Soft grey clouds veiled the sky, smothering the warmth of the sun. White marble and pale stone tombs scattered the long, dew-soaked grass, little candles burnt before some with flickering black flames.
‘I’m sorry, Fleur,’ Harry murmured.
‘You didn’t do this.’ She bent and rested the frozen wisteria flower down before the headstone. ‘They did. And one day they will feel every part of this pain.’
‘And more,’ he whispered. ‘If they want to ruin dreams so dearly, then we’ll destroy theirs. But Katie first.’ Raw agony twisted in his heart. ‘We save her first.’
‘I know.’ Fleur touched a hand to the white stone, tracing the dark letters of Gabby’s name with a trembling fingertip. ‘I never really worried about Gabby. Not for a single second since that tournament task. I had always thought that it would be you I lost.’
‘Maybe… one day…’
She straightened up. ‘Don’t lie to me, mon Amour. La Victoire Finale will take the Hallows. You know it. I know it. Gabby knew it. If we save Katie, there will be no way to bring Gabby back. We have nothing left to sacrifice.’
‘We don’t know that.’ It tasted bitter on Harry’s tongue. ‘Not for certain.’
‘Hoping…?’ Fleur’s hands shook. ‘Whoever did this has got their war. I hope they come to hate it with all their hearts.’
‘Oh they will.’ Harry murmured. ‘We’ll make sure of that.’
‘But Katie first.’ Blue flames burst from her left hand as Fleur pressed her fingers into the grave, searing the print into the stone. ‘Let’s go back, Harry. We shouldn’t waste the time Gabby bought for us.’
He wrapped an arm around her waist and wrenched the world back past into the kitchen.
A single letter sat on the wooden table.
‘The Duforts,’ Fleur said. ‘Loopy handwriting again.’
Harry ripped it open and skimmed it. ‘They are sorry for our loss.’ A hint of a smile crept through the numbness onto his face. ‘If we want them, they are there for us. The Duforts are guarding France itself against Spain in the Pyrenees and Britain across the Channel, so they’re busy but not beyond reach.’
‘We don’t have time to spend meeting and lying to them,’ Fleur murmured. ‘There are things we need to get.’
‘I’ll reply later. Tell them we’re fine. That Katie’s fine. That I will be fighting for France soon.’ He caught her eye. ‘Unless you can think of a better way to get to what we need?’
She took his hand, squeezing his fingers tight. ‘Whatever it takes.’
Harry dropped the letter. ‘France has declared war because of the murders by British forces. Everyone’s been dragged in. There will be chaos like there was in Britain. We escaped in it then, we can use it again now. To get what we need. And after Katie’s safe…’
Fleur’s eyes darkened. ‘To burn all the shallow little people who think our dreams should be sacrificed for theirs.’
‘It’s what they do.’ Harry took a deep breath to still the point of cold fury swelling in his breast. ‘It’s their dreams or ours.’
‘It is not the same, mon Coeur,’ she hissed. ‘They think you should believe your dreams are worth less than theirs. That you should want to give up everything for them. And they dare to hate you for not wanting that, when they are all worse.’
‘Well, it doesn’t matter why they hate me,’ he murmured. ‘I won’t be nothing. Never again. We’ll finish La Victoire Finale and see our sunset. Let them hate me then.’
‘We can’t risk using any of the easier objects for La Victoire Finale,’ she said. ‘Not anymore. The price will be higher now.’
‘Pick the hardest things possible. We will find a way or make one.’ Cold, dark mist curled from his sleeve. ‘And anyone in our way will be left wishing they had not been so stupid as to stand there.’
‘Spain, the Russkayan Tsardom and Britain are at war with the United States of Magical America, the Ottoman Caliphate, and France,’ she said. ‘At least two of the items we need are in British territory in the Aegean, where there will certainly be some more fighting.’
‘Greece.’ He nodded, watching the ebony mist coil back into his wand. ‘I’ll find a way there. There’s already been fighting in the Aegean. It shouldn’t be impossible.’
‘The Germanic States, Polans and Sunset Princedoms are all neutral still, all the dragonbane gems I know about are in dragon preserves on their territory…’ Fleur narrowed her eyes. ‘But the US will have an obscurial, which we will use instead of a more easily snatched and sacrificed lethifold.’
An obscurial. Harry’s blood ran cold. No. No, it’s fine. It will be harder to find a way to save a child than to just take an obscurial and kill it for our dreams. It’s fine.
‘I don’t know how to get there, the portkey lines to Sint-Maarten are cut. Not unless I go the muggle way and the Americans must watch those. They have to.’
‘Greece first,’ she said. ‘Three dark pearls from Atlantis. Despair. And the heart of the lotus, found at the deepest point of its oasis and where it absorbs all the bliss-fuelled magic of its victims, not just its flowers.’
‘And then the dragonbane gem. Rage.’
‘Then the obscurus from America. For fear.’ Fleur drew him close, curling her fingers into his clothes with a soft sigh. ‘And we will need a phoenix if we can’t figure out the blood magic used to create them.’
‘And we have the Hallows and everything else already,’ Harry said. ‘That’s not so much. Two things in Greece. One in Eastern Europe. One in America. Some blood magic or a phoenix.’
‘And one more thing,’ she whispered into the crook of his neck. ‘Because Gabby and I didn’t hate death the same way I did when I thought it had stolen you, but now…’
‘You can hate the idea of dying,’ he murmured, holding her close. ‘What do we need for hate?’
‘Damaz dar Danag,’ Fleur replied.
‘That sounds like Gobbledegook.’
‘It is. It means grudge of our bones and is used to describe a debt of hate so deep it can never be forgotten or forgiven. The goblins forge a symbolic blade from their own bones to avenge it with and keep it until they do.’
‘We need the blade,’ Harry muttered. ‘That won’t be easy to get hold of. Goblins guard our gold jealously, I can’t imagine they part easily with something like that.’
‘Goblins guard damaz-kar, grudge-blades, with their lives,’ Fleur said. ‘I can’t think of anything harder to get hold of that better represents hate.’
‘We’ll find a way.’ Harry took a deep breath. ‘It can be done. Ba’alat Tanit’s Looking Glass showed it to me. We just have to make sure we get what we need fast enough.’
‘You should tie Katie into the blood wards.’ Fleur glanced up with soft blue eyes. ‘So if she’s ever moved through them, we know.’
‘Let’s do it now. Every second might count.’ He wrenched the world back past them and stepped onto the white pebbles, ignoring the soft heat flaring beneath his thumbnail and the flash of dark ink there.
Fleur clung to his arm, staring at the silk-covered Mirror of Erised with eyes as black as pitch. ‘Will you need to get her out?’
‘No,’ Harry whispered. ‘I… I don’t think I can look. Not yet.’
A gleam of hunger rose in Fleur’s dark eyes. ‘She looks so happy, sitting just out of reach beyond the glass. Sometimes she’s painting. Sometimes eating fruit or cake. Sometimes sleeping. But she always looks so happy. And it hurts so much.’
‘I know.’ He held Fleur close, tearing his eyes away from the black silk covering the mirror. ‘I know, mon Ange.’ Harry slipped his wand from his sleeve, adding patterns of runes to the roots of the tree. ‘There, if our combined blood, Katie’s blood, is moved from within the wards, we will be warned by our fail-safe. Her presence is anchored to it. You could work around it if you got your hands on our blood, but we’d notice someone crossing the wards and they’d have to get the blood from us first anyway.’
‘Do you need blood now?’
‘Just a drop.’ Harry cut the tip of his finger and pressed the bleeding cut to the runes on the roots. ‘That’s it. It’s only a little piece of magic.’
Fleur conjured a gleaming steel knife and dipped her thumb onto its tip, smearing her blood beside his. ‘Voilá.’
Harry pulled her back into his embrace and covered her eyes, squeezing his own shut as the runes flashed white. ‘Voilá,’ he murmured. ‘And now…’
How best to get there? He took a deep breath. Les Inconnus might not get sent to Greece, not with other enemies closer. But Britain…
A bitter little smile tugged at the corner of Harry’s mouth. ‘I’m going to go back.’
‘Back where?’ Fleur demanded.
‘Britain. Neville wanted me to return, so I will.’
‘Non.’ Her nails dug into his back. ‘If Harry Potter reappears, they will all try to go after you. How will we complete La Victoire Finale with everyone hunting you?’
‘Not Harry Potter. Neville is desperate. He’ll take all the help he can get at whatever price.’ A cold smile curved Harry’s lips. ‘And there will be a price. And he will be far too terrified of what I might do to refuse me.’
‘He should be terrified,’ Fleur hissed. ‘He comes, sneaking through the wards over France. And then not long after, we were attacked, dragging you back where he wanted you to be.’
‘Neville wouldn’t attack us.’ He shook his head. ‘He wanted me to help him. He knows I could just tear his memories from his head and kill everyone involved or dear to him. Someone else did it. The Resplendent Sun. Manipulated by the Last Scions.’ Harry clenched his jaw. ‘It doesn’t matter right now. We’ll find them later. After La Victoire Finale. I’ll take everything Neville knows as part of returning to help Britain and if I’m fighting for Britain, then I can go to Greece and to America, too.’
‘And from Greece you can get to the dragon preserves in Eastern Europe,’ Fleur murmured. ‘And maybe even Egypt, if the goblins in the mountains there have a damaz-zar in their possession. That would be everything we need. I will return to Les Inconnus and search for what we need there. The damaz-zar or anything on where to find phoenixes.’
Everything but the sacrifice. Harry’s blood ran cold. But there’s no choice. We can’t take any risks. There’s only going to be one chance. Whatever the price is, I’ll pay it.
‘If we’re on both sides, they won’t be able to catch us doing what we need for this,’ he said. ‘They’ll see Violette and blame France. Or whichever name I wear for Britain.’
‘And the British?’ Fleur’s dark irises pierced through him. ‘They did this, mon Amour. Will you help them?’
‘Some of them did this. I’ll find them.’ He swallowed the ball of cold rage sitting on his heart. ‘The Last Scions and whoever leads them. And I’ll help them as much as they need to get to Greece and everywhere else we need to go. But afterward, when Katie’s safe…’
I will drown the amber-masked figure. As I drowned. We’ll see how strong they are when they have nothing.
‘Burn them, mon Amour.’ Little white feathers tickled his skin as she clung to him and her chin sharpened. ‘Burn them all.’
‘Only if it’s not a risk to La Victoire Finale,’ Harry murmured. ‘And I’m going to do worse than burn them. They wanted to steal our sunset, so I’ll show them what watching their hope fail feels like.’ He let the ice stir in his chest, let himself taste the sharp cold focus of its fury. ‘And when there’re no dreams left, then they can die.’