A tower of spiralling, sugar-glazed apple slices rose from a pastry nest upon Fleur’s plate, leaning over her steaming mug.
‘You know, when we’re older, you’re going to get really chubby,’ Harry said.
‘Non.’ Fleur stabbed her small fork into one of the apple slices. ‘I will not.’
‘It must be some kind of magic.’ He measured the tart. ‘There’s probably an entire kilogram of sugar in this and your hot chocolate combined.’
‘And?’ She slipped the glazed apple slice into her mouth with a smile.
‘And this is breakfast.’
Gabby giggled. ‘You’re going to get fat, Fleur, then I will steal Harry away to be mine.’
‘You eat as much sugar as I do,’ Fleur said. ‘You’ll be a fat little harpy.’
‘I guess I’ll have to find another beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl,’ Harry said, straining his memory. ‘I can’t remember many, actually. Lavender Brown might have had blue eyes.’
Weird. I knew her for years, saw her every day, and I can’t remember her face. He shuddered. No wonder Voldemort was so driven. Anything but that all-important purpose fades.
‘Good.’ Fleur pouted over the top of her hot chocolate. ‘Two girls were more than enough competition.’
‘Three!’ Gabby beamed from the far side of the table. ‘I’ve not given up yet!’
‘You just want to voyeur with your weird magic feeling.’ Fleur sliced her fruit tart apart with the edge of her fork, savouring each slice as the cake dwindled away. ‘If I catch you outside the door…’
‘You won’t,’ Gabby said. ‘You’re always way too preoccupied to catch anything.’
‘I wish I hadn’t heard that.’ Harry sighed. ‘I think Daphne Greengrass had blonde hair and blue eyes, maybe I should make her my back-up.’
‘Who?’ Fleur narrowed her eyes at him. ‘I don’t remember this one.’
‘Some girl from Hogwarts, she was one of those pureblood Slytherin types, I think. I met her at those parties Slughorn used to host.’
‘The ones you went to with Katie Bell?’
‘Those’re the ones.’ Harry smothered a flash of Katie lying still upon the quidditch pitch, noosed in glittering opals, and squashed a pang of loss. ‘They weren’t actually much fun, but Daphne was kind of oppressively quiet, so most people avoided her company and didn’t bother me if I sat nearby.’
‘Is she murderously jealous?’ Gabby asked.
‘No idea. I barely ever spoke to her.’ Harry chuckled. ‘She did have an annoying younger sister, though, so maybe I’d just be jumping out of the pan and into the fire.’
‘The only fire you’re ending up in is mine.’ Fleur waved her cake fork at him. ‘Stop talking about other blonde girls; if you wind me up, I’m going to take Gabby to Paris without you.’
‘Gabby will miss me,’ he said.
Gabby giggled. ‘It’s ok, mon Cœur, Fleur can’t deny us our love forever.’
‘Oh yes I can,’ Fleur muttered. ‘Even if I die, Harry’s still mine. You’re not allowed to have him, Gabby. Nobody else is.’
‘That’s not very fair,’ Gabby protested. ‘Wouldn’t you rather he moved on to be happy with your much cuter little sister?’
‘I stayed his when he was dead,’ Fleur replied. ‘So it’s fair.’
‘But I came back,’ Harry said.
Fleur offered him a sweet smile. ‘Luck of the draw, mon Amour.’
Harry laughed and slipped an arm ’round her waist. ‘I’ll always be yours,’ he whispered in her ear as she finished her fruit tart. ‘You’re perfect. And there’d be nothing left without you.’
There’d be no dreams at all.
‘Breakfast time!’ Gabby cheered. ‘Clafoutis time!’
‘Wait, we’re going now?’ Harry asked.
‘Of course,’ Fleur said. ‘Why did you think we weren’t?’
‘Because you just ate an entire fruit tart,’ he exclaimed.
Fleur smirked. ‘And that’s going to stop me eating more?’
‘No, I imagine it won’t.’ Harry sighed. ‘As long as I’m not paying this time.’
‘You can’t,’ Gabby said, pulling on a pair of shoes. ‘All your money’s in Britain.’
He grinned. ‘That means you can’t bankrupt me with cake buying.’
Fleur finished her hot chocolate and stuck out her arm. ‘Let’s go, mon Cœur. Gabby and I need to head into work afterward.’
‘Leaving me by myself again.’ Harry chuckled. ‘I’ll be able to practice all my magic while you’re away.’
She rolled her eyes and took his hand. ‘Let’s go, Gabby.’
They stepped onto the cobbles of Paris with a soft snap and strode into Madame Antoinette’s, drifting through to the table at the back.
Fleur took a seat on the bench and pulled Harry in after her. ‘Gabby’s ordering clafoutis, probably three.’
‘I’m actually fine.’
‘She knows.’ Fleur laughed. ‘She just intends to eat yours, too.’
Harry shook his head. ‘Are veela metabolisms just really fast?’
She nodded. ‘The magic for the transformations has to come from somewhere, and the allure’s a constant piece of magic. It has to be sustained and the stronger the allure—’
‘The worse the sugar addiction.’
Harry narrowed his eyes at her smirk. ‘You made that all up, didn’t you?’
Fleur’s smirk widened. ‘Would I do that, mon Trésor?’
‘Without a hint of remorse, yes.’
Gabby skipped across and slid in on Harry’s left. ‘Look, Fleur, you can share.’ She giggled at Fleur’s narrowed eyes and rested her head on Harry’s shoulder. ‘We’re making progress, notre Cœur, soon our passionate love will no longer have to be a secret.’
‘Off Gabby.’ Harry mussed her hair and bounced his shoulder until she sat up. ‘I’m in the line of fire.’
The waiter drifted by, setting down a plate of clafoutis in front of each of them. Gabby tugged Harry’s in front of her and tucked into both plates with a fork in each hand.
‘I might’ve wanted some of that,’ he objected.
‘I can share.’ A bright gleam of mischief hovered in her eyes and she stabbed a cherry. ‘Here you go, mon Cœur. Say ah.’
Fleur’s eyes darkened a few hues and her knuckles whitened about her cutlery.
‘Oh no.’ Harry deflected Gabby’s fork with his finger. ‘I choose life. I think Fleur’s about to reach the immolation threshold.’
Gabby peered ’round him and paled, shooting her sister a weak grin. ‘I’m done,’ she chirped. ‘For now, at least. Let’s pick his brain about the pensieve project instead.’
Fleur stabbed a cherry and thrust her fork under Harry’s nose, her irises midnight dark. ‘Say ah, mon Cœur.’
‘Ah.’ Harry bit the cherry off the fork with a smile and swallowed it. ‘You’re adorably jealous,’ he whispered in Fleur’s ear.
A faint pout crept onto her lips. ‘We’ve hit a snag with our pensieve. We’ve got all the runes and the magic figured out for the viewing, but we can’t get in and out smoothly.’
‘I thought Gabby had already done it?’ he asked.
‘Not smoothly.’ Gabby shuddered. ‘It was awful. Like being ripped out of my body and stuffed into someone else.’
‘It worked fine for her own memories,’ Fleur said. ‘But being in someone else’s memory and head is very disorientating and uncomfortable, even for Gabby.’
‘I don’t think there’s a way around that,’ Harry said. ‘You can’t change that it’s someone else’s head you’re in. Maybe just have a warm up memory from the subject that’s calm and lovely to let you get used to it?’
Gabby frowned. ‘That’s actually quite a good idea.’
‘It would help, but it doesn’t fix the problem,’ Fleur said.
‘It works as it is, right?’ he asked.
‘Mostly,’ she replied, when Gabby crammed two forks full of clafoutis into her mouth. ‘We can see what we want, but I was hoping to make it a bit smoother.’
‘If you can experience everything, that’s the important thing,’ Harry said.
Gabby swallowed. ‘That’s the other thing, it’s hard to get a memory out that’s detailed enough to use. Fleur and I can just about do it, though it’s taken a fair bit of practice, but most memories are useless.’
‘Legilimency?’ Harry suggested.
‘You’ll be just fine,’ Fleur said. ‘You’re good at the mind arts, but if someone less gifted than us tries…’
‘Their problem.’ He shrugged. ‘Or just make sure that whoever takes the memory knows what they’re doing.’
‘I guess they’re not really the big issues,’ Gabby said. ‘We’ve got to improve my spell weaving and tighten the different enchantments within the runic web first.’
Harry raised an eyebrow.
‘It only works for about thirty seconds at the moment,’ Fleur said. ‘Gabby and I have each done part of the enchanting, but it needs to be better melded together.’
‘After thirty seconds, things get all out of order pretty fast,’ Gabby added, through a mouthful of cherries. You can make do, but if we can get it to meld better…’
‘Perfect recollection,’ Fleur murmured. ‘Reliving a memory as if you were actually living it for the first time.’
‘It sounds amazing.’
Maybe I can use it, if they let me.
‘Non.’ Fleur paused and waved her fork at him. ‘You’re not going into that until you’ve recovered, who knows how much worse that would make things.’
‘I never even said—’
‘You were thinking it,’ she said. ‘We both know it. Even Gabby knows it.’
‘Have you told Harry about Les Inconnus?’ Gabby set her forks down and lined them up parallel. ‘About the rest?’
A faint chill traced its way down Harry’s spine and the hairs prickled on the back of his neck. ‘What rest?’
Fleur shared a long look with Gabby.
His heart began to pound. ‘What rest, Fleur?’
‘Les Inconnus are the French version of the British Unspeakables. We’re the best in our fields, working on the most advanced fields of magic or particularly important phenomena.’ She bit her lip. ‘However, like the Unspeakables, we’re also the hidden hand of the French government where it suits our talents. With the rising unrest, there’s a chance Gabby and I may be asked to go do some very dangerous things.’
His breath caught. ‘How dangerous?’
Fleur’s lips twisted. ‘Dangerous. The U.S. and the Ottoman Caliphate are poking at Britain with a sharp stick, and Grindelwald’s supporters were getting ready to throw their lot in with Voldemort, even in France.’
‘I don’t like it.’ He tried to suck in a deep breath, but bands of iron locked his chest tight and his heart dashed itself against them like a wasp against a window.
‘It’s part of the job,’ Fleur said. ‘I’m just warning you.’
Harry shook his head and wrestled with a surge of panic. ‘And what if you don’t come back? What if you’re hurt?’
‘I’ll be careful.’
‘I can’t,’ he whispered. ‘I can’t sit here and wait. I’ll go mad.’
She shifted in her chair. ‘They’re more likely to ask me for subterfuge than anything else at the moment, but that will mean acting a certain way to get close to my target.’
His heart froze. A shadow’s hands slid over Fleur’s body in his mind; her soft gasps and moans rang in its ears as she clung to it. The storm burst in Harry’s breast, screaming and searing so deep it scorched the breath from his lungs.
Fleur hissed, snatching his wand out of the front of her dress and dropping it onto the table. Dark mist swirled ’round it, scoring lines into the surface of the table, biting deep into the wood.
‘Calm,’ Gabby murmured in his ear. ‘Stay calm, Harry. I told her to tell you, so you wouldn’t stumble on it later and lose faith.’
‘It’s not any better knowing now. I’m just going to dread it!’ He snatched his wand back, black mist whirling ‘round his forearm. ‘How long until they ask you for more than a smile to get close to someone?’ He demanded; his stomach churned, flashing hot and cold as he forced the words through numb lips. ‘If the allure and a pretty face aren’t enough, what will you do? Will you let them fuck you and lie to me?’
Fleur’s eyes flashed black. ‘I—’
Dark spots swirled before Harry’s eyes and the world spun. Fleur’s furious face hovered at the centre of it as it swam, her lips moving, but the sound drowned beneath the pounding of his heart.
Away. He clawed for the image of somewhere safe. I need to get away.
A loud crack echoed through dark trunks as he stumbled into a pile of soft pine needles. Brown pine-cones scattered the ground around a dirt-stained pink handbag.
How could she? Harry curled into a ball and gasped for breath. How could she agree to that? Words rose up in the back of his mind in a soft, high whisper, and a girl in glasses cried as she betrayed him in the bathroom. Because perfect wishes don’t come true.
‘But it was supposed to be the sunset,’ he whispered, staring up at the shadows of the giant acromantula in the pines above. ‘I was supposed to recover and become the raven, then everything was meant to be perfect.’
The dark mist faded back into his wand and the pine needles rustled in the faint breeze.
‘Friend of spiders.’ Aragog stalked from the hollow at the clearing’s centre. ‘You’ve returned to us. Yet Hagrid mourns your death.’
‘I’m alive.’ Harry stood up and smothered the storm. ‘I survived.’
‘Are you here to hunt with us?’
I just want to be alone. His heart wrenched. No I don’t. I don’t. I want to be with Fleur. But if she’s willing to do that, then she’s changed while I’ve been dead. She’s not my Fleur.
‘I’m just passing through, Aragog.’ He closed his eyes and pictured the Chamber of Secrets, appearing in the study with a loud snap. ‘What do I do now, Salazar?’
When there’re no dreams left, there’s only power. He crushed the words down and banged his forehead onto the desk until the pain eased the sharp ache beneath his ribs. But I need her. She’s everything.
‘Stop that,’ Fleur hissed.
Harry jolted upright with a shock of cold adrenaline.
‘How dare you?!’ Her dark eyes burnt with fury, her jaw and nose shivered, shifting sharper then fading back. White feathers fluttered all along her arms and heat haze shimmered around her fingers. ‘How dare you?!’
‘You’re the one who agreed to do things like that!’ he snapped. ‘I would never agree to do anything like that.’
‘Neither would I!’ Blue flames burst into life on her palms. ‘I was only warning you that they’d ask! I’m not going to do it. Neither’s Gabby. I just wanted to make sure that if you heard Les Inconnus did things like that from someone else, you’d not panic and lose trust in me, because I know how you are!’
‘You won’t do it?’ Harry whispered. ‘You promise?’
‘I would walk away from Les Inconnus the moment they tried to make me do anything of the sort,’ she cried. ‘And you — you should know that!’
‘I’m sorry.’ His breathing steadied and his heartbeat slowed as the storm faded. ‘It’s just, I’ve been dead, and it’s what you always wanted to do…’
‘Incroyable.’ Fleur balled her fists, snuffing out the blue flames. ‘Gabby has gone to work and will explain that I’m not able to come in. You and I are going to have a talk.’
Harry flinched. ‘I am sorry,’ he murmured.
She glared at him. ‘At least if you’re back to panicking about me leaving or betraying you, it means you’re still recovering. You did plenty of that before.’ Fleur crossed her arms. ‘The willow tree. Now.’ She vanished.
‘Merde.’ Harry took a deep breath and apparated onto the white pebbles with a hammering heart, finding Fleur swinging her feet from the branch above. ‘So… what did you want to talk about?’
‘Your ridiculous trust issues,’ she snapped. ‘You didn’t even give me the benefit of the doubt for a single second, you just jumped right to me opening my legs to anyone I wanted to get information from!’
‘What was I meant to think?’ he asked. ‘You said it like it was something you were going to do.’
‘You didn’t think.’ Fleur glowered down at him. ‘I thought I’d made progress, that you understood I’d never do anything like that. That our dream was as precious to me as it was to you!’
‘I just panicked.’ He shrugged. ‘It was all I could think of. You and someone else.’
Her red lips flattened into a thin line. ‘Why would I want that?
He shrugged. ‘I was dead for a year. You were alone. You might’ve wanted—’
‘I wanted you!’ Fleur shimmered and reappeared in front of him, seizing the front of his robes. ‘I waited for you. I tried to bring you back to me, over and over and over.’ Tears shone in her eyes and her voice dropped to a whisper. ‘I don’t know how to make you trust me, mon Cœur. I’ve done almost anything and everything I can think of. And each time you don’t, it hurts.’
‘I’m sorry.’ He swept her into his arms and held her tight, breathing in the sweet, sharp smell of marzipan and burnt holly. ‘I just panic at the idea of losing you. It’s not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t trust the world to let me keep you.’
Fleur’s lips crushed into his. The world swirled and Harry found himself stumbling back onto her bed as she dragged him down onto the silk sheets, stealing ragged breaths when her mouth left his.
‘You are mine,’ she said, tugging the buttons of his shirt open. ‘And I am yours. There’s nothing else.’
He caught her hands. ‘I don’t—’
‘Nothing. Else.’ She put his hands to her hips, shrugging the straps of her dress off her shoulders.
Blue silk pooled on the floor.
Fleur unclasped her bra and tossed it aside. ‘Are you thinking of anyone but me?’ She slipped a finger under the hem of her underwear and let them slide down to her ankles, kicking them aside with a small smirk. ‘I don’t think so.’
Harry drank in her curves, tracing his fingertips over her soft, pale skin, drawing gentle circles ‘round her nipple with the edge of his thumb until it turned hard and her eyes burnt with desire.
She shoved him back onto the bed and tugged open his trousers. ‘You are mine, mon Cœur,’ she whispered, kissing down his neck as she slid to her knees. ‘Mine.’
Her warm fingers teased him up and down until heat swirled south and his breath quickened. Fleur flicked the pink tip of her tongue from the base to the tip, resting the head on her tongue as she stared up at him with sultry blue eyes.
‘Mine,’ she breathed, taking the tip of him into the heat of her mouth.
Harry groaned, watching her lips slide lower, feeling the warmth slip down until she had all of him. Fleur drew back, then took him deep, forcing her lips down to the base of his shaft over and over with a soft, wet noise.
The heat tightened in his groin. ‘Wait,’ he hissed, fighting the feeling. ‘I’m going to—’
‘Non.’ She took him deep, drawing back and resting his tip on her pout.
He burst, sending spurts of white across her face.
Fleur stared into his eyes, taking each spatter with a faint smirk. ‘And that means I am yours.’ She dipped her finger into the mess on her face and licked it clean with the tip of her tongue. ‘Do you like the look of me like this?’
Harry stifled a stab of lust as white trickled down her forehead and cheeks, catching in little drops on her eyelashes. ‘I do,’ he murmured, watching it drip from her jaw and run down to her breasts. ‘I like it a lot.’
She smirked and pushed him down onto his back, stepping over him and lowering the soft, wet pink between her thighs toward his face. ‘Show me why I’m yours.’ Fleur’s fingers slid into his hair. ‘With your tongue.’
He traced the tip of his tongue through her, drawing gentle circles, slipping it into her until a faint, sweet taste filled his mouth.
Fleur gasped and shuddered, clutching his hair tight. ‘Don’t stop doing that.’ Her legs trembled and she bit her lip. ‘Keep going.’
Harry brushed his tongue over her as Fleur’s legs shook and she shivered, moaning each time he dipped the tip of his tongue into her heat.
‘Parfait,’ she gasped, her breath hitching and her hands fisting in his hair. ‘Parfait.’
Fleur collapsed beside him, gleaming with a faint sheen of sweat. She drew a meandering line down his chest, over his stomach, and curled her fingers ’round him. ‘I’m not done.’ She coaxed him back to hardness with a gentle hand. ‘I want to feel you in me.’
Harry pressed a kiss to her lips. ‘Is that safe?’
‘I don’t care.’ Fleur swung herself off the bed and bent forward over the desk. ‘I want to feel you finish in me.’ She spread her feet, baring the glistening wetness on the inside of her thighs. ‘Take me as hard as you like.’
Harry stepped behind her, brushing his tip through the silken heat between her legs and slipping his fingers into her hair. ‘I can make it hurt a little,’ he murmured in her ear.
The hairs stood up on the back of Fleur’s neck and a little shiver swept through her. ‘I’m yours,’ she whispered. ‘However you want me.’
He eased the tip into her slowly, pushing as deep as he could go and tightening his grasp on her silver hair until she gasped.
‘Harder, mon Cœur.’ She pushed her hips back into him. ‘Harder.’
Harry shoved her down into the desk, crushing her breasts against the wood and dragging her head back with a fistful of her hair, driving into her deep and fast. Fleur’s fingers curled into the wood and her breath hitched as she pushed herself back into him with each thrust.
He reached around with one hand, tracing his thumb across her cheek, revelling in the tremble of her breath and the soft gasps tearing from her throat. Fleur parted her lips, letting him slip his thumb into her mouth and onto her tongue as she came undone.
Heat pooled in his belly, tightening as she sucked on his thumb with a low moan and clung to the desk. Harry exploded in her, thrusting until he was spent.
She leant her head back onto his shoulder with a small smile and cupped her breast with his hand. ‘I waited a really long time for that.’
‘Was it worth it?’ Harry teased her nipple with his thumb.
‘I want more.’
He stepped back, admiring the trickle of white on her thighs and drawing her into his arms. ‘In a few minutes or so, mon Amour.’
She smirked and slipped a hand between her thighs. ‘It’s not a very safe day for me, mon Cœur.’
The breath slipped from Harry’s lungs and a silver-haired girl with green eyes danced among his thoughts. ‘You think…?’
Fleur shrugged. ‘If I am not today, I may well be tomorrow.’ She held his gaze with bright blue eyes. ‘I know what I want. I’m going nowhere.’
Harry swallowed. ‘Are you — are you sure?’
‘I’m always sure.’ She pressed her lips to his and drew his hand down to rest over her belly. ‘I want to be able to feel you here.’