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Time Is An Asshole

Chapter Text

The Minister of Magic strode into the atrium with assured purpose at 7:30 AM sharp on an uninspiring Tuesday morning. Clutching the Daily Prophet, they made their way across the expanse of black tile and marble. Murmurs, nods, and flurries of hastened shuffling created a wake of movement behind them as the figure strode through the expanse of magical people dallying in their morning routines. It seemed as though nothing could stop the Minister’s concentration as said figure made their way into the most peculiar elevator, resolutely scanning article after article of the newspaper in hand. The Minister was far too focused on what they were reading to look around. This had always been an issue; remembering their surroundings. But they weren’t a childish bookworm anymore, so the figure sighed and tucked the paper under an arm before the lift dinged at the top floor.  

The frantic pace of heels clicking and Oxford’s scuffing was giving them a little more energy on this foggy London morning. There was something special about being here. It was something they had always dreamed of, though distantly as if it were a romanticised daydream. Almost too big to reach for, realistically. But the Minister never felt comfortable with that thought. Maybe it was the Gryffindor in them, maybe it was something else. They couldn’t not try, right? The Minister had always been smart and resourceful. Progressive and compassionate. Aggressive, yet calculative. With an entire country under them, though, there was always something that could be ruined, but the powerful figure knew they would not be the one to screw it up. 

No, Hermione Granger was the Minister of Magic and she was going to be a damn good one. 

She passed by a desk occupied by two men speaking animatedly.

“Look, I know you think the Spanish are a decent team this year, but there is just no way they have the same depth as the Irish. The Leprechaun's are weaker, maybe, but one injury on The Toros and they will be--Minister!”

The one with sandy blonde hair and hazel eyes straightened like he was struck with a whip. Hermione didn’t stop her stride - she knew he would catch up. 

Not a moment later, her personal assistant Caden was striding in step with her, rattling off her daily tasks and commitments:

“Good morning, Minister Granger. Today you have a range of calls and meetings with various departments. At 8:30 you are expected on a phone call with the Muggle Prime Minister and Chancellor. Nothing strenuous, hopefully, but you should be on to listen and provide input on magical and non-magical immigration. The file is on your desk.”

This is what Hermione loved. Caden was tall, charismatic, handsome, and exceptionally good at his job. He knew the brunette’s schedule down to the second, and he was so proactive it was almost disarming, as if he knew her every thought before she thought it herself. He would always give her a rundown of her upcoming day, as well as any paperwork and research she might be in need of to do her job well. He stacked each item neatly on her desk in order of time and importance, making sure to annotate small notes like, “Meeting will be with Julia Schwausch/German MoM present - she has four boys and no time for messing around” and “Charles Panait will be attending - head researcher for renowned blood replenishing potion, but a patriarchal dick.” 

Hermione thought she would likely get by without Caden, but with much, much less sleep. He was her right-hand man, literally, as he passed her a few folders while they continued the long walk to her office at the end of the hall. 

“Good morning Minister!”

“Morning, Minister Granger!”

She made sure to at least nod and smile at all the staff going out of their way to say hello. 

“This afternoon you have a few hours blocked off for a meeting with the Magical Creatures Department and the Magical Creatures liaison from Europe. Apparently there has been some issue with our department’s policies and the issue has been escalated by multiple teams in Europe. The European clan leader, as well as yourself, were asked to sit into the meeting to supervise and assist with moving this forward - they are at a standstill,” he said clearly, passing a meeting agenda over to her. It read: 


Meeting Objective: Introduce all parties of negotiation, and focus on listening to concerns and bettering the communities we hold dear for a brighter future. 

3:30 PM - Introductions

3:35 PM - United Kingdom Veela territory policy & history

4:00 PM - United Kingdom Veela rights policy & history 

4:25 PM - Possible solutions

5:00 PM - Conclusions and follow up meeting 


“Hm. Insightful,” she said, placing the paper to the back of the pile. What a useless agenda.

“Yes, quite. Sorry, it was created by our froggy friends,” Caden replied dryly, still sifting through his stack of papers for her. 

They finally reached her office, and Hermione shrugged out of her blue blazer to hang it up on the coat hanger by the door. Caden still hadn’t missed a beat. 

“You have two interviews today; one with Samuel Renault from the Haitian Sun, and one with Tomás Enriquez from El Colombiano. Both want to speak with you about expanding admissions and scholarship opportunities for acclaimed wizarding schools to foreign nations,” he rattled off, handing her copies of their most recent publications. 

She took the papers and walked around her desk. A cup of coffee was already placed at the corner, steam still rising in winding patterns, indicating it was still blistering hot from a warming charm her assistant would have placed on it. 

“At 11:30, you have a meeting with the Department of Magical Transportation briefly to discuss their solution for the Knight Bus. Apparently they found a way to reduce the catastrophic hurricane between stops.”

Hermione snorted, “About time. How hard is it to bolt a bed down?” she murmured, picking up one of the newspapers Caden left on her desk. 

“It’s fairly ridiculous, I know. But you should be there to congratulate them,” he said professionally. “Lastly, you have one hour before your Magical Creatures meeting to yourself. So let me know what you’d like to get up to and I will make it happen.”

He finished with a slight nod to his head before tucking the stack of paperwork under his armpit and striding out, closing the door gently behind him. 

Hermione sighed. She loved this job, truly, but it was overwhelming sometimes. At 31, she was the youngest Minister of Magic in centuries. It has almost been a year since she was elected in this position. She had run, of course, and the “campaign” was essentially just her giving interviews and speaking to members of various communities. There was no special formula for what she aimed to do as Minister, which she made known from the get-go. She wanted to be a voice for those who were voiceless, and ensure protections, freedoms, and equality for all beings in the magical and non-magical community. Easy enough. 

Sometimes she felt as though the job was taking her in the wrong direction, though. She could still sharply remember the first time she was called that nickname, “The brightest witch of her age,” and she felt ashamed she was spending her time in interviews and babysitting meetings since she had done so much more than that to this point. 

The past 12 years she had spent in policy. Within her first year after the Battle of Hogwarts, Hermione found a job in the Department for Magical Creatures (she refused to call it the Department of the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and she was the one to pass the bill to eradicate the name). She then worked in Magical Law after passing the necessary degree requirements in her free time, enjoying the diversity of both departments and appreciating the growth of both. Eventually, the young witch reached the Department Head of Magical Law Enforcement by 27 and there was only one way to go from there. 

Perhaps no one thought of her as ambitious, but perception was a tricky thing. She was, really. She was competitive, at the very least. Maybe it was a different thing, but maybe it wasn’t. Hermione honestly didn’t think she knew what competition was until she was about twelve. She rarely played sports growing up, and attributed the sensation to want to dominate others physically. This was not attractive to her. At least, not at the time. She didn’t realise that competition could be academic until Draco Malfoy almost bested her on a Potions exam and she nearly lost it. 

So, yes, Hermione Granger was competitive. And a know-it-all. And a damn good lawyer, and a damn good politician, really. She was kind, and she truly listened and cared. So perhaps that is how she got to Upper Echelon, so to speak. Not that she cared. She hated the looks, the money, the publicity. Sometimes it felt like she was giving something of herself away for a piece of what she felt was right. It was like a small blade carving away at an inch of skin. Bellatrix all over again, maybe. But gentler, she supposed. Not as much blood at least, she thought. She would share an article or pose for a photo, and suddenly everything she said in the interview went to shit and everything was photoshopped to show her body and rearrange her points. Every Prophet article with her posed on the front seemed to twist her power into sexual prowess. They made her out to be a….a…...she didn't know. But it was something to do with her being single and in a station of influence, and she truly felt repulsed by it. There was nothing of her real identity anymore. 

The solution was to avoid these types of media now, but it sometimes made her out to be a prudish, middle-aged bore sticking only to politics. That was better, she supposed, but it wasn’t. People wanted to see her, and to know her. That was part of the enticement of her running for office - she was attainable and real. These people had grown up with her. They knew her. So, truly, who the hell cared about the Golden girl’s love life? Did it really matter if she was seeing anyone? Ugh . Publicity was a nightmare. 

Her 8:30 AM meeting was coming up now. Having briefed herself on her day again and sipped on the black coffee Caden left for her, Hermione felt ready for the day. She donned her blazer again, carefully sorting various crucial items into a neat leather binder before heading out for the busy day.


Jesus Christ, Allah, Buddha, Brahma, Ganesha ...Hermione apologised broadly in advance, but what the actual fuck?  

Today was not a good one. Her interviews were fine, fortunately, but she was essentially bombarded afterwards with resistance on many policies she had been advocating for. Politics, politics, politics. She swiftly and professionally assuaged the press with her concise speeches: 

“The Ministry works to produce the most accurate and efficient means of communication with the public, but the Daily Prophet is not an entity owned, represented, or influenced by our station anymore, and therefore should not be considered the final official work of any decisions and policies made by this government. Next question.”

“The Ministry believes that the cohabitation and coordination with the Muggle world is a vital part of our lifestyle and prosperity. While we do not condone acts of blatant magical marketability, we understand and respect the feelings of all magical beings that feel frustrated with the idea of “hiding.” We want to hear from you. If you feel this way, please owl us immediately so we can understand more and work towards a solution. Next question.” 

“The Ministry stands against any acts of violence toward any sentient and non-sentient being. It is intolerable, outdated, and, frankly, repulsive, to warrant harm on another being. Please reach out to our offices if there are specific inquiries we can answer regarding this. Next question.”

Every day. Every day she has to deal with this. It wasn’t laws and bills anymore, no. She wasn’t hunched over a desk reading twenty thousand pages worth of policy. She had reach now, she knew. Each interview she gave were sharp, concise, and reasonable  words slithering into the minds of those at home. That was where the fight was. It wasn't her department or even her government. It was the thousands of witches and wizards across the country that needed to know that equality was worth fighting for, and seeing and hearing someone do something about it. 

And who better to accomplish this than one of the Golden Trio? The Brain of the operation to bring down Lord Voldemort? There was an element of idealisation that Hermione thought might be contributing to her quick career movement, but after a brief chat with her old Transfiguration Professor, that thought was quickly disregarded.

“I just think perhaps the heroism element is appealing. I can’t imagine why they would promote me to Department Head so quickly...I don’t…” Hermione mumbled anxiously over a cup of tea in the Headmaster’s office a few years prior.

“That will be enough of that, Ms Granger,” Minerva said sternly, opting to use her old school title, “You were the best student to pass through this school in centuries, possibly ever. You passed all of your exams at the top of your class, you’ve written more beneficial laws in the past five years than I have seen over the course of my lifetime, and you are an exceptionally talented orator and lawyer. You are not just a face of the war, you are walking the walk, and people can recognize that.”

“It’s just...this means I have less time to think about my next career move,” she said shyly, looking down at the dregs in her mug.

Minerva scoffed, “Of course, you are anxious about the next steps already. Well, you know what that is, Hermione. I don’t have to spell it out for you where you are heading. You were a born politician. Thankfully, we might actually get a good one for once.” 

The Minister bought another quick cup of coffee on her way to the next meeting. She hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and she was starting to notice. She picked a chair in the corner of the half-empty boardroom and worked on writing up a few notes she had to send out. The room was filling up, she could tell, but she was less inclined to really be a central part of this meeting and would rather be an outlier, however likely that seemed.

“Minister Granger!” a squeaky voice all but shouted from the corner of the conference room. A portly brunette man walked towards her with his hand outstretched for a humorously long length of time before he finally reached her, shaking her hand firmly in his sweaty palm. 

“Hello, Mr….?” 

“Oh! Mr Owens! Deputy Head of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Pleased to meet you, Minister Granger,” he nodded jovially. 

“Lovely to meet your acquaintance, Mr Owens, but I do hope you consider the revised name for your department,” she continued shaking his hand in a firm grip. “Magical Creatures need support and cooperation, not regulation and control,” she replied with an assertive smile. This man, bursting out of his seams before the meeting even started was already a disgrace to the Department she had to rebuild. 

“Ah, yes, of course, Minister Granger, of course,” his jovial smile slipped for a moment before he collected himself. “We are excited to have you in this meeting. It’s been absolute torture trying to negotiate with the French!”

“Mmm, yes, absolute torture, I can only imagine, Mr Owens,” she muttered dryly, resisting an eye roll, but he completely missed her meaning anyway.

It was now public knowledge that Minister Granger had been tortured during the war. The Malfoy trials, which proved Narcissa and Draco’s innocence and sent Lucius straight to Azkaban, had unfortunately given very detailed accounts of the Golden Girl’s abuse at the Manor. It took almost the full year after the war for the Wizengamot to go through all the reports, trials, and interviews. By the time the Malfoy’s were up, Hermione was well into her job in the Magical Creatures Department. The media sitting in on the trials couldn’t wait to divulge her secrets to the wizarding world, and she had been bombarded with press and photographers on a random Thursday morning. 

The article released was her on the front page, smiling professionally for her first photo at the Ministry. 


The article was long, specific, and unfortunate, but she was resolved not to talk about it with anyone who hadn’t already known. When coworkers would try, she would politely, but firmly ask that they respect her wishes not to discuss it. Thirteen years later, she had little patience for anyone who tried. By now it was common knowledge that Hermione Granger would absolutely not talk about her torture. 

Hermione shook her head to rid herself of the memories. Looking around the room, she noticed most chairs were full now. She put away her notes and ambled around, saying hello to those she knew and introducing herself to those she didn’t. 

At 3:30 PM on the dot, the door opened again and Hermione’s breath caught in her throat. 

Fleur Delacour.

Someone in the room called the meeting to order, and suits shuffled as everyone found their seats, but Hermione was having a difficult time moving her feet. She felt like her blood was made of lead all of a sudden. 

Fleur Delacour, in all her glory, was dressed in a tight charcoal grey dress with intricately designed heeled boots. She looked like a runway model had gotten lost. A sudden wave of warmth pulsed through her slowly as Hermione felt the blonde’s thrall enter farther into the room before her. Her hair was a shiny silvery-blonde down past her exposed shoulders, and even though she wore no makeup she looked like she was camera-ready for a model photoshoot. Her bright blue eyes were framed by long, dark lashes. A perfectly manicured eyebrow raised slightly at seeing Hermione, but then she quickly regained composure as she took the empty seat - right across from the brunette. 

Hermione took a deep breath, looking away from the radiance of Fleur Bloody Delacour and to the head of the table. 

This is going to be interesting, she thought.

“Well, good afternoon everyone! Let’s get started, shall we?” 


Chapter Text

Fleur Delacour was not happy. It was late morning on a Tuesday at the French Ministry, and she was poring over the U.K. policy on Veela territory alignments for what felt like the tenth time. She had been overseeing a team responsible for this, but evidently they were getting nowhere with the U.K. teams, so now she had to stop everything and assist. Which she did not have time for. She already had three clans in Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece that she needed to visit in person for ceremonial initiations, Birthing catalogues she had to fill out and submit for six clans, and a meeting with the French Minister regarding the Department's yearly review. Essentially, her day was already impossible. 

“Dominique!” she called, not looking up from the policy as she heard her assistant striding to her open door. 

“Yes, Madamoiselle Delacour?” he asked, a quill hovering over his notebook expectantly. 

“I need to speak with Juliane and Guillaume, please,” she said simply.

“Right away,” he turned with a graceful pivot on a heeled leather boot, his flowy skirt billowing slightly behind him.

Dominique was a star considering how new he was. He had hardly been with her for six months, but they bonded quickly considering they both refused to put up with any bullshit. He was more than a personal assistant, in that regard. He would stick up for Fleur and outright refuse meetings with people (particularly wizards) who were disrespectful to her. She was thankful for the extra set of eyes and ears - he had probably saved her a lot of time that would be wasted on scolding men too weak to avert their gazes. 

Dominique was also funny and smart and didn’t hold back with her just because she was his boss. She, in turn, stuck up for him when she needed to. He rarely did to be fair. He was a confident man, but sometimes the feminine clothing garnered some unwanted attention from non-French visitors who didn’t know him, and for the sake of his safety and peace of mind Fleur would step in on his behalf to take the brunt of discomfort. Usually, it was a very short conversation that went something like, “Either you get it together, or you will be asked to leave.” Simple as that, and most people found they could, in fact, get it together. 

A few minutes passed before she had three bodies standing in front of her desk. She finished a quick note before finally looking up. Dominique took a seat in the corner, crossing his legs as he took some notes of anything important. Guillaume was closest to the door with his large hands clasped together behind his back in perfect stillness. He was ex-military, and a very loyal Deputy to her. Juliane, on the other hand, was shifting her weight between her feet constantly and seemed unsure of what to do with her hands. She was always so full of energy it was hard for her to have these meetings. But Fleur kept them short and sweet, and they thrived off that. These two were like yin and yang, but anything she asked of them would get done.  

Good morning, thank you for coming in such short notice,” Fleur started. 

“No problem Mademoiselle Delacour, what can we do for you?” Guillaume responded respectfully. 

“I am going to be spending more time in London the next few weeks and I need you two to take over some of my duties for the time being until things return to normal.” 

“Okay, no problem,” Juliane responded this time, nodding her head enthusiastically. Guillaume responded with a curt nod. 

The four of them spend the rest of the day going over their new responsibilities while Fleur would be away. Dominique stepped out for half an hour to pick up some salads for lunch, and they made substantial progress. She knew the Department would be in good hands. 

Fleur stopped working as a curse breaker for Gringotts three years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Specifically, she moved back to France when she and Bill got divorced. She couldn’t keep seeing him around, and moving home was better for her mental health in those challenging years. She also, realistically, had to be closer to France to fulfil her duties as clan leader. After her grandmother stepped down, she knew her family would see her decision to stay in Britain a reluctance to embrace her heritage. No one else would fill the seat, as her mother had already rescinded any interest in leading the clans since Fleur was a child. No, she had always known it would be her. It just felt strange that it actually was coming to fruition. 

So she moved, and after a few years getting used to the leadership role of Europe’s Veela clans, the blonde was offered a position as a Magical Creature liaison for the French ministry. Since she travelled extensively throughout Europe already, it was a win-win for everyone. She would visit her clans across her territory and then pop into their Ministry to visit with the respective Creatures Department. Easy. 

That is until the British Ministry made a mess of her policy recommendations and refused to listen to the team she had in place. Months! Months and months of them arguing and negotiating and getting nowhere over the British territories. It was frankly ridiculous that such an evolved governing body could be so behind. She had seen inequality. In her earlier years, there were nations that outright refused any rights should go to magical creatures, but they were poor, uneducated nations with little to no resources to get out of corruption and economic turmoil. Even then, she made progress. 

But Britain? They were almost there! It was just this one stake in the ground they refused to move, and it was infuriating. 

They were starting to make progress, admittedly. She hated to think about a certain brunette witch, but she couldn’t deny her influence in the Department of Magical Creatures after the war had been beneficial. The problem was she left too soon, and the office slipped back into old habits too quickly. 

So here she was, ten years into clan leadership and finally, finally, getting somewhere. She would go to this meeting this afternoon with her recommendations, and she damn well refused to leave without an agreement to her favour. 

With Guillaume and Juliane on board, she felt a little better. Less anxious. She had always been good at leadership. It came fairly naturally to her, thankfully. Fleur was poised and professional, but she worked her ass off and she hoped her team could see that. In turn, she demanded their best and usually, she got it. When she didn’t, she gave them their options and opportunity to turn it around, but she would not be made a fool by anyone. There was a mutual understanding that she would do everything she could to make sure her people were taken care of first. It was the Veela family mindset, she supposed. 

The Veela looked at her wristwatch, reading the time close to three now in the U.K. She picked up her files and said goodbye to Dominique.

“I will see you tomorrow, hopefully. Feel free to take off early today,” she said, grabbing her coat.

“Thanks, Fleur, but I will hang around in case Juliane and Guillaume need anything,” he said with a kiss to both her cheeks. She nodded with a small smile and made her way to the floo on the bottom floor. He really was the best. 



The British Ministry had always been drab, in her opinion. Stunning, but dark and ominous in a way that reminded her of the war. She checked her coat and wand at the front desk before making the journey across the huge atrium. She could see banners adorning each corner of the room, and she smiled as she spotted Harry looking awkwardly at the camera with his Auror uniform on. Ron, on the other hand, had a bright smile at the camera with a glint in his eye in the same outfit. Looking at the opposite corner Fleur halted in her steps. Dobby the house-elf was brightly smiling out into the atrium. His ears just barely made it to the middle of the banner, and he looked to be standing on his tiptoes. “Dobby - A Free Elf” marked the bottom of his photograph. His gleeful smile struck a chord in Fleur’s heart as she averted her eyes to the final banner. 


The brunette wasn’t smiling, not really. Fleur knew this smile. It was not a smirk, but still close-lipped and brief. It was as if the photographer had asked her for a real smile and, instead, she gave them a this-is-all-you’re-going-to-get-now grin. Her eyes lacked depth, and Fleur yet again felt something in her chest constrict, but it felt different this time.

She shook her head, moving her feet again and checking the time. Great, now I am running late.

Punching the lift to Level 4, she ran through all her arguments again in her head briefly as she made her way to the conference room. 

It was quite full, and she just made it on time, thankfully. There were thirteen people moving around to find seats and as Fleur scanned for an open chair her eyes fell, yet again, on Hermione Granger. This time her eyes were not lacking depth. On the contrary, they were pools of emotion but Fleur couldn’t quite determine what it was. Surprise, definitely. Fleur quirked an eyebrow and made her way to the empty seat trying not to blush at her surprise. 

Hermione looked stunning. She was beautiful her fourth year at Hogwarts, yes. She was beautiful in the years leading up to the Battle, yes. But now? She was a woman. Her features had hardened and she lost all of her childishness. Her cheekbones were prominent, and the slope of her nose was more pronounced. Her chin was small and her lips were full. Fleur noticed she still had freckles splashed across her cheeks and she couldn’t help but feel a little thankful they were still there. She was dressed in an impeccably tailored navy suit with a crisp white shirt underneath. She looked powerful. 

Fleur was having a hard time with her thrall, she knew. In her surprise, she forgot to keep a tight reign on it. She looked away and followed Hermione’s line of sight to the man at the end of the table in an effort to get it back in check. She would not let her thrall dictate the outcome of this meeting. Peeking another glance over at the Minister she couldn't help but notice a slight blush adorning her cheeks now.

This should be fun, she thought sarcastically.

“Well, good afternoon everyone! Let’s get started, shall we?” 



Chapter Text

Hermione felt annoyingly uninformed as Hal Dallons from the Department of Magical Creatures droned on and on about the things the British government was doing for the Veela communities on their soil. She wished she knew more about it so she could discern if he was speaking out of his arse or not, but she focused on werewolves and elvish rights predominantly during her tenure in Magical Creatures, so she held her tongue. Unfortunately, Hal had spent the last thirty minutes going on and on about the positives they were doing, and she knew that was not the reason everyone was there. She could distinctly see Fleur’s back straighten more and more with each passing minute. The slightest narrowing of her eyes indicated that she was losing patience with Mr Dallons. 

I guess I won’t be in the background, she sighed internally, as she addressed the speaker. 

“Mr Dallons,” she said clearly, noting everyone’s eyes in the room focus on her. Trying to avoid the weight of the blue ones on her she kept her gaze to the gentleman at the head of the table. 

“Might I suggest we hear from the French regarding their qualms with our current policies? I would hate to think we are commandeering this meeting with our own biases, and neglecting to hear from those we are trying to work with,” she said sternly, leaving no room for discussion. She could see a few nods around the room in her periphery. The blonde sitting across from her hadn’t moved. 

Mr Dallons had the audacity to blush a little. Hermione could tell this was their plan, and she tucked away that piece of information for a later date. 

“Ah, yes, of course, Minister. I will open the floor to the French for their perspective,” he said before sitting down with a slight huff. Hermione thought he looked a little bit like a child who just got told off. 

Fleur was rising from her seat gracefully, every set of eyes intently on her. Hermione was not surprised she was leading this, and she was glad she would actually hear about the current situation from someone intelligent and straightforward. 

Fleur spent the next twenty minutes eloquently making her case that the current British policies on Veela rights and territories were not working for the interests of her clans, and were, in some ways, causing them harm and perpetuating distrust amongst their fellow magical creatures and magical beings. There were two fairly small Veela clans in Britain; one on the Isle of Arran in Scotland, and another in Wales. The largest problems with their current territories were the lack of protections against non-magical interactions. The Veela territories were being diminished by Muggles trying to expand into their land, and the Veela were forbidden to use magic against them to try and confuse and redirect them elsewhere (much like Hogwarts has when Muggles stumble near the grounds). Due to these restrictions, Veela were forced into hiding and had to have lookouts to ensure they were not seen. 

Due to this, magical creatures in the area treat them with disdain and disrespect because they are bending over backwards for the wills of the wizard and not being true to themselves. Centaurs, especially, did not think the Veela clans should do anything for wizards, and that it was an affront to their kind. Based on Fleur’s tone, she agreed with that sentiment. Hermione could see why this was difficult but knew they could find a solution.   

The Minister had been listening so intently that she was leaning on her chin with one hand and taking notes with the other. She chanced a look around to ensure her staff was on the same page. Almost all of the men in the room from her Ministry were looking at Fleur with their eyes glazed over. The French, she noted, must be used to it. Hermione could tell Fleur’s thrall was not running away from her, so there was really no excuse for this lack of discipline from her own team. 

“Fleur, I’m sorry to interrupt, but could you pause for a moment and give me a moment alone with my team?” Hermione asked politely, meeting her eyes. 

She could tell she had surprised the blonde, but eventually Fleur nodded in understanding. Maybe she was used to this, or expecting it even. The thought made Hermione’s stomach clench in anger. The four or five French participants filed out after Fleur and she stood up, placing her hands on the table and leaning over slightly, noticing her staff was now paying attention again.

“If you think I haven’t noticed your lack of attention you are sorely mistaken,” she said quietly, but firmly. Hermione didn’t raise her voice, she never had to. “I would expect this behaviour from hormonal teenage boys, but not grown men in the Magical Creatures Department, no less. If I see anything less than rapt attention to our guests then you will be out of this meeting and off this project. Do I make myself clear?” 

Sheepish nods filled the room. The few women on the team were smirking at the situation, but another look from Hermione wiped it off their faces. Back to professionalism. The brunette sent her Patronus to fetch Fleur and the team again, and she settled back into her seat, not noticing the blonde’s eyebrows shoot up as she sensed all sets of eyes on her in newfound attentiveness. 



Another hour of back and forth and Hermione thought they were now going in circles. She was pleased her team got their shit together as Fleur finished her presentation, but apparently there were difficulties by simply allowing the Veela clans to use magic on Muggles. Hermione did not understand why it was an issue, but she had decided to step back again as her team took over the negotiations. 

“We just can’t allow it,” Mr Dallons was speaking again. This is what he kept saying over and over again. Hermione wished he would give an actual reason for it. Fleur, evidently, felt the same. 

“And why not? Every other governing body in Europe affords the Veela clans this respect, and it has never been used with ill intent,” her voice was becoming more strained. Hermione knew she didn’t yell, but if she did this would have been it.

“It’s just not done! If we allow creatures to use magic on Muggles it will mean we have to give every creature that right! It’s a slippery slope!” Mr Owens spoke up this time, his sweaty forehead shining against the unnatural light in the room. 

“That is not my problem, Mr Owens,” Fleur said, her eyes burning intensely at the man. Hermione was confident that he did not know how offensive he just sounded. 

“It’s a matter of procedure! We can’t just up and change everything on a whim. There are ways of doing these things. We have to pass the bills with a unanimous vote, and resubmit the law with another vote, and then it has to go through the Wizengamot to ensure it is legal and protects our rights and---” 

“Actually, according to Article V Section XIV, only majority vote and the approval of the Minister is needed, and Section XXIII paragraph VIII states the Minister can veto the Wizengamot for bills deemed emergencies,” Hermione retorted, not looking up from her notes, and the room stilled. 

Fleur looked at her curiously, but the brunette tried to avoid her gaze. 

She continued, “I do believe we have heard both sides to their fullest extent. If everyone agrees, I propose we should sit on this for two days and reconvene with a decision from our team on Thursday,” she said briskly. They were getting nowhere. Sometimes it was better to start fresh on a new day.

“Fleur, is that alright with you and your team?” Hermione asked, making sure the decision was mutual. 

A few seconds passed and Hermione could see the cogs in her gorgeous brain working. 

“Yes, we will come back in two days at the same time. If a decision is not made in our favour I will be looking into legal action,” she said plainly. Hermione was expecting this, but apparently her team was not as she heard a few shouts of outrage. She silenced them with a look. 

“While I hope it does not come to that, it is understood. Thank you. We will see you Thursday,” Hermione said, standing and reaching out her hand to the blonde. She hadn’t touched the woman in God knows how many years, and she was hoping she wouldn’t have the same reaction as she had back then. 

Fleur quirked her eyebrow again but she reached out her hand to grasp her own. Just like it had over ten years ago, she felt a surge of electricity pulse up her arm at the light touch. It was like the overwhelming relaxing feeling one gets when getting a really good massage, but more intense and nothing was touching her. She refused to act surprised this time, though. Professional. Be professional.  

Fleur dropped her hand and nodded. 

“À bientôt, Hermione,” the Veela said, and Hermione once again couldn’t quite figure out what those eyes were trying to convey. Before she had time to figure it out, though, the woman was walking out the door. 

The Minister sighed. What a day.


Grimmauld Place was now completely different since the war. After the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry and Ron moved in and with the help of Hermione and Molly, managed to clean and redecorate into something habitable and...nice, actually. With painted walls and new furniture, it was mostly airy, clean, and bright. Unfortunately, the portraits still caused a ruckus every now and again, but Harry had taken to actually talking to his Godfather’s late ancestors rather than screaming back at them, and it seemed to reduce tensions bit by bit. 

Once Ginny and Harry got married, Ron moved out and the place was now the two of them and their little ones, James and Albus, with Lily on the way. 

Hermione knocked and was greeted by a five-year-old with messy brown hair. 

“Aunty Mione!” he yelled, lunging at the brunette with a run and a jump. She barely had time to adjust herself but she caught the little man and flipped him upside down, holding him there as she walked into the house, kicking the door shut.

“Harry! Ginny! I caught something really smelly and I think you might want it back!” she yelled into the large house as James laughed from his belly at being stuck upside down. 

“I’m not smelly!!” he yelled, and she kept walking to the kitchen where she knew the rest of the family would be. 

She lifted him up by the ankle and took a big whiff of his shirt, and with an exaggerated move, she pretended to be repulsed as she handed him back to Harry, who was laughing at the antics of his best friend. 

Harry picked up his eldest and sniffed his shirt. With a wrinkled nose he laughed softly, “You know, Aunty Mione might not be wrong, James.” 

The boy pouted. Ginny suddenly swept into the room looking exceptionally pregnant and waddled over to give Hermione a big hug. James got bored and ran off to find his little brother, no doubt. 

“Hi love, you alright?” the redhead said endearingly. Hermione knew she looked a little run down, and Ginny could always see through her. 

She shrugged in response.  “I wouldn’t say no to a glass of wine if you are offering,” she smiled, taking off her jacket to get settled. 

She came round to Ginny and Harry’s at least once a week. She didn’t socialise much outside of work. There was always trepidation now with meeting new people in the wizarding community now. It was hard to tell who was interested in her for her, or who wanted her friendship for her influence and title. Her school friends had always been a constant, though. Harry, Ron, Ginny, Neville, and Luna were her rocks throughout all of these years. Even Draco, surprisingly, was a fairly good friend to her now. 

Harry set a glass of red wine down in front of her before standing behind his wife and giving her a shoulder rub. They waited. 

She took a (fairly large) sip of wine before she started “I saw Fleur today.”  

The Potter’s surprised reactions matched, and it made Hermione chuckle how in sync the two were. 

“She looked well. We were both sitting on this Magical Creatures meeting,” she continued, tracing the rim of her wine glass absently with a finger.

“How is she doing?” Harry asked. He always had a soft spot for the Veela. She was a great friend throughout the years to him. 

“Mmm, I don’t really know. We didn’t get a chance to really talk about anything,” the Minister grimaced. She really should have tried to talk to her more, but Harry and Ginny didn’t really know how complicated that was. It was a strange situation. One she didn’t want to think about. 

“Ah, that’s a shame,” he said, but didn’t press farther. Ginny was looking at Hermione with narrowed eyes. She knew what was coming.

“Harry, honey, could you run upstairs and grab my fuzzy woollen socks with the candy canes on them?” she asked with a pout. He smiled down at her and nodded, heading up the stairs immediately. 

“There are no socks with candy canes, are there?” 

“No, there aren’t,” she chucked. They knew each other so well by now. Even Harry will have it figured out in a minute or two. 

“What’s going on, Hermione?” Ginny was serious again. She just really didn’t know if she was prepared to talk about it yet. 

“It’s nothing, Gin,” she sighed, “I’m just feeling a little overwhelmed with work.”

“I know that’s not it. You’ve been overwhelmed since you were thirteen. It doesn’t usually mean you are sad. I’m not going to force you to say anything you don’t want to, but we’re always here if you need to talk. We’re family,” and she squeezed the brunette’s hand before sending a Patronus to fetch her poor husband. 

Hermione couldn’t help but smile. She had good friends. The best, really. She wished she could tell them what was going on, but she hadn’t even processed it much herself. 

Finishing up with Harry and Ginny, the brunette apparated back to her empty townhome after one more glass of wine. After a shower, she sat down to read the U.K. Veela territory description for a few more hours before calling it a night. She did not want to feel unprepared again at the next meeting. She laid there for a few minutes letting her mind wander to the blonde that kept trespassing the safety of her own mind. It had been so long. She thought time would make it easier, but it only made her more confused. There were oceans between them now, and Hermione didn’t know if the waters were smooth, or dangerous and turbulent. She didn’t know if she even wanted to find out. If she was honest it felt dangerous, but perhaps she was feeling risky. She didn’t know. 

Her eyes drifted closed as she remembered the look in Fleur’s eyes when they touched earlier. She had seen it before a few times. The first time was the most memorable to her. 

Hermione was at the conclusion of her Potions essay. It wasn’t due for a few more days, but she wanted the chance to make adjustments over the next few days if she felt like she missed anything. Her hand was steadily moving across the page as her train of thought easily summarised the points she made prior. With a final flourish of her quill, she smiled and set down the instrument to go over the whole thing again. 

She was startled when she heard a soft noise next to her. Fleur Delacour, the Beaubaton’s chosen champion, was standing a couple feet from her with a few books in her arm. Hermione scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. 

“I am sorry for interrupting you, Mademoiselle,” she spoke in a thick French accent, but it seemed she was speaking slowly to avoid any errors. “I ‘ave seen you studying in ‘ere very often, and I wished to say ‘ello,” she said, shyly. Is she nervous? Why? 

Hermione was confused by the strange introduction, but she wasn’t brought up to be rude, so she tried not to disregard the beauty in front of her. 

“Erm, thank you? It’s nice to meet you. I am Hermione Granger,” she reached out a hand smudged with ink stains and cringed, but politeness required this of her anyway. 

“‘Ermione Granger,” Fleur repeated her name softly, reverently almost. “My name is Fleur Delacour,” and she slowly wrapped her hand around her own.

Hermione felt like she was being shocked. It didn’t hurt, really. It was more like a strange current in her blood was moving things around. It felt good, in a weird way, but the unexpectedness made her remove her hand quickly as if she had been burned. Fleur’s eyes were on her still and she was...well, if Hermione was honest, she had no idea how she was looking at her. No one had ever looked at her like that before. Her light blue eyes were now stormy and a few shades darker. It was such an intense stare that it made her feel vulnerable and open, like she was naked in a lightning storm. It was too much, and she didn’t like not knowing what to do or say, so she lamely apologised to the champion and scampered out of the library, not wanting to chance a look back. 


Chapter Text


Fleur was not exactly happy with the way the first meeting went, but she was glad she made her intentions known before she left at least. It was true, as well. If the British refused to cooperate she would have no option but to escalate it to the judicial systems of their governing bodies. She was more upset with her reaction to Hermione Granger being in the meeting. If she was honest, she felt disarmed from the moment she had walked in, and she wasn't sure she ever recovered.

A few instances in the meeting stuck out to her. Hermione was obviously one of the few people actually listening to her, but she also defended her and her team on multiple occasions. She was extremely glad to see the level of professionalism she possessed, and it only made her predicament worse.

She was, for all intents and purposes, irrevocably and unboundedly in love with the woman. Always had been, in fact. And the brunette knew, of course. Fleur had told her all those years ago, but now the long years felt like no time had passed between them at all. The universe was playing a sick joke on her now. Teasing and tickling her one more time before kicking her in the face strong enough to finally leave her in blackness.

She didn't know how she would manage the heartbreak again. And it wasn't even reciprocated! She couldn't handle just seeing her, for Christ's sake. One handshake. She didn't deserve her love if she couldn't even handle that much. But it was agony. Again. She knew another meeting or two would be more pain. However simple of an interaction it was, it was enough. The reopening of stitches across her fragile heart that she had just managed to let heal up. It was a hack job, admittedly. She had to use hot glue, a staple gun, and a few hundred bottles of wine, but she finally got it closed. She wasn't happy, but she was trying to be some synthetic version of what that might be.

She didn't know what to do. She had been sitting in her office all morning with her head in her hands, rubbing circles into her temples. This morning she had asked Dominique to cancel all her meetings unless it was something critical, and he eyed her for a moment before nodding. Fleur couldn't just not turn up tomorrow. This was a culmination of sorts for all the hard work her team had done over the past six months. And she would screw it all up if she didn't present a strong front.

Maybe I could ask Hermione not to attend? No, that wouldn't work. She was obviously overseeing the Magical Creatures team a little more carefully now. She wouldn't want to miss it.

She knew she'd have to suck it up. With a sigh, she leaned back in her chair and turned to look out her window. A few sorry moments later she heard a knock at her door.

"Come in," she said, devoid of any inflection in her voice.

"It's me," her assistant said, slowly entering the room and shutting the door.

"What can I help you with, Dominique?" she had to hold back a sigh again.

"Um, nothing. Actually, I was wondering if you were okay?" he asked, pulling nervously at the buttons on his orange dress. "I know it might be unprofessional, but maybe as a friend, I just wanted to see if you were alright. You seem a little low today and I am here if you need someone to talk to."

They had never crossed the line into friendship, but they had definitely skirted it a few times. Fleur knew they could be great friends, and maybe they will be in time, but not about this. Not yet.

"Thank you, Dominique, I am okay," Fleur said, trying to smile at the sweet gesture, "I hope I can tell you one day, but now I cannot. I appreciate your kindness, though. Thank you."

He smiled, a little sadly maybe, but nodded respectfully and left her alone again.

Fleur groaned, sinking her head into her hands again. Her assistant was right. She should at least get it off her chest. She pulled out a sheet of parchment and wrote out a quick note before sending it off with the office owl, Bernard.

Six hours later she was sitting across from her ex-husband in an Irish pub near his place with poor lighting and cheap wine. She hardly cared, and from that notion alone Bill could tell something was wrong.

"What's wrong, Fleur? You seem a little frazzled. It's very unlike you," he said, taking a long drag of beer.

He looked good still, if not a little tired. Her ex was happily married now with a few children she knew kept him busy. His hair was still long, but thinning slightly now. He swapped the fang earring for a golden hoop now, which Fleur thought looked a little more refined.

"I am…." she didn't know where to start. She told him the details of why they needed to split up, but she had never told him who. It didn't matter anyways, she didn't feel the same. But the decision was for him, and his sanity, really.

"Bill," Fleur said, finding a little courage for this gentle man she considered her best friend after all this time, "The reason I asked for a divorce…"

"Ah, yes. The reclusive mate," he said, wiggling his eyebrows, and she felt a true smile pull at her mouth for the first time all day. Weasleys were horribly insensitive sometimes, but they knew how to make you laugh, she couldn't deny.

"I….It's Hermione," she finally said it. Goddess, it felt good to say it.

Bill spit out his beer.

"Hermione Granger? The Minister of Magic?!" he yelled but seeing her face and the other patrons staring at him he took a calming breath.

"Sorry, Fleur, I just - I didn't realise. Christ, I mean, how? When?" his eyes mirrored her hurt.

"It's not as if I had an option," she snapped. She still harboured a lot of resentment, but she sighed. She shouldn't take that out on Bill, of all people. There was a lot to this story though. 

She grimaced a little, "Sorry. Maybe I should start at the beginning."

The carriage was starting to descend, Fleur could feel the sensation of falling in her stomach every few seconds. There were no windows, but she closed her eyes and tried to picture the grounds below her for a moment. Maybe it would be a dense forest, with steep, mountainous hills and slating cliffs. Or maybe it would be gently rolling hills as far as the eye could see, speckled with yellow and white flowers growing stubbornly in retaliation to the harsh Scottish climate. She didn't know, but for some reason, her stomach was flipping in nervousness. Strange, she thought. She rarely got butterflies.

The carriage suddenly jolted forward as the Abraxans guided them back to the earth. They slowed, and a young boy in blue sprang up to fulfil his duties with the carriage door. Fleur frowned a little, her heart was racing.

"Fleur, can you ease up on the thrall a little?" her friend Emille asked with a deep laugh. He was one of the few close friends to the blonde that was not a Veela.

"I'm sorry, I'm trying. I'm not sure what's going on with it," Fleur just needed to get inside and sit down. Perhaps the journey had really gotten to her.

Something deep in the recesses of her mind knew that was not it.

The delegation of Beauxbaton students filed out in an orderly line. Fleur was one of the last, and she quickly grabbed a scarf to wrap around her head as she saw the strong winds bending the wills of the tall trees in the distance.

Trying not to sink into the soft grass in her heels she marched across the lawn looking over at the hundreds of students in black robes. They all looked so young to her. She could feel her heart pounding in her ears as a biting cold gust of wind sent shivers down her spine. She couldn't stop shaking and mentally cursed her Headmaster for thinking silk was a logical option here.

They finally made their way into the threshold of the castle, and Fleur was slightly perturbed that it wasn't any warmer, but her heart was still racing and she felt a little faint so the cool air was actually helping in her current state. Perhaps she was coming down with something.

They were called to enter the Great Hall now, and Fleur groaned, taking off her scarf for the little performance they had to do as they entered. Regardless of her reluctance, she followed the other girls in her class and curtsied and sighed at all the right parts. She probably wouldn't have hated it so much if she could just stop her heart from thrumming. She felt nauseous now. Her classmates moved to a table where everyone was in blue ties, and she sighed in relief as she finally sat down. People were staring at her, she knew. She hardly noticed anymore.

She looked up briefly and scanned the crowd of faces, and her blue eyes met brown eyes for the first time.

She felt like running water, or like she was completely submerged in water, maybe. It was like she was floating, but there wasn't any more air in her lungs and it wasn't freedom: it was the opposite. It felt just as good as freedom, though. So, floating, yes, but she was being tethered now, completely. Undeniably. And it kind of hurt. Like her heart was previously buoyant and free in her ribcage, but now it was being wrapped up and held down by strong, warm hands. And the hands were rearranging the furniture and settling everything in place like it was meant to be a home for someone. Like it was nesting for her. Only her.

And the heart that was not her own anymore was thrashing and screaming to be let out as she looked at the small girl with the bushy hair across the hall. She had looked away now. Fleur had to look away.

I have found my mate, she smiled, staring at the silverware. Maybe soon she would be able to look again, or even go over and try to speak to her. Her mate.

Fleur could tell she was studious after watching her for a few weeks. If she wasn't with her two male friends it seemed she was constantly searching through the stacks of literature at her disposal. The blonde watched her eyes light up as she read the foreword of a textbook. Who gets excited over a foreward? Fleur thought with a smile. She couldn't bring herself to talk to the young witch yet. She wasn't ready, not after they shook hands the other day.

It was like magic. Just as her grand-mère told it would be. She didn't trust herself to keep her cool. She didn't want to scare her. The feelings were intense, after all, and she was so young. 

So she watched. And she watched. And she watched. And suddenly the months were cooling and freezing and then thawing and brightening again and she was still watching. She was being patient. Her mother warned her that being too rash could be problematic, and she didn't want that. She wanted her. Fleur knew she had to say something eventually, but it was daunting. The dandelions were springing up around the grounds as she walked towards the lake. She wished Hermione were here. She wanted to tell her about springtime in France. 

Maybe soon, she thought with a small smile. Next time. Next time she saw her she would tell her. 


Chapter Text


The Minister always felt uncomfortable being behind schedule. She was of the mindset that if you were on time you were already late. But today she would have to make an exception, she supposed. The brunette woke up groggy and crabby, and she thought an extra hour would, in the long run, benefit her productivity. She owled a quick note to Caden, and sat down in her minimalistic kitchen to take a few moments to herself. 

Truthfully she hardly slept last night, or the night before. She had tossed and turned and twisted in her sheets to try and get comfortable, but she couldn’t stop thinking about Fleur. There was so much she had tried to avoid ruminating about over the past decade, and it felt as if the lid she had just managed to fit over her carefully crafted life was in danger of bursting and exploding her jar of sanity and order. 

Fleur wasn’t a love interest, so to speak. Well, she was, Hermione had just never loved her. Hermione was attracted to her, of course. She wasn’t interested in men. Her quick fling with Ron was the catalyst to her “ah-hah” moment, in which she realised her sexuality was inclined towards the fairer sex. But Fleur didn’t really even fit that category, although she very much did. The Veela was, well, a Veela. She was beyond beauty and grace. She was unearthly and ethereal and it confused Hermione even more. 

The blonde was much more than her looks, she knew. Perhaps that was where her unease stemmed from. Almost as if she didn’t want to get too close to the sun without a way to protect herself. Ever since the first moment she locked eyes on Fleur there was something she couldn’t quite place. It was a feeling, she supposed. But normally her feelings were easy to read, and they had an entry point into her brain and she always had some sort of exit strategy to manage them. She could direct them, and file them into colour-coded tabs, and highlight and mark along the margins. She knew her feelings well in her thirty years of age - she was a master of them. 

Fleur made her feel as though she didn’t know anything, and she hated feeling like that, so she pushed against it. Hard. Especially when she was younger. It felt like a lifetime ago that she had first met the blonde. 

“Excusez-moi, are you wanting ze bouillabaisse?” a soft voice asked behind her shoulder. 

Hermione turned on the bench to see the blonde she had locked eyes with earlier. She was looking directly at her, and seemed unhurried. A small wave of warmth swept through her body briefly and made the base of her spine tingle a little. The brunette got a little flushed as the blonde’s gaze lingered over her face for an odd amount of time. 

Do I have something on my face? she thought, and scowled at the woman. 

Ron was making strangled noises beside her and she noticed he was slowly turning a shade of blue at the beautiful witches’ presence. Harry was the only one who pulled it together quickly enough to answer her. 

“Erm, yeah, you can have it.”

“‘Ou ‘ave finished with it?” she asked again, still staring intently at Hermione. 

Ron gargled. 

“Yeah, yeah it was delicious,” Harry lied. 

The blonde seemed to register the conversation was over, and with a small smile to the brunette she nodded and left with the dish. 

Hermione slapped Ron on the shoulder and he took a huge gulp of air as though he’d been stuck underwater. His purple complexion was starting to fade back into his normal red as he sucked in oxygen. 

“She’s a Veela!” 

“Oh, no she is not Ronald,” though she did notice the loss of those warm waves now that she had left. 

Interesting, she scowled again, deep in thought. 

Hermione sighed and finished off her cup of coffee. She didn’t have time to get into this now. She tidied up and went to work. Her second meeting with Fleur and the French Magical Creatures team was today, and she needed to prepare. She already had a few ideas that could be potentially helpful, and she was excited to share them.



She sighed at her desk that afternoon and thought about Fleur again. She probably hated her. Her wary eyes at Tuesday’s meeting brought forth all these old feelings of shame and guilt. Hermione knew a lot of things were her fault. She made decisions, big decisions, at such a young age that set off the course of their lives. It wasn’t meant to be like that. She didn’t mean for things to be so finite. She never wanted that. She didn’t know what she wanted, that was the point. 

She didn’t know what to make of her. For months after that first meeting Hermione could have sworn Fleur was following her around. The only time she spoke to her was that one time in the library when they shook hands, but after that Hermione tried to avoid interactions with the strange woman. She would see her in the library frequently, and she seemed to catch her staring every so often. If the blonde did want to strike up a conversation she had a funny way of going about it. 

After a few months of this, the younger witch got used to the strangeness of it all and went about her business as usual. It wasn’t until the Yule Ball when everyone, including Fleur, seemed to notice her transformation for the evening. Hermione descended the grand staircase and made her way to her date, Viktor, but not before seeing the look of wonder on the Veela’s face. She could feel those blue eyes on her that whole evening. It threw her for a loop, again. 

It wasn’t until April that the blonde finally spoke to her again. The second task was long behind them, and Hermione was reading out by the lake on a surprisingly sunny afternoon. Fleur sat down next to her. 

“I need to tell you somezing,” she looked nervous, and wasn’t looking at her. 

Hermione was surprised. They were finally going to speak. She closed her book and sat up a little straighter.

“Okay, go ahead,” she said. 

“You are my mate,” she finally looked at her, but then her face scrunched up like she was in pain and she looked away again. 



“But, I’m fifteen. You’re a girl. I don’t even know you.”

This wasn’t happening. She was feeling warm again in the blonde’s presence, but the concept of a mate was foreign to her. She didn’t like the sound of it. 

“Je sais, ‘Ermone, I am not asking anyzing of you. I only wish for exactly that: to get to know you,”

“What does it mean?” she asked, ignoring the request. She needed more information.

“I don’t understand,” the blonde said slowly.

“To be your mate. What does that mean?”

“It means,” she took a shaky breath, “zat my soul is destined for yours. I could search ze oceans, earth and skies until ze end of time and never find another who will fill my body and mind as much as you would. You may say no, of course, but I will never find anozzer. I am yours, always.” 

Fleur was searching her face as she spoke, watching her reactions. Hermione had never considered her sexuality at great length. Her evening with Viktor at the Yule Ball  had been pleasant enough, but nothing earth-shattering. She wasn’t opposed to the idea that women could be an option for her, but she was perturbed with the notion she had no room to find it out for herself now. This woman, a stranger really, was suddenly the object of her destiny when she had barely had her first kiss! But mates...The concept was romantic, sure, but it left her little room for choice. And choice was control. Control was comfort. Comfort and safety were what she needed. She was fifteen. Couldn’t she have waited to tell her? What a thing to spring on someone. 

“I...I don’t know what to say to that,” the brunette was starting to panic. Scenarios were flashing in her mind of what this would mean and the finality of it all. She had read about magical creatures, imprinting, and bonds. It was one thing to read about them, but another entirely to be a part of one. She still felt that tingly warmth tracing her back and she couldn’t think.

“I’m sorry, Fleur. I don’t really know how I feel about this. I need time. I need to think. I-I have to go,” the brunette grabbed her book and left. She missed the forlorn look on Fleur’s face as she watched her walk away. 

The final week of school was upon them. Hermione had not spoken to Fleur since her admission by the lake. In all honesty, the blonde had tried, but she tensed up every time she came near and made an escape. So then Fleur gave her space. She would still catch her staring, but now it was with a kind of grief that left Hermione feeling guilty and shameful. She knew she was acting like a child, but she was a child, she reasoned. 

She went over it again and again. Fleur didn’t expect anything of her, so why was that so hard? She could just agree to be friends and see what happens, could she not? They could maintain a platonic relationship for a few years, and if Hermione found she reciprocated her feelings, then no problem, right? 

It would be so easy. She’d need two years tops to realise she was in love with the woman. They would move in together, get married after five years. Start a family in ten. They would visit Fleur’s family in France a few times a year, and her parents would fall in love with the blonde as much as she would. It was...too easy. 

Some part of her was unsettled by this. Voldemort’s return threw a wrench in her every plan, of course. But it was more than that. She wanted to finish school and start a career. She didn’t want to die in an inevitable war she surely knew would be centred around her best friend. She wanted to find love and have a family, but on her own terms and in her own time. For some reason Fleur was making that difficult. Hermione couldn’t see how she would maintain a sense of independence and freedom, even in a close friendship with the Veela. Every time she was near she felt that strange warmth and the brunette knew it was her body’s reaction to some magical bond between them. But she was not bound by anything. At least, not yet. She had time to figure herself out first, and then maybe she would feel ready for such a huge decision. 

She finally sought Fleur out on her final day at Hogwarts. She was walking out of the Great Hall when Hermione caught her by the front entrance of the castle. 

“Fleur,” the blonde snapped her head up at the sound of her name. “Can I talk to you?”

“Of course,” she waved her friends on without her and they walked out to the lawn together.

Hermione took a deep breath, “Look, I am sorry for running off the other day. I was a little overwhelmed and needed some time to think. So thank you for giving me that,” she started. 

Fleur just nodded, her eyebrows slightly knitted in worry.

“I...still need time, Fleur. I’m fifteen, and I know nothing about myself. I didn’t even have a chance to think about liking women before you suddenly told me we are soulmates, or mates. I just...I want to make sure I know who I am first. I’m not saying no, but I’m saying not right now, I suppose,” she winced as she saw Fleur look up at the sky, swallowing thickly. She was trying not to cry. 

She looked at her again, blue eyes swimming in pain, “I understand. Can we be friends, at least?”

The brunette winced again, “I think…” she didn’t know how to say this. She felt tears stinging her own eyes now, and she wished she could rid herself of the sick feeling in her stomach. She started over, “I think it would be easiest to do that if we aren’t. For now. I don’t want to confuse myself with the complexity of what this means, and how you make me feel sometimes. I just need to sort out my feelings on my own.”

“How do I make you feel?” Fleur’s eyes were searching her again. For something, anything. 

Hermione sighed, “You make me feel...warm. And tingly. And peaceful. But confused, because I don’t know you and I don’t know why I feel like that. And it makes me scared that I don’t know.”

Fleur nodded slowly in understanding, but then her face scrunched up again, “‘Ermione, forgive me, but how will you know how you feel if you do not get a chance to know me?”

“I think that if it’s meant to work out, it will work out,” she said cryptically with a shrug, but she knew in her heart it’s what she felt was true.

Fleur’s chin was quivering and Hermione pulled her into a hug instinctively. She felt enveloped in heat suddenly as waves of this strange sensation kept washing over her. This was what she was afraid of. It felt wonderful, like home, but it scared the hell out of her. Still, she held the blonde as she felt her body wracking against her shoulder in silent sobs.

Her head was telling her she did the right thing, but the pain in her chest as Fleur gripped the back of her shirt made her think perhaps she was making a mistake. 

Chapter Text


At 3:30 PM on the dot, the meeting commenced. Everyone was in the same chairs again, and it reminded Fleur of seating arrangements back at school. Humans were such creatures of habit. Hal Dallons was recapping their last meeting in great detail, though they were all in attendance. The Veela thought he was wasting time again, but she didn't want to push it yet. She needed their cooperation.

Hermione sat across her and remained silent for most of his redundant monologue. She had hardly looked at her since she came in. Fleur snuck a few glances over her form. She was in a dark grey suit today with a black shirt. She looked stunning again, but tired. There were dark circles under her eyes. She wished she would look after herself.

"So, in summary, the Department of Magical Creatures acknowledges that there are some aspects of Veela rights that need to be assessed before we can make any changes to our laws," Hal droned on. Fleur hated how the British were so indirect sometimes. It made meetings like these last much longer than they needed to be.

"Mr Dallons, with respect, we don't have time for assessments and run-around from every department in your Ministry before a decision is made," she finally interrupted, "The clans are running out of space, protection, and their safety amongst other magical beings is greatly diminished with each passing day. I thought I made this clear on Tuesday,"

"You did, Ms Delacour, but we still can't just go ahead and change laws because you say so. We need an internal review first. I'm sorry, but we can't toss out the procedure or it will be problematic for us."

"So what is your solution, then? How do we do this quickly and maintain protocol on your end?"

"The team has decided that a visit might be the best way to accomplish this," he looked down as he said this, evidently not wishing to meet her gaze.

"A visit?" Fleur narrowed her eyes.

"Erm, yes, a visit. If you would allow us, a member of the Ministry could visit a clan site for the week and make the assessments on site."

"Non, Mr Dallons. I will not have some bumbling Ministry idiot trampling around our sacred grounds and disrespecting my heritage. There must be another way," Fleur was seething. The audacity of these bloody Englishmen!

"Ms Delacour, if I may," Mr Dallons continued, louder this time, "Reports could be sent from there, and we could begin the processing here in real-time. It's the fastest solution. Even faster than having Minister Granger veto bills and run it as an emergency clause. And this way we do it without causing an uproar with legal inquiries."

Hermione looked pensive but remained silent. Fleur looked around the room and threw up her hands in exasperation.

"I can't believe this. Can you all believe this?" she spoke to her team now, "I can't let this happen. Some pudgy man with no hair and no discipline is going to trudge around our lands and insult my culture? Gaping at all the women and children in the place they feel most safe? In a place I am supposed to protect, while I sell them out? Non, I can't do it. We need to come up with something else," Fleur was out of her seat now and pacing along the length of the room. Her team members were speaking animatedly in French to one another, ignoring the British entirely now.

"What if we vetted who visited?"

"What if we had a guard, of sorts? Or limit their interaction with the clan?"

"Non, they will need to be involved in everything. That is the point."

"Okay, so maybe-"

"I can do it," Hermione spoke in French to the team. All eyes in the boardroom looked over to her. She remained mostly silent throughout this whole meeting. She avoided the stares. She was looking at Fleur.

The Veela turned her head sharply to meet her brown eyes. Of course she spoke French now. The blonde felt defensive, and if she was feathered they would be ruffled. She searched the depths of her brown eyes, wanting to see determination and understanding. She needed to know Hermione felt the gravity of this. That she respected this. Fleur knew deep down there was no one better suited, but the caution was still there. Perhaps it was all the heartbreak this woman had caused her, but this was bigger than their bond. It was her ancestors - the very blood in her veins - that demanded she protect them. Their secrets, their honour. It was unheard of, what they were asking of her, but it could only work with Hermione. This she knew.

The brunette didn't back away from her stare. She met it with what she needed; resolve, appreciation. She saw an edge of pleading too, and Fleur didn't know if it was pity for getting herself backed into a bureaucratic corner, or because she really wanted to do this, but frankly, that didn't matter anyway.

They were waiting for an answer.

"Fine, Hermione will visit the clan in Wales," most eyebrows rose at the lack of formal title, but the Minister didn't notice.

"We leave Monday," she continued, "You may bring a personal assistant but they will be staying outside the boundaries of our land and will only be allowed in with my permission. Their sole job will be sending out your reports in a timely manner so that this can be finished. You will have five days on Veela soil, and not a second more. Is that understood?" she was staring down at her. The blonde's hands were shaking.

"I understand, Fleur," the brunette spoke softly. For some reason, the native language calmed her a little. She took a deep breath.

"I will see you on Monday. Please await my owl for further details. Excuse me, everyone, I need to prepare," she walked out of the meeting room without a look back. Her team would pick up the rest. She needed some space.

How the hell am I going to do this? she questioned, punching the button to the elevator with a little more force than necessary. A week felt like no time at all when she recalled the past fifteen years, but now it felt like she was staring down an impossibly long tunnel. An impossible task. Or maybe it was a gun barrel, like the ones she'd seen on Muggle TV. Either way, she didn't want to find out what was at the end of it.

Fleur leaned her head back against the cool elevators as the doors closed. She needed to stop thinking about it and let off some steam. Fucking Britain.

The smooth bass was not doing anything to calm her nerves, but the fourth wine might have been. The blonde was sat on a barstool in the same outfit she wore to the meeting. After leaving, she found a coffee shop in Diagon Alley and sent some notes off for Guillaume and Juliane, but she would be staying in London tonight. Where? She didn't know just yet.

A large rainbow flag adorned the wall behind the bartender, and there were a number of women dancing and laughing in the low lighting. She hadn't turned around yet, but she could feel the eyes on her. She was staring at a groove in the wood, trying to swallow the feeling of glass stuck in her throat. She took another sip of wine. It wasn't helping, but she could maybe forget soon.

Hermione would be staying with her for five days. Five days! She tried to be positive about it, but it wasn't working.

Maybe she would want to…..Non. She won't.

It won't be that bad. We can keep a respectful distance…... Yeah, right.

We will be too busy to notice each other….Highly unlikely.

I refuse to let my heart get broken again….I think it was made to be broken at this point. You're a glorified glowstick, Fleur, you just ran out of glow a while ago.

She sighed and chugged the rest of her wine, finally turning around in her seat. Scanning the room, she found someone that might work. She paid for her drink and walked over the brunette. She was too skinny, and her mouth was too wide, but she smiled kindly at Fleur approaching and offered to buy her a drink.

Fleur asked for white wine, please, and thank you. Oh, and if we could get out of here afterwards that would be great. They left ten minutes later. The blonde hated small talk. She followed the brunette to her flat and asked where the bedroom was before the front door had closed. The brunette kissed her with too much tongue and pulled her to the closest room.

She wanted it to be tender and forgiving, but the hands were clammy and hurried. She wanted to be fed and consumed, but she felt hollow and she was trying too hard to feel hungry. This was the only way she could think to forget about her, but now she was thinking she'd made a mistake as she ran fingers through hair that wasn't the right texture. The wine made everything slow down and she just wished they would hurry up. She pulled at the stranger's shirt.

The woman on top of her tasted like bottom-shelf whiskey and cigarettes and was now pulling off her skirt and leaving sloppy kisses on her thighs. Fleur's heart was racing. She felt sick. The woman who was not her palmed her breast and dragged her tongue across her sex. She flinched. The stranger did it again, and she writhed but it wasn't in pleasure. The back of her eyelids played a movie of her, as it always did when this happened. She saw her smile, the real one, and the crinkle around her eyes when she laughed. She saw her at the battle, covered in sweat and blood and dirt, looking glorious. She saw her at her own wedding in a red dress like a scarlet angel.

Fleur opened her eyes. She couldn't. This wasn't working the way she wanted it to. She pushed the stranger away from her and flipped their positions. The blonde pulled off her underwear and hid her face in her shoulder as she entered her with two fingers. She heard a few moans, and they sounded all wrong, so wrong, but she scrunched up her eyes and grit her teeth and kept going, pretending it was okay. Pretending there was anything honourable left in her now.

Push. You love her, but do you love yourself, Fleur?

Push. What do you want? Is this it?

Push. Is this helping?

The stranger came against her hand. She ran to the bathroom and threw up.

Friday morning the blonde spent organising her team's responsibilities for next week. Guillaume and Juliane were already well versed on what they needed to do, so it was only a matter of ensuring they were prepared well enough to delegate.

After apparating back home early this morning Fleur had showered and managed to get a few more hours of much-needed sleep. She took a hangover potion but was still harbouring a small headache behind her bloodshot eyes. She was glad the memory of her evening was mostly fuzzy. She didn't know if she could bear any clarity right now.  

Dominique sat across her desk in a lilac shirt and form-fitting slacks. He was tapping his heel to some song in his head, she imagined. Fleur watched him fondly for a moment.

"Dominique," she started.

"Yeah, what's up, boss?" he didn't look up from the calendar he was filling in.

"How do you feel about joining me next week?" she asked sweetly.

"Next week," he looked up with a furrowed brow.

"Yes, next week," she was smirking at him now.

"But you're at a clan site next week," he said, looking down at the calendar as if he had forgotten.

She smiled, "Yes, and I would like you to accompany me. I will need some help wrangling our guests. You can help me manage whatever assistant Ms Granger will be bringing. They will be outside of my watchful eye most of the time, I imagine."

Dominique was quiet for a moment, but then his face broke out into the biggest smile she had ever seen.

"That would make me so happy, Fleur. Thank you, I know this is a big thing to ask," he wiped at the corner of his eye, "Ugh, you made me cry and my make-up is going to run now."

Fleur laughed, "You can always borrow mine if you need a touch-up. I would love to have you there, truly. I think I will need you there if I am honest."

Dominique nodded seriously, reaching out to cover her hand with his, "Then I will be there."

"Good. Now, you will need camping equipment. A tent, cot, stove, etcetera," she looked him up and down in mock judgment and quirked an eyebrow, "I am assuming you will need to borrow some?"

"Oh, honey, you should never assume," he replied with a wink, a gleeful in his eye.


Chapter Text

Bright and early on Monday morning Caden and Hermione were waiting at a coffee shop in a cute neighbourhood by The Leaky Cauldron. Per Fleur's instructions, they were dressed in hiking-friendly attire and shrunk their equipment and bags so they could fit snugly in their pockets, freeing up their hands. The Minister was in a pair of comfortable washed jeans, brown combat boots, and a loose t-shirt. Caden looked like he had bought up an entire catalogue dedicated to Muggle camping. He was currently fiddling with a black cord so that he could keep his sunglasses around his neck, and he kept rearranging his utility knife, map, compass, another map, and an assortment of clips and clasps in his hundred-pocketed cargo pants. The brunette tried to refrain from laughing. Maybe he was nervous. She was a little nervous too, truthfully. They watched the sun rise a few more degrees in comfortable silence before they saw Fleur and a young man walking towards them.

They were both dressed in jeans and sneakers. The man with short black hair was in a patterned burnt orange sweatshirt and had one dangling silver earring. Fleur was in a grey and blue flannel with her hair in a loose bun and Hermione thought she could be auditioning for a high-end lumberjane clothing line.

"Good morning," the black-haired man said cheerily in a thick French accent.

"Morning, my name is Hermione, and this is Caden," she gestured to the tall blonde beside her and reached a handout.

"Dominique, and zis is Fleur, as you know," they all shook hands except the two women, but no one else noticed.

"So, uh, what's the plan to get there?" Caden asked. Hermione couldn't tell if it was eagerness or dread written on his chiselled face.

Fleur finally spoke up, " We will be apparating to a site on the outskirts of Snowdonia National Park. We have about a five-mile hike to get to the edge of our territory boundary. It will be a better look than using excess magic since tensions are so high with other creatures," she explained evenly, avoiding Hermione's gaze.

"There, we will find a place for you two to set up camp," she gestured between Caden and Dominique, "And then Hermione and I will head to the clan site," she said grimly, pressing her lips in a tight line.

You'd think I was marching us to our deaths, sheesh, the Minister thought, but she stayed silent and nodded in understanding, stuffing her hands in her pockets.

It was awkward. The four stood in silence for a few more moments before Dominique laughed heartily and shook his head.

"Well, as much fun as zis is, per'aps we should go?" he held out a hand out for Fleur to take.

Hermione took Caden's hand, and Dominique gave Caden an apologetic look before clasping his hand. Fleur closed her eyes and the next moment the group were being pulled off into space.

"These! Fucking! Bugs!" A loud voice boomed from behind her. Hermione couldn't resist rolling her eyes as she saw her personal assistant swatting at the insects. Caden was evidently not an experienced hiker. His new boots kept snagging on rocks and roots and he wouldn't shut up about his blisters, the heat and the wildlife. Don't know what he expected, really. It was definitely going to be an interesting week for everyone.

They had been walking for close to an hour. Dominique and Fleur were currently leading the group through a particularly dense bit of forest as they followed the winding path of a flowing river. It was hot, admittedly, but Hermione thought there was nothing she could complain about considering the absolute beauty of the scenery around them.

The dense trees they were traversing farther into were covered in thick, green moss. The leaves had just begun to change colour with autumn just around the corner so the expanse of woodland was sprinkled in greens, oranges, and reds. The bright blue skies created a stark contrast to all the colours. In the distance Hermione could see rocky hills and new treelines as far as her eyes could see. It was truly a remarkable place. It looked like something out of a fairy tale.

Dominique held back for a moment and waited for Caden to catch up to him. Hermione could hear him trying to help the taller hiker out.

"It 'elps eef you don't look down at your feet, mon ami," he said softly.

The Minister took the opportunity to catch up to Fleur. She had tied her flannel around her waist now and looked as though all her efforts were a mere warmup. Her footsteps were light and decisive as she moved. She worked fluidly with the forest as if it were made for her and she was made for it. Gentle hands would push and pull patiently at branches in her path. Hermione thought it looked like she was asking for permission. She noted the blonde would move out of the pathway for rocks instead of kicking them around to best suit her path. She is trying not to disturb anything.

Hermione had never seen her like this. She had never seen anything like it.

She shook her head and sped up again. She finally caught up and fell into step with her, but realised she didn't know what she wanted to say.

"Hey," she said after a beat of silence. Nice one, Hermione.

Fleur looked over, surprised by her sudden appearance. She looked her up and down, her face hardened for a moment before it softened again. Hermione guessed she was thinking over something. A small crease formed between her eyebrows before it left again.

"Bonjour," she finally responded quietly.

"How are you?" the brunette asked.

She stopped walking suddenly. Hermione stopped too. Blue eyes bored into her again, and the crease was back. The sound of the river almost entirely masked the soft answer.

"Does it matter?"

Hermione frowned. Of course it matters.


Blue eyes were swimming, and Hermione felt lost in them for a moment. Under the obvious anger, there was something vulnerable, and the brunette felt an urge to hold her. Fleur wasn't supposed to hurt. She was indifferent. Tough. Hardened. She was cold and uncaring, right? They were standing close to one another. The brunette hadn't been this close to her in a long time.

A sudden yelp broke their moment as the boys came into view. Caden had nearly tripped again and Dominique grabbed his arm before he fell forward. He was laughing.

"You will get better at zis, don't worry," he patted the tall man's shoulder.

Fleur met her brown eyes again and took a step back. The icy wall was back up. Hermione sighed.

"We are near the boundary line now," she spoke to the boys now. "We need to find you two a place to set up camp."

Caden cracked a smile for the first time since they started walking. He was sweating profusely and somehow managed to get dirt all over his face, which was now streaky from the sweat tracks.

"Thank God," he laughed and clapped Dominique on the shoulder like old friends.

Hermione and Fleur were walking in silence after leaving the boys to get their tents assembled. The blonde had found a small clearing in the thick of the trees by the river that would work for their needs. Dominique was already halfway through assembling his tent before they left them to it. Hermione was thankful one of them knew what they were doing, at least.

The Veela was walking ahead of her currently, and the brunette was fine with it for now. The silence wasn't uncomfortable. She thought they would probably need to have a conversation sooner rather than later though. They couldn't just not speak this whole week.

She was frustrated they were on such unsteady terms, but she couldn't really blame Fleur for being distant. There was an awkwardness in the air between them. She didn't know how they would manage to be "friendly." Again, something in her gut told her that friendship is not something she would ever find in the woman, and it made her feel frustrated and angry.

Fleur was walking pretty quickly now. Hermione was struggling a little to keep up, but she wasn't going to say anything. She vaguely wondered if she was doing it on purpose. The trees were becoming even thicker, and the small trail they had been taking was all but an animal path now. Hermione didn't quite know how Fleur exactly where to go, but perhaps she had done this a number of times before. They took a few lefts, and then some rights. They walked down the trunk of a fallen tree and crossed the river by jumping across slippery rocks. Hermione had a huge smile on her face. She was having a lot of fun, even in the awkwardness. It reminded her of camping and hiking with her parents when she was a young girl.

There was no trail anymore, and Hermione watched in awe as Fleur moved through the forest with confidence. She made specific turns after touching certain trees as if they had a signature.

I wonder if it's a Veela thing, she thought. She wished she could ask her about it, but figured that the blonde would prefer to keep the silence between them.

The trees suddenly cleared and Hermione gasped at the sight before them. They were standing on the end of a small cliff overlooking a village embedded into the side of a steep hill. It looked like a series of intricate caves, and Hermione wondered how deep they went into the hill, and if they were all interconnected. There was a line of tall trees enclosing the village from prying eyes. There were women and children scattered around in groups, but they were too far away for her to pick out any details.

A waterfall cascaded into a small lake below them. The light streaking through the trees refracted in rainbows as it passed through the mist shimmering through in the air. She could feel a unique heaviness in the atmosphere that reminded her of the feeling of Fleur's thrall. She wondered if it was Veela magic. She looked over to Fleur and was startled to find her watching her intently. Hermione let a genuine smile spread across her face, ignoring the blonde's apprehensive look.

"It's...amazing," she whispered, looking out at the village again. She was overcome with gratitude for being able to be able to see this.

She frowned suddenly, noticing there was no footpath down the steep cliff.

"Fleur," she looked over again, noting a small smile on the Veela's face for the first time that day, "How are we supposed to get down?"

Her smile grew menacingly as Hermione's face and stomach dropped.

"No, no, no," she put her hands up defensively.

The blonde suddenly moved towards her and before Hermione could make an escape she felt strong arms wrap around her as she threw the both of them off the cliff.

Hermione was anything but girly, but she couldn't help the childish scream as she fell towards the blue water below them. The arms around her tightened as they braced for impact. They plunged into the cool water and the Minister kicked against it to get herself back to the surface.

She took a deep gulp of air and started laughing at the absurdity of it all. Fleur's head popped up next to her and she looked surprised momentarily but joined in. Soon they were howling together uncontrollably as they tread water, trying not to swallow water. Hermione was the first to sober, but she still let out a few chuckles and she recovered. Fleur was wiping tears from her eyes and the brunette thought she had never looked more beautiful like this. She had never seen her so carefree before.

She met her blue eyes again and watched as their light slowly died along with her smile. She looked away. Something tugged at Hermione's heart.

"We should go," and the blonde swam away gracefully towards the village.

Fleur was well-received by a number of Veela when they finally made it to shore. Hermione cast a wandless drying spell on them both just before the blonde was engulfed in hugs. Small children were running over from their games yelling, "Fleur! Fleur!" and Hermione yet again saw a huge smile break across the woman's stunning face. She wondered how many she would get to see this week.

"Come on everyone, let the woman breathe!" A tall woman with unnaturally shiny brown hair commanded in a thick Welsh accent, and the group reluctantly let go of the blonde witch with a few groans of protest.

"Merci, Siân," Fleur said with a smile.

"And who is your guest, Fleur?" the woman asked, noticing Hermione standing somewhat awkwardly away from the exchange. Her bright green eyes looked her up and down with apparent interest. Suddenly dozens of beautiful eyes were on her and she felt the air thicken as their thralls swept over her curiously.

It felt much different to Fleur's thrall, which felt light and playful, almost. These were weighty and she was having a hard time clearing her head from its sudden haziness.

Fleur narrowed her eyes and stepped in between the group and their new guest and the weight was greatly diminished, but not entirely.

"This is Hermione Granger, the Minister for Magic," the blonde told the group of Veela. A few eyebrows rose.

Hermione decided she probably looked rude for not introducing herself so she stepped next to Fleur and spoke clearly to the group.

"Hello everyone, please call me Hermione. I look forward to getting to know you more, and I am so grateful for your kind hospitality this week. I know this must be quite strange, but I assure you we are working diligently to protect you here."

A few nods and smiles were seen around the group. She could feel the weight of their thralls start to increase again, as though they were assessing her.

Fleur stepped forward again and it stopped.

"Please, I will ask you to refrain from that," she said. Hermione couldn't see her face, but she thought she sounded a little angry.

"But she is not claimed," the woman with green eyes, Siân, said, staring intently at the brunette. The Minister felt a blush rising to her cheeks.

"She is here as a guest and has a job to do. It would be best if we do not make this complicated," Fleur explained tightly, her back straight.

"Mmm," the weight was back. "Her magic feels divine. What a shame," Siân said, tilting her head, but sighed and pulling back the thrall again. Hermione felt like she was going to start sweating soon from the sensation of the thralls coming and going.

"You two will be staying at the top of the hill in Rhys' old chamber," Siân explained, gesturing towards the caves.

"Together?" Hermione and Fleur both asked. The brunette hated how squeaky her voice came out. She was barely prepared to spend the week with Fleur, but staying in the same room? Well, that couldn't end positively, surely.

"Yes, is that a problem?" She looked between the two of them curiously.

"Um, no, not at all," Hermione responded, pulling herself together. She didn't want to seem ungrateful by refusing.

"Great, I will show you and let you two get settled," she said before walking towards the hillside.

Hermione looked over at Fleur and couldn't help but frown at the look of dread adorning her features.

The caves, though primitive on the outside, were actually quite homey and inviting on the inside. They were decorated with various items of furniture that felt very inspired by the forest and there were plants growing happily in every corner. The space wasn't exactly large, but there was plenty of light so it didn't feel claustrophobic. The only sources of light came from a few large cutouts in the ceiling and magically-lasting flamed torches lining the stone walls that reminded the Minister of a medieval castle.

There was one room with a large bed and dark dresser. Another room was a simple bathroom with a modern touch. Hermione wondered if they actually had a plumbing system in place or if there was an element of magical intervention to make this work. And that was it.

The brunette frowned and went back to the bedroom to find Fleur rubbing her chin.

"There's only one bed," she said, stating the obvious.

"It would seem so, yes," Fleur's eyebrows were scrunched together in thought. They were both staring at the bed. It was just a bed, but if beds could talk this one would be teasing them. For some reason thinking about sharing it with the blonde made Hermione's heart rate increase. A blush started to rise to her cheeks.

"Well," she cleared her throat, "I guess we'll have to make it work."

"It's fine, 'Ermione," she said softly, her accent a little more prominent. "I will sleep on the floor."

"Fleur, the floor is a rock. I can't let you do that," she said stubbornly. This was ridiculous. Sure, they had some history, but they were adults, weren't they? They just needed some boundaries.

"I will be fine. You can have the bed," and with one last look at the offending piece of furniture, she stepped out of the room.

Hermione was lying in bed staring out one of the squares in the ceiling, looking at the stars. Fleur had managed to transfigure a pillow into a decent mattress pad and was fast asleep next to the large bed. The Minister turned on her side to watch her for a moment. Her chest was rising and falling quickly with each shallow breath. Her eyelids were twitching every now and again, and Hermione wondered if she was dreaming of something.

She thought about the day. The hike, the tension, their laughter in the lake, and now Fleur's insistence on sleeping separately. There were so many things she didn't know about this woman. What does she like to do? Is she still close to her sister? Where does she live now?

It was a strange sensation, this link they had. It felt overwhelmingly too personal considering how impersonal they had been towards each other. Hermione had spent the past ten years trying to forget about her, really, but there was a part of her that always felt deeply connected to her. She just felt so many feelings for someone she barely knew! And after so long it was like nothing had changed. It wasn't natural, logical. Maybe she should stop resisting. Especially if they were going to enjoy the week it wouldn't hurt to get to know her a little. Maybe she could even explain herself a little better, in time. She knew she had hurt the blonde. But she had been hurt too, once.

She sighed. Now wasn't the time to think about it. She closed her eyes, feeling sudden exhaustion from the day's activities. She tightened the blankets around her. I hope she's warm enough, a final thought crossing her sleepy mind.

Chapter Text

Fleur woke to a stiff neck and sore legs, but she felt well-rested at least. She looked out the skylight cutout to see pink and orange hues. It must be early still. She heard a soft sigh nearby and looked over to see Hermione all but hanging off the side of the bed, one hand nearly touching the mat Fleur was laying on. Her rosy lips were parted slightly and she could tell she caught a little sun yesterday, making her freckles look a little more prominent across her cheeks.

The blonde decided to watch her sleeping peacefully for a few minutes, ignoring the guarded voice in the back of her mind telling her not to. But she was sleepy and relaxed because the room smelled like her and she couldn't be bothered to listen, so she watched her anyway. The brunette had tamed her hair over the years, but it looked a little more like the old Hermione right now. Wild and unhindered. She loved it like this. Her eyebrow twitched, and the Veela wondered if she was going to wake up soon.

I wish I could watch her wake up, she thought, reflecting painfully that she had only done so before at Shell Cottage, and those weren't exactly happy memories. She sighed, and slowly got up, trying to keep quiet as not to wake her. Grabbing a set of clothes, she silently shut the bathroom door and got ready for the day, knowing it would be a long one.

Soon they were both up, and they got ready awkwardly and silently. Hermione would try to make small talk here and there, but Fleur was less inclined to participate in any semblance of normalcy with their situation. Truthfully, the questions felt probing and personal given their current status, and she was getting defensive the more the Golden Girl tried. She didn't want to talk to her. She didn't even want to look at her. She felt forced into this hopeless arrangement and she was already sick of it. By Hermione's fourth attempt to ask about her family, Fleur snapped at her.

"Look, I don't know what you're trying to do but it's not working," she rounded on her, "I don't need us to pretend we are best friends. Let's just get through this week in peace and you can be on your merry way, Minister," she sneered before striding out of the cave towards the village centre.

Hermione caught up to her on the way and tugged at her arm.

"That's not fair. I know this is less than ideal, but it doesn't mean we need to be dismissive of one another. There has to be a way to do this amicably," she replied. They had stopped again. Fleur scoffed at her response. Always the politician.

"Yeah, well life is anything but fair, ma cherie. I don't want nor need us to play happy couple while we are here," her voice was becoming more strained. She didn't know if she felt like crying or screaming, but she was going to do neither in front of this woman.

Hermione took a deep breath and pinched the bridge of her nose.

"Fine," she said, looking at the blonde again, "I will stop pushing us to be friendly if that's what you want."

"Bon," Fleur said, and walked away again. She could have sworn she heard Hermione swearing under her breath.

They spent most of the morning with the clan going over the territory and restrictions on their site. Hermione had pissed her off this morning, sure, but Fleur could in no way deny she was not good at her job. The questions she asked were always respectful and unique. She never asked something that could be potentially obvious or something she couldn't deduce for herself. It added another layer of respect for their culture that she knew the clan was feeling. Probably a little too much, if she were honest.

In the three hour span with the clan, Hermione had received a grand total of fourteen hand clasps, four arm caresses, six cheek kisses, nine front hugs, three side hugs, one hug from the back (Fleur almost had an aneurysm at that one), and five hair touches. The blonde was trying, really trying, to hold her shit together. She didn't want to be friends with her, and she had no right to be possessive, but God if she didn't want to burn this village down all of a sudden. She didn't care. The amount of thrall circulating in the air around the brunette was enough to make anyone go a little hazy, but she was managing to keep her head on her shoulders, thankfully. She was maintaining a respectful distance and trying to keep things polite and political, but the predatory nature of the Veela was all too familiar to Fleur, and they didn't know she was her mate.

She could tell them, sure, but that would open up more dizzying conversations she just didn't want to have. Fleur could already hear the way the conversation would go:

"Yes, she is my mate."

"No, we haven't bonded."

"Technically, yes, Hermione is not claimed."

"No, and if you try I will tear off your hands."

So, awkward, yes. She would avoid talking about it. Her excuse for distancing the brunette from the Veela was always work-related, but she knew it was falling flat as time went on. And after three hours the women were becoming bolder, and Fleur's nails were biting into the skin of her palm with how tightly she was holding a fist.

"Oh, Hermione, you are too cute, truly!" Morgan, a particularly brazen member of the Welsh clan with wavy auburn hair, said with another arm caress. That's five now, Fleur thought, narrowing her eyes as Hermione blushed and put her hand over the other woman's.

"Right, that's it," she muttered under her breath. She stormed over to the two, stepping into Morgan's personal space.

"That will be enough," she said, looking directly into the displeased green eyes. The hierarchy between clans wasn't always relevant outside of bloodline, but Fleur was their leader politically. Normally, the blonde avoided using her alpha status as a means to get her way, but this felt different. She didn't have time to make her point articulately and eloquently. She continued to glare, putting herself between her mate and the Veela. The woman bowed her head slightly in submission, looking down, and Fleur grabbed Hermione's arm to pull her away. "I think we have gathered enough information for now," she explained lamely to her, "You can fill out your report and we will go find the boys so they can send it off tonight."

Hermione wasn't fooled. She was scowling at Fleur's hand around her forearm as they walked down an empty pathway. The blonde let her go.

"What the hell was that?" she asked, stopping and crossing her arms across her chest.

"What was what?" the Veela played dumb, even though she knew that wouldn't work with the sharp woman.

"You know what, Fleur. You just got jealous," she raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"Of course I am jealous!" she snapped, her blue eyes piercing. She stepped closer and ignored Hermione's angry look, "I don't want to be your friend, but that doesn't mean you insult me by putting your hands all over everyone!" she spat out between gritted teeth.

Hermione met her with just as much fury, "How dare you! I will have you know I was removing her hand from my arm, thank you! And it's not my fault I'm being smothered by thrall! I'm the only bloody human here!"

"You were flirting!"

Hermione's eyes went wide in outrage and she stepped even closer to the blonde, looking into her eyes with something as passionate as hate but Fleur didn't think that was it.

"Don't you dare accuse me of flirting, Fleur. You know better than that," she said in a low, dangerous voice.

They were garnering some looks now. A few children had stopped playing and were watching them closely. Fleur was breathing heavily through flared nostrils, her fists clenched tightly by her sides. Hermione was standing her ground before her and those brown eyes were so close now the blonde could see the gold specks within them.

No one can be this beautiful when they're angry. Fleur was still furious, but she had to look away.

"Let's just go," she said, clenching her jaw. She started walking back to their cave so the brunette could fill out her report.

"How are we supposed to get back up the waterfall anyway?" Hermione asked, the anger disappearing slightly as curiosity got the better of her.

Fleur was still mad, but she smirked slightly at her antics yesterday, "There's a path by the treeline I may have failed to mention."

For the second time that day, she could hear Hermione swearing under her breath at her.

While Hermione completed her report, Fleur went outside and thought about what she had said. It was so long ago, but she could remember that day as one with just as much anger.

Grimmauld Place was teeming with horrible relics of the Black family. Fleur was just visiting briefly at the end of the summer to officially join the Order of the Phoenix. She graduated three months ago and spent the majority of that time grieving over Hermione's decision and moping around her home in France. Finally, she got a job at Gringott's and met Bill Weasley, who was kind and friendly and always made sure she was doing okay since he knew she didn't have many friends in London. He was one of the few men she had met who could control himself around her thrall, and was the one who had first mentioned the Order. Fleur instantly knew she wanted to be a part of it.

Firstly, she knew Hermione's involvement in the war was going to escalate in the coming years. With Voldemort's return, Harry's life was likely in jeopardy, and Hermione would no doubt play a pivotal role in keeping him alive. Secondly, Fleur needed a purpose outside of the young woman she had spent all summer thinking about. She had made her intentions clear, and the blonde needed to respect that. Truthfully, she wasn't that upset with her. Or at least that is what she told herself.

She was upset with her own tactlessness. Her mother had warned her not to be too forward, but Fleur froze that day by the lake and word vomited all over the poor teenager. And it was no wonder the Gryffindor had been wary. The Veela had all but stalked her for months and barely spoke a handful of words to her before pronouncing her undying love for her. It was enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed, let alone a woman who actually gave a shit about her future.

It took months, but she was finally at a place where she felt like she was going to be okay. She hoped, of course, that the brunette would change her mind and come running to her arms, but those thoughts were dangerous. She had to live her life.

Bill was walking ahead of her into the kitchen at Grimmauld Place, and Fleur was trying to keep the look of disgust off her face. She met a few of the members lingering around before accepting an offer to stay to dinner. Bill smiled at her warmly.

She was seated beside him and a woman with pink hair named Tonks before she felt her heart thudding in her chest. In the doorway stood Hermione, and she narrowed her eyes at her before taking a seat at the far end of the table.

Okay, maybe that is expected, Fleur thought. She knew she wanted space, but it's not like she had planned on seeing her!

Dinner was awkward for only two of the house's inhabitants, apparently, but everyone else was none the wiser it seemed. Although she had seen her a few short months ago her mate already looked older. Her face and nose were slightly more pronounced, and her body was a little more muscled and filled out. Fleur was trying not to stare.

Bill kept talking to her, and the brunette kept glaring. She felt that was unfair, and it made her feel a little spiteful. Which probably wasn't smart, but she was young and stupid and in love.

This is what you wanted, ma cherie, she thought.

So she laid it on thick with Bill. Touching his arm when he made a joke and picking at his dinner plate like someone on a date might do. She had no idea what she was doing, but if this was flirting it seemed to be working. Hermione stood up abruptly and stormed out. The warmth from the room seemed to leave with her, and Fleur frowned. She stood up and followed her out to the garden.

She was waiting for her, tapping her toe impatiently in the grass.

"What are you doing, Fleur?"

"I don't know what you mean, 'Ermione," she played coy.

"You're flirting with Bill," she said, cutting to the chase.

Fleur was getting frustrated. What the hell did she want? She didn't want her, but expected Fleur to not want anyone else? That hardly seemed right.

"Unless my memory fails me, you said you were not interested," she explained.

"Are you doing this because you like Bill or because you are trying to get a rise out of me?" she asked with narrowed eyes.

Fleur switched tactics. She stepped closer to the woman, looking down to her lips before meeting her eyes again.

"Is it working?"

Hermione froze for a moment, and Fleur would swear on her life that she was seriously considering kissing her, but then her eyes brown hardened and she glared at the blonde.

"No, Fleur. It's childish."

Fleur's demeanor changed, then. Yet again she felt this horrible sweeping sensation of rejection fill her like acid.

"Bill is kind to me when no one else is. You can hardly expect me to be unattracted to such qualities," she explained softly.

Hermione looked at her closely, but she kept a cool exterior. Fleur wanted to say she was sorry, and please please please reconsider being with me, but she couldn't do that. There was only so much grovelling a Delacour could do in a lifetime, and the acid felt like bile in her throat now.

"Fine, be with Bill then. I am still not ready for this," and she walked away.

Fleur felt slightly silly when she remembered these instances with Hermione. Fifteen plus years later and it all felt so trivial, but deep down she knew there was a reason it hadn't worked for them. She knew she was stubborn, and her mate was probably just as bad. And there was pride, and admitting someone was wrong when they probably were both just as culpable. It was just another example of wrong place, wrong time, a common denominator in their relationship that felt like an anchor weighing them down for all these years that she couldn't shake off.

Fleur sighed and went back inside, feeling heavy and miserable with the weight of these memories of the only one she had ever loved.

It was mid-afternoon by the time they got to the boy's campsite. To their surprise, Dominique was napping comfortably in a hammock while Caden tried to make a fire with some tinder and a muggle lighter.

"Oh ho! There they are!" Caden yelled, waking Dominique up from his afternoon snooze. The sandy-haired man looked exceptionally more cheerful today and Fleur noted that he had toned down the knick-knacks on today's outfit.

"How are you guys doing?" Hermione asked, plopping onto a log and admiring their campsite. It did look comfortable, though Fleur hadn't been around many Muggle campsites to compare.

"Pretty well! Dominique is a champion camper, apparently!" Caden said with a big smile, "I'm glad he's here to help me learn the ropes."

"Caden iz a very quick learner, don't let 'im fool you," the other man said affectionately to the other man. Fleur raised her eyebrows at their friendliness but decided not to bring it to attention. At least someone is enjoying their company for this week.

Hermione was shuffling around some papers into a manila envelope, so Fleur took the reins to walk them through their guidelines.

"So, you will need to hike all the way back to the trail entrance, unfortunately. I still can't have us apparating around. I trust you remember the way?" she asked, looking expectantly at Dominique, who nodded and smiled.

"No problem, it is what we are 'ere for, non?" he shrugged, lacing his sneakers up.

"Yes, well, I wouldn't wait too long to head out," Hermione spoke this time, standing up. "You have, at most, four hours of daylight. Once you make it to the trailhead you can apparate directly to the Ministry. The Magical Creatures team is expecting you."

"Great! We'll head out now," Caden said, grabbing the folder and placing them into his waterproof backpack.

Fleur was reluctant to be alone with Hermione again after their altercation earlier, but it really seemed like the boys were fine on their own.

"Okay, well, let's plan on meeting around the same time tomorrow then," she said.

They watched the boys disappear down the trail a few minutes later. Fleur led the way to the hidden village with Hermione staying back a few paces. She kept thinking about how awkward tonight was going to be and really hoped tomorrow would go by faster.

Fleur was staring at the stars through the skylight in their little bedroom chamber. She had tossed and turned for over an hour, but couldn't sleep. Hermione was facing her again and it was difficult not to watch her, but she didn't want to seem creepy if she happened to wake up. She wondered if she always slept like that, with her arm over the end of the bed. It didn't look especially comfortable.

The Veela couldn't stop thinking about the day, and if she had overstepped earlier by getting involved with the clan and Hermione. She couldn't deny she was jealous. Hermione could see right through her in that regard. Truthfully, if she had the chance to do it all over again she probably would. Hell, she might even have to again. Maybe she needed to have a talk with the clan. Or Hermione. She knew which one she'd rather.

Hermione twitched in her sleep, and Fleur looked over at her. Her eyebrows were pulled together and her eyes were moving rapidly behind her eyelids. She was dreaming. Fleur heard her gasp and shake a little. Her twitching became more frequent and her forehead was creased in concentration. Or pain?

Fleur didn't know what to do, but she wanted to calm her. She gently grasped the hand hanging over the side of the bed, closing her eyes at the feeling of warmth radiating up her arm. She wondered if Hermione felt the same.

She must be feeling something, she thought as she saw her face relax once again and her breathing even out.

The blonde closed her eyes again, pretending for just a moment that this could be something of a future for her. That she wouldn't have to go to bed alone anymore feeling fragmented and wanting. She would take this; just a hand, if it meant Hermione was happy. Well, that was a lie. She would take a lot less. She had taken a lot less.

Hermione sighed in her sleep, and Fleur yawned silently, feeling the pull of sleep now. She rubbed gentle circles with her thumb onto the soft hand in hers as she drifted into a dreamless slumber for the first time since she was seventeen.


Chapter Text

Wednesday morning Hermione woke up early to an empty bedroom. She got ready quickly and found Fleur outside at the top of the hillside nursing a steaming cup of coffee. The brunette sat down next to her while Fleur duplicated her mug and they sat in silence watching the sun peek over the treeline surrounding the village. It was peaceful, finally.

This would be a busy day for them, and Hermione still felt the itch to ask more about the blonde beside her, but she refrained. If she wanted to talk, they would. She didn't want to push it.

Their day was mostly going to consist of interacting with magical creatures in the surrounding area so Hermione could get a general idea of the danger the clan was facing. Sure, she was a human, so the attitude may be slightly off, but she would have to keep that in mind during her reports. Essentially, it meant that Fleur and herself would be spending the day alone together getting themselves into prickly situations. She just hoped some creatures were open to speaking with them.

Within the hour they were trudging up the path out of the village with some food and water packed into small backpacks. The Minister noticed Fleur was looking a little forlorn today, but was trying to respect her wishes so she stayed quiet.

Maybe she just didn't sleep well, she surmised.

The pair made their way in companionable silence for an hour. Yet again, Fleur seemed to know every rock and tree in the forest as they twisted up, down and around the ridgelines of the rolling hills. It came as a surprise when the silence finally ended.

"I'm sorry for what I said yesterday," the blonde spoke first, looking ahead as Hermione looked over to her sharply.

The Gryffindor stayed silent, waiting for a little more explanation.

Fleur sighed, "I said I didn't want to be your friend. I...that's not true, exactly. It's just complicated, but I am sorry for saying that when you were just trying to be cordial."

Hermione was fairly gobsmacked by the confession. She was struck again by the realisation that she didn't really know this woman at all. Maybe this would be the time that could change a little.

"Thank you, Fleur. I suppose I should apologise as well."

The veela frowned, "Why?"

"I didn't mean to come across as flirty yesterday, but it's somewhat challenging with the weight of the thralls sometimes. I could have slipped up, though, but I hope you know it's not my intention to hurt you,"

Fleur was already shaking her head, but she let her finish. "Non, it was my own insecurities I think, but thank you for saying that."

"You're welcome."

They walked a few more paces in silence. The gradient of the hill was starting to increase as the trees thinned slightly.

"Do you like the job?" Fleur asked. Hermione had the distinct impression she wanted to keep a conversation going now, and she smiled slightly.

"I do, but it comes with its challenges, like any job."

"Such as?"

"Mmmm," Hermione had never really voiced her qualms with anyone before. She hadn't even really told Ginny and Harry about her identity issues with the Minister posting. For some reason telling Fleur felt different though.

"It's less policy work and a lot of face-value nonsense like interviews and photo ops. Sometimes I feel like I am just a poster-girl with little to no substance anymore, and that makes me feel lost and lonely I guess," she said with a shrug, noticing the blonde was looking at her finally.

"I could see how that would affect you, but I promise you are still making a difference. Look at you now, for example. My teams have been working on these laws for years, and it is truly only with your help we are able to get it done."

"Oh, don't flatter me, blondie. You would have this in the bag either way and you know it," she said, pushing her arm teasingly.

Fleur laughed freely, and Hermione's heart fluttered at the sound.

She turned serious again, "Really, though. I know we have not spoken in years, but I have watched your career from afar and you have done amazing things for the magical community. For my community. It…" she trailed off and looked away.

"Yes?" Hermione asked, eager to hear what she was going to say.

The veela shrugged, meeting her eyes again, "It just makes me really proud. I always hoped I would get the chance to say that to you."

"Thank you, Fleur." she stopped walking, and Fleur stopped reluctantly, "I don't really know what to say to that, but it means a lot."

Hermione felt the need to touch her, so she grasped her hand and squeezed gently before letting it go. The tingly sensation was there and then gone in a flash and she was trying to ignore her heart beating wildly. Fleur was looking at her strangely and she felt something pooling at the bottom of her stomach.

The moment was interrupted when they heard the distinct sound of hooves striking the soft earth nearby. The Veela suddenly moved in front of her, blocking her body from the view of the impending herd. Hermione felt the urge to reach for her wand, but she resisted.

Fleur stood with her back straight and her chin held high. A centaur with a light grey coat and broad chest spoke first.

"I thought we warned you of your involvement with humans, Veela," he spat.

"The clans do not deny our rights, Aryn, but we would much prefer to work with humans rather than against them for our freedoms. We have seen enough war to last a lifetime, don't you think?"

He snorted and pawed at the ground. "That is foolish, Veela. Humans do not wish for your freedom. They wish to see you and your kind in chains."

Fleur glared at him, "You forget who gave you back these lands when the war was over."

"Only because humans took them in the first place!" he roared, and another centaur with a reddish hue stepped forward as a few birds flew from the nearby trees.

"Fleur, one act of kindness does not excuse a lifetime of mistrust. You should know this well," he said vaguely. Hermione furrowed her brow. Bloody centaurs.

Fleur's stance didn't change, "Thank you, Tarran. The Veela have as many rights as you in this forest, however, and we will work with the humans to ensure our peace lasts through the ages. This is how I can protect my clans. Now, if you would be so kind, the Minister and I have some ogres we need to seek out."

She took a half step forward, and a few of the centaurs towards the back of the herd drew their bows, but Aryn waved his hand and stepped forward to meet her, calling them off.

Hermione just barely could make out what he said.

"She may be your chosen, but if you bring another human to this forest we will not be so gentle again."

A pause.

"If you threaten my mate again," she replied clearly, "I will bring all of Europe down upon you from the skies."

Aryn huffed and trotted off, the herd cantered after him. Hermione glared at the back of Fleur's head as the herd receded. The blonde turned around after they were out of sight and looked surprised by the Gryffindor's anger.

"Fleur, you don't need to protect me. I can take care of myself," she said somewhat petulantly.

The blonde looked a little sheepish at being overheard and Hermione narrowed her eyes. She should be flattered, really, but she did not appreciate being made to feel like she was a damsel in distress.

"I'm sorry. I don't always think logically with you around. Would you believe me if I said it was my nature to be possessive?"

"Yes, I would, but I am not yours," she said indignantly as she stepped into the blonde's personal space.

Fleur searched her eyes sadly before whispering, "I know."

The Burrow was beginning to fill with guests and Hermione was opening door after door trying to find the bride-to-bloody-be. Finally, she opened a door that was spilling with feminine giggles and fast-paced French and she knew she had found it.

Gabrielle and Apolline Delacour stood around her, their hands frozen in mid-air with a multitude of silver clips as they heard the door open abruptly. Three sets of bright blue eyes looked over to her, but she could only see Fleur. She looked so beautiful it was painful, and she felt her heart pounding in her ears.

"I need to talk to you," Hermione asked breathlessly.

If Fleur was surprised, she did a good job of hiding it. She nodded slightly as her mother and sister silently retreated from the room, but not before Apolline put a gentle hand on her shoulder. The brunette didn't know what that was supposed to mean, but she had other things to worry about right now.

Fleur stood up from her seat and crossed her arms. Hermione's eyes widened slightly at the full view of her in the wedding dress, but she shook her head and began. She had been thinking about this day for months. She wrote countless "pros & cons" lists and "what-if" scenarios. None of them helped her, but she woke up this morning finally making up her mind.

"I don't want you to marry Bill," she said firmly.

The blonde's eyebrows rose briefly, but she schooled her features again quickly, "Is that so?" she replied coldly.

"Yes," she answered.

"You have hardly spoken to me in nearly two years, and now you don't want me to get married to a man that makes me happy?"

"I could make you happy, I think," Hermione spoke quietly, nervously. This was what she was afraid of. She didn't know how to explain herself. Fleur stepped towards her. She wasn't wearing her heels yet so she had to look up slightly into the Gryffindor's brown eyes.

"So you want to be with me?" she asked directly, her blue eyes flicking between her own, scrutinizing her.

Hermione looked away, and Fleur scoffed.

"You don't. You still have no idea and I can't do this forever. You are my mate, but Bill is the only person who has made me happy in this God-forsaken country and he loves me and treats me the way I deserve to be treated," her jaw clenched.

Fleur's eyes were swirling in emotion, and she spoke softly now, "Why don't you want to be with me? Why can't we even try? I know you feel it. You're not a kid anymore. Why?"

"It's...complicated, Fleur. It's selfish of me to ask this of you, but I still can't...I'm not...I won't be able to be there," the brunette was close to tears.

She couldn't tell her they were leaving to hunt for Horcruxes when the wedding was finished. She couldn't tell her she didn't know when she would be free to try. She couldn't even promise she'd be alive when this was all over. She knew it was unfair to ask her not to marry Bill, especially considering all of these things. He could love her, he had loved her when Hermione was too scared and unprepared to do so herself. She knew she deserved more than what she could give, but it still hurt.

"And where will you be, 'Ermione?" Fleur asked, her eyebrows pulling together in confusion.

"I...won't….we are leaving. I can't say, but I just needed you to know. I don't want you to marry him," she had to look away from her.

"That is bullshit," there were tears in her eyes now. The brunette couldn't bear it anymore. In another act of selfishness, she had to take something from her without giving back. She couldn't face not knowing what it would be like.

Hermione cupped her face in her hands and pressed her lips softly against Fleur's beautiful, angry mouth.

The electricity when they touched was one thing, but kissing Fleur was...addiction. Craving. She didn't know how she would stop, so she didn't. She felt the tears in her own eyes spill over as fire spread under her skin and shockwaves of some fatal explosion in her heart reverberated deep in her bones. She pulled the woman's chin down with a thumb, demanding entrance and they both moaned as their tongues met.

Fleur's hands were tangled in her hair and Hermione could feel hot tears on her cheeks as salt and a sweet tongue invaded her mouth. She didn't understand these feelings, the intensity, but she found she didn't care for once. She wanted to let go. Her blood was singing for the woman wrapping her arms around her. She could feel their magic swirling and dancing in the air around them. She pushed her roughly against the wall and Fleur whimpered, pulling her even closer. Hermione ran her hands across her wedding dress and -

Her wedding dress. She pulled away.

"Fuck, I...I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that," she wiped away her tears, trying not to look at Fleur's bruised lips.

The veela took a shaky breath and cupped her cheek, "I love you, 'Ermione, but you won't give me the chance to show you."

"I...I can't," she looked to the floor. Her eyes burned with tears again. She swallowed the lump in her throat.

"Then I can't do this," Fleur gestured between them, "It's not fair to me that you don't know what you want. You want me, but you don't. You don't want me to marry him, but you can't commit to even trying. To staying. Non, you are taking all my power away. I can't be heartbroken over and over again. I will marry Bill today, and you will go do whatever the hell you wanted to do anyway."

Fleur gave her one final look of devastation before opening the door and walking away.

After finding the ogres and a small group of vampires, the two witches had mostly forgotten about this morning's disagreement and had enough information to send out to the Magical Creatures team. Deciding to avoid any intense topics that might bring about more unwanted memories, the Minister spent the afternoon asking Fleur about her work and family. Hermione learned more about her job as a liaison and her experience as clan leader. She was impressed by the blonde, but not surprised at all that she was doing so well for herself.

After dropping off another report to Caden and Dominique they spent a few more hours with the clan at dinner. Hermione made a more conscious effort to keep her distance, and Fleur shot her a few grateful smiles across the table that made her heart soar.

Apparently, there was a ceremony of sorts tomorrow that they were preparing for, and everyone talked animatedly about decorations, food, and music. According to Fleur, the boys would be able to join them after the actual ceremony if they wished to get drunk and dance around with everyone. Hermione was excited to tell them and was certain they would be happy to come along. Things finally felt a little more comfortable between the two women, and the Minister was able to fall asleep with a satisfying feeling of contentment at today's progress.

Her dreams took different shapes that evening. She first dreamt that Caden and Dominique were riding atop the centaurs decked out in full medieval armour and speaking gallantly in French. That dream shifted to Fleur, who for some reason was looking at her in sadness, anger, and pity. She couldn't tell where she was but the room looked familiar. The dream changed again to one that was all too familiar. It wasn't really a dream, though. She knew this one well.

The knee on her neck was making it hard to breathe as she felt a blade slide sickeningly easily into her skin. Bellatrix was looking at her with wide, deranged eyes that were so black and devoid of any human quality it made her recoil. She'd rather watch her carve into her than look into them again. The dark-haired madwoman was finished with her artwork and Hermione was bleeding heavily onto the expensive mahogany beneath her.

The Death Eater placed a chunky combat boot to the Gryffindor's chest and stepped down until a few ribs snapped in protest. It barely hurt anymore. She was going in and out of conscientiousness now. Her head felt light. She couldn't breathe. Bellatrix smiled as another rib popped beneath her boot. She twirled her wand like she was a child playing with a baton, and Hermione closed her eyes and braced herself as another jet of red hit her in the chest and her cells were set on fire. Someone screamed.

"Please, Hermione!"

The screaming in her head stopped, but she realised with wide eyes it had been her. Fleur was on top of her, holding her wrists down tightly onto the bed. She looked scared. Hermione's face was hot with tears as she stopped fighting and Fleur loosened her grip.

The blonde took a shaky breath and Hermione pulled her flat on top of her into a tight hug, not caring what terms they were on. She needed her. She buried her nose in her neck and hyperventilated as the receding memory left her in a panic. She had no control. No control. I almost gave up.

Fleur was rubbing her hair gently, whispering softly in her ear, "It's okay, it's okay. Deep breaths, I've got you. I'm here. I've got you."

Hermione didn't know if she was releasing her thrall more than normal, but she stopped crying and her breathing slowed after a few short minutes. The weight of the body on top of her, or maybe it's her thrall, was comforting and warm and she didn't want it to go anywhere.

"Can you stay with me?" she whispered nervously. Her voice was hoarse. She wondered how long she was screaming.

Fleur pulled away slightly and looked at her tear-streaked face. A corner of her mouth lifted in a quick grimace, but she nodded.

"Of course I will," she said softly. Hermione felt like crying again. She didn't deserve this woman.

"I'm sorry," she said thickly, tears threatening again. Fleur was wiping at them before they could fall.

"Shhh, do not apologise, mon coeur," she shifted and moved behind the brunette, wrapping an arm around her waist. Hermione could feel her body heat against her back and the familiar warmth of her thrall was washing over her and enveloping her in a feeling of safety. She started drifting to sleep with a small smile plastered on her face, unable to see the mixed emotions and tears on the face of the woman behind her.

Chapter Text


Fleur opened her eyes to see Hermione curled up on her side facing her. She smiled at the sight, but it was a sad kind of smile. A temporary one. Her heart was so full, but now it was too heavy and she wasn't ready to hold the weight again. The brunette looked so content, at least, and the veela was thankful that she was able to help her through her nightmare last night.

It hurt though. And it was unfair that it had to be her. Maybe it could have been romantic, holding her like a lover would all night. And maybe in another world or another alternate timeline it would be, but it just felt like her tenth deathbed scene and she really needed a new author to write this damn thing she called a life's story. She felt trampled and bruised knowing this feeling of fullness would be over in...well, probably pretty close to now. By the end of tomorrow, surely. She knew the template well.

So, yeah, Fleur slept like shit. And she kept replaying Hermione's screaming and thrashing in her nightmare over and over in her head. She had been so scared last night. The brunette was crying and yelling for a full minute before the veela could wake her up, and she had to hold her down so she wouldn't hurt herself.

So she stayed with her because that's what she wanted, but then she thought back to Shell Cottage. She would tighten her hold of the witch in her arms at the memories, which only made the brunette snuggle more closely and make cute noises and whoever's hand was around her neck it was getting uncomfortably tight now. Between her disoriented head and her weak heart she just wished she could close a valve and shut the blood supply off to one until this was all over. She didn't want to do it anymore.

You know that feeling when the princess is saved from the monster from the big strong knight? And they are riding off into the sunset together on the back of a white horse that's standing at sixteen hands? Well, that was her now, but it turns out the knight was actually the monster the whole time and she ends up being torn to shreds anyway.

Wait, was Hermione the monster here? Maybe it's me, now that I think about it.

Or maybe there's no princess at all and they are just breathing fire and ash at one another while a beautiful horse watches with a bored expression.

Her heart was aching and the brunette had opened her eyes and was looking at her like she needed her again. She looked timid and embarrassed.

She sighed, I guess I'll be the knight again.

"Are you okay?" she asked the brunette gently.

She nodded. God, she looks beautiful. Fleur tried counting her freckles, but she kept looking at her lips.

Pain, pain pain. Someone turn off the heart valve, please. She closed her eyes.

"We should get going," the blonde said.

"Okay," she replied sadly. She can't be sad. I can't be the knight again.

Fleur got up and padded across the cold floor without turning around, closing the bathroom door quietly. She ran the shower and wiped her eyes in anger. I am so fucking sick of crying.

An hour later Hermione and Fleur were dressed and walking to the boy's campsite. The blonde was feeling slightly better after casting a silencing charm on the bathroom this morning and screaming her head off for a few beats.

She could tell the brunette was deep in thought about something this morning. There was a heavy silence between them that felt like dead water on the ocean sea. She hoped whatever was going on she kept it to herself.

They arrived at the campsite early so that the boys could send off their report before dinner. As Fleur explained a little about the ceremony and party afterwards, she pulled open her backpack and extracted a few articles of clothing. The three of them looked at her with raised eyebrows.

"You will need to wear this, as well," she said, handing it over to Caden, who held it up to his chest and laughed so loudly the birds nearby flew up to safety at the top of the trees.

Dominique was smirking at his companion and reached out to grab a piece of the fabric. It was essentially a sort of toga, but there wasn't much to it. It was tradition, though, and they all had to wear the fabric to celebrate her ancestry.

"Sorry," Fleur said with a small smile, "It's a requirement, unfortunately."

"Magnifique!" Dominique said, his eyes gleaming as he held up the garb to Caden, picturing him in it, "Aw, I zink you'll look perfect, mon ami."

Hermione seemed distracted, and she wasn't really paying attention to the interaction. Fleur frowned.

"Anyway, we will see you two later. I would send that report now, eat, and then someone will come to get you when the ceremony part is over."

Fleur had a small role to play in the ceremony as clan leader so she had to head off early and prepare after dinner. She placed an outfit on the bed for the Gryffindor and left while she was in the bathroom. They still had hardly spoken all day.

She knew she should ask about the nightmare, and that would lead to Hermione opening up about everything and trusting her. Then, they would cry with one another and hold each other all night again as they shared their hopes, dreams, and darkest secrets.

She couldn't do it. She told herself it was because she couldn't be heartbroken again, and that was true, in a way, but Fleur was also being a total coward.

What would happen if, heaven forbid, she could actually be happy? Who would that even be? She had no idea how to do that. Her younger self could handle such a transformation, but the Fleur she knew now was this marble-looking figurine of a ballerina that was actually sculpted out of total and utter bullshit.

So she ran away from confrontation, again. And she had been right, in the end. They couldn't be friends.

She got ready for the ceremony for an hour before the clan started to arrive on the shoreline. There were logs that had been carried over and set up in a manner that sort of resembled a wedding seating arrangement. The sun was just starting to set and Fleur was reading a few passages of an ancient Veela book again before she heard Siân mutter beside her.

"Sweet Morgana have mercy…"

Fleur turned around and her jaw dropped at the sight of Hermione walking towards them. The Gryffindor was tanned beneath the cream linen and the toga hugged her muscular body gratefully in all the right places. There was a band of her stomach and one shoulder exposed and the blonde was trying really hard not to focus on the expanse of skin. Her legs were toned and her feet bare against the course sand.

As she got closer Fleur could see a few of the white scars that Bellatrix had left across her stomach, chest, and arms. She remembered cleaning and healing them herself. They made her look strong, like a warrior. Which she was, Fleur supposed.

Siân and a few other Veela nearby were suddenly preoccupied with the Minister's arrival to continue setting up, and the blonde could feel their thralls whipping around in the cool air. She turned to them sharply before the brunette was in earshot.

"If any of you even think about it..." she said, though she wasn't convinced she sounded threatening enough. Her throat felt dry. Hermione's wavy hair was down past her shoulders and her amber eyes were looking Fleur up and down appreciatively.

"You look great," she said boldly. Her eyes looked more golden in this light. Evidently whatever she had been stewing over this morning had been resolved. She had a look of determination that made the blonde's skin crawl.

Fleur cleared her throat, adjusting the shoulder of her ensemble, "Merci, as do you."

Siân came over and whispered in her ear that everyone had arrived now. Fleur looked at the sun, which was now sliding beneath the tall trees surrounding the village.

"Bon, let's begin."

The ceremony was a coming-of-age ritual for three of the younger Veela who had turned fifteen. Fleur spent an awful lot of her travels for the European clans completing these rituals, and after so many years of it she was well-versed by now.

This particular ritual was straightforward: A small amount of blood was sacrificed as a token, a few herbs were thrown into a tea, some Veela passages were recited as clan members drew Proto-Bulgarian runes of strength, family, and loyalty onto their skin, and then the younglings would transform for the first time and spend the night in the skies. In total, it took no longer than twenty minutes, and then the festivities to celebrate their new sisters could begin.

Fleur was done speaking now and watched as the transformations began. There was always some blood and tears, but that was a part of being a Veela. She looked over to Hermione and saw her watching with wide eyes as feathers, wings, and talons emerged from the teenagers. She had a look of wonderment and disbelief. Fleur knew her deep thirst for knowledge was being quenched and it made her smile a little. The brunette was looking at her now, and the blonde couldn't read her expression but there was something dancing in those eyes of hers.

The new sisters took off into the night and the clan whooped and screeched as they watched the retreating figures chase the rising moon.

Cups and bottles of alcohol were being passed around and the music was being played by a few Veela with drums and a guitar. She grabbed a couple of drinks and found Hermione speaking animatedly with an older member with silver hair.

"It's simply amazing! How many are there?"

"There are others, of course," the woman, Gwen, said to her, "for births, marriages, deaths, you know. I can't give you details, but perhaps your friend here can. She is the keeper of all our secrets," she laughed, gave her a wink, and patted Hermione on the shoulder before moving on.

The brunette gratefully accepted the drink as they watched the other Veela dance and sing around the fire in the moonlight. Children were playing and tossing rocks into the water and younger teenage girls not ready for their wings yet were being dragged reluctantly into the dancing group by their mothers. Hermione was grinning from ear to ear when she spotted two familiar figures in the distance.

Caden and Dominique were hand-in-hand as they walked over to them. Dominique was looking very comfortable in the short toga. His slim frame allowed extra room for the material, even. Caden, on the other hand, was trying to discreetly pull at the bottom of the hemline to cover himself a little more. His height and broad chest wouldn't allow for the strap to cover both his torso and his bottom half so he was more or less in a mini-skirt.

Hermione was in tears laughing at him, and he swatted her arm when he finally reached them.

"Stop. Laughing!" he whined.

This only made her laugh harder and Fleur had to join in. Dominique grabbed some more drinks and handed them out to everyone.

"'Ere, mon ami, drink up and you won't even care that you are dressed like me," he joined in with the two women laughing.

"You know, I think I pull it off better, actually," he said conspiratorially, and Dominique looked outraged, but smiled at his sudden bravado as Caden did a little curtsy for them.

"You're such a good sport, Caden," Hermione said affectionately, "You guys both look great,"

Fleur was the one to break the news to him, "You didn't want to magically alter it?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I didn't know if I could! I don't know how old this thing is! Dammit!" he groaned and pulled at the skirt again, but he smiled brightly as Dominique kissed him on the cheek and whispered something in his ear.

The evening was stellar so far. Fleur was getting a little tipsy and was walking around speaking to some of the clan members. She spotted Caden and Dominique dancing with some of the kids while some young boys tried to fight each other atop their shoulders. Hermione was not exactly dancing yet, but she was talking to Morgan again over by the fire and swaying a little to the music. Morgan was looking at her like a piece of meat. Fleur could see the reflection of the fire dancing in her dark eyes.

She's not yours, she's not yours.

The blonde was pretty sure Hermione was drunk. The Minister was laughing loudly and bopping to the music as she sipped on the drink in her hand. She stumbled slightly in the sand, and Morgan caught her around the waist and pulled her closer. Fleur narrowed her eyes as her arm stayed there and she dipped a finger just below the fabric on her lower back.

Hermione was giggling, still wrapped up by the other woman. The heat from the alcohol and fire must have been making Fleur's skin itch a little. She felt her blood simmering under the surface. She didn't realise she had moved until she was standing next to Morgan.

The veela looked surprised at the sight of Fleur there. Maybe she thought I would be occupied all night. Fleur held her gaze as she slowly wrapped an arm around Hermione's front and pulled her backwards, away from the redhead.

"Fleur!" Hermione yelled happily, turning around to see who it was. She hugged her, and the blonde almost groaned at the feeling of her skin against hers. But she didn't. She extracted herself from the brunette and walked up to Morgan.

She spoke low next to her ear, "Perhaps you misunderstood me before. If you touch her again, I will kill you."

Morgan dipped her head again, staring intently at her toes. Fleur walked away, dragging the brunette along by the hand. She was drunk, definitely. The sand was hard for her to walk in and she kept giggling and slurring her words.

"Fleur, this is so much fun. I loooove this. And the ceremony was so cool! I can't believe you do this all the time. I didn't know you spoke Veela, that was amazing," she was babbling, "You look great in your thing by the way. Did I say that already? Well, you do."

The blonde was still seething and her ears were ringing so she just let her talk. She was walking her back to their cave now. She couldn't have her down there anymore. The more the Veela drank the more they would advance on her, and she didn't want to be responsible for her actions if something happened.

They stumbled into the bedroom. The blonde wished she hadn't been drinking now. She could still hear music and laughter coming from the open windows. Hermione was in front of her, trying to take off the toga but she couldn't get it off. Fleur's eyes widened and she put up a hand to stop her.

Please stop, she hoped her eyes conveyed that, but she wasn't convinced they were. The Gryffindor was looking at her like they were saying something else entirely.

Fleur wanted to kiss her, but that was a bad idea. They weren't touching anymore, and she was thankful for that silver lining that tasted conspicuously like gunmetal. Hermione was watching her intently, and Fleur's weak mind took over. She wanted the brunette to do it so she wouldn't have to take responsibility for what happens after. And then she could blame her like she always does.

She was looking at her like it was love. Fleur went to the bathroom.

She was sick of this feeling:

Love? Nope, made you look.

Love? Ha ha, got you again.


I'm sick of looking now.

This was what she didn't want. Yesterday was so easy and carefree, but she knew it was a huge mistake. It was a moment of weakness. One that she had explicitly told herself not to do. She should have just kept her mouth shut.

Why apologise? Was the guilt for making her feel bad for two more days really not worth this feeling now? Reconnecting? Relearning? Being friends? Yeah right. More like falling again and again and breaking her jaw this time as the fist of heartbreak came in a surprise uppercut.

Because of course Fleur would fall again. Years later, but she couldn't not love her.

Hermione was standing at the bathroom door while she finished splashing water on her face. Fleur couldn't read her expression. She was tugging her hand towards the bed.

Please just do it swiftly, but she followed.

She sat down on the edge of the bed while Fleur stood between her legs. She was looking up at her with unreadable eyes. The blonde braced herself for impact, but nothing came. Hermione wrapped her arms around her waist and put her forehead against her stomach.

I wonder if she can hear the butterflies? They're angry now, my love.

"I'm sorry," the brunette mumbled into her bellybutton. Fleur's body was alight, buzzing with energy.

"For what?" Stop doing that, you know what.

"I don't know, everything? Nothing?" she laughed and looked up at her again. "Last night was hard, and I asked a lot of you. I know. I do that, I'm sorry," she slurred a little in her drunken state.

"It's okay," It's not.

"It's not," Hermione said.

Fuck, I love you.

"I want you," Fleur said.

You fucking idiot.

The brunette's hands tightened their grip on her. Her eyes were stormy, pupils large in the low light. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath through her nose. Okay, now brace for impact.

"I want you too," she said quietly.

Fleur didn't know if she was floating or drowning, but her ears were filling with water and something was grumbling in her chest to move.


"Yes," and so Fleur kissed her.

She tasted like alcohol and foreshadowing, and it felt fitting. Fleur wasted no time now. She pushed her backwards onto the bed and crawled on top of her. She pulled the woman's jaw open and forced her tongue into her mouth, swallowing the moan. The brunette pulled her harder into her body.

Lips, teeth, nails. She couldn't stop now. Something flammable was pumping out of her heart. Hermione rolled her hips into her and Fleur bit down hard on her lip, tasting blood. The brunette was scratching at her back, breaking skin, her tongue fighting back. She felt teeth dig into the side of her neck and she growled, something murderous banging its fists on the inside of her ribcage to get out.

Fleur was trying to reach more, feel more, take more. She was pushing flesh around and trying to make it fit her, but it was no good. She was no good. This wasn't working either, but it was closer than she had ever been. The room smelled of kerosene and hunger. She was ripping the fabric beneath her hands and there was still water in her ears but now she was certain she wasn't floating.

Hermione shivered underneath her and moaned as Fleur pressed her leg against her core. Fingers tightened painfully in her hair and she was not in control. The brunette licked the shell of her ear and she was not in control. Hands grabbed her ass and pulled her in tightly and she was not in control. A soft hand reached between her legs and she was no longer there.

Ragged breaths battered her ears and the taste of seawater filled her lungs as everything went black.

A distinct pop could be heard in the distance and Bill looked over at her questioningly before they both grabbed their wands and sprinted out the front door. Over the small dune, they saw a few people who were unfamiliar to her, but Bill seemed to know one of them.

An old man and young blonde looked starved to death and so filthy they couldn't have bathed in months. A handsome young man was holding her up with sunken cheeks and a pained look in his eyes. A second later another pop could be heard. Fleur fell onto her knees in the sand.

Hermione was being half-carried by Ron and Harry, covered in sweat and blood. There was a small trail of blood clotting the sand behind them as Ron carried her up the hill towards them. She was unconscious and bleeding heavily. Fleur stood up and took her from the redhead without a word, carrying her quickly back to her bedroom and going to work on stopping the wounds.

There was so much blood.

Her body would twitch every now and again as aftershocks of the Cruciatus curse continued to fry her nerves. Fleur went blind with rage for a moment as the younger witch cried and whimpered in pain. She had healed a majority of the cuts but the one on her arm wouldn't close.

Fleur was crying. She wanted to scream. She punched the lamp on the bedside table and took a deep breath as it lay broken on the floor.

She pulled off Hermione's caked clothes with hands shaking so violently it was a surprise she didn't wake up. She carried her to the bathtub and held her closely as she started the bath and watched the water slowly rise.

Fleur stuck her hand into her own chest and pulled her beating heart out. She set it in the shallow water and laid the Gryffindor on top of it carefully. She washed off the blood and sweat gently as her heart slowly drowned at the bottom of the porcelain coffin.

Fuck this. Fuck Bill. Fuck it all. She was a fool. She didn't care anymore, this woman was the only thing that mattered. She would protect her and give her anything she wanted. Anything. Everything.

A war was raging inside her, but still, she washed her gently.

Hermione was panting underneath her, a hand resting around her throat. Her mouth was swollen. One lip was bleeding. Hands were still in her blonde hair and the strap of her shirt was ripped off. Fleur was breathing sharply through her nose as the same war took place in the confines of her own body.

Head. Heart. Where the hell is that horse now?

"I can't do this," she said, and she slid off the bed and ran outside. The skin on her shoulder blades itched for a moment and she cried out briefly before leaping off the top of the hillside, her broad wings catching her just before she hit the ground.


Chapter Text

A throbbing headache was pulsing behind her eyes, and Hermione groaned, jamming the heels of her hands into them to try and relieve the pressure. She rolled to her side and peeked out of one eye at the other side of the bed, wincing at the light in the room. It was empty. Fleur hadn't come back.

She frowned and jammed her hand back into her eye sockets.

She wasn't surprised, really. Last night was…was...wait, what the hell was it? Hermione replayed her final moments of blurry consciousness.

She stumbled in the sand and Morgan caught her around the waist. Something in her brain told her that wasn't a good thing, but the weight of her thick thrall was making her mind foggy. She looked up at the woman's pretty face. Her green eyes were ever so dark.

"You look beautiful tonight, Hermione," was her voice always so low? The Minister's brain felt like goo, and someone was stroking her back lightly, "I hope this isn't too forward, but you are leaving tomorrow, so...Would you like to see one more thing the Veela can do?"

Hermione felt an arm wrap around her bare stomach and her spine was tingling as she was pulled back into what felt like a wall of familiar heat and skin.

She turned around and smiled, her hazy mind clearing up again.

"Fleur!" she hugged the blonde, and her thrall wrapped her up like a cocoon.

Suddenly she was talking closely to the other veela, Morgan, and then they were walking away. Hermione could tell she was a little drunk. It had been a long time since she'd had this much fun and let loose, and she was excitedly jabbering to Fleur about it as she walked them God-knows-where. Her vision was swimming a little, but the blonde was holding her up at least.

She felt so warm.

Hermione almost tripped as they made it to the bedroom, but Fleur steadied her again. She was too hot now. She started trying to get out of the infernal linen outfit that she could hardly believe she agreed to wear tonight, but. It. Wouldn't. Come. Off.

She felt a hand on hers and looked at Fleur's electric blue eyes screamed something at her. Hermione had no idea what they were saying, but she liked the way she was looking at her.

The veela suddenly walked away, and the brunette frowned. She had thought all morning about what happened last night. She had screwed up. I mean, it wasn't her fault, per se, that she had a nightmare, but it was unfair of her to put Fleur in that predicament. She could see Fleur's confusion all morning, and she wanted to say something but didn't quite know what to say. She wasn't good with apologies, but Hermione knew the blonde had been kicked around a bit by her indecision, and she wanted to address it.

Just do it, then, drunk brain thought. Well, aaalright, bossy.

She walked to the bathroom door. Fleur was wiping her face with a towel. She grabbed her hand and pulled the blonde to the bed, where she sat down. She still felt a little wobbly.

She opened her mouth to speak, but it wouldn't come out. She closed it again and decided to wrap her arms around the veela's small waist. She had wanted to do this all evening. Hermione pressed her forehead against her toned stomach. She was tingling everywhere.

"I'm sorry," she mumbled.

"For what?" For what? You know what. How could she explain this right now? This was starting to feel a bad idea, and everything felt so warm.

"I don't know, everything? Nothing?" Hermione didn't mean to laugh, but she was uncomfortable and inebriated. "Last night was hard, and I asked a lot of you. I know. I do that, I'm sorry," she wished she hadn't said anything. This wasn't coming out very well.

"It's okay," she said.

"It's not," Hermione replied, and the blonde looked at her lips.

"I want you," Fleur said.

She squeezed her hips. This was not how it was supposed to happen, but she felt so relaxed from the alcohol and thrall and Fleur was looking at her like she was the only person that mattered.

We shouldn't. This would just make it worse, rational brain thought. Hermione closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

"I want you too," she said quietly. Shit.

"You…?" she was moving towards her.

"Yes," she said, and then suddenly she was thrown onto her back and Fleur was on top of her with her tongue in her mouth. And God, it felt good. Too good. Hermione had been thinking about kissing this woman again for nearly ten years. Not a day went by when she didn't think about it. Her hands were everywhere, and the brunette was giving back, for once. She had to give back. She pulled her closer. 

Fleur hands were violent and greedy, but she felt like she deserved it and she would be lying if she said she didn't like it. She bit the side of her neck and heard the veela growl above her and rip her shirt. Hermione clawed at the skin on her back. Impatient thrall was licking at every inch of her skin, making goosebumps erupt in waves as she shivered underneath her weight.

A leg slipped between hers and she felt her temperature rise as a shock of pleasure shot through her for a moment. She needed more. She grabbed the blonde's hair and pulled her deeper. She grabbed her ass. More. The brunette reached a hand between her legs and massaged the outside of her underwear. Fleur growled again and put her hand on her neck tightly as she kissed her with so much force her shoulders were pushed back into the soft bed.

Her lip was bleeding. Her underwear was soaked. The blonde's hand felt tight and it scared her a little, but still, she pulled her closer. She didn't care if this was love or battery; she wanted whatever she had to offer, and if it wasn't love maybe it wouldn't hurt Fleur this time. And that was okay.  Every bite and scratch was penance for Hermione, and she had so much to atone for.

Does this count as an apology? I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

The hand suddenly loosened, and Fleur stopped kissing her.

She was breathing heavily through her nose. Her blue eyes were so dilated they were almost completely black, and Hermione felt like she was looking at a stranger.

"I can't do this," she said, and jumped off her and ran out the door without a look back.

Hermione was frozen for a moment before she snapped out of it and ran after her, swearing and stumbling a little on shaky legs. Outside the door she looked out on the hillside, trying to find a glimpse of blonde.

"Fleur!" she yelled, but the party was still going on below her and she doubted she could hear her regardless.

"Fleur!" Louder this time.

"Shit," she muttered.

She stayed outside for a few more minutes, shivering as she held up the strap of her toga. In the distance, high above the treeline, she saw a beautiful, winged creature cast a silhouette against the bright moon. Hermione watched in awe for a moment before it disappeared again.

"I'm so sorry," she whispered, and turned around to go back inside.

"Oh, god. Oh, god. Oh, god," Hermione groaned and threw her arms over the head.

That was not how the evening was supposed to go. She had a plan! She would say sorry for crossing their invisible boundary so many damn times, and then she would tell Fleur she would give her space if that's what she needed.

Hermione was finally at a place where she didn't want to be the selfish one. She was willing to try if Fleur was. And it might take a while, but it was supposed to restart with trust, and they could build that slowly and carefully. She didn't expect to be flung into the impulsive deep end in a drunken state of blissful and euphoric lust.

"Oh, fuck," she said. Who knew what Fleur had been thinking before she left?

Perhaps the veela thought she was taking advantage of her, which wasn't true. If anything, the Gryffindor was all but demanding she take her. Or perhaps she was just too conflicted and needed to stop, in which Hermione thought she had ovaries of steel. She couldn't have stopped it herself. Maybe it was a bit of both.

A dark seed planted itself in the Minister's mind. What if Fleur had reached the end of her rope? And she would never want to try again? Hermione would never get her chance to try, and she would finally be the one to feel the sting of rejection.

She felt it a little now if she was honest. It never felt good to be the one waking up to an empty bed. Something about Fleur's expression made her pause that line of thought though. It was unrecognisable to her. There was a hint of something sinister, but for the most part, it looked like she was in agony over something. Hermione was unsure as to what exactly, but she thought she had a reasonable idea.

So maybe she would let her try again.

"Urggghh!" she groaned again, throwing the covers off and finding some reasonable clothing.

Of course, this wouldn't be easy regardless, that would be too good to be true. She didn't know what she was going to do, but first things first she needed to find Fleur.

The blonde was nowhere to be found. Hermione asked all around the clan site and no one had seen her since last night at the celebration. Caden and Dominique had passed out in the sand and someone had thrown a large blanket over them. The brunette poked a toe to her assistant's shoulder, who groaned and hid his face in the back of Dominique's neck.

"Caden," Hermione whispered. Another grumble. She poked again and he glared at her with a bloodshot eye.

"What?" he asked, his voice gravelly from the early hour.

"I need to go. Will you two be fine getting back?" she asked. The Gryffindor needed to make a trip to the Ministry before she could set out to find Fleur, and she was certain the blonde wouldn't be returning today.

Caden just nodded and waved a large hand in her direction, tightening his arms around the French man with sand in his hair. Hermione was trying not to scowl at the sight.

It took about thirty minutes for her to say goodbye to everyone. She tried to put on her best diplomatic face, but it felt half-assed as her mind was elsewhere. After a round of hugs from the Veela (except Morgan, who vehemently insisted on a handshake), she was making her way back alone through the forest.

She sighed to herself as she made her way to the main trail, sweat starting to form on her brow from her quick pace through the green landscape. The birds were chirping as the day woke up to greet her, and she couldn't help but think she was really going to miss this fairy-tale place, but it was time to join reality again.

After showering and throwing on a clean suit, Hermione was able to floo to the Ministry just after lunchtime. In the atrium, there were cries of welcome and comments on her new tan, but she didn't have time to stop. She held the final report for the Welsh Veela territory in a folder under her arm as she strode into the Department for Magical Creatures.

Mr Dallons and Mr Owens looked to be speaking casually over by the reception desk and she made her way purposefully over to them.

"Good afternoon, gentleman," she said, handing over the folder, "This should be all you need to finish up with that policy. I expect it will be finalised by the end of today?"

Hal Dallons, the Department Head, was already looking inside the folder and reading through the report, but Mr Owens was smiling at her cheerily.

"Minister Granger! What a lovely surprise. I trust you are thankful your week in such primitive conditions is over now?" he laughed, resting a chubby hand on his pot-belly.

Hermione's eyes narrowed, and Mr Dallons looked up at him with wide eyes.

"My week was perfect, thank you, Mr Owens. I was quite sad to leave," she said carefully.

"Oh, right! Right! I can imagine you feel absolutely miserable to be out of the mud and back in a real society," he said with a guffaw, trying to get Mr Dallons to agree with him unsuccessfully.

Is this guy serious?

Hermione looked around the floor of the department. There were a few people watching them, but no one looked exactly surprised by Mr Owens outburst.

"Right," she said swiftly, and then louder she addressed the room, "I would appreciate everyone's attention briefly." She paused as about twenty pairs of eyes fell on her.

"I have spent the past week with a Veela clan on our nation's soil. That does not mean they, or any other magical creature, do not deserve the affordable rights and respect of our world. In fact, we should seek to learn from their ancient societies and peaceful traditions, considering our history of violence and control. I can't believe I even have to say it to this department, but if I hear one more bigoted word about magical creatures in a manner that distinguishes them as lesser you will be suspended from your duties immediately. It is not tolerated here. Ever. Witches and wizards are not better than any other being simply because your ancestors kicked the shit out of everyone who was different. Is that clear?"

The swearing was probably unnecessary, but Hermione was pissed. There were nods around the room, though, some vigorously agreeing with her tirade. It looked like most people were on board with her sentiments, thankfully.

"Minister, I mean no disrespect," Mr Owens said with a disrespectful laugh, "but sometimes these creatures we deal with are simply unable to be a part of our world, you know? Some of them are so far behind our advances it's barbaric, really."

Hermione didn't speak for a moment. Her already thin thread of patience had evidently just been snipped by this balding idiot.

"Mr Owens, thank you for making an excellent example," she dropped her voice again, "You are hereby suspended from your duties. You will be required to go to third-party approved counselling sessions three times a week to deal with your intolerances if you ever want a job at this Ministry again, and you will not be allowed back inside this department even in that event."

A letter suddenly flew in front of the Deputy Head and he picked up his suspension with shaking fingers. She addressed Mr Dallons now as Mr Owens turned purple beside her.

"Mr Dallons, as Head of Magical Creatures I expect better from you. I will be appointing a new Deputy for you next week, and you will get that territory policy finished by four o'clock."

She turned on her heel and stormed out, but she swore she could hear excited chattering behind her.

If there was one thing Hermione was certain of, it was that this day was going terribly.

"Aunty Mione!" James knocked the wind out of her as he slammed his little body into her stomach before she had even passed the threshold of Grimmauld Place.

"Hey, smelly, how are you?" she said after her breath returned.

"Good, look! I have a loose tooth!" He stuck his finger in his mouth and wiggled a baby tooth for her.

"Wow!" she looked with big eyes, "Are you going to get a visit from the tooth fairy?"

He looked at her like she had grown another head.

"It's not a fairy, Mione," Harry spoke, smiling as he watched their interaction from the end of the hallway, "It's a tooth troll apparently," he whispered to her, rolling his eyes.

The Minister laughed, shaking her head, but glad she was able to share the ridiculousness of being in the magical world with someone.

Ginny rounded the corner with her hair up and her cheeks red. She waddled over to her with great discomfort, fanning herself with a hand.

"Hey love, how are you?" she gave her a quick hug, and Hermione raised an eyebrow at her frazzled state, "Oh, I'm on bloody fire—I can't stop sweating."

"Ahhh, I see," Hermione chuckled and hung up her jacket, meeting them in the kitchen and taking her usual seat.

A glass of wine was already ready for her and she gave a groan of appreciation to her friends' thoughtfulness.

They made it through dinner with the boys going over the Potter's week mostly, but yet again Hermione could feel the eyes of her friends on her intently. After they cleaned up and got settled to the living room, Ginny made short work of getting down to brass tacks.

"So, are you going to tell us what is finally going on with you?"

And because Hermione, for the first time in her life had no idea what to do next, she did. She told them everything. How she was Fleur's mate, her fourth-year rejection, Bill and the wedding, Shell Cottage, and now this past week. She told them of how she tried to find out where she was this afternoon, but to no avail. She wasn't at the French Ministry. It was an hour later when she finished talking, and she had gone through two more glasses of wine in the process as Harry and Ginny looked at her with wide eyes.

"Holy shit, Hermione," Harry finally said, and Hermione winced. You know it was bad if the raven-haired man was cursing.

Ginny looked murderous, and Hermione was worried about the incoming wrath of the redhead. She put a hand up.

"Before you bite my head off," she said, "A lot of this was me, I know. I pushed and pushed, and when I was finally ready to pull, she wasn't ready to be pulled. It's just…complicated," she sighed. She had no idea how to explain this.

"We are both just so stubborn, and I should have just let my feelings come to fruition, but...I don't know. I was scared. I've always had a plan and a reason for that plan. Everything just falls apart with Fleur. She makes me feel insane sometimes," she was breathing harder now as her frustration grew.

Ginny was still glaring at her, but at least she didn't have her wand out.

"You're in love with her, Hermione," she finally said, much more softly than the Minister was expecting, but she still flinched.

"I…," she felt like crying, but she took a sip of wine instead. She didn't respond.

"Mione, you have to tell her," Harry said, looking at her with piercing green eyes. Ginny was nodding next to him, looking at Hermione with pity now.

"I don't think I deserve her now," she choked out, and the dam finally broke and her friends wrapped her up in a tight embrace as she cried and cried and cried.

Fleur was perfect. Ever since she had met her she felt something unnatural pulling her to the woman. At first, she was scared of it, and that was fine. Fleur was understanding, and they were both so young. But the continued ambiguity had probably slowly killed the woman over all these years. The brunette was quick to sort everything into a filing cabinet in the back of her brain titled, "Do Not Open!" and she wondered if the veela had been able to do the same, or if she just learned to live with the feelings of loneliness and rejection.

The truth was Hermione didn't know how to open that file without having to admit she had royally screwed up. And that she had loved her the whole bloody time, but she was too much of a coward to fight for her. As time went on, the shape of her indecisiveness took the form of revulsion at herself for dragging the veela along. She deserved more than that. She shouldn't give her another chance. 

"Hermione," Ginny said severely, pulling her out of her spiralling thoughts. The brunette looked up with red eyes, "You need to tell her. You have no idea why she ran out last night, but I would suspect she doesn't think you feel the same again."

Harry was nodding.

"And you two will never work this out without having an actual conversation. It's been sixteen years and you've just danced around it!" she continued.

"Until last night," Hermione said, holding a finger up.

"Well, from what you told us it sounded a little intense, and Fleur probably doesn't just want an angry bang," she said offhandedly.

"Ginny!" Harry and Hermione both scolded her brashness.

"Well, it's true!" she yelled, "And you were drunk! Fleur was probably losing control and decided to remove herself from the situation. Plus we have no idea how bonding works for mates."

Hermione had already thought over all of this, but hearing Ginny say it reinforced everything and she felt a wave of shame and guilt crawl around her stomach.

"I didn't mean for it to get that far. I was trying to apologise," she wiped her eyes again.

"I know, love, but it's got to be a lot for her to hear that after so long, and not want to act on it," Ginny reasoned.

The Minister groaned and put her head in her hands. Harry rubbed her back soothingly.

"You need to talk to her, Mione. When has she ever made it seem like she didn't love you back?" the redhead asked.

"I don't know, Tuesday?" Hermione laughed hollowly, but the Potters gave a look to cut it out.

"No, she was trying to protect herself," Ginny said sternly, "She thought you didn't want her, and keeping her distance was the solution. She'll never know unless you tell her, and not drunkenly. Hell, she probably even broke it off with Bill to free herself up for you!"

Hermione grimaced and thought back to her strange dream-like state at Shell Cottage.

Hermione's bones were achy. Her muscles screamed in protest as she reached for her burning forearm, but a gentle hand stopped her. She couldn't resist it, she was so weak, so she just let it be. She felt so warm and content, like someone had dumped a pile of warm laundry on top of her. She smiled, even though it hurt.

Someone was holding her hand and it was the only part of her that didn't hurt, so she focused on that. She was slipping in and out of consciousness, the warmth lulling her back to sleep for a moment until a spasm of pain would bring everything back into focus. There was a thumb rubbing circles on the top of her hand and she drifted off again.

Someone was speaking softly and in her state of limbo she thought maybe she had died, and it was an angel helping carry her away into whatever was next. Or maybe she was still dying, and they were helping her get through the end of what was. The angel was speaking in another language, and Hermione couldn't understand, but that was fine. She felt like she didn't need to understand this, for once. She couldn't speak music.

"I'm so sorry I couldn't protect you, but I am here now," the angel said in a foreign tongue, "I'll always be here. I told him I couldn't do it anymore. That there was someone else; my mate. And that I have to wait for them. And maybe you still don't want me, but if you do, I'll be here. I'll always be here."

If this was a dream it was a really nice one, but she couldn't stay here forever. Hermione felt the need to speak to the angel, to ask for help to get back. She still had to get back. Harry and Ron still needed her. She had to finish this war and get her parents back. Another sharp pain shot down her spine and she hissed. The thumb continued to stroke as a thick layer of warmth drifted over her again, and finally, she was pulled into numbing emptiness again.

The brunette never did find out if that was a dream or not, and she never got the chance to. The blonde had looked after her as she healed, but she was always impossibly silent as she helped her eat, bathe, and get herself dressed. Hermione thought she was still mad at her, which was understandable, and she didn't want to make her more uncomfortable. So they didn't speak. Her wounds healed in a few weeks, and by the time Hermione was physically recovered, they were twisting away again in the early hours of a cold morning, intent on finishing what they started.

She sighed, "I don't know, you might be right, but she never told me that outright. At least, nothing I can remember,"

"Either way, Hermione," Harry said, "I think you owe her a little transparency for once. Maybe she's not perfect, but she's hurting and she needs you."

She nodded her head. They were right, of course. Fleur was hurting, and it was her fault. Feeling an overwhelming sense of idiocy and resolve, Hermione would be damned if she let it go on a second longer than she already had. She just hoped she wasn't too late.

Hermione stood up, "Right, I'm off to France then."

Chapter Text

She didn't know how long she had been flying for—probably hours by now—but she was still going. Still moving west. High above the clouds, she beat her snowy wings against the night sky, trying to get farther and farther from whatever mess she had left behind her. And really, really trying not to turn around.

Fleur knew she did the right thing, deep down, but it was a bitter pill to swallow and one that almost came right back up, truthfully. She was feeling guilty. Hermione had been drinking, and she was far from being in control of herself. It scared her. There were moments she couldn't remember, as if she had blacked out, or something else inside of her had taken over, and the blonde didn't know what to make of that.

You're a lovestruck fool and you are dangerous, that's what you can make of it, her helpful brain offered.

She wished she would stop thinking about it, but her neck was sore from where Hermione bit her and the scratches on her back were stinging against the cool air. They were constant reminders of her lack of restraint and her bad decision-making.

The taste of the air was getting saltier, and she dipped below the clouds briefly to gauge where she was now. She was passing a port of sorts, with ferries lined up along the coast. She moved back into the cover of the clouds. Another hour or so and the air changed again, and she smiled now. She tucked her wings tightly to her body and in a blur of white she dove towards the earth at a great speed. Fleur landed smoothly on a rocky beach and rubbed her sore shoulders briefly before turning on the spot and apparating home.

Her mother was waiting for her, likely having felt her cross the wards. Apolline didn't say anything, just held her arms open and wrapped her up in a tight embrace, enclosing her in the warm, familiar thrall. Maybe it was something about a mother's touch, but Fleur felt six years old, three feet tall, and a scraped knee again, and she cried into the shoulder of her beautiful mother as her wings were stroked gently.

Fleur woke up extremely disoriented for a moment. Her long journey last night left her feeling exhausted, although she was pretty sure she had slept until midday. She hated it, but she thought of Hermione, as she often did first thing in the morning. The brunette would likely be back at the Ministry sometime today. The blonde wondered how her morning went. She tried to stifle the feeling of guilt at leaving her there to sort it out.

She's a big girl, she can figure it out, she thought, mostly with affection.

Her stomach grumbled, and she threw off the plush covers and padded to the bathroom, gasping at the state of herself.

She had never seen her hair in such a mess. Due to her blood, she rarely had to tame it. It ended up naturally falling into place, for which she was thankful, mostly. Now, however, it was tangled and looked like a bird's nest had been electrocuted atop her head. Her neck and collar bone were covered in bite marks and hickeys, and she felt a pang of shame again, but shook herself out of it and started the shower.

As she made her way downstairs, her stomach grumbled and she realised she hadn't consumed anything but alcohol in ages. Her sister would not be home, and her father was at work, but she was surprised to see her grand-mère, Adele, at the head of the table speaking to her mother when she strolled into the dining room. Her grand-mère was nearly eighty years old but didn't look a day over forty. Her mother looked her own age, but that had never fooled Fleur a second in thinking these women lacked the wisdom of their years. 

"Fleur, my dear, it is lovely to see you," Adele said, happily receiving two kisses on the cheek from her eldest granddaughter.

"I am surprised to see you. I thought you would be traveling around this time of year," Fleur replied, helping herself to the spread of salad and fruit on the table.

"Ah, yes. I was in Turkey, but your mother sent an owl to me early this morning and I thought I might make try to make an appearance for your impromptu visit home."

Fleur nodded but didn't say anything. Her mother was watching her closely. It was her grand-mère that spoke first.

"Is it Hermione?" Adele asked, taking an elegant sip of her coffee.

Fleur saw this coming. They all saw this coming. There was really no point pussyfooting around what was going on.

"Yes. I had to spend the week with her at the Welsh site this week for work, and it got a little…problematic," she explained vaguely.

"I can see that based on the state of your neck," Adele remarked dryly.

"You had to stay with her? What happened?" Apolline asked curiously, avoiding her mother's comment. Her family knew the Gryffindor was her mate, and though they didn't understand why Fleur didn't keep trying to complete the bond, they were at least pleased that she had broken it off with Bill all those years ago.

Fleur told them about the week and the details of last night. Adele was shaking her head before she had finished.

"Fleur, my child, you let the veela take control over you after being so dormant. You cannot let that happen again. You must always be in control with your mate. We are creatures of love, not lust," Adele reprimanded her.

"I know, I made a mistake," she said, sighing. "It was…It has been so long, and we were drinking. I fooled myself for a moment. I just felt so…angry."

Adele just hummed in response. Her mother was still looking at her.

"What are you going to do now, Fleur?" Apolline asked.

"Nothing," she said, prepared for that question, "I'm going to pretend the week didn't happen and erase her from my mind again."

"By sleeping around with women you think look like her? Don't think I don't know, Fleur. You can't keep doing this. It's not healthy," her mother's eyes pierced her, and she looked down.

"No…I don't want to do that anymore. I could never, you know, anyways…" she trailed off, looking down at the tablecloth.

"Yes, I can imagine that's frustrating. It will only happen with your mate, unfortunately, my dear," her grand-mere explained briskly, causing Fleur to blush.

She knew this already though. That was the price of having a soulmate.

"But we are not only talking of sex," Apolline said stubbornly, "You should not hide away again. Perhaps things were difficult this week, but maybe there is no better time than now to try again?"

"I don't know what I would say. I just need more time, but I will think about it, mother," she said tiredly, resting her head on a hand.

"Time has not been your friend, my dear," Adele said.

"That, I think we can all agree on. Time has been a real asshole," Fleur replied dully.

Fleur spent the next few days trying to rearrange her thoughts into some semblance of normality. On Sunday morning she received an owl from Dominique, asking her out for dinner and drinks later on to catch up. She smiled, thinking it would be a great distraction and she could finally get some details on his budding romance with Caden.

She threw on a summery white dress and some heels, opting for no makeup and throwing her hair up in a messy bun. They were meeting in a spot unfamiliar to her, but when she apparated to the location she was surprised by how beautiful the setting was. The seaside restaurant was right on the water, and the sun was starting to bleed the blue out of the sky with oranges, pinks, and reds streaked and smeared across the horizon.

She passed a large patio area that was empty on her way to the door, asking the hostess to direct her to her table. They walked through the quiet restaurant until they reached the patio door, where Hermione Granger was standing, holding it open for her.

Fleur was so sick of how this woman could kickstart her heart so easily, and her breath was taken away without her consent yet again. The Minister was in a tailored grey suit, a white shirt, and black shoes. She looked very well put together, almost as if she was dressed for a date.

I don't want a date, Fleur scowled, but walked out to the patio. It wouldn't do anyone any good to cause a scene inside.

Hermione pulled a chair out for her, and she was trying to figure out what the hell was going on before she sat down across from her and began.

"I will explain," she said, pouring out a glass of white wine for Fleur that had been chilling on the table, "I have been badgering your office for the past two days asking for you, and I finally got a hold of Dominique. I explained the situation a little bit, and I cooked up this plan. He's quite the romantic so he was very keen on helping me."

Fleur chose not to respond to that. She wanted to know why the Gryffindor was here.

Noticing the blonde's expression, her brown eyes turned downcast. She took a deep breath. Fleur was holding hers.

"I need to say a few things to you Fleur, and I truly don't think I deserve your time or patience anymore, but I hope you will choose to stay and hear me out. Just this final time, I promise," she pleaded, her brown eyes not moving from blue.

Fleur was still trying to get over the surprise that she was here. Her thoughts raced for a moment. She was still angry and hurt, but her mother's words echoed in her head again and she reached for her wine with a sigh.

"I am listening," she said, taking a small sip.

Hermione's face lit up briefly, "Thank you," she said softly, and she paused, contemplating.

"I don't expect anything from you, nor do I think I deserve it right now, but I need you to know where I stand currently," she said, and took a shaky breath, "This is ten years too late, Fleur, but I am deeply in love with you."

"I…" she started again, "I have been a coward. A colossal idiot. I didn't know how to accept my feelings, so I didn't let you in at all. It took me until this week to realise how much that has hurt you over the years, and how much I have neglected your feelings for the sake of my own comfort and sanity. I have been incredibly selfish since this all started. Somehow, saying 'I am sorry', doesn't feel remotely remorseful enough to convey the sorrow and shame I feel for the way I have treated you," she swallowed.

A pause again. She looked down and was fiddling with her napkin. Fleur wasn't sure she had taken a breath yet.

Did she just say she was in love with me? Her heart was beating wildly in her chest, the traitor.

"I don't know what you want, or what you need right now," Hermione was looking at her again, "but I will do anything. I want to try; at your pace, on your terms. Or not, if that's what you decide," she said faintly.

Fleur's mind was whirring, memories and moments replaying cruelly in some final song and dance. But this carnival was closed. The lights were off and the funhouse was being torn down and packed away. What was the risk now? What was Hermione's track record? If she were a betting woman, Fleur thought the odds were impossibly out of her favour, and she couldn't afford to lose again.

There were still some kids in that carnival parking lot, though, getting drunk on stolen beer and her heart was screaming, It's not over, not really! You can't go home yet.

Stay for one more drink.

And so here she was again, battling between her head and her treacherous, masochistic heart. She remembered that promise she made, all those years ago at Shell Cottage. That she would wait for her. She would wait for this - this exact moment - when Hermione was finally ready.

It suddenly didn't seem that simple. Time had changed her, and Hermione had made choices that made her uncertain. It was awful, this bond, sometimes. Fate and blood and whatever Veela bullshit would have her believe this woman was her second half of a mutualistic relationship, but it had always felt so incredibly parasitic to Fleur. She was draining her of everything. Was circumstance a part of this? Did the bond really account for all these variables? And who the hell made these rules anyway?

Hello?! You, Mother of us all,

Goddess of Love and Pain,

Did you see that?

What happened last time?

And the time before that? And that?

Do you still think you made the right call?

If there was a sign, maybe it was sitting right in front of her, but Fleur still wasn't certain that would cut it.

"I am…not sure what to say," she finally replied. Hermione waited as she collected her thoughts.

Fleur shook her head. Maybe she should start somewhere else instead, "Before I address all of that, I would like to apologise to you," she held up a hand as Hermione opened her mouth to protest.

"Don't," the blonde said decisively, "I took advantage of you. You were drunk and I apparently have much less restraint than I anticipated. Things got out of hand, and I apologise."

"I wanted it, Fleur. I want you. I wasn't lying," the brunette said softly.

Fleur narrowed her eyes, "You did not want me like that," she responded coldly, "Nor do I."

The Gryffindor was searching for something in her eyes, but she nodded in understanding. "You're right," she said, her eyes shining.

More silence. She took another sip of wine.

"I don't know how to trust you, I think," Fleur finally said, "You say these things now, and my heart is soaring, but I have heard things that made my heart soar before, only for it to be shot down like an animal moments later," she decided she wasn't going to be gentle about this.

Hermione looked away and nodded. There was pain in her eyes.

"I know."

"And I appreciate the apology, but there are many, many things that still plague me. That I am not sure I can forgive. This, whatever it is...I don't know…" she was not sure where she was going with this.

Hermione looked determined, "It's okay. It's understandable if you don't know yet. If you want time, you can have it. I just want to give you back the same kindness you have given me, which is the option. I'm here now—late, but I'm here," she reached across the table slightly, offering a hand if the blonde wanted to take it.

She did want to, but Fleur didn't move.

How easy this would be if she could just succumb to some form of amnesia. If someone could take away the memories of her heart crystallising like ice over time. If the wounds were numb, maybe, she could do this easily, but they had never been numb. She had felt and seen everything with wide eyes and no anaesthetic. She couldn't listen to her heart now. Not yet.

"I need time, Hermione," she said, repeating the Gryffindor's own words back to her all those years ago.

Hermione caught it, and looked away, swallowing thickly and pressing her lips in a tight line.

"Okay, whatever you need," she said shakily, nodding and keeping the tears at bay.

"I think, however," Hermione snapped her head back to her so quickly she must have cricked her neck, "that perhaps, this time, we could work on getting to know one another," Fleur said with a small, sad smile as Hermione looked at her like she was Christmas morning.

"Yes," she said breathlessly, "O-Of course, Fleur. That would be…so much more than I deserve right now."

Fleur felt herself smile fully for the first time, her heart skipping as she tried to control the feeling of happiness bubbling up inside of her.

"Yes, well, you will need to earn it, and you can start by buying me dinner," she said shrewdly, grabbing the menu and hiding her smile behind it, unable to see Hermione trying to wipe the joyful expression off her beaming face.

"I'll earn it, I promise."

Chapter Text

Hermione was doing something very peculiar. The Minister was in a meeting and she was not paying attention at all. What was she doing that was so much more important than floo network updates, you might ask? She was thinking about Fleur again, of course. It had been two weeks since she had seen her last. The blonde had to do some work in Romania, and they were unable to meet again until late tonight. The Minister had been persistent with her letters to the woman, and though the blonde got back to her much more infrequently, she seemed to appreciate the effort.

Still in disbelief that they were actually trying to be friends, while fully knowing the realities of each other's feelings, was new territory for the Gryffindor. She constantly reprimanded herself every time she thought about what a flaming idiot she had been for not seeing it earlier.

Fleur had been guarded, understandably. They had met up a handful of times casually over the course of the last month, and each time it was polite, awkward, and a little tense, but it was something. And it was progress. They didn't avoid their past, per se. A few times they got into some heated, history-ridden arguments, but they always seemed to skirt around the meat and potatoes: feelings, reasons, and consequences. Hermione was cognizant of the fact that there were some topics that would need to be hashed out in great detail, and she wanted to take Fleur's lead on the pace of those conversations. As of yet, she didn't seem keen on getting into it too heavily, but that was fine. They had time.

Hermione sighed dreamily, half-listening as a witch from the regulatory department wrapped up the meeting in a monotone voice. She packed up quickly as chairs scraped and people hastened to get out the door. It was Friday afternoon and it was time to go home.

The brunette went home to shower and change before heading to the Potter's for dinner. Harry was in the kitchen with Hermione, cutting up some toppings for homemade pizzas as Ginny fussed to get the boys to bed.

"So," he started as he cut an onion, "How are things going with Fleur?"

She couldn't stop the grin adorning her face when she heard her name, "Really good, I think. I feel like we are finally starting to get somewhere."

"Mmmm, good," he replied, leaving the conversation open if she wanted to continue.

"I just…I don't know, I know I have no right to be impatient, but I am just going a little crazy now, I guess," she said offhandedly.

"Going crazy?" he asked, looking up with a questioning look.

Ginny was striding in at that moment, a hand on her enormous belly, "She means she's horny," she stated with a knowing look at the brunette, who ducked her head down to try and hide her blush.

"Oh!" Harry coughed, a blush on his cheeks as well, "Well, erm, I suppose that is expected, Mione, what with –"

Ginny cut his off, "What's the deal with the mating thing? Have you guys talked about that yet?"

"Um, no. No, we haven't," Hermione said nervously.

"Well, you should. Tonight, when you see her. I think you should know what you're working towards, don't you?" she winked, and Harry cleared his throat, shaking his head a little.

"Yeah, you might be right," Hermione trailed off, deep in thought. She had thought about bringing it up with the blonde but wasn't sure if it was too soon or not. Thankful that she had her friendship now, she was being overly cautious about these sorts of subjects. The mere thought of talking about sex with Fleur made her heart race, but she wasn't sure she would be up to discussing it so early on.

Ginny interrupted her thoughts, "I also think you should flirt more."

That surprised the Minister, whose eyebrows shot up, "Flirt?" she asked as if the word was foreign to her.

The redhead laughed, "Yes, Hermione, flirt. Touching, innuendos, all that noise. You're courting the woman for crying out loud! She probably wants to just as much as you do, but you're the one who needs to be making the effort right now. It wouldn't hurt for her to feel wanted in…that way."

"Right!" Harry shouted, much too loud, eager to redirect the conversation, "Pizzas are ready to be topped. Help yourselves," he waved his hand at the assortment of options.

"I know something else ready to be topped," Ginny murmured with another wink at Hermione, who groaned and put her bright red face in her hands.

Hermione was fidgeting nervously at the dinner table, waiting on Fleur's arrival. After her conversation with the Potter's, she was feeling uncertain about trying to lay on the charm a little more. Flirting was exceptionally outside of her comfort zone.

She took a deep breath as the veela walked in, handing her coat to the hostess and sauntering over to their secluded table. Hermione had decided to go with something a little more formal tonight. They were at a nice Italian restaurant in the heart of London. It was a Muggle establishment, but Fleur hadn't seemed to mind that at all in the past. Hermione had worn her favourite blue suit with a black shirt, and she was feeling fairly confident until she eyed her date in greater detail.

Fleur was wearing black heels and a slinky silver cocktail dress. The dress left her back completely bare and had a slit up the leg that nearly reached her hip bone. Hermione took a drink of water, her throat suddenly very, very dry. Her hair was down and cascading down past her shoulders in gentle blonde waves.

She stood up and pulled Fleur's chair out for her, earning her a soft, "Merci" from the woman. Hermione politely called the waiter over and ordered a nice bottle of red wine for them to share.

Fleur seemed to be watching her carefully. She tried to ignore it.

"It's great to see you," she said, trying to keep her eyes up, "You look stunning."

Hermione could have sworn there was a slight blush on her cheeks, but she wasn't certain in the warm lighting.

"Thank you, 'Ermione, as do you," her accent sounded a little thicker as she said her name, and it made her shiver a little.

The waiter came over with their bottle and Hermione offered to taste it for the table. They placed an order for some appetizers before the blonde spoke again.

"How did you find this place?" she asked, taking a sip of wine and pursing her lips appreciatively.

"Oh, I venture into the Muggle world quite frequently. It reminds me of home and I can get away from the prying eyes for a moment," she explained.

"Ah, yes. A semblance of your identity again?" Fleur asked, remembering their conversation in Wales.

Hermione hummed in agreement, "Yeah, it helps. I…I get a little…" she stopped. She didn't want to get too heavy in conversation. "Never mind, how was your trip?" she asked, overdoing the casualness.

Fleur quirked an eyebrow, not falling for it, "A little what?" completely ignoring her question.

She dropped her eyes, staring intently at the silverware, unsure if this was a conversation she wanted to get into. 

"I get a little sad," she said quietly.

Fleur's eyes softened at that, "Sad?" she asked gently.

"I…" she sighed, evidently she wasn't getting out of this, "I erased my parents' memories of me during the war. I sent them to Australia believing they didn't have a daughter," Fleur's eyebrows shot up in surprise, "I…when I tried to reverse it, I couldn't. I did it too strong."

She took a deep breath, "I spent almost two years of my spare time with the St. Mungo's research team, trying to find a solution, but nothing worked, so I just left them there," she shrugged.

Fleur was shocked, "Left them there…?"

"In Australia," she nodded, "They were happy there. It didn't seem right to upheave everything again to bring them back."

Fleur was nodding distantly, her mind processing. She reached a hand across the table and softly covered Hermione's with her own. She felt the soothing effects of her thrall as a warmth spread up her arm.

"I'm so sorry, Hermione," she said, her eyes bright, "I didn't know."

The Minister shrugged again, "Not many people do. I didn't want it getting around, it's okay,"

"I really can't imagine how difficult that must have been," the blonde said softly, searching her eyes.

"It wasn't great, but it's okay. Time heals all wounds, right?" she said lightly, but then winced as she realised what she just said.

Fleur didn't react. Instead, she continued to search her face for something that made Hermione want to squirm in her seat.

"I suppose we will find out," she said softly, almost to herself.

Thankfully, the waiter interrupted the moment and delivered their appetizers with a courteous bow, offering to take their order, but politely accepting their need for some more time.

Hermione changed the subject. She finally got Fleur talking about her family a few weeks ago, and it was a topic she loved to bring up because of how animated and happy the veela was when reminiscing about them. She was ten minutes into a story of Gabrielle's latest case as an Auror for the French Ministry when the waiter came over again and took their orders.

A pleasant lull in the conversation followed, and Hermione was feeling calm and relaxed from the wine and Fleur's easy-going presence. She decided she would give Ginny's advice a try.

"So, how does the bonding process work exactly?" she tried to ask it coolly, but the way Fleur looked at her it came out anything but that. She narrowed her eyes briefly, before sighing in defeat.

"I suppose you should know by now," she said, "It is three stages, but they are dependent on one another in a certain order."

She seemed nervous. Hermione tried to put her at ease a little, "Okay, please go on," she said with a small smile. 

Fleur just sighed and went on, "First, there is acceptance of the bond. Generally, this is verbal. Second, there is…um, sex, in which a marking takes place. After that, a Veela ceremony is completed to accept the mate into the clan."

"A marking?"

"A bite," she explained, looking away, "It is…a claim. For certain creatures, it establishes that you are spoken for."

"Oh, that's fairly straightforward," she responded, her excitement growing for some reason.

"Mmmm," she didn't sound so sure.

"What?" Hermione asked.

"It's just…I suppose I should tell you… element…" she started nervously.


"For female partners…" the veela stalled.

"Fleur just spit it out," she demanded.



"I grow an appendage!" the blonde said somewhat loudly and startling an elderly woman at a nearby table.

There was a beat of silence as the Minister swallowed something stuck in her throat. Fleur had looked away, her cheeks pink.

"Oh," Hermione squeaked, blushing like a tomato.

"It's for reproductive purposes, obviously," Fleur clarified, and Hermione was trying to put out the fire on her face.

"I get it," she said, trying to wave a hand nonchalantly, "That's…um, that's perfectly fine."

It was more than fine. Hermione had thought about sex with Fleur in a thousand different ways, and any way would be perfect, but for some reason, this sparked a match in her like no other. That no one had seen it. That the veela had not even seen it herself.

"Yes, well, that can only occur if the mate has accepted," Fleur continued.

"So that night…" she started, her mind trying to connect some lost dots.

Fleur looked like she did not like where her brain was taking her.

"You wouldn't have…?" Hermione probed.

Blue eyes looked away again, "No, it would not have happened then."

"But you can still...? Without it..?" she trailed off. 

Fleur was still staring at the floor, "I can't, no. Not without those steps. Not if a mate is alive."

"Holy shit," the brunette muttered, leaning back in her chair. No orgasms? That was unexpected.

"Indeed," she replied bitterly, picking up her wine glass again.

"I... I didn't know,", her mind was struggling to conceptualise the new information.

"Would it have changed anything?" she questioned coldly.

Hermione thought about that. Probably not, but it changed a lot now.

The Minister decided to go with her gut, "I suppose we will find out," she said, repeating her words.

Fleur looked at her, eyes burning with something. It reminded her of that night, in Wales. There was a dichotomous nature to it, as if she herself was conflicted with the message she was trying to send.

It made her want to both sink into her chair and jump across the table, but she did neither. She held the gaze and then smiled a little, awkwardly.

"Let's change the subject, shall we? How was your trip?"

The rest of dinner was pleasant. The brunette ordered a truffle pasta dish and Fleur picked a steak salad. The food was amazing, and Fleur groaned appreciatively, even tried a bite of pasta from the Gryffindor's plate. Hermione was feeling a little bolder as they got more comfortable, and she even thought her attempts at flirting were not half bad.

"Here, you have a little something," and she swiped a thumb pad gently over the corner of her mouth.

"Yes, I know four languages. I've been told I am quite good with my tongue," she winked.

"I think you would know exactly to how to pitch a tent, Fleur," she said with a knowing laugh.

Fleur was startled at first by the sudden forwardness and almost spat out her wine but seemed to be taking it all in stride now. Hermione made a mental note to thank her friend next time she saw her. They had finished their meals now, and the brunette had ordered them a dessert to share.

The veela was asking about work again as they dug into the fruit tart, and Hermione was trying hard not to look at her mouth.

Was it hot in here?

Hermione shook her head, pulling at her collar a little before stabbing the last strawberry lingering on the plate. She looked at it briefly, took a deep breath, and moved a little closer.

"Here," she said quietly, holding it near her mouth. Fleur lifted an eyebrow in uncertainty for a moment, before leaning forward and wrapping her lips around it. The way her lips dragged across her fork and pressed together briefly as she chewed. The brunette followed it down as she swallowed and her pink tongue darted out to wet her lips, collecting any remaining sweetness that might be lingering.

Hermione was blatantly staring now. Fleur never took her eyes off her, and the brunette saw her eyes darken inhumanly from a pale blue to a deep sapphire. The Minister clenched her jaw, leaning back again and taking a deep breath, placing her fork down carefully with a shaking hand.

The veela's closed her eyes, but when she looked back up the cold, pale blueness had returned.

Great job, Hermione, she thought. Too far.

"I'm sorry," she said, kicking herself.

"Are you trying to make this difficult for me?" the blonde asked quietly, ignoring her.

"What? No, of course not Fleur—" she started.

"I told you I needed space. I don't need to be wined and dined and buttered up."

"Wait, that is not what I am doing—"

"It certainly seems like that is what you're doing. You have been flirting with me all evening," she said, and now Hermione really did shrink back a little in her seat. "You seem intent on torturing me, still, knowing how hard this might be for me," she said angrily.

"I'm not trying to torture you, I'm sorry," she said meekly. This was not going to plan. Damn strawberry. Damn Ginny.

"What is it? Is it the orgasm thing? Is this some kind of pity?" Fleur asked, throwing her napkin onto the table.

"What! No. Jesus, Fleur, I just…I just…" Think, think, you idiot.

"Spit it out, Hermione," she said through gnashed teeth.

"I just want you!" she bit back angrily, honestly, "And I want you to know that I do."

There was a beat of silence.

"Oh, so you want something, and you can't get it? Imagine how terrible that must be," Fleur bit through gritted teeth, standing up. She was grabbing her coat, but Hermione was already on her feet, handing her wallet over to the hostess and yelling out, "I'll be right back!" before running after the blonde out the door.

She was already twenty paces ahead by the time she made it out to the street. The Minister knew she needed to find a place to apparate, and she figuratively pat herself on the back for choosing a Muggle neighbourhood. She ran after the head of blonde hair, "Fleur!"

She turned her head at the sound of her name but didn't stop walking. There was an alley coming up and Hermione quickened her pace, finally grabbing her wrist just as they turned the corner.

The veela looked at the hand on wrist, and the brunette momentarily wondered if this was a bad idea before she was slammed against a brick wall and her mouth was covered with Fleur's. It was brief and angry, and Hermione wondered if they would ever be able to share a kiss without this beautiful rage. Hands were pulling hard in her hair as her mouth was invaded with a tongue that still tasted like that damn strawberry. Just as quickly as it started it was over, and the blonde was backing away, her dark eyes furious.

"Don't find me," she spat, and then she was gone again.

Chapter Text

Fleur was staring up at the light fixture above her bed. It was Wednesday evening, almost two weeks since she had met Hermione for dinner in London. Thankfully, the brunette seemed to heed her warning, and she didn't come traipsing through all of Europe trying to make contact with her again. The older witch just needed a little space, which worked out in her favour because she had to spend a week in Italy anyway. She was back now, however, and thinking about the Gryffindor again now that there was nothing to distract her.

Dinner that night had its ups and downs, but for the most part, Fleur was happy with the way things were transpiring between them. She was getting stuck on their argument. The flirting. The blonde was angry about it. Definitely. Mostly. Maybe. She was almost positive that was it. The more she thought about it, though, the more she remembered that their flirting argument seemed even milder than some of the others they have had. So, if it wasn't that she wasn't sure why was stuck on why she reacted so intensely.

After two weeks of reflection, Fleur decided that she may have overreacted a little. Sure, Hermione could have eased off the flirting, but she wasn't upset about that until she mentioned her…dysfunction. She had actually enjoyed the playfulness, feeling it was a natural part of what should happen between them. Once the sex thing was out in the air, however, she felt exposed, like the brunette had the upper hand somehow. And, understandably, she was embarrassed by it, but that wasn't Hermione's fault.

Fleur sighed. She knew she should talk to her, especially considering the brunette was explicitly told not to seek her out. It was just difficult trying to be impartial, and she didn't want to admit she was wrong. She was the one who had been wronged this whole time, had she not?

I guess it depends on who you ask. 

No, if this was going to work that line of thought was dangerous. She had been wronged for a while, sure, but it was a two-way street of miscommunication, and she was sure the brunette knew this as well. Fleur wasn't perfect. She had made mistakes. She had baggage coming into this that could easily affect her ability to reason. And she didn't want that. She really, really wanted it to work this time.

She was certain that this relationship they were in, at whatever stage they were at, was going to need a hefty amount of uncomfortable conversations, and they were getting close to that stage, but it was pulling off her armour for it now that was the hard part. Getting out of her comfort zone and admitting she was feeling vulnerable. And then explaining why, to the woman who held her fragile heart in her hands.

She didn't think Hermione wanted to hurt her. She was trying, Fleur could see that.

And the kiss! Damn her, the kiss. The blonde was angry, embarrassed, and aggravated, but she was mostly just sexually frustrated. The flirting, the laughing, that goddamn strawberry. It was too much, and maybe it was her defence mechanism now to just run away when things got heated, but she lost a little of that control when the brunette ran after her. It was the only outlet she had at the time, and yet again it was disastrously perfect. 

"Dammit," she muttered, making up her mind. Two weeks was enough time. She got up and threw some floo powder into her fireplace, sticking her head in and calling the only address she could think of at this time.

"Dominique!" she called into the apartment, hearing some footfalls as her assistant padded over to her in a bright red robe and slippers.

"Fleur! What's wrong, is everything okay?" he asked worriedly, dropping to his knees in front of the fireplace.

"Nothing, it's okay. I need to get a hold of Hermione, can I have Caden's address?" she asked, intent on doing this tonight before she chickened out again.

"Ah, that might not be necessary," with a sheepish grin, before looking over his shoulder and yelling, "Caden!"

"Yeah, babe?" a deep voice could be heard distantly, and Fleur rolled her eyes.

"Can you come 'ere, s'il te plaît?

She heard more footsteps and tried really, really hard not to laugh. Caden was in a matching robe and slippers, with a bright green mask stuck on his handsome face and a white headband keeping his hair away from his forehead.

"Oh," he said, standing awkwardly by the door, "Hey Fleur," he waved a hand still covered in green mud.

"Bonjour, Caden," she smirked, "A little self-care never hurts, hm?"

"Exactly!" he said excitedly, completely missing the fact that she was making fun of him, "I can't believe how soft my skin has gotten the last few months."

Dominique was looking at him with the biggest smile on his face, and Fleur cleared her throat, getting back to the topic at hand.

"Of course, Caden. Look, I need Hermione's address. I need to speak with her tonight," she explained.

"Oh!" his eyebrows shot up as much as they could with the tight mask on, "Yeah, um, yeah, I think that's okay if I tell you. Let me just get a quill…" he was looking around hastily.

"You can just tell me," she said impatiently. Assistants, always so thorough.

Caden gave her the address and she pulled her head back again with a quick goodbye before standing and flooing to the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley, getting herself to England. There, she apparated to the address he gave her, and knocked on the blue door of the townhome, finally taking a deep breath as she realised, she had been holding hers nervously.

Fifteen seconds or so passed before the door was pulled opened and she saw a very stunned Hermione Granger standing there, still in slacks and a dress shirt with reading glasses on.

This feels like a bad idea now, Fleur thought, her jaw dropping slightly at the sight. Something about this was a very big turn on and she had no idea why, but she shook her head, remembering there was a reason for her showing up unannounced at 9 o'clock on a Wednesday night.

"Can we talk?" she asked, and Hermione just pulled the door open for her, letting her in without a word.

Her home was tastefully decorated, with a surprisingly minimal touch that she wasn't expecting from the brunette. It was very clean and organised, which didn't shock her, but a few pieces of artwork hanging down the main hallway made her pause.

She studied them, noting the different themes portrayed, and their cohesion together as a part of her home. Fleur was looking at a particular painting of two naked women underwater, held in a tight embrace. The rays of light streaking through the water reflected beautifully against their smooth skin, even amidst the deep, dark waters around them. Overall, the piece had elements of sadness, but there was hope within it, somehow.

Hermione was watching her carefully.

"This is beautiful," Fleur said, gesturing to the figures.

"Martine Emdur. I bought it in Australia," she replied, still watching her.

"It's sad," the veela said.

"Yeah," she said quietly, as though hoping not to disturb the women, "But there's light there."

The brunette walked away and led her down the hallway to the kitchen, which was spacious, bright, and looked well-used. Fleur was mildly alarmed by how similar her tastes were to her own.

Hermione had a half a dozen folders and files spread out haphazardly on her island countertop.

"Do you always work so late?" the veela asked, eyeing a notebook filled with neat cursive.

"No, not always. It's been a busy couple of weeks, though," she responded, trying to organise it a little, and Fleur looked at her fully for the first time in the brighter lighting. Ignoring how attractive she looked in her glasses, the blonde could see dark circles under her eyes and her skin looked sallow as if she hadn't seen the sun all week.

"You don't look very well," Fleur commented. She was stalling.

Hermione looked up briefly but continued setting her folders into an orderly pile. She was frowning slightly.

I suppose I need to explain myself now.

"I thought we should talk," she started, and Hermione nodded her head, humming in agreement.


"Would you like a water? Or some wine, or anything?" the Minister asked suddenly.

"Oh, um, yes, sure. A glass of water would be nice, thank you."

She just hummed again, finally clearing the countertop and grabbing two glasses and a small pitcher of water. Fleur watched her hands as she poured—they were shaking slightly.

"Are you okay? You are shaking," the older witch asked, concerned. The brunette looked up a little surprised and then turned around to look at the clock.

"Ah, it's late. I think I'm just hungry. I forgot to eat," she finished pouring with a shrug, as if it was a fairly common occurrence.

Fleur was already on her feet, scolding her as she walked towards the fridge, "Hermione, you need to take better care of yourself. Sit down, I'll figure something out," she pulled the door open, finding a few things to make a quick pasta dish.

"You don't need to do that," she said quietly, watching intently as Fleur whirled around her kitchen like she owned the place.

"Sit, Hermione," she said firmly, "Please," a little more gently. The brunette finally slid into a stool and watched as she set some water to boil.

"I'm sorry, Fleur. About the other night," she said. She sounded so tired, and Fleur felt a pang of guilt for intruding on her but considering she wouldn't have eaten she pushed that feeling away quickly.

She put some salt in the water, "I…think I misjudged your intentions at dinner, Hermione. I'm sorry."

Hermione's brown eyes looked like they were trying to widen in surprise, but she seemed too heavy to get there.

"You shouldn't be the one apologising," she said defeatedly, "You were right. I overstepped, and it wasn't fair to you. I don't mean to make you uncomfortable."

"I know," Fleur sighed, pouring pasta into the rolling water, "I know you weren't trying to torture me, or whatever I said. It took me a week or so, but I admit that my negative reaction had more to do with my own insecurities than the actual flirting."

There was a small pause, "You don't need to feel insecure. Considering our history, I know that's hard to ask, but I…"


"Well, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable again now by saying something out of turn…"

Fleur pondered this. This was perhaps the first time they were talking where walls were down for once. She didn't want to miss the opportunity to mend some things.

"You can tell me, I won't run away again," she said with a small smile. Hermione's eyes shined a little brighter at that and she took a sip of water.

"I've been thinking a lot about what you said. I understand how it might make you anxious or embarrassed, but I hope we can work on getting through those feelings. Together. I…I love you, Fleur. I want you to feel confident and desired. Just tell me how I can do that appropriately and I will do it. I'm sorry for getting ahead of myself a little," she grimaced.

Fleur was stirring, digesting this. Armour off, armour off, she repeated like a mantra in her head.

"I have not had very good experiences with sex, as you might imagine," she didn't look up. Just kept staring at the softening, swirling pasta.

Hermione hummed, and then laughed lightly, but it was not malicious. Fleur looked over in surprise, and the brunette just shrugged again, "That makes two of us, I suppose," she smiled, and the veela smiled back. They were smiles of pain, mostly, but at least it was something they could share for once.

She felt like she had to explain this, for some reason, so she pushed herself to keep going, "I…have tried, but it has always centred around anger and resentment."

Hermione was quiet for a moment, "I'm sorry," she said faintly.

Fleur didn't respond. She didn't know what to say. It wasn't okay, and both of them weren't under any presumptions that it was, but at least they were moving forward.

The brunette spoke again, "My experiences have been…unfulfilling. Empty, for the most part. I stopped trying a few years ago," the Minister said, fiddling with the edge of the counter.

Fleur felt a lurch of anger in her chest at that, but she stamped it down. She knew Hermione had likely tried to date, but it hurt to hear, nonetheless. She wondered if the Gryffindor felt angry hearing about her history as well.

"I was always there, you know. Even though I didn't seek you out again. I was too stubborn and hurt, and I wanted you to chase me, I guess. But I left myself open. I hoped you'd finally want to try eventually," she said quietly.

Hermione was silent for a long time. Fleur turned off the heat and drained the pasta, throwing a simple red sauce, herbs, and some parmesan cheese into a bowl. Setting it in front of her, she sat down, leaving a seat open between them.

"Thank you," the Gryffindor whispered. She didn't make any moves to eat. Fleur waited.

"I don't think I have an answer, Fleur. There is no reasonable excuse I have been able to formulate for myself," she was just pushing the pasta around, "I think I wanted to get away from the intensity, and then when I got used to my life the way it was, I just never sought to make myself uncomfortable like that again. I don't like the unpredictable, and you are exactly that."

She continued, "After Bill, and the wedding. I was hurt you didn't want to wait for me, although I understand now why you couldn't. I was being selfish. Back then, though, I was just trying to make it out alive. I was ready to be yours, finally, but not ready to give up the mission or anything else that would have come along with that. Or at least what I presumed would be a part of it. I wanted you, but I didn't know what that entailed. And then you said no, and the war…and, Shell Cottage we never even spoke. I thought you were done," she sighed.

"I don't know, Fleur. We could just never make it work, could we? I'm so sorry," she looked down, swallowing thickly.

Fleur was watching her intently, her mind reeling. She looked so exhausted, and the blonde thought work was probably not the only reason for it.

"Hermione," she said tenderly, and she met her chocolate eyes, "Please eat."

She ignored her, putting down the fork now. Fleur glared at her.

"I just…" the Minister struggled, "I don't know. Will this work, you think? I…really don't want to keep hurting you," she said in a small voice.

"I don't want you to hurt me either," she reached across the counter and clasped a shaky hand, "I don't know if it will work, but I'm willing to find out, even if it hurts a little more to really put the effort in."

Brown eyes closed for a moment, and Fleur thought she looked so beautiful even in her weariness.

"Okay," she gave her a watery smile, "I will be here this time. Just tell me what you want. I won't overstep again."

Fleur smiled at that, "I know, Hermione. It wasn't the flirting though, not really. Right now, I want you to eat. Don't make me force-feed you," she threatened and nodded when the brunette picked up her fork quickly and finally took a bite.

She moaned, and Fleur stiffened a little at the sound, "This is really good."

"Merci," she said, watching in silence as the witch made her way through her dinner.

When she finished, the veela stood and put all the dishes in the sink and started wetting a sponge to wash them when she felt a hand stop her.

"You don't have to do that," Hermione said.

"No, it's okay, I want to clean up," she retorted, but the brunette shook her head with a smile.

"No, I mean, I have a dishwasher," she pointed to a silver square under her counter with some buttons on it.

"A dishwasher?" Fleur asked slowly, eyeing the contraption in confusion.

Hermione laughed at her and pulled it open, and the veela watched in wonder as she placed all the dishes inside with a small square of something blue and turned it on. She could hear the water start to run and she looked back to the younger witch with a look of astonishment.

"Amazing!" she said, running her hands across it.

Hermione just laughed again and refilled their water glasses. A brief look of apprehension crossed her face before she turned back to the blonde.

"Do you want to hang out for a little? I know it's late, but we could put a show on or something? No funny business, just relaxing," she asked nervously, gesturing to the nearby living room where a TV was hanging from the wall.

"You don't look like you are going to last much longer," Fleur asked, quirking an eyebrow.

"No! I will be fine, I promise. Please, stay if you want to. No pressure," she moved to the couch, leaving the veela to make up her mind.

It was tempting, and for once she felt like the chasm between them was slowly rebuilding. Fleur still didn't know if she trusted her, but she also knew that holding back from letting her try wouldn't get them anywhere.

She grabbed her water and followed the sleepy woman to the couch.

"I will stay for a little while, on one condition," she held up a finger.

Hermione nodded vigorously, "Okay, go for it. Anything."

"You have to put some pyjamas on or something. I can't stand to see you in your work clothes any longer," she said, gesturing to the winkled state of her outfit.

The Minister laughed, and it sounded like music, but she agreed, getting up and heading upstairs.

Fleur was smirking as she came back down in some shorts and a cotton t-shirt. It looked like she had washed her face, so she looked a little livelier now.

The veela had watched a few Muggle movies before, but she didn't know what was popular or good, so she let the brunette pick something for them. It was something about life in space and there were all these impressive ships and weird-looking aliens, and true to her word, Hermione remained on the other side of the couch.

However, after about twenty minutes, Fleur's eyelids started to droop, as her own exhaustion caught up with her. The last thing she remembered of the movie was some city underwater, and immediately she thought of the painting hanging in Hermione's hallway.

"Fleur," she heard distantly.


Her torso was shaking a little. No, she didn't want that. She wanted to lie still. The shaking stopped. Quiet again. Yes, nice.

"Fleur," she heard again, and someone moved her shoulder a little.

She groaned, "Nooonn."

She heard someone laughing softly. That was nice, but no. Quiet was better.

"Fleur," she heard a little more loudly this time.

Oh. Hermione.

She squinted slightly, reluctant to even try opening her heavy eyelids, but she knew she had to wake up.

She was laying on the couch, her head on a cushion near the armrest. The TV screen was black, and the room was much darker now without the light from it.

"Whatshappening?" she mumbled.

"We fell asleep," the Gryffindor said groggily, her throat was hoarse. She was kneeling in front of her, a hand still on her shoulder that made Fleur feel warm and want to go back to bed. She closed her eyes again.

"Argh, no," she heard another small laugh again, and the hand shook her gently again, "Come on. You can stay here if you want, but I'm not letting you sleep on the sofa."

She just groaned again.

"Fleur, please? Tell me what you want to do?" she sounded panicked now, and it made the blonde frown into the cushion.

"Whattimeisit?" she mustered. She couldn't manage English right now.

"Oh, it's ummm…hang on." Rustling. "It's three in the morning," the brunette said.

Louder groan. Fleur knew she shouldn't accept the invitation to stay, but she also knew refusing meant she'd have to wake up enough to apparate home, and she doubted she would be able to fall back asleep in that event. Plus, she was warm and comfortable.

"I'll stay," she grumbled out.

"Are you sure?"

Affirmative grunt.

Another laugh, "Okay, come on then. I have a spare room."

Fleur groaned and dragged herself into a standing position, refusing to fall asleep again lest the woman needs to levitate her undignifiedly to bed. She shuffled her feet after the Gryffindor like a zombie, her eyes still mostly closed, being pulled blindly through another hallway and into a dark room that smelled like fresh linens.

She flopped onto the bed with an appreciative groan.

"Fleur, um, do you want pyjamas or anything?" Hermione asked.

She tried to think about it. Pyjamas? She hated pyjamas. She was in jeans now though and would have to take those off at least.

"Canyouhelpwithmyshoes?" she slurred, still face down in the duvet.

"Sure," the amused voice said, pulling off her boots.

"Thanks," she mumbled.

"There are some sweats in the dresser if you need anything," she said, moving farther away.


"Goodnight, Fleur."

The blonde smiled, "Goodnight, mon coeur."

She heard the door click softly before everything went black again.

Chapter Text

Hermione knocked carefully and waited, making sure the coffees she held didn't spill as she entered the room slowly. Fleur was still fast asleep, sprawled on top of the duvet on her back. Evidently, she had thought of taking her pants off at some point because they were unzipped, but still very much on.

She tried averting to gaze from the patch of white lace that could be seen. The brunette walked up to the side of the bed and cleared her throat loudly.

Fleur's eyes sprang open immediately, and she shot up in confusion. She looked down at her trouser situation, and then up in surprise, and then back down, and back up. Hermione thought it was the cutest thing to see the normally composed woman so flustered.

"What the hell?" she said, her voice thick with sleep.

Hermione giggled, which earned her a glare from the Frenchwoman. Fleur buttoned her jeans back up, and the brunette held a coffee out to her in consolation, smiling at the look of sheer adoration that erupted as she accepted the coffee gratefully.

"It's half-past six. Sorry for the early wake-up, but I have to leave soon, and I didn't know how long you would need to get ready for work yourself," the Minister explained, leaning against the dresser behind her.

Fleur was eyeing her slowly as she sipped the coffee. Hermione felt the need to look away at her gaze.

"You look good," she finally said appreciatively. Hermione fidgeted with the cuff of her blazer.

"Erm, thank you. You look good as well," she replied.

God, how old are we?

Fleur rolled her eyes at that, "I just woke up and slept in yesterday's clothes," she bit back.

Hermione just shrugged, "You always look beautiful."

The veela gave her a reserved smile, and the brunette could feel her chest tighten at the sight. She really did look incredible. Her hair was a little messier than its usual shampoo-commercial look, but Hermione thought it made her look more stunning this way, somehow.

Pale blue eyes were still watching her.

"So, um, I am sorry for falling asleep last night. I know you probably weren't planning on staying over," she said with a chuckle.

"Non, but it's okay. Thank you for letting me stay," Fleur said.

"Anytime," Hermione said, catching her eye again and then cringing. Is that flirting? That's safe, right?

Fleur smiled again, and the Minister rocked on her heels awkwardly, taking a sip of coffee.

"So, erm, yeah, I have to go, but I was wondering if you wanted to maybe meet up again on Saturday? I'd like to see you again," she asked, trying to be cool.

"Ah, I'd love to but," she said, and Hermione's heart sank, "I have a family gathering I must attend on Saturday, sorry."

Okay, so not rejection. Good, good.

"Oh, okay, no problem. Maybe another time?" she asked timidly.

Fleur seemed to be thinking something over, and Hermione shifted a little as she waited for an answer. She really thought they had made some progress last night, and the fact that the veela hadn't woken up screaming and running away seemed like a good sign.

"Would you like to come?"

"Huh?" the Gryffindor's brain froze, and she swallowed.

Fleur tilted her head, "Would you like to join me? To my family's gathering," she clarified.

"Oh! Oh, are you sure? I mean, I'd love to! I don't want to intrude on a family thing, though," Hermione replied.

"Non, non. It's perfectly fine, it is a small get-together. Just wear something nice and you will be fine," she waved a hand, unperturbed.

"Something nice?"

Fleur nodded slowly as her eyes roamed over her again, "What you wore to dinner the other night would be perfect," the blonde said, biting bit her lip a little in thought as Hermione felt a slight pulse of the veela's thrall. It might have felt ticklish in another moment, but right now it sent a jolt straight between her legs.

Abort mission, abort mission.

She needed to get out of here. Suddenly overly conscious of the fact Fleur was still lying on top of her bed, Hermione cleared her throat again and tried to feign a newfound interest in a nearby picture frame.

"Okay then, I'll be there," earning another bright smile from the tired blonde. She checked her watch with a frown.

"Look, I'm sorry I have to leave so suddenly. Any other day I'd make you breakfast or hang around a little. Help yourself to anything if you are hungry. The floo in my bedroom across the hall has international access so you can head straight home," she finished her coffee as Fleur scooted off the bed, tossing back the remains of her own cup.

"It's no problem, Hermione, I should head out as well," she handed her the empty mug, and they stood awkwardly for a moment before the brunette snapped out of it. She put them on the dresser and motioned for the blonde to follow her across the hall.

Suddenly nervous again as Fleur stepped into her bedroom, the Minister grabbed the files she was working on last night and tucked them into a brown briefcase. The veela was looking around, evidently interested in something.

"What?" Hermione asked, slinging the bag over a shoulder.

"Mm? Oh, nothing," the blonde waved her off.

"Okay, if you say so," she shrugged. She wouldn't pry.

"I just…I like your room," she finally said as Hermione was walking towards the fireplace. She stopped walking and looked at her again, and their eyes danced for a moment before Fleur stepped towards her. She looked like she was thinking something over but before the brunette could ask what was wrong, she felt soft lips on one cheek, and then another on the corner of her mouth.

She felt her lips pull into a giddy smile before she could stop them, and then Fleur stuck her hand into the floo powder and gave her a confident smile, "I will see you on Saturday," and then she was twirling away in flames of bright green.

Hermione was laughing and punching the air alone in her room, feeling for once like the lovestruck teenager she never let herself be. 

Although the next two days were absolute agony at work, Hermione endured it fairly well, encouraged by the prospect of seeing Fleur again. She was sitting on her bed in her blue suit, tapping her heel on the bedframe as she waited anxiously for the woman to come through her fireplace again. They had both decided that the blonde would come over first so she could escort her to her family's home.

Green flames erupted and the veela ducked slightly under the mantle, stepping out so the Minister could finally see her.

"Holy shit, Fleur," she whispered, her eyes wide.

The blonde was in a floor-length, black evening gown made of fine silk. The design was a simple halter with thin straps, an open back, and a deep neckline lunging just past her sternum. Her hair was curled in elegant waves around her face. By the time the Gryffindor got to her face she could see a small amount of makeup that made her eyes pop even more than usual. Those blue eyes looked to be laughing at her.

She shook her head, realising she had been ogling, "I'm sorry. You look breathtaking," she said, getting up to stand in front of the Goddess before her. A few simple rings adorned her fingers, and she ran one hand over the lapel of Hermione's blazer, picking at some imaginary ball of lint she knew wasn't there.

"You look quite impressive yourself," she said in a low voice, and Hermione's knees shook a little at how sultry it sounded.

"Thank you," she said and offered her arm to the woman. She had no idea what to expect for the evening, and she was a little nervous at the idea of meeting Fleur's family, but the warmth radiating down her arm as the blonde took hold of the crook of her elbow quickly made her forget those errant thoughts.

"I thought you said this was a small, family gathering?" Hermione asked incredulously as they walked out to the gardens. The Delacour estate was ridiculously large and extravagant. There were at least three hundred people milling around between the mansion and the lawn, which had been decorated with tables and floating lights. A small string quartet was playing a cheery tune on a stage at the end of the garden.

"It is, technically," Fleur said with a wry smile, "Most of the Veela here are extended family, and there are a few dozen other families that were invited out of respect. A few non-Veela figures may be attending, but I am not certain."

"Okay, I see," she said, overwhelmed by the crowd of beautiful women socialising in the gardens, "So what's the occasion?"

"Ah," Fleur looked away, suddenly shy, "It's just a gathering, really, we do these all the time."

Hermione narrowed her eyes, just as someone shouted behind them, "Fleur! What a beautiful day, congratulations my child. What a wonderful job you have done," the woman was stunning. Her striking eyes were almost white they were such a pale blue, and Hermione had a hard time ridding herself of the fogginess seeping into her head.

"Thank you, grand-mere," Fleur said softly, avoiding Hermione's severe gaze at hearing the congratulatory remarks.

"And who is this, my dear?" the impossibly beautiful woman asked, tilting her head at Hermione.

"This is Hermione Granger, grand-mere," the woman's blonde eyebrows rose, "Hermione, this is my grandmother, Adele," Fleur explained, and the brunette smiled and kissed the woman on both of her cheeks.

"Hello, Adele. It is a pleasure to meet you," Hermione stepped back, thankful she wasn't blushing at least. The tell-tale sensation of someone else's thrall sweeping over her made head was still felt claggy and uncooperative, but she forced herself to maintain eye contact with her strange, inhuman eyes. This thrall felt so, so heavy, and the brunette had enough sense to gather that this woman was an elder of importance. She must have been the previous leader, Hermione thought drowsily.

She heard Fleur distantly say something in a language she didn't understand.

"Grand-mere, that is enough," and Hermione finally felt the dense thrall receding.

"I'm just gauging her magic, my child. You can't expect me not to check," she sounded a little like a child caught stealing cookies.

"I don't need you to evaluate her."

"Yes, well. Call it maternal overbearance," there was a pause. Hermione was looking out at the gardens now, giving the women some privacy, "She is powerful."

"Yes, I know," Fleur sounded exasperated.

"I am surprised you brought her," Adele replied.

"We are working things out," the responded shortly.

"Are you two still fighting?"

"We are working things out," she repeated.

"Good," and Hermione felt a hand on her shoulder, and the weight was back, "It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Hermione. Take care of her."

Adele descended the stairs, leaving Fleur and Hermione on the large balcony, overlooking the gardens.

"So, it seems congratulations are in order," the Gryffindor said with a cheeky grin. Fleur tried to glower at her, but she had turned around and flagged down someone carrying a tray of champagne chutes. Grabbing two she made her way back to the veela.

"What are we toasting to?" Hermione asked, handing one over.

Fleur reluctantly explained, "It's my tenth anniversary as clan leader today."

"Oh my God, Fleur, that's amazing!" Without thinking she hugged her tightly, almost spilling her champagne as her free hand falling onto the bare skin of her back. She released her with a small yelp as that strange electric current moved up her arms.

They were both blushing slightly, but Hermione was too excited to care about that right now. She placed a hand on top of the blonde's that was resting on the iron bannister, "That's really incredible, Fleur. I'm honoured to be here."

The veela smiled at her. Hermione didn't know why she didn't mention it earlier, or what the intricacies of this particular celebration were, but she genuinely was thrilled that the blonde thought to bring her. She knew she'd likely have some tense moments meeting Fleur's family, but it would be worth it to be here for this.

"Sorry for not telling you," the blonde grimaced, "I just have to mingle and make this speech later, but I thought your company might make the afternoon go by faster."

Hermione carefully responded, "I'm all yours, Fleur. Congratulations," she brought her glass up clink lightly against the blonde's and they both took a small sip through smiling lips.

The afternoon did go by quickly, after all. Fleur was an exceptional host. She laughed, smiled, and could hold a conversation with anyone, it seemed. It reminded Hermione a little bit of herself, and she was again floored by how similar they were in some respects. They were on their second lap around the guests in the garden now, and the blonde was speaking animatedly with some Spanish clan members. Hermione was standing off the side this time, content with watching for a moment before she heard a lilted voice from behind her.

"So, ze woman 'oo broke my seesters 'eart finally shows 'erself, I see," Gabrielle stood with her hands across her chest in a burgundy dress that fell in layers around her ankles. She looked so much like Fleur at first it was shocking, but upon further inspection, there were distinct differences. She wasn't quite as tall as her sister. Her hair was a little curlier and shorter. She had lighter eyelashes and a slightly rounder face. Hermione remembered her as the rambunctious seven-year-old running around the castle during the Triwizard tournament, but evidently that little girl was long gone.

"Gabrielle,"Hermione said with a polite nod, unsure how to respond to that statement. Fleur was still speaking with the Spaniards, thankfully unaware of the conversation about to take place nearby.

"Zere is nozzing else 'ou weesh to say?" she asked, louder this time.

"I don't mean any disrespect, Gabrielle, but I think that is between Fleur and myself," Hermione spoke calmly.

"Oh, so she speaks French? Well good, this will be easier now. If you break her heart again, I will kill you myself," Gabrielle threatened, an angry glint in her eye as she stepped inside the Minister's personal space and put a manicured finger to her chest.

The brunette chose not to rise to it, and continued in a calm voice, "There will be no need for that, but I appreciate the concern for your sister. I assure you I—"

"Gabrielle! What are you doing?"

"Oh, no," The younger Delacour and Hermione groaned at the same time, for which she received another glare.

Gabrielle put on the biggest fake smile and greeted her sister stalking towards her, "Fleur! My darling sister, how are you?"

Fleur didn't buy it at all, she had obviously seen the exchange between them, "Gabrielle, leave her alone. She is here as my guest."

The younger sister cut the act, and her face dropped into a frown again, "I don't think she should be."

"Well, I don't remember asking what you think," Fleur retorted in a dangerous voice, and Gabrielle ducked her head a little. Hermione was mindful that there may be a hierarchy element to this interaction, but then they switched to Veela and she was lost again. The brunette threw up her hands as they continued arguing in the strange language, evidently intent on ignoring her completely.

"What do you think you are doing?" Fleur asked crossly.

"I don't trust her," Gabrielle said, looking over to the Gryffindor again.

"Well, I do. We are working on it. Now go away and be respectful or you are leaving," Fleur said, and then grabbed her mate's hand and led them away again.

"I'm sorry about her," the blonde said, finding two more chutes of champagne and pulling them to a bench nearby under a large oak tree.

Hermione plopped unceremoniously next to her, "It's alright. I suppose I expected something of that sort," she said with a shrug of resignation.

"Non, you should not. I have made wrongs too, Hermione, I know this." Fleur said passionately, "They cannot blame you for everything. It's far too complicated for us to think like that, and I know you feel the same way."

The brunette was watching as her eyes got darker in anger during the tirade, "It's not fair for anyone but us to make assumptions about what this is. It just…It just is what we make of it! It has nothing to do with anyone else, and my family is so meddlesome in these affairs it drives me crazy. I will have to speak to them. My mother will be next I know it. She—" Hermione pressed a small kiss to her cheek, smiling as the veela looked over in happy surprise.

"You're very cute, do you know that?" she asked, tilting her head.

Fleur was blushing, and it made her smile even more. Her eyes were light again, "I have been called many things, but rarely cute," she said with a smirk.

The mood changed, and Hermione looked seriously at her. In the afternoon sun, her skin was glowing in contrast to her black dress. Her eyes were shining, and they looked at her so lovingly she felt weightless for a moment. She wanted this to last all day. Tonight. Tomorrow. Forever. She wanted it forever, this feeling.

She wanted to kiss her, and Fleur looked like she wanted her to, but it was too soon. She needed to prove she was serious about this.

"Thank you, by the way," she started.


"For being so understanding about our situation. I don't know how you do it, truthfully, but you are exceptionally understanding to me, although I hardly feel like I deserve it with the way I treated you all this time."

"I have always just tried to understand, to comprehend why," Fleur said after a pause, "but I know I have failed you too, in some ways. You were going through things too. The war; your parents. I can't…I was hurt. A lot. But I never should have given up," Fleur looked down at her hands.

"No, I think you did everything you could, Fleur. I was too afraid, so I never even tried," she said, looking out to the grounds in sadness.

A minute or so passed that felt like they were grieving. For what, she didn't quite know, but it was a necessary evil. Maybe they were saying goodbye, finally, to the greedy versions of themselves that they used to be. Or maybe they needed to grieve for lost time and lost opportunity. All those holidays, birthdays, and unafflicted nights they could have spent together. The support they could have had. The family Hermione could have gained, and the trenches of insecurity, pain, and emptiness they could have filled and patched together.

Fleur reached for her hand finally, and the warmth that always came with her touch relit her bones like a string of matches. The Gryffindor put her head on her shoulder, feeling herself come back to the moment. Fleur put her cheek against her head, and she sighed.

"Come on," she finally said, pulling the blonde's hand up from the bench, "You should get back."

The veela groaned, but nodded, "My feet are killing me. I can't wait for this to be over," she said with a pout.

Hermione laughed, "Well, if you make sure your sister doesn't murder me today, I can give you a foot rub later?"

Fleur quirked an eyebrow as a predatory smile slowly spread across her face, "Deal."

The rest of the evening was perfect. The sun had set hours ago, and dinner was served, but it was informal as guests only had to request what they wished from the menu and it would appear on their plate, so everyone was eating at different times. The music had changed slightly to something a little more upbeat, and now there were Veela of all ages dancing barefoot in the grass to the tunes.

Hermione was feeling a little buzzed but was spacing out her champagne with water so as to not make an arse of herself again in front of a hundred beautiful creatures. For some reason, the thralls had not affected her as much tonight. She wondered if Fleur's presence had anything to do with it, considering they were in close proximity all night and hadn't exactly avoided light touches here and there.

She was surprised that her parents hadn't made their way over to them yet, but as long as the blonde was happy, she wasn't worried about it. Fleur's speech was short and sweet, or at least, she thought it was. It was in Veela again, likely so the majority of the group could understand her considering the vast language diversity in attendance. She was confident and charming throughout it, and Hermione couldn't stop smiling at how at ease she was speaking to everyone. To her family, she remembered.

She was standing off to the side again, watching as Fleur stepped down from the stage as members of the clan embraced her warmly. One tall gentleman with dark brown hair and blue eyes was giving her a long, long, long hug. Hermione frowned. Still going. Her eyes narrowed. Fleur put her hands against his chest and tried to extract herself with an awkward smile.

The man must have been half a foot taller than the blonde, which was impressive considering how tall her heels were. Still, he leaned down into her personal space and spoke close to her ear, with a hand on her elbow, and Hermione was trying not to break her champagne glass.

Maybe he's family, she reasoned to herself. There was no reason to get up in arms about an elbow touch.

Her eyes narrowed again as his hand rested on the skin exposed on her lower back.

"He's obsessed with her," Gabrielle said, coming up to stand next to Hermione with her own glass in her hand.

The Minister looked over to her quickly and saw she was scowling at the tall man as well. "She's a big girl, I'm sure she can handle it," she replied. The last thing she wanted to do was embarrass Fleur at her own party.

"If you say so, but he has tried hitting on her at least ten times over the years and he never gets the hint," she said, still watching as Fleur tried, yet again to extract herself from the man's wandering hands. Just as she said that the clan leader made her way away from him and Hermione could see the relief written on her face as she escaped.

The tall man was following her through the crowd now, and Gabrielle's words were ringing in her ears as she set down her champagne glass with a, "Right," and strode over, intent on intercepting the blonde.

Fleur was almost to the steps back up the balcony when Hermione caught up with her, and another wave of relief washed over her features.

"Oh, Hermione, thank God," she said hurriedly, grabbing her hand, "Let's go inside. Luc is here and he has hands like a grindylow."

Just then the tall man, Luc, emerged from the dense group of partygoers and immediately got into Fleur's personal space again, evidently not recognising that Hermione was even there. He put his hand on her back again and the brunette wasn't sure exactly what happened next, but it was something along the lines of:

"Excuse me, but I would strongly suggest you remove your hand," the brunette said clearly, finally gaining Luc's attention, as she gestured to his hand on Fleur's lower back that seemed to be snaking its way downward.

He raised his eyebrows at her, "And who the hell are you?" he replied, losing the charm in his voice.

Fleur smiled, and pulled his hand off herself, keeping her other hand in Hermione's. "Luc, this is Hermione Granger, the Minister of Magic for Britain."

"Okay, and?" he leered.

"And her girlfriend, so keep your damn hands to yourself," she spat and stepped into his personal space without thinking. To her credit, his eyes did widen a little, and though their height difference was ridiculous, Hermione was already fingering the end of her wand out of her arm holster just in case.

They just continued to glare, and then Fleur put a hand to the brunette's shoulder, snapping her out of it. She scowled at Luc with dark blue eyes.

"Hermione is right, Luc. I would appreciate it if you were respectful of my personal space. We have had this conversation before and I will not have it again," she said, pulling on the Gryffindor's hand and all but dragging her up the stairs. It took about ten seconds for her to realise what she had just done.

"Oh my God, Fleur! I am so sorry! I just said you were my girlfriend like an idiot—"

She was still being pulled down some hallway, and they passed white door after white door.

"I don't know what came over me, he was just so pushy and—"

Fleur opened a door finally and pulled her inside.

"I just hated the way he kept leering at you like a piece of meat—"

She closed the door and stepped towards the brunette until she had stepped backwards until her back was flush up against it.

Her eyes were really dark. Way to go, Hermione, you fucked up again.

"Do you know…" she grabbed the Minister's lapels and bunched them tightly in her hands. The brunette swallowed, "…how aroused I am right now?"

Her jaw dropped, and the blonde pulled her in for a searing kiss. It was so unlike the other kisses they had shared, which were always tear-soaked or hateful. Fleur's lips moved against her and she was giving rather than taking. It was playful and exploratory, and their tongues met shyly at first, but Hermione bit down gently and sucked on her lip and they started to move more in time with their increasing heart rates.

Fleur's lips were moving now, kissing and nibbling gently on the sensitive chord of nerves down her neck. The Minister's knees were weak. Her hands had let go of her jacket and were lightly tangling into the hairs at the base of her neck. Hermione moaned as she reached a particularly sensitive spot and pulled her back in for another kiss, slowing, deepening.

It was the blonde's turn to moan now as she felt a tongue explore her mouth. Hermione's skin was on fire as her hands explored Fleur's back, the span of soft skin making her hands tingle. The kiss slowed naturally, and the veela placed some more soft kisses across her cheeks and on the corners of her mouth. Hermione hummed contentedly and wrapped her arms around her, letting things still for a moment.

"Hermione," Fleur said.

"Mmmm?" she replied.

"Would you like to stay here tonight?"

The brunette pulled away to look at her. Blue eyes were swirling, still undecided between pale or dark blue, apparently. It was beautiful. She looked nervous.

"I…Are you sure?" this sounded too good to be true.

"Just relaxing, no funny business," Fleur said seriously, repeating her words from the other night back to her.

Hermione smiled brightly, "Of course I will."

"Good," she gave her a chaste kiss before tugging on her hand again, "Now come on, someone owes me a foot rub."

Chapter Text

Fleur was nervous as she led the way to her old bedroom. It wasn't often that she stayed at the estate anymore. If she were honest, she didn't particularly like the ostentatious nature that came with such a lavish home, but she would have to get used to that.

Her heart was still beating wildly as she led them through the labyrinth of hallways and staircases. Evidently, Hermione was thinking along the same lines.

"This place is ridiculous, Fleur," she said, her voice echoing in the long hallway.

"I know, don't remind me," she looked around briefly, grimacing at all the gold trimmings and ancient furniture.

"It's beautiful though. Perhaps a little outdated, but nothing you couldn't spruce up with a modern touch," she said, and the blonde smiled.

"That's the plan," she said bitterly at the thought.

"The plan…so, you'll get this place?" Hermione asked, her voice going higher.

"It has been passed down to the first daughter for generations. I have no need for it now, but if I…" she trailed off, suddenly remembering where the end of that line of thought stopped.

"If you…?" Hermione caught it, of course.

She let out a long sigh, "If I had children. It would be expected that they are raised here," her voice fell a little flat, nervous and uncertain that this was far too much information for such a new relationship.

Hermione was silent for a few moments and they continued walking. The veela was too apprehensive to look at her.

"That's…good to know," she said lightly, and Fleur chanced a look over at to see her smiling a little, "Do you…want kids?" Hermione asked. They had reached her door now, and the blonde's heart was fluttering. She didn't know if it was the fact that the Gryffindor would actually be staying the night with her and it wasn't going to be riddled with heartbreak and anguish, or if it was because they were suddenly talking about a future. Possibly together.

"I do, yes," she paused, her door on the handle, "Do you?"

The brunette was still smiling, and she nodded once, "I do too, with the right person."

Fleur just hummed, trying to still her heart, and pushed the door open and to let the Minister amble around at her leisure. It felt strange. Watching her pick up photos and books that were so important to her in those years. She had countless journals somewhere under her bed that were about this woman. They detailed her habits, likes, and dislikes, and Fleur's blossoming love for the teenager back at Hogwarts. The journals soon turned sour, however, and eventually, she stopped writing about her. It never seemed to help.

Those could be shared a different time, perhaps.

Fleur sat on the end of her bed and started unclasping the strap of her stiletto.

"Woah, woah, woah," she heard as the brunette came to stand in front of her, "What are you doing?"

"Taking off my shoes?"

"Mmm, I would argue that this is part of my services," she replied, kneeling in front of her. Fleur felt something stirring inside her as Hermione got down on one knee, resting her heeled foot on her thigh as she undid the buckle herself.

She was taking her sweet time, and lightly grazing over her ankle and calf before she finally took it off. Fleur let out an embarrassingly loud moan when she dug her thumbs into the arch of her foot, and she leaned back onto her elbows, getting comfortable as the Gryffindor continued the massage.

The veela was watching her carefully. Every time she pressed hard into her heel Fleur would groan and she could see the excitement flash behind the bright brown eyes. Each touch was winding her up and eventually, she unceremoniously put her other shoe on the woman's thigh, eager for this to keep going but knowing she'd have to move it along if she wanted to keep her promise that there would be no funny business.

Hermione's hands were more comfortable reaching, pushing, and pulling at her skin now, and Fleur threw her head back again with another loud moan when she kneaded her fingers in hard.

"You're going to have to stop doing that," the brunette said in a low voice, still looking at the foot between her hands.

Fleur watched her, unsure of what to say to that. The way she saw it, she had two options here. Continue whatever this was or create some space. She knew which one she should do but need to touch the woman kneeling before her was so strong she didn't know if her mouth would listen to her reasonable brain at this point.

Hands moved up, and she shifted slightly on her knees as she worked up the blonde's smooth calf now. Fleur's silky dress was still draped over her knees, but as the hands moved higher the fabric fell down the other side, tickling her thighs and bunching by her hips, leaving her exposed.

Hermione's hands stopped mid-push to look at the sight before her. Fleur leaning back, her neck straining slightly as her eyes observed the ceiling, one long leg coming to rest against her stomach, her hands on her calf, and now her black lacy underwear on display.

"Shit," she whispered, "I-I have to stop, Fleur," in a shaky voice. The veela's head snapped back to look at her between her legs, blue eyes nearly black.

Just take her, she wants you, something demanded of her.

No, you should be taking things slow, the voice she knew reasoned.

The blonde forgot reasoning for a moment, and slid towards her, pushing her back onto the carpet with a firm hand as she crawled on top to straddle her. She leaned forward slowly, putting her hands on either side of her head as she watched the pupils of her eyes swallow a little more of the surrounding brown.

Fleur put a hand on her jaw, tilting her head to the side. She ran the edges of her teeth down the column of her neck again. She seemed to like that before. Control. She was unprepared for the brunette's reaction, however, as she felt hands on her hips pulling her closer and hips rolling into hers. Control. Hermione put her hands in her hair and brought her mouth to hers and God she could kiss this woman all day. It was like they were of one mind the way their lips moved. She tasted like champagne and her soft lips were whispering something against hers, but she couldn't figure out what it was. Her thrall was complete unbounded now, trying to pull her in more, feel more of her. Control. But she thought that might have been slipping now. 

The creature in her was telling her to roll again, so she did that.

It told her to pull off her dress, so she did that too.

Hermione's eyes grew wide and she sat up, circling her in strong arms and running her hands down her bare back. Their lips met again, and they deepened their reach into each other.

Fleur ground down into her.

"Fuck," the brunette gasped, cupping her breasts and exploring the veela's collarbone with open-mouthed kisses and small nips. She pulled her closer, enjoying the small stings of pain across her chest and neck that sent ripples of pleasure down to her core.

Hands were on her ass and pushing her down more, gaining more friction and some alarm in the back of her mind was going off, telling her to stop. Telling her that she shouldn't be doing this, but the brunette was filling her somehow and she didn't want it to end. She began unbuttoning her shirt, letting it fall open. She palmed her breasts over a black bra. Her hand moved down. She needed more. The button on her slacks came undone. Zipper now. They were still tangled and breathing together and it was bliss, but Fleur was hastily pulling the rings off her fingers as they continued to kiss and now her hand was dipping underneath the brunette's waistband.

Hands wrapped around her wrist and stopped her, and Hermione broke their kiss and looked away, her eyes scrunched tight. Fleur's hand was still there, but she stilled, breathing hard into the Minister's shoulder.


This was too much and Hermione didn't want it. Fleur pulled her hand back, scared to look at the woman beneath her. The sinking feeling of shame was beginning to fill her, and the love and wholeness that had just grown fruitfully was burning off like a brushfire in September.

Put it out, put it out.


She leaned back, still not looking at her. She couldn't see it again. She shifted her legs, trying to get up. To get away. The hands let go of her, Good, but then arms were around her again and Hermione pulled in her tightly, holding her in place, her head resting on a shoulder.

Fleur was still again as her breathing slowed. Ten more seconds and the brunette lifted her eyes to meet hers. It was not there, the rejection, and the blonde finally took a deep breath of what felt like clean air and the brown eyes were sparkling with mischief.

"Well, so much for not doing that," she said with a soft laugh, her fingers twitching slightly against her shoulder blade. "I'm sorry, I should have put a stop to that earlier," she finished.

Fleur was silent. I went too far, I knew it.

The brunette continued, "You're too sexy for your own good," she let her hands wander aimlessly, tracing patterns against her now.

Okay…so she liked it, then? The veela needed reassurance. She hated this vulnerability, but she promised herself she would be open from now on. That she would tell her what she needs.

"So…you wanted that?" she asked timidly.

Hermione looked at her, finally registering her body language and the way her hands were hovering, unsure of what to do. Her expression was focused and sincere, and there was no pity at the question, thankfully.

"I wanted that very much, Fleur," her voice was low, genuine, "You have no idea. I just…I think it's too soon, for us. I don't want to rush it. I want to make sure we are both ready, and I definitely don't want to do it on the bedroom floor," she laughed, and finally the blonde smiled, her hands running across her bare shoulders tenderly now.

Open, be open.

"I think I have a problem with control, Hermione," she said softly.

She hummed, thinking. Fleur loved watching her eyes shift like this; like there were clear thoughts moving behind the curtain of liquid honey. She wished she could read them.

"I think I do too if I am being perfectly honest," she said, "I don't know what it's like for you, and don't presume to know, but from my own experiences all I can think about is you. All the time. And us…like that. I want it, really, really badly. So much so that I almost just let it happen, but that would be selfish, I think. And I'm trying not to be. I want you, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the relationship part of what we have now just so I can release my sexual frustrations."

She paused again, "I'll be better. I will make sure we don't cross that line until you are ready, but Fleur…" she met her blue eyes again, "That does not mean I don't want you, okay? I do. I know our past brings so many layers into the meaning of these things, but I assure you…what you do to me…I—I want you. Trust me," she pleaded, her eyes looked pained.

Trust her. She knew she was capable of this, but yet again some rational part of her wanted her to be wary. Something was different now, though. They had been bending together instead of breaking, and she knew pushing back now would only hinder them.

"Okay," she said, and Hermione pressed her lips against hers gently for a lingering kiss.

"Thank you. Now, come on. I don't know about you, but I need a cold shower."

Fleur got up, grateful as the Gryffindor took off her jacket and let her cover herself up as she looked for a shirt. The blonde found a few towels and Hermione was fiddling with the taps in the bathroom. The bright light displayed her love bites, and Fleur grinned a little, liking the way they looked on her.

Hermione was grinning at her, probably thinking along the same lines, "You can go first. Let me know when you're done."

Fleur hit the cold water and tried not to shriek, but after a minute or so her goosebumps receded and she took a deep breath, steadying her unbalanced heart again before she would have to climb into bed with her mate.

The blonde tried to shift a little, but there was a firm body pressed against her back and an arm slung over her waist. Fleur's hand was numb from lack of circulation, and she shifted her shoulder again.

A groan, "Stop moving," Hermione mumbled into her hair, tightening her hold. Fleur smiled. Wherever her heart had been, lost at sea maybe. Or wandering around some scary woods at night, she felt like it had finally made its way back home now. She would stay like this forever if she could, so she stopped moving, and her eventually she fell back asleep despite her tingly hand.

Soon the sun was streaming in through the gaps in the curtains, and Fleur groaned as the golden light crept closer and closer to the sleeping pair.

Hermione shook behind her in a silent laugh, "We should get up now," she said, her voice a little raspy from sleep. Fleur was just thinking about she didn't think they should and how perfect this felt when the door burst open and the brunette shot up quickly, her wand pointed at the door.

How the hell did she get her wand so quickly? Fleur thought but sat up next to her at a much slower pace, "Gabrielle," she said, rubbing her eyes, "Go away or Hermione will hex you."

The Gryffindor had lowered her wand once she saw it was her sister, but Gabrielle's eyes rose up to her hairline seeing the two of them in bed.

"Oh, and what is this? I didn't know Minister Granger was spending the night!"

"And why would you? I don't believe I need to run these things by you."

Hermione was looking back and forth between them like it was a tennis match.

"Maman will be very interested to know that you two slept together," she said, her eyes sparking gleefully.

"We didn't sleep together, Gabrielle," Fleur shot back, but her sister just quirked an eyebrow and she started again, "You know what I mean, and I don't have to explain this to you! It's my business, now get out of here."

The younger Delacour crossed her arms over her chest but didn't make any moves to leave.

"Maman wants you to join us for breakfast before grand-mere leaves."

Fleur groaned again, flopping back onto the pillows. "Fine, we will be down shortly," she said to the ceiling, and Gabrielle nodded and left, closing the door behind her.

What a mess. She should have pushed to introduce Hermione to her parents last night, but she was having such a good time and didn't think she could handle another meddlesome conversation with her family. Her father would be alright, she knew, it was her mother she was worried about. She was a wildcard when it came to the whole mating thing. She knew she wanted Fleur to stick it out with the brunette, but she also knew she was overly protective and demanding.

Hermione was watching her with a smirk on her face, "I take it you aren't excited about this?"

"I just…Please don't feel the need to answer any of their prying questions," Fleur explained, "We are Veela, so sex and relationships are often on the table for casual conversation, but not this time. Okay?"

Hermione chuckled a little at the state of the blonde, but nodded, "Okay, whatever you want."

"Mmm, whatever I want?" she smirked, her eyes gleaming with suggestion.

Hermione caught it, and she leaned down on her elbow and smiled back, "Why, yes, I think I can manage a reasonable request this morning."

"I want a kiss," the blonde said immediately, and the Gryffindor was already halfway there.

"I was hoping you'd say that."

After attempting to untangle a few more times they finally made their way downstairs. Hermione was in her slacks and a borrowed plain white shirt from Fleur, while the blonde threw on some jeans and a turtleneck, intent on hiding some of the bites along her neck. She really needed to look up a spell for these things. Hermione seemed not to care, and it made her smile thinking she wanted to keep in the open.

Her grand-mere was seated at the head of the table again, her sister sitting to her right, next to her mother. Her father was at the other end, leaving two open chairs for Hermione and Fleur in the middle. As they made their way over to them, they all stood up.

"Maman, papa, this is Hermione. Hermione, this is my mother, Apolline, and my father, Phillipe," Fleur introduced. Apolline didn't look a day over forty but considering how good Fleur's grandmother looked that wasn't surprising. Phillipe showed his age, however. He was perhaps a little overweight, but he had a handsome face and had a well-trimmed beard, despite it being mostly grey now.

"Good morning, Madam and Monsieur Delacour. I apologise that we didn't get the chance to meet last night. My name is Hermione Granger. Thank you for having me over, your home is very beautiful," she said genuinely, moving to kiss them both on the cheeks.

"It is lovely to meet you formally, Hermione, though we have actually met before," Apolline said, sitting down.

Hermione pulled Fleur's chair out for her, and she whispered a thank you before shooting a glare over to her sister, who had scoffed at the act of chivalry.

"Oh?" Hermione asked politely, "When was that?"

"We saw you at Bill and Fleur's wedding, of course," she said bitingly, and the brunette stilled for just a moment.

"Maman," Fleur warned.

The Gryffindor didn't falter for long, "I forgot about that, my mistake," she paused, "It was a beautiful wedding."

Apolline's eyes narrowed slightly, "It was adequate," she said, "I have my thoughts on how it could have gone differently," Adele and Gabrielle seemed to be watching with great interest, and Philippe was mostly just eyeing their guest during the exchange.

Hermione seemed to be chewing over a few thoughts, likely wondering what path was safe to walk on. Fleur took the opportunity to put a stop to her family's antics.

"Maman, stop this. Hermione is a guest and should be treated as such. You of all people should respect that," she said heatedly.

"I am not disrespecting her, I simply said that we have met before," she replied in the same tone.

Hermione finally spoke again, "Perhaps I should address the elephant in the room."

Silence. Fleur frowned. This is exactly what she didn't want, but she trusted her.

Hermione spoke clearly, "I am not going to say much because your daughter wishes that our business remains between us, but I will say that I apologise for any hardships I have caused to her and your family, and that I can assure you I am doing what I can to correct them. I…I really care for Fleur, and I hope the more you get to know me you will come to see that."

Adele was smiling. Gabrielle and Apolline were wearing matching expressions of scepticism. Philippe was finally the one who broke the silence.

"Well, now we know why you are such a good politician, Mademoiselle Granger," he chuckled, "Please excuse any lack of confidence. We will, of course, trust our daughter to do what is best for her, and we look forward to getting to know you."

Hermione smiled kindly at him, "You sound like a politician yourself," and he laughed louder.

"I used to be, yes. Now I just sit around and eat cheese all day," he laughed again, slapping his belly, and everyone around the table had to crack a smile at that.

"Don't forget the wine, papa. You are rarely without a 'taste' of wine, as you so call it," Gabrielle said.

"Ah, but of course! I have to know what is coming from my own vineyards, do I not?"

"Yes, but at nine in the morning?" she said, earning more laughter.

Fleur could see her mother still watching Hermione with wary eyes, but at least they were off the topic now. She knew this would take time, but she was happy to see that the Minister could navigate the intense personalities on her own.

Adele finally spoke, "Come now, let's eat. The way Fleur has been eating at Hermione's neck she must be starving!"

She groaned as everyone laughed—the brunette included—and hid her face in her hands.

The rest of lunch was successful, thankfully. Gabrielle told Hermione of her experience in the Auror department, and Philippe explained his previous work in the French judiciary system, similar to Britain's Wizengamot. Hermione hailed him with question after question and they were going back and forth on some policy that was going over everyone else's heads when Apolline spoke again.

"Hermione, could you pass me the butter, please?" she asked, and the brunette eagerly reached for it and deposited in front of her. Fleur watched as her mother's eyes stared openly at the scars on her arm now on display in the middle of the table.

The Gryffindor also seemed to notice her staring, and she quickly tucked her arm against her leg once the dish was deposited, clenching her jaw. Philippe changed the subject and asked Adele about her upcoming travels.

Fleur reached over and took Hermione's hand, her calming thrall seemed to have the intended effects, and the brunette's stiff posture relaxed a little again as she drew circles with her thumb. Brown eyes met blue, and she gave her a small, sad smile. Apolline was still watching them carefully.

"So, what are your plans for today?" Fleur asked lightly.

The rest of breakfast was rushed. Hermione had remained fairly tense, so the blonde sped things along and they made their exit after a well-mannered goodbye to the family. She knew she wouldn't want to dwell on it, but her mother's watchful gaze was hard to avoid.

Hermione was folding her shirt, "Hmmm, I'm not sure. I do have some work I need to get done later, but it's all at home," she paused, "Would you…do you want to come over again? Or maybe I can bring my things to yours? I…" she trailed off, unsure.

Fleur grinned at her shyness, her heart feeling like it was growing in real-time. Reflecting on the past few months, she really couldn't believe they were at this point now. It wasn't perfect, and maybe it would never be, but she truly felt for the first time that they could make this work.

"Hermione," she said, standing up and walking over to her. She grabbed both of her hands, "I know last night you said it accidentally in the spur of the moment, but I think I want that. I'd like to be your girlfriend, if you'll have me," the blonde looked down nervously, missing the blinding smile spreading across the Gryffindor's face.

She felt soft lips press against her own, and a gentle hand cup her jaw briefly before they were gone. Brown eyes were looking at her with such adoration that she felt her own smile growing.

"I would love nothing more," and they kissed again, but for some reason this time it tasted a little bit sweeter.

"What do you mean, you 'didn't want to lose yourself'? What does that even mean!" Fleur shouted. 

Hermione huffed in frustration, "It means I was chicken-shit, okay? I was perfectly content going along with the perfect little screenplay of my life that I wrote myself, and I didn't want to screw it up over some intense feelings that I couldn't place!"

"I don't understand why you think you'd somehow disappear if we were together! Why does loving me mean the death of you?"

"It doesn't! Now anymore! Jesus, Fleur—" Hermione threw her hands up.

"Then why didn't you come to find me? Or try to be friends? Or anything?!"

"I didn't think you wanted that! You never said a word to me at Shell Cottage!"

"I broke up with Bill for you at Shell Cottage!"

"Okay, and how the hell was I supposed to know that!"

The evening wasn't exactly going to plan. They were at the Minister's place, and she had finished her work around six. They had a lovely dinner and a glass or two of wine, but then Fleur had nit-picked at something Hermione said earlier and eventually the conversation started to unwind before them. It was bound to happen, she knew, but they weren't being very constructive about it. Evidently the brunette was feeling the same way.

She took a deep, calming breath, putting her hands on the cool granite countertop. And then another. Her eyes were closed. Fleur was glaring, her arms crossed, sitting stiffly on the barstool.

Her eyes finally opened, and the blonde was even angrier at the calmness she saw there. No, she didn't want that. She wanted to yell, and fight, and kick and scream like a screaming toddler being dragged from a pool party.

"Please," she begged, "Let's…This…" she huffed again, "We aren't going to get anywhere if we just scream at one another."

Fleur was still glaring. Hermione moved closer until she was standing next to her. She tentatively reached for a lock of blonde hair, pushing it gently behind her ear when she didn't flinch or move away. The blonde could feel the warmth from her fingertips spread across her scalp, making her a little sleepy. The anger was slowly starting to dissipate.

"I'm sorry," she murmured, and Fleur closed her eyes at the feeling of fingers running slowly through her hair.

The veela sighed, unfolding her arms, "Me too. I don't want to fight."

"I shouldn't have yelled," the brunette continued, placing a soft kiss to her forehead.

"Me neither," she turned in her chair and wrapped her arms around the younger witch, pressing her forehead to the skin beneath her collarbone as she continued to play with her hair.

They stayed like that for a while. Fleur could hear her heartbeat slowing and catching a steady rhythm. It was like music, that cadence. She could listen to it all day.

Hermione shifted eventually, placing another kiss on the crown of her head before moving away.

"Come on," she said, intertwining their hands, "Let's go to bed."

Fleur cracked a smile as she let the brunette lead her upstairs, turning off lights as she went. They got dressed in silence, but it wasn't awkward or uncomfortable. They just didn't need to say anything. The blonde was done first and watched as her girlfriend, girlfriend, she thought with a grin, finished brushing her teeth.

Her hair was up in a messy bun and she looked a little bit like a child in her pyjama shorts and oversized t-shirt. It was incredibly cute. Hermione caught her staring and narrowed her eyes before jumping on the bed on top of her.

Fleur laughed, smiling widely as the brunette tried to keep a stern face, her hands pinning down her wrists, "And what do you think you're looking at, Mademoiselle Delacour?"

"You," she said, her toothy smile still in place as the Gryffindor's façade fell slightly. She put it back up, fake glaring at the blonde beneath her.

"And why are you looking at me, hmm?" her eyebrow quirked as Fleur's smile faltered a little in seriousness.

"Because I love you," she said, pulling her in for a scorching kiss as the grip on her wrists slackened in surprise.

Chapter Text

Hermione felt impossibly well-rested the next day. Her legs were warm and tangled up with Fleur's, and she felt an arm over her hip, fingers lightly tracing her skin there. She opened her eyes to see startling blue watching her wake up.

"Morning," she said, smiling. Fleur's eyes were twinkling with something as she grinned back.

"Good morning, mon amour," and she captured her lips in a sweet kiss.

"What time is it?" the brunette asked groggily as she snuggled a little closer.

"It's just after six,"

Hermione groaned, "I have to get up soon." She had a few meetings in the late morning she should really try to prepare for. Fleur's arms tightened and she giggled, relaxing for another moment or two. "Can you come over again tonight? Or I can go to yours if that's easier for you. I just…I like this."

Fleur hummed contently, "Me too. I think we can figure out an arrangement, oui. I will come over tonight, but I'd like for you to see my place soon," she said, kissing Hermione's cheek and moving to her jawline.

The brunette moaned as she trailed down her neck, letting out a gasped, "Okay," as she bit down a little bit. Teasing thrall was circulating over her skin and she was starting to heat up as the blonde pulled her in for a kiss, shifting on top of her.

Hermione ran her hands down her back and groaned as she cupped her ass through the thin pyjama shorts. Fleur's tongue was insistent now, and this was moving too quickly, but it felt really good again.

You should be stopping this, she reprimanded herself.

Just give it a minute more.

Fleur was pulling off her t-shirt. It's going to have to come off soon anyway, she reasoned. Hot kisses were trailing across her collarbone, down to her breasts as the blonde ran a tongue over her nipple.

"Oh, fuck," her hips were moving now. Stop, stop, stop.

Please don't stop.

The veela switched, and Hermione pulled her closer, her legs shifting slightly as Fleur's thigh settled against her and she was still moving as the friction felt really good and they were kissing again and she bit her lip and her tongue was back in her mouth and—

"Shit, shit, stop, please," Hermione panted, moving her head to the side and closing her eyes. Her chest was heaving, and Fleur was breathing just as heavily above her. They let their heart rates return to their normal pace before the brunette started laughing.

And once she started, she couldn't stop. Fleur looked at her questioningly for a moment before cracking a smile and then joining in and they lay there for another minute shaking as uncontrollable laughter filled the room.

Hermione wiped the tears from her eyes and looked at the blonde above her.

"You're going to be the death of me, I swear," she started and the blonde chuckled, "I'm trying to be a gentlewoman here and you are making it very difficult," she lightly smacked her ass to emphasise her point.

The veela grinned, kissing one of her scars before laying her chin on the Gryffindor's chest to observe her. Hermione was definitely going to be late now but found she didn't mind so much this time. There were more important things, after all. She looked at into the blue eyes filled with amusement.

"So, Harry and Ginny are having a little get-together in a few weeks I think," the Gryffindor started, "Would you like to join me? As my girlfriend?" she asked nervously.

Fleur didn't respond, but she did kiss her again and now Hermione was definitely going to be late.

Two weeks passed quickly, and Hermione thought things between them were going exceptionally well, all things considered. They had taken a huge step forward, she thought. She was humbled that the blonde trusted her enough to want to be her girlfriend, and for some reason breaking down that wall helped them to build up in other areas.

The fights they did have, because of course there were some, were dwindling in intensity and increasing in actual content now. The anger and wariness that once encased her girlfriend so fully were now starting to chip away. They had a few arguments and misunderstandings simply because they couldn't let their guards down, but they were quick to recognise that and correct it.

So, they talked. They shared their feelings and the deep insecurities that plagued them, now and back then. It was a strange sensation for Hermione. She was analytical, and stringently unfeeling when it came to huge decisions she made. The majority of her life's behaviours could be traced logically, rationally. She found it very difficult to pick apart the deeper seeded reasons for the actions she made as a young woman, but she tried. She was really trying. And Fleur could see that, she hoped.

It felt like the push to resolve things between them came with a greater purpose. As if the finish line was so close and they were trudging through the last leg of the race now. It happened to be a muddy swamp filled with fifteen-foot alligators, but they were both pushing forward, just trying to keep their feet moving. They were so close now, she knew it.

After that first night, the Minister offered to let Fleur stay the night whenever she wanted. They spent the majority of these nights together, working late and cooking dinner; watching movies and cuddling on the couch; drinking too much wine and trying not to shag one another in a drunken stupor. It was perfect. Well, almost.

They still hadn't told everyone, and they weren't exactly publicly "dating," which worried her. As the Minister, she was glad things had taken a turn for the progressive since she graduated, but she was not naïve. She knew that coming out to the wizarding world as a lesbian would surely cause some backlash, but she had been preparing herself mentally for that, and she thought she was ready now. She was ready for a lot of things.

The fireplace in her bedroom suddenly roared with green flames and her girlfriend stepped out. Hermione felt a strange sense of déjà vu as her jaw dropped at the sight.

Fleur was in white sneakers, black jeans that came up to her belly button, and a tight blue long sleeve that was…quite short, leaving a sizeable band of her perfect stomach exposed. Her breasts looked, well, Hermione's jaw dropped a little more, and she was wearing a lacy white choker around her neck. Her hair was down again in gentle waves.

Hermione was struggling to string a sentence together.

"Uh, uh. Nope," she finally said, and Fleur quirked an eyebrow at her, "We aren't going anywhere. You are staying right here," she pulled her closer and kissed her, "I'm not sharing you when you look like this."

Fleur laughed, and the brunette took the opportunity to kiss her neck. Once above the choker, and once below. Okay, one more.

"Ma cherie," she warned, "We are late enough as it is."

"And whose fault is that?" the Gryffindor asked, uncaring, now sucking a little on her neck as she pushed a hand up the back of her shirt slightly. She wanted to leave a mark. Fleur's hands tightened a little on her shoulders and she inhaled sharply. Hermione smiled, placing one more soft kiss on the small bruise.

"There," she said, admiring her handiwork, "Now everyone will know you're mine."

Fleur rolled her eyes, but she was smiling and a little flushed.

"I've always been yours," Hermione's heart fluttered at the offhanded comment, "Now come on, you big flirt," Fleur tugged her towards the fire.

The brunette was frowning now though. She tugged the blonde back, who noted her sober expression.

"Hermione? What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong…" she was still thinking, her eyes focused on the floor, zoning out in a moment of clarity.

"It seems like something is wrong," she replied, pulling her chin up to meet her eyes. Pale blue looked concerned, and it made her heart leap again in her chest.

"I'm ready, Fleur," she grabbed her hands.

She was looking at her like she had lost her mind, "I know, mon amour. We are going now," she looked and gestured to the fireplace with a nod of her head.

"I accept the bond," she said clearly, and now blue eyes widened in realisation to what she had just done.

"Hermione…" she whispered. Her fingers twitched in her hands.

"I am ready," she said resolutely, "I'll wait for you, of course, I'm not saying we need to do anything now, or at all if you don't want. But I am ready to commit to you. I've been ready. I love you; I want you. I—"

Fleur kissed her urgently, and though it was subtle, Hermione could already feel something in the air had shifted. It felt heavier, like there was magic lingering, waiting.

They were quite late, as it turned out. Fleur would vehemently say it was the Gryffindor's fault for her poor timing, but Hermione rebutted that being held down and smothered by loving kisses for ten minutes does tend to promote tardiness for both parties involved. Perhaps no one was right.

Grimmauld Place was teeming with familiar faces and the two women were hailed and hounded immediately after crossing the threshold. Hermione honestly didn't expect this many people to be here, but she was surprisingly happy about it and eager to socialise.

She placed a hand on Fleur's lower back as they made their way down the hall, greeting a few people, and glaring at the glassy-eyed men ogling her girlfriend. The blonde had a small smile on her face as she, no doubt, could hear Hermione muttering obscenities behind her over the music.

"Mione! Fleur!" Harry waved at them over from the other side of the kitchen.

Neville, Malfoy, and Luna turned and matched his smile as they made their way over. They all looked pleased to see them, and after a quick glance over she thought they all looked great. Malfoy, now married to Astoria Greengrass, was the head of a research firm, Neville was still the Herbology professor at Hogwarts, and Luna, his now-wife, had taken over the Quibbler from her father.

"Glad to see everyone got sitters for the evening," Hermione joked as they reached the group. All four of them nodded fervently, and Fleur snickered beside her.

Malfoy spoke first, "Granger," he said with a curt nod, "how's work?"

"It's good, thanks. How about you?"

"Yeah, the firm is going well. Looking to expand soon, hopefully," he shrugged, sipping on his firewhiskey.

Harry spoke again, "What can I get you ladies?!" he yelled, and Hermione tried not to laugh. He seemed to be a little drunk already.

"I think two white wines for us, please," Hermione responded, looking to Fleur as she nodded gratefully.

"Okay! Coming up!"

Luna spoke this time, "Fleur, it's lovely to see you again. You look so much more balanced than the last time I saw you."

If anyone was confused by that statement, they didn't show it, but Fleur gave a small smile at her observance, "Merci, Luna. I have been much better recently, yes," she stole a glance over to the beaming brunette beside her.

"Ah, of course. You two are finally making it work, then?"

Hermione looked into pale blue eyes again, and Fleur said with an affectionate smile, "I think we are, oui."

"Can someone explain what the hell is going on?" Malfoy asked, looking around the group in confusion. Neville looked a little puzzled as well.

"Ah," Hermione said, clasping her hand in Fleur's, "We're dating. Well, I guess more than dating at this point." The fact that she had all but agreed to spend the rest of their lives together bound by a sacred mating ritual was slightly more serious than dating, but now wasn't the time to get into that.

Neville's eyebrows shot up. Luna smiled serenely, knowingly. Harry was grinning from ear to ear having come back with two wine full wine glasses. Malfoy's expression, to his credit, didn't change at all, "Alright. Good to know, I guess," she shrugged again.

Well, that was easy, she thought. Though she knew most of her friends weren't going to be the issue. There was only one person she could think of who would likely be less than—

"Mione!" she heard from behind her, and stifled a groan as the man in question was rounding the kitchen island and picking her up in a hug far too tight.

"It's so great to see you!" Ron said, finally setting her down. He looked fairly good. He was working for the Department of Magical Games and Sports, and his skin was covered in freckles from being in the sun so much. Fleur's eyes narrowed; her arms folded across her chest. He finally noticed she was there, and his ears went red as he sputtered through a greeting.

"And F-Fleur! It's, um, yeah, it's great to see you too. Y-You look great," he said, his eyes briefly moving down, which did not escape Hermione's watchful eyes. This would be easiest if she just ripped the band-aid off.

"Ronald, eyes up, please. Fleur is my girlfriend," the brunette said simply, wrapping an arm around her girlfriend's slim waist possessively. Ron's eyes widened comically, and then he looked confused, and then they narrowed as he finally pieced a few things together.

"W-What? You two are together?" he asked rudely, his volume garnering the attention of the entire kitchen.

Fleur nodded, smiling sweetly as she sipped on her glass of wine like a perfect lady.

"Since when?! Hermione, you're a lesbian?" he was still shouting. The group was collectively frowning at the redhead now.

"Not that it's your business, but forever, I guess," the brunette shrugged, trying to keep it nonchalant.

"Wh-What? Harry! Did you know about this?" he rounded on his best friend, who looked a little sheepish.

"Not for long, no," he said.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Ron asked, rounding on Hermione again.

"Well, I haven't seen you, Ron. It's quite a new development, there's no need to yell about it," she said reproachfully.

His face was bright red, but he was finally quiet for a few moments at that. The other guests in the kitchen were still looking over in great interest.

"I didn't mean to yell, sorry. I'm just surprised, I guess. I've known you for a long time, Mione," he looked down, and the brunette could see there was sadness there. She felt a slight pang at that, but Fleur's hand in hers was feeding her calm and warmth and she realised there was no need to feel guilty.

"You have, Ron, and I'm glad I get to tell you about it now. It's been quite the journey," she said, smiling knowingly at her girlfriend who gave her a little wink.

The redhead took a deep breath, nodding, and then barked a sudden laugh.

"What?" Hermione asked severely, squinting her eyes as he chuckled to himself.

"It's just—I just can't wait to hear you tell my mum," he said, still laughing, and finally the tension broke as everyone joined in. The Minister and Fleur groaned at the thought of that awkward conversation but laughed along eventually.

"Oi!" Ginny yelled from the doorway, and everyone turned around, "What's the point of a party where I can't drink if everyone else isn't getting plastered?" she said, carrying a bottle of firewhiskey and lining up shot glasses on the countertop.

"This can't end well," the Minister grumbled as Fleur pulled her over to the pregnant redhead pouring out seven shots with a shit-eating grin.

It didn't end well. Fleur and Hermione stumbled into her bedroom in a pile of ash, giggles, and "ssshhhh"'s even though there no one was around to be quiet for. This only made Hermione laugh more and Fleur shush her more insistently.

Between trying to get up, undressed, showered, and redressed, the drunk Gryffindor was unsure how they would get around to everything in between their sloppy kisses. They finally got their clothes off and even in her drunken state, Hermione was trying to avert her eyes from the goddess wobbling her way to the bathroom, her choker the only thing left on her nude form.

Hermione poked her own nose, "Nope. Bad girl, Mione," she slurred.

That was, until, "Come on, 'Ermione, let's just shower togezzer," Fleur yelled casually from the bathroom, turning on the taps. The blood drained from her cheeks.

Oh, no. Bad idea. Bad idea, but her feet were already moving and she was pulling off her shirt. They were both smiling far too much for this to be sexy, but the water was warm now and when Fleur closed the shower door that changed very quickly. Hermione watched as the water wet her hair and ran in racing beads down her breasts and stomach and hips and, oh god.

Her mouth felt dry. Fleur's eyes were a dark sapphire as she pulled her toward her and they both inhaled at the feeling of their skin meeting. Their lips met impatiently, and she could taste the same whiskey that was making her feel so incredibly relaxed and warm.

God, her mouth feels good, she thought, as wet lips glided across hers, a tongue briefly coming to rest on her bottom lip. She sighed into her mouth, letting her tongue in before biting down gently on the demanding muscle. Fleur groaned and pressed against her more firmly, gripping the back of her neck.

Hermione kissed through numbing lips and the air was getting heavy with steam and their heaving breaths were echoing in the small space. She was backing the veela into the tiled wall and could have sworn there was too much light coming through her closed eyelids, but Fleur's hands were tugging at her hair and that felt more important.

The blonde suddenly pushed her away and Hermione almost stumbled, but she managed to grab the wall before she went toppling over. The blonde was looking down, her eyes wide. The brunette followed her line of sight and shrieked. And then Fleur shrieked, her head snapping up and her hands moving to cover it.

Fleur had a penis. A pretty…big one, at that. It had happened, and Hermione felt like a moron for not realising this would be the next natural step in their relationship after she accepted the bond. That it would happen so quickly, and that her body would react accordingly. The veela's face was bright red, and she was clutching her newest appendage between her hands like she was holding onto Britain's nuclear codes.

Hermione was still drunk, most definitely, but nothing helps sober you up quite like a surprise dick in the shower. She tried to collect herself though. Fleur was embarrassed now, and that was the last thing she wanted, so she schooled her surprised expression and reached towards her slowly.

Dark blue eyes looked at her frantically, as if thinking about trying to escape the confines of the small space. The brunette gave her a reassuring look, and rested her hand on her forearm lightly, letting her know she wasn't there to push her, but that she wasn't going anywhere. Fleur's eyebrows were drawn together, her eyes screaming of panic as they continued to bounce all around the shower and then back down to her hands.

"Fleur," the Minister said. Blue eyes stilled on her, "It's okay. Take a deep breath."

Frightened eyes seemed to register the request, and she drew in deeply, her chest expanding visibly as the muscles on her neck flexed.

"Good. Another one," she instructed, and the blonde followed her directions again. Her stance had relaxed now, her shoulders less hunched.

"I…I forgot. I can't believe I forgot," the veela said thickly, looking away in shame. She sounded like she was going to cry, and Hermione's heart broke at the sight.

"Stop, hey," the Gryffindor said, circling her in her arms, "It's okay, Fleur. This is you, remember? You're perfect." She felt the blonde relax a little in her arms.

It was strange, admittedly, the feeling. Different, she supposed, but it didn't feel wrong at all. She actually felt her heart rate picking back up, but she thought the fiery mood had likely been doused by this point, so she just continued to rub the blonde's back as the water ran over them.

"Are you okay?" she asked after a few minutes. She could still feel it against her thigh, but at least it wasn't erect anymore. Hopefully, that meant Fleur was calming down.

"Yes, I'm sorry," she said into her shoulder.

"You have nothing to apologise for, my love," she replied, "I think we were both a little drunk and surprised, but it's nothing I wasn't expecting."

"Okay," she sighed, pulling back and leaning her head against the tile. They both shot a glance down. Their eyes met again, and then dropped again and inspected it a little more intently.

Hermione was looking at it like it was some shiny new research paper she had just discovered. She was tilting her head this way and that, looking at it from different angles. Fleur was looking at it warily, like she didn't trust it. The brunette bent over a little to look closer. She poked it gently and they both screeched again.

"Hey!" Fleur yelled, grabbing it once more.

"Sorry!" Hermione held her hands up innocently, "I was just checking!"

"Checking what?"

"I—I don't know, the—the texture?"

"The texture? Hermione, it's a penis!"

"I know! I—I've never, um, well I've never touched one, I guess? This would be the first I've seen," Hermione cringed. She didn't know why she didn't share that information earlier, but it felt very necessary to mention now.

Fleur's eyes widened at the admission, and she looked down again in panic as her hands tightened.

"Oh no," she groaned.

Hermione looked down. Ah, it was getting bigger. Huh, this is kind of fun, she thought wistfully, smiling a little at the reaction she could elicit from her mate, but she straightened her face again when she saw the scowl on Fleur's beautiful features.

"Right," the brunette said, reaching for the door, "I'll um, I will…I will leave you to it!" she said awkwardly as she climbed out of the shower with absolutely no grace. She had no idea what Fleur needed right now, but she was certain her presence wouldn't be helping this time.

Hermione was lying in bed waiting for her, glad her drunkenness and horniness had dissipated a little bit now. After a few minutes, the blonde was out of the shower, drying off and finding some clothes. She chanced a glance over to her again and noticed it was gone now.

"Woah," she said, "So it comes and goes?"

Fleur looked over to her and shrugged as she put on some underwear, "I guess so? I'll have to ask my mother. I think it depends on the person. If they want it to remain or not, or something."

"Huh, that's so interesting. So, you don't want it to stay?" she pried, feeling curious.

"Non!" she scoffed, "I'd have to get a whole new wardrobe! Could you imagine?" She looked pained, as though the thought alone was torturous to think about. She was so serious that Hermione cracked up, pulling her onto the bed in a heap as she got closer. Her eyes narrowed at her suspiciously.

God, I love you so much.

"Mmmm, I love you too, mon amour," Fleur said with a small smile, kissing her temple.

Did I say that out loud? Whoops.

They settled under the covers and Hermione pulled the blonde's back to her front, her arm thrown over her waist. She was still smiling, her heart beating steadily in her chest for the woman in her arms. She sighed dreamily. I could get used to this.

Chapter Text

Fleur couldn't sleep. She could hear Hermione's deep breathing behind her, tickling her neck as the hairs moved with each exhale. The blonde was glad she was able to find some peace, but it was evading her own mind tonight. The truth was she was unsure of herself. She didn't trust herself. Something had happened to her that she wasn't expecting and it put a wrench in her already fragile concept of control. Her restraint had already been a problem, but now she had this…this thing that she had no idea what to do with and she felt like something more disturbing had shown itself. She was glad the surprise of the new anatomical feature took away from some of the internal battle she was dealing with, at least. Hermione had been gentle and understanding, but Fleur didn't think the woman could really gauge the mental turmoil she had been dealing with at the time.

She had wanted to…use it. The actual shape, weight, presence—whatever you want to call it, that was okay. It felt foreign, but it wasn't a bad feeling. No, the bad feeling was the way it made her feel towards her mate. Something in her head had awoken the moment it happened.

They stepped into the shower laughing, but Fleur's face dropped as she watched Hermione staring at her under the stream of water with embers in her eyes. And then they were kissing, and it was heavy. Everything felt so fucking heavy. The brunette's hands were on her back and she tangled hers into wet brown hair.

The lights seemed too bright, but she just scrunched her eyes tighter. Her skin felt like it was melting, and she wasn't sure if it was the water or the way Hermione's hands were pulling at it. She was being pushed backwards. The tongue in her mouth was pushing even farther, and the air was thick with steam.

There was a fire in her belly, and it was getting hotter, but the cold tiles pressed hard against her back were helping stave it off. Okay, it was too hot now. The water must be scalding, and the heat in her gut was moving down and she tugged at her brown hair as she felt the fire suddenly stop, but something wasn't right.

Take her, a voice whispered in her head. It was too loud. She felt too warm. Something wasn't right.

She pushed the brunette back, a little too roughly, but she was too focused on that to worry about that right now. Hermione had steadied herself and she shrieked, which made Fleur yelp and cover it. It was too late; she had seen it. Fleur felt the blood rushing to her head in horror. How could she have forgotten?

Who cares? Take her. Look at her! She's naked and wet. She's ready, the voice said again.

No, she thought back angrily.

Yes, she wants you, it said back with a sickly confidence.

It was her voice, she realised with a start. She looked around frantically. She needed to get out of here.

Hermione was looking at her evenly, and so full of love and concern that she finally felt herself relaxing. The comforting touch on her forearm was all she needed in order to push the greedy voice to the back of her mind. She could tell it would be waiting, though.

That experience was likely very different for her mate. Maybe it was all fine by her—humorous even—by the time the shock value had passed. Fleur was just thankful she was able to calm down before she did something she would regret. She took a few minutes in the shower to collect herself and come up with a game plan. It didn't work—she had no idea what to do. She didn't want to rush into a decision because she couldn't keep it in her pants. All this patience and communication would be for nothing. That wasn't fair to Hermione. No, she didn't want that at all. She snuggled back into the brunette a little, smiling as the arm around her tightened a little. The blonde wished she had a better plan. The only thing Fleur was certain of was that she needed to speak with her mother.

A week had passed since the shower incident and Fleur was being a coward. She had made excuses all week to Hermione for why she couldn't stay over, but it was looking like the jig would be up soon. The brunette had written her a few times a day asking if they could chat over the floo network, or if she could come to her place and just hang out for a few hours. The veela declined all the invitations and avoided the Minister's inquiries as to her wellbeing, and if there was something she had done wrong. Admittedly, she did have a busy week, but that wasn't the reason for ignoring her. She didn't want to be around her again until she had the chance to speak with her mother, who would finally be home tonight.

Fleur was already at the estate when Apolline and Philippe apparated in the foyer, bags in hand. She had been pacing back and forth in the entryway for the better part of an hour, trying not to overthink. Her mother looked at her in surprise, but the clan leader just grabbed her hand and pulled her into the nearest room without a word, leaving Phillipe in the hallway yelling, "Oh, hello to you too, my daughter!"

She shut the door to the dining room and turned to find her mother waiting anxiously for her to say something.

Without any preamble, she just blurted out, "Hermione accepted the bond."

Apolline's eyebrows shot up, and she moved closer to Fleur, placing a hand on her arm.

"Oh, Fleur, that's wonderful news! Congratulations, my dear. But, where is she?" she looked around as if expecting her to be hiding under the table.

"I haven't seen her in a week," Fleur hung her head, "Not since that day. I—I, Maman, I don't know how to explain this, but I fear I don't have any control when it gets to that…point," she grimaced.

Her mother was silent, watching her intently. Searching for more, no doubt.

"You believe the Veela is in control and you are not," she said simply. Fleur nodded, still looking down. Her mother just kept watching her.

"Sit down, Fleur," she said, pulling out one of the dining chairs for her. She sat down, feeling as though she was about to get scolded as she used to for running in the house.

"You have always rejected your creature, my child, and your grand-mere and I have warned you about it before. The bond between you and your mate was rejected for so long that you denied the reality of what you are because of it; in spite of it. Hermione's love does not suddenly make you a Veela. You have been a Veela, you were just without your mate," she paused, "Did you shift?"

Fleur tried not to blush at the question. Her mother knew, of course. Everyone knew. It was part of her being, but it was still awkward for her to talk about it.

"Yes," she replied. Her mother nodded serenely.

"And you were fighting control to complete the bond," she continued.


"So why didn't you?"

"What do you mean?" she tilted her head in confusion.

"What is stopping you from completing the bond now, Fleur? Hermione has accepted, you have been waiting seventeen years for this chance. Why wait?" Apolline said expectantly.

"Well, we were drunk that night, and I didn't think that would be wise—"

"What about the next night, then? Or the following night? You are stalling, and you are blaming it on this new fixture of yours. On a lack of control. Are you sure that is it?"

"Yes! I was—It was in my head—the voice in my head was so demanding to claim her! It scared me. I don't want to rush it. I want it to be perfect for her. And—"

"For her, or for you?"


"There is a lot of pressure on you, I know," Apolline said softly, "Have you considered asking your mate what she wants? As flattered as I am that you are asking me for advice, I am not your chosen."

"I just thought with the restraint problem would—"

"You don't have a problem with restraint, Fleur. You have a problem with timing. When the time is right, which should be soon if you are willing to let go of whatever is holding you back, then you will see you don't need to hold back for her."


"Non, you are not listening to me," she interrupted sternly.

Silence again. Her mother was a woman of few words, but when she did speak Fleur made sure she was listening. She knew how important this was for her.

"Hermione is ready for you. She has made a commitment and is bound to you now, similar to how you have been bound to her for the better part of two decades. This stage between acceptance and mating is not intended to last very long, but your head is getting in the way of things and feeding you insecurities that you should have been working on this whole time during your courtship."

"It's understandable to feel wary, Fleur. There has been a lot you have had to overcome, but it sounds like she has figured out what she wants, whereas you still remain unsure. Do you trust her now? Has she shown you she will be there? If so, you need to talk to her. If not, you still need to talk to her, but you need to discover what else you need to move forward and how you two can work on that together."

Fleur was quiet for a long time, digesting her mother's words. Eventually, Apolline left and gave her some space with a final kiss to her head.

Did she trust Hermione now? Had she shown her that she'll be there? Yes, she did and she had, respectively. She had shown her compassion, loyalty, love, and so much more over the past few months. The brunette had gone above and beyond to try and make Fleur comfortable and heard. She listened when she needed to listen, and she made herself uncomfortable when the veela needed answers. She had done everything the veela had asked of her, and more.

They had rebuilt from nothing, essentially. Less than nothing, if she really thought about it. She was in the negative they started. A negative integer. Disadvantaged. She was running the race but everyone else had a head start. She thought there was no way things could actually work. That she could actually catch up. That she could be here, contemplating this. Considering the future. Her future. The new life she could have; the new person she could be. One that was…

Happy? Fulfilled? Peaceful?

What concepts. She'd tasted them in small doses. Like when you go to an ice cream parlour and have a sample of the double chocolate, but couldn't think to indulge in a full scoop. No, that was far too much. She didn't need that much, really. She didn't think she deserved it, maybe.

So, what was this fear? What was holding her back? Dit-moi.

Control? Fuck that. That's a cop-out.

Insecurity? You? Fuck that too. Next.

Feeling whole for once? We might be onto something.

Not knowing what lies ahead? Keep going.

Well, what if it's not perfect? Was it ever supposed to be?

Was it not? I thought that was part of the deal? What deal?

The deal! The whole God damn mate thing! You wouldn't be here without that, you think?

I don't know, it would be easier not to be. That's not really an answer.

I don't know. I don't know either.

Helpful. Sorry, I'm not fucking Buddha, you know.

What do I do? I think you already know.


Chapter Text

Hermione rocked in her chair, staring at the spines of the books lining the shelves of her office. She wasn't looking at anything in particular—she hadn't been able to focus all afternoon. Fleur was all but ignoring her at this point. It had been a week since she had last seen the woman, and she thought things were going so well, but apparently she was mistaken.

The Minister was a woman of facts and reasoning, but she could not, for the life of her, figure out what she did wrong. She had been racking her brain over what had happened in the span of just a few short days that could have Fleur so obviously disregarding her attempts to meet and talk.

What is the penis thing? She was almost certain they had gotten over that, but admittedly she hadn't asked Fleur directly if there was something else plaguing her about it. She thought it mildly strange that she would have such problems with it considering she had known it would happen since she was seventeen.

So, then, if that wasn't it, perhaps Hermione had said something? Was it accepting the bond? Was that too soon? It was quite possible that Fleur was on an entirely different wavelength and wasn't ready to commit to her yet, in which her accepting the bond just put her in an awkward position, especially as she would now have this attachment to deal with every time they were intimate.

She should apologise, then, and Hermione had tried, but Fleur was evading her. At first, she let it go, but it had started to eat at her the more time they spent apart. They had hardly spent more than one night away from one another since her ten-year anniversary dinner, so as each day waned and she got note after note claiming, "Sorry, I can't tonight," she thought something else was at play outside of the blonde's busy schedule.

What was she to do, though? Perhaps she just needed a few days to herself. Okay, she gave her that. Still nothing. Maybe a few more days? Okay, she gave her that too, but she couldn't comprehend how a week of silence would be beneficial to any sort of relationship issue they would likely need to sort out together anyway.

She sighed, swinging her chair back in forth slightly as she continued to stare at the bookshelf in a trance. She didn't know what to do. Logically, Fleur would have to seek her out eventually. She knew waiting was the sensible thing to do, and it meant she respected the blonde's need for space. It just…for some reason, it made her anxious. It was like the longer she waited, the farther she was getting from her, even though she should have been getting closer. But still, she said she would wait, so she was waiting. At some point, she would get the answers she needed. She had left Fleur without answers for years, surely she could wait a week.

An owl suddenly appeared at her window, tapping politely at the windowpane. It didn't look familiar to her, but she got dozens of owls a day so that wasn't too surprising. She gave the peppered owl a treat and took the small note as her heart leapt to throat when she saw the familiar loopy cursive. It was a small piece of paper that looked to be torn from a notebook, not even enclosed in an envelope. Hermione could tell it had been written hastily. She opened the note and sprang to her feet, already moving towards her fireplace.

"I need to see you. 19 Rue de Bourdon, Paris."

When she stepped out of the floo the first thing she saw was Fleur sitting anxiously on a modern four-poster bed. She was dressed casually in a pair of jeans and a black jumper. She was fiddling with a strand of hair that had fallen out of her low bun. Hermione wasn't sure what to say, but she moved slowly, as if at any moment her scared deer might run off again.

This must be her bedroom, she thought vaguely, trying to take everything in through her peripheral vision without breaking eye contact with anxious blue eyes. She still hadn't seen the blonde's home, but she pushed that aside for now. She would have time for formalities later, she hoped.

"Fleur?" she asked quietly, moving to crouch down before her. She wanted to hold her hand, something—but she didn't know if the blonde would want that, so she kept them to herself. She felt nervous. Something about this wasn't sitting right in her gut.

"Hermione," she said softly, sadly. The brunette couldn't take it. She rested a hand just above her knee. The veela took a deep breath. She's going to end it, she thought.

"What's wrong?" the Minister asked.

"I—I'm sorry," she started.

"About what, love?"

"I have been avoiding you."

"Yes, I gathered that much," Hermione responded with a tight smile.

Fleur was silent for a little while, and the Gryffindor let her gather her thoughts. She didn't want to push.

"The other night…in the shower…" she paused.

"Yes?" Hermione pressed gently after a moment.

"I…I wasn't having very virtuous thoughts," she said carefully.

"Okay," she replied, her mind reeling. What did that mean? Is that why she had been avoiding me? She knew it shouldn't at such a critical time, but the thought sent a jolt between her legs.

"So, I wanted to speak to my mother. About my control," she continued. Hermione focused again, pushing away her own impure thoughts.

"Okay," the brunette stood up and sat on the bed next to her. She turned to face her a little, but Fleur was still looking down at the herringbone floorboards.

"I think…Well, she made me realise that it's not about control. That's not why I have eluded you. I—I think I just need to say some things to you before I can…move forward," she grimaced, and then finally looked into concerned brown eyes, "Can you just listen? One more time?"

"Of course, Fleur," she said with a nod, her hand still on the veela's thigh.

The blonde took a shaky breath.

"I…hated you, Hermione," her pale blue eyes were still cast down, "Part of me worries that I still do, somewhere. That it can't possibly ever leave me—those feelings I once had. That I will forever be that empty."

Hermione was trying not to react, but she felt the need to inhale sharply at that. She stayed quiet though. However much this hurt to hear, she needed to hear it just as much as Fleur needed to say it.

"I worry that I am not whole, still, even after everything. After you've made the efforts, and you've done so well, really. You allowed me in, and you got me to open myself to you when I thought I would never be able to."

She paused. Hermione waited.

"I don't think you quite understand what it felt like; what it feels like. I have been powerless since the first moment I saw you. You have held it all from that moment. All the cards in the deck. My body, my soul, my future…and you knew all of that. I told you, did I not? I told you, and you still did not choose me," she swallowed, but she wasn't crying.

The brunette had not moved, but she could feel her eyes starting to sting with tears.

"I know I love you, Hermione," she said quietly, "I have always loved you, and I know you have also loved me, yes. I do believe you when you say it, but… I don't know. I guess I am still in pieces. And I am worried. About us, about our history, and my pain. I am worried that I have taught myself to despise you and masked it as indifference, and so how could we possibly be happy? How can I unlearn that? How can I possibly just move on? Can it really be that simple?"

Another pause. Hermione was trying not to let the tears fall. Her chest felt tight.

"I ask myself that a lot, and maybe it is, I don't know. My mother would probably say it is, and to just shut up and follow my heart, but perhaps she is wrong, and maybe it is not so easy? What if this bond, this—this… connection, doesn't heal me? What do we do? What do I do?"

She was silent for a minute, and Hermione thought maybe the question wasn't rhetorical, but then Fleur spoke again.

"I think I had to realise that it's not meant to be perfect, and that maybe it never will be. That maybe I don't need you to heal me. I know I'm not flawless. I have problems and insecurities and you have scars I don't know if I can mend. I have a need to control everything, but with you, I lose that in an instant, and I don't know what to do with myself when that happens," she sighed, glancing over to look into brown eyes briefly. Hermione could see they were somewhere in between pale and dark blue.

She continued, "I don't believe this bond, this relationship, has anything to do with perfection anymore. I don't think I ever did. That's just not us, is it? We are perfectly imperfect. Maybe that's the point…" she trailed off, her eyebrows scrunched up in thought.

When she spoke again her voice was a little stronger, "I made promises to you at Shell Cottage, Hermione. I promised myself that I would be there when you are ready, regardless of everything. It was…the worst day of my life. I could hardly hold it together, seeing you like that. And then you left again," she said, her eyes shiny with tears. She cleared her throat.

"But still, I promised you. I don't know what is meant to happen, or if this will be a disaster, but you are the only thing I have ever truly wanted and for the past ten years I have been too afraid to go after that. And now that you share my feelings, I think I finally can let myself be content. I would be a fool not to be selfish for once, I think," she was looking at her expectantly now.

The brunette looked back at her questioningly, unsure what she meant.

"What are you saying, Fleur?"

Fleur was watching her intently. Her eyes a deep shade of azure.

"I think we can make a really happy life together," she said quietly, "I know you've been empty and…I've been empty too, but maybe we don't have to be anymore. I don't want to keep doing this without you."

Hermione was silently crying now, a hand pressed over her mouth to stop a happy sob from escaping. Whatever tightness in her chest was lifting and her heart was starting to race.

"I love you, Hermione. I want to claim you as mine, and I will be yours," she said, still watching her before she glanced down at her lips.

The brunette didn't respond, she just pulled her in for a searing kiss. Their tongues danced for a few moments before slowing again. Hermione's heart was racing. She had one more question, and she thought she already knew the answer, but she needed to make sure.

"When?" she asked, pulling away to look at eyes that were so dark they looked black.


Chapter Text


It was ringing in her head as Fleur kissed her deep and slow, pulling off the brunette's blazer without breaking contact. It was almost inconsequential at first, but there was a feeling growing steadily inside of Fleur that was new and wonderful and unbearably frightening. Her abdomen was getting warm again and her thrall was running rampant—she couldn't control it. She didn't know if she needed to anymore, frankly.

Hermione's breathing was fast but controlled; it was both soothing and unnerving. It sounded like crashing waves against her ears and she was losing the ability to think clearly. Teeth bit down gently on her lip and Fleur moved to the buttons on her shirt, trying to still her trembling hands. The warmth in her pelvis grew more, but there was no pain this time. She opened the brunette's shirt and pulled it off her shoulders. She pulled back from the kiss and saw brown eyes filled with excitement. Hunger. Her pants felt tighter. The voice in her head was back.

Kiss her, and she did. She pushed her down gently onto the mattress and covered her with her body. Fingers threaded into curly hair and twisted, and she rocked her hips slowly when she heard the brunette gasp. Hands were on her breasts underneath her sweater and she was trying really hard to focus on not tearing off the rest of their clothes. The woman beneath her raked her nails down her back. Fleur rocked again and the pressure against her erection was strange, but fuck did it feel good. She clenched her jaw and swallowed, closing her eyes tightly as she rolled again.

The noises beneath her were like music. Hermione's lips tasted like honey. Her hair felt like silk in her hands. Her body was humming beneath her. Everything felt right. It was everything. She was everything. Fleur felt like she was closer now. To what, she didn't know, but it was something incredibly important.

Take off her pants. She got to her knees and did that. Hermione was looking at her again and she felt her skin prickling nervously as she pulled down the slacks over her ankles. She was in only in her underwear now. Fleur looked away from the intense gaze.

Sorry for shaky hands

And the bony elbows.

I don't think I'm any good at this.

She felt soft lips against hers again and her heart skipped a critical beat. Reset. Come back. The brunette was on to her knees now too in the middle of the bed. Fleur put her arms over her head as patient hands pulled her sweater up over her head. Lips slid across her collarbone and dexterous fingers unclasped her bra. Hermione's mouth and hands were everywhere. Her tongue traced a nipple as hands worked the button on her jeans and Fleur felt a pang of pleasure race down to her groin. The zipper was loud and it sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard to her but then Hermione was looking at her again. Her eyes were warm and her hands were kind and she was smiling at her and this time it really was love.

She couldn't wait, but she couldn't continue.

Reset. Come back.

She kissed her again and unclasped the brunette's bra. Breathy moans were being exchanged in her mouth as she massaged Hermione's breasts and her pants felt painfully tight now. She pinched a nipple slightly between two fingers and the hands that were in her blonde hair moved and were now tugging at her waistband. She was going to sigh in relief when her pants were pushed past her hips, but it got caught in her throat when she saw Hermione biting her lip as she looked down.

Whatever was building up in Fleur felt significant now. Her thrall was pulsing around in great bursts rather than a sweeping energy. She was losing control, and something told her to move faster. Push her harder. Control. She felt like this woman was slowly unshackling her from restraints that had been holding her down for years. She kissed the brunette deeply again, tugging at the back of her neck to bring her closer. Hermione's hands were moving frantically now as she pulled off her jeans with the blonde's help, grumbling impatiently as they finally worked them off. Fleur's eyelids closed when she felt a warm thigh press fully against her length. She roughly pushed the brunette onto her back and swallowed the moan before sticking her tongue deep in a wanting mouth. She felt teeth biting down gently and she growled, grinding her hips into soft flesh trying to relieve this new tension.


"Tell me to slow down," Fleur gasped against her lips, and Hermione put her hands on either side of her jaw and pulled her even closer.

"No," she breathed into her open mouth.

Fuck. This was your idea.

Hands were on her ass, pulling her in farther. She couldn't stop moving her hips and she could feel her mate's rocking in time to meet her and it was too much friction. A match was lit in her stomach. Fleur trailed kisses down her neck, biting down hard on a spot that made Hermione shudder. She licked it and bit down again and she whined this time. A hand abruptly grabbed hers and was trailing it down her stomach and the veela's mouth went dry when she forced it into her underwear.

"Oh, mon Dieu," she whispered, her eyes fluttering closed as fingers slid through silky folds. She was so wet. This was too much and the flame in her stomach was growing. She ran her fingers through her delicate sex a few times, but apparently it wasn't enough. Hermione groaned in frustration, pulling her hand farther in as two fingers slid inside her and Fleur's mouth dropped open as tight walls clenched around her.

The brunette gasped and her back arched and the veela couldn't breathe as she watched. Her brain wasn't working. Connections between mind and body were stunted. She felt a hand tugging at hers, urging it deeper and something inside of Fleur was screaming and trying to crawl out of her chest and let it take over. Her member was aching and twitching for relief against the tight material of her underwear, seeking much needed friction, but she couldn't stop her hand's movements. Wouldn't stop. Watching her mate's perfect face contort in pleasure with each push was filling her with pride and elation.

"Please," she whimpered, and Fleur could see tears in the corners of her eyes and her heart was pounding like a drum as she realised what she meant.

Let go.

And this time she did. She yanked off the brunette's underwear and watched as brown eyes burned with desire and hands moved to pull down her own, hissing with relief as she sprang free from the constraining fabric. They connected again, and Fleur sighed at the feeling of the skin to skin contact as they came flush together. The blonde bit down on her shoulder, her neck. She moved to breasts and swirled a tongue around a nipple as hands tangled in her hair, encouraging her to continue. She alternated between her breasts and flicked her tongue at the rosy peak, in awe as Hermione sighed her name like a mantra.

Fleur kept moving, faster now. More. Teeth and tongue were everywhere, claiming every inch of skin she could reach. She bit the skin on her ribs and felt nails digging into her scalp and she growled, liking the pain. She sucked and licked down to her hips, nipping at the sensitive skin on her hipbones as the brunette hissed and gripped her more tightly. She moved back up, kissing and biting again and again into smooth skin that she was taking as her own. The veela reached her neck, sucking and tasting her skin. Her dick was pressed between their bodies and the movement shot a wave of pleasure to her groin. She could feel the wetness on her thigh as she rolled once more and her brain short-circuited.

"Fuck," Hermione gasped, her legs wrapping around her like a bear trap, holding her in place and the monster in her ribcage hoped the starvation wouldn't last much longer. It was desperate to take. To claim. The blonde could smell her arousal, and she buried her face in the neck that smelled like the flowers she used to pick when she was a child. Legs tightened, bringing her even closer and the hips rolling into hers were bringing her erection closer and closer to the source of heat. She scrunched her eyes tightly.

Hermione stopped suddenly, pushing Fleur's head away from her neck to look into her black eyes. With her hands on either side of her head she kissed her slowly, and the drum beating sped up even more. Or maybe the drummer was just hitting harder, throwing all his weight into it now so she could feel each beat in the base of her throat. She pulled away, and Fleur looked into coffee eyes.

"I love you," she said, and the drummer was going to break this thing, surely. The blonde nodded. She knew what this meant.

She gave her another quick peck, "Je t'aime, aussi," as she lined up near her entrance, trying not to groan as her sensitive tip slipped against her hot folds.

And Fleur had never felt so vulnerable, so scared. And scared of being scared. So close to the end and still so far from the new beginning. Hermione was looking at her in wonder, though. Her eyes gleamed in the low light and the veela thought maybe she wasn't the only one feeling like she was unravelling.

With a small nod and a reassuring squeeze on her back, Fleur pushed her hips forward a little, and moaned at the feeling of – "Ohhhh, merde," she breathed, stopping as the brunette tensed beneath her. She was hardly an inch or more inside, but the feeling, the pressure, was indescribable; addicting. She couldn't breathe. She wanted to move, fuck I want to move, but she needed to wait. Control. She took two deep breaths.

Hermione relaxed, shifting her legs a little wider for her and nodding again, her body adjusting to the pressure. Fleur took another deep breath and pushed deeper and she felt fingers clutch her shoulders as they both groaned out, "Fuuuuck," at the same time. The pressure, Jesus fucking Christ. The blonde was certain her vision was going in and out. Her ears were ringing. The sensation was overwhelming. The powerful walls around her were warm and wet and so tight and she didn't know if this was home, heaven, or hell but she didn't think she would ever leave. You couldn't make her now—she'd had a taste of it and could never get enough now.



The veela rolled her hips slowly. Once, twice. Again. The gripping sensation around her sex made her eyes roll to the back of her head. She clawed at the sheets. Hermione's mouth was open as she choked out a moan. The blonde tried kissing her again, but the Gryffindor couldn't really keep with the rhythm between whines, which was fine. Fleur thought she was trying to say something, but it just ended up in nonsensical stammering and the brunette witch just kept throwing her head back and pulling her closer. The tightness in her groin was growing as the heat around her swallowed her over and over.

She didn't know who she was anymore. Was she still Fleur, or is this skin made for someone else, someone better? Someone new? The skin that felt so unwashed and unclean before was now glistening in gold and decorated in merciful sweat. She rocked her hips, and she knew some glass shards that used to be her makeshift heart were being reconstructed by precise, patient hands that were now pulling her even closer. Needing her, wanting her. She snapped her hips forward hard and teeth bit into the flesh of her shoulder, causing her to cry out as a flash of pain and pleasure shot through her.

"Oh, my God, Fleur, yes," the brunette panted as she continued that pace. She was finding a rhythm and the pressure on her length felt so. fucking. good. as she continued driving her hips. Hot muscles were tightening around her, squeezing her. She felt like her head was underwater but her body was floating somewhere else. This goddess, the perfect creation was doing things to her she didn't understand. Her blood was filling with something and it felt unsafe and unpredictable, like a bolt of lightning had somehow made its way her groin and the charge of electricity was moving around her body in undulating and volatile waves. She didn't know what it was, or what to expect, but she couldn't stop. Surely it couldn't get much better than this.


Her vision took on a golden hue as her hips kept driving deep into the writhing woman beneath her. Fleur wanted more. She wanted it wanted it alive and breathing; primitive and carnal. Hermione's arms were wrapped around her tightly, clawing at her back and each thrust was met with a moan that sounded like music in her ears. She could taste the salt in the air and Hermione was pulling her back to her mouth and she swallowed everything she could as she filled her again and again in an unrelenting rhythm. She wanted to see her unwind and she didn't know if she was getting close but fuck this feels so good. She squeezed her eyes shut.

Her toes were tingling. The brunette was panting into her mouth and biting her lip. There was melted sugar on her teeth and tongue and Fleur pushed her hips in harder, burying herself inside her and consuming the stifled moans like they were finally satiating her hunger. She didn't know how much longer she could last. She slowed her pace and changed the angle, instinctively aiming for her bellybutton.

Hermione let out a guttural moan and Fleur felt nails breaking the skin on her shoulder.

Touch her. Make her yours.

The blonde shifted again and circled a nipple with the pad of her thumb. The change in angle was putting more pressure on the nerves at the end of her erection and she felt the tightness in her pelvis coming back again. Fleur kissed her again and sucked on the tongue in her mouth. The base of her spine was tingling. The bedroom was a cacophony of moans and cries and it was like a symphony and something was happening now. Their magic was swirling in the air and she swore she could see an iridescent light and tendrils of pinks, blues, and gold around them in some immortal glow. Her canines started aching.

She could feel Hermione's legs start to shake and the kissing stopped as Fleur looked into brown eyes looking at her in ecstasy. Her nerves were being pulled taught, and Hermione's back was arching like a bow and Fleur kept burying herself deep inside, aiming for that spot that was eliciting the most noise.

"Fuck, fuck, Fl-Fleur I'm going to –," she cried, and the blonde could feel her tight walls fluttering around her, gripping her unfairly, and the coil of waiting energy in the veela's spine was too much. She watched as chocolate eyes widened and left this world for somewhere else and the tight grip around her cock along with the throaty moan pushed Fleur over the edge she didn't realise her toes were hanging over.

She bit down on Hermione's pulse point, teeth sliding into skin easily as currents of electricity set fire to her blood. Her muscles seized as the epicentre of warmth in her groin was set ablaze and her eyes rolled back in her head and she could feel hot liquid surrounding her member. She let out a string of profanities in God knows what language as waves of pleasure ricocheted around her bones and she kept thrusting, drawing it out as long as she could. Hermione's arms were wrapped tightly around her and Fleur matched her heavy breathing, finally slowing her movements as the waves died down, leaving the tips of her fingers tingling. Her vision was coming back into focus and she licked the mark on her neck before kissing her again and it was like there was light pouring out of her forgiving mouth and filling her up like a sinking ship.

Something had shifted within her, she could tell. Fleur didn't know if it was chemical or physical, but she felt her heart heavy in her chest as hands cupped her jaw and a strong tongue continued to pour and fill up the void that had been inside her. She felt rearranged and new; polished and immaculate. She felt like her mate had climbed inside her rented body and finally made a home there.

I don't know who I am now

But I'm not going back

Chapter Text

Hermione's body was humming. Her fingertips and lips felt numb and tingly. Fleur was still lying on top of her, an unmoving pile of sexed goo, but the brunette felt weightless as the remaining waves of pleasure in her nerves ran their course. They had been lying there for five minutes or so, breathing in sync and shifting every so often to get more comfortable. They didn't say anything, but the brunette didn't think they had to.

That was…wow. Well, wow was not enough. She knew her sexual experiences left much to be desired, but she didn't realise making love to Fleur would be quite that intense. Their chemistry, the connection, and goddess the pleasure. Her lips curled slightly at the soreness between her legs, enjoying the reminder of it all. She didn't know if the veela was asleep or not at this point, but the steady rhythm of exhalation against her neck was making her feel sleepy herself. She traced her fingertips across the blonde's back, noting the trails of goosebumps erupted in their wake.

Maybe she is cold, Hermione thought with a frown. She shifted, and blonde groaned a little, indicating she was either asleep or very close to it. The brunette grabbed the duvet they were laying on top of and threw it over them, folding it over them to the best of her ability with the fabric available. Her veela mumbled something and let out a cute sigh, nestling further into her shoulder.

Hermione's heart felt so full at that moment. She could swear there was an echo of another heartbeat somewhere in her chest. It felt heavier, somehow. There had been a vacancy there that had been occupied by the woman sleeping soundly on her now. She felt her twitch a little, and her hands stilled on her back for a moment before continuing their path of nonsensical circles and shapes on the soft skin. The brunette closed her eyes and buried her nose in her silvery hair, smelling lilacs and vanilla.

She wasn't sure that the future held for them, but for once, that didn't matter right now. The only thing that mattered was this—this feeling, this love, this woman—and protecting it. Nurturing it. Her paradigm had shattered, no doubt, but she wasn't anxious. She was ready to begin again. Hermione smiled, wrapping her arms around her mate and letting herself follow her into a relaxed slumber.

Weeks passed quickly, almost unnoticeably, and Fleur and Hermione had already created some semblance of a routine. After bonding, it was all but inconceivable to think of spending a single night away from one another, though logistically she knew they would have to when the blonde was travelling for work. At the moment, though, she couldn't get enough of her. She wanted to be around her all the time; buy her things and make her laugh; take her on dates, and watch her pale blue eyes light up when she surprised her at work; make love into the early morning hours and eat ice cream after to make up for the lost calories. When they weren't' together, Hermione felt a few things she wasn't used to since completing the bond. Firstly, she felt empty and hollow, but whether or not that was emotional or physical she wasn't sure. Secondly, she was more attuned to her mate, it seemed. She could sense certain things, like big swings of anger or happiness. It was like her body was being shared now, and it made her very happy to know that she was always with Fleur, even when she wasn't.

They spend most nights at the Minister's townhouse in London, but sometimes they would floo to Paris and get dinner in the city before sleeping at Fleur's flat. Hermione had finally been given the tour after they woke up from their first…encounter. They didn't make it past the second bedroom before the tour ended in a mess of tangled limbs and moaned expletives.

Their weekends and spare time had mainly been spent at the Delacour's, who had unsurprisingly been ecstatic to learn that they had completed the physical part of the bonding process. Hermione was initially a little miffed by how receptive Apolline was to her after hearing the news, but considering how protective she was of her family she grew to be more understanding of the woman's initial coolness. The rest of the Veela clan were completely enamoured by the Minister, and often came over to say hello if they heard she was in town. Pleasantly surprised that their thralls had almost no effect on her now, it made these relationships much easier for the brunette.

The hot topic of conversation was often their final ceremony, which would take place on the eve of the New Year, a few weeks away. Every member of the clan all but gushed when they spoke of her officially becoming a part of the family. Since Fleur could not officiate it herself, it was decided that Adele would come out of retirement to commit their bond. Honestly, the brunette was slightly nervous about it. She has spoken to her mate a little about what the ceremony entailed, and it wasn't too bad, but the fact that every Veela across Europe would be in attendance for their clan leader's claiming was somewhat intimidating.

It now was the fourth week after they had physically bonded, and Hermione and Fleur were in London shopping for some bits and pieces in Diagon Alley. They had to be conscious of their relationship when they were in public now, which was challenging. It was so tempting to just reach over and hold the blonde's hand, but she had asked for some time before coming out to the entire Wizarding World. She didn't quite know what she was waiting for, however, and she was getting frustrated with herself for being such a baby about it. She wanted to hold and kiss in her girlfriend in public like anyone else, but this was unfamiliar territory and she felt the need to tread lightly.

Treating Fleur like anything but a lover was difficult, however. Now that they had crossed the boundary into a long-term commitment, she felt the need to constantly shower her in love and affection. Similarly, the woman exuded confidence and sexuality, and since had bonded physically, Hermione was extremely attuned to the fact that she was hers and hers alone. Call it possessiveness (which it was, no doubt), but she loved being the only one who could make her lover feel that way. That was why she was currently scowling at some idiot in blue robes trying to hit on her.

"Merci, monsieur," Fleur said firmly, "But I am not interested."

The man didn't respond, his mouth hanging open as he continued to stare at the blonde with a glazed expression. Hermione was tapping her foot as she watched the interaction, her arms crossed tightly across her chest. This was their third encounter of the day. They were in trying to shop for a few ingredients for a…erm, birth control potion. The morning after their vivacious night of lovemaking Hermione had woken up essentially shouting like a madwoman about getting pregnant and having to go through a shotgun wedding. Fleur had calmed her eventually, but they made a hasty potion that same day to avoid any unwanted surprises. Apparently Veela were incredibly fertile, which came as no surprise to the Gryffindor, but reaffirmed that there would have to be no room for slip-ups.

The man in blue robes was now mumbling about how pretty she was and offering to take her home because, surely, her feet were tired in those heels, and he could give her a foot-rub she would never forget. The blonde's face was a wall of ice and she continued to ignore him and pick up various tinctures lining the shelves of the potion's shop. He didn't seem to hear her. Hermione knew Fleur could handle herself in these situations. She needed no hero to come and save her, but it didn't mean the brunette liked sitting there and watching as she agonizingly tried to get unrelenting imbeciles out of her way. This one, in particular, seemed to be intent on buying the items in her basket now.

"Come on, sweetie, I can take care of these for you. It's my treat," he said, leaning back on the counter and trying to look impressive, perhaps.

Fleur scowled, "No, I do not need your help buying my things," she was done with the niceties now it seemed.

"What are you getting anyways? Stuff for a hair potion, or something? You have such nice hair…" he trailed off, eyes glazing over again. Fleur looked like she was considering murder. Hermione held back a grin.

"I am making a birth control potion for my partner," she replied coldly, her eyebrow quirking at his confused expression.

"Who's the lucky guy?" he asked, frowning.

Fleur scoffed, rolling her eyes and moving away from him again to another section of the shop. He followed, as did Hermione.

"I bet I could beat him in a duel," he said confidently, puffing out his chest out. Instead, it just protruded his stomach even more, which made the blonde regard him in mild disgust.

"I highly doubt that," she responded just as confidently with a smirk, her eyes glancing over to where the Gryffindor was standing. Fleur moved around the corner again, reading the labels of a few more flasks and dried plants.

"Well, I don't see him around! He's getting you knocked up and not helping you. I would help you," he said, following her around pitifully. The brunette narrowed her eyes.

"Right, that is it," Fleur finally said, slamming a beaker of some green liquid down on the counter a little too hard and giving Hermione an apologetic look. She just shrugged, pissed off by this point too. The veela pointed to her, "She is helping me shop. The birth control is for her, tu connard. Now get out of my face and leave me alone before she hexes you into next week."

The man turned around, his face going from pale, to red, to purple in the span of five seconds as he discovered the Minister of Magic standing behind him, arms folded, sporting a very irritated expression.

"Y-Y-Y-You…" he stuttered. Hermione quirked an eyebrow. He was gaping like a fish as his head shot back and forth between the two women half a dozen times. He finally landed on the brunette again, but he still wasn't speaking.

"Still want to duel?" the Minister asked dryly, unmoving. He balked, realising his mistake and scurried out of the shop.

Fleur sighed heavily. Hermione pulled her into a hug, pressing a kiss just under her ear. The blonde tensed and tried to pull away, but she didn't let her.

"Hermione," she reprimanded, "People will see," still trying to wiggle away.

"It's fine, love. I'm done hiding," the blonde pulled away enough to look at her questioningly.

"Really?" she asked, her blue eyes full of concern.

"Really," she said decisively, "Days like today are bloody awful. I want to be able to touch and be around you like anyone else would. I should never have hidden it in the first place, I'm sorry."

"You don't need to apologise, mon amour. You are the Minister. It's not a light decision."

Hermione frowned, "I think…I think that because I am the Minister, that's even more reason to do it. I shouldn't be afraid, and perhaps I can help others be more accepting of themselves if I take that leap first."

Fleur was looking at her in wonder, but the shade of her eyes quickly bled into to a deep, dark blue. Hermione swallowed, watching as her adoration turned into a predatory grin.

She pulled the brunette closer by the hip, squeezing slightly. "You are so fucking sexy, do you know that?" she whispered in her ear. A pang of arousal shot between Hermione's legs as she felt teeth pulling at her earlobe. Her face felt warm. She pushed her hips farther into the blonde, eliciting a low growl. She gasped as she felt teeth nipping at her neck and a tongue grazing over her mark. She pulled away, certain that moaning in a store in the middle of Diagon Alley would not be a wise decision.

They had essentially been having sex any chance they could get, and though the insatiable drive was something entirely new for the Gryffindor, it was not unwelcome. In the span of four weeks she had learned a lot about herself as it pertained to sex. She was starting to get an idea of what she liked and disliked. To be perfectly honest, though, the dislike pile was quite short. They had also discovered a few key details about Fleur's new biology that played a fairly critical role in certain activities. Well, one key detail, she thought. Namely, the veela kept her original female attributes as well as her new one. Hermione's discovery of this had come as quite a happy surprise to both of them.

"Let's head back home, shall we? We can do this tomorrow before the party," she pulled the veela's hand hurriedly towards the door. She couldn't see behind her, but she swore she could feel the mischievous smile on her mate's face as they moved hastily through the store, the basket of items unceremoniously left on the counter.

It turns out that coming out to the Wizarding World was not as easy as it sounds. Hermione had no idea how to do this properly. She was both determined to make her relationship a big deal and not a big deal. Who cared, really? Well, the tabloids, the papers, the bigots, maybe. That's not who she cared about, though. She cared about the little boy who felt out of place and had to hide pieces of himself because he didn't have someone to look up to. She cared about reaching his parents, and their friends, who might be uneducated and misguided.

She decided to go with an interview for her "outing." Hermione had thought long and hard about all her secrets up to that point. The aspects of her life that she had shielded from the public, and the rewards and consequences for doing so. There were more things than just Fleur that she considered to be important to herself. The intimacy aspect of an interview was more appealing, in any case. Rather than a large press conference in which she would just—what, start talking about her personal life in a room full of strangers? No, that didn't feel right. After reaching out to Luna, they hatched an idea. At three in the afternoon, the owner and editor for the Quibbler was led into her office by Caden, who deposited a tray of tea that was hovering behind them.

Hermione set her quill down and stood up to greet her friend.

"Luna, thank you so much for doing this," she gave her a tight hug, "I'm sorry I couldn't come to you. It's been a little hectic here," she gestured to the pile of folders stacked precariously on her desk.

Luna just smiled and squeezed her hand, "That's okay, Hermione. I am happy to help, and I think what you are doing is really important."

She led them over to two comfortable armchairs by the fireplace. Luna took out a Quick-Notes quill and a long roll of parchment from her bag and placed them on the coffee table in front of them.

"This is Luna Lovegood, editor for the Quibbler, interviewing Minister Hermione Granger on December 14th, 2010."

Hermione watched as the quill sped over the page and copied her verbatim.

"Perfect, let's get started," Luna shifted in her seat to look directly at the brunette. Her generally dreamy expression was gone and replaced with a look of professional curiosity, which threw the brunette for a moment.

"Minister Granger, it's a pleasure to have you here. Thank you for agreeing to this interview," she began.

The Minister smiled genuinely, "The pleasure is all mine, Luna. Truthfully—this was my idea, after all."

Luna laughed softly, and Hermione watched as the quill noted that in parenthesis, "That's true, I suppose. So, let's talk about that. You mentioned you wanted to share some things publicly?"

"I do," Hermione shifted, "I have been the Minister for a little while now, and I think there are some things I have left out of my life from the public eye. For good reasons, mostly. I am a private person, and I have a lot of trauma I still carry. People don't necessarily have the right to know, but there are things that perhaps I shouldn't be afraid to share anymore."

"And what might those things be?" Luna asked gently.

The Gryffindor took a deep breath, "I think I should talk about my torture experience a little. I have always shied away from that, but it's an important part of my story. And... I'd like to talk about my parents, and the mistakes I made when I was still a child. And then…lastly, I would like to talk about the fact that I'm a lesbian, and in a committed and wonderful relationship with the woman of my dreams." She couldn't help the smile that broke on her face at the thought of Fleur.

Luna smiled at her friend, nodding a little encouragingly at her bravery. She put her professional mask back on quickly and cleared her throat a little.

"Well, it sounds like we have a lot to cover, Minister. Where should we begin?"

Hermione made it home first after her interview with Luna. Deciding she wouldn't work tonight, she opened a nice bottle of red wine, turned on some music, and got started on dinner. An hour later, she heard the fire in her bedroom roar briefly before Fleur made her way down the stairs.

The brunette's heart always seemed to stop when she looked at her, and she couldn't imagine that would change anytime soon. Fleur had taken her heels off upstairs, but she was still in her work attire; a tight black pencil skirt and a light blue blouse. Hermione knew she was probably tired, but she definitely didn't look it. Her hair was up in a loose bun and her smooth skin looked to be glowing as she made her way to the chef.

"Mmmm, this smells delicious," she said, smiling as Hermione gave her a kiss before returning to the sauce she was stirring. Fleur wrapped her arms around her waist from behind and rested her cheek between her shoulder blades.

"Thank you, it should be ready soon. Do you want some wine? I have a bottle open."

The blonde scoffed, "Of course I want wine. Don't you know me at all?"

Hermione just grinned, reducing the heat on the burner before setting everything onto the plates. Fleur was leaning on the counter watching her, and her cheeks started to feel a little warm at the attention. Her blue eyes were unreadable, but they were regarding her every move with great care. She finally spoke as the brunette was pouring the sauce on top of their chicken.

"How did the interview go?" she asked gently. Hermione passed her a plate and she muttered a soft, "merci."

The Gryffindor smiled, sitting down and cutting at her own plate., "It went really well! Luna is going to send me a draft before it goes to publishing, but I'd trust her with anything at this point."

"And you are sure you want it all out there? It's not too much, too soon?" the veela asked with concern, a piece of chicken perched delicately on her fork as she waited.

Hermione hummed, swallowing a mouthful of food before replying, "I am. I'm here for the long-haul, at this point and I want the people I am governing to know me as a real person. And a vulnerable person, just like them."

"And you are sure it's not giving them too much?" she asked, spearing another bite.

Hermione wrinkled her brow a little, "I am often taken for the brainy war hero with no fears or insecurities. I think that makes me appealing to some, but unreachable to others. To most. I don't want to be unattainable or anything. I am just me, and I probably have a lot more in common with people than they realise. This is my chance to show them that." She shrugged, digging back into her food.

Fleur was watching her as they continued to eat in silence, her blue eyes sparkling with mischief as she reached for her wine.

"What?" the brunette asked


"I know there's something," she narrowed her eyes.

"You're not going to like it," Fleur replied, picking up her wine glass to take a small sip.

"Try me."

"I like how noble you are," she said offhandedly, and the brunette's face dropped.

Hermione frowned, and Fleur laughed loudly at her expression. It sounded like music and she knew she couldn't keep up the grumpy look for long.

"I'm not noble," she mumbled, crossing her arms like a child.

Fleur just raised an eyebrow, getting up from her stool to stand next to the brunette. She leaned close to her ear, "On the contrary, I think you are, 'Ermione," she purred in a low voice, her fingers tickling the hair at the nape of her neck. "I can think of a few examples in which you might show your gallantry," The brunette was trying not to react, but her mate's short nails were digging in slightly and it sent a wave of heat straight to the bottom of her stomach.

The blonde's lower lip traced the shell of her ear as she whispered, "If I asked you to carry me upstairs, would you not?" Hermione swallowed; her mouth suddenly dry. "If I asked you to treat me like a queen, would you not?" Fleur's teeth bit down gently on her earlobe. The brunette was throbbing between her legs. Her voice gained some edge, "If I asked you to fuck me like you did last night, would you not?"

The brunette's eyes widened in shock. Before she knew it, she had jumped off the stool and scooped the blonde up in one swift motion, carrying her bridal style upstairs. Fingers were still scratching at the back of her neck and pale blue eyes were looking at her devilishly as Hermione all but kicked the bedroom door open. She threw the blonde onto the bed and stepped back, watching in delight as light blue eyes darkened when she slipped out of her pants. She pulled her t-shirt over her head and stepped back towards the blonde, dressed in her bra and panties.

In another swift move, she put her hands in the crease behind the blonde's knees and yanked her towards the end of the bed, resulting in a surprised yelp from the veela as her legs were now open and around her and her skirt was rucked up to her hips. Hermione started unbuttoning her blouse. She could see the fast rise and fall of her chest as blue eyes watched intently. The brunette could see a bulge growing under her skirt. She pushed her hips forward so she was pressing against it and Fleur wrapped her legs around her tighter as her mouth fell open.

The blonde's shirt was now open, and Hermione lightly traced a finger on the lace of her bra, smirking at the moan she elicited when she glossed over her hardened nipple. Her mate tightened her legs further, trying to bring her closer. She ground against her erection again as her fingers slipped beneath the white bra. Her fingers alternated between light circular pressure and hard pinches that always caused the blonde to whimper and arch her back.

Hermione leant over her body, kissing and nipping at the sensitive spots on her neck, loving the way her hips were gyrating against her to try and gain more friction.

"Please," Fleur gasped, her hands tightening in brown hair as the Gryffindor bit her neck while pinching both nipples. The brunette smirked.

"Turn over," she said. Blue eyes widened, and she saw them darken a little more, almost to black.

The veela untangled her legs and allowed Hermione to situate her, facedown. Her torso was still on the bed, but she had both feet on the floor and her dick was pressed into the edge of the mattress. The brunette pulled down the zipper on the back of her skirt. It was one that ran the length of it, and brown eyes watched in wonder as her mate's perfect ass slowly came into view. The skirt fell open, and she pulled it off entirely. Hermione worked down her thong, careful to manoeuvre it over her member first. Bare assed now, the brunette stepped forward and pressed her hips into her. Fleur groaned, likely from the added pressure this gave her. She did it again and the blonde moaned again.

The veela lifted her head slightly, "Please, 'Ermione, please. I need more."

Hermione smiled, loving this reaction she could get, "What do you need?" she rocked her hips forward again and Fleur's face dropped back onto the sheets, smothering her moan. Another thrust. Another. Wait, wait, she schooled herself.

"I need you to fuck me! You know what I need," she finally cried, her hands clawing the sheets as she pushed back against Hermione's stilled hips with a whimper.

The brunette smiled and waved her hand, wordless and wandlessly summoning the object in question she knew Fleur was referring to. Taking off her underwear and stepping into the strap-on, she adjusted it slightly and cast the spell to mould it to her. She felt a slight shift in sensation on her sex and she pressed the new member against the blonde's ass to test it out. She could feel the touch on the end of it as if it were her clit being touched. Magical sex toys were really the best creation.

Fleur was still groaning, trying to push back against her to get her moving again. Hermione stepped back, staying a half a foot away or so, her hands coming to caress the perfect ass on display in front of her. She gave a firm squeeze to both cheeks. The blonde whimpered. Hermione slapped her right ass cheek, not exactly lightly, and Fleur cried out "Oh, fuck!" Gentle fingers lightly traced down to her legs, and she could see the muscles flexing as Fleur ground her hips into the bed again, muttering in French. A handprint was starting to form on her pale skin.

"Please," she moaned. Hermione moved to her entrance to wet a finger with her juices, her mouth falling open in a gasp as she felt how wet the blonde was. She inserted two fingers, watching in awe as Fleur's back arched and she writhed on her stomach. Hermione smirked as the blonde's hand slid down to grasp her own member, obviously trying to relieve some of the ache, but the brunette stopped her with a hand on her wrist, finally pressing her hips back into her ass and leaning over to whisper in her ear.

"If you do that, I won't continue," she whispered. Fleur whimpered, "Do you want me to continue?"

"Yes, yes, please," she begged, grasping the sheets again to avoid any cheating in this little game of theirs.

The Minister smiled and lined up at her entrance, collecting her juices again at the tip of her length before pushing in slowly, groaning at the feeling of Fleur's hot walls squeezing her. There really wasn't a way to describe it, and she doubted the sensation was like her mate's, but it was, in and of itself, an incredible feeling. The brunette set a pace that was deep and slow, trying to get more friction onto Fleur's member without coming too quickly herself.

"Oo-oo-oo-hh-hh-hh-mm-mm-my-yy-yy-gg-go-oo-oo-dd-dd," the veela moaned loudly in time with Hermione's thrusts. Her knuckles were white as she gripped the sheets. The brunette's eyes rolled back in her head as walls clenched tightly around her, and a familiar pool of heat was building in her stomach. She slowed even more, changing her angle a little and pushing even deeper. Fleur all but yelled, but her face was buried in the sheets again so it was muffled.

Hermione kept that depth, hitting that same spot over and over and the Frenchwoman was writhing and begging in her native tongue, "Please, please, please. Touch me, please," she cried.

The brunette pulled the blonde's hips back again, creating a small amount of space between Fleur's hard member and the mattress. She pulled out briefly and heard a whine from the blonde. She slapped her other cheek and was met with another cry of pleasure. Hermione ran her hand down the length of her own makeshift cock, collecting the blonde's juices before burying herself again in her heat. Both of them moaned as she continued her pace, but now she leaned forward and wrapped her hand around Fleur's length. The veela cried out again and began pumping her hips furiously against her. Hermione opened her hand again and the blonde let out a string of profanities.

The blonde was now perched on her elbows on the mattress, her head hanging as Hermione continued her steady pace inside her. The tight feeling in her pelvis was starting to grow now though. She was going to come soon. She wrapped her hand around Fleur again, loving the feeling of her hard length and the blonde was more behaved this time, letting her do the work.

"Ohh, fuck!" the blonde cried, her back arching as Hermione continued to fuck her while stroking her length, twisting a little at the sensitive part on her head.

"OhhhmygodddHermioneI'mgoingtocomeI'mgoingtocome," she blabbed incoherently, and Hermione tightened her hand just a little and she could see little black spots in her vision as her own orgasm drew nearer. Fleur couldn't last very long though. Two more snaps of the brunette's hips and three more strokes of her hand had the veela crying out with a choked scream. Her back arched and her legs shook as a shuddering orgasm rocked through her, and Hermione felt walls tightening around her as her own sent waves of pleasure to every corner of her body.

She continued to drive slowly into her, both of them shivering a little as the sensitivity grew in their comedown. Finally, she slowed, pulling out and stepping out of the magical contraption. Fleur was already lying facedown on the bed, her face still pressed into the duvet, but her body looking incredibly boneless in its current state. Hermione crawled up next to her, and they shifted and intertwined their sweaty limbs together, letting their breathing decelerate before speaking again.

Eventually, the brunette opened her eyes and saw the blonde already looking at her with a big grin on her face. She groaned, but it only made Fleur tighten her grip on her, tangling in with her even further. She felt soft lips press to her collarbone.

"I love you," Hermione mumbled, feeling drowsy now.

"Mmmm, je t'aime aussi, mon amour," the veela purred, "No going to sleep though. I am not done with you."

The brunette's eyes sprang open as another wave of arousal sparked a match in her belly.

"Oh?" she asked, eyeing the playful blue eyes looking at her.

"It's my turn now," she replied with a mischievous grin as she began kissing her way down the brunette's ribcage. Hermione's eyes widened a little when she felt teeth on the inside of her thigh. It's going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

The night of Christmas Eve was a special one for Fleur. They spent it at Hermione's place; the tree decorated and lighting up the living room with a few gifts wrapped and ready underneath. The Quibbler's article had been published earlier that week, and after giving a few more interviews, her mate had been pleasantly surprised by the outcry of support in her favour for coming out. It seemed there were only a small fraction of magical peoples against their union, but the Minister seemed to care very little about them.

The two spent the night together, making dinner and watching holiday films with a bottle of wine. They made love on the sofa as the credits rolled, and dragged themselves off to bed eventually, needing their rest for the big family day at the Delacour's. The blonde fell asleep with a smile on her face. She didn't think she would ever get to spend a Christmas morning with her mate, but here it was. What a dream.

And it was a dream, until Fleur's eyes shot open in the middle of the night and her stomach dropped at the sound echoing around her room. Hermione was screaming and thrashing around in bed, tangling herself up in the sheets and clawing at her skin.

"Shit!" The veela sprang into action, trying to grab her wrists and calm her down before she could hurt herself further. It was hard to see in the dark, and the brunette's arms felt slick and slippery when she tried to hold into them.

"Please, no!" she kept screaming and twisting away from her, "Stop it! I can't!" The blonde's heart dropped at the sound. She felt tears stinging her eyes.

"Hermione, you're okay," she said as softly as she could amidst the panic, still trying to capture her wrists but struggling. "It's me, it's Fleur. You're safe. It's just a dream. I've got you. I'm here, my love, you're safe." She was worried it was not just sweat now. It was far too slippery. She focused on her thrall and pushing out a calming atmosphere even though she felt nothing of the sort.

For someone asleep, the Gryffindor was surprisingly strong and elusive, but eventually, the veela locked her wrists in each hand and pinned her arms down, setting her torso on top of her now and focusing entirely on her thrall and getting her to wake from her nightmare.

"Please, Hermione," she kissed her gently on the forehead. The younger witch suddenly stopped screaming, and her arms relaxed, but Fleur didn't let go just yet. She loosened her grip slightly and kept muttering soothing words in French, gently pressing her lips to her temple.

"Fleur," the brunette croaked eventually, her voice hoarse. She was panting heavily, and her face was wet with tears. The veela picked her head up to look at her. It was still dark in the bedroom, but she could make out the look in her eyes and she looked alert, but scared. She let go of her wrists, letting her mate wrap her arms around her. She started crying in her shoulder, and Fleur just continued to focus on her thrall and her soothing words, letting her hyperventilating breaths slowly return to normal.

She could feel that slippery wetness on her back where the brunette was holding her.

"My love, I need to turn the light on," she said softly, and Hermione tightened her arms around her but didn't respond. The blonde wordlessly turned the lights on low and raised her head, gasping at the sight beneath her.

There streaks of blood on Hermione's cheek and neck. The cream sheets were smeared with red smudges and handprints. "Oh my God," Fleur muttered, pulling away quickly to straddle her and taking her wrist again, gently this time. The crude carving down her forearm had reopened. There were scratch marks across her arms and chest, and the blonde knew she had been clawing at her skin for some time before she even woke up. The vulgar word looked angry and inflamed, and it was slowly seeping blood from at least six spots where her nails had found purchase.

Fleur looked up into sad, scared brown eyes. She tried to keep the mask of serenity on, but she was likely failing.

"Mon amour, has this happened before?" she asked in a tender voice that was so close to shaking.

The brunette looked away from her, her chin quivering slightly before she set her mouth in a hard line, not letting herself cry again. She only nodded, her eyes focused on the bedside table. Fleur gently reached out and cupped her cheek, wiping a little streak of blood with her thumb and slowly turning her head back towards her.

Brown eyes finally met blue again, and the shame she saw in them made the blonde's blood boil, but now wasn't the time for that.

"Hey, it's okay. You are safe. Come, my love. I need to get you cleaned up," Fleur got off from on top of her and the brunette allowed her to be led into the bathroom. They spend the next half hour cleaning and dressing the wound. It would keep bleeding until it closed again, she knew. No magic worked on it; they would just have to make sure they keep it clean until it does.

As Hermione showered, Fleur magically changed the sheets. For some reason, just cleaning off the blood didn't seem like enough right now. When the brunette stepped into the bedroom again, she looked forlorn. The blonde pulled her into bed and wrapped her arms around her, curly hair tickling her chin as she laid her head on her chest.

"I'm sorry," the brunette mumbled, her voice still raspy from shouting.

Fleur shushed her quietly, running her hands through her hair, "You have nothing to apologize for. Go to sleep, ma cherie. I've got you now."

The blonde tried to sleep, but it came fitfully. She kept waking up whenever Hermione moved or made the smallest noise. Once she could hear birds start chirping outside the window she finally gave up, settling on her side, content with just watching the woman beside her. She watched her deep breathing and the rise and fall of her chest. She hummed a few French lullabies softly as she tried memorising each freckle splashed across her lovely cheekbones.

The veela's heart hurt, but it was different this time and the feeling was noticeable to her. Since they had bonded, she no longer felt like she was without purpose. Like she was unfulfilled. Now, all she felt was this unimaginable connection to the woman sleeping beside her. There was an undeniable weight in her chest, like pull, almost. It felt like gravity. Hermione was now the only thing tethering her to this fragile planet. She would do anything for her; anything and everything. Although her mate might never get rid of her terrors, she knew in her heart she would at least be here now. The brunette stirred a little, and Fleur leaned forward and kissed her knuckle.

I'm here now, she thought again with a small smile.

Christmas at the Delacour's was a week-long affair, and the two women decided they would stay there for the duration until the final bonding ceremony on New Year's Eve. Christmas morning was a little tense, but only for Hermione, who was still feeling a little shameful of her nightmare. The gauze wrapped around her arm didn't go unnoticed by Apolline, but at least she didn't mention it. The family exchanged presents in the morning, followed by a semi-formal lunch in the dining room.

Hermione and Fleur had decided against gifts to one another this year. There was nothing either of them truly wanted from a material point of view. Instead, the Minister requested that Fleur join her on her annual Christmas tradition. So, once they finished lunch, the two all but bought out an entire magical toy shop in Paris and dropped everything off at a few orphanages in the area. They spent an afternoon reading stories and playing around with the children, who were laughing and giggling at their new possessions. By the time they left, the veela was grinning ear-to-ear.

"That was wonderful," she said, kissing the Minister on the cheek as they walked down the garden path back to the street. They were bundled up in coats, scarves, and gloves. Fleur hooked her arm through her mate's.

Hermione smiled, leaning into the touch, "I'm glad you liked it." They reached the wrought iron gate on the outside of the orphanage. It was a sunny but frigid day. The Minister's cheeks were red, and Fleur could see her breath dancing around from the cold air. Her bright eyes were shining, though, and the veela's heart seemed to be doing somersaults in her chest. She is so beautiful.

"You are so beautiful," Fleur said, realising she no longer had to hold back these thoughts.

Hermione smiled a little wider, but rolled her eyes and huffed her breath, "Stop being such a charmer, Delacour," she started to walk away from the gate, down the street, but Fleur grabbed her hand to stop her.

She cupped her jaw in her hands, placing a gentle kiss onto cold lips. The brunette's eyes rose slightly, but she returned it.

"I'm serious. You are the most beautiful person I have ever known—inside and out, and I can't wait for you to be a part of my family", Fleur said.

Brown eyes softened, and she felt lips on hers again, but this time a tongue was on her lip demanding entrance. She felt warm and tasted like peppermint tea. Their breaths swirled in the cool air around them as the veela pulled her in tightly. The brunette hummed against her warmed lips, "Mmm, Merry Christmas to me," the blonde giggled at her, "I love you, Fleur."

"I love you, Hermione. Joyeux Noël."

More and more family kept pouring in over the week to spend time with them. There was music, food, and plenty of wine. Hermione and Fleur were intent on making it a relaxing holiday. The brunette confided in her that this time of year was always challenging for her, and the veela was determined to make it special for her. She knew nothing could replace her parents, but she hoped that being welcomed into her family—in more than one way—would give her hope for their future together.

The night of the ceremony came quickly, and Fleur could tell Hermione was growing more nervous as the day went on. They took the floo to the Bulgarian Ministry and after speaking briefly with the Minister the family apparated to the outskirts of a woodland area. Since the creatures and the government had a much better relationship here than the British Veela, they only had a five-minute walk through some dense woodland to the clan site.

Rather than caves in a hillside, this was an enormous clearing of trees with hundreds of clay huts interspersed around the area. There were already hundreds of foreigners packed into the clearing, bundled in coats, hats, and gloves. Considering the time of year, the Bulgarian Veela from the clan they did see amidst the guests were wrapped in large fur coats and huddled around small fires across their land. Walking along next to her, Fleur could see Hermione's breath, and she gave her a small, reassuring smile as the clan leader, Mira, made her way down the grassy slope towards them in a thick sheepskin.

"Fleur! We are so glad to have you on such an occasion! Welcome!" Mira gave her two kisses on the cheek, before shaking Hermione's hand and giving Apolline, Adele, Phillipe, and Gabrielle a wink. Her brown eyes and high cheekbones were laughing at them, as was familiar to the blonde. Mira was almost never seen without a smile on her stunning face.

"It's wonderful to see you, Mira. This is Hermione Granger, my love and mate," she gestured to the Gryffindor, who recognized her name and smiled at the clan leader warmly, despite the frigid temperatures.

"I am sorry for my Eeenglish, Ermy-oh-nee," Mira said slowly in English, her brow furrowed in concentration, but the smile was plastered across her face again after she got all the syllables out.

"It's wonderful to meet you, Mira. Thank you for having me," Hermione said in close to perfect Veela, and Mira and Fleur's eyebrows rose to her hairline at hearing their sacred language. There were a few moments of silence, and Fleur looked back to see her mother, sister, and father flabbergasted. Her grandmother, however, was looking away at the treeline rather sheepishly. The blonde looked back to her mate, who was trying not to smile through closed lips. "I thought I should practice," she said with a wink of her own, turning back to Mira, "I am so excited to meet your clan. Please, after you." Mira's bellowing laugh rang across the fields like resounding bells before she looked at Fleur pointedly and said, "She's perfect," before grabbing the Gryffindor's hand and led the way to the large tent in the centre of the clearing.

Finally, at sundown, Fleur's breath was coming out in frequent pants of nervousness against the chilly night sky. Her skin was a senseless mixture of hot and cool as she battled the anxious sweats with the freezing air. She was in a traditional Veela toga again with a fur-lined coat draped over her shoulders. A leather belt with a small silver blade was strapped tightly against her stomach. The hundreds and hundreds of faces looking towards her weren't daunting, but the soon-to-be presence of her mate was.

They were at the top of the clearing in front of the widest tree Fleur had ever seen. It was close to 3 meters in diameter and over 30 meters tall. The blonde could feel the magic emanating from it like a frequency. The overwhelming presence of magic was why they considered this place to be the birthplace of the Veela. She was their protector; The Mother.

A sea of stunning faces was watching her, but she was now staring at her freezing bare toes with sand stuck in her throat.

This is it, she thought, trying to swallow her nerves. She looked up at her grand-mere briefly, who gave her a reassuring nod, the sacred text tucked confidently under her arm. She could hear some murmuring behind her, and she turned out to see her mate walking towards her, dressed in an identical outfit, but hers a black blade made of obsidian. Her hair was down in soft curls to her shoulders, her nose pink in the harsh temperature, but her eyes were shining brightly. Fleur returned her smile, her heart pounding.

Adele smiled; her arms wide as Hermione stepped to the base of the ancient tree. The large roots at their feet left a small circle for these ceremonies in which the three of them stood comfortably. Whether it was made by that from use, or if the tree knew to leave room for them, Fleur didn't know.

Hermione reached for her hand, and Fleur wrapped hers around it, relishing in the warmth her mate was giving her. The night was deadly silent. There were not even children crying in the background, and the forest surrounding them seemed to be listening intently in anticipation.

Adele looked between them before speaking to the large clan, her voice carrying across the large area.

" Welcome, family. It is always a joyous occasion when we invite bonded mates into our large tribe. Perhaps I am biased, but tonight seems especially special, somehow. My dear granddaughter, Fleur, our leader, has found, loved, and bonded with her mate, and now we will accept her into our family together."

She could feel the warmth thralls washing over them, and even though Fleur couldn't see the faces behind her, she knew there were signs of approval. All she could see what the woman in front of her, however. That damn crinkle surrounding those russet eyes that were shining in the near moonlight. The freckles she was learning each and every day. The tongue that was poking at under an incisor as her smile grew against the dark night sky.

Adele was still talking, but Fleur reached for her mate's other hand, letting her own thrall wash over her. The feeling of Hermione's powerful magic mixed with the waves of the ancient presence from their sacred Mother was making Fleur feel rather warm now. She was no longer shivering.

Adele was still talking, and thankfully her mate was actually listening as she reached out to pull off the blonde's fur coat, "And now you will unclothe your mate before you until you are standing in your bones, and you will kneel together before The Mother."

Adele paused as Hermione finished taking off her toga. Fleur was finally standing stark naked, aside from the belt with her knife still secured against around her waist. She gently did the same for her mate, finally helping her unwrap the bandages around her forearm as well and giving the brunette an encouraging smile. Soon they were both standing in their skins before The Mother, and the blonde wondered if her mate could feel the pulsing magic surrounding them as she could. She couldn't feel the cold air at all anymore.

Her grand-mere spoke again, "This story is old, and has been told for many, many Suns. We ask, Great Mother, that you once again hear us before these two; Fleur Isabelle Delacour and Hermione Jean Granger," there was a wave-like murmur throughout the sea of Veela behind them. Fleur knew they were saying, "We hear you," but she could hardly hear anything over the pounding in her ears.

Fleur was looking at her mate; her future. Those brown eyes were the only thing that mattered. It was a strange sensation. For so long she had thought about this, but she hadn't ever gotten this far. She never let her mind take her to this place for some reason, but here they were, and Fleur felt faint with happiness. It was surreal. She was the only thing that she knew she had ever loved, and this was it. This was the final moment of trust; of love, of commitment.

Her final countdown to peace, and serenity. Fleur was ready for that full scoop of ice cream now. Seventeen years, but there were no doubts now, and she could see that in her mate's eyes that were filling with tears. As they knelt naked before The Mother, Her warmth enveloping the three of them in comfort and love. Adele spoke again, reading from their ancient Veela tome.

" Greatest Mother, our saviour, guardian, and guide.

This story is old, but it endures for years afore us.

Before man, there was woman, forged from your marrow,

and she was fair and free, and laid bare by you.

Woman was nourished by your soil and fed from your fruits.

She explored your veins and drank the secrets of your blood.

Woman was fearless, and consumed you and you alone,

but eventually, woman grew tired of wandering in solitude,

and one day she asked The Mother for another kindness.

The woman was lonely, and she asked for an equal.

She asked for one who knew her as she knew you, Great Mother.

She asked to see the moon, sun, and stars in another.

A companion, a champion, a rival of herself.

A mate to give her soul to, and to carry her own in fair trade,

And together they would walk, hand in hand, in life and in death.

The Mother accepted, but she required a price from her child.

So, the woman went to the river nearby

and she plucked a feather from the great swan;

A beacon of beauty, ferocity, and love.

She brandished her feather to The Mother,

" Make me as beautiful as the swan," she said,

" Bring me eternal beauty, and I will bear its weight,

and I, like the swan, will only have one to treasure."

The Mother took her blood and wings grew from her smooth back,

and the beautiful woman took flight into the night in search of her love.

She was a tall, dark woman, built from the trees and Earth,

And the woman loved her like she was the Sun, and as such, they lived, as one.

And so, Children, before me, The Mother has given this to you,

This love, one love, in the name of the nameless woman,

In the name of endless ends and eternal beginnings,

And now, she demands blood, for you to begin together, as one."

Fleur was the first to reach for the knife still strapped to her nearly naked body, Hermione was quick to follow suit, her eyes wide in wonder. The blonde assumed her mate didn't comprehend most of what Adele said, but there was a depth of understanding she could see in those coffee eyes that made the blonde think the language barrier was strangely not of consequence.

Adele was still talking as Fleur dragged her dagger across her left palm, drawing blood for The Mother. Her mate unsheathed her black blade and did the same. Strangely, she felt no pain. The blonde knew what was supposed to happen. She knew all the parts to this ritual, but something was happening outside of her own awareness and it was hard to explain. As she seeped into the enriched, ancient soil, Fleur could feel her magic leaving her body.

There was a vulnerability to it, giving herself up before The Mother. Fleur didn't think it would be so freeing, and it felt strange to give in, but she let go for the woman kneeling before her. She closed her eyes and just let it all go. Her magic—her essence—left her, and something else was filling her, taking its place. It felt like…blue. Does that make sense? No, it doesn't, but that's what it was. Hermione's magic felt cool where hers was hot; it was calming and familiar like the clear sky on a cool autumn day. Fleur's blood was filling with it, she was leeching from it, and she could feel strength and power underneath its pretty face. Force. Energy. Like crashing waves; beautiful, underestimated, begging you to miscalculate it.

She opened her eyes again only to see her mate staring wide-eyed back at her. The Mother was still taking from both of them and Adele had finished talking but Fleur couldn't hear anymore regardless. Her senses were being assaulted with waves of her mate's magic. She could smell rain and parchment. She could see particles floating between then like a morning haze. The taste of mineral on her tongue was soon replaced by something reminiscent of strawberries.

Hermione was holding the dagger in one hand and her blood was caking the Earth by her knee, but she was smiling at Fleur. There were tears streaking down her face, and the blonde didn't think her heart was ever meant to feel like this. Her chest felt like it was going to burst open with light and music, and she could hardly remember what it was like only a short time ago, fragmented and left out in the rain. She didn't need to remember now, anyway. She was moving on. They were moving on. Fleur was alone and broken once, but time has a funny way of fixing all sorts of things, doesn't it?

Chapter Text

Six months passed quickly after their bonding ceremony, and Fleur and Hermione had their routine down to a science now. They stayed at her town-home in London, went to work, spent Friday nights with their friends, and spent the weekends either travelling or visiting the Delacour estate. It was perfect, frankly. Fleur had to go out of town a few times, but since the ritual, there was a fascinating connection that had strengthened between them.

It was like her skin had stretched to encompass one another other. She could feel Fleur beneath her; her lingering magic giving her away and telling her story at all times. Every emotion was clear, and the veela mentioned feeling similar sensations as well. It wasn't like they could hear one another's thoughts, but it was pretty darn close and the distance was inconsequential. Considering this, business trips were surprisingly bearable. She wanted Fleur to be home, of course, but at least she knew she was safe and happy.

The public had now completely gotten over the fact that the Minister of Magic was a big lesbian. Luna had done such a spectacular job on the article, and it was as if there was nothing anyone could say, realistically. She put it all out there—it was up to everyone else to just accept her at this point. And, really, they had. She had received thousands of handwritten letters since the interview commending her for her courage and vulnerability; for being open and honest with the public. She didn't need the validation, but it felt nice regardless. She felt like she had done the right thing.

Her new life was incredible when she stopped to think about it. Every day she woke up happier than the previous one. More content, more fulfilled. Each day she got to know more about the woman beside her, and she couldn't believe how easy it was to be with her. It still didn't feel like reality sometimes, but it is wasn't real she would happily remain ignorant. She'd never felt so lucky. She was so wholly and unconditionally head-over-heels, and overjoyed that she could finally express her love whenever she wanted. Well, not whenever she wanted, but you get the idea.

It was a Saturday morning and Hermione had a few sneaky plans for her mate this weekend. The blonde had pestered her to no end about what they would be getting up to, but the Gryffindor wasn't budging this time. She wanted it all to be a surprise—starting now.

Light fingers traced over the hipbones of her sleeping mate. The rising and falling of her chest let her know she was still asleep. She moved down and ran the pads of her fingers down to the top of a smooth thigh, stopping when her leg twitched. She smiled, continuing to trace patterns around the sensitive area.

Wait for it, wait for it, she schooled herself. She worked down the inside of her thigh, scratching with a little bit of her nails this time. Fleur made a cute little noise in her sleep, but it worked. Hermione grinned and shifted down the bed, carefully swinging a leg over the sleeping blonde and raising her own hips briefly as she lined up the hardened morning addition with her entrance.

The blonde stirred a little as she ran the tip through her delicate folds to wet it. Fleur's eyes were moving behind her eyelids now. The brunette lined up again and lowered herself onto her length with a deep sigh as her mate filled her.

Fleur's blue eyes shot open immediately and her jaw dropped as she took in the scene on top of her. Hermione leaned forward and gave her a sweet kiss before sitting up again, adjusting to the pressure inside of her. She let her hands rest on the veela's chest. The brunette raised her hips until the tip of Fleur's length was just about inside, and then slowly sat back down, moaning at the sensation. It was like she was made for her; she fit so perfectly. Hermione knew this feeling would never get old. The veela's eyes opened wide and she mumbled in a dazed voice, "Oh my fucking god," Her mouth was parted and her back arched a little, neck muscles straining as the brunette continued to ride rhythmically on top of her. She rolled rosy nipples between her fingers and dark blue eyes screwed up shut with a loud moan.

Hands gripped the flesh around her hips, indicating that her lover had woken up a little now. She could feel her body rocking in time beneath her now, crashing them deeper into one another with each movement with more need. Moans and sighs were getting louder. That familiar fire in the brunette's belly was growing in anticipation as her body sang out like a tuning fork with each thrust. She was getting close. She looked into black eyes and saw the same. Hell, she felt it. She could always feel Fleur now, especially when they were connected like this.

Her mate sat up with a growl, arms wrapping around her back as she manipulated the brunette to her own liking impatiently. She wanted it faster. The blonde's hips snapped up in time to meet hers as Fleur directed her up and down her cock in a dizzying tempo. Chest to chest, the veela licked at the mark on her neck and Hermione's fingers dug into her shoulders to steady herself as a jolt of addictive heat ran through her. The depth she was reaching on each pull was bringing her closer now. She was groaning breathlessly, her chin tilted up to give the blonde more access. Her nerves were taught, waiting for that moment; the catalyst, the –

"Fuck, I'm going to—" she cried out as the veela bit down on her neck. Her muscles seized as the tipped over the edge, a white-hot current shooting through her blood. She vaguely heard her mate moaning nonsensically in French over the ringing in her ears. Hermione could feel her shuddering beneath her, hands tightening on her back as her own senses came back to her. The Gryffindor continued to draw everything from her, riding her more slowly now until she couldn't handle the sensitivity anymore and they both stilled.

They stayed entwined like that for a few minutes. Fleur was breathing heavily against her collarbone. The Minister ran her fingers through her silver-blonde hair and rested her cheek to her temple until she caught her own breath. The veela pressed a soft kiss to a scar on her chest and leaned back a little to meet her eyes. Pale blue eyes were somewhere between loopy and playful, and her smile seemed to match.

"Well, good morning to me," Fleur said through a crooked smile that made Hermione's heart flutter.

She giggled a little and leaned down for another kiss, lingering this time as Fleur sighed in contentment.

"Good morning, mon amour," she replied, leaving a trail of kisses across her cheek and up to her forehead.

"That was quite a nice surprise," her mate commented through smiling lips.

Hermione pulled away again and smirked mischievously, "One of many, as promised."

The weekend was full of dates and surprise gifts. Hermione went full stop on making sure everything was expertly planned. She even went so far as asking for help from Apolline and a few friends to ensure everything ran smoothly. They spent Saturday in Paris, visiting a few art museums Fleur mentioned she had not been to yet. They had dinner at a fancy Muggle restaurant and stayed in a hotel with a ridiculous view of the Eiffel Tower. Fleur loved every bit of it, the big romantic. The night ended in a heap of tangled limbs after they attempted to feed each other chocolate-covered strawberries that unfortunately ended up discarded on the floor by morning.

Sunday started off on a very similar note as the previous day, however, this time Hermione was the one waking up to a devilish tongue tracing the inside of her thigh. She didn't have much to complain about though–it was only fair, right?

They grabbed breakfast at Fleur's favourite café before they found a floo back to Britain, finally landing at the Minister's townhome. The veela pulled off her coat and hung it in the closet before landing on a heap on their bed.

"I'm beat," she groaned. Hermione grimaced a little, coming to stand in between her legs.

"I have one more surprise," she admitted.

"Another surprise? Do I know this place?" Fleur asked, a patient smile stretching on her face as she sat up. She knew the blonde liked this idea, and it wasn't the first time they had done this. A month or so ago she dragged Hermione around all of Europe in a similar romantic gesture. The Gryffindor knew it could get tiring, but this last one was the most important.

"You might," the Minister answered vaguely, trying to look away from those observant eyes. She pulled off her own coat and checked her pockets again. "Now, no dawdling. Come on," she held her hand out to pull her mate up to her feet.

Blue eyes were still watching her curiously. The brunette took a deep breath as she squeezed her mate's hand, readying them for apparition. Twisting away finally, she heard a sharp inhale beside her when they finally righted themselves. It was warm today being early-June, and she was glad they were both dressed for the weather. Fleur was a light blue blouse she had tucked into black jeans. Hermione was sporting blue jeans and a simple white t-shirt.

She could hear the birds chirping, welcoming them back. The brunette took a deep breath of the clean air. They were surrounded by a hundred different shades of green, proof of a successful spring. It looked unchanged but very different at the same time. It was amazing, really, what the span of a few months could to do. Hermione felt the scenery was a pretty good representation of the two of them; the same, yet completely new. The caves across the small lake were just as she remembered them, but this time there was no one running around on the distant shoreline. It would be silent if not for the sounds of the waterfall roaring below them. It made it hard to hear, but she just caught what her mate said as she looked back to her questioningly.

"Hermione, what are we doing back here?" Fleur asked, her hand tightening slightly in hers.

Hermione reached for her other hand and pulled her around, so they were now facing each other. They were standing right at the end of the cliff, the flowing water next to them flying off the overhang in earnest. She took a deep breath and met blue eyes finally. When she spoke her voice was strong, thankfully.

"This place is special to me for a lot of reasons. It was probably one of the most difficult weeks for both of us, but I don't know how else to pay tribute to what that arduous week has given us in the long-term," her heart was pounding now, "So, Fleur…Firstly, I want to thank you," the blonde tilted her head a little, smiling kindly though her mild confusion, "For giving me another chance, for hearing me. For opening up your heart one more time and letting me in."

Hermione took another deep breath, and Fleur squeezed her hands encouragingly.

"Secondly, I know we are bonded already, but I want to do it all with you. I want to give you everything I have…because that's what you have given me. I want to be everything for you; your mate, your friend, your lover, a—and your wife."

The Gryffindor swallowed, her mouth bone dry as she sunk down to one knee. Fleur's eyes widened in a late moment of clarity when she realised what she was doing. A hand reached into her pocket for the miniature box. The brunette waved a hand over it wordlessly and wandlessly to get back to its original size. She peeled back the lid and looked into bright blue eyes that were filling with tears. A delicate hand covered a small sob as the tears spilled over.

"Fleur Delacour, will you marry me?"

The blonde's lips trembled and she nodded her head vigorously as the brunette reached for her left hand. Hermione bit back her own tears, sliding a simple, yet incredible stunning diamond ring onto her finger. The large centre diamond was surrounded in smaller ones, like a ridiculously extravagant flower. It slid past her second knuckle perfectly, as she knew it would. She looked back up, expecting a look of wonder and happiness, but blue eyes had grown nearly black in the span of those five seconds.

Hermione didn't get a verbal answer until twenty minutes later. She was too busy being tackled into the brambly grass and assaulted with the mouth and insistent tongue of her now-fiancé. Little did they know that the return of the Veela clan from hunting would interrupt their…passionate moment. Morgan was the first to say something from the middle of the group.

"Well, that explains a lot," she said with a sly grin, her green eyes dancing as they scrambled to correct their partial state of undress.

September 14th finally came around. Exactly one year since Hermione had told Fleur she loved her at that seaside restaurant.

Her knees were shaking. She hated being a Gryffindor sometimes. She was supposed to be brave and courageous, but she was a nervous wreck. It wasn't like she was going into battle or anything and she felt a little silly with how much her heart was pounding, but she couldn't help it. The brunette was trying not to sweat as she fidgeted with the cuff of her dress shirt. She opted for an all-white suit, never having liked the whole dress ordeal. Just then, a pack of magical white doves flew by on timely cue, hooting softly and emitting a soft golden glow over the whole event that lit up against the setting sun.

They really went all out on this thing. Although it wasn't particularly either of their styles to have nearly 300 people at a wedding, it was a necessary evil. Hermione was the Minister; Fleur the Veela clan leader. They had a lot of people they wanted to be there. If it were up to her, they would have done this alone at the top of a mountain somewhere with a handful of guests, but Fleur talked her out of that. It was important not to hide away again.

Such a big wedding was tough to organise in just a few months, but they both wanted it over and done with. If the past seventeen years had taught them anything, it was that waiting for the things you knew were right was just time wasted. So they cracked on quickly, and they left the entire thing with Apolline to plan and organise, both generally too busy and uninterested in the details of the day. Of course, it was in good hands there. A few decisions they had to be consulted on, such as press access, colour schemes, and... cake flavouring, obviously. Only the big decisions.

Luna was here as a guest somewhere, but Hermione had hired the Quibbler as the official wedding insider and photographer. She could see four magical cameras floating around and capturing various moments. One hovered by the altar, waiting. She took another shaky breath as she looked at it warily. Harry was suddenly there again, looking very handsome in his suit and checking his watch. This was another concession that the brunette had won since she didn't have her parents here. She wanted a blend of Muggle and wizarding traditions, and she was certain her dad wouldn't be caught dead in dress robes. She closed her eyes briefly, trying not to think about them again.

Harry could feel something was up, and he rested a hand on her shoulder.

"You okay?" he asked.

She nodded, unable to find her voice. They were underneath an archway covered in an array of beautiful white flowers. She looked out onto the huge lawn of the Delacour estate that was packed with guests, who had filled most of the seats by now. Green eyes were watching her patiently.

"They'd be so proud of you, Mione," he said softly, squeezing her shoulder a little.

The Gryffindor bit her lip to stop it from quivering when she met his eyes. She nodded her head, taking a deep breath again and looking away. She knew this already, but it still hurt. She was just glad they were happy and healthy on the other side of the world. On the other side of the estate was her mate, somewhere. She closed her eyes and felt the frantic buzzing of her veela's hot magic underneath her skin. She was just as nervous. Hermione smiled at that, already feeling better as she thought about her fiancé frantically getting ready. She had a new family now, and Harry was right; her parents would be proud.

The band on the other end of the lawn started playing a different tune and Harry looked at his watch again. They were ready now. The remaining guests took their seats quickly as Harry held an arm out for her to take. She smiled at him, trying to flatten his hair one more time to no avail before taking his arm and gulping down one more deep breath. Head held high, she walked with him down the ridiculously long aisle to whatever the band was playing. She couldn't hear it anyway; her heart was pounding in her ears so loud. She grinned as they passed her jovial guests, but the real smile really shone when she saw her friends.

Caden and Dominique gave her a small wink, the latter already dabbing at his eyes. Malfoy gave her a friendly nod and put his arm around Astoria when she passed. Neville and Luna were smiling serenely at her in a way that always managed to give her some calmness. Ron was bright red, wiping his eyes and giving her a brotherly smile as the rest of his family grinned behind him. Molly was shaking she was weeping so much already. Ginny was crying silently and holding a sleeping Lily against her chest, dressed in a beautiful blue dress that matched her eyes. She had the proudest look on her face.

Hermione smiled at her family, trying not to fall apart. These people got her where she was today; she didn't know how she could ever thank them enough. They finally made it to the altar, and Harry gave her a kiss on the cheek before standing beside her as best man. The Gryffindor couldn't focus on the guests anymore. Gabrielle was walking down the aisle in a stunning light blue dress with an ornate bouquet. Hermione knew she knew she'd see her any moment now. The youngest Delacour gave her a warm smile. She tried to give her one back, but it probably looked like she was constipated. The music changed again.

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God.

Hermione's heart was in her throat and her stomach was in her arse. She was unable to locate her brain at the moment. Why was she so nervous? I'm already claimed and mated with the woman, for crying out loud! This is a formality!

And then she saw her.

"Holy… mother… of…. Morgana…." Hermione whispered reverently.

She could tell the guests were in awe with her as her fiancé walked the aisle with Phillipe, who held her proudly on his arm. A hush fell over the crowd as jaws dropped and cheeks reddened.

Now, Hermione had been to Fleur's first wedding, mind you. She had seen this all before, right? What was so different?

The woman walking down that aisle was a deity. She had always been a goddess, let's be clear, but Hermione felt her tears falling when she looked at her now. It was for her this time. She was ethereal. Divine. Her long strapless dress glimmered with small jewels in the soft sun. The neckline was an elegant swoop that didn't draw too much attention to her magnificent shape, but the back of her dress plunged dramatically in a manner than made Hermione's mouth water. Her hair was up in beautiful, intricate braids, a few wisps framing her striking face. The smoky makeup around her bright blue eyes made them look impossibly bright and dangerous, but those eyes were only looking at her. She was hers and this time it would be theirs, finally.

Fleur reached the altar, and up close it was even worse. She could hardly look at her, it was too much. Hermione's heart hurt. She looked so beautiful.

"You look…" she couldn't finish the sentence, her gaze roaming over her in wonder. Her throat felt tight and her eyes were wide. She knew she looked like an idiot.

The veela's own eyes looked a little bright as well, but she reached for the brunette's hand and squeezed reassuringly.

"You do too, mon amour," she whispered, giving her a teary smile and dabbing at the corner of her eyes with her free hand.

The officiant cleared his throat, and the two scrambled gracefully to their positions. Bill subtly wiped his eyes with a handkerchief before tucking it back into his impeccable navy suit. He pulled his wand out and cast a wordless sonorous charm on his throat.

He spoke clearly with no trace of nervousness, "Friends, family, and distinguished guests, welcome. Today, we are here to celebrate and commit the legal union of one Fleur Isabelle Delacour and Hermione Jean Granger," he left a meaningful pause.

"Magic is an amazing feat; an amazing gift, but it is nothing compared to that of love. Love holds everything together; animals, creatures, and humans alike. It doesn't matter the source, or the quantity—love can be found everywhere, and that is why it prevails, time after time. For us, it brings deeper connections; more profound importance to the good and the bad in all of our lives. Fleur and Hermione have a love like that. One that is, perhaps, more complicated than any of us know, but at its most simple definition it is meaning. They have found meaning in one another, and I truly couldn't be happier for them," his voice broke a little. Fleur was fully crying now, and she met eyes for a moment. She nodded, and he swallowed.

"Fleur," he started again, "I have known you as a friend, boyfriend, and husband, ironically," there were a few gaps in the crowd that made all three of them smile a little more, "You selflessly gave me confidence and companionship during a time when I was at my darkest, and for that, you will always hold a special place in my heart."

The veela wiped her eyes, smiling at Bill as he continued.

"Most people don't know the details of our marriage, as it should be, but I thought it important to note that I always knew you were not mine. You were open and honest with me from the beginning—another testament to your beautiful character. We had love, but, as I always suspected, it was not enough. You were consumed, body and soul, by another since you were seventeen. You used to call it a curse, but I couldn't understand that sentiment. Hermione was perfect for you, with or without your heritage. Hermione Granger is a powerful, unstoppable force, but she is also the most good-natured and compassionate person I have ever met. As your ex-husband, I think you'd be an idiot not to marry her," he chucked, and the guests laughed in unison through happy tears.

Another pause.

"You two have always loved one another, but life can sometimes get in the way of the way things are meant to be," his voice grew shaky with emotion and Hermione ducked her head a little at the memory of Fred. Fleur squeezed her hand again, and she met her blue eyes again, "It's important to seize the good in life things when you can," Bill said, his voice growing stronger again. "No matter the time; no matter the reasons. Fleur and Hermione have done that, and that's what we are here for today. Now is your time, and we are all lucky to be able to bear witness to that."

Hermione couldn't hear the rest, although she knew it was beautiful and poignant. All she could see were bright, shifting eyes of swirling blue that were looking at her like she was the only person in the world. Soon, they were sharing their vows and kissing under the arresting rays of sunset that streaked through the gaps in the trees surrounding the estate. The blonde's thrall wrapped around her like a blanket as she wrapped a hand around her neck to pull her in deeper, unconcerned by their audience. Their ring fingers felt slightly heavier as they kissed in abandon, their guests blushing but cheering avidly. Bill got his handkerchief out again.

The reception was an absolute disaster of a party. In a good way, of course. Have you ever seen Minerva McGonagall drunk? I didn't think so, but that woman has some shifty hands, ye be warned. The Weasley's were all completely obliterated by the early morning hours, having taken full advantage of the efficient cocktail service. Molly and Arthur had taken over babysitting duties and brought all the kids back to the Burrow at a reasonable time, leaving Harry and Ginny to let loose and stay out until the party finished. Hermione wasn't sure it would finish. Perhaps it was the French, or the Veela, but these women knew how to celebrate.

The dancefloor was still packed with sweaty, moving bodies under the floating lights. Hermione could see Malfoy bobbing his head is an unusual display of frivolity. Luna and Neville were doing some sort of two-person congo line. Ron was dancing merrily with one of Fleur's cousins and surprisingly wasn't a deep shade of purple in her close proximity. Hermione could only see the backs of Harry and Ginny as they ran away from the celebration to find a secluded corner, no doubt.

Her feet were killing her. She had no idea how her fiancé—no, wife—was doing it in her heels. She was a little unsteady on her feet by now, it must have been close to 2am and she had consumed far too much alcohol. At this point she just wanted to take her wife, she thought again with a smile, up to bed. She weaved in and out of people until she spotted her, like a beacon in white.

Hours later and she still looked immaculate. Hermione had no idea what she looked like, but she knew it was nowhere near as put together at Fleur, who's makeup hadn't even smudged the slightest and hair was still held together perfectly. She was talking to an elder Veela woman and holding a champagne glass, her new ring sparkling in the low venue lighting. Hermione went up and rested her hand on her lower back.

"I am sorry to interrupt, Madame Brancillon, but may I steal my wife from you?" the brunette asked the elder Veela, who had a knowing glint in her eyes.

"But of course! I am sorry for keeping her from you. Have fun," she said with a wink as she grabbed her drink and moved over to where Adele and Apolline were seated.

Fleur was already wrapping her arms around her, taking a long inhale in the crook of her neck. Hermione felt a small nip at her skin and even in her exhaustion, she felt her body reacting. Yep, time to go.

Evidently, the veela shared her feelings, for she murmured against her jawline, "I believe it is time for you to take me home, Mrs Delacour-Granger."

"Mmmm, I will have to get used to how that sounds, Madame Delacour-Granger," Hermione muttered lowly, smiling when she felt a breath tickling her ear.

Fleur gave her one of those looks that made her feel like her shoes were melting into the ground. Her burning magic could be felt growing hotter under the brunette's skin, "Well, mon amour, it's a good thing we have time, then."


Chapter Text

Fleur opened the door to the townhome. A few times a week they tried to go through the whole song and dance of using the actual front entrance so that the neighbours wouldn't get suspicious. She shrugged out of her coat with a groan of appreciation and unwrapped the scarf around her neck. It was late February, so it was cold and wet nearly all the time. She was counting down the days until their next holiday in France.

The smells of mushrooms, onions, and garlic wafted through the home and Fleur's stomach grumbled. She rounded the corner to the kitchen and her wife met her with a warm smile that still made her heartbeat quicken every time. The veela came up behind her as she stirred the sauté and wrapped her arms around her waist.

"Mmmm, bonjour, mon coeur," she purred, kissing her cheek and then the mark on her neck.

"Hello, love. How was your day?" she asked, tilting her head to the side encouragingly as Fleur continued to trail kisses down the column of nerves.

"Long," she said simply, "I had Guillaume dealing with a new team and I had to run to Austria briefly this afternoon."

"Mmm, you work too hard. Sit down and rest until dinner. I should be done in five minutes," she said.

The blonde scoffed, but relinquished her hold, "You're one to talk." She walked to the wine cabinet and spun a few labels towards her, picking a rich red that would pair nicely with dinner. She got out two glasses and started uncorking. Hermione looked over at her when she poured one glass out.

"Oh, none for me, thanks."

Fleur looked up with the bottled hovering over the second glass. Her wife turned the stove off and set the pan aside.

The blonde furrowed her brow a little but put away the second glass. She took a careful sip, watching her wife as she took out some plates and started assembling everything. The veela had half her brain focused on that, and the other half of her brain was counting. That was the…third time this week that Hermione had refused a glass of wine. Normally, they shared at least a bottle a week between them.

Dinner interrupted her thoughts, and soon she was catching up with what the Gryffindor got up to today and venting more about her Austrian clan issues. When the plates were cleared and loaded into the dishwasher, Fleur met her mate over on the couch with a relaxed sigh.

"I have something for you," Hermione finally said, fiddling with the corner of the cushion.

"Oh?" the blonde raised an eyebrow as her wife wandlessly summoned a small box. She shifted to face her, and gently slid off the top of it to reveal an ornate silver key with her family crest engraved on the head. Her eyebrows scrunched together.

"A key?"

"Your key, technically," she stated, as if that answered anything.

"I'm confused."

"I got it from your mother," she said, again, unhelpfully.

"Why are you giving me my own key?"

"Because we are moving," she replied with a smile, and Fleur's heart stopped. She looked down at the key again. It was her family's estate key; she would recognise it anywhere. The wine. The key. Her brain finally connected the dots, and she looked over to her wife to see a shy smile forming on her face.

"I'm pregnant, Fleur," she whispered, "You're going to be a mother."

Her mind raced back again. They had spoken at length about the possibility of children and had both agreed that Hermione would stop taking the birth control potion. They weren't going to treat anything else differently, however. They thought they'd start by just letting things occur naturally, but that was only…four weeks ago.

"Y—You're…pregnant?" she said softly, her eyes wide as she stared at her mate in wonder.

Light brown eyes were filled with joy, and she nodded, biting her lip between her teeth as though she were nervous.

"Oh, my god…" Fleur's eyes were filling with tears. She looked down at her wife's stomach and she muttered, "Oh, my god…Oh my god!"

A thousand thoughts ran around her mind, and she couldn't make use of a single one of them. All she knew was that her cheeks were hot with tears and she was pulling Hermione into a tight embrace on the couch and kissing her, saying, "I love you, I love you, I love you," over and over again as they tried to stop crying and laughing from this feeling of senseless happiness.

Fleur was pacing around the room, biting her nails even though she had rid herself of that terrible habit over twenty years ago. Hermione was being checked over by the healer, so she reluctantly gave them some space. Her belly was huge underneath the hospital gown. The healer was speaking gently and had started touching her sparingly to conduct a few tests, but Fleur watched her as though she were Voldemort himself laying hands on her very pregnant wife. She balled her fists up tightly by her sides and clenched her jaw.

The healer waved a wand over her wife's enormous stomach and Fleur heard a low growl fill the room. Hermione gave her a sharp, "Are you serious?" look. Whoops. That was her. She was at the end of the bed, rigid as a board, glaring at the young healer. The brunette's facial expression softened a little and she motioned for her to come to the empty side of the bed to join her. Fleur did so immediately, reaching for her hand without taking her black eyes off the healer, who was glancing nervously at the veela now.


"Fleur," her wife said patiently, "She is helping us, remember? You don't want to deliver this baby yourself, do you?"

"No," she said through gritted teeth, rubbing circles onto Hermione's hand.

"Good, then relax and stop looking like you're going to murder the nice staff."

Fleur scowled but did as she was told and shifted her focus back to her wife. The visage of homicide was immediately replaced with that of great concern for her mate. She was a little sweaty having been through a few bouts of contractions, but all in all, looked comfortable and…slightly bored. Her contractions weren't that close together yet, but once her water broke Fleur all but flew them to the hospital immediately in a frenzy when it happened.

Fleur was in the kitchen, going over some bathroom design fixtures. It had been a long eight months, but they were nearing the finish line now. Thankfully, Apolline and Phillipe were all too excited to move out of the large estate to give them the space for their growing family. After giving their eldest daughter the "If you let the vineyards go to shit you will be disowned," speech, they settled at their summer home in Lyon permanently, giving over the rights and deed to the newest estate members.

The Delacour-Grangers contemplated waiting to update the place until after their little one was born, but they both figured construction and picking out new paint and hardwood would be the last thing they wanted to do with a newborn. Therefore, they had all but redesigned every inch of the antiquated mansion in a few short months. Gold trimmed furniture and crown moulding was replaced with a simpler, contemporary design that was more their style and less imposing. All the furniture was replaced and every wall repainted. The new look made it look bigger - if that was possible - and much brighter. They tore down walls and expanded certain rooms. Hermione insisted that they triple the footprint of the already enormous library, and Fleur wanted to add a potions room so they could make their own stock of whatever they needed.

It was not a cheap bill, but after going through their books together they realised they had quite a lot of money to throw around. Fleur would take control of the Delacour fortune now that the deeds had passed to her, and she made a fairly impressive earning over the past fifteen years that went mostly unspent. Her wife had an impressive salary as Minister, and Fleur learned she had invested a majority of her war earnings early on in various growing industries and businesses which turned out to be quite ludicrous. In one afternoon, the two women realised they had more money than they knew what to do with, so splurging to create the home they really wanted was an obvious choice.

Fleur bookmarked a faucet she liked in the magazine she was poring over when Hermione waddled in, groaning and rubbing her belly.

"I'm so hungry," she whined, and the veela grinned as the opened the refrigerator for the tenth time today. Fleur moved the magazine to the side and watched her wife rummage around. Pregnancy looked so good on her. The Gryffindor found a carrot and some peanut butter before coming to stand beside her at the kitchen counter, turning the page of the magazine again and looking over the blonde's bookmarks.

Fleur continued to watch her crunch away, but the small smile on her face disappeared in an instant when she heard the pattering of some watery substance against the kitchen floor. She and the brunette looked down together, and then back up. Brown eyes were wide with surprise as the carrot covered with a gob of peanut butter froze halfway to her mouth. The blonde couldn't move for a moment, and her wife took the opportunity to chomp down on the carrot once again.

"I think the baby is coming," she finally said through a mouthful of peanut butter.

And then Fleur was shouting and moving, having finally snapped out of it.

"Jean!" she yelled, and a house-elf was there instantly as she started walking her wife towards the front door.

"Please get the baby bag for me and put it in the car ," she said rapidly. Hermione's hand suddenly shot to her stomach and they stopped their walking.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, owwwww," she cried, hunching over in pain and dropping the damn carrot finally as her first contraction hit.

Fleur saw red when those horrible sounds filled her ears. Her Veela wanted to shift, to attack, but she knew there was nothing to fight. Thankful her wife had already planned out their entire emergency plan with great detail, the blonde carefully got her mate into the car before peeling off towards the nearest hospital. They knew they couldn't use the floo or apparate. If Fleur had her way, she'd be flying them herself, but Hermione put her foot down at that suggestion. A car was the next logical answer, and the blonde had practised the route to the hospital at least a dozen times now.

Hermione's panting breathing had returned to normal now that her contraction passed. She looked over at the blonde gripping the steering wheel. Every ten seconds or so she would look over at her precious cargo, asking how she was feeling and if she was in pain.

By the fifth time her pregnant wife snapped.

"Fleur, I'm fine!"

"I'm just making sure you don't need anything," the blonde said sheepishly.

"If you really want to help me you can either shut up or go back and get that carrot," she whined.

Admittedly, Fleur probably panicked a bit, as they were now on their tenth hour at the hospital waiting for her contractions to get closer together. They started almost twenty minutes apart and now they were just over ten. Her wife was doing a crossword puzzle in between them now, looking extremely underwhelmed. She looked at the watch she placed beside her and made a note in the margin of her crossword. Fleur rolled her eyes. Of course, her wife was monitoring her own contractions.

In the downtime, the veela had sent messages to their close family and friends, who were waiting patiently for the arrival of their newest member. The Delacour's had come in briefly to say hello and wish them good luck, but now they waited in the waiting room with everyone else. Every now and again Fleur would hear Ron yelling, having been bested by Adele in countless matches of wizard's chess.

Hermione's hand suddenly shot to her stomach, and even Fleur knew this one was much closer than the last. Close to half the usual length.

"Oooooooohhhhh, ah, ah, ahhhh!" she cried, beads of sweat reforming on her forehead as it kept going. Fleur looked at the watch, her eyebrows knitting together. This one was much longer.

She sent a patronus to the healer, who entered the room after twenty seconds. She looked down at Hermione's noted on her contractions, evidently confident she was being accurate.

"Okay, let's have a look down there," she said, and Fleur held onto her wife's hand as the healer checked her cervix.

"Well, it looks like we are getting started, ladies. I hope you're ready to meet your baby soon!"

The next hour or so went by in a whirlwind. Fleur had never been so proud of her brave wife. She was so strong at every moment. Every contraction she could feel Hermione's anguish flexing over her skin, but couldn't feel the pain. She wished she could take it from her. Goddess, what she would do to be able to take her pain away. The veela stayed by her wife's head the whole time, kissing her temple and trying to encompass her in calming thrall even though she knew it likely wasn't helping at all. She whispered words of encouragement as she witnessed the most extraordinary woman bring their firstborn child into this world.

Hermione was covered in sweat and tears; her hair was sticking to her forehead, but Fleur had never seen anything as beautiful as when the healer placed their daughter in her arms for the first time. Fleur knew she was crying, but she couldn't feel the tears. She couldn't feel anything except gravity. Her whole world was reshaping inside the confines of her body, drawing her towards this little wrinkly bundle with the tiniest hands she had ever seen. Those were hers…she helped make those hands. Those ears. That button nose. Those eyes, scrunched tight, trying to keep out all this new light. Fleur raised a hand to her little girl's back gently, unable to form words. Her wife was the first to figure out how to talk.

"We're so happy you are finally here, baby girl," she said softly, and the blonde felt fresh tears on her cheeks again. She smiled and laughed, giddy all of a sudden at how surreal this was. Their little girl gave a small squeal at the sound of her voice, and her wife and she shared a look of wonder.

A single sheet of paper suddenly appeared out of thin air on the bedside table that read:

Certificate of Birth

Sophie Rose Delacour-Granger

Born: 05:27 AM on November 17th, 2012

Assigned Sex: Female

Weight: 3.41 kg

Length: 49.89 cm

Biological Mother: Hermione Jean Delacour-Granger 

Biological Mother: Fleur Isabelle Delacour-Granger 

Comments: Part-Veela (1/4) Natural birth. 

The serene silence was broken by the first of many window-shattering wails from their daughter. Fleur still couldn't stop smiling.

"Sophie, get down here! We are going to be late!" Fleur shouted, looking down at the list again in her hands before tucking it into her purse. She was in a white sundress and wedged heels for the occasion, her hair up in a loose bun at the nape of her neck.

"Coming, Maman!" she heard a little voice from the other end of the hall and footsteps padding rapidly across the hardwood. Hermione swept into the room just then, and the veela was thankful she wouldn't have to round her up as well. She was dressed sharply in Fleur's favourite blue suit, their three-year-old bouncing happily on her hip with a toy block in her chubby hand.

The blonde cooed at her, "Good morning, my princess. How are you?" she asked, holding her hands out to take her as her wife shifted and looked at her watch in distress.

"We're late," she grumbled, looking around for their eldest.

"I know," Fleur said through smiling teeth at her daughter as she blabbed incoherently about the toy in her hand. The blonde's eyebrows rose in shock when she was told of a specifically interesting trait of the tremendously uninteresting block.

Olivia Adeline was in a little polka-dotted dress and ballerina flats. Her wavy, dirty blonde curls were just past her chin, and already sun-kissed with streaks from their time in the sun. Bright blue eyes suddenly looked to the door as her big sister came charging in, shoes in one hand and her other stuck firmly behind her back. She was sporting some stripey blue shorts and a lime green top that clashed horribly. The veela winced as soon as she saw her. Hermione had convinced Fleur to let her express herself, but every day it seemed to be getting worse.

Sophie's light brown hair was a little darker and less wavy than her sister, but her eyes were just as bright. Currently, the five-year-old looked conspicuously naughty as she stood at the doorway.

"Sophie," Hermione narrowed her eyes as the blonde made her way to the floo with their smiling youngest, "What are you holding behind your back?"

"Nothing!" she said too quickly, and the Gryffindor just raised an eyebrow, unimpressed.

"Then I guess you won't mind putting your shoes on yourself, will you?"

Fleur smirked as her daughter's eyes widened with the realisation that she had trapped herself. As big as she was now, there was no way she would be able to tie her own shoes with one hand. Big blue eyes looked down at the floor and her little body sagged dramatically.

"Okayyy," she said, holding out her hand to her mum. It was one of her favourite books; a strange story about a sea monster who made friends with a baby deer that only ate beans. Or, something like that. They had Gabrielle to thank for that strange find.

Hermione knelt down and smiled reassuringly, "Why are you bringing that, love?"

Sophie was still staring at the ground as she mumbled, "Sometimes I don't want to play with the other kids."

The brunette looked over at Fleur, who was watching the whole scene with adoration. Little Olivia was still babbling loudly in her ear.

"Why not?"

"Sometimes they just want to run around and play quidditch and I don't always want to," she admitted.

Hermione was so obviously ecstatic that Fleur was hard-pressed to control her eye roll. She knew her wife loved seeing their brainy little daughter beat to her own drum.

"You don't have to play if you don't want to, but remember, it's easy to get lost in a world that is not your own, okay?" she spoke seriously, and Sophie nodded her head gravely, "Having friends is important. You just have to find the ones that like the things you like," she clarified.

"Like reading?"

The brunette paused and nodded, "Yeah, like reading. Now, come on, troublemaker. You can bring the book. You should never have to hide that from us, okay?"

"Okayyy," she said dramatically again with a sigh, and Fleur snorted. She had so much attitude already it was scary. Such a combination of the two of them.

They landed at Grimmauld and found Neville watching over the group of kids running around. He had charmed a few ribbons that they were all screaming at and chasing, nearly knocking the guests over in the meantime. Sophie thrust the book into Hermione's hand, grabbed her sister, and the two toddled after the shrieking hive of children.

"So much for not playing," Hermione said dryly, but she had a smile on her face. The Delacour-Grangers took a deep breath of temporary freedom and gave Neville a very warm welcome for soldiering through the babysitting duties.

They made their way into the yard with two glasses of wine and found Harry, Luna, Malfoy, and Ron chatting on the far end.

"Mione! Fleur! How are you guys?" Harry yelled, giving them both warm hugs as they meandered over.

"Great! You?" Hermione asked as she let go of Draco after a round of hugs.

They all murmured in assent before Luna asked, "How is the new company?"

Hermione grinned and dove right into it. After her second term as Minister ended, she started a research company specialising in medical and psychological research for the effects of dark magic. Her team had published numerous studies on solutions that helped to diminish the neurological impact of the Cruciatus curse. Similarly, the company was intent on finding the best and most effective means of emotionally helping patients deal with the aftermath of dark magic, dependent on their specific needs. The company had been granted a trial period already by St. Mungos and were operating at a 68% success rate in reducing mental health disorders for those who had been badly injured, tortured, or who contracted irreversible curses, such as a werewolf bite.

Malfoy looked impressed, "That's great stuff, Granger. A year in and you're already making waves. Can't say I'm surprised, though, with that big head of yours," he muttered into his whiskey.

"Hey!" she said, pushing him slightly on the shoulder.

The pack of rabid children were running by screaming, and all the adults did a quick once over to make sure their ducks were accounted for before continuing.

"So, Harry, are you going to start us off?" Ron asked, eyeing the large crowd. It was a great turnout. Everyone who had been a part of the Order, Dumbledore's Army, and who had been a part of their lives since the battle were in attendance.

Harry looked at his watch, "Yeah, I suppose I should get going and crack us off. Excuse me."

Not fifteen seconds later they heard him again, standing on a garden chair at the other end of the yard with his wand at his throat. Neville had somehow gotten all the children to stop screaming, and they stood watching in the corner, out of breath and sweaty.

"Hello and welcome, everyone. I am going to keep this short, but I thank you all for being here again. Today marks twenty years since the Battle of Hogwarts and our fight for peace and freedom. Tonight, we remember those who cannot be with us, and we honour their sacrifice so that we can live ours to its fullest potential."

To the untrained eye, Harry was just taking a break, but Fleur could sense his emotion even though he tried to hide it. She took Hermione's hand out of instinct.

He continued, "I hope that not a day goes by where we don't remember them, and we do that by passing on the values of equality, compassion, and love amongst ourself and to generations to come. Please, enjoy the night. The ones we lost would not want a single day or drink to go wasted. Thank you," he stepped down, and everyone raised their glasses in a minute of silence for the friends and family that were not there to share it with them.

When they got back home, Hermione was carrying Sophie and Fleur held Olivia, both fast asleep in their shoulders. They would have to send Neville a gift basket for his services tonight. They made their way up to the girl's bedroom they shared, which the girl's preferred even though sometimes it made nightly routines all but impossible.

Hermione set Sophie down and the little brunette groaned when her mum tried getting her out of her grass-stained clothes. Fleur was trying not to laugh at the noises of frustration coming from her.

Soon, the two stood by the door, looking over their girls as a charmed solar system floated above them. Fleur wrapped her arms around the brunette, resting her chin on her shoulder as they watched them sleep for a few more moments.

Hermione broke the silence with a whisper, "I can't believe how lucky I am."

The veela grinned and kissed her mark softly, "I was just thinking the same thing."

Her wife turned in her arms and kissed her slowly, wrapping her arms around her neck. Fleur pulled her in closer, exhaling against her lips.

"I love you," she said.

"I love you too," her mate replied, before kissing her again. They were lost in one another for just another heated moment before—


Their eldest threw a pillow theatrically over her face. They both sighed in defeat.