Written by funvince and Beta Read by hearingdr
The woman I love most in the world is a vampire.
She wasn't always one, of course. Hermione Granger started out as human as anyone. Strike that. She was a better human and a better person than anyone I had ever known and she still is.
During the last days of the Second War, Hermione and her team had left the safe boundaries of Hogwarts to get supplies and had been attacked by a scourge of vampires. On Voldemort's orders, Hermione was left as the sole survivor and turned.
I had never forgiven myself for not being there with her.
The sound of Hermione's sobbing broke my heart.
I stood outside the hospital ward trying to summon the courage to enter. I was not scared of Hermione. I could never be scared of her, but I was afraid that I would only make things worse. It was my fault that this happened to her. I knew Hermione would deck me if she ever knew I thought this, but I shouldn't have let her go.
When I thought she was dead, my world had ended. I wished with my entire being that the Healers were wrong and that she was still alive. And it turned out that she was, in a matter of speaking. Was that my fault too?
The sobbing stopped and the silence terrified me. I needed to know that I wasn't dreaming and that Hermione really was only twenty feet from me. My earlier hesitation gone, I rushed into the room.
The sight of black eyes stopped me in my tracks and I gasped. I regretted it instantly. Hermione and I simply stared at each other for countless instants.
Her skin had lost any trace of color it once had. She looked like a porcelain doll, eerily beautiful and awfully fragile. Her once chestnut hair had become a shade of brown so dark that it seemed almost black. The only real color to Hermione's features was the startling redness of her lips.
Hermione broke the gaze first and looked down at her bed sheets. She said quietly, "Why are you here, Harry?"
I shifted my weight slightly and dropped the bag I was holding to the floor. I replied, "You're my girlfriend. Where else would I be?"
Hermione's face filled with astonishment. I didn't blame her. We had never put labels on our relationship. Actually, I wasn't sure if we had one. We could hardly go on dates in the middle of a war after all. And we never had a chance to progress beyond a few kisses and 'I love yous' here and there. But there was more to love than snogging and this was one of those things.
The happiness on Hermione's face drained away and she suddenly looked very small. She said, "I think you should leave. You have to go now."
"I'm not going anywhere. How can you ask me to do that?" I asked edging toward the bed.
Hermione drew back and placed a pillow in front of her. "You don't understand..."
"I understand more than you think. Or have you forgotten who routinely beats you in Defense class?" I said, trying to lighten the moment. Not even a smile from Hermione so I turned serious again. "You're feeling the Hunger. You need blood, but it has to be of a specific kind. Squirrels and rats won't do it. The blood has to be human and it has to be from someone you have an emotional bond with. The emotion in the blood is what makes it nourishing or something. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I think my blood is calling out the loudest to you."
I sat down on the bed, and Hermione slid off and backed into a corner. She sounded frustrated as she said, "I don't want to hurt you! How can you be here? How can you stand to be near me?"
"I'm friends with a werewolf and a half-giant. Voldemort's an idiot if he thinks I'm going to abandon you because of this. I don't have the prejudices most wizards have. You know that."
Hermione shook her head. "It's not the same. Werewolves are only monsters three days a month. Giants aren't inherently violent. But I am."
I opened my mouth to respond when I felt a sudden chill. The air around Hermione appeared to waver and in an instant, everything and nothing changed. She looked exactly the same, but there was an inhuman quality around her that wasn't there before. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I don't know how I knew, but I knew the girl in front of me was no longer Hermione.
She glided over to me and tilted my chin up with a finger. She said softly, "I smell your blood. I want to see the terror in your eyes when I rip out your throat. You have no idea the level of control it takes to keep from draining you dry."
My heart began to beat faster, which is obviously a bad idea when you're around a hungry vampire. The black eyes grew darker and I tried to swallow the saliva I didn't have. Almost every instinct I had told me to run. But one, the most important one, told me that this was where I was meant to be.
I grabbed Hermione's hand and pressed it against my chest. I said, "Stop trying to scare me, Hermione. Only Dementors, Voldemort, and Grawp freak me out, so you can just give up on that. I put up with you when you're so obsessed with studying that you're snapping everyone's heads off. This is nothing. Get this through your head: I love you and that's not changing."
There was a flicker of something in those black orbs.
Encouraged, I pressed further. I asked, "Would it help if you had a drink?"
It was like a switch had been thrown. Hermione stumbled back with stark horror in her eyes. She yelled, "No, Harry! I won't let you do this!"
I held up a hand to stall her protest. I stood up and headed toward my bag. "Don't worry. I haven't become suicidal. And I certainly wouldn't do that to you. But it seems that, for once, I know something you don't."
Hermione stared at the bottle I took out of the bag. The stare was part hunger, part shock, and part shame. "That got to be at least a gallon of blood. The human body only has 5.6 liters. You should be dead."
I grinned. "I get that a lot. Hermione, you're not the only vampire in the world. You're a genius above us mere mortals, but honestly, you can be a little self-centered."
"Harry!" Hermione was smiling now and I knew she had figured it out.
"This is my Duplicated blood. Every week I have to donate a fresh supply because the emotional factor or whatever wears off after a while. It's not that big a deal. We don't live in a horror movie. You don't have to go around with a bad accent saying, 'I vant to drink your blood.'"
Hermione actually giggled and I had never felt so warm. Her eyes were bright and I knew the worst of the depression had faded. I knew from experience that it wouldn't disappear so easily, but at least her mind was off it for the moment.
She stared at me warmly and said, "You don't have to do this, Harry. You shouldn't have to give up your blood. You're not the only one I have a bond with. I'm sure my parents would help me out. My dad already offered to let the Healers attack him with leeches. He's silly like that." Her mouth was smiling, but her eyes remained sad.
I sat down on the bed and after a moment, Hermione sat down next to me. I tried not to show the joy I felt at this. I replied calmly, "I'm sure your parents would help with this, but you know as well as I do that the blood of a lo-lov- er, significant other is the best kind. That's why Dracula spent weeks seducing that Lucy girl. You've known me for seven years. Since I have a feeling that you're not going to get another boyfriend to feed on, you need me. And I want to do this."
Hermione's eyes welled up with tears. "It's not fair for me to need you like this."
I laid my hand over hers and she didn't pull it away. "No, what's not fair is that you've always been there whenever I needed you, and I've got a long way to go to even begin to equal the scales. Please let me do this for you."
Tears streamed down my girlfriend's face. I gently drew her into a hug and she sagged against me. I tried to comfort her as best as I could. I left a little bit after that knowing that Hermione wouldn't want me to see her 'dining.'
I knew that things would be difficult, but I thought that it would be okay after that. I should have known better. I'm Harry Potter. Life hardly ever goes well for me. Excuse me, I'm usually not so cynical, but it's rather difficult not to feel that way at times.
The first few weeks after I visited her in the hospital went well. The other students were understandably nervous around her, but Hermione had never been a very social girl to begin with, so she didn't mind much. It did hurt her to be seen as a person to be feared, but she told me that she had always felt a little separated from other people. Her change simply deepened that gap. She still had her friends and that was all that mattered.
I was greatly relieved by that. I hadn't really expected that people like Ron and Ginny would start treating Hermione like a leper, but a part of me feared the possibility. During fifth year when most wizards and witches thought I was nuts, it really hurt me when people I had known for years, like Seamus, turned against me. I'm glad that didn't happen. Hermione had suffered enough.
Unfortunately, there are always other ways to suffer.
She couldn't go outside anymore because of the sun and magic couldn't protect her vampiric nature from its deadly effects, but Hermione spent most of her time inside anyway. And she had hated garlic before her transformation. Hermione jokingly told me that aside from being incapable of getting a tan nothing had changed.
It was easy to pretend that she simply had an exotic disease and had to make accommodations to it. But I knew better. I saw how she struggled daily with her new violent impulses. It wasn't anything obvious. Where a flare of her nostrils or the narrowing of her eyes would have indicated impatience in the old Hermione, they indicated murderous rage in her new condition. I knew this because of her eyes.
She got this emotionless gaze that made me die a little every time I saw it. A girl like Hermione should never have such a look. If anyone deserved a demon, it should have been me. I already had plenty.
Aside from this, there were even more subtle signs that showed Hermione's increasing unhappiness. Whenever the students came back from a Quidditch game, I saw the tear stains on her parchment and knew whatever she said to the contrary she missed being out in the day.
Hagrid rearranged the schedule so that the Gryffindor Care of Magical Creatures class was held at night. I knew he had his heart in the right place, but I really wished he hadn't done that. Watching the animals shy away from Hermione was the most heart-breaking thing I've ever seen. And that means a lot coming from me.
The pressure finally got to her one day. Malfoy made one of his stupid, racist remarks in the hallway. It wasn't anything he hadn't said a thousand times before, but this time before Ron or I could react, Hermione was on him with her canines extended. She almost managed to pierce Malfoy's throat before the defensive wards keyed to Hermione's aura immobilized her.
I spent the next month coaxing Hermione out of her room. She had her own room, of course. It was a condition set by the School Governors if Hermione was to stay at school. The scent of live, blood-filled humans might have been too tempting for her in an unconscious state. Needless to say, this didn't help me in my case to convince my girlfriend that she wasn't a monster.
At least once a day, I would stop by to give her the homework and her blood and try to cheer her up. I finally understood the pain Hermione must have gone through to comfort me after Sirius' death. These were the times I was so overcome with hatred towards Voldemort that I almost stupidly went out to look for him a few times. Fortunately, Ron would tie me to my bed until the feeling passed.
I knew though that one day soon there would be a reckoning. I would not let that bastard hurt me or anyone else any more.
I finally got Hermione out of her room, and I truly believe that everything could have been salvaged and Hermione could have avoided further pain if it wasn't for that damned poltergeist. The day after Hermione started attending classes again, we were walking to the Common Room when Peeves jumped out of a suit of armor and yelled, "Boo!"
Just like in every case where Hermione got scared and I was around, she reflexively squeezed my arm for comfort. In doing so this time, she crushed the bones in my arm. This was the final straw. Hermione had desperately clung to the belief that she could somehow live a normal life. In one instant, I saw that belief crumble.
She believed that she was a monster. Nothing I said could erase the image of my mangled limb from her mind. Hermione completely withdrew into herself. She would go to classes then spend all of her free time in the library studying. The only times she would speak was to answer questions in class. She had completely regressed to her behavior in first year.
I couldn't force her to talk about it. I could only wait and be there for her. Someone might ask why I kept trying, why I didn't simply cut my losses. If they had to ask, they would never understand. When I saw Hermione, I saw myself at an age where I felt lost and alone and all I wanted was someone to hold me and tell me that I was a good person.
That was not to say that I pitied her. I could never stand having people feel sorry for me and I would never insult Hermione by pitying her. It was just that in some strange way we were connected now by tragedy, so I understood what she needed. I provided that.
It only took a little Skele-Gro to fix my arm, but the damage was already done. Hermione wouldn't touch me anymore. We hadn't done too much touching before because of the strength issue, but the complete absence of physical affection made me feel very hollow. I couldn't imagine what it was like for her.
Since she wouldn't touch me, I touched her. I tried to be subtle about it. I would give her a kiss on the cheek here and a half-hug there once in a while. I knew that she realized what I was doing since she was smart like that, but she didn't ask me to stop. We both needed it too much.
Things continued like this for the next five months until Hermione finally had enough of her self-pity.
The Room of Requirement was silent except for the quiet squeaks our moving quills made. Hermione preferred to study here rather than the common room after the library closed. Naturally, the room was set up as a miniature library in itself with massive bookshelves, comfortable chairs and tables, and a roaring fireplace off to the side.
Hermione had always been something of a night owl, but I wondered if her new nature amplified that tendency. I knew better than to ask though.
Truth be told, I was a night owl too. At least, I'd gotten insomnia enough times from fear of my nightmares to qualify. I suppose there was some irony that I only felt completely safe in Hermione's presence. A vampire keeping away my night terrors. It was a little amusing. I wished I could have shared that observation with the girl next to me. The pre-depression Hermione would have found that quite funny.
I felt a familiar chill and looked across the table expecting to see that the vampire spirit had risen to the surface again. I was surprised to see Hermione staring at me with fury etched across her face.
Having Hermione angry with me was not terribly uncommon, but this strange mixture of her human and vampiric sides unnerved me.
"Will you stop it? It's getting on my nerves!" Hermione cried, glaring at me.
I tried to get her to tell me what she was talking about, but she interrupted me with a growl. "Stop that stupid breathing! And while you're at it, maybe you could go take a bath. I can smell you from over here!"
I struggled to hold onto my temper as I said through gritted teeth, "It's not something I can help."
"Oh, throw that in my face! It must be so nice having to breathe and having a heart that beats! And you don't even think about it, do you? About eating solid food, casting a shadow, or going to the bloody bathroom! I'd give anything to be able to take a piss again. You're such a jerk!"
I reached for her and she batted my hand away. She yelled, "Don't touch me! It doesn't change anything! Why won't you go away? I hate you, Harry. I HATE YOU!"
"You don't mean that," I said with only a slight tremor in my voice. "It didn't work when I did it to you. It won't work now."
Hermione stared at me for a long moment then she replied, "No, I don't hate you." A tear slid down her face. "I hate myself."
A stricken look flashed across her face then it was replaced by pure rage. With an anguished roar, Hermione slammed both her fists on the table and broke it in half. She didn't stop there.
The remaining tables joined the fate of ours. Every chair except mine was shattered into kindling. Bookshelves were slammed against the walls until they broke. Great chunks of stone were ripped from the base of the fireplace and hurled across the room. Hundreds of ripped pages from destroyed books fluttered around the room, a testament to the strength of Hermione's irrationality.
Finally, Hermione sank to her knees and cried.
I quietly made my way around the piles of destruction and gently wrapped my arms around her shaking shoulders. I said, "And I thought what I did to Dumbledore's office was bad. Throwing temper tantrums is my thing! Is there nothing that you're not better than me at?"
Hermione chuckled weakly. She said, "When did you become such a comedian?"
"It's either laugh or cry and I'm a bit too manly for the latter," I replied with a small grin. "That's something you taught me. I wish you could take your own advice, Hermione. I know that now that you're the one suffering, the words you gave me sound pretty stupid. But they're not. I was so angry at you when you told me not to let Voldemort poison every part of my life, but you were right to say it. Because every life has good parts as well as bad ones and maybe you can't see it now, but you have to at least try."
I felt Hermione's body tense as I quoted her own words back to her, but she quickly relaxed. I took that as a good sign, but didn't dare hope that she had taken the words to heart. At least ten minutes went by before Hermione spoke again. "Harry, what does my face look like?"
I was taken back by the question, but before I could say anything, Hermione continued, "I haven't seen myself in months. You know that I don't reflect anymore. And it's too painful to look at old photographs of myself. They show me as I used to be and... I'm not that person anymore."
Hermione's head whipped around at my words and I held her eyes with a steady gaze. "You want to know what you look like. I'll tell you. Your eyes are black now, but I still see the spark in them every time you solve a difficult problem or when you see someone being picked on. Your skin may feel cold now, but you're still the warmest and most compassionate person I know. You may have changed a lot on the outside, but you're still Hermione. So your hair's darker and your lips are redder. So what? You haven't changed in what matters."
"It's not that simple," she said quietly. "You have no idea how horrible my existence is. I'm always Hungry. No matter how much I drink, it's never enough. I hate that part of me sees other people as food. I hate feeling angry all the time and being afraid that I'm going to snap again and really hurt someone. I hate not knowing if I even have a soul anymore. I'm just so tired of feeling scared and empty."
Hermione clenched her fists. "And most of all, I'm so freaking tired of feeling sorry for myself! It's never going to stop. I'm always going to feel this way, but you're right, Harry. There's no point moping about things I can't change. I'm just going to have to deal with it."
Despite her strong words, she was trembling. She looked so fragile and depressed that I acted on sheer impulse and kissed her. Her lips were surprisingly warm, room temperature, in fact. Hermione pressed back against me, wrapping her arms around my neck. I could feel my body heat quickly warming her cool skin.
She froze then gently pushed me away. Her eyes were wide as she stammered, "You don't have to do that. It must be so disgusting for you."
I shook my head and replied, "I've wanted to do that for months. I know that I should have waited until you were ready, but I'm not sorry. That kiss was great. If I don't have a problem with it, you shouldn't either." She still looked worried and I knew why. I gripped her shoulders gently then said, "Stop thinking so much about this. If you hurt me, well, that's what we have Madam Pomfrey for."
I leaned in again and this time she didn't stop me.
She broke two of my ribs that night. I never told her.
Hermione became her old self again, if a bit more melancholy. She slowly rebuilt her circle of friends and was a much happier person for the last few months of school. She still broke down from time to time, but those incidents didn't last long. She may not have liked being an undead creature of the night, but she handled it with admirable composure.
There have been so many times when I toyed with the idea of becoming a vampire so that Hermione wouldn't have to suffer alone. There would be downsides, of course, but I'm nothing if not flexible when it comes to suffering. But I knew that Hermione would blame herself if I ever did anything like that.
I hated feeling so helpless, so I took that anger and that pain and funneled it toward destroying Voldemort. And I did. The details aren't that important. Any decent biography on my life would have the story. The only thing I really remember anyway is helping Hermione torch the body. She never said anything, but it was that single act that allowed her to move on with her life completely.
We graduated from Hogwarts shortly after that. Hermione went out with full honors, despite the many wizards and witches who protested against a vampire being allowed to become a fully qualified wizard. Dumbledore told me the same thing happened when Lupin graduated and it would blow over soon.
In the meantime, Hermione stayed with me at Grimmauld Place. She wanted to stay there, but she was annoyed that she had no other choice. Nobody was willing to hire a vampire and thus, she couldn't afford to stay anywhere else. Despite her outstanding qualifications, she couldn't even get a menial job.
Hermione was outraged over the issue and went on to start a foundation to help vampires, werewolves, and other part-humans get an education or a job in wizarding society. She never forgot her roots in her political aspirations and continued with her campaign to educate people about house-elf rights.
I played Quidditch for the few years this went on. Finally, when Hermione finished setting up her organization, we decided to leave England for awhile. The media attention had gotten unbearable and neither of us had ever liked attention.
We traveled the world though naturally we had to avoid the constantly sunnier areas. It wasn't a hardship. The nightlife in Paris was a beautiful example of the type of world that most people never got to see. For the most part, Hermione and I were happy. This may not have quite been the life we had imagined, but it was far better than many of the alternatives we had envisioned during the war.
By this time, we have overcome some of the problems inherent in a human-vampire relationship. I learned a few spells to enhance my durability and to protect myself against the bloodlust that was now a permanent part of my lover. But there were some things that magic could not fix.
We could not have children for obvious reasons. This was a great source of anguish for Hermione. Adoption was also not an option for us. My life was still threatened by evil even so many years after Voldemort's downfall, and a child would have tried Hermione's patience as kids tend to do and possibly release the monster. She refused to risk a life for her own happiness.
I tried my best to play up the 'dangerous life of a hero' aspect as the reason that we couldn't care for a child, but it was no good. Hermione blamed herself for her sterility and her murderous impulses. I don't think either of us particularly wanted kids, but it's one thing to decide that and another to have that choice taken away completely. We were the honorary godfathers, godmothers, uncles, aunts, and whatnot of many of our friends' children, but it wasn't the same.
There was also the problem of aging that always hung over our heads. Wizards had a lifespan of up to two hundred years, but even that was paltry compared to the virtual immortality of vampires. I was glad that it would take a long time before I would actually look old, not out of vanity, but so Hermione wouldn't be reminded that I would die someday. And she wouldn't.
I believe that was why she refused to marry me. She told me that we didn't need a piece of paper to prove our love and she didn't want to see my name smeared in the newspaper. We already got sent enough hate mail for being together.
I didn't really mind, aside from the ego deflating of being turned down. Maybe it was my deprived childhood, but I didn't really see how marriage made things different from extended, exclusive relationships. I knew what we had was special and while it would have been nice to make it official, it wasn't necessary.
I was more concerned about Hermione as always. We were married in all but name but she wouldn't go that extra step. I believe it was because of the 'till death do us part' portion of the marriage vows and the knowledge that it would always be my death that would separate us. Hermione needed to pretend that would never happen, that she could always say yes at a later date. I respected that, but I refused to accept it. I refused to allow Hermione to lose more of her life, so I decided to do something about it.
It took me fifty years, endless discussions with Dumbledore while he was still alive, thousands of galleons, and tracking down every manuscript on alchemy I could find. It was surprisingly easy to hide my project from Hermione. I told her I was simply indulging in my Quidditch obsession and she never brought it up again. I don't really think she believed that explanation though. I suspected that she thought that I was trying to find a cure for vampirism, and was willing to let me attempt the impossible because she loved me.
There is no cure for vampirism. Vampires are merely corpses animated by a demonic entity and Dark Magic. You can't bring dead tissue back to life. The only 'cure' would be to remove the demon and that would just leave you with a body. A lifeless husk of a body. Needless to say, this wasn't a popular option.
I allowed Hermione to believe I was on a futile, misguided quest to save her, but I wasn't trying to do the impossible. I just wanted to recreate what had already been done. And I finally did.
I created my own Philosopher's Stone.
The Stone on the table resembled the drawings Nicolas Flamel had sketched. Lead consistently turned into gold when contact with the Stone was made. The thing even produced a clear, sparkling liquid when certain steps were carried out. But there was no way to tell if it was the Elixir of Life without drinking it. I wasn't about to make that step without telling Hermione.
I didn't know if I should tell her. What if it didn't work? It would be cruel to raise her hopes like this. I suppose I could give some of the Elixir to a rat or something, but I had no idea if it would even work on nonhuman creatures and Hermione had a thing against animal testing.
I looked at myself in the mirror above my workplace. I was almost ninety years old, but thanks to my magical genes, I only looked like I was in my mid-twenties. This was rather fortunate since Hermione still had the body of a seventeen year old. Even more fortunate for me, her otherworldly aura made her look older, so I didn't have to worry about being arrested for engaging with a minor.
If I waited too long, I would start to look old and I would rather not be an immortal geezer. There was no point in waiting though. It wouldn't be any easier telling Hermione about this in twenty years, so I might as well do this now.
Well, not right now. I wanted this to be special, so I poured some of the Elixir into a vial which I then corked and pocketed along with the Stone. I then used the fireplace to make reservations at Magia dell'Italia, a cozy Italian restaurant.
Hermione enjoyed going to restaurants though not for the regular reasons. She liked the romantic atmospheres, the live music, and getting a chance to dress up and have an intimate conversation with me. Naturally, she didn't eat much since all food tasted bland to her and made her feel funny, but she loved the smell of cooked food.
This was one of the things I loved about her. Most vampires would have hated to be reminded of their inability to eat, but she saw dining as a range of experiences and missing out on a few didn't mean missing out of them all.
A few hours after my call, Hermione and I sat in a magically soundproofed private booth oblivious to the rest of the world. Hermione looked absolutely stunning in the little black dress that women were apparently required to have. Her hair hung down like I liked it curled with cute ringlets. It was with some effort that I remembered the reason I was here tonight.
Hermione must have noticed my anxiety because she said, "Harry, what's wrong? You've been rather quiet."
"What makes you think that anything's wrong?" I asked evasively.
"I told you that I was going to run off with Lupin because vampires and werewolves make natural couples and you congratulated me," she said, giving me an odd look.
I suppose that there was no point in putting it off any longer. I took a sip of my wine then said, "Hermione, you've been a part of my life for so long that I can hardly remember a time when you weren't. I would do anything for you. That's why I have to show you something."
I raised my hand to reach for the inner pocket of my robe, but Hermione grabbed it. She stared at me with shimmering eyes and I read the unspoken question in them.
"Would that be so bad?" I asked quietly.
She dropped my hand and looked away. She said in a choked voice, "If I had a choice, I would be with you forever. I love you so much that it almost frightens me. I don't know what I would do without you. You don't need to ask me to marry you. I'm yours, Harry, heart, body, and soul."
I gently gripped her hand and rubbed little circles on the back of it. I said, "Then why? I think I know the reason, but you'll feel better if you say it."
"I don't want to be alone," she whispered. "Sooner or later, I would be. In this life and the next. I can't be with you even in death."
"You don't know that," I said, feeling like I should say more, but not knowing what.
"I burned my hand on a hotel Bible once," Hermione snapped. "I think that means something, don't you?" She sighed. "But I'm not likely to die any time soon, and that's the problem. Marriage is supposed to be for life. I'm supposed to love, honor, and cherish you forever."
Her despairing eyes bore into mine. She said softly, "How can I do that being what I am? In a thousand years I might forget you. I wouldn't want to, but it could happen. I could forget about you, Ron, the Weasleys, Hogwarts, everything. I can't even bear to think about it, but what I'm most afraid of is forgetting how much I love you. You deserve better than that."
A lump grew in my throat at her words. I couldn't believe that she had carried such pain around for so many years. I wished that I had talked with her about this a long time ago. I felt a slight pang that even after everything that we've been through together there were still some scars that hurt too much to fully share with each other.
Perhaps I shouldn't make too much of that. Relationships were messy. One didn't wake up one day and know everything about their partner. Boundaries and all that. Also, discovering new things about Hermione was part of the joy of being with her. I wondered if after I learned everything about her, if I would get bored with her.
I couldn't imagine that, but when one spoke in terms of centuries, anything was possible. I reminded myself that Nicolas and Perenelle Flamel had been together for hundreds of years. And I couldn't worry about the future now. The present was so much more important.
"I didn't mean to make you feel bad," Hermione said sadly, interrupting my thoughts. "I kept this from you not because I felt like I couldn't talk about this with you, but because I just didn't want to think about it. This was honestly not something I wanted to dwell upon. We've been so happy, Harry. Why worry about things that can't be changed?"
This was a perfect opening. I leaned forward and said, "What if it could be changed? I wasn't asking you for marriage before, though I guess in a way I am. Oh, how about I just show you?" I withdrew the Philosopher's Stone and the vial from my robes.
Hermione stared at the blood-red stone. Her mouth opened and closed soundlessly. She looked up at me and I could see the comprehension in her eyes.
"You said you wanted to be with me forever. Did you mean that?" I asked.
"More than anything," Hermione breathed. She looked concerned. "But I don't want you to risk your health."
I uncorked the vial and held it in front of me. I said, "I've spent fifty years on this. For once, I've done my homework. I know what I'm doing. I've taken precautions against accidentally poisoning myself. Do you trust me?"
"Always," Hermione replied with a hint of resignation. Then she smiled slightly. "But if something bad happens, I'm breaking into Heaven to get you."
I smirked. "Someone certainly has a high opinion of herself."
Hermione lifted her chin. "Are you saying I couldn't?
"Never," I said with a smile. Then I brought the vial to my lips. "If this works, you should see a golden glow around me. At least that's what Dumbledore told me Flamel told him." With those words, I took a gulp.
I waited the longest ten seconds of my life and I let out a sigh of relief when a golden light surrounded me for a moment. Then it sunk in what I had just done.
I laughed nervously then said, "We'll have to wait a few days before I can test to see if my cells have stopped aging. I'll have to take some Elixir every few years to renew the effect. You'll have to give me a moment. This is-"
Hermione grabbed my collar and pulled me in for a passionate kiss. When she finally let go, I gave her a goofy grin and touched my throbbing lips. "I assume that was a thank you."
"I haven't even begun to thank you yet," Hermione replied, giving me a saucy grin. Then her face turned serious. "What you just did, all the research you must have done... I can't believe you did all that for me. You're a wonderful man, Harry Potter. I hope I'm worth it for you. I'm sure you'll get sick of me."
"It seems much more likely that it'd be the other way around," I replied smiling. "I don't know the future and I don't know if we'll always be together. But you will never be alone. And that is why I did this."
Hermione lunged at me again and it took all my power to apparate us both back home.
We've been together for seven hundred and fifty four years now. I can hardly wait until next Sunday when she marries me again. Don't get me wrong. She's never divorced me or anything like that. Hermione simply insists that our marriage lapses every century and until we renew our vows, we're single again. I strongly suspect that her main motivation for this tradition is to wear the newest wedding fashions.
Life hasn't always been easy for us, but it's been very satisfying. I must admit that there are times that I get overcome by such a strong longing to see Ron or Hagrid that I almost forget that they've been dead for ages. I know Hermione misses them too and I finally understand Dumbledore's words about death.
The wizards and witches who study death in the Department of Mysteries have come up with the theory that when vampires die, their human and demonic aspects are separated and judged on their own basis. Some new findings gained from the Veil seem to indicate this, but it'll be decades more before anything concrete can be said with certainty.
This theory might ultimately turn out be false, but that's okay. I'd like to go on the next great adventure someday, but I'll forego it forever if it means going without Hermione. Because an eternity in Heaven without her is no Heaven at all.
I look forward to the next thousand years.