Lost and Found - 2nd Cycle
Picking up the pieces
This story starts twenty minutes after the conclusion of the Lost and Found Trilogy
Picking up the pieces
The conversation at breakfast in Gabrielle’s kitchenette picked up where their conversation in the Thai restaurant had left off, dwindling to silence as they finished their coffee. Harry looked up from his cup.
"You tricked me last night," he said quietly.
"You mean, â€˜Sleep with me? Just until I fall asleep?’" Gabrielle asked, opening her eyes wide and batting them in a ridiculous fashion.
Harry chuckled. "Yeah, that."
Gabrielle laughed. "Well, if you fell for that line, then I think, Monsieur Potter, that you wanted to be tricked."
"Maybe so. So, how did you sleep?" he asked.
"Very well, thank you — I hadn’t slept in thirty-six hours. The fact that I was in the one place I wanted to be more than anything else in the world may have contributed to it as well," she said, flashing a smile that still made his stomach flip. "More coffee?"
"No thanks, I’m good."
They each started to say the other’s name, and then laughed.
"You first, you are my guest," Gabrielle said.
"You were glowing last night," he said.
"Like this?" Gabrielle asked, pushing out a burst of Veela magic.
"Yeah, like that," he said.
"Well, actually, that nicely dovetails into what I wanted to bring up. We have some serious things to discuss," she said.
"Is this the part where I’m supposed to break out into a cold sweat because my girlfriend wants to talk about the relationship?"
"You’re not sixteen any more, Harry," Gabrielle said.
"Okay, we’ll skip the sweaty part," he said lightly.
"I’m not human," Gabrielle said.
"And I should care about that because?" he replied.
Gabrielle summoned a book from her bedroom, which she pushed across the table to Harry. It was leather bound with gilt letters on the cover spelling out the title Daughters of the Dawn.
"Because biology is destiny, or so Nana used to try to drill into me from the time I could speak," Gabrielle said with a wink. "What do you know about Veela?"
"Birds, fireballs, beautiful women, silvery auras, addled men," Harry listed. "Your grandmother was a Veela, which makes you, what, a quarter-Veela?"
"Good guess, but wrong. I’m as much a Veela as my mother. When human males mate with Veela females, they always have female offspring. Those offspring, for all intents and purposes, can do everything that the transfigured Veela can do, except turn back into birds. Thereafter if the female offspring mate, they can have either little male wizards, or little Veela girls. The offspring are known as the Daughters of the Dawn, hence the title of the book," Gabrielle explained.
"Okay, connect the dots for me," Harry said.
"I’m deeply in love with you," Gabrielle said plainly and firmly. "This is the point where we need to make some decisions, but for you to be able to make an informed decision, you need to know everything."
Gabrielle smiled. "Everything important; everything about what will or won’t happen, to me, to you, to us, either way. The easiest thing would be for you to read this book and then we could have an intelligent, informed discussion."
"Sounds thrilling," Harry said dryly.
"I know, Harry. I want more than anything to take you back to bed right now and do all the things we didn’t do last night, but if the shoe were on the other foot, I know that you would not do that."
"Okay," Harry said.
"Okay what?" Gabrielle asked.
"Okay, I’ll read the book. I’ll probably have to go back to the Barclay, especially after what you said about your bedroom; I don’t think this would be very conducive to productive reading," he said, reaching across the table. "At least it’s in English."
"Hermione found it for me," Gabrielle said. "All the copies I know of are either in French or Euskara."
"Can you summarize what I’m looking for?" Harry asked.
"You want to look at the life and reproductive cycle of the Veela, and then look at what it says about matched Veela," she replied.
"You are my match, I’m certain of it," she said, her eyes beginning to glisten. She began to sing softly, something in an odd, guttural language with lots of clicks that still managed to be hauntingly beautiful. By the time she finished the tears were streaming down her cheeks. "What it means," she began.
Harry placed his hand on hers. "I know what it means. â€˜Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Creator do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’"
"When did you learn Euskara?" Gabrielle asked, her face puzzled.
"The day after I learned French," he replied with a smile. "Biggest headache I’ve ever had, learning two unrelated languages in two days. Hermione thought that the likelihood of repeating the restaurant fiasco would diminish if I could speak the language of your heart."
"How was that possible?" Gabrielle asked.
"Magic; it’s a goblin trick, actually, but we used neural patterns from Fleur’s brain," Harry explained.
"Does that mean that you’re going to start writing sappy poetry?" Gabrielle asked with a smile.
"For your sake, let’s hope not," Harry replied. "So, I’ll be a good boy and go read my assignment, trying to figure out the connection between something I recognize as old Hebrew poetry and the biological destiny of the woman I love."
"Come see me at dinnertime? I can cook something for the two of us," she said.
"Let’s stay out of proximity of your bedroom until we work this stuff out, okay?" Harry asked, grinning. "I was doing fine until you just brought it up. I’ll pick you up at seven?"
"It’s a date," Gabrielle replied, brushing her tears away with the sleeve of her dressing gown.
"I’ll look forward to it," Harry said.
A shower was in order once he returned to the Barclay. Dressed in fresh clothes, he settled into the overstuffed chair next to the window, reading in natural daylight. The book was old, written in the stuffy, florid language in vogue when Victoria was Queen, but once he managed to think of Gabrielle when the author began to provide examples, the pace began to pick up. He stopped from time to time, jotting down notes on a pad of paper provided by the hotel, pausing to smile, thinking Hermione would be proud. Well, he couldn’t very well copy from her notes on this assignment, could he? If Gabrielle obtained the book from Hermione, she’d probably read it and probably taken notes in her usual fashion, but it was too late now, he was into the assignment as a problem to solve. The terminology was awkward as well, but once he figured out when the author was referring to full-blooded Veela (Bird Veela) and human-Veela hybrids (Human Veela) it made a bit more sense. He finished the book by 3:00, realizing that he’d skipped lunch, a habit he’d acquired while living as a hermit.
He looked down at the list.
· Bird Veela normally live 40 years & mate for life.
· Every 3-4 generations, imbalance in number of females to males born in Veela flock, ratio is approximately 60:40. Surplus females seek out human mates.
· Offspring known as Daughters of the Dawn (DotD) = Human Veela.
· DotD have normal Wizarding life-span, but only if they mate with humans, otherwise have normal Bird Veela 40 year life expectancy.
· Most DotD seek mates who are unaffected by their allure.
· Some DotD appear to have a very compatible mate known as their "match."
· DotD "match" relationships are permanent with odd magical side effects (unspecified).
· In "match" relationships, DotD lifespan does not exceed that of their mate.
It was the last point that was most disturbing. The explanations of how the allure worked, and how tricky it was to control for the Human Veela (which explained a lot of things about Fleur) were interesting, but compared to this last point, it was all so much nonsense. He needed to talk to Gabrielle; he needed to talk to her now. Closing his eyes he put the book and the list down and Disapparated.
He didn’t arrive in her flat. He’d been aiming for the kitchenette, but ended up sprawled on his back in some crowded Muggle area of Marseilles.
"Harry!" Gabrielle squealed. She extended a hand, helping him to his feet. She kissed him on the cheek, pausing to whisper in his ear. "Act as if you just slipped. We’ll finish shopping together and then leave." Lingering for a moment, she caught his earlobe in her teeth, nipping him lightly. The effect it had on him was altogether different than when his dearly departed Owl, Hedwig, would do the same thing.
He’d Apparated into an open-air vegetable market; Gabrielle had a string bag dangling from her arm into which she stuffed an amazing number of fruits and vegetables. She moved from stall to stall, clucking at produce items that didn’t meet her standards and rolling her eyes at some of the prices. Between the stalls she’d loop her arm into his, and from time to time would give him an impulsive peck on the lips.
"You’re not making this any easier, you know," he hissed in English.
"But Monsieur, I am merely acting as any Muggle girl would, going shopping with her beau," she replied, making sure that she spoke in a low, soft voice that could not be overheard.
"Well, in that case," he replied, "I’ll certainly try to act the part." He gave her a knowing wink and when they walked to the next stall, his hand was on her backside, cupping her shapely derriere.
"I warn you," she hissed, "you are playing with a loaded weapon."
He merely smiled in reply.
By the time they finished shopping, twenty stalls and two streets later, the number of string bags had (magically) multiplied, and Harry was carrying all but one of them. When he took last bag from her she leaned forward, whispering "I might as well put those hands to good use."
They walked down one narrow avenue to another, changing directions seemingly at random. "Are we trying to lose someone?" he whispered.
"No, this is how I always come home on market day," she replied. They walked together another few blocks until he recognized the neighbourhood surrounding her building. They ascended the stairs to her flat in silence.
"Put them on the counter please," she commanded pleasantly, wrapping herself in his arms when they were finally empty.
"I finished the book," he said, his nose tickled by a wisp of platinum coloured hair.
"And?" she replied.
"And finally figured out that Fleur wasn’t a tease, she just didn’t have very good control of her Veela magic," he answered.
"We all knew that," Gabrielle replied, rolling her eyes. "But you are disturbed, are you not? I can feel it in you."
"Yeah, I am," Harry replied. "I’m not sure that I like it. Correction — there’s parts of it that I’m sure I don’t like."
"And what would those parts be?" Gabrielle asked, pushing back from him until she could focus on his eyes.
"The lifespan bit."
Gabrielle blinked. "If I do not mate, I will have another twenty years or so, which is normal for a Veela," she said.
"That’s a fraction of what you could have," he said vehemently.
"Well, you’ll just have to do something about that, won’t you?" she asked, tracing her finger down his sternum.
"Because you are my match, silly," she said, laughing musically.
"How do you know?"
"Because I do," she replied emphatically.
"I’m going to need more than that," he said.
"Do you remember the night we first kissed?" she asked, leaning forward to peck him on the lips.
"Of course," he answered.
"Did it not seem like we’d always known each other and we were just coming home to where we belonged?"
"I don’t know, it’s not like I had a wealth of experiences to compare it to," he said evasively.
"All right, today, when you found me in the market — were you intending to come to the market or here to the flat?"
"Here to the flat — I’ve never Apparated to a person before," he said hesitantly.
"But you were thinking that you wanted to be with me?" she asked patiently.
"Yes, of course," he answered.
"You were exercising a bit of Tracker magic," she said.
"Our magic is beginning to become intertwined," she explained.
"But we haven’t, uh, mated yet," Harry quibbled.
"The magic doesn’t care, it knows that you are my match," Gabrielle said seriously.
"But you’ll die when I die!" Harry protested.
"I’ve got to die someday, Harry," she countered. "Were you miserable when we were apart?"
"Of course — it was excruciating," he replied.
"Would you want to live with that for eighty, ninety years? It would never fade away, in fact, it would grow in intensity," Gabrielle said softly.
"I would go mad," he whispered.
"I don’t want to live without you," she said plaintively.
"You could find another bloke and live a long, normal life," he croaked.
"No, I couldn’t — that window has closed, we’re too close now for me to mesh with another," she said.
"So if I leave you now?"
"It would not protect me; any more than leaving Ginny protected her. I would not die, not immediately, but in the twenty or so years left to me, I would slowly go mad from the grief of being apart from you."
"But if we complete the — uh — whatever the match is," Harry began.
"If we mate," Gabrielle suggested.
"Then you die when I do," Harry finished. "I won’t have it."
"Then go — you know where the door is. I won’t stop you," she said firmly.
"You know I can’t do that," he protested.
"Then stop talking nonsense," she replied.
"Sorry, this is just taking a while to wrap my brain around," he said. "What do we have to do to seal the deal?"
"Well," she said, beginning to smile broadly, "it’s like this. Witches and Wizards are different, you see, and when a Witch and a Wizard love each other, very much, they come together. . . ."
"Thank you very much, Molly," he said, trying to suppress his laughter.
"Molly tried to give me the talk when I was thirteen," Gabrielle said.
"Just after your parents died?"
"Yeah, when I stopped laughing, I gave her a hug and told her that I’d already thwarted my first boyfriend from plundering my virginity. We had a pot of tea and talked until dawn. That’s when I knew that I was really a Weasley. Of course, it didn’t stop her from interrogating me about the other boyfriends who came after that, but most of those relationships were very short-lived, which was your fault, of course."
"I suspected that you were my match, but you were with Ginny then, so I kept trying boy after boy, until I finally gave up — it was like trying to put two magnets together backwards — the closer I got, the worse it felt," she explained. "I finally decided to give it a rest and went on with my life, which of course, meant that I was pursued relentlessly, but I am skilled at saying â€˜no’ in ways that were clear and unambiguous. I never lacked a date, though, when we had balls and such."
"So, when we, uh," he began.
"Make love," she prompted.
"Yeah," he said.
"It will â€˜seal the deal.’ After that there is no going back. I will be yours for the rest of your life," she said. "My life too."
"What if Ginny had never died?"
"I suspect you’d be happily married and raising little red-haired babies by now," she replied cheerfully.
"I would have found someone I could settle with — it would not have been a perfect mesh, but not everything in life is perfect."
"So, why did you come after me — in Alaska?"
"Because I wanted to know for sure," she replied.
"When did you know?"
"When you kissed me," she said softly.
"Seriously," he objected.
"Seriously — it was like being home — there was no force pushing me away from you, quite the opposite in fact. The little voice of Molly in the back of my head kept accusing me of being a Scarlet Woman, given what I was thinking."
"You don’t have the hair for it," he jibed.
She pulled her hair, bound with elastic, over her shoulder and then shrugged. "I am a witch; it can be any colour I want it to be," she said, looking up into his eyes again. "Don’t worry; I’m don’t intend to change it to red."
"Thank you," he said.
"Harry, do not be embarrassed. I know you still have feelings for Ginny; you would not be the man I love if you did not," Gabrielle said soothingly.
"It’s just a lot to process," he said.
"Would you process these things better if I were sitting on your lap?" she asked impishly.
"Maybe," he said with a smile.
"Well, let’s find out," Gabrielle replied. She never made it around the table, however. Her kitchenette’s miniature fireplace erupted with a blast of green flames.
Michele’s voice boomed from the Floo connection, no bigger than a breadbox. "Pardon me, Mademoiselle, but the District Superintendent has need of you in her office, immediately. Do you know where Monsieur Potter may be? He is needed as well," Michele asked apologetically.
"I’ll be there in a few minutes, I’ll bring Monsieur Potter as well," Gabrielle said, rolling her eyes in frustration.
"Merci, Mademoiselle," Michele said as the flamed extinguished.
Gabrielle crossed her arms and stamped her foot.
"There are times that I hate my life, I’ll have you know," she said.
"All of it?" Harry asked.
"No, not all of it," she said, giving him a wink. "Come on, let’s go; it’s never good to keep the District Superintendent waiting."
Gaining access to the District Superintendent’s office was much easier this time; perhaps it was the credentials that hung from ribbons draped around their necks, perhaps the gatekeepers were now accustomed to seeing them enter the building, or perhaps something else. The District Superintendent sat at her conference table, surrounded by debris on the table indicating that she’d just dismissed a meeting.
"Come, sit down," she commanded. Looking up at Gabrielle, her visage softened briefly. "I know I gave you until Wednesday to sort things out with Monsieur Potter, but when you read this you will agree that I had no choice." She pushed a document across the table.
Gabrielle read through the letter quickly, translating for Harry as she read. "It’s a letter from Unai, one of the last of the gangsters that we’ve been tracking. He threatens dire consequences if I do not stop looking for him. He wants to resume his business in peace," Gabrielle hissed. She pushed the letter back across the table. "We’ve received letters like these before, Madame."
The District Superintendent’s nostrils flared. "Indeed. Unai also sent us a package, along with the letter," the District Superintendent said, pushing a thin rectangular box towards them. Gabrielle opened the box. Inside was a long shock of platinum coloured hair, shimmering in the light; it was unmistakably taken from a Veela. "We are still trying to confirm the details, but it appears that Unai kidnapped three Veela girls this morning, a teenager and her twin sisters."
Harry felt his anger flare. The doors to the bookcases began to rattle. He calmed himself before he did any accidental damage.
"Monsieur Potter, it seems that you will be baptized in fire this week. My Tracker must return to work," the District Superintendent said.
"How soon can we assemble the strike team?" Gabrielle asked.
"They’ll be in the mission room at 5:00 — I’ve taken the liberty of ordering dinner for the team and sending notices to their families."
Gabrielle looked at Harry, who nodded. "Madame, we will do everything we can," she said firmly.
"Let us hope to God that that is good enough," the District Superintendent said, rising from the table. They were dismissed.
It was time to go back to work.
Copyright © 2006 — J Cornell — all rights reserved.
Well, it seems that Gabrielle won out and there are more stories to tell here. Who knows, we may even get to the chocolate sauce. ;-)
Thanks as always to Quickdraw Schocke (a/k/a Runsamok) for her usual excellent, not to mention speedy Beta work.