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Tempus Fugit

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"You both really should talk, you know?" Harry remarked cautiously. The last thing he wanted was to end up in a fight with Hermione again about the same thing. She looked at him, sighed, and thought not this again.

It was almost ten years after the final battle. The one that made the wizarding world safe. Life, at the least, was better. In fact, laws were changing enough so that half-blood, muggle-born, magical and part-creatures were in an unprejudiced place with their rights. Hermione had managed to change the magical world according to her own desires and values. Something she was ready to change now, had been ready to change for some time, was her friendship with Ronald Weasley. She wanted it over; to end it.

"Harry, he’s the reason we don’t talk. He is immature, selfish. And, after all, do I really need to say how easy-going and completely tension free it is when we are in the same room?" Hermione said sarcastically, while rolling her eyes. Harry just nodded his head. "He’s the one who starts the fights. Merlin, Harry, it was eight damn years ago, and he keeps giving me the same speech and asking me the same questions. He keeps asking about why I don't want him, about me being gay, about me playing with his heart. I do not have to love him in a romantic way. Moreover, I don't think I even love him in any way anymore. He makes my life so hard, and now Molly can't stand me. I lost my parents and my second family. I love you as my brother, but this will be your last warning about this subject," Hermione sighed, feeling rather exasperated, and took a little sip of her tea.

"I told you that Ginny and I will always have a place for you," He said, grabbing her hand and squeezing a little. "He is my best friend, but you are my sister. I have your back." She smiled softly at him. Harry was always a gentleman, sweet and caring.

"Ginny is so lucky to have you, brother." He felt his cheeks warm a little. "So, child number three? Do we know already if it’s a boy or a girl?" Harry beamed.

"Well, we are guessing a girl. But who knows? Weasleys like boys," he joked. Hermione knew he really wanted a girl.

"Are Albus and James dealing with the pregnancy well?"

"Albus is having a little trouble understanding, but time should help.  It's not James' first rodeo, so he is being very helpful. Although Ginny said he is now following her around, and she wants to drown him, since he keeps asking if she and the baby are all right. Like every five minutes," He grinned. "They were, in fact, asking about you. How about you and Luna come by next week for dinner?"

"I'll need to ask her. She and Gabs started a new project, so it's up to her to say if she’ll be free or not. But I work from home, so count me in," She smiled and Harry conjured a quick Tempus, to check the time.

"Time to go back to work."

"Okay, I'll let you know about Luna, go kick some arse, mister Auror." Harry quirked a smile and nodded, thinking that a relaxed Hermione was certainly more fun. She quickly paid the bill and started walking home. 

Hermione had shared a home with Luna for a couple of years now, and she just adored the blonde woman. She was so fresh and sweet, always caring about what Hermione thought, as well as her feelings. Of course, during the first year or two of friendship, Hermione had to learn to simply accept Luna's ramblings. Now, years later, the bookworm tended to ramble with Luna about her (and Gabby's) discoveries. Their home was sizable, with two suites, each with one regular bedroom and two bathrooms. There were two offices, a living room, a separate kitchen with a half-wall pantry, a really small garden, and a lot of magical protection. When Hermione arrived at the yellow house, she felt the blood-wards react to her, and suddenly she was swept up with the cozy feeling of home. The door opened itself and Hermione stepped forward to put her jacket on a very, very anxious coat rack, as it was already reaching to grab it. When Luna said to put some personality in it, Hermione wasn’t sure if she meant for it to be so damn excited to handle their outerwear.

"Easy there, we don't want you to break something again." she scolded. The coat rack suddenly stopped moving, and allowed her to hang the garment. "Here you go, now can you please keep it safe for me?" The object almost hugged the coat, and Hermione held in a little laugh, since she discovered the rack got particularly offended when its mistresses laughed at it. She looked down toward the little rug where they kept their shoes, and noticed there were two pairs on it, meaning Luna  was home, and Gabby was visiting. She put her own shoes on the rug, and walked around in her socks. She went to the kitchen and studied the magical clock. Luna and Gabby's hands were on the "in the office" position, as was Harry's. Ginny's was "at home" like Albus’ and James' clock hands. Neville's was at the "sleeping" position, McGonagall and Hagrid were at "Hogwarts". She was always happy to see no one on "dead" nor in "danger".

She used magic to prepare a few sandwiches since she knew how much Luna and Gabby got lost in their research. After a few minutes, she walked to Luna's office,  knocked on the door, and waited until she had permission to enter.

"Hey you two." She greeted, and Gabby hearing her voice, raised her head.

"Ma belle, how are you?" She flirted a little and smiled.

"Pretty good, and you?"

"You know, missing you, my muse," She announced dramatically. Hermione approached and pulled Gaby into a hug, pulling the blonde's head to her breast. "Oh, a boobs hug! Hello, ladies." Hermione pushed her away and both of them started to laugh.

"Asshole."

"You both are like baby nargles competing for mum's attention," Luna commented.

"Here, eat you fools. I'll be in my office working a bit. Goodness knows how much work people are offering me lately.”

HGFDHGFDHGFD

After almost ten years, she grew and shone. Not having to save people from death, being able to focus on her studies, not having to carry Ronald and Harry with their own studies...Hermione Granger was not just a child prodigy anymore, she became a voice of her generation. Perhaps she was the most successful of her year. After returning to school to finish her studies, she found in Minerva McGonagall not only a friend, but a mentor and a mother-figure. Minerva had taken the young woman under her wing, presented her to the right people, and assisted her in finding her path in the magical world.

When she finished school, she made a very important choice. With the options of: Healing, Magical Animal Studies, Transfiguration, Potions, Natural Subjects (Divination, Astronomy, Herbology, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy), Muggle Studies, Defense Against Dark Arts and Magical Architecture (Spells, Charms, Rituals, Enchantments, Creation and Developing Magical Objects), she chose the last one. And being stubborn like she is, she mastered this field, with a specialty in creation and development of magical objects. In fact, most of the magical objects in her home were from her own design; the coat rack, the magical clock, the bookshelf and even the bathtubs. She also made Harry his wristwatch, and a magical clock for his own home. She was great at her job, and even without a formal contract, many families, companies, even ministries, hired her freelance for various projects. Her status as a world savior gave her an inherent “trustworthy” air around magical people. 

Presently, she was staring at a stone etched with runes in front of her. She had been attempting to activate it, but nothing she was doing had been effective. A few hours passed, the sunny day grew darker, and she’d just noticed how long she had been working on the problem when Gabby knocked at her door.

“Hey beautiful, you’ve been in there for a long time, we were wondering if you were still alive.”

“Hi, sorry. I’ve been stumped with this stupid rock.” She grimaced, gesturing towards the stone.

“What have you figured out so far?” Gabrielle Delacour had known Hermione well for almost seven years, since she started to work with Luna. She learned very quickly that this woman needed to ramble to put her ideas in order, and furthermore, Gabby always liked to hear and learn along with Hermione.

“Well… This rock does not have one magical nature only, the one who created it was very talented to be able to put light, shadow, willing and water together. Here, let me show you.” With a small movement of her wand, in a blink, Gabby was able to see a few strings of white, grey and blue around the stone, as well as a light golden line tying them all together. ”So, this means that this is for protection, because of its light nature. It also has a self-protection enchantment, which is triggered by its water nature. So this stone, with the Algix, in Elder Futhark, means protection. Which for by itself, doesn’t make much sense.” Hermione paused for a second, and Gabby knew she’d helped. “This! Because of course for itself it doesn’t make sense! It is one of a group!” Hermione moved around grabbing a quill and a piece of parchment, quickly writing a letter.

“How many, do you think?” Gabby asked, she loved to see how Hermione's brain worked.

“Must be seven, or a multiple.” Hermione replied thoughtfully. 

“Why?” 

“Well, you see, seven is a strong magical number, making everything stable. Makes magic work better, that’s why Voldemort had created seven horcruxes. Well, eight with Harry, but he hadn’t intended that, seven had more of a chance to bind together. Three is a good number too and nine, but it has more issues in stability. Eleven is not that good, and thirteen well, that is a recipe for disaster. That is why we have seven layers of magic around the house, seven ensures we’re safe and secure. In fact, all the elders, witchers and wizards used seven in their compositions. Magical Natures are seven; Air, Fire, Earth, Water, Light, Shadow, and Willing.” Hermione said  animatedly.

“So, probably seven stones,” Gabby nodded in agreement. 

“Yes, I’ll send this to my employer, he will likely need to dig around where he found this one to locate the others. Because right now with only one, I cannot break this puzzle.” She put away the stone, in a part of her workspace that she designated “To Do,” and turned her eyes to the “Future Projects” section trying to select a new one. Gabby, watching her, snapped Hermione out from her quiet deliberation. 

“No, lady, no. You will spend a few hours of your precious time with Luna and I.” She didn’t leave Hermione a lot of space to argue, grabbing her hand and dragging her to the living room. In the center table were a few Chinese food boxes, and Hermione finally realized how hungry she was. They spent a long time talking, and even with Hermione's natural curiosity, she resisted the urge to ask them about their new project. They would tell her, eventually. She peered at Gabby for a few moments and saw the younger woman looking at her own hands nervously. 

“So will you tell me why you are so nervous, or should I try to guess?” Hermione observed playfully, trying to capture Gabby's attention, but the younger woman just started to play with her fingers, seemingly becoming even more anxious. “Gabby, what is going on?” Hermione put her hand on top of her friend’s.  A few more moments dragged on and Luna remained silent, watching their exchange.

“I have something for you…” She said, still very nervous. “Here, read this and then I will answer all the questions that I can.” 

“That you can?” She was so confused, but seeing the letter in Gabby’s hand, she quickly took and opened it. 

 

Dear Mademoiselle Granger,

It’s with great pleasure that I write to you. I am Sybelle Delacour, Fleur and Gabriella’s Grandmother and Leader of the Veela European Clan Coalition. After  long and careful consideration, we - me and the leaders from each clan - agreed that you, Miss Granger, are the best choice for a very special and unique opportunity.

I do not believe it will be safe for any of us, especially for Gabriella, to discuss such details in a letter. If you are interested to learn more about this work, I invite you for  lunch this Saturday.

Kind regards,

Sybelle Delacour.

 

“What that hell, Gabby?” She exclaimed, reading the letter again. “What is going on?”  She was wary because of the secretive tone of the letter, and also because it felt like Gabby and Luna were hiding things from her. 

“Hermione…” Gabby started, but closed her mouth.

“You were talking about me and my work behind my back?” She was agitated.

“Calm down.” Luna said in a more controlled tone. “Sit.” She demanded, and Hermione snorted but obeyed. “We haven’t been lying to you, but we cannot talk about some things yet.” 

Hermione was not appeased. “Okay, look. We are writing a book about veelas, so you can understand the confidentiality, yes?” With that, Hermione grew calmer, seeing that Gabby touched Luna’s hand and started to explain herself.

“Veela culture has a lot of secrets, things we cannot talk about. Not just because it is inside information, but also because all Veelas are attached to a group. The clan and family come first, it would be considered a betrayal to speak freely about Veela matters. And an ancient blood-ward prevents us from speaking anyway, almost as if our tongues stick in our mouths. What I can tell you, I will. But other things, things that you will likely question, I want to tell you but…”

“You can’t.” Gabby nodded. “Let's start with why your grandmother wants to talk to me?”

“We are having a problem with a Veela artifact.” Gabby suddenly stopped speaking and grimaced a little. “We just want to hire you. Please, go, as a big personal favor to me?” She begged.

“All right, I will meet your grandmother.”  Hermione conceded. “So, your book? How do you both intend to write this if you can’t discuss it?”

“I’ll write a book about things that we can talk about. And Gabby will be composing one, with the leader's permission, from a Veela’s perspective.” Luna clarified.

“But, again, how can you help her with that, if almost everything is secret?” Her curiosity was high. 

“We have an agreement, they allow me to be temporarily bound to Gabby, and in this way I can learn. I have also made an Unbreakable Vow.”

“Let me guess, you both cannot tell me about this temporary bond either?” They nodded in agreement. Hermione sighed, resigned. “Okay, so I’ll meet your grandmother and hopefully I will get some answers.” She knew better than most people to avoid meddling with unbreakable vows and blood-wards. After all, it was just a few days until the meeting. 

HGFDHGFDHGFD

The lunch meeting arrived too quickly in Hermione's opinion. Suddenly she was in front of Brasserie Zédel, a very popular muggle restaurant. She was anxious, but one waiter approached her near the entrance and smiled. 

“Bonjour, mademoiselle, do you have a reservation? Or are you meeting someone?” He inquired politely.

“Uh, yes, I’m here to meet Mrs Delacour?” She replied self-consciously.

“Oh, certainly, you must be mademoiselle Granger. Follow me please.” He proceeded into the restaurant, and in the next second, Hermione knew that she had entered the magical part of it. She immediately felt the magic surround her when she stepped past the door frame. He walked up to a table in the back, where a woman was sitting alone. Sybelle Delacour had to be at least 70 years old, for everything Hermione knew about her, but the woman in front of her looked much younger. She appeared to be at the most, 55 years old, with long silver-blonde hair, unbelievably blue argent eyes, a strong jawline, beautiful nose and a smile on her lips. Her clothing was a dress in a mix of vintage and modern attire. Well, Hermione thought, if Fleur or Gabby aged like their Grandmother, oh damn. “Comme demandé Madame Delacour, voici Miss Granger.” [As Madame Delacour asked, this is Miss Granger.] He pulled a chair out for Hermione, who sat, worrying a little about her manners.

“Merci beaucoup pour vos services, Liam.” [Thank you for your service, Liam] Sybelle said politely, and in a few seconds the waiter was out of sight. She cleared her throat and faced Hermione. “Miss Granger, I’m glad to see that you accepted my invitation.” It was clear Sybelle was proficient in English, but Hermione thought she'd prefer to converse in her native tongue.

“Nous pouvons discuter en français si vous voulez, Madame Delacour.” [We can discuss in French if you want, Madame Delacour] She said in a low tone, and for a second she believed Sybelle was surprised.

“Oh, very kind of you, Miss Granger. But we can continue in English, I need to practice a little more, as Fleur and Gabby these days only speak English.” She smiled. “Now, you understand that our conversation is confidential, and what I present to you cannot go anywhere beyond here?”

“You granddaughter said that you want me for a job, and I put myself forward a little. This is a confidentiality contract, if you please.” She reached for the contract inside a hidden pocket of her blazer. “You will see that this contract is very light on details, but since it’s a magical contract, we can always amend it as we wish. For now, it states that I cannot talk about anything discussed in these meetings, and also guarantees my own privacy about my job. I don’t like people snooping around any of my contracted operations, so the ‘no talking about it’ goes both ways. I imagine you will have to report to the rest of the clan and family, so I put in this addendum. They can ask me about this assignment, if you wish, and also I will be able to speak to Luna and Gabby.” Hermione summarized quickly, and Sybelle just nodded, grabbing the contract and reading fast.

“I consider this acceptable for now. After we finish our conversation, and if we think something must be changed, we can do so.” With her rosewood wand, Sybelle signed the contract, and Hermione did the same. “Finally, I can explain what has happened. Veelas have a magic clock, one that tells us the location, health and safety status of each clan. This is, and I believe I don’t really need to tell you, extremely important for us in France to be capable of tracking any distant clan. Recently, this clock has suddenly stopped working. We have tried everything we know of to repair it, but nothing has worked. Right now, we are running blind in regards to every clan away from Europe. And furthermore, today I received a notice demanding to know how I propose to resolve this. It’s a priority matter for me, I am elected to my position, and I need a solution. Gabby said you are the best she knows, and that you are also genuine and honest. If you are interested in the job, we can discuss additional details. But I will need you to start today.” Hermione considered for a moment, it seemed like a huge undertaking, but perhaps if she handled this the right way, other doors would open for her.

“I’m interested in the job, Madame Delacour. But I need to say, I do not come cheap, and I charge after the work is done. I am stubborn, and even if a member of your clan can help me and work with me, my contract will be directly with you. After you elaborate on what I need to do, I’ll not accept any interference.  Moreover, I cannot predict how quickly I’ll be able to settle your problem. Usually fixing a magical clock is already quite difficult, and more than once I may need to re-cast much of the magic encircling this artifact, fixing and forging new parts. I can indeed start today. However, I’ll need a few hours to gather my work supplies, and it’s possible I will need to build a magic forge, though I can easily manage this by myself.  I know I can count on your help regarding Veela magic.” Hermione once again spoke rapidly.

“I agreed with your terms, Miss Granger. I will be the one who will apparate with you to the grounds of French clan; what time is ideal for you?” Sybelle responded simply, with a small smile on her pink lips.

“Now is….almost noon. Hmm.” She mentally organized the items in her office that would have to go in a suitcase or trunk. “I’ll need til 3 p.m, to do it.” 

“Bon. As business appears to be concluded for now, let us eat something.”

After the formal conversation was done, Sybelle showed herself to be good company; polite, intelligent, refined and gentle. But even Hermione was aware that this woman was one of the strongest Veelas from Europe, and for everything Gabby told her, she was also an incredible witch. They didn’t talk about the Clan or Hermione’s past work, they spoke about the magic world, politics, cultural differences between the French and English, and exchanged a few laughs. After the lunch, Sybelle paid the bill, and Hermione returned home. 

“HOW WAS IT?” Hermione had barely entered her home when Gabby had pounced on her, scaring the shit out of her. Reflexively, she had drawn her wand, ready to fire off a spell. 

“Lughdaich do guth!” Gabby stopped moving and looked at her confused. “Uh, lower your voice?” Hermione flushed, reholstering  her wand. “Gaelic?” She said, once again flushing.

“Damn girl, sorry. I was excited. Who knew you could speak Gaelic?” Gabby said rhetorically. “So, how was it?”

“Well, I have to pack.” Gabby grinned widely and gave Hermione a big hug. 

“Yay! We can be together now!” Then as quickly as her happiness appeared, Gabby became serious. “Just promise, no flirting with the Veelas.” She was so earnest that Hermione stopped and looked at her, confused. “We mate for life. And flirting could start a bonding process...”

“Oh… I thought you had soulmates?”

“Yes, we do. But it’s becoming more and more common for some Veelas to mate without their soulmates. Just, be careful. You are beautiful and a great match. If you need to, say I’m wooing you or something. They will back off.”

“Okay… I appreciate the advice… But I don’t think I’ll have much free time for a ‘roll in the hay’ with a random veela….” Gabby laughed louder and hugged Hermione. “Now, beautiful, what about helping me to pack my stuff? I’ll have to stay away for a while fixing that clock.

Chapter Text

With Gabby’s help, things progressed quickly, and the two of them finished packing within a couple of hours. They were just talking about this and that when Hermione’s wards on the house began to vibrate. She realized Sybelle must have arrived. Hermione walked to the foyer with her magical bag containing her supplies and suitcase. Upon opening the door, she saw Sybelle standing exactly one foot away from the trigger for her protection ward. Clearly the older Veela knew exactly where it was. 

“Hello, Madame Delacour,” Hermione smiled and approached her. 

“Hello, Miss Granger. Are you ready to go?” Sybelle smiled back and offered her arm.

“Bye Grand-mère. I’ll see you tonight!” Gabby called from inside the house, with the door open. Hermione grasped Sybelle’s arm and with a pop, she felt the usual pulling in her belly caused by apparition. 

Suddenly she was in a completely different place, and found herself standing near a line of dense woods. Immediately, she felt a large amount of magic almost overwhelming her. Feeling somewhat dizzy, she pushed the sensation off of her with her own magic, stabilizing her perception of the area. 

“Impressive, Miss Granger,” Sybelle observed, pleased.

“Just call me Hermione? I feel like I’m in school again.” 

“Of course, Hermione.” 

“Thank you, Madame Delacour.”

“Sybelle. That makes me feel older,” They smiled at each other, and Sybelle started to walk towards the woods. “We are actually relatively close to the coastline, but the Veela settlement is nestled within this forest.” 

It wasn’t too far of a stroll, and more forested areas were hidden between a few buildings. With clean lines, square structures, pastel colors, polished stone sidewalks, and a lot of vegetation - including trees, flowers and shrubs, the area was a beautiful place. 

It was almost like a small town, and Hermione heard some horses neighing. It was rather picturesque, and the buildings were beautiful. The houses were grand, made of stone painted in various light colors; yellow, pink, light blue, lilac and green. The roads were narrow, but wide enough for a group of four to walk side by side, with gray stones of varying shades. She heard her own footsteps echoing through the streets. The Veela village was surrounded by several trees, and in a quick scan, Hermione was able to identify ash, maple, and oak trees. Several flowers adorned the flowerbeds of the houses, and in various parts of the settlement, Hermione saw yellow gentian, wild narcissus, lavender, multi-colored orchids, daisies and wild anemone. The homes had large windows, and in almost all she saw curtains of strong colors fluttering.

They walked a little between the structures, and Hermione noticed a lot of blonde women around, many of them looking back at her. Some with curiosity, others with just a quick glance, trying to be respectful with Sybelle about, and keeping their heads down. 

The elder woman eventually guided Hermione to the rear of a nearby edifice, where she felt her jaw drop. She found herself gazing upon an enormous stone and wood clock. It was 32 feet in diameter, made of beautiful white stone and white oak, with black text. It had a base 50 feet long and 3 feet wide. And as she had been warned, the clock had stopped. It had eight partitions for eight clans, which were then divided into another three panels. Those sections were marked with three categories. North America, South America, Central America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Nomads were registered for the continents. Next, each of the clans also had a city labeled, which were New York, São Paulo, Guatemala, Marseille, Bloemfontein, Xangai, Melbourne and Atacama. The last section of each partition reported the clan’s status condition, which at this moment was tagged as “Unknown” for all. Hermione presumed the clock would probably shift colors with a given status condition. Sybelle had given her a brief rundown of status rankings, which included Secure, Danger levels 1 to 3, Under Attack, Death, and Unknown. 

“Now you see,” Sybelle said dismally. “This is why we need to fix it as soon as possible. We also need to perform a small ritual, which will give you more liberty to ask about it . Also, as you were told, Luna and Gabby are temporarily bound. This means Gabby has become Luna’s Keeper. Being someone's keeper requires this person to be responsible for you, answering your questions, helping you with anything you need, and especially being liable for any action you make.”

“And who will be assigned to me?”

“I will bind to you myself.” Hermione was taken aback.

“Madame Delacour, I suspect you are a busy woman, you should not have to be responsible for me,” Sybelle quickly interrupted.

“Call me Sybelle, and you are my responsibility. I hired you. And I don’t trust anyone to handle this. Apolline cannot be bound with anyone since she is already bound to her soulmate. I lost mine a long time ago, during the first war, so I can do it,” She explained simply. “It’s a simple blood ritual. I’ll give you one drop of my blood every week, and this will temporarily give you the status of a Veela as acknowledged by our law.”

“How similar is it to the true bonding with a mate?”

“I will be able to explain more about that after the ritual.” With a light movement of her wand, Sybelle made a small puncture on her finger. She repeated the action toward Hermione’s hand, then placed their fingertips together and Hermione felt a warm wave reach her magical core, which was quite pleasant. “This that you sense now is a mere fraction of how good it would feel to be bound with a mate. The true bonding is like being consumed by fire, warm, intense, amazing. It is feeling complete for the first time in your life. For me, it was the epitome of happiness,” Sybelle elaborated, as Hermione absorbed the information.

“Okay. May I begin, or is there anything else I need to know?” 

“For now, I suppose we are set. But if you need me, I’ll be around,” She pointed to a massive building. “That is the Delacour House. There you will easily find myself, Apolline or Lira - my daughter’s mate. I understand that you are a proponent of the rights of house elves. Ours are free and officially employed, with benefits, wages, a private home, clean clothes and respectful treatment. Galan, come please,” She called. An elf appeared with a pop; he was short, with big green eyes, pale skin, wearing a t-shirt, pants and flip-flops.

“Did you call Galan, ma’am?” He said, a bit anxiously.

“Yes, thank you, Galan.” The elf flushed. “This is Hermione Granger, she will be with us for a while. Can you please get a suite prepared and notify the kitchen about another person being present for mealtimes? Also, if she calls for you, do assist her please.”

“Of course ma’am! Galan is glad to help! Miss Hermione will have a suite and good and warm meals in her belly!” He declared, pop-ing away.

“He is very anxious, as you can see.” Sybelle said, amused. “If you need me, ask Galan to call me. I’ll allow you to get to work now. Do anything necessary to repair it, all right?”

“Certainly.” Hermione turned back towards the clock, slipped off her jacket, and rolled up her sleeves. First, she removed all of her work supplies from her magical bag. She pulled her suitcase out next, and with a wave of her wand, an office materialized, looking very much like the one she had at home. Finally, she transfigured a few objects into woodwork and stonework stations.

Hermione then sat in front of the clock for a long while, examining it. She pushed her magic towards it, until she could touch the clock’s own magic gently and attentively. She felt its magic warm around her own, like a friendly greeting. The magic seemed inherent to the clock, so this was one less problem. Repairing its magic would be harder than fixing its physical structure. Her eyes closed as she continued to get a feel for the essence around her. She wasn’t sure how long she remained sitting there, but when she opened her eyes she saw a child’s face just a few inches from her own. Hermione leaped up off her chair.

“For Morgana’s sake!” The young girl just grinned.

“Qu'est-ce que tu fais?” [What are you doing?] She asked, with that mischievous smile still on her lips.

"J'essaie juste de réparer l'horloge." [I'm just trying to fix the clock.] Hermione answered, trying to calm her startled heartbeat. 

“Qu'est-ce qui ne va pas avec ça?” [What's wrong with it?] 

“Je ne sais pas encore.” [I don’t know yet.]

“Madeline, laisse-la tranquille et rentre à la maison. Maintenant!” [Madeline, leave her alone and come home. Now!] Hermione heard a shout from not too far away and turned towards the voice, seeing a red-haired woman.

“Oops, ma maman m'a trouvée! Au revoir!” [Oops, my mom found me! Goodbye!] Hermione just stood in the same position, watching the girl run off. The sun was setting, and she had made very little progress with the clock. Even its magic, she , not “it,” her mind supplied, was like a living creature. Hermione moved towards the clock and put her open hand on her. 

“I will fix you.” She promised to herself, and to the clock. Instantly, a little wave of magic, warm and loving, crossed from her hand to her magical core. 

“Miss Granger?” Galan popped into view a few feet away from her. With uncertain steps, he came closer. “Galan is very sorry for the interruption. But dinner will be served in an hour, and Galan thought that Miss Ganger would like a bath. Bad Galan, interrupting the guest!” He explained his appearance while simultaneously reprimanding himself.

“Hey, it's ok, Galan. You didn’t do anything wrong. Please, for future reference, I don’t mind you calling me for meals.” The nervous elf blushed, and stretched his hand out to Hermione. After she took it, he apparated the two of them into a beautiful cream colored room, with a large bed, desk, spacious wardrobe, and two adjoining doors. One that Hermione assumed led to the bathroom, and the other to the hallway. Galan, with wide eyes, started to describe rapidly how to get to the kitchen. Hermione just agreed, and the elf left her alone to bathe. She noticed the clothes that Gabby promised to bring were already in her wardrobe. 

Despite the calm after the war, she was never able to take long baths again. Trained by their time in the forest, when the trio would move swiftly from place to place, she had learned to bathe quickly whenever they had access to water. Hermione was ready in only fifteen minutes. After dealing with her hair, she used Accio to grab her notebook and started recording everything she had learned about the clock.

It was a long road of therapy and recovery for Hermione to be able to deal with her PTSD. There were countless nights of terrifying dreams that ended with her sharing bed with Harry, Ginny or Luna. She was able to recuperate with the help of her psychiatrist-mediwitch, who became a true blessing in her life. They healed the wounds and curses on her body, but also her mind. She truly felt at peace. 

She went down the stairs for dinner expecting silence, but instead heard a soft kind of French jazz playing. When she arrived at the kitchen, she saw Apolline Delacour in conversation with Gabby. Sybelle was near the window with a glass of wine, her body in a pensive posture. The person who spotted her appearance was the only one in the room she had never met before. Hermione assumed this woman was Lira. 

“Hey, you there,” She called. “Come on in, I’m Lira Delacour.” Suddenly Hermione was pulled in a sweet hug. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you ma’am.” Hermione returned the impromptu hug. “I’m Hermione Granger.” Lira Delacour was, like all veela, beautiful, though maybe one of the few brunettes within the clan. She had dark brown chocolate hair, green eyes and an amazing smile. Hermione immediately felt relaxed in her presence. 

“Ma belle!” Gabby cried flirtatiously. 

“Hi, beautiful.” Hermione replied, and instantly blushed.

“Oh, I didn’t know you were together! You should have brought her home earlier, Gabby!” Lira said excitedly.

“We are not together,” Gabby corrected, “She is my friend. Only my friend,” She pouted dramatically.

“But Gabby…” Lira started, though Apolline didn’t let her finish. 

“My love, Gabriella is clearly in love with Luna.” Hermione’s eyes got wide. She had always suspected, but since Gabby never talked about it, she hadn’t wanted to pry. “Right, Miss Granger?”

“Please, don’t make me take a position. Gabby is smart and a big girl, she can deal with her romantic life on her own,” Hermione responded diplomatically, and went close to Sybelle, trying to avoid being put in an awkward conversation. Heroically coming to her rescue, the older Veela started a random discussion with Hermione. They kept talking, and after a few moments, Apolline joined in. Lira and Gabby however, kept arguing about whether or not the younger was in love with Luna until dinner was finally ready. 

“So Hermione, how is it going?” Surprisingly, Gabby brought up the topic of the clock. Hermione had been expecting Sybelle to ask about the progress she’d made as soon as possible. 

“Well, it’s been a slow start…” Hermione looked at her plate. “Her magic is intact, but she is too weak to fix the issue by herself.” 

She ?” Gabby asked, confused, and when Hermione looked up, she saw a mysterious expression Sybelle's face. It morphed into a proud smile. 

“The clock, it’s a she …” Hermione trailed off, still looking at Sybelle. “Though you already knew that, didn’t you?”

“She is not very talkative with anyone, which I’ve known for a while,” Sybelle replied.

“What does this mean? Her ‘talking’ to me?” Hermione asked, making quotation marks with her fingers. 

“She will tell you eventually, or you will find out by yourself. This is your journey to track.”  

After talking over dinner, Gabby asked Hermione to chat over at one of the nearby balconies. Hermione sat in an armchair, while Gabby sat on the floor in between her legs. Hermione began to run her fingers through Gabby's hair, who relaxed against her. She sighed after a long moment.

“Aren’t you going to ask about what my mother said?”

“Hmm?” Hermione said distractedly, still playing with her friend’s hair.

“Luna.”

Do you want to talk about it?” 

Gabby just shrugged. “Gabby, we don’t need to discuss it if you don’t want to,” Hermione assured her, moving off the armchair and wrapping her arms around her friend from behind. She felt the younger woman crying silently. Neither of them noticed Lira watching, waiting, and wondering if she could help. Apolline approached from behind her wife, both observing the two young women on the balcony. 

“Are you two just going to stay over there?” Gabby’s tremulous voice sounded suddenly, breaking the silence. Both women moved closer, and Lira knelt and hugged Gabby hard.

“I’m sorry, mon bébé. I didn’t mean to make you cry, I’m so sorry.” Lira was speaking very quietly, and Hermione just listened, as she was still very close to Gabby. Apolline was watching with worried eyes.

The comfort session was interrupted when a small, white, red, and blue feathered owl appeared. Hermione carefully disentangled herself from Gabby, and held out her arm. The owl landed, and hooted a small ‘hello.’ 

“Itean, it’s a pleasure see you again.” She stroked the owl's feathers. “Do you have something for me?” The owl stretched out a leg, and Hermione untied the letter in a pocket. “Here, little one.” Hermione unholstered her wand and conjured a strip of bacon. “Your favorite.” The owl hooted happily, and started to eat. Hermione read the letter and smiled.

“Good news?” Apolline asked gently. Lira and Gabby had moved to the armchair, sharing the seat, and were looking at her curiously. 

“Pansy finished her mastery in potions.”

“Pansy Parkinson? The pure-blood fanatic who was ready to hand Harry over to the Death Eaters?” Apolline asked incredulously.

“Yup, that’s her.” 

“And you speak to her?” The older Veela inquired, still shocked. 

“She is my friend,” Hermione shrugged. “It’s been a long time.”

“Yes, but…” Apolline was confused.

“She spoke with Harry, you know. He forgave her after she confessed what happened to her family.” Hermine paused to gather her thoughts. “During the first war, Pansy's father was a strong supporter of Voldemort, but during the few years of peace that followed, he decided that his family was more important than blood ideologies. When Pansy was in her fourth year of school, her younger sister Patricia was born. To force her father's hand, Voldemort kidnapped Patty and coerced the Parkinsons to help in the war. That day, in the great hall, Pansy handed Harry over in an attempt to show that her family was willing to protect Patty by serving Voldemort." 

Hermione sighed. "I became her friend while continuing my studies. Her mentor is married to my mistress of Magical Architecture, and we spent almost two years in close proximity. Eventually we became friends, she met with Harry, and I found out that Pansy was a good person." Apolline relaxed for a second. “And also we had a good time dating for a while, but we chose to remain friends.” Hermione smiled.

She! She was the first girlfriend!” Gabby announced very loudly. “Who knew?” And giggled.

“‘Girlfriend’ is a bit of a strong word. We had only gone on two dates, and we discovered friendship worked better. But yes, she was the first to show me that I liked women. She has been in an amazing and loving monogamous relationship for a few years now,” Hermione reminisced fondly.

“Hermione, tomorrow we will have a Veela meeting, regarding mates and mates-to-be; do you want to learn more perhaps?” Apolline asked after considering for a moment.

“Sure, though I will need to begin disassembling the clock. That is, to start doing so, because it’s probably going to be quite a process.” Hermione responded agreeably, “But do let me know what time it will take place, and the dress code, if any.” Apolline assured her that she would, and after that Hermione said her goodbyes and went to the bed.

HGFDHGFDHGFD

The next morning she woke up early, just before seven o’clock, and proceeded down the stairs. She went directly to the kitchen, conjured a silencing charm, and began to make breakfast for herself. In a few minutes, she had a nice plate of pancakes with strawberries and a big mug of coffee. 

“Good morning, Hermione.” Lira’s sudden appearance and greeting nearly caused Hermione to spill her coffee on herself. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t notice the silencing charm.” She smiled sheepishly.

“Good morning, Madame Delacour.” Hermione replied, blushing. After the war, it was very common to find Hermione lost in her own thoughts.

“Call me Lira, please.” Apolline’s mate was sincere and gentle, and Hermione suspected she knew from whom Fleur inherited her caring personality. “Are you looking forward to working on the clock today?”

“Yes. It’s only been one day, but it feels like things are already going too slow. I know you all need it resolved as soon as possible, but…” She hesitated for a moment. “This clock is a relic; ancient, special, almost with sentience. Whatever happened to it was a sacrilege. Almost an unforgivable sin in my line of work.”

“What do you mean?” Lira asked curiously. 

“I’m a Magical Architect. To be called a Magical Architect, you need to become proficient in certain areas, which are Spells, Charms, Rituals, Enchantments and the Creation/Development of Magical Objects. Everyone learns the two first in school, while rituals are more of a specialization, but Magical Objects.... this is a dying art. I’m quite adept at spells and charms, but creating something with magical properties was something I was especially interested in. I created the coins for our secret defense against the dark arts club in my fifth year of school, as well as an undetectable extension charm on a bag for our gear while we were on the run during the war. These items were necessary, but I also enjoyed the process of creating them. To be able to see something you imagined, there, existing, real, and tangible in your hands, is so very gratifying.” Hermione was speaking with so much passion, Lira quickly found herself enthralled just listening to her. “This clock, it...She… She is a beauty. The way her magic was cast and molded, how the stone and wood components were connected to become this beautiful object. Its state now, this frozen limbo, hurts my heart quite a bit, actually.” Lira smiled softly at her, reached for one of Hermione’s hands, and squeezed it comfortingly.

“You will fix it. It’s impossible for someone with so much passion to leave it the way it is. Do you mind if I watch you work today?”

“Of course not, I just, I must apologize in advance. I’ll probably not talk much when I get focused.” She smiled shyly. 

Her morning certainly started in a different way than she expected, Hermione thought. But she wouldn’t complain if Lira wanted to observe her working. In all honesty, it was likely she’d quickly forget about the older woman's presence. They left the Delacour manor together, and made their way over to the clock.  Hermione drew her wand, and methodically started to disassemble the clock with short and precise movements of her wand. She felt the object’s magic react to her own in a confused way, almost as if startled. She began to whisper, trying to relax the magic around her. After a few moments, the clock seemed to understand her intent and ceased fighting her actions.

“I know you are hurting, I know… But I’m doing everything I can to make this process painless for you. I need to find what is broken, the parts you showed me yesterday, they need to be fixed. To be able to do this, I need to take you apart.  However, I swear on my own soul and mind that your magical core will be protected and no harm will come to it.” Hermione floated all the clock’s pieces safely to the ground, every item stripped from its original shape, and carefully separated the stone, wood, and metal. 

Once that was done, Hermione took a deep breath and prepared herself for a complex piece of magic. She looked for a moment at the pieces from the clock on the ground, mentally steadying herself for her next task.

Raspars ” Hermione whispered, and with a long vertical movement of her wand, she summoned seventy-seven protection stones from her suitcase. They floated swiftly into a giant circle around all the clock’s pieces. “ Dreuchd .” Hermione suddenly moved her wand down abruptly, and all the stones hit the ground. Meanwhile, Lira had been watching the whole spectacle, fascinated. “ Tòisich ”  Her eyebrows lifted as she next observed a purple dome growing from the placement of the stones around the clock pieces. “ Sgiath ” A second dome, blue this time, began to form two inches from where the purple dome started. 

Hermione executed a triangular gesture with her wand “ Dhìon, ” and a deafening sound split the air. “ Àireamh ” Red lines emerged from the ground until they hit the apex of the domes, at which point Hermione held her wand out horizontally, and placed her other hand open at the tip. “ Geall!” She shouted, and a golden net encapsulated the domes until they slowly vanished, the net also diminishing into a thin golden tinge above the ground. The protection stones descended into the ground and disappeared. 

“How in the name of heaven does this work?” Lira was impressed, the whole process was a very hard sequence of magic. She reached her hand out to touch the area where she saw the domes vanish.  

“Do not touch. It will hurt you as much as a Crucio. And will mark you with an Appare Vestigium, as well as many other spells and charms for protection.” After Hermione’s stern warning, Lira froze where she was. “Step back please, the shields are fluttering with your magical energy being so close.” Lira automatically obeyed, took two large steps back, and stared at the magic before her. “This is a very old, very difficult, and complicated protection ritual.” Hermione sat on the ground and took a deep breath. “I have a question about Veela magic.” Lira turned to look at her.

“I’m not the best person to answer a question about that, as I’m not a born Veela…” She said, sitting next to Hermione. “But, I can try.” 

“After the ritual yesterday with Sybelle...my magic feels a little uncertain.” Hermione explained. 

“How so?” Lira turned to face Hermione directly.

“My magic, and my magical core, have been very stable for years now. You can’t do any kind of magical architecture without stable magic. But now I feel as though my core has grown a little, like I have more magic in reserve.” Lira frowned for a moment.

“Galan.” She called in a calm voice, and with a pop the elf appeared and bent his head very low.

“Lady Delacour, what Galan can do for you?” 

“Dear, can you please see if Sybelle, my wife, or any of my daughters are free for a moment, and bring one of them here? Hermione has a question that I myself cannot answer.” Hermione looked at her confused, and wondered if she heard correctly. Galan nodded quickly and popped away.

“Wait, so Fleur is here?” She asked, surprised. “Oh, of course, the meeting.” The same moment she had that realization, Galan materialized again, accompanied by Apolline.

“Lady Delacour is here, Madame.” Apolline looked at her wife sitting on the ground with Hermione next to her, and immediately did a quick scan for injuries or a sign that something was wrong.

“So… What has happened?” Apolline asked uncertainly. “Galan was adamant that I should go with him immediately to your location. I had feared the worst.” The older woman began to relax, not having noticed anything amiss. With a flick of her hand, she summoned a chair, placed it, and sat in front of the other two women. “Also, what are you both doing on the ground?” She smiled and almost laughed when both of them flushed. 

“The lack of decorum is my fault.” Lira said. “I never had your elegance, my love.” Apolline just rolled her eyes.

“Don't confuse my distaste for being dirty with elegance, mon amour.” Apolline replied, looking lovingly at Lira. “So, Miss Granger, how can I help?”

“Since the temporary bond with Madame Delacour was enacted, I feel that my magic reserves have grown. My magic is still stable, ...but I suddenly feel the capacity to do more,” Hermione said awkwardly, struggling to verbalize the changes she felt. 

“What you are experiencing is in fact because of the temporary bond. This is not typical, but it can happen. Veela magic is very strong, Miss Granger, since we mate for life, and the life of a Veela is long. Our magic pushes the limits of wizard magic a little bit,” Apolline responded patiently.

“What does it mean to be a born veela?” Hermione was naturally curious, so if she had someone with the time to answer her questions, she’d take the opportunity. 

“That means people like me, my mother and my daughters; we are born with magical Veela blood in our veins. However, when a Veela mates with a human, as has happened with Lira and I, our magic alters this person, making her Veela by bonding. This person becomes Veela; not only in appearance, but also in blood.” Apolline could tell that Hermione had more questions, which she’d gladly answer, but anything further was interrupted by Galan, popping in again and bowing very low.

“Galan was requested to inform the ladies that the meeting will begin in half an hour.” He announced squeakily, bowing and flushing.

“Calm down, Galan, it is okay. Thank you for letting us know.” Apolline said gently, and Hermione and Lira stood up. “Well, we must be going. Delacours are never late. But first!” She pointed her wand at the two of them.” Tergeo. “Off we go now, all cleaned up.” 

They walked towards a building that Hermione saw was crowded with Veela. She heard a lot of accents, but one in particular caught her attention. One she hadn’t heard for a long time. She approached the person, a growing smile on her lips.

“Sallam Aleikum, Al-Sayyida Al-Amari.” [Peace be upon you, Madam Al-Amari] The woman turned around in surprise, and upon seeing Hermione, opened her arms and pulled the young woman into a strong hug.

“Wa ʿalaykumu salam, Mistress Granger!” Her accent was strong, but Hermione understood her just fine, teeming with joy at seeing her friend again. “Oh, you are gorgeous like always, my friend!” She pushed Hermione back slightly by the shoulders and examined her, then pulled her back for another hug. “What are you doing here, my friend? And more importantly, how are you?”

“Mistress Al-Amari-”

“I’ve already told you to call me Laila!” 

“Uh-Laila… I’m doing well, and you? I just can’t really speak about the reason I’m here.”

“I’m the same-old. And I suppose the reason for the non-disclosure is that you are not a Veela mate or bonding with a Veela, hm?” She smiled again. Sybelle watched the exchange with interest from a few paces away, and approached.

“I didn’t know you two have met, Laila.” She greeted, looking at the women curiously.

“Oh, Hermione here is an Executive Member of Babylon’s Magic Library.” As soon as Laila had made her pronouncement about Hermione’s coveted position in a famous magical library, she could almost see the ripple of attention passing through those nearby like wildfire, and the closest conversations suddenly went silent. She rapidly became the subject of many stares. 

Chapter Text

“She is what?” Gabby’s voice cut through the silence.

“A member of Babylon’s Magic Library, you know that.” Luna pointed out very calmly, and that was the moment Hermione realized her friends were also present.

“Yes, but ‘Executive?’ Isn’t that, well, extremely exclusive?” Gabby commented loudly. Hermione just wanted to melt into the ground at all the sudden attention. “Wait…so, you’ve acquired this membership for writing your book?” Gabby asked Hermione. Apolline gave her younger daughter a pointed look, and Gabby flinched briefly. “Sorry maman…” She muttered.

“Well, Hermione is clearly not inexperienced. We all know our leader wouldn't bring just anyone to our home, and moreover, to see about fixing our clock. So come on Hermione, Laila, I want to talk to you both.” Lira said with finality, and every Veela in the room knew not to protest. She walked away and both women followed, talking for a few minutes, and when Lira was called over by another Veela, she left them to speak on their own. 

“I didn’t know you are a member of a Veela clan…” Hermione said quietly.

“Well, my friend, it’s not something I can go around discussing readily.” She smiled, Hermione just nodded, understanding her meaning. “But, since you are here in this nice meeting, you can of course learn. I’m in the process of bonding with Natalie. Nat, my dear, come here please, I want you to meet someone.” Hermione noticed a woman mingling with Veela nearby. She was not close enough to overhear the conversation, but close enough to hear her mate calling her. “This beautiful woman is Natalie D’Santini. Nat, this is Mistress Hermione Granger.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Mistress Granger.” Laila certainly was accurate in calling her mate beautiful. In the muggle world, Hermioned suspected that Nat could easily find work as a supermodel. She was tall, thin, had sky-blue eyes, and auburn hair. She extended her hand to Hermione with a big smile. 

“Just Hermione please, Miss D’Santini,” she said, taking the woman’s hand in a firm shake. 

“Then do call me Natalie, or Nat.” 

“You really should be proud of your title, Hermione.” Laila said, squeezing Hermione’s forearm. 

“I am, I just don’t want people calling me ‘mistress.’ I'm practically still a child on this career path, it feels a bit disrespectful around people like you, Laila. You’ve worked all your life to own it,” Hermione blushed.

“And you have also worked very hard for your own title,” Laila countered.

“Laila said your book is very interesting, when will the hardcopy be released?” Natalie asked, changing  the subject.

“It will be printed within a few weeks,” Hermione responded, and suddenly felt the air around her change. She was overwhelmed by the unexpected smell of lilies and chocolate. She blinked for a moment, and refocused on the conversation. “I can give you a quick summary, if you like.”

“Well, I would like that,” A familiar voice declared. Hermione turned, and for the first time in almost eight years, she saw Fleur Delacour Weasley, beautiful as always with long blonde hair and sweet, clear blue eyes. “It's good to see you again, Hermione.” She smiled, and Hermione was sure her insides were melting.

“Hi, Fleur! It’s good to see you too.” The two felt a brief flash of awkwardness, until Fleur stepped up and pulled the younger woman into an embrace.

“I’m glad to see you, I’ve only had a bit of news here and there from Gabby.”

“Well, Gabs can be talkative.” Hermione remarked, stepping out of the hug, uncertain how to act around Fleur, since Hermione herself was no longer welcome with the Weasley family. “And how are you?” Fleur only gave a half-shrug and nod, as if to say that everything was the same. Hermione turned toward Nat and Laila again. “Sorry about that.” 

“Oh no problem, everyone wants a piece of your beautiful mind,” Laila teased, throwing her arm around Nat, and pulling the taller woman into her side.

“My research should not be called a ‘book.’ It talks about Magical Natures.”

“Magical Natures?” Nat asked, with wide eyes.

“Yes, you see, when I was only a student, I wondered how magic really worked, on the most fundamental level. So I started with some basics, finding a way to ‘see’ magic, and when my mistress learned about my interest in this, she made the subject the topic of my thesis. Almost a year later, I found a way to manipulate the spell Revelio to work according to my wishes. That is how Essentia Revelare was born. Not the most inventive words for the spell, but it worked.” 

Hermione had been explaining her research while looking at Natalie, and thus had not noticed the little crowd forming around her. She paused to gather her thoughts for a second, and abruptly realized she had an audience. She froze momentarily, and then cleared her throat. 

“So, this is what I discovered.” She took her wand and pulled out a small coin that she had created and charmed a long time ago for everyone she loved. The coin served as a distress signal and was very useful since it could also be utilized as a Portkey. “Using that Spell… Essentia Revelare, ” Hermione made a long, downward spiraling motion, and with a blink, she heard everyone around her gasp. “Now we can see the natures of magic contained within this coin.” 

She cut the spell effects and said, “I can show you some examples one at a time.” Hermione summoned a glass orb, and put the tip of her wand against its surface. “This orb can hold a given magical nature for a few seconds. I will use simple unspoken spells just for visualization; we’ll start with Fire.” The orb was filled with red lines. “Water.” The red vanished and blue appeared. “Air.” White lines were now floating around inside the orb. “Earth.” Brown overtook the white. “Light.” A silver group of lines materialized, slightly emitting light. “Shadow.” Gray, almost black lines formed inside the orb. “And a difficult one to show, Willing.” Golden boundaries spread like lines of longitude and latitude inside the orb. “So we come back to the coin.” Hermione cast the original spell again and everyone watched tidier lines form around the coin, where it was easy for everyone to see each type around it. “This coin possesses Air, Water, Light and Earth magical natures, for there are several spells and enchantments here. My book has my speculations, and uh, possibly ramblings about this phenomenon.”

“I would not call your findings mere ramblings, Hermione,” Laila said, almost disappointed. “Your book is one of the rare tomes on modern magical theory we have now. One of the reasons you were chosen to take over Dumbledore's place with the other executive members. We don’t have a lot of knowledge regarding this aspect of magic; it is so rare and so advanced that even now, we have what, how many books on the topic are being printed?” Hermione blushed hard.

“A little over thirty copies, which was the most I could push to be printed,” She answered quietly.

“Your book covers a rare topic, and I do know you campaigned very hard for every magical school to have a copy. If the International Committee Of Magical Research didn’t step in, I bet only Babylon’s library would have a physical copy of it. I heard you had to threaten to publish an article in the papers about how stubborn they were being.” Hermione blushed harder.

“If only one copy could be accessible for everyone… if it were possible, my book would not be sold or exclusive to magical institutions of learning. I would freely give it to anyone interested. Anyone ought to be able to try their hand at transmutation theory, and spell balance too, which is definitely part of it. My profession is not the most popular or well-known, since we are very few.” Hermione said with a long sigh.

“How many Magical Architects are still around?” Lira asked.

“Not counting myself and my Mistress...” Hermione thought for a second. “Ten or fifteen at most. And within that number, those capable to teach new students? Probably three…” Hermione swallowed and felt tears come to her eyes. 

“My mistress and only one other person have the teaching experience. Anyone interested mostly tries to learn by themselves, and this is almost impossible. I was lucky she accepted me. I have been only her second student in her whole career. I said to you, Lady Delacour, this kind of magical art is dying. Dying little by little, and suffocating more and more every second.” Lira smiled sadly at her and touched her shoulder in consolation.

“So in the future, perhaps you can teach, and help keep this art alive, Hermione.” They talked for a few minutes more, and Hermione ducked away when all the Veela started discussing political concerns. She went outside and enjoyed the evening sun as she made her way back to the clock, her magic reacting when she stepped within the barriers. She looked around for a second, allowing her magic to expand and touch every piece on the ground. 

One in particular called her attention, which she approached. She realized the Gathering Pallet Wheel was broken. She mentally ran through a process to fix it, but got distracted thinking of the elder Delacour sister back at the Veela gathering. Shaking her head, she returned her attention to the piece, trying to determine what kind of effect caused the damage. Likely, she’d need the tools at her woodworking station, and walked over, beginning to disassemble the wheel from the support. Hermione let out a deep sigh. 

“Having trouble?” She felt herself tense when the voice rang out behind her. Hermione looked over her shoulder and saw Fleur standing a respectful four feet away. Her brain helpfully reminded her of Fleur’s question, and the brown eyes came back to the wheel support in front of her. It was cracked in the middle. Hermione felt that its magical energy was almost nonexistent, which was definitely a problem.

“Bad news.” She put the piece on the table, and turned back to the clock components. She identified a few other wood and stone parts that were broken. She would just have to make new ones, which would be long and exhaustive work. Hermione dumped five wooden wheel supports, two broken stone wheels, and one bent Spring Pin onto her workstation. “Fuck,” she muttered to herself. 

Fleur, looking worried, debated on whether to move closer to the other witch. But the brunette stepped further away and kept her distance. She knew she was being rather unfriendly to Fleur, but not only did she have a major and complex problem on her hands, she also didn’t want to hear anything about the Weasleys. “Galan.” She called, running her hands over her face. With a pop, the house elf appeared.

“Did you call Galan, mademoiselle Granger?” He answered excitedly. It was the first time Hermione had called for him, and he was anxious to please.

“Yes, I did. Can you please bring Madame Delacour over here? If she is occupied with the meeting, please just notify her that I need to talk to her today, if possible.”

“Of course.” He left and Hermione gazed back at the clock.

“What happened to you?” She mused to herself.

“What do you mean?” Fleur asked, finally deciding to stand next to Hermione.

“I’m afraid I really can’t discuss this with anyone other than Madame Delacour,” Hermione responded firmly. Consciously, she knew she was being completely unfair and a bit childish towards Fleur.

“I’m the chosen heiress,” Fleur contested, with a frown.

“Unfortunately, that does not count for anything as my contract is strictly with your grandmother,” Hermione replied, growing frustrated. She was thrown by suddenly seeing and speaking to Fleur after so many years, and her feelings were all jumbled. Fleur opened her mouth to answer when Sybelle and Galan appeared.

“Hermione, Galan said you asked for me,” She said worriedly. Hermione stepped away from Fleur and approached Sybelle. She gave a concise summary of the damage she found in the physical parts of the magic clock.

“I’ll need to build entirely new parts to replace these ones. This…” She hesitated. “This will cause more delays.”

“Why?” Fleur asked, and Hermione looked to Sybelle. 

“You will need new materials,” The older Veela deduced. “Not even close to good news, Hermione,” Sybelle remarked bluntly.

“The problem isn’t exactly the materials. I will need to consult some friends about those parts. This means I’ll need to take them off the village premises.” 

“They cannot leave the village!” Fleur interjected.

“They need to, otherwise I won’t be able to truly determine the correct materials to recreate these broken parts,” Hermione insisted, aggravated with Fleur, which was unlike her. Sybelle could easily envision the two of them at each other's throats for hours, arguing about taking the pieces away.

“That’s enough,” She proclaimed. “Fleur, I understand your hesitation about this, but I do trust Hermione to do this job. Let me remind you, ma petite fille, that Hermione is here at the recommendation of you and your sister. I thought you trusted her,” Sybelle said pointedly.

“Bien sûr que oui, mais je ne fais pas confiance à d'autres personnes avec nos artefacts.” ´[Of course I do, but I don't trust other people with our artifacts.] Fleur answered.

“Je n'apporterais jamais les artefacts à des gens en qui je n'ai pas confiance, Fleur. Si vous êtes si douteux, laissez un Veela venir.” ´[I would never take the artifacts to people I don't trust, Fleur. If you are so doubtful, let a Veela come along.] Hermione cut in quickly, before Fleur could protest further. The younger Veela glanced at her in surprise.

“Well, that’s that. Since you are so concerned Fleur, you shall accompany Hermione.” Sybelle ordered sharply, her tone indicating no further deliberation was welcome.

“But, grand-mère,  my training?” Fleur asked, looking for an excuse.

“Consider this part of it. If you want to be able to run in an election at some point in future and win, this will be easy.” Sybelle said firmly. Fleur opened her mouth to reply, but Sybelle just raised an eyebrow, and the younger remained silent with her head down. “I would like to believe you two are grown up enough to find a compromise regarding details. Let me know how things go, Fleur.” Sybelle turned around briskly and began walking home.

“Why do I feel like this is a punishment to you?” Hermione commented dryly.

“Because it is ,” Fleur snapped. “Call me when you decide when you want to leave.” The blonde turned on her heel, and stalked away towards the beach.

Unfortunately, Hermione realized that if she wanted to confer with one of her most obscure contacts, they needed leave within the hour. She summoned her suitcase and put the pieces inside, and quickly scurried after Fleur. The blonde had her arms crossed, standing at the beach watching the sunset. Hermione approached cautiously and stopped next to her.

“We will need to visit three places: Musée de Minéralogie in Paris, Alloa in Clackmannanshire in Scotland, and Acadia National Park in Maine. Clackmannanshire is our first stop, otherwise I’ll need to look for Atticus at his favorite pub.”

“It will be well into the night by the time we get to the other places,” Fleur pointed out.

“Bastien and Mia are always available to me,” Hermione answered, without looking at Fleur. She reached her arm out to the heiress. Fleur turned to look at her, and seeing Hermione avoiding her gaze, just grasped the brunette’s arm. Hermione apparated them just outside a small house situated near a mine entrance. The house was decrepit, which Fleur thought was a rather generous description, as she examined it dubiously. 

“Here? Really?” The blonde asked. 

“I never said Atticus lived in a mansion,” Hermione said nonchalantly, and walked over to the door. She didn’t have to knock, as the door suddenly opened and Hermione was pulled into a big hug. Fleur immediately went for her wand, but when Hermione laughed and hugged the man back, she relaxed. “For Morgana’s sake big guy, Feuch an leig mi anail!” [Please let me breathe!] She cried, laughing hard. “Oh my, it’s been so long!”

“Hermy! I was so happy when I sensed you arrive! Come in my friend, come in! How can this old man help you?” Atticus Holligan was an old man, in fact, he was almost to his 80th birthday, with a long white beard and a few teeth missing.  He was bald but for a few strands of white hair next to his ears. Atticus was dressed simply; worn pants with some holes and a shirt stained with something that resembled oil. He and Hermione talked for a few minutes, before Hermione realized Fleur had just been standing there staring at the two catching up. She quickly introduced her to Atticus, who gave her a warm smile and a ‘hello.’ Hermione then placed the spring pin clock piece on his table. Atticus performed a quick spell, as she waited quietly.

“How much will it cost me, Atti?” Hermione asked gently, looking at him curiously.

“For you? Nothing,” He replied seriously. “I owe you much more than a few pieces of magic metal are worth.” He walked to a cabinet, and Fleur noticed he was limping hard on his left leg. “You offend me by asking about cost. I only have my life and leg because of you, my friend, and this debt won’t be repaid easily.” He pulled out a large piece of metal, much more than Fleur thought would be needed. Hermione accepted it and placed it in her suitcase, hugging the man again. 

“I’ll be visiting you in the future, old man. Try not to blow yourself up in the meantime,” He laughed and kissed both her cheeks.

“Be safe my friend.” Their visit with Atticus was fast, especially because Hermione knew he had appointments at a nearby pub. Hermione apparated both of them to Paris, but this time they materialized in an office. 

It had golden-beige walls, with brown furniture. Most of the decorations were golden, beautiful and classy, but what grabbed Fleur's attention was a magical picture. A blonde woman was hugging another woman in the picture, both were laughing while the brunette was spinning the blonde in her arms.  Looking carefully, she identified the brunette as Hermione. The realization seemed to incite a strange feeling in Fleur’s chest, but she was unable to define what it was.

“Well look what the cat dragged in…” Fleur turned around, and for some reason, felt uneasy seeing the blonde woman from the picture so close to Hermione. She was tall, almost a foot higher than Hermione, with dark blonde hair tied up in a high ponytail. She was elegant, which Fleur could easily see. The veela liked fashion, and she could definitely spot an authentic Valentino. The dress was white, printed with blue and pink flowers, which the woman matched with silver earrings and black five inch heels. 

“Mon chéri, Bastien, you are beautiful as always! A sight for sore eyes!” Fleur's eyes widened as she watched the ever demure Hermione complimenting this woman openly. Hermone held out her hand and twirled the taller blonde as if they were in a dance. “Exquisite as always.” The woman, apparently called Bastien, held Hermone's cheeks with both hands and gave her two kisses very close to her mouth. 

“I told you once, mon bella, my arms are always ready to hold you when you need rest,” She flirts, Hermione’s hands holding Bastien’s forearms. 

“Il y aura toujours Paris, mon amie,” [There will always be Paris, my friend.] Hermione replied, causing the taller woman to blush. Fleur cleared her throat, drawing attention to herself. 

“Oh, I didn’t realize you brought someone, how rude of me.” Her hazel eyes were wide and her cheeks tinged red with embarrassment. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’m Sobonie Bastien. Everyone calls me, Bonnie.” 

“Fleur Delacour,” The veela responded curtly, Bastien taken aback with her icy demeanor. Hermione watched the awkward introduction and hastily stepped in.

“My friend, I need your help with a stone,” Hermione explained, and in a few minutes, Bastien had a table cleared with the white clock stone resting on top. Bastien was studying it attentively, while Hermione allowed herself to study Fleur, who was busy eyeing the museum curator. 

Fleur seemed barely affected by the passing of years. She was still tall and slender. Her silver-blonde hair, longer than when they first met, now practically touched the end of her spine. She still had her perfectly curved eyebrows, high cheekbones, small mouth,  and full pink lips, of course. Hermione knew that all of this, together with her beautiful smile, made the veela one of the most attractive women she had ever seen. Then Fleur seemed to feel her eyes on her, turning away from Bastien and meeting Hermione’s stare. For a brief second, Hermione felt her insides warm again, as those blue eyes regarded her tenderly.

“Well, this material can be found, Hermione,” Bastien announced, breaking the moment. “I still have a few friends who can sell it to you. As you’re aware, magical stones are expensive, so…” Bastien hesitated.

“I’ll take care of it,” Fleur cut in. “Just let me know how much, and you’ll receive your payment.”

“Oh, well then, that should speed things along. I’ll contact them, and as soon as they answer, I’ll let you both know.” She told them amiably, and Fleur finally had to let herself accept that this woman was not as nefarious as she wanted to believe. “Should I owl you, ma bella?” Bastien asked, directing the question to Hermione.

“Yes, please. I’m sorry for running in all strictly-business, I know we usually do something else, but I still have to speak to Mia in Maine. You know how hard it is to find her in that damn forest,” Hermione said regretfully. 

“Of course; I will look forward to the next time you come by. You promised me we’d  reenact a few memories,” Bastien reminded her coyly, walking over to Hermione with a feline, seductive gait. "Promise that you will return in the near future? It’s always such a long time in between your visits..."

"But they are always rewarding when they happen. Is that not so, darling?" Hermione replied boldly, and Sobonie blushed heavily.

"It is true that they are never disappointing,” Sobonie agreed, her face still pink. 

“Then we must be on our way, my beautiful Bonnie.” And with a final kiss on Bastien's cheek, Hermione packed up, Fleur silently clutched her arm, and with a pop they departed, leaving behind a blushing and slightly flustered Bastien.

“You were totally flirting with that woman,” Fleur stated, as soon as they landed in Maine. The sudden cold took her body by surprise, and she shivered.

“Nothing new there,” Hermione responded casually, and conjured a warm jacket, placing it on Fleur’s shoulders. And in an unexpected moment of insight, the veela understood that Hermione was naturally flirtatious when she was instinctive about it. “Let me just warn you, Mia is rather eccentric, but one of the greatest experts in magical wood materials that I know.” Fleur frowned and nodded, snuggling even more into the cozy jacket.

When Hermione finally guided them through the woods to Mia's office, the woman was present, despite the late hour, leaning over the piece of a tree trunk. She seemed to be doing several analyses whilst talking to herself, as a magic pen frantically took notes. Fleur saw that the brunette was not kidding. Mia had fiery red hair, alive and spiked upwards in every direction. She was wearing a multicolored robe and was barefoot. Several feathers were stuck in her hair, and when she looked up at her visitors by the door, Fleur saw a smiling face with different colored eyes. One was purple and the other green.

“Hermione! You are late!” Mia exclaimed, confusing Fleur with her prior knowledge of what should have been a surprise visit. Curiously, this woman reminded her of Luna Lovegood quite a bit, the odd Ravenclaw student she met while participating in the Triwizard tournament.

“I’’m sorry, Bastien always requires a lot of attention,” Hermione explained briefly.

“Oh, she loves you, you know that. She always has,” Mia said, looking back at her guests. Fleur felt uncomfortable at the direct proclamation, as she herself sensed that Bastien desired more than friendship from Hermione.

“She is not,” Hermione replied in disbelief, rolling her eyes. “Sobonie would have told me otherwise!” She refuted, as if it should have been obvious to everyone present, and brushed aside the notion.

“You are blind and sometimes deaf , my dear,” Mia remarked bluntly, looking partly amused and partly exasperated with her friend. “So, what is it? You never come to my office unless you have some work problem. If you want to see me for fun, you’d meet me at the edge of the forest.”

“You really should stop spying on me with Nature. It’s unfair how often you know almost everything,” Hermione pouted, which Fleur decided was pretty cute.

“It was just a feeling,” Mia deflected, and finally acknowledged Fleur standing beside Hermione. “What’s actually unfair is how you always have beautiful women around you,” Mia joked. Hermione rolled her eyes and walked over to the worktable.

“Leave Fleur alone, please.” Mia just shrugged offhandedly. “Here, where can I find this?” Hermione knew that her peculiar friend cared little for politeness and decorum one way or another, so she decided not to bother properly introducing her to Fleur. 

“Oh, this is white oak, very strong wood, good magical properties… Hm, I don’t have any large pieces here, but in France you ought to be able to find it. This one in particular is a Quercus Petraea . This oak grows in the forests of Allier, Nevers and Tronçais, all in central France, Vosges in the northeast, and Limousin, which is further west near the Cognac region.”

“Limousin is within our borders,” Fleur informed Hermione. She found herself wishing to speak to the brunette alone, and hoped she would have the chance soon. 

“Perfect!” Mia said, smiling. “Just remember to ask the tree and explain yourself, and it should allow you to take a piece. Now off you go, I still have a lot of work to do and apparently so do you.” As awkwardly as the encounter began, Hermione and Fleur excused themselves to return to Marseille. Upon arriving, Fleur tried to initiate a conversation, but Hermione quickly fled.

Chapter Text

Sybelle found Hermione brooding in one of the house’s balconies, late at night. The older Veela watched the young woman for a few minutes. Hermione was, as always, lost in her thoughts, and Sybelle only needed their brief acquaintance to know this happened often. In the last three days, she had come to know Hermione better with the bonding ritual as well, and figured it was better to speak with her sooner rather than later. With calm steps, she approached the woman.

“So, are you going to tell me why you and Fleur can’t stand to be in the same room together without supervision?” Her voice was casual, but Hermone surmised that the conversation wasn’t optional.

“Fleur has always been stubborn, Sybelle,” Hermione deflected.

“How curious that that was the same thing she said,” Sybelle commented idly. “Now, don’t make me repeat the question,” She continued seriously, putting one hand on Hermione's shoulder, and guiding her to sit on a nearby bench. Hermione huffed out a sigh.

“I don’t know why I’m being so defensive with her. And yes, I am aware that I’m being difficult…” Hermione put her hands on her face, squeezing her eyes shut. “I guess… Being around someone in the Weasley family puts me on edge. Or makes me excessively hard-headed, or both.” Hermione's voice was muffled by her hands.

“Well, that does not exactly explain why you are like this with Fleur.”

“She is a Delacour, I know, but Bill-”

“Hasn’t been Fleur’s husband for a long time now.”

“He isn't Fleur's husband? Wait...what?” Hermione was aghast, stumbling over her words.

“I thought you knew that. They separated almost seven years ago,” Sybelle explained, looking away. “It was hard when she came here while married to him, the clan didn’t accept them at all.”

“I didn’t see you at the ceremony.” 

“I didn’t go. Attending that ceremony was implicit agreement to a marriage I did not approve of. I was completely against it, in fact. Fleur forced herself to love that man. I do know he was a good husband and person. He was present and affectionate, but he never truly accepted her Veela heritage. And that was a violation against everything we are,” Sybelle told her sadly. “Because of it, my relationship with Fleur was tense for a long time. When they split, the divorce spiraled into a disastrous melodrama. That's why I thought you knew.”

“Seven years ago, I was not in England.” After an extended moment of silence, both heard footsteps approaching. When Hermione looked over her shoulder, she saw the rest of the Delacour women there. She stared at Fleur for a while, and started to talk. 

“Nine years ago, Ronald had been pushing for me to date him with his mother’s help, though I didn’t want to. The pressure on a non-existent connection was huge. I made the poor choice to defend my sexual orientation, which I had known for years thanks to Pansy. The situation totally went awry. The night everything spun out of control was when Ronald appeared drunk at my house, shouting and making a big scene about me not loving him, about me being a “dyke” was only something happening as a strange phase and that he, as a ‘good man,’ would fix it . I lost control of my temper and pushed him away, but he grabbed my arm and apparated to the Burrow. We splinched; I lost part of my hair and he lost part of his shoulder.” Fleur and Hermione were still staring at each other, and the blonde was frowning as she listened to what was clearly new information. 

“Molly went crazy. She healed Ronald's shoulder, and he immediately began screaming about me trying to kill him when he said he was going to “fix me.” I countered that by saying he was a drunk bastard who invaded my house, and that he decided to apparate us in his youthful madness. And while intoxicated, no less! We continued to argue and I stupefied him when he called me a vicious bitch who would die alone abandoned by everyone I knew, and only then would I accept him as my owner. He fell unconscious and then Molly banished me. She modified the house spells to eject me off the property, and I ended up in the middle of a damn mud pit, sore as hell. When I finally arrived home, there was a howler waiting, forbidding me from approaching the house and any Weasley, especially Ronald. Charlie and Percy also agreed with Molly, and in fact, Ginny was the only one who kept in contact with me after the debacle.” She sighed deeply, closing her eyes and feeling overwhelmed by the memories. “Ginny told me everything he said to the family, and Arthur apparently can't even stand to hear my name spoken.”

“And then what happened?” Lira moved next to Hermione, gingerly placing her hand on Hermione’s shoulder. Gabby had said that Hermione's situation had been bad, but she had never gone into detail.

"I left London," Hermione shrugged. "Anywhere was better than remaining in the area and dealing with all of that. I went to Scotland and spent almost six months with Minerva. She was teaching me personally, but our fields of work eventually diverged. When we concluded that she had taught me everything she could, I moved on. I went to Paris. There I stayed as long as I could, almost three years."

"Was it there that you met your mistress?" Apolline asked softly.

"Yes, Morgan is a great teacher and has also become a great friend and family member." Hermione stretched slightly, her spine cracking. “I took my studies very seriously, which I’m sure surprises you all to hear,” she quipped.  “In the meantime, I met several different people, including Mia, Atticus and Bastien. Bonnie became a dear friend while I was in Paris, and overall I learned a lot from everyone I met. But with London I kept contact to a minimum, though I needed to return monthly in order to report to the ministry and stay for at least a week. Luna offered me a room, since I had sold my apartment and staying with Harry and Ginny was impossible due to the number of visits they received from the Weasleys. When I returned to London, Luna and I continued to live together, and seven years ago I met Gabby." She smiled at her friend. 

"Who has become a great friend and part of my little family. Neither Luna nor Ginny inform me of any news regarding that family, just as they do not disclose to them anything happening to me. A fair exchange, in my opinion. I became extremely cautious and found different ways to avoid each and every Weasley in order to minimize inconvenience.” She looked back at Fleur. “With my current misinformation, I imagine you understand why I treated you so strangely in the last few days, " A long silence took the night and almost one hour had passed. 

“You are welcome here, Hermione,” Lira assured her, and pulled the young woman into a very long hug. 

“I have a question,” Hermione directed to Sybelle, distengaling herself from the embrace, only to be pulled in again by Lira.

“Question away, but you're going to be hugged for a lifetime,” Apolline said with a laugh. “She will not release you any time soon.”

“All right. So when did the clock break? How did you realize it had malfunctioned?” Sybelle sighed heavily. 

“We don't know exactly how it broke. Only that one day we looked at it, and it was totally white, displaying the "unknown" status. It is a clock that changes color according to danger level, and it is usually green or maybe a light yellow, indicating “Safe,” or threat level one. 

The moment we saw that the clock had stopped, there was a great commotion. I sent people to all the clans, and we realized that they were still stationed in the same place, except the nomads, but they are nomads after all. Everyone was safe, but our biggest source of information was out of commission. 

We launched a massive repair operation, and Veela from all corners of the world came to try and help, but nothing worked. In fact, the clock’s magic did not react to any Veela’s, except for those of us in the Delacour family. It was at this discovery that Gabby suggested that we call someone outside, and again it was a huge commotion. The clock has lain dormant for about two weeks now, and we have reverted to old methods of passing information, so we have owls and patronus’ flying everywhere. This is slow and time consuming, and honestly the worst way to keep our large community informed,” Sybelle explained dolefully. “Not only for the data it gives us, but for being an ancient symbol of the clans, we really need it repaired.”

"I know it's tough to wait,” Hermione began. “The metal pieces are ready, but I can't start the wooden parts until I get the stones I need. However, if Fleur is available and willing, we can go to the forests tomorrow during the day. I know that the moon’s phase will be favorable for the parts we will remove to regrow quickly. Maybe we’ll even need to spend the night in the forest and return the next day, as I would like to check up on the tree after I take what we need." Hermione was intent on smoothing things over with Fleur, and hoped her explanation of her somewhat hot-and-cold behavior would appease the blonde.

“Of course, we have free access to the Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches en Limousin. Hopefully it will not take too long to find the right type of oak.”

“I hope so. A large trunk will be necessary to replace the broken parts. Which brings me to another point. I do not want to start a line of accusations, Madame Delacour, but this degree of damage is not due to any sort of normal wear and tear.”

“Are you suggesting that someone broke the clock?” Apolline asked in a hard tone.

“Well, more specifically, she's saying a Veela tampered with it,” Lira corrected her wife calmly.

“Are you? Accusing a Veela?” Fleur asked, shocked.

“Yes,” Hermione said succinctly. “No magical item could break like this. External magical forces are needed to do it, and all the damage is concentrated on a specific part; all the wheels are from the same quadrant.”

“Hermione, couldn't that damage have been due to a cog wheel breaking and creating a domino effect?” Sybelle asked worriedly.

"I spent the last day thinking about it, I ran all the scenarios in my mind and thought and thought. No teeth were broken, only the supports. One of them was fractured from tip to end in a smooth line. Two gears were broken in the middle, the others as if someone had hit them directly with a spell. All of this was enacted from a second magical source. Which also explains the almost dull panic I sensed when I started to dismantle her. I wouldn’t pose such an explanation if I wasn't sure.” The tone she used was cautious, Hermione certainly hadn’t wanted to present Sybelle with such a troubling revelation, but there was no other likely justification for the state of the clock. "I’m sorry to have to bring you more bad news, but it would be negligence on my part to fail to inform you that the origin of the damage is suspicious. I will retire now, as I know you need to think and discuss this." Sybelle nodded, as did Lira and Apolline. 

When she passed Gabby, she lightly kissed her friend's cheek, and the younger blonde returned the gesture with a kiss on Hermione's forehead and a whispered wish for a good night. When she passed Fleur, she placed a hand on Hermione's forearm. They didn't speak, but both felt that characteristic warmth emanate inside their chests. Fleur smiled slightly and just as her sister had, whispered a small wish for a good night.

HGFDHGFDHGFD

The next day arrived with an odd sort of calm, as Hermione was still waiting for the stones to be located, she basically had nothing to do and woke up later than usual. The Delacour house was quiet and cozy. Hermione felt herself relaxing enough that her nightmares had given the young woman a break. She woke up with her usual 'lion's mane hair,' with strands scattered everywhere. She cast some well-practiced spells mixed in with brush strokes, and her damp post-bath hair was tame again. Even though her hair was shorter than when she was a teen, it still took some effort to manage.

Knowing they’d be hiking through some dense forest soon, Hermione put on thick jeans, black combat boots, and a plain red T-shirt. She also prepared a small backpack with an extension spell, throwing in some snacks and water for the trip. She included a pack of muggle tools and a magical tent she had gotten from Gabby a few years ago. Even though she was able to create one herself, Gabby had been so pleased in giving her the one she carried now, that Hermione just graciously accepted it. She never knew when she would need to go out into the wild for a job after all, so it was very handy.

When she came down the stairs she heard a conversation coming from the kitchen, quietly padded over and paused against the doorframe. Peeking into the room, she saw that Sybelle was leaning against the kitchen counter, with a cup of tea in her hands, as she conversed with Lira, who was doing all the cooking while talking to her mother-in-law. Gabby and Fleur were laughing while hunched over a newspaper at the kitchen table. Fleur had a pen in her hand which made Hermione assume that they were solving a crossword puzzle, a habit that Hermione saw Gabby develop as time went on. Apolline was crouched on the floor fixing the collar of Galan's outfit, who was wearing a new short-sleeved shirt.

"Could I have the sudoku puzzle page?" Hermione asked, approaching the table with a smile. The five women looked up in surprise at the sudden appearance of the brunette.

"Good morning mademoiselle Granger!" The house elf spoke in a lively, high-pitched tone.

"Good morning Galan, you look very handsome in your new shirt," She replied sweetly, and the elf blushed.

"Thank you!" He stammered. "Galan's wife gave it to Galan this morning as a birthday gift!" He told her proudly.

"Oh, I didn't know it was your birthday. May I give you a hug?" Hermione offered gently, and the elf jumped towards her excitedly, hugging the woman around the waist. Hermione returned the embrace and smiled widely. "Here, allow me." 

The brunette pulled out her wand, cast Accio, and a wristwatch flew to her hand. Hermione then knelt and presented the watch to the elf. "Happy Birthday! This watch is very similar to what I’ve been fixing in the village. With just a small drop of blood from each family member, you’ll see an image for each person on the watch's face. Their pictures will follow a corresponding arm, so you'll always know how everyone is doing." The elf had tears in his eyes. He started to cry and hugged Hermione tightly by the neck. The brunette just returned the hug again. Galan quickly uttered several thanks, and with a smile Hermione helped the elf place the watch on his wrist.

"Galan would like to place Madame Delacour's family on his new watch, if allowed! And Miss Hermione too!" He requested enthusiastically, looking at Sybelle. The Veela Elder nodded, and he dashed to each lady present in the kitchen. He carefully made a tiny puncture on the side of one finger, allowing a small drop of blood to hit the watch’s face. The image and clock arms materialized for each Delacour, and he returned to Hermione, looking at her expectantly.

"Are you sure you want to add me too?" She asked hesitantly, and the elf just nodded emphatically, so Hermione let him take a drop of her blood as well. 

"Galan is very grateful for this special gift, mademoiselle Hermione! Now Galan will show the rest of his family!" He announced excitedly, and vanished with a pop. Hermione stood grinning in her spot for another moment; as always it was gratifying to see people so pleased with her creations.

"That was a very beautiful gesture, Hermione," Lira said, in a voice slightly choked with emotion.

"Oh, I just wanted to make this day a little more special for him," She responded casually, and shrugged.

"I'm sure he found it an incredible and memorable gift, ma belle," Gabby assured her, smiling softly at Hermione.

"That was a really kind thing to do, Hermione," Fleur added, and Hermione blushed slightly. She cleared her throat, feeling a little awkward.

"So, could I have the sudoku puzzle please?" Hermione asked again, with warm cheeks. Gabby handed her the newspaper page and a pen. Apolline placed a cup of coffee in front of Hermione, which she accepted gratefully.

"I am happy to see that you’re adapting to our home quite well," Sybelle smiled with satisfaction. She was finding herself really growing fond of Hermione.

"It is wonderful here, not only the place itself, but mainly the people," Hermione said, and glanced at Fleur. "I feel welcome and you are all very warm and caring. I never had an especially affectionate home, my parents were English after all," Hermione remarked, half-joking. "I do tend to miss them in these moments," She revealed shyly, and looked up when Fleur grabbed her hand.

"What happened to them?" Lira asked, before anyone could stop her.

"I had to obliviate their memories during the war in order to protect them, and sent them to Australia. But I haven’t seen them since. The Australian Ministry and I turned the continent upside down searching, but I never found them again. They were judged officially dead, a few months later," Hermione sighed, and felt herself tensing when she suddenly felt arms hugging her from behind. Apolline had pulled her against her and squeezed.

"It's never easy to lose a parent, Hermione. I was young when my mother died in the war, I know how it feels," Sybelle felt her heart sink at Apolline’s words, and a small tear escaped her eyes. 

“Veela mate for life, right?” Hermione asked, when Apolline moved to sit next to her at the table. 

“Yes, we mate for life. Generally, a Veela has several matches, and those who find their soulmate are rare, but when we exchange mating marks, the union is for life."

"When a Veela loses a partner to death, she usually remains alone for the rest of her life. The only exception is when the lost partner is not your soulmate, and you find your soulmate after the loss. Only then can you mate and bind yourself again," Gabby explained, elaborating on Apolline’s answer.

"Your wife was your soulmate, wasn't she?" Hermione asked Sybelle.

"Ana was everything." There was an abrupt, heavy silence in the room. "But she gave me the greatest gifts; my Apolline and my Theresa." Apolline smiled at her mother.

After breakfast, Fleur and Hermione decided it was time to visit Limousin. Hermione felt anxious, though in a good way, and looked forward to spending time with Fleur after their brief period of friction had been eased. She was pleased to see that in spite of everything, Fleur was still amiable, even though Hermione thought she didn't deserve the Veela's kind attention, not after the immature and stupid attitude she displayed. She also acknowledged that she was often her own worst enemy.

Hermione had her backpack on, and was waiting for Fleur at the front door of the Delacour mansion. She saw a beautiful woman with midnight black hair, green eyes, and pale skin approaching her with a smile. She returned the smile cautiously, and was reminded of Gabby's warning about minimizing friendly contact with Veela in the settlement. 

"Hermione Granger, yes?" Even with just a few words, the young witch identified the foreign accent, and concluded that this woman must be from the Belgian clan. In answer to the question, she simply nodded politely. "I'm Lucien. I’ve been looking for a chance to speak to you alone," The woman explained, blushing slightly. 

Hermione gathered that this woman was interested in her. In a standard situation, where the woman in front of her was not a semi-human, magical being with an intense ability to bind emotionally to another person, Hermione would have responded favorably. Lucien was clearly beautiful, and in any other case, the young witch would welcome such advances. Alas, unfortunately for her, Hermione had to tread carefully, lest she be inadvertently rude.

"Hello Lucien, how can I help you?" Hermione replied neutrally, hoping she could minimize any behavior or response that could be misinterpreted. She saw the woman's face fall slightly, and for a second felt bad. "Well, now you've managed to find me alone," Hermione cleared her throat, realized what she just said, and resisted the urge to blush. She failed, and scolded herself internally while she waited for Lucien to tell her what she wanted. 

"I was wondering if you might like to do something together. I know you’re here to resolve our issue with the clock, but I thought perhaps I could show you around our lovely town when you took a break from work," Lucien inquired, feeling renewed hope at seeing Hermione’s reddened cheeks.

"Unfortunately, Hermione already has several engagements scheduled with me, Miss Maes." Fleur's voice interrupted sharply, coming from behind Hermione. The brunette felt Fleur's hand come to rest on her shoulder, as the taller woman exited the manor to stand beside her. "Now if you’ll excuse us, we have a date right now," Fleur told her brusquely.  Lucien went pale, and in a stammer, excused herself as she scurried away from the other two women, abashed.

"Thanks for that, I wasn’t sure yet how I could decline her invitation without being rude," Hermione said sheepishly, still looking a bit flushed. Fleur was still staring in the direction Lucien had escaped to, and turned her attention back to Hermione. For a brief moment, Hermione didn't recognize the emotion in her vivid blue eyes. But it vanished rapidly when the blonde smiled at her.

Fleur offered her hand to Hermione, who accepted it immediately, and the two apparated to the forest. They moved into the magical part of the park, quietly, and with a steady pace they began their hunt for the necessary oak wood. They spoke a little here and there, but both were also comfortable with the silence, until a random thought occurred to Hermione.

"I haven't seen a single man in the Veela settlement thus far," She said suddenly. They had paused for a lunch break, and Fleur was stacking some wood to start a fire, when she turned back to Hermione in surprise.

"Ah, well, you won’t be seeing any. Veela don't mate with men," She answered hesitantly. And as if anticipating Hermione's next question, she quickly continued, "I’d married Bill, because in my head I thought I could bypass tradition, and he was a good man. He was kind and the marriage was... fine , but I eventually realized he was not enough. When we concluded that we were happier as best friends who shared a bed sporadically, we decided to get a divorce. The magical media turned the process into a circus, even though things were perfectly amiable between us. Extravagant lies and outlandish stories were invented about him cheating on me. ‘William Weasley cheats on Princess Delacour,’ that's how they headlined it. All of the chatter was bullshit, Bill would never have committed adultery. It was just easier to let the gossip magazines announce that he was guilty of that, than the truth." Fleur rolled her eyes angrily.

"We decided then that he would keep the cottage in England, and I would leave, since the house had been Molly’s gift. I spent almost a year reconnecting with my Veela, since she was as angry as my grandmother about the decision to marry someone who was not even a suitable match, and, on top of that, a man."

“But you had felt attraction for Bill?” Hermione asked, hoping she wasn’t prying too much. 

"I love him as a friend, but I never should have gone as far as marrying him. I didn't love him romantically, nor was I really attracted to him physically." Fleur revealed, without looking at Hermione. "Veela are sexual creatures, Hermione. Bill was handsome and gentle, and I felt maybe the slightest physical attraction to him..." Fleur blushed as she trailed off, letting out a huff and looking at the forest floor. "But I have never truly felt attracted to any man, as is the case for all veela."

"Did you, or do you still feel that you have been forced into a sexuality from a homonormative society?" Hermione approached slowly and sat down next to Fleur.

"I felt obliged by tradition to find a person, a woman. But today, years later, I don't see it as a mission or an obligation. I see my mothers, and they are so, so happy, and I feel jealous. I want something like that, and it made me give up on forcing myself to be with Bill. He could never give me that feeling of happiness that I would have, if he had accepted me as I am.”

Hermione stayed quiet to think for a moment. The Veela relationships she observed in the past few days were beautiful. More beautiful than she was used to seeing. Veela were affectionate, charitable and kind. She also noted a certain tendency for the relationships to possess a slightly dominant-submissive character, but that did not seem to affect the situation negatively. Both sides contributed something that she admired a lot, in all her entire adult romantic life she only had two partners who were capable of that great capacity for communication and even those relationships were nothing like the Veela’s she saw.

"I would like to ask a question," Hermione said after some time gathering her thoughts. Fleur just nodded, curious. "If Veela relationships are exclusively homosexual, how does the conception of children work? I saw several small girls of different ages around the village. I understand that there are spells and potions capable of providing a child for a homosexual couple, this is not something really new for me. How intrinsic is this in Veela society?"

"It is typical for Veela to experience a strong desire to have children. Veela are creatures that love their family above all. First comes the family, then the clan, and after that everything else. Both Veela can have children. But usually only one becomes pregnant, the other assumes a more protective role throughout the relationship. Many people interpret this as a dominant-submissive dynamic, but for us, we accept only our instincts and everything ends up falling into place."

"Was Lira the one who got pregnant, or Apolline? How does magic affect this?"

"It is a Veela spell, one is the person who gives and the other receives, slightly different from traditional spells and potions. It only happens when both want children and are ready to raise a child. Usually one of the two has a greater desire to carry a child, and it’s this person who gets pregnant. Lira was pregnant with me and later Gabby. But the other part of us is still Apolline." Hermione was a little confused, but still nodded.

"So does that mean you don't have any Veela partnered couples who do not wish to have children?"

"There are, it is just more common for couples to want children. And of course, it  happens within the natural course of a relationship, it is not instantaneous. Like ordinary couples, Veela-mates take their time in each step of their relationship. I have always wanted children. I loved spending time with the little ones in the Delacour family, and had often hoped that with the right person and with the right time, it would happen. It is not something that needs to be rushed either, even though we as Veela have that strong desire. We live long, and time is necessary for personal maturation after all," Fleur explained, smiling.

"I would like to have children one day." The Veela looked at Hermione intently. "I would like to give that child a better childhood than I had, and help them develop the confidence that I never had during my own. I had Harry and Ronald who dragged me on a lot of crazy adventures, which grew more and more dangerous until we faced Voldemort himself. I just want my child to experience growing-up normally with regular problems, and with parents who really understand them. Throughout my childhood I was treated differently, even before my magic was revealed. I don't want that to be the case when I’m a parent. Even though I think my own parents did a great job, I want to do something different."

"My grandmother once said that we should always strive to be better parents than our own, and that makes us raise better children who will form a better world. Your future partner will be very lucky, Hermione." 

A comfortable silence settled between the two. Lunch passed with casual conversation, especially in light of the new information regarding Hermione’s expulsion from the Weasley family.

"So do you have any idea where we can find the oaks?" Fleur asked curiously, looking around at the vast array of trees around them.

"I honestly don't know, I'm just letting the forest guide me." Hermione shrugged and took a deep breath. "Let's try to make magical contact." Fleur looked even more intrigued, having a rough idea of what the brunette was going to do, but not sure if the depth of magic necessary would be achieved by the younger woman.

Hermione took another deep breath, closed her eyes, and let her magic flow through her body. She felt it drain from her body like steam, and she sensed the forest’s magic reach out to her in a timid touch. After a moment, it embraced Hermione's and gave her a path to follow.

Fleur watched with astonishment. She had seen rituals of connection with nature before, and had already witnessed Veela magic connect and touch nature magic. But it was the first time she had seen a witch, and muggleborn at that, managing to express her magic to the point that it became visible to Fleur. Hermione's magic was in a warm shade of lilac. Soft, natural magic in its purest state was tied to Hermione's right front of Fleur's eyes. When the brunette opened her eyes, Fleur caught a glimpse of the purest natural form of magic manifested. Perhaps Hermione was unaware of how rare the skill she was demonstrating was. Fleur made a mental note to discuss the matter with her grandmother as soon as they returned to the village.

"Well, that was a success." Hermione beamed, and pointed south. "We must go there, I think we will find what we are looking for." Fleur did not even consider arguing against or even starting a conversation about the phenomenon she observed at that moment. She simply nodded, trying to put her thoughts in order. Hermione noticed that the woman next to her was disturbed for some reason, but she wasn’t sure how to bring it up.

The act of linking her magic to another was one of the first things Morgan insisted that she learn. Learning how to gently project your magic in order to touch another was an important step for a magical architect, even if it took years to perfect. Hermione, of course, had always been a perfectionist, and it was no surprise to Morgan when the young woman mastered the art in a very short time.

Silence washed over them again. This time Hermione felt more uneasy about it, certain that it was her fault that Fleur was so quiet. When she opened her mouth to question the matter, a gasp from the blonde made her look up from the floor and look at the woman. Fleur’s jaw had dropped as she stared straight ahead.

Hermone snapped her head to see what had Fleur so startled, and understood the surprise when a gasp came out of her own mouth. They were standing in front of a giant tree. So big that Hermione wondered how they hadn't seen the tree from a distance.

The huge tree was more than 220 feet high, and Hermione estimated the width of the trunk to be almost 60 feet. Just one large branch of the tree would be enough to complete all the repairs that Hermione needed.

She was delighted. The massive branches started 9 feet from the ground and extended from the trunk in various positions. With at least 2 feet in diameter, the branches were robust. The bark of the tree was a dark brown color, with white veins running across the tree. The leaves were dark green and had several light brown chestnuts scattered over all the branches. It was laden with fruit, alive and bright. So beautiful, that for a second Hermione forgot why she was there.

She snapped out of her reverie, and remembered their reason for being there. In  a few determined steps she approached the giant tree. Hermione allowed herself to fall forward on her knees, and with an arm outstretched she spread her palm on the tree trunk.

"I've never done this before, but some say I'm good with words," She whispered to the tree. "I would like to ask for something I know is a big request. My name is Hermione Granger. And I make magical artifacts, artifacts in which I use great amounts of natural magic to create wonderful items. You must have felt our approach from far away, and I imagine you can feel that we want no harm to come to you or the forest. I ask with the greatest respect that a mere human can possess, for you to donate one of your branches. I am trying to fix an old Veela relic, and I know that nature and the Veela go hand in hand, so I would hope you understand the importance this relic holds for them. "

Hermione took a deep breath and leaned over, her forehead touching the big tree. A few feet behind her, Fleur was standing, watching the exchange carefully. She couldn't hear what Hermione was saying, but she could feel the change in the atmosphere around them, how nature was reacting to whatever the brunette was articulating. 

A great crashing sound echoed through the forest, making the two women jump and look around for the source of the sound. About 16 feet away, there lay a large branch of the tree. Hermione felt her eyes fill with tears.

"Thank you!" She exclaimed, with heartfelt gratitude, and approached the big branch. With a shrinking spell, she altered it enough to place it in her suitcase.

Chapter Text

The moon was full that night in the starry sky. The only light visible even from a distance was the fire Hermione had lit in the middle of the camp. She placed several protection spells around their area and the tree, while Fleur was cooking dinner.

Hermione was very pleased to learn that the blonde preferred to cook, because if it was up to the bookworm, they would have to resign themselves to eating sandwiches.

Fleur was making a stew that was extremely fragrant and looked delicious. Hermione approached Fleur slowly, trying not to startle the woman.

"It smells divine," She said next to Fleur, who jumped slightly, sending the spoon she was using to stir the pot flying upwards. Reacting quickly, Hermione snatched the spoon, holding it and her other hand in a gesture of surrender and smiled awkwardly at Fleur. "I'm sorry!"

"You are fast," Fleur remarked, with a shrug and a smile.

"That was pure luck; luck that I didn't launch the spoon any farther," Hermione joked, making Fleur laugh lightly. She retrieved the spoon from Hermione's hand, and scooped up some of the stew. She blew lightly and offered it to the young woman. Hermione's mouth watered, and she moved quickly to taste their dinner, moaning at the delicious taste that melted in her mouth.

"Wow Fleur, that’s delectable! I'm very happy that you know how to cook because the most complicated things I can do are sandwiches, and sometimes pasta," Hermione said, and sat on one of the stools she took out of her suitcase and re-sized. She reached for her wand, and in a short motion a book came flying up to her hands.

"Will you read a little?" Fleur questioned, looking over her shoulder.

"No, I just want to make some notes about everything that happened today."

"What would ‘everything’ entail?" The blonde asked, slightly uneasy.

"The tree and my connection with the forest’s magic. After Morgan learned that I work better by taking notes, writing down fantastic things that happen has become an exercise. Here, look. I wrote down my first encounter with the Veela clock." Hermione flipped the notebook to a specific page. Fleur moved closer and lay a hand on Hermione's shoulder, while looking at the design of the Clock on the sheet she displayed. She was relieved to see no indication of what was on the clock below, in fact the title of the page was merely 'Work n°1347 - Repair Contract’. Hermione leafed through the notebook again, and with a muggle pencil, started to sketch the big tree in front of her.

"I had no idea that you drew!" Fleur said captivated, watching the tree slowly take shape on the paper.

"I always liked to draw beautiful things," Hermine remarked absently. "I should draw you sometime." The moment the brunette made the comment, Fleur turned to her with wide eyes, and Hermione immediately felt herself lock up and her cheeks warm. "Fleur, I -"

"I would be delighted to pose for someone so impressive," Fleur responded sincerely, and it was as if the universe had suddenly stopped. Brown met blue and Hermione felt herself leaning in towards Fleur, her chestnut eyes drifting to the pink lips that were moistened by a brief flick of the tongue. Fleur in turn, angled herself to Hermione, wishing fervently for this moment to play out as she hoped.

Just when their lips were going to touch, a sizzling sound broke the moment. The stew pot was foaming and steam was evaporating quickly. As if the universe resumed its normal rhythm, Fleur rushed over to save their dinner.

"Merde." She surveyed the mess on the ground in dismay, her eyes straying back to Hermione. The younger witch was trying to hide her face by focusing on her notebook, but Fleur could see that the woman's ears were red.

Meanwhile, Hermione’s thoughts were running rampant. She had almost kissed Fleur Delacour. Correction: She, Hermione Granger, had almost kissed Fleur Delacour. She was so shocked and astonished, that she could only bow her head over her notebook and hope her face would cool soon. Did she want to kiss Fleur? Oh sweet Morgana, had she wanted to. 

They ate what Fleur salvaged in silence, exchanging timid looks with each other. Hermione paused to gaze at the tree fondly for a long moment, and shivered when she realized that the tent she brought had space only for one bed, and one bed was exactly what she had.  

"Oh," She uttered abruptly, undergoing her epiphany. Fleur, who was cleaning the iron pot, stopped and looked at the brunette.

" Oh ?" Fleur asked with a frown. “What’s wrong?”

"I brought only one bed," Hermione revealed, blushing, and Fleur felt her own cheeks heat up.

" Oh. " She repeated shyly.

"I can transfigure something for myself," Hermione suggested, then unfortunately concluded that she didn't actually have an item with a similar mass and size to a bed. She would have to transfigure a pillow and maybe a blanket, and sleep on the ground.

"We have nothing that can be transfigured into a bed, Hermione," Fleur said pointedly, voicing the reality Hermione was scrambling to adjust. 

"I know, but it’s fine. I can transfigure a pillow and a blanket and I’ll find some corner to sleep," Hermione offered timidly.

"We can share the bed," Fleur countered quickly, blushing hard despite sounding so firm.

"But it's not a problem -"

"It's decided," Fleur ended the debate and closed the issue, though both of them stumbled into the tent with scarlet faces. Fleur made her way into the attached bathroom, where there was a wooden bathtub, a toilet, and a small floating sink. A quick spell filled the bathtub with hot water, as Fleur eased herself in and allowed herself to relax in the water for several moments.

Meanwhile, Hermione was anxiously inspecting all corners of the tent, organizing anything and everything that wasn’t nailed down. She also wished to take a bath, but would happily let Fleur take as long as she liked. After finally acknowledging that there was nothing else to tidy up, she sat on a stool she had brought into the tent. She lost herself once again to her drawing and notes, but when Fleur emerged from the bathroom, she looked up from her notebook and felt herself choking on her own tongue.

Hermione was left unresponsive for a long moment. Fleur was wearing blue shorts and a thin black tank top, and Hermione's gaze swept hungrily up and down the Veela’s body. She felt her body temperature spike when she realized Fleur was no longer wearing a bra. 

"I will -" Hermione stuttered. "I...uh -" She stood hastily and snapped her gaze to the floor. "I will bath as well. Er, that is, I would like to take *ahem* bath..." Hermione gave up on uttering anything coherent, and hurried passed Fleur to the bathroom. She took a deep breath when the door was shut, thinking that feeling aroused by only a brief glimpse of Fleur with fewer clothes than usual was not especially surprising, but the impact that image caused was definitely brutal.

When Hermione appeared from the bathroom after her turn, she didn’t see Fleur in the small living area. She checked outside the tent, but only saw the burning fire practically extinguished and the mighty tree. Hermione then proceeded to the tent’s “bedroom.” And again she experienced a vision that she never thought she would have in all her life. Fleur was nestled in her bed, under the covers with a book in her hands, focused on the tome before her. Hermione leaned against the frame of the doorway, taking in the scene, studying Fleur for a long moment.

When blue eyes rose from the text in her hands, she saw Hermione looking at her. The intimacy of the situation ought to make her feel embarrassed, but being watched closely by Hermione felt oddly normal. Like the two of them were just at home.

Fleur gave her a soft smile, and tugged at the end of the blanket over the vacant side of the bed. Hermione grinned shyly and padded over to her side. She sat down and tucked her legs under the warm covers.

"Do you want to read some more?" Hermione asked, holding back a yawn, sliding down the bed so her head was on her pillow, and making herself comfortable.

"No, I was just waiting for you," Fleur placed her book on the nightstand and grabbed her wand. "Can I turn off the lights?" Hermione nodded, and with a flourish of her wand Fleur whispered "Nox." All the tent lights extinguished.

"Good night Fleur."

"Good night Hermione." They turn on their sides, away from each other, and close their eyes.

HGFDHGFDHGFD

Hermione woke from a pleasant sleep. She was laying on her back, feeling warm and content. She thought idly that it was probably quite early in the morning, but she was relaxed and well-rested. She stretched languidly for a moment, then froze abruptly when she felt a breath against her throat. Fleur was half laying on her, her head tucked under Hermione's chin, and her arms wound firmly around the brunette's torso. As each second passed, she felt herself becoming more and more aware of the contact between their skin and bodies. Fleur was still sleeping soundly, so Hermione shifted carefully and settled the blonde more securely against her body.

Hermione lay cuddling her for almost another hour, but when the Veela still hadn't shown signs of waking up, Hermione cautiously extracted herself from Fleur's arms and legs, then gently covered her body with the warm blankets.

The brunette then went to the tiny pantry and took a kettle, herbs, coffee powder, bread and fruit, and went outside, restarted the fire and prepared their breakfast. Lured by the smell of coffee, Fleur eventually appeared with slightly disheveled hair and a lazy smile. She accepted the mug of coffee Hermione passed her, and yawned for a long time. Hermione chuckled at the sight, and wished her a good morning. They had the rest of their breakfast in companionable silence.

Hermione checked the tree before they left. They thanked the forest again, and Hermione was grateful to discover that the tree was practically healed. With a pop, they apparated to the beach near the Veela village.

"Would you mind helping me with the branch? I need to cut it into some blocks and start the job of molding at least one support."

"Sure, I’d be happy to, but I will need to speak to my grand-mère today." Hermione smiled at her thankfully, and they headed for the clock. An assembly workstation was placed outside of the wards, and Hermine floated the big branch onto the surface. With Fleur’s assistance and with several Diffindo spells, they formed large blocks of wood. Hermione floated one of them to the carpentry table inside her work shop tent.

"I just need to see the state of wood's natural magic, as well as its concentration." Hermione pulled out her wand and told Fleur, "Natural magic is basically a great concentration of Nature Magic Willing. Usually with Essentia Revelare, the color is a little more like brass. The more threads there are and the deeper the brass color, there is a higher chance that the magic of the clock will embrace that pure magic and take this new part within itself. So let's take a look: Essentia Revelare ," With a touch of her wand, thick brass wires spiraled around the wood. Hermione gave a happy little yell, and instinctively jumped towards Fleur, grabbing her shoulders. She was absolutely thrilled with the amount of natural magic present in the wood they brought back, the wood was pure magic and the fact she was gifted with the branch to make everything more powerful, was like if the tree really blessed her steps to fix the clock. Her next action was completely spontaneous, Hermione briefly kissed Fleur's lips and giggled happily, unaware of what she had just done.  She released the blonde’s shoulders and turned back to the pieces of wood on the table, still riding the high of her discovery, and ready to start building. 

But she didn't have time to do anything else. The moment her actions caught up with her was the very same moment Fleur's hand grabbed Hermione's forearm. Fleur pulled her back around so they were face to face, the brunette wide-eyed with realization, but Fleur didn't give her a second to backtrack. She brought both hands up to gently cradle Hermione’s face, and moved closer, leaving an inch of distance between their mouths. 

"Is this okay?" Fleur's voice sounded delicately against Hermione's lips. The brunette was unable to answer verbally, so she just gazed back at Fleur and smiled slightly, nodding. Fleur leaned in and joined their lips in a sweet kiss. As a real first kiss, it was gentle, calm, a little hesitant, but beautiful. 

It was like a heatwave stoking Hermione's magical core, coursing up out of her body as far as their mouths were attached, and ricocheting back to her center. It was a chaste kiss, just the touch of their lips, and the ensuing feeling of warmth expanding between them. They parted, but the break didn't last long, as Hermione's hands flew to blond hair, grasping the strands and pulling Fleur's mouth firmly against hers. The kiss grew in intensity, Hermione's curious tongue trailed over Fleur's lower lip, and soon tongues melded, lips nibbled teasingly, and Fleur's hands moved to Hermione's back, clutching her body tightly against her own.

The two eventually separated, breathing heavily and grinning dopily at each other. A spark was lit and not easily extinguished however, and they leaned in again almost simultaneously, when Gabby's voice rang out, calling for Hermione. They pulled back a few steps, still smiling even with the interruption, when Gabby arrived at the work tent doorway.

"What are you two grinning about?" Gabby asked, looking amused.

"We got the magic wood!" Hermione blurted out, turning to acknowledge Gabrielle. Fleur shot a grateful look to Hermione, wanting to keep the new developments private for a bit longer. 

"I'm going to let you two catch up for a bit, I need to find grand-mère, anyway. We will talk more later, Hermione," Fleur promised. 

"Sure, see you later Fleur," Hermione replied, trying to contain the excitement of seeing the Veela again soon. 

She turned back to Gabby, who was looking anxiously at the floor. Hermione frowned in confusion, and took a step closer to her friend. "Hey, are you okay, beautiful?" Gabby blushed heavily and swallowed the lump in her throat.

"Would you go on a date with me?" Hermione's mind went blank, her whole body frozen with sudden shock.

"What?" She asked, to make sure she hadn’t somehow misheard. 

"Would you go on a date with me?" Hermione blinked several times, looking at her friend, who at that moment was again looking at the floor in embarrassment.

"Wait, but - ... what ?" Hermione stammered loudly, nearly shouting the last word at Gabrielle, who winced and took a step back. 

"Forget I asked," She muttered, turned, and bolted out of the tent.

"Oh no, not for a fucking moment are you going to run from me," Hermione whispered to herself, and took off after Gabby.

The village Veela looked confused at the scene that followed. Hermione knew that Veela were naturally athletic, but catching Gabby on the run was a much more tiring job than she imagined. In the woods around the village, Hermione lost her.

" Appare vestigium ." Hermione cast the tracking spell much stronger than she would typically, creating a golden trail that produced an unmistakable path leading to where Gabrielle had fled. After chasing it for quite some time, she came upon the young Veela kneeling on the forest floor, crying miserably.

She approached carefully, making enough noise for Gabby to hear her. She was afraid, not having any clue as to what was going on in the younger woman's mind. Hermione knelt beside the blonde and pulled her into a hug.

Gabby collapsed against her, sobbing against Hermione's neck, and grasping at her clothing, pulling herself even closer to her friend's body. Hermione let her, holding her steady, while whispering assurances and rubbing comforting circles on her back,  growing increasingly worried about what had happened. 

It took several minutes for Gabby to calm down, until the crying became little sniffles. Hermione leaned back slowly, bringing her hands to Gabby's face and wiping away the tears that were still running down her flushed cheeks.

"Hi there,” she said softly. “Are you feeling a bit better?" The brunette wouldn't dare ask if Veela was fine, she clearly wasn't.

"I'm sorry," Gabby whispered hoarsely, and her eyes filled with tears again.

"It's okay, Gabby," Hermione soothed her again. "I'm just trying to understand what happened; your question was a bit out of the blue. Can I help? Will you tell me what is wrong?"

"I just want to move on," Gabby murmured, and Hermione waited calmly, giving the younger woman time to say whatever she wanted. "I love her so much, Hermione, so much that I feel my heart break every time I realize that she wants me only as a friend. When she touches me, I feel my body warm up, she smiles at me and it is as if my soul smiles. It's like everything simply falls into place." And in that moment Hermione understood.

"I think you should talk to Luna, Gabby. It's not healthy to keep your feelings bottled up like this, to move on you need to find some closure." Hermione had no idea if Luna had any romantic feelings for Gabby, but she did know that Luna was affectionate and loving, and strongly doubted that Gabby's feelings would cause her to end their friendship. Gabby nodded, and they were silent for a long moment. "I understand that you want to move on, but why with me?" Hermione finally asked.

Hermione sympathized with Gabby's feelings, but she was rather bewildered as to why the young Veela had chosen her as a potential new paramour. 

"You are a good match, Hermione," A much more sober, and emotionally composed Gabby replied. It was perhaps not the wisest move to put our friendship on the line like that, but still, you are a good match.”

" A good match ?" Hermione repeated, and then frowned. "What does that mean exactly? Please don’t tell me that I am your soul mate," She said imploringly, pleading with any goddess who would hear for that not to be the case.

"What? No, Hermione, you aren’t my soul mate, Luna is." Hermione withheld a sigh of relief. "Veela can mate with their actual soul mate, or ‘a good match.’ You are a good match for more than one Veela, you know?" Hermione felt her eyes widen and she stared at Gabby, even more perplexed. The blonde sighed heavily. "Your magic is stable, noble and welcoming. You are a kind, caring, intelligent and family-oriented person. You are amiable, and although occasionally stubborn as a rock, the bottom line is that you are incredible. Many Veela would line up just to have a chance with you!"

"Wow, uh...what terrible information to casually drop on me in a village full of beautiful women," Hermione muttered under her breath to herself. "I do have important things to focus on here, other than gorgeous women pursuing me because they think I’m a good match," She declared to Gabrielle, her cheeks heating up strongly. "And you need to speak to Luna, urgently. Go home, and go to Luna," Hermione ordered. Gabby blushed and nodded her agreement.

 

"I will speak to her tonight," Gabby promised her, accepting that Hermione’s demand was probably for the best.

“Oh, uh, by the way. I didn’t mean to imply exactly, that if I was your soul mate, it would be a total catastrophe. I adore you, Gabby, and you are truly fantastic, but erm….” Hermione trailed off, an apology in her eyes. Gabrielle gave her a knowing smile.

“It’s all right, Hermione, I understand.” 

"Okay, well, good. I’m glad,” Hermione exhaled.

“Stop being awkward,” Gabby commanded, looking more entertained by the second.

“I’m not! Now, where the hell do we go to get back to the village?" Hermione said, exasperated. Gabby laughed merrily, hugged the brunette, and started leading them in a stroll back to the village.

HGFDHGFDHGFD

It was almost eight, and the full moon was high in the night sky. Gabby had left in the middle of the afternoon, after watching Hermione work for a while and summoning the courage to talk to Luna.

Gabby had disclosed a lot of information about Veela culture, at least when it came to romantic relationships. Veela treated many things quite seriously, especially when feelings were involved. For a Veela to initiate a bonding process with someone outside the clan, absolutely certainty was a must. Gabby explained that Veela tended to behave more submissively to a magically stronger partner. But that submission should not be seen as weakness or an inferiority complex. A veela chooses to be submissive to her partner, she chooses to entrust her body and soul to that person, and she expects reciprocity. As the veela submits, the dominant party must be able to support and share this agreement. Even though they are extremely sexual beings, emotional considerations ultimately weigh more. Communication was of great importance, so talking was very necessary, but generally, Veela felt insecure. They felt insecure not only because their physical beauty was such a striking and prominent trait, but all Veela at the beginning of a bonding process feel insufficient for her partner at first.

Sex was also an important component of the bonding, though no sexual intercourse was considered the final act to the process, but instead a step forward. Sex helped to link souls and magical cores, enhancing the abilities of the magically weaker member, and creating a magical connection from the non-Veela partner to the ancient Veela magic. It is a slow process, and it should take all the time needed for both aspects. 

What Gabby hadn’t mentioned, was how the bonding process ended. And though Hermione was curious about it, she couldn’t bring herself to ask, as it might raise suspicion, and she knew she was at least a little paranoid. Also, she needed to speak to Fleur before detailing the very first romantic moment they experienced.

Hermione was laying on her back in bed, having thrown herself on right after her long shower. She was tired, but starting to feel more relaxed, even though she was still a bit anxious about something or someone . She imagined that her whole being must be longing for Fleur, resulting in this general, encompassing feeling of anxiety. When she heard two light knocks on her door, she had little desire to move, so she just called out in a loud voice for the person to enter. Fleur shyly opened the door, peeking in the room and leaning on the latch to see that Hermione was lazily stretched out on her bed.

"Do you want company?" The blonde offered, looking amused at Hermione’s less-than-elegant sprawl. The only response she received was a grunt, and Hermione rolling over to free up the right side of the bed for Fleur. The blonde laughed and claimed her spot, sitting on the bed and putting her hands in Hermione's hair, dragging her fingers through the strands and along her scalp.

"By the Goddesses Fleur, that feels so good," Hermione groaned deeply, and Fleur felt her insides tighten.

Hermione moved even closer to Fleur, placing her head on the blonde's legs so that the caresses could intensify.

"Usually people don't touch my hair because it can be kind of a mess, but I love it when they do," Fleur took both hands to her brown hair, messing up the strands, running her fingers and nails over her scalp, drawing another satisfied groan from Hermione.

"You really should stop making those sounds," Fleur warned her lowly, blushing and feeling herself grow aroused. Hermione’s warm brown eyes opened and widened when she understood what Fleur meant. She sat up quickly and went absolutely red.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Hermione said uneasily, and faced Fleur. The two looked at each other for a long moment, and with a sigh Hermione gave in. She placed her hand at the back of Fleur's neck, and pulled her in gently until their lips almost touched. "I've been dying to kiss you again after earlier today," she admitted shyly.

"Nothing is holding you back," Fleur encouraged boldly, then tilted her head in an almost submissive act, parting her lips and maintaining contact with brown eyes, while slowly passing her tongue over her lower lip. Something inside Hermione broke at the image. She didn't kiss Fleur, but curled her fingers into the woman's blond hair, and with light pressure, she brought Fleur's head back, exposing her neck. Hermione ran her nose lightly over the smooth skin of her slender neck.

"Are you always this naughty?" She murmured against sumptuous skin.

"Only with you," The straightforward answer in a submissive tone intruded on the blissful haze Fleur had induced on Hermione via her scent, her skin, her little nudge at Hermione to take what she wanted. They needed to talk before anything else, and as soon as they so much as kissed, things would quickly derail. While all of that was absolutely true, it wasn’t quite enough to dissuade the brunette from provoking the Veela.

"Ah, so you mean you like to be naughty, but with me ," Hermione reiterated, as if she was slowly comprehending what Fleur meant. 

“Yesss,” Fleur hissed, trying to cajole Hermione to move her mouth by tugging lightly at her curls. The brunette obliged, and brushed her lips lightly over Fleur's neck. The blonde let out a whimper, and tilted her head to the side, further exposing her neck in a silent plea.

“I see. Then I am quite the lucky recipient to both incite and experience this particular desire of yours, Miss Delacour.” Fleur nodded distractedly, bringing up a hand to grip Hermione’s forearm as she held back the shimmery gold strands and grasped the back of her neck to explore more pale skin with her lips. The Gryffindor then mentally prepared for the situational leap she was going to make at that moment. She paused and licked her lips, asking "Do you really just want to be a good girl for me?" The answering moan she received proved more than enough a positive response. Hermione moved her other hand leisurely down Fleur's neck, along her jaw to her chin, her thumb swiping across the blonde's wet lips and smirked.

"Where are those beautiful eyes?" Fleur obeyed the indirect command, eyes flashing open, the blue practically eclipsed with how aroused she was, meeting the intense brown gaze. Fleur swallowed and waited patiently for what Hermione would do. 

"As much as I want to kiss you, touch you, devastate you and do it again and again..." She traced Fleur's lower lip with her thumb again. "And goddesses, I want to ," Hermione leaned over and kissed Fleur's forehead tenderly. "We need to talk first." 

Fleur grumbled in discontent, but Hermione continued. "I know that we have started a bonding process, Fleur." The Veela sobered. The desire was still there, but the reality had hit close enough to mute the physical desire and clear her thoughts. Hermione let go of Fleur's hair, caressing Veela's face adoringly.

"It wasn't my intention to start it, today even though I knew it was going to happen." Hermione frowned, especially when Fleur pulled her hands to her and intertwined their fingers, squeezing them tightly. Hermione lifted one of their linked hands to her mouth and kissed Fleur’s knuckles softly. 

"Am I your soulmate?" The question rang out quietly, but Fleur had never heard anything so clear in her life.

"Yes."



Chapter Text

It was silent for a long moment, and Fleur began to panic about possibly having delivered the news too soon. Hermione's mind, on the other hand, was running a mile a minute, but she was neither shocked nor surprised. It felt right. It felt right and completely natural. Of course, rationally, she could never have so easily imagined herself as Fleur's soulmate. When she heard a small sob, Hermione returned her focus to Fleur. Her soulmate , she thought giddily. 

The blue eyes she loved so much were shining with tears. Fleur was staring at her hands, and silent droplets of bitter rejection suffused those eyes with pain, slipping down her cheeks.

"Oh, no, no, no!" Hermione reached out to blonde, who upon hearing the word 'no,' cringed even more, curling into herself. "Don't hide from me, beautiful," Hermione coaxed gently, with a hand under Fleur's chin, she urged the blonde to look up. "I just can't believe that I am so, so , lucky," Fleur's eyes widened, and Hermione softly stroked the blonde's cheek. "During the Triwizard Tournament, I just felt jealous of you, and thought it was because of Ronald. I was too immature, too young, and unsure of my own sexuality to recognize attraction when it was there in front of my face. It felt like my heart broke a little during the wedding ceremony, but I was in such a difficult situation, I couldn’t stop and analyze the reason for it. This whole time I’ve wanted you, and I didn’t know, and then all these years had passed... I just couldn’t believe the universe gave me another chance to be with you."  

"I had a strong feeling that you were the right person for me during the ceremony, but you were still underage," Fleur admitted softly. "But how could I get out of the hole I had dug for myself? Bill was a good man. He didn't deserve something like that during his own wedding. And there was still the fact that I didn't know how you were going to react, and the damn war ." The blonde leaned towards Hermione and their foreheads touched lightly. "When you arrived at the cottage battered and bleeding, and on the verge of death, I knew that I would do everything and anything possible to save you. That was when I knew you were my soulmate. My Veela screamed at me to save you no matter what. I did everything I could, and when you left me, my heart went with you. And seeing that I missed my chance, that you might not come back from that insane plan of breaking into Gringotts, I did what I could with my marriage." Fleur sighed against Hermione's face, and slid her hand up the brunette's neck. 

"He was never enough, but he was who I had by my side at the time. So I did the least sensible thing, I upheld an inappropriate marriage, and when you definitely disappeared from my life...I couldn't take it without even the little glimpses of you."  Hermione felt her heart fill and the words flowed smoothly over the skin of Fleur's neck, just below her ear.

“Every night I tried to empty my heart, but by morning it’s full again, droplets of you would seep in through the night’s soft caress. By dawn I am overflowing with thoughts of us, an aching pleasure that gives me no respite. Love cannot be contained in some neat packaging that my desire splits asunder, spilling crimson throughout my days. Long, languishing days that are now bruised tender with yearning, are spent searching for a fingerprint, a scent, a breath you left behind.” Fleur's head snapped out of place on Hermione's neck and her blue eyes were wide when they met her brown eyes. "It is a poem from a muggle movie, when I forced Pansy to watch movies with me, and when we were studying in Paris, this poem hit me like a freight train. And I knew that feeling was so palpable for me, and yet so distant for me to be able to identify. It was as if I missed something I never had, and that realization hurt so much. I wanted to know why my heart was crying for something I never had a chance to miss." Hermione kissed Fleur's cheek in a sweet caress. "I felt my heart shatter from a distance, for wanting you silently, unconsciously for so long.” 

They looked at each other for a long moment, smiles slowly forming. It was what both needed at the time. Reaffirmation that it was not an unattainable dream, reaffirmation that they were more than enough for each other. But Hermione's ever-active curiosity rose once again.

"I would really like to understand how the connection process will take place from now on. Is kissing the first step?" She questioned after a long time, and Fleur just smiled. She leaned over and arranged a pillow so she could lean back against the headboard. Hermione observed the blonde's actions, and when Fleur opened her arms invitingly for a hug, Hermione gave in, her head on Fleur's chest listening to her heart racing against her ear, and her fingers dragging along her arms, hair and back. The brunette felt herself relax.

"A kiss does not initiate the bonding itself, it is a little deeper than that, and both parties need to be aware that it is a process of bonding. Our next kiss will substantiate this. If it were that easy for the connection to happen, teenage adventures or young adults would generate mates on all sides." Fleur laughed lightly. "Naturally sex will become more of a need, not only because Veela are sexual, but also because it indicates a step forward. Nothing needs to be rushed, but eventually we will get to the 'fucking like bunnies' part as Gabby would say." With that sentence Hermione burst out laughing and was soon joined by Fleur.

"So I'm going to want to jump your bones even more?" Shortly after saying that, Hermione let out a squeak when Fleur quickly moved on top of her, her platinum blonde hair like a veil around them. Fleur's pupils burst and Hermione only allowed herself to deliver a naughty smile. "Oh, does someone like hearing how desirable they are?" Hermione's voice was hoarse, a few tones below normal. Fleur shivered over her, her arms giving out slightly and making their upper bodies touch.

Hermone's hands went to the side of Fleur's body, dancing over her ribs, making the blonde gasp slightly because of tickles. Fleur didn't have time to complain about the action, since Hermione leaned up and brought their mouths open in a kiss that quickly deepened.

She felt the difference in the kiss in the first second. It was as if gentle hands were cradling her heart, as if a soft warmth took over her body and her magic moved actively within Fleur's own magical core. She felt connected to Fleur on an almost animalistic level.

Fleur didn't have time to react; in an instinctive action Hermione threw her onto her back, placing herself between Fleur's legs and continuing the kiss with fervor. Without conscious thought, Hermione's hands wandered inside Fleur's t-shirt, tracing the soft skin of her ribs and making the blonde moan and arch her back, disconnecting their mouths.

Hermione merely changed course, her mouth almost burning a trail on Fleur's chin, jaw and neck. The brunette controlled the natural instinct to mark, to own, and show dominance. This was still too early for their relationship, so Hermione forced herself to let go of the skin she was nibbling and kissing and move back to Fleur's mouth. But she didn't miss the sensation of the blonde's own wandering hands bypassing her shirt, going up and down her back.

"We. Really. Should. Slow down," Hermione muttered between sighs and gasps from Fleur's nails teasing her skin.

The pitiful attempt to try to calm the situation was lost when Fleur's leg came up to Hermione's hip, pulling the brunette against her heated center. Fleur moaned against the Gryffindor's lips, and the hands that were on her back went straight to the brunette's ass, pulling her even closer against herself. The veela arched her back and in an instinctive, slow, and deliberate movement, she rubbed herself against Hermione’s leg, letting out a wanton groan.

One of Hermione's hands went straight to the top of Fleur's head, holding her hair in a light grasp. The other hand traveled to the back of the thigh that was pressed against her hip. At that moment she felt whatever common sense she had left fade away.

Hermione held Fleur firmly and allowed herself to press her leg against the French woman. The blonde closed her eyes, placed a hand on the back of Hermione's neck, and pulled her into another deep, intense kiss. Everything was escalating quickly. Fleur rocked her hips against Hermione's leg, feeling closer and closer to a mind-blowing orgasm. She moaned against Hermione's mouth, which spurred the brunette on, inciting her to make the blonde come. Nothing made more sense than giving pleasure to the woman she currently held tightly. Their tongues tangled, and Hermione felt Fleur’s leg shudder around her, and she knew that Fleur only needed a tiny push in the right direction.

Hermione disconnected their mouths and went straight to Fleur's ear, nibbling and sighing against her. She again let her instincts rule, allowing the magical connection between them to strengthen, and she knew what Fleur needed to finally come.

"Cum for me like a good girl," she whispered, and Fleur's body snapped like a taut rubber band. She moaned at length, and clung to Hermione like a lifeline.

"Fuck, Hermione..." She gasped after a long moment. Fleur relaxed completely into the bed, her hands falling next to her head, seemingly unaware of her own body at the time. She slowly felt the light kisses Hermione was spreading on her face and neck. She sighed contentedly, and after a little while, managed to finally pull Hermione into a full-body hug.

"Well that was unexpected, but very pleasant," Fleur said playfully, and Hermione just snorted and laughed against her neck.

"Unexpected? Considering that it took us more than ten years for this to happen, I wouldn't say unexpected," Hermione chuckled and kissed Fleur's neck firmly. When the blonde pulled her in for a proper kiss, they were cut off by the sound of a small knock on the door.

"Miss Hermione? Galan was asked to call you for dinner!" He spoke excitedly on the other side of the door.

"I'm on my way, Galan, thank you very much!" Hermione shouted towards the door, and she laughed lightly at Fleur’s confused look.

"Why doesn't he come in?"

"We had an awkward incident with him entering and me clad only in a towel. I informed him that I like my privacy, and he agreed that he would only enter if permission was granted." Hermione blushed and Fleur laughed at her shyness.

"You know that he doesn't care about naked human bodies, right?"

"Yes, I do know! But I don't like being taken by surprise like that." The Gryffindor went extremely red and left Fleur, getting up. The blonde just laughed and got up right after, kissing the soft lips in front of her. With a flick of Fleur's wand, both were presentable. They didn't think that going down together would make them extra, as the rooms were all in the same long corridor.

HGFDHGFDHGFD

Hermione sensed something was wrong when there was a knock on her bedroom door just after dinner. She knew it wasn't Fleur, since the blonde was in a meeting with her mother and grandmother. When she opened the door she found Gabby crying again, and without speaking, the brunette opened her arms and the younger veela allowed herself to be pulled into a hug. Carefully, she brought Gabby into her room, easing the blonde onto the bed, and allowing her to calm down at her own pace. They didn't speak, Hermione just sat next to her friend and gave her all the time necessary to put her thoughts in order and speak for herself.

"I messed up. Kind of massively ," Gabby finally uttered hoarsely. "She thought we had been going out for months, and that the book about Veela was a way to teach her my customs without being under a lot of pressure."

"Oh." Hermione frowned, somewhat surprised. "And what happened?"

“I said I wanted to move on and get over my feelings for her. She asked why I wanted to end this, and I replied that there was nothing to end. She got mad, so mad that I began to panic. I ran like a goddamn coward, while she called for me, saying we still needed to talk. And now here I am,” Gabby was visibly embarrassed. Hermione furrowed her brow and thought for a long moment. When the brunette got up and pulled on a jacket, it made Gabby jump to her feet. "Where are you going?"

"Sit down." The commanding voice was unexpectedly effective. Gabby's eyes widened and she sat back down on the edge of the bed as ordered. "Wait right there, I'll be right back." Hermione then left the room and apparated into the living room of her home with Luna in London.

The Ravenclaw was sitting on the couch, with bare feet and a mug in her hands. Her hair was disheveled and her eyes were swollen from crying. She looked up at Hermione and smiled sadly.

"She broke up with me." Luna's voice was so broken that Hermione allowed herself just a moment to hug her friend, before focusing on resolving the situation.

"Come on, let's settle this now, Lu." Luna waved a hand and moved her mug to the coffee table.

"I knew you were going to meddle," Luna said good-naturedly. Hermione smiled and grabbed Luna's hand, and in a snap they apparated back in Hermione's room at the manor. The Gryffindor was pleased to see that Gabby was still in the same spot. The younger blonde now wore the same expression of panic as a dog about to be hit by a speeding car. Eyes wide with fright and hands visibly shaking.

“Now, for Morgana’s sake, clarify the situation like bloody adults. I'm going to have some tea, and when I get back, I want you to take whatever this is to your room, Gabby.” And with that, Hermione turned on her heel and walked out, not once looking back. She trusted that Gabby would now be mature enough to talk to Luna properly without any histrionics. 

When Hermione eventually returned to her room, there were no signs of the two blondes. Just a small note on the pillow. Hermione smiled when she saw Gabby's messy handwriting saying that they had talked, and that everything was good now, and that they went back to the house in London.

HGFDHGFDHGFD

The next day brought the pleasant surprise that Bonnie was able to locate the stones that Hermione needed. She spoke quickly to Fleur that morning, since they were both busy, and the heiress promptly sent the necessary galleons to Bonnie. Bastien was not kidding when she said it would be expensive: 1700 galleons. It was a price that left Hermione's eyes wide, especially when Fleur just dismissed the amount cited, claiming that she expected it to be more costly.

But it was almost lunchtime. Hermione had received the stones, and was working attentively on attaching some metal pins to the wooden supports, and then intending to fix the sprockets. She was utilizing some magic tools, with her wand readily available on the table. She felt uncomfortably observed, but when she looked around she saw no one.

There was something to be said about being a magical architect, that manipulating magical natures in such a specific way came at a price. Every magical architect was aware that eventually something will go wrong. And it was hardly any surprise when a magic hospital or medi-wizard needed to heal a magical architect. 

What Hermione did not foresee, but at some level she expected would happen, was that the magic she imbued in one of the pins would react against the natural magic of the oak.

Everything unfolded in the blink of an eye. Hermione tightened the pin and a loud crackle sounded. The wood rejected the pin, and Hermione had very little time to react, just enough time for a Wandless Protego to automatically come from her lips. But it was not entirely effective, even though Hermione was skilled in wandless and soundless spells (just with a magic catalyst she would be able to generate a shield strong enough to hold the wood and metal splinters).

On one level, Hermione was happy to have managed to protect her face and her wand arm. But she knew the rest of the damage was extensive enough for her to be worried.

Her left arm had taken most of the impact. At that very moment Hermione was drifting in a sea of pain, and she was reasonably concerned when she opened her eyes and found herself in a litter of wood and blood. She didn't have much time to process, since most of all she knew that Harry and Gabby's wristwatches were clamoring a warning that Hermione was in danger.

"Galan," She said aloud in a reasonably calm tone, even though inside she was panicking about the amount of blood that was coming out of her arm. With a pop, the house elf appeared, bowing.

"Miss Hermione, how can Galan help..." The elf stopped talking as soon as he looked up from the ground, and saw that Hermine was a few meters away in a growing pool of blood.

"Take me to a healer. Quickly."

"Galan can cure you," He responded in alarm, approaching.

"No, there are fragments inside my arm, and you will need help. Now Galan, please." The elf grabbed Hermione's right arm and in a pop he apparated to a sterile, white, well-organized room. At the sound, the woman at a table taking notes abruptly looked up. The black-haired woman dropped everything she was doing, stood up, and rushed to Hermione.

"What happened?" Lucien Maes maintained absolute calm while Hermione floated to one of the exam beds, quickly casting spells to assess the damage.

"A little accident," Hermione said, and tried to smile without grimacing.

"It doesn't seem small to me, Hermione," Lucien replied with a frown, pulling a long piece of wood from Hermione's arm. When the brunette bit her lip to hold back a cry of pain, Lucien made a short gesture with her wand, and three potions floated in front of her patient. She took one and held it out to the young woman. The Gryffindor didn't even protest, she swallowed all the offered potions without caring about the bad taste, and fortunately the pain was promptly reduced.

"Thanks," Hermione whispered, and Lucien just nodded, continuing the removal of fragments and closing the wounds by applying Dittany. Galan was puttering around, helping with various medical items, worriedly glancing at the young brunette.

"You will need to rest today. Without magical activities, since your core will still work extensively to recover from the damage. Even though I cleaned and closed all the wounds, the blood recovery potion will take time. You should also take a pain potion at the end of the day for a peaceful night's sleep." Lucien's firm voice made Hermione nod obediently. She learned very early that she shouldn't argue against a medi-wizard. They were silent for a long moment and Lucien sighed. "I... Can I ask again if you would like to do something with me at some point?" She dared to ask.

"I'm taken," Hermione responded quickly, and she was a little sad to see Lucien's bleak expression. 

"The Delacour girl?" Hermione nodded. Fleur had already said that they were going on a date, and to avoid exacerbating an awkward situation, she just agreed. "I understand. Well, at least I hope we can be friends?" Lucien offered, with a bit of a melancholy tone in her voice. Veela would never interfere in another’s bonding process.

"Friends is something I can do," Hermione said with a smile, and got off the exam bed.

"No expending physical or magical effort please. Otherwise, I will have to keep you here." The professional tone had returned. "And I really don't want to see a friend of mine in such a situation." Hermione considered it odd how quickly Veela could accept that someone else was unavailable, and she would have to talk to Fleur about it just to quench her curiosity.

"Sure, doc, sure. I'll be at home probably sleeping or reading. And you know, it's not my first magical accident." Lucien just nodded her head in resignation, and smiled wanly at Hermione saying goodbye.

Galan apparated Hermione back to her room. The brunette thanked him, and the elf left quickly. When the witch turned back to her bed, she saw Gabby sitting with her leg bouncing in nervousness.

"I was looking for you everywhere!" She exclaimed, and jumped up, pulling Hermione into a tight hug. "Harry and I were freaking out! You weren't anywhere!"

"Galan took me to Lucien. I'm fine now, I promise I’m okay," Hermione spoke calmly, when she felt the blonde in her arms crying softly. "I should have warned you earlier. I'm sorry, it was all so fast that I barely had time to understand." Gabby calmed down and looked at Hermione anxiously.

"And what happened?" Hermione opened her mouth to answer but she ended up yawning for a long time.

"I'm sorry, I'm so tired."

"Come on, lie down here with me, we have some time until dinner. Tell me what happened?" Gabby pulled the brunette to the bed, making her lay down and nudging the brunette's head on her shoulder. Hermione would never resist being held. She told her friend in a low voice what had happened, and Gabby was extremely happy to see the brunette well. "I will let Harry know that everything is fine now." With a Patronus she sent a detailed message to him. Hermione heard only the beginning, dozing off quite quickly.

It seemed like dinner time arrived all too fast, and so Gabby patiently guided a sleepy Hermione to the table. Lira and Apolline were already there, and apparently word that Hermione had been injured flew quickly throughout the village.

"Hermione, are you okay? Galan told us about the accident!" Lira asked apprehensively, rising quickly from her chair and approaching Hermione.

"I am all right now," The brunette replied, trying to calm the distressed older woman. "It is not so unusual to encounter problems with unstable magic." She had tried to reassure the woman, but the next moment after she made the statement, she regretted it. Lira looked at her with wide eyes, and Hermione knew she had uttered the wrong thing.

"So you’d better keep someone with you, Miss Granger." Sybelle's voice cut into the moment. "Do you have any idea how worried I was when I felt our connection slowly coming apart? And then to learn that you were missing?" The tone was steely, and Hermione felt herself blush, especially when her eyes met Fleur's, and she looked down at the floor in shame.

"I apologize," She said, taking a step away from Lira. "I didn't consider notifying you all not only because I was safe with Lucien, but only now I realized that I should have just asked Galan to tell everyone that I was okay. I returned here and promptly ended up sleeping. Gabby was with me, and I didn't think about how you would be feeling. I'm sorry."

"What was the other reason?" Fleur asked tensely, and Hermione looked up at her. "You said you didn't consider notifying us only because you were with Lucien. What was the other reason?" It was a pointed question in a hard tone. 

"I was afraid I just might bleed to death on the floor. My first reaction was fight or flight, and I didn't think about warning anyone." Hermione explained quietly, but the sepulchral silence ensured everyone had heard completely. The brunette cleared her throat, feeling tears welling up in her eyes. Fleur frowned and froze in the same moment, worry seeping into her in waves. Gabby was the first to break the tension, and she approached Hermione and pulled her into a tight hug when she noticed the signs of a panic attack.

"You're safe now. Just breathe deeply, in and out. You're fine now." It was nothing new to Gabby, since Hermione tended to have panic attacks when dwelling on her decisions in past risky situations, especially when it was something that involved life or death. It was one of the great scars left by the war, though Hermione was a fighter and she would do anything to survive. But when she noticed that she hurt other people during this process, she felt guilty and panicked. "We were just worried, ma bella. You didn't do anything wrong." When Fleur heard a sob and saw that Hermione's hands had tightly gripped Gabby's clothes, it was like something cracked within the Veela. She strode over and hugged Hermione from behind, her hands spreading to her sister's back. Both whispered words of safety and comfort to the young Gryffindor.

"I'm sorry," She whispered in a sob, wiping away her tears.

"It's okay, Hermione." Apolline came over and squeezed the brunette's shoulder. "We were just worried, I apologize that our reactions sounded so confrontational," She said softly, and Hermione nodded, still looking at the floor.

"Come on, let's eat something, nothing like good hot food to make everything better," Lira suggested, breaking the tension. They sat down and started to eat. Lira explained quickly what Lapin à la moutarde consisted of, and Hermione laughed and teased Gabby about her patronus being a hare.

"So what happened today?" Sybelle finally asked cautiously.

"Nothing too unusual, actually," Hermione responded with a sigh. "When working with magic materials, sometimes the spells resonate at opposite frequencies which causes a rejection. This rejection can manifest in many ways. Today, for example, the magic wood overloaded and shattered. What happened is that my protection spell was not enough to shield me from the shrapnel, and many pieces penetrated my arm. One hit a smaller caliber artery, which made the bleeding intensify. I called Galan and he took me to Lucien." Hermione tried to stifle the panic she felt at that moment. "Gabby and Harry knew something was going on because of the wristwatches I made for them. That's why Gabby knew it before everyone else." She spoke directly to Fleur, who was listening tensely. The veela slowly relaxed, finally realizing that Hermione hadn’t intended to keep her in the dark on purpose. "When I came back here I was completely exhausted, and I figured Gabby would’ve gone ahead and alerted everyone." She looked at her worried friend and the younger woman blushed heavily.

"Well, that was something I should have done and didn't . I'm sorry." Gabby said awkwardly.

"Oh well, it's no use now getting fixated on what happened or didn't happen," Lira broke in calmly. "However, I did hear something interesting." All the women turned to look at Lira with curiosity. "Apparently Hermione and Gabby made their relationship official." A strange silence fell in the room, where the only person excited about what was just revealed was Lira. 

Gabby automatically burst out laughing, causing her mother to frown in confusion, while Fleur glanced back at Hermione with a raised eyebrow and a scowl. Hermione’s jaw had dropped, and she was looking around at everyone at the table, also perplexed. Apolline peered back at her wife, as puzzled as Hermione, and yet Sybelle alone seemed strangely unperturbed.

"My darling, Gabby is in love with Luna," Apolline tried once again to explain, and Gabby quickly nodded within giggles.

"But I... Lucien said that Hermione was with one of our daught-" She froze, and looked at Fleur.

"Surprise?" Hermione said with uncertainty, and cringed at the glare she received from Lira.

"You assumed with the wrong daughter," Fleur declared, and Apolline and Lira cast shocked glances from Fleur to Hermione. 

"And I have learned of this development last!" Lira cried indignantly.

"I already knew," Gabby divulged calmly. At receiving various startled looks, she said, "What? Nobody would be smiling that big because they got magic wood, no matter how magical it is. And you had your lipstick all smeared," she added, gesturing to Fleur. Both her sister and friend were beet red. "Sweet! Now I can embarrass both of you!” She announced gleefully.

"Gabby!" Apolline immediately scolded, and her younger daughter winced.

"Gabby was the first to know, so that makes you the second, Lira," Hermione said, trying to extend an olive branch.

"Third; I already knew," Sybelle quickly corrected with a shrug.

"What?!” Hermione and Fleur exclaimed together.

"We are temporarily connected, and I saw you two hugging in your room with the door left ajar, Hermione." The brunette blushed deeply.

"I am the last to know!" Lira shouted in exasperation, and Apolline tried to pacify her wife.

"Oh, calm down, woman." Sybelle spoke in amusement and Lira, who was still put out at being left out of the loop, was taken outside by Apolline. "I really approve of the new choice, Fleur. Hermione has impeccable taste as we can see." They both nodded, blushing, and Sybelle leaned in far enough that only the two young women could hear her. "By the way, now is a good moment to mention the fact that you are also soulmates." As if hearing her own name, Lira reentered the room still mumbling, closely followed by Apolline.

"We have something else to tell you," Hermione said, smiling.

"Yes?" Lira asked curtly, not feeling amused.

"Hermione and I are soulmates." Silence descended, only to be broken seconds later by a high-pitched and happy cry from Lira.

Chapter Text

Hermione emerged in quick, excited steps from the Delacour Manor. She was feeling well and was looking forward to getting back to work. She wanted to finish this job as soon as possible, not only because she needed new contracts, after all she had a career to maintain, but also to resolve the Veela situation. Hermione noticed that it was getting harder and harder for Sybelle to keep the other leaders calm about the status of the problem. The brunette had also decided to spend the night working, so after dinner she would return to her task.

When she went down the three short steps leading back to the house, she felt herself bump into someone. Reacting quickly, the woman caught her by the forearms, and Hermione found herself face to face with a woman with reddish brown hair and green eyes. She thought the woman should have been Sybelle's age, that is, one of the oldest Veela in the village.

“Oh pardonne-moi! I didn't see you. ” [Forgive me!] . Hermione spoke quickly, assessing whether she had hurt the woman in any way.

"Do not worry, everything is fine." The woman smiled widely at Hermione, but something made the young Gryffindor feel goosebumps along her arms, and her sense of caution ignited. “Mademoiselle Granger, oui? I'm Giselle Beaumont, it's a pleasure to meet you.”

"Nice to meet you as well," Hermione replied calmly. "I must go back to work now, I'm sorry for crashing into you," Hermione said, trying to get away from the woman quickly, but the brunette couldn't get very far, for the woman still had her arm in her grip.

"How are you going to repair our Clock?" The tone was firm, and Hermione was unable to define what made her so uncomfortable.

"I can't discuss an ongoing project. Now, si vous voulez bien m'excuser." [if you will excuse me] Hermione removed herself from the woman’s grasp, and quickly moved away. 

The very strange feeling about that woman lingered with Hermione, and something made her decidedly uneasy. She walked quickly into the dome of her workspace, and the clock she was now practically re-assembling, with the exception of the quadrant Hermione was restoring instead. Hermione spread out some clock pieces and whispered to herself.

"What the hell was that about?" The brunette muttered aloud, vaguely in the direction of where the structure was situated. She suddenly felt a great push of magic coming out of the clock towards her own magical core.

The first touch of magic formed a connection to her core, and Hermione experienced a burning sensation, as if she were mixing with hot oil, but then the second touch was much smoother and more peaceful. It was with that awareness that she felt, much more than she heard, the words in her mind soft and rhythmic, as in the narration of a book spoken in a mixture of female voices. They seemed to resonate as if through the centuries.

“Time is a curious thing, isn't it? The world revolves around itself and around a big star and that gives us time. This rhythmic and systematic passage that allows  humans to be born, grow and die. Time also keeps memories, as well as the purest magic. Time is something natural, organic, and that even the most skilled who are able to manipulate it, will never be able to control it. People come, go, and many try to fight the end of their own time. And there are those, those who don’t want to control time but use it to their advantage. Like any tool created by man, we serve a purpose. Mine is to mark, mark the time remaining at any given moment for other creatures, even showing if they are in safety or danger. I can even tell where they are, how they are, but I will never be able to show how they will be. The future is uncertain, as uncertain as a raindrop in a storm. My purpose is clear, as well as yours. You will fix me and I can go back to my role. And you can follow yours as a member of that clan. Believe in your willpower and everything you are will guide you. When the attack on me occurred, I was here, as I have always been in the past four hundred years, scoring, clicking, and creating momentum. It was a dark, moonless night, and even the stars were dim. Then came what humans would call pain, stinging, burning and the dislocation of a part of me, changing me until I couldn't change anymore. I didn't see her, I didn't see her face, but I felt her magic. Magic that creeps around your protection, magic that tries to find a way to enter and finish what she started. That night, I was saved by a small child who ran away from her mother, scaring the woman away. The time of danger is more imminent than we imagined and we are all possible victims in having our time abruptly ended, including myself.”

Hermione was unresponsive for some time, her brain overloaded trying to process and absorb all the information she suddenly received from the clock. Just when she thought she could take the time to understand what was going on, and to sort out all of the questions that popped into her mind, the clock began to resonate in her mind once again.

“After many attempts to create a stable link between our magical cores, and with the added physical connection of your hand to myself, we are finally able to communicate for a long enough period of time for me to tell you a long story. I have existed in this form for 427 years, when a witch named Malika, with her great ability to shape magic, created me. But understand, my parts as wood, metal and stone have been around for a long time. Long before I was forged in the land that you now call France, where parts of me were born, it was named Lascaux. This was a beautiful, prosperous kingdom, free from magical corruption and arcane control. It was a place where what you call ‘elves’ roamed free, and everyone had the right to evolve and exist. And what you now know as Veela, were called Samodiva. Those creatures were akin to forest nymphs, faerie creatures that took on a human’s form to hide in plain sight of the ancient Celts. Prejudice started a long time ago, even before humans, in their medieval and mediocre forms, wanting to understand what magic was. The Samodivas protected the lands of Lascaux, taking the appearance of beautiful women, with long hair, they were ethereal maidens who brought about an end to many men and women. Using their natural magic, they seduced and created the illusion that they were flying in a cloak full of feathers. Samodivas were great manipulators of fire magic and in their natural form, they were like birds with golden and orange feathers, burning along the sky in deadly flight. Great dancers as well, they learned to use their bodies as an exceptional weapon, their dances symbolizing the raw energy of nature and the supernatural world. Their voices were hypnotic and could drive a man crazy, magic that they learned to use and that today, their modern counterparts still use. The so-called ‘Thrall’ is actually an ancient magic, controlled and thought to be performed, which is why an adult Veela can use this ‘Thrall’ at her own command. But they were few, and their biggest flaw was their great love for the new and the powerful. They searched for strong partners, and pure Samodivas were rare, and little by little there were not many left to form pairs. The three sisters Rusalki, Valkirya and Ravijojla found their soulmates in three different women from the ancient world. Valkirya fell in love with a Celtic named Elora, and they started the European clans. Raijojla loved until her last day Amuniritis, an Egyptian priestess of Amen-Ra, and were the origin of the Eastern and African clans. And lastly, Rusalki met Mahkah, the two being the origin of the clans of the Americas. The Samodiva figures changed, as has their name, Samovilas, Vilas, Vela, Veela. And that brings us to Malika, the heir to many future generations of Elora and Valkirya, daughter of the flame of the sun. She manipulated the natural world to always be aware of her sisters, the only one with her name and power. She created me. And that brings us to you, Hermione Granger. The daughter of many daughters, the heiress with diluted blood and now without samodiva magic. Even so, the magical heiress of Valkyria will always find the magical heiress of Elora. After all, soulmates will always meet. The concept of soulmates is confusing in this modern world where there are billions in the world. You must understand that magical soulmates are not so easy to find, as they are fragments of a primary soul. A primary soul is old and has been divided into many pieces. However, only two of these pieces can connect harmoniously to each other. This is what creates this so-called soulmate. It is as if a small, invisible line, bound these two fragments, these two magical cores. Soulmates can connect deeply, exchanging energy, desires and memories. That line is part of you, uniquely yours and especially yours. Veela have the ability to feel when their magical nucleus resonates in tune with another, and sometimes they, the veela, find the one who sings in the same tone, rhythm and music. At that moment, the soul mates meet and the thread of destiny and of the souls that unite them, gains a color of their own. Today, it is normal for a Veela to be unaware of the depth of their connection with their own magical core and how it affects their soulmate. You, unlike other humans, are very attuned to your own magical core, just like Elora. And Fleur Delacour has a great magical reserve, as does Valkyria. As you may have been thinking, the two of you are fragments of the perfect fit from these two souls that were completely connected previously. Successors of Elora and Valkyria, the hand that controls, and the hand that ignites. Now, will you create a fire or a firestorm? It depends entirely on you. Farewell, Hermione, the daughter of many daughters, the heir of Elora.”

The connection had unexpectedly started, and the magic of the clock was strong, vibrant, and warm, so its abrupt disappearance left a cold line running along Hermione's magical core. The witch raised a hand to the center of her chest, feeling her heart beating as it should. But she felt something was sorely missed. But it was with these thoughts that she had to return to work. She barely noted the time passing, and at her request Galan left a table, chair and a hot plate of food next to the dome. Hermione took only a few breaks throughout the day, just to eat, and once during that time to go to the bathroom. She hardly saw any of the Delacour women and even though she missed Fleur, she wanted to finish the clock work as quickly as possible, feeling an urgency in her magical core that she couldn't explain. She also felt uncomfortably observed, but when she looked around, she spotted no one.

The hours passed and the moon eventually shone in the sky. She summoned some candles, set them floating around her table, and Hermoine continued to work deliberately, until the sun dawned with the first morning light and the movement within the village resumed. A few women noticed that Hermione had worked throughout the night, and that in a few hours she would have been there for twenty-four hours. She pursued her tasks, moved by a force beyond her, while the exhaustion seemed minimal. The hunger, the thirst, everything else dissipated as if a curtain fell, and she was focused, more focused than she normally would be. Her brain was without extraneous thoughts, just focused on building, fixing and creating.

Eventually she came to a realization, with her hands flat on her table, her hair that had previously been tied up into a bun, falling awkwardly along her face. Her sleeves were dirty with dust, there were small cuts all over her hands, and she was sweaty and in need of a good, long bath. But this was it, Hermione had finished. She completed all the pieces she had needed. She looked at the parts in amazement, passionate amazement. She was done!

"It's midday, ma lionne, you've been there for over twenty-four hours. Come on, shall we eat and rest?" Fleur's concerned voice broke in Hermione's ecstatic musing. She looked up from the pieces and turned her head, facing Fleur. And for a tiny millisecond, it was like there was indeed a red line like the magical nature of fire, around the Veela. Hermione blinked, and the red line disappeared. She then smiled, and it caused Veela's furrowed eyebrows to relax, and the blonde smiled shyly back. The brunette then quickly patted at her clothes, attempting to get some dust off, and approached Fleur. The French woman grinned at her, and Hermione didn't even think about what she was doing. There in the sunlight breaking at noon, in the middle of the village, she leaned over and joined her mouth to Fleur's.

"I finally finished the pieces," She revealed, pulling herself away from Fleur's mouth and smiling at the sight of Veela's flushed cheeks. "So yes, come on. I need a shower, to eat, and to spend time with you." Without a second glance, Hermione grabbed Fleur's hand and pulled her toward the direction of the Delacour Manor.

HGFDHGFDHGFDHGFD

Hermione could never complain about Fleur being with her that whole afternoon. The Gryffindor deserved more than anyone a long break. She finally had something to eat, and Fleur prepared a bubble bath. She felt loved like never before, and it warmed her heart more than anything she could ever imagine. The words of the clock kept ringing in her mind and with Fleur, sitting on the floor next to the bathtub, Hermione explained everything that the clock had revealed, well, resonated into her mind. Fleur was thoughtful for several moments, displaying little reaction, and neither confirming nor denying any knowledge of the subjects the brunette had told her about. When Hermione asked if she was okay, the blonde just smiled, and said that she should talk to her grandmother before she could give any serious opinions, and that she was just very happy to be connected to Hermione in such a beautiful way. Hermione then took a step back and allowed Fleur to contemplate everything they had learned that day.

Fleur was waiting patiently on Hermione's bed while her soulmate finished up her bath. She was feeling calm, as if everything had finally come together. Moreover, she felt good, like finally both she and the Veela magic inside her were in agreement about what they wanted. Falling in love with Hermione felt so easy. And when the brunette appeared at the bathroom door, Fleur just smiled slowly and felt herself blush slightly.

Hermione, who had finally felt her body relax after all that work, saw the blonde sitting on her bed with her cheeks flushed, and just raised an eyebrow curiously.

"Are you okay there?" She asked in amusement.

“Of course, just thinking about what you said to me." Fleur paused as Hermione approached and sat next to the blonde. "The myth of the sisters is well known in  Veela culture, being the ones who helped originate everything and everyone. I'm just concerned that the Clock has revealed this to you and not to other Veela. Those who are prejudiced may judge the tale as an invention.” Fleur sighed. 

"I will speak to my mother about this, and if necessary, we will also speak to my grandmother. Just keep the story to yourself for now, please. Only until we find out that it is safe to reveal this information." Fleur looked at Hermione with concerned eyes and Hermione smiled in acceptance.

"Of course, Fleur, whatever you ask of me. I consider this a secret of my work, and I told you not only because you were appointed by Sybelle to help me, but also because you are part of that story." Hermione approached Fleur, running her hands over the blonde's jaw and up to her hair. Hermione tucked some unruly strands behind Fleur's ear and smiled. "You are so beautiful that I could just stare at every detail of you for hours."

As if the magic between them flickered, setting off a switch, they started out soft, calm like the rippling waves of a calm sea. A sea that gradually turned stormy and intense. When Hermione leaned over and bit lightly at Fleur's bottom lip, the waves of magic seemed to strike more firmly.

Fleur pulled at Hermione around her waist, and like a fluid dance move, the brunette found herself on her back with Fleur partially on top of her. The kiss that was still tender and light deepened, when the movement of one Hermione's hands tugged at Fleur's hair, making the blonde moan lightly.

Hermione made an effort beyond her physical capacity; she drew Fleur on top of her fully, and then dropped her on her back in the middle of the bed, placing herself between the blonde's legs.

They kissed like a great summer storm, intense and wet, the kisses spread across cheeks, chins, necks.

Hermione's hands moved to Fleur's stomach, and she slowly dragged her nails up, making the Veela gasp and whimper. Her hands up Fleur's shirt, Hermione lowered her warm mouth over the soft skin of the woman's belly. The Gryffindor's hands wandered further up to where they wanted to be, but Hermione's mind made her pause. She looked up, and when she saw that Fleur had her eyes closed, her mouth open taking in heavy breaths, the brunette just nibbled at Fleur's belly, drawing the woman's attention back to herself.

"Are you sure?"

"Please Hermione, you are killing me," Fleur assured her quickly, and blushed deeply at hearing her own voice, sounding as needy as it did.

The brunette's hands went up, passing under the bra’s fabric and teasing her soft breasts. Fleur took a deep breath, and when Hermione squeezed her nipples gently, the blonde just moaned loudly. Impatiently, Fleur removed her own shirt, which forced Hermione to let go of her breasts. With the Gryffindor's help, the Veela tossed the bra away. Anxious hands grasped at the brown hair, pulling Hermione's mouth against her pale neck.

Hermione's mouth dragged along slowly, enjoying every bit of exposed skin. She nibbled and licked languidly, enjoying every little breath and sound that came out of the other woman's pink lips. When the Gryffindor's lips reached Fleur's left nipple, the blonde arched up, and in a gasp, begged Hermione to be firmer in her touches. Her lips mixed with teeth and tongue, the louder Fleur moaned and gasped, and the more Hermione got lost in the perfect nipples and the soft skin.

With a pop, Hermione released a breast and went down to Fleur's ribs. She saw a small rhombus birthmark next to Veela's last rib, her mouth went directly there. When she nibbled at the mark, both she and Fleur felt a vibrant surge of magic.

A few seconds later, it was as if Fleur and Hermione were suddenly disconnected from their bodies. A reddish light came over the two women, and they felt themselves being moved within time and space. When they blinked open their eyes, they were watching the scene play out in front of them. 

Two women were before them, one who had hair as white as a pristine cloud, with wild curls and a giant smile on her lips. The other possessed bright red hair like a blazing fire, whose demeanor was a little more serious. They were arguing, and the white-haired one tried in vain to calm the redhead.

They were speaking, but nothing seemed intelligible, their speech was like murmurs echoing out of the bottom of a bottle. Even without sound, one could see that they were arguing about something intensely. When the white-haired woman leaned over and kissed the redhead directly on the lips, the redhead pushed the other woman away without a sound, but the two witches watching could easily imagine the sting of the slap. 

The two women froze suddenly, looking at each other, shocked by what had happened. The white-haired one started to cry, and the redhead automatically moved closer. They exchanged a few more words, and then hugged. Slowly, just like Fleur and Hermione's first kiss, the two women's mouths came back together. Vibrant red threads surrounded the two women, swirling and slowly inching closer and closer, squeezing the two together, like ethereal threads that wound themselves around the women. As if connecting the two slowly and irrevocably, when the women were fully bound, the red thread vanished.

"I love you, Val." The redhead spoke softly.

"I love you, too, my beautiful Elora." The words had barely been uttered aloud, when a moment later, the redhead’s eyes widened suddenly, and a thin stream of blood trickled out of the white-haired woman's mouth. Soon, white clothing was invaded by bright red blood, and Val collapsed in Elora's arms. The redhead crumpled to the ground, as if suffering a strong blow, as if something hit her hard in the belly, and she dropped down next to Val. The blood from a wound in Val’s side, and the wound in Elora's belly, began flooding the ground. They slowly lost strength, their magic came undone, and when the feeling of it dissipated entirely, like they were doused in a sudden gush of ice cold water...Fleur and Hermione were thrust back into the bedroom in the Delacour manor. Hermione had her hand planted firmly on her belly, and Fleur had hers on her birthmark.

"Fleur? That was..." Hermione closed her eyes feeling dizzy, letting herself fall against Fleur's body. The Veela moaned slightly, feeling as bad as the brunette. The two hugged each other firmly, eyes tightly shut, finding comfort within each other as they waited for that strange pain to gradually disappear. Neither of them noticed the vivid red strands encircling them slowly fade away.

Chapter Text

That night, Fleur and Hermione slept together, the blonde donning her t-shirt again, and the two witches dozed off embracing one another. Fleur was laying against Hermione's chest, resting soundly when Hermione awoke. The brunette ran her hands through Fleur's hair and along her back, gradually rousing the French woman. And like a cat just waking up, she stretched long and languidly, and smiled at Hermione.

"Bonjour, ma belle."

"Bonjour, c'est une belle journée avec toi ici." ["Good morning, it's a beautiful day with you here."] Hermione leaned over and kissed Fleur's forehead and the blonde kissed the brunette's chin in return affectionately. "We should get up, eat something, and I need to finish working on the clock. I just need to set up and do some tests." Fleur nodded but didn't move, she tucked her head in against Hermione's neck, nibbling lightly and kissing the soft skin.

They held each other for a long moment until Fleur finally agreed to get up, and with her hair loose, swaying freely against her back, she went straight to the bathroom.

"I'm going to shower," Fleur teased.

"Do you want company?" Hermione asked playfully.

"Sure," Fleur called loudly from inside the bathroom. The brunette felt her eyes widen, and she quickly scampered out of bed, unaware of her foot tangled within the sheets. Hermione suddenly felt herself topple, her body hitting the floor hard, and finding herself stunned, she allowed herself to lay there for a moment. When she lifted her head from the floor, and looked towards the bathroom door, Fleur stood peering down at the brunette, her body covered in a silk robe. The blonde had raised an eyebrow, looking very amused. 

"I'm okay," Hermione said, feeling her cheeks heat and quickly got on all fours, untangling her foot from the sheets. In an awkward hop, she stood up and looked again towards the bathroom, but Fleur was no longer there. The only thing left behind was a puddle of silk on the floor. Hermione's eyes widened again, and she dashed up to the lavatory. When she entered the bathroom, she was overwhelmed by steam. Fleur was standing behind the checkered glass door, her image distorted by the opaque-ness of the glass, but what caught Hermione's attention was the extensive amount of skin. The brunette hesitated for a moment, and gathering all her Gryffindor courage, she banished the clothes from her body and took a deep breath, pulling the handle of the glass door. Without leaving room for second thoughts, Hermione entered the steamy shower. She tried to keep her gaze off of Fleur's body, but she saw her figure clearly when the blonde turned and smiled, her hair wet, as she combed it away from her face with her fingers.

"Some say that if something is beautiful, it should be looked upon." The blue eyes drifted slowly along the other witch’s form, making Hermione feel a rush of heat. Taking the comment as permission, she did the same, gazing upon the extensive amount of soft skin. Like an elastic band snapping, the two suddenly stepped forward and met in a warm embrace, their bodies touching fully. They allowed themselves to linger there, that way, embracing for a long moment. They didn’t kiss, since that would lead to something both women desired, but lacked the time to fully savor and enjoy in a manner they both would like.

Exchanging shy looks and a few giggles, the two washed and dressed. Fleur ended up summoning some clothes from Hermione's room, which generated a startled squeak from Galan, who was passing through the hall when the summer dress came flying quickly from one room to another.

They went down hand in hand to the kitchen, and although Lira displayed a series of animated expressions, Apolline controlled her wife with a steady look. Sybelle just smiled, and Gabby for the first time in a while, was not present.

Hermione ate quickly and darted outside the house to the clock. She was there looking majestic, almost complete, only missing the quadrant for which Hermione had been re-creating the pieces. The weather was rather hot, so Hermione had allowed herself to wear only a short-sleeved shirt.

The brunette magically linked herself to the clock again, receiving a warm, happy hello. She pulled out her wand and slowly started to connect the parts to the body of the clock. She repeated a short, magic, mantra that was another attempt to get the spells to resonate together. But this time Hermione felt no resistance from the clock.

The pieces came together like within a perfectly shaped glove, even if the construction process itself had taken hours. The last toothed gear made a clicking sound, fitting perfectly in place. Hermione took a deep breath and reached for the clock’s magic.

"Come on and try, I'm here to help if something goes wrong," She whispered, feeling a small boost of magic emitting from the clock. Hermione's eyes widened when slowly, as if testing its strength, the gears started to turn.

Gradually the clock began to come to life, the dull white face began to turn a soft green, with some shades of yellow. The names of cities appeared, as well as the security status of the clans. In green were the clans stationed in São Paulo, New York, Guatemala, Marseille. In light yellow and with danger level 1, were Bloemfontein and Melbourn. With the danger level at 2, in a yellow-orange were Shanghai and Atacama.

Hermione's surprise increased when the clock's energy embraced her. This time she didn't hear any hundred-year-old voices, but she sensed a presence there with her, encompassing her in a grateful embrace. Hermione felt hot tears drip down her cheeks, realizing that she had finally done it. Then a dark thought intruded. She completed the job for which she had been hired, so maybe that meant she needed to leave?

Hermione snapped herself out of her reverie. She considered whether the bond would simply be broken. Then she remembered Fleur, and that she was Fleur's future mate, the soulmate of the European clans’ heiress. She felt herself begin to relax, thinking everything was bound to be fine.

When the Gryffindor took her eyes away from the clock, she noticed that there were other veela present, and some were smiling at her, as well as gazing at the clock with happiness. But one veela in particular caught her eye, for she was distinctly displeased; she did not look joyful at all. Giselle, as Hermione recalled her name, was looking at the clock with a frown, and with a quick glance, Hermione noted that the woman had her hand on her wand.

Hermione felt a strange shiver, and then noticed that the link to the clock was still active, with Hermione keeping her hand firmly against the large object.

Gently, Hermione broke the connection with the clock, smiling when the centenary artifact went on its business, marking and oscillating a little in its colors. Hermione decided to leave her protections in place, opting to speak to Sybelle about matters before finalizing the end of the magical contract.

Hermione moved away from the clock, feeling her wards hold steady when she left the invisible dome. The clock would be protected and that was what made it quiet.

She strode quickly to the mansion, walking to the living room that connected the pantry and kitchen, where she found Lira painting calmly in the sunlight shining through one of the windows. Hermione cleared her throat, and Lira, who seemed extremely focused, looked back towards Hermione.

"Hello," She greeted sweetly. "Is it almost time for an afternoon tea?" It was at that moment that Hermione realized that she had skipped lunch.

"Oh, I didn't notice the time," She admitted thoughtfully. "I need to speak to Sybelle, however, but I don't know where she is. Would you be able to point me in her direction?" Hermione asked timidly.

"Sure, she's probably with Fleur and Apolline in her office. Just head up the stairs, and go to the end of the hall, the last door on the left," Lira explained and turned back to her painting while Hermione walked away. "After you talk though, it's snack time."

"Of course," Hermione agreed, and departed in quick steps, taking the stairs two at a time. She knew Sybelle would be thrilled that the clock was finally ready. After giving a light knock on the office door, Hermione heard permission to enter.

She had never been in the office before, though it was large and spacious, in wood tones with a single wall painted in sky blue, and this same wall had a large window that looked out over the center of the village, with a view of the clock.

"Hermione, what can we do for you?" All three of them had their backs to the big window, and by the serious expression on all three of their faces, they were dealing with a serious matter.

"Sorry to interrupt," Hermione began sheepishly.

"Don't worry about it, what can we help you with?" Apolline replied warmly.

"Just, could you uh..." Hermione thought for a second. "Turn around and look out?" The brunette linked her fingers anxiously, waiting for the reaction of the three important women in front of her.

Sybelle just arched a curious eyebrow, while Fleur gave Hermione a small, reassuring smile. Together the three turned their torsos, turning their bodies to look obligingly out the window. There was a stark silence in the room.

"Oh, Hermione..." Sybelle's voice came out tightly. The brunette saw the older blonde tense, and she felt herself stiffen in response. Sybelle stood much faster than Hermione would have predicted, and she marched over to Gryffindor. Without even a second to blink, Hermione found herself being pulled into a tight hug. "Thank you. Thank you very much."

"It's working!" Fleur exclaimed and chuckled, pulling her mother into a side hug. "After so long, it’s finally functioning again!" Apolline just nodded, and wiped away a tiny tear that ran down her cheek.

"Everything is normal again?" Sybelle questioned, pulling away from the hug.

"The magic is stable and the pieces are working as they should," Hermione smiled, but Sybelle spotted the bit of tension on the brunette's face.

"However?" Sybelle prompted. 

" However , I want to place a ritualistic protection dome around it to keep it safe." Hemione revealed seriously, which made Fleur's eyebrow go up inquisitively. "I am still not convinced that it was a mere accident, or even a one-time anomaly. I want to shield the clock with an ancient Nordic ritual."

"What will this ritual do?" Apolline asked as always, evenly.

"It is a ritual that will protect the clock from any person possessing ill intentions." Hermione then explained the details of the ritual and finally, the three veela nodded in agreement.

"Then we can do it for sure. Will you enact it today?" The older veela asked, as she led Hermione out of the office. "Come on, it's time for afternoon tea."

"I will do it tomorrow. Today I already spent my reserves of magic beyond what I can recover with only a few hours of rest.” Fleur frowned, slightly concerned, but Hermione's gentle smile allayed her fears. An act that did not go unnoticed by Apolline, who just smiled, well aware of what was happening between the two women.

HGFHGFHGFHGF

When the four of them came down the stairs, Lira was already at the table with coffee, bread, sweets, and other types of savory foods. There was also milk and tea. The tea was only for Sybelle and Hermione, since the rest of the Delacour clan preferred coffee.

The interactions between the women were already good, but the pleasant atmosphere brought back by the working clock made it that much better. At the end of the afternoon snack break, they were swept up in tears of laughter while Lira excitedly related her tales of mischief during her time as a Wampus at Ilvermorny. Fleur leaned towards Hermione, while the mothers and grandmother still chuckled at the stories of the past, her hand resting on Hermione's thigh, squeezing and teasing Hermione for the whole time stories had been told. When her mouth brushed the Gryffindor's ear, Hermione knew what would happen.

"Come with me?" Hermione nodded, and discreetly the two left the room. They both missed the amused smiles of the three older women, who pretended that they had not seen the two young women flee upstairs. While ascending the stairs, Fleur smiled over her shoulder teasingly at Hermione, the veela's pupils were wide and Hermione swallowed her excitement. Apparently with the mutual attraction and the stimulation of the bonding process, meant that it didn't take long for the heat between the two witches to rise.

When Fleur reached the last step of the stairs and moved down the hall towards her bedroom, she felt Hermione pulling at her hips. Fleur's back slammed against the wall almost rudely, but anything she was going to say in complaint was forgotten by a strangled groan coming from her lips instead when Hermione kissed her neck.

Something had changed between the two, and it was no longer a matter of fighting temptation. They felt like addicts who just received a hit of something potent. Hermione's hands went down from Fleur's hips to her thighs, and in a quick movement the Gryffindor pulled one of Fleur's legs around her waist, the sundress - loose and light - easily allowed the movement. Without much thought, Hermione tucked her leg between Fleur's, applying pressure, and with a gentle rocking movement, she pressed against where the blonde needed her most.

Fleur's hands that had been against the wall moved quickly to Hermione’s shoulder, and the other went to her mouth, trying to hold back the groan that wanted to escape.

"The room is just over there," Fleur gasped against Hermione's ear, but the brunette just kept kissing Fleur's neck, climbing under her ear, biting and sucking on her earlobe. Fleur moaned again, and clasped her hands in place. Fleur felt more than heard the small whisper against her skin, and in a millisecond she felt light, for Hermione had pulled her other leg to curl up against her hip.

With Fleur coiled tightly against her body, Hermione strode forward, without actually disconnecting her mouth from Fleur's neck. The veela felt a light thump on her back when Hermione placed her against the door. One of the Gryffindor's hands was latched onto Fleur's ass, the other quickly moved to find the door handle. In an incredibly fluid movement, Hermione entered, and braced Fleur against the other side of the door.

"Colloportus," Hermione whispered, and the sound of the sliding lock rang out. Hermione's hands moved up under Fleur's dress, grasping the blonde's ass with only her panties as a barrier. She squeezed with both hands and Fleur groaned, running her own hands through curly brown strands. 

Their mouths came together with speed. Neither cared about the world outside, they just wanted to feel their skin connecting, their mouths linked and tongues sliding.

"Bed," Fleur sighed, when she felt Hermione press herself against her even more firmly, but the Gryffindor ignored her and started pulling the French woman’s dress up. Fleur pushed against the door as much as she could, without losing her point of contact, trying to find a way to help the brunette undress her.

Hermione snarled in frustration at not being able to easily discard the dress. She pulled the blonde firmly against her, and in two quick steps she moved her to the bed, with a softness far apart from someone who had pressed the veela against three hard surfaces. Hermione hovered over Fleur lying along the bed. Her brown eyes were dilated, and the vision of Fleur there made Hermione's mouth water.

"Turn." The order came out low and hoarse, sending chills up Fleur's spine. The heiress didn't blink, instead she quickly rolled over, getting up on her knees and resting her hands against the mattress. Fleur tilted her head to the side and back, to watch what Hermione planned. The brunette's fingers wandered up the back of her thighs, and moved swiftly to the buttons that sealed the back of the dress.

"We do have magic, you know?" Fleur teased, but she shivered when she felt Hermione’s fingers run down her back, silencing her. Fingers that slowly guided her loose hair to the side, giving the brunette more space for contact with the skin that was not covered by her dress.

"A gift that is so well-wrapped, should be unraveled with care." Fleur shuddered at the deep, husky tone of Hermione's voice, and she allowed herself to relax when the first button came undone. The Gryffindor knelt beside Fleur, the blonde moaning lightly when warm lips made contact with the skin on the back of her neck, moving down slowly as each button opened. She really did feel like a gift being unwrapped slowly.

When the last button was freed, Hermione returned to the back of Fleur's neck. With two gentle hands, she tugged at the blonde so that she was just kneeling, the dress falling easily by her arms and into a puddle on Fleur's knees.

The blonde sighed when she felt herself being pressed firmly against Hermione's front. The brunette frowned a little, unable to feel Fleur's body directly against her, so she pulled away slightly, pulling the shirt away from her body and throwing it off to the side. When their bodies came into contact, it was as if magical explosions occurred just below their skin. One of Hermione's hands was against Fleur's hip, holding them firmly against each other, the other hand swept from her hip upwards, past her belly, between her breasts and up to her chin, gently guiding Fleur to turn her face. Their mouths joined in a deep kiss, Fleur gasping against Hermione's, who moaned slightly as their tongues met. 

Fleur turned fully and wrapped her arms around Hermione's neck, deepening the kiss further.

"Touch me," The veela whispered against the Gryffindor's lips. Hermione's hands moved to Fleur's back, playing with the clasp of her bra. Hermione pulled away slightly and looked at the woman in front of her. Fleur was wearing a beautiful lace set in a light pink tone. It was almost a sacrilege to lose that image.

"You are so wonderfully beautiful. Are you sure?" With or without desire exploding between them, Hermione would always ask if Fleur was sure. The blonde smiled at the sweet gesture and leaned over, lightly kissing Hermione's lips.

"Oui, ma lionne, j'en suis sûr. Je veux that you did me le tien." [ yes, my lioness, i'm sure. I want you to make me yours. ] The blonde ran her hands over her body, teasing her breasts with one hand and the other went down to her panties, playing with the wet spot, and she smiled contentedly to see the blush spread on Hermione's face until her ears turned red. Fleur put her hands on Hermione's shoulders, slowly scraping down her torso until she met the waistband of the muggle jeans that the younger witch wore. With measured movements, Fleur unbuttoned and opened the zipper. "It looks like I'm in the lead here, doesn't it?" The teasing tone seemed to push Hermione's buttons. She kissed the blonde, her hands undoing Fleur’s bra clasp and guiding the woman onto her back.

"And now it looks like the tables have turned, doesn't it?" Hermione's mouth dropped quickly to Fleur's thighs, slowly teasing. Fleur just groaned and dropped her head against the pillow, spreading her legs to allow more space for Hermione. The Gryffindor's hands went up to the loosened bra, pulling it away from Fleur's body. Her hands spread over her soft breasts, kneading and teasing slowly. It seemed now that Hermione had lost all her haste, and it was gradually driving Fleur crazy.

Her mouth went up slowly to her panties, Hermione deliberately passing her mouth over the fabric, which made Fleur's hips rise slightly to try to maintain contact. Hermione's teeth bit into the soft lace, pulling it down slightly in a low taunt. Fleur's hands, which were clinging to the blankets, went quickly to her own underwear, pulling the fabric down rapidly. When the pink panties fell off the bed, Fleur spread her legs and moaned deeply as she was open, ready, and on display for her soul mate.

Hermione's mouth moved directly to her soft, pink nipples. She alternated between the two attentively, though more than once she paused to kiss Fleur deeply.

The blonde's hands did everything they could to facilitate the removal of Hermione's clothes. It didn't take long for the two of them to be naked, with fused skin, mouths, fingers, hands and souls connecting.

When Hermione's mouth started a provocative descent down Fleur's skin, the blonde just nodded excitedly, and the first contact of Hermione's tongue against her was like fireworks. From there everything intensified speedily, Hermione teased her with pleasure, pulling each moan, sigh and grunt. When Fleur came screaming Hermione's name, it was a sight to behold, the blonde arched perfectly on the bed, her mouth parted in a moan, her brows furrowed and her hands gripping the sheets. It was a lengthy orgasm and it made the blonde fall limp against the bed.

Hermione kissed her passionately; in a slow, complete kiss that made Fleur's fire light with intensity. Moments later, it was Fleur's turn to explore every part of Hermione's body and unlike the brunette, Fleur was not one for teasing, she wanted to give pure and deep pleasure to the woman below her.

The afternoon passed, as well as the night. The lovers had lost themselves, getting to know each other's bodies, talking between whispers and orgasms, they felt their magical bond strengthen, and as never before, they felt complete and happy.

HGFHGFHGFHGF

The five veela Delacours approached Hermione who stood waiting by the big clock. With a flick of her wand, Hermione broke her current dome of protection, and in long, systematic movements she began to draw large protective runes in the air. It was a simple ritual, but it required much more magical energy than Hermione typically possessed. So Sybelle rested her right hand against Hermione's nape, Lira and Apolline each touched the shoulders of the young brunette, and Gabby had her hand placed below her mother Lira’s hand on the brunette’s left shoulder. Fleur was simply holding hands with her soulmate. All channeled magical energy to the young Gryffindor.

"Tha mi a 'guidhe cumhachd dha na ban-diathan, Frigga, Hel, Skadi, Freya, Eir, Fulla agus Iduna, le cead bho in ban-diathan bidh mi a' dìon agus a 'beannachadh an rud seo. Cha tig olc agus cha tèid and seachad. Mar sin beannaichidh na ban-diathan. " ["I invoke the power of the Goddesses, Frigga, Hel, Skadi, Freya, Eir, Fulla and Iduna, with the permission of the Goddesses I protect and bless this item. Evil will not come and it will not pass. Thus the Goddesses bless. "] Hermione hummed the magic mantra softly in Gaelic. Slowly the runes took on red shapes in the sky and floated towards the clock, and thus the artifact absorbed the magic, and with each rune the protection grew stronger and stronger.

Hermione echoed the mantra again and when the last rune drifted to the clock, the smell of pure magic took over. The clock glowed, and Hermione knew it had worked.

"It is finished," She declared softly. "Can I have a moment just to enjoy this?" The brunette inquired quietly, and the Delacour women nodded, slowly moving away. The last to walk away was Fleur, though the veela kissed Hermione's forehead and cheek before leaving.

"I will be inside, ma lionne." Hermione nodded, and the veela turned back to return to the house.

The brunette closed her eyes and took a deep breath, as she basked in the intense feeling of pleasure for a job well done. Above all, Hermione was an academic, and to see her efforts as a magical artist unfold in front of her as the perfect repair job for a century-old artifact, well, that was absolutely wonderful for the Gryffindor. Perhaps because of her closed eyes, the relaxed posture, Hermione did not witness the clock’s protection wavering, nor did she hear the whispered spell. She abruptly felt her body freeze, and immediately after, experienced a severe blast of pain, as if thousands of knives cut through her body simultaneously. She fell forward with the impact of the spell, and at that moment, Hermione Granger thought that death had finally come for her.

Chapter Text

Fleur felt the sudden pull of her connection with Hermione, and in a flare of panic, she strode back out of the mansion. The other Veela were in the living room, sitting on the sofa and drinking small cups of coffee. The four noticed Fleur leave in rapid steps, and Apolline was the first to react. With a protective maternal instinct, she stood up and followed Fleur. 

When Fleur came out the door, she walked for a few meters when she spotted a magically obscured figure standing a step away from a fallen Hermione, with a wand pointed down at the woman. She descended into a blind panic, registering the fact that her soulmate was lying a few feet beyond the newly created magical barrier. Some part of her had thought that the brunette would have been just fine, since the wards would’ve protected Hermione, especially considering that the Gryffindor herself was alarmed by a likely internal betrayal. She did not expect the young woman to be outside the protections that she herself created.

Hermione was on the ground, her blood flowing steadily upward, lifted by magic. The blood was a bright red, but emanated an unnatural glow, and the figure gestured with their wand so the liquid was compressed into a sphere. Fleur drew her own wand and released a silent Stupefy , but the hooded figure just flicked the spell away and started to retreat. Fleur, realizing that her mother was right behind her, began to run after the figure.

"Maman!" Apolline shouted from the outside door after seeing what was happening, the Veela's desperation so intense that Sybelle rushed much more ably than one would expect from a lady of her age, and ran to her daughter.

Meanwhile, the figure magically flung a large stone at Fleur, who barely had time to dodge. When she scrambled back onto her feet, the figure had disappeared into the forest. Fleur wrestled with the urge to hunt down the perpetrator immediately and eviscerate them, but looked back over her shoulder to see that Sybelle, Lira and Apolline were all worriedly hovering over her injured soulmate. Her and Gabby's eyes met, and the younger Veela frantically waved Fleur over.

"Fleur, I need to apparate Hermione to Jeanne D'Arc Hospital. Stay with your mother," Apolline ordered. She pulled the brunette’s body towards her, and in a snap she was gone. Fleur looked back helplessly at Lira, who was impressively calm. The older woman held out her hand and Fleur grabbed it, and Gabby did the same with Sybelle's hand. In a millisecond they too were in front of the French magical hospital.

The Sainte Jeanne D'Arc Hospital was a magical institution as respected as St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies, and it was a robust and square building, with ancient Gothic architecture. The Veela came through the main door and immediately looked for signs of Apolline or Hermione.

"We are looking for Hermione Granger," Sybelle announced to the person at the reception desk.

"Madame Delacour, I cannot just disclose medical information about a patient," The woman began politely, but paled at the look she received from all the Veela present.  

"I want information about my mate," Fleur demanded with a glare, her blue eyes darkened with anger. The woman opened her mouth, but no sound came out. A moment later, a door next to the reception area opened, and Apolline in blood-soaked clothes and unkempt hair emerged with shaky steps. Lira hurried over and grabbed her wife's arms.

"Hermione she..." Lira started, and gasped in horror.

"The medi-wizards are with her now. It's bad; she lost a lot of blood, a few moments more and she wouldn't have survived," Apolline revealed brokenly, and Fleur, though frozen, felt Gabby tugging at her, and finally noticed that she was in tears.

The women collapsed into chairs in the waiting room, sitting restlessly for hours and hours, until the sun had risen again. It was dawn when a worn-out healer finally approached.

"Hermione Granger's companions?" He inquired, and moved closer the moment the Delacour family stood.

"How is she, doctor?" Sybelle asked quickly, being the most composed of the group.

"Madame Delacour, Mademoiselle Granger's wounds were extensive and embedded with curses. However, with a lot of effort, we managed to break the curses and finally close the cuts. She needed a muggle-technique blood transplant so we could handle the injuries; in fact she needed almost six liters of blood in total, as she was constantly losing blood. She was also petrified, which we have not yet treated."

"What? Why?" Gabby exclaimed, being the hot-head she was, and interrupted the doctor.

"Mademoiselle Delacour, Mademoiselle Granger is in terrible pain. The muscle spasms resulting from the curses would open the lesions again, so believe me, being petrified at this very moment is a blessing. She has been given potions for pain and for replenishing blood. However…” The medi-wizard cleared his throat and continued. "She needs to stay up at night. In a few hours, the threat of muscle spasms will pass and then we will administer the Mandrake potion. Until nighttime, she must remain awake, but she will be able to finish her recovery at home. She may have a companion." Fleur took a step forward. "All right, wait a few more minutes. If you could bring her clothes, that would be helpful." Gabby and Fleur looked at each other, and the youngest nodded.

"I'll be back as soon as possible," Gabby said, and dashed out the hospital doors. Report delivered, the doctor started to walk away and gave some instructions to the woman at reception.

"Fleur, we will start an investigation. I will alert people we can trust, and take an unbreakable vow Whoever did this, on our land and against one of our own, whoever they are, will pay dearly," Sybelle promised, with a spiteful and vindictive tone in her voice. Fleur had never seen her grandmother like this, much less her mothers, as austere as they were. Not even during the war had her grandmother had sounded like that. With a short wave from Fleur, Sybelle departed. Apolline and Lira stayed until Gabby returned with a backpack in her hands.

"Here, I'm going to London right away. I need to warn Harry, Ginny, Luna and Minerva. Since Morgan lives in Paris, and has Hermione on one of her own clocks, she probably already knows that something has gone wrong. But I need to contact her just the same. I will go to her house and then I will proceed to London. Call me if there is any, I repeat any, change in the situation." Fleur nodded, and Gabby pulled her into a tight hug. "She'll be fine."

Lira and Apolline followed soon after, when Sybelle's patronus hawk appeared, demanding the presence of the two women for the investigation.

"All hands on the deck, my beloved Fleur," Lira said gently, and pulled her older daughter into a hug. "Hermione is resilient, and she'll recover very quickly. Just stay with her, okay?" Fleur nodded, tears in her eyes.

"Don't cry anymore, Fleur. Hermione needs you strong. Delacours cry after the danger passes, not before or during. Remain steadfast and transfer your magic to her magical core, this will speed up the healing process. Veela magic works with emotions, the stronger the emotion, the stronger the magic. Remember that," Apolline told her, and also hugged her daughter. "Love her and she will know that you are there." The older veela said softly, and kissed Fleur's forehead. With a wave of goodbye, the two mothers also left the hospital.

HGFDHGFDHGFDHGFD

It took some time for the healers to finally call Fleur. She came in with the small backpack Gabby had packed in her hands. The veela stifled her nervousness, and took a firm step forward, as she followed the nurse who guided her in silence.

The prevalence of the hospital antiseptic was stinging Fleur's nose, and she knew that even magic hospitals used cleaning techniques learned from muggles. And that was not a bad thing, with the lack of magic, muggles have adapted to a lot, especially in dealing with germs. And magical medicine, unlike other areas, did not see this as a problem, and they learned and evolved along with muggle medicine. In fact, many medi-wizards practicing today were both magical and muggle doctors.

The nurse stopped in front of one of the rooms in the hospital ward. She reached out to open the door, and when Fleur stepped forward she suddenly put a hand on Fleur's shoulder.

"Just be aware mademoiselle, she is not in good shape, but it is very possible that she is semi-alert or conscious at some level. Try to measure your reactions to her physical condition, as we don’t want to cause psychological damage as well, and she is already frightened by the situation." Fleur pursed her lips and nodded irritably. She was ready to see “the situation.” Or so she thought. 

No, Fleur was not prepared to see her mate like this. Hermione was lying on her side, with pillows supporting her body to keep her in position. Her back was exposed in the hospital gown, and was visibly bandaged, though the dressings had darkened with clotted blood. She swallowed, and moved to the brunette’s other side. Hermione's eyes were closed, but her expression was furrowed and scared. Fleur touched Hermione's hand lightly, suppressing her tears, and concentrated to keep her voice steady and calm.

"Hello, ma lionne, I am very happy to see you again. I missed you. I know you are not able to answer yet, but soon you will be able to open your eyes, and I promise that the first person you will see will be me. We are in a hospital, for there was an accident, but everything will be fine." Fleur felt thick tears streaming down her face. She was terrified, and at that moment the nurse's warning made the most sense, and Fleur was grateful for the caveat. 

The hours passed excruciatingly slow. Nurses came and turned Hermione to her other side, administered medications, and at one point the medi-wizard on duty made some notes and assessments, then Hermione received yet another blood transfusion bag. It was another early morning when the nurse woke Fleur up.

"Mademoiselle, we are going to start administering the mandrake potion. She can come out of petrification at any time, so try to watch for any signs." Fleur nodded. She had talked for hours and hours with Hermione, while slowly infusing her magic through the hand she had been holding since she entered the room. “That is your breakfast." She pointed to a small bag with a coffee and a wrapped item. She gratefully opened it, and in the package was some sliced fruit and a small croissant.

Fleur was nervous about treating the petrification, as that would probably mean that Hermione would feel the pain from her injuries. Although the last change of bandages showed that they were all tightly closed, it was possible the brunette would be scarred and that made Fleur even more sad. The French woman felt Hermione's magic reach out to hers with a light caress, and the blonde smiled when she saw that slowly the brunette's body was relaxing and though even in pain, Hermione looked better.

It was still hours before her brown eyes opened, and the first thing Hermione saw was Fleur's head resting next to her hand, the same hand that the blonde had been holding since the beginning of her vigil. She remembered the pain and the despair that the veela broadcast, but she didn't know much more. The pain was dulled, dampened by spells and potions, but it was still there. But what suppressed the pain the most was Fleur's magic flowing constantly through her. It made her smile. Hermione concentrated and tried to speak, but at first nothing came out.

"Fleur..." The tone was low, and the brunette feared she wasn’t heard, but it was a foolish fear. Hearing her name, even asleep, Fleur raised her head quickly.

"Oh Hermione!" The blonde leaned in with speed, but hesitated to touch the Gryffindor. But Hermione wouldn't let her, she closed the distance slowly, still in pain, and kissed Fleur lightly on the lips. It was a gentle, chaste kiss that held so much meaning.

"Tell me what happened?" She asked, and Fleur sighed deeply, sitting down again and grabbing the woman's hand. She began to narrate the events of the previous night and explained the consequences of it to Hermione and the clan.

"Does this mean that I incited an internal investigation into the clan that could jeopardize your grandmother's and mother's re-election?"

"No, that means that someone, a Veela, attacked you in Veela lands and that is considered a very serious crime." The blonde replied seriously. "It should never have happened. Never. It is an inexcusable crime to attack a fellow Veela like that."

"Fellow Veela ?"

"You are my mate….To be." Fleur said. "In the eyes of the clan, you are now as much a Veela as any of us." Fleur kissed Hermine's forehead when she saw that the brunette was struggling to stay awake. "Sleep now, mon amour. I will wake you up if something spectacular happens." Hermione rolled her eyes and then allowed herself to relax.

HGFDHGFDHGFDHGFD

Hermione woke up to hushed voices speaking around her. She identified the voices of Harry, Ginny and Fleur. With an effort, the brunette opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was the grayish green eyes in front of her. The woman was fiery-haired, with a single white streak in the center-right line of her head. She was wearing a black velvet dress and when a red eyebrow arched in question, Hermione felt the woman's magic touching hers curiously.

"Morgan, stop it," Hermione's sleepy voice made everyone stop their conversation, and the redhead smiled slightly.

"I thought you were going to die on French soil, Hermione," The woman stated, her accent was soft, and Morgan spoke slowly with certainty of her words.

"I will not die so easily, not in French lands, Mistress," Hermione replied, rolled her eyes, and felt a slight twinge in her head. Morgan walked over and placed her hand on Hermione's head. Healing energy immediately migrated from Morgan to Hermione, though the older woman was frowning in concern.

"Let me see," Morgan bid lightly, but Hermione understood her meaning. The Gryffindor opened her magic channels, allowing Morgan's magic to travel throughout her body to her magical core. "Despite the efforts of your Veela, there is still a small break here, so I will close it." While feeling Fleur's magic was like a river flowing slowly throughout her body, Morgan's magic was like a sea of lava that didn’t burn. Though it was hot almost to the point of unbearable, it also forced Hermione's aching body to relax. It was like a deep massage, forcing her limbs to loosen up. When Morgan withdrew her magic, the brunette felt much better than when she woke up. "Now only the physical part of your body is left to finish your recovery." Morgan leaned down and kissed Hermione's cheek lightly. "I will retire now, my daughter. If you need me, your magic will always know how to find me." Hermione nodded and with a twist of her heels, Morgan left Hermione's room.

"She's intense, isn't she?" Harry spoke, looking at where the older woman vanished.

Harry, Ginny and Luna did not stay long, though they talked to Hermione for several minutes, expressing affection and concern for the brunette. But in a short time the nurse dismissed them. Fleur had promised that as soon as she could, Hermione would travel back to London to catch up with her closest friends. With a light hug and several kisses on the head, the three friends left, leaving Fleur and Hermione alone.

A few hours later, Hermione was released to finish her recovery at the Delacour mansion. Since there was a medi-witch available in the village, the doctors at the hospital accepted the transfer without much resistance. Fleur used a portkey which would make the transition from one place to another lighter. Even so, when they returned, Hermione felt nauseated and threw up ungracefully in the middle of the mansion's living room.

Lira, who was in the kitchen, heard the commotion of the witches’ arrival and approached in slow steps, and with a towel she helped Hermione to clean herself off.

"Sorry about the rug," The brunette said hoarsely, gasping with the pain the retching caused. 

"Nothing that magic can't solve. I raised two Veela girls in this house and she survived." Fleur, who heard her mother's exchange with Hermione, just waved her wand and vanished the vomit from the carpet.

"Come on ma lionne, we're going to give you a bath and put you to bed. You need to eat something and drink your potions." Fleur ordered, and put an arm around Hermione's waist and guided her in slow steps up the stairs.

Fleur washed Hermione's hair carefully, for even with cleansing spells, nothing was better for the Gryffindor’s hair than muggle care. Hermione was lying in the bathtub comfortably while Fleur ran her fingers over her scalp.

The two talked quietly, about everything and nothing during the bath. Fleur slowly rubbed a foamy, scented sponge over Hermione's skin. It was almost like a worship ritual. They told each other stories. Like when Fleur climbed up a tree when she was a little girl to escape from a bath, and ended up hitting her mouth against a branch. A very angry Apolline had to fix the tooth that had broken. Or when Hermione got lost in a muggle zoo, and sat under a table for two hours reading, while her parents (and the police) frantically looked for the girl in desperation. They told each other about their first pet, and for Hermione it was a small Brazilian Terrier, a faithful and friendly animal which Hermione named Spotted, because he was white and with brown spots. For Fleur, her first pet was a small goldfish, which she simply named Poisson, for lack of imagination.

The bath was long, and Hermione felt relaxed when the blonde helped her out of the water and placed a robe on Hermione's shoulders. With the greatest care, the Veela then helped her to dress. The outfit itself was not very dramatic or special. Just a t-shirt, panties and shorts. Fleur left the Gryffindor wrapped in warm blankets while she took a quick shower. Before long, the blonde finished, got dressed, kissed Hermione lightly on the lips and went downstairs to get some things for the young woman to eat. The house was quiet, and Galan had left a fresh bowl of food on the kitchen table. Fleur grabbed a tray and the set of potions that Hermione would need to take and went back upstairs. Galan had prepared some toast, fruit and tea for Hermione. When the brunette saw all that, and especially with Fleur's long standing loving and careful attention, she felt an intense desire to cry.

"Thank you for taking care of me." Fleur smiled and kissed Hermione's forehead. Hermione still couldn't quite express how much it meant to her, and even the attempt to speak a few sweet words seemed so difficult. She wanted to demonstrate how much she loved this woman, but in her overactive mind, she considered that it was still early. But she knew that she never loved or will love anyone as she loves Fleur.

"I love you." The statement was short, firm, and so sure of every word that Hermione felt her eyes widen and her heart race. Fleur had spoken in English, so that the phrase was in no way confused with any other. She loved Hermione with all her heart and without a doubt. They looked at each other for a few moments, and Fleur did not hesitate for a second longer, leaning in and placing a soft kiss on Hermione’s lips. The brunette’s expression relaxed, and she smiled affectionately. 

"I love you too," she responded tenderly. 

Chapter Text

When Hermione woke up the next day, she felt much better, less sore and more energetic to start the day. She took a quick shower just to feel a little more relaxed, and then had spotted a note from Fleur on the dresser and smiled as she started reading.

Ma chère lionne

I hope you are rested. I found myself with this irresistible desire to watch you sleep, and you were peaceful and so beautiful...I wish I could have woken you with kisses and shown you all my love for you, but my day started early, and though I am with a heavy heart, I was needed elsewhere.

I left your pain and healing potions on the kitchen table, please take them as soon as you can. I will go to Paris with my grand-mère, I must return as soon as possible since there are a few political issues with the ministry of magic. I'm rambling... Well, I hope you have a good day and I miss you already.

Always yours,

Fleur.

The Gryffindor went down the stairs, and did not hear any movement in the house at the time, which probably meant that Apolline and Lira were out doing something. She proceeded to the kitchen and was greeted by Galan, who burst into tears when he saw Hermione, saying that he panicked when his watch started to show that the young woman was in danger and imminent death. 

Galan hugged Hermione tightly, and made her promise to be more careful. After many minutes of soothing the elf, he and Hermione settled into a comfortable conversation. The young woman took her potions, and after pulling a book from her suitcase, she moved to the front of the mansion. She had never sat out on the front porch of the house, and more than ever she wanted to watch the peaceful activity of the village. Even with the perfect, tranquil day, Hermione felt reasonably alert. She always trusted her instincts, and when she had a glimpse of the feeling of black magic, she looked around with her wand in hand, which seemed to ward off the sensation.

The brunette was enjoying the morning warmth, and started reading. It was only after several moments when she realized that someone was standing in front of her. She looked up calmly, and smiled slightly at the Veela in front of her. She was a young woman who should have been around 19 or 20 years old. Just like all Veela, the girl was beautiful, and Hermione felt herself blushing when the young woman approached a step and delicately held out a bouquet of wildflowers to Hermione. The architect took the bouquet feeling incredibly shy with the sudden attention.

"Hello mademoiselle Granger, we haven't met yet, and so I was hoping for a chance to introduce myself. My name is Beatrice Martin, and I know I may be a little young, but I wanted to ask if you would possibly accept my invitation to dinner?" The young woman spoke confidently, but when she asked Hermione her question, her tone grew slightly unsure.

"Oh, Beatrice, I am flattered, but you really are quite a bit younger than me, and it wouldn’t be appropriate," Hermione said, letting her down gently.

"I thought I should try. My Veela feels your magic calling for her," The young woman explained timidly.

"I really am flattered by your boldness in inviting me to dinner, and if our circumstances were a bit different, I would probably have accepted." The young woman smiled sadly at the words.

"But not in this universe."

"No, in this universe, my heart already belongs to someone." The young blonde gave a wan smile, and nodded.

"I understand. Thank you for speaking to me just the same." The young woman stepped back sadly, and walked away. Hermione placed the flowers next to her, now feeling a little awkward with the attention she received. Eventually she resumed reading. 

After about half an hour, again Hermione found herself faced with a beautiful woman. She suddenly remembered Gabby telling her that she was a potentially good match for more than one veela because of her magic. Her newest admirer, a black-haired woman, smiled sweetly and Hermione focused on being as gentle as possible with the woman's intentions.

"I made these for you," She stated calmly, pulling out a box of chocolates. Immediately, Hermione felt herself salivating at the thought of the candies presented to her, but she restrained herself when she remembered that this woman was wooing her. 

"Oh, thanks very much," Hermione responded cautiously. "I'm flattered..." Hermione started, and the woman’s smile widened. 

"Mirela, that's my name." She spoke fearlessly, unlike the first veela of the day, this one had complete confidence in her ability to seduce. Also, she was older, and that meant experience. "Would you please honor me with your company this evening for dinner?" The woman asked, bowing chivalrously.

"Thank you Mirela, but I will have to kindly refuse," Hermione replied evenly. She was just an academic, she barely knew how to deal with all these beautiful women showing interest in her! Frankly, she didn't understand how she had gotten so lucky that Fleur Delacour had feelings for her. The woman nodded, and lowered her head in dismay. Hermione took the moment to hand back the gift of chocolates. 

"Please. Even though I don't have a chance in winning your heart, I made these with care, and I would like you to enjoy them," She said, smiling sadly and taking two steps away.

"If I may ask, why me?" Hermione inquired hesitantly. Mirela looked back at the brunette for a long moment and smiled once more.

"The first moment I saw you, fixing our clock, it was like a wave of magic engulfed my body, and both myself and my veela were automatically attracted," She revealed.

"But I am not your soul mate." The statement made Mirela's eyes widen slightly, and then grin crookedly. 

"They always said that you are the smartest witch of your generation." The brunette laughed lightly and shook her head. "Veela rarely have the chance to find their soulmate, so we embrace the chance to find someone who makes us feel like you did; the magnetic attraction of magic and a feeling of comfort." Mirela explained, and then took another step away from Hermione.

"I understand, thank you for answering my question."

"If you ever change your mind, just look out for me." The almost arrogant confidence resurfaced for a brief flash, and then the woman turned away and left.

Hermione's morning continued with the same strange pattern, and she eventually realized she had on a small table next to her two flower bouquets, a box of chocolate (half eaten, since she couldn't resist), a teddy bear and two books, one of poetry and one about French mythology. She appreciated the gifts, even though they made her feel rather awkward, but none of the Veela who approached her that day took their offerings back. Hermione learned that Veela were extremely chivalrous, and would accept rejection gracefully. 

"Looks like someone is popular," A certain blonde Veela's voice caught Hermione's attention, and when the architect looked up, she saw Gabby and Luna, holding hands. Luna was peering at all her gifts curiously.

"And it looks like someone else finally decided to come out," Hermione replied playfully, and let out a low whistle. When she saw that the two blondes blushed profusely, she said "it's about time."

"Aw, shut up," Gabby uttered with red cheeks. Luna laughed and pecked the Veela's jaw, which made Gabby blush even more.

"Does Fleur know how sought-after you’ve been today?" Luna asked. She looked inquisitively at everything on the table and smiled, reaching out and grabbing a chocolate. Luna brought the candy to her lips and moaned lightly. 

"Oh, this is good."

"Mirela made them." Gabby laughed out loud when she heard that.

"Oh, Hermione, Mirela only makes sweets to sell them," She protested, but when Hermione looked at her with a raised eyebrow, the young Veela felt her mouth opening in surprise.

"Close your mouth, my love, otherwise Nargles will enter." Luna shut her girlfriend's half-open mouth with a finger under her chin and laughed when Gabby pouted. Luna leaned over and lightly pinched the projected lip. Hermione saw that Gabby blushed even more, to the point where her ears and nape were quite pink.

"Mirela never makes candy for anyone. She must have considered you a good match." Gabby finally explained, clearing her throat.

"I'm going to need Fleur to explain what this is all about," Hermione grunted, and ate another chocolate. "But these are so good." Luna nodded, taking one more. Gabby relented and took one for herself. They continued talking for a while until the sound of apparition caught their attention. Fifteen meters from the entrance to the Delacour manor, Sybelle and Fleur had appeared.

Promptly, along with the appearance of her mate, Hermione also spotted a large black owl approaching in fast flight. She knew that owl, and Fleur was surprised to see that Hermione stood up suddenly and stretched out her arm, which served as a perch for the bird.

"Damkina, it's a pleasure to see you again," Hermione greeted, and the owl blinked its big orange eyes slowly. It didn’t hoot or make any sudden movements. If anyone had looked closely, they would see that even its claws were cautiously holding onto Hermione's arm, carefully not to hurt. The brunette stroked the owl's neck and chest, and then removed the parchment securely tied to the large bird's foot. Damkina then took to the air again, and after two revolutions, she placed herself on the back of Hermione's chair.

"Hey, how are you?" Fleur came over and kissed Hermione's cheek. She passed her eyes between her sister and Luna and smiled.

"We're fine, but Hermione is definitely popular ." Gabby said teasingly, and Fleur's eyes flew over the nearby table, inspecting everything the young woman had received.

"I can see that," The older heiress grumbled between breaths. Hermione just rolled her eyes and leaned over, lightly kissing Fleur's lips.

"I didn't encourage anyone," Hermione swore, and frowned a little worriedly.

"Veela rarely need encouragement to show interest, Hermione." Sybelle said, approaching the group. "Fleur knows that it is an honor to be courted by so many of us, and even though she feels jealous, she knows that you are true soulmates and she will control her jealousy." The scolding came calmly and Fleur felt herself blush. 

"And you know very well what a jealous veela can do, Gabrielle." This time the scolding came firmly. "I will not allow you to antagonize Fleur about this," Gabby felt herself blushing strongly and nodded quickly. 

"I apologize," The youngest said contritely, and all the others nodded. Hermione then turned her attention to the letter in her hands. She opened the letter and quickly read the contents. She reread it, and then sighed heavily.

"Damkina, you can go home. I'll take care of it myself," Hermione spoke calmly, and the owl hooted and then took flight. "So, would you like to see Babylon’s Magical Library?" Hermione invited, and all the women present released a surprised breath.

"What do you mean, Hermione?" Sybelle asked, but her furrowed brows indicated not only curiosity but shock.

"Leila invited me and whoever else I want to take for a visit, at any time today. I think that since you showed me a completely new culture, I can show you something unique in return," Hermione explained while looking at the floor, slightly embarrassed by her awkwardness with the words.

"It would be an honor. Does the invitation extend to my daughter and wife?" Sybelle had easily decided for everyone there, and Hermione smiled widely.

"Of course!"

HGFDHGFDHGFD

A few hours later, the seven women appeared in front of the large iron gates of the library. The walls were composed of dark sand-colored materials, and the large gate was rust-red. A man dressed in a brown tunic approached, with an uncertain and curious look about him, but when his eyes met Hermione's, he smiled widely.

"Mistress Granger! It's a pleasure to see you again. The walls of the library have missed you!" The man muttered a few words in Hebrew, and the gates opened. "You are always welcome here in your home," He declared, opening his arms. "And of course your companions; Lady and Madame Delacour." The man spoke quickly and Hermione just smiled courteously.

" As-salaamu Alaykum ." She greeted politely, and he responded in turn.

The other women looked at everything curiously. As they passed through the large iron gate, they came across a beautiful sand-colored structure. The walls were high, and resembled an old fortress from the times of the Crusades, but totally immaculate.

The floors were made of white stone, shiny and glossy. The main door to access the library was massive and dark brown, made of wood with bronze hinges. The man who accompanied them held out a wand-staff and whispered a few words. The huge doors opened, and even a person uninterested in books would exhale in surprise. From the walls to the ceiling, meters and meters high, the great library lived up to its name. Few people were seen walking by, and Hermione guided the group with a familiarity through the place that surprised even Sybelle. The silence in the group could be cut with a knife, it was so thick, that even Luna, in her typically flamboyant manner, was visibly focused on all the visual information they were receiving.

They walked through shelves full of old books, documents and papyri. They saw several well-dressed house elves in dark purple tunics and white gloves, as they carefully cleaned every small space where they saw dust that did not exist. The shelves ended at a long corridor, with white walls and a long dark red rug that stretched from beginning to end. There were paintings, and some greeted Hermione by name.

"I apologize for the long silence, but it is a library," Hermione explained apologetically. "This is the main library, where all the files that are available to be examined remain. There are depositories and restoration rooms all over the land. After the last burning, I think the curator learned to never again place invaluable treasures in one single room." Hermione moved to a reddish wooden door, reaching for it slowly, and it gradually turned blue, which displayed her name in gold letters.

Upon entering the room, they came upon a white office with tones of purple. There was a desk in the center of the room, and a three-seater sofa with a coffee table and three armchairs.

"Please, sit down. Then I can answer any questions." They all settled in and Hermione duplicated a chair for herself. She touched the teapot on the coffee table lightly with her wand, and it automatically began to dispense jasmine scented steam. "So...questions?" She said shyly, while filling the cups.

"How did this all happen?" Lira, who was the most curious, launched the first.

"What would that ‘all’ be? The library, or me here?" The question was answered with a question and Lira laughed briefly.

"Well, you did leave that rather broad, mon amour," Apolline remarked with a chuckle.

"The library," Lira amended, amused by her own impatience.

"The Library exists indefinitely. Some say it exists before the Christian year begins, while others claim it was created much later. But regardless of the year, it covers unique, and especially rare editions of material on magic. There are many famous wizards and witches who participated as contributors of the library. There are currently 13 executive chairs, and those individuals are responsible for administrative decisions to include or refuse magical theories and publications to be archived here.” Hermione described everything smoothly, as if the information was something she was used to explaining more than once. And about how I came to be here, well, I had just finished my research on the nature of magic. My mistress sent my study to a close friend to carry out a secondary peer review, in order to file my request for a mastery in magical architecture to the Committee Of Magical Research.” Hermione spoke demurely, though she knew she owed the women in front of her information, she always felt exposed when describing any feat of hers that could be considered extraordinary. 

"CMR is responsible for the international legality of mastering, correct?" Apolline, always calm, asked with a smile on her face. "When I made my final application for Magical Law, they put me through some hellish bureaucracy just to release my international certification."

"They are difficult. Being certified internationally requires a lot of red tape, and an especially a long paper trail. However, with both our lines of work, I believe that a ministerial certification is just not enough for us. If that were the case, I could only act legally in the UK." 

"I handle all international Veela law, so yes, only French certification would do very little, since our clans are scattered everywhere. Well, that explains your international certification, but how did you get Dumbledore's chair?" Apolline posed her questions with calm curiosity, though the question itself made Hermione sigh.

"When I met Laila my paperwork for the certification was almost done. She is one of the greatest researchers on magical accidents in the whole world, and was fascinated by my work." Hermione shrugged. "I was suddenly asked to come to a meeting, after that it was just crazy, I was called to official meetings and my godmother, so to speak, was Leila. She endorsed me for a seat that had been open since the end of the war, there was this massive vote among the executive members, and then I realized I was being formally invited to participate. So now here I am," She revealed, with her cheeks extremely red. An atmosphere of wonder came over the women in the room. “We are in the final steps of the procedure in archiving my book here, which formally completes the process of me accepting the chair.”

"I am very proud of you," Fleur broke the silence, and Hermione felt tears forming in her eyes. Fleur stretched out on her chair and grabbed Hermione's hand, giving it a comforting squeeze. Anything else that anyone of them would have liked to say was cut off with three knocks on the door. Hermione just waved her wand and the door opened, revealing Leila and Morgan. The two women had been talking quietly, and they smiled when they noticed the door had opened and shown everyone in the room peering at them.

"We have an audience today," Leila commented, laughing lightly. " As-salaamu Alaykum everyone."

"Wa ʿalaykumu salam" All responded, some with greater diction than others.

"Mistress Granger, it is with great pleasure that I come to formally certify your research achievements in the magical study archives of Babylon's Library. I ask that you please change into formal attire. Your guests will accompany me, and your mistress will accompany you until the end of the ceremony," Leila announced with a wide smile on her face, and winked at Hermione. “Come on everyone, I think we'll enjoy this celebration today.” Leila prodded the visitors with a charismatic smile, while Fleur just pecked Hermione’s lips lightly, which made Morgan roll her eyes. Hermione laughed at her Mistress’ attitude. Morgan had always been a mix of Professor Snape and Minerva, which never ceased to amuse Hermione.

Morgan summoned Hermione's official robes. They were a dark shade of purple and hung down to her feet, with long sleeves. It was to be expected that they would be rather warm, but the magical silk kept Hermione's body at a comfortable temperature.

The event went by like a blur. As it was just a formality, there was much more informal conversation. Hermione introduced everyone to the other executive members of the library, Leila being already known. The connection between the heiress and the witch did not go unnoticed, which made Leila extremely excited and happy to be part of the same clan as Hermione. The vast majority of the day was pleasant and light, and by nightfall, the women had returned to the Delacour mansion.

It was later that night when Fleur was finally able to relax with her head lying on Hermione's chest, as the Gryffindor ran her fingers slowly through her blonde hair. She was reading in a low voice her volume of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', a humorous novel that made Fleur laugh. The request that Hermione read a muggle book to Fleur caught the brunette off guard at first, but she more than happily agreed to the request.

She had finished the chapter, and she had read more than expected at Fleur's request. The veela stretched her neck, running her nose slowly along the brunette's jaw.

"So am I going to need to fight for you?" She joked, and Hermione snorted, laughing.

"As if there is any competition for you." The British woman chuckled, and kissed Fleur's forehead. "You are my soulmate. No one else could compete with the way you make me feel." Fleur propped herself up on her elbows and smiled widely, then asked, "And what would that be, Miss Granger?" Hermione rolled her eyes, and did not respond verbally. She brought their mouths together in a slow kiss, where their lips and tongues danced. When they parted, Fleur was out of breath, and sighed deeply, nestling back into Hermione.

"Hey, you never told me what you and your grandma went to do early," Hermione asked, after a long moment of silence.

"Oh, the clan elections are approaching, so we left to send messages through the ministry for all the clans to send to their voting representatives and candidates. Just the usual."

"How does it work? You said to me that your family always tries to have a candidate to run, but you never give much details."

"Well, every ten years there is an election, representatives of the clans vote for the appropriate candidates, and they become new leaders for the clans and for the coalition. So in three weeks we will hold the election itself, and veela will vote." Fleur was silent for a moment. "I'm running as my mother's second in command, and I would like for you to be there." Hermione smiled widely and kissed Fleur's lips with a peck.

"Of course I will be here. I know we haven't talked about me returning to London, but we have magic, and we can move from place to place quickly. I will go home to take on new projects, but of course I would like to see you as much as possible." Fleur slowly kissed Hermoine's neck.

"As if I could get away from you," In a quick move, the Gryffindor made the veela lie on her back, placing herself quickly between her legs. The kiss that followed was warm, leaving the two of them sighing against each other’s lips, and inducing a spike of desire.

Their lips melded again. Hermione's hands went up to Fleur's chin, bringing her hands to the nape of her neck, and she pulled the blonde with her, until the veela was sitting with Hermione kneeling between her legs.

"Off, now," The Gryffindor commanded, tugging at Fleur's shirt. The French woman only laughed lightly at the frustrated tone, but the giggle died when she saw the ferocious look in Hermione's eyes.

The brunette’s mouth came down hotly against the soft skin of Fleur's neck, her teeth biting without hesitation against the muscle of the veela's shoulder. The blonde squeaked, arched, and brought her hands to Hermione's back. Again, another growl made Fleur drop her hands and steady herself against the mattress. 

“Hermione…” Fleur sighed between breaths. The Gryffindor’s teeth left a deep mark against Fleur's skin, and then her lips flew to her neck. The bite that followed made Fleur moan loudly and throw her head back. Hermione’s hands went to the front of her bra, unclasping it without looking, and the brunette just pulled Fleur's arms and bra away from the blonde's body. The veela waited for Hermione's mouth to descend upon her skin, but she was surprised to feel the brunette's hand splayed against the middle of her chest instead. Fleur opened her eyes, fogged with pleasure, and she swallowed when she felt Hermione's gaze penetrate her. 

"Beg." The command came low and firm, and made Fleur moan and toss her head to the side, exposing her neck in an act of submission that she hoped was enough to satisfy the demand. Hermione’s hand went up from the woman’s chest to Fleur's chin, and gently Hermione urged the blonde to look at her. They stared at each other for a brief moment. Fleur blinked, and briefly Hermione's hair became a fiery red. She blinked again, and the brunette returned to normal. Hermione was still staring at the veela, and when she saw that she had lost the woman's attention, she brought her hand up to Fleur's throat. There was no pressure, but just the touch made the blonde throw her head back again and close her eyes. Hermoine's fingers tightened slightly and Fleur groaned.

"Please..." Fleur said, swallowing any attempt to control the situation. She just gave in to Hermione to dominate her as she liked. "What do you want?" The brunette asked provocatively, and the French woman moaned miserably, closing her eyes. "I want you to touch me. To make me yours, to mark me, to possess me as only you can do." The hand on Fleur's neck tightened slightly. "Please. Please..." The blonde hummed, begging repeatedly, and Hermione finally pushed her down, forcing the blonde to lie down. The Gryffindor took both of Fleur's hands and moved them to the headboard. The blonde obeyed the silent command, and grabbed where she could to steady herself.

Her fingers went over the hem of Fleur's sleeping shorts, pulling them along with her panties down the blonde's legs. Hermoine tossed the clothing aside and spread Fleur's legs with hands on each knee. The blonde should have felt exposed, but the only thing she could feel was excitement, and she willingly spread her legs so that Hermione had all the visual and physical access she would like.

"Good girl." The Gryffindor was filled with intensity. She just wanted to own the blonde, show her feelings, and especially take Fleur as hers. Hermione slowly took in the body deliciously revealed to her. When she looked at Fleur's face, her silvery blonde hair turned white, and Hermione noticed the thin, red thread that connected her to Fleur. The brunette's fingers tightened on Fleur's thighs, the blonde opened her eyes, and with a flash, her hair returned to normal color. Hermione smiled sweetly. "Please, Hermione, please I can't take any more. Touch me," Fleur pleaded quietly, widening her legs even further. "Behave," Hermione scolded lightly.

She leaned down slowly, until her mouth made contact with the veela's belly. Fleur arched slightly as she felt Hermione's body between her legs. The mouth slowly rose to a nipple, teeth made contact, and the blonde gasped and moaned. She felt Hermone travel across her skin, leaving hickey and bite marks. With each one, Fleur felt more and more wet. The mouth came down, played, and teased, and the veela clung to the wood on the headboard. She gasped, moaned, and pleaded without restraint for her soulmate to take and possess her. Hermione's mouth feasted on the inside of Fleur's thighs, marking her with bites and wiping away any moisture that dripped freely from her center to the skin of her legs.

When Hermione's mouth finally made full contact with her clit, Fleur let out a feral moan. Her hands went to the brunette’s head, nudging her harder against her center. Hermione grunted with the surprise pressure, but did not stop. She ran her arms under the blonde's legs and grabbed the hands that held her so tightly she couldn't move more than a few inches. Pulling the hands away, Hermoine held them against the mattress while opening her mouth and penetrating Fleur with her tongue.

It didn't take long, and the deep orgasm building engulfed Fleur when Hermione bit the blonde’s thigh hard enough to bleed. The veela moaned loudly and arched her body, and Hermione felt embraced by a wave of magic that came from her soul mate. The whole room shuddered slightly, and Fleur let out a shriek, falling limp against the bed.

"Tu m'as détruit, mon amour, je ne sens plus mes jambes," [You destroyed me my love, I can't feel my legs anymore.] Fleur grunted. She barely felt her own body, it was like she floated in a giant cloud. Hemione undressed quickly with magic and lay down, pulling Fleur against her, and the blonde sighed contentedly.

A long time later, Fleur began to nibble lightly on Hermione's skin, but when she moved to touch the willing brunette below her, screams coming from the grounds of the house abruptly caught the attention of the two women. Confused, the both mates began to dress in a rush. They went down the stairs cautiously, wands in hand. Sybelle was speaking in a low tone to a woman with reddish brown hair and green eyes. Hermione recognized her, and was puzzled by what was going on. Both Sybelle and Giselle spoke in a language unknown to Hermione, and even Fleur seemed to have a hard time following what was happening.

"What is happening?" Hermione asked a drowsy Apolline who was standing guard at the door, watching the two women arguing.

"Giselle came to my mother to talk about the elections. Normally for the leader of the coalition, only one person from each clan is nominated. My mother was nominated, and Giselle is... unhappy ," The older one explained briefly. "But it's forty after midnight," Hermione spoke, frowning. 

"That was the reason for the yelling," The veela replied.

"That's enough of your bullshit, Beaumont. It's late and I'm putting an end to this fiasco. If the clan doesn't want you as a candidate for leader, something that has already been stated often within these last 5 elections, it’s been decided and you’ll have to deal with it. Go home," Sybelle finished firmly.

"This is not over, Delacour." The proclamation came out furiously, and put all the women on the alert.

"Do your worst," Sybelle dared angrily. 

The woman stormed out of the manor, livid. Hermione, who was watching everything  unfold curiously, just leaned slightly towards Apolline. "Would she actually do anything?" The blonde shrugged and said she didn't know, but that Giselle had always been emotionally unstable, so she never considered her a good choice for a position in leadership. 

Eventually, all the women went back up the stairs. Lira, who was at the top of the stairs, had widened eyes as she looked at her older daughter.

"Someone has been having a good night, haven't they?" The phrase made everyone glance at Fleur, who felt herself heating up in shame.

"Should I keep Dittany potion available? That bite looks savage," Apolline joked, and winked at Hermione who was now the same shade of red as her soul mate.

"Ferocious!" Sybelle called with a light laugh, and headed towards her own bedroom.

Chapter Text

Hermione had returned to London three weeks ago, and by now she felt reasonably lonely. Even with Luna and Gabby always around the house, she felt lonely. With the preparations for the veela elections underway, Fleur had to travel while working. There was no political campaign, but candidates should have a solid policy plan for the clans' next ten years. Sybelle would have the biggest problem with developing a program for the coalition. Hermione already considered the plan of a single clan extremely complicated, so she definitely would not want to be in Sybelle's shoes.

The brunette sighed for the fifth time, and stared at the magical rocks in front of her. "Damn Algix Stone, it all started with you . And I am still struggling with you." Hermione glared at the stoned stones without her table. She had the complete set of stones, but she couldn't break the mystery of the damn things.

Hermione had several small projects during the past three weeks, and delivering copies of the books to the people she had promised took up a lot of her time. The Gryffindor loved her work, and so she loved research. She spent a few days with Morgan, discussing what she could do with research based on her research. She wanted to work with more dangerous spells and try to isolate their magical nature, but she knew how dangerous it was. Hermione's biggest attempt to deal with dark spells was when she assessed damage left by Fiendfyre, and there was so much dark nature in that piece of magic that it was difficult for Hermione to be able to isolate other natures beyond a subtle fire-like nature. ...Which she could’ve already guessed, because the spell was inherently an endless fire. There should be other natures present, but she still had no way of isolating them. She was also thinking of ways to modify her spell so that she could isolate spells on larger surfaces which would make visualization easier.

She looked to the side of her desk and saw her growing pile of mail. After the publication of her book, she started receiving dozens of requests for help, and her workload was increasing, so she was considering getting an apprentice. Lira's words about her being able to teach and keep the profession of magical architect alive resonated in her mind. In one of the letters, Madame Maxime invited her to speak to Beauxbatons senior students about the possibility of such a career path, and both she and Minerva offered space for Hermione to give some short courses on how magical objects worked. She was terribly excited about it.

A knock on the door happily cut off Hermione's attempt to focus.

The young woman sighed with relief when the door opened to revealing a beaming Fleur. Hermione didn't even blink, she moved closer and immediately pulled the blonde in for a deep kiss, almost forcing Fleur's lips to open and her tongue to blend with hers.

The blonde moaned loudly and grabbed at Hermione's hair, pulling the other witch even closer to her. The brunette's hands went over Fleur's hip to her ass, squeezing and pulling the denim-covered center against Hermione's leg. The Gryffindor did not hesitate to pull Fleur in one step further, and support her against the wall beside the door. Blindly, the veela slammed the door closed, and Hermione tugged at her to rub languidly against her thigh. Everything heated quickly, Fleur grinding against Hermione's willing leg, their mouths dancing deeply.

The two women's breathing quickened, and Fleur pulled her mouth away and groaned against Hermione’s neck, coming against the brunette’s leg.

“Merde! Fuck Hermione, that was a hell of a hello,” Fleur gasped, and smiled dazedly. It widened when Hermione left several small kisses across the exposed and slightly sweaty skin of the veela. “I love you,” Hermione said gently, against Fleur’s skin. 

“Je t'aime aussi, ma belle." 

They kissed for a long time, and then stared at each other with silly grins. "I'm not complaining, but I thought we were going to meet tomorrow before the elections," Hermione remarked, and took Fleur's hand to pull her over to the armchair that the Gryffindor kept in her office. She sat down, bringing the veela along onto her lap. 

The veela planted several kisses around Hermione's face and neck. "That was the initial idea, but my mother said that I was very cranky and should come and stay with you tonight. She was probably hinting at us having sex," Fleur explained, laughing along with Hermione. "We don't need much encouragement, my Fleur." The Gryffindor's voice dropped a few octaves, and the blonde moaned, moving and placing one knee on either side of the younger woman. 

"Are you going to take me here?" Fleur asked teasingly. "Do you want me here too? As you had me at the door? Because I'm so ready to come with your fingers deep inside me..." She slowly encouraged Hermiione to touch her. The Gryffindor's hands went up inside Fleur's shirt and the blonde let her explore. "Or will I be able to take my turn?" Hermione kissed Fleur's chin, and nibbled lightly. 

"What do you think about hmm , having both? What do you want first, my love?"

Fleur smiled slyly, and with the power of choice, she considered for a long moment. She then slid slowly to the floor, between Hermione's legs. She unbuttoned the woman’s pants and pulled jeans off the tan legs. The Gryffindor just smiled widely and lifted her hips, allowing Fleur's curious hands to pull the brunette's panties off.

Fleur's mouth wandered from the inside of the brunette's knee to the inside of her thigh. She slowly pulled Hermione over to the edge of the seat, and the brunette allowed it anxiously. She wanted to be touched by Fleur's mouth. The blonde let her tongue sweep her folds lightly, and Hermione moaned loudly and spread her legs as wide as she could with the space available. Fleur bent down slightly and stuck her tongue out at Hermione's entrance and up to her clit. She traced that path over and over again, noting Hermione's hands clenched tightly against the arms of the office chair, and her hips rocking against Fleur's mouth. The veela went about her task slowly, letting her tongue play with the wet clit and biting lightly at the soft flesh of Hermione's pussy. The Gryffindor was slowly losing her mind. She sped up the motion of her hips, and moaned at the efforts of Fleur's mouth, until the blonde's tongue entered her, her nose pressed against her clit, and finally she came against her mate's mouth. The orgasm, built up slowly, was long and deep, leaving Fleur's mouth and chin tinged with her arousal. 

Once she came down, Hermione launched herself at Fleur, licking and kissing the blonde's chin and mouth. She pulled them both to their feet and made a quick movement with her hand, banishing the women's clothing. Fleur looked at her expectantly and shivered at her girlfriend's excited look. Then Hermione did something that Fleur didn't expect. She took her hand to the blonde's hair and grabbed a good handful, and pulling gently, she made their mouths come together. A hand on the veela’s hip made her turn slowly, until the French woman was facing  the chair. A firm hand in the middle of Fleur's back pushed her forward until her knees were comfortable on the seat.

Fleur let herself be manipulated, completely trusting in what Hermione was doing. The Gryffindor's mouth met Fleur's shoulder, went down her spine, until the veela was leaning over the back of the armchair, raising her ass as high as she could to give access to Hermione. Fingertips followed the muscles of her back, causing goosebumps to appear. 

"Be a good girl, and choose whether you want to come on my fingers or in my mouth." The command came firmly and Fleur groaned, throwing her head back. "Fuck me with your fingers," She said with no hesitation. As much as she liked Hermione's mouth, she wanted to feel deeply fucked by the Gryffindor.

Hermione teased Fleur's skin with her fingertips. She lightly scratched the inside of her thigh, an act that made Fleur whimper and spread her legs further. The fingers traced her center superficially, in a touch almost like butterfly wings. Fleur moaned in frustration and begged. Hermione went deeper into her folds, finding them soaked. Fleur was ready, and after teasing the veela’s clit for long moments, the Gryffindor penetrated her deeply in a languid and slow movement with two fingers.

She started to move and every time Fleur rocked backwards, trying to deepen the contact, Hermione stopped and started again slowly. It took a few attempts until the veela understood the implicit command to stay still. When the French woman finally obeyed, Hermione smirked, her mouth merging with the skin on the blonde's back, her tongue slowly rising as her fingers came in and out from the arched, breathless woman below her. Abruptly, Hermione stopped moving her hand, but kept her fingers deep in Fleur. With her free hand, she grabbed a handful of blonde hair and pulled, making the veela arch further and moan loudly with pleasure. 

Fleur tilted her head to the side and Hermione's mouth accepted the silent invitation. Hermione's two hands went to the blonde's body, grabbing her breasts and pulling the woman’s back against the Gryffindor's chest. With a smooth movement, their mouths joined and the brunette smiled against Fleur’s lips as she played with the woman's nipples.

Fleur grabbed one of Hermione's hands and the Gryffindor's palm teased the skin beneath her breasts, her sensitive ribs, her birthmark, her hips until Fleur guided her fingers back to her wet and ready clit. At the first touch, the blonde moaned "S'il te plaît, mon amour, fais-moi jouir sur tes doigts, s'il te plaît, s'il te plaît, je t'en supplie" [Please, my love, make me come on your fingers, please, please, I'm begging]. Hermione smiled widely at the needy tone of her girlfriend, and she accelerated the speed of fingers that circled her clit and moved her other hand up. When her fingertips touched Fleur's lips, the blonde took them into her mouth and sucked, moaning. It lit a flame in Hermione's belly, the hand traveled to Veela's neck, squeezing lightly.

"My perfect good girl, come for me," She ordered, and the orgasm overtook Fleur the instant she spoke those words, reacting like an elastic pulled to the max. Fleur moaned loudly and shuddered repeatedly against Hermione's body. The brunette just held her and kissed all the skin on Fleur's neck, shoulders and nape. When the tremors passed and Fleur more or less regained consciousness, Hermione was sitting with Fleur nestled against her in the armchair. The brunette slowly ran her fingers through Veela's hair and tenderly kissed the woman's face.

"I love you so much." Hermione kissed her deeply again, she loved Fleur’s taste and especially how warm inside her kisses made her feel. 

“Je t'aime aussi,” The blonde answered breathlessly, panting and letting out a groan at the end of the kiss. Her heart was racing and she felt all the hair on her body stand on end. Never before had Fleur felt this way with anyone, it was like an eternal fire stoked only by Hermione.

The two women were nestled together in the armchair for a long period of time. Their heated skin and the languid kisses kept them both comfortable in their state of nakedness. They spoke in whispers, but after Fleur's stomach growled for the third time, they both decided to visit the kitchen. 

Hermione summoned the clothes she had banished, and the two dressed between giggles and light kisses. They went down the stairs to an empty house, so Hermione asked about Luna and Gabby. Fleur explained that when she arrived, both women were leaving for the clan village, since they had to work on the book they had been composing together. Fleur commented that Gabby was very excited because they were in the final stretch of finishing, and maybe if it was good enough, they would get a nomination to file it in Babylon. After giving Fleur this update, the veela also commented that Gabby wasted no time in teasing her older sister about inappropriate noises and breaking furniture they would have to fix. Part of Hermione was very grateful that they didn't give the other couple a free show and ammo for Gabby's taunts. Fleur was anything but quiet, and Hermione had no qualms in saying that she liked that about the blonde.

Hermione helped Fleur cook a quick pasta dish, even though the blonde did most of the actual work. She helped by cutting the filet mignon, carrots, tomatoes and onion...but mostly made Fleur laugh out loud at the small jokes and nonsense she told while she was at the cutting board. 

They went to bed early, and even with the growing need for physical contact, both were content to just sleep while comfortably cuddled. They spent hours and hours talking, sharing the same pillow, face to face, with their noses lightly rubbing and exchanging little sweet nothings and soft caresses. Both confessed that they had never felt as loved as they did now, how comfortable and good it was. Fleur confessed to Hermione that throughout her life she had dreamed of this, and having this almost utopian love was so perfect that she felt like constantly crying in joy. The brunette, upon hearing this, just kissed Fleur repeatedly, stating again and again how much she loved Fleur as well, and how the blonde made her heart sing. The Gryffindor confessed softly that she never believed in the sort of love books went on about, as it seemed so unfathomable and illusory, until she and Fleur got together. Now having it here with the veela made her feel like she was on cloud nine. 

Hermione woke up the next day with a very naked Fleur laying against her. They lounged in bed until it was time to leave the house and attend the election meeting. The brunette expected a big event with several veela from different clans around, and was surprised to see that the elections were actually a small meeting. Fleur explained that the votes would be made neutrally through the proposal presented. There was a group of neutral people, usually the elders of the clans would validate the vows made by each older clan member. Then the neutral group would hear each other's proposal again, as the candidates lined up in each of the clans and talked about their proposals.

"So should I actually be here, Fleur?" Hermione asked nervously, but the vast majority of the veela around her just smiled and greeted them both.

"Don't worry about it. I asked the clans for permission so that you, as my future companion, could be present." Fleur replied calmly. "They like me, and so they accepted. Otherwise I would have asked you to wait at the mansion with Gabby and Luna." Fleur smiled slightly and pecked Hermione's lips. "Don't look so worried, I like your presence," She joked. "And the clan is in great debt to you for fixing the clock."

"It was my job!" Hermione retorted in exasperation.

"And it was beautifully executed." Sybelle, who was near the back of the room, spoke when she caught the end of the two women's conversation. "Accept being present at the selection Hermione, it's something that happens every ten years, so it can always be interesting to learn something new." Sybelle cut off further protests and then smiled. "It's good to have you around, mademoiselle Granger." The older blonde winked and laughed lightly when she saw Hermione frown.

The brunette stood a few steps behind Fleur, and the veela candidates sat quietly. Along with Sybelle, there were three other veela as potential leaders of the coalition And to lead the French Clan Apolline was with just another woman running for the spot.

Hermione also noticed that there were some older veela in the background, including a lady Hermione met briefly during her days in the village - whose name she did not remember - and Giselle. The woman gave Hermione a wide smile, but the Gryffindor only nodded politely and felt herself shiver uncomfortably, which made her move her eyes quickly away from the veela.

She didn't quite know what she was expecting, but she certainly didn't expect to see Fleur - along with Apolline and Sybelle - defend their plan for the next ten years. She knew that her girlfriend was eloquent and was in deep training to become worthy of a leadership position in the clan, in addition to which she would manage the Delacour fortune. Hermione frowned, thought, and considered the election. 

The Gryffindor felt a slight magical tug, and moved her eyes from Apolline to Fleur.  The blonde just arched her eyebrow curiously and Hermione smiled briefly, making her girlfriend relax against her chair. Hermioen knew that Fleur's family was wealthy; they owned a vineyard in the magical part of Languedoc-Roussillon, not to mention the dozens of investments that Gabby had already told her about. Both Delacour young women had an available trust fund that had been practically untouched since the two reached the age of 21, as both had their own professions and investments. 

Fleur maintained some fabric and accessory companies across Europe, which were not as big as her Delacour’s trust fund , but she had managed to create a name for herself by selling fabric to tailors and larger companies. And although the blonde does not work at fixed hours, she was always around taking care of her business or even the family’s business. 

Hermione listened carefully to the proposals of the women around her, even though it was a votation she found interesting that everyone will explain their ideas and then the votation will happen. She noticed that they all had solid plans and that probably the Delacour women would have  tough competition this year. However, Apolline's plan was the only one that covered the education of young girls, focusing on teaching not only magical skills, but also including muggle skills. What was surprising to Hermione was that a large part of the veela there seemed happy with Apolline’s and Fleur's proposal. It was more than visible to Hermione that Sybelle had won votes after the older woman had spoken.

" I challenge the decision of having another Delacour lead the coalition, in fact the family should even run the election once again ," Giselle announced loudly, disrupting the flow of the meeting. Hermione was confused why she was there, but briefly Fleur explained for her that many elders of the clans usually join the votation to validate the votes and proof that people did use magic or any kind of thing to win the election.

"Why this challenge?" One of the women asked calmly. 

"We are in our fourth election in which Sybelle has been leading our coalition, and I believe we need a new vision for the clans."

"The proposals were made and hers seemed to be the most promising, as has been the case in previous elections. If you want new leaders, bring people with new and applicable views, and not youthful fantasies of conquest." The old lady Hermione had met earlier spoke quickly and sharply. "If I remember correctly, Giselle, you hadn't proposed any reforms or changes that were innovative or interesting to the clans to even be considered for the position of leader. And I remember most specifically , as I am old and not senile, that you didn't even want to fix our Clock. It was Sybelle who brought in Mademoiselle Granger for its service."

"I was never even considered!" Gisele retorted furiously. "I attempted to be a candidate in the last five elections and you didn't even give me that chance!" She continued to rant.

"Calm down or withdraw," The same lady proclaimed, and Giselle stood up, moving to the opposite corner. Hermione noted that she was mumbling to herself, and gesturing as  she mumbled.

"So our final decisions are these..." One of the women began the process to warp the assembly up, citing the women who were elected one by one. When the names of Apolline, Fleur and Sybelle were spoken, the three embraced in a restrained celebration, and Hermione felt as if the world was suddenly in slow motion.

She saw movement out of the corner of her eye, and if anything remained with her after the war, it was an extremely sharp sense of fight and flight. Hermione felt her chest tighten and the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. 

She saw the flash of a hand movement; a wand was pointed at Fleur and Hermione's reaction was instantaneous. She pushed Fleur to the side, took a half step to the right and looked over her shoulder. Fleur's eyes widened as they saw the green beam approach Hermione. The veela's reaction was instinctive, she pulled Hermione towards her, even though she tried to protect Hermione and Hermione tried to protect Fleur, the green light of the spell caught both.

Hermione opened her eyes slowly. Her entire body ached. She was lying on the floor and her eyes burned from the powerful white light that encompassed wherever she was. With an effort, Hermione sat up, looking around and noting that everything was white. A big, huge white room. She scanned around for a door and in the background she spotted a small golden doorknob.

The Gryffindor rose and started walking towards the door, trying to remember what had happened, but her memories were a hazy mess. The door led to a long corridor, with more white walls and a light wooden floor. Hermione kept walking. She walked and tried to remember what had happened and why her chest hurt so much. She suddenly recalled Harry telling her about his meeting with Dumbledore during the final battle with Voldemort in a full white place and panicked. So is this what it's like when you die?

Chapter Text

A violent sound tore through the air, immersing the entire village in Marseille. Veela around the village grabbed their wands in a sudden panic, most of them having lost someone to wars at some point in their lives. Luna and Gabby strode out of the Delacour house, followed closely by Lira. Gold and silver light shone brightly from the hall where the election meeting was being held, and Luna, Lira and Gabby ran to the building fearing the worst.

When the three women reached the building and opened the door, they were slightly shocked. Hovering in the middle of the room was a woman that Gabby recognized as Giselle. Her skin was cracked, golden and silver light bursting from her body, as it seeped out between the spaces. Before her was Fleur, holding an unconscious Hermione, and in front of them, there was a luminous wall that was also shimmering with beams of that same colored light. 

The lights began to spiral, around the room and then Giselle's body dropped and slammed against the floor. The gold and silver lights were still shining and the distant sounds of a bell began to ring. Slowly, the curtain of the veil of reality seemed to crumble, like cracks spreading rapidly through glass. Strange voices grew louder inside the hall, and then slowly appearing as images were forming in the middle room,figures became translucent images of people. 

Dressed in simple clothing with fierce feathers on their bodies, two women were battling each other with swords and magic. Blue fireballs materialized in their free hands as blades clashed and the aggressive exchange continued. They spoke in an unknown language, but it was easy to see that the woman with blue feathers was furious with the woman with purple feathers. In a quick movement and a precise stroke of the sword, the fight was brought to an end, and the purple feather woman  fell to the ground, bleeding profusely but crawling her way to safety. The victor ran to a third woman who had fallen into a more fair away place. The blue feathered woman fell to her knees to help the other, supporting each other and rising to their feet, moving in slow steps.

There was a flash and the sound of a bell was heard again. This time, the image was  two women in bright, shiny dresses walked side by side, talking animatedly with their arms linked. They whispered to each other and one of them blushed beautifully at the whispered words delivered in her ear. They walked and walked, until they came upon three indistinguishable figures arguing in front a door. The smaller woman stepped forward to ask what was happening, and suddenly the sounds of four shots rang out, followed by running steps and the clang of metal hitting the floor.

Suddenly, as fast as the blink of an eye, the scene changed again. Two figures were lying on a bed side by side. They were holding hands and smiling at each other, visibly elderly. "Life was good, wasn't it?" One said to the other, who just smiled widely. "Life was good," the other one confirmed.

"I'm finally going to get rid of you two," A third figure announced, standing outside a magical dome that protected the two women. "I will finally have everything."

"You can't have everything. We can only have what we should have, what we actually deserve," one of the two women replied calmly.

"For at least one of my infinite lives, I will have everything and you will not be there to disturb me!" The third woman screamed angrily.

"You are a part of us. A soul fragment like ours, an original fragment of the same soul. I never understood why you were always so irritated by that fact. We gave you everything we could, except us . You have power, you have money, and you finally lead our flock. What more could you want?"

"I..." The furious woman hesitated and took a step away. "I want it all."

"You cannot command love." The second woman spoke. "Love is given freely."

"I want my soul mate."

"You can't control this."

Hermione was sitting on the floor, and she was bored. In fact, she had already wandered to all the places she could find within this place, this white and so boring room, with no place to go and no one to talk. Then abruptly, the empty room glowed with multicolored light, almost as if a dimensional door had opened, and a few women started walking towards her.

She recognized only one of them; “Elora,” from her past vision with Fleur and communion with the clock, was suddenly present in this limbo in which Hermione was trapped, and the Gryffindor was more confused than ever. Then was she, Hermione Granger, really dead? The fiery-haired woman smiled at her and sat down on the floor as well, near to Hermione.

"It is a pleasure to meet you," She spoke with a wide smile. "I am Elora."

"Hello," Hermione said uncertainly. "I am Hermione."

"We know." The older woman among them responded with a wide smile on her face. "Where are the chairs in this forgotten place?" She said loudly, and suddenly several white chairs appeared, forming a circle. "Ah, excellent. So much easier," She said laughing, and turned to everyone else. "Come on, sit down, we have to talk, and that one needs to be back soon." The woman winked, and Hermione leapt to her feet and sat down on a chair.

"Well Hermione, you have before you a unique opportunity!" The elderly woman declared with amusement. "You are getting to know your past lives." Hermione felt her eyes widen in confusion and her mouth drop open.

"Oh look at that, she really is a part of us. That familiar ‘fish out of water’ reaction!" A young woman, 15 or 16 years old, observed with delight. She had black hair and yellow eyes.

"My past lives?" Hermione repeated, bewildered.

"Yes, past lives , fish mouth. I'm Leonor, you can call me Lenny," The woman with black hair and yellow eyes said, while rolling her eyes. "The older ‘you’ over there is January. Yes, just like the month. Her parents had a terrible imagination." Said lady just shrugged.

"People called me Janny," She commented, chuckling briefly. Janny was an elderly woman, with white hair and blue eyes, she was wrinkled but still retained traces of her beauty in her youth. She was wearing a flower dress and a cardigan and she also had a cane.

"You obviously already know Elora," Lenny continued. "And that sulky little thing over there is Maksa." She pointed to a black woman with curly hair wrapped up high on her head in a red scarf. Maksa merely nodded and kept sharpening her knife silently. "The pompous lady here is called Victoria, like the queen. Unfortunately, lack of imagination runs through our generations."

"What is my timeline here?" Hermione was puzzled and completely lost, but a curious mind would always be a curious mind. Elora smiled slightly at that and Lenny and Maska just rolled their eyes, while Victoria was staring impassively at Hermione. January suddenly smiled widely.

“We started with Elora, in 1111. Elora lived... and for 28 years she did not know Val, until they finally met and their souls sang. Both were murdered in a coup d’état when they were 35, in 1136. We died with a physical attack mixed with magic that ended up having giant effects on everyone..” Elora smiled sadly when Hermione glanced at her, and at the same time they both reached for the mark on their left side. Janny cleared her throat and quickly continued explaining the order of events. “It took a long time for Maska to be born. We believe that the soul fragment took a bit longer to find its birthplace; that perhaps Val's fragment was not yet reborn, or wasn’t ready for rebirth. Maska was finally born in 1539, and was one of those who found the fragment of Val earlier than most of us, who at the time was called Aziza. Maska was the leader of the flock and they had Malika at 21, in the year 1560.”

"I died during a clan battle, at the age of 40, in 1579. I had this enemy, was a great warrior but arrogant and envious, hated me for having Aziza and to lead the flock. I was killed during a battle, I was surrounded and my enemies killed me like a bull in a bullfight. I was crossed by several blades in different places. And my longtime enemy, the person who envied me and tried to destroy me more often than not. We were friends, you know? We both loved Aziza and she chose me. In the end, I died with my head being cut off. At least, I died as a warrior." Maska's hoarse voice interjected. “Aziza and Malika lived for a long period of time, but in the meantime, we had already been reborn as Lenny in 1580.” Hermione's eyes darted from the statuesque black woman to Lenny's thinner, smaller, and paler figure. The young girl sighed deeply.

“Here goes the sad story of Countess Leonor. I was born in 1580, and I imagine you’ve heard of the figure known as Dracula, haven’t you?” Hermione's eyes widened and Lenny’s smile was predatory. “He had a bride named Galiliea, and this woman decided it was a good idea to turn a 16-year-old countess into a vampire. So despite my youthful appearance, I am the one who has lasted the longest out of all of us.” The other women rolled their eyes, and Hermione let out a little laugh. “I met Cassandra much later, almost 80 years later in fact. I believe that this happened because Aziza still needed to die, be reborn and reach adulthood. What a waste of time if you ask me,” Lenny relayed in monotone. “I met her and she was already so wonderful at 18 years old. But being a creature of the night, I just wanted to consume her. However, my soul, which I thought had been dead for a long time, seemed to vibrate when I seduced her. Of course you’re all thinking that I just wanted to have dinner,” Lenny laughed morbidly. “It turned out that she became more than a meal. We spent 28 years together.” Hermione's eyebrows went up in surprise.

"Oh," Hermione said softly, processing the story, and Elora suddenly laughed out loud as Hermione's eyes wandered over to the last woman present of her reincarnations. Victoria gave her a brief smile and became stoic again, though this did not diminish Hermione’s curiosity about the figure with blond hair and green eyes.

“‘ Oh? ’” Lenny repeated. “I’m the one who has lived the longest with our soul mate*,” she stated, eyeing Hermione. Janny cleared her throat. "Fine, the second who had the most time with our soul mate”. Lenny corrected herself so quickly that Elora started to laugh again, this time accompanied by Maska. "Anyway." The yellow eyes glanced irritably at each of the other women. "On a beautiful summer night, I was with the vampire coven trying to convince them to allow me to transform Cass, since she was human and wasn't getting any younger." The atmosphere suddenly grew cold as Lenny's mood degenerated into sadness. “I was able to make a deal to try to earn the right to transform her and keep her in the coven with me.... But in the end, I was so, so hungry. I don't really remember exactly what happened, she was there, willing to be bitten, feed me, but I...” She lowered her head, the strands of her fringe falling across her eyes. "I lost control. One moment she was there with me and the next… I… ”

"You killed her," Hermione concluded solemnly. Lenny nodded.

“I couldn't live with it, the pain was consuming me every waking moment. There were already wizards who hunted creatures such as myself, and I just... I made sure that my path crossed the heir of the damn Van Helsing family and waited for him to do the job. I was probably the easiest target in all that bastard’s life.” Lenny was silent for a long time.

"It took 86 years for our soul to reincarnate after that," Janny began again.

"We believe that because it was such a tragic death and caused by her own mate, Val's soul fragment took time to recover, so it delayed the next rebirth." Elora explained calmly. “In 1790, Janny was born. And she was really the one who spent the most time with our soul mate.”

“Audrey was her name. My magnificent and unique Audrey. We had lived together all our lives and I am proud to say that we died of old age!” The old woman said cheerfully. “We lived through a torrid and forbidden love affair, since she was the daughter of my father's enemy and a tragic end was to be expected. But my mother, very smart she was, negotiated a truce to unite our families, and in the end we had a lot of money. But little did my father know that it was because we were soulmates.” Janny laughed. “I've known Audrey my whole life, but we just noticed how much we actually loved each other when we were both 25, and we had 84 years together. Ah, the wonders of magic prolonging our time on earth, we lived to be 109 years old. And we passed the veil together, holding each other's hands.” Janny smiled contentedly. "Our life was good. And now, last among our line here, we have Victoria." All the women turned to look at the blonde. Victoria was royalty, she sat up straight with perfect posture, and Hermione smiled as the blonde woman with green eyes blushed slightly with the attention.

"Hi," She spoke sheepishly, and looked at the floor. “As you’ve already been told, I am Victoria. I was born in 1900 in France, just like our current, living soul mate.” Victoria smiled and closed her eyes briefly. “I am Veela, pure blood Veela, and she was a simple human without powers. But I did everything for her; I fought with the clan for her, and everything else you could imagine. But Charlie was promised to a man,” She snorted derisively. "Men, such ridiculous beings," she proclaimed, and the other women all smiled in amusement. “And that same ‘promised one was the end of us. I met Charlotte in Paris. She had come from Belgium, and I was 28 years old while she was 23, and I fell in love the moment I saw her. But she took some time to accept the fact that she loved a woman, for internalized prejudice is the worst. And that's not even counting the ‘creature’ part. I was 30 when we finally...made it. We…” Victoria cleared her throat. "Uh,” she hesitated again for a brief moment.

"Fucked," Lenny announced, without looking up from the nails she was evaluating.

"Have a little more class, Leonor!" Victoria retorted with red cheeks. "But yes. We…consummated our love.” She said finally, looking at the floor and sighing, and blushing very deeply. It didn’t take long for her face to grow serious again. "I was 35 years old when it all ended on a bloody afternoon," Victoria sighed heavily as she continued her tale. “Charlie's younger brother was always deeply jealous. He was third in the family's line of succession, and he was furious because the man Charlie was promised to had just taken a large amount of money from their company. They were fighting over that money, and he was pushing for himself to command the family. Andres, Cahram and Gustav. Gustav, the younger brother, murdered his brothers in cold blood, pretending to be a robber, but when he spotted both myself and Charlie, we had seen him, identified him, and he couldn't leave witnesses. We died in front of Charlie's house, without her family ever knowing about our love or…”  Vic cleared her throat again. "I was… I was pregnant, she died without know that" A poignant silence blanketed the women, while everyone felt the same pang Victoria was feeling.

“You need to understand, Hermione, that my soul has broken into several pieces. Only you and Fleur are true soulmates. We have had a…” Elora paused awkwardly. "Recurrence problem in the lives that came after mine. Since my death and Val was so violent and we were true soulmates, something got wrong with veela magic and shattered us.”

"One of the soul fragments has always become fucking envious!" Lenny growled in aggravation. “So, he or she is always reborn extremely destructive. It's a feature that grew into the warrior that killed Maska, what we find out only when we all meet. Galiliea, in my own life, a very envious Veela in Janny's life, and Gustav, Charlie's murdering brother. It is a recurrence of someone who has no happiness, joy, direction or purpose in life. An envious soul fragment.”

“The point is, that person will always appear in our lives, and eventually they will try to enact some harm against us. It becomes intuitive for that soul fragment, which is corrupted by the absence of their soul mate,” Maska revealed, cutting off the vampire's tirade.

"So the destruction of the clock?" Hermione? asked.

“My daughter created the clock in honor of my death, and to celebrate the victories of the clans in my homeland. And yes, the clock was damaged because for this jealous fragment it was extremely offensive. It is someone whose whole life has been firmly against you or Fleur, even if you just meet them recently somehow they are always present in your or Fleur’s life.” Maska said pointedly, and Hermione's eyes shone with recognition. "Do you know who it is?" Hermione opened her mouth to answer, when a new voice cut into the conversation.

"It's me." Hermione jumped to her feet as her past lives turned to look at the new arrival.

"Giselle." The Gryffindor said, looking extremely confused as the older woman approached in slow steps. She thought the woman indeed looked like her, like Giselle, though despite the passive-aggressive behavior she observed, Hermione was not quite sure that she really would be the current manifestation of the spiteful soul fragment. If Hermione was honest, she really thought it could be Ronald.

"You didn’t see what you did, did you, little girl?" Giselle sneered, and she sat down on one of the chairs the room had generated. Hermione looked at her warily, not knowing what the blonde was talking about. She wasn’t even aware of how she got to where she was, in this blank space speaking to her past lives. Part of her thought she had died. 

“You sacrificed yourself for Fleur,” Giselle said, interrupting her thoughts. “Somehow your combined magic has countered my spell,” Giselle told her angrily. She was tense, and if the Gryffindor concentrated hard enough, she could almost discern a bird with ruffled feathers in place of the woman at same time Hermione saw pain, like if her soul was hurting. 

"Did the spell come back for you?" Victoria asked. The full-blooded Veela was looking stern and her mouth was pressed in a tight line. Giselle nodded, confirming that the spell had been hit. "Well done." The cold tone made all women stay alert. "I'm already tired of you," Vic continued. "You are a vindictive and bitter piece of our soul that has never learned to move on." Giselle sighed. "You destroyed our lives more than once, and you refuse to realize that you will never get what you want. You perpetuate an endless cycle of blood. You should regret everything you’ve done, and more than anyone, you should know the cycle will never end until you decide to move on. I hate you so much ," Victoria proclaimed bitingly, her eyes glinting gold in restrained fury, like she was a storm ready to be unleashed. But Giselle's response startled the women out of their tense state of preparedness. 

"I know." Suddenly, the other women’s expressions shifted from caution and disdain to shock, as everyone had expected Giselle to resist and defend her actions. They had anticipated a confrontation like had been the case for centuries, but none of them expected a concession. "I am so tired of trying to conquer my way into love," Giselle admitted slowly, her irritated demeanor dissolving, her shoulders hunching as she sighed. "Her sacrifice showed me that love is freely given and not won by force, and I don't want to fight anymore. I feel this tiredness in my bones, as if my soul screams for giving up the battles that I have done so much. I minimized Fleur's life as much as I could and for what? By power? For love? Whose love? I saw you being so happy with you and it broke my heart and I lost the desire to fight, but then the anger came and I just wanted to destroy everything... How much is it worth? I just want…. Peace.” She spoke with an uncharacteristic calm; her low tone as well as her body curled up in her chair, seeming to express mixed feelings of shame and pain caused the others to become more and more confused.

"You will never be able to move forward if you use force to push fate," Elora replied. "It is not how it works. Fate cannot be changed, we have our free will, but in this life or in any other, our choices can prolong the time in which our destiny is fulfilled. We cannot escape, nor can we force the hand of the universe. We are what we are." The fiery-haired woman said calmly. "Fighting and attempting to force the hands of destiny will never allow you to get what you want."

“I thought that if I removed the Delacours from power, if I just gained some power, I could finally feel complete. But now I think it would never happen, would it?” She asked Elora directly. 

"The greatest goal of being alive is being happy, to seek happiness and to let love seep into every little part of yourself. Only love can change the pains we feel in our chest, only by freely loving in the way that love comes naturally, will you feel complete." The fiery-haired woman said authoritatively. 

"We all have soulmates." Fleur's voice suddenly rang out. Except for Giselle, all the women let their eyes slip shut when they heard the voice of their soulmate fragment. Fleur began to appear slowly in the room. "You decided to destroy ours. Do you have any idea how scared I was with Hermione practically dead in my arms? TWICE? You are a small, angry person who decided that the happiness of others hurt yours. How the hell would us being dead fulfill you?" Fleur addressed Giselle so furiously that all the magical energy around her vibrated, fluttering her hair and making her blue eyes sparkle with fury. "How rewarding was it!?" She raged, and Giselle hesitated for only a moment.

"It was not." The pitiful answer unbalanced Fleur’s righteous wrath, and she frowned at Giselle in confusion. "I thought that if I eventually removed any and all obstacles from my path, I would be able to finally feel complete. ...Happy," The younger Veela's anger drained a little. She knew in part what Giselle felt, it was how she felt with Bill. Within a constant struggle for happiness, as if she was compelled to keep up, to fight and to swim against a current, and it was a disturbing, frightening feeling that consumed her soul for a long time. She knew how terrifying it was to feel incomplete.

"You must let your anger and envy go so you can find your happiness. A bitter soul will never be able to feel complete. Love does not grow amid hatred and pain," Fleur said soberly. Hermione, who was watching the exchange, stared at her with a tight feeling in her chest, the same ache that came out of her soul mate thrumming in her chest.

"I don't want to cause damage and destruction anymore, I'm so tired of fighting futile battles. How do I end up in this same cycle over and over again? Again and again?" Giselle lamented in anguish. After more than 500 years, reality seemed to have finally reached that soul fragment. "I think I just want to be reborn one last time to be able to live fully. Being able to really see what fate has in store for me. I think I got tired of being in a lonely place. She stood up and stepped away from the group. Suddenly, Giselle turned to Hermione. "I knew that I had recognized you in some way. I just didn't know that I was part of you and that we were an ‘us.’" She smiled strangely, and slowly her body became ethereal. 

A black-skinned warrior appeared beside Giselle, then a woman with brown hair and yellow eyes, followed by an old lady, and lastly, a tall man with blonde hair and hazel eyes. They all smiled and in a blended voice, all said, "See you in the next life, I will do right for all of us. Next time, there will be peace." With a flash of white light they were gone, and Elora sighed deeply, placing her hand in the center of her chest. The women felt an echo of magical warmth, as if something that was previously broken was complete. Finally, the peace that Giselle was speaking of echoed through them, they were completely together again.

"She..." Elora hesitated. "They have become part of us again," She spoke with eyes full of tears. "They are a part of us, as they always should have been." They all sighed in relief. Fleur approached Hermione, and put her forehead against the brunette’s.

"Let's go home?" Hermione smiled as she felt Fleur's skin against hers. When she opened her eyes, she felt tears trail down her cheeks. Val had appeared behind Elora, hugging the red-haired woman around her shoulders, holding her tightly against the center of her chest, with her cheek nuzzling her soul mate’s red hair. Maska and Aziza were holding hands and smiling at each other. Cassandra was sitting on Lenny’s lap, kissing the vampire deeply. Audrey was embracing Janny, and lastly, Charlie had a hand on Vic's shoulder, running her other slowly along the woman's face. As a voice echoed in one, Hermione and all of her reincarnations spoke to her soul mate: "I love you." 

Perhaps Hermione and her past lives expected a more dramatic ending, perhaps a battle, perhaps an spectacular death for some of the parties. And perhaps some of the past lives had hoped that they would have to live more lives to get to that point. Hermione understood, she nevertheless knew how tiring it was to be pushing the same button and expecting different results. Maybe time and death has matured Giselle, or maybe past lives were just tired of the boring struggle against fate. If Hermione looked critically she would see that Giselle was much more against Sybelle than Fleur, at least when she lived in the village, perhaps someone more attentive would have seen that even in her fury and anger the older veela was tired, her soul was tired. Tired of dying and reliving and then dying again. Even an unexpected end point as it occurred, Hermione thanked the small gifts, the gift of not having to fight for her life again, of not losing her soul mate, of having known her past lives and especially of Giselle having chosen to move on.

The Gryffindor blinked. When she opened her eyes, she found herself lying on the floor, Fleur holding her and gazing at her with affection. When their eyes met, the two came together in a slow kiss, a magical wave emanating from them, and all the veela felt an intense and loving heat expand in their chests.

HGFDHFGDHGD

"The year was 2012, that's when your mother finally proposed to me," Fleur said, amused. "She was a nervous wreck. It was so ridiculous, and yet so cute, and perfect because it was all her." She grinned at the thought, and laughed lightly, running a hand through her hair. “She took me to an old, magical tree that we visited once. The ground was covered with white petals, and then she got on one knee, and she proposed to me.” Fleur placed her hand gently on the girl's face in front of her. "A little while later, I was pregnant with you, my Françoise, and you were one of the best things that happened to us." The veela pulled her daughter into a hug, and the 11 year old girl rolled her eyes in a mixture of amusement and affection. "And now you're going to the middle of nowhere in Scotland!" Fleur declared, pulling the young girl closer against her. Françoise was tall and slim for her age, as was Fleur in her childhood, with long blond hair and large curls. Hermione always said that Françoise had gotten the hair she always wanted to have when she was young. Big curls, and the little one had dark blue eyes just like Apolline, and Hermione's gentle smile as well.

"Oh, maman please . It's not that far away," The young girl said logically, rolling her eyes again and returning her mother’s hug with a wide smile on her face. She loved Fluer so much (even though mum was still her favorite, as Hermione's constant calm always soothed the young girl). Fleur's chaotic energy always brought out the worst in Françoise's behavior, but she loved the stories and the sentimentality of the older Veela. "Pregnancy is making you exceptionally emotional," She pronounced with clinical calm, as if she had all the answers in the universe. Fleur snorted against her hair, and squeezed the young veela.

"Be nice to your maman," Hermione's voice called out in amusement. The architect knew how poor Françoise must have listened to her mother's stories and complaints at length, being terribly emotional and hormonal. Since Fleur had learned of her daughter's choice, the woman has been in an eternal cycle of emotional ups and downs. "I see you’ve been telling her the story leading up to our marriage. Did you get to the part where I created your engagement ring from scratch, and you made a Veela relic to be mine?" Hermione asked, her eyes fluttering with emotion. She loved how much Fleur was in love with that memory. Hermione knew that that was the memory, along with the birth of Françoise, and the news of the pregnancy itself, that Fleur used to conjure her Patronus.

"She was telling us about when you proposed, Aunt Mione." Lucia was sitting with a lollipop in her mouth. "You know what Aunt Fleur is like," She shrugged, and smiled widely. "I do enjoy the stories, though," She said decisively and chuckled, legs dangling over the wooden crate she had decided to perch on. "Pregnant women are weird." She announced with her nine-year-old maturity, and continued to suck on the lollipop. 

Lucia was a little mental, often going back and forth, and very much like Luna, the young girl could never focus on a sentence or thought for a long time. Considering that she was Luna and Gabby's daughter, it was totally understandable that the little girl's mind made loops around herself. Even Hermione sometimes had difficulty keeping up with the young girl's quick thinking. Like her mothers, the young Lovegood-Delacour was blonde, but unlike both her mothers, the little one had bright oceanic green eyes.

"Sometimes you're right, little one." Hermione came over and pecked her wife's lips, and ran a hand through her daughter's silky hair. "Love, let our daughter breathe and go and play with her cousin," Hermione cajoled, pulling Françoise slowly from Fleur's arms. The veela released her daughter reluctantly and complained, "but she is leaving!" Fleur said mournfully, and Hermione held in her laugh. 

“It's April, and she's going to Hogwarts in September, you can calm down," Hermione reassured her, rolling her eyes at her drama queen. “You know this is your fault, you told her to choose.” Françoise rolled her eyes much like Hermione had done just a few moments ago. “Go and play with your cousin,” she told her daughter. Without even stopping to think twice, the girl quickly left the room, followed by Lucia.

"This is your fault! You convinced me to let her choose."

"My love, what difference would it make for her if she went to France? She’ll still be going away to school," Hermione asked calmly, having already had this conversation with Fleur more than once.

"I would be closer!" The Veela protested again, as she had done many times before.

"We can apparate." Fleur only grunted a response. "We have the Floo." The blonde pouted. "She will always write, you made her promise." Fleur looked at her wife, still resolute. "You made Minerva promise that she would report anything via Patronus." Fleur's stubbornness slowly began to give way.

"Neville will look after her personally. You know she will choose Gryffindor. She was always a good girl, causing few problems and a bookworm just like the two of us. You trust your daughter, Fleur." The French woman gave in and she sighed with a nod.

"It is so painful to see her go. It seems like yesterday she was born, and only a little while later she was setting fire to the curtains in outbreaks of raw magic," Fleur said quietly. "Soon she will find a girlfriend, and I will have to see my daughter at her own home and with her own children!" Her tone quickly changed, and Hermione rolled her eyes yet again, pulling the woman into a deep kiss to distract her.

"If she is as slow as we were, at least another 18 years." Fleur maintained her sulky expression. "How are we with Dom over there?" Hermione asked playfully, lightly poking her wife's belly. She needed to make her veela change focus quickly, otherwise the blonde would descend into a bout of crying. Fleur was at 32 weeks, and she was as beautiful as ever, but the hormones of this pregnancy caused much more agitation than her previous one, which turned Fleur into an emotional roller coaster.

"She's just like you: a hurricane," Fleur finally replied under her breath, but a slow smile began to form on her lips when Hermione's hand was placed fully on her belly, and Dominique kicked hard. “And I am exceptionally emotional . As your daughter so astutely pointed out.”

"So she’s only my daughter now?"

"When she decides to be a smartass, she is." Hermione laughed out loud. Françoise was known to be too much like Hermione for her own good. The girl was probably truly a well-balanced mix of both mothers, but her tongue was definitely as sharp as Hermione's. Fleur's political mind on the other hand, made the girl as sharp as a knife and extremely well versed with words.

"Okay, I can live with this," She laughed, and grabbed one of Fleur's hands. “Come on, mummy. Your mothers have arrived and they are waiting downstairs for the barbecue. Let’s feed you and this little hurricane,” Hermione said, guiding Fleur. The blonde grumbled a little, but she let herself be led. Downstairs, they found Lira and Apolline cooing over and playing with the three children. There was Françoise, Lucia, and Luna and Gabby's youngest daughter, Sybelle. The youngest girl was very similar to her great-grandmother, and it was just a pity that Sybelle would never meet her or the other children, for the veil came for everyone. "Look who I managed to drag with me!" Hermione called in mischievously, and everyone laughed at Fleur's little pout.

"I love you," Hermione whispered to her wife, and pecked her extended lip.

"I love you too."

Hermione could never believe how fortunate her life was.  

The End