Drizzle pattered against the kitchen windows, trickling down the clear panes. Condensation blurred the swathe of green and grey beyond the glass as dusk fell.
Fleur touched her wand tip to the wall, tugging at the threads of magic swirling within it, and released a little shiver as the temperature rose a few degrees. Much better. She settled back down in the chair and sipped her hot chocolate, flicking through pages of children’s stories and legends from the bottom shelves of Papa’s library. A wand. A cloak. A stone. She copied the pages of sketches with the Gemino Charm and added them to the shoulder high stack on the table. And not one of these are remotely similar.
The breeze spattered drops of rain against the window, then faded away. She vanished the condensation and studied the fading light in the sky.
The full moon will be up soon. Fleur stirred sugar into her hot chocolate and glanced at the picture of the Lake District. And that means Travers’s raiding of the small magical communities there will start.
A soft snap echoed through the house. ‘Fleur?’
Harry. Her heart leapt and she jumped from her chair, spilling hot chocolate over the drawings. Merde. She glanced at the mess and vanished the whole lot. They weren’t useful anyway.
He strolled into the kitchen waggling a bottle of swirling gold. ‘Look what I have?’
Fleur tugged it from his fingers and studied it. ‘Is this Felix Felicis?’
Harry grinned. ‘It is.’ He plucked it out of her hand. ‘I was thinking we should use it the next time we find a member of Voldemort’s inner circle.’
Maybe if you drink it while we’re choosing, it might work, but there’s not many of the inner circle left and we don’t even know if any of them have this horcrux.
She shook her head. ‘I don’t know if that would work. I would rather you save it for the next time you do something reckless and need an extraordinary amount of fortune to escape.’
‘Well, we have it.’
‘Where did you even get it?’ Fleur demanded. ‘It costs a fortune to buy and the brewing process is incredibly complex. You better not have made another shady deal with a vampire.’
‘The new potions professor gave it away as a prize.’ He laughed. ‘No vampires involved.’
‘I don’t think you need that potion, mon Cœur. You seem to be quite lucky as is.’
‘I have you.’ Harry stepped close and slipped his arms round her waist, pulling her against him. ‘I’d say that makes me very lucky.’
‘It does,’ she murmured, nestling her face into his chest.
He held her tight and cradled her head against him. ‘I missed you,’ Harry whispered. ‘I hate this. I can’t breathe when you’re not with me. I just want the next few months to be done, then I’ll be with you. Always.’
A warm glow settled on her cheeks. ‘I got very used to you being around over this summer, too.’ Fleur leant back in his arms. ‘Are we still chasing Rookwood?’
Harry shook his head. ‘From what he said, he’s not considered in the same league as the others in the inner circle. We should probably go after one of the others.’
‘Travers?’ Fleur suggested. ‘The Lestrange brothers and Dolohov haven’t been seen yet, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle are all unlikely, and the Carrows, Nott, Avery, Macnair, and Yaxley are dead.
His gaze sharpened. ‘Why Travers?’
She bent and picked the photo of the Lake District off the table. ‘The silver mask he’s known to wear has been seen frequently with the raids happening on the tiny old magical villages in this part of the country. It’s a good chance to grab him.’
‘I can’t.’ Harry’s lips twisted. ‘I’m stuck talking to Slughorn. I need to butter him up, or I can’t take my fourth NEWT early.’
‘I will go alone, then.’ Fleur held her breath.
He tensed and his grip tightened around her waist. ‘No.’
She tossed her hair back over her shoulder. ‘So we should just wait helplessly for the noose to close?’
He wrestled with her words. ‘No — but—’
‘It’s ok, mon Cœur.’ Fleur watched the shadow rise in his eyes and felt the panic surge within him. She pulled his head down into her embrace and swallowed her pride. ‘I won’t fight. I won’t even be seen. Does that make it easier?’
Harry released a shaky breath. ‘A bit, but can’t we just wait?’
She held his gaze. ‘Can we?’
He closed his eyes, but his body remained taut as a wire. ‘No. No, there’s no time. Voldemort’s winning and the Ministry is holed up in Azkaban and London.’
‘So I will go. I’ll set up a trap so on the next full moon, when we know for sure he’s going to be out and wearing his mask, we’ll be able to snatch him away somewhere quiet. It’s all things I’m better at than you, too.’ Fleur ran her fingers through his hair. ‘Breathe, mon Cœur. It will be fine.’
Harry caught her fingers and his ragged breathing quickened. ‘If anything goes wrong. Anything.’
She touched a fingertip to the acorn dangling against his chest. ‘I will either escape back here and tell you I’m safe, or I will apparate back here and tell you I’m safe.’
‘Don’t get hurt,’ he whispered, a dead, dazed, hollow glint welling up in his eyes. ‘If you’re gone, there’re no dreams left. There’d be nothing—’
She pressed her lips to his. ‘I’m here. You can feel me, smell me, see me, and taste my kisses. I’m not going anywhere.’
Harry’s breathing slowed. ‘You smell of marzipan and chocolate.’ His faint chuckle vibrated through her. ‘As always.’
She kissed him. ‘Besides. You’d still have the other half of your veela harem.’
A quiet laugh burst from his lips. ‘I quite like my veela harem as it is, mon Rêve. As much as Gabby jokes about wanting to displace you, she’s not you.’
And she’s not the one who’ll steal you from me the moment I’m gone. Fleur smothered a flash of heat. There’s another girl who’d be more than happy to do that.
‘If I get stolen away, Gabby will still have to race Katie Bell to take my place,’ Fleur murmured. ‘How has she been? Clingy?’
Harry’s lips twisted and he shrugged. ‘I’m still not convinced, you know. And it doesn’t matter anyway.’
You will be. You’ll see.
‘I know.’ Fleur took a deep breath and cupped his chin in her palm. ‘I trust you. I know you.’
He twitched. ‘Would you like to hear about my animagus form?’
‘Changing the subject, mon Cœur?’ Fleur teased. ‘I hope it’s not a snake, they’re cold.’
‘No.’ Some humour returned to his face and a soft tickle brushed her arms. ‘Now you can make bird jokes.’
She glanced down and found little dark feathers along his arms. Fleur laughed and ran her fingers through them. ‘Perfect. They’re very cute. What kind of bird is it?’
‘A raven.’ He closed his eyes for a second and a crown of ebony feathers sprouted through his hair. ‘But this is about as far as I can go before I end up going all bird-like.’
‘You can’t even manage a beak?’ Fleur teased.
Harry shot her a grin and the feathers slipped back under his skin. ‘I also don’t go sex-crazy, either.’
She pouted at him. ‘You need to stop listening to Gabby, mon Cœur.’
‘Really? That’s not true?’ He let out a little gasp. ‘But she said I had to help her with her veela majority or she’d go mad. I promised.’
A peal of laughter burst from Fleur’s lips. ‘I need to hex that little chick, she’s growing far too bold with her jokes.’ She poked him in the ribs. ‘And you ought to not encourage her.’
He kissed her upturned pout. ‘But you get so cute when Gabby and I make jokes.’
Fleur smiled, catching sight of the moon through the kitchen window. ‘I must go. And so must you, I suspect.’
‘I’m going to be a little late already,’ he admitted, cupping her face in his hands and pressing his lips to hers. ‘But it’s worth it.’
‘Of course.’ She gave him a small smirk, then plucked her wand from the table and apparated to the mountainside.
A scatter of lakes spread out beneath the scree slope, like flower petals upon the shining stem winding away toward the sea. Dusk hung over low shrubs, trees, and the rustle of the long grass. Sheep’s bleating echoed across the bleak slopes and a faint, cool breeze whispered through the leaves of shrubs.
Somewhere ‘round here, there’ll be a raid. Fleur tightened her grip on her wand and apparated up the slope, scanning the night. The Dark Mark’s hard to miss… She apparated to the scree-strewn summit.
A skull and snake hung over a flickering orange glow at the far end of one of the lakes.
There. She apparated across the scree until she caught a glint of silver high upon the next slope. Fleur narrowed her eyes and peered into the dark until a faint shadow appeared upon the slope, its silver mask flashing in the full moonlight. Travers.
‘A wasted raid,’ Travers muttered, plucking blades of grass and tossing them down the slope. ‘Not a single one, just meat for the stinking wolves.’
‘Gemino,’ Fleur murmured, studying the mask.
A thin piece of silver fell into her hands.
It will still need all the same enchantments as the old one, as well as my new ones. She turned it over, checking each of the lines, then disillusioned herself, slipping through the grass toward the Death Eater’s silhouette.
Travers hurled a fistful of grass away and sighed, tilting his head back to stare at the moon. ‘Such a cold, pale, perfect light.’
‘Confundo,’ Fleur whispered, and a shiver washed through Travers.
Fleur reached out and touched the tip of her wand to the mask, closing her eyes. A thin film of magic coated each side of the silver. Light danced from one to the other like stones skipping across water.
Good. Just the one enchantment. She slipped away a safe distance and tucked her copy deep into the grass out of the moonlight.
Travers let out a long sigh and stared down at the smoke and fire spreading through the small village beside the lake. ‘At least the beasts will be done soon.’
Fleur froze mid-crouch and wove her magic into the mask, mimicking the prior enchantment, then breaking the silver sections up and threading the pieces of a portkey enchantment in. She duplicated it once more, linking the two masks with the Protean Charm. Her legs throbbed, ached, and cramped as she finished connecting the two pieces of silver. Now I just need an activation word he’ll say within a short time of us activating the portkey.
‘A,’ she whispered.
Her calf twinged once more and she bit her lip. Just cramps. Not even the worst kind.
Fleur tucked her version of the mask under her arm and raised her wand. ‘Confundo.’
Travers shuddered, his shoulders slumping. She switched her mask with the one on his face with a single spell and apparated back into the kitchen.
Her calf twinged again. Ah. Annoying. She bent and massaged it until the feeling faded. At least I’ve not had any other cramps in a while.
Fleur froze. ‘Oh merde.’ She tossed both masks to the floor and ripped her wand out, pressing its tip to her stomach.
Her magic swirled beneath her skin.
Nothing but my magic. A shaky breath left her lips. It’s too early to tell. My magic would cover a child’s for another month. Fleur closed her eyes and tried to stifle the fluttering in her stomach, pressing her hand to her abdomen. What will Harry do if I am? She tried to imagine his reaction, but a thousand different versions of him danced before her eyes, and a girl with dark hair and blue eyes flitted through her thoughts, blurring with flashes of a younger Gabby. He’d be happy. If we made a baby, then he’d know I’d never disappear. It’d be another part of his perfect wish. Fleur grimaced and bit her lip. But he’d also do his absolute utmost to keep me here and safe. And if I tell him and I’m wrong… Her heart sank. I’d snatch that dream from him.
She vanished the original silver mask, placing the charm-linked version on the kitchen table and rummaging through the fridge for something sweet. ‘I’ll tell you when I know for sure, mon Cœur.’ Fleur tugged a thin slice of lemon tart out and bit off the tip. ‘Pardon.’ She swallowed the sharp, sweet lemon and crumbling pastry and sighed. ‘I don’t want to give you another wish only to steal it away.’