|[Fic] Harry's New Pets, the Flaming Nargles Version, part 2
||[Nov. 22nd, 2008|02:06 pm]
Harry's New Pets--The Flaming Nargles Version (Part 2) (11,800 words total)
A Harry Potter fanfiction by Andrew yclept Aelfwine
The characters and situations of the Harry Potter series are copyright J.K. Rowling. They may not be used or reproduced commercially without permission. The use of these characters and situations is not to be construed as challenge to said copyright. They are merely borrowed for this work of non-commercial fanfiction, from which the author derives no financial benefit.
No sex yet, as they're too young, but considerable romance.
This started out as an omake for Rorschach's Blot's fic Pet Compartment, but swiftly spiralled out of control.
Many thanks to Rorschach's Blot for the inspiration, as well as for permission to write this.
This particular version started out as an omake for my own fic "Harry's New Pets--the H/F/Hr/L version" and swiftly spiralled even further out of control. The first 3700 words are the same as the first 3700 words of the original "Harry's New Pets"; the fic then takes a different direction.
Virtually the entire cabin was taken up with a bed. There was just enough space for them to stand at the foot, or to walk to the small door which Hermione assumed was the ensuite. A quiet landscape painting hung on the wall, along with a few hooks, presumably meant for clothes. A neat stack of red and white striped pyjamas sat at the foot of the bed, and a huge circular tray piled with covered dishes hovered in the middle, about a foot above the plain white duvet.
“So,” Fleur said, “we should probably put on our pyjamas, eat our déjeuner, and settle down for a pleasant nap, yes?”
“I suppose so,” Harry said.
“I still don’t understand why we need pyjamas,” Luna said.
“Because Ginny and 'ermione and our Master just aren’t ready for that yet,” Fleur said, and hugged her softly about the shoulders. “Be kind to them, please, darling Luna.”
“Okay,” Luna said.
“So,” Fleur said, “‘ow about if Maître ‘Arry goes into the bathroom to put on ‘is pyjamas, and we girls put ours on out here. Yes?”
“All right,” Harry said. “Which set are mine?”
“I t’ink zey are charmed to fit,” Fleur said. “Take zese.” He closed the door behind him. Luna sighed, of course. I have to admit, Hermione thought, that I’d not mind seeing him change his clothes. It’s just the part about him seeing me that I can’t quite face. Wait, that’s not fair. Or right, since he’s the master and we’re the pets. Besides, wouldn’t it be awfully nice to see the look on his face when he sees us in nothing at all? She pushed the awkward tangle of thoughts out of her mind.
“How very clever you are, Hermione,” Luna said. “If we wait to take our clothes off til just before Master comes out, he’ll see us in the altogether. And if he’s seen us in the altogether already, then why should we put our pyjamas on at all?”
“I was only thinking,” Hermione said. Her face felt terribly warm, both at the thought that Luna thought she was trying to let Harry see her undressed and at the thought of him actually seeing her. It didn’t help that, somewhere in the back of her mind, a part of her actually liked the idea.
“Please put your pyjamas on, my darling pet-sisters,” Fleur said. She already had hers on. Ginny was down to her knickers. Hermione looked away, hastily. I don’t need to know if Luna was telling the truth about her freckles. I really, really don’t.
“Will you spank us if we don’t?” Luna said.
“No, I will not spank you,” Fleur said.
“Even if I’m really, really naughty?” Luna said. “Or do you mean that you’ll tell Master to spank me instead?”
“Perhaps when we’re older,” Fleur said.
“Will you tie me up and tickle me?”
“No. I would be very unhappy,” Fleur said. “I might even cry.”
“I could never bear making my wonderful big pet-sister cry,” Luna said, and hugged her. “I’m sorry, and I’ll put on my pyjamas now.”
“I don’t want to make you cry, either, Luna,” Fleur said, stroking Luna’s hair. “Or Harry, which is why I’d like you to put on your pyjamas now.”
“Why would Harry cry if he got to see me as a properly dressed pet?” Luna said. “He bought me, after all.”
“Because... well, boys are more shy and delicate than girls.”
“Are they? Ginevra’s brother doesn’t seem to be.”
“If you had tried to kiss him, he would have been,” Fleur said.
“Oh, so was that why he screamed and ran away? I thought it was only because he’d rather have had another boy to kiss. You mean I was so very sad, and for no reason? Well, not much reason. Our wonderful Master Harry is so much better than Ronald, I hardly could care anymore.”
“I should defend him,” Ginny said, “but I can’t. He sold me for the price of a Chocolate Frog! Sure, it was to Harry Potter, but still... it’s embarassing.”
“At least you didn’t wind up in a cage in a pet shop,” Hermione said.
“Oh, was that how Harry bought you and Fleur?” Luna said. “How romantic!”
“Clothes, please, my darlings?”
Hermione turned away from the others, and tried not to think about the fact that Luna was quite possibly watching her. When she turned about, freshly pyjama’d, Fleur was sitting on the bed, brushing Ginny’s hair. And Luna... “Shouldn’t you put on your pyjama bottoms, Luna?”
“Why? This shirt goes down to my knees. It must not intend me to wear trousers.”
“Your pyjamas have opinions?” Hermione couldn’t help but say.
“Of course they do. How else would they fit themselves?”
“That’s...” Hermione looked down at herself, and realised that the pyjamas fit her as if they were made to her measure. “I suppose you have a point. But why aren’t all of our shirts knee-length?”
“Because they know you’re shy?” Luna said. “Or because they secretly intend to shrink away to nothing at all as we sleep?”
“Luna,” Fleur said. “That’s not funny. Hermione is very new to our world. She might not know you were joking.”
“But I wasn’t...”
“Luna,” Fleur said, “do you want to frighten our Hermione? Or do you truly want her to be happy?”
Luna looked as if she might cry, herself. “I’m sorry, Hermione,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking.”
“It’s all right, Luna.” Luna looked at her, and she looked at Luna, and somehow they were hugging. “I love you.” Why did I say that? Because it’s true, I suppose.
“I love you, Hermione.”
“Are you decent?” Harry said from inside the bathroom.
“No, Master,” Luna said. “We’re all of us wearing clothes.”
Fleur shook her head. “Yes, Master ‘Arry, we all are changed. Please come out.”
He looked remarkably cute, Hermione had to admit. Cuter than any boy she’d ever met in the flesh, and not only because he wasn’t ignoring her or saying rude things about her to her face or laughing with his mates as they said rude things that she couldn’t quite hear. The pyjamas were freshly pressed and fit him perfectly. The messy hair was appealing–she liked the idea of running her fingers through it, particularly if one of the other girls were doing likewise at the same time.
“Master!” Ginny said, and hugged him. Luna was right behind her.
“Come along, sweet ‘Ermione,” Fleur said, taking her hand. There was barely enough space for all five of them to stand together, hugging. That was fine.
At least until somebody’s stomach grumbled. “Zat was me,” Fleur said, blushing lightly. “It ‘as been a while since my breakfast.”
“Then we should eat,” Harry said. They sat cross-legged on the bed, around the tray.
“Coffee?” Fleur said. “It’s appallingly strong, but wit’ ze hot milk it is pretty good.”
“No, thank you,” Ginny said.
“I’ve never had it,” Harry said. “Does it taste the way it smells?”
“Not really,” Fleur said. “You might be ‘appier with tea or ze chocolate.”
“I’ll have the chocolate,” Luna said. Harry poured hers and Ginny’s before pouring his own.
“I’ll have coffee,” Hermione said, feeling very grown up.
“Are you sure, chérie?”
“Only a little. That’s how my parents drink it.”
“Zis is very strong coffee, chérie. Zese Veelas come from a tribe zat live in Sweden, you see, and their coffee is vicious. We are lucky zat zey know we are foreigners to zem, and gave us this lovely ‘ot milk.”
“I’m sure it’s fine,” Hermione said.
Fleur poured. “Try it, chérie, and see what you t’ink.”
Hermione sipped at it. It was desperately hard not to make a face. “It is... sort of strong, isn’t it?”
“Brave sweet ‘Ermione,” Fleur said, and hugged her about the shoulders. “Per’aps zis will be more pleasing.” She added milk and coarse brown sugar. Now it tasted like hot coffee ice cream. Much better.
There was fruit and cold ham and rye bread with butter and cheese. There were potato pancakes with rashers of bacon and tart red lingonberries. There was smoked salmon and a dry chewy smoked meat that Luna said was reindeer. That would have bothered Hermione, but she’d already had some by the time she said so and it was awfully good. There was borscht and vinegary cucumber salad and a covered basket of soft little dumplings filled with meat or potato or stranger things like curried pumpkin with soft white cheese.
When they were done eating, Fleur twittered at the tray. It floated itself over to the door. “Luna, you’re closest,” she said. “Would you be so kind as to let it out, please?”
This done, Luna turned back to the bed. “Will we have our nap, now?” she said.
“I think that would be nice,” Fleur said.
“I’m not sure I can–-“ a yawn broke off Ginny’s words “--sleep. All right, maybe I can.” She smiled sheepishly.
“I’ll sleep on the floor,” Harry said. “You girls can have the bed.”
“I’m afraid we can’t,” Fleur said. “If you sleep on the floor, we’ll have to sleep zere wit’ you. And zere is not sufficient floor for zat.”
“It’s fine, Harry,” Hermione said. “We’ll all sleep in the bed together.” She was surprised at how attractive the thought was. Sleeping with Fleur was so nice. Sleeping with Luna, and Ginny, and Harry... it sounds lovely.
“But... you’re girls, and I’m a boy.”
“We’re pets, and you’re a master, Master,” Luna said. “Pets have to sleep with their master. That’s one of the rules. It’s even more important than the rule about pets not wearing clothes. And if you insist on us not sleeping with you... well, we’ll have to make up for it by keeping the other rules more strictly.”
“You mean... if I don’t sleep with you, you’ll insist on going naked?”
“And being leashed everywhere outside of your dwelling. And taken for long walks twice a day. And you might have to enter us in shows...” Oh no, Hermione thought. He’s going to turn round and prove he is a boy, after all, and say yes. “Of course,” Luna said, “we’ll gladly do all of that even if you do sleep with us.”
“But you won’t insist?”
“Not on all of it, anyhow.”
“All right, then,” Harry said.
“T’ank you, mon cher maître,” Fleur said, and turned back the duvet. “Let’s go to sleep.” Somehow Hermione ended up in Fleur's arms again, with Luna in hers. Harry was between Luna and Ginny.
We’re all nestled together like a set of spoons, she thought to herself. It’s awfully nice, but how will we fall asleep? Moments later, the question answered itself.
There was a gentle knocking at the door. “School’s not for hours yet, Mum,” she mumbled. “Can’t we sleep a few more minutes?”
“Ve dock in vun half hours,” said a voice from the door. “I have here your tea and pastries.”
As Hermione woke, she realised that she was further entangled with both Luna and Harry. Somehow her hand was clasped in Luna’s hand, and both were resting on Harry’s hip. Fleur’s hand was between her belly and Luna’s back, and somehow her shirt had ridden up just enough that the French girl’s skin was touching hers.
“Leves-toi, chérie,” Fleur said. “Let me loose, now, and I’ll answer the door.” The loss of the warm body at Hermione’s back was like a sudden shock. She wanted to burrow further under the covers.
“Hej,” said an unfamiliar voice. “Good afternoon, Harry Potter and his pets!”
She blinked for a moment. There was a girl of about her own age standing in the doorway, with another covered tray floating behind her. She wore peach-coloured bell-bottomed trousers and a loose sailor’s jacket of blue and fuschia, and kept her blonde hair in a long pigtail. By her looks, she might have been the Captain’s daughter or sister. “May I bring your tray in? Are you decent?”
“Yes,” Hermione said. “We’re dressed.”
“Oh, dat’s too bad,” the girl said.
“Yes, it is,” Luna said.
Harry blinked and opened his eyes, squinting. “Umm... it’s not what it looks like, miss.”
“Oh? It looks like Harry Potter and his four pretty pets are yust voke up from deir nap and dey are unfortunately vearing pyyamas. Am I wrong? Has dere been more interesting goings-on?”
“No,” Fleur said.
“A pity,” the girl said. “Any road, here are tea and coffee and pastries. Vill you be needing anyt’ing else?”
Hermione got herself sufficiently unentangled to sit up, the covers pooling at her waist. Luna and Harry sat up as well. Ginny resisted Harry’s efforts to rouse her. He let her slumber on, her head in his lap, her hand clutching his pyjama top.
The girl didn’t seem eager to leave. “Are you the Captain’s daughter?” Hermione said at last.
“Oh, no! Her first clutch are only little chicks yet. I am her cousin. I am here learning to work a ship, until I find a flock of my own. You are lucky to be so young, and mated already. Most Veelas, dey don’t meet deir flock until dey have tventy or t’irty years.” Oh heavens, Hermione thought. Is that why she’s hanging about? “I am reading about Harry Potter since I am only a little chick, myself. Even in Vílaheim, his fame has reached us. It is a great honor to meet you all.”
“I didn’t know I was famous before last night,” Harry said. “I never expected any of this, to tell the truth.”
“A hero, and modest,” the Veela girl said. “Such a rare combination! Your pets are very lucky girls.” Fleur, Hermione thought, help! Unfortunately, their own Veela seemed more amused than anything else. Perhaps she grew up with this sort of thing? I’m glad she’s not jealous, but really... “Vell, I suppose I must be going. It’s lovely to meet you all. I hope ve vill see you on de Veela Packet many times in the future. And, if you need anyt’ing, my name is Signy Stanislavasdottir. Mangen tak!”
As soon as the door was shut behind her, Fleur began to giggle. “She likes you, darling master,” she said. “Understandably so.” She sat down on the bed and hugged Harry. She held him for a few moments, then held him at arm’s length, looking at him, before she hugged him again. This time, she pulled Hermione and Luna into the hug as well.
“Fleur,” Hermione said at last, “why aren’t you upset?”
“Why should I be? I have a wonderful master and t’ree darling pet-sisters. If a silly little chick thinks she can flirt with us... well, what harm is it? Especially when she ‘its our Master ‘Arry wit’ all the allure at her command, and he does not even blink.”
“Oh,” Harry said. “Was that what that was?”
“Yes. She has a fair power, for being only eleven or twelve. But not enough to sway you, our wonderful Master ‘Arry.”
“I didn’t really... I mean, all I noticed was that she seemed to want to talk to me. And I didn’t think any of you seemed interested. If you wanted her... I mean, I suppose we could call her back.”
“No, darling Master,” Fleur said. “Luna, Ginny, ‘Ermione, and you... zat is all I want. If we all agree on some other to share our lives and bed, well, perhaps then. But I do not envision that ‘appening for a long time, if ever. If nothing else, four different people should offer enough variations for anyone.”
The wheels were turning in Hermione’s head. Several seconds later: Oh, that’s what she meant.
“Is something wrong, darling?” Luna said. “Your face is sort of red.”
“Nothing, Luna,” she said. “I’m fine, thank you.” Someday... that sounds really, really nice. Just... not for a while, please?
Fleur squeezed her hand. She looked up; the French girl smiled, as if she understood exactly what Hermione was thinking. “So,” she said, “will we eat? Zese pastries are not French, but zey still look very good.”
Ginny was still asleep; somehow she’d got her arm around Harry’s leg. He stroked her hair. She looks so sweet, Hermione thought.
“I’d let her sleep,” Fleur said, “but we really must be ready to disembark.” She bent down til her lips were next to the redhead’s ear. Very gently, she nuzzled the ear, and whispered something. Ginny wrinkled her nose and pressed her face more tightly into Harry’s lap. Harry smiled peacefully; seconds later, his eyes went wide, as if he’d been reminded of exactly where Ginny’s face was. Fleur shook her shoulder, whispering again.
At last, Ginny opened her eyes. She arched her back. “Good morning,” she murmured. “I love you.” She blushed luridly a few moments later.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” Fleur said, patting her on the head. “Eventually, we will all have to become completely comfortable with each other.”
Good heavens, Hermione thought. She’s right. It hadn’t hit her, before, exactly what that would mean.
“But we will take our time,” Fleur continued. “So... it’s enough for now if we get used to sleeping in the same bed, and being close together. I don’t t’ink zat will be any ‘ardship, will it be?”
“No,” Ginny said. She sat up at last. Harry kept his arm about her. Fleur hugged both of them. Before Hermione knew it, she had her arms about the threesome, and Luna’s fingers were twined with hers as she hugged them from the opposite side.
At last they were sitting together around the tray, eating little cakes and biscuits and tiny pies full of nuts and honey.
Suddenly Hermione realised that there was something entrancing about the biscuit in Harry’s hand. He’d taken a bite, and then Fleur had made a joke, and he’d paused to answer her. It was an ordinary digestive biscuit with chocolate on one side of it... she’d already had one just like it. So, why was it so fascinating? Before she knew what she was doing, she was leaning forward, and Harry’s hand was moving towards her, and she was eating from his fingers. It doesn’t make any sense, but it tastes better like this. She realised she was licking chocolate off his fingers, and blushed.
Harry was blushing as well. Their eyes met. “Thanks,” he said. “That felt, well... nice.”
“Thank you, Master.”
Fleur ruffled her hair. “‘Ermione is a good pet, isn’t she? But, to be fair and kind, per’aps our master should feed ‘is other pets, also?”
Watching Harry feed Luna, Ginny, and Fleur was almost as nice as being fed by him. Luna kissed Harry’s fingers, as well as licking them. After a moment’s surprise, Hermione wished she’d thought to do that, herself.
Fleur glanced at the clock. “We really had better get dressed,” she said. “Even though we’ll ‘ave to get better clothes for our ‘Ermione and our Maître, it simply wouldn’t do to step off the ship in pyjamas.”
“Could I stay in mine?” Luna said. “They really are very comfortable.”
“I don’t think they’ll melt away to nothing when you step off the gangplank, Luna.”
“Well,” Harry said, “does anyone need the toilet, or shall I go ahead and get changed?”
“Would you mind?” Ginny said.
“Of course not.” As it ended up, every girl took a turn. After hers, Hermione sat down with Harry and Ginny on the bed. They didn’t say anything, but after a moment she found herself holding Harry’s hand. Ginny pressed herself up against her other side, and Hermione slipped her arm about the girl’s shoulders. It felt very nice, especially when Luna came out of the bath, sat herself against Harry’s other side, and joined her hand with his and Hermione’s.
“You look so sweet,” Fleur said a few minutes later. “I wish we could simply cuddle back together and sleep. But we really must be ready to disembark. Would you please go to change your clothes, mon cher Maître? Unless you feel ready to change them in the same room with your pets?”
“Umm... not yet?”
Hermione was surprised to realise that the feeling washing through her was as much disappointment as relief. She was so surprised that she didn’t even think about whether Luna was watching her as she changed back into her swimming costume and shirt.
Harry came out, looking very nice despite his worn, ill-fitting clothes. Hermione looked forward to seeing him in clothes that were actually bought for him, or made to his measure. He’d told them a bit about his life with his aunt and uncle, and never having anything to wear but his cousin’s cast-offs. He deserves so much better.
“I hope we can stop being so shy soon,” Luna said. “I’m wearing my favourite knickers today. I’d love for my master to see them.”
“Someday, Luna,” Harry said. “But for now... this is all very new for me. I’ve never had any pets at all before, not even a hamster, much less four wonderful girls. Could you be patient with me, please?”
“Of course, master,” she said, and kissed him softly on the cheek.
Fleur led them up on deck. For a moment there was the same violetish mist all around them. Then scenery began to come into view. Trees and fields, not at all what one expected to see surrounding one when one was standing on the deck of a ship. Then the mist was gone, and they were outside a beautiful chateau, much like some of the ones that Hermione had seen on holiday in the Loire valley.
“Chateau Delacour,” Fleur said. “My ‘ome. And yours, now, also.”
“Fleur,” Harry said, “it’s gorgeous. But... are you sure?”
“Sure zat it’s my ‘ome? Of course. I grew up ‘ere. Sure zat it’s your ‘ome? Of course, also. For are you not my Maître ‘Arry and my lovely pet-sisters?”
“But... won’t your family mind?”
“Of course not, ‘Arry. We are Veela, you see.”
“But... they’ll let me keep you for a pet?”
“But of course. It would be... polite if we did not do ze t’ings zat Luna would wish us to do where my parents and my little sister might see us. But, zat aside... to Veelas, zere is nothing wrong wit’ us being your pets. In fact, by Veela law, we are all engaged.”
“Engaged?” Hermione said. “But... Harry can only marry one of us, can’t he?”
“Not in the Wizarding World,” Luna said. “The Potters are an Old House. When we turn sixteen and three quarters, Harry can marry all of us. Although I, personally, would be quite content to be only known as Harry’s pet, Luna. And Ginevra, Hermione, and Fleur’s pet-sister.”
The gangplank was lowered, and its end rested at the gate of Château Delacour. “Goodbye, Harry Potter and his pets!” the Captain said. “I hope ve vill see you many more times!”
They descended to the ground. The gangplank was pulled in. Before they could step inside the gates, there came a sharp whistle. The Captain’s niece, Signy, was standing on the rail, one hand braced on a ratline. She waved. “Goodbye, Harry Potter and his lovely pets! I hope next time you aren’t so shy and don’t vear de pyyamas!”
“Well, she is a pretty nice girl in the end, isn’t she?” Luna said.
Hermione shook her head. Luna noticed, and stuck out her tongue. It’s an awfully cute tongue, Hermione thought. It might be nice, in a few years, to taste--Stop that!.
Within moments of entering the gates, they were descended on what seemed like a mob of parents and family servants. It took Hermione a moment to realise that they were only Fleur’s parents, a beautiful tall woman who might have passed for her older sister and a handsome man who wore a neat Van Dyke beard, and a middle-aged woman who might have been the archetype of the kindly matron or nursemaid.
After the initial flurry of French, too fast for Hermione to follow, Fleur said “Might we speak English, please? My ‘Ermione has a beautiful accent, but she has not yet learnt so many words of French. And my ‘Arry and our other pet-sisters, they have none at all, yet.”
“But of course, Fleur,” the mother said. “I am Apolline Delacour. And I am very pleased to meet my daughter’s charming little friends.”
“Maman!” Fleur said.
“All right, I am very pleased to meet my daughter’s ‘andsome young Master and ‘er charming pet-sisters. Speaking of which, chérie, shouldn’t you be wearing your collar?”
Fleur blushed. “Sorry, Maman. ‘Arry and ‘Ermione were raised by Muggles, and zey are shy about zese things.”
“Ah. That is too bad, but I’m sure you will be able to work on them.”
“I think we can,” Luna said. “Ginevra and I aren’t shy, are we, sweetheart?” The mad little blonde clasped her redheaded friend’s hand. Ginny blushed and nodded, slightly.
Apolline smiled. “Excellent. Just... please keep your clothes on when we others are about, my dear girls? My ‘usband would be a bit embarassed, and the little Gabrielle is only eight.”
“We will, Auntie,” Luna said. “But could we use your swimming pool, sometimes?”
“But of course, chérie. Fleur’s suite opens onto a lovely little garden with a small pool. A walled, private garden. Please, treat it as if it were your bedroom. But don’t forget your sun-blocking charms. It would be a pity to get the sunburn in embarassing places. Especially when you are too young yet to ‘ave much fun with your Master putting the soothing creams on them.”
Perhaps this is worse than facing my parents would be, Hermione thought. I don’t think they’d encourage me to wear a collar. At least I hope they wouldn’t. She tried not to think of the plush rabbit’s ears and the fluffy tail attached to a belt that she’d found left in the living room one afternoon when she came home from spending the night at a friend’s house. Not to mention the buttons from a Canadian Mountie uniform that were scattered across the floor.
“So, Harry,” Fleur’s father said, “you have kissed my daughter, yes?”
“I haven’t, sir,” Harry said.
“Whyever not? And I am not ‘sir,’ I am Gérard. Oncle Gérard, if that is more comfortable. After all, Harry, you are my son-in-law.”
“Oh,” Harry said.
“In any event, my brave young man, you have joined an exalted fraternity. It is not everyone who is chosen by a Veela! But you must... hold up our side, non? My daughter must be kissed. You are young, yes--I was more than twice your age when my Apolline and I first kissed--but you have valuable friends to help you. These girls whom my daughter has chosen as her female mates and yours, they will have much advice for you. Once Nurse has provided you with a bath and clean clothes, we shall leave you alone until the supper hour, so that you may get to know each other better.”
A bath sounded nice. Clean clothes sounded nice. Having more time alone with Harry and Fleur and Ginny and Luna sounded very nice. Hermione felt completely content as she followed Fleur’s old nurse away, across the courtyard and up a short flight of steps into a round turret. “This is my suite,” Fleur said. “But now it is just as much yours, my darlings.”
“Fleur,” Apolline called out behind them, “could you spare your papa and maman a moment, please?”
“Go on, my loves,” Fleur said. “Nurse will treat you well, non?”
“Ouais, p’tite Fleurette,” Nurse said. “I weel treat zem as eef zey were my own leetle Fleur! Zey weel shine!”
“Nurse...” Fleur said gently, “zey are old enough to scrub zeir own backs.”
“As you wish, chérie.”
She led them through the door and up a circular stair, past a study with an oaken desk and many book-filled shelves that Hermione desperately wanted to look at, past a bedroom with a large canopied bed, and into a bathroom with a huge tub. It's barely short of being a swimming pool, Hermione thought. She'd stayed in some very nice hotels, travelling with her parents, but this was a quantum leap beyond them.
"It's lovely," Hermione said, "Would you like the first turn, Harry?"
"Umm... Why don't you girls go ahead?" Harry said. "I can wait."
Something chimed, and Nurse fished a large, peculiar-looking watch out of her pocket. "Ze little Gabrielle comes 'ome from 'er riding lesson soon, an' I must see to 'er," she said. "I will call ze 'Ouse Elf to 'elp you. Minie! Viens!"
A little creature popped into view. There was no other word for it. One moment there was nothing, and the next moment there was a little wrinkled bat-eared monkey-like being, dressed in a neatly draped toga-like garment, perched on the edge of the bath. "Ouais, Madame la Nourice?" she said.
They spoke in French, too fast and too colloquial for Hermione to follow. At last, the little... person said "Ouais, Madame la Nourice, Minie speaks somewhat ze Anglais. She weel run ze Meess Fleur's new mastaire an' 'er pretty new pet-seesters ze nicest bath! An' she weel get zem ze clean clothes, an' all else zat zey need!"
"Au 'voir, les petits!" Nurse said.
She was out of the room and away before Hermione could think of anything to say. Minie, if that was her name, snapped her fingers, and the tub was quite suddenly full of gently steaming water and sweet-scented soap bubbles. "Zere ees soap an' shampoo there on ze edge of ze bath," she said. "Does ze young Mastaire an' 'is pets want to scrub each ozzer's backs? Or does zey want Minie 'elping zem?"
"Umm... we'll be fine, thank you," Harry said. "I'll... why don't you girls have the first baths?"
"Minie is 'appy zat Meess Fleur 'as a nice Mastaire 'o weel scrub 'er back an 'er pet-seesters'," Minie said. "Minie weel wash ze clothes while young Mastaire an' ze pets are 'aving zeir nice bath." She snapped her fingers again. "Minie is 'appy to serve!" She popped away again, before Hermione could react. Something felt different. Was there a breeze in the room that hadn't been there before?
She looked down at herself. "Oh no!"
"Yes," Luna said. "House Elves are very concerned with propriety, the dear things."
This seemed to need another 1100 words at the end. Click here to read them.