"You need to tell her."
Hermione froze as she stopped sneaking into her dorm room. It was way past curfew and Hermione had only just returned from her detention with a certain professor - who she was near certain was just a toad dressed in pink dresses. She had thought that everybody else in Gryffindor would have been asleep already. The fire was dying and it was quiet - which was something that rarely happened in the Gryffindor Common Room.
"Incendio," The other inhabitant of the room muttered and pointed their wand to the dying fire and it relighted.
"Ginny!" Hermione squeaked, immediately hiding her still aching and bleeding hand behind her back," I...I thought that you would be-"
"Asleep?" Ginny let out a bark of laughter as Hermione sat on the armchair opposite her," Fat chance when I found out that that stupid toad put you in detention! What did she make you write?" Ginny reached out to pull Hermione's hand towards her, her long sleeved shirt pulling up to reveal the name 'Harry Potter' written in an elegant script. The pair were perfect for each other in the way that only soulmates could be. Hermione and Harry often agreed that if platonic soulmates existed then they would, with certainty, be each other's. They understood each other but Ginny and Harry understood each other in the way that only a bonded pair of souls could. They were in sync with each other, often able to react to each other without any words even being spoken. They were made for each other and Hermione loved them together - she had been more accepting of their relationship then Ron had.
Hermione tugged her hand back behind her so Ginny couldn't fuss - sometimes she could act a lot like Molly. "I will respect my betters," Hermione recited from the memory of watching it being scratched onto her hand.
"Shit," Ginny breathed out as she lent back on the sofa," Conniving bitch." She said the last part under her breath so Hermione couldn't hear her. "Have you got anymore with her, though?"
"Yeah," Hermione groaned loudly as she relaxed into the red and gold cushions of the armchair," She said the message hadn't 'sunk in enough' and was expecting me for another two weeks."
"It's barbaric," Ginny breathed out. Quite a few of their friends - Ginny included - had been subjected to Umbridge's particular brand of punishment. Hermione, Ginny, Harry, Ron, even Neville had been given detention with the woman and each and every one of them had had something similar scratched onto the back of their hands. Harry had been the first and had been forced to write 'I will not tell lies' over and over again after Umbridge gave him detention for calling Draco Malfoy out on his bullshit. Ginny - who had heard about it - had made a big show of expressing her own opinion on the matter the next day when she had Defence. That had gotten her a week of detentions and a week of 'I will not defend liars' being carved into her hands. Ron had gotten his first detention a week later for defending a muggleborn second year from Pansy Parkinson and had gotten a hand scratched with 'I am a blood traitor' for his troubles. Neville had gotten his last month after he had received a letter from his grandmother where she had said that the ministry was corrupt. He had, of course, told everybody want she had written and Umbridge had made him write 'I will not spread false rumours' during his detention.
"You have to tell her though," Ginny said again after a beat of silence between the two girls," Fleur won't like it if you keep this from her."
"And what would she do?" Hermione shot back defensively before wincing," Sorry, for snapping. I just-"
"On edge, yeah."
Hermione was glad that Ginny was so understanding. If it had been anybody else then they would have snapped right back at her and it would have dissolved into a fight but, then again, Ginny had always been more of a sister then a friend - even if she was the soulmate of one of Hermione's best friends. "I just, I don't know what good it would bring, you know? I get it, she deserves to know but she's all the way in France and busy. Besides, I can handle myself. I've been keeping Ron and Harry in line for years, I think that I can take a toad teaching for the year."
They both laughed before going upstairs finally to sleep.
Hermione did write a letter to Fleur, the week after the first set of detentions but only because she needed to vent and Ginny wouldn't stop badgering her to do so. Hermione had argued the point though that Fleur would already know that something was wrong - although Hermione refused to point out that Fleur would probably assume that it was stress for the upcoming exams. Her and Fleur's bond went deeper then the usual soulmate bond of being perfect for one another, mind, magic and body. The pair of them had a Veela mating bond - over the previous year Hermione had learnt more about them then she had ever thought she would before.
For one, the Veela's thrall was null and void when it came to their mates. If it was one of the things the species prided itself on, it was looking after their mate. It seemed cruel to have them be subjected to the thrall. The second point that Fleur had stressed immensely was that the Veela in the relationship would always pick up on emotions from their soulmate - an evolutionary leftover that helped the Veela to protect their Chosen. Occasionally, in times of stress and absolute need, the bond would transfer pain as well. Hermione prayed to all the deities that she could think of that this was not one of these times.
"Have you written to her yet?" Ginny popped out of nowhere while Hermione was scrawling on a piece of parchment in the library.
"Are you not banned?" Hermione commented dryly as she readjusted her jumper," How did you even get in here?"
Harry and Ginny had been banned from the library a couple of months ago when Madam Pince had gotten them snogging between the bookshelves. Apparently, Harry's hands were under Ginny's shirt and her hands were unbuckling his belt. Needless to say they had both received detention and a strict warning that if they returned to the library then it would be on pain of death. It hadn't stopped them and Hermione was scandalised to know that Ginny had left a lacy black bra in the library a couple of days later. Although she wasn't as red as Ginny had been three days later when Umbridge had walked around the Great Hall, swinging the piece of clothing around her finger, demanding to know who it belonged to.
"Magic," Ginny waggled her fingers playfully before suddenly ducking underneath Hermione's table when Madam Pince came strolling by," Is she gone?"
"Yes, Ginny," Hermione shook her head incredulously as Ginny tentatively got back up and dusted off her skirt like she hadn't just been hiding under a table," She's gone."
"So," Ginny lent against the table with a grin," Have you written to Fleur yet?"
"I'm writing it now," Hermione was more than a little annoyed and minutely wondered if Fleur was sensing it at this present moment," And I will get it done a lot quicker if you would leave. Go and make out with Harry or annoy your brothers."
Ginny didn't respond for a second before turning around suddenly and blushing. "J-Jumper!" She managed to squeak out before hurriedly leaving.
Hermione looked down and squeaked as well, quickly tugging the sleeve of her jumper back down so it covered her soulmate mark. It was a bit of a taboo to show your mark in public. It was a personal thing and it rarely got showed off unless your soulmate was with you. Getting over her minor embarrassment, Hermione was reminded of a place where it seemed to be taboo not to show your soulmate mark out in public.
It was a shock to the system for the Hogwarts students to see the powder blue clad Beauxbatons students last year, proudly showing off their marks like it wasn't a big thing although Hermione knew she shouldn't have been surprised. France had always been more open about things to do with the heart.
It was this cultural difference that caused Hermione's entire world to shift on its axis.
Fleur Delacour had found Hermione at this very table last year, gracefully seating herself opposite the bushy haired witch. The blonde Veela had smugly grinned and held out her own wrist where the name 'Hermione Granger' had been inked onto the skin. Hermione was scandalised at first to see somebody showing her their soul mark before blushing when she realised what that had meant.
Fleur - ever so confidently - had grinned. "You are 'Ermione Granger, oui? Ma belle, I 'ave been wishing to meet you for a very long time."
"Hermione!" Harry sprinted into the library, snapping Hermione from her thoughts as she signed her name at the bottom of the letter," You will never believe what just happened!"
Hermione sighed deeply and pushed her letter into the envelope.
"Right then," She said as she stood up," You can tell me what just happened while we go to the Owlery. I'm borrowing Hedwig."
Apolline sighed deeply as she sipped her tea and observed her daughter pacing around the drawing room. She had been doing that for the past half an hour since she had returned from work at the French branch of Gringotts.
"Fleur, darling," Apolline tried to be calm but her patience was wearing a bit thin," Stop pacing, you are giving me a headache."
"But Maman," Fleur whined but gave up when she saw the look that her mother had given her.
She had been on edge for the past week and she was adamant that it had something to do with Hermione. She was waiting for a letter, Hermione usually sent a letter when things were bothering her. The first time she had felt it, Fleur had attributed it to Hermione stressing about an exam but a few days later she had felt a sudden pain in her hand and instantly knew that it was more than just passing stress. She had told her mother, who was equally as worried but didn't show it.
Apolline had grown quite fond of Fleur's little English witch when the girl had visited the family over the Summer. It seemed like she wasn't the only one either because, suddenly, Apolline had a house full of Veela the day after Hermione's monthly letters arrived. Everybody was clamouring to receive an update about Hermione, when she would visit again, if she was doing well in school, if she was eating okay - which was just an excuse so the flock could send her baked goods to combat the 'heavy English food'.
Apolline took another sip of her tea just as Fleur stood up suddenly, running to the window and throwing it open. Apolline recognised Hedwig, the owl that usually delivered Hermione's letters. She remembered one night during the Summer that Hermione had explained that she didn't have any owl of her own (just a very grumpy cat) so frequently borrowed Harry's when she needed to send letters home to her family. Apolline considered gifting Hermione an owl for Easter, it wasn't chocolate but it would be a better gift. Apolline nodded to herself, firm in her decision as she watched Fleur hastily untie the letter.
She all but ripped open the envelope and tugged out the letter. Apolline watched curiously as the door to the study opened and her mother walked in, all but collapsing onto the sofa next to her. Celine Delacour was not only the leader of the biggest and most influential flock of Veela in the world, but she was also the Minister for Magic of France. If anybody had the right to be exhausted, it was Celine Delacour. But she momentarily forgot her exhaustion when she glanced over at her eldest grandchild.
Fleur had paled dramatically and reached out to steady herself on a nearby table. Apolline and her mother exchanged a look before standing quickly to help Fleur to sit down. "Fleur?" Celine asked carefully," Are you okay? Is...Is something wrong?" Fleur just didn't respond, wordlessly holding out the piece of paper as her hand shook slightly. Apolline took the piece of paper and settled back down on the sofa, her mother next to her, peering over her shoulder curiously.
I know that I don't usually write in French but desperate times call for desperate measures. For one, Umbridge (remember the toad from my previous letters?)
is screening our mail now but I don't think that she speaks French so we'll be fine. Two, Ginny has been begging me about writing this letter for the past week and I
knew that she wanted to read it but she doesn't speak French either so it's a win win situation.
Anyway, as for a reason that I'm writing. First of all, I miss you like all hell so, you know, come to Hogsmeade every once in a while so I can hug you. Apart from that,
I hope Gabrielle and everybody else is well. Do you know how embarrassing it was on my birthday to get nearly three hundred cards from the Flock? Well, it was highly embarassing
and tell your sister to stop making fun of my mental age. If she wasn't so young, I would hex the hell out of her.
Besides that, the reason the Ginny was badgering me (Merlin, she would kill me if I insinuated that she was a Hufflepuff.) It's just occurred to me that you wouldn't understand that joke
so just ignore it, okay? I'll explain it next time I see you - which will be next weekend at Hogsmeade Fleur Isabelle Delacour if I have to drag you from France myself. Anyway, remember Umbridge? I got a detention with her last week and for the remainder of this week - my final one is Friday - and she's been using blood quills on all of the students. Dumbledore can't do anything about it because she's
'a representative of the Ministry' and the 'High Inquisitor'. I mean it's all bullshit but don't get worried or anything. I'm taking care of myself and the others.
Harry sends his regards as does Neville. I asked Ron if he wanted me to pass on a message but he just gargled at the mention of your name and Lavender smacked him. She sends her regards
and Ginny wants you to put her into contact with your sister (I don't recommend it).
"Today is Thursday," Apolline said shakily while her mother stood up and was angrily cursing in every language that she could speak - which was a fair amount.
"Alright then," The Delacour matriarch said firmly," Apolline, child, go and rally whoever is still around. Fleur, darling, go and get changed. I think that we need to have a little chat to this 'Umbridge' lady."
Fleur nodded. She was yet to say a word but Celine knew that deep down, her granddaughter was fuming, her protective instincts running on overdrive. Blood quills were a barbaric form of torture and one of the first things that Celine had outlawed when she had risen to power all those years ago. It baffled her that the English had done the same just yet. Apolline returned seconds later with her three younger sisters and their children (all of whom were amazed with Hermione's magic prowess) along with Celine's younger sister, who had been supplying Hermione Mastery level transfiguration and charms books to practice for her OWLs with.
"I trust that Apolline has brought you up to speed?" Everybody nodded and Celine watched at Fleur clenched her hands at her side in anger, finally working through whatever she had been thinking of since she had finished reading Hermione's letter. "I have special access to Dumbledore's office Floo. We will be going straight there and to Madam Umbridge's office where we will give her a stern talking to." The assembled members of the Flock all exchanged grins. They knew what a 'stern talking to' truly meant.
"Good evening Madam Minister," Dumbledore didn't look up from his paperwork although he smiled slightly," You will find Umbridge's office in the back of the Defence classroom. I trust that you remember where that is?"
"What is ze meaning of zis?!" Celine slammed her hands onto his table," I made it very clear zat 'Ermione Granger is my ward and anything concerning her was to be reported to me or my family?!"
"Of course," Dumbledore may have been one of the strongest wizards ever but even he knew not to get in the way of a very angry group of Veela," But I regret to inform you that, Professor Umbridge is screening my mail as well and as of -" He checked the hanging decree behind him," Ministry Decree 457 'Staff are not allowed to write home about any student to family or guardians unless it is a life or death situation'. The only hope I had of informing you was Miss Granger telling you herself. I am glad that she has done so. You will find her in Professor Umbridge's office."
Celine stared at him long and hard before dramatically turning around and finding Fleur and her cousins already edging towards the door. She snorted inwardly - because such actions was not something a lady did verbally. The young ones could be so impatient.
She led the charge to Umbridge's office with Fleur right on her heels.
Hermione winced slightly as she felt the sentence being scratched onto her hand.
It was just one more day, one more day of this and then she could go and soak her hand in Murtlap and gossip with Ginny and Lavender - she and Ron's soulmate actually got on quite well when they worked through their differences.
Umbridge was facing the window and Hermione could almost picture the stupid smirk on her toady face. She wondered if she got angry enough then she might be able to shatter the window pane like when she did her first bit of accidental magic all of those years ago.
The door swung open and both of them turned to look at who had arrived. Of all of the people, Hermione certainly hadn't expected members of the Delacour Flock...well, she had, just not so early. They were meant to get her letter tomorrow. Stupid Hedwig delivering her stupid letter, stupidly early. She really needed to invest in her own owl.
This was going to end badly.
Immediately, Celine was in the room, wand raised while her other hand was forming a fireball.
Oh, Umbridge was in for it now.
Fleur had tugged Hermione out of her chair and was hugging her tight, raining kisses to her head like she was trying to confirm that Hermione was real. Apolline was also by her side, reaching for her still bleeding hand and swearing loudly.
"Madam Delacour!" Umbridge's voice had gone high pitched and squeaky," To-To what do I owe the pleasure?!"
Celine just snarled and lowered her wand and the fireball before pulling Hermione from Fleur's arms and tugging up her jumper sleeve. "Oh, forgive me from your stupid British sensibilities and look at 'er arm!" Umbridge just averted her eyes, staring straight at the angry group of Veela.
"Professor," Hermione knew where this was going," Just listen to her. It'll end up wo-"
Hermione stopped when she was pulled from one person to the other, checked over thoroughly by Adele, Madelyn and Sophie (Apolline's younger sisters), hugged tightly by Fleur's multitudes of cousins - although Hermione realised with a twinge that a fair few of them had been left at home which meant that sooner or later she would be subjected to this again - and patted down by Celine's sister, Elise.
"Well zen," Celine's accent was growing thicker by the minute," If you are not going to look zen I will 'ave to tell you. Ze name on 'er wrist is the name of my granddaughter, future leader of ze Flock." If Hermione still wasn't in a state of shock then she might have laughed at how pale Umbridge's toady face looked. Celine slammed her hands on the desk that Umbridge was hiding behind, her brain working overtime to try and work out how a 'pathetic Mudblood' like Hermione was the soulmate to one of the members of the most influential group of Veela.
Hermione was back in Fleur's arms again, being held close like the Veela was afraid to let her go. Apolline was muttering in French angrily as she raised her wand at Umbridge - who was still struggling to form a sentence. "So," Celine was pressing onward and Hermione hoped to never be on the receiving end of the matriarch's wrath," Not only 'ave you been torturing ze soulmate of my grandchild, you were also torturing a minor - not the first either, I 'ave 'eard - using blood quills." She gracefully walked around the desk and picked up the picture of Fudge and inspected it. "Now, Madam Umbridge," She sneered and Hermione definitely decided to stay on Celine's good side," You know 'oo I am and I zink you should be very careful 'ow you respond."
"Well, Madam Minister," Umbridge was floundering and the Slytherin side of Hermione (the sorting hat had considered sending her there in First Year before conceding to Hermione's worry of being eaten alive in the snake pit for being muggleborn) took a little bit of pleasure in this. She, Ginny and Harry, every night this past week, had been imagining the best way for Umbridge to get her comeuppance. Ginny wanted to hang her by her thumbs to a broom and fly across the Quidditch pitch - Hermione often wondered what life would have been like if both she and Ginny were put into Slytherin with each other, certainly more dangerous that was a fact.
Harry had voted that they lock Umbridge up with Professor McGonagall for a whole weekend. McGonagall would either kill Umbridge for them or kill herself - which would be traced back to Umbridge so she would be fired anyway. Hermione had laughed at that and put her own idea forward. She would have to lure Umbridge to the forbidden forest, get found by the herd of centaurs and have her insult them. Then, they would drag her away and do who knows what but Hermione didn't care.
"I was simply," It seemed that Umbridge was pretending to get over her fear," What I mean to say is...Miss Granger is here because of her careless attitude in my class. She seems to think that the ministry approved course is, how did you put it Miss Granger? 'Utter bullshit', I believe you said?"
"It is," Hermione muttered low enough for Fleur and her cousins to hear. They all snickered slightly
"I see," Celine said slowly, eyes narrowed," Do you 'ave ze textbook, Madam Umbridge so zat I may see for myself?"
"Well," Umbridge flashed Hermione a conniving smile," I regret to-"
"I have it," Hermione put in," It's in my bag."
Celine nodded, satisfied as she reached into the bag and pulled out the textbook. Her daughters and sister crowded around her and flicked through it.
"Did you call it utter bullshit, 'Ermione?" Apolline asked as her mother and Elise's faces darkened when looked at the course aims.
"I'm not going to deny it," Hermione shrugged and one of Fleur's cousins snickered.
"Well," Celine allowed her eyes to roam over the room," I may not 'ave phrased it as 'uch but I do agree. Tell me, Madam Umbridge, 'as ze United Kingdom fallen so low zat zey do not even teach ze use of defensive spells? And 'as sunk so low to use blood quills on children?"
Umbridge struggled to respond, gesticulating and making spluttered sounds. It was obvious that she didn't know how to defend herself - or maybe it was how half of the Veela were partially transformed and she was scared shitless. Hermione was fine with either of those situations. This proved to be more entertaining than the ideas that she, Ginny and Harry had come up with.
"Regardless," Celine waved her hand dismissively," This will be put to a stop. I 'ave a meeting wiz Fudge in ze morning. 'E will be informed of zis. Professionally, I will tell your boss. Personally, zough, zat is a different matter entirely." Umbridge nearly fell over her chair in her haste to back away. "We will continue zis tomorrow Madam Umbridge."
Dumbledore offered the Veela a few guest rooms in the room of requirement to stay in for the night when it became apparent that they weren't going to leave. The group had happily accepted and had all but kidnapped Hermione to stop her from returning to her own room.
Celine was pacing around the roaring fire, muttering in French about how stupid Umbridge was and how drafty Hogwarts was. Hermione was sitting on Fleur's lap (imprisoned, really) with the quarter Veela whispering words into her neck and holding her close.
" 'Ow are you feeling, 'Ermione?" Apolline was looking at her hand, studying it curiously.
"I'm fine," Hermione shrugged," It's not that much of a big deal. It's not even-"
"Not a big deal?! Not a big deal?!" Fleur was snarling now as she rested her head on Hermione's shoulder," Mon amour, it was borderline torture. She is a foul beast and-"
"Anyway," Hermione cut off Fleur with a well placed glare," As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted -" Fleur chuckled slightly and reburied her head in Hermione's neck "- It's not that bad, you soak it in murtlap afterwards and the pain fades. I'm not going to apologise, the curriculum is bullshit, she's a foul toad, a shit teacher and, if that was torture, then she's doing a shit job at that as well. Honestly, I've been in more pain when I've scraped my knee."
Elise, from where she had been sitting on a plush armchair, snorted. "I know there was a reason that I liked you. A numbing charm, I believe?"
"Of course," Hermione shrugged like it was obvious," I'm not an idiot, I made sure that everybody else did it as well-"
" 'Ow many ozers?" Celine interrupted.
" 'Ow many ozers 'as she tortured? And 'ow many people 'ave you charmed?"
"Oh well, I suppose, there was me, Harry, Ginny and Ron. Neville as well, Lavender had one detention. Both of the Patil twins, Dean, maybe ten or so more Gryffindors in my year? There was Colin Creevey in Ginny's year. She got Luna as well. Er, most of the seventh and sixth year class. A handful of First Years," She had given up on counting on her fingers as she tried to think about who else she had heard about," I think that Ernie said that she got at least half of Hufflepuff house which bumps as up to nearly a quarter or so of the school population. In all honesty, the only ones that haven't been touched are the Slytherins and that's only because they're using their parent's money to get themselves out of it. What?"
Everybody in the room was staring at her with their mouths open.
" 'Ow many 'ave you charmed?"
"Well," Hermione thought for a moment, tilting her head to the side in an action that Fleur thought was utterly adorable," Harry got the first detention out of everybody and he came back and showed me. I charmed him after his first detention using the book that Elise gave me, thanks for that by the way, so...I suppose, word got around and I'm pretty sure that I've done everybody? It kind of wears off after a few days. What is it now? Seriously, this is getting weird."
"You are very skilled, you know this, yes?" Apolline said.
Hermione rolled her eyes and replied wearily," As you lot keep saying. If we're done here, I'm gonna head back to my dorm now. Night."
"Non!" Hermione wasn't sure who yelled it (probably everybody) but suddenly she was being pulled every which way before being settled back onto Fleur's lap. She should have known that it wouldn't be this easy. The flock considered her one of their own. They weren't letting her leave for the night.
"Okay fine," Hermione rolled her eyes," But I need to go to my dorm to get my things. I'm not sleeping in my uniform."
"Adele, Madelyn," Celine ordered softly," Go and get ze password from Dumbledore and get 'Ermione's pyjamas - Where are zey, my dear?"
"On my bed."
"Zey are on her bed. One of you also tell 'er friends where she is. As I recall, the young Potter boy is very protective."
Adele and Madelyn nodded and made their way out. Hermione pitied anybody who got in their way tonight - she could still see a few feathers sprouting at their hairline.
Fleur had resumed her post in Hermione's neck, nuzzling against it as she absentmindedly rubbed the spot on Hermione's wrist where her name was written in elegant font.
Celine was pacing again while Elise was nursing another cup of tea - it was the third since she had arrived. Fleur's cousins were fighting quietly amongst themselves, about what Hermione didn't have the energy to translate. Tonight had been stressful enough all because stupid Hedwig had delivered her stupid letter stupidly early. She really needed to invest in getting an owl and wondered if she could badger her parents into letting her buy one over the Summer - although, knowing them, they would probably say that Crookshanks was enough.
Speaking of that cat, he had appeared outside Umbridge's office just as the Veela were pulling Hermione back up to Dumbledore's office and had followed them all the way over to the Room of Requirement and was napping in front of the fire. The whole Flock had been shocked to see how perceptive he was, checking over Hermione thoughtfully, butting his head against her knee before walking over to the fire with his tail held high. Hermione had shrugged at the confused looks - realising that she hadn't actually brought Crookshanks over to France with her when she visited them - and explained that he always seemed to know when she needed a bit of comfort and was infamous for turning up randomly during class if there was a test (the teachers didn't like it at first but at this point, nobody even batted an eyelash anymore.
Adele and Madelyn returned not ten minutes later with two bags worth of Hermione's things.
"You didn't, like, raid my room did you?" Hermione wasn't really sure why they had brought so much with them," Because, this isn't like Beauxbatons. I share that room with like, four other girls."
"Not at all," Madelyn waved away Hermione's worries," Your roommates were certainly 'elpful. Alzough, some girl Lavender, I zink? She said zat she is using your potions essay."
"Bitch," Hermione muttered but she was grinning like it was a joke," Didn't even ask me." She and Lavender had gotten over their differences ages ago, could maybe even be considered friends. As such, Lavender was allowed certain liberties when it came to homework help.
Hermione peered into one of her bags and sighed deeply. "You took all of my wardrobe."
"Non." Adele shook her head," Only 'alf."
"No," Hermione sighed again," That's my entire wardrobe. The rest of it was set on fire the third day back at school, Hagrid's new pet got into the Gryffindor Common Room while we were in class. It went up to the girl's dorm rooms. Ginny lost her entire wardrobe, Parvati lost all of her parchment and Lavender's bed got set on fire. I haven't had time to go shopping to get new clothes."
"Merlin," Apolline shook her head in exasperation and wondered if the house elves would be willing to get her some alcohol. It had been that kind of night. "Seriously 'Ermione, you should consider transfering to Beauxbatons. Zere is less dangerous things trying to kill you."
Hermione snorted and Fleur grinned into her neck.
"If I leave Hogwarts then Gryffindor fails their OWLs," She deadpanned and the Delacours couldn't tell if she was being serious.
Watching Celine Delacour go at it with Dolores Umbridge was such a fun experience that Hermione was sure that she could cast a patronus using that memory. She had been exempt from class that day which had just been an excuse for everybody to keep an eye on her away from Umbridge's beady little eyes. Fleur hadn't left her side for a second and Hermione was stuck with a blonde shadow everywhere she had gone - well, actually, a few blonde shadows because, by Merlin, all of them were blonde.
They had been called to Dumbledore's office after dinner and found Fudge and Umbridge already there. Dumbledore was very amused, a twinkle in his eyes as Celine sat at his desk, yelling angrily at the two people in front of them like she was scolding her children.
"Ah, 'Ermione," She stopped and smiled," 'Ave a seat. We were just discussing you actually."
"Really?" Hermione sat and Fleur stood behind her, glaring at Umbridge like she was the worst thing in the world.
"Ah, oui," Celine was smiling gleefully now and, then and there, Hermione knew if the Veela went to Hogwarts then she would have been sorted into Slytherin, Fleur would have been too," I was just telling zem zat zis 'as become an international incident."
"I-Its has?!" Umbridge was nervous and Hermione couldn't help her grin.
"Oui, it 'as," Fleur's voice was cold and unrelenting," 'Ermione 'as dual citizen ship. She is as much French as she is English."
That wasn't really strictly true. Hermione's grandmother had been French so, technically, she was only a quarter French but her mother had a citizen ship which meant Hermione had a citizen ship.
"Well," Fudge was adamant that nothing had happened," What has happened that is such a travesty? I am an unaware why this meeting couldn't have been done in my office, Madam Delacour."
"Oh nozing," Celine waved her hand," Just ze fact zat zis woman has been using blood quills on a French citizen and a quarter of ze school. Oh no, zis is nozing at all."
Fudge paled dramatically and started spluttering as Umbridge raced to defend herself although she could barely talk in full sentences. Hermione didn't need to see her soulmate to know that Fleur was incredibly smug, her head resting on Hermione's shoulder with a grin.
Fudge spluttered out a few noises before whirling around to point an accusing finger at Umbridge. Still though, he couldn't quite form words and was turning quite purple - either in rage or from being in close proximity to so many Veela thralls. He rose from his seat after a moment and continued to flounder.
Celine took pity on him.
"Monsieur," Her voice was calm and even," We can continue zis anozer time. I just wanted to let you know what was 'appening. Please, I am sure zat you 'ave more work to do."
Hermione snorted. Neville's grandmother had been right, the ministry was corrupt and Fudge clearly had no idea what to do when confronted with somebody infinitely more powerful than himself. He stood stiffly and walked into Dumbledore's fireplace, using the Floo Network to return to the Ministry where Hermione was sure that he was going to down a couple of glasses of Firewhiskey.
"Now," Celine was very satisfied with herself, nodding slightly before turning her glowing gold eyes towards Umbridge," I zink zat you and I should 'ave a very nice chat."
Hermione had never seen something so magnificent before. Celine was laying into Umbridge like her life depended on it and the horrible toad of a professor looked terrified, pale and weak as she looked down at her feet like a chastised child - not willing to look the angry Veela in the eyes, Hermione didn't blame her, the thrall in the air was thick and angry, Hermione was just glad that it had no effect on her.
"Mon amour," Fleur's voice in her ears caused Hermione to stop staring at the scene in front of her - Apolline was making her displeasure at Umbridge shown using her wand and a very elaborate hex that Hermione knew that she needed to learn," I zink zat zis is our cue. I reckon zat we can shake my cousins on our way back to ze room. I 'ave missed you terribly, 'ave you missed me?"
Hermione knew exactly what that look meant and rose from her seat just as the other Delacour's stepped forward to show Umbridge what happened when she hurt one of their own.
"Here's your potions essay," Lavender grinned wolfishly as she slid into her usual seat at the Gryffindor table, throwing Hermione her potions essay. The girl didn't even try to catch it, her movement was so restricted in the tight hold that Fleur had on her.
"Thank you Lavender," Hermione said through gritted teeth as she attempted to reach for her cup of tea," What did I miss in class yesterday?"
Fleur had refused to leave Hermione's side for a while now and Hermione was seriously considering whether or not to hex her soulmate into oblivion. The whole Great Hall was split between freaking the fuck out because the Beauxbatons champion was back in the girl or finding the situation between Hermione and Fleur the most romantic thing in the world. Draco Malfoy, notably, was incredibly pale and shaking slightly. He was no doubt remembering the time when he had insulted Hermione just as Fleur and a group of Beauxbatons girls rounded the corner. He had been in the hospital wing for three days and even though more than ten people had witnessed Fleur's retaliation, anytime they tried to report her for it, they found themselves unable to do so and instead would confess a secret - more often than not they would reveal something that would get them detention.
"Nothing, really," The other girl said, still grinning as she eyed the way that Fleur snarled under her breath when a wandering group of Second Years stared. The French witch wasn't sure whether or not they were staring because herself and her cousins were part Veela or because none of them were hiding their soulmate markings or if it was because of how attached Fleur was to her girlfriend. Either way, she didn't care much. Her instincts were screaming at her to whisk the girl away to France with her, to hold her close and not let her out of her sight. But Fleur couldn't do that - mainly because she knew that Hermione would probably kill her if she had to finish her schooling at Beauxbatons.
"Although Flitwick did say that we've got a mock OWL exam in three weeks," Lavender scooped some eggs onto her plate before wiggling her eyebrows. Hermione knew what that meant and once upon a time she might have been annoyed at Lavender's need for gossip but, Hermione had to admit, she quite enjoyed being in the loop about things now - especially when Lavender had told her that Draco Malfoy had been caught having sex with Pansy Parkinson - who had already met her soulmate - in the dungeons between Charms and Astronomy.
"It's not nearly as interesting as you," Lavender wiggled her finger as Ginny appeared, taking the seat next to her," Missing class yesterday. Imagine my surprise when two Veela come into our dorm room last night. They threw your entire wardrobe into a bag, took all of your books and THEN you don't even turn up. Something happen?"
"Yeah," Hermione wasn't going to keep this to herself. Merlin, Lavender and Ginny's gossiping tendencies had begun to rub off on her," You didn't hear this from me," She lowered her voice and Lavender and Ginny leaned across the breakfast table with matching grins," But I don't think that Professor Umbridge will be up for teaching for a few weeks." Lavender and Ginny both gasped before inclining their heads towards Fleur and her cousins - who had all refused to leave to go back to France when Celine and their mothers did, instead demanding to stay with Hermione and Fleur for the rest of the year. Hermione nodded at the silent question and Lavender and Ginny squealed.
"Zis is where you all 'ave run off to?" Elise also hadn't left - having immediately been given the Defence Against the Dark Arts position until such time that 'Umbridge could resume her classes' although Hermione was sure that that was not going to be happening anytime soon. " 'Ermione, 'oo are zese girls?"
"Oh, Elise, this is Ginny and Lavender. Guys, this is Elise Delacour. Our new Defence teacher."
Ginny and Lavender exchanged looks of shock that immediately morphed into joy and they cheered.
Elise nodded before continuing to walk up to the teacher's table.
"So," Ginny grinned," Where is Umbridge? If she isn't teaching?"
"St. Mungos," Hermione replied curtly as her plate was piled with more food," She got transferred their yesterday night."
The Delacour witches all exchanged grins.
"Fleur!" Hermione laughed as her girlfriend kissed her neck softly," That tickles!"
"Hmm?" Fleur hummed into her neck," Is zat so? I should check again, just to be sure."
Fleur pressed more kisses to Hermione's neck and her cousins all groaned - they had seen enough of that while Hermione stayed with them over the summer. It used to be quite cute to watch but they had seen too much of it, especially last night when they had walked into the Room of Requirement after 'talking' to Umbridge and found Hermione pinned to one of the sofas with a triumphant looking Fleur tugging her shirt off.
"Fleur!" Hermione was still laughing when Harry and Ron trudged down for breakfast. They both looked completely exhausted and Hermione reckoned that it was because of Quidditch practice that morning - Ron was the reserve keeper and was still required to attend practice.
Harry looked shocked when he saw Fleur and her cousins sitting at their table but chose not to ask questions, asking questions usually led to more problems then needed. He just accepted that they were there and slid into his seat, kissing Ginny on the cheek before loading up his plate with food. Ron didn't entirely register their presence at first, just saying a gruff greeting to Hermione, slid his hand into Lavender's and began to pile food onto his plate.
Fleur and her cousins were highly amused when it was obvious that Ron still hadn't realised that they were there.
Hermione sighed, shaking her head as she attempted to reach for her tea again - she still couldn't, not as she was held tightly in Fleur's protective hold.
Fleur grinned as Ron looked up, suddenly turning purple and letting out a gargle. Yes, he had always been very susceptible to the Veela thrall.
She decided to make it a little worse for him, her fingers delicately catching Hermione's chin and lifting it up to face her.
Hermione looked confused for a moment before Fleur pressed their lips together firmly.