Hermione slowed as they walked down to the Halloween feast. Falling behind the rest of their fellow Gryffindors she pulled Harry down a side hall. They had spent enough time together for Harry to know something was bothering his friend. Slowly, without looking up at him, she started to speak, "I never really did thank you properly for saving me in our first year." Wrapping her arms around him she pulled him in to a hug worthy of Mrs. Weasley.
Returning the hug a bit more gently he mumbled just loud enough for her to hear, "I could never let anything happen to you." She pulled back surprised at his tone, even more surprised to see the emotion playing across his face. Quickly, without thinking she reached up and placed her lips against his. They both felt a incredible surge rush through them at the contact. Reaching out Harry took her hand and pulled her back to the hallway heading back to the great hall. So wrapped up in their own thoughts they didn't notice the looks they were getting as they walked to their seats.
As the students finished the feast the noise level began to rise. There was a lot of speculation through the hall who the Triwizard Tournament champions would be.
As the organizing committee stood before the hall, Dumbledore began to speak, "Earlier this afternoon we discovered someone had tampered with the Goblet of Fire. Now, to facilitate the drawing of champions, it has been agreed, the Goblet will draw the most able of age witch or wizard from each of the schools." The whispering that had begun with the announcement had grown in to a almost deafening roar. The headmaster called for quiet. "Well, the goblet is almost ready to make its decision," said Dumbledore. "I estimate that it requires one more minute. Now, when the champions' names are called, I would ask them please to come up to the top of the Hall, walk along the staff table, and go through into the next chamber" - he indicated the door behind the staff table - "where they will be receiving their first instructions."
The flames inside the goblet turned suddenly red again. Sparks began to fly from it. Next moment, a tongue of flame shot into the air, a charred piece of parchment fluttered out of it - the whole room gasped.
Dumbledore caught the piece of parchment and held it at arm's length, so that he could read it by the light of the flames, which had turned back to blue-white.
"The champion for Durmstrang," he read, in a strong, clear voice, "will be Viktor Krum."
"No surprises there!" yelled Ron as a storm of applause and cheering swept the Hall. Harry saw Viktor Krum rise from the Slytherin table and slouch up toward Dumbledore; he turned right, walked along the staff table, and disappeared through the door into the next chamber.
"Bravo, Viktor!" boomed Karkaroff, so loudly that everyone could hear him, even over all the applause. "Knew you had it in you!"
The clapping and chatting died down. Now everyone's attention was focused again on the goblet, which, seconds later, turned red once more. A second piece of parchment shot out of it, propelled by the flames.
"The champion for Beauxbatons," said Dumbledore, "is Fleur Delacour!"
"It's her, Ron!" Harry shouted as the girl who so resembled a veela got gracefully to her feet, shook back her sheet of silvery blonde hair, and swept up between the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables.
"Oh look, they're all disappointed," Hermione said over the noise, nodding toward the remainder of the Beauxbatons party. "Disappointed" was a bit of an understatement, Harry thought. Two of the girls who had not been selected had dissolved into tears and were sobbing with their heads on their arms.
When Fleur Delacour too had vanished into the side chamber, silence fell again, but this time it was a silence so stiff with excitement you could almost taste it. The Hogwarts champion next...
And the Goblet of Fire turned red once more; sparks showered out of it; the tongue of flame shot high into the air, and from its tip Dumbledore pulled the third piece of parchment.
"The Hogwarts champion," he called, "Hermione Potter." (Goblet of Fire Ch. 16)
Silence rang through the hall, followed by an explosion of noise. Harry and Hermione turned to each other in open mouthed shock. Ron sitting next to them went red in the face, his mouth moving but no sound coming out. All of their friends wore expressions similar to their own. Confused cries of Hermione Potter? and Granger and Potter? were heard through the voices.
Over the noise the noise the headmaster called again, "Hermione, up here if you please."
Harry followed Hermione to the front of the hall, puzzling over what was happening. He was used to strange things happening to him, but not to his friends. Professor McGonagall stopped them as they entered the chamber containing the other champions. "I don't know what you two are up to, but you best start explaining yourselves." Her disappointment was obvious to both of them.
"I... we... ", the students began at the same time. Harry turned to his friend and nodded to her. "I don't know what is going on Professor, I have no desire to enter this barbaric tournament!" she cried, tears coming to her eyes. "And where does Hermione Potter come from?" Harry wrapped his arms around Hermione as if to protect her from the voices of the Great Hall.
"I just wanted a quiet year for a change," Harry added. She gave him a sad smile acknowledging his statement.
Entering the room the Durmstrang and Beauxbatons champions turned to see who the Hogwarts champion would be. Viktor's face was a blank mask while Fleur had a look of disdain on her face. "Zis was supposed to be a great school," the witch snorted, "and zey send a little girl to be ze champion?"
Harry was almost as angry as Hermione was, but before either of them could say a word the door to the Great Hall opened and the headmasters entered followed by the ministry officials, Professor McGonagall and Snape.
"Always after the glory, ignoring the rules, not caring who gets hurt in your wake, just like your father Potter," the potions master snarled.
"Severus!" Dumbledore called out in warning.
Harry turned to stare at the greasy haired man. "If I were after it for myself why would I have entered someone else's name? Unlike some, I protect my friends and don't," But whatever he was about to say was cut off as a burst of magic propelled Snape through the door. Everyone turned back to Harry, then heard a small squeak from behind him as Hermione's face turned bright red.
Sensing things were about to get out of hand again, Ludo Bagman cleared his throat, "Well, now, Mr. Potter if you'll excuse us, so we can get on with the instructions."
No one bothered to check on the unconscious greasy haired potion master laying on the floor of the Great Hall.
With a glance at Hermione, Harry turned to look at his headmaster. "We still have questions that need answers, sir."
"Of course Harry. Minerva, if you would escort Harry to my office. Miss Grang... Hermione and I will join you as soon as we are able." With that the two left through a door opposite the Great Hall.
"The first task is designed to test your daring," he told the champions, "so we are not going to be telling you what it is. Courage in the face of the unknown is an important quality in a wizard... or witch... very important.
"The first task will take place on November the twenty-fourth, in front of the other students and the panel of judges.
"The champions are not permitted to ask for or accept help of any kind from their teachers to complete the tasks in the tournament. The champions will face the first challenge armed only with their wands. They will receive information about the second task when the first is over. Owing to the demanding and time-consuming nature of the tournament, the champions are exempted from end-of-year tests."
Hermione let out a small groan before pulling herself together. Fleur turned her nose up and gave a soft snort. 'She'd fit in well with Malfoy,' Hermione thought to herself. Viktor's face was expressionless.
Her mind going back over the events of the night, she didn't hear Bagman and Crouch leave the room or the quiet conversations between the other champions and their headmasters. She finally noticed as someone approached her. Turning, she looked up to see the face of Dumbledore looking as confused and worried as she felt. "Shall we?" he asked gesturing to the door Harry and Professor McGonagall had left through earlier.
Slowly moving toward the door she started reviewing the list of questions she had, "How did this happen? I'm not of age yet. What did it mean Hermione Potter? I mean I could see maybe someday, but now? I'm only 15. How am I going to get through this? What am I going to tell my parents?"
"I have a few ideas, my dear, but I would like to check a few things before I say to much. I'm sure Harry and Professor McGonagall are anxiously waiting for us." Hermione jumped a little, at the Headmaster's reply, not realizing she had voiced her questions out loud. "As for how you are going to get through this? They say you are the brightest witch of your age, and have the courage of Gryffindor."
Arriving at the Headmaster's Office, Harry pulled Hermione in to a brief hug before realizing where they were. The young pair blushed seeing the small smiles the older witch and wizard were wearing. After a short whispered conversation between the Headmaster and his deputy, he turned to the students, "I must check something at the ministry, but I promise as soon as I get back we will answer your questions." With that said he turned and entered the floo.
McGonagall watched the young couple settle in to the chairs in front of the large desk, though she doubted they realized they had slid the chairs together while they held hands. She could believe Albus' line of thinking. She wondered when the pair would realize what most others saw.
With a soft sigh, she conjured a tea set on the corner of the crowded desk and offered them each a cup. Only when Harry started to reach for the offered cup did he realize he had Hermione's left hand in his right. With a fierce blush the teens let go of the other and fixated on their tea. After a few moments of silence they started discussing what they each knew about the Triwizard tournament, though due to his background Harry's participation was more listening that contributing. The minutes of relaxed conversation the young pair found their hands joined together again.
The group was starting to wonder where the Headmaster was and what could possibly be taking so long. After refilling their cups for the second time, the floo flared green and the man in question stepped out. Moving to sit behind his desk Dumbledore waved his hand and conjured another cup of tea, perfectly matching the rest of the set. After sitting in silence for several more minutes the waiting trio was growing more anxious. McGonagall was almost as bad off as the younger pair but she was better at hiding her emotions.
Finally Hermione couldn't stand it any longer. "Sir, what were you able to find out?" she asked in a small voice.
Dumbledore let out a sigh and set down his cup, with a slight nod to the other Professor as if confirming their suspicions with a small smile and a gentle voice he said, "Well, it seems, that you, Hermione, and you Harry, were married as of 6:12 this evening."
The expressions from the occupants of the room couldn't have been more different. Professor McGonagall's eyes widened slightly as she struggled to keep a knowing smile from her lips. Harry opened his mouth as if to speak, but no sound would come out. Hermione's eyes glazed over as if in a dream before she squeaked out, "Married? Me? Harry? Mar?" and fainted.
"Can't say I blame her for that, really. I wouldn't want to be with me either." Harry's dejected voice came just above a whisper. With reflexes that betrayed his mood he caught his friend before she slid out of her chair and hit the ground.
Whispering an incantation, McGonagall waved her wand over the younger witch. With a small flash Hermione's eyes shot open. "It's OK Ms. Grang... Mrs. Potter. This is going to take some getting used to."
Hermione took a long sip of tea as her mind had finally restarted. Setting the cup on the arm of her chair, she linked her hand with Harry's once again. "How can we be married?" Her voice was laced with uncertainty.
The old Headmaster's eyes twinkled behind his glasses. "Tell me," he began, "have you ever heard of a soul bond?"
A smile actually broke across Minerva's normally stern face as she watched the teens react the way she expected. Harry shook his head slowly knowing he didn't have a clue while Hermione looked lost in thought as though searching through her mental catalog. Finally she sighed and shook her head, "The only thing I can think of sir, are the tales of true love's first kiss."
"Very good my dear. The tales of true love are actually soul bonds. These particular bonds are rare, very rare and most couples do not have the luxury of finding their mate. The strength of the couple's magic and love determine the strength of the bond. Once formed they can not be broken by any means. The later stages of more powerful bonds allow the couple to sense proximity and feelings all the way up to full telepathic communication." Dumbledore said. Hermione looked like she was in class, while Harry still wore a slightly dazed look.
"Married?" Harry whispered again. He looked truly scared now.
Hermione was starting to panic, "What's wrong Harry? I know we aren't in..." but she was cut off as Harry started to speak again.
"This can't be happening, why, why! Why!" He was up and pacing in front of Dumbledore's desk as he spoke now.
"I know this isn't an ideal situation, but there is nothing we can do. These kinds of bonds can't be broken." The older wizard interjected.
Harry stopped as he heard his friend sob. "Hermione, what's wrong?" he asked, quickly kneeling in front of his friend.
Wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her robe she sniffled, "I can see why you wouldn't want to be with me, a sweet, brave, good looking boy like you. I'm nothing but a bucktoothed, bushy haired, bossy know-it-all bookworm!" The last bit was said so forcefully that Harry almost fell backwards.
"It's not that I don't want to be with you, " he blushed but continued. "You're pretty, and smart, and brave, and caring. But I don't want you to get hurt because of me. Being around me isn't safe. Look at what has happened since I've been here."
"You... you... you actually want to be with me?" Hermione choked out.
Harry nodded. "This isn't exactly what I had in mind, but I wouldn't have minded going to Hogsmeade with you." With a sudden grin she launched herself at him, arms wrapping around his neck and knocking him to the ground. The young couple landed on the floor in a very embarrassing position.
A gentle clearing of a throat followed by a soft chuckle brought the pair out of their embrace. Glancing up to see the Headmaster and Deputy Headmistress looking down at them, the teens quickly seated themselves in their chairs with blushes covering their faces. The older witch was struggling to regain her stern expression while the elder wizard looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself. "Ah the joys of young love," he said with a grin. The new couple blushed even more. "Yes, well," he cleared his throat again. "I realize there is a lot to discuss. I will try to arrange a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Granger for tomorrow afternoon. And I believe different sleeping arrangements are in order." He snapped his fingers summoning a house elf. Turning to the small elf, "please make the Gryffindor married couple's quarters ready. There is a portrait of a dryad in the common room just to the left of the stairs to the dormitories. Your things should be there by the time you get there. The password is 'bonded'. I know you are both smart enough, but please do be careful, you are still young." Hermione blushed while Harry looked confused until she leaned over and whispered in his ear, then he blushed too.
"I don't think we're quite ready for that, sir," Hermione mumbled blushing harder.
The Headmaster smiled, "Now, it's late and it has been a very long day. Professor, if you would escort these two to their new quarters. I believe I have a letter to write."
McGonagall lead them to the Gryffindor common room. Greeting the Fat Lady they were momentarily stunned by the volume in the common room. It seemed there were several arguments going on at the same time. Some were trying to decide the meaning behind Hermione's name coming out of the Goblet as 'Potter' while others were trying to figure out how her name came out to begin with. The noise died suddenly as their head of house stepped through the portal.
Ron stormed across the room. "How'd you do it?" he yelled, ears red. "And what's the deal with you two? Why'd you change your name 'Mione?"
Hermione flushed, while Harry wrapped his arm around her pulling her close. Ron opened his mouth to say something else before he was cut off. "You know she doesn't like that name. As for how her name came out, well, she is the brightest witch of our age but that doesn't mean she cheated."
"But Potter?" Ron protested, the red from his' ears spread down to his cheeks.
Surprisingly it was Professor McGonagall that answered, "They have bonded, Mr. Weasley." Many gasps were heard from the older students while the younger ones were confused. Seeing Ron's confused look she continued, "a bonded couple is considered married and of age. And as such they will have their own rooms." This prompted giggles from many of the girls and grins from the boys.
Ron turned on Harry, "we're mates, you don't steal another mates girl."
This time the girl in question stepped forward. "Your girl? I was never your girl. You never once treated me like a girl or showed any interest in me."
"But, you knew I fancied her," the red head turned back to Harry.
The black haired wizard quirked an eyebrow in question, "I did? Funny way of showing it mate." By this point the red from Ron's ears had moved to cover his neck.
"Got you there ickle Ronniekins," the twin red heads chorused.
"Now, it's late. Off to bed everyone," the head of Gryffindor's house sounded across the common room. The students quickly retreated, Ron glaring at Harry and Hermione as he headed toward the stairs to the boys dorms. "Do let me know if you have any more troubles." She said before turning and leaving through the portrait.
Slowly the newlyweds made their way over to the dryad and whispered their password. Expecting just a small bedroom, both of them were surprised when they passed through the portal behind the portrait. The first room they entered was a smaller version of the common room they had just left. There were two doors in the room, one straight across and one to the left. Slowly they made their way across the room taking in the splendor of their own room. Harry reached the door on the left wall. Slowly opening the door he found a bedroom the size of the entire dormitory he had been in before. In the center of the opposite wall was a larger version of the beds found in the regular dorms. On one wall was a tall wardrobe, with another door directly across. Hearing a startled gasp he turned to see Hermione step through the other door. Quickly he made his way over to where his bushy haired friend was standing. Placing a hand on her shoulder he could see why she gasped. This room was even more well appointed than the other. This one had a larger bed than either of them had seen, two wardrobes and a door off to the side. Looking at the detail he found what made Hermione gasp. There on the nightstand on one side of the bed were her personal affects, and on the matching nightstand on the opposite side were his.
"I can move my things to the other room." Harry mumbled as he started to move around his friend.
"What? Why?" Hermione stammered.
Harry blushed, "I figured you would want..." he trailed off.
She turned and put her hands on his chest, "Harry we're married now. I don't think either of us is ready for that part of the marriage." She blushed and looked at her feet, "that doesn't mean we have to sleep in separate rooms. I mean we can't sleep in separate rooms forever. We start slow, and see how it goes."
His face turned a deeper shade of red, "Why don't you go ahead and get ready then, I guess that is the bathroom there." He pointed toward the other door in the room.
Hermione nodded and moved to gather her things for bed. Feeling this room was a bit warmer than her normal dorm, she automatically went for the light t-shirt and knickers she would normally wear at home. Glancing back towards Harry she knew she was going to be uncomfortable enough without exposing so much of herself. Settling on a thicker t-shirt and pair of flannel pants, she headed off to the bathroom. Looking around the bathroom she spotted a large tub she could imagine soaking in for hours. Then with a blush she realized just how big the tub was, it would easily fit her and Harry.
Putting thoughts of the bath out of her mind she quickly cleaned her teeth and stripped down to change. Stopping as she caught her own reflection in the mirror she turned to examine herself. She knew she wasn't gorgeous, she didn't have Pavarti's figure or Ginny's hair. She wasn't as out going as Lavender. Hermione now knew he fancied her, but hoped she could give Harry what he wanted when the time came. She pulled on her night clothes and spent a moment trying to tame her hair, even though she knew nothing would happen tonight she still felt she had to prove something.
After Hermione had closed the bathroom door Harry sat down on the edge of the bed and tried to figure out how the day ended up like this. 'Never a quiet Halloween,' he thought. 'Maybe I'll wake up and it will all have been a dream.' He was shaken from his thoughts as at the opening of the bathroom door. He watched as Hermione made her way across the room to sit next to him on the bed. He tried several times to speak but no sound came out as he opened and closed his mouth. "Are you OK, Harry?" She asked concern evident in her voice. He could only shake his head and stare at the floor. "What's wrong? You know I'm in this with you." He nodded. "So what is it?" she asked again.
With a sigh he started speaking in hushed tones, as if afraid he would upset her or scare her away. "What have I done to deserve this?" He felt her tense and start to pull away. "No, Hermione. That isn't what I meant. What I meant was, what have I done to deserve someone as wonderful as you? You should have someone better, someone not so dangerous to be around, not a worthless freak like me."
She leaned back in to him, her arm slipping around his back, her head resting on his shoulder. "You're not a freak and besides I've always been by your side, even when you're in trouble."
"Especially when I'm in trouble," he quipped.
"Yes well, someone has to get you out of it all." He could hear the grin in her voice. He mumbled something she couldn't quite understand. "What was that?"
He shifted a little, "You've always saved me. I'd be dead so many times over if it weren't for you." Harry turned a little to pull her in to a hug. "I don't deserve you, but I'll do anything I can to make you happy." Hermione could hear the emotion in his voice even though he was speaking in low tones again. "Of all the people I could have been paired with, I don't think I could have found anyone better," he whispered.
She whispered back, "I couldn't agree more." In a louder voice she added, "You are an incredibly brave, strong and smart. And I'll hex whoever tells you otherwise." 'And all mine,' she thought to herself. She would have to talk to him more to find out why he thought so little of himself, after all the great things he had done. "OK now your turn, it's bed time."
With as sigh he got up and gathered his things. Digging through his clothing he pulled out the least ragged set of boxers and t-shirt he could find. It was bad enough that the other guys saw what he had to wear but Hermione, what would she think? Would she laugh at him? Harry knew she cared about him but could he make her as happy as she deserved to be? He was just a scrawny nobody. Looking down at himself after he had changed, he considered making a dash back to his wardrobe for a pair of pants. Turning to leave the bathroom he caught sight of the the bathtub Hermione had noticed earlier. With a snort he realized it would fit his cousin and uncle. Not thinking of the implications of a tub that big he went back to worrying that Hermione would ask more questions he decided just to head for the bed and try to slip under the covers before she noticed what he was wearing.
Once he was in the bathroom she pulled back the covers on the huge bed and snuggled in. 'This is going to be awkward,' she thought. 'I've never shared a bed with anyone else, not even a sleepover. And I'm sure Harry hasn't either. I hope he doesn't snore, or steal the covers.' she thought.
When Harry came out of the bathroom she watched as he put his things away and climbed in to the other side of the bed. Rolling towards him, while keeping herself under the covers, she leaned over and gave him a kiss. It wasn't a full blown snog, that may come soon but it was more than a light peck. She felt him moan against her lips, as he reached out to touch her hair. Placing her hands on his chest she pushed herself away from him and rolled back to the other side of the bed. "Good night, Harry."
With a moan he replied, "Good night, Hermione." She waved her wand and turned out the lights. "This is so weird," he muttered. He could swear he heard her giggle.