There were no words to describe the chaos that broke out as the final ended, except, well, chaos. At the forefront were the two sets of fans who had been at each other's throat the entire day. The final duel was enough to set tempers alight and for the fuse to be lit. Wands had already been drawn and the aurors were being thinly spread trying to contain the melee. It didn't help that the English fans had thrown another set of magical firecrackers amongst the French nationals. The majority of the spectators from other countries decided to give them a wide berth, either by leaving the colosseum or pushing themselves into corners.
It was a completely different story in the VIP box though. As if oblivious to the happenings below them, the occupants continued to chat happily, discussing the goings of the day. Dumbledore was trying to stay as impassive as possible, although he couldn't seem to avoid the smile that kept breaking out. He'd already been approached by several important members asking him questions about Harry. While the questions were unwanted, the attention was not.
"...that spell he used on Bayard though, I'm sure I've seen you use something similar once before?" the French minister, Lucille had been relentless.
"I can see why you'd think that," Dumbledore replied lightly. "Although, I must say that Patronus by Mr. St. Pierre was truly unlike anything I've heard of. A family spell, I assume?"
"Must be," Lucille returned just as vaguely. "And that brings us to the question of the day, Albus. Teleportation within all known wards? What on earth have you been teaching him?... No, don't deny it, Albus. It's as plain as day."
Dumbledore replied sombrely, "I give you my word, Lucille. I never taught Harry to teleport. He's always been an enterprising young lad, you know."
"Surely, Dumbledore," boomed the Swiss minister, "Three unique spells from three different branches of magic and a world record to boot. A boy so young doesn't just come up with something like that without someone teaching him?"
"Well, now," Fudge cut in, "I happen know Harry myself somewhat and I can tell you Dumbledore is very right about him. Independent, I tell you. Headstrong, but independent. Stands to reason, of course. One doesn't become the youngest Triwizard champion in history by accident."
Dumbledore just chuckled, "Why don't I introduce you all to Harry when an opportune moment presents itself? You can ask him yourself. Now, if you'll excuse me, I do believe there are others we're ignoring. Not to mention, the stands seem to have become quite unruly."
Lucille muttered something like "to be expected" before wandering off. The others followed suit. Dumbledore turned his attention to an irate Madame Maxime who wanted to know why the Beauxbaton's champion and one of her exemplary students had been subjected to such abject humiliation.
Nymphadora Tonks hadn't been able to tear her eyes off the screen for the entire day, much like the crowd in the bar around her. The newly erected "T.V" dominated a majority of the space behind Rosmerta's usual position. Around her, the usual patrons of the Three Broomsticks had been joined by anyone unable to enter the colosseum.
The young auror was starting to understand a little of why Dumbledore seemed to trust Harry so much. As the newest member of the newly reorganized Order of the Phoenix, she had been nothing short of offended to hear that a young boy had been invited to join the Order. But no one, not the people around her, nor the masses in the duelling colosseum, saw a boy now. The last few seconds had been a clinic on intimidation. Not that the rest of the day had been anything short of impressive.
The T.V showed the chaotic frenzy into which the crowd in the colosseum had worked itself into. There were firecrackers, flags and smoke everywhere. As if on cue, drunken yelling and the sound of a brawls breaking out came from outside the bar. Setting down her Firewhisky with a sigh, Tonks stomped out cursing how even a day off wasn't to be for an auror.
The Hogwarts dugout welcomed Harry with a hero's return. It took a few minutes and some doing to extract himself from the wishes and head out with Hermione and the Hat. The medi-wizards had only let him walk off the field because he had stopped bleeding and promised to head straight for the infirmary. While he had gained two deep cuts and a few smaller ones from his fight with the knight, they weren't anything of major concern.
Hermione gushed about his performance and he just quietly listened, glad she wasn't chastising him. It was good to have someone normal around him. Between him and the Hat, their conversations rarely led them to anything that could be considered normal. Speaking of-
"Explain what you mean by all or nothing."
"That's something I've come to like about you, kid. Always going straight for the biggest problem in the room. All in good time. Now take some time to rest on your laurels. Enjoying what you achieve is the best motivation for achieving more."
"With all the swearing and cussing you do, sometimes I forget you're a thousand-year-old relic with all that precious wisdom hidden inside."
"Here's another then. Whenever wounded, even if it doesn't hurt, pretend you're about to drop dead at any moment. This one is especially applicable to you."
"Eyes behind, my hairless monkey."
Harry turned back to find the two bright lights of his life charging towards him. Fleur beat her sister this time, throwing her arms around Harry and sighing contently into his chest. The pent-up frustration from the duel seemed to ebb a little. "Thanks," she whispered, voice heavy with emotion. Harry instinctively crushed her to him. Hermione looked away blushing, a slightly disappointed look crossing her face.
Jasmin came up on them and immediately pinched Harry's arm, trying to look angry. Her lips were pursed in a cute pout while her pretty eyes glared as best they could. Harry wasn't sure whether to be nervous or be blown away by cuteness. He just termed it the "Jasmin look". It made him want to grab hold of her and shower her face with kisses. "Let me take a look at your injuries," she said, taking his hand.
"What happened, Adri?" Harry asked, letting go of Fleur so she could get a better look at him. Jasmin just pulled out her wand and started closing the smaller cuts, muttering incantations under her breath. He let her do it, enjoying the attention. When she was done, only the deeper cuts remained. "I can't heal them yet," she finished rather sadly.
Harry couldn't help it. He lightly tried hugging her and when she didn't protest, held her tightly too. Hermione was doing her best not to look uncomfortable, but kept glancing at Fleur as if expecting her to object.
"I was so worried," Jasmin muttered quietly. "I didn't want to see either you or Bell get hurt. And when it was you two fighting, I just...couldn't... " Harry squeezed her tighter, saying, "Oh, Adri, I would neve-"
"But then," there was no missing the indignation that had crept into her voice. "You two go and start kissing in the arena?"
"We did not kiss," said Fleur, rolling her eyes and pulling Harry by his hands. They started moving towards the infirmary again, discussing the doings of the day. Fleur blushed the entire way as Harry explained in great detail how impressed he was with her skill and how their duel had made him "wanna do things to her." If he had looked at the other two, Harry would have seen Jasmin and Hermione sporting matching blushes. Either from awkwardness or exhaustion, Hermione excused herself, but not before Harry had given her a tight hug too.
It was a very elated, albeit tired, threesome that made their way into the infirmary. It had more than a few people in it today. All the duellists who had suffered major injuries were laid out in line.
Madam Pomfrey was working on Juan in a corner when they walked in. Wordlessly, she pointed him towards his usual bed, after noting he hadn't sustained any major injuries. The injured had been moved from the medi-tent to the infirmary. Next to Juan's bed was Celestine, recovering from magical exhaustion, then Sebastian, still unconscious and finally Bayard who seemed to have recovered considerably.
The looks Harry got from them ranged from utter hatred to grudging respect. As he headed for "his" bed, Harry noticed Daphne was lying on the one next to it, talking to Tracy. Cedric and Gardner, both unconscious, were in the beds next to them. Daphne's eyes followed the threesome as Harry hopped into the bed, less like a patient and more like a kid in an amusement park. Not in the mood for any verbal jousting, he just nodded at Daphne and was surprised to have it returned with something that resembled a smile.
Fleur never even glanced at her teammates as she followed Harry and sat on the bed next to him while Jasmin took the chair. Fleur had already been cleared by the medi-wizards. Juan's eyes were still on her, though only briefly as they kept closing from the pain, gritting his teeth. It was a moment of extraordinary beauty when, of all people, Jasmin said loudly, "I'm thinking of getting a capuchin monkey as a pet, Harry. What do you think? It will keep the ugly piggies away."
Whether out of pain or rage, Juan's entire body twitched creepily in response. But more surprisingly, Daphne burst out laughing at that. She didn't stop for a while either. It was extraordinary to see the stoic Daphne let loose like that. Harry wondered how many times that had been today. She actually looked like a completely different person when she laughed out loud. Pretty too.
Jasmin shyly giggled at her own joke and at making Daphne laugh. She had seen enough of the Ice Queen in classes to know this was a rare event. "How're you feeling, Daphne?" she asked, genuine concern on her face.
Daphne immediately grimaced, her laughter dying, "I'm fine. Ribs don't even hurt anymore. She won't let me go until they're completely healed though." She tossed her head in Madame Pomfrey's direction, who had just finished with Juan and was heading towards Harry.
"Oh, stop it, Miss Greengrass. Another hour here won't kill you," Madame Pompfrey said coming to a stop in between Daphne and Harry's beds. She already had her wand out and was casting her diagnostic charms, a prerequisite before she could treat his wounds. Behind her, Harry saw Juan had fallen unconscious too.
"I'm surprised you managed to stay out of the infirmary for this long, to be honest," she seemed to mutter to no one in particular.
"It wasn't for the lack of trying," Harry said sweetly, "I only let myself get injured today so I can come see you."
"Hmph. Crushed thigh muscle and broken hip bone. I suppose you knew exactly how much pain that was going to cause without the match stopping. I had to put him under. The kid you hit with a bludgeoner is still out cold and we can't wake him until his torn muscle fibers heal. Do you have any idea how much power is required to cause that much damage with a bludgeoner? There's no way that was accidental. The girl is recovering from a drained core and I don't even know what you did to the other one for him to be like that when he got here. I swear, why they hold these events...And look at you! What did you get injured by now? "
Even though she was scolding Harry in a hushed voice, it carried to the ones around the bed. Harry just continued smiling at her serenely, enjoying the familiarity of the moment, before saying, "People get injured in duels, Poppy. And it was a twelve feet tall patronus knight with a greatsword. Bet you don't hear that every day?"
The girls did not miss the nonchalant way in which he had said the school nurse's name or how she had shown no reaction to his words except roll her eyes. She started mending his cuts, muttering, "I haven't heard about half the things you get injured by. How you manage to find so much trouble is beyond me?"
"Because I go looking for it, of course. Now tell me, what wonderful concoctions do you have for me today?"
"Nothing. The cuts didn't sever any blood vessels and you've had enough rejuvenation potions and blood-replenishers. Food and rest is all you need now. Want to spend the night?"
"What do you think?"
"Then stay for an hour and you can leave," she said, before hurrying to shoo away students who had come to check up on their duellists.
Before any of the girls could say anything, Bayard walked over. His expression was the same he usually had, one of bored indifference. But when he spoke, it was with a measured voice and words, "Thank you. And well played."
"Thank you?" Harry asked, stumped.
"For the counter-jynx. I know you hit me with it as soon as you possibly could. A most impressive spell, if I may say so. The jynx, that is."
These were the moments that made Harry uncomfortable. "Erm... Yeah, cool. Thanks."
That seemed an acceptable response to Bayard who just nodded. "I will be looking forward to a rematch, of course. A proper duel this time. At your convenience."
Harry grinned. Now this he could get behind. "Of course, Bayard."
Bayard nodded again, smiled and stalked off back to his bed, stiff as a board. Daphne rolled her eyes while Tracy just shook her head and muttered, "Boys are weird."
Half-an-hour later, Harry had wrangled his release from Madam Pomfrey after the parents of the injured students had shown up. She knew crowds made him iffy and he had just badly hurt their kids after all. Harry's retreat with the two veelas had been followed by more than one pair of eyes with dislike. Juan's father in particular had looked ready to throttle him.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Jasmin asked, "Harry, are you friends with the nurse?"
"I should be. I'm a regular customer at this joint."
Jasmin frowned at the implication but let it slide for now, "Does she take interns?"
"Oh, that's right," Fleur piped up, "You can start training here," before telling Harry proudly, "She's really talented, you know. But we can't start training in healing until our fifth year at Buaxbatons. The practice here could really help her."
Harry looked at the veela clutching his repaired hand, "When were you going to tell me about this?"
Jasmin tugged his hand, "Not like you didn't know. You've seen me practicing and using healing spells before."
"Yeah, but I thought it was because you were a Highborne veela."
Jasmin giggled, "It sort of is."
Harry nodded, without pressing the subject. "I'll ask Poppy. Shouldn't be a thing. She's always complaining about how much work she has left to do and not enough help."
A thought struck Harry as he remembered the infirmary they had just left. "What about your parents, Fleur?"
"Maman and Camille are at home. I'm sure they watched us though," Fleur flushed at the thought, before continuing, "Papa will see us later tonight. He's busy with work whenever he's here."
"Um... Do they know about us?"
"Non. I haven't said anything and they haven't asked."
"Knowing them," Jasmin added, "they're waiting for us to say something."
Harry was beginning to regret opening this line of conversation. What could he possibly say to their parents anyway? He cast around for a change of subject.
"So you guys want to go for a walk arou- no wait, there will be people there. How about the astronomy tower? We'll have a great view of the lake and grounds."
Jasmin looked at him sternly, "Now? Harry, you and Bell need rest. Besides," she sniffed. "I still haven't forgotten about what you two did today. There's something I wanted to tell you."
"Go on," Harry said, apprehensively.
"Not here. Wash up and meet in your room?"
Back in their sanctuary, Jasmin sat on the solitary chair struggling to find the right words. Fleur had been content to throw herself on the bed next to Harry as soon as they had walked in. Only a pillow separated them and Fleur was hugging it, looking at Jasmin, who seemed to decide it was best to cut to the chase. "I want to do it too."
Any number of questions ran through Harry's mind. "Duel me?"
"Oui, that too. But I meant the allure. It's not fair you only saw Bell that way. Now you won't have eyes for anyone else."
Harry couldn't deny it. He had been unable to stop noticing different facets of Fleur's features for the past hour, or thinking about them. He tried to hide his blush when he thought of the shower he had just taken.
Jasmin just nodded, convinced she was right, "So, I've spoken to Bell about it," she got up daintily and behind him, Harry felt Fleur slide off the bed, looking anywhere but at him. "She agreed to it as long as she was here too."
"Here? Now?" Harry didn't know what to expect.
"Oui, right now," Jasmin replied, and instead of taking Fleur's vacated spot, came and sat next to Harry, as close to his face as possible. "I know you're tired, Harry. Stay still. I just...want you to see me for all I am."
Then, without warning, the full blast of Jasmin's primary veela allure hit him. It wasn't his fault. They were alone and he was safe in bed, tired. The moment it hit him, all thoughts of resisting vanished. All he saw was the person he had been crushing on, more beautiful than any feeble human mind could imagine, doing her best to impress him.
Harry was more than impressed. Jasmin's hair was doing wonderful things, flowing, like autumn rain. Rosy red lips that spoke of rapture and the curve of her thankfully-covered bosom had him weak in the knees. Any hint of flesh might just have driven him over the edge. All he wanted was for this deity to show some more attention to him. With no knowledge of doing it, his hand immediately found her thigh, clutching desperately, a silent demand for closeness.
Jasmin's response was so fast; his eyes were still open when hers closed right in front of his face. Bending down, she had taken his lower lip in between hers, tenderly and tentatively, unsure, like a deer trying to cross the road. Fleur's indignant "Adri!" seemed to snap something.
Instead of pulling back, Jasmin's soft lips crushed what was between them and Harry's eyes closed shut, all thought wiped clean. His response was as primal as he was. He responded with vigor, brazenly licking her lower lip. It flew open and Jasmin's delicious moan had him pressing her to him by the back of her head, his other hand still clutching the thigh.
Harry had no idea how long it lasted. All he knew was that it hadn't been anywhere close to enough and Fleur, who was yanking at Jasmin's arm, was his worst enemy. It barely lasted a second though. Fleur's entire face was flushed and sweating, pink as can be, not something that bespoke rage. But her angry voice and flared nostrils said different. The darkened eyes could have been anything.
Something seemed to shift in Harry's head as he watched the two...he had no words for them anymore. And they were arguing now, over him. His head was spinning and he didn't even want to know what he was feeling.
Fleur turned to him suddenly, the hurt in her eyes sobering him, "So her you weren't able to resist?"
Harry looked at her gobsmacked. Thankfully Jasmin came in the way, "It's not his fault, Bell. I... was hoping... You know, so I can keep my lead." She finished almost pleadingly.
Fleur narrowed her eyes at her sister, muttering audibly, "Minx."
"You have your flair; I have my charm. We each play with the toys we have," Jasmin said, uncharacteristically coy.
Fleur huffed and turned towards the door, before shooting at Harry, "We'll duel whenever we can from now, 'arry." It was more of an order than a statement, one Harry had no problem complying with. Fleur stretched out her hand, "Come, Adri. Let him sleep."
Catching Harry's eyes, Jasmin blushed, the smooth fair skin on her face turning red. "Let him sleep. I want to watch."
Catching hold of her arm, Fleur dragged her out, "Commme."
Even before the door had shut behind them, his eyes closed, thoughts drifting off to a place far away. One where it was just him and two others.
After the excitement of a great come-from-behind duelling victory, the students of Hogwarts, for the most part, had tried not to rub the other schools noses in it. Hence, it was a very subdued and awkward meal that the Great Hall saw during the night of the duelling. News about brawls, fights and duels breaking out in Hogsmeade had filtered through.
However, once everyone had retired for the night, all the houses had thrown a party for their victorious duellists. The Gryffindor tower in particular had decided to spend the entire night drinking, dancing and celebrating. The problem was, their guest of honor had failed to show, again. Repeated entrants into the fourth-year boy's dormitories only found a very irritated Ron, who had skipped the party.
Hermione sat in a corner of the common room, surrounded by Ginny and other girls her year, butterbeer in hand and books spread out in front of her on the table.
"... and there were so many more. My throat still aches," Lavender was saying.
"Some of ours were pretty good too. Gardner really got the bad end of the draw. I'm pretty sure he could've done better against a different opponent. Bayard was just too strong," said Padma.
"Yeah, but Harry brought him down with that crazy spell. I swear, I felt it all the way in the stands," Ginny added.
"Me too. I knew Harry was a little advanced, but I didn't know he was that powerful," Padma replied. "That was a Dumbledore level spell, I think. Probably learnt it from him too, huh? Hermione?"
The bushy haired witch broke out of her musings. "Wha... Yeah, probably... I don't know. He learns most of his magic himself these days," she finished honestly.
"Come onnn, Hermione. At least tell us where he is. You've been so quiet. We know something is on your mind. Let it out. It's like you don't trust us anymore," Lavender pricked and prodded, hoping for a little gossip, but concern evident.
Hermione wasn't going to tell them where Harry was, of course. But maybe Lavender was right. A little girl gossip always lessened the load on her heart, more than mind.
"I think he's with his girlfriends," she said quietly. That simple sentence reverberated around the table. This was the first time Hermione had used that term to describe the two veelas who had been the cynosure of all eyes from day one. More than one girl at the table disliked them without any idea of what they were like.
"So... it's official then? They actually are, like, both dating him?" Padma asked, hesitantly.
Lavender cut her off, "Wait, what do you mean he's with them, Hermione? You mean in their room at the Beauxbatons tower? Those two weren't at the feast either."
Hermione shook her head, "No. And I don't know if they're together," she was lightly plucking her hair, "Look, it doesn't matter. What matters is Harry's the happiest I've seen him."
"Yeah, I'll bet he is," Lavender scoffed, "Still. Two? I don't know how I feel about that."
Their conversation was interrupted by Fred dropping in on them. "Hermione, tell Harry Prof. McGonagall wants to see him whenever you see him. Even though tomorrow is a Sunday, she'll be in her office, she said. Like that's a surprise," he finished.
Hermione nodded mutely, still in her own world. Ginny turned to her brother, "You guys seem to always know where everyone is? Where's Harry, then?"
"Ah, but Harrykins is the exception, little sister. He knows the hidey holes of this castle better than anyone. Besides, let the man get some rest. He carried the whole team today."
Ginny just scowled at her brother before picking herself off her seat, "Well, I'm going to go sleep. Goodnight all." And she was gone. Hermione decided to follow suit. The party was getting rowdy and she didn't feel like answering more questions about Harry's whereabouts.
It was only much later, when she was in bed, that it occurred to Hermione that she was coping with Harry's new life better than she had expected, but still wasn't completely sure how she felt about him. One thing was certain. As Harry had put it, "Girlfriends come and go. Friends are for life."
One of the best naps of his life had Harry waking right at the break of dawn on a Sunday. The solitary window in the room was just letting in the first rays of the sun. Seconds after waking, Harry was stretching and heading towards the view. Duelling record holder, Captain comeback, Daphne avenger and Juan slayer. Not bad for a day's work. And the reward for it had been priceless too.
After a few moments recollecting the spare details of his first kiss, Harry headed into the shower, knowing full well the rest of the day was going to be spent with him catching at least some flak.
As expected, Dumbledore did not look happy when he walked into his office an hour later. But, he could see it was only on the surface. So he played along by putting on his best sombre face.
"Do you have any idea how many questions I've had to answer about your last duel yesterday, Harry? I see the Sorting Hat has been a bad influence on you."
Harry winced at the scolding. Trust the old man to go straight for the jugular. He didn't feel like explaining about Juan though. Dumbledore didn't need to know and it was done. Time to deal with it and move on.
"The Hat had nothing to do with it, Professor. And I realize what I did yesterday was very wrong. How bad is it?"
Dumbledore sighed, "Bad enough for some people to try and blame yesterday's fights on you. But, of course, it was plain to everyone who watched that the melee was going to break out regardless. Bad enough for some people to try and term what you did sexual assault, although thankfully they belong to the delusional minority. Most see it for what it is, duelling, albeit taken a step too far. Let's not forget that some duels are settled by death and life debts. In short, my boy, the only real call for punishing you I'm facing is from the St. Pierre family and Madame Maxime. They would like a public apology and for you to be banned from duelling. I do believe they were originally planning to ask for the entirety of yesterday to be wiped from record and for you to be banned from the Triwizard."
"And is this any of this happening professor?" Harry kept his voice in control.
Leaning forward, Dumbledore brought his fingertips together, his face and body emphasizing the gravity of the moment. It was tense enough for Harry to lean forward a little in his chair too, anger fading for concern. And just as instantly, it was gone, "Of course not," Dumbledore said lightly. "It's duelling. I certainly had to deal with a lot more than I would've liked to, but I was able to convince them they were better off not blowing this out of proportion."
Harry nodded, not sure if a thanks sufficed, was necessary or appropriate. All he knew was that this man was covering for what he did yesterday, a truly shameful position to put your teacher in.
Dumbledore spoke again, "Don't get me wrong. I am extremely pleased with your performance yesterday, as are a lot of others. But this is how one little lapse of judgement can overshadow the rest of your achievements. As you know, Prof. Snape's efforts to track down Tom failed and now, there is a very good chance that Lord Voldemort will return to full power soon. It is imperative that you are seen in the right light. "
Harry nodded again, unable to refute that argument. Dumbledore seemed to find that sufficient. When he spoke again, his head lowered and there was eagerness in his voice, "Now then, start with the fear jynx." And once again he was the excited little boy who had taught him all about the true meaning of magic. The next hour or so was spent in discussion about the duels and the happenings for the days to come.
Prof. McGonagall had not been so nice. After deducting a hundred points for "completely disgracing the ideals of Godric Gryffindor", she had made it abundantly clear that such behaviour was unacceptable. She had relented after a nearly twenty-minute dressing-down, where Harry had said nothing, knowing full well this could have been a lot worse. He was let off with a stiff, "good work with duelling. Focus on the events ahead."
It was a very surprised Harry that swept through the castle as he headed for a late breakfast. His meeting with Flitwick, right after McGonagall, where he had gushed about Harry's exploits yesterday, had let him see a side of the diminutive Goblin professor, Harry doubted many students had. He had been on cloud nine about Harry's short range teleportation charm, terming it, "this most unique and innovative approach to charms." Since Harry was the only one who knew the theory and had cast the charm non-verbally, Flitwick assured him the chances of it being reproduced were minimal at best. He did, however, advise Harry to write a "Single-spell tome" about it just in case. The royalties for such unique spells were not a negligible amount, he said.
But even more surprisingly, the student population was treating him with a level of deference and respect that sat very well with Harry's need to be left alone. Even though most of them were happy to talk to him if given the chance, the popular opinion seemed to be that Harry Potter was not one to be crossed.
Harry's morning had involved Roger Davies diving out of his way during the morning jog and then waving haphazardly at him, Katie asking him to Hogsmeade "as friends" while looking ready to run away and Draco slinking away from his gaze without meeting his eyes. His advisor had shared some pearls of wisdom on how to deal with the situation. "Get used to it, ninny."
So when he walked into the Great Hall at eleven for a very late breakfast, it came as no surprise the whole room broke into either whispers or applause from the Hogwarts students. What did surprise him, was Fleur and Jasmin sitting at the Hogwarts table, deep in conversation with Hermione.
Jasmin went red as a plum when she saw him and quickly hid her face behind Fleur. Harry realized it had been her first kiss too. Boy, was he going to enjoy this.
Fleur only noticed Harry as he took a seat next to Hermione, opposite the other two. She smiled her beautiful smile and all was forgotten and forgiven. It was just the way they worked.
"Where were you?" she asked, "We've been waiting for you since finishing breakfast."
"Meeting people. Doing stuff. I'm a world record holder, you know."
Fleur tried to hide her smile by pursuing her lips, "Oh god, you're going to keep bringing that up now, aren't you?"
"Until my next great achievement, yes."
Hermione pushed her Daily Prophet towards Harry, saying, "Yes, well, the press has a different story to tell." The front page showed Harry standing over a bikini-clad Juan and then blowing him away like a rag doll with his bludgeoner. The headline read, "Harry Potter heroes win, zeroes foreign policy!"
Harry rolled his eyes at her, "Come on, Hermione. Give me the bullet points. I'll read it if I like them."
"Nothing much. Just stuff like how you had a monkey commit sexual assault on another champion, how your bludgeoner had the audience fearing for their life, how you might have caused a riot, etc.,"
"Oh good," Harry replied, pulling himself a plate and starting his ritual before breakfast, "I was afraid they might paint me as the next Dark Lord or say I'm going to cause a war between two countries."
"It's implied," Hermione said, passing him the toast. "The others aren't so bad. But Rita Skeeter seems to have taken your unwillingness to give interviews personally."
"It's a common tactic," Jasmin finally spoke up, pouring Harry juice without looking at him, "She's trying to bait you out."
Harry took the goblet from her, glad she had made the first move. Ignoring everything else, he fixed his gaze unflinchingly on Jasmin, specifically, her lips. It only took Jasmin a few seconds to realize where he was staring and went a brilliant shade of magenta. Harry bit his lips just to emphasize his point, causing Fleur to reach forward and slap his hand. Harry was getting used to this now. The to and fro of their weird relationship.
Returning to his toast and beans, Harry asked, "So how did your school handle the results? Did you get into any trouble?"
Fleur shook her magnificent head, silver hair flying everywhere. "Why would I? I got the most victories, you know," she said, smiling lightly. "Non, I was annoyed by stupid pigs telling me how I was dating an... indecent person."
Harry purposely dropped his utensils, grabbed a couple of sausages with his two bare hands and started stuffing them into his mouth. Jasmin giggled, while Fleur wrinkled her nose in disgust, "And here, I told them I knew what kind of a man I was with."
"Did you tell them I can shoot beans from my nostrils? Wanna see?"
"Ewwww. 'arry. You're being impossible today. What're you planning on doing after breakfast anyway?"
Harry had already considered that. "I revealed a couple of good trump cards yesterday. Time to restock," and said no more. But the implication was clear that he had plans.
"Oh," Fleur said, looking dejected, "I was hoping we could duel today."
Jasmin interjected, "Just duel, Bell?"
Harry firmly shook his head and recited, "Nope, I won't let the temptations of mortal life dissuade me from a path of higher learning."
Jasmin giggled again. That was another thing he liked about her. However bad or distasteful his jokes, she seemed to find them funny. Not just laugh for his sake, but actually find them funny.
"What're you planning to learn now?" Fleur asked.
"Where will you be?"
Fleur was actually getting annoyed at him now. "Do you want us around or not?" she asked haughtily.
"Fine, I'll be in the Room going through the book." The two veelas eyes widened when they realized which book he meant, and why he wanted privacy, while Hermione looked at him curiously. Harry shook his head at her. The idea he was going to bleed himself would horrify her while the idea of the knowledge the book could contain would gnaw at her constantly.
Fleur nodded, saying quietly, "Sorry for getting mad at you."
"I'd only be upset if you didn't from time to time, princess."
Her reaction was priceless.
Somewhere in America:
The masked man found himself walking through the familiar office of his former friend. A decade had done little to change its decor or layout. The cubicle like offices housed an employee each, who seemed content to type away on their keyboards. A couple sat in the open rest area, laughing and chatting over coffee, the very picture of muggle serenity.
Klien's quarry sat at the head of the large room, behind a large desk and glass walls, signifying his authority. His eyes had followed the newcomer from the moment he had walked in. There was no denying the look of utter horror he sported as Klien took a seat in front of him. The cold, mechanical voice came from underneath the mask, "We need to talk."
The man gulped, doubt and fear apparent, but nodded and pulled out a small artificial wand. With a simple wave, the typing, laughing and chatter behind them stopped. Wordlessly, the twelve muggles in the room, formed an orderly line and stepped out.
"I see they have been providing you with their little toys," the mechanical voice continued as soon as they were alone.
"They?" the man, once someone he would've given his life for, stared at him with fear, "So, you really did desert? The League have always kept the No. 3 spot open, you know, believing you'll come back one day."
"And here I am," Klien replied, without missing a beat.
"Yeah, but... for what? I... " he trembled, "We... were worried you'd want... revenge. Those of us... you know?"
The masked man did know. Those of them who had tried to kill him, including the man in front of him. Slowly, he brought his hand forward and placed it on the man, who trembled again, trying not to look at Klien's shining eyes. "Let's not dwell on the past, old friend," he said, the shine turning into a manic gleam. "I just need you to contact them and arrange for a meeting. I'll take care of the rest. You'd do that for a friend, won't you?"
The man nodded desperately. As if he was going to do anything other than what this monster in front of him was telling him to do. He received a satisfied nod in return.
Standing up to his full and intimidating height, Klien stared down at the man, the implication clear. He was being left alive because he still held some use to him, no other reason.
As he turned to leave, the man couldn't help it, "A-Aren't you going to ask about what happened? After you left?"
"I'm sure I'll find out for myself soon," the fading mechanical voice answered, "Besides, how can I deny myself the pleasure of a good surprise?"
A/N: Words cannot describe the happiness I felt reading the reviews for the last chapter. To know something had the impact you wanted it too. Thank you all very much. Anyway, suggestions and opinions are always welcome. I'm doing this as a way to hone my writing skills and there's no such thing as bad feedback. And now for a few clarifications.
1) One of the most often asked questions is about pairings. For now, it's just what it is. Writing a decent romance story between two people in itself is daunting.
2) Since this might get confusing, I'll drop it here. There are two types of allure. Ordinary veela type and Highborne allure.
3) Not sure whether to term it fluff or smut or something else. Yes, underage. But, plot. Not for a while though, basically expect normal progression of slightly older teenagers.
4) There will come a point in the fic where it will need a couple of extra villains and I was thinking of basing them on already known characters. (Looks and personality, not power). I figure it's better than complete OC's. Obviously, they will be moulded to fit the Harry Potter universe.