Title: Harry’s Soulmate
Author: Keira Marcos
Beta: Ladyholder & Chris King
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 11,482
Warnings: Off-screen child abuse, discussion of child abuse and violence against a child, bigotry, passing mention of rape, sexual harassment, and explicit language
Author’s Note: You know I hate Ron and Ginny Weasley, right? See Series page for further author notes, warnings, and ratings.
* * * *
After dinner and a conversation with Professor Babbling Harry stripped off all of his clothes and fell into bed.
It wasn’t until the Daily Prophet started to arrive the next morning that Harry remembered that he hadn’t told Hermione about the Death Eater in the Ministry or his having taken said Death Eater down. He scowled into his teacup and wondered just how bad the headline would be. Maybe… maybe his Dad was able to prevent anyone from talking about it. Beside him, Hermione unrolled her copy of the Prophet and went rigid with outrage.
LORD POTTER SAVES FATHER’S LIFE!
DEATH EATER ALGERNON ROOKWOOD CAPTURED IN MINISTRY BY MINISTER’S SON.
“Harry James Potter!” Hermione shouted. “You! You! How could you not tell me you and your Father were attacked by a Death Eater?”
He opened his mouth to defend himself but a little boom from the front of the room caused everyone to turn to look at the Headmaster. The elderly wizard cast a sonorous charm.
“Good morning, most of you have seen the headlines this morning. Lord Potter was visiting his father in his new office yesterday morning when an individual who worked in the Department of Mysteries drew his wand on the new Minister. There was no duel. But, Lord Potter did disarm Mr. Rookwood before he could do any harm. Aurors arrested Rookwood and shortly thereafter Lord Potter returned to school for classes. I trust that you will all give Lord Potter all due consideration concerning this matter. Thank you.”
Harry turned to Hermione. “I forgot.”
“You forgot you disarmed a Death Eater,” Hermione repeated. “Honestly, that is the most… ridiculous thing I’ve never heard and that’s saying something!”
“It just totally slipped my mind. Wizard’s honor,” he promised.
“How is that even possible?” Hermione complained.
“You were wearing that jumper I’m pretty sure you bought in fourth year. The really form fitting one,” Harry said. “And the shorter uniform skirt. I’m only human.”
“That jumper is pretty distracting,” Seamus acknowledged and grinned when they both glared at him.
“I bought it this year,” Hermione said sharply. “But accidently shrank it a little with a drying charm. I spilled some water on it. I didn’t think it was that obvious.”
“It fits… very well,” Harry said diplomatically and focused on his eggs when she glared at him.
“Did anything else happen while you were in the Ministry,” Hermione asked pointedly.
“Dawlish tried to accuse me of killing Umbridge.”
Neville scoffed. “You were in school and besides and you aren’t the kind to hire someone to do your work for you.”
“Well, there is really no need to waste perfectly good gold on a hit wizard,” Harry agreed. “Unless my prey needs to be hunted down and brought to me for processing. I get quite busy, you see and often I don’t have the time to traipse all over the planet searching for a person.” He grinned when Neville nodded solemnly. “You’re like my brother from another mother, Neville.”
“The Prophet says some Ministry employees are speculating about your animagus form because your face changed and your eyes changed colors,” Astoria said and looked at him. “Are you an animagus?”
“It’s a secret,” Harry said gravely and grinned when she huffed at him. “I’m registered with the ICW but only four people have seen my form so far. My father, his partner, my Uncle Remus, and the wizard who registered me with the International Confederation of Wizards.”
“Why is it a secret?”
“Mostly because it annoyed the crap out of practically everyone in the British Ministry when I registered with the ICW. The French couldn’t care less but Fudge and his cronies were very interested in finding out my form.”
“You’re a magical creature,” Hermione guessed. “Basilisk, viper, anaconda?”
“Good guesses and very common for parselmouths but no.” Harry watched her process that.
Hermione held out her hand to Astoria and the first year promptly put the paper in her hand. He didn’t have to wait long. Her mouth ever so slowly dropped open as she read the anonymous account of one of the people present in the office. She carefully folded the paper and turned to him. “You have to show me right now.”
Harry laughed and wrapped an arm around her. He kissed her temple. “Yeah, let’s go outside.”
Hermione hopped right up, snagged his hand and all but dragged him from the table. He wasn’t at all surprised when most of their house followed suit. They still had almost forty-five minutes before their first class. She led him out to the training field and put her hands on her hips. “Well?”
Harry grinned at her. “You’re adorable. Don’t ever change—not for love, money, or magic.”
“No distracting me, Potter.” She waved a finger at him.
He dropped his bag on the lawn, walked out into the center of the training field to give himself room and did a half turn on his heel—reminiscent of apparition—then shifted in a sweep of smoky grey magic. In its wake, a dragon was left behind—inky black hide, vivid purple eyes, seven meters in length. He lay down on his belly and tucked his tail when more than one first year darted forward to touch him. He knew most of them would never ever get anywhere near a real dragon so he endured the attention for a few minutes before Hermione made them back off.
She regarded him with a little amused grin. “Hebridean Black. This gives new meaning to that whole taking a ride business, you know.”
Harry snorted at her and prodded her with his snout. Then he carefully stood, backed away from her and launched himself into the sky. He landed after only ten minutes, far more gracefully than he had the first half dozen times he’d tried and snorted out smoke at his Aunt Min and the Headmaster.
Minerva huffed and walked boldly over to him. She caught his snout in her hand and tilted his head so she could review his features critically. “Open.”
He obligingly showed her his teeth.
“Can you breathe fire,” she asked seriously.
Harry backed away from her, giving himself plenty of room as his animagus form innately gathered the fire roiling in his belly. He lifted his head and let fire fill of his mouth as he braced himself. Harry roared and fire burst out of him in a ten-meter arc through the air above the training yard. He did it again before he banked the fire and focused on his professor. He threw open his wings, demonstrating his control over them, and buried his feet in the ground slightly to prevent any lift. His magic stirred in his core and shuddered over his skin as his wings swept through the air repeatedly.
Minerva nodded. “Alright then, let me see you change back.”
Harry shifted on his feet, took another ten steps backwards, and let his magic rush upward as he reached out for his human body. His magic retreated back in his core with a little swoosh. He glanced at Hermione and turned to Minerva. “Still not impressed.”
Hermione crossed her arms. “I’ve seen a dragon before.”
Minerva sighed. “You poor lad.”
* * * *
“Wards are classified by the method by which they are powered,” Babbling began. “Mr. Malfoy, name three methods by which a ward can be powered.”
“Runic ward stones, a magical core tether, and magic captured in a focus object such as a jewel or a magical metal.”
“Five points,” Babbling said as she flicked her wand toward the black board and Malfoy’s answer was transcribed for the rest of the class. “Miss McGonagall, what qualities make a metal magical?”
“The ability to both absorb and retain magic for an indefinite period of time. Metals and objects that can hold magic for short periods of time are considered semi-magical.”
“What purpose would a semi-magical object have?”
“A limited use portkey,” Hermione said. “International portkeys are often two-way trips and a semi-magical object is used because they are less expensive. A non-magical object like a shoe or a newspaper can be used for one-trip portkeys.”
“Excellent, five points to Gryffindor. Lord Potter, name the seven magical and three semi-magical metals.”
“There are four natural magical metals: mithril, eridium, titanium, and adamantite. Silver, gold, and platinum can be made to be genuinely magical if they are wrought with dverger magic.” Harry set aside his quill as he spoke. “Dverger-wrought brass, bronze, and steel are semi-magical.”
“Very good, five points to Gryffindor. Other than portkeys, what other purposes do magical metals have, Miss Parkinson?”
Babbling nodded and waited a few seconds before frowning slightly. “Miss Greengrass? Uses for magical metals?”
“Family and betrothal rings, spell stores, holsters, weapons, athames, ritual chalices, cauldrons, patens, and pensieves.”
“Take five points, Miss Greengrass. Mr. Nott do you know the use of magical metal in the creation of pensieves?”
Nott nodded. “Pensieves are shaped from stone which is semi-magical. In order for a pensieve to maintain its purpose long term, the runic master uses mithril or dverger-wrought platinum to create a magical latticework within the stone to allow the placement of the spell work that creates the pensieve itself. Though the projection pensieve uses a stone basin and a shallow mithril bowl.”
“Good, five points.” She paused. “Lord Potter, you carry an athame.”
Harry paused only briefly before pulling it from the holster he’d secured inside his left boot. He placed the ritual knife on the desk in front of him. Since the class was arranged in a semi-circle around the professor’s desk, everyone had a decent view of it. “Yes, ma’am, it was a gift for my sixteenth birthday.”
“Are you comfortable discussing the origin and purpose of your athame?” Babbling asked.
“It was originally crafted in Japan roughly two thousand years ago,” Harry began. “The blade is mithril. The cross guard is dverger-wrought platinum. The pummel was carved from a branch of an ancient cherry blossom tree. The tree still stands on my mentor’s property. The holster I keep it in is the skin of an Okinawa habu which is one of the most poisonous snakes in Japan.”
She cleared her throat. “And why that particular holster?”
“There are only two types of snake skin that could contain this athame. One is basilisk and the other is the one I’m using. The athame was imbued with magical snake venom several centuries ago. I’m the first to be able to carry it safely since that time.”
“And it’s safe for you, why?” Babbling asked, shocked.
“I’m immune. Don’t worry; I had it spelled so only I can touch it. No one in this school except for the Headmaster is capable of breaking the enchantment on it.”
Babbling immediately stepped forward and leaned in to get a better luck. “This is your rune work then?”
Harry ran his finger along the blade. “This is mine.” He pointed out four more lines. “These are the work of my mentor.” He turned the blade over. “These were all done when the mithril was originally shaped.”
“Fascinating,” she murmured. “The holster?”
Harry reached down, pulled the holster free from the sticking charm on the inside of his boot, and placed the holster on the desk beside the knife. “An Okinawa habu is a pit viper and varies in color. The one that provided the skin for my holster was varying shades of green. He was quite beautiful actually. Cunning and very magical.”
“Did you kill him?” Hermione asked quietly.
He looked at her startled but was rather relieved to see curiosity with no obvious sign of judgment. “No, I’ve only ever killed one snake in my life and she gave me no choice.” He touched the holster. “This guy was a resident of my mentor’s garden. He came to me one day about two years ago while I was trying to meditate and told me he was going to pass soon. He asked to travel to Paris with me when I left Japan and I agreed. He lived another six weeks and shortly before he went to sleep that final time he asked me to take his skin after he died so he would have purpose after he was gone. I kept it until this summer when I found an honorable purpose for it. I donated the rest of his remains to the Foundation. He was quite valuable both in life and death.”
* * * *
Harry carefully cracked open the firebox and the magical fire inside died. He vanished the pieces and set Godric on the grass. He hadn’t wanted the snake to wake up—confined in any form. Harry drew his blackwood wand, set it on the vivid green grass, and settled down on his side beside the snake. He propped his head up on one hand and picked up the wand. He let his magic wash over the snake—checking Godric’s magic and organs. Nearly all of the damage had been healed.
“Wake up, lad.”
Godric coiled into a little circle and hissed non-sense. Then he rapidly grew in size—expanding to the size of an adult viper. “Our females?”
“The Queen is in the library and Rowena is guarding her. I don’t trust all of the wizards in the castle with her.” Harry ran his hand over Godric’s head. “Feel better?”
“Yes, much better. Strong now. Fierce.” Godric exclaimed and expanding again—hitting the high end of a python’s size.
“Easy. I know he had you restricted so you couldn’t get too big for him to physically control,” Harry said as he continued to pet him. “I’d never do that to you but I also need you to stay a manageable size unless a larger size would benefit your safety or the safety of others.”
“I understand Master Harry,” Godric said and slowly shrank down until he was just as little as Rowena nearly always was—slightly thicker than Harry’s pinky finger and about nine inches long.
“He broke your ability to bond,” Harry said sadly. ”I can feel it.”
”I can’t start a bond but you can,” Godric said. “I wish to stay with you and Queen and the pretty Rowena.”
“You don’t have to bond with me to stay with me,” Harry said. “There are other snakes in my household who aren’t bound to me.”
“I feel them in your magic,” Godric admitted. “I wish to bond but if you don’t want me because I’m damaged—I understand.”
“Hey, absolutely none of that,” Harry admonished. “My first years in this world were much like yours. I was held against my will, mistreated, tortured, subjugated, and underfed. I just want to make sure you really want it.”
“I do. I want to be safe from other speakers. You keep me safe.”
“I will,” Harry agreed. He reached out with his magic and fire licked over Godric’s skin. The snake began to writhe in the grass as Harry sat up. He picked the viper up and let the snake’s fire trail down his arm as he continued to push magic into Godric.
The bond flared between them—strong, vibrant, masculine, and a little rough. It was nothing like the careful touch of Rowena’s mind or the unconditional love that he received from Hedwig. Harry rolled to his feet. He set his feet and Godric spun out of his hand in a roar of magical fire. He whipped out, expanding to the size of the ancient basilisk that Harry had faced in the Chamber, and circled around Harry in the middle of the quidditch pitch. The snake shrank down a little, swept Harry up and they flashed from one end of the pitch to the other in a swirl of magical fire.
They made ten hops across the pitch that way before Harry broke free from the snake with a laugh. Harry ran across the pitch cast a banishing charm at the viper, which had him lifting off the ground. Godric flashed away and reappeared directly in front of Harry. Godric caught him and fire travelled repeatedly around the pitch, barely letting Harry catch his breath before he was flashing away again.
After nearly 30 minutes, they returned to the place where they’d started and Harry sank to his knees, breathless with laughter and thrilled beyond any measure of it. “That was bloody awesome.” He sprawled out on the pitch and Godric curled up on his breastbone. “You okay?”
Godric hissed contentedly. “Brilliant. Your magic is amazing.”
Harry turned his head and was greeted with a pair of little feet, pretty expanse of legs and Hermione huffed at him so he stopped his inspection of her lower attributes and looked up to her face. “Hey.”
“What was that?” Hermione demanded. “Astoria came running to get me because you were out here being… you!”
“Godric and I bonded,” Harry said quietly. Her face softened. “He’s older—already three years old. We had to attune our magic. This was the fastest way. Rowena is growing into my magic, even with your little push; she’s still very much a baby. Godric is an adult and his magic was subjugated for so long. We both had to stretch our legs so to speak to accomplish a bond. Also, that arsehole Hutchinson broke Godric’s natural ability to bond so I had to start it. We both got a little high on the rush of that.”
“What happened to Hutchinson?” Hermione asked as she sat down on the pitch beside him.
“He’s dead,” Harry said simply.
She opened her mouth but then closed it. She looked around the pitch. “Well, at least you didn’t catch this place on fire. Katie was worried sick that you might.” She inclined her head towards the stands and Harry spotted about twenty students meandering around on or near them. “She had all the first years trying to conjure water just in case.”
Harry laughed. “Sorry. I didn’t scare you, did I?”
“No, Godric wouldn’t hurt you.” She plucked Rowena from her neck and placed her next to Godric on Harry’s chest. The two snakes intertwined and started to hiss at each other. “You tell him she’s not quite ready for sex.”
Harry grinned at her. “I think he’ll wait until she’s ready. He’d never want to hurt her.”
Hermione blushed. “Right.”
“You’re gorgeous,” Harry said. “You really do it for me, you know.”
“I… I never thought I was all that pretty but it’s nice to know you think that,” Hermione said.
“You consider Neville Longbottom an honest man, right?”
“He says you are one of the prettiest witches in this school, Hermione. You’re really truly beautiful inside and out. You have a great body and an amazing smile. Your eyes practically shine with magic. In the Muggle world, you could be on the covers of magazines if you wanted it.” He smiled when she looked away from him. Godric and Rowena wrapped around his neck, still intertwined. “Wanna go for a ride?”
“Harry!” Hermione admonished. “I don’t even know how to take that at all now!”
“I have my broom in my pocket,” Harry said with a laugh. He pulled it out and resized it as he stood. Harry held out a hand and helped her stand. “I’m not sure of my ability to fly in my form with a passenger. I’d never risk your life with it unless I literally had no choice.”
He slid astride the broom and she gamely slipped on behind him. Hermione wrapped her arms around his waist, clenched her thighs around his hips, and he exhaled sharply as he shot up in the air. Her little scream wasn’t a deterrent at all since she pressed fully against his back, completely relaxed. Her trust was intoxicating. He turned them over in a series of tight rolls as he shot up vertically and she laughed in surprise and delight.
She let him play for nearly 30 minutes before she patted his side to let him know she was done. Harry took them down to the ground in a slow descent, aware that approaching the ground made her a little tense. He offered her his hand and helped her slide off. “Quidditch practice starts about ten minutes. Katie said just an hour tonight.”
Hermione moved in close and pressed her mouth against his. It was a soft, sweet and practically chaste kiss but it made his stomach tighten with excitement all the same. “Be safe and don’t forget we have Astronomy Practical two hours.”
* * * *
Hermione entered the Gryffindor tower and made to cross the common room for the stairs leading to the girl’s dorms. Ginny met her at the bottom of the stairs and followed her up to the sixth girl’s dorm silently.
“Something wrong?” Hermione asked.
“A lot,” Ginny said. “Look, I don’t know what kind of curse or potion you’re using on Potter but you’ve got to stop before you get caught, Hermione. Using stuff like that on a titled noble is just dumb. I thought you were smarter than that.”
Hermione put her bag down on her desk and turned to Ginny with a frown. “I’m not using anything on Harry, Ginny.”
“Of course you are,” Ginny snapped. “Why else would he be with you? Look, I get it. He’s gorgeous, rich, and brilliant. I’m sure plenty of witches have considered a little potion help to get him but if you get caught, Hermione, you’ll go to prison. Not even McGonagall could protect you from that. Especially now that Sirius Black is the Minister for Magic. I heard he was so distracted by you in Arithmancy yesterday that the teacher noticed. Everyone knows that kind of behavior is the result of a potion. His studies are very important to him and the teachers are going to start to notice that he’s been potioned.”
Hermione huffed. “I haven’t used a potion on Harry, Ginny. Is it really so difficult for you to believe that he likes me and finds me attractive?”
“Yes,” Ginny said bluntly. “You’re plain and ordinary. You’re not athletic at all. He dated a Veela over the summer. You’re a prude and a virgin. You told me you were going to save yourself marriage—which is stupid but whatever.”
“I’m not actually,” Hermione said. “A virgin, a mean. I handled that little problem over the summer.” She smirked a little when Ginny’s mouth dropped open. “And I didn’t have to get my parents to arrange it for me.” The door opened and Lavender entered with Fay. “But then I guess if you aren’t capable of seducing a teenage boy on your own that it’s perfectly okay to get your parents to basically hire someone to fuck you. As to the other, Harry thinks I’m beautiful. I really don’t care what you or anyone else thinks about it. He was staring at me in Arithmancy because he likes my tits.” Her gaze dropped to Ginny’s flat chest. “I mean, he really likes my tits. That’s why he goes so fast when he takes me for rides on his broom. So I’ll plaster myself to his back and my breasts rub against him the whole time.”
“She does have some really nice breasts,” Lavender said with a laugh. “High, a nice handful, and firm—even without a support charm. Hermione has a great shape—like a woman instead of a boy.” Her gaze drifted over Ginny’s athletic but distinctly uncurvy body. “A lot of the boys have noticed how she’s filled out from last year.”
Hermione blushed and laughed. “You’re the one that’s all curvy with your hourglass shape. Seamus actually ran into the wall watching you yesterday.”
Lavender grinned. “Yes, well, I’m not the one that Potter said he could make a meal out of. That was you.”
Ginny scoffed. “He didn’t say that to her. No way. I mean look at her.”
Fay huffed. “Listen, Weasley, I’ve just had enough of your mouth. Hermione is worth ten of you and you know damn well how Lord Potter views her. He told you in the common room—he’s utterly taken with her. He’s courting her. I don’t know if he came here to meet her but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that were the case.”
“She accused me of using a potion on Harry,” Hermione said quietly.
Fay glared at Ginny. “You’d better not be spreading that sort of shite around, Ginerva. Hermione is an honorable and proper witch. She doesn’t need to potion or curse a man to get his attention. If you think that Harry Potter is the only wizard in this place who wants her—you’re just stupid. Also, I’m pretty tired of this conversation altogether. Your repeated attempts to demean and insult my friend are pissing me off. Get out of our room—you’re not welcome in here anymore.”
* * * *
Hermione rushed through the castle, heading straight toward her mother’s quarters. She’d made a point of sleeping in her dorm, though after her adoption the castle had added another room to the Deputy Headmistresses suite for Hermione’s use. The portrait opened for her immediately. Her mother was in a small office near the back of the suite of room grading essays.
“Ginny accused me of potioning Harry,” Hermione blurted out.
Minerva frowned and set aside what she was doing. “In public or in private?”
“Private. She couched it like she was trying to talk me out of doing it before I get caught.” Hermione twisted her fingers together. “She didn’t ask me if I was doing it. She acted like it was a proven matter—like I was doing it and it was her job to stop me.”
Minerva sighed. “This is not good.”
Hermione nodded. “If she’s already told her father or her brother, Percy, what she thinks she knows… you know I didn’t.”
“I know very well you didn’t,” Minerva said. “Love potions don’t work on a wizard or witch who has a living soulmate, Hermione. Even if someone did potion him—his magic would shed it like a duck sheds water. He’s an accomplished Occlumens and can even fight off the Imperious. No behavioral modification spell would have any sort of sway on him.”
“Emmie told us he was immune the allure of a Veela,” Hermione said.
“Most men who practice Occlumency seriously are,” Minerva explained. “Though I imagine Lord Black instructed his son in the art to protect his mind from dark wizards and especially dementors.”
“I’d like to learn,” Hermione said.
“And you will.” Minerva stood and went to her floo. She threw powder in it. “Molly Weasley!”
The woman’s face appeared in the green fire in about a minute. “Minerva.” The woman smiled. “Hi, Hermione, dear, how are you?”
“A little upset but okay,” Hermione murmured. She rubbed her arms.
“Ginerva accused her of giving Harry Potter potions,” Minerva said shortly. “The implications are not to be taken lightly. She’s insulted the honor of my daughter and the integrity of the House of Ross.”
Molly frowned. “Why would she accuse Hermione of something like that?”
“Ginny’s of the mind that…” Hermione flushed and sat down in a chair in defeat. “She says I’m plain and boring and basically implied that I’m too frigid to get any boy’s attention much less one of Harry’s social status. She’s always said that I was… unattractive but I’ve heard that my whole life so it doesn’t bother me.”
Molly huffed. “You might have been a bit awkward in your first year, dear, but you are a very lovely young woman. You’ve an attractive figure, a pretty face, and you do really well with your hair these days. You’re extremely powerful magically and so very smart. Any wizard would be lucky to have you.”
“Harry said I was elegant,” Hermione whispered. “I never thought a boy would say that about me. I mean—I always figured I’d eventually have a boyfriend and in the future husband. I know I’m not ugly. It’s really flattering that Harry finds all of me attractive—not just my intelligence or my body but all of me combined.” Her voice shook as she finished. “I never really expected that. I just hoped I could find a man that would respect me for what I had to offer intellectually. One that would overlook that I’m not beautiful.”
Molly sighed. “Minerva could you ask Bill to floo me?”
“I don’t know why Ginny and Ron are so invested—so focused on Harry,” Hermione said. “I mean—yes he’s famous and wealthy but he’s genuinely modest about it. There are others who are just as wealthy as he is who flaunt it with silk robes and thousands of galleons worth of jewelry. Lavender thinks that Ginny asked Harry to open her in the middle of the common room. I mean… she asked him in the middle of the common room not that she suggested that they have sex there.” She flushed. “They said Harry was absolutely furious with her.”
“She did,” Molly acknowledged. “And he was so furious he reported it to his father immediately. It is just one of many things I need to speak to Ginerva about.”
“I’ve always tried to be her friend,” Hermione said hoarsely. “Especially after her first year when… I tried to ask the twins and Percy if she was okay but no one took my worry seriously. I felt so guilty for not pushing it more, for not helping her until it was almost too late.”
* * * *
“Enough,” Harry snapped. Godric was blazing on his wrist. “How bloody dare you! If it weren’t for Hermione you’d be dead, you vicious child.” He ignored the arrival of Hermione, her mother, and Bill Weasley. “You’d have died in the Chamber of Secrets if she hadn’t followed you down there!”
“Hermione didn’t do anything!” Ginny shouted. “Ron was knocked out and Hermione doesn’t even remember what happened! The snake just disappeared!”
“I killed that twice-damned snake!” Harry shouted. “Disappear? You think a thousand year old basilisk weighing a metric ton just disappeared? Fawkes brought me the Chamber and I shoved the Sword of Gryffindor through its head!”
“Fawkes brought you to save me?” Ginny asked shocked.
“No, you silly little girl,” Harry snapped. “Fawkes brought into the Chamber to save Hermione! I didn’t even know your bloody name.”
The silence that followed that statement was deafening.
“Merlin,” Fay said softly. “Oh, she’s your…”
“Don’t,” Harry snapped. “Don’t say it, Fay.”
Fay flushed and averted her gaze. “I’m sorry, my Lord.”
“She’s his what?” Ginny demanded. “How did you even know who Hermione was when you were twelve? That doesn’t even make any sense!”
“She’s his soulmate,” Bill said quietly.
Harry flinched and glared outright at the curse breaker.
Neville Longbottom drew his wand. “Let the knowledge that Hermione Isobel McGonagall and Harry James Potter are fated magical soulmates be the secret of our House until it is known by the world.”
Seamus swallowed hard and pulled his wand. “Our secret.” He touched his wand to Neville’s.
“Our secret,” Lavender said. Her wand joined theirs.
“Our secret,” Fay agreed.
The first years fell over themselves to join in. One by one everyone in the House touched Neville’s wand in turn. Even Ron stepped forward and did it—wide-eyed with shock. Then only Ginny remained.
“That’s just… impossible,” Ginny snapped. “She’s a Muggle-born.”
“My mother was Muggle-born,” Harry responded evenly. “My parents were soulmates. Everyone knows that. It’s carved into their head stone.”
“Ginny accept the House oath,” Bill said lowly. He stepped forward and touched his Neville’s wand. “Our secret.”
“I won’t do it,” Ginny scoffed. “It’s nonsense.”
“Everyone knows that Harry Potter visited the Book of Souls.” Bill turned, pointed his wand at his sister and spoke in a low confident tone, “You’ll take the vow or I’ll obliviate you.”
Ginny removed her wand from her robe pocket, obviously shocked, carefully put it to Neville’s. “Our secret.” A golden glow swept through the room sealing the magical oath.
“Thank you all for your loyalty and courage,” Minerva said carefully. “If you’d excuse us—Lord Potter, Ginerva—we need to speak with you privately.”
Harry allowed Hermione take his hand as Godric’s fire flickered out. They were lead through the school to the Headmaster’s office. Harry wasn’t at all surprised to find his father already there. Molly and Arthur Weasley were a slight surprise. Amelia Bones was completely unexpected.
“Mi,” Harry began. “I’m really sorry. She… she suggested that I go to the infirmary and be checked for potions. I lost my temper like an idiot.”
“It’s okay, Harry,” she murmured. “A part of me is kind of glad they all know.” She glared briefly at Ginny as the two of them settled onto a sofa in the grouping of chairs.
Harry nodded and turned to Amelia Bones. “Not to be rude, Director Bones, but is there a reason why the Head of the DMLE is here?”
“My office received a complaint roughly sixteen hours after your father was elected minister accusing Hermione McGonagall of giving you love potions,” Amelia explained. She pulled out a piece of parchment. “It was unsigned but upon investigation, Head Auror Shacklebolt was able to determine that it was delivered by one of Hogwart’s owls. I didn’t see the complaint myself until a few hours ago and I went to your father immediately with it. I’m obligated to have you examined, Lord Potter.”
Harry exhaled sharply and glared at her. “If I refuse?”
“Refuse?” Amelia asked blankly. “Why would you refuse? I have no doubts of Miss McGonagall’s innocence and the scan won’t hurt you.”
“I won’t be subjected to any magic by an employee of the British Ministry of Magic,” Harry said shortly. “With my father being the obvious exception. You’re clearly insulted by the implications of my position but that is the way it is. I don’t trust you. I don’t trust anyone that works for you.” He averted his gaze and Rowena slithered off Hermione and retreated into Harry’s shirtsleeve. Godric followed her, leaving Harry’s wrist with a flick of his tail. They both emerged at this collar and wrapped protectively around his neck. “I’d consent to Poppy Pomfrey performing the charm on me. But if you point your wand at me, Madam Bones, I’ll probably lose my temper with you.”
“May I ask what I did to make you distrust me so?” Amelia asked quietly.
“You did nothing for years while Fudge ran this country into the ground and that is crime enough,” Harry said shortly. He focused on the fire when she paled in shock. “You’ll have to earn my trust, Madam Bones, just like everyone else. You could start with asking Ginny why she sent that complaint to the DMLE.”
Ginny glared at him when everyone turned toward her. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? You could have witch in this castle and you bound yourself up in a courting period with Hermione of all people. The only thing that makes any sort of sense is that she potioned you.”
“My god, Ginny,” Hermione whispered. “Why do you hate me? What have ever done to you but try to be your friend?”
“I don’t hate…” She trailed off because Harry Potter had his wand pointed at her.
“Why don’t you try telling the truth for a change,” he snapped. ”Vera loquar aut non loqui.” A dark blue bolt of magic left his wand and hit her in the chest.
“Relax mum,” Bill said and put his hand on his mother’s arm when she started to stand. “It was just an honesty hex. Granted, it was a very powerful honesty hex but nothing more than that.”
“Why do you hate me?” Hermione demanded.
“You don’t know your place,” Ginny snapped. “You’re too smart and you use magic effortlessly. It’s disgusting that someone like you has that kind of command of magic. You don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve him either.”
“Because he’s famous and rich,” Hermione surmised. “What do you know about Harry Potter?”
“He’s the Boy-Who-Lived,” Ginny said and didn’t notice the way Harry actually flinched away from her words. “He likes Quidditch. He has homes all over the world and is one of the ten wealthiest wizards alive.”
“No, Ginny, don’t quote his bleeding Witch Weekly bio. What do you know about Harry?”
“I…” Ginny frowned.
“That’s right. You don’t know him. What do you know about me?”
“Your parents are Muggles who apparently didn’t beat you enough,” Ginny said snidely. “You hate to fly. You hate Quidditch. Half the boys in the school look at you like they want to get in your knickers and you don’t even notice them. You don’t use glamour charms because you don’t have to. I’m so jealous of you I can’t even stand to look at you sometimes. You don’t even care about how famous Harry is.”
“You’re right and you’re wrong. I don’t care for his fame. I do, however, care a great deal about why he’s famous. His parents were murdered, Ginny. His mother sacrificed herself for him. That’s why he’s famous and it’s disgusting that you think that sort of fame is… is something that any decent person would want.”
Ginny rolled her eyes and turned her head so she didn’t have to look at either one of them.
“Would you feel the same if I were a pure-blood?” Hermione asked.
“At least then you’d be worthy of marriage to a Peer of the Realm,” Ginny snapped.
Glass shattered all over the room and Sirius Black surged to his feet. He stunned his own son without hesitation and exhaled sharply as Hermione caught Harry with an outraged look in his direction.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Sirius said tiredly. “The last time he genuinely lost his temper he cracked the foundation of our townhouse in Paris and forced down six hundred year old anti-apparition wards that to this day will submit to him without any sort of protest. He chain-apparated halfway to Scotland in seconds and Dobby barely caught up with him in time to contain him. If he’d gotten here—he would have murdered Viktor Krum right in front of the entire bloody school.” Sirius huffed. “He chain-apparated before he was taught to apparate at all. I had to get him a bloody tutor and an International license to avoid the ten thousand galleon fine and him losing the right to apparate legally for a decade.”
Hermione’s mouth firmed up. “From what I’ve been told—Viktor had it coming.” She cradled Harry’s head with gentle hands. “I can’t believe you stunned him. Sixteen years of parenthood and that’s your go to solution?”
Sirius grinned at her. “Simple is best.” He turned to Arthur with a grave expression. “This is intolerable, Arthur. You need to figure out what is going on with your family.”
“I can help with that,” Bill said quietly. “I questioned Ron about the thing with Hermione and Ginny as well. Ron admitted that he tried to use love potions on Hermione several times fourth and fifth but they never seemed to work on her. Percy gave them to him because Ron figured she’d make a decent house wife when he was ready to settle down.” He winced at Minerva’s outraged gasp. “Moreover, Percy encouraged Ginny to ask Harry to open her. They were going to give her fertility potions so that she’d get pregnant and Harry would be forced to marry her.”
Sirius grimaced. “They’re idiots. I would’ve never allowed that. I could’ve easily filed charges against her for breach of trust and line theft.” He turned to look at Ginny, who paled. “You’d do well to remember that, girl. I’d never allow anyone to force my son to marry anyone—not for any reason. An out of wedlock child could easily be magically adopted into a family—negating the need for a marriage.”
“Why?” Molly asked. “Why would you agree to do something like this, Ginny?”
“He has a lot of money,” Ginny said simply. “More he has a lot of social and political power. There are people in the Ministry that are furious he claimed his title so young and that his father has isolated him so much that no one has had the chance to influence him to their way of thinking. His opinions about equality among magicals are very unpopular with some people. Percy has been working with them since he joined the Ministry. Fudge’s death will probably set them back but not for long. Potter’s power needs to be controlled and distributed in a manner that benefits the old families.
“What and who he wants is inconsequential. If it’s not me—it’ll be another pure-blood witch. They’ll never allow him to marry Hermione. She’s too smart. Of course, they really have no idea. It hasn’t crossed their minds that Harry is just as smart and he’s well-versed in pure-blood history and politics. They really aren’t prepared for him,” Ginny said coolly. “Which just makes him more attractive, really, and Granger even less worthy of him.”
Godric swept off Harry’s neck in a rush of fire, grew eight feet and coiled in front of Hermione. His hood snapped open and he hissed so loud it was like a scream.
Ginny stumbled out of her chair and scrambled towards the door.
“Godric,” Hermione chided. “Come here.” She held out her hand. The snake turned, his hood closing, he nudged her hand and curled around her arm as he shrank down to his small size. She offered the still fire-lit snake her neck and it wrapped around her with a little contented hiss.
Bill exhaled sharply. “Merlin.”
“I considered that for his name,” Hermione admitted. “But I figured I’d follow the theme. Harry named the female after Rowena Ravenclaw.”
“Lord Potter allowed you to name his familiar?” Amelia Bones asked, shocked.
“Just this guy,” she patted Godric. “He already had the other two when we met.” She paused. “Though it is interesting that he named his other two familiars after two of the most intelligent witches to ever live. Rowena Ravenclaw and Hedwig Fromm, the progenitor of modern Runic Casting. Both witches were lauded as the brightest witches of their generation.”
Amelia laughed. “Much like you.”
Hermione blushed and shrugged. Ginny huffed. Hermione turned to her with a glare. “Oh, get over yourself, Ginerva. He wants me. Not you. He’s going to marry me one day. You’re not, by the way, invited to the wedding.” She pulled her wand. “Rennervate.” Harry shifted against her. “Come on, Harry, we’re leaving.”
“Merlin, Dad, you stunned me,” Harry complained as he was urged to his feet. He offered his father a glare even as his girlfriend manhandled him towards the door. “You’re surprisingly strong for a girl.”
“You destroyed the Headmaster’s toys,” Sirius said dryly.
Hermione pointed her wand at the shelves and hit the whole thing with a silent reparo charm. Everything righted itself, snapping back together with a little tinkling of glass.
“That’s hot,” Harry admitted. “Silent casting. I’m going to buy you so many diamonds the first time you do magic silent and wandless.”
“Challenge accepted,” Hermione said. “We’ll be in the infirmary getting Harry checked over for potions. Madam Pomfrey will send you a report, Director Bones.” She sent a stinging hex at Ginny without another word and the girl yelped and grabbed her face. “That was for calling me Granger, you vicious little bitch. You’ll respect my mother in word and deed or suffer for it.”
Harry glanced between them. “I’ve got some really pretty pearls in my vault in Paris—black ones from Australia. They aren’t set in anything.” He wrapped an arm around her. “What’s your waist measurement?”
“Twenty three inches. Why?”
“In the Paris clubs, witches started wearing little chains around their waists—usually anchored with a little jewel of some kind—hmmm, a black diamond. We’d have to buy that. That would look great on you. Of course, you’d really need some white or maybe red dragon hide trousers to set that off. We should talk to Star and get you some clothes for Yule break—I’ll take you dancing in Paris. How do you feel about corsets? I think they’re really hot.”
“Sounds lovely,” Hermione said as she pulled him towards the door. “You’re a little punch drunk aren’t you, from being stunned?”
“You get hit with an Auror grade stunner and see how well you do,” Harry muttered. “Not that I’d let anyone do that to you. I’d totally kick their arse.”
“I’ll try a corset,” she agreed. “But if it’s uncomfortable you can just cherish the memory of me trying it on forever.”
“Brilliant, magical corsets are charmed for comfort. We can get three or four…maybe ten. They look good with jeans, you know. So it’s not like I’m asking to see you mostly naked. Though I’m totally not opposed to that. Because I don’t know if I’ve ever actually said this, but you’ve got a smoking hot body.”
“Harry James, not in front of my mother,” Hermione admonished as she pulled the door shut behind them.
Minerva sighed and shared a look with Molly before turning to Sirius. “Harry and Hermione’s secret is now a House secret. We walked in on Harry and Ginny arguing—it came out in the discussion. Neville Longbottom initiated a House-wide vow of secrecy.”
“Shite,” Sirius muttered.
Dobby popped into the room. “Master Harry says the honesty hex will fade in one year. Girl Wheezy just have to be truthful or shut up until it be gone.” He popped out again before anyone could ask any questions.
Sirius snorted and raised a hand when even the Headmaster glared at him reprovingly. “I’m sorry. I can’t be the only one that thinks that’s a very apt punishment for a witch who has spent years lying to Hermione and degrading her out of jealousy.” He ignored Ginny who had burst into tears. “I’m not going to order him to lift it.”
“I won’t ask you to,” Arthur said. “I happen to agree that it is a very apt punishment. She has the option to just not say anything so the curse isn’t abusive as far as I’m concerned.”
“Daddy!” Ginny wailed. “This isn’t fair.”
“At least I know you honestly think that,” Arthur sniped. “Just shut up, Ginerva. You have only yourself to blame for your predicament. If you genuinely believed Harry Potter was being potioned, you should’ve come to the Headmaster or even me with your concerns. You’ve insulted the House of Ross with your baseless and petty accusations.”
“They aren’t baseless,” Ginny said hotly. “Hermione isn’t… she just isn’t… enough of anything to really have won Harry’s attention without help. He dated a Veela over the summer! He hasn’t even known Hermione a month and he’s courting her. It made no sense!”
“Harry is immune to the allure of a Veela,” Sirius said. “He dated Janelle Delacour, briefly, because he attended her ritual opening and he has a great deal of respect for her. She is a brilliant young woman that recently graduated from Beauxbatons with full academic honors. She speaks six languages and has received international attention for her Charms work. That young woman is currently in Salem apprenticing with Madam Olivia Jacoby—one of the most gifted Charms Mistresses alive today.” Sirius huffed. “I taught my son to value a woman’s mind as much as any other part of her. He prefers a witch who can hold her own with him—intellectually and magically. Hermione McGonagall is perfect for Harry. Absolutely perfect.”
* * * *
Harry barely refrained from frowning at Poppy Pomfrey. It wasn’t her fault he was in the situation he was in and he only had himself to blame for the headache he had. After all, his father wouldn’t have stunned him if he’d kept his temper in check. He also wasn’t at all surprised when Amelia Bones followed them to the infirmary just a few minutes after they left the Headmaster’s office.
“Sit still,” Poppy admonished.
“I’m doing the best I can,” Harry promised. “I’m not used to…” He trailed off. “All of my Healers as long as I can remember have been parselmouths, Madam Pomfrey. Your magic feels invasive and weird.”
She nodded. “I can imagine so.” She holstered her wand and filled out the rest of the parchment, which she handed directly to Madam Bones. “As expected, he’s basically potion free.”
“Basically?” Amelia asked.
“That would be a violation of his privacy,” Poppy said.
“It’s quite alright,” Harry said with a laugh. “As you must know by now my animagus form is… extravagant by anyone’s standards. I changed for the first time on purpose just a month ago and as a result, I’m still building my magical reserves for the use of my form. I’m taking a variant of pepper-up three times a week and a strengthening potion.” He paused and cleared his throat. “And despite the best efforts of several healers, I have problems eating enough to maintain a healthy body weight. I take a monthly nutrient potion. I’ll probably take it the rest of my life.” He glanced over Hermione’s face as he spoke and took a deep breath at the horror she couldn’t hide. “Magic can’t cure everything.”
She huffed. “Some people need killing three or four times.”
“Agreed,” Amelia said quietly. She cleared her throat. “Lord Potter, all I can offer you is my apologies. I let Cornelius Fudge get away with murder and the things he did or tried to do to take custody of you when you were a minor were beyond the pale. We all played games with him and with the Wizengamot and all the while you had to suffer his ambitions. Your father is right, you know, as a whole we can’t be trusted with your welfare. We’ve failed you since your birth.” She slid the scroll into her robe and nodded briefly. “Good day to you both.”
Hermione took a deep breath as soon as the door closed behind the older woman. “Wow.”
“Yeah,” Harry said by way of agreement. He turned to the mediwitch. “Can I leave?”
“No.” She motioned him to follow her into an office and Hermione came along without waiting for an invitation. Poppy shut the door and sealed it with a privacy charm. “Now, Lord Potter.”
“Please, call me Harry,” Harry said as he sat down in the chair he was pointed to. Hermione tucked into the other vacant chair in the office.
“Very well,” Poppy said as she glanced between them. “It’s my understanding that the two of you have entered into a formal courting period.”
“Yes,” Harry nodded.
“I have contraceptive potions and charms,” Poppy said baldly.
Harry took a deep breath. “I have a long term charm applied, ma’am.”
“My mum applied one for me shortly after my adoption,” Hermione said hurriedly. “I believe we’re good on that front.”
Poppy nodded and focused on Harry. “Do you want to talk to me about the burgeoning bond I saw tethered to your core?”
Harry sat back in his chair. “How far along would say it is?”
“It’s flirting with your magic at present,” Poppy said.
“That makes sense,” Harry admitted. “It’s sort of how I feel about the situation.” Hermione’s hand slipped to his and it was hard to miss the concerned look on her face. “Relax, nothing is wrong.”
Poppy huffed. “If there is something magical going on between the two of you, I need to know.” She frowned when Harry hesitated. “You know my oaths as a healer apply in this instance.”
“We’re soulmates,” Hermione blurted out, her fingers clenching against his. “Fated. Our parents and the Headmaster know. And… Professor Flitwick as well because he was there when it all came out.”
Poppy smiled. “Well, that’s alright then. Congratulations to you both.”
Harry relaxed. “You know, you’re the first to say that? Everyone else just looks at us all… flustered and…”
“Worried,” Hermione supplied. “Stupidly worried like we’re both just going to drop dead at any given moment or have some giant extinction level fight that destroys our ability to bond or…” She shrugged and bit down on her lip. “Just you know.”
“Fated couples throughout history have impacted our world to an untold degree. Often, they pay a heavy price for the gift they’ve been given.”
“We’ve already paid it,” Hermione said. “No god or Magic could ask for more from us.”
Harry shifted in the silence that followed that and cleared his throat. “We missed the Astronomy Practical,” he said as he checked his watch. “Well, there’s only twenty minutes left in the class.”
Poppy pulled out a piece of parchment. “I’ll write Aurora a note excusing you both. Though you’ll have to do any assignments she might have assigned during the class.”
* * * *
Harry let himself be led away from the Infirmary, through the various halls, and up a narrow staircase until they were at the top of a tower, one of the few open-air turrets the castle still had. His magic shifted as the safety charms that Dumbledore had erected the entire structure pushed at his body ever so gently. Someone would really have to work hard to fall off or alternately jump from the thing.
“I’m sure your father is going to tell you what happened after he stunned you,” Hermione murmured. She turned and faced him. “Her brother encouraged her to get close to you—to bed you and get pregnant. They were even going to try to get you to open her in a ritual with that goal in mind.”
Harry grimaced. “That was a fairly foolish plan. My contraceptive charm was placed in a parselmagic ritual and it can’t be circumvented or removed by anyone but me.” He leaned against the wall and watched her pace. “There’s more.”
“They think you have too much power—social, financial, and political. The works. They think you have too much and that you don’t respect their traditions.”
“They aren’t wrong,” Harry admitted. “I do have too much. The money, well, that’s more the dverger doing than my own. I inherited all of the Potter money, which was a substantial fortune. All of the assets and monies from my family members were pushed back into the Family vault as they died. Over the year that Voldemort searched for me, he killed my grandparents, two great uncles, one aunt, and six cousins.” Harry took a deep breath. “They’re all buried in Godric’s Hollow in the cemetery there.”
“He wasn’t hunting your parents,” Hermione said. She turned to face him, the color washing out of her face. “He was hunting you. Why Harry?”
“There was a prophecy,” Harry said. “One that basically declared that he and I were mortal enemies. As he was not a good man, in any single way, he chose not to wait for me to grow up and be a threat.”
“Is that why you survived the Killing Curse?” Hermione asked hoarsely.
“No one is really sure,” Harry admitted. “It could’ve been the prophecy or it could have been my mother’s magical sacrifice. It wasn’t anything I did, that’s for certain. I’ve always chosen to believe that it was my mother’s actions.” He looked away from her, his jaw tight. “Otherwise she died for nothing and I can’t… accept that.”
“No, I agree,” Hermione said as she walked across the turret to lean on the wall beside him. She slipped her hand into his. “I feel… exposed.”
“I know,” Harry said. “It’s my fault. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault,” Hermione murmured. “It’s just what happened. She’s been pushing at you since you got here.”
“Exactly,” Harry said. “She’s been in my face basically since I arrived trying to get my attention and I let her get to me tonight and the result of that is that…” He huffed. “You have to know I was getting ready to stun and memory charm every single person in our house.”
Hermione burst out laughing. “Harry.”
“I was,” he said crossly. “Then Neville had to go and be reasonable.”
“Yeah, he’s good for that,” Hermione said with a little sigh. “You would’ve had to take Bill Weasley out first.”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed. “He’s certainly the single biggest threat in the school outside of Dumbledore and Snape.”
“You don’t consider my mum a threat?” Hermione asked with a raised eyebrow.
“She’s family,” Harry said. “So no, I don’t consider her a threat. I trust the Headmaster but I’m aware that he’s always had his own agenda and his own ideas on how things should be done. I can’t say he and I will always agree. Right now, he’s too busy wallowing in guilt to really act on his own wishes. Maybe he’ll stay that way the rest of his life but maybe he won’t. I don’t underestimate him.”
“And Professor Snape?”
“Severus Snape.” Harry hummed under his breath. “I can’t speak to you about Severus Snape. It would violate oaths I’ve taken.”
“Would he hurt you?” Hermione asked. “Can you tell me that?”
“Severus Snape would die for me,” Harry said quietly. “And that’s all that I can say but he’s one of the best duelers in the school. I wouldn’t cross him unless I had no choice.”
“Okay,” Hermione said and relaxed. “He’s unspeakably cruel to Ron. It makes Potions the most fun I’ve ever had at Hogwarts.”
Harry bit down on his lip briefly but couldn’t help the laugh that finally escaped. “Wow.”
“I know. I’m not even remotely ashamed of myself,” Hermione admitted. She turned to him and inclined her head. “You know what everyone calls this turret?”
“No,” Harry admitted. “But I’ve got a feeling it has something to do with sex.”
“You’d be right,” she admitted. “Apparently, it’s been called the Tupping Turret for like four hundred years.” She flushed. “I had to explain to Ron what the word tup meant last year.”
“It was pity, right?” Harry asked exasperated. “I mean… the two of you have nothing in common. He’s a bleeding moron, Mi.”
Hermione sighed. “Desperation maybe. I never had friends before Hogwarts. Also, Molly and Arthur Weasley have always been extremely kind to me. The twins, for all their faults, were also good to me. They treated me like their sister and always gave Ron a hard time when he was mean to me.”
“Emmie told me,” Harry admitted. “George and Fred are in Paris working for Marauder, Inc. That’s my father’s parent company—he owns Zonko’s, a few broom companies, and the like. They’re having entirely too much fun but I think Dad’s been successful in channeling their energy into something positive instead of something dangerous.”
“That’s good,” Hermione admitted. “They’re very talented wizards. Are they… why are they working for your Dad?”
“Are you asking me if they knew our secret while they were here?” Harry asked.
“They didn’t and still don’t know our secret,” Harry said. “That being said, I appreciated the effort they went into protecting you just because they considered you family while they were here at Hogwarts and I made sure they were made aware of the internship positions at Marauder, Inc. I put them on a mailing list that went out with invitations to apply. They earned their place in my Dad’s company—no one else who applied had the utter audacity to embed not one but six different pranks into their applications. Dad was extremely impressed with their portable swamp when it popped out of the parchment. It took us three days to get it out of his office.”
Hermione laughed. “Let’s just be glad they didn’t decide to undertake a life of crime.”
“The entire world should be grateful of that,” Harry said dryly. “It would’ve been a disaster.” He tugged her hand. “Come here.”
She laughed but allowed herself to be drawn closer. “Are you about to get fresh with me, Lord Potter?”
“The thought has a lot of appeal,” Harry admitted as she wrapped her arms around his waist. He let his fingers slide through her hair. “I’m terribly relieved to be here like this with you.”
“Me, too,” Hermione whispered. “I never expected to have anyone in my life like you.”
“I could say the same. I worried how you’d react to me, to my magic, and to the fact that I’m a parselmouth. Many of the witches in this castle would run in horror if they got an up close and personal look at what it means to be a parselmouth.”
“Don’t get a big head but it’s hot,” Hermione admitted and looked up when he laughed. “No really, you work that like mad. It’s dangerous and sexy. It makes you stupidly attractive. In the DADA room, when you cast that circle and started to draw those runes in the air…” She trailed off with a huff. “I got a little weak in the knees.”
Harry flushed. “Honestly.”
“Honestly,” she assured. She pressed a kiss to the corner his mouth and inclined her head. “What did you mean that it’s the dverger’s fault that you’re rich?”
“Oh,” Harry said. “Have you ever heard of a wergild?”
“Yes.” Hermione frowned. “It’s an ancient method of making amends for the loss of a life. Usually, an unjustified murder.”
“Yeah, that’s the Muggle version. In the magical world, a wergild has a broader meaning. It can be offered in compensation for a great service. It can also be used to prevent feuds between Ancient houses concerning honor or life debts.”
“The Chieftain of the Dverger Horde determined that the dverger nation owed me a wergild.”
“Because… of your parents?”
“No, because they were partially responsible for the wards that hid me from Dad and from my elves. They interfered in the magic of the bonded servants of the House of Potter and in turn I was almost murdered,” Harry explained gently. “It was an immense stain on their honor. The House of Potter had already paid a heavy price for the temporary defeat of Voldemort and the dverger knew that I was prophesized to stand against him.”
“Stand against…” Hermione frowned. “Not defeat him. It could’ve gone either way?”
“Yes, if he’d waited until I was an adult to attack me, well, the magical world would have been long destroyed before I had the strength to stand against a wizard that intelligent and powerful. For all of his faults, Tom Riddle was a force to be reckoned with. His impatience killed him.”
“So the dverger paid you a wergild?”
Harry blew air out between his lips. “In a way. I can’t discuss the details with you because you couldn’t protect the knowledge.”
“Wow.” Hermione said and frowned. “I’m really starting to get annoyed with that.”
She laughed. “No, I mean, I obviously need to learn Occlumency as quickly as possible.”
“We should go back to the dorm,” Harry said.
Harry laughed. “No, I mean your mum is at the bottom of the turret waiting on us.”
Hermione jerked. “You can… how do you know that?”
“She’s the only other animagus in the castle,” Harry said simply. “Once you accomplish your first transformation, you’ll understand. The magic of animagus is different—a little wild. But a wizard or witch who can’t commune with the animal spirit would never notice the subtle difference in the magic of a person who can.”
“I’ve been studying,” Hermione said with a small frown. “And I’ve started meditating. I have to admit…” She paused as they started down the stairs.
“Admit what?” Harry asked.
“It’s been easier to meditate since… I’ve returned to Hogwarts. Do you think that you’re the cause?”
“Unsure,” Harry admitted as they encountered Minerva. “Aunt Min.”
She raised an eyebrow at him. “You realize I have her charmed.”
“Oh, I know,” Harry said with a laugh. “But it wasn’t my idea to go up there.”
Hermione laughed. “Tattletale.” She turned to her mother. “Charmed?”
“You’re my daughter,” Minerva said shortly. “It’s my responsibility to make sure no one touches you without your permission.”
“Oh.” She flushed. “But Harry would never…”
“No, he wouldn’t,” Minerva agreed. “But there are plenty of other men in this world who would and one has already tried.”
Harry glanced between them but said nothing while they stared at each other. He relaxed when Hermione finally nodded and Minerva inclined her head in silent agreement.
“Hermione was telling me that her meditations have gone easier since her return to Hogwarts,” Harry said as they started walking towards the Gryffindor tower.
“It could be a variety of factors—her magic could be impacted by your presence, the adoption, or just being in a highly magical place. It’s easier to relax in Hogwarts due to the wards,” Minerva said. “I’ve always found it much easier to find my center and settle into my magical core at Hogwarts. Even my home in Hogsmeade isn’t as comfortable.”
“We have a house in Hogsmeade?” Hermione asked.
Minerva glanced at her startled. “Oh, well, yes. My second husband made his home there and I retained ownership after his passing. It’s a rather lovely three story townhouse and not far at all from the property Lord Black is currently occupying. We’re on the same street.” They paused at the portrait of the Fat Lady. “We also have a cottage in the Highlands but it is currently occupied. I’ve had tenants in it for a number of years.”
Hermione nodded. “I guess… well, I guess I need lessons about our stuff.”
Minerva laughed. “Yes, I imagine you do. We’ll make time for that later in the year.”
“Great,” Hermione said. “Goodnight.” She kissed her mother’s cheek and tugged Harry through the portrait hole. Then she reopened the door. “We were just talking up in the turret. Honest.”
Minerva nodded. “I know.”
“Right.” Hermione nodded and blushed. “But it would be okay if we were doing more?”
“You’re both above the age of consent and in a courtship,” Minerva said. “But I do expect you both to respect the rules of the school.”
“Understood,” Hermione assured. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight,” Minerva said clearly amused.
Harry was on the sofa in front of the fireplace when she closed the door. Hermione regarded him for a moment, watching while Godric and Rowena curled around his fingers together. She thought about his secrets, the guilt he carried around for them and took a deep breath. It wasn’t particularly fair to him because she had secrets, too. Not as grand as the biggest one he’d kept from her but all the same she felt the need to soothe him, to easy the worry he carried.
She slipped onto the sofa beside him and took a deep breath. “I…”
He focused on her and the two snakes immediately grew quiet. Harry raised an eyebrow as his familiars slipped up his sleeve. He drew his wand and cast a privacy charm around them. “Yes?”
“I don’t want us to start out with you thinking that I resent what you’ve done.” She shifted closer and took a deep breath. “I need you to set aside the guilt, Harry.”
He took a deep breath. “I’ll work on it.”
“Good because… well… it’s just that I’d like us to be on an equal footing.”
“I’d like that, too.”
Hermione nodded. “Just… I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes and I’ve done things I’m not proud of.”
“Okay. Do you want to talk about those things?”
“Not at the moment,” she whispered. “But eventually.”
“Whenever you’re ready,” Harry said and slipped his hand over hers. “We’re no different—you and I. That’s what it means to be soulmates. Magic and Fate brought us together because while neither one of us is perfect, we are perfect for each other.”
“That’s a charming thing to say.”
“It’s the most honest thing I’ve ever said,” Harry corrected. “Just remember… that I’m on your side and even if we argue or disagree that at the end of the day that when it comes down to the wire that I will always be on your side.”
“Even if I killed Ron?”
“Sweetheart, I’d help you hide his body,” Harry said seriously.
Her eyes went wide and she laughed. “Harry.” She shifted until she could lean against him and just sighed when he moved to and wrapped an arm around her. “Let’s just stay here for a bit, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Harry agreed and pressed a kiss against her hair. “As long as you want.”