Content Harry Potter
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The mission room resembled a large classroom with a raked, auditorium-style seating area.   A large table to the side of the door held information packets while the table next to it was piled high with wrapped sandwiches and bottled drinks.   Looking to Gabrielle, Harry followed after her, picking up packets for the two of them which he tucked under his arm as he snagged an oddly shaped bottle to accompany his sandwich.   Gabrielle nodded and smiled as she made her way to the back of the room, more than a few of the Aurors giving her angry glares in return.   A female Auror waved frantically as Gabrielle sat down, mouthing something to her, which Gabrielle replied by tapping her arm where her wristwatch would be.

"Good to see that you still have a few friends," Harry murmured.

"I am Veela, it comes with the territory," she said with a wan smile.

No sooner had they sat down when the District Superintendent arrived.   A voice to Harry’s left called the room to attention.   Being a quick study, Harry stood with the rest of the Aurors.

"At ease, you may be seated," the District Superintendent murmured.   There was a cacophony of clattering as the seats in the briefing room were all filled at once.   "Thanks to you all for coming on such short notice; a few administrative matters before we proceed with the briefing.   Our colleagues in Paris have been gracious enough to detail a specialist to the strike force.   Monsieur Potter is a credentialed Hit-Wizard and will be providing security for our Tracker.   Monsieur Potter, would you please stand up?   Very good — as some of you may know, Monsieur Potter competed against Mademoiselle Delacour’s sister in the prior Tri-Wizard tournament a number of years ago.   Monsieur Potter and Mademoiselle Delacour are," the District Superintendent paused for a moment.

"Engaged," Gabrielle piped up.

The District Superintendent cocked her head to one side, looking at the pair intently.   "Indeed, congratulations are in order then.   Now, on to the matter of overtime," she said, talking for a number of minutes.

Harry had sat down, not daring to look at Gabrielle, who was shaking with silent laughter.   Picking up a Muggle pen, he wrote "Engaged?" on a notepad and passed it to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle scrawled a quick frowny face on the note, writing "Sorry — I’ll explain afterwards."

"Nothing to be sorry about," he wrote back, pulling the pad back to add "I rather like the idea."   Gabrielle scrawled a smiley face in reply, pushing the pad back at Harry.   Harry hunched over the pad, seemingly concentrating on the District Superintendent’s instructions on the proper methods of memorializing overtime.   He then tore off the first sheet of paper from the pad and wrote "Marry me?" on it, passing it to Gabrielle.

Gabrielle stared at the paper, not daring to touch it for a moment.   She then carefully wrote below his question "Is this a joke?" and passed it back to Harry.

Harry smiled and then tore off the sheet of paper, writing "No." on the next sheet.

Gabrielle tore that sheet of paper off, stuffing it into her pocket before writing "YES!" on the pad, sliding it back at Harry.   Harry gave her a covert wink and then turned the paper over, directing his attention to the District Superintendent.

"As you well know, this strike force has been concentrating on rounding up one of the gangs that has been plaguing the waterfront in Marseilles.   Thanks to your outstanding teamwork, we’ve managed to capture or kill nine of the eleven known leaders in the gang," the District Superintendent began.   "The Muggle members of the gang are currently incarcerated in Fleury-Mérogis.   The Wizard members of the gang did not choose to surrender.   Although we have been unable to locate the remaining two leaders, we had reason to believe that it was only a matter of time before the remainder was apprehended.   First slide please."

On a screen behind the District Superintendent was a blow-up of the handwritten letter from Unai along with a picture of the shock of Veela hair.  

"We received this note this morning, which we first thought was a hoax or a joke in rather poor taste.   We then received notice from our Muggle liaison that one of our citizens, Balendin Artzai, from the Quartier du Panier was hospitalized in critical condition.   This was followed by news that the following magical citizens had been kidnapped.   Next slide please," the District Superintendent droned.

The screen showed a head and shoulders portrait of a Veela girl in a formal gown.   There were a number of appreciative noises from the male Aurors.

"This is Matzalen Artzai; the picture dates from last year when she participated in the harvest festival.   Matzalen is a fifth year student at Beauxbatons; she was home this weekend to attend her sisters’ First Communion.   Next slide please.   The sisters — Garazi and Eskarne Artzai.   They’ll turn eight at the end of this month.   The sisters were abducted after bringing a lunch basket to their father.    Initial reports indicate that Balendin attempted to stop the abduction.   He received multiple stab wounds and nearly bled out before receiving aid from the local Police Nationals.   We have not received any ransom notes or demands, apart from Unai’s demand that we stop searching for him.   We believe the shock of hair to be from Matzalen, although this has not been forensically confirmed," the District Superintendent said, looking up from her notes.   "Auror Fuso?" she called, looking into the crowd.

"Yes, Madame?" Jacques Fuso replied, standing at attention.

"You will be leading the regular Auror forces in this investigation.   Your highest priority is recovering the girls; if you happen to apprehend Unai in the process, so be it," the District Superintendent.

"Will the specialists be available to me, Madame?" he asked with a slight sneer.

"The forensic technicians will be available as needed," the District Superintendent replied.

"And the Tracker?"

"The Tracker will remain under my direction," the District Superintendent replied.

"I do not want her to interfere in my operations," Jacques said haughtily.   "I do not need to run interference for amateurs.   I think it best if she were removed from the city."

"Auror Fuso, your opinions are well known on the subject, however the Catalan ambassador has received assurances from the Minister of Magic that our Tracker will remain in the field, which is why the Ministry so graciously detailed Monsieur Potter," the District Superintendent said icily.   "Are there any further questions?   Good luck and good hunting.   The regular Aurors should remain for a briefing with Auror Fuso, the rest of you are dismissed," the District Superintendent said, glancing at Harry and Gabrielle.

Harry stood up, gathering his papers under his arm, stuffing the sandwich and bottle into his pocket.

"Monsieur Potter, words please; before you depart," Jacques Fuso called.  

Gabrielle began to leave the room, but Harry pinched the hem of her jacket, giving it a slight tug.

"I do not mean any disrespect to you, Monsieur Potter, but I believe that the Aurors can solve these crimes without a Tracker," Jacques said, tilting his head slightly in Gabrielle’s direction.   "You understand your brief here?"

"Oh, it’s quite clear Auror Fuso," Harry replied.   "I am to accompany the Tracker in her investigations and provide security."

"I’m glad we understand each other," Jacques said.   "By the way, congratulations on the engagement; I hope you know what you are doing."

Harry smiled and nodded, grabbing Gabrielle’s elbow as they left the briefing room.   "What a pluperfect puckerhead," Harry mumbled in English after they were safely in the hallway.

Gabrielle smiled weakly and then pulled him down the hallway and into a small conference room, turning on the lights as she silenced and sealed the room.   With a slight growl, she grasped the back of his head, pulling him down for a kiss.   It was quite a kiss.

"Did you mean it?" she asked after coming up for air.

"Mean what?"

"‘Marry me?’"

"Of course," he replied, planting a small kiss on her forehead.

"Why?   I’m an utter bitch at times, my bottom’s too big and my top’s too small, I’m a pauper compared to you, I have no family to speak of, a terrible track record when it comes to romance and I don’t deserve you," Gabrielle said without pausing for breath.

"Too late I suppose," Harry replied, grinning at her.   "I figured out a few things when I was living as a hermit, you know."

"Like what?" Gabrielle asked.

"Life doesn’t owe me any second chances; and when an angel comes into my life saying that she loves me, I shouldn’t let her go," he answered.

"I’m no angel," she said softly.

"Yeah, well, your judgement on other topics is suspect too.   It’s true, you’re not beautiful, you’re gorgeous; you’re not a bitch, I don’t care how much money you have or don’t have, and as to your attributes, well, I have no complaints," he said, grinning warmly before wrapping her again in his arms.

"You are insane," she murmured.

"Probably, but I’m your insane fiancé."

"You’re going to regret this," she said without conviction.

"I doubt it."


Half an hour later they were walking arm in arm in the Quartier du Panier.

"So, why did you announce that we were engaged?" Harry asked, his eyes sweeping over the street before him.

"I thought it would stop some of the wagging tongues — I’d also hoped that the more ardent Aurors would stop hitting on me if I were seen as ‘off the market’ so to speak," Gabrielle replied.   "I certainly didn’t think that you’d propose to me on a note-pad."

"Yeah, well, your announcement did take me a bit by surprise.   But as I thought about it, it just made sense, I mean, I knew, right then, that I was ready, so it seemed like the most expeditious way to move forward.   Not very romantic, I guess; next time you should choose someone different if you want the storybook proposal," Harry said.

"I don’t believe in fairy tales," Gabrielle said, her face lit up with a smile.  

"So, do you know the Artzai family?" Harry asked, changing the subject.

"Yes and no; it might surprise you to know that all the Veela in France do not know each other, but I do know Madame Artzai. She was a friend of my Mother.   Maman suggested that I get to know her when I first suspected that I was matched," Gabrielle said.


"Because there are things that another matched Veela can tell you that you cannot find in textbooks, Monsieur," Gabrielle replied.   "This is the house, but the door is locked."

Harry frowned, twiddling with the handle of his wand.   "There’s someone in the house; should I knock?"

Gabrielle nodded.

Harry gave the door five good thumps.

"Madame Artzai, it’s me, Gabrielle. Please let us in," Gabrielle called out.

Just as Harry was about to thump the door again, he heard a rustling in the house.   The curtain on the front window swayed a bit and then there was the sound of locks moving within the door.   The door opened to reveal a willowy woman dressed in black, a black shawl draped about her shoulders.   Peering into the shadows, Harry saw that Madame Artzai resembled a slightly plumper version of Matzalen, with her hair cut in a bob and wrinkles about her eyes.   Madame Artzai stepped back, looking carefully at Gabrielle, and then at Harry.

"This is him, I take it?" Madame Artzai said to Gabrielle.

"Yes, he is the one," Gabrielle replied.

"Stand together, please," Madame Artzai asked, holding her hands out in front of her as if warming herself before a fire.   Gabrielle gave a shy smile to Harry and then twined her fingers through his.   "Yes, yes," she murmured as she opened her eyes.  

She gave Gabrielle a penetrating look and then turned to Harry.   "The mesh is not complete. Why is that?"

"Madame, it was just today that I informed Harry about the match," Gabrielle explained.

"So he is hesitant?" Madame Artzai asked.

"I, uh, did ask her to marry me today," Harry volunteered.  

"Perhaps there is hope for you after all," Madame Artzai said.   "Am I to assume that this is not a social call, Mademoiselle?"

"That is correct, Madame.   I am very sorry that we have to meet under these circumstances," Gabrielle said.

"Please, come this way," Madame Artzai said, leading them into a sitting room.   "May I offer you food or drink?"

"Thank you, but no, Madame," Harry replied.

"I’ve given my statement twice," Madame Artzai said, settling into a chair by the window.   The light shone behind her, placing the features of her face in darkness.   "Once to the Police Nationales, and again to an Auror."

Madame Artzai’s head slumped until her chin was on her chest.   She took a deep breath.   "Balendin has been working so hard.   Two years ago, he bought out his partner; they were operating a small printing business, wedding announcements and the like.   Most of the clientele was Muggle, but he also did a respectable business for the Magical community as well.   He left before dawn to finish producing an order that was promised for noon delivery.   Matzalen knew that he would work without eating or drinking, so she prepared a lunch basket for him, taking the twins with her.   They never came back; I may never see them again.   Oh, Gabrielle, what shall I do?" Madame Artzai said before letting loose with a keening sound.   "My heart is dying and my children are gone; all is lost, dear sister, all is lost!"

Gabrielle moved quickly from her chair, kneeling beside Madame Artzai.   "No Madame, we will find your daughters," Gabrielle said.

Madame Artzai shuddered and then sat up straight.   "What can I do to help?"

"I need to go to the girls’ rooms, to try to pick up their signatures, then I’ll take your signature as well as Monsieur Artzai’s," Gabrielle replied.   Madame Artzai nodded, waving her hand in the hallway.   Gabrielle placed a soft kiss on the older woman’s cheek and then left the room.

"You are a lucky man, Monsieur," Madame Artzai said.

"I know," Harry replied.

"What is your role in this affair?" she asked.

"I’m working for the Ministry, actually," Harry said, "I’m providing her security."

A moment of uneasy silence passed.

"How is Monsieur Artzai?" he asked.

"He is struggling to live — they will not let me in his room for more than a moment," she replied.

"If he were to die?"

"Then I would pass shortly thereafter," Madame Artzai said coolly.

"That would leave your daughters as orphans," Harry said.

"A fact that has been weighing heavily on my mind today, I assure you," Madame Artzai said, her eyes flaring into life.   "I did not choose my status — it chose me."

"I understand — much of my life has been the same - driven by fate," Harry said sympathetically.   "Promise me something."

"What is that?"

"That you will live until your daughters are recovered," he said.

"Do you think that there is hope?"

"Gabrielle does not give up," he said proudly.

"We will talk of this when your heart returns from the girls’ rooms," Madame Artzai said.

"Thank you, Madame," Harry said, nodding his head.


The trip to the hospital didn’t take long.   With a tap of a wand their Ministry credentials showed themselves as a Lieutenant and a Captain in the Police Nationale, opening up even a ward in the Intensive Care Unit.  

"You’ll need to secure the room," Gabrielle said, taking off her cloak.   Harry began layering the room with various charms, making the room impervious from eavesdroppers and curious onlookers, laying a mild Aversion charm over everything else, insuring that they would not be disturbed.   He then took up a position against the window, giving Gabrielle as much room as possible.

Gabrielle paced along side the bed, looking for all the world like she was deep in thought or praying.   She then stood next to Balendin’s bed, holding her hands over his head and chest, wincing as she did so.   Harry noticed a shimmering flicker of light around her, culminating in a brief flash.   Gabrielle turned away from the bed, sagging as she staggered towards Harry.

"That one hurt," she said, pressing her cheek against his shoulder.   Harry wrapped his arms around her.   She was cold to the touch.

"The Tracking is an odd variety of empathy that is all mixed up with my Veela powers," Gabrielle said, not pulling away from him.

"And the Aurors only saw that you were flirting with them," he said softly.

"I did not want their attention — I have worked so hard to control my powers, but I cannot do the Tracking without letting go of my Veela allure at the same time," she whispered.

"Which is why you need security," Harry said.

"I am always safe with you," she said, shuddering softly.   "There is nothing more we can do here."

"Do you want to go back to your flat?"

"No, not yet — there is one more stop I need to make, and then I will be well and truly knackered," she said, pronouncing the last word distinctly, in English.   Reaching for her cloak, she jotted a series of numbers onto a card.   "Can you Apparate the two of us to this location?"

"Sure, where is it?"

"Beauxbatons — the public Apparation point.   I need to go to Matzalen’s room. I wasn’t able to get enough of a read in her old room. It was all mixed up with her sisters’ signature," Gabrielle explained.

They walked out of the hospital in silence.


"Thank you for meeting with us at this hour, Madame Maxime," Gabrielle said.

"But of course," the enormous Headmistress said.   "As I said earlier, any resources of the school, all you have to do is ask."

"Thank you Madame," Harry said.

"Matzalen has a private room in the west tower, room 331 — I believe you still know the way there, Gabrielle."

"Yes, Madame," Gabrielle said, nodding to the Headmistress as she left the office.

As they walked down the now-silent halls, Gabrielle picked at the visitor badge pinned to her cloak.   "Why do I still feel so small in her presence?"

"Because you are small," Harry said with a smile, "but only in stature."

"I am told that certain things work much better when the woman is taller," Gabrielle said suggestively.

"Shall I call upon Fleur and ask her to demonstrate?" Harry replied quickly.

"Only if you wish to die a violent death at my hands, Monsieur; you are mine."

Harry didn’t respond to this verbally, but instead pulled her to him for a searing kiss.   It was not all that surprising that several minutes later they were discovered by a Prefect doing evening rounds.   They broke apart the second time the Prefect cleared her throat.

"It is after curfew, students are not allowed in the halls," the Prefect said, trying to draw up her full height of almost five feet.

Harry didn’t let go of Gabrielle, but instead allowed his coat to fall open, displaying his Ministry credentials.   "But we are not students, Mademoiselle."

"Oh, Monsieur, I am so sorry," the Prefect said, covering her mouth with both hands.

"It is we who should be apologizing, we have just this day become engaged, and should not inflict our joy upon others," Harry said smoothly.

"Engaged just today?   You are allowed then, but just for today," the Prefect said with a relieved smile.   "Carry on."   She turned the corner and retreated.   Harry began to pull Gabrielle to him again.

Gabrielle nudged Harry in the ribs.   "Harry, I don’t think that’s what she meant when she said ‘Carry on.’"

"Yes, love, anything you say," Harry said, smiling as they walked down the corridor.


Matzalen’s room looked as if she’d just stepped out and would return in an instant to arrange the letters on the dresser in a neat pile, rather than leaving them scattered as if she’d just dropped them there when entering the room.   Her week-at-a-glance calendar was still open on her desk, showing the assignments that she’d had to turn in before leaving for the weekend to attend her sisters’ first communion.   Books were neatly stacked by subject, the drawers were all neatly closed, the closet had everything you would expect in a student’s closet, minus the cloak and clothes she’d been wearing while abducted.  

Gabrielle’s breath hitched as she scanned the room.

"What’s wrong, love?" Harry asked softly.

"Old memories," Gabrielle replied as if this were a complete explanation.

Harry watched her carefully.

Gabrielle wandered to the window, looking out on the now-dark grounds.   Without facing him, she began to speak.   "My room was much like this the night the Head Girl summoned me to the Headmistress’ office, the night she told me that my parents were dead.   The Head Girl waited for me outside of Madame Maxime’s office, and then walked me to a girlfriend’s room where I spent the night; it was a terrible night and being here I can almost taste it again.   The worst thing was that there was no ‘home’ to go to anymore — they burned our house after they killed Papa and Maman. All I had left of my childhood was what was in my dormitory room," Gabrielle explained.   When she turned around the tear-tracks glistened on her cheeks.   "This would be a really good time for my fiancé to hold me."

Harry was across the room in an instant, pulling her close as he murmured comfort into her ear.   "I’m sorry," he said.

"You of all people understand," she said when she finally pushed away.   "Thanks."

Harry smiled.

"I need to pick up the residue of Matzalen’s magic," Gabrielle explained.   "Unfortunately, there’s this big erotic lump of magic that’s overpowering my senses right now."

"I’ve never been described that way before," Harry said wryly.

"First time for everything," Gabrielle replied.   "Besides, I already know how to find you — most of the time, anyway."

"Give me a whistle when you want me back, okay?" Harry asked.

"Yeah, I know how to whistle, I watched that movie too," Gabrielle said, her mood visibly lighter.   "It won’t take long."


After Gabrielle finished with her readings in Matzalen’s room, they walked out of the Beauxbatons castle, surrendering their visitor passes to the Porter on the way out.   Gabrielle snuggled into him when they reached the Apparation point, not having to voice her request that he perform a side-along Apparation to get them back to Marseilles.   A casual observer would have thought that he was a sober boyfriend, walking a slightly tipsy girlfriend home, but the truth of the matter was that Gabrielle was exhausted.   Harry walked her up the stairs, keeping a protective hand on the small of her back as she navigated the steps.   He stepped into her flat when she unlocked the door.

"Where are you sleeping tonight?" she asked uncertainly.

"I’d planned on sleeping at the Barclay," he replied, his eyebrows lifted in amusement.

"I want your shirt then," she said, beginning to unbutton his buttons.

"My shirt?" he asked.

"Yes, your shirt; if you’re not going to stay with me tonight, I want to sleep in something that smells like you," she explained, unbuttoning the last button before she pulled the shirt-tails free from his waistband.   Hanging the shirt on one finger she looked him in the eye.   "Don’t go away," she commanded, throwing her cloak on the floor before turning towards her bedroom.

"Yes, Ma’am, I hear and obey," Harry said with some mirth.   He hung up her cloak and stowed their papers in a nook by a small desk next to the Floo connection.

When Gabrielle returned she’d brushed and braided her hair, and was now wearing his shirt as a nightgown.   She had to roll up the sleeves, of course, and a generous amount of leg showed below the hem of his shirttail.   "This is goodnight, I guess," she said, pushing her hands up his chest before pulling his head down for a kiss.   He suddenly had a new appreciation for how good his shirt felt when it had his girlfriend, now fiancée, inside it.

Harry locked the flat up after she’d fallen asleep, which hadn’t taken long at all, leaving her with a faint smile upon her lips.   He had a number of tasks to accomplish before he could go to sleep, and he’d promised Gabrielle that he’d meet her for breakfast the next morning.  


Copyright © 2006 — J Cornell — all rights reserved — write to me — I write back.

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Author Notes:

As always, thanks to my beta, Runsamok, who is too good to me.