ‘It just – it means a lot.’
‘Je sais, ma princesse.’ Harry bent and pressed a soft kisses to her cheek. ‘I know.’
Fleur smiled at him and swiped her tears away on her sleeve. ‘So why do you need potions ingredients, mon Cœur?’
‘I know a way to improve my reflexes and my eyesight, but I need a few things that I don’t know how to get hold of.’
‘What do you need?’ Fleur asked. ‘Potions like that don’t last long.’
‘Wormwood, bayberry, salamander’s blood and a griffon claw.’
‘An odd combination.’ Fleur frowned. ‘Is it some kind of strengthening potion? Wormwood and bayberry are used in potions to repair macula and retina damage for short periods of time in subjects with degenerative eye diseases.’
‘Not exactly.’ Harry’s lips twisted. ‘I need the effect to be permanent, so I’m dabbling in some magic most people would balk at and the Ministry might be tempted to send me somewhere unpleasant for.’
She turned her nose up at him. ‘I already told you I don’t care. And I don’t like repeating myself.’
Harry’s lips curved into a small smile. ‘A ritual, using blood magic. I need to fix my eyesight and any edge I can seize, I ought to.’
‘That sounds dark,’ Fleur teased. ‘What would the English papers say about their hero doing magic like that?’
‘Right now, they’d probably be overjoyed,’ Harry muttered. ‘There’s no such thing as dark or light magic, anyway. Just the intent with which your power’s directed.’
She smiled. ‘Just like enchanting. Intent-laced magic can be used to heal or cause harm.’ Fleur frowned. ‘Just be careful, magic like that rarely fulfils the expectations of those that cast. I don’t want to lose you because your glasses get lost in a duel, but if the price of fixing your eyesight is to lose you for certain…’
‘I’m reliably informed I am one of the few witches or wizards with the capability to perform magic of this nature.’ A touch of colour rose on his cheeks. ‘Apparently, it requires no small amount of power, both magical and willpower.’
She nodded, then smirked. ‘Does this mean you’ll stop wearing your glasses?’
‘I won’t need them if it works.’
‘Good.’ Fleur settled herself into his arms. ‘I like your eyes and those glasses are tasteless.’
I wonder if he can use this sort of magic to help me enchant things. Would we able to create something amazing?
‘Can we use this sort of magic for enchanting?’ Fleur asked. ‘I’ve always dreamt of creating something truly spectacular. Something beyond my little projects or what every day witches and wizards can manage.’
‘The sacrifice has to be proportional. You don’t get something for nothing. It’s going to cost me a lot of magic, a lot of blood, pain, and more to fix my eyes and give myself a small edge.’ He shot a her half a smile and pulled her close. ‘I don’t think I’d be willing to pay the price for something like you’re talking about.’
Fleur relaxed into his arms. The gentle throb of his heart reverberated through her chest, beating in time with hers. ‘You better not make any mistakes. I will set fire to you if you do.’
He grinned down at her. ‘I won’t. I promise.’
‘I’ll apparate to Carcassonne before you leave and get the ingredients for you,’ Fleur decided. ‘You’ll have to pay, though.’
‘It’s best if they’re whole,’ Harry said. ‘The more they look like what they are, the easier it is to hold the associations in mind when I weave the intent of the ritual.’
‘Maybe about six hundred galleons all in.’ Fleur shot him a rueful smile. ‘Sorry. Griffon’s claw’s expensive, especially whole.’
Mirth sparkled in Harry’s eyes. ‘It’s ok. I have some galleons. You see, I won this really prestigious tournament a short while back…’
‘Only because someone interfered.’ Fleur leant back out of his arms and fixed him with a playful scowl.
Not going to kiss me? A faint pout curved her lips.
Harry bent down and pressed his lips to hers. ‘You’re very cute when you do that,’ he murmured.
Fleur slipped his fingers into her hair and pushed him away. ‘I’m always cute.’ She laughed. ‘Was there anything else you wanted me to help with? Duelling, rare ingredients for your dark rituals, I’m not sure what else I can offer to the budding Dark Lord Potter.’
Other than me. Faint heat traced through her veins, the shadow of his hands on her lingered amongst her thoughts, and her breath caught. But you can have me the moment you’re ready, mon Cœur.
Harry glanced up at the cellar roof. ‘Do you know a way to conceal something so it only reveals with a certain phrase?’
‘What’re you trying to conceal?’ Fleur smothered her thoughts before the heat crept onto her face. ‘There’re lots of ways to do it.’
‘A map, hand drawn.’ A little ice crept back into his green eyes. ‘Dumbledore is a nuisance, constantly keeping track of me and stopping me from finding out things I need to know to survive. But if I manage to oust him from the school, Umbridge will have the run of the place, and that can’t be allowed to last long. She’s awful.’
Fleur shrugged. ‘I’ll show you.’
They drifted back up the stairs. Her arm remained round his waist, his round her shoulders, bumping hips on every step.
Where’s the boy who flinched from just the idea of touching me? Fleur smiled to herself. I have been good for him, I think.
She led them through to the kitchen and stole part of Gabby’s essay. ‘Watch.’ Fleur borrowed Gabby’s quill and poured a little ink into the lid of the inkpot. ‘You enchant the ink with the concealing charms, making sure it’s strong enough to resist revealing charms and anything someone might use to try and reveal it.’
Fleur drew a circle of dark ink on the white parchment and pulled out her wand, threading her intent for it to be concealed into the magic she pushed into the ink. The circle faded from sight.
‘Oh my, it’s disappeared!’ Harry covered his mouth with his hands in feigned shock.
‘Do you want me to show you?’ Fleur demanded.
‘Sorry.’ Harry’s wide grin didn’t convince her.
She huffed. ‘That doesn’t sound very genuine.’
He leant into her ear. ‘I only tease you because I love you,’ he murmured.
Fleur’s heart squirmed. He’s never actually said that before. She swallowed down another searing hot rush of emotion.
‘I love you, too,’ she whispered back.
‘Hush, little chick,’ Fleur said. ‘Not. A. Word.’
Gabby beamed. ‘I won’t. It’d ruin it.’
Fleur levelled a suspicious look at her.
‘But I might mention it later.’ Gabby’s eyes gleamed with mischief. ‘Maman might hear.’
‘I will toast you, Gabby.’ Fleur turned back to Harry and her piece of parchment. ‘You can then enchant the parchment to reveal anything upon it when a certain phrase is said. If you make that piece of magic strong enough, it’ll overcome the concealment charms on the ink.’
‘That’s it?’ Harry asked. ‘Really?’
‘Vraiment.’ Fleur smirked. ‘I’d suggest a few extra enchantments to stop anyone destroying the parchment or ink, but that’s easier than trying to imbue it with magic with opposing intent in different situations. Save that for when you’re as good as me.’
‘So modest.’ Harry leant forward and kissed her, flicking the tip of his tongue against Fleur’s upper lip.
A pleasant tingle rippled down Fleur’s spine. She closed her eyes and let him take hold of her waist and pull her into his arms.
Gabby giggled. ‘Do I get a turn, Harry? Fleur seems to be really enjoying it.’
Fleur opened her eyes and leant round Harry. ‘Over your charred body do you get a turn, baby sister.’
Harry laughed. ‘I don’t think Fleur’s keen on sharing.’ He shrugged. ‘Which is good, because I don’t think I’m very keen on sharing her either.’
‘So not fair.’ Gabby pouted. ‘You would’ve made such a good boyfriend.’ She turned to Fleur and wagged her finger. ‘If you weren’t preying on younger boys, I would’ve been able to have him all for myself, you perverted harpy.’
Fleur laughed. ‘Sorry, Gabby. I promise if I ever get tired of him, you can have him.’
‘Thanks,’ Harry murmured. ‘I feel so loved, like a childhood toy being given from sister to sister.’ A quiet chime echoed through the kitchen and Harry’s humour faded. ‘I have to go back, Fleur.’
Not ready to stay with me all night just yet. She stifled a flare of frustration. But he is a little younger.
‘I know.’ Fleur curled her fingers into her robes and hauled him close for one last kiss. ‘But one day you will stay, yes?’
He smiled. ‘Yes.’
‘Soon. I promise.’ Harry vanished with a soft snap.
Cold kitchen air crept through Fleur’s clothes where he’d been. She stared down at the parchment she’d made, glanced at the bin, then folded it up and tucked it through the strap of her bra.
Gabby pulled her quill and inkpot back across the table. ‘He’s perfect. Really. You do spend all your time with him instead of me now, but he’s perfect. I’ve not seen you smile so much in years.’
Fleur wrinkled her nose. ‘Don’t tell me that. Tell maman and papa.’
Gabby sighed and muttered something that would’ve earnt her a sharp scolding if either maman or papa had been there to hear it. ‘Just don’t listen to them, Fleur. They’ll realise they’re wrong.’ A glimmer of mischief welled up in her eyes. ‘Want to enchant maman’s slippers to tickle her feet?’
Fleur laughed. ‘And get left blamed at the end when you deny all knowledge and bat your eyelashes at papa? Ok, little chick.’