This one’s for Cup! Thank you for for all the support you’re showing me — I chose a chapter I knew you’d approve of!
A slim ring of white stone hovered above the palm of Fleur’s hand, glowing with soft, pale light. Its gleam flickered in the scatter of glass and ice trinkets resting upon her shelves, or among the stacks of books rising toward the ceiling.
‘Fleur?’ Gabby stuck her head ‘round the door. ‘What’re you doing? And where’s my veela bondmate?’
Fleur closed her fingers over the ring. ‘My boyfriend has headed back to England for a short while. He needs to do a couple of things in Gringotts and he’s gone to visit a friend.’
‘A friend you don’t like.’ Gabby skipped into the room and plopped down cross-legged on the floor opposite Fleur. ‘Is it a friend who’s a girl?’
‘Yes, Katie Bell is a girl.’
‘If you’d even the slightest doubt about him, you wouldn’t be able to love him.’ Gabby shrugged and grabbed her hand, prying her fingers open. ‘So it can’t be a problem.’ She stole the ring from Fleur’s hand and held it up, closing her eyes. ‘Practising?’
Fleur snatched it back. ‘It’s hardly the first ring I’ve made.’
Gabby giggled. ‘But it is the first ring you’ve made that feels like that. I can feel your love in this ring, Fleur…’
‘Nosy brat.’ Fleur turned it over on her palm. ‘I don’t want something like all the other rings and that doesn’t just mean I want a bigger diamond, or more diamonds, or anything. I want it to be simple and perfect.’
‘So you’re making it yourself.’ Gabby squinted at the ring. ‘And you’ve made it glow, so everyone will notice it. Marking your veela soulmate, Fleur?’
‘There are too many girls waiting or hoping for me to vanish.’ Fleur slipped a second identical ring from her pocket. ‘Once we have these, it will get rid of some of them, I hope.’
‘That’s not very romantic.’ Gabby pouted. ‘It’s supposed to be a promise of your undying love.’
‘I already have that,’ Fleur murmured, a small smile slipping onto her lips. ‘He’s already mine.’ She scooped both rings into her hand and bounced them on her palm. ‘I don’t need some silly big celebration if we’re really going to do this, but it would be nice to hear him promise me again.’
‘Are you going to ask him, then?’
‘No.’ Fleur closed her eyes and pictured the way Harry’s fear would fade to rapture. ‘I want him to ask. I want him to take a leap of faith, to risk me saying no, because then, when I say yes, it will be perfect.’
‘You told me he would never do that,’ Gabby said.
‘I’m not quite sure how to get him to ask.’ Fleur studied the two rings in her hand. ‘Not without goading him into such a panic he thinks he has to do something to stop himself from losing me.’
‘Don’t do that.’ Gabby’s grey eyes darkened to charcoal. ‘That’s cruel, Fleur.’
‘I know.’ She slipped the rings away. ‘I’m not going to.’
Gabby’s eyes faded back to a smooth, raincloud grey and a gleam of mischief welled up in them. ‘Wait… If you’re making rings, does that mean there’s a reason you’re thinking about marriage?’ Her gaze dropped to Fleur’s stomach. ‘Did you have a happy little accident, Fleur?’
A touch of heat blossomed across Fleur’s cheeks. ‘I’m not pregnant.’ Her fingers dropped to her abdomen. ‘Not yet,’ she whispered.
‘Have you decided you want it?’
‘I like the idea.’ A little girl with silver hair and green eyes danced through the long grass and wildflowers just as a young Gabby had. Fleur’s stomach fluttered and her heart flopped about beneath her ribs. ‘I like it a lot.’ She gave Gabby a broad smirk. ‘And the making is going to be a lot of fun, too.’
‘Can I come?’ Gabby chirped.
‘No.’ Fleur folded her arms. ‘You’re definitely not invited to that.’
Gabby giggled. ‘I wonder what your magic feels like during…’ She hopped to her feet. ‘Anyway, I actually came to say that Maman and Papa are in the kitchen and would like to talk to you.’
Fleur sighed and drifted after Gabby toward the kitchen. ‘If they’re going to try and stop me from going back to England, I’m going to lose my temper.’
‘I don’t think that’s it.’ Gabby shot Fleur a grin over her shoulder. ‘I think it’s because Papa overheard my joke yesterday and they’re worried what their darling daughters are up to.’
‘You’re not even up to anything. Or you better not be, since the only boy you talk to belongs to me.’
She laughed and scampered down the stairs. ‘You’re so possessive, Fleur. Harry’s my veela-soul-bond-mate, too!’
Fleur rolled her eyes. ‘Stop reading those books!’
Papa and Maman sat on either side of one corner of the kitchen table, cupping steaming mugs of rich-scented coffee.
‘Was Fleur hiding, Gabrielle?’ Maman asked, setting down her drink. ‘That took an awfully long time.’
‘Nope,’ Gabby chirped. ‘She was in the middle of making something.’
‘Ah.’ Papa smiled. ‘Another little piece of art.’
Maman nudged him with her elbow. ‘Gabby, you can go.’
‘I’m staying,’ Gabby said, stealing a sugar cube from the bowl on the table and dropping it into her mouth.
‘That is not a snack bowl,’ Papa chided. ‘You’ll rot your teeth.’
‘If they’ve not rotted already, they’re never going to,’ Gabby replied. ‘Besides, veela magic means it can’t happen.’
Maman caught Papa’s sideways look and shook her head. ‘Not a real thing, Laurent. All these years with three veela and you still don’t know.’
‘It’s not my fault,’ Papa complained. ‘They don’t have any useful books on veela, it’s all just artwork of scantily clad ladies.’ He took a sip of coffee. ‘Good artwork, though.’
Maman sniffed. ‘Laurent.’
‘I know, ma Chérie.’ Papa popped his mug down on the table and grimaced. ‘I really would’ve preferred that you hadn’t stayed, Gabrielle. I was hoping I could pretend I still had one innocent, pure daughter.’
‘If anything, she’s worse than I am,’ Fleur jibed.
‘Liar.’ Gabby giggled. ‘You’re just upset because we veela-bonded to the same person.’
Papa’s brow creased. ‘I am… mostly sure that’s a joke?’
‘It’s a joke.’ Maman sighed. ‘Veela bonds are not a real thing either.’
‘Oh!’ Papa’s face lightened. ‘Well, then there’s not really anything to talk about.’
Maman cleared her throat. ‘Except…’
‘Except, of course, to make sure Fleur’s being responsible?’ Papa stared down into his coffee mug. ‘Which I’m sure she is.’
‘Very responsible.’ Gabby giggled and poked Fleur in the tummy. ‘I’m going to be an aunt soon, I’m going to be an aunt soon.’
‘Er…’ Papa’s frown deepened. ‘You’re not actually… are you?’
‘Non.’ Fleur swatted Gabby’s hand away. ‘I’m not.’
‘You nearly were!’ Gabby chirped, then turned bright red and clapped her hands over her mouth. ‘Ooops, pardon, Fleur.’
Little white tufts slipped from Fleur’s arms and heat haze shimmered around her clenched fists. ‘Get out, Gabrielle.’
Gabby’s face crumbled. ‘Désolée,’ she whispered, slipping out of her chair and trudging out into the hall.
Now I have to have a very awkward conversation. Fleur forced the feathers away. Merde.
Maman pursed her lips. ‘Unless you want to have a baby, you need to be more careful, Fleur.’ She drew herself up. ‘And you ought to be married first, even if you don’t really care too much for the idea; children need a sense of stability. If their parents aren’t married and all the other parents the child sees are, they can start to worry.’
Papa put his hand over Maman’s. ‘Are you thinking about it, ma Petite Fleur? We don’t mind if you are, you know. You can tell us these things.’ He shared a small smile with Maman. ‘We didn’t wait very long before we started trying, as you know.’
‘But we would rather you were married first,’ Maman added. ‘It’s important for the children.’
Fleur scrambled for some words. ‘I’m waiting for Harry to ask.’
‘Do you think he will?’ Papa asked.
‘I know he will want to,’ Fleur said.
Maman tapped her nails on her coffee cup. ‘That’s not the same thing.’
‘He’s a little younger than I am,’ Fleur said. ‘I’m going to have to wait a little bit, I think.’
‘Make sure you’re careful in the meantime,’ Maman said.
Papa nodded. ‘This isn’t the best time, all things considered.’
‘Okay.’ Fleur swept out of her chair. ‘I can’t imagine there’s anything else to talk about here, not unless you’re particularly keen to learn details?’
Papa turned a little green. ‘No thank you, ma Petite Fleur. You can keep that sort of thing to yourself and Gabrielle.’
‘Don’t go and torment Gabrielle, either,’ Maman said. ‘I was going to ask you anyway. You do not always approach things in the easiest way for yourself. I was already worrying.’
I will leave her alone for the rest of the day. Fleur apparated back up to her room. That seems fair.
Gabby jumped off the edge of her bed. ‘Sorry, Fleur!’ She waved her hands in the air. ‘I didn’t mean to, I was just being silly.’
‘You. Out.’ Fleur pointed at the door. ‘I’m going to see Harry.’ A small smirk played at the edges of her lips. ‘And I’m not going to be careful.’
Gabby’s face fell. ‘I’ll go. But Fleur, make sure you tell him. You need to tell him.’
‘I’ll tell him.’ Fleur closed the door after Gabby, tugged off everything but her socks and underwear, then pulled them off, too, and tossed them into a pile in the corner. She glanced at herself in the mirror, then smiled. ‘He’s got no reason to regret being mine.’
But I don’t want him to start taking my clothes off straight away. Fleur plucked a short skirt from her wardrobe and tugged it up her thighs, then slipped on a white bra and blouse. Well, I do, but Gabby’s right, I should say something first.
She apparated back to their kitchen, stepping onto cool tiles, feeling a gentle breeze curl ‘round her legs and brush between her thighs. ‘Mon Cœur?’ Fleur cocked her head, then heard the sound of laughter from outside. ‘Urgh, she’s still here.’
Harry and Katie sat on a conjured bench overlooking the meadows, watching the breeze wash through the long grass. He sketched purple shapes in the air with the tip of his wand, she leant into his side, close enough a little heat began to smoulder in Fleur’s blood.
She apparated onto the bench beside them, feeling cool wood against her skin. Fleur tugged her skirt down, checking Katie’s line of sight. ‘Mon Cœur. Katie.’
Katie flinched away from Harry like she’d been burnt. ‘Hi Fleur.’ She dragged a weak smile onto her lips. ‘Harry was just explaining some charms to me.’
‘I saw.’ Fleur stole Harry’s hand from his lap and interlaced their fingers. ‘But I’m afraid we need to have a little talk.’
Katie bit at her lip. ‘Okay.’ She glanced between the two of them. ‘Er… Harry’ll have to drop me back at Hogsmeade…’
‘I’ll wait here,’ Fleur said, releasing Harry’s hand.
Harry nodded and took Katie’s hand, vanishing with a soft snap.
Fleur leant back on the bench, tossing her silver hair over her shoulder, adjusting her bra and closing her eyes. Be patient. The thought of his fingers on her and the feel of him in her swirled through her thoughts. A little twist of heat tightened between her thighs and her heart began to beat a little faster. Remember what Gabby said.
Harry reappeared with a soft snap. ‘Fleur, I—’
‘Not that sort of talk,’ she murmured, pulling him down onto the bench. ‘I got ambushed by my parents, thanks to Gabby’s jokes.’ Fleur gave her head a little shake to clear her thoughts. ‘They wanted to know if we’re being careful.’
‘We are?’ Harry swallowed. ‘I think?’
‘Well…’ Fleur lowered her voice to a whisper and pressed her lips to his neck. ‘Not that one time outside against the door.’
Harry shifted his legs a little. ‘Right. Apart from that time.’
Fleur hid a small smirk and took his fingers, drawing circles on her knee with his thumb. ‘I quite enjoyed that time.’
‘I could probably live with doing it again,’ Harry said. ‘It’s not that risky, right?’
Fleur’s breath caught and little girls with green irises danced before her mind’s eye. ‘It’s not that risky,’ she whispered, sliding his hand beneath her skirt and up until his fingertips brushed against the heat between her thighs. ‘And I definitely think we should do it again.’
Harry slipped from the bench to kneel between her legs, trailing kisses up the inside of her thighs and pushing her skirt up around her waist. ‘You planned to do it again,’ he murmured.
His cool breath washed over her, sending little tingles through her stomach.
‘I might have.’ Fleur slid her fingers into his hair and eased her hips forward a little. ‘Mon Cœur,’ she whispered. ‘Don’t tease.’
‘Don’t tease?’ The tip of Harry’s tongue traced over her, light as a feather.
Fleur gasped and bucked, clenching her fingers in his hair as her stomach fluttered and the twist of heat curled tight between her thighs. ‘Maybe a little bit,’ she murmured, biting her lip as fingers slipped into her. ‘But—’
Harry’s fingers curled and a jolt of pleasure rippled through her. ‘But?’ A mischievous gleam hovered in his green eyes as he glanced up at her and stuck out his tongue.
Fleur dragged his face up to hers and crushed her lips into his, ignoring the taste of herself on his tongue. ‘But I don’t really want to be teased…’ She slid a hand down to tug open his trousers and pushed him back onto the bench. ‘I want to feel you.’
He lifted her thighs as she rose onto her knees, pulling her over his lap and easing her down onto him until her legs shook and little jolts of pleasure fluttered through her. Fleur wrapped her arms around his head and kissed him hard to stifle a moan, rolling her hips until she felt his breath catch and him twitch inside her. Harry’s arms curled ‘round her, cradling her against him, rocking his hips in time.
‘Just a little more,’ Fleur gasped, closing her eyes and burying her face in his shoulder.
He raised his hips a little higher, moving deeper, and the hot twist in her stomach clenched tight, then exploded. Fleur bit his collarbone as white sparks burst before her eyes and the world spun. Harry spent himself inside her in a rush of heat and a soft groan.
‘Did it all go to plan?’ He drew back and gave her a broad grin. ‘Feathered temptress.’
She clung to him, letting the cool breeze wash over her and listening to it rustle in the grass. ‘It was perfect.’
Fleur tilted her to one side and shot him a smirk. ‘Well, maybe not always, you made me wait a really long time at the start.’
‘I’m sorry about that,’ Harry said. ‘Gabby hadn’t yet explained to me that veela bondmates need constant sex or they go mad and start devouring sugar like crazy.’
A soft laugh slipped from her lips and she nestled her head back into the crook of his neck. ‘I can still feel you in me.’ Fleur released a quiet sigh. ‘It’s nice.’
‘Risky?’ Harry twitched and slipped out of her. ‘How risky actually is it?’
‘A bit late to worry about that,’ she murmured as she felt everything trickle back out of her. Fleur yawned and breathed in Harry’s scent. ‘It’s not that risky, though. And would it be such a bad thing?’
He ran his fingers through her hair, lulling her eyes closed, then with a soft snap, they tumbled down onto their bed and he drew her close against his chest. ‘No, I don’t suppose it would.’