A/N: This is another soul-bond story with an unusual twist – good people. Dumbledore is manipulative but good and caring and the Weasleys are just as nice. There still are some bad guys, though, just for the balance.
Warning: Includes sex scenes between minors. Read at your own discretion.
Disclaimer: As usual – I claim no ownership of the Harry Potter world and its characters. I'm only here to play with it for my fun and yours. The rights are still belonging to J.K. Rowling and her business associates. I only own the few original characters added by me and the plot.
The feast in the Great Hall was running high with everybody celebrating the victory over the monster from the Chamber of Secrets. Harry joined Ron at the Gryffindor table and smiled weakly at him.
"How's Ginny?" he asked.
"She'll be fine. Madam Pomfrey gave her a calming potion and some food and then put her to bed. Even Mom was convinced to go home", Ron answered between mouthfuls of food.
Harry loaded his plate, filled his cup and drank some. He was putting his cup down when the doors of the great hall opened and Hermione stepped in. Her eyes scanned the tables and locked on Harry. She started running toward him, screaming "You solved it! You solved it!"
Harry stood up to greet his friend. Hermione almost knocked him off his feet and then hugged him tightly. "I knew you would solve it!" she said breathlessly.
Harry returned her hug. His eyes focused on her face, on her beaming smile and on her sparkling eyes, so full of confidence in him, and finally full of life again, after being petrified for too long a time. He only saw her face. Everything else seemed to be a blur at that moment. He felt as if Hermione and he were illuminated by a beam of sunlight while everybody else was in the shade. Warmth started spreading through his body, emanating from where they touched, but as the warmth reached his head he was suddenly attacked by a severe pain. The pain was so brutal that it knocked him unconscious. He could barely hear Hermione's frightened cry and another scream that followed, one of fury and despair, before he passed out.
Harry opened his eyes and groaned. He was once again in the hospital wing. He then felt a small hand holding his. He knew whose hand it was even without looking.
"How do you feel, Harry?" Hermione asked him.
He turned his head towards her, noticing that the headmaster and his head of house were behind her. "I think I'm fine. Why am I here now?"
"We hugged, and then you suddenly fainted and a scream was heard, I don't know whose. Your scar started bleeding as well, so professor McGonagall brought you here."
Harry touched his forehead. He could feel his scar, but it was not hurting at all, not even that tiny bit he had always felt, as if reminding him of its existence.
Madam Pomfrey approached his bed. She scanned his head with her wand and seemed satisfied with the results. "You seem to be alright now. I suggest you have a good night's sleep and everything will turn just fine in the morning."
Harry sat on the bed. His head didn't ache and he didn't feel dizzy, so he turned and tried to stand up. He still felt fine, but his bangs fell over his eyes. Without thinking, he moved his hand to brush his hair aside, freeing it from Hermione's.
He knew immediately that it was wrong. A cold dread swept over him and he reached for her hand as soon as he could. Once they touched, he felt better at once. He noticed that Hermione's expression also changed from distress to relief.
"Would you mind joining me at my office?" the headmaster suggested.
"Albus! They need to eat first. Ms. Granger has not eaten since she was petrified and I believe Mr. Potter would more than welcome a proper meal," professor McGonagall said.
"Don't worry, Minerva. I'll make sure they eat their fill before I bother them any further." He turned back to his pupils. "Would you please follow me?"
They followed him silently to his office, still holding hands. Dumbledore noticed, but didn't comment. Once they arrived, he conjured a dining table and two chairs. They moved the chairs closer without saying a word and sat down. Albus made the food appear on the table and let them eat, studying their behavior closely through half-closed eyelids.
"You are probably wondering why I brought you here," he said when they finished eating.
They both nodded.
"Do you know what happened in the great hall?"
Nobody answered. Dumbledore smiled. "It was something very few are privileged to see even once. I never thought I'll see it twice. It was, if I'm not mistaken, a soul bond."
Hermione opened her eyes wide with surprise while Harry looked confused.
"I see, Ms. Granger, that you already know what I'm talking about, or should I say Mrs. Potter?"
Harry groaned with surprise, but Hermione pressed his hand, calming him down.
Dumbledore smiled again. "Would you like to explain this, or would you prefer that I do it?"
Hermione switched into her lecture mode. "A soul bond is one of the strongest magical bonds, much stronger than the usual marriage bonds. Soul bound couples are considered married by wizarding laws."
"You mean we are married?" Harry asked in disbelief.
"If we are truly soul bound, then we are legally married," Hermione answered. Her expression changed at once, as her own words struck home. She looked terrified first, then calmed down and finally she grinned. "I believe I may like it," she added.
Dumbledore spoke again. "It seems like Mrs. Potter is right, as usual. A soul bond, especially one which happens spontaneously, is extremely rare and highly cherished. It makes the couple married by wizarding law, and in your case – it also emancipates you, giving you the full rights and obligations of adults. I've called you here in order to explain the situation to you as well as to try and understand why this has happened. I also expect you to receive letters from the ministry and from Gringotts confirming your bond. I didn't want you to open them near other students, causing more rumors."
The children were still holding hands, as they were doing since being at the hospital wing. They even managed to finish their meal without letting go of each other's hand – Albus considered it quite an achievement. "Can any of you tell me what happened in the great hall?"
The children looked at each other as if conversing silently, before Harry responded. "Hermione just hugged me, the way she does whenever we meet after a long separation. I then felt as if we were suddenly alone, but in a good way, and I felt warmth spreading from where we were touching. Once the warmth reached my forehead I suddenly felt an immense pain like I've never felt before and then I found myself in the hospital bed."
The headmaster thought for a brief moment. "Have you heard the scream?"
"No, the other one."
"It was awful. Now that I think of it, it sounded like when Voldemort left Quirrel last year or when I stabbed the diary earlier today."
Albus looked pensive. "Very interesting..."
He noticed their hands once again. "Why do you keep holding hands?"
They both blushed. "I feel that I need to touch her, to know she's fine after being petrified for so long," Harry said.
"When I let his hand go, I felt as if I was becoming ill. I felt well again once I touched him," Hermione explained, averting her eyes.
The headmaster brushed his beard with his hand. "That adds some complications..."
He thought some more before speaking again. "Oh, well... I should have expected it at your age..."
"What do you mean, professor?" Hermione asked.
He smiled at her. "Most soul bonds happen when the couples are older and they usually involve... intimate contact between the two..."
"You mean sexual intercourse?"
"Yes, Mrs. Potter. That's exactly what I mean. Yet you both are too young for that to occur and the magic of the bond forces you to be close differently, so it seems."
"Will we need to touch for the foreseeable future?"
He smiled again. "I don't think so. Your bond only needs to complete. Once it completes, you will not need to touch much more than any other couple."
"Then, how long will it take?"
"That, unfortunately, I don't know. Hopefully it will only take a few days..."
"Days?! Then how are we supposed to shower or use the loo?" Her cheeks were reddening at the thought.
"I can't really tell you. I assume you'll have to find your own way, yet I don't think it will be a problem. After all, you will be sleeping together."
Hermione's face was now hot red, and even Harry started blushing. This made the headmaster chuckle.
"Married couples normally sleep together, you know..."
They were interrupted by two owls which flew through the open window, landing in front of the couple. Albus was fascinated at the coordination the youngsters needed in order to take the letters from the owls while still holding hands.
"It's from the ministry," Harry said, continuing to read the letter loudly, "Dear Mr. Potter, we are glad to acknowledge your soul-bond with Mrs. Hermione Potter, nee Granger as of today at 20:12. We wish you both happy and fertile marriage. The department for personal status registration."
"Mine reads the same," confirmed Hermione, blushing again at the implication of "fertile".
"Well, Mr. and Mrs. Potter, I believe we should find a nuptial apartment for you," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling.
Hermione frowned. "Won't that attract unwanted attention?"
"Yes, you're right," the headmaster said. "I think we may need to give separate lodging to all involved with the Basilisk. That would not make you two stand out."
He went to the fireplace to floo-call his deputy. While he was busy, two more owls landed, carrying identical letters: "Gringotts wizarding bank congratulates you, Lord and Lady Potter, for your soul-bond and for your emancipation. You are also invited to meet your account manager at your earliest convenience. May your enemies perish and your gold multiply, Senior account manager Crushbone."
"Lord Potter?" Harry wondered aloud.
"Of course, Harry. You come from an old and noble family and being the only surviving member of the family makes you the head of this noble family, hence – Lord Potter."
"Well said, Lady Potter, although this makes me wonder where you have gained all this knowledge from," the headmaster commented, joining them. "Minerva will make sure your lodging is ready and I suggest you turn in for a good night's sleep. You may also consider wearing the bare minimum for bed, as it will assure more skin contact, helping the bond complete faster."
Harry and Hermione sat silently for another moment, not knowing what to say. They felt like they had millions of questions in their minds, but they weren't able to ask. They simply felt overwhelmed.