Disclaimer: Harry Potter ain't no creation o' mine ya hear?

Writer's Request: I'm in heavy need of prereaders and have been for quite some time. If anyone out there is willing, bored, and interested enough to be my sounding board for ideas for this fic and or any others that I write, it would be highly appreciated. Feel free to PM me.

Notice: I don't bash. I don't do bashing. Characters will be portrayed to the best of my ability as canon to start with.

Forward: Whilst reading in the Harry Potter section I've recently come across a whole slew of Soul Bond stories, each of which sucked a little bit worse than the last. I've taken a page out of Ozzallos's book. Rampant and uncensored Weasley and Dumbledore bashing roamed the stories with reckless abandon and I thought to myself: Hot damn I could do that better.

I'm not going to lie. The soul bond idea DOES intrigue me. Always has really. But everyone seems to think that any couple paired in a soul bond will suddenly never have ill thoughts about their new significant other, and instead will feel perfect love for them without the slightest need for character development. People often forget that Harry found himself annoyed with Hermione's work-ethic as much as Ron did.

Worse. These are puberty age to nearly grown adults. If that's the case then Harry has been replaced with a robot, or worse his actual character and personality have been overwritten by magic itself which in my opinion is tantamount to rape of the highest order.

Realism. That is what I want from my soul bond fics. If you and your respective other could hear ALL of each other's thoughts? My god you'd hate each other in a week!

Boy: "BOOBS!"
Girl: "SHOES!"
Boy: "BOOBS!
Boy: "SPORTS!"
Girl: "BOYS!"

And that's just the stereotypes! HP has some complicated characters in it. Can you imagine how irritated Harry would get listening to Hermione thinking her way through arithmancy with no clue what she was actually thinking about? Worse the jealousy when she finds another boy attractive? On the flipside Harry's fifteen. Boobs up there is perfectly accurate. Can you imagine how hurt Hermione might be if her soul is intrinsically bound to his and yet he can't stop thinking about dating a fifth year he barely knows?

Can you imagine? Well, now you don't have to. This is my take on the soul bond idea of magic.

Also... sorry... I'm a bit bored with just Harry Potter... so Im probably going to pepper this story with loads of Cameos. I think I'll go for creepy, but its been far too long since I've delved back into that wondrous realm of epic. So... without further adieu:

Cheerio! All sails cast into the wind, and full speed down into the mire of love and hate!

Error of Soul

"Ah. Well. Yes, Harry. Deep Magic lies in PMS. Meddle not in the affairs of the monthlies for you are feeble and easily crushed."
- Albus Dumbledore

"Harry Potter." The busy elder woman intoned gravely as the boy entered her wing for what must have been the thousandth time. She sighed, shaking her head with not a little worry. For once though, the boy was at least entering by his own will on his own two feet. That in itself was a rare occurrence and his easy smile did a lot to assuage the worry that entered her heart almost every time she saw the boy.

"What is it this time, Potter?" She asked injecting a bit of humor. "Basilisk venom again? Perhaps improper use of Polyjuice? Stray bludgers? Maybe a dragon's claws, or perhaps grindylows?"

Potter laughed. That was his way though. Potter laughed easy and forgot easy. She'd never spoken more to a single student in all her career, at least not without taking them on as an apprentice first, and she found that Harry was very easy to like. Despite all that happened to him and all his troubles it was rare to find him complaining. Of course Umbridge was grating on him and he had taken to brooding a bit more than in previous years but she thought that was understandable. The entire world seemed to be against him and he weathered it like an oak.

Still, something nagged at her. Probably out of habit, but every time she found him lying in one of her stretchers she couldn't help but expect to find this was the day that he turned out to be unsavable. That all her medicine and spellwork would finally fail, and the wizarding world would lose the hero that this boy had become in the few years she'd known him.

"No Madam Pomfrey," he replied, the levity leaving his voice. "Actually, I think I'm here for just a normal old fever. I've been feeling a bit... strange lately."

Madam Pomfrey quirked an eyebrow. "Oh? Well, sit down and tell me what's wrong."

Invading his personal space without a second thought she placed her hand on his forehead in the age old method of quickly measuring him for fever and she found he did indeed have a bit of a temperature. Her hand came away a bit sweaty and slightly warmer than she would've expected considering the chill of winter's bite that was gnawing away at the castle outside.

She led him over to a seat by one of the room's tall stone windows and they both sat at a pair of chairs that had been left there for more normal students. Pomfrey found herself dealing more with joke candy reversal than any actual illness and she usually enjoyed sitting in the sunshine spilling in from the window.

Come to think of it, she didn't think Harry had ever sat in the plush brown chair he now lounged in.

"Well it hasn't just started today," he started a bit embarrassedly, once he'd gotten settled.

"No it wouldn't have. Anything that can willingly get you to walk in here would have to be dire indeed," the healer said with a ghost of a smile.

"Wasn't willing..." The boy muttered. "Stupid Ron, and stupid Hermione made me. I think I'm fine. Just a case of the flu, it'll be gone before friday. But they both insisted when I... well I vomited."

Madam Pomfrey's analytical mind pulled relevant factors out of that statement like a vulture.

Flu. Mainly a muggle sickness though younger wizarding children could catch it. Not Harry, or any of the students at Hogwarts for that matter though. Wizards were immune to that sickness after their first use of accidental magic. Still, Flu like symptoms. Vomiting. Probable nausea. Fever. Possible Wizard equivalent diseases: Moxyetly. Mage's Cough. Teruel. God I hope it isn't the last one. Worst case scenario: Teruel. Course of action? Question about chills and other relevant similarities.

"Wizards are immune to the flu Harry. Tell me have you been feeling any chills?" she asked succinctly.

"We are?" Harry questioned, but then shook himself and focused. "No... er well... yes sort of. Its... hard to explain."

Madam Pomfrey gestured with a wrinkled hand for the young boy to continue. Whatever problem the boy had, she would help.

"I keep feeling like... someone is... touching me."

Poppy's eyes bulged.

"No, no!" He placated her instantly catching where his words had led her thoughts and quelling them before she could worry. "Nothing like that. Just light little touches on my shoulder or chest or even my fingers. Mostly my fingers, in fact. Kind of like a ghost was creeping up on me and laying a hand on my shoulder or something like that. It doesn't hurt; its just odd."

Pomfrey quirked her eyebrow. "This sounds like a prank. Has someone been taking your invisibility cloak?"

"You know about my cloak!?" he squeaked, his real problem already forgotten.

The old witch face lit with mirth. "Boy, I healed your father after every one of his late night misadventures and you think I wouldn't've keyed in on a little thing like that?"

Harry flushed a bit. "Err... sorry. I didn't really think about it."

"You still haven't answered. Has anyone been taking your cloak?" the woman asked, dropping the humor in favor of a more serious tone.

"No." He answered with absolute certainty. "Definitely not. Its locked away with my things and Ron wouldn't dare touch it for a prank. No one else knows about it."

Poppy Pomfrey turned introspective once more. A prank wouldn't explain the fever anyway so something was definitely wrong with him.

"How long has this been happening to you, Harry?" she asked calmly.

Harry thought about it for a moment before he shrugged. "Probably about three days ago is when it first started. I'm not really sure when but that was when the touches started. They're particularly bad in the morning. It feels like someone is trying to pull my hair out! They're almost constant on my fingers, also. But the nausea and the sickness didn't start until today."

She filed that away. She didn't really learn anything new from it but it might be relevant later. "Mister Potter, I'm going to cast a diagnostic spell on you, if I may have your permission?"

"You need my permission?" the boy asked with surprise, causing the healer to sigh.

Right. He'd never been here before under normal circumstances.

"Without significant risk to life or limb it is against not only Hogwarts Policy but Ministry Law to perform a diagnostic spell on another person without permission. The sentence isn't anything as hefty as Azkaban but I'd rather avoid the rather steep fine that I could be charged, if I did not ask."

Incredulously the boy sputtered with a well humored grin. It was rather funny. Asking him permission now when she'd used the spell on him so many times already. "Go ahead Madam."

She nodded and drew her wand, flicking it with casual grace that emphasized her years of experience. Feelings began to seep into her. Pulse, good, that sounded right. Lungs normal, no clogs. Breathing regular. Her eyes sought for the lighted blue indicators that would be present on the boy's arms if he had something like Mage's Cough or Moxyetly but none appeared. Okay, perhaps a poison? Scrounging lower she examined the results the diagnosis spell spewed forth that were related to his food intake but again found nothing abnormal.

Something was very odd here.

Chapter One
Too Close

Poppy dug a little closer into the mental paper print that seemed to be reeling through her mind and found to her surprise that as far as the spell was concerned Harry Potter was sitting at a healthy 98.7 degrees. She felt his forehead again and noted that it was still quite hot to the touch, yet for some reason the diagnostic spell didn't even show that he had a fever.

'Everything always has to be unusual with you, doesn't it Harry Potter?' She thought dejectedly.

"I'm sorry Harry," she said dejectedly. "From this diagnostic you are the picture of health. I'll have to try something deeper. Would it be alright if I pricked your finger? A spec of blood is needed for this."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "You will destroy it after and I will watch."

His tone brooked no argument, and Madam Pomfrey found herself startled by his sudden complete seriousness. Then she remembered the Quibbler and its rather detailed interview about the resurrection of Voldemort last year. Yes. He would be antsy about his blood.

"As you wish." She replied and pulled out a needle. He held out his hand, suddenly a bit timid and probably a bit ashamed of his harsh tone but she paid it no mind. Before he could even flinch she pricked his index finger with a needle. He flinched but said nothing to show discomfort.

"It'll be just a moment now." She replied as she took the blood spec and laid it on a sheet of glass atop her desk. Her wand sizzled and a few complicated spells crossed her tongue as she began to hunt for the source of Harry's problem.

The Drixyer Inquiry spell produced no results. As did Havals Divination. Spell after spell after more complex spell found that the blood was in perfect if not better than perfect state. The Phoenix Tears that had healed Harry those years ago had done more for him than he would realize for a long time.

A sort of cold sweat had formed on Madam Pomfrey's own brow after the ninth diagnostic attempt and failure to discern Harry's problem, and she was just about to give up. Harry, who had been waiting patiently up until now, stood. "Ma'am if its alright with you I think I'll go lie down in the dorm for a while. Professor Flitwick told me that I was to have the day and I think I might..." He trailed off and clutched at his stomach as a daze seemed to creep over him. "...might take him up on it." He finished weakly.

Irritated she nodded. "I'll destroy this now... I suppose this is another affliction of yours that we will have to simply put up to that," she said, pointing an angry finger at his scar. "I'll give you some fever killers and a Draughts of Drowsiness to help you rest."

"Thank you Ma'am." He said politely, though she watched his hand fall to the back of the chair and rest there a bit strongly. He truly did look a wreck.

Suddenly a thought came to her. One last diagnostic spell. Croverwell's. Honestly she should've tried it before. It would be like Harry to contract a malady that was completely magical in nature, but she'd only checked for the common biological ones. Children were still coming in with the Creepers Bug that Dementors left floating about wherever they went. Ruddy ministry. Dementors... in a school! Mental!

But she turned her thoughts back to the spell.

"Allow me one more attempt, Harry, if you please?"

He made a gesture as if to say 'be my guest,' but he truly did look tired. If this didn't work she would send him away.

She cast the spell and a golden light flashed from the tip of her wand, enveloping the blood sample as it did. The blood sparkled for a moment and then the light faded, slithering into the blood like a sort of worm crawling into a hole. After a full thirty seconds the spell faded.

'Nothing?' thought the professor wearily. 'I was almost certain that something would happen...'

"Hmm. I suppose not..." She thought idly. "I'll will attempt another array of diagnostic spells after you've had a bit of rest. For once however, I don't feel like I need to confine you to the ward you loathe so much."

At those words the boy seemed to literally light up. He would, too. Every time he seemed to end up in her ward, he had to stay for an inordinate amount of time, bored out of his mind. It was no wonder that he was so happy to find her letting him go.

"Sorry. It's nothing against you Madam Pomfrey but..."

She waved him away with a happy hand. "Oh stop my boy, no need to fret. After the things that usually end up putting you in here I sometimes wonder why Dumbledore doesn't just hire a personal healer to follow you around like a bat. I'm sure they would be an expert healer in a week!"

Harry gave a grin and stood. "That they might professor."

Madam Pomfrey bustled in her usual way about the room, efficiently grabbing a veritable care package of potions and tinctures for the boy to take, and then proffered them to him.

"One of the red each day at this time. Go ahead and drink it down now. Take the green only if your fever becomes unbearable. The lighter green is Draught of Drowsiness, and should help you get your rest. If you're feeling better in the morning then you may attend class but only if you are. Otherwise you are confined to your quarters. If I see you in here tomorrow for pushing yourself when you are sick then I'll be sure to keep you here."

The boy nodded earnestly and took the vials with a grin of near joy. That grin assuaged the old healer's worries a bit. Perhaps the boy had found a nifty little spell to make him appear to have a fever and was simply trying to skiv off classes? Well... if he had been any other boy, Poppy might've believed that.

But Harry?

No. With Harry Potter you could always bet that something was wrong.

Oh how she wished though as the boy left her office with a wave. How she wished that maybe he would try. It would be a much needed bit of normalcy that Harry Potter had never had. It would assure her that he wouldn't be lost... forever lost to the great burdens that lay before, and behind him.

Unbeknownst to the healer, if she had waited but a few more moments before destroying the blood, the red speck would've glowed a neon blue.

Hermione Granger was pragmatically cataloguing the effects of a Temperoot potion and idly comparing them to Sir Edward Finan's notes on the ingredients. Several disparities existed due to the fact that Finan hadn't been around since the eighteen hundreds and Temperoot was a relatively new potion, but Finan had been a leading expert in herbology and potion making.

The thing Ron would never understand, that Harry would never understand, that no one would ever understand was that she enjoyed it. Her studies, while often dedicated to the pursuit of self advancement, were sometimes of a completely trivial nature. Mundane things like learning about a potion created recently and happily discovering that the potion had actually existed almost two hundred years ago was a veritable treat for the young girl's mind.

Temperoot was used to massage the gums of teeth and assuage toothaches. It wasn't a bad tasting potion either. But go back two hundred years and Hermione found that Finan had come up with the exact same potion, then called Dermitine, but had instead added cooking grease to thicken it and marketed it as a skin cream.

Reading the ingredients list she found it to be surprisingly effective with either use, unless she missed her guess entirely.

'Wonderful!' She thought with a childish sense of glee. There was no goal in mind with this, no aspiration, just a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Mindless, useless knowledge but Hermione Granger treasured it. All of it. Every new thing, every connection, every snippet filed away and cross referenced to find patterns and connections that simply made her glow.

She didn't know why. Other people didn't enjoy things like this. They liked quidditch or fawned over the opposite sex, or sought power and wealth. Or immortality... she shuddered but then returned her thoughts to her own vice. Hermione Granger... she fawned over books.

That wasn't to say she didn't have a healthy appreciation for the opposite sex herself but she fancied her books on at least the same level.

Idly her mind wandered to a childish little daydream she had about kissing a certain redhead atop a bed that was simply covered in HIS study notes. A timid little shudder ran down the back of her spine at that thought, and she cast it away before it grew too bothersome to ignore.

Today felt like a day for laziness. Winter laid heavy on the land and classes for the afternoon had ended half an hour gone, Flitwick's Charms class being last. She spared a moment of worry for Harry who both she and Ron had felt needed to go to the infirmary after vomiting up his lunch the day before. He had remained confined in his room and Ron had informed her that he was doing better but still felt a bit ill.

She herself felt queasy as well but that had been entirely different. She'd been paired with Neville yesterday in potions and despite his rather extraordinary advances in spellcasting during the DA meetings, he still hadn't quite managed to take that new found bravery into his potion making.

Hermione had been the drinker and she hadn't felt right since. The potion was supposed to be used to give a person temporary musical aptitude, and surprisingly Snape seemed almost happy when instructing the class today. Unfortunately Neville's potion had failed and Hermione had walked away with was a stomach-ache and a dreadful ringing in her ears that no one else could hear. Luckily that had faded quickly but the stomach ache and nausea still plagued her. She'd so been looking forward to having the ability to play a saxophone too...

Professor Snape had assured her that the potion wouldn't be dangerous. But had written a quick scrit with his usual scowl that offered her a get out of class free card should she need it. She didn't, but the thought was nice. The old bat really wasn't always terrible. Just most of the time.

Without warning a sudden pressure alighted on her forehead. Warm, it felt almost as if a person's hand were pressed there. Just as suddenly the ghost touch left and she was shocked by the sudden influx of cool air. She blew a hair out of her face idly and tried to ignore the strange feeling, but it was becoming harder and harder to do.

Over the past three days or so these strange touches had been occurring more and more often. Strange though they were, almost none of them were unpleasant. Her neck would start to itch and then suddenly the strangest sensation of scratching would occur and the itch would be gone. Her arms would feel cold after a quick walk outside to get to another part of the castle and then the sensation of hands massaging them would send a flash of warmth to her.

Obviously, the first place she went to figure out what the hell was happening to her, was books. And for once, books had failed her. Pouring through the library on maladies and curses or jinxes that might cause such a sensation, she found herself coming up empty. But it wasn't as if she'd read all of them. So she continued looking. Potions perhaps? Maybe someone had sabotaged her pumpkin juice?

And this book was where her search had actually led her. Finding Finan's potion from her historical biography and matching it to Temperoot had been a pleasant distraction but that warm touch on her forehead brought her back to the problem at hand.

At first she wasn't even sure if she'd actually been feeling anything at all. A finger might touch her and she'd turn but find no one there, or a strange feeling of 'adjusting' something near her face left her almost certain that someone had crept up behind her and placed a pair of glasses on her. But no. Nothing.

As the first day became the second, they became a bit more pronounced. The touches were mostly pleasant, indeed. Some... were a bit too pleasant. Feather light touches on areas that definitely were not proper occasionally snatched her breath, sometimes even mid sentence! They never felt as if they were truly intentional. Much like a ghost that happened to be tethered to her might accidentally brush against her. And she would be lying if she didn't admit those few touches had sparked several decidedly naughty dreams. But it was becoming a bother and whatever it was had to stop.

She flipped a page and found herself learning about Manald potion, which was used primarily to lessen the pain of severe skid wounds usually found on Quidditch players. All the potions in this particular book had the common ingredient of Newt Toes which were particularly potent in lessening or enhancing a person's ability to feel. While at first she'd thought the idea made sense, now she was starting to feel like it was less likely.

'This definitely isn't it... I'm getting nowhere,' thought the brunette with a huff. Snapping the potions book closed she threw her feet over the side of her bed and picked up her wand.

'This is going to be a bit... odd. How often does Madam Pomfrey get a visitor who claims to be feeling too good?'

She stood up and gingerly placed the litter of books scattered about her bed upon the bedside table began to walk to the door.

"Going out?" Lavender asked casually without looking up from what appeared to be divination homework. Hermione would've snorted mentally at that but at least she was doing it. Getting Harry Potter or Ronald Weasley to even get that far was maddening so she couldn't begrudge the girl her waste of time.


"Yes... I'm going to see Madam Pomfrey."

At this the girl looked up from her homework with a bit of worry. "Feeling under the weather? Probably the Vice Chills I reckon."

She paused for a moment as if thinking her decision over while Hermione tried to devise an answer to that. Whatever she was feeling she was quite certain it wasn't the vice chills. "Want company?" the girl injected before Hermione could speak. "I'll walk you down there if you like?"

Hermione wouldn't ever admit it aloud but she was a little bit touched by that. The girl willing to drop her homework to aid an acquaintance if not a friend. Then Hermione berated herself. 'She's not like you. She's probably offering to come because of her homework, silly! She wants to get away from it!'

Even so the gesture did still make her feel a small burst of affection for her roommate of near five years now. "Yes please, if its not too much trouble."

"Not at all." She replied as she stood and put away her own books.

The pair of girls left the room slowly, Lavender not prodding for any information from Hermione on her 'illness' and Hermione feeling little need to chat with the other girl. It was a companionable silence that led them down the winding corridors of Hogwarts.

Of course, silence was a rare thing to keep and even easier to break in this castle. Turning around a corner, Lavender stumbled straight into a tall boy's form and plummeted to the ground. The boy, for his part, stumbled a bit.

"S-sor... Oh. You." Lavender deadpanned.

"Watch where you're going you little bug." Draco Malfoy's snakelike sneer slid across the hallway's cold stone like an eraser sliding over a chalkboard. Smooth. Foul. Unbearably predictable. It was as if the boy had absolutely no emotion other than arrogance. Well. That wasn't true. He had fear as well. Hermione's mood darkened almost instantly at the sight of the leader of Umbridge's little squad, but the reminder brought up several humorous memories of punching the boy in the face and watching him be turned into a ferret.

"And you apologize. Or do they not have manners in pureblood society?" She hissed.

"Like I would apologize to a Gryffindor. I'm in a hurry, Granger. Tell your friend to watch her step." He replied though for once Hermione could tell his heart wasn't truly in the insults as he swept around the pair of girls and down the hallway. Oddly enough, his ever present flunkies Crabbe and Goyle were not present. Strange. But unimportant.

In retrospect Hermione was glad the ferret had for once not given her much trouble. Normally he seemed to derive a perverse sort of pleasure in antagonizing her and her friends. She turned to Lavender who was still sitting on the ground and offered a hand up. Lavender accepted the proffered hand with a smile and soon the two of them were on their way once again.

"I wonder what he was in such a rush for. Its not like him to be without his goons." Lavender commented idly, unknowingly mimicking Hermione's own thought from moments before.

"Probably something fiendish, knowing Malfoy." Hermione replied absently.

"What do you think he...?" Lavender began but Hermione lost the girl's next few words in a flush of feeling. Something was touching her thigh. Something that wasn't there. It started low, on the inner side of her right leg and trailed up the inside. Somehow she could tell the touch wasn't malignant, as pleasure flooded her mind for a few seconds. The touch fled after that, leaving goosebumps in its wake. She couldn't stop the rather needy little mewl that escaped her lips at the disappearance, causing Lavender to arch her eyebrow and wink suggestively.

"Hey, if he's your type..." The girl said with a mischievous grin.

Hermione glared. "Not... not that. Not him... ever." Were the words she managed to get out. Any and all pleasure washed away immediately at the thought that Draco might be causing this. She shuddered. Whatever this was, she truly hoped the ponce had nothing to do with it.

Lavender breathed a bittersweet giggle. "Well that's good. I guess... one of these days though Granger, I'm going to find out who it is you fancy."

'That's easy,' Hermione thought with a grin as Ron's easy smile came to mind. Of course that was followed by the myriad of flaws the boy carried around with him. Still. She couldn't really help it. A person couldn't help who they liked, and who they didn't. It was simply nature. It was as natural as breathing to enjoy Ron's company, and fighting with him might be the only thing more natural. She sometimes thought that was what she'd grown to like about him. That passionate defense of his position, even when he was unutterably wrong.

The two girls continued down the hallways until they both reached Madam Pomfrey's ward and stopped at the entrance. Lavender shot the girl a warm smile, and said, "Hope you're feeling better soon. Never good to be sick with Christmas so close and all."

With that the girl continued down the hallway leaving Hermione to reflect on the other girl's willingness to show support. Well wishing but distant, and still unwilling to pry into her personal business. That was just Lavender's way after all. She was a flirt and if her conversations with Fay and Parvarti were anything to go by a bit of a pervert as well, but she was a good friend when it counted.

Hermione resolved to try and get a little closer to the girl. Just... not so close that she ended up wasting precious book-reading time with frivolous things like make-up.

She stepped into Madam Pomfrey's office and found the woman there tending to a bandaged Gregory Goyle who appeared to have hurt his arm somehow. Well that explained Draco's unusual countenance. It appeared he could care for things. Not really all that different from them. Just racist and bigoted was all.

The look of relief on Madam Pomfrey's face when she saw Hermione was actually a bit of a shock. The woman gave the brunette no time to think on it though as she pointed immediately to a pitcher of some sort of vaguely clear liquid sitting on her desk.

"Hermione, be a dear and fetch me that pitcher would you? I'll be with you in just a moment. I'm almost done here," the elder woman said with tired sigh. Her hands worked with bandages unbinding them quickly as apparently whatever she had done to it had been finished.

Goyle glared at Hermione as she approached but she didn't deign to give him a response either in her expression or with her voice. Instead she handed the pitcher gingerly to the older woman and watched as she poured small bits of it into a vial. Or rather, she cast a spell at it and let the pitcher do the pouring itself.

Stirring the vial a little she finished her work and placed the potion into Goyle's good hand.

"Now run along. It'll hurt a bit tonight but it should be just fine by morning," Poppy said with a clipped tone.

Grateful, Goyle gave the woman a wide smile. "Thank you Madam Pomfrey."

It was this particular smile of Goyle's that made him one of the people that Hermione loathed. She disliked the Weasley twins a bit for their recklessness but she never considered them without wit or the knowledge to know when they might be going just a tad too far. She disliked Neville on occasion but that was diluted by the fact that she could always see the genuine effort the boy put into relieving himself of his own sometimes clueless demeanor. Draco, she hated. That much was obvious but even she could see a modicum of intelligence behind his germanic features. But what the girl really hated, absolutely could not stand was the pure and utter lack of intelligence or effort to gain it that Gregory Goyle expressed on a daily explained her well kept utter loathing of the boy and his wide, vacant smile; he was the antithesis of everything she believed in. Stupidity and single-minded devotion.

Or at least that was what her opinion of him was. She'd only spoken to the boy perhaps twice in her life, partially because he let Draco do all his talking for him.

"Now dear, what's happened?" The elderly medical witch asked with a pleasant grin.

Feeling somewhat betrayed by the fact that this woman would be willing to heal such a waste of human matter like Goyle, she decided that she didn't actually need the woman's help after all. So she admitted a truth. Just not the one she had come to ask about.

"Ma'am, I've been feeling a bit nauseous ever since I drank one of Neville's potions yesterday."

The woman gave a simple sigh, eyes raised to the heavens, followed by an annoyed, 'That boy..." under her breath before turning back to Hermione.

The bushy haired girl almost giggled at sight of the woman trying to keep her professional attitude in light of Neville's habit of sending people to her office for partnering with him in potions. It had been like that since first year and this was not the first time Hermione had been in the office for it. Any of the Gryffindors in their year for that matter.

Except Harry of course. Harry never went to the infirmary for normal reasons.

Seamus made things explode. Harry saved the world. And Neville botched up potions. It was just the way of things.

Hermione didn't mention the touches, even as another particularly jarring one rolled down her arm, followed by another sliding up the back of her head. She would figure this out on her own. Luckily the potions Madam Pomfrey provided did relieve the effects of Neville's concoction quite nicely.

Harry wasn't the type of person to skip out on things, even if he could avoid them. Not really anyway. He had rather prudently chosen to skip classes this morning, though, for what he felt was a very good reason. If he hadn't have done so, then he might very well have ended up sitting in the hospital wing twiddling his thumbs. A very real horror to be sure, as boredom was worse than even Umbridge's detentions. Unfortunately he had been in pain so he couldn't properly enjoy the day off. That nauseous feeling of his stomach nearly might affect him during the day and he refused to end up tethered to a bed like an invalid if he could avoid it.

However there was something important this evening that had been planned for a little while now. Something that he couldn't simply skip like classes, because frankly he ran it. Dumbledore's Army. Well, more accurately the Defense Association but Dumbledore's Army was what they had all begun to call it. By choice or chance that name was sticking far better than Hermione's PG adaptation and frankly Harry loved it that way. Each meeting brought a little bit more happiness to him, and each properly thrown hex made him feel just that little bit more confident that he was making a real difference.

Voldemort was back and no one believed him. The Minister could sit on his pedestal claiming Harry was a lunatic but the boy-who-lived knew Fudge would have to answer up to this mistake in due time. It was just that wait that was killing him. And the rest of the wizarding world for that matter.

The only benefit, the only real relief he had from the stress of once again being unanimously hated by most of the school, was that when he taught Dumbledore's army, he felt like he mattered. Like he was truly doing something to help, and that meant more than any ruddy classes.

So here he was, despite the worrisome possibility that he might keel over at any time due to this unbearable sickness that still hadn't left. Sitting in a plush chair and very cozily munching upon a buttered biscuit and tea, he watched as his class dueled.

"Sharper wand movements there Luna. That spell is a cut, you're being too lucid. Grip the wand tighter and cut harsher as if you're slicing paper," he coached the blond girl dueling with one of the Weasley twins.

Luna ducked an incoming jellylegs jinx and returned fire with the blinding spell that she was trying to master. "Abiurspectus!" The girl cried, her wand cutting through the air from left to right, stopping hard. The spell released as the wand fell down and Harry was happy to note that it looked perfect. A wave of black that sliced through the air like a thrown wave, it was an impressive curse. If it managed to nick an enemy in the foot it would still blind them. Greater still, the spell ricocheted off most solid objects so you could bounce it off a wall at an opponent.

Unfortunately for Luna, Protego deflected it as well and the Weasley twin whom Harry had long since given up trying to discern between, had erected a marvelous one. Luna was stuck by her own curse leaving a dark haze that fluttered around her eyes, blinding her.

"Harry," the girl murmured dazedly. 'Oh! Oh I like this spell! I can see all the Amberetta's now! The castle's simply filled with them at winter time!"

The girl turned in the direction of the Weasley twin who had lowered his wand. "Well don't stop now. I might still be able to fight without my eyes you know."

The girl threw her wand forward and bellowed "Expecto Patronum!" Then she twisted and cast a Point Me Spell with Fred Weasley as the target. The Weasley twin was unprepared for the rush of the ghostly hare that slid through his still active Protego. His concentration broken and he lost the spell, leaving him open to attack.

"Abiurspectus!" Luna exclaimed and this time the blinding spell got through, smacking the Weasley in the face. The same dark mist seeped about the red-head's eyes as did around Luna's.

Harry smiled at the swift use of several different spells. The best part was the fluidity with which Luna flowed from spell to spell. Not a beat had passed between the releasing of her Patronus, which slid toward the Weasley, and the beginning of her next spell combination. A clever one at that. He would have to remember it.

"Great job Luna!" he praised. "I admit I'm more amazed that you knew which twin he was, though."

The girl turned in the direction of his voice and gave a slight curtsy which looked rather silly with her eyes covered in dancing dark mist. Harry shrugged it off and sent the counterspell at her, restoring her sight. "Thank you Harry."

Harry turned and the chair, plush and comfy, floated further down the line as per his need. The room of requirement complied and his wheelchair slid slowly down the line of dueling combatants.

"Seamus bad pronunciation on that last spell. A-bee-uur. Not A-bur."

The half-blood turned and smirked at Harry. "Yes Professor X. By the way can you tell me what she's thinking with your mind powers?"

Harry caught the muggle reference to his floating 'wheelchair' and grimaced. Mind powers indeed. Occlumency was grating on his nerves and he'd almost just forgotten about his next lesson in a few days. He put on a false smile though and replied, "Yes, but that would be cheating."

Seamus scowled. "No fun, Potter."

The explosive prone boy turned back to his opponent and hastily raised a Protego to block Cho Chang's attack. He growled out that he hadn't been ready and girl smirked back at him with a sneaky little grin. Harry flushed red. The girl wasn't even grinning at him but he caught her eyes anyway and her own face reddened a little bit.

"W-well. Good Protego there Seamus," he stuttered and turned, moving on down the line.

Going a little ways down he found the heated back and forth between Ron and Hermione was perhaps a bit more heated than usual. They were focusing on the blinding spell but it appeared these two had already gone on and incorporated the Abiurspectus spell into their battle styles. Ron, despite his significantly smaller array of spells, was very quick on his feet. So while he often physically dodged most of Hermione's complicated spells, he rarely stretched beyond the regular Protego for defensive means. His speed kept the girl on edge though she clearly held the advantage. A transparent cylindrical wall surrounded her that Harry idly noted was stopping every one of Ron's blinding spells but none of the others.

Spellwarding. Harry knew of this from class but didn't know how to cast the spell himself. Hermione had effectively rendered herself un-blindable though as all Abiurspectus spells were instantly dissolved upon reaching the barrier. It was a way of defending against one particular spell but the problem was that it didn't move with the caster leaving her unable to dodge.

Not a problem for Hermione as she knew a ridiculous number of shielding spells.

"Confundus! Abiurspectus! Wingardium Leviousa! Expelliarmus!" Ron's voice didn't even pause between spells as lights danced out towards an unreachable Hermione. The girl stopped everything with efficiency and sometimes complexity. An Ekrixio spell literally forced Ron's Wingardium Leviousa to rip apart in a grenade of magic, pieces of it landing all over causing the carpet and bits of other people's clothing to float. His Expelliarmus was batted back to him without a spell of her own, her own magical force strong enough, or perhaps just accurate enough, to deflect it.

He blocked the spell and then Harry lost track of what happened next. One of pieces of magical shrapnel from the Leviosa Grenade hit Harry and he found himself floating straight out of his chair.

"H-Hey! Finite!" Harry exclaimed and felt himself plop back down in the chair.

Hermione lowered her wand instantly and shouted, "Harry!"

Ron pounced on the opportunity still not having noticed the effects his spell had laid on his friend.


Hermione went out like a light.

A sudden intense pressure pounded into Harry's mind. Slight panic took him for a moment before he found himself drowsy. The pressure increased, and his eyes fluttered. His last sight was Hermione crumpling to the ground before he too was swept into unconsciousness.

The legs of his floating chair hit the floor with a hollow thunk.

"Alright there, Harry?" Ron's voice came with a cheeky grin the next morning. Harry blearily walked down the stairs into the common room rubbing at his eyes. He had no memory of returning to his bed the previous night and he'd woken fully clothed in what he'd worn to the DA meeting. A splitting headache rocked him but that wasn't unusual with him really.

Ron was chuckling Harry realized mutely as were Dean, Lavender, and a few other older Gryffindors. Harry wakened at the subtle feeling of embarrassment that crept over him.

"I'm fine," was Harry's automatic response, which seemed to be too much for the red-head as he collapsed into helpless laughter.

Harry quirked an eyebrow, and turned to Neville who also appeared to be trying not to laugh. "What? What's so funny?"

Harry turned to find Ginny sitting with the a few other fourth year girls in the corner. Her face scrounged into a storm of near fury. She rather snobbishly turned her head away from him and stood striding out the portrait hole without a backward glance, leaving a very confused Potter.

At that moment Hermione strode down the stairs and caught sight of him. The girl smirked a little before propriety set in and she fixed her posture into that of a tolerant older sister. "Honestly boys!"

At this point Neville too fell into laughter clutching his stomach. Hermione strode down the stairs and straight up to Harry wand drawn, reminiscent of all the times she had repaired his glasses over the years. "Scorgify."

The spell slid across his face and he felt his eyes clear and a bit of the uncomfortable itching that had been plaguing him since waking ease.

Ron was literally holding the table to keep his balance now and the girls in the corner were openly giggling at him. "What was so funny!?" he asked, now awakened fully.

"They wrote on your face. Rather lame prank if you ask me." Hermione replied but the grin that she couldn't keep from her features told him that even she found whatever his face had said to be funny.

Harry rolled his eyes and turned a glare on the obvious perpetrators.

"Harry, you were out like a light. How could you expect us not to do anything?" Ron asked.

The black-haired boy didn't dignify the redhead with a response, preferring instead to just stride towards the exit after Ginny. "I'm going to breakfast..."

They were still giggling as he left. Hermione, thankfully, followed him. They walked together in silence for a little while before a tick formed on Harry's brow. The girl was trying very hard and almost succeeding at holding back her own series of giggles.

"Honestly!" he hissed in a sort of painfully lighthearted voice. "What was so funny!?"

Hermione shook her head, her own laughter unwillingly spilling forth in the form of a delayed chortle. "Oh nothing too bad. Just had "I Love Cho" pasted across your forehead.

Harry flushed. Then he growled. Then he settled for an annoyed eyeroll.

"I hate Ron," he filled in dryly.

Hermione threw him a playful look. "Why? He only tells it like it is."

Harry gave her his usual half-lidded stare. "Correction, I hate you all."

Hermione laughed, and it lifted Harry's spirits. All he'd ever wanted was to be normal after all. Maybe for a little while he could forget about the dreams that plagued his sleep, and the persistent worry of the war to come.

They continued down the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with a bit more light in their step than usual. It was a good day for once. Despite the splitting headache Harry felt things were looking up.

As it turns out they pretty much were.

Somewhere around the midday point during McGonagall's or Flitwick's class his headache had receded to a dull throbbing. Furthermore, he'd run across a flustered Cho Chang in the library in between classes and had ended up talking with her the entire break. It hadn't been anything truly groundbreaking but Harry felt that it was a start. He'd liked the girl for nearly a year now and she'd asked him if he'd wanted to meet to study together after classes today despite the year difference in their ages.

To his credit he'd managed not to spill his drink all over the books in front of him... but only just.

Two forty. Harry only had one more class to go before the day was over and done with. Thankfully he didn't have Occlumency lessons with Snape that evening but even if he did Harry felt the day had been rather successful. He couldn't wait to go flying. Just because Quidditch had been outlawed didn't mean that he had been exempt from flying and it was one of his true joys in life.

As he walked onwards to the worst of his classes. Defense Against the Dark Arts.

The woman was a monster and unless he remained nearly perfectly quiet he would find himself with detention almost every time he sat in her class. He'd managed to hide the now permanent scars in his hand but had been unable to completely silence himself to avoid getting new ones. Somehow the woman managed to get a rise out of him. Her stupidity in regards to Voldemort's return was nearing legendary levels, eclipsed only by Minister Fudge's insistence that Dumbledore might be breeding an army.

Stepping into the room, he suppressed his gag reflex with the cold efficiency of practice.

'So... many... fucking... kittens...' he shuddered mentally.

Sitting down at his usual desk he found himself to be a bit earlier than usual to his great displeasure but there was little to be done about it. He would have to wait out the hour and hopefully they would be able to learn this evening what the woman had been dreadfully incapable of explaining.

After a short time the rest of the students filed in. The cat clock on the wall behind her chimed a cute little meow that served to send a shudder down Harry's spine and the woman looked up from a book as if she'd only just noticed the group of them sitting and waiting.

Harry didn't need to pay attention to her words. He mimed them as she said in her usual girlish voice, "Please turn to and read Chapter Twenty Seven. There will be no need to talk."

Harry, for once, actually turned to the chapter and found himself reading, and clawing his eyes out, at the description of the banishing charm. Useless!

His eyes caught on a lick of text though and he noted a few pages into the chapter that even the author stated that the charm was rather simple, and also third year material at that. However, he went on to sheepishly explain that his book had included the charm because here it would discuss the many many tactical uses of banishing objects mid combat.

At first Harry was intrigued. It was rare that one of the class books would provide any sort of actual use this year. Most chapters were written by "Derfringus Dalgo." A renowned dueler to be sure, but an utter bore with the pen. This particular chapter was written by another chap by the name of Jake. No surname. Just Jake." By the time a half an hour had passed Harry had delved into the surprisingly long chapter with a fury. Instead of going on about the technicalities of the spell, the man listed seemingly hundreds of practical applications to it, not the least of which was playing pranks on annoying friends. A quick banishment here in the right place and you could find any number of your enemies or friends sprawled about on a living room floor.

"Vengeance will be mine Ron! Hahah!" he thought with just a tad of mad cackling.

Unfortunately the book had absorbed him so thoroughly that when his name was called, he missed it completely.

"Hem, Hem!"

He couldn't miss that though. No one could miss that.

His eyes jerked out of the book and up to the woman sitting at the front of the class. Giggles came in from everywhere and he flushed.

"Silence." The words were not demanding or even harsh but Harry took small comfort in the fact that they did stop the embarrassing laughter.

The woman smiled at him in a way that he simply knew would not be good for him. "Potter. Detention."

The boy rolled his eyes, and looked to the heavens as if asking for assistance, knowing it wouldn't come. Instead he just sighed in resignation. He would have detention. He pretty much knew that going in. It had been nearly two weeks after all.

The sensation of a hand slapping his forehead hit him with little real force but It well mirrored how he felt. All he wanted to do was dropping his head into his hands and moan. But... It was what it was.

"Yes Professor."

The woman's face stretched into that wide toadlike imitation of a grin. "Ten points to Gryffindor! It seems you can be obedient if the notion strikes you."

He rolled his eyes once again.

Detention was as usual. Harry stepped into the room feeling tired and not at all filled from his rather meager dinner.

"Well Mister Potter. How are you this evening?" The old witch asked in a way that made him want to throw an Incindio right in her delicate toad face. He idly wondered if she would croak as she died.

'Bad thoughts for a light wizard Harry,' he chided himself peevishly. Sometimes being good just sucked. Still, it didn't hurt to fantasize a little. The question she asked was so unutterably provoking that he sometimes though maybe he could just pull a Voldemort... just once...

'Bad Harry!' he stopped himself again.

"Was feeling a bit under the weather this morning," he carefully evading describing how he currently felt.

"Oh? Did you see Madam Pom-"

"Yes," he interrupted. "She said it would be alright, yesterday and I am feeling much better since then." Truth. He was feeling far better today then he had been yesterday.

"Don't be interrupt me Potter."

He grit his teeth. He didn't understand why but he was feeling strangely emotional at the moment. His anger burned an intense well, far more so than usual.

"Now I assume you know what my first question will be?" She once again had that horrid grin on her face, and he found that he did know.

"No." He replied to the unvoiced reason for his detention. To the students in class it was because he was being inattentive today, but the last time he'd had detention it was due to whispering in class. Before that it was sending secretive looks. All of the events had actually occurred but Harry had long since caught on to what they were actually about. "What happened at the tournament isn't a lie, and I won't say it is."

"Oh come now Mister Potter!" the woman seemed exasperated. "You are the most stubborn boy I have ever met. Surely you're getting sick of wearing those hideous gloves around? It would be so simple to stop these little 'excursions' if you would simply admit to your lie!"

Harry's gaze hardened. He would do no such thing.

Surprisingly, he found himself in a talkative mood. She was being strangely congenial compared to usual. Normally she would merely take his answer and point to the parchment laid out for him. Tonight she seemed... well. Not different... Maybe he was growing on her? He could no longer stand it though. Her prompting had started flashbacks which chained from one to the next forcing him to relive the horror in a series of still images ingrained into memory.

Words began flowing from his mouth before he even realized it.

"I was there when Cedric Diggory and I reached the cup. Both of us had nearly been taken or stopped several times, and neither of us were in good shape. Cedric was bleeding heavily from his forehead and my legs were covered the stabs of thorn bushes."

The plump woman's eyes rose at this. He'd never spoken about the events surrounding his disappearance and Cedric's death before, and despite her unbelief she was intrigued enough to let him play this out. "As would've been expected from participants in the triwizard tournament. Both of you had fought quite valiantly. I was watching from the stands."

He narrowed his eyes. "Yes, but did you see Victor Krum under the Imperius? Did you walk through that dark maze and listen to Fluer Delacour's screams as he held her under a Cruciatus?"

He shuddered. He hadn't wanted to remember that night. Turning into his own thoughts he didn't even noticed the startled look on the despicable woman's face. "Worst of all when the Cup took us away... did you hear that voice?"

A period of uncomfortable silence fell as Umbridge looked at him. He raised his eyes and met hers, and found them... what? Frightened? Amused? He couldn't tell. Her visage was unreadable, but he had started now. He'd barely even told his friends this... and here he was spitting it to one of the people he hated most in the world. But he was already tumbling face down the side of a mountain. The avalanche begun, couldn't be stopped now.

"M-Mister Potter?" Umbridge prodded. Did she stutter? "What voice?"

"Kill the spare!" Harry burst suddenly, his best snake-like impression, startling the professor. He glared at her. "Those were the first words I heard after the Cup dropped us both in a dismal graveyard. The sky was black, and the air tasted like soot. And I heard kill the spare."

Abruptly a knot of guilt stoppered Harry's throat and he had to strain to push on. "I... I still owe Amos Diggory an apology. If... if only I'd been a little greedy. If only I'd taken the cup Cedric would still be alive. I had to go and be noble." He paused. A self-depreciating scoff left his lips. "Lets take it together! I said... So stupid."

He'd cried over this once but tears weren't here now. Only a healthy dose of self loathing, bitterness and hopelessness. He would not cry in front of this terrible woman.

"You use that pen to hurt me. I'm a liar in your eyes and you use it to make me speak a truth that doesn't exist." Harry scowled at her. "I close my eyes and see the life go out of Cedric's... That pen... its nothing compared to how guilty I feel. I couldn't do anything. The killing curse hit Cedric before I even knew this graveyard wasn't still a part of the test. Then..."

How many cards could he afford to play? Not this one. At the first mention of Peter Pettigrew she would close and all of this would be for nothing. "A death eater... Carrying a thing. A sickening little wraith that spoke with his voice. That moment I knew that this was no tournament. Voldemort."

The woman seemed shaken but she remained firm. "Voldemort... is dead," She confirmed as if reassuring herself.

Harry was surprised. She could say his name. It took a rare witch or wizard to do that. A brave witch. Perhaps he had sold their professor just a tad short. She jumped by a solitary notch on his board.

"Then what was he? A golem with his power and his voice? No, he is no longer dead. He might've stayed that way. If I hadn't been so stupid," Harry's voice was drowned in anguish and his face sunk into his hands.

Umbridge was struck by the boy sitting before her. Before it had always been anger. Anger at her, at her laws, at her belief in the ministry and her firm knowledge that the dark lord had been killed. But... his anger now was directed at himself. He sat in the chair before her, sweat trailing down his brow and his eyes straining to hold back tears. Distress rung in his voice, and it rung true.

'Is this the face of a liar? Are these the words of a liar?' thought the Senior Undersecretary.

As she sat listening to a boy she'd only ever thought of as an attention seeking brat, she began to question... Abruptly though, she came to herself. He'd been taught by Dumbledore! Sweets and Honeyed Words were his bread and butter... if she allowed herself to be swayed...?

"Voldemort is dead! I will not hear-!"

"But what if he's not!" Harry burst in. "Professor... please! See what you are doing! On the slim, on the slimmest chance that I am not lying, you are depriving children of any chance of defending themselves! Please! Teach us! Do only that and I'll take your punishments and your pen without complaint!"

"You won't stop your lies?" She replied solemnly.

"I won't stop my truths." His voice rang cold. As if in emphasis the window blew open and freezing air rushed in filling the room with winter's sting. It went all but ignored by the occupants.

The conviction... the sheer conviction, and unwillingness to back down despite even her bloodquill made Delores Umbridge's hackles rise. "I will not allow Dumbledore's Army to grow teeth, Harry Potter. I know what it is he plans!"

The words sounded lame and fickle to her own ears. But her Minister believed it... and she trusted the Minister.

"Then you hold the wand that kills us, surely as Voldemort will."

Anger flooded her veins, along with a good helping of guilt that burned her throat and lungs like a lump of hot coal. "I would do no such thing! I want to protect children from Dumbledore!"

Sad eyes stared up at her. Defiant? Pleading? Delores didn't know, but she knew she couldn't stand them. Not for another moment. He seemed so... so damned honest.

"This is preposterous! I refuse to believe that a dead man can rise from the grave... Go, Harry Potter. I will hear no more of your lies!"

The somber boy stood slowly, staring down at her, looking defeated. "There... is more to the story. I can tell you... if it might change your-!"

"GO!" She screamed. Hatred pulsed in her veins, mixed with a rush of self doubt that the toad-faced woman had never felt in her entire life. "Get out!"

The boy stood. The boy who made her feel so very wrong.

'All I'm trying to do is make the world better. Can't you see that? Stop looking at me with those sad eyes!" She shouted at him with all the mental strength she could muster.

He turned and went, closing the door with a soft click.

The cat on her wall meowed a quarter past the hour, and Delores slumped into a suddenly dreadfully tired sag.

"I hate children."

She thought back to what she had said. I will not allow Dumbledore's Army to grow teeth. But was that what she was doing? Preventing a travesty or...?

'Or causing one. What if he's right? If he is... then you're in the business of killing children Delores.'

She couldn't believe that. She simply refused to think that what she'd been doing up until now, seemingly so right in thought, could be so very, very wrong.

She still had a long list of homework to grade from several years worth of students, but despite her usually incredible work ethic, Delores did not look at another paper that night. Instead, she was plagued by uneasy dreams and fear filled worries of being the murderer of an entire generation of unprepared students.

The meows of the cat alarms did not soothe her.

Hermione had been feeling emotional all night. Unsurprising really. She was a woman and it was about time for that sort of thing, but she refused to admit to it. Hormones would have no effect on her attitude, her studies, her friendships, or her life! No sir-eee, thankee but no thankee Sai. There was work to be done!

Yep. That worked.

An hour after her declaration of cheerfulness, she found herself staring at a book and not reading the words on the page. Touches riddled her fingers and head like a storm and thankfully none of them strayed to more risque places. If they did she would probably start with accidental magic. She was in no mood!

'Curses,' she thought abysmally. 'I'm emotional. Dammit.'

Being the meticulous person that she was, she decided to categorize the things she would be emotional about. If she was going to be a damn worrywart for a week due to biology than she was at least going to do it on her own terms!

So. A list of worries.

Harry of course. Those gloves he was wearing were hiding something. She hadn't really noticed that he'd taken to wearing them nearly constantly until recently but of all people, Ron had brought it up in a conversation today. It had been nagging at her ever since. But she could always worry about Harry. He was in detention again and he clammed up every time she asked him what sort of detentions that vile woman had Harry doing. Yes. That was sufficiently worrying.

'Worry number one: Check.'

The touches of course had been plaguing her for four days now but she was still confident she could find the answer on her own. Somehow or another. It was helpful that they'd confined themselves to her face and elbows over the past few hours. Still she couldn't help feeling agitated.

'They... actually feel really good sometimes. Its kinda nice.' The thought came completely unbidden to her mind and she pounced on it with rage.

'Its not nice you foolish brain! Someone is toying with you! Worry! Worry dammit!'

She firmly placed the Touches, now naming them with a capital T in her mind, as number two on her list, but even as she did so, she found herself lethargic. They did feel good. Most of them. No matter how much she tried, her hormone induced mind simply refused to place its worry there.


That thought was always sure to bring a bit of fear to her mind. They were so close! Only six or seven months and she would be expected to take life changing tests that could set the course for the rest of her days! She had to do perfect! Had to!


Dammit! She couldn't worry about Ron, not when OWLS were so important! Which of course prompted her mind to focus solely on Ron to the exclusion of all else. Ron... hehe.

'Oh Ron! We can't do this in the Library! Madam Pince might...!'

The faux Ron of her mind's eye silenced her with a finger to her lips and a devilish smile. "We'll have to be really quiet then, okay?"

And that pretty much ended Hermione's worrying. Hormones were funny like that.

Hermione's next ten or fifteen minutes were spent in a rather glorious little wonderland filled with only her and her red-headed crush. She would've stayed longer too, just laying back on the couch daydreaming as she so very rarely did.

Then, Harry walked through the portrait entrance to Gryffindor's common rooms, and all the worries came flooding back. His eyes were red and bloodshot, and his face was flushed making him look just dreadful. In fact she was almost certain that he'd been...

"Harry? What happened? Are you alright!?" She burst, mothering the boy as soon as he walked in with a Molly Weasley esque attitude. Just barely, she managed to hold herself back from blurting 'Have you been crying?' There were several people in the common room watching them and Harry wouldn't respond well to that sort of embarrassment.

"I'm fine, Hermione!"

"You're not!" She hissed. Turning she threw a harsh glare in the direction of Lavender and Parvarti. They got the message, along with two or three other Gryffindor younger years. They all began to file up to their respective chambers and Hermione was so glad that they did. Gryffindors were good folk like that. Before they'd even reached the stairs she wrapped the boy in a hug. She loved him dammit. Him and Ron. They were her boys. She hated it when they were hurt...

Curse that fucking Umbridge Toad!

Oh. There were the emotions again. She had to tune those down a bit.

"What happened Harry? Please tell me?" She asked when the other Gryffindors had finally departed. Probably eavesdropping on them but at least they had given the appearance of leaving. Bloody Gryffindors.

Wait. Hadn't she been lauding them moments ago? Damn she hated hormones. They always hit her so strongly.

"Just Umbridge..." He sighed, now looking a bit better as they sat down on the couch and sunk into the pleasant feeling of cushions. "I... I was so sure that I'd gotten through to her. But she just threw it in my face. That woman will never change!"

Hermione nodded. It was as she'd suspected. "I'm sorry Harry. We'll get through this somehow. You know you have most of Gryffindor on your side, don't you? The naysayers are louder than those who believe but..."

She stopped dead. Harry was scratching the back of his head.

On the back of her head she felt a soft pleasant scratching sensation. Her fingertips shivered.

"H-Harry...? Are you...?" Her hand ghosted over the back of her head slowly. "Are you doing that?"

Harry watched Hermione, his heavy emotion forgotten in place of simple puzzlement. "Doing what?"

"That!" The girl hissed almost in tears as she pointed to the back of his head. Then to her own head. "I... I feel that! Its like someone is scratching me head!"

Harry's eyes bulged. "Y-You're feeling them too!"

Hermione jerked. "W-wait. You've been feeling the... the Touches?"

Harry noted the capital T and inferred exactly what she meant in a sudden and nearly horrifying moment of clarity. "Y-You're saying what I've been feeling is-!"

'Test it!' Hermione's meticulous mind screamed at her with fury jumping on the discovery like a lifeline.

The girl took her finger and ran it up the length of her left arm staring at him for signs of a reaction. It was the exact one she expected. Harry shuddered and held out the arm. "I... Hermione I felt that!"

"So, you're feeling everything I feel?" She asked, and was not ashamed to admit she had squeaked a bit. A bit of panic and hysteria set in. She didn't even blame the hormones on this one. "Why can you feel everything I feel!?"

"S-Settle down Hermione. This isn't any worse than the polyjuice fiasco in second year. We'll figure this..." A hand fell on her shoulder to comfort her. He felt his own hand on her shoulder sure as if he'd placed it right across his own. "...freaky," he murmured.

Hermione relaxed at his touch though. "Y-you're right, of course. I... sorry I panicked a little."

"This is all a little much," Harry said with a grin, that was remarkably free of the anguish that had been there before. Relief had replaced it and heavy relief at that. "I have to admit, I'm just glad it was you. For the longest time I'd thought it was someone stealing my invisibility cloak... or worse."

Hermione didn't have think hard to discover what he meant by that. Voldemort, of course.

Abruptly her own sigh of relief pelted down on her. It was Harry. They'd been cursed or something. Nothing they couldn't figure out together. Most assuredly the curse had absolutely nothing to do with Malfoy. "I was worried Draco had managed to curse me somehow."

Harry scowled, but didn't outwardly respond, preferring instead to toss that bitter thought away and quickly.

Idly she twirled a finger around on her arm liking how he seemed to react to the touch. She moved a hand slowly to his own arm and ran her hand up it, feeling the pressure on her own and a trail of goosebumps.

"This... is so weird." She commented idly. "Have you ever heard of anything like this?"

"Beats me," he said casually. Idly he cocked an eyebrow. Then he grinned. "Fancy a back massage, Hermione?"

For a moment Hermione was puzzled. Then the implications sunk in and she realized the oddly self-serving nature of his suggestion. "Prat." She laughed. "Why not?"

Relief in its greatest form had swept over her. It was Harry. Some other fucked up bit of Harry Potter Magic that had entered her and that was all. Nothing to fear. One worry assuaged in the course of an hour, and a significantly happier Harry had left her feeling simply wonderful. She rolled over as Harry stood and knelt down by the couch while she lay on her stomach, sighing gracefully into the pillow with content.

His hands found her back instantly and began to rub high on her shoulders where she was stiff from a long day spent hunched over books. Instant pleasure flooded her mind and she couldn't stop the mewl that spilled from her lips in appreciation. "Oh that does feel good Harry!"

"I know!" He returned happily. "I guess I can feel where you're sore."

"Ahhh..." Hermione relaxed as Harry's trustworthy hands ran over her back. That was Harry. The best friend a girl could ever ask for.

Five minutes later and she was putty in his hands and barely coherent. When his hands finally left her back all she could managed was a feeble cry. She opened her eyes and looked over to him, still hunched over the side of the couch beside her, and found a decidedly devious look on his face.

"Harry?" She questioned, just long enough to feel him place his hand on his own chest. Nothing all that wrong with that really. Nothing...

The feeling of a heavy hand laid down on her left breast with all the heat of Harry's own. Even through the clothing of her after-school muggle dress she felt it.

The daze of the massage fled instantly. Her cheeks flushed. Deep and strong and crimson as she suddenly realized with unerring clarity that Harry was behind every single one of those perverted touches that had left her shuddering in the hallways. Every... single...

"H-Harry!" She hissed and smacked him in the shoulder. "Don't do that!"

His hand left his chest and fell to his side. "Oh come on Hermione, I was just teasing! Its not like I actually touched you! I mean... you're like..."

The boy trailed off as he suddenly came to the same conclusion she had already reached. His eyes grew wide become saucers in moments as he took in the implications. Every time he had a shower... every time he adjusted whenever he spent a little too much time thinking about Cho.

Hermione had felt it...

He slid halfway across the room from her instantaneously nearly falling into the fireplace in his haste to get away from her, falling on his ass in the process. "Heh... hehe!" He laughed nervously. "Er... sorry about that Hermione! Hermione, ole' chap!"

At the exact same time Hermione had sat dead straight up, doing a right fine imitation of a board. Her face was flushed redder than the fire's coals. "Every time I've touched, he can feel! Oh god he's felt... Its Harry! Eww! I didn't know! I didn't know! And... And he's been touching my..."

"She's been feeling my...!"

"R-Right! Harry Mate! Well I... I suppose I should be heading to bed then!" She replied with exaggerated and over the top platonic tones.

"Definitely! I'll... see you in the morning!" He responded in kind.

"Right...! friend!"

"G-G'night, er... Buddy!"

As one they both dashed up their respective stairs and away from the unbearable embarrassment.

Neither slept well that night. Both were trying desperately hard not to touch any part of themselves, lest the other feel it.

Lest the other... respond.


Author's Notes:

Having fun yet? This story is only getting more twisty as it goes. For once I'm not flying by the seat of my pants. I've got a direction and a goal and a plot and everything! I did say it would a Soul Bond fic. Of course I never said it wouldn't have copious amounts of plot too. Little fanservice too for the funzies.

As requested before, Prereaders are wanted! Special thanks to MarkerIV for his help in the creation of this little muse. Feels so good to really want to write something again!

I hope you like! I'm really taken with this idea. Angst. Romance? Drama? Comedy! Its gonna have every single one. And of course... epic. Harry's Ka-tet is in for some fun times. Kudos to anyone who caught the various Dark Tower References peppered throughout.

This story marks One Million Words uploaded by yours truly! It's been a great nine years! Love ya all!

Please leave a review!

Till next!