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Old Shores and New Horizons

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Chapter One

 

Wherein our heroes are introduced, a treasure hunt commences, and our story starts.

 

Our tale begins near a cottage in the countryside in Kent, tantalisingly close to the seashore, with the sound of waves hitting the shoreline being carried by the gentle ocean breeze serving as a reminder of what lay over the sea. Home for one inhabitant of the cottage, and for both of them, family. By blood, and by choice.

 

One of the people living in the cottage was just approaching, his shadow long in the late evening light.  This man, one of our heroes, tall, and possessing a wild mane of dark hair, was a wizard of considerable fame; Harry Potter himself. He was whistling merrily, as his green eyes were watching the landscape.

 

It had been his girlfriend that had chosen this spot for their cottage, both for the beautiful countryside, and because it allowed them to live only a single apparition jump away from her homeland.

 

He trod on a stone pathway leading to the front door of their cottage. It was quiet, aside from the sound of distant tides, so his steps were loud, as was his humming when he noticed a light in the cottage’s windows. The setting sun gave the dark wood and stone of the walls an almost fiery hue.

 

With a deep, fond sigh, Harry opened the door with a smile.

 

“I’m home, sweetheart!”

 

Musical laughter answered his call, and while he was taking off his coat-like outer robe, the heroine of this story bustled towards him and embraced him from behind. The softness of her body melded to the hard planes of his own, as her summery perfume tickled his senses.

 

“Welcome ‘ome, mon cœur.”

 

He turned around in her arms and they exchanged kisses on the cheek, before he quickly pecked her on the lips.

 

“I thought it was my turn to make dinner tonight?” he asked her while caressing her cheek and tucking a stray strand of her silvery-gold hair behind her ear. It must have escaped the somewhat messy plait she had put it in, held together by an azure ribbon.

 

She smiled and kissed the tip of his nose. “Oh, I managed to get ‘ome earlier today, I finished an assignment extra fast, so the goblins let me leave early.”

 

“You’re simply amazing, Fleur.” Harry disentangled himself from her embrace and reached into his left sleeve.

 

“Aha! Here it is!” he exclaimed, and drew out a bouquet of a dozen red carnations. “Here, happy anniversary.”

 

She took the bouquet and put it into a quickly conjured vase.

 

“You and your magic tricks.” She chuckled and embraced him again. This time, their kiss lasted longer. “Thank you, ‘Arry. Now come on in, sit and we can tell each other about our days over a warm meal.”

 

“I know that smile, Fleur.” He drew her to him and held her hips firmly. “What are you planning?”

 

“That would spoil the surprise, ‘Arry ,” she whispered into his ear and enjoyed his reaction to both her hot breath on his skin, and to the way she had pronounced his name. “Now come, dinner awaits!”

 

She clasped his hand in hers and dragged him to the bathroom and after that, the living room. There, on a solid table, emitting smells so delicious Harry had to swallow his saliva, sat a bowl of onion soup.

 

He knew, however, what should come first, having learned long ago the ways of proper dining from her family. First, came the apéritif.

 

“Cousin Claude had a new batch sent,” Fleur said, handing him a tall glass of pale liquid. “I think you will like it.”

 

“Hm”—Harry considered the taste after a sip—“it’s quite dry, but I like it.”

 

A smile bloomed on her face and she leaned in to kiss his cheek. “I knew you would.”

 

“Well,” Harry chuckled, “you have been working on my palate.”

 

“Mhm.” She had an unbearably smug look that only she could make attractive. “It is nice to see my efforts pay off.”

 

They finished their glasses and sat down to their meal.

 

“Hm.” Harry nodded after tasting the soup. “And I am glad my efforts have also paid off.” He gave her a rakish wink. “Though that doesn’t mean our time together in the kitchen is going to end.”

 

“Ah, of course not!” she exclaimed in mock outrage. “I demand more lessons, Professor Potter.”

 

“Well.” He rubbed his chin, “You are my most promising student.”

 

The soup vanished quite quickly during their friendly banter, and while Harry was taking away the bowls, Fleur brought in the next course, pan-seared cod with white wine and basil sauce, and salad.

 

“Oh, that looks delicious!” He rubbed his hands together. “And smells even better.”

 

“It surely is,” she said, “be a dear, and pour the Sauvignon?”

 

“I’m so lucky to be with you,” he told her after taking a bite. “So, what was the assignment the goblins wanted you to do?”

 

A confident smile blossomed on her lips. “It was a trifle, really. Cursed jewels. The goblins know well who their foremost expert is. And since the curse was familiar to me, I was done quickly. And how was your day?”

 

Now it was Harry’s turn to smile, an expression many a young man and woman had learned to dread. Combined with the tilt of his head and lighting, it gave his face a sinister cast. 

 

“You know that doesn’t work on me, ‘Arry, I know you too well.” She giggled.

 

Harry pouted. “Fine, ruin my fun. But unlike you, the Auror trainees don’t know me that well.” He did his best to release an evil laugh.

 

“What is it they call you? The devil dating an angel?” She covered her mouth and tittered.

 

“That’s what they started calling me after you visited me at work a month ago, yes,” Harry said with a smile, taking her hand into his.

 

“Well, time for a crepe,” Fleur announced, “put the plates away?”

 

“Mhm.” Harry nodded and placed them into the washbasin. With a wave of his wand, the plates started moving around in the hot water, and a sponge began washing them.

 

“I suppose the trainees are not completely hopeless,” he admitted with a shrug. “Some of them are even learning.”

 

“Oh my,” she laughed while bringing in the sweet treat, “that is high praise coming from the dreaded Instructor Potter. Are you telling me that the Auror Corps has some hope?”

 

“Barely.” He tried for a grim, dismayed tone, but the smile on his lips betrayed his true meaning.

 

As always when it came to sweets, the conversation died down. Both of them relished the delicious taste, though she teased him by releasing quiet moans with each slow, deliberate bite into her crepe.

 

“It was simply delicious, Fleur,” he said after hunting down the last crumb on his plate. “So, how about you now? Tell me what had you so excited, hm?”

 

She raised an eyebrow. “So anxious, are we?” 

 

“Fleur…”

 

“My my, don’t whine.” She covered her mouth as she giggled. “I ‘ave prepared a little surprise for you, ‘Arry. But you will ‘ave to find it.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Your first clue is in the room where I gifted you the feather you wear around your neck.” Her smile was both warm and teasing.

 

His hand automatically went to the pendant he was wearing, a simple feather on a string, whose magic was enough to protect it. Always with him, warm and soft, a reminder. A promise. One he always kept close to his heart.

 

No words were needed between them now, an exchange of nods was enough, and both of them headed upstairs towards their bedroom. How could he forget the moment? Her gentle arms around his neck, and the soft touch of a heat that should have been searing, but gently warmed up his chest instead. It was that memory that sent forth Prongs now, each step of the stag’s gallop echoing a pulse of warmth so very close to his heart.

 

They arrived at their bedroom, which was dominated by their shared bed, and contained the mess so typical to a well-lived-in room. Articles of clothing were strewn around, mixed in with books and scrolls, notes, writing utensils, make-up, each of them carrying a bit of memory tied to them.

 

Fleur’s oh so smooth hand took his, as she leaned in to whisper in his ear. “You must find that which doesn’t fit. Look carefully, mon cœur.”

 

It was a mighty struggle, trying not to succumb to the sensation of her hot breath on his skin. Oh, how he wanted to draw her to him, to crush her to his chest, to claim her lips! But he overcame, and focused on the room.

 

The bed was as they had left it in the morning, the covers smoothly made. But there! On the vanity at Fleur’s side of the bed!

 

“Aha!”

 

Fleur giggled at his exaggerated exclamation. “Bravo, Auror Potter.” She supplemented her praise with a slow clap.

 

Harry did not mind, however, and focused on the roll of parchment hidden between several perfume bottles. He unrolled it and read Fleur’s elegant handwriting.

 

Many a day we have spent together, and none of them I regret, only the fact our days are finite weighs me down. Eternity by your side I desire the most. Find the next clue in the room I spent much time in, though you always insist I do not need it.

 

He had to chuckle when reading the message. “Really, Fleur?”

 

Her answering pout was truly outrageous, devastating even, and so he had to save the world from such sight by claiming her lips in a quick kiss. 

 

She smiled against his lips and snaked moved her arms around his neck to draw him even closer. “Well, now,” she spoke after leaning back slightly, “I ‘ave you. ‘Ow are you going to finish the treasure ‘unt?”

 

He gave a roguish smile and leaned forward to give her a quick peck. “What if I already have the greatest treasure already?”

 

The fit of laughter that shook her allowed him to slip away from her arms.

 

“No fair.” She pouted again, “Using corny lines against me.”

 

“It's only fair,” he replied with a wink. “I had to retaliate for your pout.”

 

“Pfft, then go.” She shooed him with her hands. “Continue your quest.”

 

“But of course!” He nodded with a mock serious expression. “On we go! To the bathroom!” With a dramatic flourish, he pointed towards their shared bathroom. “And I still maintain that you don’t need to spend as much time there as you do.”

 

She giggled and ran her hand through his hair. “Somebody needs to compensate for the perpetual disaster of your hair, mon cœur.”

 

It was his turn to pout, but it was interrupted by the smile that forced its way on his face. When he entered the bathroom, he was welcomed by the weary sigh of their bathroom mirror.

 

“Oh, it’s you again.”

 

“This is my home, you know,” he replied to the mirror.

 

“But your hair is so terrible ,” the mirror whined. “Why can’t you let her in, hm? I would much rather reflect her hair.”

 

“Oh, do be quiet.” Harry waved his hand. “Unless you don’t want me growing a beard?”

 

“Ohhh!” The mirror sounded positively gleeful. “With your jawline, a beard could look positively ravishing !” The reflection turned just a shade more pink. “What do you think, darling?”

 

“Oh, you two tempt me so.” Fleur stroked her chin. “On one ‘and, ‘Arry would look good .” A blush appeared on her cheeks. “But ‘is cheeks would be so rough to kiss. Such a dilemma!” She pouted again.

 

“You two, always teaming up against me.” He sighed. “But I won’t be distracted from my search!” The pose he struck bore quite the similarity to some he had seen Lockhart make years ago.

 

While his girlfriend and the mirror giggled and shared gossip, he focused on the room. There was nothing in the wash-basin, and the shelf above it was in order too, nothing was added in between the toothbrushes, combs, hairbrushes, and makeup.

 

“Ha!” He opened a cabinet to the side, and took another roll of parchment that was hidden between cleaning supplies.

 

Another step closer to finding the treasure, my darling. Ever since we started dating, you have every day proven I made the right choice in approaching you. I am so happy I decided to go work on my English after the tournament. You can find the next clue where I store what you tell me I do not need, for what is inside is more important.

 

“Mhm.” He nodded. “You would make a sack look good.”

 

“As you keep telling me.” She kissed his cheek. “So you know where to look for the next clue?”

 

He took her hand and kissed the palm. “Of course, to the dressing room!”

 

“Oh my!” She giggled as he dragged her towards the dressing room near the front door of their cottage. 

 

Harry had originally thought a single wardrobe would have been sufficient, but Fleur soon had him convinced that more space would be needed. And so they had included an entire room for storing clothes and getting dressed. 

 

It had been certainly cathartic to gather all the clothes from the Dursleys on a large pile and together set fire to them. It had happened after Fleur had dragged him off to go shopping for some “acceptable clothes'' as she had called it. He had heard horror tales from his dormmates about shopping trips with girls, and had been understandably nervous. But it turned out shopping with Fleur was very pleasant, and even fun. And, he had to admit, she had an eye for fashion, and managed to get him looking good and feeling comfortable in his own clothes.

 

They arrived in the room, furnished with simple benches and several wardrobes for clothes meant for outside of the house. Four big wardrobes had been decorated with motifs of the four seasons, clearly marking what clothes were meant to be stored in them.

 

“Hm.” He tapped his chin. “Where could a witch so devious have hidden a missive?” 

 

He turned towards the wardrobe depicting snowdrop flowers peeking through the remnants of snow, and willow trees whose leaves were just leaving their buds, while birds animated by an enchantment were returning from far-off lands. “Is it here?” He took care to look at the top of the wardrobe, under it, and then opened the door. “No.” He carefully looked between the assortment of light robes meant for spring. “It’s not here.” He carefully watched his girlfriend smother her giggles at his antics.

 

“If not spring”— he was tapping his foot —“then summer will surely reveal the clue!” He moved towards the wardrobe with an image of rolling fields of gold under azure skies, with gleaming winged figures dancing in the sky. After opening the door, he took care not to ruffle the sundresses and light robes inside, yet still searched the inside thoroughly. By Fleur’s bated breath, he knew he was on the right track.

 

“And here it is,” he said while picking the folded parchment that was sticking from a pocket of one of her robes.

 

“Good eye, mon amour.” She chuckled and gently patted his cheek, before quickly kissing the same spot. “Go on, read it.”

 

Rest easy in the knowledge that you found another clue. I must congratulate you on your skills. Know then that the next clue can be found where we shared many a moment teaching each other, and then enjoyed the fruits of our labours.

 

“Teaching each other, huh?” He smiled in remembrance. “Oh, and sometimes more than teaching.”

 

“But we ‘ad to rearrange ingredients after that particular session,” Fleur reminded him, “you took me right on the table, you beast.”

 

“Don’t pretend, love”— he stole a quick kiss —“the taking was definitely mutual. Had to mend quite a few bloody tracks on my back.” He smiled mischievously at her and squeezed her hand. “If anyone was a beast, it was definitely you.” He brought her hand to his lips. “With those talons of yours.” Each of her fingers received a kiss.

 

“Oh, don’t start what you can’t finish now, ‘Arry…” There was an undercurrent of a growl in her voice, and goosebumps rose along her arms. “You ‘ave a treasure to find.”

 

“Oh, you tempt me so, my dear.” He grinned at her. “So many options, so many possible lines…” He sighed and landed one last kiss on her soft palm, before sighing and releasing her. “But I must resist for now. To the kitchen!”

 

The whole way he was followed by his giggling girlfriend, but he tried his best to appear impressive, as he purposefully strode forward. Unfortunately, without longer robes, he could not achieve the right billowing effect.

 

When they arrived in the kitchen, they were welcomed by the gentle clinking of pots and dishes being washed, still under Harry’s enchantment.

 

“‘Ow do you get the spell to take care of the dishes so well?” It was far from the first time she asked him that.

 

“Well.” He smiled, again, “it’s in the wrist. You need to give it a proper swish.”

 

“I guess we know which ‘ousehold chore will be your job.” She winked at him, and kissed the shell of his ear.

 

“Aha,” he exclaimed, “now the truth is revealed. You want me for my spellwork!”

 

“Of course.” She dramatically put her hand to her forehead. “Oh, this poor Veela fell victim to a wizard’s charms! What will my sisters say?”

 

He chuckled at her antics. “Last time we spoke, Gabby asked me to teach her cleaning charms.”

 

Quick as lightning, she grabbed him around the waist. “Oh no, I’m going to keep you. My sister needs to find her own wizard.”

 

He squeezed her hip too while he laughed. “So possessive.”

 

“Mhm, mine!” Fleur squeezed him even tighter.

 

“But darling, you need to let me go.” He tickled her sides. “How else am I going to find the next clue?”

 

“Ah, for now.” 

 

Her pout could have stopped traffic, he was sure. She let go of him, however, and he could focus on their little kitchen. Fortunately, magic took care of problems with space, and so their magical cooling box was much bigger on the inside. Upon opening it, he noticed several things. They would need to get fresh vegetables soon. And there was no roll of parchment inside.

 

Next, he moved to the cabinet with cups and glasses, but there was no missive hidden among the decorated glasses that had been a gift from Fleur’s parents, nor was anything hidden in the teacups and mugs.

 

But then he opened the next cabinet, and there, between the columns of plates and bowls, he noticed a roll of parchment. He took extra care when taking it out, not wanting to risk breaking any of the dishes. Indeed, after he unrolled it, there was his girlfriend’s elegant script.

 

Read this with a smile, you deserve it, and I love seeing you smile. Only one more clue to go before you find the treasure. You can find it in the room where we both spend less time than we would wish.

 

This gave Harry pause, but her arms encircling his waist again gave him another clue. How many times had they both expressed regret at having so little free time while cuddling on the sofa? Too many times to count. Yes, the sofa in the living room!

 

His hand sought hers and soon, Harry was dragging her to their living room. They passed the table where just moments before they had eaten dinner. 

 

In just a few steps they were now standing on the burgundy carpet of the living room, facing a bookcase, while to their left was the sofa on which they had spent many an intimate moment. To the right lay Fleur’s harp, an instrument whose size originally surprised Harry. But just a single performance by Fleur was enough to quell any doubts he might have had. That instrument needed a place in their home.

 

He focused on the harp first, from the sounding board over the strings, but there was nothing added. Not even a speck of dust was allowed to come close to Fleur’s beloved instrument.

 

The bookcase was next in line for his inspection. He carefully went over the titles, from old textbooks, to instruction manuals, poetry collections, and even romances. Oh, the romances! Fleur had managed to convince him to give them a try. He was unsure he would ever mention that to Ron, but he had definitely enjoyed some of the stories. However, there was no roll of parchment, neither on the books nor in between them. And judging by Fleur’s smile, he knew the clue was somewhere else.

 

It was time to search the sofa then, a large, well-stuffed thing, with four soft pillows on top. They had enjoyed many late evenings there, lounging on the soft, beige piece of furniture, snuggling together and hugging the pillows. And indeed, under the pillow on Fleur’s favourite spot, a piece of parchment was folded neatly in half. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see his girlfriend almost vibrating with excitement as he unfolded the parchment.

 

Yes, this is the final clue, good job, my love. The treasure you seek is hidden outside the house, where we have stored our supplies that make sure we do not freeze in winter. I can only say I enjoy watching you procuring said supplies.

 

“You like leading me on a merry chase, hm?” He turned towards her with a raised eyebrow.

 

“You are not the only one who appreciates a well-formed derrière.” She shamelessly winked at him.

 

If he put a bit of an extra spring into his steps after that, he would never admit to the fact.

 

Before heading out, he remembered to take his outer robe, because the evenings could be truly cold in Kent. He noticed Fleur also taking a warm cloak, and following him outside. Around the corner, there was a small shed set against the wall of their cottage, where they stored their wood.

 

And unless his eyes deceived him, there was a flash of silver atop the logs. Yes, he touched the silky fabric and took it, it flowed from his hand and softly shone in the darkness of late evening. Oh so soft and warm, it was covered in small feathers that glowed in the moonlight, and as he examined it closer, he realized it was a gown.

 

He felt her expectant gaze on him, and it took him a moment to realize the true meaning of this moment.

 

“Fleur, this is?”

 

“Oui, my gown of feathers.” Her smile could have overshadowed the sun, if he were to compare them, but now they stood bathing in starlight. She reached to him, glowing the same way the gown did. “So, what is your answer?”

 

Harry took his time answering while he looked at the vision of loveliness radiating silvery light, feeling her gentle touch on his forearm. Focusing on her face, her lovely smile and shining, tender eyes, the glow made it seem as if she bore a circlet of magical silver, bearing a star resting at her brow.

 

His answer? He recalled her clues, all lovingly and carefully written in her elegant, smooth, looping script. 

 

“My answer is yes. Most definitely yes. Undoubtedly yes!”

 

With a squeal, she rushed into his arms, squeezing him with all her might, raining kisses on his face. He had his hands full of the elated Veela witch, though he definitely did not mind. After a few minutes, her cheers died down and kisses ceased, though she was still sporting a wide smile. She even let go of him, and was intently looking into his eyes.

 

“Ah.”— he scratched his head —“here, you can have your gown back.”

 

She carefully took the garment from him and slowly folded it, but was beaming again. Then she winked at him, turned on the spot, and vanished with a silent ‘pop’.

 

So it happened that our hero, after an arduous quest, found a great treasure, a Veela’s Gown of Feathers, and thus gained the promise of her hand in marriage. After that, the Veela gained her Gown of Feathers back, and immediately vanished before the hero’s very eyes.