A/N: JKR still owns all the rights to Harry Potter, and the characters she created for her stories…
May 10, 1998
Harry was a shocked by the statement from Baron Xavier DeMarest as he left. "How did he know that I am Lord Potter?" he wondered out loud.
His house elf, Rene, was standing behind him and responded to the question Harry had asked. "He knew your parents, my lord, he knows this is the Chateau Potter, he is a wise and perceptive man."
"Right," thought Harry. "This definitely is not going to go well," he added. Turning back to his house elf, he questioned Rene, "My glamour was intact when I came back two nights ago was it not?"
Rene indicated that it had been. "And again today?"
"Yes, my lord, your glamour has not worn off."
Harry thought about this and he remembered that some wizards could see through glamours. He then walked out to his deck and sat down heavily in a chair. As he did so, an envelope fell out of his pocket. Harry picked it up, and sighed. "Well, I might as well read this, my day can't get any worse than it is already?"
"Papa," called Camille. "Where did you go this morning?"
"Oh, Camille, I was just visiting our neighbour," the baron said as he met his daughter in the hall in their chateau. "Lord Black is doing fine, he has no ill effects from your little prank on him from the other day."
"That is good to hear, papa," she answered as she approached him and gave her father a hug. "I was so worried about James, I mean Lord Black." She paused and stepped away form her father and looked up into his eyes. "Did you mention to him that Fleur will be visiting this weekend?"
"Yes, I did," he replied, turning his gaze away from his daughter. "However, I do not know if he will be around to visit, I have a feeling that the Lord Black may not be available this weekend for any social visit."
Camille had a puzzled look on her face, but she could not get any more out of her father as he turned and walked away and secluded himself into his study.
Harry was part way though Hermione's letter when he had tears flowing down his cheeks. "Brilliant Potter," he said to himself. "Hermione actually confesses her love for you and you run off and ignore her." He shoved the letter into his pocket, then he walked into his bedroom, and he undid the glamour and looked at his normal face.
Harry glared at his visage, "How much of a stupid git can you be, Potter?" he asked himself.
Harry then walked to his chimney and flooed to Grimmauld Place. Once he arrived there he apparated to the Forest of Dean, the place he and Hermione had talked about staying there forever and avoiding the rest of the world. To Harry, that was their special place, and now he wondered if he had ruined it all just by being selfish and running off. Harry looked around the area where they had stayed. It had been winter when they were there last, and now it was spring. It was much prettier than he remembered from ay of the other times he had visited on his own. Harry decided to walk around, head back over to the stream where they had sat and talked before. He was thinking how it was when he was here that he realised that he had no real future with Ginny.
Then his magic sensed something. Harry hadn't been thinking at all. He sensed he had set off some sort of wards. Harry's reflexes kicked in. He was cursing himself for not being more careful. He knew how to easily search for wards, and he had let his defences down. Thoughts of Death Eaters coming after him for revenge crossed his mind. Harry was in no mood to fight anyone, and he immediately apparated back to 12 Grimmauld Place. Upon appearing back to the Black home so soon after he left, Kreacher was alarmed.
"Is Master Harry in trouble?" asked the ancient elf with true concern.
"No, I am fine, Kreacher," said Harry as he looked around and realised that he was safe within Grimmauld Place. "I just came upon something unexpected," he added, and thought to himself that was at least the third unexpected event for him that day. Harry paced around the old home for several minutes as he contemplated all that he had learned that day. His neighbour in France had discerned who he was, the baron's daughter was apparently becoming infatuated with him, he discovered Hermione was in love with him, and he had set off some sort of detection wards in the Forest of Dean but he did not want to stay around there to find out just what the wards had done.
Harry was needing to come up with a plan of what to do next. Perhaps he needed to write a letter to Hermione, or should he meet her in person. Then he wondered where could she be? If she was still at Hogwarts he definitely did not want to meet her there as there would be too many people around. And if the Weasleys were there too, then it would be just too uncomfortable. Harry decided that he would need to write a letter to Hermione. So he used his floo connection to the chateau so he could then work on writing Hermione.
Hermione was working on making a priority of properties to investigate in Europe, when the simple bracelet on her left arm tightened. She was irritated by the slight squeezing sensation and then she jumped out of her chair with excitement. The wards were triggered. And that meant Harry had returned to the Forest of Dean. She knew she would have to get there as quickly as possible, as she had no idea how long Harry would actually be there. Hermione ran to grab her beaded bag. She made sure she had her wand, and then she apparated to the forest. She ran over to where the wards had been set off, but she found no sign of anyone. Pulling out her wand she then investigated which wards had been triggered. It was clear that the tracking ward had been set off as well, and she hoped that it would work. Harry must have apparated away almost immediately upon triggering the wards. Hermione worried that she might not be able to find Harry now, that she may have scared him away.
Tears were starting to well up in her eyes at the thought of doing all of this preparation for nothing to come of it after all. She wiped her eyes gently then she forced herself to get beyond her fears. This was the first real chance to find Harry, and she knew she couldn't let it slip away. She concentrated on the tracking charm she had used, and she cast a spell to help her apparate to the same location that Harry had gone to. Well, she presumed it was Harry for that is how she had designed the spell and wards to work.
Suddenly she found herself inside a house that seemed vaguely familiar. She was in a hallway with brightly painted walls, and there was a stairway leading up and another one leading down. It seemed familiar, but everything seemed wrong. Suddenly she heard a pop behind her and she spun around to be confronted by an old house elf.
"If it isn't the muggle born," croaked Kreacher. "My wards must be failing if you were able to enter master's house."
Hermione was surprised to see the house elf, and especially surprised that he did not refer to her as a mudblood. She looked around and she recognised that she was in 12 Grimmauld Place. It was much cleaner and brighter than she had ever seen it. Her mind raced through thoughts of what could have happened to cause Kreacher to fix everything up like this, but she realised that all of her questions about the home had to wait. She was here to find Harry.
"Kreacher," she pleaded, "is Harry here?"
"Lord Black is not here at this time," he said simply. Eyeing her warily, he asked her a question, "How did the muggle born get into the house? How did you get past the wards?"
Hermione considered his questions and understood that she would not get any useful information out of the house elf if she didn't answer them. "I followed Harry here, and by following him I was able to get past the wards," she said calmly, but still worried about how Kreacher would respond to her answer.
"The muggle born is a bright witch," he said simply to himself. "Lord Black was here, but he left."
"Can you tell me where he went? Can you tell me where he is? Has he been staying here?" Hermione asked the questions rapidly, without giving him a chance to respond.
"The Master returned to his Potter home," he said. "He travels there from here."
"But where is the Potter home, Kreacher?" Hermione was feeling that she was so close to finding Harry only to now have another step that seemed impossible to climb to complete her quest.
Kreacher continued to be wary of Hermione. He never liked her much in the past, although he had warmed up to her slightly in the previous year when she was there with Master Harry. Harry had told him that she had helped Harry and their other friend destroy the locket that Master Regulus had ordered him to destroy. Kreacher did not understand why Master Harry had not returned with her before, and why he had not had Kreacher open the wards for her, but he also knew that Master Harry had always trusted this witch. And this witch had helped his master complete the last task that Master Regulus had given to him. Eventually he decided he had told her enough information already, and he simply stated that he had more work to do to take care of the house, and he just popped away.
Hermione decided that she would at least see if she could detect a general direction he may have gone. Using the tracking spell that linked to the tracking rune, she could determine that he was somewhere in a south east to south direction, but the signal seemed week. Hermione sat down at a table in the lounge and pulled out the parchment with the list of Potter and Black properties. Soon she had narrowed the list down to a couple of options, a flat in Paris, and a Chateau in the south of France. She looked at the fireplace in front of her, and it became clear to her that He must have a private international floo connection between his properties, unless Harry had figured out a way to apparate over much larger distances than was considered normal. Using the floo must be how he had done it, only she had no idea what the proper name for the destination should be, or if it was warded so only Harry could use it.
Hermione considered her options, she could guess as to a name for the destination where Harry went, and either be very lucky, or end up who knows where. She was reminded of a muggle movie, Star Trek 2, where some characters were going to use the transporter to send themselves to an unknown destination. Dr. McCoy asked, "But what if this takes us no where?"; to which Kirk replied, "Then this will be your chance to get away from it all." As she laughed at the idea that a muggle sci-fi movie could be a commentary on her life, she considered that Harry was trying to just 'get away from it all' — which gave her the answer for which property she would need to go to. Harry would have gone to the chateau, a home, but one with privacy.
Hermione grabbed some floo powder, stepped into the fireplace as she stated "Chateau Potter."
Harry had arrived back at the chateau. Upon returning to his home in France, he had replaced the glamour in case he had any more visitors from the DeMarest family. He was pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what would have happened. Someone had placed wards around the Forest of Dean. Specifically around the area that he and Hermione had been camping. And then there was another ward, unlike anything he had ever seen or felt before, and it seemed to grab him. Harry reassured himself that his reflexes were still pretty sharp as he apparated away very quickly. Now he needed to determine what had happened, why did he feel like something had stung him. There was no stunner or other offensive spell. Harry wished he had listened better to Hermione and actually taken runes in school, he would have been more prepared for dealing with this, for detecting and disarming wards and curses.
He consoled himself with the idea that at least he was safe, and he was sure no one could follow him. Then his thoughts went back to the idea of 'who cold have placed wards there'? No one else knew that he and Hermione had been there. They had never discussed with anyone what they spoke about in their time of desperation. Harry felt like a light went on in his brain. He had read the letter from Hermione where she confessed her love for him. He had all but abandoned his friends in one of his not so unusual fits, one of his "I'm Harry Potter and I'm doing it alone and my own way, right or wrong" tirades that only seemed to get him into more trouble.
He started talking out loud to himself. "Brilliant, mate, you go and push her away at the same time she is trying to tell you how she feels, and you're to scared to tell her the same thing. You keep running back to the one place where the two of you shared a special time or memory, you even figured out that she had been back there too, but when you set off an alarm ward that must have been set only by the one person you're looking for, you bloody run away instead of waiting for her. Bloody brilliant." He sat down on the back of one of his chairs with his head in his hands, wondering how he could have messed up being found by the very person he was looking for.
"Harry, who are you talking to?" came a soft voice from behind him.
Harry spun around and looked into the eyes of the woman he had been dreaming about, and longing for. A smile formed on his face.
Hermione stepped back and drew her wand, "You're not Harry," she gasped, and kept her wand pointed at the man with light brown hair, blue eyes, and no scar to be seen on his forehead.
Harry suddenly thought how is appearance might look to Hermione. He reached for his wand to undo the magical changes to his face. However, Hermione's reflexes were still sharp form their months on the run from the Death Eaters and snatchers.
"Stupefy!" she called out as she hit the man in front of her with a stunner.