The Giving Tree

A bunch of bananas sat on the kitchen table. Katie tugged at them, dragging them across the wooden surface to wobble between her feet. 

‘You can’t eat those yet,’ Harry said. ‘But in a few minutes you can make as much mess as you like.’ He plucked a bowl out of the cupboard. ‘Which is usually lots of mess.’

‘Don’t forget the exciting blue spoon, mon Amour.’ Fleur sipped her hot chocolate from beside the sink.

‘Of course not.’ Harry laughed. ‘The special blue spoon is clearly essential.’ He eased the bunch of bananas out of Katie’s grip. ‘I’m going to need those, baby bird. You can have some of it back in a moment.’

Katie scrunched her face up into a scowl and babbled, grabbing after the bananas.

Harry smiled, pulling three off the bunch. ‘Is that too many?’

Fleur shrugged. ‘Two is probably fine, given most of it is probably going to end up on the table or her face.’

Harry peeled the skin off the first two bananas and dropped them into the bowl. 

Katie wailed.

‘Okay, okay.’ He slid the remaining bananas back into her reach. ‘There you go, grumpy bird.’

She lifted them up, sticking her tongue out. 

‘Fleur…’ Harry slipped his wand out of his sleeve. ‘You daughter is not being very patient.’  He watched Katie attempt to cram an entire banana sideways into her mouth. ‘Or smart.’

‘You’re being too slow.’ Fleur laughed. ‘She’s normally got a bottle in her hands by now.’

He pushed his magic into the air and squashed the banana into mush. ‘There we go.’ Harry tucked the blue spoon into the mush. ‘So… do we just let her cause havoc now?’ He frowned. ‘I should probably give her a few spoonfuls first, right?’

‘You do what you think you should.’ A huge smirk spread across Fleur’s face. ‘I’m going to enjoy this.’

‘You’re going to laugh at me.’ Harry snorted. ‘Of course.’ He set the bowl down on the table and scooped up a small blob of mashed banana. ‘Here you go, Katie. This is much tastier than the outside of the banana.’

She chomped her gums on the banana, watching him with wide, green eyes. 

‘Okay.’ Harry eased the banana out of her little hands. ‘Let’s leave that poor thing be for a moment and try some of this.’ He waggled the spoon toward her.

Katie grabbed it with both hands and stuck it in her mouth, mashing her gums on the spoon. Bits of squished banana dribbled down her chin.

‘Beautiful.’ Harry laughed. ‘At least you like the spoon.’

She ooched forward, reaching for the bowl. 

‘Why not?’ He nudged it within range. ‘Do your worst, messpot.’

Katie clutched the edge of the bowl and dragged it across between her feet, jabbing the spoon into the banana and poking herself in the cheek.

‘It’s meant to go in your mouth, silly.’ Harry poked the spoon a bit closer with his finger. ‘See?’

Fleur laughed. ‘This is very cute, mon Coeur.’

‘You laugh, but you’re not that far outside the banana splash zone.’

She drifted closer and leant on the table, cupping her hot chocolate in both hands. ‘There, now we’re both in danger.’

Katie pressed the banana smeared spoon onto her tongue and grinned, kicking her feet.

‘Well, I guess banana is popular.’ He watched her drop the spoon, splattering mashed fruit over the table. ‘Or not.’

His daughter stuck both fists into the bowl, grabbing two handfuls of banana.

‘No, I think she likes it,’ Fleur said, a soft warm smile on her lips.

Katie squeezed her fingers, staring at the banana on her hands with a small frown. She jammed one little fist into her mouth and the wrinkles faded off her forehead.

Fleur leant her head against Harry’s shoulder. ‘Isn’t she perfect, mon Amour?’ she whispered. ‘We made that little angel.’

Harry watched their daughter smear banana across the table with a small smile and a hot lump in his throat. ‘That little angel is making a huge mess.’

Katie tugged the bowl over and stuck one foot into it.

‘Oh dear,’ Fleur murmured. ‘That’s three limbs covered in banana already.’

Their daughter stuck the other foot in, wiggling her fruit covered toes and dragging the spoon back into her grasp.

‘And that’s all four. She’s an all or nothing baby bird, just like her mother is,’ Harry teased.

‘Mon Coeur, she gets that from you.’ Fleur pressed a kiss to his cheek. ‘Your bird-wife knows better than to waste her sweets.’

‘That’s certainly true.’ He pulled the bowl back and stood it up again. ‘Would you like to try eating some, Katie? Or are you just happily making a huge mess.’

Katie threw the banana smeared blue spoon down Harry’s front onto the floor and a quiet snicker came from the doorway behind them.

‘Are you sure you don’t want a front row seat, Gabby?’ He vanished the banana on himself and summoned the spoon, cleaning it off. ‘Here you go, little chick.’

She batted the spoon away and stuck both hands in the bowl again, a huge, toothless smile on her face and a bright gleam in her green eyes.

‘Or just abandon the spoon entirely, I guess.’ Harry set it down and kissed their daughter on the head. ‘Oh well. You seem to be having a lot of fun anyway, baby bird.’

‘I’m happy at a safe distance.’ Gabby picked her way across the kitchen floor on bare feet. ‘I found something. Something new.’

‘Was it the latest novel featuring Aimee’s extracurricular exploits?’ he asked.

She giggled. ‘Non. For La Victoire Finale.’

He glanced up, a little hope blossoming in his breast. ‘What is it?’

‘I thought maybe we should consider resurrection instead of trying to create a new body to return to separately.’ Gabby hummed. ‘There’s nothing we can use from the magical creatures we’ve got detailed studies of, so I thought if we’re going to have to try and use something more mysterious, we might as well try for the best thing.’

‘Don’t say a sphinx.’ Harry frowned. ‘Or a dragon.’

‘Neither of those do any kind of resurrecting, mon Amour.’ Fleur patted him on the shoulder. ‘Times like this really explain where our baby bird gets ideas like trying to eat a banana sideways from.’

‘I mean, we know almost nothing about sphinxes, so it’s actually possible they do resurrect in some fashion,’ Gabby said. ‘But I did mean phoenixes.’

I wonder where Fawkes went? He shrugged. I guess Fawkes probably isn’t very fond of me anymore anyway.

‘Although so far I’ve only found little snippets in the archives of Les Inconnus.’ A small frown creased Gabby’s forehead. ‘Which isn’t too promising.’

‘Check the library in the Chamber of Secrets,’ Harry said. ‘I’m sure I remember Salazar saying something about Helga Hufflepuff having a phoenix once or twice. He would have found them interesting enough to study, especially after his wife died.’

Katie dumped her bowl of banana upside down on her legs with a giggle. Banana dribbled over her small legs and onto the table.

‘Excellent work,’ Harry said. ‘Now you’ve got even more banana to make a huge mess with.’

His daughter babbled and waved her banana-coated fists at him. 

Fleur laughed. ‘I think she wants you to pick her up and hold her, mon Amour.’

‘Not a chance.’ He shook his head. ‘She looks incredibly sticky.’

Katie screwed her face up and ooched toward him, smearing banana across the table. Her bright green eyes darkened to pine.

‘Fine, fine.’ Harry grimaced as he swept his daughter into his arms. ‘Happy now?’

She buried her banana-covered face in his neck. 

‘Fleur would you mind…?’

The corner of Fleur’s lips curved up into a little smirk. ‘Clean the banana off?’

‘S’il te plaît.’ He leant his face away from Katie’s fruit-coated fingers. ‘I think she’s eaten about as much as she intends to.’

Fleur pulled her wand out and vanished the banana patch by patch. Katie squirmed, wriggling in his arms. 

‘Does that tickle?’ Harry chuckled and kissed her on the top of the head. ‘Oh dear.’

Gabby watched with soft grey eyes, wandering a few steps closer. ‘She’s so cute.’

‘Want your own one?’ he asked.

A huge grin spread across Gabby’s face. ‘Fleur! Fleur! Your husband is making advances toward me!’

 Fleur rolled her eyes. ‘Hush, Gabby. You know what he means.’

She snickered. ‘I know.’ The grin faded a touch. ‘No. Not really. I like being auntie Gabby, but I don’t really want to do any of the baby making or carrying or giving birth.’

‘I think one is probably enough for us,’ Fleur murmured. ‘Unless Harry really wants more.’

His breath caught. More? 

Gabby poked him in the side. ‘Breathe.’

‘I’m fine.’ He prodded her in the hip. ‘I just… never really thought about it. I imagined us having one child and that was as far as I got, it seemed a long way away as it was…’

‘I’m not sure we will be able to, mon Coeur,’ Fleur whispered. ‘La Victoire Finale is blood magic based, non? We sacrificed a lot of things to get to the dream we saw in the Mirror of Erised. If we change the dream now, they might not count, if our dream grows, it might be too high a price…’

‘We have to give it up…’ Harry’s heart sank. ‘You’re probably right.’

Katie squirmed in his arms. 

‘It’s okay.’ He bounced her on his hip. ‘You’re going to have me, and your maman, and auntie harpy… and Henri the Raven.’

‘You’re not upset?’ Fleur asked. 

Am I? A strange melancholy hung upon him and countless flashes of Katie in the Mirror of Erised sank out of sight. No. No, I’m not. One perfect little girl is so much more than I dared to dream of.

He shook his head. ‘This is far, far more than I ever hoped for. I think I would probably like more little tiny feathery bird-girls at some point, but we need La Victoire Finale to keep our sunset.’

‘I thought you would feel that way.’ She rested a hand on her stomach. ‘And I think one was enough, even if sometimes I am tempted by the idea of another perfect surprise.’

Gabby shrugged. ‘It’s all the same to me.’ She shuddered. ‘I really can’t imagine making a baby with anyone outside this room.’

Fleur’s eyes narrowed. ‘Or in it.’

Gabby giggled.

Harry snorted, shifting Katie’s weight onto his other hip. ‘Stop causing trouble.’

‘One more thing we can sacrifice,’ Fleur said. ‘Everything we gave up to get here, to do it, to keep it, and now this, too.’

‘Everything but it,’ Gabby murmured. ‘How could it not work?’

He stifled a stab of unease. Because I would make the trade in a heartbeat. And before, with Salazar, I nearly couldn’t bring myself to do it.

‘We still need to pick an anchor to use,’ Harry said. ‘Something precious to all of us.’ He pictured the Mirror of Erised on the white pebbles beneath the willow tree. ‘The Mirror of Erised itself?’

‘I don’t think that’s a good idea, mon Amour. It’s already very powerfully enchanted.’

Harry nodded. ‘True. Have we got anything else stashed down there?’

‘Why not the willow tree itself?’ Gabby suggested. ‘It’s where Fleur first got you to meet her?’

‘Meet her?’ He laughed. ‘She kidnapped me and threatened to keep me here until I poured my heart out.’

Fleur turned her nose up with a faint pout. ‘Romance.’

‘Bird-girl romance,’ Harry teased. ‘Snatching up shiny rocks to line your nest with.’

Katie yawned, her eyelids fluttering. He cupped the back of her head and cradled her close as she snuggled into his chest. 

‘Nap time,’ Fleur murmured. ‘All that mess-making must have been very exhausting.’

‘So it seems.’ Harry smiled down at their daughter as her breathing evened and her head slumped into his collarbone. ‘And I think the willow tree is perfect, Gabby. It’s where we escaped to for so long.’

‘Where I got you back,’ Fleur whispered, a soft gleam in her blue eyes. ‘Where our dream defied death.’

Where a perfect wish finally came true. He stroked Katie’s silver curls with a small, soft smile, blinking back hot tears as his heart flopped about beneath his ribs. And she turned out to be so much more beautiful than I imagined.

Gabby buried her face in Harry’s arm with a quiet sniff. 

‘Gabrielle…’ Fleur drifted around him and embraced her sister. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Just… touching.’ Gabby’s muffled reply sent warm air washing over his arm. ‘And maybe a little bit crying. I can’t help it.’

‘Silly little chick.’ Fleur patted her sister on the head. ‘You’re as bad as Katrina is.’

‘I know.’ Gabby dabbed her eyes dry. ‘It’s not my fault. They’re your feelings, it’s your fault.’ Fresh tears sparkled on her lashes. ‘Always being there. Holding my hand. Loving me.’

Fleur turned her nose up. ‘You’re much too chirpy to love, harpy. I should have pushed you out of the nest the moment you first opened your silly beak.’

Gabby smiled through her tears. ‘Feather-face.’

Katie stirred, flailing toward Gabby and Fleur with one hand, and grabbing a hold of Gabby’s forefinger and dragging it to her chest. 

Harry chuckled. ‘Less anything else, more doting on Katie.’

Gabby laughed. ‘We’ll have plenty of time for doting on her soon. We just need to figure out this body thing and then we’re free.’

‘We should be careful about the willow,’ Fleur said. ‘In case it dies, or gets burnt. We should use its seedlings as well, plant them and keep them somewhere safe.’

‘The chamber,’ Harry said. ‘That would work.’

‘Oh,’ Gabby chirped. ‘The willow’s really well warded, too, so if this resurrecting thing works, we should try and resurrect ourselves there. We can even add more wards.’

‘I don’t know how that would work,’ he replied. ‘But it sounds safest. We don’t want to keep returning into whatever got us killed.’

Fleur nodded. ‘The anchor, mon Amour, how will that work?’

‘Like a horcrux, our souls will be bound to the willow by our desire to return to each other. And as long as we want it enough, we will.’

Gabby giggled. ‘You mean, after all Fleur’s protests, we’re going to be soul-bonded veela mates after all, Harry?’

Fleur rolled her eyes. ‘Non.’

‘Well, kind of.’ Harry laughed at the small pout curving Fleur’s lips, stepping past Gabby to kiss Fleur on the tip of her nose. ‘But not like your favourite book series, Gabby. It’s just purpose and magic and us, not some silly fated romance.’

‘I’ll take it.’ Gabby beamed, dabbing her tears away on her sleeve. ‘Any soul-bond to the veela harem is better than no soul-bond, right?’

‘I don’t think that’s true. I skimmed the first one of those books so I could tease Fleur about it.’ Harry chuckled. ‘Imagine if you accidentally did the Aimee love-soul-mate bond as a child, who knows what might happen?’

And it’s better than a horcrux even without the body part. There’s no chance of this anchor independently attempting to pursue its purpose after a half a century and doing something nasty.

‘You’d be my best friend forever,’ Gabby said.

‘Yeah, or you’d get soul-magic-moulded into my ideal girl without any chance or choice of escape.’ Harry shuddered. ‘No thank you. I prefer to mutilate my soul myself. At least then it’s me who’s doing it.’

‘I wouldn’t know any different, though, so it’d be fine.’ She beamed. ‘It’d be really romantic. You’d come find me later and sweep me off my feet, and I’d be everything you’d ever dreamt of.’

‘Hush, Gabby,’ Fleur said, her eyes darkening a touch. ‘Hugging when you’re feeling clingy is fine. Romantic fantasies are not.’ She shot her sister a knowing look. ‘Do not think I don’t know what you sometimes wonder about.’

‘I would never,’ Gabby whispered. ‘Never. You know that, Fleur. It would never work. And I don’t really want it, it’s just… what might have happened, if you’d been a little more like me.’

The dark drained from Fleur’s irises. ‘Je sais.’ She mussed Gabby’s hair. ‘Come on, harpy, let’s go search for useful books in the chamber. Harry can watch over our little chick while she naps.’

‘If she gets hungry, should I try more banana?’ Harry asked. 

‘Maybe some swede or turnip or carrot or something like that.’ Fleur pressed a kiss to his cheek. ‘See what Katie likes best.’

Katie? His head snapped up.

Fleur’s rose-pink lips curved and a soft, warm gleam hovered in her blue eyes. ‘I said I would get used to it, mon Amour. It was a little strange at first, but now it’s fine.’ She put an arm around Gabby’s shoulders and they vanished.

A small smile tugged the corners of Harry’s mouth and he glanced down at where Katie snoozed against his chest. ‘Let’s go wander down to the willow tree, shall we, baby bird?’

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  1. I have a question about the sacrifice thing, Harry sacrificed Kart Hadasht for his sunset so would it count in his sacrifice for the final victory, as he said earlier that all sacrifices are accumulative in effect?

    PS: Such a cute chapter.

        1. To keep it because taking up the power of the Tophet would cost him his Sunset, which is not quite the same as keeping it forever, or making it impossible for it to be ever taken away.

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