Content Harry Potter
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Author Notes:


I got really tired of writing out (and reading) Fleur's French accent in the last chapter's dialogues…tired enough to do something about it. And so the words began to flow. Please don't get spoiled with the uncharacteristically short turn-around time, but please do review. I'm especially interested in hearing from those who thought that I danced a little too closely to the line that divides "delightfully smutty" from "disgustingly juvenile" in the last chapter. I'm hoping this might have a better balance.

Thanks to everyone from the Seel'vor group that read and edited a draft version of this update.

Disclaimer:  Not my characters, no money being made, etc. , etc.

Canon Question of the day:  What did Fleur do at Gringotts that helped her learn English?

Molly's hovering grew even more insistent after Harry's eventful (and eye-popping) first trip to the beach. Hermione and her new boyfriend didn't want to give the Weasley matriarch any more reasons to develop fully warranted concerns, so they did everything that night short of snogging Ron and Ginny (respectively) to keep her off-trail. This included limiting interactions with their familiars, since they had now become even better emotional transmitters.

Crookshanks and Hedwig would have been more upset about these intentional snubs, had they not found outlets to channel their own urges in species-appropriate ways.

When Bill arrived home from work he quickly guessed far more about the situation than his mother actually knew. He wanted details, but realized that Fleur and he were probably under just as much scrutiny. So he bided his time, and mentioned more than once during dinner that both Fleur and he had work at Gringotts the following day (even though it was a Saturday). The-Boy-Who-Lived took the message to heart, and sat down in his room that night to write his first official love letter.


Harry was woken the next morning by a shake of his shoulder, rather than by a nip at his ear.

"Okay, Sleepyhead…time to rise and shine!"

The teen-aged wizard groaned as he slowly opened his eyes and looked up at his future liegeman, dressed in his Gringotts work robes.

"Didn't you hear the call to breakfast?" the red-haired curse-breaker asked, pointing first at his own ear and then towards the hallway.

Harry's lips formed into a lazy smirk as he nodded in understanding. He glanced towards the open door, and (once he saw that there was no one else watching) bounced the back of his head against the pillow.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he whined, in time with the bouncing.

Bill grinned, and stepped sideways so that his body blocked the view of Harry's head from the opened doorway. Once he did that, the prone wizard rolled over onto his side and pulled his pillow over his head.

"Ten more minutes?" he mumbled.

Bill spotted the unaddressed envelope that had been hiding under Harry's pillow and nodded. He expanded a button on front of his robes with a touch of his wand and quickly slipped the letter inside.

"Okay, but you should know that Fleur and I are heading out the floo now, and that Ron's already sitting at the table," the curse-breaker joked, as he reduced the button box back down to size.

Harry pulled the pillow away and sat up. He rolled his eyes when he spotted the older wizard applying wet (but silent) kisses to the button cap.

"Tell your mum that I'll be down in five," he muttered, throwing his legs over the side of the bed. Bill was thrown off-balance by a well-placed elbow to the ribs as Harry brushed by on the way to the bathroom.


Harry was surprised to see that there was still plenty of food left on the kitchen table when he got downstairs. He was also surprised to see that Arthur was at that table, dressed in his work robes.

"Have to go to the Ministry today, Mr. Weasley?" he asked, taking a seat at the table.

Arthur shrugged as he glanced up from the morning newspaper.

"I am supposed to have the weekend off," he replied. "But I've been out in the field all week, and haven't had any time to respond to correspondence or review the incident reports."

Molly let a "harrumph!" escape from her lips.

"You should have subordinates doing that now that you have staff working for you," she suggested.

"They've been just as busy as I have, Mollywobbles," Arthur replied. "And as long as I'm going to be out making that delivery…."

Ron nudged Harry in the ribs with an elbow to get his attention.

"Dad's taking our first batch of potions to Fred and George's shop," he announced. "There's four galleons, seven sickles and three knuts to be split amongst us."

"Bill will be depositing those four galleons, seven sickles and three knuts into the family vault," Molly corrected. "No sense having those coins burning holes in pockets when they can't be spent."

"But Mum…"

"None of that, young man," Molly snapped. She turned to Harry and said, "We'll keep your share safe as well, Dear…no reason for William to scurry around to different vaults every time there's a deposit to be made."

Arthur looked up from the paper. "Are we holding Hermione's share as well?"

"Of course, Dear," Molly replied. "Where else could she keep it?"

Harry bit down hard on a piece of toast to keep from audibly reacting to the presumption. He reminded himself to ask Hermione if she was aware of how helpful Molly was being with their portion of the money earned from brewing potions. Not that Hermione and he were all that much concerned after the discussion that he'd had with George during his bedroom redecorating.

As a silent partner in the Twins's business, Harry stood to receive roughly three times the amount that Molly and Ron were crowing over as his share of the profits earned when those potions were sold. He had also, as a Director in the company, signed off on the idea of hiring Hermione as an ad hoc consultant. Her first "paycheck" for that work would be disbursed within the next week, in the form of a direct Gringotts transfer into a new vault that Bill was secretly helping Hermione establish.

It was raining that morning, but not raining hard enough for Molly to keep Ron from dragging Harry outside for more ground-level Quidditch practice after breakfast had ended and Arthur left for work. The raven-haired teen didn't resist too much…Hermione was happily immersed in a book, while Ginny was upstairs in her room whispering procreative encouragements into the fluffy little ears of her Pygmy Puffs.


Deep within the back rooms of Gringotts, a goblin account manager was skiving off. Now, this was usually a very risky thing to do, given the expectations of senior management and their willingness to enforce a rather bloody corporate disciplinary policy. But this one particular account manager thought that he had just earned a "get out of shite free" card, given the amount of money that he'd just made for the bank.

The account manager was displaying this level of cavalier confidence by sitting alone in his office, with his vest unbuttoned and his feet up. A mug of ten-year old lichenale was in his hand, and the latest issue of the goblin equivalent of "Jugs" was balanced on his lap.

There was a scratch on the door. He ignored it.

"Dragnut!" a voice called from the other side of the door. "It's me! I know that you're in there!"

The goblin looked up from his magazine and sighed. There were times when it sucked having your wife's nephew working in the same department. Those times invariably coincided with normal bank hours.

"Hang a nail, Loafchuck!" he called back.

"But it's important!"

Dragnut sighed as he reluctantly slipped his feet off the desk and buried the goblin porn under a stack of parchment.

"Come in, then," he whined, pasting a fake smile on his face as his nephew walked through the door.

"Loafchuck, it's great to see you…come share a drink with me, and I'll tell you my latest galleon-gobbling tale!"

The younger goblin entered Dragnut's office with a worried expression on his face.

"What did you do this time, Uncle?" he hissed. "Steelebridge just sent me to fetch you…and he was furious!"

"Really?" the older goblin asked. "He must be sharpening for somebody else's balls…all that I have done this time is earn the bank a dozen carts worth of coin!"

"Are you sure?" the nervous message runner asked. "Because he was really, really angry…and yours was one of the two names that kept flying from his lips alongside the froth and spittle."

Dragnut sucked in a short breath and held it for a moment. This didn't sound very good.

"So…what was the other name?"


"Shite!" Dragnut thought. Trying to maintain a calm facade, he asked his nephew, "So…Loafchuck…just how angry was Steelebridge?"

The other goblin shrugged. "Maybe I am overreacting?"

"You think?" Dragnut snarked. "That's something that only happens every…what…every ten minutes or so?"

The young goblin slumped his shoulders and slinked into a seat in front of his uncle's desk. "Yeah, yeah, I'm a chronic worry-wart."

The older goblin sighed. "So was Steelebridge angry, or not angry?"

"Oh, he was angry, alright," said Loafchuck. "But it's not like it was the most important thing on his mind."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because if it was, then I would have been the first runner dispatched from his office, rather than the second."

Dragnut arched an eyebrow.

"So…do you know where the first runner was sent?"

Loafchuck nodded. "The first runner was sent to the commissary."

"Ah…so maybe he wants to share a working lunch with me?"

The younger goblin shrugged. "If that's the case, then I hope you like pickled smugroot."

Dragnut sucked in a deep breath.

"What did you just say?"

"I asked if you liked pickled smugroot, because that first runner was ordered to bring a whole plate of the stuff back to Steelebridge's office."

"I see," the older goblin replied. "Are you sure about that…he ordered-out for pickled smugroot?"

The younger goblin nodded.

"Bat scat!" Dragnut hissed, as he bolted up from his desk and began to pace back and forth. A few seconds later he stopped, reached for the mug that he'd left on his desk, and chugged it. Then he walked over to the credenza, refilled the mug from a large decanter…and then chugged the decanter.

"That bad, Uncle?" the young goblin asked nervously.

Dragnut glanced towards his nephew while the decanter was still at his lips, which caused him to dribble a fair amount over his chin and shirt. The goblin snorted, slammed the decanter back onto the credenza, then cursed his nephew for making him waste perfectly-good intoxicant.

"Are you sure that you want to go there like that?" Loafchuck asked nervously, as his uncle wiped his face with the sleeve of his ale-stained shirt.

Dragnut glared at him for a second, then glanced down at the front of his shirt, and nodded.

"You are a persistent worry-wart," he stated, while he slipped off his silk vest and draped it against his desk chair. "But sometimes that's what's needed to keep your head," he added. Buttons scattered into the air as Dragnut suddenly and violently ripped open the front of his dress shirt.

"Erm…thank you, Uncle."

The now bare-chested goblin shrugged as he walked back behind his desk, reached down to the lowermost drawer, and pulled a crisply-folded dress shirt from the top of a pile that he kept for just this kind of contingency.

"Don't you think you should hurry?" Loafchuck asked.

Dragnut glanced over at the young goblin and shook his head.

"Someday you'll learn how this place is run," he muttered, as he slipped the shirt on and began to button it. "I don't want to finger scratch Steelebridge's door until he's had a chance to eat that take-away."

"But doesn't delaying only make things worse if he's angry?"

Dragnut shook his head, and patted his nephew on the shoulder. He slipped his vest back on and began to slowly button it up.

"Not in this case, son…not in this case."

The older goblin checked his appearance in the reflection on the door glass. He smoothed down his hair, checked his teeth, then brushed a piece of lint off his vest. Grimly satisfied, he opened the door.

"Go on, then," Dragnut encouraged, swinging a hand out towards the hallway. "Inform Steelebridge's secretary that you've completed your task, and that I'll be down there as soon as practicable."

The young goblin look as if he might break out into tears as he rushed up to his uncle and wrapped his arms around him. Dragnut smiled, and tried to be reassuring.

"Don't worry, Loafchuck," he said, patting the younger goblin on the back. "You were right. If Steelebridge was really angry, he would have only sent one runner, rather than two."

"If you say so," the youngster said. "Good bye, Uncle," he added, as he dashed out the door.

Dragnut glanced down at his watch and nodded. He watched his nephew disappear down a hallway, then turned and began to walk in the opposite direction…towards the Goblin Resources Department. A short visit there would add ten minutes to his trip, and might make his boss even angrier. That said, there were good reasons for him to double-check that his next-of-kin contact information was accurate, and that his employer-provided life insurance and long-term disability plans were up to date.

Pickled smugroot wasn't a goblin delicacy…it was goblin medicine. And as far as Dragnut knew, there was only one medical condition for which pickled smugroot was prescribed….


The very-worried goblin cringed as he thought about the blood-stained edges on the double-bladed axes that hung behind his superior's desk. Steelebridge's first day at the bank came right after his last day in the army. He'd spent twenty-five years in the barracks, and had brought all of that experience (and all of his bloodied axes) with him to Gringotts.

Dragnut's walking pace became even more deliberate. He wanted to give his boss every opportunity to digest that pickled smugroot.


Harry tossed one last Quaffle towards the hoops, then told Ron that he was going to rest his tired arm. The red-haired wizard would have protested more vigorously if the rain hadn't been picking up.

When the two boys went inside they were surprised to hear Fleur's voice drifting into the kitchen from the sitting room.

"Why is she back so early?" Ron asked.

Molly didn't think that an answer required her to turn away from her stove.

"Fleur was sent home," she explained.

Ginny, who was playing with her pets at the table, was all too happy to gleefully elaborate.

"Apparently, one of the bank customers complained to her boss," she said. "Claimed that he couldn't understand her French accented-English, and said that he should not have to tolerate incompetent foreigners."

"What a lousy git!" Harry declared.

Ginny shrugged. "It's not his fault that Phlegm can't speak proper English."

"So how good is your proper French, Ginny?" Harry snarked.

The red-haired teen snorted, and loudly declared, "Doesn't matter, since I am here in England!"

"Ginny!" Hermione exclaimed, as she entered the kitchen.

"What?" she shot back.

Fleur pushed past Hermione and entered the kitchen just long enough to cross over to the stairwell and disappear silently up the steps.

Hermione let out a deep sigh. "We could hear everything you just said in the other room!" she hissed.

The youngest Weasley shrugged. "So? Did I get the story wrong?"

"No," Hermione replied. "But you could have been more sympathetic, or kept your voice down."

Ginny rolled her eyes. "So are we going to have to walk on zee eggshells around zee 'ouse?"

The Muggleborn witch shook her head in disgust.

"Hermione," said Molly, nodding towards stove-top cauldron. "It's almost time for you to add the valerian root."

"Why don't you let me do that, Mrs. Weasley," Harry volunteered. "That way Hermione could go upstairs and talk with Fleur?"

"Mollycoddling," Molly muttered to herself.

"But then you wouldn't have to worry about eggshells," Hermione reasoned. "And maybe…maybe I could use the time to work with Fleur on her accent?"

Molly snorted.

"So when are you going to find the time to prepare all of the potions that you begged me to allow you to brew?" Molly asked.

"I can do it," said Harry.

"Then who is going to play Quidditch with me?" Ron whined.

Harry didn't like the way that either Fleur or Hermione were being treated. Seeing how fruitless it would be to argue based on reason or compassion, he decided to tap into some Slytherin cunning.

"Well, Ron, it seems like Fleur will have lots of time to play Quidditch, if Gringotts keeps sending her home because of her accent," he stated. Then he turned to Molly and added, "And if she's not going to be working part-time at Gringotts then she'll have plenty of time to help us brew…guess we'll be seeing a lot more of her here in the kitchen, huh?"

Ron kind of liked this idea. Ginny…less so.

"Oh, that would be a disaster," she hissed.

"Well it sounds like that is how it's going to be, unless her English improves," Hermione stated, following Harry's lead.

"She could always go home to France?" Ginny suggested.

Harry arched an eyebrow. "That is a possibility," he said slowly, as if he were considering the idea. He then shrugged and added, "So long as there is no other reason for her to live at the Burrow this Summer?"

Molly shook her head. "Fleur still has her guard responsibilities," she reluctantly admitted. "She's here for the entire summer."

"Well that's that, then," Harry stated. "Look at the bright side, Ginny…this will mean a lot more time at the beach with Fleur."

Ron really liked this idea now. Molly, much less so. She sighed, and turned towards Hermione.

"Do you really think that you could help her learn proper English?"

Hermione shrugged and nodded her head. "Maybe…I don't know anything about teaching English as a Second Language, but…she knows the vocabulary. Seems like it's mostly the accent that needs work…not dropping the "h" when it starts a word, or turning her 'th's' into 'z's'."

Molly nodded towards the stairs. "Off you go, then. But there'll not be any skiving…I expect to see some improvements in short order."

"Yes, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione replied dutifully. She barely managed to keep a straight face as she walked up the stairs.


"Yes?" the retired warrior barked, in response to the finger-scratched door.

His secretary opened that door just wide enough to pop her head through.

"Dragnut is here to see you, Sir."

"Send him in!"

"Yes, Sir," the secretary replied.

Dragnut had his gaze focused towards his feet as he entered his superior's office. He walked slowly up towards Steelebridge's massive desk, careful to appear contrite, and to not speak until spoken too.

"Sit down, Dragnut, sit down."

The nervous goblin was caught off-guard by the friendly tone of voice. He looked up a bit…not enough to risk making eye-contact, but enough to notice a large plate on that large desk, empty save for a bit of pickle juice.

"You asked so see me, Sir?" Dragnut asked, as he carefully shifted into one of the two chairs that faced the desk.

"Why yes…yes I did," the older goblin replied. "Relax, son…I'm not going to bite your head off."

Dragnut nodded. His boss's assurances weren't all that comforting, though, since Steelebridge had a well-earned battlefield reputation for lopping off heads with his axes, rather than biting them off with his teeth.

"Would you like a drink?"

"No, Sir."

"Well, then…why don't you sit back and tell me about your day?" the older goblin suggested. "I hear that it has been quite profitable so far."'

Dragnut was surprised enough by the question to look up at his boss's scarred face. Steelebridge was showing him a pointy-toothed grin.

Maybe his wizard-brained nephew had got it all wrong?

"Erm…certainly, Sir," Dragnut replied. "Well, as you know, Billy Beck was here this morning to negotiate several different contracts on behalf of the North American wizard-run bank that he works for."

"Yes, I understand that these were very important…and potentially very profitable contracts. Profitable for Gringotts, that is."

"Yes, Sir. As the account manager, I have been working closely with all of the different departments to make sure that all of that favorable contract language was in place, and that everything was ready for Beck's visit this morning."

"You've been the manager of this account for, what…three years?" Steelebridge asked.

"Yes, Sir."

"And you've worked with this wizard before?"

"Yes, Sir…we've met several times, both here in London and in Salem."

"So you've gotten to know Billy Beck pretty well, then, I take it?"

"Well…I guess as well as any of us can actually know a wizard," said Dragnut confidently. "That's one of the main responsibilities of an account manager, after all."

"Yes, it is," Steelebridge agreed. The senior manager then picked up a small folder from his desktop.

"I just reread the internal client profile that you worked up on this wizard," he stated. "Very detailed work, Dragnut…very detailed, and very impressive."

"Thank you, Sir."

The older goblin turned to a dog-eared page and read out loud.

"At the present time, the wizard Billy Beck has a wife, two children, and three mistresses. He considers himself to be a so-called 'ladies man,' and flirts shamelessly with every pretty witch that catches his eye. He is therefore easily distracted and readily manipulated. These serious character flaws have been exploited to Gringotts's gain during previous transactions."

Steelebridge glanced away from the report.

"You wrote that, correct?"

"Yes, Sir."

"And you have acted on this assessment during Beck's latest visit?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Tell me more."

Dragnut nodded. "Well, Sir…I was going to wait until Monday to submit my expense report, but…but when I do, you'll no doubt notice a receipt from Madame Maxine's."

"The brothel?"

"Yes, Sir," Dragnut replied. "Very discreet and very professional."

"So to speak?"

Dragnut chuckled, and nodded at his boss's joke. Things were going far, far better than he had feared.

"I've set this sort of thing up before," the account manager explained. "Two of Madame Maxine's employees were dispatched to the Leaky Cauldron last night, where Beck was staying. They spotted him in the bar, and allowed themselves to be beguiled by his charm."

"Allowed themselves to be charmed out of their knickers?"

"Yes, Sir," Dragnut replied. "The contrivance is that the whole time they pretend that they aren't professionals, and allow Beck to believe that he successfully seduced his way into a three-way."

"So he doesn't even know that Gringotts is paying dearly for these services?"

"No, Sir."

"And this is advantageous, how?"

"It always puts Beck in a very agreeable mood," Dragnut explained. "Makes him feel confident, and virile, and eager to come to London to do business with us as often as possible."

Steelebridge rolled his eyes. "Wizards, always thinking with their other heads."

Dragnut grinned. "Perhaps years from now he might realize that it is more than just coincidence that he falls into bed with two witches every time he does business with us…not that I imagine that he'd actually be all that upset if he realized that he'd been fooled."

Steelebridge nodded.

"I understand that you took some initiative and expanded your client management program this morning?" he asked.

Had Dragnut's mind not drifted back towards profits and pictures of bare-naked goblin jugs he might have noticed the slight hardening in his boss's tone of voice.

"Yes, Sir," he replied, pride dripping in his voice. "We took advantage of a new employee."

"That you did, Dragnut…that you did," Steelebridge muttered under his breath.

"Go on, then," he said in a louder-volumed voice.

"Well, Sir…there's this part-Veela, part-human witch working at the new reception desk. For a non-goblin, she is admittedly very pretty… I've seen more than one wizard swoon in her presence." Dragnut chuckled, then added, "She might even be a more effective way of keeping the wizards standing in those long queues than our hobgoblins and their halberds!"

"What's her name?"

"Erm…Flower, I think. Of maybe Floor…Floor de la Bore?" the account manager asked. "Doesn't matter, I guess. So…I called in a favor from her boss Knifesnap, and got him to reassign her to me for the day."

"What did you then assign her to do?"

Dragnut shrugged. "I tasked her with looking pretty…to give Beck's wandering eye a reason to wander. I also told her to act as his hostess during his visit. Make sure that he had coffee or tea, and escort him from one department to the next…nothing strenuous."

"Nothing strenuous?" Steelebridge asked.

Warning bells rang inside Dragnut's head…there was no mistaking the sharp edge to that question.

"Nothing more strenuous than holding a pot of coffee," he said rather meekly.

Steelebridge clamped down on the medicated urge to reach for his axes.

"It is standard Gringotts policy for an account manager to escort their high-end clients from department to department as they conduct their business…is it not?"

"Yes, Sir, and I've done that before, but…well…I just thought that if the Veela walked him around, then his eyes would wander over her, instead of over the fine print in each of those contracts. He does prefer yellow-haired witches, after all."

Steelebridge ground his teeth.

"So…you met your client at the door, introduced him to Miss Delacour, then disappeared?"

", Sir. I was scheduled to meet with him at the end, but…he had to cut his visit short."

"Yes…I understand that he left before he signed the last contract."

"Erm, yes, Sir. Although…that is not exactly bad news."

"How is that?"

"Because that last one involved the least amount of profit to Gringotts, Sir," Dragnut explained. "I always like to get the gouging done early. Clients tend to remember the last contracts they sign more than the first, so if they remember the one that they think they made a profit on, then…they leave happy, and we stay profitable."

Steelebridge glared across his desk, causing the younger goblin to shrink down into his chair.

"Tell me, Dragnut…was your client happy when he left the bank this morning?"

Dragnut winced, now realizing why his boss might be a little upset.

"Well, Sir…I'm understand that Beck got a little frustrated with his Veela hostess. She is very pretty, but she is also French, and he found it difficult to understand her accent."

"And how did you handle that situation?"

"Erm, well, Sir….to be honest, the Veela's boss dealt with that issue before I was made aware of it. I understand that he dismissed her for the day, and told her not to come back until her English had improved."

"Is that what you understand?" Steelebridge asked. "Or is that what you know?"

Dragnut cowered. "That is what her supervisor Knifesnap told me happened, and how he said he defused the situation."

Steelebridge snorted.

"So you didn't ask the young woman for her side of the story?"

"She was gone before I would have had a chance to do that, Sir," Dragnut replied.

"Well if you had, you might have learned that in between the signing of the sixth and seventh contracts that Beck fondled her buttocks, pushed her into an empty office, and tried to lift up her robes."

"That's what she says happened?"

Steelebridge nodded. "Yes. Fortunately, Miss Delacour was able to follow the policies in her Gringotts Employee Handbook to resolve the situation."

"How did she do that?"

"She kneed him in the balls."


Steelebridge nodded. "And that was when Beck got angry, ran to the young woman's boss, and started to complain about her accent."

"Oh, well…I didn't hear anything about that…assuming that it's true," Dragnut said. "And since it was her superior who managed the situation, and since he was the one to decide on any disciplinary actions…"

"Yes, yes…it is always better when your direct supervisor deals with disciplinary situations, isn't it?"

Not knowing what to say to that, Dragnut said nothing.

Steelebridge glanced up at his axes, then reluctantly returned his gaze to his subordinate.

"Remind me, Dragnut…who is your direct supervisor?"

"Erm…you are, Sir."

The retired soldier slammed his fist against the desk and bellowed. "Yes, I am, you little piece of flobberworm shite…so now your arse is mine!"

The outcome of this outburst was remarkably similar to a successfully cast Petrificus Totalus spell…at least when that spell is combined with a bladder relaxing jinx.

"Mossbite!" Steelebridge shouted.

The goblin's secretary nervously popped her head inside the door.

"Yes, Sir?"

"Send in Chokebar and Toetwist."

"Yes, Sir."

A moment later, two grey-haired goblins strode into the room. Rather than take seats in front of the desk, they each walked around that desk and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Steelebridge.

"Dragnut, I assume that you know Chokebar…senior account manager for the Potter and Black estates?"

The cowering (and wet) goblin winced.

"You probably haven't met Toetwist, before," said Steelebridge.

Dragnut looked at the other goblin, who looked every inch the retired warrior that Steelebridge was, and shook his head.

"Let me make introductions, then. Dragnut, this is Toetwist. He is the bank's Senior Vice-President in Charge of Curse Breaking and Tomb Raiding."

Steelebridge then gestured across the desk and said, "Toetwist, this is Dragnut…the unfortunate son of a bitch who, I'm sorry to say, might have just lost you the services of Bill Weasley."

Toetwist's eyes narrowed as he growled at the account manager.

"Have you ever met Bill Weasley, Dragnut?" asked Steelebridge.

The self-soiled goblin shook his head.

"He's one of the wizards that works for us… happens to be one of the very best curse-breakers working in Toetwist's department. He also just happens to be engaged to the Fleur Delacour, the French witch that you tasked with distracting Billy Beck."

Dragnut swallowed hard (and audibly).

Steelebridge shook his head. "Toetwist, how much will it cost you to replace Weasley if he decides he no longer wishes to work for the bank that just dismissed his fiancee?"

The other goblin snorted. "He's damn near irreplaceable. Don't know how much we'd have to pay someone to do his job…that assumes that someone like that even exists!"

"But if you had to put a galleon amount on his value?"

Toetwist growled. "Let's just say that in the last fiscal year, Bill Weasley led expeditions that yielded bank profits of over four hundred and fifty thousand galleons."

Steelebridge nodded. He turned towards Dragnut and asked, "And how much profit did the Beck account clear over the same period of time?"

The account manager let out a very small yelp, then replied (with only slightly louder volume). "Seventy-four thousand galleons and change, Sir."

His boss snorted derisively. "Right, then…moving on…maybe you are wondering why I asked your colleague to join us today?"

Dragnut nodded.

His boss turned towards Chokebar, and yielded him the floor with a gesture. The grey-haired goblin nodded, and turned angrily to Dragnut.

"Did you see the internal departmental memo that I wrote earlier this summer, announcing that with the execution of the late Lord Black's will that his estate would now be run in conjunction with the Potter account?"

Dragnut squeaked out a "yes."

"Do you remember why that is the case?"

"Because…he left his title and the bulk of the estate to his godson, the Potter scion?"

Chokebar snorted as he turned to Steelebridge and said, "Well, he's got a good memory, at least…might be worth salvaging."

Dragnut didn't care for that last assessment.

"You are correct about the joining of the two estates," Chokebar told him. "We anticipate that they will, in fact, become melded into one account in two weeks time, when the Heir Imminent to both the Potter and Black lordships reaches his sixteenth birthday."

Dragnut nodded his head.

"So maybe you read that memo as well?" asked Chokebar. "Well, then…have you read the guest list for the future Lord Potter-Black's birthday party?"

Dragnut shook his head.

"Want to guess who is going to be on that list?"

Dragnut squeaked, "Erm…Bill Weasley and his fiancee?"

Steelebridge couldn't help laughing.

"Well, he has both a good memory and makes good guesses!" he declared. "Things are looking up for you, Dragnut."

Chokebar agreed. "I haven't seen that guest list either, but it is reasonable to assume that those two will be attending…since Harry Potter and they are presently sleeping under the same roof!"

Steelebridge played tag-team, and added, "Harry Potter has spent a portion of each Summer with Bill Weasley's parents for several years now, and his best male friend is Bill's younger brother."

Toetwist wanted to pile on, so he said, "And I have taken my best curse-breaker out of the field, and asked him to spend an hour or so each day meeting with Chokebar." The tomb raiding vice-president then asked, "Do you know why I did this?"

Dragnut shook his head.

"Because Bill Weasley is presently the only point of contact that Gringotts has with Harry Potter, you arse!" Chokebar shouted.

Steelebridge growled. "If Bill Weasley leaves Gringotts, we lose that only point of contact. And if Bill Weasley tells Harry Potter why he left…how much did we clear last year on those two accounts?"

"One point three million galleons," Chokebar replied.

Dragnut's boss turned away in disgust and spat onto the floor.

"So, Dragnut," asked Toetwist. "What is going to be Gringotts net profit if we balance what we gained from your piddling efforts today against the potential loss of my best curse-breaker and Chokebar's biggest accounts?"

The very junior account manager bowed his head down in shame.

"Yes, Sir. I'm very sorry, Sir."

Steelebridge's eyes widened. He snatched the pickle-juiced stained plate and smashed it to pieces against his desk.

"You should be fucking sorry, you lizard-fucking shite!"

Dragnut's boss regained just enough control over his residual bloodlust to reach down and brush pottery shards off of a piece of parchment. He then pushed parchment across his desk.

"This is what is going to happen," he declared icily. "You are going to sign this very sincere letter of apology, which will immediately be sent to Miss Delacour. Then you are going to be marched down to meet with Bill Weasley, where you will explain exactly what you did to his fiancee. And then, once we've scraped what is left of you off of the floor, you'll immediately begin your new assignment."

Dragnut nodded meekly, raising not a word in protest when it was strongly suggested that he demonstrate his remorse by signing the letter of apology in his blood. Once this was done Toetwist grabbed the former account manager by the scruff of his neck, and began to frogmarch him out of the office.

"Hold on," Steelebridge requested.

Toetwist roughly spun Dragnut around.

"There should be a shovel leaning on the wall just outside my office," he noted. "Take it…unless you would rather spend the next six months mucking out the dragon pens by hand?"

Dragnut whimpered, then gathered just enough courage to ask a question that had been lingering in the back of his mind.

"But…but I wasn't the one that dismissed her, Sir!" he weakly protested. "Knifesnap was her supervisor…so what's happening to him?"

Steelebridge grinned. "Oh, don't worry, Dragnut…I'm sure that you will see Knifesnap in two or three days."

"I will?" he asked.

Toetwist let out a rough laugh as he dragged Dragnut (and his new shovel) down the hall.

"Seeing him in three days sounds about right," he told the former account manager. "Usually takes the bastards that long to work their way through the dragon's digestive tract."


Dragnut's apology was attached to a separate letter of apology written by Steelebridge. There was a Gringotts mail owl waiting to deliver those letters to Fleur when she walked into the bedroom that she shared with Hermione. The French witch read the apologies while Hermione was downstairs negotiating with Molly, finishing them just before the Muggleborn witch joined her upstairs.

Hermione arched an eyebrow when she entered the bedroom and found Fleur sitting on her bed, looking closely at a Muggle charge card.

"What's that?" she asked.

"Eet ees a charge card."

"Yes, I know that, but…"

"Eet ees compensation from Gringotts," Fleur stated, as she gestured towards the two letters that sat on the duvet. "Zey wish me to return to work on Tuesday."

"That's great, Fleur…but what's that got to do with a Muggle charge card?"

Fleur smiled. "One of zee senior goblins fixed it to the bottom of his letter of apology, saying zat when 'is wife is unhappy zat she always feels better after she goes shopping."

"But why not something you could spend in Diagon Alley?"

Fleur snorted. "The goblin said zat after being treated zat way by a wizard that he thought I might rather do my shopping in the Muggle world."

Hermione snorted. "So…now they have regrets about the situation?"

Fleur couldn't help but giggle.

"I am certain zat my old boss ees now regretting 'is situation," she replied.

The Muggleborn's facial expression clearly conveyed her confusion. Fleur helped clear that confusion up by sharing the two letters, and by providing a more complete explanation than what she'd been able to give downstairs.

Hermione had been furious when she heard the whole story, and was still in the mood to commiserate and castigate with righteous indignation (in spite of the apologies and disciplinary actions). But Fleur wanted to talk more about shopping than sexual harassment, and was anxious to calm Hermione down. She did this by handing her roommate a third letter…a letter that had arrived at the Burrow not on the leg of an owl, but inside the hidden compartment of a button.

It was Harry's love letter. And, needless to say, it abruptly shifted Hermione entire focus and attitude.

The prose was a little mushy, and a little flowery, and a little apologetic (Harry explaining that he had no real role model or examples to base this type of letter on). But it was also sweet, and endearing, and surprisingly tender.

Hermione was enthralled…and desperate in her hope that her letter to Harry had the same effect on him.

Fleur had no reservations about playfully teasing her roommate over her reaction to this love letter. Hermione tried to put a stop to it by insisting that they take some time to actually work on Fleur's accent (even if it was no longer an issue at the bank). That worked for a little while.

The French witch didn't have any problem correctly pronouncing individual words in English…it was when she had to navigate multiple problem words, and multiple problematic sounds, where she would begin to stumble. Hermione decided that it might help if they made a game of it, taking alternating turns giving voice to made-up sentences. One would start by creating a short sentence that contained a single problem word. The other witch would respond by saying a sentence with two of those words…and then there would be three problem words in a sentence, and then four, and so on, until somebody messed up and miscounted. The only other rule was that each new sentence had to use at least one of the words from the previous sentence.

This was where Fleur found an opportunity to incorporate some good-natured teasing into Hermione's lesson's plans…

"You start this time," said Hermione.

Fleur nodded. "Harry."

Her roommate sighed. "You always start with that one."

Fleur shrugged.

"Fine," said Hermione. "Harry attends Hogwarts."

"Hermione hearts Harry!"

"Oh…right, then. "Does the house salad have artichoke hearts?"

"Zat's only three!"

"No…that includes four," Hermione claimed. "Three letters that begin with the letter 'h', and the rather than zee."

Fleur sighed.

"Well, then…does Hermione want to hold Harry's huge hosepipe?"

"No, Fleur, Harry's hosepipe is kept in his pants, rather than in the shed."

The French witch counted on her fingers.

"Ah hah! Zat has seven instead of six! I win!"

Hemione restated the sentence in her head, then sighed.

"Why am I the one that's losing this game?" she asked.

"Because you are being distracted by Harry's huge hosepipe?" Fleur quipped. "Because you weesh zat zee 'uge 'ousepipe was eenside your warm leetle 'ouse, and not een anyone else's shed?"

"Oh, stop it, Fleur," her roommate whined. "You're regressing"

"Alors….perhaps we must think up a different lesson, then?"

Hermione shrugged. "If you really want to tone down your accent…Merlin, Fleur…I'm a witch, not a linguist."

"Perhaps 'arry ees a cunning linguist?" Fleur asked.

In response to this horrible (and horribly overused) pun Hermione did three things in quick order. She snorted, she reached for a pillow, and she whacked Fleur on the head.

Fleur retaliated in kind, and the two witches started in on a rather intense pillow fight.


A huge frown formed on Molly's face when Hermione and Fleur walked into the kitchen later that afternoon, wearing Muggle clothes and carrying small overnight bags.

"What are you two doing?" she demanded.

"We need to do some research," Hermione replied. "Like I said before, I'm a witch, and know little about teaching the English language. It would help me a lot if we got hold of some instruction manuals."

"And just how do you think you'll be doing this?"

"By visiting some Muggle libraries or Muggle bookstores?" Hermione asked. "It's our best option…I've never seen that sort of manual in a magical bookshop …have you?"

Molly shook her head. "Now why would I ever need to look for that sort of thing?"

Hermione shrugged. "I really want to help Fleur do whatever the Goblins want her to do…so that she can get back to work as soon as possible…don't you?"

"What are the bags for, then?"

"For the books," Hermione replied. "And…well, we might need to look at more than one place, and it'd be a lot quicker if my parents drove us from one public library or shopping area to another."

"So are you shopping, or visiting your parents?" Molly demanded.

Hermione sighed. "I know this is rather sudden, but…well, nobody could anticipate this morning's events, right? And if it takes a while to locate what we need, it would be easiest to just spend the night with my parents."

Molly frowned. "You two know that it's not safe out beyond the ward line."

Hermione nodded. "We realize that. But that doesn't stop Fleur from commuting back and forth to Gringotts, right? And if it weren't for my need to…well, you know…each day, I might still be at my parents' house."

The Weasley matriarch thought about the situation for a few moments. She didn't like the idea of letting either of the two witches do as they pleased, but…if they left right now, there would still be enough time to throw a roast into the oven, and invite Tonks to dinner before she started her nighttime shift on the ward line. That would give her son the chance to get to know the metamorph better without the French witch's interference. And Ginny would at the same time gain some quality time with Harry without Hermione's constant hovering.

Letting the two witches go for the weekend did nothing to improve Ron's chances with Hermione, but…that one was always going to be a longer-term project, given what Molly was working with. And when it came down to it…two out of three wasn't bad.

The Weasley matriarch nodded. "What time do you expect to return?"

"No later than dusk tomorrow, Fleur replied.

Molly was liking the idea more and more…a French-free Sunday dinner, in case Tonks couldn't make it that night.

"Right…off you go, then," she said. "Stay away from the Alley, and remember the rules about under-aged magic and spell casting amongst the Muggles.

"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley," Fleur replied. "We…will…remember…thosethings."

"There, you see?" Hermione asked. "She's making progress on that accent already!"

"Where are you going, then?" Molly asked, as the two witches made their way to the back door.

"To Hermione's house?" asked Fleur.

"Thought it safest if Fleur side-apparated me once we walked out past the wards," said Hermione. "If we avoid the floo, we can by-pass magical locations and travel straight to the Muggle world."

Molly chewed on her lower lip, then nodded.

"Say good-bye to Ron and Harry along the way, then," she instructed.

"Wouldn't dream of doing otherwise," Hermione replied brightly.

Fleur and Hermione once again found Harry and Ron in the backyard, playing ground-level Quidditch. "What's up, Hermione?" Harry asked, as Ron quickly abandoned his hoops and flew towards the other three teens.

"We wish to make our good-byes," Fleur announced.

"Your what?" Harry asked.

"Our good-byes," Fleur repeated, as she walked up to a hovering Ron, took him by the shoulders, and kissed him on both cheeks.

When she released her grip on his shoulders, he released his grip on his broom…and promptly fell off.

"Oh…are you okay, Ronald?" Fleur asked.

"Just peachy," the red-haired wizard gushed as he lay flat on his back.

"Good," Fleur replied. "Zen, will you walk wiz me to zee ward line, so as to say good-bye?"

Ron thought this was a brilliant idea, and jumped up off the ground.

Harry was so busy watching this little scene play out that he didn't at first hear Hermione's whispering.

"Harry!" she said more loudly, as she tugged on his arm.

He turned, and asked, "What's going on, Hermione?"

"Walk with me, Sweetheart," she whispered, as she took a step towards the path that meandered through the orchard.

Harry looked over towards Fleur and a goofy-happy Ron, then glanced back towards Hermione . He made a decision, and rushed to catch up with his girlfriend.

She swatted away his hand when he did so.

"Not out in the open," she hissed.

Harry nodded, and looked back over his shoulder.

"What did Fleur just do to Ron?"

"Gave him a good-bye kiss?"

"Did she add a little of her zing to those kisses?"

"Would you be able to see his hands right now if she had?"

Harry shook his head and smiled.

"We shouldn't become over reliant on Fleur's special abilities," Hermione quietly stated. "Especially when she can induce that kind of euphoria without them."

"So why did she do that?"

"So that I can explain why we are saying our good-byes?" Hermione asked.

The Muggleborn witch quickly outlined Fleur's situation at the bank, and the plans that Hermione and she had subsequently made. The French witch gave them some privacy by walking behind them at a much slower pace, keeping Ron right by her side (and keeping him in a goofy-happy state by talking to him using an exaggerated accent).

Harry was happy that Fleur and Hermione were going to be able to escape the mad house, if only for a day. But he was also very disappointed that he was going to lose his girlfriend just a day after he had gotten her. Hermione understood completely, and…once they were deep enough into the orchard so as not to be seen, reached out and grabbed Harry's hand.

"Be a good boy, and maybe we'll bring presents back tomorrow," she purred, as she lifted up on her toes and planted a kiss on her boyfriend's lips.

"I don't need presents, baby…all I need is you!"

"Oh, Harry…we've got to work on your lines."

"Is that a complaint?" he pouted.

Hermione smiled, and placed another kiss on his lips.

"Not really," she admitted.

Hermione looked back down the path, and smiled when she spotted Fleur's back…the French witch was blocking Ron's view of them, which gave her enough confidence to pull Harry into a deep, open-mouthed, bum-grabbing snog.

He was more than happy to play along.

Twenty seconds later, Harry noticed that his girlfriend was reaching for something in her overnight bag, even as they continued to lock lips.

"What are you doing, Hermione?" he gasped, during the very short period of time in which his lips traveled from her lips to the nape of her neck.

"Hold…ah, got it!" she replied, pinching something in between thumb and forefinger.

Harry began to wonder when Hermione dragged the hand that had been squeezing his bum up to the back of his collar.


"Hold still," she whispered, as she dropped whatever she'd just pulled from her bag down his neck.

"What did you just do?" he hissed, as he felt something squiggling underneath his robes.

"I just gave you a tape worm."

"A what?" Harry shouted, as he jumped out of Hermione's arms and started to rip open his robes.

"Relax, Harry….it's not going to hurt you."

"No? Then what is it going to do, then?"

"Measure you, Silly," Hermione teased, as she stepped within arm's reach of her boyfriend.

"Now hold still," she instructed, pulling him back into a close embrace. "The charmed notebook in my bag has to be close enough to the worm to record your measurements."

"What measurements? And what for?"

"For your presents, of course," Hermione replied. "Gringotts gave Fleur a Muggle charge card loaded with two thousand pounds sterling, and she wants to go shopping."


"And some of that shopping might be for you, silly."


"You can't deny that you could use a new wardrobe," Hermione stated. "At least more than just new knickers. And with your birthday coming up…."

Harry squirmed within in her arms, not at all comfortable with how the "tape worm" was going about its work.

"So these are clothes measurements?" he asked.

"That's right…why?"

"Because I don't think that the length and circumference of my….damn, that tickles…makes a difference!"

Hermione giggled, having felt through their close contact exactly where the tape worm had been taking measurements.

"Sorry, sweetheart…but no matter what they say, size does matter."

"Even when you're clothes shopping?"

Hermione laughed.

"Guess we covered those areas with the mail-order, huh?"

Harry relaxed just a bit once the magical measuring tape worm inched its way out of his robes, then tensed right back up when he felt it slip down a sock.

"Careful, Sweetheart, you wouldn't want to stomp on it before it records your shoe size!" Hermione gently chided.

Harry groaned in discomfort.

"So, when do you get your measurements taken?"

"When I'm at the store?"

"That hardly seems fair," Harry whined. "Besides, I bet this thing would be a lot more…thorough…and a lot more…intimate, than any Muggle sales clerk."

"Would you want them to be?"

"No, but…"

Hermione laughed, and gave his bum a squeeze.

"I'll make you a deal, then," she promised. "When we get back, we'll try to figure out a way to get you those details."

"Using this blasted tape worm?"

Hermione blushed. "Unless you'd rather take them yourself?"

Harry snorted.

"Now that would be a birthday present," he declared, as he reached down and picked the tape worm off of his shoe laces.

"Here you go," he offered.

"Thanks," Hermione replied, as she pulled the notebook from her bag and carefully pressed the flattened measuring device against the inside cover. "So, let's see how close I was to…yup, got your waistline and inseam right…pretty darn close on your collar size. Oh, well…I knew it was big but...?"

"What?" Harry asked.

Hermione looked up from the opened notebook, smiled, then snapped the cover shut.

"Never mind," she declared, using a sing-song voice.

There was still fifty meters distance between where the measurements had been taken and the ward line. Fleur managed to occupy Ron's attention well enough to allow Harry and Hermione to stroll hand in hand over that distance, and to stop next to the tree that she had hidden behind the day before. They christened the location with an extra-special going-away snog.


When Gringotts' most promising young curse-breaker arrived home that evening, he was only slightly surprised to learn that Fleur and Hermione weren't there. Molly and Ginny tried to make it sound as if the two witches were going to go out and have a wild girls' night out on the town, but he knew better, having gotten both a groveling apology and a copy of each letter while still at work. He guessed that if they made a night of it, that that night would be far more likely spent at a Muggle shopping centre than in some hedonistic den of iniquity.

Molly was disappointed when Tonks sent her regrets, and when Ginny spent more time talking to her Pygmy Puffs than to Harry. That didn't mean she hovered any less, though, so Bill had to work hard that night to find a few minutes of private time with Harry. In those brief minutes, he both delivered a letter and fleshed out a few details over what had taken place that day.

Harry liked the letter that Hermione had written very, very much. So much that he risked sending out an immediate reply, using Hedwig as his courier. The letter was delivered to Hermione's house in Weybridge just before she went to bed. Hedwig slept overnight in her bedroom as a second house guest.

Harry's familiar was too far away from the Burrow to pick up on (and subsequently broadcast) any of his feelings for his girlfriend. Not that it mattered, as he had conveyed those feelings with an amazing degree of clarity within the letter.


Molly insisted that the Ministry of Magic could survive without her husband's services for at least one day a week, and told Arthur this in so many words. While he didn't protest, he also didn't waste any time heading out to his shed after Sunday brunch. Harry and Bill asked for a tour of the wizard's collection of Muggle bobbles, gizmos, and artifacts, so that they could escape from the kitchen just as fast (and as effectively) as Arthur did.

The two wizards grew instantly worried when Molly agreed that this was a splendid idea, explaining that she only needed Ginny and Ron to help her with the potions work that day. While Harry and Bill still lacked any direct evidence that Molly was slipping anyone love potions, and only had strong circumstantial evidence that she had even brewed Amortentia, it still made them nervous. They resolved to strengthen their vigilance, and to re-dose themselves with another vial of neutralizing agent.

The only chore that Molly had assigned to Bill and Harry that day was the de-gnoming of the garden. As Arthur showed the two younger wizards around his shed, Harry became inspired, and suggested that there might be a way to combine Mr. Weasley's passion with Mrs. Weasley's chores. The three spent the entire morning designing, and building, and arguing about the limits of and possible loopholes within the Muggle Protection Act. The outcome of this effort was wheeled out of the shed that afternoon.

Molly, Ron and Ginny were too busy inside the house to notice. Hermione and Fleur, however, were too out in the open not to notice when they crossed back inside the ward line early that evening, and found themselves within a series of concentric circles cut into the long grass.

It almost looked like a Muggle crop circle. That idea was quickly discarded, though, when they heard the screams of a garden gnome that was flying towards them along a ballistic flight path.

They ran for cover, then watched the garden gnome land head first on the bulls-eye. It was only after Hermione watched the gnome stand up and groggily scamper away that she kicked herself for the missed opportunity to yell, "Run away! Run away!"


"Fire in the hole!"

"Gnome out of his hole!"

"Three-two-one… liftoff!"


Harry Potter's eyes were drawn back down to earth by a different kind of screaming.

"Harry Potter! What the hell are you doing!" Hermione shouted from the far end of the field.

"Cease fire!" Harry yelled.

"Ceasing fire, Captain!" Bill quipped. The curse-breaker then turned to his father and added, "That means you can stop pedaling, Dad."

"Oh…right," Arthur replied.

"Looks like the girls made it home safely," Harry noted, as Hermione and Fleur marched directly towards their emplacement.

"Wouldn't it have been ironic if it wasn't until they got home that they got hurt?" asked Bill.

"I'm sure that they'd agree," Harry replied. He then called out, "Good evening, Ladies…have a nice stay in the Muggle world?"

"Don't you start with that," Hermione snapped, as Fleur and she closed the distance between them and the garden. "What do you think you're doing?"

Harry looked at Bill. Bill looked at his dad. Arthur looked towards Harry. They all three shrugged, and then they grinned.

"De-gnoming the garden?" Harry asked.

"Wiz zat…device?" Fleur asked.

Arthur nodded. "I'm afraid that it's my fault, girls," he admitted. "You see, I was showing these two my collection of Muggle artifacts, lamenting the fact that nothing I had in the shed really worked. So Harry was explaining what some of the pieces were used for, or could be used for with only minor modifications, and then Bill reminded Harry that they needed to de-gnome the garden, and well…"

"We invented the world's only bicycle-driven ballistic de-gnoming device," Harry said proudly.

"It is a rather ingenious tool," Arthur gushed. "To think that Muggles can do this sort of thing…"

"Yes, it is rather…ingenious," Fleur said with a laugh.

Hermione stared at the three wizards open-mouthed, then stared open-mouthed at what they had cobbled together. Mr. Weasley was sitting on a wheel-less bicycle frame, whose sprockets were connected to a series of gears that linked the bicycle to an over-sized tire pump. The pump tube was attached to the end of what appeared to be a clear plastic empty tennis ball canister…so long as the tennis was being played by giants. The seven-foot long, eight-inch diameter tube was connected to the canister via a series of intermediate valves and pistons and pulleys, and rested at a forty-five degree angle on the rear axle from a Muggle lorry.

Bill stood at the back end of this tube, with one hand on a valve and another holding a very squirmy gnome. Harry stood closer to the front of the device, holding what appeared to be the world's largest Q-tip cotton swab.

"How does this device work?" Fleur asked.

"That's great, honey…you said this instead of zis!"

"Thank you Bill…now, if you will answer my question?"

"Ah, right…we'd be happy to show them how it works, wouldn't we?" Bill asked the other two wizards.

"We'd be delighted to," said Arthur. Harry replied with a grin and another shrug.

"Right," Bill said. "First thing we need to do is clean out the barrel."

"Clean out the barrel!" said Arthur.

"Cleaning out the barrel!" Harry cried, as he pushed one end of the eight-foot long cotton swab into the end of the barrel, then pulled it back out.

"Ewww...looks like another one shat himself," the raven-haired wizard complained, once he examined the soiled fluffy swab at the end of the stick.

"No worries, Harry…still plenty left in the box," said Bill.

"Yup," the teenager agreed, throwing the dirty swab off to the side.

"I can't believe that you actually enlarged a box of Muggle Q-tips!" Hermione exclaimed.

Harry chuckled. "Hey, it could have been worse," he whispered. "Mr. Weasley had a Tampax box sitting on one of his shelves."

"Oh, that's just….."

"Yeah, I know," Harry agreed, as he walked over to a large clear container and pulled out another over-sized cotton swab.

"Load the launch device!" Arthur gleefully yelled.

"Loading the launch device!" Bill replied, as he walked up to the front of the canister and stuffed a gnome down feet-first.

"Loading the launch device," mimicked Harry, as he used one end of his enlarged swab to push the gnome down the length of the barrel. He then called out, "Prime the chamber!"

"Priming the chamber," said Bill, as he opened a few valves and closed a few others.

"Priming the chamber!" Arthur replied. He then began to pedal at a furious pace.

"It works like a compressed air gun," said Harry. "You know…like those things they use at Premier League football matches to launch t-shirts into the stands?"

"So the bicycle gears drive zee pumps, which push air into the back of zee canister…"

"Slow down, Fleur…you're slipping," said Hermione.


Bill smiled as he monitored the needle movement within a pressure gauge. He then said, "Yes, Fleur…that's exactly how it works….hold on, Dad…Chamber is primed!"

"Chamber is primed!" Harry shouted.

Arthur stopped pedaling, took a deep breath, then replied, "Chamber is primed!"

"Permission to fire, Captain?" Bill asked.

Harry looked downrange and nodded.

"You may fire at will, Bill."

"Fire in the hole!"

"Gnome out of his hole!"



Harry laughed as he watched the garden gnome sail through the air and land in the middle of their home-made target.

"This is too much fun," he decided.

"Well, I'm glad that you didn't decide to skive off in my absence," Hermione muttered.

"I didn't!" Harry protested. "This is serious work!"

"Yeah, I can tell."

"But Mum really did tell us to de-gnome the garden," said Bill.

Fleur noticed a small pile of ripe melons sitting next to the improvised cannon and snorted.

"I am certain that she did," she stated.

"And that's not the only reason for building this," added Harry. "It's research and development!"

"For what…the next great Magical circus trick?" Hermione quipped.

"No, no…I'm serious," said Harry. "We're going to add this to the Burrow's perimeter defense system…right Mr. Weasley?"

"That's right, Hermione," the older wizard agreed. "If we can launch a gnome that far into the air…just imagine what this device could do if we were attacked!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "So, instead of releasing the tiger, you release the gnome!"

"Nah…that's just killing two birds with one stone," Harry claimed. "Had to get rid of the gnomes anyway. Once we've figured out how to accurately aim this thing, and set up some kind of forward observer post to call in adjustments…well, imagine what this could do if a bunch of Death Eaters showed up one night and started to overpower the ward line?"

"Or stood outside the line and took the time to set up their own overlapping wards," added Bill. "That'd take at least a couple of minutes, and once they got through the lines almost as much time before they got within range of their wand fire. Plenty of time for us to aim this device and start lobbing things their way."

"Yeah…things other than gnomes," said Harry.

"Fetchez la vache?" Fleur asked.

"Nah…we'll need to build a catapult for that," said Harry. "We've only started to brainstorm…canisters of silver grapeshot if we're up against a pack of werewolves, for example."

"Or a container filled with magical laughing gas…or Peruvian Instant Blackness Powder."

"Or a dung bomb," added Arthur.

"That doesn't sound very damaging," said Hermione.

"It might be if you're using Nundu dung."

Hermione sighed. "But how is any of this even legal?" she asked. "You should know about the Muggle Protection Act better than anyone, Mr. Weasley."

"I think that I do know it better than anyone else," Arthur replied. "Which is why I'm quite certain that we're in the clear."

"But…you magically enlarged Q-tips. And enlarged a tennis ball canister. And you certainly had to have hardened the plastic, or else the barrel would have exploded in your face!"

"Yes, we did all that, Hermione…but we didn't enchant any of those pieces…we just changed their physical properties."

"But what about the gnomes?"

"No harm, no foul?"

"I think that they actually enjoy it!" added Bill. "I've seen at least one of them running back so that they could get caught and launched again."

Hermione frowned. She was certain that there had to be something illegal about the device, but if Mr. Weasley wasn't worried…and if the boys were finding ways to have fun despite the dark days…and if there was even a chance that the cannon might turn into another layer of defense…

The Muggleborn witch let her overnight bag slip off of her shoulder and drop to the ground. Then she kicked the rubber tire attached to the lorry axle, and asked, "So just how easy is it to mobilize this bad boy? Have you considered mounting it on rotating platform? Figured out how to account for varying wind velocities? What kind of magical friction-reducing efficiencies have you applied to the pumps?"

Harry smiled as he wrapped his arm around Hermione.

"That's my girl!" he exclaimed, leaning a "friendly" head onto her shoulder.

"I'm glad that you're back," he whispered.

Hermione smiled, and kissed the top of Harry's head.

"I'm glad to be back."

The group spent the next couple of hours brainstorming and gnome throwing. Nobody was all that eager to head inside the house…whether it was because they were having too much fun, or because they were expecting the Spanish Inquisition once they did…or both. When they finally did venture in for dinner, they did so as a pack, which went a long ways towards diffusing Molly's interrogative attacks.


The next morning, Harry chuckled when Hedwig swiveled her head away from an offered ration of bacon, and converted it into take-away.

"She's coming, huh girl?" he asked.

"Bark!" Hedwig replied.

"You know I meant down the stairs," Harry whispered.

Hedwig turned her head from side to side, then launched herself out the opened window and into light rain.

"Bill and I should be going as well," Arthur stated, as he gave his wife a good-bye kiss. The curse-breaker squeezed Harry's shoulder, then nodded towards his brother and sister.

"Stay out of trouble, you three," he said.

"I'll ask the same of you, William," Molly said.

Bill chuckled as Fleur emerged from the stairs and pulled him into a good-sized good-bye kiss.

"Too late," Ginny muttered as Hermione appeared and her oldest brother followed her father out the floo.

"Good morning, ladies," Harry said cheerfully, as his girlfriend and her roommate sat opposite him at the table.

Fleur smiled and deliberately said, "How are you today….Harry?"

"I'm fine, thank you."

"Hey, you got the 'h's' right!" Ron exclaimed (failing to note the irony behind the fact that his chewing-impinged comment was itself barely decipherable).

"Sounds good, Fleur," Harry added warmly (and more clearly).

The French witch smiled. "Thank you…Harry. Hermione has been a big help."

"Oh, I haven't done much at all," the Muggleborn witch declared. "Fleur was up most of the night practicing with her new phrasebook."

"…an...exaggeration," Fleur declared.

"A phrasebook?" asked Harry. "I thought you already knew the words…that it was more about the pronunciation?"

"Yes, and yes," Hermione replied. "She's doing great when she really slows down and thinks about each word as she says it."

"But I need to say certain everyday phrases at normal conversation speeds," Fleur agreed. "So I have been practicing…the… phrases until I can say…them…without…thinking."

"Like what?" asked Ginny, deciding to finally join the conversation.

"There is a cart waiting to take you to your vault, Sir," Fleur replied (in perfect English). "Also, 'please return to the queue,' and 'my hovercraft is full of eels'."

"Ah…work-related then?" Harry asked with a laugh.

Fleur smiled in agreement. "Yes, but also what I use in everyday conversation. Phrases like, "You look very happy, Harry...Have you eaten Hermione?"

Harry choked on his toast.

"You should slow down when you eat, Mate," said Ron, as he slapped his friend on the back.

"I'm okay," the raven-haired teen protested. He then turned towards Fleur and asked, "There is a comma somewhere in that last phrase, right?"

"A comma?"

"You were asking Hermione if she had eaten, right?" Harry asked.

"Of course!" Fleur replied. She turned towards Hermione and asked, "Did I say…it…wrong?"

The bushy-haired witch looked towards Harry and rolled her eyes.

"Yes, you said it correctly," she replied. "Harry is just trying to be funny."

"Oh," said Fleur innocently, showing that she knew perfectly well what she said and how it could have been taken. She smiled, and added, "Then I must say 'Ha Ha Ha', no?"

"No, don't…it will only encourage him," Hermione replied, reaching over the table to lightly tap her boyfriend's arm. She then said, "We need your help Harry, so be nice."

The-Boy-Who-Lived grinned. "Of course…what can I do?"

"We need you to be Fleur's conversation partner."

"Her what?" Molly asked from across the kitchen.

"Her conversation partner," Hermione repeated. "Someone who can help Fleur with her accent in conversational settings."

"But I thought that's what you were supposed to be doing?" Ginny asked.

The Muggleborn witch nodded. "I am helping…but I can't help in this situation."

"Why is that?"

"Because I am nearly fluent in French," Hermione replied. "When Fleur and I are in our room talking to each other, half of the time it is half in French, and half in English. Sometimes we mix the two together without even recognizing what we're doing."

"Even…in…the…same sentence," the French witch added.

"It's not intentional," Hermione explained. "But it does mean that sometimes I don't notice when she slips in the odd French word or phrase."

"So she needs to talk with someone who doesn't understand that language, then, and corrects her when she does?" Molly asked.

"That's right," said Hermione. "Bill can't do it, since he speaks French…Harry would be perfect."

Molly frowned. "Ginny doesn't speak French."

"That's true," Hermione replied. "But I think it will be more helpful if it was a wizard. You know, because it was a wizard that complained about her accent in the bank?"

The Weasley Matriarch nodded, accepting the assertion without examining the underlying shaky wizard's logic (just as Hermione had assumed she would).

"Ron, then," she decided.

The red-haired wizard perked up at the suggestion, but Hermione and Fleur had also planned for this contingency.

"Yes, Ron is a wizard who doesn't speak French, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione agreed. "But…it's just that…well, sometimes some wizards get a little flustered when they talk with Fleur…they find it hard to concentrate on what she says."

"What do you mean?" asked Ron. "I can understand her good enough, and know proper English!"

Ginny rolled her eyes, knowing full well what Hermione was suggesting.

Molly was persistent. "Ronald is just as qualified as Harry, and Harry is in the middle of brewing some very important potions," she declared.

Hermione sighed as she pulled two self-inking quills and pieces of parchment from her robe pocket. "Perhaps we can do a quick test?" she asked.

"What kind of test?" Ron asked.

"I'll have Fleur say a phrase using her French accent," Hermione explained. "Harry and Ron will then each write down what she should have said, pointing out any missteps. And then we'll compare."

Molly pursed her lips as she wiped her hands with a kitchen towel. "Alright, then," she decided.

Hermione nodded, then turned and whispered something into Fleur's ear. The French witch's eyes lit up in delight.

"Ready, then?" she asked.

When the two teen-aged wizards both nodded, Fleur leaned towards them and purred.

"Zese are not zee droids zat you are looking for!"

Harry stifled a snort, then picked up his quill and started to write.

Ron just stared blankly at the French witch.

Hermione sighed. "Would either of you like to hear the phrase again?"

"I'm good," Harry declared.

"Yes, please!" Ron asked.

Fleur smiled, and leaned closer to Ron. Staring directly into his eyes, she then repeated the statement.

Ron stared blankly at her for a moment, then looked down at his quill. He picked it up, started to write out a word, then let the quill slip from his fingers.

"Urm…sorry. Got to go," he stammered, pushing away from the table.

Hermione tried not to giggle too hard as Ron bolted up the stairs in search of some privacy.

Harry held up his piece of parchment for inspection.

"How did I do, then?"

The four witches were quick to confirm the accuracy of his corrective phrase.

"Oh, but that's so not fair!" Ginny whined. "Fleur cheated!"

"How could she have done that?" Hermione asked.

"Well, she's obviously befuddled Ron on purpose!"

"I wasn't befuddled, though," Harry noted.

"Yeah, well…she wasn't staring into your eyes," said Ginny, as she sat down at what had been Ron's spot on the bench next to Harry. "Or leaning towards you either, showing off her…charms."

Fleur glared across the table towards Ginny. "I would not dream of showing my fiance's brother any of my…charms."

"You don't have to dream about it…it just comes naturally," the younger witch snarked.

"Right then, how about another test?" Hermione asked. "Fleur will say something while leaning towards Harry, and looking directly into his eyes."

"Oh, zees ees a good idea!" Fleur declared.

"You should have said that it is a good idea, Fleur," Harry stated.

"Hey…I didn't see any eye contact!" Ginny protested. "And it wasn't the same kind of racy-sounding phrase."

"Droids are racy-sounding?" Harry asked.

Hermione sighed. "Okay, fine. Molly?"

"Yes, Dear?"

"Would you agree that it would be a fair test if Ginny comes up with the phrase, then writes it down and passes it to Fleur for her to read?"

"While she is looking into Harry's eyes and leaning towards him?" added the red-haired teen.

"Yes, just like that," Hermione agreed.

Molly took in a deep breath, then slowly let it out.

"Yes, I suppose so."

"Right, then," said Ginny, as she grabbed the quill and parchment that Ron had been too befuddled to use. "Let's see…."

The red-haired witch nibbled on the end of the quill as she considered a suitably devious phrase. She smiled when it came to mind, then glanced towards her mother. She thought for a moment, then reached a decision and wrote the phrase down. Ginny then folded the paper, and pushed it down the table towards Fleur. When the French witch opened the fold and read the phrase she snorted in amusement.

Hermione leaned over to look at what the younger witch had written, and shook her head.

"That's not a fair test," she declared.

"Why not?" Ginny challenged.

"Because zere are no problems een asking, 'Do you want to come back to my place, bouncy bouncy!"

"Bill might have a problem with it," Hermione noted.

"Ginny!" Molly scolded.

"It wasn't supposed to be real question," she protested. "It was just a test phrase."

"It was also a practice phrase that didn't contain any of the problem sounds," Hermione stated. "Want to try again?"

Ginny let out a huge huff of air, and violently snatched the parchment back. She crossed her first sentence with a thick black line, then paused to angrily conjure a better sentence.

"Let's try this one, then," she snapped, as she wrote a sentence with violent strokes of the quill. An evil grin formed on her lips as she tossed the refolded piece of paper down onto the table.

"I'll have that!" Molly demanded, swooping down and snatching up the parchment.

Ginny gasped, her anger and desire for victory having caused her to momentarily forget that her mother was in the room.

"I only wrote that for the test," said, as her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "Doesn't mean that I would ever say…."

"I don't want to hear it!" Molly snapped, her own cheeks reddening as she reread the test question. "Ginevra Weasley, you and I are going to have a long talk once we're through here!"

"Yes, Mum," the girl said glumly. "Should I try again, then?"

Molly glared at her daughter, then glared at the note in her hand. She took three or four deep breaths as she considered her options. Then she took one last full breath and folded the parchment in half.

"I don't ever want to hear this sort of question being asked in my house…whether it's by my daughter or by a houseguest!" she hissed. Molly then walked over to Fleur, and handed her the note. "However…so long as it is just a test…I'll allow it…just this once, mind you."

Fleur's eyes widened when she read the new phrase. She silently passed the note to Hermione, who snorted out loud when she read it.

"Really, Ginny?" the Muggleborn whined.

"It has words she trips over all the time," the younger witch said defiantly.

"It also has words that…"

"Hey, don't give Harry any clues!"

Hermione sighed as she cast an inquisitive glance towards Molly. She wondered what sort of game the matriarch thought she was playing, then shrugged and handed the folded parchment back to Fleur.

"We should switch places, so that you're directly across from Harry when you ask."

"Are you certain?"

"Yeah…If Ginny wants to make it that hard for him…then make it hard."

"Vraiment?" Fleur asked.

"Yes, really," Hermione concluded, as she got up from the table

Fleur arched an eyebrow as she read her roommate's facial expression. Then she nodded, scooted down the bench to take the place that her roommate had just vacated, and began to unbutton the front of her robes.

"What are you doing?" Molly demanded.

"So zat zere ees no doubt," the part-Veela announced.

"Fleur?" Harry asked nervously.

"As Molly sez…zees ees only a test," she stated.

Once Fleur had unbuttoned the top four buttons on her robes she loosened the widened neckline and pushed the tops of her robes just off of her shoulders. This revealed a black lace bra, a wide expanse of tan skin, and a healthy amount of cleavage.

A slight gurgling sound escaped from Molly's clenched teeth as Fleur pushed the breakfast dishes to the side and rested her arms on the kitchen table. She then leaned towards Harry, bending far enough to rest her weight (and her bra-covered breasts) on her forearms.

Hermione's boyfriend kept eye contact with her roommate…until her roommate broke eye contact to address the red-haired witch that was sitting next to him.

"Ees zees ze way you want eet, Ginny?" Fleur purred, in a very sexy tone of voice. The French witch then re-established eye-contact with Harry and added, "Am I leaning towards 'im and looking at 'im een zee eyes?"

"Yeah, yeah…get on with it."

Fleur nodded, then asked what had been written.

"Do you zeenk zat I 'ave beeg teets, 'Arry?"

Harry held the part-Veela's gaze for five silent seconds…then began to laugh. Fleur started to laugh as well, which made her jiggle and offer up even more of a view…which he neglected to take.

A wide smile formed on Hermione's lips as her nagging fears were proven unwarranted. It was a rather triumphal smile.

Ginny frowned, and grasped for straws. She nudged the wizard sitting next to her with an elbow, then asked, "Something wrong? You aren't writing anything down!"

The teen-aged wizard turned his head towards the red-haired witch and snorted.

"Nope, everything is fine."

"I bet you think so," Ginny snarked. She glanced across the table and said, "Hey, Fleur, I think he needs to hear that phrase again!"

The French witch nodded as she reached out, touched Harry's cheek, and guided his gaze back towards her face.

"Do you need to hear it again, Harry?" she asked, carefully enunciating each word.

"No, thanks," he replied, as his eyes darted down to his quill and parchment. While he began to write out the question, everyone else's attention was diverted towards the stairs, and to the sound of barreling steps.

Ron burst into the kitchen and asked. "So what did I miss?"

His eyes were quickly drawn towards Fleur's chest. He let out a loud moan and said, "Sweet Morgana's…"

"Ronald!" Molly shouted.

The admonishment shook the red-haired teen out of his visual ensnarement. When he looked towards his mother and saw the anger in her eyes, he winced, turned tail, and fled back upstairs.

Harry set the quill down on the table. He reread what he had just written, then decided he should fold his parchment in half.

"Erm…right. I'm not going to get into trouble for writing that down, am I?"

Molly looked towards him and sighed.

"Give it to me," she said, holding out her hand. The Weasley Matriarch then glanced towards Fleur and shouted, "And button yourself up!"

"Yes, Ma'am," Fleur said very seriously, quickly complying with the demand.

When Harry placed the folded parchment in Molly's hand, quickly opened it, silently read it, then not-so-silently vanished it.

"Fine," she hissed. "Harry, go be Fleur's…partner. I suppose you want to monitor their work, Hermione?"

"If that's alright, Mrs. Weasley?"

Molly nodded tersely. "Just do it in the sitting room, where I can listen in on these…lessons."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"There's not going to be any more of these scandalous questions?"

"No, Ma'am…of course not, Ma'am," Harry said, as he dashed towards the other room.

Hermione and Fleur followed at a more sedate pace, while Molly began shouting at Ginny about her behavior. By the time they caught up to him, the red-haired witch had been sent outside to muck out the chicken coop.

Harry stopped when he got to the couch, but didn't sit down, and he didn't turn to face the two witches.

"Harry?" Hermione whispered. "Something wrong?"

"Erm…just a second!" he whispered back, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Hermione took a step towards her boyfriend, only to be held back by her roommate.

"Arrete!" Fleur whispered, glancing back towards the entrance to the kitchen.

Hermione stopped, then looked back at the French witch and asked an unvoiced question with her eyes.

"Ronald?" Molly bellowed. "What are you doing up there?"

Fleur smiled as she heard the sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs.

"So, Harry…why the reaction now?" she asked.

"What?" he asked.

"Oh, 'Arry…eet ees just us, n'est-ce pas?" Fleur asked.

"It should be 'Oh, Harry it is just us', and you don't need that last part," he replied.

"Can somebody start explaining what's going?" Hermione hissed.

Fleur nodded as she pulled Hermione towards the couch, spun Harry around, and pointed.

He let out a groan of frustration, deciding there was no point in covering his tent with his hands.

"It wasn't anything that you said, Fleur," he insisted. "It was Molly."

Hermione snorted. "Did you just hear what you just said?"

Harry replayed his statement in his head, then rolled his eyes.

"Thanks, Hermione," he whined. He fell back onto the couch, gestured towards his waist, and said, "You just took care of that problem."


"What I said was true…it's just not as bad as it sounds," he explained, rubbing the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Molly told us to go do it in the sitting room."


"So that got me thinking about how you 'did it' in the sitting room on my first night here."

Hermione started to blush, then decided she really had no reason to do so. Instead, she smiled.

"So that's what got you hard, Harry?" she whispered. "Nothing to do with Fleur's question?"

"Zat ees exactly what my nose sez, 'Ermione."

"You mean that is exactly what your nose says," said Harry.

"Sorry…eet ees hard for me to concentrate on zee words when…"

The sounds of Molly's bellowing drifted into the room, as she demanded that her son open up the bathroom door.

"Yeah, I know what you mean," Harry quipped, shaking his head in amazement at what had all just happened. "Why do you think that she let that question be asked?"

Fleur shrugged. "I do not presume to know what goes on eenside 'er 'ead."

Hermione looked at Harry, then at her roommate, then back towards the kitchen.

"Can we worry about that later?" she whispered. "And Fleur…would you mind watching that door for a minute?"

"Bien sur!" the French witch said with a wink.

The Muggleborn witch shot Harry a predatory smile as Fleur walked across the room to stand guard.

Harry arched an eyebrow.

"I think you should be rewarded for passing that boyfriend test…don't you?" she asked.

Harry chuckled and shrugged. "If it was a matter of skin…saw far more of Fleur on the beach than I just did in the kitchen, didn't I?"

Hermione shook her head in disbelief.

"Are you saying that you don't want your reward?"

"Oh, erm, no…rewards are good!" Harry whispered.

"Good," said Hermione, as dropped her knees onto the couch cushions and straddled his hips.

Harry gasped while she squirmed and ground against his lap. Looking nervously over Hermione's shoulder, he said, "Maybe that's not a…. Fleur's not there?"

Hermione looked over her shoulder…then let out a sigh…then slipped off Harry's lap.

"I suppose," she whined, as she sat down next to her boyfriend and scooted to create some distance.

A few moments later Fleur re-entered the sitting room with a satisfied smile on her face.

"Now you two should have more zan a few minutes," she said, leaning back against the threshold.

"Now?" Hermione asked. "What did you just…?"

"Please don't ask her that," Harry begged, mentally cringing at the possibilities.

Hermione thought for a moment, then decided that was a reasonable request. Then she stopped all of Harry's mental cringing in its tracks by swinging her leg back over his lap and settling down.

"Comfortable?" he asked.

"Erm…yes," she replied, squirming against his thighs just to be sure. The Muggleborn witch then smiled as she reached out and tussled Harry's hair.

"You never actually answered the question, did you?"

"What questi…oh, right," he replied. "Didn't think I needed to."

"Why's that?"

"Are you serious?"

Hermione snorted. "Humor me, Harry."

"Fine…I've delegated the task of answering that question to my liegeman."

"Good answer," Hermione whispered, as she leaned forward and placed a tender kiss on his lips.

After a short while, she pulled back, and asked, "So, will Bill answer that question for whenever any girl asks if her tits are too big…or just when Fleur asks?"

Harry smiled, and replied, "Just Fleur."

"Another good answer!" Hermione whispered. She then leaned back, and ripped open the front of her robes.

The distinctive sound created when strips of Muggle Velcro are separated was heard by Harry's ears, but not recognized for what it was until much, much later. His eyes (and most of his higher brain functions) had zeroed in on the lace-trimmed bra that Hermione had just exposed underneath her robes.

She shimmied, then coyly asked, "So, Harry…do you think that my tits are too big?"

Her boyfriend chuckled, showing no caution at all as he leaned forward to examine the evidence.

"They look just the right size to me," he replied. "Although…."

"Yes, Harry?"

"You've always encouraged me to review my assignments and revise as necessary, right?"

Hermione giggled, and risked a glance back over her shoulder. Fleur was still was giving the couple a "thumbs up" sign.

"Would you like to gather more evidence to test that hypothesis?" she asked, running fingers through her boyfriend's hair.


Hermione chuckled as she pushed Harry's head back, then pulled Harry's hands forward, towards her chest.

"Why don't you feel if my tits are too big?" she asked.

Harry snorted. "Language, sweetheart."


"No…it's just that…what happened to the clinical language?"

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Do you want to debate me, Harry…or fondle me?"

That was a silly question.

For forty-five glorious seconds, they snogged, he groped, and she ground down on his lap.

"Fais gaffe!"

Hermione gasped when she heard Fleur's warning, and immediately bounced off of the couch. After quickly tucking herself back in, she Velcro'ed herself back up. Harry, meanwhile, was desperately trying to readjust his robes. By the time he decided that he'd done the best he could do, he looked up and noticed that Hermione had moved to the far corner of the room, and was now sitting on a high-backed chair.

She smiled, leaned forward, and cleared her throat.

"So, Harry…your job is to engage Fleur in conversation that will force her into using some of those words that she has problems with in a natural setting."

The-Boy-Who-Lived nodded as he watched Fleur pull out her wand, cross the room towards Hermione, and cast a whispered charm towards her.


"Do you see what I'm thinking, Harry?" Hermione then asked.

The teen-aged wizard snorted at the double entendre…Fleur's spell work had smoothed out the perky points in the front of Hermione's robes.

"Yes, I do," he replied, even while his head was shaking "No."

Harry glanced towards the empty doorway, then gestured towards his crotch.

Fleur giggled as she quietly padded across the room, cast a second Praetego charm, then plopped down onto the couch next to him.

Molly entered room a few moments later and frowned as she looked around.

"Is everything okay?"

"Yes, Mrs. Weasley," the three droned.

The matriarch turned towards Hermione and asked, "What are you doing over there?"

The Muggleborn witch smiled as she ran her fingers down the length of one of the chair arms.

"I didn't want to be a distraction," she explained. Hermione then turned her attention to Fleur and asked, "Ready for some more warm-up exercises?"


"You mean 'yes'," Harry corrected.

"Ah…yes. Thank you...Harry."

"Repeat after me, then," said Hermione. "It is hot today, Harry…isn't it?"

Fleur smiled, and repeated the phrase. She then recited generic statements about happy housewives, big wigs, and thorny thickets.

Molly watched the back and forth for a few moments, then grew bored and retreated into the kitchen. Hermione gave the other two teens a big "thumbs-up" gesture once she was out of the matriarch's field of view.

"Alright, let's do one last exercise that combines the different sounds," the Muggleborn instructed.

"Okay," said Fleur.

Hermione smiled seductively as she lifted one of her legs over the arm of her chair and leaned back against the cushion. "Listen carefully," she said, slowly dragging the heel of one hand from her shoulder, across her chest, then down into her lap.

"Harry, do you think that this is where Hermione was sitting that night?"

Harry sucked in a sharp breath when he heard his girlfriend ask the question-slash-confession. At that same moment, Fleur was holding in a deep breath, so that she didn't give up the game to Molly by laughing out loud.

"'Arry?" the French witch asked.

"It's Harry," he mumbled.

"Sorry…so, Harry…do you think that this is where 'Ermione was sitting zat night?"

"Erm, no," he replied, watching Hermione nod her head vigorously.


"No, erm…Fleur…that is where Hermione was sitting that night."

"That's right, Harry," teased Hermione. "This. Is. Where."

The sound of pots and pans clanking against each other in the kitchen caught the Muggleborn's attention. She quickly pulled her leg back, sat up straight, and schooled her facial expression.

Harry sat up as well. Then he readjusted the position of the tent pole that no one else could see, so that he might relieve some of the uncomfortable pressure that no one else could feel.

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