A Manticore's Love.

A/N: Those of you that are reading the Prophecy series can skip this, but for those of you that aren't, here's a bit of background on James Evans and Tiffany Potter. James and Tiffany are the only living Soulbonded couple in the world. The Soulbond is a complete melding of every part of two people. They see, feel, hear, taste, and basically experience everything each other does. If Tiffany stubs her toe, James can feel it. If James thinks about Purple Primates, Tiffany knows it. They are one person in two bodies. This comes with two major disadvantages; first, they age three years for ever year that passes, and no couple has ever lived more than fifteen years after the day they bonded. The second disadvantage is unique to James and Tiffany. They bonded in their first year at Hogwarts, and the pressures of their aging are beginning to affect them.

Chapter one: James and Tiffany.

Saturday morning, in the dim pre dawn light, two windows opened in Hogwarts, and two figures flew away from the school. They flew close together, and any Manticore that saw them would know it was James and Tiffany, simply because people without a Soulbond couldn't fly close enough to hold hands as these two were doing.

"Do you really think this is going to work, James?"

"Professor Dumbledore said the couple at the Inn were expecting a young couple, who would be here every weekend for a while. As long as we act the ages we look, we should be able to carry it off."

James and Tiffany were 13 by their calendar ages, but the Soulbond had an extreme physical reaction. For every year that passed, they aged three years. Just two years after bonding, they looked like people in their late teens. This rapid aging was beginning to cause them some difficulty.

Until James and Tiffany, previous Soulbonded couples had bonded after they were adults, and could openly deal with the physical urges and desires that came with the Soulbond. James and Tiffany couldn't do that, and the Soulbond had entered a new phase, and that was what they were going to deal with today.

"James, is this really a good idea?"

"Do we have a choice? I'm not going through the next four years without looking into your eyes."

"What happens if we go too far? Neither of us has solved the problem yet."

Tiffany was referring to the fact that gender based medicines would make the other half of the Soulbond ill until it wore off, and that included most forms of birth control that Wizards and Muggles used. They had found just two forms of birth control that might work, and both had their own problems.

James smiled as they touched down in the back garden of the Hogsmeade Inn. "It doesn't matter right now. I'm more interested in your hair."

"My hair?" Tiffany pretended to be offended. "We're about to spend the whole day alone in a room, and all you can think of is my hair?"

James stopped at the door to the Inn, and turned to look at Tiffany. His mental tone sent shivers of pleasure up Tiffany's spine. "I'm thinking of your hair, because the thought of any other part of you makes my self control today very unlikely." He took her hand, and together they walked into the Inn.

The Hogsmeade Inn had three large rooms downstairs, and four smaller rooms. The larger rooms were the dining room, the kitchen and a library. The smaller rooms were two private dining rooms, an office and a small indoor garden.

James and Tiffany were standing in the entry looking around, when a voice came from a door on the left side of the hall. "Did someone come in?"

"Yes Ma'am." Said James politely. They could see the plants in that room, and then the owner of the voice came out of the door. She was a middle-aged woman dressed in Traditional Gypsy colors. The bright colors were made all the more apparent by the woman's girth. She was a hefty woman, nearly round, and Tiffany mentally scolded James for thinking she looked like a beach ball.

She looked the two of them over, and James noted the sharp glance. Somehow, he thought, she knew exactly who they were, and was choosing to keep quiet.

"You must be the couple Albus owled me about." She said, as she pulled a register from under the counter. "I'll need your names, please, and what room would you like?"

Tiffany had never stayed in any sort of hotel, and James just parroted things he had heard his parents say. "The Evans, and we'd like a suite, please."

The woman looked up at them. "Are you sure about the suite? It's a Galleon a day." She warned James.

James smiled and pulled a leather pouch from his robes. He opened it and gave the woman ten Galleons. "That will cover us for a couple of days."

She put the money away without comment, and pushed the register over for James to sign. "If you would sign here, please."

The woman spoke while James was signing the register. "Breakfast is from 0600 to 0800, and there's snack makings from 1100-1500. Supper is promptly at 1830." She smiled suddenly. "As you might be able to tell though, snacks can be found in the kitchen at any hour, and the House elf will deliver a tray if you wish."

James and Tiffany looked at each other and back at the Innkeeper. "A breakfast tray, please. We'll decide later about the other meals."

The woman nodded, and handed James a key. "You've got the room at the end of the hall upstairs. Go up the stairs, turn right, and it's the last one on the left."

James smiled and thanked the woman. They went upstairs, and down the hall and James opened the door. The door opened into a room with a fireplace, and a loveseat facing it. The only thing they really noticed though was the large bearskin rug in front of the fireplace. It dominated the room, covering more than two thirds of the floor. James took his eyes from the rug long enough to see the paintings and the one door across from the fireplace.

A sudden thought crossed his mind, and he went and opened the door. "Tiffany, I think we might have a small problem." Tiffany looked at the room, and noted that it also had just one other door. That door was open, and she could see that it was a bathroom.

James groaned. "When dad asked for a suite, he had four people, so they gave him suites with two bedrooms. We are a couple, so we get one bedroom."

James and Tiffany had planned to sleep in separate rooms tonight to help reduce the temptations they would be facing. This threw a large kink in those plans.

James went and sat down on the loveseat. "We could ask for a different room." He suggested tentatively

"What are you planning to tell the Innkeeper, to explain why we need two beds?"

"I guess I could sleep out here."

"Or I could," said Tiffany. "In fact, I would fit on the loveseat better than you would."

James reached out suddenly and grabbed Tiffany, pulling her into his lap. "I don't know, it seems to fit us just right." James put his arms around Tiffany, pushing her hair off her neck, kissing the sensitive spot he had found months ago.

Tiffany arched her neck, melting into James. Then she pulled away a little. "James, we came here to try and control this new thing, not snog in front of a fire."

"I know that, but I couldn't resist." James sighed, but let Tiffany sit up next to him. "How do you want to do this?"

"How else? We try it, and try to break out of it when we want to."

"Then let's do it."

James and Tiffany looked into each other's eyes for the first time in three days, and it hadn't changed.

Tiffany saw James's eyes, the vivid green of polished emeralds or a summer meadow, and sank into them, seeing herself in his eyes, and him in her eyes, an endless image, reflected repeatedly. They tried to control it, until the physical sensations started and they were swept away on a tide of emotions and feelings.

James and Tiffany were vaguely aware, somewhere in the back of their heads that this new facet of the Soulbond was strongest on their deepest link, the one they hadn't told anyone about.

Tiffany felt her body responding to James's reactions to the warm, soft form in his arms, and at the same time, she was James, responding to Tiffany. She/he/they felt his/her/their pleasure, moving to increase it, feeling their/her/his pleasure increase as he/she/they touched each other. How long they spent, lost in the feel of each other's mind and body they never knew, but a sudden sharp pain lanced through them, and they broke out of it, blinking dazedly.

They had started on the loveseat, and now they were on the floor lying on the bearskin rug. The sharp pain they had felt had been James's head striking the corner of the fireplace hearth. They sat up, shaking out of the lingering effects of the rapport.

"This may be harder than we thought." James said.

Tiffany took a deep breath that James echoed, and became aware that both of them were dressed only in their underwear. She looked around, their robes were still on the loveseat, and their clothes were scattered over the room.

She sighed. "A lot harder." She stood up, noticing that both of them were sweaty, and that her hair was tangled.

James stood up and stood behind her, wrapping his arms around her. "Finally, I get to take care of your hair properly."

He let her go, and took her hand, leading her into the bathroom. Tiffany saw James's intention in his mind, and stopped him with a thought. He turned to her, in time to see her step out of her panties, and for the first time in their relationship, James saw Tiffany nude in person. He'd seen her body in mirrors and through her own eyes, but this was somehow different. It was stronger, and yet somehow softer.

Tiffany stood before him, and he looked at her. He swallowed twice before he could speak. "Is this really a good idea?"

"I trust you, love. You would never do anything to hurt me."

James stood there for a minute longer, and turned away to prepare the bathtub for them. Tiffany got her shampoo and other hair care things from the small bag she'd brought, and waited.

James half turned, so he could see her, and he smiled. She could feel his amusement at her anticipation of seeing him nude, and she smiled back, putting all of her feelings behind the smile. She felt his reaction, and played on it, walking toward him in a soft glide that emphasized the curves she had grown over the last year.

James stopped her as she reached arm's length, and looked at her. Tiffany could feel his desire, but under that was a deep love that dwarfed the lust into insignificance. James shifted his gaze to her face, just avoiding looking her in the eye, and sending them back into the rapport.

"You are the most beautiful person I will ever see." He stood up, and carefully picked her up, placing her in the garden tub as if she was made of spun glass, and would shatter with the least bump. When she was in the tub, he stood, and removed his boxer shorts. He eased into the tub behind her, and for the first time, they were touching bare skin along the length of their bodies.

Something happened then, as they relaxed, with Tiffany resting along his body. The lust muted somehow, becoming less important than the touch of hands in hands, or legs along legs. They dropped into the rapport, and their bodies were forgotten in this new touch of loving mind to loving mind. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Tiffany was aware of James softly, slowly shampooing her hair, but for the first time since James had started brushing her hair, his physical touch meant almost nothing. They touched, and it was secondary to the touch of their minds, so deeply intertwined that they weren't ever sure they were having separate thoughts

Tiffany had always known that James loved her, but now she could feel his love, not as the person he loved, but as he loved her.

It was fire and ice, every extreme of emotion. Love for her, fear for her, and despair, that they would have such a short time together.

James was feeling Tiffany's love at the same time, her love a shelter from the rage that he always had felt, and spent his life trying to control.

It was a whirlwind that blew through his soul, leaving him in a state of peace that he'd never known.

Later, for the rest of their lives, neither of them would ever know how they got from the tub to the bed, or how they dried off.

They lay there, lost in the rapport, and somewhere along the way, it passed beyond the rapport, and they melded into the one in two that the house elves had always called them.

Tiffany was remembering growing up as a girl in Britain, and as a boy in the Montana Mountains.

James was remembering pranks played in America, and crushes giggled over with girlfriends in England.

Some time later, feelings of mutual hunger brought them out of the melding, but something had changed in them both.

They had always used words and sentences to speak to each other, and now, the thought was enough. As one thought something, the other thought it. It was a place that they had reached when they were deep in the rapport, but had never been able to maintain without it, and now they couldn't come out of it.

"Do we care?"

"No."

"I love you." Which of them said it to whom, they didn't know, and they didn't care. It didn't matter, because they both knew that they were loved, in a way that nobody else on earth could even vaguely conceive, and they pitied those people for a minute, until the feelings of hunger returned.

"I feel like I haven't eaten in a week."

"Me too. Let's go get something."

They walked down the stairs hand in hand, and were greeted at the bottom of the stairs. "Well, I was beginning to wonder if you two were ever going to come out of there." The Innkeeper was standing behind the counter smiling at them.

James looked out the window, and blinked as he realized the sun was going down. Before he could say anything, the Innkeeper handed him a message. "This came for you this morning."

James raised an eyebrow, until he read the message.

"Dear James,

We ran into a snag last night, and need to see you. Send an Owl and let us know when you're coming back, and if it could be before lunch, that would be great."

Flower Child"

"Wait, we were there last night, and I don't…" Tiffany's thought trailed off as they considered their hunger, the Innkeeper's first words, the note and the setting sun.

James looked at the Innkeeper. "It's Sunday, isn't it?"

The woman eyes were laughing, but she managed to keep a straight face. "Why, yes it is. What did you do, sleep all weekend?"