There was a single exception. As Harry returned to his familiar place on the old couch, between Fleur to his right and her fiancé, Bill stood up, visibly shaken and disturbed.
“Harry,” he began, voice faltering as he attempted to remain calm. “I understand you’ve been through a lot, believe me mate, I do. But before we start talking about anything else, I’ve got to ask. What did you do to drag Fleur into this mess?”
The reactions varied across the room, though all appeared shocked at the tone of betrayal and malice that lurked in Bill’s question. The Weasley family as a whole appeared entirely bewildered, and though Molly responded with a horrified “William…Harry’d never!” the tension increased dramatically. Hermione was looking at Bill in obvious distaste, and the older members of the Order glanced between the two parties uneasily, unsure which to support.
It was Fleur’s reaction however, that proved the most astonishing.
“William…C’est incroyable! All day, have I not asked you to leave it be, for the moment? I didn’t want…” She paused, looking around at the assembled Order. “I do not know all these people, I do not want…” Unable to continue, she threw her head into Harry’s robes, her sobs silent, though all witnessed the obvious shaking in her body. Were it not for both the circumstances and the company, one of whom was now glaring daggers into his skull, Harry may have found this position comfortable. As it was, it was anything but.
Harry took a moment to whisper a soft reassurance into the French witch’s ear, softly brushing back wisps of blonde hair, before placing a chaste kiss upon her forehead. Looking up, he immediately returned Bill’s murderous glare twice-fold.
“It wasn’t easy, where we were. She wasn’t hurt…wasn’t hurt like she could have been, but it wasn’t exactly a good time. Leave her be.” Bill looked down, slightly unnerved by Harry’s response, before lashing out again.
“You’ll forgive me Harry, for being concerned when I suddenly found myself under the Imperious Curse, making an illegal portkey to Albania of all places, and then tricking my own fiancée into activating it. I think I have a right to know just what the hell is going on.”
“Mr. Weasley.” Dumbeldore’s voice rose over the handful of gasps – those unaware of how Fleur had been taken prisoner in the first place. “Mr. Potter and Ms. Delacour will recount their story at their leisure, and are entitled to retain any details they deem private. Let me remind you that the only reason we are all here is at Mr. Potter’s and Ms. Delacour’s bequest, or else I would simply ask both of them to tell me in private any pertinent information they may have, and let the matter rest. If you cannot contain yourself, you will be asked to leave.”
His tone was steely, full of power and a tone that carried a promised threat if the situation continued. Immediately, Bill looked away, mumbling a stiff apology before moving around Harry, falling back into the couch on the other side of Fleur. It came as a surprise to no one when she shifted ever so slightly to her left.
Harry and Fleur shared another look, before Harry turned back to the headmaster. “Sir, I do understand where Bill is coming from…we both do. I suppose it’s only fair that I tell you what happened…it was in a way my fault.”
“Pfft. C’est faux. I will let Harry tell the story, but ‘e is hardly to blame. I was taken as a…an ‘ostage because I am of a prominent famille, and ze…bâtards…zey wanted to …stir the pot, non?” Fleur replied, her accent noticeably stronger in the passion of argument.
Harry nodded, but responded contrarily, “Maybe…still, I should have…” he broke off, silenced by her glare.
Taking a deep breath, he continued. “Alright…agree to disagree?” Taking her soft huff as the closest thing to agreement, he turned again to face the room. “I talked to Dumbledore privately earlier, about how on Halloween, my captors met with someone who had been working with the two men who…who died.” He took another breath, releasing it in a shuddering sigh “I don’t know who he was, but I think he was French, and it was a month after that he appeared again. Not long after… I guess they planned the kidnapping. I’ve no idea about the details, but that was when Fleur arrived.”
London – cold, dreary, and rain coming down in thick ropes, absolutely pissing down. It’s really no wonder that Fudge was always scampering down to Paris or Venice for ‘Official business pertaining to the security and cooperation of magical beings of Europe.' Asshole.
This was my first time back to England since I pulled a runner back in July, and it was hard to hide just how nervous I felt. I had left for a reason, and putting my head in the lion’s mouth didn’t seem like the most conscientious decision I’ve ever made. I’ve done some reckless things in my time – trying to sneak a dragon through the most warded location in Britain for one, taking on the entire Dementor force of Azkaban alone being another. This was just another one of those times that couldn’t be avoided.
I got through the Leaky Cauldron quickly enough, moving quickly through the morning rush, I went through unnoticed, meandering with the early crowds through the pedestrian alleys, slowly making my was towards Gringotts.
Just before the bank, I turned left, down a pleasant enough alley that ended in a two story nondescript red-brick building. Looking around to check for wandering eyes, I lifted my invisibility cloak out from inside my robes, throwing it over me before checking the watch I’d purchased specifically for the occasion. 8:38. Perfect.
Bill Weasley is an incredibly punctual fellow - whether he’s just from a different mold than the rest of his clan, or whether working for Goblins keeps him scared shitless of being late, I’ve got no idea. Never the less, everyday, without fail, he floos directly to one of the three hearths in the building I’m watching, coming out the door at exactly quarter till nine. From there, it’s a two minute walk into Gringott’s, and ten till he’s in his office, examining whatever trinket or treasure the goblins want searched for arcane torture curses or what have you. Good for business, but very, very bad if someone’s after you. This morning, for Bill at least, someone was.
Sure enough, he came out right on time, his business robes a stark contrast to his rugged face, complete with long scraggly hair and a wicked looking earring – no doubt filled to the brim with protection charms. No charm for the Unforgiveables though, or else they’d be called The Obsoletes.
Dammit. He stopped – he’d realized there’s something with him in the alley, even if he couldn’t see it, and I had no choice but to throw the curse then and there. “Imperio” I whispered, softly as possible.
For a moment he struggled, and I feared that he was going to break the curse. He hadn’t had time to fire a curse of his own at me, but he’d been wary, and that helps a lot when countering attacks on the mind. I fought like hell, pushing my will into his head – it was like rolling boulders up a hill, a kind of physical resistance that only intensified as the battle continued. With a groan, I pushed, and mercifully, his resistance died down, eyes glazing and pupil dilating before he blinked languidly, and his expression returned to normal. It was over, thank god.
There were of course, complications. Bill could very well still be resisting the curse, and so I couldn’t risk staying in close contact – if he found out for even a second who I was, I’d have to kill him or hold him forever. I wasn’t fond of either prospect, not at all – hell, I’m still the same Harry at heart I was six months ago, just a little more…willing to compromise around the edges.
We were also late, so first thing in order was to get Bill to work. We had to run, but given the chaos of Diagon Alley when the stores are first opening, it wasn’t anything that drew unwanted attention. Bill went through the front door without looking back, and I turned away, sitting down heavily on a bench not too far down from the bank’s front.
Sitting down, I realized I was still wearing my cloak. No rest for the weary. Getting up again, I went round the back of the store, greeted by a dreary little plot, hardly big enough to stand comfortably. I threw the cloak off, taking deep breaths before leaning back against the stone wall, I was shaking slightly, a thin layer of sweat trailing down my face. Mind control, it takes a lot out of you.
I stayed like that for five minutes, before letting out a shaky breath and putting my cloak back on. I couldn’t let Bill go unattended for long, not when the curse had been so tenuously placed.
I closed my eyes, cutting out the stuff around me to more clearly focus on Bill’s whereabouts. The images were fuzzy and grey – I wasn’t seeing through his eyes, just kind of…picking up a general idea of what he saw. He was tinkering with something, though I couldn’t make out what. It was clear however, that he was alone.
With great effort, I sent a mental command through the magical thread between us. Stop. Grab Parchment. Prepare to write. The games begin.
Thinking of you. Noon. Agincourt.
Short, granted. Still, it’s a hell of a lot of work to make someone do something so specific, and I don’t go around practicing the Imperious Curse in my free time. More to the point, it’s not my fault that the goblins charge employees by the word for non-urgent memos. Greedy little bunch.
Also, bonus. Fleur hated the nicknames the Weasley’s gave her, from Ginny’s ‘Phlegm’ to Mr. Weasley’s butchered ‘Mad Mazelle’. . She’d show up of course, but she’d be pissed to hell, and anger tends to make you less weary.
I had a few hours to kill, and there wasn’t really much to do, except think and keep an eye on Bill, so I stayed there, a drying and repulsion charm protecting me from the storm overhead, reflecting back on hectic mess my life had become.
It had been three weeks since Halloween, and since then I hadn’t really done much. I’d been training, granted, and kept an ear on the ground as to any more activity that might concern me, but Monseiur Delacour had thrown me off balance, and odds were that my sole contact into the political madhouse had long since been compromised.
Now though, it was time for answers, and no one was better placed to give me an inkling into just what by Merlin’s balls was happening, than our resident French veela, and conveniently enough, eldest child of one of my largest enigmas. Fleur Delacour – outside a doll, inside the plague.
Half an hour before noon, I took direct control of Bill a second time. He took a galleon out his pocket, before transfiguring it into a dozen roses. They wouldn’t last, but they didn’t need to either. For a moment, his face flickered again – obviously, he really didn’t like the next command. He followed it though, a flat ‘Portus’ coming from his mouth, the flowers flashing a bright green before fading back. This was the hardest step, as I had to control Bill’s intent to determine both location and activation word. As an afterthought, I had him throw on a tracking charm – no sense in not taking precautions.
Time to go. Agincourt is a faux French restaurant about ten minute’s walk from the bank. Fleur secretly hates it – the food apparently, is dreadful – nothing like real French cuisine, and always smothered in Sauce Anglaise – her words, not mine. The name of course, is only adding insult to injury. Bill loves it though, and thinks it’s great that Fleur has access to such an authentic taste of France when she starts feeling homesick.
Again, combined with ‘Petal’, she’s going to be her bitchy, self-occupied self that sets off Hermione and Ginny like you wouldn’t believe, even if for some reason, I can’t seem to muster up the energy to ever complain.
There she came, obviously upset but looking as ravishing as always, her pout doing absolutely fantastic things for my imagination. Bill came up a few minutes later, just late enough to fuel her mood, without being enough to really be upset over.
She seemed to calm down a bit when he pulled out the bouquet of roses from behind his back, leaning in as he moved to kiss her. She’d find something wrong with them later though – she’s got a talent of making everything look like shit when she’s in the wrong frame of mind. Maybe I was doing Bill a favor, as he wouldn’t be around to witness it.
“Love you Fleur”, Bill said softly, brushing a hand against her cheek.
The tension left her body ever so slightly, and more out of impulse, she replied. “William, I love you too.”
And then hell broke loose. On the word ‘love’, Fleur popped out of existence, her face a look of pure gold – a mix of genuine shock and a horrified realization of what was happening, just a second before she disappeared. I released the curse from Bill the moment the portkey took her away, and in an instant, apparated out of the street, now fully consumed with panicked chaos. Just goes to show you, the power of love.
Fucking multiapparations. It’s a good thing that Europe’s border patrol is as effective as a leaky sieve, but I really, really hate multiapparations. With a passion. London, Calais, Frankfurt, Vienna, Split, and Tirane – a personal best coming it at just under three minutes, and every single jump illegal. Like I said though, continental border monitoring is all but nonexistent, as nobody can agree who rules what anyway. Alsace-Lorraine – France of Germany? Never mind that Germany is governed by Austia-Hungary, which in the muggle world, no longer even exists. Geopolitics between the two worlds has never been what one would call simple, but in the last few decades it’s reached the point where unless a notorious psycho is on the rampage, like Bella supposedly was a few months back, nobody really gives two Knuts who’s going where, provided they pay their taxes.
There was no time to worry about all that though. Fleur had just portkeyed about two thousand kilometers, and would obviously suffer a spell of dizziness and nausea at her destination – a bleak but sturdy basement in a rundown block of flats on the outskirts of Tirane. Even with my less than instantaneous method of travel and the few seconds of breath I allowed myself between stops, I felt sick to my stomach, so Fleur was obviously going to be worse.
I’ve learned better than to make assumptions though, so in addition, I’d spent enough money to buy a small house to get my hands on a pair on enchanted manacles. First person to enter the room after I’d activated them would very quickly find themselves securely bound. Once I’m through with them, I’m planning to sell them to George – he seems to imagine that Angelina is into kinky shit – maybe he’ll get lucky.
“’Allo? …Merde!” Her voice was hushed, though filled with righteous anger. Calmly, I intoned, “Lumos” and at this proximity, I could see her look of surprise and the faint traces of fear as they gave way to full blown rage. “’Arry…you…you cons. What are you thinking, you idiot child…stealing me away like this…” She broke off, the rage no less visible in her face but she was looking at me know, and she could tell, I was beyond furious.
“Hello again Fleur, a pleasure to see you again as well.” I was trying goddamn it, to keep my tone level, and the over-the-top cheer was the only way I was going to get out of this without blowing my own head off. “Just thought I’d invite you round for a few questions, if it’s all the same to you.”
She sniffed, and despite being shackled and on her knees I couldn’t help but feel that she was looking down at me. “C’est midi, exactement. My lunchtime, it ends at one. You have an hour.
That was the last straw, and I really couldn’t contain myself. Clenching my fists tightly, I felt my fingernails bite into the flesh of my palms, eager to vent frustration any way possible. With a snarl, I responded, “I want answers, Fleur – real ones – not the shit you’ve been giving me while leading me around by the short hairs.”
Furiously, I tore the bouquet of roses from her, where they’d been resting idly in her hands. They’d worked perfectly – let anyone interested trace Fleur’s trail to here – the grungy place left much to the imagination. I grabbed her roughly from behind, holding her flush against my chest. She wriggled, deliciously and furiously, and I bit back a curse at my growing hardon as her ass started grinding away into my pelvis. With a deep breath, I focused on my magic, and thanked heaven above when we disappeared with a soft pop, the pair of us falling awkwardly onto the hard stone floor of my hideaway. I’d done it – cast an unforgivable, traversed the continent of Europe in its entirety, kidnapped the daughter of a prominent politician, and mercifully, made it back to Munich – all in one piece. And to think I hadn’t even had lunch. There are times I’d kill for a house elf.