That Which Issues From the Heart Alone…

Deep scorch marks scored the walls and benches, small puddles of stone sat upon the floor and the shelves hung askew. Liliana sat on the floor at the centre, staring up at the ceiling.

‘You’ve redecorated,’ Harry said.

‘Vio…lette,’ she rasped.

‘What happened?’ he asked.

‘Liliana has… a temper,’ Liliana whispered. ‘Sometimes… it gets… the better… of me.’ She brushed back her hood. ‘Did you… want something…?’

Harry drifted down the steps. ‘I was hoping you would scry for me again.’

‘Of course,’ Liliana rasped. ‘I swore. Liliana… is yours.’

A faint warmth touched his heart. ‘Could you scry for a phoenix?’

Her dark eyes flicked up. ‘To defeat… him? You think… it was the… phoenix… not… Dumbledore.’

‘The thought had crossed my mind.’

Liliana shook her head. ‘It was not… the phoenix.’ Her fingers crept to the copper necklace at her throat. ‘By the time… of the… second war… he could… already… snare a… phoenix. He said… to me that… he created… these portkeys… after… learning how… to catch one… because of… Dumbledore’s… companion.’

He knows. He knows what we need. Yearning swirled in Harry’s heart, a burning, churning storm of triumphant flame. There is a way.

‘Did Sarcelle ask about your necklace?’

Liliana nodded. ‘She said… she feared… Grindelwald… could cross… her wards.’

Harry’s blood ran cold. Can he?

‘I told her… that he… likely can… but that… they are… demanding… to use,’ she rasped. ‘Even strong… witches… and wizards… would be… left very… vulnerable… and we have… trigger wards… to detect… appearances.’ Liliana touched a hand to the dark veins on her throat. ‘We could not… puzzle out… his magic… completely.’

He can probably fight after using it, but not against everyone who comes if the trigger wards are set off. Harry took a deep breath. Maybe Fleur got enough from the necklace and just didn’t tell Liliana.

‘Will you scry for me anyway, Liliana?’

‘Of course.’ She closed her eyes. ‘I will seek… a phoenix… for you.’

The last step. Harry clenched his fists, digging his nails into his palms as the molten need bubbled back up, burning the breath from his lungs. Nearly there, baby bird. You won’t have to wait much longer now.

Liliana’s dark eyes opened. ‘There is… a place… a crystal tomb… before a… great castle… and a… dark forest. It sings there… on some days. There were… an old man… and a… dead girl… they were… family to… the dead man. It was her… birthday… and it… felt soon.’

Dumbledore’s tomb. Relief washed through him. The girl must be Ariana. Guilt sank sharp teeth into his gut, gnawing away. Fawkes. He saved me. Saved all my dreams. Bitter humour tugged at the corner of Harry’s mouth. And now I’m going to take all his away.

‘Thank you, Liliana,’ he whispered, seized by a fierce rush of gratitude. ‘I will not forget this.’

We just need to work out how to catch him. Panic clamped its fist about his heart, sending little lances of ice through his stomach. Before it’s too late.

‘Fürst-Elect… Weber… has gotten close… enough… to France… to be… extracted… back through… our wards,’ Liliana rasped. ‘Grise is… delaying… by a few… days to lay… false trails. The British… warned that… Grindelwald… is expecting… our involvement. Their attack… on the… vampire… festival… failed.’

Merde. Harry turned that over in his head, grappling with a flare of frustration. There’s no time to waste. He swallowed it down, crushing it into the emptiness. If Fleur can’t do the ward, we’ll need to find Grindelwald. If Lemon Sorbet got an offer, so will Violette.

‘I’ll be there,’ Harry said. ‘Au revoir, Liliana.’ He apparated back into their bedroom, tugging the ring off his fingers.

‘Mon Amour.’ Fleur sat at her desk, staring into the pages of a weathered old book and surrounded by rune-covered sheets of parchment. ‘What did Liliana say?’

Harry stepped through the sprawling heaps of books on the carpet, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and kissing the back of her neck through her silver hair. ‘We have a place,’ he whispered. ‘And a date.’

Fleur tensed, twisting in her chair. ‘Where?’ She breathed, her eyes brightening above their dark bags. ‘When?’

‘Dumbledore’s tomb.’ Harry inhaled the faint, fading sweetness of honeysuckle and marzipan. ‘The date is his sister’s birthday. Liliana said it was soon…’ He caught the flash of panic in her eyes as they darkened to ink black. ‘Any luck?’

Fleur’s fingers shook and the pages of her book trembled and smoked. ‘Non. Nothing. I have an idea from Liliana’s necklace, but—’ she gestured at the stacks of paper and heaps of books ‘—there is so much alchemy to learn. Without Gabby…’

Harry sucked in a deep breath and offered her a small smile. ‘There is another way… If you’re not certain you can do it before Ariana Dumbledore’s birthday.’

‘It may take me weeks,’ Fleur murmured. ‘Is her birthday very soon?’

‘I’m not sure.’ He swallowed a stab of panic. ‘Finding out when is the next thing we need to do. As long as it’s not in the next few days, there is a way.’

She snapped her book shut and threw it into the heap. ‘A few days is not enough time to do this!’

‘Grindelwald knows how. He can get through any wards with his alchemical portkey.’ Harry held her gaze. ‘He offered Lemon Sorbet a chance to join him. He’ll offer one to Violette. When he does…’

‘Whatever it takes,’ Fleur whispered, summoning the next book into her hands. ‘There’s no time left.’

Unease niggled at him. ‘Have you eaten anything today, mon Rêve?’

She stiffened. ‘I do not have time—’

Harry pressed a kiss to her lips. ‘S’il te plaît, Fleur.’

Fleur turned her nose up, her fingers brushing the wisteria bloom hanging from her ear. ‘Mon Amour—’

‘I will look for whatever you’re looking for. Je te le promets.’ He drew her close. ‘You go to Paris. Get something tasty for us.’

Her lips quivered. ‘Non. I will not stop. It doesn’t matter if I’m hungry or tired or in tears. We can’t stop. The more it hurts—’

Harry kissed the tip of her nose. ‘Go to Les Inconnus and find out Ariana’s birthday, they must have a record of it somewhere. Dumbledore was an important figure. You can get us food on the way back.’

Fleur crumbled. ‘You are a sneaky bird-wizard, mon Cœur.’

‘Gabby taught me all about bird-girls,’ he said, a sad smile creeping onto his face. ‘If they don’t eat cake often enough they get grumpy and peckish.’ 

A flash of humour passed through her blue eyes. ‘Non. No cake, mon Amour. Not until after.’ Fleur ducked out of his embrace and stood. ‘I will not be long.’ Her eyes softened. ‘You should rest. Take a moment to breathe. Let the panic ease.’

Harry offered her half a smile. ‘I will try, but…’

‘Je sais,’ she murmured.

‘As always.’

Fleur slid Sarcelle’s ring on and wavered away.

As long as it’s not before I have to go get Fürst-Elect Weber. Harry picked his way through the books and slumped on the edge of the bed. If I can strike a deal with Grindelwald, he can get Fawkes for us.

The red rose he’d gifted Fleur poked out from behind a stack of books, leaning over the floating silver cogs of her clock.

Harry raised his left hand, picturing the soft red petals and slim, thorned green stem. The flower curled together between his fingers, shedding loose petals onto their bed, and a soft melancholy fell over him like thick, cold fog.

What’s so special about roses? He pushed his thumb onto the thorn and watched the bead of crimson well up around it. Everything. Without them, there’s nothing.

The blood trickled down the inside of his thumb and over his wrist. 

Harry swept it away with his sleeve and studied the wilting rose. ‘Still not good enough without a wand.’ He vanished it with a flash of cold fury. ‘Still not there.’ The desperate yearning clawed its way up his throat like a fistful of burning razors; his heart seized beneath his ribs and a fierce heat stung at his eyes. ‘We were meant to be free. It was meant to be perfect.’ Harry wrenched at the world, stepping onto the white pebbles and tearing the black silk off the Mirror of Erised.

Katie beamed up at him from beneath the cold glass with bright green eyes, perched upon the ruby dragonbane gem and bouncing her feet off its surface as she cupped the gleaming opal pendant in her small hands.

‘Hello, baby bird,’ Harry whispered, pressing his forehead against the glass. ‘We’re so close now. You only have to hold on a little longer. Just one last step now. And then whatever it costs.’

His gaze strayed to the red smear on his thumb and grim certainty seized hold of him. Everything. It will cost everything. His heart sank into that numb dark place, dragged down by the countless cold needle-sharp teeth of the emptiness. Of course it will.

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