Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter Universe all other claimants to anything to do with the H.P. story are simply hangers on to her glory. I thank her for allowing us mere mortals to play in her world and I promise that while I have Harry in my care nothing too bad will happen to him. I will leave that to J.K.R. herself the last book.

THIS PIECE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK SIX

INTERMEZZO

Chapter 01 Homecoming

Thursday 19th June 1997

It was 10pm and Harry Potter was sitting, dejectedly, at the Gryffindor table in Hogwarts Great Hall, which was otherwise deserted, he had the most depressed countenance imaginable. He had racked his brains but he could see no way forward from the calamitous events of the previous week, God would have to help the Wizard World, its salvation appeared to be beyond him. At eleven the next morning the Hogwarts Express would be leaving, returning the students to their homes after a year which Harry would at best describe as an absolute unmitigated disaster.

Minerva McGonagall, now the Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, came through the double doors, she walked across the hall, sat opposite him and asked, "Is it really that bad, Harry?" as she laid her hands gently on his.

"Well it certainly isn't good, is it?" he mumbled, then he continued, "What on earth am I supposed to do now?"

"Well for now I think that you should come up to my office," she said, "there is one there who might give you some hope and there is also another who wishes to speak with you."

Harry stood disconsolately and trudged out of the Great Hall, accompanying the newly appointed Headmistress all the way through the school to her office. She gave the password that was now 'Wulfric,' they continued up the revolving spiral staircase and into her office.

He was immediately engulfed in a huge hug from his very best friend, she of the bushy hair and beautiful smile, Hermione Granger.

She pulled him over to a small sofa, which was near the fireplace and opposite a comfortable looking armchair, Minerva seemed to have disappeared for the moment and Hermione said, "I do not want you to say anything until I have finished, but there is something which I must tell you. I have known it with certainty for quite some while and I have decided that now is the time I must tell you.

"I am in love with you Harry Potter. I dream of kissing you, of cuddling you and of comforting you in everyway possible. I want to spend the rest of my life with you if you will have me, but whatever you think or decide I will always, always want to be your friend."

The dam broke as Harry burst into tears and said in an almost terrified voice, "No! No Hermione no, if I even thought about it for a minute I would tell you that I loved you as well, but everyone I love dies and without you my life would be less than nothing."

It was not without reason that she was renowned as the cleverest witch of the age; she fully understood what he had said and also what it implied so she simply put her arms around his neck and kissed him.

Thoroughly.

It took no more than fifteen seconds for him to start kissing her back and the kiss continued for over a minute, when they broke apart he softly smiled at her and kissed her again returning her passion with equal measure.

When they parted this time the Headmistress had returned and she was sitting in the armchair across from them, then a voice from above the fireplace said, "You cannot do this thing alone Harry, you need help. Even I took you with me to help."

It was a portrait of Professor Dumbledore and he continued, "I am very tired from the crossing over but we shall meet here next Monday week then we shall discuss our next moves. Minerva is fully briefed on your mission and she will discuss your immediate future with you, however now I am tired and must sleep meantime do not despair, I have already learned much here and things may not be as dire as you think." With that the portrait of the late Headmaster fell asleep.

Harry's abject gloom seemed to have lifted somewhat and Professor McGonagall said, "Besides we two Harry only Remus Tonks and Albus' brother Aberforth have been informed of your mission so now you should tell Hermione everything.

"Tonight.

"The pair of you can catch up on your sleep on the train home tomorrow. Remus will meet you at Kings Cross and both of you along with Hermione's parents will go to Headquarters where Remus now lives and the Grangers are staying for a while. Obviously Kreacher has been replaced so Dobby and Winky have been seconded there since just after Easter, the place has changed somewhat and I believe it would be true to say that you will hardly recognise it now. However I think that both of you will spend the majority of your summer here in the castle so now let me show you to what will become your rooms."

The three stood and the pair followed Minerva out of her office and a short way up the corridor she stopped them at the portrait of a beautiful lady. The plaque said that she was Gwenhwyfar am Glyndwr also known as Guinevere or Ginevra and she gave the password which just happened to be, 'Ginny'.

"Yes it is who Miss Weasley is named for." Minerva said with another small smile.

The portrait had swung open so together they entered a ten-foot wide corridor that was about twenty-five feet long, there was one door straight ahead and one door in the centre of each side of the corridor. It did not take them long to determine that both of the side doors led to large mirror image bedrooms that each had oversized King size beds, very impressive en-suit bathrooms and large dressing room's.

The room straight ahead was huge, at least forty-maybe fifty foot square and it was a combination lounge, study, library and dinning room. Much to Hermione's delight it had two walls completely covered with bookshelves, disappointingly, to her at least, they were only about half full. There were two large comfortable sofas, four squishy armchairs, two desks with chairs, a very large table with several chairs and a small dining table also with two chairs. In addition there were two coffee tables and at least half a dozen side tables spread randomly around the room.

Minerva said, "Time enough for the books later Miss Granger, tonight Harry has to tell you everything he knows about Tom Riddle and the Prophecy that was broken in the Department of Mysteries. If you need a snack or drink just ring the bell on the dining table and a House Elf will bring whatever you require, it is the only way you will be able to eat or drink through the summer so you will have to get used to it Miss Granger." She had seen Hermione's expression and she rang the bell.

A female House Elf appeared and the Headmistress said, "Mimi, these are your charges, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter. You are to look after them to the best of your ability and Miss Granger will promise you that she will not leave any clothes around in an attempt to free you against your will."

Mimi was looking towards the bushy haired girl with terror in her eyes but after Hermione promised not to try to free her, the little elf was very happy to promise to look after them and she told them that all they had to do was say her name and she would come.

Professor McGonagall continued, "I suggest that when Harry has told his tale you return to Gryffindor tower, if anybody asks you can tell them that you have been in a broom-cupboard, you should enjoy proving the point." She added with a small smile and then continued far more seriously, "Nobody is to know what we are really doing and at this time I am afraid that it must include the Weasleys, when we have our meeting in ten day time we may decide differently.

"Now I will leave you both to cement your relationship and for Harry to bring you up to date Hermione." Then after saying goodnight the Headmistress left.

-i-

The first thing the couple did after the Headmistress departed was settle onto one of the sofas and check that they still enjoyed kissing each other, this took them at least half an hour and the mutually agreed answer was yes they did still enjoy it.

A lot.

It was then time for Harry to tell Hermione the whole of the prophecy and he had to explain how it had come about that he knew it. Then he told her all that he could remember of the Horcruxes and his discussions with Dumbledore about them, it had been constantly on his mind so he did not miss very much and certainly nothing of importance.

When he had finished it took her forty two seconds before she asked the million Galleon question, "So how many are left then?"

"Honestly," he answered, "I don't think anybody really knows." He saw her start so he continued quickly, "I don't think that anybody knows the whole story, for instance we don't actually know how many pieces Riddle divided his soul into originally, we have only guessed at seven. Dumbledore had sort of convinced me that there were four left plus the one he is living now but the more I think about it the less certain I am, more especially after what he said in the office just now.

"We do know that all of the divisions would have to have been made before he tried to kill me first time in Godric's Hollow, that was after murdering my parents. Only he knows if he lost one with Quirrell, I think that he might well have and I think that the one he lost in the Chamber of Secrets was the first one he made because he was only about seventeen in the Diary's incarnation, but we don't think that he knows that he has lost that one. Lucius Malfoy is hardly likely to tell him that I defeated the diary reincarnation of him, it would be a pretty good way for him to get himself A. K'd.

"He probably isn't aware of the demise of the one Dumbledore destroyed in the ring either and I have been thinking that Sirius's brother Regulus could well be R.A.B. from the fake necklace but we don't know what has happened to the original. So all in all we are floundering around without any firm evidence to decide anything much and quite probably Voldemort doesn't know just how many lives he has left either. He could have as many as four spares or he could be on his last one we simply don't have all of the facts."

Harry kissed her again and then suggested that they go back to their common room to continue their practice, Hermione thought that this was a wonderful suggestion and so they left their new rooms and headed, hand in hand for Gryffindor tower.

As they were passing the Headmistresses office there was the yowl of Mrs Norris and a dreaded voice said, "It will be detention for you two next term." Of course it was Argus Filch.

"But we have permission to be out from the Headmistress." Pleaded Hermione.

"We'll see about that." Said the caretaker evilly, "You will be in even more trouble now for lying." As he went over and spoke to the gargoyle protecting the spiral staircase, the couple followed him up and he knocked on the door and the entered the office after Professor McGonagall bid them enter.

Filch asked, "These two reprobates have been telling me lies and they say that they have your permission to be out late…Headmistress?"

"They most certainly do Argus and you may leave now I wish to have a few more words with them." She did not appear to be too happy.

The caretaker was extremely sullen, "Ruddy worthless job, night then…Headmistress." He mumbled.

"Argus, Hogwarts doesn't owe you a living." Minerva said in a very official tone, "You will either learn to be respectful and polite to both staff and the students or you will be leaving us."

"Sorry Headmistress." He replied as he clumped down the stairs and away.

"I don't think that he will last much longer." She said mainly to herself, then she turned to the two students and continued, "I was talking with the Head of Magical Law Enforcement at the funeral and she sent me these, I should of given them to you earlier."

She handed each of them a certificate freeing the pair of them from the restriction of use of magic because they were underage, for which the pair of them thanked her profusely.

Minerva continued, "I would have thought that you two would be spending more time…um…getting to know each other?"

Hermione smiled and said, "We were going back to the tower to either confront a delegation or get caught on a sofa, it wo…"

Minerva interrupted, "Actually we have your delegation now, let me handle this and try to at least pretend to be embarrassed… Come in Mr and Miss Weasley." The Headmistress had opened the gargoyle and her office door so that Ron and Ginny could enter the office then Minerva asked, "What can I do for you."

Being excellent at Transfiguration, Ginny had always been on good terms with the Headmistress and she said, "We were worried about Harry and Hermione, he was in a funk and Hermione went after him, we had the idea that they might have done something stupid so we thought that we should come and see you."

"It is good to see students looking out for each other, Miss Weasley," the Headmistress said with a nod of approval, "however Mr Filch caught these two in a broom cupboard and I do not wish to discuss just what they were doing."

Hermione was looking down and contritely she asked, "It is the first time I have ever done anything like this and I do hope that it will not count against me being considered for Head Girl next year, please Headmistress?"

Professor McGonagall looked at her sympathetically, "I will not let it reflect on either of you being considered for Head Student next year, if the school is still here next year. Now off to bed all of you."

The last of the quartet to leave was Hermione and as she glanced back before closing the door she had great difficulty not laughing. The Headmistress was poking her tongue out and thumbing her nose at her.

-ii-

The four of them had hurried silently back to the tower and as they came through the entrance to the common room Hermione said, "Filch is dreadful, we were only kissing for goodness sake, anyway I thought that the Headmistress was going to sack him there and then."

"Yes he is going to have to watch his step in future," Harry added, "she didn't leave much room for doubt with her last comment to him, did she."

"What happened?" Ginny asked excitedly.

Hermione answered, "Because it is the last day of term Filch didn't know what to do with us, so he took us to McGonagall and he seem to have great difficulty calling her Headmistress and it sounded really rude. Anyway she soon picked up on it and the last thing she said to him was, 'Argus, Hogwarts doesn't owe you a living. You will either learn to be respectful and polite to both staff and the students or you will be leaving us,' to me that sounds more like a declaration of intent, rather than a threat."

Ginny was wide eyed but it was Ron who spoke for the first time, "What are you doing snogging Hermione? You know that I like her."

It had been said aggressively to Harry but it was Hermione who immediately answered him. "Since when have you liked me Ron? When were you thinking of telling me? All we ever do is argue and you have never been anything but rude to me.

"A few months back, after your constant sulking and hints I invited you to a party and my answer was you went away and started snogging Lavender. It will probably amaze you to learn that Lavender really likes you, although I cannot understand why, but it appears that you were only using her to supposedly get back at me. If you go around the world simply using the people around you, then the time will soon come when there are no people left around you for you to use and who will you try to blame for that?

"Try growing up.

"Anyway Harry didn't kiss me first, I kissed him, then I told him that I have been in love with him for a long time, since first year actually when he rescued me from the Troll. Ask yourself Ron why was I crying in the girls' toilet?

"When Harry tried to bring Voldemort into the equation I simply told him that it would make no difference. He already knows that we are best friends and that I am Muggle-born so it won't move me up or down his 'People to Kill' list, which the three of us must be on anyway, so he kissed me back and the rest, as they say, is history."

As soon as she finished Ron mumbled that he was going to bed and he fled up the stairs to his bedroom.

Ginny had a wistful smile as she said, "You wouldn't believe me if I said that I was anything but disappointed that he was with anyone else but me, however if it has to be someone else then I am glad that it's you. If it was someone like Cho then I'm not sure if I would need to commit a murder or suicide, it would probably be both. So goodnight you two."

Then after kissing them both on the cheek and receiving a hug from each of them, she went up to bed.

It was nearly twelve thirty so Hermione and Harry spent about ten minutes kissing goodnight and then they also went to their beds.

-iii-

Friday 20th June

When Hogwarts newest couple walked into the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning they were hand in hand and the room became almost silent, then a lot of whispered conversations broke out.

Ron was sitting next to Lavender so Harry went and sat beside him with Hermione on his other side, Parvati had been sitting opposite Lavender but she moved down opposite Hermione determined to gather as much gossip as possible.

Breakfast was relatively uneventful, Ron apologised to Harry and especially to Hermione and he also seemed to be making some headway with his apologies to Lavender. Realizing that he wished to resume dating Lavender it was no real surprise to them that his repentance was so thorough, for her part Lavender made sure that he basically promised to do everything she wanted.

Ron hadn't realised it yet but she was obviously going to forgive him, as long as he never called her Lavvy again, needless to say she hadn't been amused with the connotation's.

After breakfast Harry and Hermione returned to their dormitories to complete their packing, they had decided to ask Mimi if she would move all of their books to their new rooms. Of course the little elf was deliriously happy at the prospect of having work to do for her new master and mistress. Needless to say, this did not sit too well with Hermione but as the Headmistress had made clear to her the previous evening she was going to have to learn to live with it.

Just before ten Harry brought out the Marauders Map only to discover that Ron and Lavender were in a broom closet half way to the entrance hall, neither of them had completed their packing so he set out with Hermione, Hedwig and Crookshanks to stir them up.

When they reached said closet, Harry banged on the door and said loudly, "I don't know what you two are doing in there but it is after ten and neither of you have finished packing yet, personally I am going to catch a train that leaves at eleven."

There was some frantic scrambling and the reunited lovebirds emerged hand in hand from the cupboard and disappeared rapidly up the corridor saying words to the effect of thanks mate.

The couple picked up their pets then continued their journey down to the entrance hall and when they arrived at the top of the last flight of stairs they could see that it was total pandemonium.

Outside it was typical British summer weather, ergo it was emptying down with rain, which resulted in the students milling around in and out of the main castle doors resulting in them carrying the water from outside into the hall.

Finch had started ranting at the students, especially frightening the younger ones, however the Headmistresses voice carried across the hall.

"Mr Filch! What did I tell you last night? There are over three hundred students leaving this morning and there is going to be a mess in the hall whatever terrors you subject the students to. Wait until they have all left and clean it up, if that is too much for you ask the House Elves to help you, you know very well that they will be very happy helping you."

"I resign!" Bellowed Filch.

"Accepted!" Answered the Headmistress immediately, "Go and pack your belongings, then come too my office to collect your final salary. Now go, I will not have my students constantly harassed."

Ginny was following behind Harry and Hermione and she said, "I wasn't sure whether or not to believe what you said last night, but she certainly didn't hang around once she had made her mind up."

The couple agreed with her as they all made their way down to the hall and out through the door to the waiting carriages, the chaos had abated as soon as Filch had departed.

Subsequently the journey to Hogsmeade station was totally uneventful, the only detectable difference to all of the other train journeys they had made was that there were a couple of dozen Aurors on the platform who eventually accompanied them on the train.

Hermione and Harry were cuddling closely and settled into one corner of a compartment with Ginny sitting opposite them and she started to read a copy of the 'Teen Witch Weekly'.

Then barely thirty seconds before the train pulled away Lavender flopped into the corner diagonally opposite the couple, with Ron plonking himself down next to her, they were both extremely out of breath.

After about half an hour Ginny asked cheekily, "What's the matter with you Hermione? This is the longest I have ever seen you go without a book in your hand."

With a bright smile she said, "I was giving some serious thought to doing this." Then she kissed Harry passionately and she didn't come up for air for at least three minutes, then they set about some serious snogging for the rest of the trip.

After another hour Ginny asked, "Do you think we could of kept her out of the library if we had introduced her to Harry and a broom cupboard earlier?"

The three laughed and Lavender said, "They look like they are enjoying themselves though, don't they?"

"They do," said Ron, "and usually by now, I have been told off at least half a dozen times when we are this far through the trip."

Ginny mused, "If I borrowed Collin's camera and took a photograph of them doing that, how much do you think that the 'Teen Witch Weekly' would pay me for it?"

Harry was almost buried under Hermione but his voice came from the corner, "What make you think that you would live long enough after taking the picture to actually get it to the magazine?"

The red haired girl looked disappointed but Lavender was still giggling and said, "Him being more than reasonably adept at duelling and all, I don't think that I will be volunteering to help defend you."

"I'm with you darling." Added Ron, Lavender smiled at the term of endearment and kissed him.

"You're a pair of cowards." Ginny said with pseudo indignation.

"They're not cowards," Hermione added with a chuckle, "they're just realistic and the other day I found a lovely charm that gives girls a completely flat chest until whoever cast's it removes it."

Togetherness is a wonderful thing and when Lavender said at the same time as Ginny, "I think that I will be very, very good." Ron burst out laughing.

-iv-

Inevitably the train eventually reached Kings Cross Station and the normal semi-chaotic ruckus occurred with all of the students attempting to collect their trunks and trying to exit the station at the same time.

After passing through the barrier from platform nine and three-quarters they were first met by Ron's mum who after hugging everyone told them that they would probably not be meeting up over the holidays.

Lavender and Ron looked horrified but they were placated when the Weasley matriarch told them that the Headmistresses instruction most probably wouldn't apply to them.

So they all said goodbye and Hermione and Harry went over to Remus and Tonks who were stood with Hermione's parents and she introduced Harry to them as her boyfriend.

Needless to say there were mixed reactions to this pronouncement, Remus and Tonks appeared to be delighted, Hermione's mother Jane Granger seemed fairly neutral, however Leontes, Hermione's father, looked like thunder.

"What are your intentions towards my daughter?" her father asked, aggressively; Harry was still wearing Dudley's cast off clothes so he did look like an urchin.

"Dad/Leo!" Hermione and her mother said at the same time, Jane continued. "Behave yourself. She is nearly eighteen and you can ask them nicely later…if you conduct yourself civilly."

Remus sensing the danger of another explosion said, "Harry I have rented a Renault Grand Espace, it will easily carry us all and it only cost twenty Galleons a day. It is from a mixed squib / wizard company so it has a lot of enhancements"

"That's good," said Harry, "but I need to go to Gringotts to get a load more money, ours and Muggle, it's time that I bought some decent clothes, I'm totally fed up with these rags I have been wearing for far too long. Oh, and I will pay for the car it is not right that you should be out of pocket."

The group had gradually been making its way out of the station and into the car park, when they reached the Espace Hermione's dad was looking at it with new eyes as they easily loaded all of their belongings into the back.

Tonks explained the magical enhancements that had been carried out to the vehicle would not work unless a wizard was driving, so Remus would have to drive home so that they would work. Leo had driven it to the station from Grimmauld Place and he had not noticed anything unusual with the Espace so he was looking slightly confused.

Before pulling away Remus touched his wand to the dashboard and then drove off as the Grangers would have said, 'like a madman'.

The magically enhanced people carrier went through gaps that to a normal vehicle simply weren't there, the pedestrians and street furniture simply moved out of their way. It had taken an hour and a quarter for Hermione's father to get to the station, it only took Remus seven minutes to return to Grimmauld Place.

However they didn't enter Grimmauld Place instead they used the alley behind number twelve and parked the car in the mews at the rear of the house, the lower floor of which were originally stables had been converted into a very large garage.

Author 's Note: I need to know if this story is worth continuing? So PLEASE REVIEW and tell me.