Declaration: I write for my own pleasure and not for profit. I do not own Harry Potter Universe.

Strings Attached

Five year old Caroline Emily Potter was a very inquisitive child, just like her mother. Sleeping on her bed in her room at Potter Manor, she voiced a question that was on her mind for a very long time now. "Mom, why do you have a piece of string on your finger?"

She was talking about a piece of black string that was wrapped around her mother, Hermione Potter's ring finger on her left hand along with her wedding band. Hermione was startled by her question and her husband, Harry Potter lying on the bed on the other side of his daughter smirked at her. Settling down and making herself comfortable, an eight month pregnant Hermione began her tale.

Nine years ago, Gryffindor Common Room, Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry

On a late November night, fifteen year old Harry Potter and sixteen year old Hermione Granger were relaxing on a couch in front of a crackling fire in the deserted common room. They were particularly happy after another highly successful training session of the clandestine defense association, also known as 'Dumbledore's army'. All the participants were impressed by the ability of Harry to lead the club and teach them new curses and jinxes in preparation for their exams. Harry and Hermione, however, knew that the training was more in preparation for the inevitable war against Lord Voldemort rather than as a preparation for any exam.

Relaxing in the comfortable warmth of the fire and the companionable silence of his best friend, Harry let his mind wander. He was amazed at the brilliant rapport he enjoyed with the witch and also the ease with which they could interact and lead the DA without any jealousy or petty arguments unlike a redhead of their acquaintance. He could always trust Hermione and felt most comfortable in her presence, without the ever present death threat bothering him. With a jolt he realized that Hermione was the anchor for his sanity in the troubled times when the world is blaming him as an attention seeking liar.

This naturally led him on another train of 'what next?'

'What would happen to him when someone claims Hermione for himself? It was only a matter of when rather than if, because he knew that someone would come to realize that Hermione was a brilliant, courageous, extremely loyal and pretty girl. Girl? No woman, he corrected himself'. She has grown into a beautiful woman, a far cry from the eleven year old bookworm that he met on the Hogwarts Express for the first time.

These thoughts brought a lump into his throat. He could not imagine a life without Hermione being a part in it. 'Was this love or was this selfishness? I know for sure that I will take care of Hermione, paying with my life if needed. What guarantee was there that the next guy would worship her like he would?' If this was selfishness he was proud of it. If this was love he was glad and before his courage could waver, he voiced his question to the witch sitting in blissful silence next to him on the couch, "Hermione, will you marry me?"

Even being the brightest witch of the generation could not help but bring out a look of utter surprise and incomprehension on Hermione's face. Her initial reaction was of disbelief that Harry could love her enough to marry her. Then she thought that this was an elaborate prank and they will be laughing their faces off the next minute. But seeing the determined look on Harry's face she was convinced that at least the question was of a serious nature. Now the gears of that famous brain began to turn. She did harbor a crush on her best friend after he saved her from the troll in their first year. Through the years as she began to understand the kind of person that Harry is, she began to dream of something more meaningful with him. Even though she was sorted into Gryffindor, her courage failed around Harry, to even talk to him about the possibility of a romantic relationship with him had her tongue tied.

She was however content that time was on her side; after all they were only sixteen years old, well fifteen in Harry's case. Hearing the question that she till now only fantasized about, coming from Harry, even she was surprised by how calm she felt when giving her reply, "Yes Harry, I will marry you. Thanks for asking."

Initially shocked, Harry quickly recovered and with a whoop of delight, closed the small space between them and pulled Hermione into a tight hug. Both Harry and Hermione reveled in the warmth of the hug for longer than necessary and then moved apart with beaming smiles on their faces.

Breaking the silence, Hermione asked Harry "well are you going to give me my first kiss?"

Harry's eyebrows shot up to near his hairline in surprise but Hermione could not determine if it was due to the boldness of her question or if was for the reference to it being her first kiss. Before she could speak she was silenced by Harry's lips on hers. It was awkward for both of them with crashing foreheads and bumping noses. After a couple of tries they managed to enjoy their first real kiss as a newly engaged couple. They parted with blissful smiles on their faces. Harry fell back onto the couch dragging Hermione with him so that she was draped over him with her head tucked underneath his chin.

In an effort to clear the air on her earlier comment Hermione said, "Harry, Victor was only a date to the Yule ball and then we exchanged a few letters as friends. Though he invited me to visit him, I did not think it was appropriate, after all he was just an acquaintance. I always hoped that my first kiss would be with you."

"Yeah, deep down I think I also wanted my first kiss with you and thankfully it came true. I could not picture it with anyone else; it just felt right when we kissed."

Hermione buried herself into Harry's embrace with her head on his chest and his strong arms around her back tucking her tightly into him. After a few moments of silence struggling with her thoughts, Hermione voiced her concern, "Harry what brought about these feelings? What about Cho?"

"I believe that Cho was just an infatuation, a passing fantasy or more accurately a folly. I think that it was a disaster waiting to happen. I guess you can blame it on my hormones." With a chuckle he continued, "If you think about it what do I know about her? Yes, she is pretty, but how does she compare to you? I know you. You are beautiful both in looks and in your soul. We work together like lock and key, we are so compatible. We are partners, not a leader and a follower. I cannot ask for anything more in my wife. I know that our relationship will not be a passing fancy and will last long. Hopefully forever" he concluded with a fond sigh.

"Yes I agree on all the points that you have raised for a successful marriage. I also believe that we are the most compatible couple in all Hogwarts. Not that I am unhappy about being engaged to you, but we have not even dated Harry."

"Not true. In my opinion we have been dating for the past five years. What does it matter if we have not given it a name? We have been so close since Halloween our first year it almost feels as if we are married even." Hermione could only blush brightly; her current position lying atop Harry did nothing to lessen her embarrassment.

After a few more minutes of snuggling, they reluctantly got up and were sitting on the couch. Catching Hermione's wistful glance at the bare ring finger of her left hand, Harry tore away a few errant strands of thread from the frayed edges of the old robes he preferred to wear for the DA sessions.

"Hermione, I am sorry that I do not have a ring for you at this time. But I promise you that I will get you one as soon as I am able to shop for one." So saying he looped the strands a couple of times around her finger and tied the loose ends in a passable imitation of a ring. "This is my promise to you."

The simple gesture somehow felt magical to Hermione and she could only gaze at the new adornment on her finger with glistening eyes. With one last kiss goodnight, the newly engaged couple left for their respective rooms hoping for sleep filled with pleasant dreams.

The next day Harry woke up to a feeling of being afloat among the clouds and immediately wrote to Sirius announcing a change in the status of his relationship with Hermione and asking for his advice on finding a ring for Hermione. While Sirius was pleasantly surprised by the news, the Grangers adults were more prepared. Both Dan and Emma Granger knew about the hopes and aspirations of their daughter with regards to her best friend. They both welcomed the news with an invitation for Harry to stay in their house for Christmas, an invitation that Harry was only too happy to accept.

Neither Harry nor Hermione were too keen on overt displays of affection and since they were used to holding hands and occasional hugs, the school population was not aware of their status. If anyone noticed the 'ring' on Hermione's finger, they did not comment on it. Harry and Hermione enjoyed each other's company with occasional cuddling in front of the fire in the deserted common room and stolen kisses. Harry frequently accompanied Hermione on her patrols hidden underneath his cloak and they enjoyed the pleasure of intense snogging in broom closets.

The last DA session before Christmas holidays was a huge success and all the students who attended the training were making their way back to the dorms in pairs to avoid detection. Only Harry, Hermione and a few other students were left to clear the room and set things into order. When the remaining students left the room, Harry and Hermione slowly wandered to the center, clearing the mess and they found themselves underneath a sprig of mistletoe that was left hanging thereby the Weasley twins. The only other person left in the room was Cho Chang who was trying to get closer to Harry after the death of her boyfriend Cedric Diggory the previous year.

Hermione spied Cho trying to catch Harry's eye, but he had his back to her and so was not aware of her advances. When he reached Hermione, he wrapped his arms around her and rested his forehead against hers.

With an impish smile, Hermione pointed the mistletoe out to Harry, "So, Mr. Potter what are you going to do about it"

"Hmm, I don't know Mrs. Potter. What do you think we should do?" Saying that, Harry pulled Hermione tightly against him into a passionate kiss that reflected their desire and love for each other. Cho who was slowly advancing onto Harry trying to catch him underneath the mistletoe was stunned into immobility, both by the passionate kiss and Harry's address of Mrs. Potter when referring to Hermione. The cry of someone bursting into tears and running out of the room distracted the two teens from their occupation and Harry could only shrug at the retreating back of Cho.

Without breaking their embrace, Harry twirled Hermione slowly around to imaginary music and led her around the floor. Gazing into each other's eyes, they could see the love and respect for each other reflected in them. Harry pulled Hermione into a bear hug nearly lifting her off the floor. With her arms already around his neck, Hermione responded by wrapping her legs around his waist, surprising Harry. Due to his exercise regimen through the year, Harry was able to support her weight easily. Placing his arms underneath her bum, they swayed slowly across the floor without breaking eye contact.

Christmas morning found Harry and Hermione in the living room of the Granger house unwrapping presents in front of the tree. They were later joined by Sirius who elected to enjoy the day with his godson and his goddaughter-to-be. He took harry aside and handed him a beautiful gold and platinum band, the two ends meeting in a celtic knot with a diamond embedded into it. The diamond was flanked by medium sized Emeralds that sparked brilliant green in the light.

"This belonged to your mother. I went to Gringott's into the main Potter vault to get it. I am sure it will look good on another lovable bookworm" said Sirius.

Harry was mesmerized by the sight of the ring and a huge grin split his usually somber face. After dinner, in presence of Dan, Emma and Sirius he got down on one knee and slid the ring onto Hermione's finger making their engagement official.

Present Day

Gazing lovingly at her husband while playing with her string 'ring', Hermione told her daughter, "I do not know what magic was working that day, but the string did not break or go bad. It looks as new as the day Harry tied it on my finger."

In a sleepy voice Caroline replied "what do you mean you do not know what magic? Dad loves you that's the magic". The elder potters could only exchange bemused looks at their daughter's declaration. Mumbling a sweet "good night", the little one snuggled into the covers and fell asleep.

Both Harry and Hermione kissed their daughter "good night". Leaving the room they went to their own room to claim their share of sweet dreams.