"Let me see her!" Ron was practically fuming, trying to lean around his older brother to grasp and twist the doorknob behind him," I need to know that she's alright!" Bill's scarred face was scowling as he crossed his arms over his chest and stood firmly in front of the closed door. Even if Ron did get around him, Bill wouldn't be surprised if Fleur had locked the door behind her when she went in to tend to Hermione.
The motley crew had appeared broken and battered at Shell Cottage just shy of three days ago and in those three days, the only people that had seen Hermione were Bill and Fleur. Bill because he had carried the girl in himself and Fleur because she damn near refused to let the girl out of her sight. The other members of the house barely saw Fleur either. She was only seen leaving the room to get more potions or to make some food for herself and Hermione. They didn't even see her go to the bathroom because of the en-suite that was attached the room that Hermione had been placed in to rest.
Throughout those three days (three days of recovery and hell, as Harry would put it), Ron had been adamant about getting into the room to try and see the girl that he had a (very misguided) crush upon. Each and every hour, Ron would attempt to sneak up the stairs towards the shut door and each and every hour, he would be caught. Sometimes it would be Harry, who would gently guide him away, telling him that they needed Hermione strong for when they went back on the Ron. Fewer times it would be Dean and he would try a different approach. He would offer Ron food, saying he looked pretty hungry and it would surely make Hermione feel bad if his stomach growled while he was visiting her. Even fewer times it would be Luna that stopped him. She probably had one of the worst approaches - at least in Ron's thoughts.
The first time that it had happened, she had stared him down from across the landing. Her hand was loosely holding her wand at her side and her normally happy and demure smile didn't reach her eyes. It had made Ron so unnerved that his hand had fallen from the doorknob and he hurried back down the stairs. The second time that it had happened, she was closer to the door, leaning against the wall and humming a jaunty tune under her breath. Ron didn't even finish walking up the stairs before she stared him down, the exact same expression on her face. Safe to say, he hadn't finished walking up the stairs.
Most of the time though, it was like this. Bill was standing vigil outside of the door again, staring his little brother down not unlike the expression that Luna had held only minus the smile. Ron knew he should have been scared or intimidated but this was his brother, his eldest brother whom he had once seen get his foot stuck in the toilet back home. Ron wasn't intimidated in the slightest.
"Bill, come on," He had switched from being angry to pleading slightly," You have to let me see her. Come on, Bill. I need to know that she's alright."
"She is alright," Bill snarled right back," But she is exhausted and healing. She's stable, Ron but not up to see visitors. She's been sleeping, mostly. Eating occasionally and Fleur helps her to the bathroom. She will be fine, give her time to rest. Time to rest without her being interrupted by loud boys who should learn to respect boundaries."
Bill always said a variation of that and every time Ron would swear under his breath and begrudgingly go off in search of Harry or Dean - he wasn't going to look for Luna because she had genuinely unnerved him a few hours previously.
Bill watched him go back down the stairs and heaved a sigh of relief before turning around and rapped slightly on the door.
After a second or two, it slipped open and he was greeted by the bright amber eyes of Fleur Delacour. The eyes glanced around the landing wildly in search of Ron before fading back to their usual bright blue when it was apparent that Ron was gone.
"How is she?" Bill asked tentatively. He knew that one wrong move or word would result in the Veela instincts taking control and the door being slammed shut again.
"Better, recovering," Was what Fleur murmured," She bled through 'er bandages again."
Bill reached out his hands before Fleur could even ask and was passed the bloody bandages immediately.
"I'll get them clean," He promised," And I'll mix up some more pain relief potion, okay? I'll have Dean bring it up when he takes over Luna's shift, yeah?"
Fleur just nodded, not saying anything before shutting the door.
Bill allowed a ghost of a smile to grace his scarred features before turning back to the landing.
Luna was already standing there, ready to take over Bill's vigil of guarding the door.
Fleur listened until she heard the familiar heavy thuds of Bill's old warn curse breaker boats walking down the stairs. She blinked away the amber tinge in her vision in annoyance. Hermione needed logical Fleur at the moment not overprotective, Veela instinct driven Fleur.
She turned back to her mate, who was asleep on the bed, breathing in shallow breaths under the effects of a Dreamless Sleep potion. Hermione looked positively horrible. Her skin hung on her bones and Fleur wanted nothing more than to shovel more and more food into her mouth until the girl was a healthy weight again. She was pale as well, the after effects of being tortured. She was snugly dressed in a pair of Fleur's pyjama bottoms and one of her old button up shirts. Had this been any other situation, Fleur would have gushed and cooed at how cute her mate looked, dressed in the Veela's clothes and sleeping in the Veela's bed.
But Fleur wasn't concentrating on that, she was concentrated on the bandages that covered most of the girl's arms. Most of the wounds were shallow and could have easily been healed using magic but they would have definitely left scars. Scars were definitely something of a taboo in Veela culture and Fleur definitely didn't want a single one marring her mate's skin. So, she smeared a paste - that was able to heal them without scars being left - onto those wounds and bandaged them up. But Fleur knew that the filthy, horrible slur that had been carved onto Hermione's skin wouldn't heal that easily. It wouldn't seal up, no matter what the quarter Veela tried. Hermione had been rapidly bleeding through all bandages put on it and Fleur had been keep her stable with two blood replenishment potions every two hours.
Fleur had contacted her mother quickly - who had said that she and the Veela elders could whip up a potion but it might take a while.
Fleur had been thankful at that before she had returned to her mate's side.
Hermione had been barely lucid the few times that she had woken up, disorientated and screaming. She hadn't even recognised Fleur's face but had allowed the older girl to look after, tending to her wounds before Hermione passed out. It was a struggle to get her to eat and even more to coax her back to sleep again.
The worst part of it all wasn't that though.
It was Ron.
It was Ron Weasley.
Fleur was having a bad enough time keeping control of her instincts, to stop herself from succumbing to her inner Veela's wants and needs - which had slowly but surely become stronger after she had met her mate - without that stupid boy demanding to see Hermione every hour. He only seemed to take a rest from it when he was sleeping. Fleur had asked, practically begged Bill to let her shove a fireball up his ass and - while Bill would definitely pay to see that - he just wouldn't let her do it.
After meeting her mate, just as her grandmother had said, Fleur's Veela blood had slowly begun to burn away what was left of the wizarding blood from her father. It had slowly and surely been transforming her into a full Veela so she could have a full range of abilities to protect her mate.
Hell hath no fury like a Veela scorned.
Ron wouldn't even know what would hit him if Fleur let herself loose.
But she hadn't, she had enough self control to know Hermione certainly wouldn't be happy with her if she allowed her Veela to smite the boy from existence. So, Fleur had locked herself in the room with Hermione and tended to her like it was her meaning in life - she had scoffed at that when it first came to mind because she knew that her grandmother would certainly say that it was her purpose in life to tend to her mate.
"Fl-Fleur?" Hermione's voice was croaky, like it had ripped it's way through her strained vocal cords.
Fleur's heart thumped erratically in her chest. These were the first words that Hermione had spoken since she had arrived.
Immediately, Fleur was at her bedside.
"Ma belle," She breathed out, hand reaching out to cradle Hermione's bruised cheek," I am 'ere."
"Where..." Hermione started coughing and the Veela companion immediately reached to pour her a glass of water, gently coaxing her to sip on it. "Where am I? Harry?! Ron?! Are they okay?! Where's Dobby?!"
Any happiness that Fleur had at seeing her chosen one awake and speaking, immediately drained away as Hermione struggled to sit up.
"Non, non," Fleur said softly," Lay down, ma belle. You're ribs, zey are still 'ealing. Do not strain yourself."
Hermione did as told but her previously blank and dazed eyes were filled with worry and unshed tears. Fleur settled herself on the bed with her mate, stroking her hair, pressing a soft kiss to her head before swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat.
"Ron and 'Arry are recovering also," She said softly, placing more kisses on Hermione's head in an attempt to come her," But Monsieur Dobby, I am so sorry, ma belle. 'E did not make it."
Hermione let out a sob, tears spilling over her cheeks. Fleur gathered her up easily, trying to block out the amber tinge that was slowly growing in her vision. She didn't have time for this, for the Veela inside to come through.
"It is okay," Fleur tried to sooth her, allowing her inner Veela some leeway as she let out some calming pheromones that her mother used to use on her," It is okay, ma belle. Do not be sad, my heart can not take it if you are sad."
Hermione didn't stop crying but certainly stopped sobbing. Her tears were reduced to small whimpers as she automatically sought comfort from her Veela. It was painful to move around and tuck her head into Fleur's neck but Hermione's body was numb, so, so numb that she didn't really care anymore.
It was not lost on Fleur that she and Hermione had met this way.
It was during the Triwizard tournament that the pair had met for the first time. Of course, Fleur had known Hermione was her's the moment she saw her at the opening feat but the couple's first, real meeting was in the middle of the night, in the kitchens of Hogwarts. It was a week before the First Task and Fleur was very stressed. Stressed about everything, the First Task, the pressure from Madame Maxime, the revelation that her Veela blood was moulding her into a full blooded Veela and no longer just a quarter one.
Fleur had snuck out of the carriage one evening and made her way over to the school kitchens - she had heard about it by eavesdropping on the red haired twins, unaware that in a few years she would be on a first name basis with both of them. The House Elves had been more than happy to cater to her every need but Fleur had refused them politely, explaining that she needed to do this herself so she could destress from the absurd amount of pressure that had been placed upon her. Then Fleur did what she always did when she got stressed.
Fleur started to bake.
That was when Hermione had come in. She, herself, was stressed also. Stressed about Harry and the Tournament, stressed over the crumbling friendship of her two best friends, stressed over her breakup with Pansy Parkinson (why she ever thought it would work between them was strange and a serious lapse of judgement) and unbelievably stressed over her growing crush on a certain blonde haired Beauxbatons student. So, Hermione went down to the kitchen to get some food in the middle of the night so she could have something else to concentrate on.
As soon as she stepped into the room, Fleur had whirled around in shock and the pair had stared at each other for a good five minutes.
Now, Fleur was here, standing in the middle of the kitchen of Shell Cottage with a set of cupcakes cooling off on the rack next to her, a whole Victoria Sponge that had been dusted in sugar and nineteen gingerbread cookies in the oven. She knew that she could have cooked the magic way but she had always enjoyed the Muggle way better - her own father was Muggleborn and had taken great delight in teaching both her and Gabrielle.
The French Veela wanted nothing more than to be by Hermione's bedside but she knew in her heart that she needed a break. A break to collect her thoughts without worrying over every little intake of breath that her little mate took. Hence why she had started the baking.
Bill was pleasantly surprised when he walked into the kitchen and found his fake wife baking like her life depended on it. He had just gotten out of the shower and checked on Dean a few minutes ago - he was humming a tune as he waited out his vigil at Hermione's door. Harry was sitting outside by the beech, talking to Luna while Ron had taken yet another nap.
"Stressed?" He quipped as he walked in with a grin.
His answer was a snarl from Fleur and a flash of amber.
Immediately, his arms went up in mock surrender. "Sorry," He muttered," Bad joke, shouldn't have made it."
Fleur's eyes returned to blue and she sighed, sagging against the kitchen counter.
"I am sorry also," She sighed," I apologise for being on edge. I am just-"
"-Worried about her, I know," Bill smiled softly at the Veela," Dean is watching the door and Ron is napping. You deserve to relax and Hermione would agree with me."
Fleur was about to respond but her timer went off. Without using oven mitts, the French witch pulled the cookies from the oven. Bill just watched on in awe.
"That will never not surprise me."
Fleur just smiled, the one she used when she was teasing and relaxed. "I am Veela," She stated proudly and Bill was sure that if she wasn't such a lady, Fleur would have puffed out her chest as well," Ze heat does not affect moi."
Bill just smiled, about to make his own small jab about Veela when they both exchanged a worried look. They could hear the fire roaring in the sitting room. That could only mean one thing.
They both stumbled to the sitting room, wands drawn and pointed at the woman that was dusting off the soot from her clothes.
"Your patronus?" Fleur's eyes settled on amber, too protective of her mate to even entertain the idea of this invader getting far enough into the cottage to hurt Hermione - who should still be sleeping peacefully upstairs.
To her credit, Apolline Delacour didn't question it even as she quirked her eyebrow up, unbelievably amused at her daughter's protective attitude.
"A peacock," The elder Veela said curtly, playing with the cuffs of her coat before shrugging it off entirely," Happy now, oui?"
Fleur relaxed slightly, her eyes flicking between the two colours as she surge forward.
Bill could hardly keep up with the conversation between the two women as it was said in rapid fire French. He gathered that it was important otherwise Apolline wouldn't have flooed to the cottage and Fleur certainly seemed happy, ecstatic even, as a small bottle (Bill surmised that it was probably a potion for Hermione) was pressed into her palm. He felt like he was intruding slightly, on a private family moment. He was familiar with the Veela, yes, because of the fake wedding - that had never actually been filed at the ministry with the excuse of the reception being interrupted - between himself and Fleur but he knew that he was not Apolline's favourite person in the world - something that was obviously reserved for her future daughter-in-law for being able to, as Apolline had put it, 'control her idiot of a daughter'.
"Bill," The man flinched as his name was said in her rough, disapproving French accent," I 'ave called ze clan. Eizer you or ma Fleur send a patronus to us and we will fight wiz you. 'Owever, I must ask you to promise moi somezing."
Bill just found himself swallowing the lump in his throat and nodding.
"Leave zis Lestrange woman," She spat Bellatrix's last name like it was something disgusting under her foot," To one to ze clan or, better yet, my daughter. She deserves to feel ze full wrath for 'urting a Veela's chosen."
Bill nodded again, too terrified of this woman to form words in his throat.
Apolline Delacour could probably scare Voldemort back into hiding
The Veela nodded as well, a smile forming on her face as she turned back to her daughter, embracing Fleur once more.
"Give 'Ermione my best," Apolline said," Tell 'er zat I look forward to seeing 'er back in France."
With that, she was gone in a flash of green fire to rally the Veela troops.
They were arguing again, Hermione could hear them, just outside the door.
She and Fleur were lying on the bed again. She had barely been awake five minutes, blinking her eyes open to Fleur bandaging up the jagged 'Mudblood' scar on her arm. Seeing that she was awake, Fleur had settled on the bed with Hermione tucked under her chin. They hadn't really talked much since Hermione had woken up but she was fine in that. Talking seemed so wrong in a situation like this where Hermione was just beginning to settle into the feeling of being somewhere safe with her mate after so many months of being on the run.
She had been caught up on everything a few nights ago, had shed her tears for Dobby and had said her thanks to Bill when he had come in yesterday to check on the pair of them. He had smiled and waved it off. "Don't worry about it Hermione, it was the least I could do after I stole your mate to be my wife," He had said. Bill always knew how to diffuse the tension. He had even put in that Fleur had started stress baking again and that there was no longer any room on the kitchen counters to even make a small sandwich. "I know," Hermione had responded," She smells like gingerbread again."
Fleur had muttered something about giving Bill a painful death for just mentioning it but Hermione just laughed - swearing that once she could eat properly again then she would help him eat all of Fleur's creations before she left again.
Bill was friendly then, relaxed but hearing him from the other side of the door, he was anything but.
"No!" Hermione could practically hear the snarl," Leave her alone Ron! She needs to recover!"
"She's been recovering for a week!" Ron snapped right back and Hermione instantly curled up into Fleur's side - the Veela whispering sweet nothings to her in French to try and calm. The last thing they needed was the screaming to cause Hermione to retreat back into the corners of her mind and have another panic attack. "Let me see her, Bill! She'll want to see me!"
"Fleur is looking after her!" Bill insisted.
Hermione heard a little scuffle and assumed that Bill had blocked his brother from reaching the doorknob.
She flinched when she heard Ron scoff at the words that had just left his brother's mouth. "Fleur? Fleur is looking after her? Fleur doesn't know the first thing about Mione! Let me through, she needs to see me more than your wife! I'm her boyfriend, let me see her!"
Hermione looked up at Fleur when she felt the Veela's hold on her tighten and a kiss pressed onto the crown of her head. Sure enough, Fleur's eyes were rapidly flickering between bright blue and striking amber. When it settled on amber, the Veela moved to stand up, ready to throw open the door and snarl at Ron to back the hell up.
"Please, Fleur," Hermione murmured, her voice was still rough but she managed to get it out," Please stay here, with me."
Fleur threw a look of disdain over at the door before rearranging her hold on her mate, pressing yet another kiss to her head as one hand reached up to untangle curly brown hair.
"You're not her boyfriend," Bill was one of the few that were privy to the pair's little secret - not that they had gone around secretly at all but everybody just couldn't see if it wasn't plainly in front of them.
Hermione heard Ron sigh in annoyance.
"Maybe I'm not her boyfriend now but I will be in the future and I know that she would prefer to see me over your wife."
"Ron," Bill deadpanned," I'm gay."
"Good for you," Ron said sarcastically," Now move so I can see Hermione."
"Ron," Harry's voice joined them outside the door as Fleur tightened her hold on Hermione at another 'threat' that could take the witch away from her - not that Fleur actually considered them that but her Veela instincts were screaming at her to protect the girl that was still slightly weak in her hold/
"Ron," Harry tried again and Hermione surmised that it was probably because he hadn't gotten his friend's attention the first time," Bill is gay."
"So?" There was a beat of silence and Hermione chuckled slightly at the idea of Ron finally understanding. "Wait...but, but you got married! I was there, so was Harry! You got married to Fleur!"
"No, no I didn't," Bill sighed," It was a front, we got word out that we got married so Fleur could stay in the country. If anybody bothered to check with the Ministry, they would find no such records of a marriage between William Weasley and Fleur Delacour."
Fleur puffed her chest out in pride at hearing those words. Nobody had the right to marry her except for the little curly haired witch in her arms.
"Wait, wait, so you aren't married?" Ron was floundering at this point just like when he would get confused over a subject at school that Hermione would repeat several times.
"I...er, I am just not to Fleur. It was a private ceremony but Hermione and Fleur were there. Fleur was my best man...maid, girl and...and Hermione was Viktor's."
Hermione smiled slightly as she remembered the day. The ceremony was beautiful and it was totally worth it being done in secret to see one of her closest friends trying to memorise his vows in English five minutes before the ceremony began.
"Krum," Harry seemed to realise who Bill was talking about," You got married to Viktor Krum, didn't you? Good on you, Bill. I hope you have a good marriage."
"But..But," Ron seemed to still be struggling," Krum and Hermione were together! What...but..."
"They were each other's beards, you know, a front so nobody would know they were gay. Hermione didn't want everybody to know when she was in fourth year."
"Know?" Ron still hadn't got the hint," Know what? That Krum was gay?"
Hermione was sure that she heard Harry face palm - he always did work things out quicker than Ron did. Above her, Fleur let out her own breathy chuckle.
"No," Bill was really losing his patience now," You dimwit. She didn't want people to know that she's a lesbian. Therefore, she cannot be your girlfriend."
Hermione heard Ron cough slightly before continuing on. "Hardly matters, I still want to go and see her. Let me in!"
"FINE!" Hermione and Fleur had never heard Bill so angry before. "Go in but don't blame me if a territorial Veela burns your arse off because she thinks that you're going to steal her mate from her." Fleur growled in agreement, tucking Hermione closer to her, pressing more and more kisses to her head if only to remind herself that Ron didn't have a chance in hell.
"Mate?" Ron was proving to be incredibly oblivious.
Thankfully, Harry was not.
"Merlin," The boy-who-lived said barely above a whisper but Hermione and Fleur still heard it," That's why we haven't seen Fleur so much, isn't it? You said she knew something was wrong with Hermione before we even turned up?"
"Yeah," Bill said, his voice suddenly stopped," Veela's evolved to know when there mate was in pain. They feel pain at the same time but only a fraction of what their mate is feeling. Fleur said it was the worst agony she had ever felt, she could barely move off of the sofa, screamed her head off. I can only imagine what Hermione was feeling."
Fleur tugged Hermione closer again, tilting her head so she could press a soft kiss to her mate's lips. "Never again," She whispered against them," Never again."
"Mate?!" Ron was still struggling," What the bloody hell does that mean? Mate?!"
"It means, Ronald," Bill's voice was back to being low and dangerous again," That Fleur and Hermione are practically made for each other. Complimenting each other perfectly, magic, mind and body. They are destined to love and because of ancient Veela rituals and magic that I am not allowed to know about, one day, Hermione will be the mother of Fleur's children."
There was a loud thump that resounded around the house.
"Ron?" Harry's voice was thick with worry," Ron?! Are you okay?!"
"I think," Hermione chuckled slightly, a slight blush on her face at Bill's talk of the future," That Ron just fainted. Do you want to go and check on him?"
"Non," Fleur said, her eyes settling back to blue as a smile tugged on her lips," I will stay wiz you."
It was silent for a beat before Hermione swallowed thickly.
Fleur picked up instantly on her mate's nervousness and looked at her with such care and love that Hermione almost forgot what she was going to say.
"Mother of your kids, huh?" Hermione managed to get out, her blush only growing in size.
"Only if you want," Fleur said quite forcefully," 'Ermione, you know zat I would never force you to-"
"-I do," Hermione interrupted and at Fleur's shocked and confused look, she elaborated," I would love to have your kids, one day, once this all over."
Fleur smile softly and pressed a second kiss to Hermione's lips.