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After All This Time

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The war had taken a lot out of everybody even now, nearly four years later, they were still recovering.

Fred was dead and George spent his days grieving in the flat above his shop. Bill and Fleur had gotten a divorce and Fleur had enlisted in Auror training to avoid awkward interactions at Gringotts with her ex-husband. Lavender Brown had been savaged by Greyback during the battle and had been presumed dead although nobody had actually see her body. Andromeda Tonks, after not only losing her daughter, husband and son-in-law, moved away from London with little Teddy Lupin and left a note asking for nobody to come looking for her. She still sent letters to Harry but they were vague and few and far between. Draco Malfoy had been cleared of all charges and was thought to have up and left England entirely. Hermione Granger...Hermione Granger had disappeared also. Nobody had heard from her after she left for Australia two months after the war had ended.

Her disappearance had hit Fleur like a tonne of bricks. She had grown fond of the girl during the period of time they were at Shell Cottage together - she knew that during that time she had developed somewhat of a crush on the brilliant Gryffindor girl but, while she had been married to Bill, she had never admitted it to herself until after her divorce. Fleur wasn't really sure why but she had had a few ideas of what would happen after the war - most of them included herself and Hermione sipping wine together during a gathering of friends. She also had massive respect for the curly haired witch, being able to control Ron and Harry - the two idiots that were Fleur's auror partners.

It was their fault she was in this mess anyway.

They had just completed their mission and were allowed three weeks off as a reward. The boys had cajoled and pressured Fleur into going to a pub with them to celebrate and then, they took a wrong turn and the three of them ended up in a little town that none of them even knew existed. The three of them had been walking around in the cold for nearly two hours now. Fleur was cold and snappy, Ron was hungry and Harry was just trying to find a fireplace connected to the Floo Network so they could all get back home.

"Excuse me!" He ran up to a complete stranger and Fleur rolled her eyes," Do you know of somewhere we can Floo from?"

"New to town, huh?" The stranger said with a little laugh, glancing back at Fleur and Ron," Head up the hill to the orphanage. They'll sort you out."

"Thanks so much," Harry said before heading up the hill, leaving Fleur and Ron to hurry after him.

Fleur shivered as an icy wind sliced her to the bone. None of them wanted to be the one to knock on the door. It was a large building, Victorian in style with a perfectly made front garden full of blooming flowers.

"Should we just walk in?" Ron asked as he shoved his hands into his pockets and rocked back on the heels of his feet.

"Ronald!" Fleur hissed," You can not just walk into somebody's 'ome. I thought zat Molly taught you better zan zis!"

Ron went red before scowling. Harry sighed. Those two made the fights between Ron and Hermione look tame.

"Alright!" He said loudly," I'll knock!"

It didn't diffuse all of the tension but both of his partners turned away from each other and looked expectantly at the door. Harry knocked once and waited.

No answer.

He knocked again and waited.

No answer again.

"Let's just blow it open!" Ron whipped his wand out just as the heavy oak door was opened a crack.

Three pairs of eyes looked down to see a small boy standing in the doorway - he didn't look older than ten or eleven. He was glancing between them as he narrowed his eyes.

"What do you want?" He snarled and Fleur could swear that his eyes flashed gold but it was gone so quickly that she couldn't be entirely sure," Why are you here? Who are you?!" His slight Australian accent grew thicker with every question. The trio were in shock for a second before Fleur had enough. She was cold and angry and just wanted to get back to her flat in Kensington so she could sip wine on the balcony. Lowering herself to his level, she gave him a sweet charming. "Excuse us, little man. But can we come into your 'ome? We need 'elp and 'eard zat you have a Floo network?" 

"I'm not little," The boy basically hissed at her," I'm nearly fourteen! You didn't answer me, who are you?!" He didn't wait for an answer before slamming the door shut again.

Fleur blinked in shock, wordlessly moving her mouth before turning to exchange a look with Ron - who looked angrier than he had a few minutes ago.

"Oh! Good going Fleur! Now how are we going to get home?!" 

Fleur snarled at him, reaching for her own wand, ready to make him soar into the rose bushes. Harry wedged himself between the pair, raising her hands to make sure that they kept some distance. Ron wasn't happy at that and attempted to evade his friend, lips already moving to say a spell.

The door opening again was what diffused the situation.

"Jackson!" The man at the door was apparently scolding the child that had previously opened the door," You know the rules! Don't open the door without permission! What if you'd been hurt?! Sorry about him. Welcome to Lupin Trust Orphanage, how can I- Potter? Weasley?"

Everybody seemed to be in shock. Draco Malfoy stood in the doorway, the smile that was on his face previously had dropped. Harry and Ron didn't know what to do and Fleur stared wide eyes at the children also in the doorway. Draco had a little black haired toddler asleep on his shoulder and a group of other toddlers clinging to his legs. The boy from earlier - Jackson, Fleur supposed - was standing nearby as well, gripping the hand of a little boy with bright blue hair and a smile that seemed so familiar but Fleur couldn't entirely place why it was so familiar.

"I...I," Draco recovered first, passing off the sleeping boy to one of the older children," I suppose you want to come in then? We're just getting ready for dinner, Lav made lasagne. D'you want some?"

Ron and Harry looked like they were going to complain but Fleur jumped in quickly - she was not going to let these boys ruin her chance of getting home over a stupid school rivalry. "Zank you," She said, silently daring her partners to disagree. Draco just opened the door wider and took their coats. The children were still milling about, running in and out of rooms before Draco grinned and corralled the group - including Fleur, Harry and Ron - into the dining room. The table magically lengthened itself as more people entered and Fleur was ushered into a seat next to a preteen girl that was mucking around with the nine year old boy next to her.

"When Jackson told me that we had guests," An amused voice quipped from one of the doorways," I certainly didn't expect to see you three." Harry was up like a shot, barrelling towards the door, hugging Andromeda closely. That was when it dawned on Fleur, her head whipping around the the little blue haired boy with that familiar smile, Tonks' smile. "Fleur, Ronald, I hope you are both well?"

Ron was about to respond when his mouth fell open in shock. A very alive Lavender Brown stepped out of the kitchen with her arms crossed over her chest while the last of the toddlers settled in their seats. "This all very heart warming but surely we can do this while we eat. She's not going to be very happy if she and Amara get home and dinner isn't served." The Gryffindor looked exactly like she did in her schooling years just with six criss-crossed scratch marks on her face.

The food appeared in an impressive showing of wandless and wordless magic. Lavender slipped into the empty seat opposite Ron - who was staring at his plate suspiciously, glancing at Draco every few seconds like he thought his meal had been poisoned. Draco didn't seem to notice, sitting at the table - joking around with the teenagers. Andromeda was watching over little Teddy Lupin while she caught up with Harry - who looked overjoyed at seeing her again. The table was packed full, apart from the two seats opposite Fleur.

The quarter Veela glanced around the table and sucked in a sudden breath. It confirmed the small suspicion she had had since she had walked in. Seeing Lavender Brown's disfigured face was just the nail in the coffin. Discreetly glancing around, Fleur nodded to herself.

"Worked it out, have you Delacour?" Lavender asked," I should have known, huh? Wasn't sure if those two idiots would get brains back after Hermione left."

Fleur just laughed and nodded before suddenly going solemn at the mention of Hermione. It was clear as day that none of these children were entirely human. The werewolves were easy to pick out - with all of them sporting scratches on their faces or bite marks on their necks. The vampires were also easy to spot seeing as they were all sipping from Styrofoam cups. Fleur couldn't place the others but it was very clear that the only fully human people there were the adults - although she was sure that Draco had a tiny bit of Veela in him and of course, Lavender was a werewolf.

"So," Fleur knew that she would have to be the one to broach the subject. Harry and Ron may have been good out in the field but they were horribly hopeless when it came to actually talking to people. " 'Ow did zis all come about? It is quite a good set up."

"Oh!" Draco grinned and that was the most happy and relaxed Fleur had ever seen him before," It was Auntie Andi's idea originally. After my trials, I moved here and bought the house, renovated and everything. We fell back into contact a couple of months after the war and she mentioned in passing about all of the war orphans and how she wanted to help them. Of course, she had her hands full with Teds so couldn't find the kids herself. We found a few of them, took them in. And then I remembered Greyback. The sicko liked to turn kids so, Auntie Andi and I went off in search of them. That's where we found Lavender. Oi! Lav, didn't you get a shock when you and the pack moved in?!"

"Of course I did!" Lavender laughed as she wiped one of the young children's mouth.

"How come?" Ron couldn't help himself.

"That would be because of me, I'm afraid." 

Everybody turned to the doorway again and Fleur's heart skipped a beat when the children cheered.

"Are you not a bit cold in that dress, Hermione dear?" Andromeda asked.

Hermione stood in the doorway in a light blue Summer dress with a six year old girl on her hip. Fleur sucked in a sharp breath. She had seen Hermione in dresses before, the periwinkle outfit from the Yule Ball and the red dress that she wore at Bill and Fleur's sham of a wedding but she had never looked truly relaxed in them. In this though, Hermione looked relaxed, smiling widely with a playful twinkle in her eye that Fleur hadn't seen on the girl since her trip to Hogwarts for the Tournament. Hermione looked beautiful.

The witch in question shrugged before shooting Andromeda a grin. "It may be cold here but France is lovely this time of year. Isn't it Amara?" The little girl grinned and nodded. Fleur instantly recognised her for what she was. With silvery blonde hair and bright blue eyes like that, it was obvious that this girl was Veela - although Fleur wasn't entirely sure if she was full or just part. "Alright Amara," Hermione said, placing the girl onto the floor," I think Lav has left your dinner on the side. Why don't you go and get it?" 

The girl - Amara - grinned and sped off in the direction of the kitchen. She froze suddenly though, when she went passed where Fleur was sitting. "You..." Amara said softly, peering up at the elder Veela," You're like me, aren't you?"

Fleur just nodded with a weak smile while Ron and Harry tried to work out what the little girl meant.

"Mione tells me about her Veela friend sometimes. Are you her? Auntie Fleur? Have you come to get married to Mione?"

Fleur couldn't respond, only blink in shock. She could have sworn that she heard Harry snort.

"Amara," Hermione chided lightly as she unlaced her boots," Go and get your dinner. You've had a long day." The little Veela scowled - making it obvious that she still had questions to badger Fleur with - but continued on her way while Hermione left the room for a second to put away her shoes. She reappeared a second later with an old hoodie thrown over her dress just as Amara sat in one of the empty seats, grinning like she had just one the lottery. Hermione slipped into the seat directly opposite Fleur as she pulled back her curly hair with a hair tie.

"Harry, Ronald, Fleur," Hermione said politely, eyes flickering to each of them," Lavender sent me a patronus message saying that you had turned up. It's nice to see you all again. Amara, stop playing with your food young lady." Amara grinned sheepishly before properly digging in. Every few moments or so, she would look up at Fleur and grin like she knew something the elder Veela didn't. Draco had continued his story of how they (himself and Andromeda) had recruited Hermione.

"-Her in Australia. She practically jumped at the chance! It was amazing, apparently she had been looking after a bunch of kids in Australia as well so we brought them home with us. She even thought of the name. 'Lupin Trust Orphanage'. Aunt Andi agreed in an instant and so did I. Did you know that he saved my life, during the war?"

Hermione laughed at the memory as she leaned over the table to make eye contact with Fleur.

"I scared the shit out of Lavender a few months later when she and the pack turned up," The girl said with a sparkle in her eyes," I was in the living room with Jackson. He had his hand on fire."

"It wasn't my fault!" The boy said from further down the table," I couldn't control it!"

At Ron's confused look, Draco elaborated. "Jackson is of dragon descent. We're not entirely sure how much dragon but enough for him to control flame and sprout a few scales when he gets mad."

Everybody at the table laughed as the boy scowled, muttering threats under his breath as he continued to eat.

"Don't be so rude Draco," Hermione laughed with a grin," You're meant to be an adult now, not a child."

Draco grinned at her and Ron was in shock at how at ease they were with each other's presences. It was shocking and slightly unnerving to see - even more shocking then seeing Lavender and Hermione laughing with each other and sharing inside jokes. It seemed that they had come far from the two Gryffindors that constantly traded barbs with each other.

"Who can tell?" Draco grinned and few of the teenagers laughed," I've got layers, you've just got to peel them away. Much like my clothes, want to play Granger?"

Harry sucked in a breath of shock, eyes flickering between a grinning Draco and a highly amused Hermione.

"Flirting with me again, Malfoy? In front of the children," She tutted," You're the devil."

"You know what they say," He winked at her and she returned his grin," Everybody loves a bad boy."

Ron made a strangled noise from down the table and Harry had turned ashen when he saw Hermione and Draco flirting like it was a normal, almost boring, activity between them.

"Mione says that Draco is like a blonde onion," Amara said matter-of-factly as she leaned over the table to give Fleur a goofy grin," She says that he has layers and makes people cry. Are you here to marry Mione?"

"Amara!" Hermione chided while she buried her head in her hands. Draco was outright laughing while Lavender was giggling and Andi hid her smile behind her hands. "Eat your food otherwise Lav won't give you dessert for the movie tonight." Amara gasped like she was scandalised before hurrying to shovel more food into her mouth. "I am so sorry about her, Fleur. She has, what we shall say, an overactive imagination." Fleur just nodded with a smile. She was slightly in awe about how easily Hermione was handling a Veela child. Children like herself and Amara were notorious for acting out and being difficult. Hermione was handling Amara like she was born for it.

The small talk resumed and Fleur found herself glancing at Hermione and Amara every so often. Lavender rose from the table several minutes later and pulled her hair back. "Alright you hooligans," She said, glancing around the table at the children," Whoever helps me clear everything up in the kitchen gets an extra slice of cake and a second helping of ice cream during the movie. Have I got any helpers? Amara, do you want to come with?"

Amara looked down, suddenly going shy. "Mione?" She asked softly and Fleur watched as Hermione turned away from her food to look at the little girl.

"Lav won't make you help if you don't want to but, knowing her, she'll probably ask you to sit on the counter and count how many vegetables we have left."

"Yeah!" Lavender exclaimed, walking over to Hermione's side of the table and holding out her hand. The other children were scrambling into the kitchen, taking their dirty plates and cutlery with them. "Would you like that? You'd be a big help!"

Amara nodded slowly, leaving her chair and taking Lavender's hand.

In seconds, the only people remaining in the dining room were the adults. Draco was suddenly serious, more serious then he had been since the three Aurors had arrived.

"Did you find anything?" He asked quietly," In France, I mean? You said that you had a lead?"

Harry, Ron and Fleur all exchanged a look of confusion.

"Yeah," Hermione was moving her food around on her plate," I followed the lead to a little village, they weren't very welcoming but me and Amara bought some food and some toys and suddenly they were open to talking to me."

"And?" Andromeda asked softly," The children?"

"Three of them," Hermione said firmly," From what I've gathered, there's some god awful screaming in the forest so, I suppose, one is of banshee descent. The villagers then told me about some thieves during the night, taking food. Apparently, there's always a little trail of flowers so I think the other two kids are part nymph?"

"Orphans?" Andromeda prompted again.

"Almost certainly."

"Well, then," Andromeda said with a grin," Why don't you head up and shower and get into your pyjamas, Hermione?"

"Oh, I see how it is," Hermione grumbled even as she flashed Fleur a secret smile," 'Go and shower, Hermione, you're smelly.' 'Go and change, Hermione, you look like death warmed up'."

"Precisely," Andromeda grinned.

Draco turned to the watching Aurors.

"Movie night is tonight," He said," We'll get you guys home after the kids have been put to bed, okay?"


Fleur found herself curled up on one of the many sofas of the massive living room. Harry was sitting by her side with Ron sitting next to him. Lavender - who had settled on one of the armchairs - had give them all a slice of red velvet cake as she palmed the kids off with ice cream and a slice of vanilla sponge. Draco and Andromeda were also sitting on armchairs, murmuring to each other in hushed tones so they wouldn't disturb the movie. Draco's hands were braiding a little girl's hair as he talked and, at further inspection, Fleur noticed that the surrounding group all had their hair done up in loose braids.

A group of teenagers were sitting on the other sofas with some of the younger kids at their feet, relaxing on a pile of beanbags. Amara was sitting on a beanbag in front of the sofa where Fleur and the boys were sitting. The little Veela hadn't settled down, fidgeting slightly and constantly glancing at the open door. Hermione had excused herself up to her room to take Andromeda's advice and had yet to return.

It was obvious to Fleur - because she was also part Veela - that Amara had bonded with Hermione. Not bonded like the Veela custom of choosing their mate and swearing themselves to them forever, Amara had bonded to Hermione as a mother. Fleur felt a pang in her heart at that. Amara had formed this bond because she no longer had parents and Hermione had been the most suitable candidate. This little Veela was without a flock as well as no longer having parents to look after her.

Hermione stepped into the room quietly, slipping into the empty spot on Fleur's left. Immediately, Amara was sitting on her lap, now completely relaxed and able to fully concentrate on the movie. Fleur snuck another look at the girl next to her. Hermione was more relaxed than the French Veela had ever seen her before, not paying attention to the movie as she held a book open in one hand - Fleur was glad to see some things never changed - while the other hand was carding through Amara's long blonde hair.

"Alright," Fleur was snapped out of her thoughts by Andromeda's quiet voice," I think that it's bedtime for the little ones. Angelica, you're in charge while we're gone." A scarred girl nodded slightly as the adults busied themselves with picking up sleepy boys and girls and taking them up the stairs to their bedrooms.

"Do you want me to set up the Floo for you?" Lavender asked half an hour later when the teenagers had gone to bed as well.

Harry, Ron and Fleur all exchanged a look and came to the same conclusion.

"Actually," Harry said with a smile," We were wondering if we could stay and, er, help out? It's just, we've been given a few weeks off and-"

"-You want to catch up with Andromeda and Teddy. Ronald is still very much suspicious of Draco and, Miss Delacour, has been making goo goo at eyes at Hermione all evening and I'm absolutely sure that she wants to gush at Amara. It doesn't really matter. Let me just tell the others and one of us will bring you to the guest rooms."

"Wow," Ron blinked once in shock," Lavender has really changed since school."

It ended up being Hermione that took them to where they would be staying, yawning as she did so and rubbing her eyes. Fleur thought that she looked absolutely adorable.

They walked through the hallways together in silence. The walls were covered with drawings. Some of them were beautifully painted while others were obviously done by little children and finger paints. Above each room, was a nameplate letting everybody know who was sleeping in the room. Most of them only had one but a few had two or three. The group went up three flights of stairs and walked to the end of the hallway.

They stopped at the end of it and Ron opened his mouth to talk. Hermione held up her hand to silence him.

"Not tonight, Ron," She breathed out softly," It's been a long day, not tonight," She jerked her chin to the three unclaimed rooms opposite her," You guys can take those rooms. Fleur, if you take the one opposite mine then you'll find some of our spare clothes in the drawers. Andi, Lav and I use it for storage. Just take something if you want it. Ron, Harry, Draco would have put his clothes in those rooms." She smiled at them and nodded before covering a yawn. "I'm glad that you guys are staying, it'll be good to have you three here. Goodnight."

Sleep evaded Fleur for the rest of the evening as she tossed and turned in the bed. It wasn't the bed that was keeping her up, she wasn't exactly sure why but as soon as she heard soft sniffles outside in the corridor, Fleur was up like a shot.

She cracked open her bedroom door slightly and looked out into the corridor. Amara was standing there, crying softly as Hermione's door swung open.

"Oh, sweetie," Hermione's voice was thick with sleep but she immediately lent down to Amara's height to bring the little Veela into a tight hug," Another nightmare, huh?"

Amara nodded, unable to speak as she cried softly into Hermione's shoulder. The older girl picked up Amara and placed her onto her hip. Amara sniffled again as she was bounced up and down slightly - resting her head in Hermione's neck.

"You're okay," Hermione repeated softly as she wiped Amara's tears," You're okay, sweetheart. Do you want to talk about it?"

"Do I have to?" Amara's voice was small and Fleur's heart broke slightly.

"Not at all, sweetheart. Why don't we go and get you some warm milk? To help you get back to sleep?" Amara was still crying softly but managed to nod. "Alright then," Hermione said," Should we take Auntie Fleur with us? I think that you've worried her."

Fleur, realising that she had been caught, opened her door fully and stepped into the moonlit hallway with Amara and Hermione. "Come on," Hermione said," It's best that we get this one settled as soon as possible." Fleur just nodded, following behind Hermione as she led them back downstairs into the kitchen.

"Would you mind taking her while I warm up the milk?"

"Not at all," Fleur reached out and took the part Veela child - who automatically sought comfort in Fleur's neck," You 'ave been talking about me? Auntie Fleur?"

"Y-Yeah," Hermione said sheepishly as she worked," I don't know that many Veela so I wasn't really sure but...it calms her down. To hear about you, you know?" Hermione laughed slightly as she put the cup into the microwave. "Last year, for her birthday, she asked to meet you. We managed to settle on pictures, I hope that you don't mind."

Fleur just shook her head as Amara's breathing slowed down. "Not at all," She then playfully pouted," But I am slightly annoyed to not 'ear about zis petite one. She is absolutely darling."

"Listen," Hermione rubbed the back of her neck nervously," For what it's worth, Fleur, I'm sorry for not writing you sooner. I, Merlin, I don't know what I was thinking."

Fleur just waved away her worries with a wave of a hand while Amara tentatively took the milk being offered to her.

"Do not fret," She said," Zat is easily rectified. After I leave, you will write to me every week about you and ze petite one and we will meet up."

Hermione quirked her eyebrow up in amusement as she took the finished drink from Amara's grip. "Doesn't surprise me," Hermione said with a shrug," That you already consider Amara part of your flock."

Fleur blinked owlishly before her mouth fell open in shock.

"What? I'm not called the Brightest Witch of My Age for nothing. Did you really think that I wouldn't realise that Amara bonded me to her? Or that I would read up on Veela culture when I found out?" Fleur couldn't form words. "I'm guessing that your flock is in France but you're staying in England so you're not with them. Amara doesn't have a flock anymore so both of your instincts have already pulled you together to make your own little temporary one. Did I miss anything?"

" 'Ermione," Fleur said with a grin," You never cease to amaze me."

Returning to her room, Fleur happily got to sleep when she saw that Amara was safely taken to Hermione's room for the rest of the night.

It seemed that breakfast at the Lupin Trust Orphanage was much more chaotic than dinner was. For one, the kids came in at different times but once they were in the dining room, they couldn't leave until everybody had eaten. When Andromeda came to get Harry, Ron and Fleur, most of the young kids were already up along with Hermione, Amara and Draco. Andromeda got them all settled down and they helped themselves to breakfast. 

Lavender appeared a few minutes later, dragging the last of the teenagers down the stairs by their ears. The teenagers - Fleur presumed that if the scars on their necks and faces were anything to go by, were part of the pack - groaned and rested their heads on the dark wood of the table.

"Your children have arrived," Draco said dryly to Hermione as he started to read the newspaper. It wasn't the Daily Prophet and seemed to just be the one from the local village. Fleur snorted quietly, it was probably more truthful then the prophet anyway although it was slightly funny to see the 'almighty Pureblood Draco Malfoy' reading a local newspaper.

"My children?" Hermione said incredulously," They're your children before lunchtime."

"Well," Draco grinned at her wolfishly," Do you want to maybe get married and then they'll be both of our kids?" 

Hermione pretended to think as Draco wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Ron pushed away his breakfast, face slowly but surely turning red.

"Oh yes," Hermione's voice was dripping with sarcasm as she batted her eyelashes in an exaggerated manner," Draco, I've been in love with you for years, please. Just marry me now."

Everybody at the table laughed but Amara scowled slightly and glanced over at Fleur - it was obvious that the little Veela hadn't yet learnt what sarcasm meant.

"Alright you two," Lavender was grinning," Save it for later."

Andromeda hummed in agreement as she helped Teddy butter his toast. "Anyway," She said," We've got activities today. I'll be in the garden so you guys are free to join me. Lavender will be with the little one. Harry, Ron and Fleur, you guys can help Hermione out today. She'll get you up to speed on what we're doing tonight. Draco, you're in charge of learning for the day -" The boy groaned loudly at that but he was grinning so Fleur got the feeling that he usually had this duty "- All of you will be attending lessons for two hours before lunch is served and then two hours after lunch. Don't try and get out of it, Draco will be writing down who attends and I will be checking. Off you go, go on. Draco will be in the library in five minutes."

"I will?"

"Yes," Hermione laughed," You will Draco," She suddenly switched to her teasing voice," You must know that any lover of mine must love time in the library."

He grinned at her and bowed deeply with a flourish of his hands before disappearing.

Hermione rose a second later, with Amara automatically clambering onto her back. "You three ready? We should head to the study. We can talk without interruption there." Harry nodded and he and Fleur rose - dragging a still angry looking Ron up with them.

Amara was giggling when Hermione set her down at a desk, conjuring a piece of parchment with a wave of her hand before passing it to the little Veela. "Doodle on this, sweetie," She said softly," But you need to stay quiet, alright? I need to tell our helpers some very important things."

"Like when you and Auntie Fleur are going to marry?"

Hermione's ears went red as she hurriedly turned around so she wouldn't be facing her friends. "Amara, sweetheart," She said through clenched teeth as she made a show of fussing over the girl," You can't just say those things, okay?"

Amara just huffed and nodded, turning towards the desk and beginning to doodle on the parchment.

"Alright," Hermione said as she turned away," You guys are stuck with me today, I suppose- Yes, Ronald?"

Harry snickered. It was just like old times and even Fleur couldn't suppress her grin.

Four years later and Ron couldn't keep his mouth shut.

"Malfoy?" He spluttered angrily," You're dating Malfoy?"

Hermione just sighed deeply and rolled her eyes. "No, Ronald," She said curtly," I am not dating Draco. I don't have that bad taste. I'm simply flirting with him."

"I HEARD THAT!" Draco yelled through the closed door as he passed it on the way to the library. "AND EXCUSE YOU GRANGER, I'LL HAVE YOU KNOW THAT I'M A CATCH!"

Hermione rolled her eyes and made an obscene gesture at the door even though she knew that Draco couldn't see her.

Ron was still spluttering, gesticulating wildly as he tried to process this new information. "Well, well, he's obviously got a thing for you and-"

"Draco is gay. Therefore me being, in fact, a woman means that him having a thing for me is practically non-existent," Hermione deadpanned, pretending to inspect her nails while Amara sneakily made eye contact with a highly amused Harry and grinned.

It was like watching a car crash. It was going horribly but nobody could bring themselves to look away.

"But..You're flirting with him? You have a thing for a gay guy? Hermione-"

"Ron, I am a lesbian," She said simply. Fleur's heart skipped a beat, her eyes suddenly flicking to Amara who was giggling at Hermione's admission

Ron went red, this time in embarrassment rather than anger.

"But...I...The Chamber of Secrets, the battle. Is that why...?"

Hermione laughed and nodded.

"Yes Ronald," She said with a light tease in her tone," That is why I pushed you away for kissing me in the Chamber of Secrets during the battle."

Ron fell silent as Harry clapped Hermione on the back and Fleur grinned at her.

"Alright Amara," Hermione turned around suddenly and looked at her little charge," That's enough from you. Go and help Andi."

"But Mione," The little girl whined and Fleur had no idea how Hermione was able to ignore her bright blue eyes.

"No Amara," Hermione said firmly," Go and find Andi. I need to bring your new friends up to speed, okay? We'll find you later, okay?"

Amara huffed and pouted before hugging Hermione tightly and then turning to leave. She waved at Harry and Ron and threw herself at Fleur's legs, hugging the Veela close. Fleur leaned down to hug back and was greeted by Amara whispering in her ear. "Please marry Mione, Auntie Fleur. Mione really, really likes you!"

With Amara skipping out of the room with a grin, Hermione settled on the sofa and inclined her head for her friends to do the same.

"Okay," Hermione said," Tonight we're initiating a bring in and- Yes, Ron, this better be a real question?"

"What's a bring in?"

"Shit, right, it's what we call it when we 'bring in' some more kids. You would not believe the amount of Being and Creature descent kids that are without parents. You've seen the pack, the small vampire coven, Amara is part Veela, Jackson is of dragon descent but we've got tons of kids. Some Selkies, Fae, Sirens, Succubus, nymphs. Yes, Harry?"

"Are you single?" He waggled his eyes with a grin," A pretty girl hasn't caught your eye, yet?"

"Harry!" Hermione laughed," Not that it matters but, no, there isn't. Fleur, are you going to ask a question now? Make it three for three?"

"Alright zen," Fleur joined in on the laughter and pretended to think slightly," Why do you flirt with Monsieur Malfoy? If you are a lesbian and 'e is gay?"

"Oh, that," Hermione laughed again," You can blame Lavender for that," She laughed again slightly," Me and her were out at a club a couple of years back. Andi made us go out to relax, so, I guess that I can blame Andi as well. Anyway, we went to this club and some guy started hitting on me. Draco turns up and is all like 'hey babe, sorry I'm late, the kids were being really challenging tonight' so we had to do this whole charade of flirting with each other and now," She shrugged," It's just a little inside joke. Done with the questions, now? So I can carry on?"

Everybody nodded.

"Good," Hermione said," Now, it'll be me, you three and Draco apparating to a little village in the South of France tonight. As you heard last night, I was investigating a lead there and narrowed down our choices. We've got a Banshee descendant and two nymph children. We'll be trying to gain their trust and bring them back tonight."

Harry and Ron nodded, suddenly solemn.

Fleur nodded as well, contemplative as Hermione rose from the sofa, stretching her arms above her head, causing her shirt to ride up and reveal her toned stomach. Fleur couldn't help the blush that rose on her neck and cheeks.

Thankfully, Hermione hadn't noticed.

"Alright then," She said," Now that that's out of the way, we have chores to get to. Harry, you go out and help Andi with the garden. Can you ask Amara to not roll in the bushes please? The grass strains are near impossible to get out. Ron, Lav will be in the living room with the younger ones. Go and help her. Fleur, you're with me. We need to grab the laundry."


Hermione had been right last night. 

France was lovely this time of year.

The group apparated to the little village that Hermione had been at previously. It was nearly the middle of the night when they arrived - Draco and Hermione both adamantly blamed Amara and Jackson for refusing to go upstairs to their own rooms. Amara was doing it because she hated it when Hermione left - Lavender soon scooped her up and promised to get Hermione to give her kiss goodnight when she got home. Jackson had refused because he wanted to go with even though he was only fourteen. Hermione had put a stop to that easily when she had been sitting on the sofa next to Fleur while they were waiting for Draco to get changed. Jackson had gotten angry at not being allowed to go and accidentally set his hair on fire. Hermione had sighed like it was a normal thing and waved her wand, dousing the flames calmly as she leaned over the arm of the sofa to talk to Andromeda. 

The villagers were content to let Hermione and the group waltz straight into the forest without complaint. Hermione and Draco took the lead with the trio of Aurors struggling to keep up.

"Ugh!" Fleur closed her eyes and counted to ten, Ron could be so loud sometimes and she was five seconds away from hexing him into oblivion. "Merlin's pants, Hermione! How long are we going to be walking for?!"

"As long as it takes," Hermione muttered under her breath as she jumped down from a fallen log," Forgive me for not knowing exactly where the children are."

"Weasley," Draco murmured with a grin," Remember when you thought that you had a crush on him?"

"Merlin," Fleur heard Hermione swear under her breath," Don't remind me of the days that I thought I was straight. They were horrible."

"Not that horrible to not go to the Yule Ball with Krum?" Draco was teasing her," Not that horrible not to snog him?"

Ron and Harry flinched when Hermione let out a disgruntled shriek and whipped out her wand, waving it accusingly at the boy in front of her. He looked at her before a smile quirked on his lips and Hermione lowered her wand with a snort.

"Shut up, you massive prat. You know for a fact that I smacked him afterwards," Hermione took a sharp turn that had Draco stumbling over a log and Fleur taking his place at Hermione's side.

She looked deeply amused.

"You smacked Viktor?"

"Yep," Hermione was smug as she ducked under a branch," He kissed me without permission. Although, maybe I should send him a thank you card, him kissing me was what caused me to realise that I didn't like boys."

Fleur smiled as she followed after, a spring in her step as she walked. "And zen? Any girls at 'Ogwarts that - 'ow you English say - took your fancy?"

"A few," Hermione seemed very relaxed, more so then Fleur had ever seen her before.

"Well?"

"You actually want to know?"

"Oui."

"Fine," Hermione could vaguely hear Harry and Ron interrogating Draco behind them," Well... Fifth year, I snogged the Patil twins - although one of those was because of a dare, Merlin, I was mortified when Padma kissed me. Also fifth year, me and Daphne Greengrass made out but that was because we thought that we were going to die. Huh, that was a weird week. And then sixth year, me and Lavender had a little fling at the start of the year and then she got with Ron and, I was a bit hurt which was why I was jealous of the pair. Now Lav and I laugh about it - she's totally in love with this beautiful girl that works at the post office."

"You thought zat you were going to die wiz ze Greengrass girl?" 

"Yeah," Hermione laughed," We got locked in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom as she was flooding it. Daphne had been crying and I needed her to shut up so...I just kissed her, Merlin, I had no idea what I was thinking but then she started kissing back. We were halfway to drowning before we managed to stop kissing and get out. Then we made a promise that the kiss never happened and never talked to each other again."

"So," Fleur couldn't resist prodding some more," I am in ze company of a womaniser?" 

Hermione laughed. "Coming from you?" Fleur paled dramatically and Hermione laughed even more. "Oh yeah, I've heard all about your little 'adventures' in the toilets at your school, long before the Triwizard Tournament."

"I am...curious to see what you 'ave 'eard," Fleur grinned at Hermione before the younger girl suddenly stilled, placing her hand into Fleur's to pull her to a stop.

Draco and the boys sidled up behind them. "That them?" Harry murmured and Hermione nodded, slowly reaching for her wand without dropping Fleur's hand.

"We've got company," Draco muttered and he and Hermione exchanged a look," You guys stay here, me and Mione will deal with this."

"Honestly, Draco," Hermione chided lightly as she slipped her hand out of Fleur's after a comforting squeeze," 'Mione and I' not 'me and Mione'. Why you educate the kids, I will never know."

If Fleur hadn't fought in the war with Hermione, she would have been shocked at how quickly the girl attacked, silently and swiftly. Draco was on defence although Fleur couldn't see why. Hermione had erected some kind of smoke screen around the small clearing that the fire of them had skirted around. Fleur didn't recognise the spell but it was damn near impossible to see through. Even with her advanced sight, Fleur could barely make out the dark figures moving around so was sure that her partners couldn't see anything.

Out of nowhere, Hermione tumbled back out of the darkness, landing on her back as a man appeared as well, wand already raised - ready to attack her.

"Flipendo!" Fleur yelled - she hadn't realised that she was holding her wand - as Hermione scrambled to her feet. As the man stumbled, Hermione turned around and kicked him in the back - satisfied when he keeled over in the dirt and groaned.

"Thanks Fleur!" She sent the French witch a winning smile before leaping over a fallen branch, straight back into the smoke screen.

Fleur's heart leapt with joy.


The people that had attacked them were poachers, Hermione explained to Fleur the next day over a cup of tea in the study. She and Draco had encountered a fair share of them over the years but it always made her angry to see them attack children who couldn't defend themselves.

Hermione had been right about the children - as she usually was. One Banshee descendent and two half nymphs. They had been settled upstairs once they had been located and brought home - all three of them refusing to be separated.

Currently though, Hermione and Fleur were in the kitchen together - baking. Fleur was content to do it the magical way but Hermione had insisted on doing it the Muggle way and Fleur found that she didn't really mind following Hermione's lead. It was messy, very messy but fun. Fleur had never baked the Muggle way before.

"Go on then," Hermione said after she'd answered," Your turn. I want to hear all about the things you got up to in the Beauxbatons bathrooms - you were famous Delacour. Long before you turned up at Hogwarts." 

They had been doing this for the better part of the morning, asking personal questions or having to do a forfeit.

They talked about nearly everything. Bill and Fleur's failed marriage - Hermione offered Fleur her condolences but the older witch just waved them away and confided in Hermione that she had always seen herself married to a witch rather than a wizard - and Hermione's series of failed relationships since the war - Fleur knew that she shouldn't have felt so relieved as she did hearing that - were the most common topics but Fleur knew it was only sooner or later until this came up.

" 'Ow much do you already know?" Fleur was teasing again, blue eyes alight with amusement.

"Hmm," Hermione pretended to think as she tapped her chin," Apparently, fourth year, you and another girl got caught in a broom closet - it went around that you had snuck out to the stables with another girl. My personal favourite was when you supposedly, got caught in Madam Maxime's office three times in a week."

"Zat was one time!" Fleur banged her fist on the counter top," And it was only because Amelie couldn't stay quiet!"

"Oh?" Hermione looked amused, biting her lip like she was trying not to laugh," So you admit that it happened?"

"Of course it- Did you just trick me?"

"Yes?"

"Run."

"What?"

"I will give you five seconds 'Ermione. Four, three-"

Hermione hastily shoved the cake in the oven and turned on a timer before running away. Fleur had no idea why she just said that, why she was in such a playful mood but she stayed true to her word and counted to five before hastily jogging after where Hermione had gone. The house was mostly empty - Lavender and the young kids were in the garden, Harry and Ron were teaching the older children some spells while Draco and a few others were in town and Andi was sitting in the library - so nobody got in Fleur's way as she dashed through the house - searching for Hermione. She wasn't entirely sure what she was going to do when she caught the girl but she had time. It seemed the girl was quite good at hiding herself.

Fleur blinked in shock as a light silver mist drifted towards her - twisting and morphing before a patronus formed in front of her. A group of otters appeared, swimming around in the air and playing with each other. Every time that Fleur got closer, they would swim further away - glancing back every so often to prove to Fleur that she was being teased. The patronus Charm in and of itself was difficult enough to cast but the amount of otters, how playful they were - it was like they had a mind of their own - was undoubtedly more difficult. 

The otters swum around in the air, dipping and swerving around each other but they were all leading Fleur up the stairs. Anytime the quarter Veela got close enough to reach out and touch them, they would teasingly look at her and swim a little way out of reach and Fleur was laughing as she ran up to them. Out of nowhere, the group of otters separated, going in random directions and Fleur was left standing dumbly in the middle of the hallway. Many of them floated through the shut doors that belonged to some of the teenagers. One of them, disappeared into the floor while another flew out of the window before dissolving into silver mist.

One otter remained.

It swum a lap around Fleur's head before swimming further down the corridor, disappearing in a puff of mist outside Hermione's door.

Fleur was grinning when she stepped inside.

Hermione was smiling as well, standing in front of a mantelpiece and small fireplace.

"Found me then?" She teased with a grin without turning around.

"Oui, very funny," Fleur teased back as she stared at Hermione's turned back. She bit her lip before wrapping her arms around Hermione's waist and rested her head on the younger witch's shoulder. This was dangerous territory. There was no telling what the younger girl would do.

Hermione did nothing apart from relaxing into Fleur's comforting embrace. The quarter Veela grinned to herself, chest puffing out in smug pride. Fleur turned her attention over to where Hermione was looking. On the mantelpiece was all manners of photos. There was a Muggle one of Hermione and her parents, all smiling brightly at the camera but looked to be several years old because Hermione's hair was an untamed mane of frizz rather than the sleek curls that she had tamed them into now. Three with Harry, Ron and Hermione - one from First Year, one from Fifth Year and one from a week after the Battle. There were several with Amara and the others with one big photo of everybody in the orphanage. To Fleur's shock and her inward pride, there was a picture of her and Hermione from the wedding. They were both smiling and picture Fleur moved around until she was mimicking what the real Fleur was doing with the picture version of Hermione grinning and leaning back into picture Fleur's grip.

"Zis is your room?"

"Do you always ask questions with obvious answers?" Hermione was still teasing, using that special tone that she used when flirting with Malfoy and Fleur couldn't help how hard her heart was beating.

"Oui."

Hermione spun around in Fleur's embrace and smiled that blinding smile at Fleur.

She could feel Hermione's breath on her lips and couldn't help leaning down slightly.

"HERMIONE!" Angelica screamed as she burst into the room, out of breath and panting wildly like she had been chased around a Quidditch pitch," THE NEW KIDS ARE HAVING A BREAKDOWN!"

Hermione jumped back from Fleur and hurried towards the door, muttering to Angelica to meet her there. Hermione turned and took a step towards Fleur. Her eyes darted to Fleur's lips but she blushed slightly and pressed a soft kiss to Fleur's cheek instead.

Fleur stood dumbly in the middle of Hermione's room, a hand reaching up to touch her cheek where Hermione had kissed her.


Throughout the coming weeks, Hermione and Fleur worked closely together but neither of them seemed confident enough to mention what was going to happen while they were in Hermione's bedroom together.

The orphanage had a relaxed hierarchy but a hierarchy all the same. Andromeda was at the top. She watched over everyone with little Teddy Lupin on her hip. She made sure that the house was liveable and frequently took the time to have one on one talks with every child during the week - although most of her times was spent with the three new additions that slowly adjusted to the house. Hermione, Draco and Lavender were next. Lavender mainly oversaw the pack - she had told Fleur that after she had recovered from her own bite during the Battle, she had sought out as many of the young Greyback victims as possible and took them under her wing whether they were full werewolves or just half - and the young ones as well. The little ones seemed to adore her and she was ever so gentle with them. 

Draco was close to the teenagers of all descents, acting like a big brother rather than a father figure, somebody that they could joke around with and talk to in times of worry. 

Hermione worked with Amara (obviously) and the other children who weren't part of a big group. Jackson was close to her, as were the twins (a pair of half-selkies who were incredibly shy) and a whole host of other children that were certainly unique in their heritage.

The trio of Aurors had been separated out to help as well. Harry with Draco (surprisingly they worked well together) and Ron and Lavender. They worked less well with each other and Fleur was certain that Ron was a little put out that that his Hogwarts sweetheart had informed him that she in a very committed relationship with the very pretty witch from the post office. Fleur and Hermione were matched up as well and Fleur knew that if things swayed her way then she would certainly give the elder witch some presents.

"Come on Amara," Fleur laughed as the younger Veela clung to her guardian like a lifeline," Leave 'Ermione alone. She is busy." 

Amara pouted but nodded, taking Fleur's hand and allowing herself to be led from the library into the study nearby. Hermione flashed Fleur a grateful smile as she helped Serena (one of the twins) with a piece of work that Andromeda had set for the day.

"Auntie Fleur?" Amara's little voice piped up from her colouring.

"Oui, ma petite fille?" Fleur replied softly, looking up from her book to see Amara standing right in front of her, clutching the piece of paper that she had been drawing on.

"Here." The piece of paper was shoved towards Fleur, who took it with a small smile.

It was one of those childish drawings that little kids made during school time with little stick figures to represent their family members. Fleur instantly recognised Amara in the picture as the smallest figure with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Next to her were two other figures. One of them was also blonde with blue eyes and the other was a brunette with big brown eyes.

" 'Oo are zese people, Amara?" Fleur asked softly as Amara took the spot next to her on the study sofa.

"That one is Mione," Amara said proudly, pointing at the brown haired figure," And the other one is you! 'Cause you're going to marry Mione, aren't you Auntie Fleur?"

"Er," Fleur wasn't really sure what to say," Amara, you do not know what you are saying. I cannot marry 'Ermione."

"Why?!" Amara looked crushed and Fleur couldn't help but pull the little Veela into a tight hug. Her bottom lip was wobbling. "Mione likes you a lot! She told Auntie Andi so! She said that she was sad when you got married and, and she really likes you!"

"Amara," Fleur tried again even as she tried to hold out hope that this was true and not the interpretation of a little girl who just wanted another Veela in her life," Are you sure 'Ermione said zis? What exactly did she say?"

The door to the study opened again and Andromeda walked in, a small smile on her face as she watched Amara bury her face into Fleur's neck - soft sniffles coming from the little girl.

"I am afraid," Andromeda said as she gracefully sat in the armchair," That Amara is right. I have not seen Hermione talk about anybody with such love and care as she does with you." Fleur felt Amara nod slightly. "Hermione truly cares for you a lot. She admitted to her feelings barely three months ago."

"She...What?"

"I told you!" Amara had puffy red eyes as she pulled away from Fleur's neck and Andromeda took the little girl into her embrace. They both sat in front of Fleur and she got the oddest feeling that she was being judged.

"Now," Andromeda's usually comforting and motherly voice took on a dark edge. Fleur was glad that Amara could barely tell the difference, distracting herself by playing with Andromeda's long black curls. "Miss Delacour, I know for a fact that Hermione likes you very much so, if you are going to lead her along, then stop. Hermione is like my child and I will not tolerate her being mistreated. If you want to pursue a relationship then," She waved her hand and the door to the study swung open," You will find her in the kitchen making a snack."


" 'Ermione," Fleur's voice behind her caused Hermione to jump. She wasn't expecting Fleur.

"Merlin's beard," Hermione whirled around but couldn't help but smile," Fleur, you scared me." She was still grinning before her smile fell. "Is Amara okay?!"

Fleur nodded, a small smile on her face as well. It truly warmed her heart to see how much Hermione cared about a child that wasn't even her's.

"She is fine," Fleur said, leaning against the kitchen counter and biting the inside of her cheek," But, I 'ave something zat I want to ask you."

"Oh?" Hermione nodded her along, reaching into the cupboards to grab a snack.

"Amara told me," Fleur said confidently before elaborating," About you liking me."

Hermione froze, her biscuit half way up to her mouth.

"Shit," She muttered before clearing her throat," I am so sorry Fleur. Honestly, it barely means anything. I promise, I never-"

"Non."

"Huh?"

"I said, 'non', 'Ermione."

"I'm sorry," Hermione couldn't meet her eyes," I still don't follow."

"Well zen," Fleur felt a surge of confidence and smiled, Harry called that her 'inner Gryffindor spirit'," I will 'ave to show you, oui?"

Hermione looked up in confusion at the exact moment Fleur placed her hands under Hermione's chin before crashing their lips together.

Hermione made a noise of shock as Fleur smirked into the kiss, walking forwards until Hermione's back had hit the kitchen counter. The Veela nipped at Hermione's lips slightly until they opened and Fleur could slide her tongue inside.

Hermione's mind was working overtime, trying to make sense of what was going on and trying to work out why she so easily kissed back.

They broke away, breathless, staring at each other.

"I...er, I...Do you wanna-"

Fleur seemed deeply amused as she released Hermione's chin and dipped down to press a more chaste kiss to Hermione's lips.

"Let me tell you what I propose," Fleur was still smirking at the breathless girl trapped between her body and the kitchen counter," I am going to take you out to dinner...tonight. And you will come wiz?"

"Y-Yeah," Hermione was truly at a loss for words and could only blush and nod.

"I told you!" Amara's voice shocked them both out of their reverie as the little Veela came running into Hermione's arms - who instinctively hoisted the girl onto her hip," Auntie Fleur, you're going to marry Mione!"

"We will see," Fleur said softly, pressing a kiss to the top of Amara's head and then placed another kiss atop Hermione's lips.

That did it.

Hermione's brain short circuited and fizzed out and all she could manage was a small, content smile while Fleur beamed down at her.