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

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. A warning. I will probably dramatically diverge them as the story goes on.

Forward: Seems this story has been well received. Wonderful. I do so hope it continues to succeed above and beyond my expectations. Questions of Madam Umbridge's character are coming in and I would like to note that I am changing this for the originality of it. Yes. Umbridge is a bitch in cannon and quite possibly a death eater but as of early book five its hard to tell if she truly is evil or just blinded. For the purposes of this story i'm going with severely blinded.

Despite the fact that canon Delores Umbridge sent Dementors after Harry, it is obvious that mine did not. Sorry for the confusion and the small point of fact that makes this AU. However, if taken from the very moment the story began, It could still be considered straight cannon as long as you disregard cannon events that happen later.

I believe this genre is called Divergence as it will now be captioned in the summary.

Okay. That was a long ass way to simply say, Its AU. Dammitall. I am a long winded bastard, ne?

So... without further adieu:

Tally Ho! Let us fly! Forward and true through the gaping maw of mystery, suspense, and surprise!

Error of Soul

"Honestly Harry. My breasts are private property! As per Educational Decree #87 you'll need a written letter from the ministry if you want access."
–Hermione Granger

Poppy Pomfrey was a woman of humor. While at school of course she was all business, but any faculty who had gone with her to the yearly Christmas parties knew the canyon of disparity between her work mask and her real self. She kept her work at work. Which was easy. Sobering up was not difficult when a student's life or limb was on the line.

As most in her field had agreed, she found that whenever she wasn't busy, it was prudent to take advantage of the humor in life. Go drinking! Go to France and buy wigs. Wander out in the muggle world and laugh at all their fancy techno-mumbo jumbo!

And she did. During her free time, what little of it there truly was, Madam Pomfrey got out, enjoyed life, and laughed loudly.

Usually it was very easy to keep that lifestyle of hers reigned in whenever she was fulfilling the extremely important job of a medi-witch.


The situation before her now was utterly serious. Two students who had been terribly close for five plus years now stepping into her office with beet red faces and more embarrassment than should be aloud, was one of the most serious of situations that a person of her esteemed profession could face. Yet it was all she could do to keep from laughing and laughing and laughing till kingdom come.

"Harry, dear. Hermione? Did you need something or were you both just going to stand there till the birds decide to make nests in your hair?"

Their blushes deepened.

'Ahahahahah!' she guffawed inside. 'Rich! Golden! Ahhahah!'

"Ah... er, Madam Pomfrey, we ah..." Hermione floundered her shame once again getting the better of her. Her voice faded to a dull murmur. The unflappable Hermione Granger. Thoroughly 'Flapped."

"We have a... problem." Harry finished lamely, his head down, and his hands held in his pockets like a toddler who'd been caught with his fingers in the biscuits.

"I should say so!" Madam Pomfrey interjected, unable to hide the mirth in her voice. A wistful sigh escaped her lips. The girl would face shame of course but all women and men who were careless at their age did. "How long dear?"

"Y-You know already?" Hermione's whole body flushed now. "God this is so humiliating..."

"Oh its not so bad deary," the medi-witch replied kindly ignoring Hermione's indignant squawk of 'What's not bad about it!?' with the ease of practice. 'You aren't the first pair to walk into my office after a careless night, and you won't be last. Now, somehow you're pregnant, unless I miss my guess. How far along are you?"

Dead silence.


"EWW!" They both screamed in tandem jerking to opposite sides of room as if a blast ended skrewt had suddenly materialized between them.

"I would never do that with–!"
"It's Harry! Gross! You've got it all–!"

Suddenly the two realized what the other had said and then turned to stare. Harry, hurt a bit by the bushy haired girl's words, spoke first. "I'm not gross!"

Hermione paused, biting back whatever she'd been about to say originally, adopting an apologetic disposition. "S-sorry Harry. I didn't mean you're gross. I just meant it would be gross to be with you like that."

Unsurprisingly, that offended the Boy Who Lived even more than the previous comment. Now feeling defensive, he bit back at the girl, "What's so bad about me? It's not like being with you would be all that great!" Harry burst in, glaring sharply at his longtime friend.

Indignancy flared in the bushy haired genius. "Hey!"

"Children, Children!" Madam Pomfrey called, quieting the two agitated Gryffindors. "I think it would be best if you explain to me what's actually going on. Clearly I jumped to a conclusion."

"I can feel everything she's–!"
"We're feeling each other!"

The pair's words came bursting out at once and Madam Pomfrey understood neither. Hermione stepped forward drawing the frazzled Medi-witch's attention. "Madam Pomfrey, what we're trying to say is that we both can feel what each other is feeling."

At those words... at those words Madam Pomfrey had absolutely no trouble whatsoever sobering from her humor. It couldn't be. Not these two... something like this couldn't possibly happen to these two!

Chapter Two
A Good Day

"What did you say?" the medi-witch asked, having heard the girl perfectly clearly. She asked out of hopeful optimism, more to confirm that they'd spoken exactly what they intended to rather than wrongly wording their condition.

"Its true, Madam Pomfrey. We... can feel whatever each other feels."

"The touches you were feeling?" the elderly woman asked somberly, all of the levity from her original belief swept away in light of this new revelation.

"Her." Harry confirmed. "I was feeling whenever someone hugged her or whenever she brushed her hair or... any number of things." He flushed deeply and Hermione joined him, easily explaining the embarrassment they had been feeling when they both walked in.

Light hearted. Embarrassed. Of course, they didn't know. Muggle raised the both of them; why would they know? They should be mournful. She certainly was, but it was obvious Hermione had not found any books on the subject or perhaps she would already know why the medi-witch's mood had suddenly plummeted.

Her melancholy expression was not lost on the two students before her, and their shame faded to concern. "Madam? Is... is it serious?"

'Why? Why always you, you golden hero? You wonderful young witch? Why must the best of us always be dragged through the mud?' She thought, now utterly solemn.

She didn't respond with words. Her eyes watered but she turned quickly to hide it. Instead, she stood from the straight-backed chair that she'd had for almost a decade now and traversed stone floor between them. Harry first she swept into a deep hug.

"M-Madam Pomfrey?" Harry asked. "What is it?"

She remembered his description from a few days ago with perfect clarity.

"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."

With just Harry, any number of maladies could make a person feel like they were feeling the touch of someone who wasn't there. Mix an actual person in on the other end, able to feel everything he felt as well... that truly limited the number of possible answers. The woman strained her mind, but for all her effort only two possible causes came. And she highly doubted the two had been practicing dark rituals. Even if they were that would be better than...

Releasing Harry a little she snagged the bushy haired girl and pulled her into a triangle squeezing them both and trying desperately not to cry. "You two... I don't suppose you've both performed a D'Resonance Ritual by any chance?"

Both stared at her blankly, unnerved by the woman. Rituals, even light ones, were generally frowned upon at Hogwarts. Neither student had any good experiences with them, Harry least of all with last year's fiasco and Ginny in the Chamber in his second year. Of course, neither student could understand why the medi-witch seemed so hopeful.

A tear trailed down the healer's leatherfaced cheek. "I thought not. Harry. Hermione. Be strong."

She reluctantly released the now thoroughly shaken pair and wandered her way across the room to a shelf of books that neither Harry nor Hermione had ever seen her actually use. Perusing for half a moment she paused on a rather old thick tome and slid it free. Even from the few feet away the two students could smell the dust from the unused bookshelf. Hermione's inner self screamed in agony at such mistreatment but she was silenced by the seriousness of the situation.

"Finite Incantatem." The medi-witch declared solemnly and the dust covered book on extinct poisonous creatures she held transformed itself into a nearly equal sized pristine black leather bound book. In flowing gold lettering Harry caught the word Soul from underneath the healer's hand.

'She's so shaken,' thought the boy as he watched her hand shudder over the newly revealed book. "What could make Madam Pomfrey so worried?'

Meanwhile Hermione was drawing similar conclusions as the woman straightened and wiped away at her eyes. She turned to face them both and approached, placing the book steadily in Hermione's hand. The girl read the title, written in flowing golden script, "On the Subject of Soul Bonds" by Susan Delgado.

"Is this what we have? A soul bond?" Hermione asked, eyeing Harry nervously. The phrase "Soul Bond" had a sort of permanence to it that neither Harry nor Hermione found comforting at all.

"I believe so miss Granger. Now I do so apologize but I think I will not be in for the next few days. I feel I'll be taking leave. Please do try to avoid mortal peril for the next week if you would, Mister Potter?" She asked solemnly, her voice cracking a bit.

She bustled around the room gathering various things with careless waves of a wand, as if suddenly possessed by the spirit of travel. A suitcase seemed to slide out of the closet and clothes began filing themselves away. "You two. If anyone could make it through this, it is you two. Best of Friends. Please try not to forget how much you mean to one another. Yes?"

And with that the woman turned away from the two, leaving them both standing awkwardly as she began to pack for what looked to be a long vacation.

"M-Madam Pomfrey...? You're acting a bit odd." Hermione supplied in an effort to coax the reason for the woman's abrupt change in attitude out of her, but the old Healer merely flashed her a smile.

"Off with you now. For once, you both are in perfect health. Its one of the advantages. There are many. Be strong now." She repeated gently. "Off with you." She shooed them kindly.

Be strong now.

Be strong. She kept peppering that in! What the hell was a Soul Bond!? Was it like cancer or something? Neither student was allowed to ask as they were both bustled out of the hospital wing by the falsely upbeat healer.

When both students stood outside the door, Harry looked to Hermione as if trying to seek an answer but for once Hermione was as clueless as he was. "Well that was decidedly weird. Any idea what the hell she was on about?"

"Haven't the foggiest." The witch replied.

On the other side of the door, they would never have expected to find their sober and often dour healer with her back pressed to the wall, huddled in a ball and crying softly into her curled knees. The unfairness of a cruel world laid heavily on her shoulders that morning.

"Be Strong," she had told them, and the healer hoped they could. Never had she seen a friendship so powerful as that shared by Harry, Hermione, and Ron Weasley in all her days. She fervently hoped that friendship could weather the trials the two now faced. But inside she was counting down the days until Harry and Hermione broke all bonds of fellowship in favor of the seething hatred that only a Soul Bond could cause.

"Hey, Harry. Sorry about what I said in there. There's nothing gross about you. That came out all wrong." Hermione said softly as they both made their way back to Gryffindor tower's common room in order to drop off the book before class and breakfast began.

Both of them had arisen early and both had found themselves in the common room long before the regular school hours. It had been an easy decision to go to Madam Pomfrey with their problem. Both had been blushing all through the morning but somehow the healer's complete change in demeanor upon handing them the book had made them realize they were being stupid.

"Don't mention it Hermione. And sorry... for last night. I shouldn't have done that."

Hermione waved him away casually. "Was actually a decent prank. If not for the... the other things I wouldn't have reacted like that."

Harry knew exactly what other things she was talking about and chose not to extrapolate on the conversation, instead merely nodding. He cocked his head at her after that with a slightly hurt expression though. "So, being with me like that is gross huh?"

"Not gross!" Hermione protested. "Oh Harry, you know what I mean! Its always been platonic between us. I've just never really thought of being with you like..." Hermione trailed off taking in Harry's features as they walked. Stronger than the stick of a boy he'd been when they first met, and slightly more burly. Striking green eyes hidden by round spectacles accented a narrow face that was aging well. Why had she never considered Harry in that manner before? She reddened once again. She was certainly thinking of it now. A pleasant shudder ran through her as memories of his hands on her back flooded her mind with endorphins. "Definitely... not gross." She finished lamely, her eyes glazed as mild fantasy ran amok within her mind.

Harry, of course, felt every bit of it. "H-Hermione...?"

She regarded him a bit more closely, coming out of her daze as she realized exactly what it was she was making him feel. "S-sorry! I didn't...! Er.. well you are attractive, and I'd just never really noticed before and..."

And the embarrassment was back.

Ron was weary upon first waking up at seven in the morning. Glancing at the sound that had knocked him from his usually deep sleep, he spotted Harry walking out of the dormitory and down the stairs towards the common room.

He was sleepy but intrigued. Harry wasn't one to be up this early if he could help it. Well, that wasn't true. He was an early riser but he rarely left without Ron and waited on him. Woke him if necessary.

Friday. Finally the end of this dreadful week had come. Ron yawned, now irritably awoken from his slumber. He only had the one day left until the precious weekend came. The weekend. He tried to keep from feeling the nervous energy that wouldn't stop running through his veins but he didn't seem to be able to no matter what he tried. This weekend in particular, was both glorious and terrifying to Ron. Precious free time for relaxation was obviously glorious. But his game versus the Slytherins was rapidly approaching and he was dreading it. He loved Quidditch and knew, mentally at least, that he was pretty good. If he kept at it he could be one of the best, and that wasn't being modest but...

'Come on Ron. Its just quidditch. You play it all the time. Harry did this in his first fucking year so why are you so nervous!?' He yelled at himself mentally.

It didn't help.

The boy threw his legs over the side of the bed in an uncharacteristic show of punctuality. Waking up early was not his forte but he could already tell more sleep was beyond his reach. Two days left. Two days till Sunday. Mentally his mind concocted a little poem, and before he knew it he was merrily plucking the tune in his head. Two Days. "One for class; One to relax; and a final day to kick Slytherin A–!

"Hey Ron!" Neville said with a confident smirk. "You're up early."

The redhead was startled by the other boy intruding upon his thoughts but he hid it well. A brief moment of annoyance crossed Ron's features. Neville well and truly was an early riser and the quality itself was enough to make Ron cringe. Even so, he too was up early this morning with the nervous jitters, and was thankful for Neville's interruption.

"Tell me about it," the redhead replied with a groan. "Any idea where Harry went off to so early?"

Neville shrugged. "Don't know. He was acting really weird last night though. Kept me up for hours pacing down at the foot of his bed."

Ron tensed at that. Harry always had some sort of trouble going on. Lately it had been dreams. Dreams of a door in a place that he'd never seen before. Who knew what had kept him pacing this time, and it wasn't likely that his best friend had shared whatever was bothering him with Neville but Ron figured it wouldn't hurt to ask.

"Voldemort?" he winced. The name scared him but he wasn't so afraid of it anymore that he couldn't at least try. Harry could do it. So could he, damnit.

Neville shuddered openly. "Doubt it. Kept hearing him muttering about Hermione."

Ron cocked an eyebrow. "Odd twist that. Usually doom and gloom with Harry."

Neville grinned. "I know right?" He shrugged sliding his hair out from his eyes and yawned away his own sleepiness. "Anyway, fancy breakfast? I'm starved."

Ron looked at the time. Early. Early as hell. "Let me get a quick shower in and I'll be right down. Meet you in the common room?"

Neville nodded and padded down the stairwell, leaving Ron alone save for the snores of Seamus Finnegan.

A quick shower and a short walk later both the boys decided that they'd waited on Hermione long enough and decided to go on without her, all the while wondering where Harry had gotten off to so early in the morning.

Breakfast was its usual affair. Ron piled helpings of eggs toast jam and onto his plate while Neville ate a motley assortment of breakfast foods and sipped on tea.

Dumbledore sat at the head table, his eyes surveying them all in his grandfatherly manner. Snape and McGonagall also appeared to be having business as usual. Ron's survey of the teachers found itself falling heavily upon Ms. Umbridge. At first he shuddered out of mere habit. The woman was vile. But then he noticed something that he didn't think he'd ever seen before. Madam Umbridge was puzzled. She was making no effort to hide it as she sat in her pink knit sweater and seemed to argue with herself over something or other. Glancing around the room Ron caught not a few eyes watching the woman. Ron hated her and her toad-face but even he had to admit the woman was sure of herself. Normally she sat there regarding the students with that condescending smirk that showed how much she thought she knew.

Today she was... conflicted.

"S-Sorry we're late," came the unusually squeaky voice of Hermione as she slumped down on the table to one side of Ron and picked up a muffin.

In the same breath, Harry dropped into the seat beside Neville. Both of them were breathing a bit heavily as if they had just rushed all the way from the astronomy tower and both were a bit flushed. Instantly suspicious, Ron narrowed his eyes.

"And where were you two at so early?" 'Without me!?' He barely held back from adding. Jealousy began to rear its ugly head and Ron quashed it with all the force of a bludger. He wouldn't go there again. Jealousy had built a wall between him and his best friend last year with the Tournament. It wouldn't go that way again.

He was jealous. He admitted it to himself. Intellectually he knew he wanted nothing to do with Harry Potter's life. The Basilisk, the Dragon Chasing, not the mention the almost pathetic way Harry pined after even a scrap of family sometimes made Ron want to gag–The scar headed fool actually wore his mum's sweaters! Mental!– but Ron didn't think he'd ever be able to entirely crush that little yearning in his heart for the spotlight.

But last year and forevermore he'd sworn to himself that he would not betray Harry like he had before the first task again. Not ever.

'Stupid sorting hat was right. I'm a bloody Hufflepuff. Christ.'

"We were visiting Madam Pomfrey. Still feeling a bit under the weather myself." Hermione lied. Ron could tell but he kept it to himself.

"Same. Seems with both caught the same sickness, Ron," Harry replied jovially.

Ron scowled at that. Harry had this idiotic habit of not taking care of himself at times. Normally Ron didn't have a problem with that. He was a man, and if Harry wanted to wallow in sickness to avoid the hospital wing Ron wasn't going to complain. But the raven-haired boy was forgetting the one thing that Ron truly needed from him at the moment.

"You going to be good for Quidditch? I... I think you'll need to catch the snitch quick mate. I don't... know if I'm going to be all that great up there."

That was the difference between the two. Harry, who came up against Dark Lords yearly and wrestled with the impossible like an old friend, casually tipping death a sickle with each encounter, regarded Quidditch as stress relief. Ron, who fervently wished he could live up to Harry at times, considered Quidditch to be nerve wracking. At the moment anyway. He imagined it would get better with time but right now his fingers were shaking.

"Oh Ronald, you worry too much! You're a fine keeper. Some of the blocks I've seen you pull off would make Wood envious!" Hermione said flippantly, without even looking at him as if she hadn't just sent his admittedly waning confidence soaring.

Hermione, who cared nothing for Quidditch, thought he was better than Wood? Logically she wouldn't know exactly what Wood could and couldn't do. She rarely ever flew a broom. But it was Hermione! She was always right! Practically her trademark, really. His confidence soared indeed.

"You really think so?"

Harry for his part, didn't even understand the request. Quidditch was not stressful for him. He didn't feel pressured to perform, he'd been doing it since first year. The idea of being afraid of losing, of making a fool out of himself was laughable. His name was already being run through the dirt.

"Just stop whatever you can. Don't worry, Mate. If it gets too bad, I'll dig you out with an extra One-Fifty," Harry said, shooting him a grin.

Harry's comment was sarcastic but Ron took it very seriously. "You'd better."

Harry shook his head, still grinning as he stuffed a slice of ham into his mouth.

The day moved on slowly. Potions first, was actually one of the best classes Ron could remember having in a while. One terrible teacher at war with another terrible teacher took the spotlight off of Harry quite nicely leaving Umbridge to toss out her casual "Hem hems!" making Snape grind his teeth.

Frankly, it was bloody brilliant. Every student in the class was certain at any moment High Inquisitor Umbridge would find herself turned into the toad that she so clearly descended from. Two hours and one Shevinskod Potion later, which received the surprisingly nice grade of E for once, Ron found his spirits lifted. The day was getting better.

Charms with the Ravenclaws was a bit different. If by different one meant fantastic.

There was nothing unusual about the class itself in the beginning. They had settled into an easy pace of about one or two charms per day. Today, professor Flitwick engaged in getting the class to attempt the Aqua Eructo spell. Similar to Aguamenti, the spell created a clear jet of water from the caster's wand but instead of just splashing, the user could then control it, making for an extremely wet charms class. That wasn't the unusual part though. What was strange was that Harry Potter first completed the spell and controlled it with almost unnatural ease. This in itself wasn't so unusual but when paired with the fact that no matter how hard she tried, Hermione Granger could do no more than make one ridiculously powerful water spell that drenched the entire classroom.

"S-Sorry..." She murmured nervously as everyone in the entire room glared at her a little. "I don't know what's wrong professor. It's just not working properly!"

Most of the class just shrugged and cast a few drying charms on themselves, and Scorgify's to clear away the water before attempting again.

"Quite alright my dear, Quite alright," the small professor consoled her. "Just using a bit too much magic." He turned his eyes back to encompass the whole room and raised his voice. "Oh, and don't bother with the drying charms until the class is over. You'll all be getting a bit wet today one way or another. Good to see Hermione here has a head start on what this class is really all about!"

Hermione scowled. The sound of water spells and splashing filled the room soon after. Ron, for his part, watched the girl tentatively slide her wand, this time pointing towards the wall so as not to hit the entire class with the effect again.

"Aqua Eructo..." She nearly whispered.

Another torrential wave erupted from her wand, drenching the stone wall in moments, the stream flowing far beyond the girl's control. Frightened paintings gasped and leaped into more distant frames, just in case the water came too close to their own. Desperately, she used her magic to will the beam of water to move and it wiggled a little. That was all.

"Its... so damn strong! I'm not using that much magic!" she whined in anger.

Ron watched, growing more and more intrigued as Hermione tried again and again to make the water jet anything more than a solid foot wide vortex of water that blasted straight forward. She grew more frustrated by the minute.

Harry on the other hand, appeared to have found a new favorite spell to replace his treasured Expelliarmus. His water jet, thin and lithe, danced around the room like a gymnast's ribbon, twirling in ever more intricate patterns and happily interlacing with other people's feeble attempts at the spell as if it were a friendly snake.

Hermione cancelled her wave before the wall literally eroded to nothing and glared at the boy. "How are you doing that!?" she nearly spat.

Startled, Harry lost control and the water jet vanished from the air, falling to the ground and joining the cacophony of splashes.

"Err... you're having trouble?" he asked, wrestling with the utterly foreign concept. He'd been just as drenched by Hermione's overpowered water spell as the rest of the class but it simply didn't compute that Hermione was having trouble casting after a second or third try.

"The wave didn't tip you off!?" She barked.

Harry scratched the back of his head nervously. Suddenly a spray of water courtesy of Ron, socked him in the face.

"Sorry mate!" Ron bellowed from his seat a little ways down the aisle. His grin depicted a distinct lack of sorrow.

Hermione watched the event at first in consternation. Then the image of a completely soaked Harry Potter rushed over her. Despite the suddenly wet feeling that surrounded her, the studious girl burst into laughter, her frustration evaporating due to Ron's clever prank.

It was better when it wasn't her fault that everyone got wet. Plus. It was Ron.

Harry meanwhile grinned back at Ron, now even more drenched then he had been before.

All systems go! Prepare to open fire!

"Aqua Eructo!" he retaliated.

Ron was ready for the attack though and he dodged. Frantically Harry backpedalled trying to control the slingshot of water he had loosed but it was too late. Flying forward into the room's center, the jet splashed professor Flitwick and left the man sputtering.

Flitwick, however, considered himself to be a fun professor. With all the gloom surrounding the students, he took to the sudden and abrupt soaking, the second one in this particular class, with humor.

"P-Professor. Sorry, I..." Harry trailed off noticing the glint in the charms teacher's eye.

"Aqua Eruto!" the teacher exclaimed with giddy delight, and his jet of water blasted forward, soaking Harry yet again in a humorous splash.

For a moment the boy was stunned as the class laughed. Hermione, by now was cackling as she leaned against the wall she'd been having so much trouble with before. As Harry's eyes cleared, he smirked at Ravenclaw's Head of House. "Professor. You know this means war, yes?"

Flitwick grinned. And the room became a battlefield.

Near enough an hour later a giddy quartet of Gryffindors piled out of the classroom alongside their housemates and Ravenclaw counterparts after having what must have been one of the most enjoyable classes any of them had ever experienced. A few squishes of still-soggy shoes echoed up from the floor as they all piled out, laughing and every one of them feeling better than when they entered.

Ravenclaws were a clever bunch! Who knew water spells could be combined like that? But then Hermione and her ridiculously over-powered wave spell had saved the day! In the end everyone was a casualty and none escaped the soggy doom. It was a blast.

There was also the added bonus of seeing their classmates normally unflattering school robes soaked to the brim, and clinging skin tight.

"Ron looks great when he's wet like that..."

"I didn't know Lisa's boobs were that big... Wish Cho was in our year."

Hermione and Harry's thoughts mirrored those of a near all the other students in one way or another, but only they could feel the heat in the other's cheeks. The elation from too much grinning. The two friends of five and more years glanced at each other and blushed a little, neither knowing the other's thoughts, but both knowing the feelings communicated.

"Harry... He looks good, too."

"Hermione is... cute."

Two hours later the spirits of the Gryffindors had of course, sunk back beneath a mire formed by the knowledge that Umbridge's class was next. Last, yes, but Umbridge was a terrible way to end a Friday, and they would be doing so for the rest of the school year. Highly unappealing.

"Wish lunch would last another hour..." Ron mumbled and Harry found himself agreeing.

"Come now, some of the chapters are rather interesting. Harry, you got caught up in yesterday's chapter by Jake didn't you? The strategic uses of banishment charms?" Hermione asked, trying to bandage an open wound but it did nothing to lift Harry's melancholy.

"They don't help anyone else Hermione. Sure whipping the carpet out from under an enemy's feet in a battle is dead useful but what good is that if you don't know the banishment charm well enough?" He asked fervently, his tone filled with his pent rage at the ministry for effectively crippling itself for the battles to come.

"Harry, we learned the banishment charm last year! We know it," Ron protested.

"Yes but how many fourth years do?" Harry bit back sarcastically.

Ron fell into silence. Truth be told he completely agreed with Harry's assessment. The only reason he was trying to play devil's advocate with Umbridge was that it might make Harry feel less pissy. And boy did he have a lot of piss to throw around when he was in the mood.

"Point there mate," he offered lamely.

The crowded halls of Hogwarts were filled with the merry sounds of the armored knights singing Christmas carols. Occasionally a bewitched illusion of a fairy danced around the hallways flitting about between the lights of Christmas trees, their own light adding to the majesty. Ornaments hung from boughs of green bristle that had grown all along the Hogwarts ceiling and a sudden growth of mistletoe had a habit of springing into existence at random intervals, particularly around known couples.

Snow outside made the fires inside feel warmer than ever. Hogwarts was cozy, and as long as Umbridge wasn't dealing out her usual toll of gloom upon the students or teachers alike, Harry found he could feel comfortable.

But as always, that comfort was ruined upon stepping across the threshold of the kitten infested classroom where Defense Against the Dark Arts was taught.

They filled in slowly, even the Slytherins. Only Hermione could happily sit and read for a schedule hour of the day but even she had to admit that she was not going happily into the cute-covered dungeon the DADA classroom had become.

They sat in their usual places, Malfoy sniping Harry a glare, and Goyle giving Hermione a sudden desire to kill.

'His damn stupid face...' thought the girl as she ground her teeth.

They waited.

The meow of the clock hit the top of the hour and almost instantly the doors opened to the back of the classroom to reveal the High Inquisitor. Her usual smile resided upon her face once again –that oh so condescending look– and she sat down with her usual prim attitude.

'Here we go again,' thought Harry, pinching the bridge of his nose. He felt a pair of arms on the lower side of his chest and noticed Hermione had folded both her hands under her breasts in resignation. He didn't know why but the feeling was decidedly uncomfortable.

"Please put away your books, and retrieve your wands. There will be no need to talk."

Harry sighed and leaned down resting his face in his hand, elbow on the desk. He didn't know why he thought today would be any different, but he had. It was disappointing to see that even his confession –incomplete confession at that– had not been enough to shake the woman.

His book already on the desk, he patiently waited along with most of the rest of...

'Wait, did she say...?'

"Come along now children, haven't all day. Wands out I said. Probably best to put your books away too," the woman said irritably.


The class complied dazedly. The Slytherins were staring slackjawed, for once perfectly mimicked by the Gryffindors' gobsmacked expressions.

The woman stood and walked around the side of her desk with her wand withdrawn. "Since I'm certain your previous professors were likely incompetent we will be starting with the basics. Class, this defensive charm is called Protego."

The woman cast the spell with her final word and a glistening blue shield sprang into life. Hovering in front of her like a knight's tower shield, the spell was nearly perfect as far as Harry could tell. He wasn't certain but he thought this might be the first spell he'd ever watched the woman cast.

Realization crept in. He'd done it. Somehow during his pain filled memories last night, he had gotten through to the baneful woman. Somehow... he had changed her mind. She was going to teach! She wasn't just a mindless idiot parroting the minister's fear.

Harry beamed at her. He beamed so strongly that he was pretty sure he'd unnerved her. She met his eyes and then dropped her gaze instead preferring to bristle behind her blue Protego. Harry didn't care a bit. He was just so damn happy that he'd done something! Let her carry on with her inspections, her bloody sanctioning of teams and clubs, her review of student punishments! But by god let her teach and do it well and all would be forgiven.

"Let me emphasize that this is a defensive class! You will be learning no spells that can be used offensively at any time," the woman intoned harshly as if to show that she wasn't giving in fully but Harry couldn't care less. She questioned. It might not be belief but it was a chance. And that was more than enough. He'd convinced her to teach. What a high that was.

"Come stand in the middle of the room please," the woman ordered, and the class obeyed confused beyond reason. Only Harry stared at her with the unblinking grin of a man who had finally won a battle in a war of a hundred losses.

"Now," the woman punctuated with a casual touch of her wand. To Harry's shock the desks –all of them– slid out of the way to the sides of the room as one. Harry blinked in not a small bit of awe. He wasn't aware that the woman was good or strong enough to banish so many items at the same time in such a controlled manner. It wasn't Dumbledore but it was still impressive.

"Miss Patil, and Mister Zabini. Please cast your shield spells now." She demanded lightly of the two standing close to her at the front of the small cluster of students. Hesitantly, they both raised their wands. Was this a trick? Was the woman going to punish them or–?

"Come now, dearies. Neither of you are dull-witted. You're holding up class. Cast your shields and keep them active till I tell you to stop," the professor clarified, seemingly drawing a small sense of glee from confusing them, while simultaneously frustrated with their hesitation.

"Protego!" cast the boy, followed not half a second later by Parvati's lighter pitched repeat.

Two glistening shields of blue power burst into life, radiating a strong brilliance that the Protego spell always carried with it.

"Good, good. Now I'm going to cast at you. You may cast no other spells. Am I understood?" At his nod, the woman hesitated but one more moment.

"Are you prepared to block?" the question was largely rhetorical as the old woman strode about ten paces back towards her desk. Whirling around, the woman's wand flashed. "Incarcerous!"

Ropes leapt out and impaled harshly against Blaise's shield and the boy grunted with the sudden effort of enforcing his shield against the ropes that were already dissipating into ether. The woman didn't stop there, though. The tickling jinx followed. Then a Confundus.

"Petrificus Totalus!" bellowed the woman and the spell slammed into a now shuddering blue shield. Blaise took a step back.

"P-Professor!" shouted Parvati, growing more concerned as the Slytherin boy grit his teeth in effort. The minister's undersecretary paid her no mind, but instead addressed the class.

"Ah. Mister Zabini has left an opening. Watch closely. Mosquitious!" the pale red light of the itching spell sliced through the air, this time aimed lower.

The Protego shield, much like a physical one, didn't cover the full body unless one willed it to. The shield Blaise had begun with had shined with power and successfully covered his whole body. To the dark-haired Slytherin whose magic was quivering on the edge of collapse already, a full body shield had become impossible. His concentration had narrowed to the only area the woman's attacks were landing, shrinking in size until it roughly resembled a circular buckler. The shield wavered and cracking spasmodically and it was everything the boy could do to keep it from bursting to pieces against the woman's almost constant string of spells. This unfortunately left his legs perilously open to attack, which Umbridge now exploited.

A yelp of shock ran up the boy's body as he jerked, falling down and almost instantly scratching at the affected limb. His shield failed completely and he even dropped his wand. But the woman still wasn't done.

"Waltzanda." She hissed cruelly. And the boy began to dance. His hands left his itching leg, unable to scratch as they so desperately wished to, instead following his twirling feet as they spun with a grace that did not belong to him.

Some students laughed. Harry, didn't.

Harry didn't laugh at all.

"Stop it!" Parvati screamed, noticing the almost frantic pain in the boy's eyes. The itching spell was a very common prank at Hogwarts. Few would make it through their seven year tenure at the school without feeling its effects once or twice, as several of the teachers found it to be a useful motivator. If allowed to scratch, the spell could be almost pleasant, much like scratching a mosquito bite.

But if left unattended for too long, the itch would become mindnumbingly painful.

As if coming to her sense, the woman shrugged. "Finite Incantatem!"

The spell washed over Blaise in a golden burst that relieved him of both his dance and his itching leg in one swoop.

"Blaise held out for seventeen seconds. Who can do better?" she asked, appearing to try to inject a friendly bit of competition into the game. Harry felt a little sick. A mild torture was still torture.

He watched as Draco approached his fellow Slythern, who had crumpled into a sweaty mess as soon as the counterspell hit him and offered to help him to his feet. Blaise waved the boy off angrily and stood on his own. For some reason, this act struck Harry as poignant. Malfoy? Malfoy offering a hand up? It just seemed strange, but the thought sparked several memories of the boy actively assisting his fellow Slytherin's in soft, silent ways. Harry pondered why he'd never noticed before.

"Now. Since your shield is already active, you will be next Miss Patil." Spellfire filled the air once more and Parvarti was left screaming as an array of attacks slammed into her shield.

One. Two. Three. Each spell sent a ripple through the girl's defense before the fourth spell literally burst the Protego to pieces, falling like glass onto the unprepared girl who fell to the ground in a mere moment, her hands out in a warding gesture that would do her no good.

"Come on Parvati; you're better than that!" Harry thought disdainfully. The pressure of a more real situation was obviously getting to her. He would have to work on that. Easy actually. One just had to use a simple disguise and that could make all the difference. Parvati would be working under pressure at the next DA meeting.

Delores stopped her spellfire with a dissatisfied grunt. "Come now students. You did not want to read. Well this will be your defense class until each one of you has perfected this spell. Your shield will not waver and recede as Mister Zabini's did. Your focus will not shatter like Miss Patil. You children will not die because of me."

Harry twitched. A bit selfish but the woman was being harsh and that was what they needed if they wanted to truly be good. Parvati, one of his students breaking so quickly was a blow to his self esteem. He was determined to re-earn it.

He stepped forward towards the woman and found Ron and Hermione mirroring him but the woman stopped them, returning to her fake, cutsey speech.

"Now now, Mister Potter. I think you'll be last. Mister Weasley? Lets see how fine your Prewett blood flows, eh?" she commented.

Ron scowled but it didn't last long. Ron did thrive on competition. "You'll find the blood doesn't matter a whit, Professor Umbridge. Just pure talent," the boy bragged.

Surprisingly a genuine smile fell onto the woman's face. "Back up your boasts or you'll have detention tonight Mister Weasley."

Ron, for his part, didn't even blink. The woman's spell flew at him seemingly before he was ready but the shining blue shield of power that burst into life around him, deflecting a full string of six curses without even quivering only emphasized his months of training with the DA. Umbridge quirked a surprised eyebrow, but did not relent. Ron lasted for a full minute and fourty seconds under the undersecretary's barrage. The woman had a trail of sweat rolling down her cheek as she finally broke through the red-head's hefty defense, and it shattered much like Parvarti's had. Ron, strained, his feet squared to keep him steady, but the act was useless. A body-bind curse sent the boy to the ground paralyzed, and he was fully matted with sweat at the strain of holding up the shield for so long.

"Wonderful, Mister Weasley!" the woman exclaimed delightedly as she lowered her wand. The finite spell washed over the red-haired boy, releasing him and he sat up quickly as he turned back to the woman. Had she just... praised him? He almost shuddered, but he couldn't help the blush that rose when the woman said happily, "Ten Points to Gryffindor."

'Impressive,' Harry thought, both with the woman's change in demeanor and with Ron's defense. And his actions fit his style well. Just hold the shield. Ron had a lot of raw magical power. He could tank a hefty number of spells, more than Harry could he was sure. But Harry would show that he had the right to teach the DA. When his turn came.

No one but Draco lasted longer than Ron Weasley as the next few people came up and went down. As the woman cancelled the Abiurspectus spell that had caught the blonde boy off guard, he grinned smugly at Ron, who glared back without any real fire. Neville, surprisingly, held his shield for a full minute before the woman got around it by clipping his other arm with a stinging hex. Even with the hex active it took her another ten seconds to bring down the boy's shield.

Pretty soon most of the entire class had gone. As she broke through each of their shields, the woman seemed to nod to herself as if cataloging the specific differences and needs of each student and filing them away for a later date. All in all, Harry was rather impressed.

Occasionally the woman's curses went a bit on the sadistic side. The Obscuro spell caused a blindfold to appear around the victim's eyes. On its own, that was nothing major, but when the woman added a Shoe-lacing spell to the knot in the back of the blindfold, Vincent Crabbe found his face suddenly being pulled taught.

She did end it quickly but Harry felt a bit of wariness at the amount of glee she took in these subtle tortures.

Only two people remained in the end. Hermione and Harry himself.

The cat-clock in the corner meowed its usual call. Ten minutes left in class.

"Miss Granger, if you please?"

Hermione hesitated only a moment. Until today she'd thought this woman only a horrible and sadistic witch, but watching her actually training her students had forced her to reevaluate the old woman. Her teaching was surprisingly helpful, giving quick pointers to those who failed too quickly, and praising those who lasted long while offering deeper tips to them. She wasn't perfect of course. Draco received twenty points for only two seconds more time than Ron but the house cup was already pretty much in the bag for Slytherin anyway so Hermione felt little remorse at the blonde's gloating. The point was that Hermione's opinion of the toad was changing. Not much. Not all at once. But just a little, she felt herself able to respect the undersecretary for the first time.

"Are you ready?" The woman asked.

Hermione replied in the affirmative but Umbridge was already casting. A string of five spells, each a low level hex or jinx as she had always started out with leapt from her wand with light.

...And Hermione stepped to the left.

The curses flung behind her into an unsuspecting, Seamus, Ron, and Gregory Goyle, who had lasted in his own bout with Umbridge a piddly twenty three seconds.

"Hey!" barked Ron as he began to dance and laugh, courtesy of the Waltzana and Jubilious charms respectively. Alongside him were two other cries of surprised irritation. Laughter burst through the room and Harry joined in merrily as he watched his jinxed classmates.

Hermione turned, regarding the Slytherin and the fellow Gryffindors that had been hit with a sly wink. She spared but a moment to glare at Gregory Goyle, who was busy hopping on one foot. Hermione smirked. 'Stubbed Toe curse. Perfect for a brainless dolt like him,' she thought, feeling a little guilty and a little fiendish at the same time. It wasn't good for her to be so spiteful. But oh was it fun!

All of this passed through the girl's mind in moments before her eyes already turned back to the tired form of Madam Umbridge. The woman had lowered her wand slowly.

"...And Hermione Granger proves herself the most Slytherin of you all." Ignoring the nearly enraged outburst that elicited not only from Hermione but from many of the Slytherins as well, Delores shushed them with a swing of her wand that sent three Finite's washing over the jinxed students behind Hermione. "Fifteen points to Gryffindor for the exceptional use of cunning. However, the point of this class is to strengthen your shields, and also to gauge your skill. Wand ready Miss Granger."

And spellfire began.

Hermione dodged, lithely dancing around spells like a ballerina, gracefully dodging in a way that would've utterly baffled herself only five years ago. Those spells the girl couldn't dodge were blocked with quick and almost completely unwasteful casts of the Protego spell. Meanwhile the students behind her had nearly dived to get out of the crossfire of childish jinxes aimed for the bushy haired brunette.

All the while Harry felt the girl moving. Felt the trickle of heat in her cheeks. The rush of adrenaline as she dodged. The fire that shot through her core at each new casting of the Protego. The hard pressure as spells collided into her ambient magic and were deflected by its might. He felt it all... even the obvious rush of excitement and glee as the girl's time soared beyond all the others.

Two minutes.


'She didn't say we could dodge," Ron mumbled a bit jealously.

Finally after what seemed an eternity of motion and a haze of adrenaline, Madam Umbridge lowered her wand once more. Hermione beamed.

"Hermione Granger has proven to be, as always an exceptional student. However, I must warn all of you that there is a way around every shield. Even one as potent as Miss Granger's."

Hermione smirked. There was no way around her shield! Not with the feeble curses the woman was limiting herself to! Hermione felt she could go all day!

"Hermione Granger. You fail my course. Please don't return to class tomorrow."

It took half a moment for the girl to process that, and half a second for Harry to realize what the woman was doing but it didn't matter. Harry winced as sheer utter 'agony' burst through his physique. Hermione went from completely normal to a sucking chasm of doom filled with nothing but despair and desolation.

Harry shuddered, having felt dementors that were happier than this. 'She... REALLY cares about her grades,' he thought, rolling his eyes. Madam Umbridge had keyed into what was most important to Hermione and exploited it without hesitation. It was a sharp lesson. Harry was rather sure he himself would've fallen for it too, if the woman knew what he cherished most.

"N-NO!" Like some creature from nightmares, a gruesome banshee screeched in denial. Deafening, the wretched sound burst the eardrums of the unsuspecting students. It took a moment for even Harry to realize that Hermione had made that soul crushing sound. "Y-You can't DO that! You can't–!"

Harry saw the trick from a mile away but Hermione only just noticed as the teacher's wand trained itself on the despairing Gryffindor. "Y-You tricked–!"

"Sorry, dear. Furnunculus!"

The spell had not been in the woman's arsenal yet today but it seemed she had pulled it out to bring Hermione down a peg. The girl was buffeted backwards and landed harshly on her bum, Harry feeling every bit of the hard landing. Wearily the girl rose a little as hideous boils covered her face and body. Harry felt the stinging and winced but held it in pridefully.

Hermione pouted on the floor as the whole class burst into laughter.

Shamefacedly, Hermione got to her feet, taking Ron's offered hand up as she did so.

The cat meowed the top of the hour just as Umbridge's Finite washed over the embarrassed girl.

"Oh dear. It seems class is over."

Surprisingly a small groan of remorse swept through the class at those words. Apparently when Umbridge actually taught her classes were quite likeable.

"None of that. I'll need two feet on the different uses of the Protego spell and its effects by Monday. Gather your things and run along students. There will be no need to talk. Oh, and Miss Granger. Another ten points to Gryffindor, and do be sure to attend my class. Just to make sure we are clear."

Harry watched Hermione let out a sigh of relief and felt a warm radiance flow from within him that would likely have been strong enough to even make Professor Snape crack a grin. The girl nodded with a clipped, 'Yes Professor' that belied how truly relieved she actually was.

"What about Harry!?" piped Seamus.

"Yes. What of Potter, Madam Umbridge?" Draco piped in, a nearly sadistic glee in his voice.

"If you have a question, Mister Finnegan, Mister Malfoy, you will raise your hand." Delores intoned dreadfully slowly, reminding them that she was still not an enjoyable professor.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione couldn't help but snicker under their breath at the surprised expression on Draco's face though.

"Mister Potter will have to wait till Monday I suppose. Have a wonderful weekend students. Oh! And Mister Potter. If it wouldn't be any trouble, would you drop by my office around seven this evening?"

Harry winced. She wanted the whole story of course... but. Could he really stop telling her, now that he'd started? If he finished, might she even begin teaching offensive spells to better prepare them for the hardships to come?

"Yes Professor."

And that was that.

Hermione sat in a comfy chair in Gryffindor's common room. She'd made several attempts to open this book already particularly over the two hours they were given between classes for lunch in the middle of the day but Ron kept hovering over her shoulder. Normally this wouldn't be a problem but some feeling, some inkling caused by the way Madam Pomfrey had reacted to her and Harry's condition gave her the distinct impression that she should hide the book from Ron at all costs.

A Soul Bond with Harry. That had a distinct sound of permanence that she knew would be a blight upon future relationships with Ron or any other boy she felt interested in. Not that she was interested in any other boys, or even that boys were all that important to her. Honestly before this year she'd never even thought of anyone romantically. Viktor Krum? Please. The showboy was completely wrong for her. Still a good friend though.

'I should probably write him a letter. He was nice, even if he's not all that interesting,' thought the Gryffindor idly.

She opened the book, putting the idea of a letter to Victor into the back of her mind, and began to read once again.

'In the wizarding world, however, a Soul Bond is a horrible disfiguration of magic; it is a malady of the highest order. Well that doesn't sound good at all...' Hermione thought as she read on, worried.

She continued a bit further when suddenly she felt a light pressure upon her forehead. Cold. Goosebumps crawled across her skin. What was Harry doing?

Ignoring the feelings she turned back to the book and tried to focus.

"The Soul Bond has three stages. The first is usually not too much of an inconvenience as it...!" Hermione stopped reading as a sudden feeling of falling settled in her stomach. The down part of a swing. The pitching sensation of not realizing there was a step down. Except it didn't stop!

She wasn't falling at all. She was sitting perfectly still in her chair. She wasn't...

Wind, or what felt like wind buffeted her face and arms and chest and knees along with a sharp pressure on the right side of her body. Veering right?

"Wh-what is happening!?" She thought, horrified. She felt like she was...

Abrupt realization came to her. Harry Potter. What did Harry Potter do when he had free time? Why he went and flew of course. Even in the midst of this god awful snow! The sun was nearing the end of its descent but despite that there would still be light for two hours.

She shuddered as the pressure on the right side of her body ceased and settled into a more normal feeling of travelling straight. Straight into wind that bit at the skin and nipped at her fingertips and ears.

"The first is usually not too much of an inconvenience as it includes only the sensation of feeling. The Soul Bond is rarely regarded as a bad thing until it reaches the second stage. In this first stage, magic itself ties the sensation of touch in both partners of the Soul Bond to one another. In other words..."

"By god, its so cold!" Hermione hissed interrupting her own reading, standing and scooting her chair closer to the fire. Warmth settled over her as she pushed but she suddenly felt Harry changed direction again. Her feeling of balance felt completely lost and she tried to compensate by catching her foot to the right. Which of course was completely unnecessary. She plummeted onto the common room floor to the laughter of several other Gryffindors from various years.

'Honestly, Harry!" She mumbled as her cheeks heated.

"You alright Hermione?" Lavender asked, concerned as she entered the common room and spotted Hermione sprawled out on the floor.

Hermione waved the other girl off casually with a light grin to appease her. "Just fine! Tripped while trying to move the chair closer to the fire."

Lavender quirked an eyebrow. "Closer? Its like a million degrees in here!" The girl came over and offered a hand up to the bushy-haired girl, who took it thankfully. Unfortunately this caused her to drop the book.

Nearly diving, Hermione snatched it from the ground in the hopes that she'd managed to pick it up before Lavender saw the title. But to no avail. Clutching the black leather book to her chest she looked to Lavender and found a rather terrified look on the other girl's face. "Hermione? Why are you reading about something like that?"

Hermione fidgeted nervously. "Purely academic." She replied, feeling less confident than she must've looked. At the sigh of relief from the other girl, Hermione grew confused. It was as if the girl had dropped a rock off her shoulders.

"Was worried there for a second. Bad... bad business Soul Bonds," the girl said, clearly a bit startled. "So why don't you come with me? We can talk about things that are a little less... scary eh? Like Umbridge! Can you believe she actually taught today?"

Hermione actually had a bit of an insight to that. Harry had been a little bit put out last night after his detention but something about it seemed less awful than usual. As if his detention hadn't been quite as bad as his previous ones. The thought, and Lavender's question and friendly actions lifted Hermione's mood a little bit. Lavender was actually pretty good at that. Once again Hermione firmed her earlier thought that she should make better friends with her roommate. Of course then the sensation of plummeting to her doom returned and she yelped like a frightened child.

"D-Dammit, Harry," she shuddered clutching the book close, and desperately grabbing the back of one of the sofas for support.

"H-Hermione? Are you okay?" Lavender's concerned voice fluttered in and out through Hermione's mind as she felt the twists and turns of a ridiculously rapid flight. Rolls. Twists. The wind emulated the feelings of all of them, and Hermione closed her eyes to blot of the feeling. Harry was chasing a snitch.

"I'm fine... promise!" the bushy haired girl lied and it was obvious.

"I'm taking you to Madam Pomfrey," the girl insisted.

"No!" Hermione barked, though why she wasn't really sure. Guilt maybe? Seeing Madam Pomfrey look so sad... it was almost as if she thought Harry and She had contracted some sort of terminal disease. All she knew for certain was that she didn't want to see the woman again.

'Harry is just flying. That's all it is. I can deal with this,' Hermione thought peevishly.

"Well... alright, if you're sure Hermione." Lavender replied idly.

Harry pulled out of the dive and Hermione relaxed a little. Taking the opportunity, she practically pounced upon the chair. "I'll be just fine here by the fire, Lavender. Perhaps tomorrow we can talk?"

It was the easiest way she could think of to get rid of the other girl but she had to read this book. Even so, she felt a bit guilty at the hurt look on the pureblood's face.

"I hope so." Lavender replied casually. She turned and walked up the stairs to the girl's side of the dorms with a put out expression on her face.

Hermione sighed. Being addicted to books was such a bother sometimes. But in this particular case, she didn't have a choice. The knowledge in these pages was direly important if she wanted to figure out what the hell had happened between Harry and her and find a way to reverse it.

"In other words, both members of the Soul Bond start to feel exactly what the other feels. Oftentimes Soul Bonded couples find this to be a boon instead of a problem. Feelings are muted by lack of context. Your partner might be turned on but you don't realize that its the girl on the other side of the train doing the turning instead of-!"

Harry dove again.

Hermione glowered darkly, refusing to feel the terror that was utterly senseless to a girl sitting calmly inside a comfy chair. Muttering to herself, she stared at the book, trying to find the line of text she'd lost. It didn't help that the book was hand-written in a flowery flowing text that was nearly as difficult to comprehend as Ancient Runes.

'This... might be more difficult than I'd thought,' she growled mentally.

Near an hour later Hermione watched a red-faced Ron Weasley enter through the portrait hole wearing the elated grin that he only ever put on after an invigorating session of Quidditch and a game well played. He was flanked by Angelina Johnson and his two older brothers but he was the first to notice Hermione. He flinched at her expression. Her eyes were bloodshot and she stared at him with a sort of dead fury that Ron didn't know if he'd ever seen before.

Ron's teammates spotted Hermione's dark disposition and happily abandoned him, walking around the frozen boy without a care.

"See you tomorrow little brother!" piped one of the twins as they made a hasty retreat.

"Er... Hermione...?"

"Ron..." Hermione replied with a hollow croak that might sound natural on a Dementor. "Where's... Harry...?" Venom dripped off the words as if they were poison on their own. She stood as if looking around for the boy in question, waiting for him to enter behind Ron.

Ron was not very foolish when it came to some things. For one, he was very in tune with the fact that there were certain times when some women weren't to be crossed no matter what. Hermione was usually an exception as the girl was rarely prone to true rage. Sure they argued all the time but Hermione was never truly so angry that she turned into this... creature of death that stood before him staring at the portal hole like a spider in wait.

'Wonder what Harry did to piss her off so bad?' thought Ron worriedly.

"H-he said he had something to clear up with Umbridge. Why? What did he do, Hermione?"

Hermione's eye twitched. "He's taken my books." She seethed.

Ron couldn't stop the scoff that escaped his lips. Of course it would be about her books. So predictably Hermione was the response that Ron simply couldn't hope to have stopped the laughter that escaped. Particularly not when he was staring down at the black leather book in her hands.

"Looks like you've got one right there!" He injected, trying to mollify her rage. "I'm sure Harry will give whatever books he took back, Hermione. Its not like he couldn't just ask you about them anyway."

Ron of course, entirely misunderstood what she had meant by her words.

"Not like that..." She bit through clenched teeth. "When he's flying I can't read! I mean honestly! Bloody git has a good enough time diving at hundreds of miles per hour but does he even think once of how terrifying that is? And then I realize that no matter how hard I try I can't concentrate on my–!" Hermione blinked in sudden consternation as Ron's jaw along with those of several other students began dropping all around her. "What?" the girl questioned irritably.

"Hermione you-!"

"She's bloody levitating!" Someone exclaimed.

"Wh-what?" The girl jerked staring down at her feet in surprise. Sure enough, her toes hung pointing towards the floor at least half a foot off the ground.

It didn't last long.

With a sudden yelp her feet clopped back down onto the ground, her levitation ended nearly instantly by her own surprise. Balance abandoned her and she flailed recklessly on the brink of falling over.

Ron was there of course. His arms wrapped around her teetering body and caught her before she could fall, embracing her in a close hug. They stood there for a moment, Hermione catching her breath, while Ron wondered just what the hell kind of magic Hermione was practicing.

Hermione blushed a beat red.

Several more moments the embrace lasted before Ron slowly let her go. Her heart raced. Her pulse sped in torrents and she was certain every bone in her body was tingling. 'Hold me longer!' She nearly screamed in her mind, completely forgetting her earlier anger at the other member of the trio.

Then rationality took over and was thoroughly appalled.

"H-Hermione? How were you doing that...?" Ron asked.

'That's the least romantic thing you could ever say to me Ron Weasley!' She pouted, her rationality once again losing control, and Hermione bitterly fought the rush of emotions.

"I... Ron, I don't..."

Hermione's eyes widened. She jerked in his arms. She screamed, her hand sliding to her shoulder in sudden pain.


Eyes watering as her shoulder spasmed in torment, Hermione slowly pulled her hand away from the right sleeve of her striped muggle sweater, wincing as she did so. Her hand, and the sweater's sleeve, were covered in blood.

Eyes widening, Hermione had only one thought. "Harry!"

Harry elatedly stepped into the great hall with the other members of his Quidditch team. They were laughing about some joke or other and Harry grinned feeling the rush of warmth after coming in from the cold outdoors. He loved the feeling.

"Alright, you guys. I'll see you in a little while," he grimaced at this point realizing the time and dreading what it was that the toad woman wanted from him. Sure she'd taught the class but the elation he'd felt from that had faded and now he recalled all the effort he and Angelina had had to go through in order to get the Quidditch teams reformed. Worse, the damn pen made a ghost pain hover over his hand and he moved to covered it even though his gloves were still on. "Got to take care of something with Umbridge."

"Not going to eat with us Harry?" Alicia Spinnet questioned somewhat disappointed.

He shrugged. "No time. She asked me to see her at seven. Probably still pissed that I won't stop lying."

That sobered up the team pretty quickly. "You've got our support Harry." Angelina said firmly.

"Thanks." Harry replied, a little uncomfortable with the show of loyalty. He turned to exit out the door he'd just come in and looked over his shoulder at them. "Wish me luck!"

Ron, good friend that he was, was the first to reply. "She's going to eat you. Watch the tongue. It unrolls like five feet Harry."

"Ha." Harry deadpanned, but his teammates laughed uproariously.

He fled the great hall with a sense of trepidation. Luckily the knights of armor and their merry Christmas tunes served well to lift his waning spirits. The woman had been reasonable yesterday. Hopefully he could find a way to convince her to be even more reasonable in the future. And maybe keep his hand from falling off.

"Bloody Pen," he muttered, noting the pun.

A few minutes later he opened the door to the woman's study in the room next to the Defense classroom she had chosen. Something was wrong. More cats than even decorated the classroom greeted him. He wasn't surprised, as he'd seen the room many times but he still found it to be one of the creepiest places he'd ever been. Considering the Chamber of Secrets and the Shrieking Shack that was saying something. But he could feel more that. Something in the air. The way the candles were all unnaturally bright. Something was wrong.

Curiously, the woman didn't appear to be present. He wandered for a moment, wondering if she was maybe in one of the back rooms. Her bedchamber perhaps. Set on edge, he stepped into the view of one of the doors that split off away from the small office.

"Madam Umbridge?"

His answer was a familiar, old friend.

"Avada Kedavra!"


Author's Notes: And complete. So how looks the second part of my little soul bondy story? Things are getting interesting ne? Oh! So sorry about the cliffie. I do so love them! You don't mind do you?


Not really all that much to say at the moment. Thank you everyone who wanted to preread! Special thanks to ByLanternLight and MarkerIV for their efforts in making this ficcy possible.

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Till Next!