A/N: The usual disclaimers, not my characters, no money being made etc. JKR owns the books and characters. Any additional characters or settings are mine.
Rating is M
Story is of course AU.
Ships are Harry Potter/Padma Patil, and Hermione/Neville.
A/N2: 2/24/2014 update: Minor fixes to spelling and minor revisions to the text.
Chapter 1: Starting The Bond
The Patil home in Oxfordshire was cheery as the young Patil twins settled in for the summer. Parvati was contemplating visiting her best friend, Lavender Brown in nearby Oxford, while Padma had other ideas. She had decided that this year she would finally start a relationship. Her friend Hermione Granger had encouraged her to look outside her housemates in Ravenclaw. After all, there were more boys that were unattached in Hufflepuff and Gryffindor than in Ravenclaw. Padma considered the possibilities. She'd considered the Ravenclaw boys but discarded them after an initial date with Terry Boot, whom she'd considered the best of the bunch. That hadn't worked out well when she had to hex him for trying to grope her on their first date. Anthony Goldstein fared no better on their second date. 'Well, Ron Weasley was out for sure,' she thought. 'Seamus Finnegan… no, Neville Longbottom? I think Hermione likes him. Dean Thomas? No, I want someone that is powerful. That narrows it down to Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter. I think Cedric is spoken for by Cho. Hmm, Potter. Now there's a challenge. I'll have to talk to Hermione this summer. She'll know a lot more about him than almost anyone.'
The aforementioned wizard was presently toiling in the garden at Number 4 Privet Drive. He didn't mind the work as it got him out of the way of his cousin Dudley and Uncle Vernon. Dudley was somewhere off with his little gang, terrorizing the neighbourhood children, threatening them with retribution if they squealed on them. His uncle was at work and his aunt was visiting Mrs. Number 6 next door.
Quiet had descended on the boring neighbourhood and Harry liked that. School had been hectic this past year. He smiled at the thought of his godfather escaping Azkaban and the Dementors along with freeing Buckbeak. Poor Professor Lupin though. He would miss the werewolf and his teaching next year. Lupin had been the best DADA teacher they'd had and Professor Snape had outed him as a werewolf, causing him to resign. He and his best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley had shared an adventure near the end of term and he was especially grateful to Hermione for her help in freeing Sirius Black.
He wondered how she was. Her scream when they rode the back of Buckbeak had nearly shattered his eardrums, but he could smile at her nervousness of heights. Ron, on the other hand, was asleep in the hospital wing after being attended by Madam Pomfrey for the leg that he had injured when Sirius had dragged him through the tunnel by the Whomping Willow to the Shrieking Shack.
As he worked, his scar twinged a bit and he wondered what that was about. It seemed to bother him when Voldemort was active. But that was impossible: he'd destroyed him in second year again, hadn't he? Professor Dumbledore had thought not, but last year had seen another prophesy come true. Peter Pettigrew had escaped to return to his master. 'I should have let Sirius and Remus kill him,' he thought.
Padma had just rung up Hermione to arrange for an outing in her area. "Hi Hermione, it's Padma Patil, how are you?"
"Padma, what a surprise. I'm fine, what's happening?"
"I'll be in your area in the next couple of days, are you free to meet?"
"Well, my parents are preparing for our annual vacation to France, but I'm free until next week. Is anything wrong?
"No, I just want to talk to you about what we discussed earlier. Um, you're the only one I could think of that would know."
Hermione smirked, suspecting what was coming. "So you've decided? It'll be tricky, you know. He's very shy around girls. Your sister would know about that."
Padma remembered. Parvati wasn't at all pleased with Harry after he'd been pushed into the one date they'd had. They'd gone to Hogsmeade through a secret passage that Harry knew about, but it had not turned out well. Harry was extremely skittish and Parvati had steered him to Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop. One look inside and Harry had bolted, saying he had to meet Hermione for something. Parvati was furious and had not talked to Harry for the rest of term. Padma had questioned her twin and winced at the choice of venue. Padma knew it was a poor choice for a first date and could hardly blame Harry. Madam Puddifoot's was hardly the place to go for a first date. She snickered at the thought. "Oh yes, I remember that well. Parvati was in a foul mood for a month. I'm not so stupid as to pull that on a boy. In fact, I'd make it a point to stay away from that place. It's downright creepy. Almost as bad as Trelawney's Divination classes. My sister thinks she's a seer, but I seriously doubt it."
"About that, Padma; she did make a valid prediction last term. I'll tell you about it when we meet. Do you know where I live?"
"No, come to think of it. I know you're east of London, but that's about it."
"Best way is to meet at the Leaky Cauldron, I think. There are things you don't know that I can't tell you except in person and under security spells. How does Wednesday this week sound?"
"Wednesday would be fine. Meet for lunch?" Padma enquired.
"Good, I'll see you then," Hermione answered.
They rang off and Hermione sat and pondered for a minute. Padma certainly surprised her if she was going to try to date Harry. Of course Padma wasn't sorted into Ravenclaw for nothing. The Sorting Hat wanted to place her there as well, but decided she had more courage than a Ravenclaw and placed her in Gryffindor. "So, Padma wants Harry, interesting. She might be just what he needs."
Wednesday, Padma was nervous as she wondered if she was brave enough for Harry. He always seemed to be the centre of incidents that happened at school. The Boy Who Lived! Not a moniker that he was comfortable with, she knew. Hermione had told her a few things about him when they studied Ancient Runes together in the library, but she truly knew less about him than she knew about the rest of her classmates. Indeed, she suspected that only Hermione and Ron really knew much about him. She was determined to change that and learn everything she could about the young green-eyed wizard.
Padma was a very pretty witch; probably as beautiful as Lavender or maybe Daphne Greengrass, certainly one of the top three at Hogwarts. Long, straight jet black hair that reached down to her bum, light gray-green eyes that were unusual for an Indian born witch, a decent sized bust for her age that accentuated her trim figure. Her light cinnamon skin was smooth, creamy, and blemish free. All in all, an almost perfect beauty. She was as different as was possible from her sister in temperament.
Her sister Parvati, although a twin, dressed a bit gaudily for her tastes and was boy crazy. She'd been through a dozen boys by the time school had ended for the year. Padma could count on one hand the number of boys she had even considered as dateable and had rejected all but Harry. There was something that drew her to the wiry messy-haired boy. He wasn't much to look at but his green eyes and messy hair seemed to draw her to him. He hadn't said much more than a hello to her when he first mistook her for her sister. She had reminded him that she was not her twin and smiled shyly, a faint blush on her face. He'd apologised and quickly left, but there was a bit of sparkle in his eyes that hinted at mischief.
She had arrived early at the pub and waited for Hermione. In truth, the Leaky Cauldron wasn't the best place to meet if they wanted to keep their conversation private, but then she decided that Hermione probably had something in mind. A few minutes later, Hermione walked in and talked to Tom, the bartender. Soon she led her up the stairs to a private room.
Casting privacy spells and locking charms on the door and walls, Hermione sat at the lone table and gestured for Padma to sit across from her. "Now, tell me how you came to this decision. Harry isn't going to be easy to date, Padma."
"Well, I'd always known the scion of the Potters would be powerful and Harry just seems to radiate magic. I'm drawn to him without quite knowing why. The Ravenclaw boys are rubbish and the Hufflepuffs are only marginally better. Cedric Diggory was a possibility but Cho Chang has been seen with him. I need to know more about Harry. What he likes, a bit of background on him, the usual girl stuff that most girls gossip about. I know you two are close and I don't want to know anything he wouldn't tell anyone else and I know he has secrets. I'd just like a bit of a leg up on the other girls that will try to date him this coming year."
Hermione considered the request. Harry would definitely not like any of his secrets told to anyone and in fact was a very closed person. "Well, you know I abhor gossip, but I can tell you a few things. You'll have to discover more on your own. I'll need a magical oath from you that you won't tell anyone what I'm going to reveal to you."
"That's fine, Hermione, I'll make the oath. You know I love research as much as you do."
After the oath was made on her magic, Padma settled down to listen.
"Fine, remember, this is only what Harry will be comfortable with people knowing. For instance, he lives with his muggle aunt and uncle in Little Whinging. You'll have to discover the address for yourself since it's under wards. Owls can reach him, and he has his own owl, a Snowy Owl named Hedwig. She's quite a bit smarter than the usual post owls and pets. I think she may actually have a familiar bond to him. Don't bring that up though. If he dates you, you'll find out soon enough.
"He's skinny for a reason and it's not to do with Quidditch. He'll have to tell you why, and I don't even know the full reason. I suspect he's been abused by his relatives, but don't bring that up either. I probably shouldn't have even mentioned it. When he first arrives at the beginning of term, he eats ravenously, so I suspect he doesn't get fed much at home."
Padma gasped at that. Who would half starve a child. It was unheard of in the magical world. No matter how poor you were, there was always the children to take care of first; even above the parents.
Hermione continued. "I usually send him something over the summer and I know Ron's mother does as well. You almost always see him in school robes, but his own wardrobe is disgusting; way too big for him and tatty to boot. I know he has money, but he doesn't spend it much. I'm not sure why that is: surely he can afford better than he wears. His trainers are taped, for Merlin's sake. He never goes home for Christmas, so I suspect he's not even welcome at home. I've tried to talk to the headmaster about that, but he's brushed me off, saying it's not my business. For heavens sake, he's my best friend! I care what happens to him. Dumbledore says he does, but doesn't act like he does."
Tears were rolling down both witches faces by this time. "We need to help him, Padma. He almost got killed each year." And then she told her about Harry's adventures each year. The Philosophers Stone, the Chamber of Secrets and last year, the Dementors and his godfather as well as Trelawney's prophesy. "It came true, Padma!"
"Sirius Black? The murderer is his godfather?" she asked, shock evident in her voice.
"No, Sirius is innocent, he was framed. Harry cast a really powerful Patronus charm that drove a hundred Dementors away and saved him, Sirius and me."
"Wow! A corporeal Patronus? At thirteen? I find that unbelievable. You have got to be kidding me!"
"It's true, I watched as he cast it. It was huge and almost solid. He almost fainted afterwards from the effort."
"No wonder I'm drawn to him! He's probably the most powerful student in the school. Not many fully grown wizards can even cast the Patronus and most of those are Aurors."
"Now," Hermione continued. "How are you going to go about getting him? I'll try and help if you're serious. He mooned over Cho Chang, but it didn't work out and I think Ginny Weasley has a massive crush on him, but I'm sure he's 'The-Boy-Who-Lived/Prince Charming' to her. She's just a fangirl. But don't turn your back on her. She's got a nasty streak in her when she's crossed. Her Bat-Bogey hex is very scary."
"Yeah, I've noticed. I'll keep an eye out. I don't trust any of the Weasleys, but I guess I'll have to learn to get along with at least Ron if I hope to snare him. Thanks for your help."
"Oh, by the way, Harry and I are invited to the World Quidditch Cup this year. Are you going?"
"Oh yes, Papa was able to get good tickets. I'll make sure to look for you and Harry."
"We're going with the Weasleys, so I don't know how good the seats are, but I'll be sure to look for you. On another note, have you started your Runes homework yet? I'm almost finished and have started on my Arithmancy and Potions essays."
Padma smiled at that. Trust Hermione to dig right in. "Yes, I'm almost finished those as well. Professor Snape's essay was particularly nasty. I've just started on Charms and will do McGonagall's homework next. What about Binns? I just can't seem to stay awake in his class."
Hermione smiled in response. "I just read the book and occasionally pay attention to what he says. I have perfect recall of anything I hear or read, so it's not a problem for me. The assignments are difficult but then we both know how to research properly, don't we."
Padma had to laugh at that. Both girls knew that they were the top students in the year, with Hermione narrowly beating her out for top spot, with Daphne Greengrass not far behind. They'd formed a fast friendship based of their mutual desire to learn everything they could while at Hogwarts.
"I'll have to keep an eye on Daphne as well, I think," Padma worried. "Daphne has been surreptitiously eyeing Harry, I noticed. She'd be stiff competition if she got serious."
Hermione scoffed. "Daphne hasn't a chance. Oh, she's pretty enough, but Harry steers well away from the Slytherins because of Malfoy and his ilk. Still, Daphne is quite cunning and I wouldn't put it past her to make a try for him."
"I'll just have to try harder then," she smirked.
A few miles away, Harry decided he'd had enough of his relatives and set out for London, taking the underground. A day away from his horrible relatives would be therapeutic after the many years he'd spent under their thumb. Fortunately, Petunia was shopping and would be gone for hours and Dudley was with his little gang. He'd finished his chores and was bored. A nice day trip would do him good. He needed to visit Gringotts anyway: an owl had arrived when his aunt had gone, requesting a meeting and Harry was only too eager to leave.
Walking to the Leaky Cauldron, he chanced upon two witches. "Hermione!" he called excitedly. "What are you doing here? And Padma? Um…" He blushed slightly when he noticed her. Padma was dressed in a nice tight pair of jeans and soft form fitting cashmere sweater. She looked HOT! in Harry's estimation. Her perky breasts drew his attention and he had to look away in embarrassment.
Padma caught the open admiration in his eyes before he quickly looked away. Maybe this wouldn't be as difficult as she thought. "Hello Harry," she replied shyly through lowered eyelashes, a faint blush on her cheeks. "What are you doing here?"
"Um… err…" he stuttered eloquently. "Ah, that is, I-I thought I'd, that is, erm…" A matching blush appeared on his face.
Hermione hid her face before she could laugh out loud. "Harry!" she admonished, trying to stop the giggles that threatened to erupt. "What ever are you doing here?"
Once he faced Hermione, he calmed down and answered her. "I have an appointment at Gringotts, Hermione. I'm just surprised to see you here. A-and Padma o-of c-course. The stutter had returned and he cursed himself for the awkwardness he felt in her presence. Merlin, even Cho didn't have that effect on him.
Padma smirked, pleased that the young wizard seemed to be tongue tied in her presence. She'd have to work on that. "Well, that's a coincidence. I have to see the Goblins as well. Care to accompany us Hermione?"
Hermione smiled and declined. "Sorry, I have to be home shortly, my parents want us packed for our vacation and I have a bit of shopping to do first. Harry, did you receive the invitation from Ron for the Quidditch Cup?"
"Erm, yeah, he said he'd pick me up next week. Are you going Padma?" he dared to ask.
"Of course, Harry, everyone will be there. We have very good seats, I'm told. Maybe we can meet up?"
"Err, yeah, that's a nice idea." 'Smooth, Potter' he thought. 'Why am I suddenly so awkward around her. She's really nice and looks terrific today. Boy, those robes hide a lot! That sweater! I can't stop looking at it and what it hides!'
"Shall we go then, Mr. Potter? Gringotts is this way, Harry," she smirked as Harry had started to walk in the opposite direction.
Harry blushed red and turned around, catching up to the girls. "Sorry, a bit distracted there for a minute," he apologised.
Hermione ducked into Flourish and Blotts, bidding the pair goodbye.
Padma closed the distance between them and chatted merrily about the past school term, easing the tension. "So, Harry, do you think you did well on your end of year exams?"
Harry sighed. He knew the beautiful witch was trying to put him at ease, but she was too beautiful to feel comfortable with. He tried, and then suddenly it was alright. She'd slipped her hand in his and he'd panicked at first and then somehow settled right down. It was weird, almost like he'd known her forever. Her hand was soft and feminine and he liked the feeling of it holding his own. He grinned and replied. "Oh, I think I did all right. Maybe a couple of O's. Nothing like Hermione though. I figure she got all O's. What about you?" The longer he talked to her, the better he felt. Despite the initial nervousness he felt with her, now that he they were talking, it felt natural.
She responded with a natural smile that melted him even further. "Well, I know Hermione and I competed in every subject, but I think she's just a bit ahead of me. I don't doubt she aced the exams and I think I did almost as well. We'll probably be one-two in our year."
They had arrived at Gringotts and made their way to the tellers, still holding hands. In truth, it felt so natural to Harry and Padma that they hardly noticed it. The goblins noticed, however.
The head goblin rushed up and drew them aside. "Come with me, quickly and whatever you do, don't release your hands from your mate."
Startled, Harry and Padma looked at their joined hands in disbelief. There was a sliver of gold magic that entwined their joined hands. "What? What is that?" they replied in unison.
It was like twin speak. Both saying exactly the same thing at the same time. The Goblin ushered them into an office and had them sit on a couch that he'd conjured in front of an impressive oak desk. "Lord Potter, Lady Potter, I beg your forgiveness for my rude manners, but I had to get you out of the main hall as quickly as possible. You two are bonding and quite recently if I'm not much mistaken. The aura around you is strong and the fact that it's manifested so strongly in your joined hands indicates that it is still forming. Please, do not release your hands from each other until the magic fades. It would be dangerous to do so. Fatal perhaps. An interrupted bond, especially one that has manifested itself so clearly could do great damage."
The bewildered teens looked at one another. "Lord Potter? Lady Potter? W-what are you taking about?" both teens asked together.
Immediately images started forming in their heads. Scenes flashed through their minds, faster than they could keep up with them. In minutes, they had each lived through each others lives of their first five years. Padma gasped as she saw the brutal mistreatment Harry had suffered from a very young age. Harry was treated to a very loving home life of his young friend. As the images continued, Padma was appalled at the treatment that Harry had received, culminating in the 'adventures' he'd had while at school. Harry had the easier time. Padma had grown up with very few cares in her life. The few disturbing scenes were normal for most children. The death of her grandparents, the difficult adjustment to life in England when they fled India after it was found they were magical. Hiding their talents until integrating with the magical environment of England. India had it's own magical towns and areas, but unfortunately, the Patils were far from them and had tried to blend in to the locals without success. At first, the family had a hard time adjusting until they discovered Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. The local magical population looked on the Patils as foreigners but helped them get established once they learned of their special gifts. Amal Patil was a magical spice merchant and the family eventually produced much of the magical spices that Britain needed in potions.
As the bond took hold, both teens leaned on each other and fell into a deep sleep. Nothing would wake them and so they were left in each others arms and a guard summoned to watch over them.
The head goblin then reported to Ragnok, the head of the bank, that Lord Potter had bonded and had fallen into a magical sleep with his new wife. "Well," the old goblin mused, "That is most unexpected. And in Gringotts, of all places. That is fortunate. How many humans noticed, Stonehand?"
"About a half dozen, not all of them trustworthy I fear, My Lord Ragnok. I've had the guards detain them and summoned an obliviator from their Department of Mysteries. We should have them sorted out shortly. The DoM has been notified, of course; that would have been automatic when the bond formed."
And the bonded? Who is the wife?"
Miss Padma Afshan Patil, My Lord. A worthy pureblooded witch of some power and very smart according to our preliminary investigations."
"Ah, the Patil family. Good, good. They will keep the new lord well grounded. They must not leave here before the urgent business we notified Lord Potter is finished. He must be made aware of his heritage and obligations."
"Yes my Lord Ragnok. They may sleep for some time yet. I have not seen such a strong initial bonding before. They will be powerful, there is no denying that."
"Very good, Stonehand. See that they are made comfortable and well guarded."
"It is already done, My Lord." After being dismissed, Stonehand resumed his duties, summoning the Ministry Obliviator to his office. A quick word ensured that the bond would be kept secret, at least until school restarted at the end of summer.
DoM Obliviator Algernon Croaker knew this was big news. It would leak out, he knew, but he would keep his end of the agreement and hope that it would hold until the new Lord and Lady Potter had settled comfortably into their bond.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. A notorious animagus beetle reporter had been lurking in Gringotts, hoping to overhear some juicy gossip for her next exposé in the Daily Prophet. She'd almost fainted when she saw the bond form on a young couple that was entering the bank. The aura was bright gold and the couple was apparently unaware of it. Looking closer, she tried to determine who the couple were. A clear view was not possible due to where she was perched but as she tried to get closer to the pair, a Ministry Obliviator appeared and she made a hasty escape. Obliviators would not look kindly on an unregistered animagus and Rita Skeeter had so far managed to avoid them. The story would still make headlines though.
Far away in Scotland in a castle, sat an old man in his office. The man was considered to be the most powerful wizard of the time and had been in the midst of finalizing a most important tournament. Three schools would be represented with one student chosen from each to compete in a potentially dangerous set of contests. The Tri-Wizard Tournament was coming to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Albus Dumbledore was pouring over details of the tournament, fine tuning who would and who wouldn't be allowed to compete. He had designed an age line that would accept seventh year students only with the exception of students who had turned seventeen but were still in sixth year at the time of the activation of The Goblet Of Fire. This would happen at the end of September when the other two schools arrived. He would have to ensure that his favourite student somehow managed to make it into the tournament. A hidden fourth school was created with Harry's name in it. Events were coming to a fulcrum point and the opportunity must not be missed. After all, it was for the greater good. Tip the balance one way, and he had a good chance to expose an evil monster that had plagued the wizarding world for decades. Never mind that most had dismissed Tom Riddle as dead; people still could not say his pseudonym of Lord Voldemort. Harry Potter knew and so did Peter Pettigrew and Barty Crouch Jr. Harry had defeated Riddle more times than the old man cared to count. There would be a final reckoning and Mr. Potter would play his role whether he wanted to or not. He would see to it!
Albus was startled out of his thoughts by a singularly odd occurrence. His magical silver instruments had all suddenly failed. "What just happened? All of the monitors on Mr. Potter failed. This should not happen except in extreme cases. Even if he'd died, there would be an indication. I'll have to investigate!"
Quickly moving to his fireplace, he flooed to Mrs. Figg's place. Arabella Figg was startled out of her lunchtime meal. "Albus!" the concerned squib nearly screamed. "What...?"
"Nothing to fear, my dear," he soothed. "I have to check on Mr. Potter. Was there anything unusual to report? When was the last time you saw him?"
"N-no, nothing unusual, I saw him gardening earlier this morning."
Albus quickly left the confused woman and hurried to Number 4 Privet Drive. Checking the yard, he quickly knocked on the door. Seeing no response, he entered the house and looked around. "Mr. Potter?" he enquired. "Harry, are you here?" No response, so he checked the house and Harry's bedroom. Nothing. Everything seemed in order, but Harry was missing. Dudley Dursley chose that moment to enter the house and almost got cursed as the Headmaster whirled around, wand pointed at the obese boy. "Where's Harry?" he demanded.
Dudley paled at the sight of an obviously angry freak of an old man, nearly wetting himself as he replied. "Dunno, I don't keep track of him. The freak comes and goes and generally avoids us."
Albus frowned, "Where are your parents?"
"Mum's probably shopping and Dad's at work," he answered sullenly. "Why do you care? He's just a freak!"
Albus ground his teeth in frustration; this was getting him nowhere. Perhaps the boy had slipped away to Diagon Alley. He'd have to place a guard on the boy to ensure he stayed at home. He turned on the spot, apparating to Diagon Alley. Walking the street, he saw no sign of the boy. After checking the shops, no one had seen him either. 'Strange,' he thought, 'Surely he would have stopped somewhere. Best check Gringotts.'
A quick look in the bank proved uninformative so he approached the Head Goblin. "Good afternoon Stonehand, may I enquire if Mr. Harry Potter has been in today?" Albus knew not to offend the goblins. They could be nasty if provoked.
"Headmaster Dumbledore," he growled. "We do not communicate the business of our customers. Whether Lord Potter was here or not, is our business, not yours!"
Albus almost missed the reference to Lord Potter, but decided to keep the slip to himself. He knew it was useless to confront the goblin further and so bade him farewell and left. 'Lord Potter? How interesting. Young Harry must have been in then to assume his title of Lord. That's unfortunate, I'll have to obliviate that bit of knowledge from his mind.' Wondering where Harry was, he decided to hang around outside the bank on the off chance he was still inside. Two hours later, he gave up and apparated to the Ministry for file a missing persons report.
DMLE head, Amelia Bones was not having a good day. Besides the stack of paper work that had accumulated on her desk, she was faced with the unenviable task of organising protection for the upcoming World Quidditch Cup. She was seriously short of Aurors for such a task and that bumbling idiot Fudge refused to increase the budget for more. She would have to juggle shifts and holidays to make sure the event was covered plus maintain the proper level of security for Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. She growled in frustration when Albus Dumbledore entered her office unannounced.
"Good afternoon Amelia," he started, only to be interrupted by a thoroughly pissed off head of the DMLE, wand in hand and a curse on her lips. Years as an Auror had taught her vigilance.
"Dumbledore! Don't you believe in making an appointment to see me? Or even knocking before rudely walking in unannounced?" Wand still in hand, she barely relaxed.
Albus was taken aback at the abrupt tone of Madam Bones. He didn't miss her wand still pointed at him. "I'm sorry for interrupting, but something urgent has come up. Harry Potter is missing!"
The head of the DMLE pinched the bridge of her nose in agitation. Could this day get any worse? "By missing, exactly what do you mean and how long?" she barked.
"Today I checked his residence and found him gone. I checked Diagon Alley and Gringotts and he's nowhere to be found. A search should be organised immediately."
Amelia couldn't believe the temerity of the man. "So you assume he's missing since you checked two or three places? Just why does this even concern you? He's a young man on summer vacation, he could be anywhere and it shouldn't concern you. Your concern should only be when he's at Hogwarts. In any case, one day isn't enough for my department to concern itself. When he's missing from his place of residence for seventy-two hours, then we can discuss it. GOOD DAY, Mister Dumbledore! I have more important things to do than keep track of a nearly fourteen year old boy that most people wouldn't even worry about until he's been seen to be harmed or missing for a much longer time!"
This was turning out to be a very bad day for Albus Dumbledore. 'Damn that boy!' he thought. 'I have enough work to do as it is. When I find him…' but then the thought of what he'd do became less important when Amelia's secretary burst into her office.
"Madam Bones! Have you seen the special edition of the Prophet? There's a newly bonded couple that appeared in Gringotts an hour ago! The bond is apparently extremely strong."
Albus blinked along with Amelia. "A bond, you say? Not accidental magic? Albus, when was the last time a strong bond happened?"
"Ah, not for many years that I can recall, and certainly not such a strong one that anyone noticed it."
"Exactly. I'll have to check the Department of Mysteries at once. "I wonder what kind of bond it is?"
Albus was having thoughts about this as well. 'Mr. Potter?' he wondered. 'He was certainly powerful enough but that was impossible. I bound his core myself when I placed him at the Dursleys.' Albus was afraid. If it was Harry Potter, that would mean that his core broke through the binding. That was unacceptable, he needed him weak and pliable until the end. "I must go, Amelia, sorry for disturbing you." He would check the DoM himself, but quietly. If it proved true, he wanted to know who he bonded with.
Harry and Padma finally awoke in the late afternoon. They blinked in surprise at the guards who hurriedly exited the room to notify Stonehand. One guard stayed behind outside the door to ensure privacy.
The bond had apparently completed as the golden magic no longer surrounded their hands. "What just happened," they asked each other together. "Mmm. Headache," they both replied in unison. "Padma/Harry?" they started. "Wait," and both raised their hands to the other's mouth. 'This is silly,' Harry/Padma thought. "Wait, I can hear you in my mind," they both said. "Ergh! What's going on?"
At that moment, Stonehand entered the room and looking at the teens, realised what might be happening. "Lord and Lady Potter, you must release your hands now to avoid confusion in your minds. As a newly bonded pair, your connection allows a mind link that will be hard to adjust to until you learn to control it."
Seeing their hands still linked, they separated them and a small spark drew from their hands and disappeared. Harry was the first to speak. "Stonehand, I don't understand, you speak of a bond and addressed us as Lord and Lady Potter. How did this happen?"
Padma was thinking through the implications. Her brilliant mind swiftly sorting the details and coming to the only conclusion possible. "Harry," she smiled shyly, "I think we're magically married and have formed a Soul Bond."
"But how?" he wondered aloud. "I mean all we've done is hold hands, that can't have initiated it! People hold hands everyday.
Stonehand interrupted. "Lord Potter, the bond started on it's own. Holding hands merely accelerated it. It would have formed in any case, but would have taken years of close contact to formalize without touching. There is something that was in your magical core that sought out Lady Potter as a unique compatible mate. Her magic responded, probably unconsciously and sought the connection. Did you two feel nothing towards each other before joining hands?" he grinned.
That was disturbing to see a goblin grin, Harry thought, but conceded that he did feel a strong attraction to Padma before her hand joined his.
Padma had come to the same conclusion, just a bit earlier than Harry. She had wondered what had prompted her to hold his hand as they entered the bank, but she knew she had chosen him, days, maybe even weeks or months before.
"See, you both knew." Stonehand was happy, the Potters would be a powerful couple.
Harry was running things through his mind and finally caught on to what Padma had said. "M-married! But we're too young! Surely not!" His mind was reeling with the thought that he was married before he was fourteen. "Oh bugger me sideways!"
"Harry! Language!" Padma admonished. "Husband of mine, we have a few things to take care of. You've obviously never studied Soul Bonds before. They're extremely rare, but my family has a book that I've read about them. Yes, we're married, and is that so bad? Look at me Harry. You know we already share our thoughts when we touch, can you not see that we were meant to be together?" Padma was beginning to think that Harry was regretting the bond. She suddenly grabbed his hand and they shared thoughts for a long couple of minutes, before a grin made it's way to both teens faces. Letting go of their hands, they faced what had happened.
"Yes, it's not what I imagined my life to be, but it's so much better. I can see the love beginning to build between us. It's sudden, but it feels right," Harry replied.
Their eyes met and they slowly moved closer to each other. Padma initiated the kiss as she moved to close the short distance between them. It was soft and tentative, her lips brushing his lightly as she pulled him closer. Her hand wound through his messy hair and his hands found her hips. They broke apart as the intensity of their emotions crashed in their minds. They looked at each other with dazed expressions before kissing again, more deeply this time. Panting heavily when they finally broke the kiss, they smiled at each other. "That was brilliant," they both agreed.
Stonehand had watched the couple for a few seconds, before turning away, giving them a bit of privacy. This would rock the wizarding world, he was sure.
A little later, after they had sorted it out in their minds, Stonehand mentioned why Harry had been summoned to the bank.
Lord Potter, You should have been notified when you turned eleven. Who did you deal with when you first came to Gringotts?"
"Harry thought a moment. "Um, Hagrid approached a goblin, I don't know his name and presented my key after he asked who I was. He summoned Griphook, who took Hagrid and me down to my vault."
"Well, I guess it's not Griphook's fault. Can you describe the first goblin?"
"Err, not really, An older teller. Hagrid had to pick up something from a vault as well. Something secret in a high security vault."
"Ah, that would probably have been Razorclaw. He usually deals with secure vaults. I'll have to have a talk with him. It was very remiss to overlook your ascension to Lordship. Now, since you've bonded with Lady Potter, the former Miss Padma Patil, both of you are considered married in the magical world and are automatically emancipated. However, you may not take up your seat in the Wizengamot until you reach the age of majority; normally seventeen or when you graduate, whichever comes first. You now have access to the Potter family vault as well. Lady Potter, since your parents are alive, you will have to wait. Lord Potter can grant you access to the Potter vaults however."
"Harry, I don't need…"
"Nonsense, Padma. Since we're married," 'married, I'm married. Good grief!' he thought. "Yes, you should have full access. After all, you are my wife and what's mine is yours. Maybe not my Firebolt, though," he snickered.
Padma laughed at that. A light tinkling laugh that sent shivers up his spine. 'I think I really like that laugh of hers.' he thought. "Why not the Firebolt, Husband?" she mock pouted. "Don't you trust me?"
Harry saw where this was going and teased her back. "Padma, there's only one broomstick I trust you to ride." He suddenly blushed as he thought how that would sound to Stonehand. "Erm…"
Padma blushed and poured oil on the fire. "And which broomstick is that, Harry, the built in one or another one?"
"I think you broke him, Lady Potter," Stonehand guffawed. "Come, Lord Potter, you have some documents to sign and I need a blood sample from each of you."
After the legalities were taken care of, they visited the Potter family vault. They were stunned when they saw the amount of gold he had inherited. "Uh, Stonehand, just how much gold is here?" he inquired weakly.
"A statement will be provided before you exit the bank, Lord Potter. I dare say it's sufficient for several generations of Potters. The Potters are a very old family and have saved and invested wisely. With our help of course. I hope you will continue to trust our advice."
"Erm, yes, of course. Why wouldn't I since you've apparently helped make me very wealthy."
Padma could hardly believe what she was seeing. She had no idea that Harry was this rich. It wouldn't have mattered in any case, since she would have loved him even if he was as poor as he dressed. "Harry," she sing-songed, "time to meet my parents, your new in-laws. Oh, and you will NOT be returning to your horrid relatives!"
Harry gulped. Uh, Padma, c-can't we, erm, that is… sort of put that off for a bit?" he asked fearfully.
"No, Husband, We need to see them after we get you some clothes befitting your station!" she said firmly, brooking no argument. "I will be helping you, your taste in clothes leaves a lot to be desired." Padma shuddered as she eyed Harry's hand-me-downs.