Lost and Found - 2nd Cycle
Bind and Loose
Bind and Loose
The waiting room outside of the surgical ward at St. Luke’s hospital in Marseilles was much like any other waiting room. The chairs were hard and uncomfortable, the room was cold, and waiting there was the closest thing to hell-on-earth that Gabrielle had yet experienced in her life; she should be at Harry’s side, not sitting out here with out of date magazines.
Earlier that day, they’d appeared in the District Superintendent’s office. The twins appeared first, followed by Matzalen, then Harry and Gabrielle appeared in tandem. Madame Artzai had been fetched to be reunited with her daughters, and after the world’s most efficient debriefing, Gabrielle had been packed off to St. Luke’s to accompany Harry, who needed more specialized care than could be provided by the Mediwitch on duty at the District Office.
Harry was suffering from the obvious wounds, and a nasty case of magical depletion from punching five bodies through an almost intact anti-Apparation field covering the Isle d’ If. The Healer in charge of intake decided that Harry’s collapsed lung wasn’t going to get any better without prompt treatment, so in he went to the trauma surgical ward. The Healer in charge was a frantic Italian wizard with very tired eyes who left the ward about forty-five minutes after Harry went in, cursing proficiently in at least six languages. He returned with an older Healer in tow, a Veela her mum’s age who looked somewhat familiar. They’d been in the trauma surgical ward for three hours since then with no word or progress reports. She’d considered blowing the (sealed) doors off of their charmed hinges and barging in, but the adult part of her mind told her that would be a foolish course of action at best, and possibly fatal to Harry, so she fumed and paced and waited and then repeated the cycle.
Eventually, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes, falling into a fitful sleep. She opened one eye when she heard the doors open. The Veela Healer came through the door, stripping off her mask and cap and robes.
"Gabrielle? I’m Zurine Miller," she said, extending her hand. She had a firm, albeit cold handshake. "Please pardon my hands, its cold for a reason in the surgical ward. Your companion is in excellent shape and is resting now; he’ll be conscious in an hour or so and with any luck, we’ll discharge him in a day or two."
"What took so long?" Gabrielle asked, smiling at the positive report.
"Your repair work on his leg was excellent, but we were concerned with the lung, trying to repair the damage with minimal scarring. Healer Verde called me in when he recognized that your companion was not responding properly," Healer Miller said.
"What was wrong?" Gabrielle asked.
Healer Miller laughed. "Nothing was wrong, it just wasn’t what Healer Verde was expecting — he thought he was working on a wounded, but otherwise healthy human male, but found that Harry’s body was saturated with Veela magic, which caused a number of things to react differently, which is why I was called in. Once we started treating him like a Veela, everything responded as it should."
"But he’s not a Veela," Gabrielle protested.
"Try telling his magic that," Healer Miller replied. "He’ll be transferred to Ward Seven after he’s cleared by the Anaesthetist, so if you want to spend the night in his room, you are welcome to do so."
"Thank you," Gabrielle said, more than slightly surprised. "That’s very kind."
"Think nothing of it, Mrs. Potter," Healer Miller said, standing to take her leave.
"But - but we’re not married yet," Gabrielle protested.
"Don’t kid yourself, Mrs. Potter," Healer Miller said emphatically as she pushed open the door leading to the staff lounge. "Ward Seven, one hour."
"Right," Gabrielle said.
He was in the walled garden again. Autumn light filtered through the now-coloured leaves on the trees. The brilliant red in the maple leaves reminded him of Ginny, who, of course, was now before him, giving him a fierce hug before planting her lips on his. When they broke apart he could see the look of anger in her eyes.
"What were you thinking?" she demanded.
"Well, I’m glad to see you too, love," he replied.
"Don’t you try to schmooze me, Harry James Potter; you almost got yourself killed there! What were you thinking?" Ginny growled.
"What was I thinking? Well, I was thinking about Parvati, if you must know," Harry said.
"Matzalen doesn’t look a thing like Parvati!" Ginny snapped.
"From behind she does, especially her legs," Harry said with a smile. "That got me thinking about Parvati, which led to thinking about the Yule Ball and what a prat I’d been, and then I returned to the here and now. At first I thought she was one of Unai’s women, an Algerian, maybe. I didn’t figure out that she was Matzalen until she started pouring out the old Veela charm. By then I was thinking that I didn’t want to be talking to her out in the hallway because I couldn’t tell who all was in the building just then."
"She nearly killed you!" Ginny exclaimed.
"But she didn’t, and she really feels bad about it too," Harry said calmly.
"I want to see you again, Harry, but not like that," Ginny said.
"I think I can agree with that sentiment," Harry said. Looking around at the garden, he gestured towards the fountain, indicating that they could sit on the edge of the basin. "So, where am I right now?"
"You’re sleeping off the anaesthesia in the hospital. Gabrielle’s with you — in fact you’re holding her right now," Ginny said with a wan smile.
Harry ran his fingers through his hair. "You must know how awkward this is for me," he said hesitantly. "I’m sitting with one girl while my body is with another."
Ginny leaned forward to kiss him chastely. "Don’t worry about it, Harry, she’s the one I would have chosen for you," she said sweetly. "But if you can’t put it to rest, talk to Gabrielle about it, I’m sure she’s not going to worry either."
"You knew about her, didn’t you?" he asked.
Ginny looked at him quizzically. "About the match? I suspected it — and Fleur and I discussed it after I’d left school," she said. "You were mine at the time, so it didn’t seem horribly relevant, but once I realized that I wasn’t going to survive the Horcrux hunt, it did give me some comfort; I didn’t want you to be alone. I’m rather happy about how things worked out — the two of you make a lovely pair. Changing the subject — what did you think of my niece?"
"Serita? She’s got a good set of lungs when she’s not getting what she wants," Harry observed.
"But she’s such a good baby otherwise," Ginny said.
"I guess — I don’t have a lot to compare her to," Harry replied.
"Hermione’s preggers," Ginny said knowingly.
"Does she know yet?" Harry asked.
"Well, I’ll act surprised when she tells me," Harry said.
"She’ll see through you in an instant," Ginny warned.
"It’s a good thing, Harry," Ginny said.
"Your life is moving on — you, your friends, they’re getting jobs, getting married, having kids," Ginny said.
"I guess it is good. If it wasn’t for Gabrielle, I’d still be a hermit in Alaska," Harry said. "She really is an amazing girl — when I’m with her, I feel alive again."
"Good on you, Harry, it’s all going to happen for you, too, some of it quicker than you’d expect. Oh, by the way," she said, bending over to whisper something in his ear.
Harry’s eyes opened wide. The whispering went on for quite a while. "Really? At the same time?" he asked.
"Thanks, I guess, I wouldn’t have thought of that," he said.
"That’s why Lily asked me to tell you," Ginny said.
"You’ve got to admit that this is one of the stranger conversations I’ve ever had," he said.
"Normal is for other blokes, Harry. Give my love to Gabrielle," she said. "I’ve gotta go."
"Sure thing," Harry said tenderly. "I’ll never forget you, Ginny."
Ginny, however, didn’t answer. The garden disappeared, leaving only the sound of the fountain.
Gabrielle had been awake for an hour and out of bed for half that time. She longed for a cup of coffee, even the terrible coffee prepared in the Hospital cafeteria, but she wanted to be there when her husband woke up.
Her husband. The thought warmed her. There was still a wedding (and a long-delayed wedding night) to come, but when she felt inside herself, she knew that their magics had merged, which meant only one thing to a matched Veela; there was no going back. She sat back in her chair, concentrating on a washcloth hanging from a towel bar next to the sink, wandlessly summoning and banishing the washcloth again and again.
She felt Harry before she heard him, stirring in the bed. She smiled when she saw the first thing he did was reach out to see if she were still in the bed.
"Looking for new ways to amuse yourself, love?" he asked, looking at the flying washcloth.
"No, just making a point," Gabrielle replied.
"I’m wandlessly summoning and banishing this," Gabrielle said.
"I can see that," he said bemusedly.
"As a general rule, Veela can’t do wandless magic," Gabrielle explained. "Apart from the fireballs, which are Veela magic, and Apparation, which is Human magic, it’s well accepted among Xenobiologists that we can’t do much wandlessly."
"And yet you’re doing it now," he said.
"It’s your magic," she said. "You were in surgery for a long, long time because the first Healer couldn’t figure out why nothing was working normally inside your chest when he was trying to repair your lung."
"What was wrong?" he asked.
"According to the second Healer, your body is saturated with Veela magic," Gabrielle explained.
Harry scowled, raising an eyebrow. "Yeah, right. Next thing, I’m going to start having this awesome power over addled females," he said with a snort.
"Sorry to break it to you, love, but you’ve had that effect on any number of females all the time I’ve known you," Gabrielle said. "You’re just too thick to notice it most of the time. It’s rather sweet, actually. No, the point is that our magic has merged, which is why the Healer let me spend the night in your room. She also insisted on calling me Mrs. Potter, which was both odd and wonderful at the same time."
"Well, come here then and give your husband a kiss," he said, smiling slyly.
To Gabrielle’s delight, Harry was discharged later that day. To her dismay, he insisted on returning to his room in the Barclay. Gabrielle whinged and pleaded and shimmered, but Harry was adamant; he didn’t need a nursemaid, and they’d spend the night together once they were married, not before.
"You’re worth waiting for, love," he said, giving her a wink before closing the door.
Gabrielle stood in the hallway, summoning and throwing a fireball at the door to his flat, which had no effect, as the flat was protected by many layers of defensive magic. Harry pulled the door open long enough to throw a very small, but still very potent fireball back at her before pulling the door shut again. She dodged the fireball neatly, laughing as it shattered on the wall behind her.
She wasn’t going to win this battle. It was a good thing that she was getting married at the end of the week.
By the middle of the week, Gabrielle was reconsidering the wisdom of throwing a church wedding with less than a week’s worth of preparation, admitting that her husband-to-be had it right — she didn’t really care for these details, she just wanted to be married. Once the news got out that the somewhat notorious Gabrielle Delacour and the very famous Harry Potter were getting married in a small, private church wedding, all sorts of help was volunteered, and in most cases, donated to the couple. The principal organist at a Paris music conservatory volunteered to provide the music, provided that he didn’t have to play Purcell’s Trumpet Voluntary or any of the other clichÃ©d, over-used tunes. Madame Artzai printed up a batch of very tasteful invitations; the twins were chosen as flower girls, and to Matzalen’s amazement, she was asked to be the maid of honour.
In all the rush, there was very little time to spend with Harry. He still showed up each morning to make her breakfast, and if possible, they would eat dinner together, but the days were filled with reports, outprocessing paperwork, interviews, debriefings, and innumerable fire calls from all over the Continent and Britain. Thursday was an impossible day, with more of everything that the previous days had held. She ate a hasty sandwich in lieu of dinner, promising herself that she’d have dessert with Harry before turning in for the night, alone.
By 7:45 p.m. she threw her hands up in disgust, banishing the remaining Auror paperwork on her desk into a box, and then sliding the small stack of wedding paperwork back into her satchel. She opened up the Floo connection, knowing through her tracking ability that Harry was at his flat, and thus reachable by Floo.
"Are you ready for dessert with a very tired, very cranky Veela?" she asked.
"Yeah, sure, but Matzalen’s spending the evening with friends from school," Harry replied.
"Very funny. I’m leaving this madhouse! The more paperwork I fill out, the more they discover that urgently needs my attention. Maybe if I’m especially bad they’ll just fire me," she complained.
"No, don’t do that," he warned.
"This is France — if you’re fired, it’s even more paperwork," he quipped. "I’ll have the pie warm and the wine cold by the time you arrive."
"You’d best be prepared to rub my feet too," she said.
"Can I kiss them first?"
"But of course," she replied, smiling for the first time in hours.
"I’m not going in tomorrow," she said, groaning appreciatively as he sat on the floor and rubbed her feet.
"You’re done already?" he asked.
"I didn’t say that, I’ve just decided that enough is enough, and that I’m not going into work the day before I get married," she replied. "Oh, that’s nice — do that a little harder; forget about sex, just do this for the rest of the night."
"I don’t think so," Harry replied with a smile.
"Hold that thought," Gabrielle quipped.
"Before you get too relaxed, Madame Artzai is coming over," Harry warned.
Gabrielle opened one eye. "What? I’ve waited all day to be alone with you," she whinged.
"She said it was important," Harry said, switching from the left foot to the right foot.
"Ohhh," Gabrielle moaned.
The Floo burped into life, glowing with blue-green flames. Harry reached for the pot of Floo powder on the mantle, throwing in a pinch to acknowledge the call upon his hearth. A moment later, Madame Artzai stepped gracefully into the room, her silver hair standing out in stark contrast to her black ensemble. Gabrielle stood up by the couch, receiving kisses on each cheek from Madame Artzai, who then repeated the process with Harry.
"I am so glad that you could make time for me this evening," she began.
"Is there anything I can get you in the way of food or drink?" Harry asked.
"How are you?" Gabrielle asked.
"No, as to the food or drink," she said to Harry and then turned to Gabrielle. "As to my health, I am dying, sister."
Gabrielle nodded solemnly and motioned towards a chair. "Please sit down."
"How much time do you have?" Harry asked.
"I’m trying to last until Sunday; I would really like to see the two of you get married," Madame Artzai replied in a matter-of-fact way.
"What about your girls?" Harry asked.
"That is what I wish to discuss," Madame Artzai said, rubbing a pattern in the tabletop with her fingertips. "I am embarrassed to be discussing this with you, but I find that I have very little choice. I am so deeply in your debt, to the both of you, and yet I am about to ask yet even more."
"What can we do for you, dear sister?" Gabrielle asked.
"I never did thank you properly, but how can you adequately thank someone who rescues your children from slavery?" Madame Artzai asked rhetorically. "I’m especially thankful for whatever it was that you said to Matzalen yesterday, Harry. She’s been in much better spirits since then."
Gabrielle looked at Harry, who shrugged, spreading his hands in a gesture Gabrielle understood as "I’ll explain later."
"She went back to school, and then by Tuesday, she’d withdrawn for the term. Things have been very ugly with her fellow students and to add insult to injury, the lout she called her boyfriend broke up with her," Madame Artzai explained. "But that is not what I came here to discuss. I have no immediate family on either side and I am concerned with what will happen to my girls. I wanted to ask whether you two would be willing to serve as their guardians."
"Is your passing inevitable?" Harry asked. "In the immediate sense I mean."
Madame Artzai smiled. "Yes — but for your clever gambit of binding me to promise to live until my daughters returned, I should be dead already," she said gently. "It is so painful to live without Balendin, I’m afraid that I’ve not been much good to my daughters."
"Nonsense," Gabrielle replied. "I know that all of them were ecstatic to be in your arms again."
"That may be so," Madame Artzai said wearily. "The fact remains that my magic and my life are ebbing away. As you well know, Gabrielle, there is no cure; it is part of the fate of a matched Veela."
"No aunts or cousins?" Harry asked.
Madame Artzai shook her head sadly. "Unlike humans, the Daughters of the Dawn do not readily accept adoption as a blessing," she said.
Harry looked at Gabrielle. There was a fierce fire in his eyes. Gabrielle nodded silently.
"We’ll take them," Harry said with some finality.
"You are sure?" Madame Artzai said.
"We are both orphans, Madame Artzai, and I of all people know what it is like to live with relatives who’d rather not have me around. I know nothing at all about raising children, and next to nothing about Veela, but I’m sure we can figure it out," he said, looking to Gabrielle again. Gabrielle nodded and gave a slight smile.
"My estate, such as it is, will go to Matzalen as a dowry. I regret that I am unable to provide for the little ones," Madame Artzai said sadly.
"That will not be an issue," Harry said. "We will raise them as ours."
Madame Artzai looked to Gabrielle.
"We are more than capable of bearing that expense," Gabrielle said. "Our lives have been hard, but materially, we have both been very fortunate."
Madame Artzai exhaled loudly. "You have taken a great burden from an old woman at the end of her life," she said.
"You’re not at all old," Harry said.
Madame Artzai shook her head. "I’ve lived beyond my match, which makes me quite old," she said flatly. "I have things that need my attention, and I’m sure that you have more interesting things to do than entertain an old woman." She rose and strode to the fireplace.
"May we have lunch tomorrow?" Gabrielle asked. "There are things I’ll need to know."
Madame Artzai nodded. "But of course," she said before disappearing in the flames of the Floo.
"Harry?" Gabrielle asked.
"Hmm?" he replied.
"I’m very proud of you," she said.
"What was I supposed to do?" he asked rhetorically. "Yeah, Madame Artzai, we’ll drive your children to the Orphanage, no problem. Not bloody likely."
"I’m still proud of you. So, when did you talk to Matzalen?" Gabrielle asked.
"We had lunch yesterday," Harry replied.
"That was your prior engagement? A bit early to be seeing other women, isn’t it?" Gabrielle asked teasingly.
"There are limits to my interest in younger women," he replied.
"Oh? Are you free to talk about what you discussed?" Gabrielle asked.
Harry pondered that question for a bit. "I guess so. Matzalen was pretty shook up by how the students at Beauxbatons treated her, and being dumped by her boyfriend kind of put her over the edge. She was thinking of herself as damaged goods — no one would want to be her friend, no boy would ever want her for anything other than what Unai wanted, you know -- the whole teenage spiral of despair."
"Things look so permanent at that age," Gabrielle said.
"Which is why tattoos are ill-advised at that age," he replied.
Gabrielle smiled. "So, what did the Great Harry Potter say to put her mind at ease?"
"After lunch we dropped by my flat. I picked up my old photo album and we went for a walk. I told her the story of my life — the real story, and then I wove in the story of Ginny’s life, including her first year at Hogwarts. It was something that she could identify with, being touched by evil, having conversations stop when you came into the room, being treated like you have a contagious disease. Then I told her how we fell in love. That really floored her," he explained.
"Why?" Gabrielle asked.
"The notion that I could fall in love with her, even after knowing everything about what happened, and then choose her as my mate," he said. "I think it adjusted her â€˜I’ll never be loved again’ mindset."
Gabrielle nodded. "Just so long as she understands that you are mine," she said.
"She knows all about that — her father was a Companion of the Dawn, remember? So, what do you think about instant family?"
"It’s not what I had planned, but once we work out the details, I’m sure it will work out," Gabrielle said.
"How do you feel about adoption?"
Gabrielle looked pensive for a moment. "The Weasleys took me in after my parents died — it was nice to have a place to call home, even if my hair wasn’t red and my name didn’t match theirs."
"We’ll bring it up with the twins after they’ve been with us for a while," Harry said.
"Oh, no!" Gabrielle exclaimed.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Where will they stay after the wedding? Someone will need to look after them, shall we take them with us on our honeymoon?" she asked.
"I don’t think so," Harry said calmly. "I suspect that Molly would watch them for a spell — it would do Matzalen good to get out of France for a while, spend some time where the only thing she’s notorious for is being a moody, heartbreakingly beautiful teenager."
"You’re going to make such a good father," Gabrielle said, her eyes glistening.
"I thought I was going to have a few years to ramp up to the notion," Harry said.
"What of me?" Gabrielle said, striking a haughty pose. "I’m not old enough to have a teenaged daughter."
"Ah, you never can tell how old a Veela is anyway," Harry said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Gabrielle launched herself at him, going for his last rib, the only place on his body where he was ticklish.
Friday came and went — consumed with the administrivia of closing out their tenure as employees of the French Ministry of Magic, a rather lengthy discussion between Gabrielle and Madame Artzai about the girls, and an even longer dinner at the Miramar with the Weasleys (Ron and Padma, Serita being minded by Molly for the evening) and the Granger-Longbottoms.
Saturday came at last; a bright, clear day with just enough cold to remind the denizens of Marseilles that November was only days away. Hermione popped over several hours before the wedding to have a private chat with her best friend, using the opportunity to make sure that his formal wear fit properly, his legendary hair was in some semblance of order, and his nerves composed enough that he wouldn’t go blank during the service.
All Saints in Marseilles is a small but dignified church, looking rather much like a village English church from the time of Queen Elizabeth the First. A cadre of French Aurors were providing a discreet security cordon, making sure that Muggles saw nothing out of the ordinary, and ensuring that only Wizards and Witches on a very select list came within a block of the church. The service itself was short and dignified, the rector pausing from time to time to clear his head after looking at the literally radiant bride. In less than forty minutes, the vows were exchanged, the rings were placed, the bride and groom kissed, and the newly married couple was announced to the assembled witnesses. There was a banquet afterwards in a hall provided by the father of one of the first children recovered by Gabrielle after joining the Strike Force.
After dinner, the obligatory toasts, and a spin on the dance floor, Gabrielle announced their departure. "Ladies and gentlemen, Harry and I are honoured that you witnessed our vows today. I hope that you enjoy yourselves; there will be music for as long as people wish to dance, but if you will excuse us, Harry and I have a Portkey to catch."
This announcement was met with laughter and whistles, the latter being amplified by the Weasley twins, who’d commandeered the wet bar, dispensing drinks that changed colour, and occasionally the shape of the people drinking them. "In a hurry, Gabrielle?" Fred called.
"I hate to wait," she replied sweetly, vowing that she’d do something memorable to him, later.
The couple disappeared in a puff of pink, sparkling smoke.
"Veela show-offs," Ron whispered to Padma, waving his hand in front of his face.
"Hush," she replied. "Tonight I’m not going to take any excuses for not dancing."
A hotel suite in Barcelona was reserved in Harry Potter’s name. This was a decoy, however, occupied by Ron and Padma after they’d closed down the dance floor. Another honeymoon suite was reserved in Nicosia, which was also a decoy, occupied by Neville and Hermione. Gabrielle and Harry spent the night in Harry’s London flat, the balance of Grimmauld Place being vacant as Remus and Dora were in Toronto, the former filling in for a professor on sabbatical. The security afforded by the generations of protective wards, combined with the disinformation as to where the couple would be spending their honeymoon assured a reasonable measure of privacy, which they both craved at the moment.
Gabrielle Potter spent her first waking moments as a married woman luxuriating in the sights, sounds, sensations (and smells) of married life. Harry, thankfully, did not snore, but the steady sound of his breathing was comforting, as was the arm draped about her, his hand resting on her hip. Although she’d never admit it to him, at least not for a while, she was indeed glad that she’d waited to consummate their union; she’d been waiting for him for years, what were a few more days, after all?
In the week after their marriage they discovered with joy and laughter the pleasures of coming together as husband and wife, as Veela and Companion, and as they’d discussed, what seemed like a lifetime ago, once they began, they didn’t leave their marital bed for a long, long time.
But now, in the second week of November, they managed to get out of bed before noon and began to schedule outings, house hunting, daytrips, and social visits, including brunch with Ron, Padma and Serita, and dinner with Neville and Hermione. Today’s outing was looking at several properties, as they’d be out of Grimmauld Place before New Year’s, and needed a house for their newly constituted family. Although they’d looked at several properties, Harry seemed attracted to one particular estate near Swansea, a property that Gabrielle suspected they’d buy if the Artzai girls approved in the slightest. If they indeed selected this house, the girls would be on the top floor, the room that Gabrielle suspected would be Matzalen’s affording a magnificent view of the grounds.
The girls spent much of the afternoon racing through the house and the grounds, Matzalen being particularly fascinated by the creek that ran through the property beyond the meadows and the horse barn next to the carriage house.
"Could we — uh — have horses?" Matzalen asked Harry timidly.
"Have you ever ridden?" he asked.
Matzalen nodded. "My room mate, first year at Beauxbatons, her family had horses — I’d go home with her every chance I could."
"Okay," Harry said, walking back to the house where Garazi was chasing Eskarne in and out of the kitchen.
"What does he mean, â€˜okay,’?" she asked Gabrielle.
"In all likelihood it means that once we live here, we’ll buy you some horses," Gabrielle answered.
"Just like that?" Matzalen asked incredulously.
"Did you marry him because he’s rich?" Matzalen asked.
Gabrielle laughed. "Don’t be silly," she replied. "I married him because he was my match — he could have been a pauper for all I cared."
"Oh, right, I knew that," Matzalen replied, breaking away to chase after Eskarne, who was climbing the trellis on the carriage house.
They decided to buy the estate that afternoon, leaving instructions with Harry’s solicitor before returning to the Burrow for dinner. The girls would be spending one final night at the Burrow before moving into Grimmauld Place. As it was raining when they finished dinner, they returned to London by Floo rather than Apparating. Gabrielle lovingly brushed the soot off of her husband, who still didn’t care for Floo very much.
"Feel in the mood for something sweet?" she asked as she hung up his cloak.
Harry looked at her incredulously. "We just had pudding at the Burrow," he said.
"I was thinking of something chocolate," she said, the tip of her tongue tracing half of her top lip. "Maybe something saucy."
"Well," Harry said, tracing a finger down his wife’s back. "We do have that bottle of chocolate sauce in the kitchen. Would you like it over ice cream?"
Gabrielle captured his hand, kissing his palm before running her tongue along the web connecting his thumb and forefinger. "I was thinking of something sweeter," she said, returning the hand to her waist.
"Right, well, I’ll just fetch it from the kitchen," Harry said, giving her a wink as she began to climb the stairs.
"Don’t take too long, you wouldn’t want it to get cold," she purred.
"That’s what warming spells are for," he replied, disappearing into the kitchen.
The bottle in question, however, was not to be found in the kitchen; it was not in the dry pantry, where it belonged, nor in the cold pantry, where it didn’t, or the spice cupboard, where it might have been placed by mistake. When Harry heard the door open behind him, he thought it was his impatient bride.
"What are you looking for?" Garazi asked in her pleasant, little girl voice.
"I’m looking for the chocolate sauce. What are you doing here?" Harry asked.
"I came to find you — I couldn’t sleep, so I thought you’d tell me a story," Garazi replied.
"How did you get here?" Harry asked.
"Through the Floo," Matzalen answered, pushing open the kitchen door. Eskarne was toddling along after her, dressed in fuzzy winter weight pyjamas. "They watched you leave that way, so once Arthur and Molly were off to bed, they decided to follow after you."
"Here they are!" Garazi said, emerging from the dry goods pantry, clutching a bottle in each hand.
"Can we have ice cream? Eskarne asked, striking a cute pose for Matzalen.
"No," Matzalen replied firmly.
"Not one little scoop?" Garazi begged.
Gabrielle pushed the kitchen door open. "I’m sure that one scoop wouldn’t hurt," she said, adjusting the belt to her blue silk robe. She approached Harry, brushing up against him to give him a kiss. "I thought you got lost."
Matzalen sighed, opening the frozen pantry, and selected a container from the middle shelf. Harry scrambled to pull some custard cups from the dish cupboard and a scoop from the utensil drawer. Under Matzalen’s watchful eye he dug small, uniform scoops of vanilla ice cream, depositing one scoop per bowl.
"Care for a scoop, love?" he asked Gabrielle.
"No thanks," she said pleasantly. "I wouldn’t want to spoil my appetite," she whispered.
Matzalen gave her an odd look as she applied a warming charm to the first bottle, carefully decanting a dollop of dark brown liquid over the ice cream. Harry reached out to wipe a drip from the side of the bottle, but Matzalen gently slapped his hand.
The twins scrambled up into seats at the kitchen table, digging into the ice cream as if it were a gift bestowed by the Queen herself, rubbing their eyes sleepily as they got to the bottom of their bowls.
"Can you take us back, Matzalen?" Eskarne asked in a faint, tired voice.
Matzalen looked at Gabrielle. "I’ll clean up; can you pop them into the Floo?"
"Sure," Gabrielle replied, making sure to brush up against Harry as she shepherded the girls out of the kitchen.
Matzalen gathered up the dishes, carrying them to the sink where she quickly washed and rinsed them. "Listen carefully, Papa, and I will divulge an Artzai family secret," she spoke in a quiet voice.
"Oh?" Harry said.
"Two bottles of chocolate sauce, one with a blue label, one with a red label," she began.
"The blue labelled bottle is spiked with a sleeping draught. The twins will sleep like soldiers until well after dawn," she said.
"Which is why my hand got smacked," he said with a chuckle.
"Exactly. I think Maman has plans for you that don’t involve you falling asleep immediately," she said, flashing a small smile.
"You don’t miss much, do you?"
"No, Papa," Matzalen said, handing him the bottle with the red label. "If you hurry, you won’t need another warming charm." She looked at him knowingly. "I’ll let myself out."
"Goodnight, Matzalen," Harry said, trying not to laugh.
"Hurry, Papa, it is not nice to keep a Veela waiting," she said in a sing-song voice.
Harry gave into the laugh. He reckoned that it was going to be a struggle to get in the last word with this teenager, but at the moment, it didn’t seem very important. He had a warm bottle of chocolate sauce in one hand, and very soon, he’d have an even warmer wife in the other. He knew his new life wouldn’t always be like this, but at that instant, life was particularly good.
Copyright © 2006 J Cornell — all rights reserved.
Thanks to my wonderful Beta, Runsamok, and to Art, for tire kicking.
Well, this is the end of this little story — Lost and Found certainly took on a life of its own. Coming up with character names is a chore for me, so I either filch names from my immediate surroundings (Serita is the teenaged daughter of my Indian next-door neighbour) or I pluck up meaningful words.
In this story, I used a lot of Basque names. The Basque speak an ancient language, and live in the mountain region between France and Spain. Artzai is Basque for "shepherd." Matzalen is the Basque version of Magdalen, with obvious connotations. The District Superintendent has a name, but I don’t know what it is. Madame Artzai’s given name is actually Gabrielle, but that factoid never came up in the story.
Harry and Gabrielle were married on October 31st in this story, which coincidentally was Eskarne and Garazi’s birthday. Gabrielle Artzai died at dawn, on the morning of November 2nd, having spent the night with her daughters; it was sad, but peaceful, as the girls knew she was terribly torn between her desire to stay with them, and her acknowledgement that she literally couldn’t live without her Companion. If this seems odd to you, it’s a Veela thing, and you just don’t understand.
Jacque Fuso disappeared, being a man wanted both by the French Ministry of Magic, and the crime clan formerly headed by Unai. Speaking of Unai, by the time the non-criminal Aurors arrived on the Isle d’ If, Unai’s body had gone missing — it had been delivered to his clan as a message by an operative working for the Catalan Ambassador.
For those of you who just can’t rest until every detail is known, the bottle of chocolate sauce with the red label is the one that Hermione sent to Gabrielle at the end of the original trilogy — it moved into Grimmauld Place after Gabrielle closed out her Marseilles flat. The bottle of chocolate sauce with the blue label was from the Artzai house, which was shut down when the Artzai daughters went to live with the Weasleys after the passing of Madame Artzai. As to how the bottles got misplaced, well, some things just can’t be figured out. You’ll have to live with that. I know that I do. If you go to Ghirardelli’s web page, you won’t find chocolate sauce for sale — which lets you know how special that bottle is — but that’s Hermione’s story to tell, not mine.
And as to what Ginny whispered into Harry’s ear — well, that’s private, very, very private.
To my regret, an attempt to fix a few nits turned into a nightmare - I nuked the chapter at the same time as my household DSL went on the fritz - I'm fixing this using my emergency dial-up
connection. Sorry for the inconvenience.