CW: Teenage sexuality

"We are making progress again," Fleur announced, pleased. "The Stone resumed from exactly where it had stopped."

"Oh, good," Hermione said, relieved. "I wasn't sure."

Fleur laughed.

"Did you not think it worth the risk?" she asked her, eyes dancing. "Even if you needed to start over, it would have been worth it."

"Well, yes," Hermione admitted. "But I would have felt guilty over it, over stopping the Elixir of Life just for some fancy robes."

"Fancy robes!" Fleur exclaimed. "Just some fancy robes?! Hermione, your attire was far more than just 'fancy robes'. No, you made a statement with your dress. You made a declaration. You exuded power, confidence, and regality, with how you wore your winter diamond dress. No, your robes were an international proclamation to anyone watching – and well worth the risk to this little project."

Hermione laughed. "I'll trust your judgement on this, then."

Fleur's eyes sparkled. "Good. Do."

Conversation shifted from her robes to after the dance. Fleur seemed at ease and fairly emphatic, but Hermione felt uncomfortable, like she was walking a proverbial minefield – a sensation she very much did not like. She didn't know how to bring up what had happened with Viktor to Fleur, and she felt like she should, even if just so it didn't feel like she was hiding anything. Fleur, however, had other dramatics to share first.

"Madame Maxime was furious," Fleur said, in tones of frightened reverence. "Storming inside the carriage, cursing and swearing and vowing revenge. The groundskeeper accused her of being half-giant. I've never seen her so upset before."

"A half-giant?" Hermione asked, jaw dropping. "Is such a thing even possible? I mean, just with the anatomy, there…"

"It is, though it should not be," Fleur said dryly. "Magical beings can reproduce and crossbreed in unexpected, impossible ways." She smirked. "Hagrid is half-giant. It is a secret. He told Madame Maxime about his mother."

"His mother was the giant?" Hermione boggled at the image that provoked. "I mean, I suppose I don't exactly know the dimensions of a giant, but that seems…"

"Like an ant at the entrance of a rabbit burrow?" Fleur suggested. "Like feeding a dumpling to a dragon?"

Hermione giggled despite herself.

"I always heard it as 'chucking a banana down Oxford Street'," she admitted, "but I didn't want to say."

"I do not understand the choice either," Fleur said, sighing dramatically. "But it is better than the alternative. A male giant would tear a human woman in half." She paused, considering. "Actually, he could probably not even hope to enter her, if their anatomy is proportionate. That is good." She made a face. "Giants have a reputation for being vicious and bloodthirsty for good reason."

"If Madame Maxime isn't half-giant," Hermione ventured, "what is she?"

Fleur paused, considering.

"Madame Maxime is human," she said finally. "She… her parents were very desperate for a powerful magical child. From what I have gathered, they attempted a ritual to give their child the strength of three wizards, but the ritual went… awry." She shuddered. "I suspect she consumed her triplets in the womb and is now cursed with their magical cores as well as her own, that her body has grown as it has just to make room for that much magic."

"Really?" Hermione was fascinated. "Is she very powerful?"

"When she wants to be," Fleur said, her lips quirked. "Madame Maxime much prefers we learn diplomacy and to talk out our issues, that we not turn to magic and fight when we don't need to. Perhaps she has emphasized such an approach to discredit the half-giant rumors that have followed her for her entire life."

"Makes sense," Hermione said, wincing. "Public perception often means more than the truth."

Conversation circled back around to the ball itself, where they'd both seen Madame Maxime dancing with Hagrid in apparent fondness, presumably before the confrontation had occurred, and they paused to figure out the timeline.

"They were still dancing together when you danced your tango," Fleur said, thinking back. She shot Hermione a heated look. "I did not know you could dance like that, Hermione," she purred, and Hermione blushed.

"To be fair, I can't," Hermione admitted. "Blaise had—he had this idea that we use the silver bond between us to just—to just be, and kind of give ourselves over to the magic—"

Fleur laughed in surprise. Her eyes glinted, and her smile turned wicked.

"That explains much," she said, her tone sultry. "You danced—the way you danced, Hermione—"

"Yeah…" Hermione winced. "It was probably—err—"

"Do not apologize for your sensuality," Fleur objected, cutting her off. "Hermione, it was passionate. It was raw. It was beautiful. And it was beautiful to see you both so wrapped up in the moment, enjoying the dance together like that." Her lips quirked. "That does help explain Blaise's behavior after the dance, though."

"It does?" Hermione blinked. "Why? What did he do?"

Fleur's smile was amused. "He wanted to kiss me. And there was a… desperation to his request."

"He did?" Hermione couldn't hide her shock. "Did you let him?"

Fleur laughed.

"Am I to kiss and tell you about my other paramours?" she teased Hermione, kissing her on the nose. "If I had, would you want to know?"

"I told you about Cedric last year," Hermione objected, blushing. "And you told me about your attempts—"

Fleur laughed again, sweeping Hermione up into an embrace.

"Ah, we are in such a situation, are we not?" she reflected. "We cannot court each other, but we cannot bear to be apart. So long as we do not enter into courting arrangements with another, we can continue our trysts out of sight, but I worry someone else will snatch you up."

"Then I'll say 'no'," Hermione said, astonished. "Fleur, I wouldn't—"

"Viktor Krum is quite taken with you," Fleur said, eyes gleaming. "You would not accept his suit if he wanted to court you?"

"I—no," Hermione said, frowning. "I mean—he's nice, and I like spending time with him—"

"I saw you dance with him after your tango," Fleur remarked, mischievous. "You seemed like you more than 'liked' him."

Hermione's face turned red.

"Are we going to kiss and tell or not?" she said hotly, and Fleur laughed, moving to sit next to Hermione again.

"It is up to you," she said, looking at Hermione fondly. "Neither of us are in a commitment to another, so we are free to dally as we please, but I do not want to cause you jealousy."

"Would you hearing about me cause you jealousy?" Hermione asked, and Fleur paused, considering the question.

"I do not think I feel jealousy as most do," she reflected. "When I saw you dance with Blaise, I was excited for you. I did not wish him gone, that I was with you in his stead; I was happy for you, as you were having fun." She sighed, wistful. "I think if I did not get to see you, I would perhaps be jealous of your friends, of them getting your time, your company. But if you kiss another? How can I be jealous of that when you still give your kisses to me as well?"

Hermione bit her lip.

"…so did you kiss Blaise?" she asked again.

Fleur's eyes glanced over at her.

"I did," she said. "Does that upset you?"

Hermione felt like her heart had stopped for a beat, like she'd been punched in the chest. She paused, breathing through it, and considered.

"I'm not sure how I feel," she admitted. "A bit confused, I guess. I know—without us formally courting, you're free to do as you please—I guess… I guess I'm just surprised?" She looked back at Fleur. "I didn't even know you were attracted to Blaise."

Fleur laughed.

"He is handsome enough, and he is quite charming," Fleur said, shrugging. "I appreciate that my allure does not touch him, so he can know me as a person, not just a Veela. And he had a generous proposal that I was amenable to."

"A proposal?" Hermione couldn't hold back her curiosity.

Fleur's smile was wicked.

"He wanted to kiss my lips, both above and below," she said, eyes sparkling. "He said he wanted to practice, and that in doing so, I might learn what felt good, so I could do it to another as well."

"Wait, what?" Hermione was astonished. "Wait, wait, wait, slow down. Blaise—he—"

"Brouter le gazon?" Fleur said, her lips quirked. "Faire un cunilingus? Oui."

Hermione could recognize the latter noun.

"Did he?" she asked, eyes wide. "Was it—did you like it-?"

Fleur hummed, considering.

"It was enjoyable," she said decisively. "It was interesting, to be experiencing such things without being swept away in the moment. As his ardor cleared, it became more exploratory, more clinical. He was very curious and determined to learn everything he could, and I suppose I enjoyed his attention and diligence, if nothing else." Her eyes went to Hermione, and Hermione's breath caught in her throat at the look she gave her. "And I did learn what felt good and what did not. Useful knowledge to have, I hope."

"You—ah—" Hermione was flustered. She could feel her cheeks heat up.

"Have you ever experienced such a thing?" Fleur asked her, her tone low, suggestive. "Did you go back to the Durmstrang boat after the dance and allow Viktor to worship you with his tongue?"

Hermione's mind spun, dizzy with desire at the thought.

"Ah—no. We snogged in the rose garden and he fingered me a bit," she said all in a rush, and her face went red. Fleur laughed.

"Did you enjoy it?" she asked, her grin wicked.

"I—I mean, yes—"

Fleur laughed again, drawing Hermione closer.

"Lucky man," she breathed. "What I would give to kiss you in the rose garden in such a way, to give into our passion…"

Hermione whimpered.

"You can kiss me now," she said, and Fleur's eyes practically glowed.

"I intend to," she said, her voice low, and her lips descended on hers.


~*~ New Blood will be on PAUSE until July ~*~
~~~~~ Please come back in Q3 to see ~~~~~
Hermione's adventures


A/N with details for those who want them: I, like many others, caught covid over the winter. Though I didn't have a premature child this time from it, I did have to take care of my sick infant, then a sick toddler, and then myself. And I took a long time to fully recover. I'm better now - I managed to avoid long covid - but it was touch and go for a while there. It was very much a concern.

What this means, though, is that I fell behind schedule in writing by quite a lot :( . And because of the complexity of the story, I need to make sure I stay far ahead of where I'm posting, so I can double-check foreshadowing and plotline connections and everything before you finally read it.

For context, I am currently writing about 55,000 words ahead of what you're reading. My usual margin is 80,000-100,000 words ahead of the chapters being posted.

I'm aware that this is a bit mad. But it's what helps me ensure that New Blood stays the story I want it to be.

(The next chapter takes place on January 1st. This stopping point isn't entirely random, though it may seem it right now)

Please know that this is a decision that has caused me much anguish. It was not made lightly; there were tears and lists of ways to try and 'catch up' without the story falling at risk. I cried more than once - I take pride in being able to update like clockwork for my readers. I searched for any other viable option I could find. But in the end, this was the best option for both me, my health, and for the story.

Hopefully the backlog and my history of a regular posting schedule will reassure you that New Blood will reliably resume in July. And if not, and you're convinced the story will just be abandoned and languish in the elephant graveyard with all the other unfinished stories, I'll just prove you wrong this summer anyway. :)