Title: Gryffindor’s Tear
Author: Keira Marcos
Beta: Ladyholder & Chris King
Series: Harry Potter & the Soulmate Bond
Fandom: Harry Potter
Word Count: 14,232
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.
Harry flicked his wand back into his holster and grabbed his brush. He glanced around the bathroom, found that everyone was basically dressed, and probably wouldn’t freak out if he called his female Head Elf. “Star.”
Star popped into place on the counter beside him, swinging her feet. “Yes, Master Harry?”
“Just being the boss of my minions,” Star said cheerfully. She grabbed his kit and rummaged around his stuff—organizing it to suit herself before pulling out a simple black hair band for his hair, which he used without comment.
“I thought you were all my minions,” Harry said.
“It’s charming that you be thinking so,” Star said earnestly. “What did Master Harry be needing?”
“An honest to God cup of coffee,” Harry replied immediately. “But that’s not why I called you.” He paused when Star snagged Neville’s kit from her left and started to organize it. He glanced at his godbrother and found the Longbottom Scion looking at Star with a bemused smile. “Right. Dinner in my quarters for two is actually on my agenda.”
“Dinner for you and Miss Hermione,” Star said.
“Well, I haven’t asked her yet but yes,” Harry agreed.
Star huffed. “I not be asking her for you. You be a man about it,” she wagged her finger at him.
Harry grinned. “I fully intended to ask her myself, you mean thing. It’s no wonder, really, that all of your daughters are so horrible.” He tugged on one of her bright blue braids of which she had a hundred sprung out all over her head. “What is this?”
“It be fashionable. Master Harry not know fashion. Master Harry would dress like street urchin if Star not be around to monitor his closet. Dobby be a hot mess, too.”
He figured that was true. He hardly cared what he wore from day to day. His father, on the other hand, was an avid collector of clothes and had several subscriptions to wizarding and Muggle fashion magazines. He blamed Castius Arnou for that but it was a rather harmless hobby in the scheme of things.
“What Master Harry be wanting for dinner?” Star prodded.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I think something informal, simple. I’ll ask her. Dobby should be back this afternoon from the errand I have him on but he’ll be tired.”
Star nodded. “Trip to Brazil be fun but tiring.”
Harry agreed with that. He’d done it once via roundtrip portkey and he wasn’t interested in repeating the experience any time soon. “I’ll get back to you on her answer later in the day but let’s plan for seven o’clock.”
“Of course,” Star agreed and popped away.
“What’s in Brazil?” Neville asked.
“Besides beautiful women?” Harry asked and grinned when Neville laughed. “Coffee. There is coffee in Brazil, Neville. Amazing coffee. But that’s not why I sent him there. He’s picking up a trunk that I ordered from an artisan there. The coffee is just an added bonus.”
Neville raised an eyebrow. “Harry, you can buy a trunk practically anywhere—London, Paris, Hogsmeade, etc etc.”
Harry laughed. “This one is special.”
Harry leaned against the counter. “First, it’s made from snakewood. Second, it’s enchanted to transfigure itself into a bracelet that acts as a dimensional store when I wear it. I’ll be able to store my wands, athame, and sword all in the trunk and draw them at will while I’m wearing the bracelet. The storage capacity is huge. If it works like I expect it to, I’ll be ordering a few more for Christmas presents. I have an entire conclave to buy for, you know. Those bastards are hard to please.”
“I bet,” Neville said by way of agreement. “That sounds great, if it works as advertised.”
“I’ll be testing it heavily before I allow any of my important things to be drawn into it.”
* * * *
The fact is that he’d never really dated much. He had a large circle of friends in Paris and Rome. Male and female friends. There had been Janelle, of course, and their rather inappropriate affair. Natalie had been a friend before they’d opened together and had remained a friend afterward. It had been a relief to find that things weren’t awkward in the weeks that followed. His interactions with Janelle had been heated and certainly passionate but not emotionally intimate. He’d avoided dating as a rule and shied away from witches he found attractive over the years because he’d known before puberty that he had a soulmate. A real big part of him had feared that she’d fall in love with someone before they could ever meet. That fear had made him keep his own heart back because some deeply romantic part of him believed that his soulmate should be his first and only love.
They’d filled the morning with double periods in both Charms and Transfiguration so by the time they’d made their way to lunch he’d managed to make himself nervous about asking Hermione to dine with him in private, which was silly. He sighed as he eyed the teacup sitting beside the piece of pie he’d snagged from himself. He really wasn’t British enough it seemed. One thing about being raised in Paris was that he didn’t bleed tea the way even his own father did. Castius was a coffee drinker and he’d introduced Harry to the finer points of the beverage at thirteen when Harry had confessed to him that he didn’t like tea as much as he apparently should. The Lord Black despaired of them both as a result.
“Elroy?” A little elf dressed in simple slacks, a white shirt, and an apron appeared immediately on his left.
“Master Harry,” the elf said cheerfully.
Harry turned on the bench so he could face the elf. “How are you settling in at Hogsmeade?”
“I be fine. House all set up and ready to go.” Elroy rocked back on his heels. “Master Sirius running around like he be crazy just like always. I brings him food to Ministry. Make sure he eats on time.”
“Very good,” Harry said. “I would dearly love a cappuccino.”
“I has your special machine all set up,” Elroy said. “I send you a cup shortly.”
Hermione cleared her throat.
Harry grinned at her. “Would you like one?”
“I’d love a latte actually,” Hermione admitted. “I haven’t had one since summer.”
“Would Miss Hermione like flavored? Cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, caramel…”Elroy trailed off.
“Caramel and whipped cream please,” Hermione said. “That’d be lovely.”
“Vanilla for mine,” Harry decided. “And thank you, Elroy.”
“Master Harry be welcome,” Elroy said warmly before popping away.
“Can I ask a question without you getting bent out of shape?” Seamus asked seriously from across the table.
Harry tilted his head thoughtfully. “You can ask a question, I can’t promise I won’t get angry, but I won’t curse you.”
Finnegan laughed. “That works, too. Your… relationships with your elves aren’t like anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“Ah,” Harry said and nodded as two cups popped into place on the table. He took his and prodded Hermione’s towards her with a little frown. Whipped cream had no business getting anywhere near coffee as far as he was concerned. “My elves. Some of them—Star and her most of her children specifically—have been with my family for hundreds of years. When I was able to put on my Heir ring at thirteen, I did what I could to retrieve other members of her family—some nephews and one sister. The rest have come to me on their own seeking a bond. The first instruction I give every single elf I bond with is be happy.”
“Be happy,” Seamus repeated.
“Yes, they chose where they work for me. They seek out ways to grow, educate, and entertain themselves when they don’t have an assigned task. They tell me when they need more work, when they could use help, and when they aren’t happy. I consider a bond with a house elf a responsibility. It is a magical duty to accept the bond of a sentient magical creature.”
“Sentient magical creature,” Ron said snidely. “Right.”
Harry sighed. “They can fall in love.” He watched Weasley’s mouth fall open. “They mourn their dead. They cherish their children and honor their elderly. They can laugh and cry. They’re capable of learning, problem solving, reading, writing, and feats of magic that you’ll never be capable of in your entire life, Weasley. They understand life and death. If that doesn’t meet your definition of what it means to be sentient then I’d hate to imagine what sort of standards you’d attach to the idea.”
“Whatever,” Ron said and rolled his eyes.
“Oh, go fuck yourself,” Harry said crossly.
And mouths dropped open around him in unison.
Astoria Greengrass burst out laughing and Harry flushed with embarrassment. It wasn’t often that he forgot his manners to such a degree, especially in the company of a group of eleven year olds. The first years tended to gravitate towards him at meals and he liked to set an example like his father had taught him. But the simple fact was that Ron Weasley tested his patience merely by continuing to breathe.
Hermione snorted and averted her gaze as she picked up her coffee. Seamus started giggling with Astoria and that was pretty much it for the entire section of their table. The laughter proved infectious. Harry focused his attention on his coffee and tried to ignore them.
Ron huffed and glared at Hermione. “Are you going to let him talk to me like that?”
“The Earl of Gryffindor can talk to you anyway he likes,” Hermione said evenly. “If you don’t like it, Weasel, feel free to sit elsewhere. Now, seriously, shut up so I can enjoy my latte in peace.”
He drank his own coffee in silence but only ended up eating half of his pie. It was very good, elf food always was but the richness of it was too much. He noted that Weasley managed to eat three pieces on top of the two full of plates of food he’d consumed. With a frown, he pulled his holly wand and cast a privacy charm around himself and Hermione.
“I should have the Headmaster charge the Weasley family twice the room and boarding fee for Ron. He eats like two or three people at every meal.”
Hermione grinned at him. “He really does. He always has and his table manners are horrible. You should see his mother berate him at home. She’s slapped him so much in the back of the head I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn he was brain damaged.”
“I was thinking… that we could have dinner in my quarters tonight.”
Hermione’s eyes widened briefly. “Huh… that’s… I mean…”
“Bad idea?” Harry asked. “It’s okay if you don’t want to join me. I just need a break from the hall.”
She put her hand on his arm. “No, it’s not a bad idea. I just… you’re going to think I’m silly.”
“Rarely do I think you’re silly,” Harry admitted. “Though that whole lip gloss conversation you had with Daphne Greengrass on Tuesday in Herbology came precariously close to meeting that standard.”
She huffed at him. “You’ve never had magical lip gloss on your face so you don’t even know how serious it is.”
“Oh, I have,” Harry assured but then snapped his teeth together when she glared at him but he forged ahead because he wasn’t the sort to cower in front of anyone. “Janelle favored cherry flavored lip gloss and you two are wrong—you can definitely rub it off without magic.”
She huffed at him. “You… you… I can’t even get mad.”
“It wouldn’t be fair,” Harry admitted. “And Janelle is an amazing and intelligent young woman I consider a friend so I’d be disappointed if you developed some irrational hatred of her based on our very brief relationship but I wouldn’t hold it against you. I can’t say I’d ever be fond of someone you had a past intimate relationship with.”
“Is she the kind that would rub it in my face?” Hermione asked.
“No, she’d likely never bring it up in your presence unless you brought it up first. She’s just not that kind of person. Honestly, without me in the middle of it I think the two of you would be fast and lifelong friends. You share a lot of interests and Janelle’s quite passionate about creature rights and the like.”
“And she’s beautiful.”
“So are you,” Harry said. “Honestly, without her allure you’re more attractive than she is and that’s not personal bias on my part.”
“Right. About dinner.”
“Dinner,” Harry said. “It’s just a private meal.”
“It’s like a date,” Hermione said. “And I sort of had this… thing about our first date happening on Saturday and I don’t even know what I’d wear for dinner in your quarters.”
Harry laughed. “Mi, it’s dinner not a ball. I just want some time away from every one and I’d like it a lot if you were with me but I won’t be an idiot about it if you aren’t comfortable with that.”
“I have no problems with being alone with you,” Hermione said haughtily. “I’m pretty sure I could kick your arse.”
“Oh, sweetheart, you really could,” Harry admitted. “I doubt I could ever draw my wand against you with the intent to do you real harm but we can duel if you like. I’m not above putting you on your pretty little bum.”
“Ha,” Hermione scoffed. “Okay, dinner sounds good. Can we have pizza? I’d love pizza.”
“I’ll let Star know,” Harry said. He checked his watch. “And you can wear… basically anything you want or nothing at all. I’d be fine with that, too.”
She blushed. “You boy.”
“You say that like it’s an insult,” Harry said as he ended the privacy charm and holstered his wand. He glanced up to the charmed windows at the top of the hall just as Hedwig glided through one. He stood and held out his hand for her as he shouldered his bag. “Hello, beautiful. Look at you doing your job for a change.” Hedwig barked at him but fluttered her wings as he retrieved the letter attached to her leg. “Did you have a good flight?”
She puffed out her chest with pride like she’d flown some great distance. He checked the letter and raised an eyebrow. “Well, that explains where you’ve been for the past three days.” He put the letter in his bag and took Hermione’s hand when she offered it.
Hedwig allowed herself to be carried practically all the way to Hagrid’s cabin but as soon as she caught sight of the half-Giant, she launched herself off Harry’s hand and flew to greet him. Hagrid let her perch on his shoulder without a word and fed her a mouse out of his pocket.
* * * *
He didn’t get a chance to open the letter until Herbology. There was a second sealed envelope inside the first which he sat down on the table in front of him and opened the folded piece of parchment with is name on it.
Thank you so very much for your correspondence concerning my son. It is such a relief to know that he’s grown into a good man. I feared for him so much and for so long I’ve hated myself for leaving him with Lucius. I often felt like I should’ve taken Draco from Britain without even asking him. I had no choice but to leave but leaving my boy behind broke my heart. I find no relief to discover that it broke his as well. I understand his reasons and he’s right, of course, Lucius would’ve had much more standing in the world court if I’d taken his Heir from Britain.
I’ve written Draco a letter. I was careful to include no details about my location or the real reason I left Britain. I’d love to see him but I can’t see how that could be arranged without alerting Lucius. I don’t know what he’d do to Draco if he found out that we’d seen each other. Everyone and everything is fine here and I hope that you’re enjoying Hogwarts.
I’ve had word from Sirius that you’re courting your witch. Let me know if you need advice, I find myself to be a very good resource on such matters. Don’t forget to give her flowers for no reason at all. Witches like that. Don’t give her books as presents. It’s an easy way out and while she would certainly appreciate them – it would be catering to a very public part of who she is. Everyone knows she’s brilliant. Take the time to give her thoughtful and meaningful gifts, Harry. She’ll think on such gifts fondly for many years to come.
Do remember that diamonds are a witch’s best friend.
Harry folded the letter and put it away. He shifted off the stool as Hermione returned to their table with the magical plants they were going to be harvesting for potion ingredients. Malfoy was seated at a table with a Daphne Greengrass but she was currently in the back of the greenhouse gathering their plants. Malfoy was opening up several books to find the instructions for the assignment. Harry slipped up onto the stool beside Malfoy and picked up the other boy’s planner.
“Going to write yourself in a date?” Draco asked amused. “I do hope you asked your witch first.”
“Oh, if that was the case I’m sure she’d be quite pleased to come along,” Harry said with a laugh and smirked when Draco gaped at him. “Don’t confuse intelligent for prudish, Malfoy. That’s just silly.” He slipped the letter into the planner and put it back down on the table as Malfoy’s eyes widened. “I know you’re tempted beyond all reason to open it here but don’t. You can’t trust it will remain private if you do.”
Draco reached out and put a shaking hand on the planner. “Thank you so much.” He took the book and carefully tucked into a pocket inside his robe.
Harry nodded abruptly and stood. “Hey Mi,” he began airily as he returned to their table, “Malfoy wants to date us.”
Hermione glanced at the blonde Slytherin and found him staring at Harry wide-eyed. “He is awfully pretty.” She laughed when he blushed. “Wow, Draco, who knew you could still blush?”
* * * *
Harry stepped out of a shower stall, dressed in a pair of jeans and pulling on a t-shirt. Ron Weasley was leaning against the counter with the sinks staring pointedly at him. It was more irritating than unnerving to be the center of such attention. He sighed as put his kit down a few feet away from Weasley and pulled out his brush.
“I think that whole soulmate thing is bullshite.”
“You probably aren’t alone in that opinion,” Harry said. “Many people choose not to believe in the magic of the Book of Souls.” He pulled his wand and cast a drying charm on his hair first then used the enchanted brush to tame it.
“I want her.”
“Is this the part where I tell you that you can’t have her?” Harry asked. “Because if that’s the case, you’re having this conversation with the wrong person. She’s not my property, Weasley.” He dropped his brush in the leather pouch and zipped it shut. “Honestly, this is getting old. She’s made her feelings for you perfectly clear and even if she felt differently, she’d never go against her mother’s wishes.” Harry turned and faced the boy. “You realize that, right? You aren’t seriously laboring under the impression that she’d disrespect her adoptive mother that way? If you are, then you never knew Hermione at all. Minerva McGonagall gave Hermione a family when she’s never really had one before. She gave her a magical House and the magical legacies of two Ancient houses. Blood adoption creates a heady and intense bond between parent and child. Neither you nor I stand a chance in hell of ever coming between the two of them. Personally, I’d never risk asking her to act against her mother’s wishes.”
“Bill told me that you killed three dark wizards in Paris, is that true?” Weasley asked abruptly.
Harry glanced behind him at the shocked sound he heard and found that Seamus, Dean, and Neville had entered the bathing area. Probably, he thought, because they’d realized that the two of them were in there alone.
“One of them cursed my father in the back in an attempt to kidnap me,” Harry said evenly. “Yes, I killed them. I’d do it again. If you’re saying you’d have acted any differently than me under such a threat then I pity your patriarch.”
“Of course, I’d defend my father’s life,” Ron said hotly. “But you killed them. You could have stunned them.”
“That’s just stupid,” Harry said evenly. “It’s beyond foolish to give anyone the chance to get back up and curse you again in a fight.” He glared at Weasley. “You should remember that, you know. If you draw your wand on me…” He glanced down at the wand in Ron’s hand. “I’ll maim you for life.”
“That sort of attitude is exactly why she won’t stay with you.”
“It’s certainly none of your business either way,” Harry said. “We’re done here.”
“I’m not finished talking to you, Potter.” Ron grabbed his arm and jerked him back roughly.
Harry turned, shifted his weight, and shoved Weasley against the wall in an instant. He shoved the end of his blackwood wand under the pure-blood’s chin, eyes glowing a beguiling shade of violet and his skin rapidly started to darken, glittering black scales formed along the sides of his neck. “Who the fuck do you think you are to lay hands on me?”
Ron paled and pissed himself. “I… I’m sorry… I wasn’t thinking.”
“I believe that,” Harry said icily. “You don’t think at all.” He backed off and holstered his wand. “Don’t ever touch me again.”
Neville took a deep breath as Harry stalked form the bathroom. He watched Ron sink to the floor, pale and obviously shaken. “You’re an idiot.”
“No doubt,” Seamus muttered.
“You know he has training. Flitwick told the entire school that Harry is a mastery level dueler. Do you even know what that means?” Neville sighed when Ron shook his head. “It isn’t just wand work, you utter fuck wit. It’s swords, knives, and staff fighting. Flitwick doesn’t have his mastery in Dueling because he can’t physically fight opponents with a sword. That’s why he has a Mastery in Charms instead. It’s literally a bleeding tragedy that you don’t already know this. You grew up in a pure-blood household. Your brothers and sister aren’t this ignorant.”
“He could’ve killed me,” Ron protested.
“Yeah, he sure could have,” Neville agreed darkly. “You’d best remember that. He’s been a lot more tolerant with you than I would be on this issue. You should forget about Hermione before you get yourself killed.”
“She won’t stay with him,” Ron said stubbornly.
“You keep saying that,” Seamus said quietly. “I have to wonder if you’re trying to convince yourself or the rest of us. It’s obvious to anyone who pays attention that she’s literally gone on him. He’s been all she’s looked at since he was bloody sorted. He might as well be the only man on Earth. The rest of us don’t stand a chance with her, not that we ever did.”
“He doesn’t deserve her!” Ron shouted. “He wasn’t here this whole time! If she was important he would’ve returned to Britain for his first year but he just left her here alone.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Neville said. “After all, we all know he came to Hogwarts during second year to save her in the Chamber. How do you think he knew she needed him, Weasley? When exactly has Hermione ever come to harm in the all the time we’ve known her?”
“During first year, when she almost fell off her broom during our first flying lesson,” Dean began, “her broom just suddenly righted itself and she flew right to the ground like she’d been doing it her whole life.”
“That troll beat itself to death first year as well and she came out of that bathroom without a scratch,” Seamus said thoughtfully.
“Middle of third year, when you got caught up in the Whomping Willow—like an idiot—Lord Black saved you both,” Dean said. “It had to be him. You said a big black dog dragged her under the tree into a tunnel to keep the tree from killing her then it came out and stopped the tree from moving. I didn’t believe you at the time… but, Merlin, it had to be him.”
“Fourth year,” Neville began evenly. “Everyone knows that the judges in the tournament tried to use Hermione as Krum’s hostage originally but Hermione kept popping back to the dock every time they took her under water. Something or someone literally refused to let them leave her in the lake. At one point, the Giant Squid knocked them all into the water when they tried to take her down there physically themselves. They had to use Krum’s dad instead.”
“Last year, when Hagrid took us into the Forbidden Forest and that centaur threatened us. He tried to grab Hermione, remember? She was too close to him,” Seamus frowned. “And he reared back like someone had slapped his face. Merlin, why didn’t any of us ever notice that stuff?”
Emmie made herself visible right in front of Ron and glared at him. “I not be wanting you to notice so you didn’t remember noticing until now.” She pointed a finger at the red head. “You lay hands on my Master Harry again, you stupid wizard boy, and I make you regret it.” Her finger started to glow with barely restrained magic. “You not even know how much you can suffer. You be a bad Wheezy and I don’t be liking Bad Wheezies! I tell Twin Wheezies about your bad manners! They help me make you suffer!” She popped away with a little boom.
“Twin Wheezies,” Dean repeated amused. “She meant George and Fred, right?”
Ron groaned. “Oh, no.”
“Wow, Ron,” Seamus said wryly. “It sucks to be you.”
“He almost shifted into his animagus form,” Dean said abruptly. “You must have really riled him up, Ron. I wouldn’t do that again if I were you.”
* * * *
Harry surveyed the rapidly forming bruise on his right forearm, drew his blackwood wand, and shifted it to his left hand just as Niall announced Hermione’s arrival at his door. He paused but then nodded. “Let her in.”
He started casting the healing charm as the door swung open, slowly repairing the bruised skin.
“What happened?” Hermione demanded.
“Just a little bruise,” Harry said. “It’s my dominant arm so I don’t want it to be sore later.”
“I’ve had bruises like that,” Hermione said quietly as she joined him on the sofa. She dropped her bag on the floor near his and stared pointedly. “My father used to leave them on my arms when he’d drag me around. I never moved fast enough for him.”
Harry hummed under his breath as he healed the last of the finger impressions. “Don’t give me another reason to go to Crawley and curse those two people, Mi.”
He stowed his wand and met her gaze. “It’s fine. I can handle myself.”
She bit down on her lip. “I know that.”
“Do you?” Harry asked suddenly amused. “You certainly made it a point to get between me and Umbridge the other day. You stunned Dawlish.”
She huffed. “I know you can take care of yourself. I can’t help… it.”
“I do understand that actually,” Harry admitted. “You’ll never know how much I worried about you before we met. My father would’ve preferred that I not come to Hogwarts at all, you know. I could hardly wait to get on that train this year. Practically every argument the two of us have had since my eleventh birthday has been about Hogwarts and…”
“Me.” Hermione frowned. “Harry, I’d never want you to fight with your Dad over me.”
“It’s never been over you,” Harry clarified. “The moment I saw your name in the Book of Souls my magic shifted inside me. It’s my duty and my honor to keep you safe. That duty has at times conflicted with my father’s wishes but he understands. It’s not the first time he’s had to deal with soulmates.”
“Who put that bruise on you?”
“I think you already know,” Harry said evenly. “There is really only one person in this tower who’d be stupid enough to grab me.” He took her hand when her face went stony and she started to stand. “Look, I get that it pisses you off but this is one situation I need you to stay out of.”
“He hurt you,” Hermione protested.
“He bruised me,” Harry corrected. “My reaction scared the piss out of him. He’s embarrassed, probably quite afraid of me at this point, and I really don’t want you to give him a reason to focus any of that on you. I have every faith in Emmie’s ability to protect you when I’m not around but I’d rather not see her forced to hurt or kill a pure-blood wizard to protect you when we have a single choice in the matter. The Wizengamot would… Mi.” He looked away from her. “I couldn’t protect her from that not even with my father as the sitting Minister for Magic.”
“I…” She frowned and slouched on the couch. “You order her to never do that.”
“She’d ignore me,” Harry said. “She knows—all the elves know what you are to me. Her love for me would override any instruction, rule, or law if it came down to that. She killed Vernon Dursley and she crippled my aunt, on purpose, Mi. Her feelings for me are quite maternal and that affection has transferred to you merely by the fact that she’s basically considered you her child since you were nine years old.”
“I won’t say anything to him about it,” Hermione said. “But I don’t approve of it at all. The next time he gets in your face you should turn into a dragon and bite him.”
“I almost did,” Harry said ruefully. “I wasn’t kidding… he pissed himself.”
She laughed. “That’s… I should be ashamed for laughing but I’m not.”
“It isn’t like he hasn’t humiliated you, on purpose, for years.” Harry said. “Let’s eat in the bay window.” He stood and pulled her off the sofa. “Elroy.”
The elf popped into place with a tray. “I bring butter beer and Muggle soda.”
“Thank you, Elroy,” Hermione said with a smile and bit down on her lip with the elf blushed.
“You be very welcome, Miss Hermione,” the elf gushed and put the tray down and popped away with a flustered look of adoration in her direction.
Harry laughed. “I think most of them have a crush on you.”
“They’ve all… it wasn’t just Emmie protecting me, was it?” Hermione asked.
“No, not always. She has to sleep and rest. You had twenty-four/seven protection in your Muggle parent’s home. At Hogwarts, they created wards around your bed at night and took turns monitoring them. They’ve all been with you on the train at some point or another, at Hogsmeade. I think the vast majority showed up the night of the Yule Ball your fourth year to see you in your dress. They were so excited. It was one of Stevie’s designs and he was beside himself that you picked it out when you went to Hogsmeade to buy a dress.” He paused and shrugged at her look of shock. “Sorry about all the stalking my elves did, too?”
“It should be unnerving but it’s sort of charming instead,” Hermione admitted. “I would’ve done the same, you know. Every night when I do my rounds, I make sure your portrait door is shut tight before I go to my dorm.” She blushed. “Emmie… well, now that I know about her… I pretty much use her to keep track of you at all times.”
Harry laughed. “Okay.”
“I can’t help myself,” Hermione admitted with a sigh as he opened butter beer for them both. She accepted hers silently.
“It’s our magic making us… be so weird about it,” Harry admitted. “I know your plate is full but you should make room to read those three books I gave you about soulmates. We don’t have a bond so we’re trying to compensate mentally and emotionally for what magic has not fully given us.”
“When we bond?” Hermione asked.
“We’ve already started as Poppy pointed out. The bond will thicken and strengthen as we get to know each other. The more time we spend together the more quickly it will happen. Eventually, neither one of us will have to rely on the elves for status reports. You’ll just know I’m okay and I’ll know the same. We’ll know when the other is happy or sad or scared. You won’t feel my pain and I won’t feel yours but you’ll become aware that I’m hurt and vice versa.”
“How long do you think that will take?” Hermione asked as she folded her piece of pizza for eating. “Weeks, months, years?”
“Weeks if we have sex,” Harry admitted. “The more intimate we are physically the more chances our magic has to interact and that’s what will build the bond but even without sex we’ll have a full bond within the next eighteen months unless something… or someone comes between us.”
“There’s no one,” she said. “Frankly, there never has been anyone. I mean… not like love or even a crush. I’ve been attracted to boys but it’s never been more than that.”
“Not even your Muggle boy?”
“I liked him and I considered him a friend,” Hermione said. “I was physically attracted him.” She flushed. “But mostly because… Merlin.” She took a bite of pizza and averted her gaze.
“What?” Harry asked with a laugh.
She huffed and chewed slowly so she wouldn’t have to answer him immediately. “You have to realize that I’ve been dreaming about you for years. I didn’t understand and none of the books I read explained it. There was, from my point of view, no rational explanation for what was happening to me. And I was absolutely not going to accept that I was having bloody visions in my sleep. I didn’t tell anyone. A hundred times I almost went to Madam Pomfrey but I was afraid she’d tell me I was a nutter.”
Harry bit down on his lip. “I’m sorry.”
“They were lovely dreams,” Hermione admitted. “Quidditch games, beautiful beaches, and very blue oceans. Sometimes you’d be in this library with big fluffy chairs and a huge fire place. It had two floors of shelves and a balcony that circled the top of the room and old fashioned wrought iron spiral staircases in the corners.”
“That’s the library in the Paris townhouse,” Harry admitted. “So what do the dreams have to do with the Muggle boy?” He grinned suddenly. “Wait… does he look like me or something?”
Hermione huffed. “He’s taller than me with dark hair and green eyes.” She rolled her eyes when he laughed. “Shut it.”
“Am I at least better looking?” Harry asked.
“You know you’re beautiful,” Hermione said crossly. “Don’t be a prat.”
Harry tried to frown at her. “I’d prefer handsome.”
“Be grateful for what you get, Lord Potter,” Hermione said primly.
“Every day,” Harry admitted. He relaxed on the pillows behind him. “I don’t know that I ever believed that I’d get to have a chance at this.”
“I don’t understand that,” Hermione admitted.
“You’ve had five years here to make connections and develop relationships that I’d have no right to interfere with. If Ron Weasley had proven to be a decent man, you could have even fallen in love with him.” He paused at the revulsion and horror that flickered across her face by turns. “It could’ve easily been Seamus or Neville.”
“Neville is more likely,” Hermione admitted. “I enjoy spending time with them both but Seamus is a little trying at times. He’s a great person, honestly, but he’d drive me crazy. Neville has always been a calming influence in our year group. Steadfast and prepared to go the distance. Does that make sense?”
“Yes, I certainly find him to be a calming influence on me,” Harry admitted. “We’re… we could’ve grown up together if circumstances had been different. His mother was my godmother and my mother was his. I feel guilty that I never reached out to him before Hogwarts. I’m sure my mother would’ve wanted us to at least exchange letters if nothing else.”
“Don’t bear all the guilt,” Hermione said. “He could’ve contacted you or your father had he thought of it.”
“True,” Harry admitted. “But I think after his parents were cured that his focus really narrowed and even grew more intense after his mother passed away. He and his father have a close relationship from what my Dad has told me. Neville even attends all of the Wizengamot meetings in the summers and has since he was ten years old.”
“He’s talked about it now and again,” Hermione admitted. “His Dad and his place as the Heir of the House of Longbottom. His grandmother… well. She’s a little crazy.”
“From what my Dad says she always was sort of mad but it took a little turn after Bellatrix Lastrange tortured Alice and Frank Longbottom,” Harry said. “The war left a lot of people damaged and that damage ripples out in horrific ways, even today.”
Hermione nodded. “Right okay. I… I’ve been checking through books and even through the archive of the Daily Prophet that Madam Pince keeps.” She folded another piece of pizza. “There hasn’t been a single article, essay, or book published in the UK regarding the magical sacrifices that I can lay my hands on. I checked the catalog at Flourish & Blotts as well.”
“Fudge and his cronies have been suppressing the information for years. We don’t even know how many magicals have fallen to the rituals in Britain because of them. Are there any… missing witches? I haven’t checked the enrollment records so I don’t…” He trailed off because the color washed out of her face and the pizza she’d been about to eat fell from near lifeless fingers.
“Elizabeth Wood, one of my roommates, didn’t come back this year,” Hermione said hoarsely. She slid out of the window. “Excuse me.”
He barely got his shoes on in time to catch up with her at the portrait door but he didn’t stop her or try to get in her way. She rushed through the hallway to the main stairs and for once, the things seemed to be on their side because she didn’t have to wait once in her mission to get to the Great Hall. Her magic pushed open the doors before she even got to them.
Her aura was flaring by the time she reached the head table and her mother stood to go to her but Hermione was focused on Dumbledore. “Is Elizabeth Wood dead?” The entire hall grew quiet at her words. “Is she dead?”
Dumbledore slowly removed his glasses and nodded abruptly. “Yes, she was killed over the summer.”
“How many?” Hermione demanded. “How many have died? How many witches have those dark bastards sacrificed in Britain and the Ministry covered it up?”
Dumbledore looked over her face. “Seven-hundred and thirty-six witches and two-hundred nineteen wizards since July of 1978 have been sacrificed on British soil though not all of them were British.”
Hermione’s knees buckled and Harry barely caught her in time. Her magic rushed over them both, the table in front of them started to tremble, and the glass started to melt in the wake of the heat she was throwing off.
“Godric! Get us out of here,” Harry snapped. The snake expanded rapidly, lit with red light, and they flashed away in a rush of elemental fire.
They both fell to their knees as they hit the ground in the training yard with a thump and Godric swept off of them, taking Rowena with him. The heat rolling off her was intense and nauseating. He did the only thing he could do—he shifted taking on his dragon form in a rush of magic that left him breathless. He curled around her as carefully as he could as she rocked on her knees. Magical fire poured off her, dancing over his scales as he nudged her gently with his head.
Godric’s fire ward encircled them, creating a wall of red flames that lit up the entire training yard with its intensity. Harry dug his claws into the ground as the wake of her magic increased—ebbing and flowing around her like an ocean. It was frankly, despite his fear for her well-being, absolutely intoxicating. A torrential rain appeared out of nowhere and he snapped his wings out to shield her as much as he could. Lightening crackled above them and thunder rolled over the school. When the ground underneath them started to rumble, he realized that what he was doing was simply not working. He moved away from her, backed up as far as he could, and launched into the sky.
Harry landed on his feet as a wizard outside the ward and took a deep breath as the Headmaster and Minerva headed directly for him. “Ma’am, I’m going to need your permission to…” He took a deep breath. “We’re going to have to knock her out with ritual magic.”
“You want to suppress her magic?” Minerva demanded, horror making her shout out the question.
“Do you know of a better more expedient solution?” Harry asked. “Because she’s going to tear down the bloody school if we don’t do something immediately.”
Minerva took a deep breath. “No. I can’t allow… no. Take her from the school. Take her as far as you have to.”
Harry wanted to protest but he turned on his heel and shifted as he walked away. He pushed through the fire ward in his dragon from. Hermione was kneeling on the ground in the middle of the ward, rocking as magic streamed off her in thundering waves. He blamed himself for her condition. He couldn’t believe it’d never crossed his mind she’d be all that he was magically. He’d spent a decade slowly waking up his magic and opening his core. Even then, his final awakening had been nothing short of a nightmare. His mentor, Hiro Ito, had realized practically on meeting Harry that he was a magus. Hermione’s had probably been gradually opening since their brief meeting during her second year but frequent exposure to him and their burgeoning bond was forcing her magic to catch up to his.
He approached her slowly, wrapped one of his forelegs around her. Godric came to him immediately, the ward shrinking down around them until the snake curled around his body to help secure Hermione. Rowena slipped around his neck. He launched into the sky and the storm she’d gathered went with them. The moment they were high in the sky, Godric’s magic changed and they disappeared in a flash of elemental fire.
Minerva stumbled at the sudden stillness and Albus barely caught her before she fell. “Merlin.”
“Indeed,” Albus said quietly. “Dobby!”
The elf appeared immediately, wide-eyed and trembling. “Master Harry be in the South Pacific. How did Master be getting to there without portkey?”
“Godric,” Minerva said shortly. “Do you know exactly where he is?”
“He be at Potter Haven—his private family island,” Dobby said. “I can’t be going there unless he or Lord Black tells me. Yous can’t come without permission.”
Minerva took a breath to steady herself. He’d done what she’d asked but the distance between herself and her child was unacceptable. “Tell the Lord Black that I need to see him immediately.”
“Oh, Lord Black already be on his way,” Dobby assured. “Emmie’s go to him when Miss Hermione lost control of her magic in the Hall. She can’t be popping him directly through the wards…” He trailed off when Sirius Black appeared with Emmie. “So they had to get past gates first.”
* * * *
Harry rolled onto his back on the sand and turned his head slightly to look at Hermione. She’d passed out which was a good thing, he supposed. He sat up, brushed sand from his hair, and squinted in the early morning sun. Godric and Rowena were stretched out on the beach, conscious but exhausted. Harry rolled to his knees and crawled to Hermione who lay sprawled just where he’d gently placed her before passing out himself.
He gathered her in his arms and stood. Rowena and Godric stirred enough to come to him and slither up one of his legs to wrap around his forearm. “Well, that was not on.”
The house on the island looked a little worse for wear—windows broken, shutters hanging haphazard, and the lovely thatched roof looked like a dragon had landed on it. Harry was pretty sure he hadn’t. The veranda was relatively undisturbed so he carried her to a lounge chair. He wondered if he needed to contact the ICW regarding the freak tropical storm that Hermione had stirred up when they’d appeared in the air above the island. Since Potter Haven was three hundred nautical miles from Fiji, he rather hoped that the isolated storm hadn’t had any impact on anyone else.
Exhausted, he crawled into the lounge chair beside her, arranged her so she was the little spoon, and closed his eyes. He’d rest just a minute then he would figure out what to do about going back to Hogwarts.
* * * *
Sirius took a deep breath and relaxed as he caught sight of them. The house looked like a little worse for wear but they were fine if a bit sand-covered. Castius already had his wand out performing diagnostic charms on them both. It was worrying that Harry slept through it.
“She’s magically exhausted but not to a dangerous degree and so is he.” Arnou held out his hand. “Godric.”
The snake appeared draped over the two teens and raised his head, hood snapping open. “Yes, Speaker.”
“How much of Harry’s magic did you require to take this trip?”
“Master Harry was in his dragon form,” Godric said. “I required a great deal of magic to transport him in that state.”
Castius nodded and turned to Sirius as the snake returned to sentry duty. “Harry’s exhausted because he basically provided the magic for the trip.” He focused on Sirius. “They told you he was a bloody dragon when they did this, right?”
Sirius turned to Minerva. “What?”
“I…” Minerva took a deep breath. “His dragon form was the only thing that could’ve gotten close enough to her to touch her. She melted all the glass at the head table with the amount of heat she was throwing off when it first started. I apologize if I wasn’t clear before we left Hogwarts.” She sat down in a chair next to a large round table. The wood of the table was slightly scorched. “She…”
“They’re both going to be fine,” Sirius said quietly.
“She called a magical storm that is the stuff of legend,” Minerva snapped. “How did you… Sirius. I don’t understand how you made it through his maturation.”
“He started very young but his big event happened when he was fourteen,” Sirius admitted.
“The night of the Yule Ball,” Minerva guessed. “He lost his temper?”
“Merlin did he,” Sirius exclaimed. “It was nightmarish. I don’t know what was worse—the fact that he didn’t shift into his animagus form or the traits he took on instead. His skin turned ebony, his tongue forked, his eyes practically glowed, and scales emerged from his skin down his neck, arms, and legs. Dobby and Star barely managed to contain him. He chain apparated all the way to Hogsmeade. The wards at Hogwarts saved Viktor Krum’s life that night—Harry bounced off them. Star admitted that they were forced to stun him twelve times before they subdued him. Half of the Glain Neidr woke from a dead sleep and frankly, it was only the clear headed thinking of their High Warlock at the time that protected Hogwarts from a full on invasion. They were ready and certainly able of going to war in those fifteen minutes. We kept him magically sedated for nearly a week because of his temper.” He looked towards his son. “His conclave took turns casting magical restraints on him—he burned through them on an hourly basis during his maturation. It was an international mess.” He glanced around the island and sighed. “I should contact the ICW. There is no telling what her storms looked like out here.”
“You’re going to blame Harry for them?” Minerva guessed.
“Blame is such an ugly word,” Sirius said dryly. “The House of Potter is going to claim responsibility for any expense or damage incurred during this instance. It was Harry’s decision to bring her here.”
“I didn’t give him much of a choice. He asked me if he could suppress her magic and I refused him,” Minerva whispered. “I… that was a mistake on my part. The idea was horrifying but I should’ve trusted him to make the best decision for her.”
“It’s a pretty scary thing to be asked,” Sirius admitted. “They did it to Harry but frankly no one in his conclave was strong enough to suppress his magic for more than a few hours a time.”
“I’ve put them under a strong sleeping charm,” Castius said abruptly. “We can use the portkey Dumbledore crafted to get them back to Hogwarts.”
* * * *
“The good news is that his core is replenishing quickly,” Castius said as he joined Minerva and Sirius at a small table near the back of the infirmary. “The more interesting news is that he’s essentially feeding her magic as well.” He took a deep breath. “He’s gathering wild magic for her.”
“Are they sharing magic?” Minerva asked, her cheeks flushing with shock.
“No, not in the traditional sense and certainly not on a conscious level. His magic is protecting and sheltering her. It’s like he created a conduit for her but he is… providing a throttle on the amount of magic she’s absorbing.”
“That’s…” Minerva huffed. “What does that even mean?”
“I don’t know,” Castius said ruefully. “I’ve never seen anything like it and he’s not the first magus I’ve encountered.”
“There hasn’t been a magus… in hundreds of years,” Minerva protested.
Castius accepted the tea that Sirius offered him without comment. “I’m six hundred forty-seven years old, Minerva. I thought you knew. I apprenticed with Master Hiro Ito. All of his apprentices are granted the right to drink from his blood stone after their thirty-fifth year.”
“What’s a blood stone?”
“I believe you Brits called Flamel’s a Philosopher’s Stone. Surely you don’t think he was the first or the only to ever create one?” Castius smiled at her shock. “Such isolation isn’t good for your soul, you know. He’s shielding her quite effectively which is why we were unable to separate them.” He glanced towards the enlarged infirmary bed where they were both still cuddled together—practically in the same position they found them in. “What have done about the people who witnessed her melt down in the hall?”
“We can’t memory charm the whole school,” Minerva murmured.
“I beg to differ,” Castius said evenly. “We certainly could though I could see why Dumbledore might be reluctant to take such action. This is her third episode of extreme accidental magic. You’re going to have to make some sort of announcement regarding it. You don’t want her peers to fear her or her magic.”
“No, nothing good will come from that,” Sirius said. “I worked really hard to prepare… Europe for Harry’s gifts as a parselmouth. I reached out to Castius and finally Master Ito because I needed help with him. I wasn’t going to allow my son to grow being ashamed of something that he was born with.”
“Born with?” Minerva questioned. “Albus has always theorized that Harry received the gift from…”
“No,” Sirius said shortly. “Harry was speaking to snakes before he was capable of forming words. Lily must have put upwards of forty magical snakes out of the house when he was a baby. They’re very attracted to him and his magic. We had to erect wards to keep them out of the cottage in Godric’s Hollow and I did the same in Paris. He bought his first two vipers from a pet store because they begged to go home with him but the others—except for the Rowena—have all come to him on their own. It only got worse after he was… well after the Chamber of Secrets. It’s like they could smell that basilisk on him or maybe in his magic. I don’t know.”
“His magic shifted and changed after the events of the Chamber,” Castius allowed. “His parselmagic casting took on a quality I’ve rarely seen in men four times his age. Fortunately, for Hermione, her maturation has been coming for more than a year already. We can hope her final awakening won’t be violent.”
“This wasn’t it?” Minerva demanded at a near shout.
Castius bit down on his lip and shook his head even as his eyes lit with amusement. “Oh, no, dear, I’d think not. Her core is still gently expanding and while she’s certainly powerful at this point she’s still hovering at enchantress as far as power goes.”
“You checked?” Minerva asked her tone mild but her gaze hardened.
Castius held up a hand. “No, of course not. First and foremost, that charm is illegal in the UK and second, Harry would be furious with me for such a breach of her privacy. I don’t have a specific number but I do have enough experience to determine what her general rating would be if the charm were cast.”
“And that would be?” Minerva asked quietly.
“In the thirteen hundreds, which means she has a bit to go before she reaches Harry’s level. He went over eighteen hundred shortly after his birthday. We won’t test him again until their bond is solidified. His magic is fluctuating too much for it to be accurate at this point anyway. He’s already unconsciously investing a portion of his magic in protecting and strengthening the small bond they do have. Considering the way the bond has already tethered to her, she’s doing the same.”
“That’s good, right?” Minerva asked.
“Considering how new their acquaintance is, yes, that’s good. It means that despite whatever they might be saying aloud to each other that they are very close magically and emotionally to a full bond. They may hover at this point for weeks or months. It depends greatly on their own actions and outside influences.”
* * * *
Harry had his wand in his hand the instant he woke. He’d gone to sleep in the warm air of the South Pacific but he was definitely not on the veranda any more. Only the sweet warmth of Hermione curled up against him kept him from moving. He cataloged the sounds around them, a low conversation some distance away, the subtle scent of his father’s cologne in the air. Sandalwood, which meant Castius. Jasmine, which he had associated with Minerva McGonagall since he’d met her. Stargrass salve. Not something that Castius made a habit of carrying. He opened his eyes and looked around. There were two rows of cots and at the end of the large room, his father was sitting with Minerva McGonagall at a table with a full tea service set out between them.
He relaxed as he realized they were in the main ward of the infirmary. He holstered his wand and shifted the blanket they were under around Hermione as he slipped from the bed. Harry lingered for a few seconds, brushing her hair from her forehead and sighed. A glance out the window told him he’d woke in time to see his second sunrise in a matter of hours. Traveling around the world in a few minutes certainly made for new experiences. Rowena slithered off him and dropped down onto the bed. She wrapped herself around Hermione’s wrist and Harry took a deep breath.
“Are you alright?”
Harry turned, not surprised to find that his father had made his way across the room to him. “I’m surprisingly good but I don’t feel all jittery like I do after potions. So… what’s up?”
Sirius sighed. “You harvested wild magic in your sleep.” He glanced towards Hermione. “You fed it to her as well.”
Harry flushed. “I would never…”
“No, lad, you didn’t share magic from your core with her and honestly even if you had you were unconscious and the circumstances were completely out of your control. Castius said you provided her a conduit and moderated the flow of magic into her.”
“I went to sleep thinking that I would need power to get us back to Hogwarts,” Harry admitted. “My magic has never responded like this before.”
“She brings out protective and territorial aspects of your magic that perhaps you’ve never dealt with before,” Sirius allowed.
“I don’t understand,” Harry admitted quietly and flushed when his father raised one eyebrow at him in surprise.
“She’s your Lady, Harry. That’s how your magic sees her and we both know how your magical soul is reacting to hers. You’re influencing her and her magic to an untold degree just by being in the same school with her. Did you honestly think she’d have no impact on you?”
Harry bit down on his lip. “That would be pretty arrogant of me.”
“Indeed,” Sirius agreed.
“I could use a shower and a meal,” Harry admitted. “But I don’t think I should go far from her until she wakes up.”
“There is a shower in the infirmary you can use,” Sirius said and motioned towards the table. “I’ll see about food.”
* * * *
His hair was singed. He reviewed the damage with a rueful sigh. “Star.”
The elf appeared immediately. “Good morning, Master Harry.”
“I’ve got a bit of a problem,” he admitted.
She nodded and popped herself to the counter. “Yes, turn around.” She picked up his hair brush. “I have to cut it.”
He almost groaned in distress. “Oh, but Star…”
She huffed. “You be knowing hair can’t be repaired with magic. Don’t be silly.”
He did know that. Hair was essentially non-magical, except for the root which held enough residual magic from a witch or wizard to allow for short-term uses like Polyjuice. They could do temporary spell work and even transfiguration but it would fall away in a matter of days. “How much?”
“Most of it,” Star admitted. “I can be asking Healer Arnou for a growth potion.”
Harry made a face. “No way, Dad had to shave four times a day while he was regrowing his hair over the summer. A couple of days there he looked like Padfoot while he was human.”
“I can’t walk around the school like that.”
“People be thinking you not vain,” Star said thoughtfully as a pair of scissors popped into her hand. “They be fooled.”
He resolved to take it like a man and relaxed against the counter while she worked. After the second large section fell, he closed his eyes and reminded himself sternly that he adored Hermione and it wasn’t her fault. Hair could be regrown, eventually. Star popped away briefly and returned with hair products for his kit which he’d gladly stopped using over a year ago. With a sigh, he turned and faced the mirror. He had maybe two inches of hair left. It was the shortest he’d had his hair since he was ten years old but it didn’t look bad. He worked some product into it so it would stick up artfully instead of haphazardly and shared a disappointed look with Star.
“You look like you did when you be small boy.”
“Shut it,” Harry said with a laugh.
Star smirked. “I liked you better small. I could keep track of you easier.” She sat down on the counter and started to clean his brush manually. “I not be liking what happened last night, Master Harry.”
Harry didn’t know how to respond to that so he waited for her to continue.
“She could’ve hurt you,” Star said. “You not even stop to think about it. You be very lucky all she did was burn your hair!”
“What should I have done instead?” Harry asked.
“I not know,” Star admitted. She tossed his brush on in his kit with a little huff. “She special and important to you, I know. We all know. We be looking forward to our Lady Potter but she need more help than you can provide.”
Harry started to respond but Hermione’s voice reached him despite the fact that he was down a hall and behind a large oak door. “We can discuss this more later,” he said as he rushed out of the bathroom.
By the time he entered the main part of the infirmary, Hermione was struggling against two different sets of magical restraints and winning. He could see the magic bleeding away as she fought and snap like string as she broke through both her mother and Poppy’s restraint spells. She rolled off the bed and fell to her knees shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. Fortunately, her magic remained stable. He started to move towards her and his father grabbed his arm. Harry frowned at his father and very carefully pulled free of the man’s hold. Sirius sighed and held up a hand in defeat.
Harry slipped around the two healers and Minerva McGonagall and did his best to ignore the fact that the older woman was in tears. He went down on his knees in front of her and carefully picked up one of her hands.
“Magic is the most terrible thing I’ve ever known,” Hermione whispered.
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “But it’s also the most amazing.”
“Did I hurt you?”
She looked up then, tears continued to slip down her cheeks. “Oh, no, your hair. Did I…” She touched her own.
“You’re immune to the effects of your own magical fire,” Harry said wryly. He ran his fingers through his hair. “It’ll grow back.”
“I’m so sorry,” she said, her mouth trembling. “I could’ve hurt or killed you last night.”
“I’m a lot tougher than I look,” Harry promised.
“Why did you…” She took a deep breath. “You should’ve suppressed my magic, Harry, instead of letting me… I could’ve killed you!”
“You didn’t,” Harry said and held fast to her hand when she started to pull away from him. “No. Don’t do this, okay? I make my own decisions and I was exactly where I wanted to be last night.”
“No buts,” Harry said as he helped her stand. “You need some food.” She started to cry in earnest again and he pulled her close. “You’re kind of a pansy. Who knew?”
“I’m not!” She protested, even as she curled her fingers into his shirt. “I’m not… you take that back!”
“You’re going to have to make me,” Harry said softly against her hair and laughed when she poked him fairly hard in the ribs.
He guided her over to the table and said nothing while her and her mother had a quiet discussion about what she should eat. By the time a Hogwarts elf delivered a meal, her tears had dried up and she was trying hard to appear as normal as possible.
“Star.” The elf appeared in a shimmer of magic, which told him she’d been with him since she’d cut his hair. “Would you retrieve Gryffindor’s Tear from Paris, please?”
Star nodded and popped away.
Harry went back to fixing the tea he didn’t want after he shared a pointed look with his father. Star returned within just a few minutes and placed a glossy wood box in front of him. “Thank you. That’ll be all.”
Star nodded and after a brief glance at Hermione departed without another word.
“She’s upset with me,” Hermione said.
“No,” Harry denied as he drew his blackwood wand and took a deep breath. “She’s upset with me.” He raised an eyebrow when she started to shake her head. “I’ve never outright lied to you.” She flushed with shame and averted her gaze briefly. “Star has always found me a little difficult and like the other elves that were bonded to the House of Potter when my Aunt almost murdered me, she is deeply protective of me. I was a little reckless with myself last night and that pisses her off.”
“Alright,” Hermione said quietly as she stirred her porridge.
Harry watched her for a few seconds then focused on Minerva McGonagall. “I had years to allow for the expansion of my magical core.”
“Your father said,” Minerva murmured. “I owe you an apology, Harry. I told you… I told you that I trusted you with her welfare and…”
“It was an unexpected question. My father said no the first three times Castius asked him if they could suppress my magic. It is a horrible position to be in. The fact is that even if you’d given me permission to do it there was no guarantee I would’ve been successful. Godric was barely containing her and he’s a fully matured elemental viper.”
“What is Gryffindor’s Tear?” Hermione asked.
“The biggest witch’s best friend I own,” Harry said with a wry grin. He opened the box and turned it so that both McGonagalls could see it.
“Oh my God,” Hermione said wide-eyed. “That’s… what… is that?”
“It’s a five carat diamond pendant.”
She sent him a hard look. “It’s more than that.”
“Yes,” Harry agreed. “It’s a dverger war ward. The only one of its kind and literally priceless. Quite famous the world over actually.”
Hermione’s gaze narrowed. “You aren’t giving that to me.”
“No, I’m not,” Harry relaxed back in his chair and crossed his legs. “It’s ritually entailed to my estate and cannot be given to anyone. The use of it can, however, be gifted to an individual if I so choose.”
“Why are you offering it to Hermione?” Minerva asked and put a hand on Hermione’s arm when she started to protest.
“Her magic is going to continue to surge and grow. Her temper will at times get the best of her and no amount of self-control is going to have any impact on that,” Harry said. “We could separate for the time being. I could return to Paris and allow her core to settle down but there is no guarantee that separation would do what we need. What she experienced last night bordered on a magical upheaval. We’re just very fortunate she magically exhausted herself before she damaged her core.”
“You’d leave me?” Hermione asked quietly.
“I could and would put some distance between us if it were for your own good,” Harry said. “I don’t want to do it but if it comes down to it and that’s the only viable solution until your maturation is complete then I will.”
Her gaze dropped the diamond. “You didn’t answer the question.”
“This ward was created for Godric Gryffindor’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Potter. Her magic was chaotic and it remained so her entire life. They used Gryffindor’s Tear to hide how dangerous she was because they feared those in power at the time might seek to use or kill her. Any loss of control she had was contained in the ward. It is specifically designed to contain the magical outbursts of a maturing archmagus which is what Elizabeth was.” He touched the box. “Our circumstances are different, of course. Despite a few temperament issues, neither of us have a chaotic magic problem.”
“What happened to her?” Hermione asked quietly.
“She was taken from her father’s land by a dark wizard. His name isn’t mentioned in the family grimoire.” Harry cleared his throat. “Elizabeth took off the ward and her magic lashed out at him and his companions. She killed forty-seven wizards in a matter of minutes and disrupted the ritual marriage they were attempting to force her on her. In that time, a woman of that sort of power was coveted as much as she was feared. Her father didn’t believe she’d ever be safe off his land so he confined her here with an oath on her magic and she died in a small cottage on the northern boundary of the Dark Forest.”
“Will it prevent her from performing magic on purpose?” Minerva asked. “I’m not unfamiliar with the legends of the Tear but I’ve never seen it or read much about it.”
“No but it would have to be bonded to her with a blood ritual.” He put his wand down on the table in front of him. “She’d have to willingly enter my ritual circle.”
Hermione glanced between them. “That’s a big deal?”
Minerva wince and Harry raised an eyebrow.
“What?” Hermione asked.
“It would be considered a very intimate experience,” Harry said neutrally and shared a glance with his father who had the gall to smirk. “I’ve never allowed anyone inside my personal ritual circle before. I’ve cast magic with my conclave and individually with both my father and Castius but this would be…”
“If you weren’t already obviously besotted with him, I’d never allow it,” Minerva said shortly.
Hermione blushed. “Mum.”
“She only means that such experiences often result in a more intimate awareness of the wizard performing the bonding,” Harry said. “And in some cases a false affection can be a short-term side-effect.” He closed the box. “Aunt Min, it took her a while to lose her temper again, we can perhaps hold off on this until the two of you have had a chance to talk.”
“No,” Minerva said quietly. “It needs to be done. We can’t risk her core being damaged. It could cripple her magically for life.”
Hermione only nodded. “Can you do it now? It wouldn’t make you ill, would it?”
“No, it’s a pretty simple ritual,” Harry said quietly. He took a deep breath and averted his gaze.
“If you don’t want to do it, I understand,” Hermione said quietly.
“I wouldn’t have had Star retrieve the pendant if that was an issue,” Harry said shortly. “I’m just not sure you trust me enough for this.”
She flushed. “That’s not fair. You know I trust you.”
“There are levels of trust,” Sirius said interrupting them before they could work themselves into an argument.
“Is this about your hair?” Hermione said abruptly. “I’m honestly really very sorry.”
Harry laughed. “It’s maybe a little bit about the hair.” He ran his fingers through the short dark mess on his head. “It’s… I’ve handled elemental fire for months with no sort of backlash like this. Rowena and Godric trust me innately and as a result have never burned me. They control how their fire interacts with other people.”
Hermione huffed. “Quite frankly I think you’re expecting too much from me.”
“You are the brightest witch of the age,” Harry said with a little smirk and held up a hand in supplication when she pressed lips together in a small frown. “Let’s get this blood ritual on the road.” He picked up the box and stood from the table. “Madam Pomfrey, perhaps a pepper up potion for us both?”
Poppy nodded. “Of course. Now or for after?”
“After,” Harry said. “I think in order to discourage any sort of rumors about her being dangerous to the student body she needs to be at breakfast like nothing happened. The Headmaster will make an announcement?”
“He’s working on the wording now,” Minerva agreed. “I’ll speak to him about the Tear and what it will do for her.”
Harry drew his blackwood wand and walked to the back of the infirmary as his father stood and secured the door with a series of privacy charms and wards. “Right, then.” He turned to Hermione who had followed him from the table. “What do you know about ritual magic?”
“It is our oldest and most sacred method of using magic to influence the world around us,” Hermione said. “Besides my adoption ceremony, the only thing I’ve seen come close was what you did when in the DADA classroom. I have two books on the subject but I haven’t had a chance to even open them.”
Harry nodded. “Okay, there are two kinds of ritual circles. The first is the sort that is cast by the leader of a coven or conclave and it is an open circle that others can join in and expand with their own magic. It allows for the harvesting of magical power and intent to be used for ritual purposes. This is a very shallow magical sharing as the ritual circle draws the magic out of the participant and to the caster so there is no direct interaction at a core level. Such magical sharing is common among mature practitioners of our craft.”
Hermione nodded. “I understand. I watched… you used the magic of the other wizards in the DADA class room.”
“You’re a High Warlock,” Hermione said shrewdly. “Right? You’ve a conclave.”
“Yes, the Glain Neidr,” Harry said. “I’ve been part of the conclave half my life and took my place as High Warlock on my fifteenth birthday.”
“That’s young,” Hermione whispered. “Too young. Don’t you have enough responsibility?”
“It was an honor,” Harry corrected. “And it was determined based on my abilities. I earned it and honestly it’s rare that a man of my position finds himself in circumstances where he’s allowed to earn such a thing. I’ve been given far too much in my life for very little effort on my part.”
“Good.” Harry nodded to himself. “The second kind of ritual circle is extremely personal. I cast such a circle when I meditate and when I work on my Occlumency. Such magical ritual circles are uniquely protective of the person who casts them so allowing a second person to penetrate such a circle is…” He glanced briefly at his father and her mother before taking a deep breath. “Intimate.”
“Intimate,” Hermione repeated. “Intimate, like sex?”
“That’s…” She frowned. “Really?”
Harry turned to Minerva. “She needs a serious introduction to Magical Theory before she participates in your coven.”
“I’m aware,” Minerva said dryly. “Breakfast begins in an hour, lad, handle your business like a proper wizard so we can get about our day.”
“Right.” Harry took a deep breath. He summoned two pillows from a nearby cot and dropped them on the floor in front of him. He paused and cleared his throat. “I need an athame. She can’t share mine.”
“Use mine,” Sirius said quietly. He pulled a gleaming black blade from his boot and offered it to his son.
Harry took the athame with a steady hand and nodded. “Hermione, give Rowena to someone. She’s not mature enough for this.”
Hermione pulled the snake from where she was snug around her neck and handed the coiling snake to Sirius. Her attention, however, remained focused on Harry as he wove his personal circle with elegant sweeps of his wand. Glowing runes rose in the air around him, and the air grew heavy with his magic as his voice resonated throughout the room with a distinct, otherworldly quality. He cast in Latin, perhaps in deference to her mother. She suddenly had absolutely no doubts whatsoever about his placement as the High Warlock of a conclave full of adult wizards.
She watched him holster his wand and to turn to her even as his magic heaved like an ocean around him. Wild, she thought. His magic, while refined and sophisticated, had a feral underbelly that was exciting. Harry offered her his hand and she took it without even thinking about. He gently drew her through the ward he’d created with the runes and she shuddered as his magic drifted over her. Every inch of her was drenched in the magic he’d let loose within the confines of his personal circle.
He guided her to the pillows and they knelt together. Harry placed the box between them and flipped open the lid. She made every effort not to flinch or shy away from him when he cut his palm.
He offered her the athame without word and with a brief glance towards her mother; Hermione took it and cut her palm enough to draw blood. The pain was sharp but fleeting. Harry picked up the pendant and pooled the entire thing in her hand. It was light in weight physically but she could feel the magic of it rushing around them as he covered the pendant with his own hand.
Hermione shuddered as his magic shifted around them and his hand clenched around hers, the pendant grew warm between them. She took a deep breath then another as arousal settled low in her belly and her knickers dampened as her body responded. Their gazes met and his eyes lit up with amusement as he must have guessed her predicament.
There was another rush of heat between them and he pulled his hand free from hers. She looked at the pendant, and found it resting in her healed palm glinting in the early morning sunlight. It was beautiful, the teardrop diamond hung from a second round diamond. The platinum chain sparkled as if it was brand new instead of a few hundred of years old. She wondered briefly what sort of chain it had been on it in the past.
Harry picked up the necklace, unfastened the clasp, and slipped it around her neck silently. She felt a series of charms activate even as he withdrew his hands. He drew his blackwood wand, pulled the runes down one by one and dispelled them with a slashing motion through each shining symbol.
“Wow,” she whispered breathlessly.
Harry grinned and shared a look with Minerva who laughed. “Dragon, no. Ritual, yes.”
Minerva sighed. “She’s always been difficult to impress. I had to resort to bloody party tricks during her first home visit to get her to believe that I was actually a witch.”
Hermione blushed and touched the pendant. “What sort of charm work is on it?”
Harry stood and offered her his hand, which she took immediately. “A sticking charm, anti-choking since the chain is unbreakable, and a very mild repelling ward that will prevent anyone but the two of us from touching it. It also has a standard anti-theft ward on it that would return the pendant to me if it were stolen from you.”
“What happens if I have another episode?”
“The ward will activate and gentle your magic,” Harry began. “If that doesn’t work, it’ll force you unconscious.” He paused and took a deep breath. “So if you get in trouble and are in danger, you take it off immediately. Let your magic do whatever it wants to keep you safe and we’ll hide the bodies afterward.”
“That’s a deal,” Hermione agreed.
* * * *
“Are you alright?” Sirius asked the moment the door closed on Harry’s private quarters.
“I’m irritated with myself,” Harry said. “I was arrogant and stupid. I called myself learning all I could about soulmate bonds but I didn’t bother to fucking understand the ramifications of what it would mean. She’s my mirror, my equal. The other half of me. How in the hell did it never cross my mind that she would be magically powerful like I am?”
“Lad, it wasn’t the case with your parents,” Sirius said quietly. He sat down on the sofa beside his son and sighed. “Lily was more powerful than your father by quite a lot. Her Myrddin Rating was over thirteen hundred while James topped out around a thousand during his maturation.”
Harry absorbed that in silence and took a deep breath. “Then there is another reason for our power dynamic. If it’s not a result of us being soulmates then what is it? Magus are rare and yet we both know that she’ll reach that level within the next year. She’s already in the fourteen hundreds on the Myrddin scale. I haven’t done the charm but I’ve interacted enough with her magic to know.”
“Could you maintain a soulbond with someone who wasn’t a magus?” Sirius asked baldly. “The difference between your parents was a few hundred points but they were both in the same level within the scale—warlock and enchantress. We also have to consider what being a parselmouth has done to your power levels.”
“I can’t regret embracing it,” Harry said quietly. “But if it is the cause of putting Hermione in danger… I’m not sure I could handle that well.”
“You’ll handle it,” Sirius said. “Your gifts in parselmagic saved the world, Harry, and very few people will ever know that. Had Voldemort returned to a body—his ambitions could’ve been the death of us all. He wouldn’t have stopped with Britain. He would’ve never been content to just rule over magicals. Hermione… well, you and I both know, the likelihood of a Muggle-born surviving a blood war with a monster like Tom Riddle in play.”
Harry nodded. “Right.”
“The two of you will get through this and everything will be fine,” Sirius murmured and pressed a kiss against Harry’s temple. “You’re stronger than you know and that beautiful young woman of yours is just as strong. I have every faith in you both. Also? You’ve got me and I’m a total badass.”
Harry laughed. “You are.”
Sirius ruffled his hair and sighed. “Ah, lad, your hair.”
“Shut up,” Harry said crossly. “I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“And I don’t blame you,” Sirius said with a sad shake of his head. “You look like a ten year old.”
“That is a wretched thing to say,” Harry snapped. “Don’t you have a job to do?”
* * * *
“Magical maturity comes to each of us differently,” Albus began, his gaze shifting around the room. He had everyone’s undivided attention that was for certain. “For some of us, great magical power is a double edged sword. It is indeed an honor to be given such power but coming into such a gift can be difficult and frightening. Miss McGonagall is an enchantress level witch who will shortly turn seventeen. Her magical maturation began over the summer and while she has a great deal of control over herself, there will be times when that will not be the case through no fault of her own. We are all, at one time or another, at the mercy of our magic.”
He cleared his throat. “The Earl of Gryffindor has graciously gifted Miss McGonagall with the use of Gryffindor’s Tear. As many of you know, the Tear is a dverger war ward specifically tailored to help moderate and control magical outbursts like Miss McGonagall has already suffered three times this year.” He watched all of the older students immediately relax while some of the younger ones still looked slightly confused. “The Tear was created many hundreds of years ago to help protect a young woman in the Gryffindor family who had uncontrollable magical outbursts. Unfortunately, she suffered them her entire life, which will not be the case with Miss McGonagall. The Tear never once failed in its duty to protect the witch it was made for or those around her. Any questions?”
Astoria Greengrass popped right up off the bench and waved her hand in a way so reminiscent of Hermione McGonagall herself that several teachers at the head table snorted in unison.
“Yes, Miss Greengrass.”
“Are Hermione and Lord Harry okay? No one came to tell us anything last night.”
Albus has the grace to flush because he realized that nearly everyone in Gryffindor was looking at him with irritated expressions. “My apologies. Yes, of course, they’re fine. They’ll be joining us shortly for breakfast. Please refrain from asking them questions, they had exhausting evening as you might have imagined.”
The doors opened and Minerva entered with Harry and Hermione. The two teenagers paused briefly before heading to the Gryffindor table in the silence. They slipped onto the bench.
“Merlin’s pants, Lord Harry, what happened to your hair?” Astoria asked aghast.
Harry sighed and glanced briefly at Hermione as everyone leaned in to hear his answer. “When a wizard plays with fire he must be prepared to deal with the consequences.”
Hermione blushed as everyone laughed. “Honestly.”