Fleur sat on the edge of her bed, swinging her bare legs, her wand tip pressed to her abdomen. Harry’s heart hung in his dry mouth, its beat thundering in his ears.
‘Well?’ he blurted.
Fleur looked up with a soft smile, cradling her stomach with one hand. ‘You’re going to be a father. We’ve made something perfect together.’
The air slipped from his lungs as he stared at the smooth skin between her hips. Our child’s in there. His head span, light as a feather, and before his mind’s eye a green-eyed girl with silver hair beamed from behind ancient glass. Our child.
‘Mon Cœur?’ she whispered. ‘Are you okay?’
Harry took a deep, trembling breath and sank down on the bed beside her. ‘I’m okay.’ He offered her a smile. ‘It’s just… a lot to take in.’
Fleur took his hands. ‘Happy?’
‘I think I may be in shock.’ He grinned. ‘But yes, happy. I never thought — I never hoped—’
‘That it would happen?’ She pressed light kisses to the back of his hands. ‘I know. I thought it was all just dreams found in books.’
‘I used to dream about having my own little house, far away from roses and box hedges and lawns.’ Harry smothered a flash of bleak concrete and dull orange tiles. ‘There was always a family with me, but I never could imagine them as much more than shadows.’
‘Well, we’re going to have someone with us, as well,’ Fleur said. ‘If you think Gabby’s going anywhere, you don’t know the little harpy.’
‘Oh I know.’ Harry reached forward and brushed his fingertips across Fleur’s stomach. ‘But we can make her babysit while we go for cake dates.’
‘We need to think about names,’ Fleur said.
Harry blinked. ‘What the baby’s name is going to be?’
‘Something Delacour.’ She turned her nose up. ‘I love you, mon Cœur, but Potter? Non.’
‘Fair enough. It’s just a name.’
I’m going to have to propose. A chill settled on his heart, clamping tight as a vice. But, she’d say yes, wouldn’t she? She’s having our child. Surely she’d say yes.
‘It’s okay.’ He sucked in a deep breath. ‘I just realised something.’
A broad smirk spread across Fleur’s face. ‘Oh I know what you just realised. Is there something you’d like to ask me, mon Amour?’
Harry watched her smirk widen with a pounding heart. ‘Bird escape!’ He threw himself into the form of the raven and fluttered out the open window.
Fleur’s laughter drifted after him on the faint breeze as he floated ‘round the side of the house and into Gabby’s room.
‘Mon Cœur!’ Gabby leapt off her bed and slammed the window shut. ‘Got you!’
He shifted back into his own form, patting himself down. ‘Remembered clothes. Good.’
‘Awwww.’ She pouted. ‘Why are you here?’
Harry mulled things over. ‘Well… Would you like the long version? Or can I just blurt things out?’
‘Blurt it out.’ Gabby reclined on her bed, kicking her feet against her pillow. ‘I’m very curious, but you better not have upset Fleur again.’
‘Oh.’ She stared down at her fingers. ‘Are you happy about that?’
‘I think I will be very happy, once it’s sunk in.’
Gabby studied her thumbnail. ‘Was it an accident?’
He chuckled. ‘No. No I don’t think it was.’
A small sigh slipped from her lips. ‘So, you and Fleur are going to make me an aunt?’ A spark of mischief welled up in her eyes. ‘Of course, Maman and Papa are going to be much less impressed, I think they’d prefer you were married.’
‘I know,’ Harry said. ‘That’s why I’m here.’
‘Not to me.’ Gabby giggled. ‘Although…’
‘No.’ He rolled his eyes. ‘I’m not marrying you. Fleur would scorch me to ashes.’
‘Me too.’ She laughed. ‘Okay, so, you want to ask her, non?’
‘I do, but—’
‘Just ask.’ Gabby pointed through her window down the slope. ‘Take her down there, to where you came to find her and where she kept hoping you’d come back to her, and ask her.’
‘I kind of need a ring,’ Harry said.
‘Ah.’ She shrugged. ‘Can’t help you. Conjure something.’
‘I can’t just conjure it.’
‘Why not?’ Gabby flopped onto her back. ‘Fleur won’t care. She doesn’t want a ring, or a dress, or anything like that. She just wants you to ask, to trust she will say yes.’
I can ask. A knot of anxiety tightened in his stomach, goading his gut into a cold, sick churning. But what will Fleur say? Will it really be yes?
He slipped his wand from his sleeve, spinning it on his palm. ‘She will — she will say yes, won’t she?’
Gabby’s brow wrinkled. ‘Don’t be stupid. Of course she will. You’re everything she craved when she was younger and she’s carrying your child.’
‘Right.’ Harry battled with the coil of fear. ‘It’s just—’
‘Don’t think about any of that. Just go and ask her.’ Gabby jumped up. ‘No. Go to the willow tree. I’ll send her after you.’
He glanced out at the descending sun. ‘Wait a short while until the sun’s really setting.’
Gabby smiled. ‘Good idea. Good luck, mon Cœur!’ She giggled. ‘Remember, now Fleur’s pregnant, it’s my turn to be bred. You need to satisfy our inner veela’s desire to sire strong children with a powerful wizard, Aimee’s novels are very clear about that.’
‘And on that extremely disturbing note…’ Harry apparated away into the willow’s shade, stumbling over white pebbles.
I need a ring. He glanced over the pebbles and into the rippling water. Which I’m not going to find here.
‘Merde.’ Harry glanced at the sinking sun. ‘Improvisation time.’ A sharp tangle of guilt twisted in his breast. ‘I should’ve planned this properly. Made it perfect.’
But if I can’t make it perfect, I should make it as close as I can get. He slid his wand from his sleeve. And show her how much she means.
Harry pressed the tip of his wand to the ball of his thumb, slicing the soft, pink flesh open and drawing a ribbon of red out to hover in a gleaming circle. The cut on his thumb crept closed and faded. He conjured a thin glass ring around his blood, pouring his magic and will into it and the crimson fluid within. The red swirled around the clear band in endless circles, a soft glimmer of magic suffusing it, pulsing with gentle light each time his heart beat.
It’s not expensive. Or gold. He cupped the ring in his hand. But it’s me. And its magic won’t fade while my heart still beats.
Fleur appeared on the pebbles. Harry closed his fist about the warm ring.
‘Gabby said you were waiting for me.’ She stepped toward him into the willow’s lengthening shade, the sunset shining behind her silver hair, her heart in her eyes. ‘Were you going to ask me something?’
Panic surged through Harry, stealing the words from the tip of his tongue. ‘You know I am.’
Fleur’s lip trembled. ‘Ask, then.’
‘Would you — will you marry me?’ He held out his fist and forced his fingers to open.
The crimson ring gleamed on his palm, its glow waxing and waning with the hammering of Harry’s heart against his ribs.
Fleur picked the ring off his hand with her finger and thumb with a small, soft smile. ‘Our sunset.’ She glanced over her shoulder at the wash of orange pink upon the horizon. ‘But I’m already yours, mon Cœur. And you’re already mine.’
His heart stopped. ‘No?’ Harry whispered.
‘Yes.’ She slid the ring onto her finger and held her hand up into the light, blinking glimmering tears back from her lashes. ‘Of course it’s yes.’
Harry’s heart lurched and he pulled Fleur into his arms, breathing in the sharp, sweet smell of her silver hair. ‘I love you. I love you more than anything.’
‘I know.’ Fleur buried her face into the crook of his neck and sighed. ‘And I love you too.’ Her lips curved against the skin of his neck. ‘You’re everything.’
A little shiver rippled through him and he held her tight. She loves me. Harry rested his forehead on hers and let the hot storm of emotion sweep through him. She loves me.
‘Did you make the ring?’ she murmured.
‘I did.’ He chuckled. ‘You can tell, can’t you? I’m sorry, I’m not as good as you at things like that.’
‘I would trade every single thing I’ve ever made for this ring,’ Fleur whispered. ‘Well—’ she drew his fingers down to her stomach ‘—not quite everything.’
Our child. The bottom dropped out of Harry’s stomach and his gut knotted. Mine and Fleur’s.
She tugged a hair from her head and wound it ‘round her finger; its glow grew brighter each time, shimmering with gentle heat and settling into a slim silver band. ‘You’re supposed to have one, too.’
Fleur slipped it onto his finger. ‘I want you to have one. It’s a piece of me.’
A piece of Fleur. He stared at the thin, glowing ring, enjoying the soft warmth against his skin.
‘It will shine every moment I love you,’ she murmured. ‘Forever.’
‘There is some bad news, though.’ A flicker of humour flitted through Harry. ‘You’re going to be Fleur Potter.’
‘Non.’ She leant back and wrinkled her nose. ‘You’re going to be Harry Delacour, unless you wish to tell the world you’re still alive when you legally marry me?’
‘Harry Delacour isn’t much better.’ He grinned. ‘Or very subtle. Auror captain Neville Longbottom won’t be fooled by that.’
Fleur hummed. ‘Henri Delacour, then. The same name, but less obviously English.’ She cupped his cheek. ‘Is that okay, mon Cœur? You’re not disappearing.’
‘I can live with that,’ he said. ‘It’s just a name. Names. Bodies. All of that’s not important. I have a soul. A purpose. A dream.’
So long as that never changes. I’ll never change. Never disappear. He ran a fingertip down the length of his wand, smothering a faint prickle of unease as its warmth washed up his arm. And if Harry Potter remains dead, then maybe the world will stop trying to take everything he hopes for away.
‘A perfect wish,’ she murmured, brushing her hair away from in between them. ‘Well, Harry, Henri, mon Cœur, mon fiancé. How should we celebrate our perfect wish finally coming true?’
‘Let’s watch the sunset together, mon Rêve.’ Harry turned her around to face the fading colours and wrapped his arms about her waist, cradling her stomach in his hands. ‘I want to see it with my own eyes.’