A shadow hung above the pool of the chamber, cocooned in glowing threads of white magic; it spun in slow circles above a web of pearly runes shining upon the water.
Harry stifled a little niggle of unease. ‘So that’s…’
‘Spare Harry,’ Gabby chirped. ‘I’m going to convince Fleur to let me have this one.’
‘As what, a replacement courgette?’ He mustered half a smile. ‘Is it even alive enough for you to do unspeakable things with it?’
Fleur rolled her eyes. ‘It’s a living body, the same as your own.’ She strode onto the bridge and touched the tip of her wand to its toe, cutting a slim red line through it. ‘It even heals like you do.’
The red line turned pink and faded away.
Harry ran his thumb down his ebony wand. ‘But it has no soul.’
Gabby shook her head. ‘It’s a living copy created with alchemy, but we’re not sure what happens once the magic ends and it finishes growing.’
‘It might die,’ Fleur murmured. ‘It might live on as a comatose husk like someone kissed by a dementor, useless to us, or it might already be connected to your soul, like your body is.’
‘I guess we’ll find out,’ Harry muttered. ‘Just don’t let it near my wand—’ a little anxiety twisted in his stomach ‘—in fact maybe we should restrain it, in case it somehow wakes up.’
I saw the amber-masked figure here. Ice trickled down his spine. It came out of the water right below where that body’s hanging.
‘Move it,’ he whispered. ‘Can you move it somewhere else?’
Gabby glanced at Fleur. ‘I can move it after it’s finished, but not before.’
‘Are you okay, mon Amour?’ Fleur took three steps toward him, a little gleam of worry in her blue eyes. ‘What are you fretting about?
Harry sucked in a deep breath. ‘It’s nothing.’
Her eyes narrowed and darkened a few hues. ‘If you insist, mon Coeur.’
‘When will it be ready?’ he asked.
‘Another week?’ Gabby scrunched up her face. ‘Something like that. If it works, it’ll be connected to your soul.’
‘And if it’s not?’
‘You can’t create a soul with alchemy,’ Fleur said. ‘If it’s not connected to you, it’s just a useless body.’
‘I should be able to tell if it’s connected to me,’ Harry said, staring up at the spinning body. ‘Some kind of feeling, like my wand.’
‘How’re the runes coming?’ Gabby padded across the floor of the chamber on bare feet. ‘Got anywhere in between other things and Katie trying to eat them?’
‘I’ve got all the runes ready for whatever we choose as an anchor and a ring of runes for us to pour our intent into,’ he said. ‘I don’t think that’s something we’d be able to recreate with runes as well as we could just… feel it.’
‘Like the Fidelius Charm,’ Fleur said..
‘It is?’ Harry quirked an eyebrow. ‘Why?’
‘You have to entrust your soul to whoever the secret keeper is,’ Gabby replied. ‘You give your magic to them with that intention and it forms part of the charm.’
‘It’s trust and intent.’ Fleur hummed. ‘If we gave our will to return to each other, our sunset, it should form a single unified desire to cast the magic, just like in the Fidelius.’
‘What about Katie?’ Gabby asked.
‘If she’s there, she’ll be clingy enough for her to be part of it,’ Fleur said. ‘She always wants to come to one of us. And the blood magic should do it regardless.’
‘We just need a body to return to,’ Gabby chirped, glancing at the clone of Harry turning above the pool. ‘And that could be solved in a few days if this goes well.’
And a sacrifice. Harry’s heart clenched. One that must be paid, or we’ll lose our dream. The purple rune on Kart Hadasht’s dome bled into the Hallows’ sigil before his mind’s eye. I saw it.
‘Let’s go back,’ Fleur murmured. ‘Gabby, are you okay to finish with the last couple of things?’
Gabby nodded. ‘It’s just tidying up, mostly. You two go back.’ She snickered. ‘You can see if you can finish with before I get back in time to voyeur.’
Harry shook his head. ‘You’re incorrigible.’
‘Leave the harpy here, mon Amour.’ Fleur slipped her arms around him. ‘She probably has some unsuspecting courgettes stashed away.’
Gabby giggled. ‘No, I don’t.’ She wrinkled her nose. ‘They’d get all dusty here. No thanks.’
The Chamber of Secrets lurched and Harry thudded onto his back on the floor. Fleur knelt over his stomach, a little heat smouldering in her eyes.
A soft wail echoed through the house.
‘Our little veela hatchling is awake,’ Harry said.
‘Mmm.’ Fleur’s eyes darkened a touch as the crying grew louder. ‘She picked her moment to wake up perfectly.’
He sat up, wrapping his arms around her and pressing a kiss to her cheek. ‘Is my sex-crazed bird-witch sulking?’
‘Oui.’ A little pout crept onto her lips. ‘I had something planned.’ The pout curved into a faint smirk. ‘But I’ve just thought of a back-up plan.’
Harry laughed. ‘What a devious bird-wife you are, mon Trésor.’ He lifted her up with him and bushed a stray lock of silver back behind her ear. ‘And a very beautiful one.’
‘The most beautiful one.’ Fleur cocked her head. ‘Come on, mon Amour. There’s someone I want to introduce to you.’
‘Sounds ominous.’ Harry followed her along the corridor. ‘Why is Katie in Gabby’s room?’
Fleur shrugged. ‘She fell asleep on Gabby’s bed, so we just threw up some wards and left her to nap.’
‘I hope we don’t find her reading the adult romance collection.’
A soft laugh escaped her. ‘She’s gone quiet, so I suspect she’s found the person I want to introduce you to.’
Katie lay on her back atop Gabby’s pile of blue, fluffy blankets, staring down past her small feet at a large soft toy raven.
‘Henri meet Henri,’ Fleur said. ‘He’s bigger than you.’
Harry chuckled as the toy raven flapped its wings and hopped up and down at the end of the bed. Katie balled her little fists watching it bounce closer with wide green eyes.
‘Henri is a very impressive raven,’ he said. ‘I bet Henri can’t fly, though.’
‘Not yet.’ Fleur raised a foot and nudged the raven up the bed. ‘But I’m still adding things.’
Katie caught one fluffy wing edge in her grasp as the raven hopped close, dragging the raven into her embrace. Henri fell still and Katie’s eyelids fluttered shut; her small fingers slipped free from the raven.
‘I feel like I’ve been replaced.’ A soft pang knifed through Harry’s ribs. ‘By a toy.’
Fleur leant her head on his shoulder. ‘Don’t be an idiot, mon Amour. You will never be replaced.’ She cupped his cheek. ‘Keep an eye on Katrina for a couple minutes and make sure she’s gone back to sleep. I’m going to get changed.’
Harry tiptoed closer to the bed. ‘Sleep well, baby bird,’ he whispered, pressing a light kiss onto her short silver curls. ‘I love you very much.’
She spluttered and squirmed, snuggling her face into the soft fuzz of the raven.
He squinted at Henri’s beady eye. ‘I can fly,’ he whispered. ‘That makes me the better bird.’ Harry shrugged and held his hands up. ‘Just saying.’
Katie’s breathing evened and steadied.
He crept out, easing the door shut after him, and tip-toed back to their room.
Fleur sat on the bed, biting her lip. The skirt of her Beauxbatons uniform fluttered just above her knees in the cool breeze from the window.
‘Why are you—’
‘You saved ‘er,’ Fleur whispered, shooting him a coy look. ‘You saved my sister.’
‘From zat ‘orrible cold lake. Veela are ‘elpless in cold water, and the terrible merpeople would have killed Gabrielle for what seems like no rational reason whatsoever.’ A little smirk curved the corner of her smile. ‘I must find a way to repay you.’
‘That does explain why there’s no cold temperature on the shower.’ Harry caught the glint of mischief in Fleur’s eyes. ‘And how would you like to repay me?’ He chuckled. ‘I could help you with that really strong French accent you’ve suddenly come down with?’
‘I zink—’ Fleur caught her lip between her teeth ‘—I zink zere is only one thing I could possibly do.’
‘Say thank you?’ He pulled his most innocent, puzzled face. ‘It really was nothing. I’m actually inexplicably racist against merpeople, any excuse to upset them is a good thing.’
‘Non.’ She flashed him a smile. ‘You do not understand, Gabrielle owes you a magical life debt, but, because I love my sister so much, I will somehow miraculously pay the debt in ‘er stead.’
Harry hid a grin behind his hand. ‘There’s no debt. Whatever it is, I release you from it.’
‘It is not so easy as zat. When a veela incurs a life debt, zere is only one thing zey are able to do to repay it.’ Fleur slipped off the edge of the bed onto her knees. ‘Because magic has inexplicably made it that way.’
‘Well, that seems entirely ludicrous, but because I’m a very trusting person, I will absolutely take you at your word and never think about it ever again.’
She stared up at him with wide blue eyes, lip trembling. ‘I have to do whatever you want to repay the debt.’
‘Whatever?’ Harry echoed.
Little shivers rippled down his spine, settling into a fluttering ball of heat in his abdomen. ‘Would you — would you kiss me?’
Fleur rose to her feet, pressing her lips to his, tracing the tip of her tongue along his upper lip until he shuddered. Her fingers tugged loose the buttons of his shirt, trailing down his chest.
‘What are you doing, Fleur?’ Harry asked. ‘You kissed me, the debt is repaid.’
‘Non, ‘Arry, I am afraid a little kiss is not enough,’ she whispered, pressing light, hot kisses along the line of his jaw. ‘You will ‘ave to ask for something else.’
He smothered a chuckle. ‘Another kiss?’
Fleur’s lips caught his, her tongue flicked into his mouth, tangling with his own, and her hands slid into his hair, holding him against her until she pulled back, gasping.
‘All repaid?’ Harry grinned. ‘I’m sure that must be enough. Also, I think your French accent is inexplicably getting stronger.’
‘So shy,’ she murmured, pressing a finger to his lips. ‘We will ‘ave to do something about zat shyness, ‘Arry.’ Fleur sank back down onto her knees, her breath hot against him through his clothes. ‘I zink zis will be a good place to start.’ She tugged the button of his trousers open, curling her fingers around the waist. ‘Unless… zere is something else you would prefer?’
‘I’m too overwhelmed by this entirely unexpected encounter to think of anything else or object to what should be a traumatising liaison with a much older girl while significantly underage,’ Harry replied. ‘Also, I’m pretty sure I’m going to like whatever it is you’re intending to do.’
Fleur pulled his clothes away and cupped him in her hand, pressing him against her cheek, sliding the tip of him across her lips. ‘You will like it, ‘Arry, I promise.’
She traced the length of him with the tip of her tongue and took the tip into her mouth, sucking lightly. Heat pooled in his belly and his breath hitched. Fleur’s soft pink lips crept down him until he could feel himself pressed against the back of her throat.
He twitched and took a deep breath as the fluttering warmth in his stomach coursed through his veins.
A little smirk flashed across Fleur’s face as she pulled back and rose to her feet, toying with the buttons at her cleavage. ‘Is zis your first time, ‘Arry?’
He smothered a laugh and glanced away. ‘Er… yes.’ His grin burst across his face. ‘I don’t get seduced by very many veela witches after saving their sister from a lake.’
‘Well, zen.’ Fleur slipped out of her blouse and tossed it aside. Her nipples stiffened in the cool breeze from the window as her hands dropped to the waist of her skirt. ‘We ‘ad better make ze most of it.’
‘I absolutely agree,’ he whispered, stepping forward and pulling her into a firm kiss.
‘I see we ‘ave cured your shyness, ‘Arry,’ she murmured into their kiss. ‘Ave you realised what it is you would like to do to repay zis magical debt.’
‘You.’ He slipped one hand up the inside of her thigh until his fingertips brushed the hot wetness between her legs. ‘I want you. All of you.’
A little gasp tore from her throat as he curled a finger into her. ‘I’m all yours,’ she said, sinking back onto the bed and parting her thighs. ‘See?’
Harry admired the wet gleam of his finger. ‘Oh I can see.’
Pink rose on Fleur’s cheeks and she hooked her ankles around his waist, pulling him against her. ‘I am sure you want to do more than just see.’
He ran his hands along her legs, tucking her ankles over his shoulders and bending to press a kiss between her thighs. A little shudder swept through her.
‘No more teasing.’ Fleur’s blue eyes smouldered. ‘I had to wait far too long already.’
Harry eased himself all the way into her, pushing her legs up until she gasped and arched her back. She let out a soft moan as he pulled back and pushed deep again, her breasts rising and falling with each ragged gasp escaping her mouth.
‘I want—’ her breath caught as he rolled his hips against her and she stuck out her hand ‘—here.’
He cupped Fleur’s cheek as he thrust deep to the rhythm of her quiet moans, brushing his thumb across her lower lip as her eyelashes fluttered and her fists balled in the sheets. She opened her mouth, letting him slip his thumb onto her tongue, sucking gently as the heat coiled into a tight knot in his abdomen.
He kept going as her knuckles whitened and she sucked hard, throwing her head back and coming undone against him with a soft cry.
A warm smile curved Fleur’s lips as she stared up at him with soft blue eyes. ‘You turn, mon Amour,’ she whispered. ‘In me.’
‘Is it… a safe day?’ Harry asked with a grin, slowing his rhythm as he reached his limit.
She hooked her ankles around him and pulled him deeper into her with a little moan. The heat peaked, bursting from him with a shaky groan.
Fleur smirked as he slipped out of her, white trickling from within her. ‘This time it’s safe, mon Coeur.’ A wicked little gleam crept back into her eyes. ‘And I would like there to be a few more times today, too. You made me wait, so now you must make it up to me.’