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.

Foreword: So apparently its spelled Foreword when its in front of a chapter. Well, that's embarrassing. Like. 12 years worth of embarrassing. Shame on you reviewers! How have none of you corrected me on this until now!?

Special Thanks to DLP's WBA section and those who left comments. Along with, as always, a thank you to MarkerIV. Fantasyra has also been a huge help in creating this chapter. Check out his awesome fic, "Done a Runner" for a great time.

Sorry for the delay of course. I was having trouble deciding the direction of this fic. The masses told me in general that they were not very happy about the crossover. But thats how I planned the fic, concrete as of chapter three all the way to the end. I can't change it because people don't think they'll like it. I'd rather write what I like and hope everyone else likes it too than pander to the audience (No offense. There there, goood audience! Don't eat me!). So I've decided to take the plunge and continue with the crossover. That said, this is still very much a Harry Potter fic. It will finally begin to show a bit of its crossover side as of this chapter, but let me express that NO KNOWLEDGE OF DIABLO is necessary. I can't imagine it would hurt though. That and cameos will abound as they have done since the fic started. Kudos to those who catch them.

If one more person mentions Darth Marrs's fic "Bonds of Blood" to me Ima killabitch. Yes yes yes I've read Bonds of Fucking Blood. Yes it was 'okay.' Harry/Ginny meh. Their romance seemed, well, not to really exist. Ginny was a bloody stockholm victim but in reverse. Hero worship I guess. "HE SAVED MY SOUL I OWE HIM MY LIFE N' CHASTITY!" Thats what I felt anyways. I was particularly turned off by the 13 year olds having sex. It just sorta grossed me out. Little bit too squicky. Not saying his/her writing was bad. I mean it was explained in a way that made sense. Just... not my cuppa. That said, this chapter is a little bit LIME. So yeah. I'm a huge Hypocrite. And you've been warned.

Lets get back into this.

What is an author? A spinner of tales, a teller of lies, who weaves the fates through fiction's eyes? Personally, I think a writer is a violinist, his word a bow, ever trying run it just so across the hearts trings.

Error of Soul

"'Riding Harry's Firebolt,' huh? Foreshadow much? You have got all the subtlety of a hand grenade!"
Hermione Granger

Deep within the heart of Hogwarts something stirred. The room with the thousand bindings pulsed with it's unholy red light as it had for hundreds of years, unnoticed by the passing of time. Few visited here. Fewer still knew what the room was and what it truly contained.

They would soon though.

A sharp hissing sound pierced the deep silence that had been the companion of the lonely halls for so long. Stone sustained it. From stone it was borne and from fire was it given blood. The walls groaned and strained but they couldn't stop the process. It had already begun.

"Rise, my servant."

The words cut through the silence sharper than any sound heard in millenia.

Fire burst around it as the stone morphed and spread, widening into a portal of red and black flames. Small and thin the portal was unable to grow. Not while Hogwarts fought and strained against it.

Slowly, a blue tinted claw rose from the darkened portal.

A word broke the silence. An old word. Unheard by wizards or men in the thousands of years since its master had fallen. But in its time, its name had been called be a legion of demons. The devilkin. The lord of The Fallen had risen once again.


Chapter Seven
Harsh Green Eyes

"Rules. That's what we need. Rules. Rule number one. Stop that," Hermione thought as she strode into the library deep in both verbal and mental conversation with Harry Potter. They kept their voices low so as not to draw the rage of Madame Pince. More often than not, they skipped the use of their voices entirely.

Harry sat down at a very private nook tucked in the back of the room that both he and Hermione liked. At her command, he abruptly realized he'd been idly chewing on his fingernails. He flushed, embarrassed at the habit but did as asked, lowering his hand down to his side. She slid onto the desk beside him and well into his bubble without a second thought, placing a scroll of blank parchment in front of him that stretched well over five feet.

"We'll need this much!?" he gasped as she unrolled the paper.

"Its always good to be prepared."

Harry groaned a bit. This felt entirely too much like homework but he supposed it made sense. The first rule came to him almost as soon as he let himself start thinking about it.

"No kissing anyone. Especially Ron."

A pregnant pause filled the air, lasting for nearly ten whole seconds of complete thoughtlessness. Then the emotion of panic crept through Harry like a spider might creep up an arm.

"Are you sure we needed rules Harry? I feel like you might've spoken a touch too quickly. Perhaps just winging it is for the best." Hermione continued, their mental conversation picking up where the verbal one had left off.

Harry couldn't help but chuckle. It was gross knowing that Hermione even liked Ron, and being intimately familiar with exactly how much she wanted to get him alone was even worse. It was helpful, for him at least, that her feelings for the redhead seemed to be fading a little. But what if Harry found himself in the same situation with a girl? Christmas was fast approaching. Did he want to turn down his own romance, not that he'd had any luck there anyway lately, simply to spare himself from Hermione's admittedly disgusting need to be close to her boyfriend?

In the end, Harry sighed. If he didn't let Hermione snog Ron every now and then, that would mean he would never get the same chance with 'anyone!' That was far too much. No one wanted to be alone...

Hermione felt his thoughts as they formed pictures and grinned. He was caving. She could still feel close to Ron. She hoped. A strange weight settled over her stomach, not unlike guilt. Her and Ron's previous kiss had felt so lifeless. The affection was gone. She shivered and pushed the thoughts from her mind.

"Okay, okay. I don't care about it that much. It's disgusting but I can deal with it." grumbled the boy in his mind. "Don't come complaining to me when a girl wants to kiss me though!"

Harry's emotions brimmed with hopeful, youthful enthusiasm so strongly that Hermione barely held back a laugh, the guilty feeling of her emotions towards Ron melting away.

"Oh like that'll ever happen, Harry."

Harry glared, but Hermione grinned at him unapologetically. For the life of him he couldn't discern whether she was being mischievousness or truthful. Either way he was mildly offended.

"Oh don't be like that. Okay. So thats... zero rules so far," Hermione said with a grimace, looking down at the number one she'd written with her impeccable calligraphy. "Come on Harry, we need some sort of guidelines to follow so that we don't start, you know. Hating each other. We've allowed kissing but how far should we be able to go?"

Goosebumps raised on his arms. She was talking about... sex. How far would he be willing to let her and Ron go?

"God this is gross."

"I know... I'm sorry Harry."

The boy sighed. How far would he let it go? Kissing was acceptable. Light petting he supposed. But nothing more. The last thing he wanted was to feel Ron's hand on his bits.

He shuddered. Oddly, Hermione did too.

"Alright Harry. Rule One. No further than light snogging allowed. Preferably while the other member of the bond is asleep."

"Oooh, good amendment! " thought Harry. It wouldn't save them from everything but it would help alleviate some of the disgust.

...As long as they didn't start sharing memories . So far that had not happened.

It was possible for one to sleep while the other was awake, though it had only happened so far with potions from the recently returned Madame Pomfrey. And that had its own problems.

"You've got some weird dreams Hermione."

The girl flushed. Normally she wouldn't remember her dreams. Harry could vividly see them as she slept off the pain of Voldemort's emotional bleed. "Back on topic Harry."

Harry grinned as the girl growled. Her most recent dream had involved her beating the crap out of Gilderoy Lockhart while wearing a dunce cap. Hermione hated being made a fool.

"So... snogging is acceptable. I better buy a lot of toothpaste," Harry sighed. "I wonder if I can find any numbing spells?"

Hermione couldn't help but giggle a little. She sobered quickly though and brought forth a suggestion of her own.

"Harry, you know how I don't like you cheating on tests–"

"Like I said Hermione!" Harry interrupted angrily. Not this topic again. Anything but this topic again! "There's nothing I can do! Once you say it I know–!"

"Then know it already! If... if you learn it together with me , before the test mind, then we'll both know it and I wouldn't feel so... like I'm–Bollocks Harry!" she burst aloud, actually speaking for once, which startled the Boy-Who-Lived .

Harry scowled a little but he could see her point. He idly felt the girl pinching the bridge of her nose upon his own face. She always did that when she was frustrated. Glibly, he made his thoughts known aloud.

"So... rule two is study more?"

"I... yes. Yes okay? Please...? I don't like feeling like I'm giving away all the answers. At all!" She whispered sharply, realizing her voice was becoming a tad too loud for the library.

Harry sighed. He'd felt her emotions during tests and quizzes over the past few days. It was as she said. Literally torture for her, along with a good deal of anger at Harry that she simply couldn't stop. The only time she was happy was when Harry came to the answers as quickly as she did. Which was more often than not but still not always.

"Alright Hermione... but I don't have to like it."

The girl beamed in his mind, and Harry couldn't help but grin back. He liked it when she smiled. It was a lot better than her usual expression these days. His thoughts drifted, swimming back to Hermione's nights spent in the hospital after Voldemort's emotional attack. She'd been in so much pain... and he'd felt so horrible. Hating her was the last thing on his mind now, but he understood the reasoning. They'd squabbled a lot more before that incident but the threat of imminent death really had a way of putting things into perspective.

At his thoughts, a wave of utter terror washed over him. He cursed, realizing his mistake a moment too late. Hermione quaked in her seat, visibly shaking with the effort to calm down.

"Its okay, Hermione. He's not attacking... Its okay..." he soothed.

Hermione wrapped her arms around herself. "IthurtsobadHarry! I'm sorry. I'm just–"

A jumbled mess of thoughts pushed through the bond and Harry heard them in a mess of confused words and broken sentences. Surprise, shock, or fear had a way of distorting the bond. Or at least making the translation more difficult from one party to the other. But the sentiment was conveyed perfectly.


Worry. Horror. Anxiety.

Harry focused strongly on the subject at hand, willingly imposing his thoughts to drive those of Voldemort out of both his mind and especially hers. It was becoming difficult. He'd felt so bad about it before but dammit the girl turned into a quivering mess every time she thought for even a moment the pain might come again !

'The pain isn't that bad." Harry thought, causing Hermione to cringe. Immediately afterwards he was inundated by the girl's shame. She felt weak and no less frightened by his unintentionally cruel thoughts. Not a moment later a lump formed in Harry's throat. Quite clearly, it was that bad.

"Rules then. Rule three! Well, uhm. You can sort of feel when your constant reading drives me crazy," thought the raven-haired boy, focusing harder on the creation of new rules. It seemed to calm her down. Rules often did, he realized. "It feels like way too much sometimes. Maybe you could ease off whenever you feel like I'm stressing too much? And I could do the same ?"

Hermione nodded, sounding strangely small in his head. He felt an overwhelming urge to hug her. "Th-that sounds acceptable to me."

"So rule number three," said Hermione aloud. "No overwhelming each other with hobbies or habits."

She schooled her features well and her thoughts recovered. Slowly. The pain of feeling Voldemort's anger had truly scared her. Beyond her wits. Knowing who had caused it scared her even more. All Harry could feel was guilty, and to his distress, annoyed. He steeled himself and forced his mind to drop the subject entirely, returning back to the matter at hand. The last thing he wanted was for her to end up in the hospital wing again.

They were being forced to make up far too much homework lately, after all.

"Alright. And rule number four? What do you not want me doing?" Harry asked, truly curious as to what her answer might be. What did he not want her doing anyway?

Hermione had had an idea building in her head over the past several days and Harry's question brought it shooting to the forefront of her mind. For a moment she was flummoxed by the question. Feeling Harry's guilt simply evaporate jolted her out of her dark thoughts, and the question, along with the strange sensation of emotional whiplash brought the unruly thought hurtling towards Harry's perception. Embarrassment, however, was a quicker emotion than even thought. Quickly, she focused all her attention on drowning her idea before Harry could see it. It worked. Weirdly, the girl found that she could blot out any idea or thought with a secondary one if she tried hard enough.

The problem was that the second idea usually was whatever was at the back of her mind which was sometimes somewhat silly.

"You don't want me eating pork?" Harry asked, holding back a laugh.

"I... well I–"

"Okay." Harry agreed easily enough. "Be conscious of the other's food and drink preferences. For the record, I can't stand pineapples."

"I hate pork, obviously."

They blinked. Then laughed. Somehow that bit of silliness eased the tension between the two.

Hermione let her guard fall a little. It was Harry after all. He would be embarrassed too but dammit this was becoming far too stressful. She'd felt the boy's aggravation and frustration across the bond and it scared her. Feeling his annoyance with her pain, his stress with managing her sudden panic attacks had made her distinctly aware of his condition. The boy was pretty good at hiding it, all things considered, but it simply had to be addressed. Besides, it wasn't as if she was entirely innocent. She steeled herself for the embarrassment to come. They were adults, or at least close to adults. They could handle this subject like rational people. Still, best to get it all out at once.

"Harry, I want you to wank off."

Still laughing at the silliness of the food rule, and entirely unprepared for the blindside Hermione had just delivered, Harry's reaction was quite predictable.

"WHAT!?" Harry sputtered and choked on the air he'd been about to breath. Gasping wheezes filled the room as his eyes widened in stunned shock.

Hermione only received a string of gibberish over the bond and she laughed. Oh Harry. He always knew how to cheer her up. From something as simple as accidentally cheating on a test to as devastating as being on Lord Voldemort's hitlist.

"Quiet down!" came the harsh whisper of Madame Pince from a few aisles away, and the two of them ducked their heads, chastely.

"Masturbation, Harry. Its perfectly natural after all, and you're wound up tighter than braces to gums ," Hermione commented, as casually as if it were a conversation about homework. As her thoughts crossed over, Harry realized that Hermione was treating it like a homework assignment. A particularly humorous one.

"Ah... Urk. H-Hermione, I don't, ah, do that," said Harry out loud. It was difficult to remain self conscious of what you said and what you thought. There weren't many people nearby but suddenly Harry felt that they should have gone to the Chamber of Secrets. This was... well private if nothing else!

Hermione raised a half lidded eyebrow.

"Honestly, Harry," said the girl in her usual exasperated way. She sent him a sort of proud and irritated smile. "You're far too noble. And as I've said before, a terrible liar."

"B-but! Hermione, we can't talk about this! You're–! It'd be–! We shouldn't–!" With each word Harry sputtered a little more, desperately trying to regain the cool that seemed to ooze off of Hermione in droves. How in gods name was she not embarrassed at this? Especially considering their mutual reaction when they'd first figured out the touches were being caused by each other.

"H-Hermione," he reasoned as the girl patiently waited. "I can't do that. If I did then you would feel it too! Dammit Hermione, you're Ron's girl for now! I couldn't do that to him! It just wouldn't be right!"

A pang of guilt suddenly surged across the bond from Hermione's side. "But Harry, you need–!"

"No!" Harry interrupted firmly. Hermione felt his fingers tapping on the table. A nervous habit of his. "Ron's been trying so hard to be a good friend to both of us through this. It's not–No. It's not right Hermione. I can't do that to my best mate."

"You wouldn't even be touching me! I'm just–! Ugh. Its my fault you're stuck like this! You shouldn't have to... to be..."

At that moment the library doors burst open, startling the two out of their heated conversation. Through the holes left in stacks Harry and Hermione saw the very person they spoke of, wide eyed and sweating bullets as if having just run a marathon. Quickly, he darted back to their favorite corner towards them, holding a newspaper that looked suspiciously like the prophet.

"H-Harry! Hermione!" he wheezed. "You've got to see this!"

Rushing up to them both he squeezed between them and slapped the Daily Prophet in front of them. Hermione paled while Harry turned green. On the front page was a shining picture of a familiar lightning bolt scar. What wasn't so familiar was the placement. Instead of blazoned on the forehead of Harry Potter, this scar stood proudly on the neck of an uncharacteristically angry Hermione Granger. The picture had been taken moments before the girl had collapsed, and Harry knew only one person with a camera in Gryffindor tower. The title of the front page read in hyperbold print:



Harry had only one thought before Hermione started to shake a little. "Colin, you bloody arse. I'm going to kill you."

"S-sorry, Hermione. I know how it... bugs you," Ron said, a bit uncomfortably as he watched the girl shudder. He didn't know what to think of her feeling the same pain that Harry felt. Or the discovery of just how bad that pain really was. Seeing Hermione so afraid was just unnatural. It unnerved the redhead a little. "But we have to do something about this."

"N-No Ron. You're right. I needed to see this. Its true, after all. I did survive the Killing Curse," she shuddered, but steeled herself. "I am the Girl-Who-Lived."

"Come on Granger. Can't turn into a blubbering idiot! Nothing's changed; you were always going to help Harry fight against V-Voldemort. Its just a little more personal now. That's all," Hermione thought to herself, her hands idly pushing down as if to crush her fluttery spirit into tranquility.

She did that occasionally, Harry noted. Gave herself tiny little peptalks. It was unique. And strangely fitting for the girl. He liked it. She blushed at his thoughts.

"Thank you Hermione," said Harry across the bond.

The girl grinned at him. Grinned in the face of her fear. She still felt worried and anxious but she was a Gryffindor after all. Gryffindors never scared easy or for long. "What are friends for?"

"You two are weird." Ron commented idly, not having the slightest clue to the inner conversation between the two.

They laughed.

In the back of her mind, Hermione wondered. And pondered. Something Harry had said tugged at her mind. You're Ron's girl? Well, that was a little sexist but that wasn't what was making her review his words so closely. It was something else he'd said.

She couldn't recall.

He shuddered as he descended into the depths of the caverns below Azkaban Prison. He felt the fear, and terror of simply being near one of the dementors and he couldn't help but shudder again.

His foot shook and he stumbled, catching himself on the banister that lined the right side of the long staircase. He could only feel thankful that he had stumbled to the right instead of the left.

There was no railing on the left side. It dropped off into the depths of the cave deep below. Only blackness could be seen.

"Merlin I hate this place," he muttered.

"Come human. The leader is impatient."

Fudge whimpered. All he could do though, was continue on. He took another shaky step but firmed his stance for the next one. He would not be a coward. He had a world to save, after all. Hadn't the people, the people of the greatest country in the world, trusted him with their leadership?

God what he wouldn't do for his big, red, comfy chair. The protection of his patronus would have to do. He chanced a small smile down at his lovable skunk, striding confidently by his side and letting out a pulse every now and then just to show the dementors that though he was afraid, he was not to be trifled with.

It occurred to him, idly, that if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had already swayed the dementors to his side, he was approaching his own Kiss of Death. His patronus, silly little thing, would not be able to get him out of Azkaban on its own with his soul intact. No guards were allowed this deep into their domain. Only himself, his wits, and the hope that the Bargain still held true.

"Don't think that way ole' boy. We're going to win us some allies. And You-Know-Who can chew on his own foot," thought the minister.

Turning, he chanced a glance into the hollow gaze of the dementor behind him. He refused to whimper. Instead, he began counting stairs.

The DA was progressing well, Harry thought as he looked around the room. He enjoyed the classes a little more than he cared to admit. It was a rare feeling to be respected and everyone in Dumbledore's Army had come to feel a bit of awe at Harry's prowess in the realm of dueling.

Unlike every other place in his life, in the walls of the Room of Requirement Harry felt he was actually worth something. The frustrating papers that had been claiming him to be a liar and a fool had recently been phased out of the Daily Prophet in favor of more warnings, so the pressure was easing on him in that area at least, but rumor had a way of persisting even after its source was nipped. Of course, gossip about the new Girl-Who-Lived overshadowed his own fame now. When Harry really thought about it, he almost wish they'd go back to smearing his name.

Calling Harry a liar hurt the whole wizarding world like a slow bleeding infection as it would leave them woefully unprepared for Voldemort. But then, what had the world ever done for him? Calling Hermione the Girl-Who-Lived was painting a target on her back.

The thought of her dying because of Colin and his damn camera rankled at Harry's soul.

'That's sweet Harry. In the most morbid way I could imagine. But I'd appreciate it if you'd stop thinking about me dying.'

Harry blushed. The girl had a sarcastic streak that she had kept well hidden for their long years of companionship. Now, it was impossible for her to mute that hidden snarkiness from him. For every smart remark she made aloud, she had a heartier, more stinging version waiting in the back of her mind.

"Yeah well, you know me. I'll try." Harry responded.

Turning his attention back to the people around him, he gathered his breath. "Alright everyone, gather around here!"

The various duels and the clash of spells came to a slow halt as the members of the DA noticed his request and began to circle him. He smiled as he swept his gaze over them. As he noticed each he thought of their individual talents, happily taking comfort in the fact that maybe they were just a bit more prepared for what was to come.

Luna, who could barely manage a stunner before, had proven herself to be one of the most unusual duelers he'd ever crossed wands with. Her spells, much like her attitude, were unorthodox and painfully difficult to predict. She had a habit of casting spells on the floor and the objects around her opponents, rather than directly at them.

Ernie Macmillan had already been a fairly competent dueler and fighter upon entering the DA but now he flourished, battling in an intense frenzy of spell fire with Fred Weasley and nearly besting him just before Harry called time out.

Neville. If there was an award for most improved, Neville would have it. The boy had gone from a failure to a fighter in only a few short months. Or at least close to one. He still seemed to lose confidence in himself every now and again and his spells would flutter and die, or not fire at all. But that was getting more and more rare.

"What about me Harry?" Hermione couldn't help but ask. The girl gasped a little in the way that she did when she wished she could have a question back.

Harry grinned and sarcastically bated the girl just as all the eyes of the DA managed to turn to him. "No improvement whatsoever,"

She squawked indignantly but the girl was anything but gullible. In her mind, she smirked feeling Harry's approval and pride as all the answer she needed.

"Alright everyone," he addressed the sweaty students. "If you didn't know, this will be the last session before the break."

A chorus of 'awws' broke the air that made Harry preen a little. His eyes caught those of Cho Chang and he felt a little pang of joy at the intensely pouty look on her face. Even so, he quickly averted his eyes before she spotted them lingering.

"I would like to put you all through one more little test though. Its been a little while since we've come back to it, but I want to see those Patroni again," In the same manner as before the crowd expressed its pleasure at the task with a positive little shout. "Lavender, I know you were close, and Neville. Plus I think that'd be a good way to end the last session."

Ginny easily slid her wand into the air first and with a flourish her horse patronus burst into the room, whinnying and prancing around the group. Harry blinked, taken aback. She hadn't even said the words!

"Impressive casting," he thought, and didn't hesitate to say so aloud. "Amazing spellwork Ginny!"

The girl sent him a shining grin, free of the timidity of yesteryears. He returned it with a small blush. When had the girl's smile been so...?

"Oh, you two timing jerk."

Hermione. Of course. "Oi, Single here! None of the rules say anything about smiling at a girl!"

"I thought CHO was the one you were-!"

"Ugh, just drop it Hermione. "

The girl sent him an irritated grimace, and Harry snorted. He wished, for once, the girl would have a thought about a bloke other than Ron or himself just so he could rub it in.

"As if." she pouted, but seemed willing to drop the matter. There were more important things after all. She raised her wand and Harry felt her mind swim into her second year. Waking up in the hospital from her petrification surrounded by Harry and Ron. Her best friends.

"Laying it on a little thick with the guilt here."

The girl had the decency to feel a little guilty herself but that didn't stop her spell. Her otter swam from her soul straight into reality. Harry felt is breeze by his heart almost as if it were touching him. Perhaps it was.

Expecto Patronum, beyond being complicated to cast, was an incredibly fun spell. It was hard to explain why or how but they... played. It was as if they were a pet that was always kept hidden in the owner's soul. The patronus was partial to people its owner liked, and by extension, their own Patroni. So as he lifted his wand and let his stag burst forth with a verbal "Expectro Patronum!" he was unsurprised to see it ride over to playfully dance with Cho's swan twirling it around in a way that would've made a human dizzy. The swan seemed to laugh, and Cho delightedly beamed at him.

The patronus was honest in a way. He watched it travel without command, prancing over to Hermione's otter and Ron's Terrier in turn. The only spell he considered to actually be a "light" spell. The only one he knew at any rate. It was probably his favorite spell barring Expelliarmus. And maybe Aqua Eructo. Something about the water spell just hit him in the right way.

For a good twenty minutes Harry helped those who still had not gotten the hang of the spell while his stag wrestled with Ginny's horse and raced Ron's Terrier along with a multitude of other silly games the Patronus seemed to invent without needing a prompt.

Happily, Hannah Abbott and Michael Corner both successfully managed a corporeal patronus for the first time that night. Michael's squirrel was a surprising contrast to the bear Hannah summoned but either way the room cheered.

The hour was late and while curfew had already passed long ago, it was getting to the point where droopy eyelids and tired students would be noticed if he didn't release them soon.

"Alright everyone! That's enough for tonight! We'll be meeting again sometime early at the start of next semester. Your coin will let you know the times. Wonderful job everyone!" he exclaimed as Hermione unconsciously flanked him along with Ron.

His words prompted a tidal wave of tiny conversations and clipped words that he could only really catch bits and pieces of as they began to filter out the doors.

"Damn... It really is getting kinda late."
"This is awesome! Umbridge and Harry teaching..."

"Harry, have a good Christmas!"

"I wonder what's for breakfast?"

"I'm going to miss these..."

"Merry Christmas Harry!"

"Great lesson tonight Harry! I can't wait till they start up again next year!" cried one of the Creevey brothers.

Harry fumed at the boy, unable to discern which one it was as the two did look similar, and angry at both of them. The blonde head of hair flinched at his glare and toddled out the door, following the tide of students as they left, most waving at the three of them.

It was at that moment that Harry spotted Cho waiting idly in the back of the room.

"Hey Harry..." came the dejected voice of Neville, shy and nervous as always, but less so than usual. "I've got something kind of important that you need to know about. Its–!"

Cho smiled at him and he blushed turning his attention to his round-faced dorm mate. "Uhhh..."

"Its about... Harry something important is happening. Its about Luna."

Luna. Right. As fast as Harry had turned to the boy he found himself quickly tuning out Neville's words, instead feeling Cho's eyes on him as she waited for the people to filter out. He stole glances at her out of the corner of his eyes, only barely able to concentrate on Neville's prattling. In his mind he felt Hermione smile a little.

"Honestly, you could do much better than her. But boys will be boys I suppose." Hermione grinned at him and patted a hand on his shoulder in salute. "Good luck, Harry. Really. Even if I don't know what you see in her."

She turned back to look at Cho for a moment, feeling Harry's excitement and the light arousal that he'd been carrying since he first spotted her.

"Settle down Harry! That's gross!"

"–something about a red gem and a skeleton and–" Neville's words slid over Harry as if he were listening underwater.

He ignored both of them, as he met Cho's eyes over Neville's hardly even noticed Hermione exasperated sigh though he did catch Ron giving him a wink as he, too turned towards the door. Harry was so entranced by the girl waiting for him that he hardly felt uncomfortable at all when Ron slipped his arm over Hermione's shoulder.

"Harry are you listening?" Neville asked impatiently. "This is really impor–!"

"Err, Neville? Can we discuss it later?" Harry interrupted the boy and stepped around him towards the asian beauty waiting behind. The last of the students trickled out the door and the sounds of chatter faded to the tightest of murmurs. His heart pounded, and his hands were sweaty. He had no idea where to put them.

He took no notice of Neville's pleading. Nor did he notice the youngest Weasley linger in the doorway, her eyes settling upon him in longing, before turning into the hall and wiping harshly at her wet cheek.

Fudge stood in the center of a great circular chamber. Idly, he wondered why all great chambers tended to be circular in nature but he knew that was just his mind trying to distract him from the terror coursing through his bones.

He didn't have a choice. He could either meet the leader of the dementors as the Bargain had always demanded and hope they had not broken their vow, or allow Voldemort full access to their power.

Neither option was particularly encouraging, but Fudge was confident that Voldemort controlling the buggers would be significantly worse.

"Minister of the Nephilim." The words broke the silence of the dark place with an echo that rung throughout the chamber. Deep and low, the voice was not at all human. Fudge shuddered as the only door on the far side of the chamber opened.

"Ghost of Zakarum," greeted Fudge in return as had been the custom since time immemorial.

"Your arrival is timely. The Lord of Hatred stirs in his prison. Are you aware?" said the figure of the largest Dementor Fudge had ever seen. It strode through the door that no human had entered in living memory, and Fudge couldn't help but shudder again at the being's presence. Tall and foreboding, the creature floated down towards him in that ghostly manner that even ghosts found spooky.

"I was not," Fudge replied, gaining a bit of confidence. The Dementors always spoke of the Lord of Hatred as if he were a real person, but rarely like this. Still, he could sense maneuvering from a mile away; he was a politician after all. The Dementor leader clearly wanted something. "Why? Has something happened?"

"Yes... the Zakarum grow weaker by the year. The souls you send us are pathetic. Hatred is breaking free, and the Nephilim souls you send us are not strong enough to hold."

Fudge bristled. He hated sending innocents to them, even for a short time. The alternative though, an army of Dementors squeezing the wizarding population for every last happy thought, was far worse. So he did what every minister since the dawn of the ministry had done before him. Handed over a few innocent men for short periods of time. That satisfied the Dementors, allowing them to guard their fictional "Lord of Hatred." In return, they guarded the criminals of the world as well.

"You speak of treason. You would break the Bargain?" Fudge hissed.

"To prevent Mephisto's return. Yesss," the creature hissed. Fudge gulped. Fudge thought the dementor sounded like a spider might, had it a voice.

Fudge steeled his soul. "You will keep to the bargain. You will side with us, creature. If I catch even a hint of you siding with the Dark Lord as you did last time, I will eradicate you. I swear it."

The phantom's head cocked to the side, almost as if it were chuckling. Then it turned away, sliding slowly back towards its dark abode.

"Come. See. Nephilim have very short memories. You must be... reminded." And the creature was gone, gliding into the black opening left by the ancient door.

The door remained open.

Minister Fudge followed.

"Are you alright, Cho?" Harry asked awkwardly as he approached. The girl seemed... sad. Yet antsy at the same time, and it made him want to hug her.

'Hug, he says," Hermione quipped in the back of her mind as she walked up towards the dormitory with Ron's arm around her shoulder.

"Hey bugger off!" Harry thought a little more harshly than he intended. "I mean... at least give me a chance Hermione."

He could feel the girl shake her head in exasperation. A sudden spike of resentment shot through her like a lightning bolt and Harry felt it stab him like a physical thing. Resentment. For Cho?

Her mind focused sharply and suddenly her thoughts were all about tomorrow's schoolwork.

"Harry...?" Cho asked quietly, and Harry abruptly realized that he'd missed whatever she'd said.

"She said she was doing well. That this, all this magic she's learning from you is worth it. Honestly, pay attention Harry!"

Harry growled, irritated at how the girl could focus on his own experiences more easily than he could himself. The girl was taking to the bond like a fish to water, while he floundered about as effectually as a fish on a broomstick.

"It is." Harry said, noncommittally. "It really is. Maybe it'll keep..." He trailed off, letting his finger graze over the photo of Cedric that Cho's eyes lingered on. 'Keep anyone else from dying."

"It will help," Cho replied softly. Everything she did was soft, even her seeking to Harry's eyes. "I know it will."

And very suddenly she turned to face him. Her eyes met his with an intensity they had previously lacked. A sort of determination. All of a sudden the will that he had admired in her quidditch skills suddenly focused fully upon him.

Sweat began to develop in all the wrong places.

A sound of sliding things mixed with the scent of flowers filled the air, overpowering even Cho's Cherry perfume.

"Mistletoe." Cho whispered, almost reverently.

Harry gulped again. He watched as her eyes slid closed and a fluttering in his chest seemed to quadruple. At the same moment, he felt Hermione tense in the back of his mind and close her own eyes. She could feel Harry's jittery flutterings and Harry listened to her wonder if this was how Harry had felt when she'd first kissed Ron. He felt her guilt. Her anxiety. Her disgust over the girl Harry was about to force her lips onto.

Harry sighed.

"Cho, we shouldn't."

The girl's eyes seemed to snap open. "Shouldn't?"

He saw her expression morph from curiosity to hurt and sadness in the blink of an eye. Not a small amount of anger lingered there too.

"I... I want very much to kiss you right now, Cho," Harry stumbled thought the words, trying to get his point across, quite certain he was failing miserably.

"Harry?" Hermione asked. "Its okay you know."

"Then do it. I want you to kiss me very much right now." Cho said.

'Oh good god I am an idiot,' Harry thought. 'To hell with Hermione's feelings!'


Harry groaned. Cho quirked an eyebrow. It must have sounded like a groan of frustration rather than annoyance at Hermione's habit of being in his head at all the wrong moments. Not that she had a choice.

"Cho, you don't want to get involved with me. Really, you really don't," he managed to say sadly. "I... just don't want to hurt anybody."

Cho looked down at her feet. Her eyes watered a little.

'Oh god, Hermione I've made her cry! I... bloody hell."

Without warning, the girl's hand snaked out of its folded position behind her back and snagged Harry's head. It was so quick that Harry correlated the move to her Quidditch skills even as she sniped his lips with her own.

Magic seemed to burst through Harry's mind. It was beautiful. Intoxicating. His hands unconsciously slid around the asian's slim waist even as her arms settled about his shoulders, each pulling the other into a closer embrace. At the fringes of his awareness, Harry heard Hermione give a slight, aroused gasp. He ignored it. Unconsciously he focused upon Cho, blocking out Hermione for the first time since they'd begun feeling each other's emotions.

The kiss seemed to last an eon. He linked his hands behind her and her own seemed to run madly through his hair. Her breath was warm and smelled good. Again, the sweet scent of cherries filled his nostrils.

When it finally ended, Harry realized mutely that at some point he had closed his eyes. His breath had been stolen. Blinking he stared down at the girl in his arms in mute wonder.

"I just," The girl twittered suddenly embarrassed. "Wanted one kiss. To see if what I felt was real or not."

Harry had only one answer for that.

"I want another."

Hermione's face was flushed. She could smell Cho's perfume and, contrary to her initial belief her lips felt incredible. Disgust attempted to well itself up and have another go at calming her rushing heart but it failed. Harry's emotions, the feel of the first kiss with Cho, were overwhelming. No matter how much she wanted him to, Ron hadn't come close to making her feel this way.

Harry's pent up desire had found an outlet and no matter what she said or did, she couldn't help but feel it.

"Its not real! Its Harry's emotion dammit! Harry's! Not mine!" She told herself. In vain, it seemed. The words did no more to quell her fluttery heart than her feeble attempt at disgust had. Her breathing was nearly ragged and her pupils were as dilated as they came.

She now knew exactly how Harry had felt when she and Ron had their little 'adventure' in the broom closet. She and Ron had only had a few moments before Harry had burst in, though. Harry had been lip locked with Cho for almost a quarter hour by now. No matter how disgusted she had been at first, soon all the wonderful little emotions and touches Harry was experiencing had started to get to her. Knowing who was causing the emotions in her 'partner' could only go so far to stop the sheer pleasure he was experiencing.

'H-Harry... come on, Harry. This is too much. You've got to stop now," she prodded.

Harry couldn't hear her. A jumbled mess came from the other side of the bond. Pictures of a beautiful girl and her scent crumbled across Hermione's mind. A tidal wave of firing synapses in her brain electrified her to the core and yet disgusted her to the bone. She was thankful that she'd managed to make it up to her room before anyone noticed her becoming seriously bothered.

"Harry!" she hissed, but received no answer. The boy might as well have been comatose.

"The rules Harry! The bloody rules! Come on!" She pled, to no avail.

She had only just enough sense to cast silencing charms around the curtains of her bed before she began to mewl piteously into her pillow. Not only did she feel more hot and bothered than she'd ever felt in her entire life, she also felt the guilt of being an unwilling peeping tom.

"Oh god Harry!"

She didn't notice when her hands began to move in tandem with Cho's, sliding over the places on her body that the girl was touching Harry. Warmth and heat spread through her like no sensation she'd ever felt before. The closest experience she could think of was finding her wand. Fire and blood pumped through her veins, and her forehead glistened with tangy sweat.

"It's only a kiss dammit, so why...!?"

She didn't know, nor could she find the sense of mind to seek the answer. All she knew was that she felt good, and it was Harry who was causing it. Yes. Harry. Not Cho. Harry.

Focusing on him shattered the last shred connecting Cho to the feelings assaulting her mind and body. She forgot entirely about the other girl, partly because she wanted to, and partly because of her attraction to Harry. Quite suddenly she found herself swimming in a kiss every bit as warm and powerful as her first one with Ron had been.

"Harry..." the girl rasped his name even as she heard Cho do the same through the bond.

And, like the complete idiot that he was, Harry responded.

"Hermione... "

Hermione had never been slapped before. So, this was a new experience. New experiences did always teach you something, be they bad or good. And her face smarted like the dickens. She could only imagine how Harry must feel. She couldn't wait to see the handprint on his face tomorrow morning. It would serve him bloody right. He broke the first rule on the first day that they even HAD rules!

Alone in the Room of Requirement, she felt the boy casually blast the living fuck out of more practice dummies than Hermione had ever seen in her life. Reducto seemed to be his spell of choice but he did occasionally use Aqua Eructo. The strength of the water beams was impressive.

She still couldn't quite stop laughing.

'And then she–! And you–! Haha!" She wasn't exactly trying to rub it in. It was just so goddamned funny.

"You're NOT HELPING Hermione," Harry thought in one of his most dangerous tones. The boy was contemplating murder, but who he hadn't yet decided. Himself or Hermione.

Unfortunately Hermione knew him better than anyone. No amount of depression or rage was going to keep her from telling him what was what. Besides this situation was almost painfully easy to fix.

"Oh settle down. I'll explain it to her in the morning. Honestly if you'd have just told her we developed a soul bond instead of stuttering as she walked away there wouldn't have been any problem. You know the stigma that it has as well as I do. She'd feel some sympathy and you're back in her good graces, with no harm done! Well, besides that handprint on your face. But I think that's punishment enough."

Harry perked up, lifting his wand away from another destroyed dummy. "You'd do that?"

Hermione shrugged easily. "Of course. What are friends for, if not bailing each other out of miserably embarrassing romantic situations?"

She felt his hope swell in his chest. It felt good, to her. Harry was so often filled with negative emotions that the positive ones felt magnificent.

"Thank you, Hermione."

Hermione sent an emotion his way that was the mental equivalent of a shrug. "Besides the kiss did feel rather good."

The girl gasped and clapped her hands over the mouth she hadn't actually used to spill her secrets. They fell freely from her mind and she couldn't stop them.

And now Harry was the one laughing.

She bore it with stoic calm that devolved to mock rage, and finally just settled for humble embarrassment. It seemed they couldn't do anything to stop being embarrassed by each other these days.

When she finally recovered, and Harry stopped laughing at her, a question pinged at her mind and she couldn't help but ask. "Why did you say my name anyway, Harry?"

The embarrassment casually renewed itself tenfold, on Harry's part this time. She couldn't actually see his face, but she suspected the handprint would blend perfectly with his blush if she could.

"I... I don't know. I just heard you say mine."

"Well, it felt really nice Harry. So thank you."

"I, uhm. You're welcome. Hermione."

Hermione felt something drastic abruptly change between the two of them, and she knew Harry could feel it too. Neither of them could tell what exactly, or even really actively noticed the difference but their comfort with one another filled the bond. They were growing closer, and Hermione felt something warm between them that hadn't been there before.

Comfortable silence lasted for a few moments, but silence was something neither of them could keep for any length of time. Not anymore.

"So... What the deal with Snape's latest essay? Gwerving Root? That has nothing to do with the topics we've been–!" Harry sent in the form of an image of the root and several others while his emotion pointed out their lack of similarity.

"Oh I know! Did you see the–!" Hermione cut in happily meeting Harry in the new topic before he'd even finished his thought.

Their eternal conversation continued with one huge difference. They didn't bicker for the rest of the nig ht.

A door.

The snake slithered idly down the long corridor toward the door its master so desperately wished to enter.

A door.

A redhaired man suddenly appeared from one the side passages and spotted her. Surprised shock. The snake was frightened for a moment but it lasted no longer than that. The snake recovered first.

It struck, even as the red-haired man was lifting his fire stick.

The snake didn't allow him to speak as it sunk its fangs into soft, gooey flesh.

Cho Chang awoke much the same way she'd gone to sleep. At the edge of tears and consumed with anger. All that time she'd spent agonizing over her crush on one stupid boy, feeling guilty for Cedric, and for what?


Which was exactly what Harry Potter was to her. She'd had a night to sleep on it and she realized now; ignoring him was the best course of action. Ignore him forever. He deserved none of her attention. He could just... just be with his know-it-all!

She didn't care.

At all.

Bloody hell she wanted to cry.

Dreading the day before her, and the questions that her roommates were sure to ask, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and began to dress. The sunlight spilling in through the window and warming the chilly winter castle seemed to mock her mood with its delightful shine. All she wanted to do was shut out the light and weasel her way back under her blankets forever.

How could she have been so bloody stupid?

"No. Not your fault, Cho Chang. Harry is the arse here!" thought the Ravenclaw. The thought differed little from any of those responsible for her baggy eyes and nearly complete lack of sleep the night before. All she could do was cry and tell herself that she hadn't betrayed Cedric's memory for a skirt-chasing jackass; that she'd been fooled.

If she had a few more hours she might've even come to believe it.

Her roommates, surprisingly, seemed to pick up on the vibe she was dishing out in droves and avoided her as she dressed. A rarity as they usually clung to her a bit. She did feel like the leader among her friends and normally she loved that. Right now, though, they could go chew their thumbs and leave her the hell alone if they knew what was good for them.

Alone she walked into the Ravenclaw common room and alone she made her way down to the great hall, all the while cursing herself and trying very hard to keep her emotions in check. The few students in the hallways gave her a wide berth as she passed, subconsciously aware of her precarious mood.

Only ten or eleven students were in the great hall that morning, and none of the teachers were present at the professors' table.

Cho grimaced feeling almost real pain as she saw the very witch who held Harry's heart sitting alone at Gryffindor's table. Cho almost turned around and walked out of the hall but hunger prevented that. She hated the bushy haired bitch who stole…!

She shook herself, firmly trying to rid herself of that train of thought. Hating Hermione Granger was as stupid as it was counterproductive. The girl could no more help being the object of Harry's affection than Harry could help being the object of hers! She tried to tell herself that anyway. In truth, she hated the Gryffindor girl more than Umbridge.

What was so good about her anyway!? The little mudblood didn't deserve Harry!

No wait. Cho didn't want Harry! He meant nothing to her; now he was just a prick. Yes. And she didn't hate Hermione. Well. Maybe she did. A little.

Without warning the witch in question suddenly caught her eyes. Cho grimaced as the girl gave a great smile and bounced to her feet, abandoning a half finished tray of eggs and toast. Like some sort of misery missile, the Gryffindor made a beeline straight for her.

"Why me?" Cho moaned in resignation as she realized the girl was coming to talk to her. "What could she possibly want? Stupid bushy haired–! Dammit. What don't I have that she does?"

"Cho!" exclaimed Hermione in an irritatingly joyous voice that grated on Cho's thinly veiled temper.

"What?" She barked, a tad more sharply than she intended.

Hermione seemed oblivious to her obvious rage. The girl beamed at her, her smile so god damned sunny that Cho thought she might be being mocked.

"I wanted to talk to you about Harry."

Scratch that. She was definitely being mocked. Her eyes narrowed into slits. He wouldn't have... he couldn't have told her! That–that... that insufferable jackass! And now the know-it-all was going to mock her in the great hall for the entire world to see!

Hermione still seemed oblivious to Cho's smoldering. The asian flushed with two parts embarrassment and seven parts rage. Ignore him? Oh no. Harry Potter was going to pay for this if it was the last thing he–!

"Harry has asked me to beg you to forgive him. He is very, very sorry."

Cho blinked. Okay. She hadn't been expecting that. Weirdly, the girl sounded sincere.

"And why, if he is so sorry, isn't he here apologizing himself! More importantly, why would I ever forgive him for telling you what happened last night, as he clearly did!"

A few eyes turned to her and she flushed. Slowly, she sat back down in her seat, not even realizing she'd stood.

Hermione sighed and took a seat beside the Ravenclaw. "Because I assured him I'd be able to talk you into at least seeing him. While he is a complete idiot, I am partially to blame for the mistake he made last night. There is," she hesitated for a moment trying to find the right words and glancing suspiciously at those few sitting nearby. "Something you don't know. Could we perhaps speak somewhere more private?"

Cho fumbled for a moment, cutting a final piece of french toast from her plate and munching it before she rose.

"I suppose," the girl clipped, and stood to follow Hermione who was already rising and walking away.

A few moments later the two of them found one of the old classrooms off to the left from the first floor's main hall. It wasn't in use at the moment as most rooms at Hogwarts tended to be, so the desks were stacked neatly in the back of the room, chairs on top. They could see the thinnest layer of dust atop everything in the room, which implied even the house elves hadn't made it there to clean in some time.

It was a perfect room for a private talk.

"Now. What's this all about, Hermione?" Cho asked in her sharpest tone. She was straining to hold back her jealousy of the girl, while simultaneously trying not to care about her one way or another.

"Harry and I have a soul bond." Hermione said, simply, rolling her hand palm up as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"You... I… what?"

A soul bond? For a moment, the implications didn't really factor in, and she had no idea how to respond. A soul bond? That didn't actually happen. Sure she'd heard of it but everyone had heard at least one horror story about soul bonds. Uncle such-an-such suddenly developed one with his wife of fourty years and found out she'd been stealing money from her wealthy grandchild for the past twenty. A distant relative of a friend had developed one with his best friend, another man, and they'd grown to hate each other because both felt the same for the same girl. Silly stories that were almost fairy tale worthy.

But it was never real. It never actually happened to anyone you knew.

That led her to the next known truth of Soul Bonds. Then she started thinking about exactly what she and Harry had been doing last night. Her hands shot to cover her suddenly hanging jaw as the full implications of a soul bond crossed her memory. Soul bonded couples were able to feel whatever the other felt!

"T-that means you felt everything he–!" Sudden embarrassment flooded the Asian's mind. Tears wet her only recently dried eyes and against her will, she glared at the other girl. "You snoop!"

Hermione's smile became brittle and her eyes narrowed. "Really...?"

Cho's heart fluttered with embarrassment and resentment. Hermione had been spying! And Harry had not only allowed but clearly at least knew about her. Harry must have felt Hermione as strongly as he'd felt Cho!

'What am I… a distraction? A sideshow!' thought the distraught Ravenclaw.

"S-so, why are you still here?" Cho asked, barely keeping from rubbing herself to ward off the 'icky' feeling of what she perceived as being used.

"Pardon?" Hermione asked, no longer bothering to hide her irritation.

"Why are you here?" the Ravenclaw enunciated bitterly. She turned away hiding the tears from the other girl before they spilled beyond control. "You aren't the first pair of students to develop a soul bond and they have a system in place for it. Why haven't you been sent out as part of the soul exchange? Furinkan in Tokyo, or maybe Salem in America are far enough schools away to get rid of it."

"Wh-what? I hadn't been told that there was a system!" replied the shocked Gryffindor.

Cho favored the girl with her own half lidded glare. "Really...?" She drawled sarcastically in a way that made her emotions perfectly plain. "I find that hard to believe."

"N-No really!" Hermione insisted. "Dumbledore said that he might have to send one of us, but I didn't think there was actually a precedent," the girl puzzled to herself. "Harry… tends to be a trailblazer."

"Harry is a two timer! I don't care if you were in his head or not! He said your name. Not mine! It was you he was snogging last night and I don't want anything to do with either of you!" Cho burst, her emotions filling the room. She was in no mood for Hermione's pathetic attempt at humor.

"But I–! Harry doesn't–! No! It isn't like that Cho! Please listen–"

Angrily Cho stood and jerked the chamber door open and turned around to face Hermione one more time, the tears on her cheeks clearly visible.

"Stay away from me, and tell Harry the same! Mudblood!"

And with that the door slammed behind her leaving an utterly shocked Hermione sitting and staring blankly, too shocked to wipe away the woodchips that decorated her face.

Harry slammed his book down on his desk in potions, eliciting a loud bang that startled Ron and half the room. Harry didn't care though. Simply slamming his book around paled in comparison to what he really wanted to do.

"What's got your knickers in a bunch?" Ron asked after he'd shaken himself free of the shock.

"That… heartless bitch. How dare she!?"

Ron blinked. Then blinked again. Did Harry just say what he thought he'd said?

"Not Hermione, right? You, uhm. You're surely not talking about Hermione, are you?" He asked, almost timidly tapping his thumb on the desk. His worst fears were coming true already.

Harry met Ron's eyes and blinked. "What? No. Cho. She's… she's one of those! I mean. She, er, I made a mistake and Cho…! She didn't have to take it out on Hermione like that! I can't believe I ever even…" Harry trailed off with a snort of disgust.

Ron could only breathe a sigh of relief. Harry didn't hate Hermione. Thank Merlin! That was all he needed to hear. Then the rest of Harry's words filtered in.

"Wait, what? What did Cho do to Hermione?"

"She called her a mudblood! Sounded just like bloody Malfoy!" Harry hissed. "And all Hermione was trying to do was apologize on my behalf! I can't believe I– No! I'm glad she wants nothing to do with me. Or us! She can rot for all I care!"

"H-Harry… settle down okay mate? Its not all that bad. She's a girl after all. They fight like that. Meaner I mean," Ron said lowly, weirdly finding himself the voice of reason for once. In the back of his mind he bristled. If Malfoy had called Hermione that he wouldn't have hesitated to find the boy in an abandoned hallway and give him a dose of the itching torture Madam Umbridge had used on Zabini. But this was different. What was Harry going to do? Hit a girl? It just wasn't done.

Harry suddenly blinked, his smoldering visage perking up a little. Oddly the boy gave a pitying headshake to the redhead.

"Oh, wrong thing to say, Ron. Hermione's right ticked," the boy said, his earlier rage forgotten in light of the humor of Ron's misstep and Hermione's anger in the back of his mind.

"Ack! Er… Hermione! I didn't, ah!"

At that moment, the doors to the potions lab swung open to admit the girl in question herself. Ron met her eyes with a guilty expression.

Funny as it was, Harry sighed. Another Ron and Hermione fight in the making. He was getting a headache from always beings stuck in the middle of them.

"What exactly do you mean by that Ron Weasley?"

Class had not yet started and while a few students were there watching the trio with curious eyes, no one was really speaking. Snape had yet to make his usual sweeping entrance and would not do so for another five minutes or so. Hermione was yelling at Ron for his sexism, Harry was quietly bristling over his newfound hatred for Cho Chang. Once again anger had invaded the world.

The door opened once more and all eyes turned to the source of the sound and found, to their surprise, a very worried Mistress McGonagall.

"Mister Weasley. Please come with me. Immediately. Mister Potter, Miss Granger this concerns you as well. Leave your things, we must hurry."

The angry mood of the room's occupants died with the worry and anxiousness on the Transfiguration Professor's face. The woman was… terrified? Sad?

"Professor? What's happened?" Harry asked quickly, concern lighting his features.

"No time for questions. Just report immediately to the headmaster's office. I will meet you at the gargoyle momentarily with your sister and brothers," said the woman, her eyes focused, peculiarly on Ron.

"A-alright, Ma'am," the redhead stuttered.

Eyes wide, the Head of Gryffindor house shuffled the three out the door and took off towards the seventh year Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, presumably to get Fred and George.

Left standing alone outside the potions classroom, the three of them looked between each other, cluelessly asking if any of them knew what this was about. Their earlier anger, luckily, had been completely forgotten.

Worriedly, the three of them set off for the gargoyle.

Ron was having serious trouble keeping from crying.

Diagnostic spells showed display focuses and shining lights occasionally blinked around the bed of his comatose father, in his room at St. Mungo's. Before them and crouched over Arthur Weasley, Ron's sister Ginny bawled into the unconscious man's chest. Aligned on the other side of the bed were Fred and George Weasley. Neither looked themselves without their customary smiles.

At the foot stood a weeping Molly, and in the doorway stoic Percy bottled his own emotions. Even he was unable to remain completely emotionless. The bags under his eyes from many late nights spent working for the Minister did little for his ever-important image. For once, he didn't care.

"His… condition is critical. We managed to seal the wounds in his neck and chest before he bled out but we are having trouble identifying what is causing his organs to fail," a mediwitch was saying in the background, her barely sympathetic monotone an odd contrast to Ginny and Molly's sobs. Ron heard the words but they sounded as if they were underwater. His world was shaking. His fingers were numb.

Why was this happening? What could've done this…?

His dad? Attacked? Poisoned? Why…? Who would want to…?

But of course he knew the answer to that, as his eyes strayed across an equally dumbstruck Harry. He knew who and why, and could do nothing about either.

His vision was oddly blurred. He felt a girl wrap her arms around his waist, but the sensation was muted.

"Ron… He'll… He'll be okay. It'll be alright, okay?"

A lump formed in Ron's throat. He was guilty, but didn't know why. Could he have done something? Was he strong enough to have protected his father? Or maybe if he'd never been friends with Harry this wouldn't have…

No. This wasn't Harry's fault. But he felt guilty anyway, both for his inability to protect his father and the fact that he couldn't entirely crush the inner desire to blame Harry.

Slowly, he felt his arms wrap themselves unconsciously around the girl he loved. And let himself cry into her shoulder, guiltily wishing she were his father.

Hermione held Ron tight and close. Grief and sorrow and fear balled themselves into a tight ball in her chest, mirrored almost perfectly by Harry. Together they swam in the emotions, both trying and largely succeeding in quelling them.

All but one. Rage. While Ron let his emotions free, Hermione locked eyes with Harry, and thought only a solitary phrase.

"Get him, Harry. Get him."

Hard green eyes met hers with that same conviction she had felt in him long before the soul bond had shown her the proof. And she knew, certain and sure, the Dark Lord's days on this earth were numbered.

Their combined soul reached out across the earth, powered by deep magic neither could understand. They were not even aware.

Far away in an unplottable location, a being that could barely be called a man jerked awake. He snarled, for a moment enraged that someone would wake him. He only had a moment before a sudden presence gripped what passed for his heart.

"My lord?" questioned a skittish death eater who had been assigned to care for his needs.

Voldemort did not see him; did not even hear him. Instead, the dark lord's vision swam with the image of a pair of unyielding green eyes, curled in hatred.

And he felt fear.

Author's Notes:

Aaand CUT.

I'm pretty sure the scene with patroni happened several months after this in canon but that scene kinda stuck in my head and I wanted it here. Plus. Patronus is gonna be important in the near future.


If you want a REAL soul bond fic? One that knocks my little pittance out of the water? Pick up Percipacity's "A Mother in Law's Love." Now THAT is a funny ass soul bond fic. MB endorsed & approved.

To a certain specific reviewer who I will not name... *snicker* erm... No. No I... *hehe* I don't think that... heh. I don't think Hermaphrodites are the power he knows not. I just... *ahaha!* You wouldn't even LIKE that fic if I wrote it! *Hkkkk*

Well it looks like that's all for now. Once again, apologies for the long delay. I really have no excuse either. Life and shit. Lulz. Sorry to everyone who had to reread half the story to get caught back up. Wish me luck in getting the next chapter out faster and as always, I hope you enjoyed. If you did, or if you did not and have a reason you'd like to express to me, please leave a review!

Till' next!