Harry meets someone from school, who gets the wrong impression. Snape gets embarrassed by a new teacher, and Dumbledore has his lemon drops.
As Dudley thundered down the stairs, eager to get into his bacon and eggs Harry reminded himself he would probably not have to see Dudley again for a whole year! He kept repeating it as Dudley gave him his 'you're still here this morning?" punch and bolted down his food as though he was starving. Harry mused to himself how ironic it was that the only thing that could motivate Dudley to run was food, thus gaining calories for every one lost.
Uncle Vernon came down the stairs at a more sedate pace and sat himself in the chair at the head of the table. His moustache twitched as Harry put the plate full of food in front of him and his eyes gleamed greedily.
The post slot clanged noisily, and Harry went and grabbed the mail. He put the untidy pile in front of Uncle Vernon and got himself a piece of toast. As he was spreading his jam, an unholy grin spread on Vernon's face.
"Boy! Get me some paper and a pen!"
Harry did so then looked over Vernon's shoulder to see what he was writing.
To the Crackpot Headmaster
I am afraid my nephew will not be attending Hogwarts, as he is already enrolled in another of your freaky schools. Therefore, you have no need to ever contact us again.
Assistant 2nd CEO for Drill Safety
"There." He grunted happily. "Now how do you get an owly thing to send these?"
Harry peered out the window, and spied a pretty caramel owl sitting on the neighbour's chimney.
"There." He pointed to it. "We just have to give it to that." His uncle looked at the owl dubiously, but handed Harry the letter anyway. He walked down the drive, wincing as the sharper stones dug into his feet and gave the owl the letter. He watched it fly away, then went back inside.
"Well?" His uncle demanded.
"Yeah, it'll go back to where it came from."
Harry was gobsmacked. He and Uncle Vernon were actually having a civilized conversation for once. He was shaken from his contemplation of how odd it was by a knock on the door.
He rushed over, and opened it to a smiling young woman who held her hand out to him.
"Hi, are you Harry Potter?"
"Yes. That's me." He found himself grinning back at her.
"Well. I am Madame Milner, but you can call me Adele while we aren't in class."
"So you are from Beauxbatons? Truly?" He asked in wonder.
"Yes, that's me. Now may I speak with your family?"
Harry led her into the living room, where Uncle Vernon was watching sport on television.
"Uncle Vernon? Someone from my school is here."
Vernon scowled slightly, but turned off the TV and shook the lady's hand.
"Madame Milner, pleasure to meet you."
"Vernon Dursley, likewise." He lied unconvincingly. "Pet! A teacher from Harry's new school is here."
Petunia hurried into the room and pasted a huge fake smile on her face.
"Please, sit." She ushered Madame Milner to a seat. "Tea, coffee?"
"No thank you. There are just a few orders of business, concerning holidays, weekends off, etc. Then, I can take Harry to get his school supplies..." She continued talking to the Dursleys about things like when he would come home (hopefully never), what the visiting hours were (not that the Dursleys would ever come), and what kinds of careers he could look forward to.
Harry was enthralled; he sat and drank in talk of unicorn tracking, or flying in the Quidditch League. The Dursleys tried not to listen, and possibly contaminate their magic-free ears.
Severus Snape was sitting through yet another inane staff meeting. Everyone was behaving as usual, Albus' eyes were twinkling as he sucked on yet another lemon drop, Hooch and Vector were gawping at the pictures of the Irish Quidditch league, and Minerva was sitting primly in her chair up the front looking as though she had no business being with such childish people.
Hah! He knew some things about her, Mrs. Norris, and a whole lot of catnip that would bring her off her high horse. He would never tell of course, because Severus Snape liked secrets. He liked the power he gained by knowing something no one else could know, and the feeling of control it gave him. That was why no one knew about Albus' brother and his goat Barnaby, and why no one ever found out about Sprout's little 'happy patch', which she used to make her extra special brownies.
"Ladies and Gentlemen." Albus started, gaining everyone's attention. "I wish to inform you of a most grave occurrence. Harry Potter has refused to come to Hogwarts."
That one sentence caused a wave of hubbub, and everyone looked alarmed at the idea that their saviour might not be at Hogwarts.
"Calm down. As I was saying, he sent a letter of refusal, but we still might have a chance. The letter was written by his uncle, Vernon Dursley, and claims that he has already accepted an invitation to another school. This is clearly impossible, as my mail wards would not let any owls through."
Minerva McGonagall stood up and stared at Albus angrily.
"I told you not to send him there Albus! These muggles are probably forbidding him from coming!"
"That is why I want to send one of you to go and get him."
This statement induced a plethora of excuses from all parties.
Snape looked at Albus and scowled.
"I have to finish my potion! The Draught needs stirring every nine hours, or it will become useless!"
"And how long ago did you last stir it?"
"An hour and a half."
"Which gives you... let's see, seven and a half hours? That gives you plenty of time to pick up one boy does it not?"
"Why can't Hagrid do it?"
"He is slightly to conspicuous I am afraid. As is Filius. Minerva, Septima, and Rolanda are busy with supplies for next year. Sybil never leaves her tower, as you know, and Poppy has to work at St. Mungos today. Which leaves you as the only free Professor."
Snape's scowl deepened and he turned and left the room, black robes soaring behind him, like bat wings. Albus smiled gently and popped another lemon drop in his mouth.
Madame Milner was extolling the virtues of Beauxbatons as a finishing school. She spoke with fondness of the polished flair students left with, and the current head boy and girl, Abraham Peakes and Danielle Jorkins. While they were talking she glanced at her watch, then jumped up.
"Oh my! We are going to be late if we don't leave soon." She shook Petunia and Vernon's hands and made to leave.
"Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Harry will be back at 5:30..." She was interrupted by Vernon.
"Does he have to come back?" She took the question in her stride.
"Well, most people do like to have their children as long as possible, but no, he doesn't have to."
"Good. Take him with you then." Vernon sat back in front of the TV, matter apparently settled. She seemed shocked, but got herself back together, and picked up Harry's hand.
"Time for us to go. Do you have a fire?" Harry pointed to it, and she lit it with a wave of her wand. The Dursleys looked intimidated, but Harry was fascinated. She pulled out a clump of paper, wrapped into a twist and undid it slightly.
A loud knocking was heard and everyone jumped. Petunia stood up and ran over to the door.
"We don't want to buy..." The door slammed open and an unpleasant looking man stalked in. He was dressed in a long black robe, and his skin and teeth were both yellowish. His hair was greasy and fell down his back, leaving spots of the oil on his shoulders. Madame Milner was a sharp contrast to him, clean and beautiful in her camel suit.
"Are you Harry Potter?" He snarled, and made to grab Harry. Madame Milner pulled out her wand and pointed it at his forehead.
"Get out." She said calmly. "Get out, and don't come back."
The man sneered at her.
"I'm from Hogwarts, a professor. I have permission from Albus Dumbledore to collect this boy."
"I am from Beauxbatons, the school whom Harry accepted. You have no authority here, and I'll thank you to leave." Snape glared but left as suddenly as he had come.
"Well. Now that has been done, lets go shopping!"
Harry looked sheepish. "I have no money..."
"Of course you do. Beauxbatons gives all scholarship students a small allowance. As a student from another country, you count as a scholarship student."
"Wow." Harry was amazed at the idea that he might actually have some money.
"This is Floo Powder. You sprinkle a little in the flames, and say 'Quiberon Robes' as you jump in, understand?"
Harry nodded nervously, then followed the instructions. He expected to feel heat, maybe even be burnt, but instead just whirled round and round, seeing bricks and tin and charcoal round him. All of a sudden he stopped with a shudder and fell onto smooth tile. He blinked a couple of times, first to make everything stay still, then to check that it was real. He lay on the floor of a fancy shop. Ladies were standing around one girl and gossiped to each other while tape measures flew around on their own and racks of clothes trundled over for the ladies perusal.
Behind him, the fireplace popped, and he turned to see Adele step gracefully out.
"You poor thing, up you get. If you shut your eyes in the fireplace, you won't fall over at the other end. Oh! I almost forgot." She pointed her wand and muttered something, and Harry could suddenly understand what the people around him were saying. Adele brushed him down, and took him over to one of the women standing in a group.
"Serena?" The two women kissed each other's cheeks before Serena caught sight of Harry.
"He's so cute, the poor mite."
The women converged on Harry and the girl who was in the middle of them looked crossly at Harry. Their gazes met, and Harry looked deeply into her soft blue eyes, held in a porcelain face, which was framed perfectly by white-blonde hair. She was so beautiful... But not really that beautiful. She was pretty, but he was no longer desperately in love.
This girl intrigued him. Not in a 'she's so gorgeous and I must have her' kind of way. He just wanted to know why. Why he found her so striking, when she wasn't that attractive. Sure, she was pretty, but not THAT pretty. She seemed to be concentrating, as though she was doing something hard. Finally she gave up, and moved closer.
"What did you do?"
Harry was puzzled. "I didn't do anything."
"Yes you did. My Charm isn't working, why not?"
"I don't know what you are talking about okay? I am just standing here."
The girl's expression cleared. "You're one of them aren't you... the ones who like other men... Mama warned me about this happening."
"No, I like girls. Wait, what are you talking about?"
The girl rested her hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, I won't let your secret out, or at least not until you come out." She winked slyly. "I'm Fleur Delacour. You are?"
"Pleased to meet you, Harry Potter."
This won't be slash. Fleur is just jumping to the wrong conclusion. What is the right conclusion? Well... that's a secret...