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Fleur is in the bathroom upstairs. Sometimes the Burrow can be too much. Molly Weasley, the personalities, the noise.

Her.

Dumbledore’s funeral was a week ago and she’s been busy helping Molly with the various visitors that have been coming and going. Food, cleaning, whatever she tells her to do. And Fleur does it to prove herself. Fleur goes above and beyond, something she shouldn’t have to do. How much more does Molly need? The wedding is in a few short weeks and it should be enough.

Fleur wonders to herself if Molly sees something else. If there’s something she hasn’t been able to cover which makes Molly push her like this, as if she still doubts her. She hates that she does. She feels indignant. Fleur righteously airs her grievances about her and her daughter with family and friends whenever she gets the chance. But she doesn’t stand up to Molly. Not even after letting her anger and fear over Bill’s injury allow her to do it that one time. Because she knows. She knows Molly is not wrong to doubt her.

She has managed to fool everyone, including herself, except in moments like now. Alone in the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror, her self-deception evaporates when she remembers hurt, accusatory brown eyes looking at her. That girl. That girl Fleur barely knows but like a beacon, her presence calls to her. All this time she has been able to resist that call but it’s become harder now that the girl sends her those looks. She doesn’t know how the brunette has been able to figure it out but she has. Has she known all along? Then why the looks now? Or did something happen at the battle at the astronomy tower that revealed it to her? This is the more likely scenario, Fleur realizes.

Fleur wishes she could go back to when she herself didn’t know. Intrigue was what she felt when she saw her for the very first time. She sensed power and potential, a beauty that was only just beginning to assert itself, but she was also young, a child. Exploring an attraction to an adolescent seemed absurd. And she was there to win a tournament, to distinguish herself and her school. Fleur dismissed her from her mind. She barely gave her a glance as the tournament ended and it was time to depart. The Dark Lord had returned after all and she had to decide what she was going to do to help. The mentions she’d hear of Harry Potter and his friends over the next year from Bill and his family reminded her of that attraction but other things dominated her thoughts. Work in a new city. A budding romance with a dashing, intelligent man. The Order and her duty to fight a great evil. She could bury that first wisp of something brushing the inside of her chest, unfamiliar yet urgent. It was nothing, she told herself.

As a young girl, Fleur was fascinated by the stories of soulmates. Most Veela find theirs but there are those who don’t; not even her own parents are soulmates, though they love each other. It is possible for Veela to love those who are not their mate but Fleur found the idea of a destined love, greater than any that one could ever experience, to be incredibly romantic. Later as she grew older, she found the idea abhorrent. She didn’t want to be bound to fate, believing strongly in choice and making her own way in the world. The example of her parents further reinforced the idea that she never wanted a mate, that she would love and be happy with someone of her own choosing, and that destiny could go fuck herself.

She didn’t think anything of wanting to befriend Bill. Or wanting to be around his family, even if they made her uncomfortable. It just slotted in with what she thought of herself, the desire to fight Voldemort and be on the frontlines where she was needed. Fleur didn’t hesitate to join when she was recruited to the Order.

Fleur laughs bitterly at her reflection in the mirror as she thinks on the choices she made which kept her in the girl’s orbit. Was it even choice or has destiny been weaving her tapestry all along? If destiny were a real person, Fleur would hex her a thousand times.

The end of the previous summer is when it happened. Fleur was engaged, trying to ingratiate herself to her future in-laws by staying with them, and tolerating the insults of the young Weasley girl. When she was told the brunette was coming, she was glad and hoped it would distract the redheaded pest. That she joined in her laughter against Fleur was surprising. It had hurt. She had thought better of her, of one of Harry’s friends. She tried to avoid them altogether until one evening as she was returning from an after-dinner walk, she overheard them talking in Ginny’s room about her. That stupid nickname they had for her. The brunette tried to stifle her laughter but was unsuccessful. Instead of feeling angry, however, Fleur was stunned. The laughter had been like bells, hitting her straight in her chest, resonating in the deepest chambers of her heart which she never knew existed, echoing, unfurling inside, and she knew. She fucking knew. Fleur was in the hall and couldn’t see her but she pictured this girl, this burgeoning woman, nearly the same age as her when she first saw her. She wanted to cry. She wanted to shout in anger, in protest. No. Not this. Never this. She had made plans. Fleur was going to marry Bill, the man she chose. She bit the inside of her cheek until her mouth filled with blood and silently made her way to her room, where she vowed to herself to never touch the other girl or be alone with her ever again. Fleur would reject this bond.

And over the last year, it worked. While it was impossible to prevent her growing attraction and feelings for the girl, staying away helped. Fleur thought she overcame it. Dedicating herself to her work, the Order, and Bill, she could pretend Hermione Granger didn’t matter.

Until now.

Fleur brushes back some strands of hair. She’s been in here long enough and she can’t hide all night. There’s a sort of impromptu party happening downstairs and most of the Weasleys are here, their family friends, and some school friends. Except for Fleur’s because no one told her or asked her if she wanted to invite anyone over.

Taking a deep breath, she stands up straight and carefully rebuilds her mask. Her shield. The thing that allows her to face the doubts of the Weasley matriarch and the recriminations of the girl she is trying desperately to avoid. Maybe she needs to make an excuse to return to France until just before the wedding so she can get a break from being the perfect bride for a while. The thought brings her a bit of relief and she opens the door with a half-smile on her face only to be met by her.

Instead of letting Fleur out, Hermione steps forward. Fleur backs away, back inside the bathroom and the girl closes the door, the move letting her know this had been the girl’s plan. She has to improvise quickly, to get out of the danger this meeting represents.

“Bonsoir, ‘Ermione, ‘aving fun at the party?” Fleur asks, her voice light and friendly, like her insides weren’t quaking at the nearness of her. The urge to touch, to caress, to possess - an instinct that comes over her unbidden. She is glad her accent isn’t as strong as it was but ‘h’ still isn’t her strong suit when she’s nervous. And Hermione makes her nervous.

Hermione doesn’t smile, though, and Fleur’s friendly expression nearly falters.

“So it’s true,” Hermione says.

Fleur pretends not to understand.

“Pardon?” she asks, furrowing her brow as if confused. “But I’m afraid I should return to the party. I’ve been away for too long, someone will notice.”

It’s a clear warning and Hermione’s look tells her she understands her meaning. But she reaches a hand and Fleur pulls away before she can touch her.

Hermione tilts her head to the side and asks, “What happens if I touch you, Fleur?”

“Nothing, I’ve been feeling ill. I don’t want to get you sick. That’s all,” Fleur rushes out, hearing the lie in her tone. Hermione flusters her. Being this close, Fleur can smell her and her heart beats faster as a result. If she tries for her again, Fleur may not have the strength to pull away and the thought alarms her.

“You won’t be missed. I told them I wanted to get your advice on sights to see in France, that my parents were thinking of a short trip.”

Fleur suppresses an impulse to laugh. Of course the girl thought of an excuse to give the others. Is this really happening? Now? Here in the Weasley bathroom?

Hermione steps towards her again and she backs away against the wall. The younger witch doesn’t stop until she is inches away.

“Please,” Fleur whispers, closing her eyes.

Fleur feels a finger lightly trace down her bare arm. Hermione’s gasp at the sensation, at the electricity between them, is nearly as loud as her own. Now she can hear the brunette’s own pounding heart, can feel Hermione’s want for her. Fleur opens her eyes and sees brown ones boring into hers.

Swallowing hard, Fleur says weakly, “I’m getting married.”

Hermione ignores her and asks, “How long have you known?”

The words almost yank themselves out of Fleur, a part of her wants it out in the open. But still she resists. She clenches her jaw and says nothing.

Hermione’s finger traces its way upward. They both shiver and Fleur bites back a moan when she feels the finger trail over her shoulder, reaching her neck. The other girl leans forward, her breath intermingling with her own.

“What happens if I kiss you?” Hermione asks.

Is she going to force a kiss? Fleur asks herself, and she panics. A kiss will not mean Fleur accepts her - it would still be possible to reject her and marry Bill - but experiencing it would turn Bill’s kisses into ash, his touch a pale comparison to what she would feel with her, this girl, her mate. And how is it even a fair choice after that? Saying it in her mind gives Fleur the power to turn her face away.

“I’ve known since last summer,” Fleur mutters angrily.

And Hermione steps back as if she’s been slapped. Because it means Fleur has been rejecting her every day since that time. Fleur feels a pang of guilt.

Hermione closes her eyes and lets out a long breath. It sounds like she is warring with herself in whether she wants to proceed after what Fleur has just said. Fleur can feel the growing anger in the other girl. She wonders if Hermione will decide to leave.

When Hermione opens her eyes, Fleur knows that she won’t. Not yet. Not until Fleur pushes harder. Or Hermione has finished pushing her.

“I’ve only just realized it. At the battle, you took my breath away. I just knew. I’d researched Veela during my fourth year so I learned a bit about mates though not very much how the bond works. It was a surprise to find out that I was yours.”

Fleur folds her arms and tries not to breathe, tries not to do anything that betrays how those words ‘I was yours’ make her feel. It is a futile gesture, though, now that Hermione can sense what she feels.

“You’re rejecting the bond, aren’t you?” Hermione whispers in realization and Fleur can feel the other girl’s heart breaking. It makes her breath hitch in surprise that Hermione had already accepted her. Fleur thought Hermione would at least look at it like she had – analytically, condescendingly. Mates? A base instinct for animals, not for intelligent beings.

But Hermione’s heart, her yearning, Fleur feels it crawling its way inside her. And the yearning grows within her, too. It doesn’t feel like mindless compulsion like she thought it would. It’s deep and vast, it feels like what she always imagined falling for someone would feel and it confuses her. She didn’t know the link would happen so quickly, in just the few moments of talking since she touched her, but here it is and Fleur realizes that she cannot be cold in this. She needs to tell her why. Stepping forward, Fleur reaches for her hand knowing that she shouldn’t but does so anyway.

It is almost too much for Fleur; now that she is the one initiating contact, the blood in her veins sings and begs for more.

“I’m not comfortable with the idea of destiny telling me ‘ow to live my life,” Fleur admits to her softly, urging her hand not to squeeze the one in hers but finding it hard to resist. “And for years, that’s what a mate ‘as meant. Lack of choice, lack of ownership of my own ‘eart.”

Hermione looks at her and nods. Her heart is in pieces and she is still kind enough to give her understanding. This girl is truly magnificent and Fleur wants to hold her. But she doesn’t. Fleur thinks the conversation is over. And it wasn’t so hard, saying what she had to say to end it. Maybe they will even part on good terms.

“I suppose I shouldn’t tell you that when I first read about mates, I thought it romantic and comforting. Souls recognizing perfect compatibility, no room for error, a love that would never fade,” Hermione said with a sad smile, squeezing her hand before letting go. Fleur aches to take it in her hand again, to feel her warmth. But what Hermione says next stops her.

“And I shouldn’t tell you that after I read about it, I wished that I was yours.”

Fleur’s eyes widen and she takes a sharp breath, not believing the other girl had wanted her even then, back before they knew.

“‘Ermione...” she stammers.

“And I shouldn’t tell you that every day since I’ve known the truth about us, I’ve wanted to curse Bill for taking what’s mine.”

Her hard, possessive stare, her fierceness and jealousy, it sends a wave of arousal through Fleur. She feels the pulsing need to take her. She does, she wants her, to be Hermione’s and to claim the girl for her own. But...

Before Fleur can even wrap her mind around these desires, this passion she’s never felt with Bill, Hermione steps towards her and gives her a brief hug. She doesn’t feel her whole body but she wants to and Fleur is about to press forward when Hermione pulls away, opening the door and walking away. She follows after her but when the younger witch turns towards Ginny’s room Fleur is confused.

“Aren’t you going back to the party?”

There is a long pause, as if Hermione won’t answer. Fleur sees her shoulders sag as she turns slightly towards her.

“I can’t see you with him. And I’m sorry for everything I said. I shouldn’t have cornered you like that. You’re conflicted but I can feel the part of you that doesn’t want this and I won’t force it on you.”

She feels the girl’s sadness and disappointment, and Fleur begins to feel it in herself, too. It’s aching, shattering walls and weakening her. She opens her mouth but doesn’t know what to say, what she wants to say. Hermione walks away before words can form. Fleur stares after her for a long moment then walks towards the stairs in a daze. This is what she wanted, isn’t it?

Fleur stops at the top of the stairs and she can hear the laughter and conversation below. She is so close to leaving the girl behind but then why is she hesitating?

Her absence fills Fleur with emptiness. It was only one conversation, more words than they’ve ever exchanged together since they first met, and it is making her think and feel things she’s tried to deny ever since she was fourteen years old and petulantly decided she would never claim her mate.

Has she been wrong all along?

Except for one time, Fleur’s mother largely stayed out of the conversations she’d had with her grandmothers; after all, she had not married her mate so it was left to the other women in her family to explain what comes when finding one’s mate. But Fleur always wondered about her mother and she was angry for her father, though he had always told her to keep an open mind about her mate. Somehow it hurt her to know he wasn’t the one destined for her mother. Fleur loves him so much, he is perfect in her eyes, and it hardened her against her own mate, whoever it was. Her grandmothers argued with her many times, telling her it wasn’t about destiny telling her who to be with, it wasn’t some magic forcing her, it was about her soul being able to tell who would be her perfect match. Like the ultimate matchmaker, presenting the match with pinpoint accuracy, it was then up to the Veela to decide whether to follow that truth. The vast majority choose it. Who can deny truth? Humans have soulmates, too, but they don’t feel the connection the way Veela and their mates do so humans do not always know with certainty that they’ve found their one. It can lead to heartache and mistakes for them. Fleur was told Veela were lucky to have this gift, to be able to know the one they loved fit them like no other.

A curse, she called it.

She never really understood what they were trying to tell her until now.

Fleur’s eyes flutter rapidly and she steps away from the stairs.

The truth smacks Fleur upside the head with a ferocity she wasn’t prepared for and she is humbled. Destiny did not play a hand in the decisions she made to stay near Hermione. However unconsciously, she made that happen herself. A part of her knew and wasn’t ready to fully close the door. Yet after she realized who Hermione was to her, like a coward she refused to even consider it. Instead she lied to herself, avoided facing her attraction, denied herself the knowledge of what it would feel like to talk with someone she would love, someone who would make her happy. Full information, isn’t that something she always argues is necessary before making a decision?

Well now Fleur has it.

She thinks back to that one conversation with her mother, the one time she told Fleur of her own experience. Fleur asked many times as a child, she pestered her when she was fourteen, and she silently wondered about it after being denied. She always wanted to know if her mother regretted not finding her mate. It was soon after she returned home from the tournament, now a graduate from Beauxbatons, about to embark on her career and adulthood. One night, after everyone went to bed, her mother came to Fleur’s room to ask her the question she knew was coming.

“Have you found your mate?” Apolline asks in French.

Fleur shakes her head and smiles triumphantly. “No. But I don’t care. I will have what you and papa have.”

Her mother stays silent for a long while, moving to sit next to her on the bed. “I met my one once. Not long after you were born.”

She is shocked. Fleur always thought her mother never found her mate. That’s what she always believed, what her grandmothers always implied. Do they even know? Has her mother kept this a secret from everyone?

Fleur moves back further into the hallway, away from the stairs. Oddly enough, no one comes up. She can hear the party below, the antics of the twins, Ginny yelling at Ronald, Molly scolding someone and Bill’s charming laugh. Fleur doesn’t want to hear them right now. Taking a breath, she leans back against the wall and hears the rest of her mother’s story in her mind.

“We were traveling in Australia. You were around ten months old, your father was off at some work gathering, and I was pushing you along in the stroller in a park. I bumped into a child, about six, who hadn’t been watching where she was going. I laughed and looked up to her mother. We locked eyes and we knew. She was Veela, too, you see so there was no need to explain what we were feeling. We said nothing for a few moments. Until she turned to another woman she was with, her partner I presumed. The other woman walked away with the child and I was alone with you, I had to bring you along. We walked together for a time, not saying much, talking a bit about her daughter and you, the little things that mothers connect over. We both kept our distance, however, knowing what touching would do. Touch makes a mated pair feel immediately what a human couple can take days, weeks, or months to feel, as you’ll recall from your lessons. Like skipping ahead to what your souls know will happen. Only for mates it becomes more, you feel what they feel. All of it is supposed to hasten and strengthen the mated bond.”

Fleur indeed remembers this lesson. She has now felt it firsthand. Once a mate is discovered, love is inevitable whether a Veela touches her mate or not; like the roots of a tree, it spreads, strengthens, year after year. She tried to ignore it but she knows that’s what has been happening for her this last year. But the accelerated growth in the intensity of that love, that comes with touch, along with the ability to sense each other’s emotions and proximity. Fleur closes her eyes and can feel Hermione nearby. A sharp pain comes to her chest. Hermione is crying.

“When we reached an empty bench, we sat down. She told me she was happy with her life and I felt a mixture of relief and despair. Relief because I was happy in my life, too, but sad at the choice we were about to make. We laughed, both of us finding it funny that neither of us was fighting in favor of the bond. But we were mates, it made sense we would have similar opinions on some things. I asked if it was all right if I touched her. I had to know right then what I was giving up, I couldn’t wait years. I couldn’t make such a choice without knowing. It was only a quick graze of fingers but it was enough. We could feel each other’s apprehension, attraction… all of our feelings tangling together like it was meant to be… it was very strong. I also felt the acceptance of our decision, what we felt for our partners, the resolve to face a lifetime apart. I took away my hand and took you out of the stroller, needing you near me. We sat for a while, not saying anything. Then she looked at me, smiled reassuringly, and stood up. It was time. We said goodbye, not sharing our names or any other information. As she walked away, I felt the pull but I let her go.”

Fleur listens in barely contained anger. All she hears is how her mother felt attracted to someone other than her father. She feels betrayed. She doesn’t even know why her mother is sharing this with her.

“I’ve always wanted to tell you this story, my Fleur, but your grandmothers thought it might unduly influence you. You know as well as I, if they find them, Veela rarely reject their mates. It wasn’t just my mothers’ wishes, though; I also never felt you were ready to understand a decision like that. But things have changed. You’re grown now, a woman, and you’ve been so angry about this subject these last several years, we now agree that you need to hear this side of it, too, before you do something rash. You say you are set in rejecting your mate but you should prepare yourself for the possibility of encountering your one even after you’ve formed a relationship with another.”

“I will reject them, of course. Just like you did.”

“Fleur,” her mother scolds angrily. “I didn’t tell you that story so you would reject your mate out of hand. It was not easy for either of us, what we would’ve had would’ve surpassed everything else. There is very little that would have kept me from her. But those things did exist, they did temper our response. It was obligation to our families and not wanting to hurt them but it was also love for our partners that gave us the strength to walk away. True, a lesser love than one has with their mate, I cannot lie about that, but still love. If it wasn’t real, if I hadn’t felt for your father as I did, I would’ve made a different choice. And so, my darling Fleur, if you don’t love your partner and you meet your chosen…” Her mother trails off, her expression full of concern for Fleur’s future. “You are so fiery, Fleur. I fear your mate will be the same and if you are attached to someone when the two of you meet, your one may not be as willing to give you up. And you may not be as sure about rejecting them as you think you are.”

Fleur stays silent for a while, trying to rein in her anger at her mother calling the love with her father a lesser love. Trying and failing.

“What I’m saying, child, is that I want you to weigh your choice carefully. I knew the choice I was making when I married your father and I also knew what staying with him would mean. Be sure. Be sure before committing to someone who isn’t your one. But above all, choose love, no matter who it’s with, mate or not. That’s all I ever want for you.”

“Does papa know?” Fleur braces herself for a ‘no’ but is surprised when her mother nods. Fleur is relieved she won’t have to lie to her father. And now she has to ask the thing she has wanted to know since she learned her father wasn’t her mother’s mate, when she thought her mother hadn’t found her one. The question still applies, especially now that she knows the truth.

“Do you regret it? Leaving her?” Fleur asks quietly.

Her mother takes her hand and squeezes it gently. “Not in the way you think I might. After you meet your mate, ask me again. Then you will understand how I could’ve made such a choice. But I do think about her and hope she’s still happy.”

“Why? Why even think about her? You have papa, you have us,” Fleur scolds, pulling her hand away.

“Because I love her, too,” Apolline replies. Her eyes are patient, loving, hopeful that Fleur can understand. But all Fleur sees now is red, furious that her mother’s heart isn’t solely her father’s.

Apolline sighs, obviously exasperated by Fleur’s glare. “You have my stubbornness, Fleur. I just hope you set it aside long enough to let yourself feel the choices in front of you. What I chose worked for me but there’s a reason it is rare. Don’t push something away without at least acknowledging its existence and the consequences.”

The memory of this conversation hits Fleur hard. She understands now. Her mother made a choice to stay with her father. She didn’t sacrifice happiness, she chose a different kind. It may not have been a soulmates’ love but it was strong enough for her mother to think it worthwhile to keep, to keep the young family she’d been nurturing. They’d made a life, a good life. And yet the love that remains for her mate, the life she could’ve had, Fleur’s heart aches for her mother. She is also ashamed at how she reacted to her story, a story told to help Fleur, to make her slow down and reflect on her choices before plunging headlong into something she doesn’t truly want, to put more weight on what she would be faced with if she finds herself in a similar situation, to carefully consider what a mate means before turning them away. Silently thanking her mother, Fleur examines both paths before her.

Life with Bill would be warm and pleasant. She can picture the children they would have. The life they could build. He is a good man. Any woman would be happy to share a life with him. But she realizes now that what she feels for Bill isn’t strong enough, true enough. She lulled herself into a predictable relationship with someone safe, reliable, rushing to settle down instead of taking time to be sure. Maybe it was the urgency of the impending war that hurried her but more likely it was her foolish stubbornness blinding her to the truth of her motives. It wasn’t just her arguments about choice. It was the belief that accepting her mate was tantamount to rejecting her father. It shames her how she convoluted the two. Her father’s reminders of open-mindedness were brushed aside in this stubbornness. Fleur was impatient for life to start and latched onto Bill without thinking. She sees now that she had to consciously add warmth into her smiles at him, that she often held back her true thoughts instead of confiding in him, instead of being herself. Fleur forced her relationship with Bill to fit an image, forcing something that should have come easily. It took tonight to learn this, to learn she doesn’t love him anywhere near the way she will love Hermione Granger, the way she already loves her, and Fleur never will. He deserves more than what she can give him.

Hermione doesn’t fit that picture she thought she wanted. The girl is challenging, clever, powerful yet doesn’t seem to understand that about herself yet, and stubborn. Definitely stubborn. They have this in common although perhaps the girl is even more stubborn than Fleur. Unlike the life that she can imagine with Bill, Fleur cannot fully imagine what life with Hermione will be like. Hermione would forever keep her on her toes. They would also have passion; Fleur had no idea what passion felt like until today. Just those few moments in the bathroom and she is overwhelmed by it, wants to feel it again. She hardly knows the girl. But the love… so much love is bubbling up inside her. She doesn’t want to control or contain it. She wants to yield and lose herself in it and know that Hermione will be right there with her, however their life together will be.

Slowly she turns and starts walking to Ginny’s room, to where she is. The blood is rushing through her ears. She can barely breathe. Is she really going to do this? Is she going to upend her life and choose what she had promised she would always deny?

That her heart is screaming an emphatic yes is exhilarating. Fleur wants this. She wants forever with Hermione to start today. Fleur takes even breaths, trying to suppress her impatience.

Will Hermione still accept? It was only a few minutes ago but Fleur begins to doubt what the girl will say. She may be her mate but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever argue or will always see eye to eye.

Fleur is in front of the door, her hand raises to knock but she decides to open it instead. Slowly, quietly she enters, feeling herself move through a silencing charm, and she sees Hermione lying on the bed. She is sobbing, her body shaking. The sight of her in that state fills Fleur with agony. She closes and locks the door, reinforcing the silencing wards. This moment is for them alone and she wants no interruptions.

“Hermione,” Fleur says gently, her voice full of remorse but she is no longer nervous. Assured, confident in her choice, Fleur hopes Hermione can sense this in her.

The brunette jumps up and out of bed quickly, her face blushing and Fleur finds it adorable. Flustered, Hermione wipes her face and tries to catch her breath.

“I thought you went downstairs.”

“Non,” Fleur replies. “I couldn’t.”

She steps closer to Hermione and follows with, “I won’t.”

Hermione’s eyes widen and her mouth opens in a strangled gasp, like she can’t believe what Fleur has just said.

Fleur starts moving but before she gets one foot forward Hermione raises her hand and she feels her hesitation, her worry. It puts a hollow in her stomach, bringing back the doubt she felt outside the door. With bated breath Fleur waits to hear what Hermione is organizing her thoughts to say.

“I should’ve told you this before in the bathroom. I got carried away by what I could feel once I touched you. But you have to know something. I’ve made a promise to Harry and Ron. I won’t be going back to school. The three of us have something we need to do and I can’t tell you what it is. It’ll be dangerous, really dangerous, and I don’t know how long we’ll be gone or where we’ll go or even when I’ll be able to send word. The plan was to leave not long after your wedding.”

She is breathing hard and Fleur sees her uncertainty, the question in her eyes about whether Fleur can accept this.

It isn’t fair to lose Hermione so soon after realizing she wants her. Fleur needs her. Anger fills her entire being and Hermione flinches, apparently feeling Fleur’s fury. She quickly strides forward towards Hermione, pulling her into a tight embrace, wanting her to know it isn’t her she’s angry with. Hermione presses against her body and her sobs begin anew.

“You can still be with him,” Hermione says between tear-filled gasps. “I’ll understand. He’ll take care of you.”

Fleur squeezes her tighter.

“Non, chérie. Not now. I don’t want to deny this anymore.”

Hermione’s sobs ease in her relief and she chokes out, “I have to go home tomorrow. I need to spend time with my parents… I need to keep them safe… but I want you to meet them… will you come?”

The girl pulls back to look at her and Fleur nods and smiles. She uses her thumbs to brush away Hermione’s tears. Her skin is so soft and Fleur wishes she could take her away from here, from all the responsibility she’s put on herself. She wants more time to explore, to seal what’s between them. A quiet place. Away from prying, judgmental eyes. But Hermione has things to take care of and she’ll follow her anywhere for as long as she’ll have her.

Fleur will have to break it off with Bill before the night is over. He’ll be hurt, maybe even devastated, but in time he’ll understand. She never talked with him about Veela mates or her prior views on them but Bill has to have some knowledge; at the very least, he has to have been able to tell that all was never right between them. And after she’s free, then she and her mate will have the rest of the summer. Until Harry calls in that promise.

“I am yours, Fleur,” Hermione whispers, her lips brushing up against her jaw before pulling back to stare into her eyes. “Are you mine?”

Fleur feels it growing, filling her, swelling her heart so big she thinks it’ll burst. This love that burns and satisfies in equal measure. She didn’t know it could be like this, be this fulfilling, be this wonderful. Fleur swears she’ll argue with their future daughter that finding one’s mate is something to rejoice in and not to be afraid of. Picturing the smug looks coming from her mother and grandmothers makes her smile.

Hermione can feel her love, Fleur can see it in her brown eyes as Hermione leans forward to kiss the corner of her mouth, her lips soft and lingering. Fleur feels it grow in Hermione, too. The pride she feels, the devotion, and it makes Fleur tremble with want. Hermione gives a knowing smile, obviously feeling what Fleur will say before she even finishes the thought. But Fleur has to say the words anyway. To surrender, to fall, to soar.

“Oui, je t’appartiens. Do what you need to do, Hermione. Then do everything you can to come back to m–”

Hermione doesn’t wait for her to finish and closes the distance between them. Fleur is thankful they have impatience in common, too.