Disclaimer: Don't own them, well, I'll take Miranda, the Goddess of love.
A/N: Harry Hermione story. Mild Ron, Ginny and Dumbledore bashing (remember that anything less than my Champion's story is mild.) Time Travel Fic.
I would like to thank Mommalminer who is taking the time to correct my abuse of the English language. The revised chapters are being posted as they are completed.
Harry Potter awoke with a start, unsure where or, even when, it was. Slowly opening his eyes, he could just make out the fuzzy outline of a bed and room he hadn't slept in almost a year, but knew very well. As he continued to fight off the sluggish sleepy feeling that still permeated his body, the memories of the last couple of days came back to him. Gringotts bank where they had stolen Hufflepuff's Cup from Bellatrix's vault and had escaped on a dragon, the near capture in Hogsmeade, the passage to the Room of Requirement, the reinforcements showing up, the desperate search for the last Horcrux, the battle, the walk into the Forbidden Forest, Voldemort casting the killing curse, the talk with Dumbledore, and the final showdown with the Riddle. It all came back to Harry. Voldemort was dead. He was free, finally. Then he remembered the bodies lying in death he had seen. The faces of Remus, Tonks, Fred, Dobby, Hedwig, Dumbledore and even little Colin Creevey swam in front of his face, and a wave of guilt swept over Harry. "Why am I alive and so many people dead?" He sighed.
As Harry continued to lament over the deaths of so many of his friends, he finally realized someone was tapping lightly on the door. Harry recognized that it must have been that noise that had awoken him. He wasn't sure if he was ready to talk to anyone yet, but then he heard a voice calling quietly, "Harry, it's me. Are you awake?" The voice was like the sun on a cloudy day as it pierced Harry's gloom. The thought of the voice's owner, Hermione Granger, brought a small smile to his face. "Yes, you can come in," Harry called as he reached for his glasses. It was only as the covers shifted that he remembered that he hadn't had any pajamas to put on the previous night, and didn't want to ask any house elves to help since they had been fighting as well. After Harry had showered, he had gone to bed wearing nothing. He quickly pulled the covers up higher as Hermione made her way to his bedside and sat down next to hm.
"Hello, Harry," Hermione said looking at one of her two best friends. "How are you feeling?"
"Happy, sad, tired…I don't really know," Harry replied honestly. "Too much, too fast, I guess."
"Yes, I know what you mean," She said. "I can't believe it's finally over."
"Have you been downstairs yet?"
"A little bit ago," Hermione replied. "It's strange. People want to celebrate, but with all the deaths it just doesn't seem right."
"Did you see the Weasleys?" Harry asked.
Hermione nodded. "They were just getting ready to take Fr… to go back to the Burrow."
The remembrance of Fred Weasley dying the night before flashed into Harry's mind, and he had to choke back the wetness that tried to invade his eyes. The thought of Fred brought his mind to their other friend. "Ron's going with them?"
Hermione nodded again. "And Ginny is too, though she wanted to come up and say good bye to you."
"I'll see her soon enough...just not ready yet," Harry replied as he remembered passing Ginny on his way to meet Voldemort.
"I'm sure she'll understand," Hermione replied.
Harry remembered something from the previous evening. "So you and Ron?"
"I guess...maybe," Hermione said hesitantly. She then blushed and looked away as she continued, "He asked me to be his girlfriend this morning."
"And?" Harry asked. "You know he likes you."
"I know. It's…it's…well," Hermione started and her blush deepened. "I really shouldn't bother you," She got up from the bed. "It's really not that important. I'll see you downstairs soon?"
Harry's hand shot out from his side and grabbed her wrist as she turned. "What is it Hermione? What's bothering you? You know there's nothing you can't talk to me about," Harry said as his emerald green eyes bore into Hermione's almond ones. "We've been through too much over too long of a time."
"Not this...not now. It's...it's personal and it concerns...well, never mind," Hermione replied. "Let's talk about something else."
"Hermione, please?" Harry begged.
Hermione hesitated for a couple of seconds, but then sat back down on the bed. "You tell me something personal first then, Harry. Are you getting back with Ginny?"
Harry thoughts returned to the youngest Weasley. Again he remembered his solitary walk toward the forest, and passing her in the dark as he went to face Voldemort; he remembered thinking of her as Voldemort cast the killing curse, and remembered her fighting Bellatrix with Hermione and Luna's help, but this morning something was different. "I don't know," He answered truthfully.
"So right now she isn't your girlfriend?" Hermione asked with a questioning look in her eyes.
"I guess not. Well, technically speaking," Harry answered trying to figure out where this was going.
"Then I want a single favor from you, Harry," Hermione said.
"You know I'd do anything for you, Hermione."
"This you might have a problem with, so I want you to promise me you'll do it before I tell you what it is."
Harry knew Hermione had saved his life more times than he could count in the last year. That they had escaped from the wedding, from Bathilda Bagshot's home, and the Lovegood's home all were because of her. Over the last seven years, the trust they had built was beyond measure. Looking at his friend, he nodded.
"No, Harry, I want you to tell me that you'll do it," Hermione insisted.
"Okay, Hermione. Whatever favor you request, if it is in my power to grant, I shall," Harry agreed.
Hermione gave a small smile, but still hesitated. Finally, she continued. "First you have to promise not to laugh at me."
"I would never laugh at you, Hermione. I'm not…" Harry was about to say Ron, but realized insulting her boyfriend might not be the best choice of words.
"OK, here goes, then," She took a deep breath before continuing. "I've had a particular dream ever so often since our first year," Hermione started as her cheeks reddened. "It's…well it's me being kissed by someone."
"Well, Ron kissed you last night, or I should say you kissed him."
"Shh…let me finish, this is hard to do, Harry," Hermione replied as her cheeks reddened. "And, yes, I know I kissed Ron last night, and that's some of the problem," She paused for a second as she took another breath. "You see, in my dream, the kiss is a magical kiss. You know, like the ones you read about in fairy tales, where the couple is lost in the kiss as a golden glow surround them."
"Sounds...interesting," Harry said hesitantly. "But what does this have to do with me?"
Hermione looked at the scarlet curtains for a second then she sighed and her eyes found Harry's again. "When I kissed Ron yesterday, it wasn't magical, there was nothing; no feelings, no magic...nothing. It was just two pairs of lips pressed together, and frankly, his breath stunk."
"Again what does this have to do with me?" Harry asked, as they were treading into a subject he wasn't comfortable talking about.
"I...I had that dream again last night," Hermione explained. "Always before, I never could see who was kissing me, but last night…well, last night I saw him; I saw who it was."
Hermione bit her lower lip for a second as she mentally braced herself. Finally she continued. "It was you, Harry," Hermione held up her hand as Harry started to protest. "I know, Harry, it was a dream. But this dream...it's always been so real that I thought... I thought it would really happen someday."
"I…I want you to kiss me. That's my favor, that's all I ask for."
"I need this, Harry. I can't be with Ron with that dream hanging in my subconscious," Hermione exclaimed. "Kiss me, and prove to me the dream is nothing but that, a dream. Kiss me once, like you kiss Ginny. I promise, it will not affect our friendship."
Harry started to object, but he could see the look in Hermione's eyes, and he knew he'd promised her. "Are you really sure?"
"Please, Harry. I...I wouldn't ask if I didn't need to know."
"When do you want to do this?"
"I...I thought now," Hermione replied.
"Right now?" Harry asked incredulously.
"It might be our only chance. Once we go downstairs, we're going to be surrounded by well-wishers and reporters. I doubt we'll get another chance to be alone for a while, and I owe Ron an answer soon."
Harry could only stare at his friend. Finally he nodded. ""Okay, but I need to go brush my teeth first. If I'm going to kiss you, I don't want my breath to stink." The last he said with a small smile.
"Oh, thank you, Harry," Hermione exclaimed as she threw her arms around Harry and pulled him into hug. She then sat back up and looked at her friend. "I'm sorry if you're uncomfortable doing this. I know I'm not anywhere close to being as pretty as Ginny or Cho, but…" she didn't get to finish her statement as Harry's finger found her lips to silence her.
"Hermione, you are absolutely as beautiful as Ginny, and in some ways even more beautiful," Harry replied.
Hermione blushed, "Thanks, Harry, but you don't have to say that. I know I'm pretty plain."
Harry smiled at his friend. "I'm not just saying that, Hermione. I think my jaw is still loose from how far it dropped seeing you at the Yule Ball," It was the only bright spot of a very disastrous evening in their fourth year. "Ron will be very lucky indeed to have you."
"Thank you, Harry. Ginny is very lucky as well," Hermione said, as her eyes continued to be focused on Harry. A small voice in the back of her mind couldn't help but ask. "Does he really think I'm pretty?"
"Well let's get this over with. I'll run brush my teeth and be right back," Harry said. "Then I guess I should go downstairs sometime." The last said with a bit of hesitancy.
"Okay, Harry," Hermione replied as she continued to look at her best friend.
"Uh...Hermione I, well I didn't have any bed clothes last night, and, well…" Harry stammered.
Hermione was still thinking about the compliments Harry had said to her, and it took a few seconds for his words filtered in. "Oh…then you're…" Hermione looked at Harry's bare chest and realized that it was more than his chest that was bare under the covers.
She stared at him a few more seconds, her cheeks blazing red before her mind reengaged. "Oh, here," She reached into her beaded bag she had carried all over the country in the last year and pulled out a set of clothes for him. "I'll step outside for a couple of minutes."
Five minutes later, the two of them were back sitting on Harry's bed facing each other. "Are you really sure you want to do this?" Harry asked again, sighing heavily.
"Yes, Harry. Just one kiss and we go back to being best friends and get on with our lives."
"Okay, well here goes," Harry saw Hermione's eyes close as he leaned closer to her. He hesitated briefly when his lips were only an inch away from hers, but then he closed final distance. As their lips touched a pure sound seemed to emerge from the very air around them; a sound that reminded both of them of the song of a Phoenix. Though each had their eyes closed, their eyelids blossomed with light as a golden glow enveloped them, but soon they only noticed each other. The kiss deepen, lips parted and tongues intertwined in a soft battle. The thoughts of the past days, and even their lives seemed to disappear, as the kiss continued. Nothing felt as perfect as the others lips upon their own.
Finally, the kiss ended, and the two of them stared into the eyes of each other. Nothing else could be seen, but soon they realized it was more that there was actually nothing around them to see. They were no longer in Gryffindor tower, but in a room of pure white.
"What happened?" Hermione asked still slightly dazed from the power of the kiss she'd just received.
Harry looked around and then back at Hermione, who was standing there totally nude. "Uh, Hermione, you're not wearing any clothes."
That statement fully reengaged Hermione brain as she looked down at herself. An arm went immediately over her ample breasts, while her other hand moved to cover her privates. Looking over at Harry, she got a look at what he didn't let her see earlier. "Neither are you, Harry."
Harry's hands immediately covered up his privates as well, but unfortunately he had spent too much time admiring Hermione that his body had responded in a way that made covering difficult. He turned away from Hermione to reduce his embarrassment. As he tried not to return his gaze to Hermione's body, he started looking around. An odd familiarity of the room struck him. It took him a second recognize what it reminded him of. "This looks similar to the place I saw Dumbledore last night. Or at least, feels like the same place."
"When you died? I mean..." Hermione's voice trailed off as she realized how Harry must feel about that experience.
"Yeah. I mean, it feels the same anyway. "
"So, we died?" Hermione asked. "We survived Voldemort, and died while sharing a kiss?"
"I don't know. Dumbledore said there was another step, a way to go on if you're dead," Harry explained. As he contemplated the experience from the previous night, he remembered something else. He quickly thought of having clothes to wear, and sighed in relief when a bundle appeared. "Think of wanting clothes, Hermione," Harry instructed his friend as he quickly started pulling on the pants and shirt.
"What…oh," Hermione replied and a few second later another pile of clothes appeared.
Harry turned to Hermione once she had her clothes on, while still keeping his hands in front of his pants. "Well, was that the kiss you wanted?"
"Uh…yeah...it was very…uh…magical," She replied, thinking of the entire body sensation that the kiss had caused. She could still feel tingling throughout her extremities and other more central spots of her body. She also knew it had been just like her dream.
"FINALLY!" A voice ranged out as a petite woman appeared in front of them. "About bloody time too."
"Finally what?" Harry asked as he reached for his wand that was not with him. "And who are you, and where are we?"
"Finally, you two kissed and sealed your soul bond," The woman answered. "I have been trying to get that kiss out of you two for almost seven years," The woman's hands went to her temples as if trying to massage a headache away. "Seven long, long years."
"Soul Bond? What's that?" Hermione asked.
"First things first, I am Miranda, Goddess of Love," The petite woman said.
"Goddess of Love? You're joking right? Even if you were a Goddess, the Goddess of Love is Aphrodite, or Venus, or even Hathor," Hermione replied.
"Hmmp. Though I do like to kid from time to time, I am most certainly not joking now. Yes, I am the Goddess of Love. As for my name, do you think I don't know it? It's Miranda. Want me to spell it for you? I can't help it if the poets of your societies didn't like Miranda. Hard to rhyme Miranda with anything, they said, we'll just call her 'Venus'. Bloody stupid minstrels."
"As for where you are," she turned to Harry, "You were correct when you said it reminded you of where you met that old goat, Dumbledore. Idiot shouldn't have been there last night, anyway. It was supposed to have been your mother. Conniving, manipulative bastard got those twinkling eyes onto his guardian angel and wham…he gets to greet you. Got the entire Guardian Angel department in an uproar."
"My mother?" Harry asked.
"Yes, Lily Evans Potter," Miranda replied obviously still annoyed. "And as to where you are, this is like an antechamber to our Realm; I guess what you would call Heaven."
"So we are dead?" Hermione asked.
"Oh no, you're not dead, but we gods, and those who have passed on, cannot go back to the physical world. We can only interact in this place between the two," Miranda explained. "Of course I've been tempted to kill the both of you for the last five years. Do you know how many times I've had to regrow my hair because you caused me to pull it out by the roots?"
"Uh...no," Harry replied nervously. "How did we do that?"
"By not giving each other a kiss on the lips and getting your souls bonded many years ago as it was supposed to have been. I mean really, every year, year after year. It really has been very...annoying."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked. "And what is this soul bond?"
"I mean, I've set you two up time and again to kiss. Your first year, I know, eleven and twelve is a little young, but when it comes to soul bonds the earlier the better you know, gives you time to grow into it," Miranda explained. "Now where was I? Oh yeah, your first year, Hermione, you had your arms around him..." Miranda mimicked with her arms outstretched. "ALL you had to do was say the words I gave you. Do you remember them? Friendship, and Bravery, AND LOVE. WHY DIDN'T YOU FINISH IT! Harry would have kissed you at that moment."
"I..well, I thought it would embarrass him," Hermione said, remembering the word she was going to say to him all those years ago. "He would have kissed me?"
Miranda mumbled to herself for a couple of seconds before replying. "Yes, he would have. Harry had never been told he was loved. At least, he doesn't remember it anyway. His mother and father said it quite often," Miranda shook her head before she glared at Hermione again. "If you had brought that word out...LOVE...he would have given you a small kiss."
"Oh, I didn't know."
The Goddess of Love rolled her eyes. "They never know. I can hit them with a stick with the word 'LOVE' written on it, and they still never know," She muttered. She then look back at Harry and Hermione, "And that second year..."
Harry had opened his mouth to say something.
"No, kissing someone when they are petrified does not count," Miranda said to him. "They have to KNOW they're being kissed."
Hermione whirled around to face Harry. "You kissed me when I was petrified?"
Harry blushed as he nodded. "I...uh…well all the fairy tales said if you kiss the beautiful girl she wakes up...so...I thought maybe if I kissed you..." Harry shrugged as his blush grew deeper, remembering that time when he was so young. "I...I know it was stupid but...I shouldn't have. I'm sorry."
Hermione smiled at Harry. "Don't be. I just wished I had known."
"What good would that have done?" Miranda asked, "A month later you rushed into his arms when you were unpetrified, and I thought for sure the kiss was coming, but no, not a single bloody kiss."
"We were in front of Ron and the whole Great Hall," Harry exclaimed.
"Oh, don't get me started on the red heads, either of them. Just don't go there," Miranda said with a glare.
"Ron and who? Ginny?" Harry asked.
"Yes, those two, but I'll come back to them in a few minutes," Miranda said. "Now where was I? Oh yes, third year, that incident with the broom. If that stupid red-headed idiot hadn't blown it out of proportion, your anger at Hermione would have went away very shortly. You'd have realized that it was her caring for you that led her to tell McGonagall. I had a wonderful get back together plan that would have had you two sharing that first kiss. But, no, blast it. I was foiled again by the walking red-headed stomach. Then later, when you were off trying to rescue the hippogriff and Sirius; you had so many chances. I had my bottle of champagne ready to go…but no," She ran her fingers through her hair before she continued. "I ended up ripping eight handfuls of hair out that night AND smashing the bottle of champagne on the floor," She glared at them again. "And it was bloody good champagne."
"Why do you keep insulting Ron?" Harry asked. "He's been a good friend."
"Really? A good friend? He has single handedly - well he, his sister and that silver-bearded manipulator - kept you from achieving your soul mate and your potential, but we'll get back to them in a while," Miranda said. "Now, fourth year; ah, yes, the Triwizard tournament. I celebrated for hours when that 'friend'," Miranda's voice dripped in sarcasm at the word, "left you. Finally, I had you two together. How many hours did you spend together during that time? But this time I blame you, Hermione. You pushed Harry too much into the Library. If you had just spent a little more social time with him, he would have got his mind off of that Cho person and onto you…AAARRGGGGHHHH" Miranda hands had reached up to her hair before she regained her composure. "Then there was the Yule Ball. I am not even going to comment on that one. But I bet you feel foolish now in not asking Hermione, don't you, Harry?"
Harry looked over at Hermione as he remembered how beautiful she was that night. "Yeah, I do," He admitted.
Hermione head snapped up at that comment as she stared questioningly at her best friend. "You do? If we had to do it all again, you'd ask me?"
"Yes, I would, without a doubt," Harry replied without a bit of hesitation.
"Well, so much for that perfect vision in hindsight. Unfortunately, you're bloody blind when looking forward," Miranda continued. "But before the Yule Ball, there was that first task, when it was over you," She was glaring at Hermione again, "just had to bring the red-headed idiot back with you after the dragon, didn't you?"
"You're talking about my potential boyfriend," Hermione complained.
"Really? Potential boyfriend? After that kiss? Haven't you been listening to me? You and Harry are soul mates."
"What does that mean?" Hermione asked in frustration. "You keep saying it, but not explaining it."
"Later, I'm on a good tirade here," Miranda replied dismissing her question with a wave of her hand. "Now, after that first task, if the red-headed 'friend' hadn't followed you, the kiss would have happened right then and there," Miranda threw her hands up in the air. "There went another four handfuls of hair. We already covered the Yule Ball, and how in the world did Ron Weasley go from being an idiot, to the thing you would miss the most in a couple of months?" Miranda was now glaring at Harry. "You do realize half the students in the stands wondered if you were gay after that, don't you?"
"Well, they did. Not that is a bad thing, but that is not the love I had destined for you..." Miranda said with a shake of her head and a sigh. "Now I won't even mention the third task and what happened afterwards, but, Hermione, do you remember the train station? The kiss on the cheek? Three inches away from the lips, come on, three bloody inches and it would have been perfect. I tried my best to get Harry to turn his head at just the right moment. Damn that noble streak in him."
"I was just trying to show him I cared."
"But then you must have stopped, since you let that idiot of a Headmaster dictate what you would tell Harry," Miranda replied is disdain. "Just when he needed his friends the most; when he had watched someone die before his eyes; a person who died because Harry was trying to be fair, his friends were not to be found. You basically ignored him."
"I...I...he, I mean the Headmaster said we couldn't tell him anything."
Miranda shook her head and turned to Harry. "Harry, why didn't you ever push to know why you had to keep going back to the Dursleys? Why not question why the Headmaster of your school had any say on what you did? How he could leave you after you witnessing Cedric's death to a life of isolation is beyond me. Bloody Greater Good."
"I don't know," Harry admitted. "I...I just thought it had to be that way."
"But it still made you angry, didn't it?" Miranda asked. "To be left alone and uninformed."
"Yes," Harry said as he remembered that summer.
"But, who should you've been angry with? Your friends, or the idiot who forbade them to write."
"The id...I mean Dumbledore," Harry replied guiltily. He turned to Hermione. "I'm sorry. I really shouldn't have taken it out on you."
"You're right, you shouldn't have," Miranda growled. "I had it all set up, you would have been kissing Hermione the day you arrived at the Black home, but no, you had all this misdirected anger at her. Do you know how much hair I lost that day? Too bloody much," The Goddess of Love looked at Hermione, "Though you should have been writing to Harry more. You could have figured out a way to tell Harry some things without the Headmaster finding out."
"But...but Dumbledore said not too," Hermione replied, looking somewhat bashful.
Miranda just shook her head. "I've got to deal with that as well," she muttered under her breath. "That fifth year was a mess, but Hermione, if you could have seen the look on Harry's face when that Death Eater hit you with that curse, you would never doubt he was in love with you."
"In love with me? Harry?" Hermione asked as she glanced over at Harry. "But…."
"I'm getting ahead of myself," Miranda replied, cutting Hermione off. "But, I guess I'm finished with my tirade anyway. Time to move on to the Weasleys next since they had the most to do with the rest of the time."
"What about them?" Harry asked.
"Let's just say you two ending up with them was not a case of finding true love," Miranda responded.
"What? But...they wouldn't? But...you don't mean they used love potions on us?" Hermione argued.
"Oh no, they knew that you'd sniff out a love potion in a heartbeat Hermione," The Goddess of Love explained. "But they gave you something far worse; something that almost cost you two more than your soul bond. It almost cost you your friendship."
"Our friendship?" Hermione asked as she glanced at Harry.
"Tell me, why would you have been jealous of Lavender Brown?"
"Be...because I fancied Ron," Hermione answered. "And...and..."
"You fancied a young man who always argued with you about things that are at the core of your beliefs? A young man who made it habit of calling you mental when you disagreed with him?"
"Well yeah. I mean, he is uh…nice, in a way," Hermione was struggling to figure out exactly what she saw in Ron.
"Nice in the way he belittles what you love?" Miranda asked. "Tries to cut you down so his ineptitude seems impressive to himself."
"Well…" Hermione answered very weakly.
"No, what you suffered from was a jealousy potion, keyed to the red-head," Miranda said. "You obviously must have had a reason to be jealous of Miss Brown right? So your logical mind figured out you must like Ron Weasley. Rather a good plan too. They used the potion for a while, stopped using it, and let your mind take over. Of course, Ronald didn't come up with it. That was," The Goddess looked at Harry, "your girlfriend."
"Who? Ginny? But why?"
"Because she wanted you, and you were way to close to Hermione for her comfort. Of course you got your own dose of jealousy potion, keyed to her."
"That monster that kept cropping up in your chest when you saw Ginny with someone else?" Miranda asked. "You didn't think that was love did you? Love is wanting someone to be happy no matter what it costs you. No, that feeling you felt was jealousy, and artificial jealousy at that."
"But you said it almost cost Hermione and me our friendship," Harry said.
"The book," Hermione said softly. "That bloody Half-Blood Prince book."
"You were jealous of it, weren't you?" Miranda asked. "Harry finally starts doing well in a potions class, and you get jealous? Does that really sound like you after five years of pestering him to do better?"
"No," Hermione admitted. "But it wasn't his own work.." She stopped as she considered that year.
"You realize it now don't you?" Miranda asked. "Notes in a book to better explain a potion? Is that really something to be jealous of? Many people do that. It wasn't like Harry was buying potions from an apothecary and turning them in as his own work, was it?"
"I...I.." Hermione started but then after a sigh. "No, it wasn't."
"Of course, you being jealous of a book was just a side effect of the potions. You see, they, or I should say Ginny, had made one huge batch of the jealousy potion and then separated it into exactly the same size dosages," The goddess explained. "She didn't account for the weight difference between you and Harry, so your jealousy was more extreme and emotional, especially when you add in your time of the month. That's what caused the jealousy to bleed over to that book."
"I…I" Hermione sputtered hopelessly as she tried to figure out why she had not noticed.
"I go to all that trouble to set up that pun, and neither of you laughed. Bled over? Your time of the month…" Miranda sighed. "Nevermind. Anyway, your girlfriend and your future boyfriend were feeding you jealousy potions, and as soon as they broke up with their respective partners, of course you were interested in them. If not, then why were you jealous?"
"But Ron's always been there for us," Hermione insisted.
"He has?" Miranda asked with a smirk. "Tell me about those times?"
"Just a few months ago he saved my life," Harry exploded in defense of his first friend. "He saved me from drowning in that pond."
"Yes, he did," The Goddess agreed, "Wow, he jumped into a pond of WATER and pulled you out," The Goddess looked thoughtful as she lightly tapped a foot before continuing. "Not much risking his life there, yes the water was a bit cold, but did he have to fight a monster to save you? Oh that's right; he just had to cut a necklace off your neck. For that act of 'heroism'," Again the sarcasm was very evident, "he is immediately back in your good graces, after spending months warm and fed at his brother's house, while you two continued to suffer from cold and hunger."
"What about the troll?" Hermione argued.
"First of all, he basically had to be dragged along to help you," Miranda explained. "But even when he was there, did he move more than five feet away from the door?"
"Well I don't think so, but.."
"But nothing. If that troll had actually taken a step in his direction, he would have been out of there in a heartbeat."
What about when he sacrificed himself in the chess game, when we were after the stone?" Hermione asked.
"Did he really? Think back to that game. Did the black pieces get killed? No, they were dragged off the board where they huddled along the back wall. They weren't dead. Ron knew that. Remember, he's been playing Wizard's chess all of his life. He knew the pieces never 'die'. So was it truly a sacrifice on his part, or his way of getting out of the adventure in one piece? Did either of you check on him at the time? (A/N in the book, which I write from, the white queen drags Ron away and Harry and Hermione go on without checking on him unlike the movie)."
"He was unconscious when I went back for him," Hermione insisted.
"Cuts? Blood? Lump on the head?" Miranda asked.
"No," Hermione admitted as she searched her mind. "I don't think so and Madam Pomfrey didn't find anything. But...but it took a while for me to get him to wake up."
"I'll let you in on a secret; he was faking it. He was afraid you had come back to convince him to follow you. He only 'woke up' once you mentioned going back for help."
"HE WHAT?" Hermione exploded. "That could have cost Harry his life."
"Yes, it could have. And if it had, you'd have been down your soul mate, and the world down its Chosen One," Miranda replied. She turned her gaze back to Harry. "Since we're discussing the first year, do you remember what Ronald saw in the Mirror of Erised?"
Harry thought back to that night in their first year. "Yeah he saw himself Head Boy and Quidditch Captain."
"Now, in the years since he saw those things as what he truly desires, did he do a single thing to try to achieve those goals? Well, I guess he did talk Quidditch enough, but did he lift a single book he didn't have to? And when he was made Prefect, did he do the job well so he would have a chance at Head Boy?"
"But he did criticize those who did try to do better, like your soul mate, didn't he? He kept trying to make himself better by pretending those around him were worse them him. Unfortunately, some of that rubbed off on you, Harry."
Harry opened his mouth to reply and closed it because he couldn't argue.
"You do know that his friendship was originally setup, don't you?" Miranda asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Do you remember how you first met the Weasleys?"
"At the station, I couldn't find out how to get on the platform, and Mrs. Weasley helped me when I asked her."
"But how did you know you could ask her for help?"
"I overheard Mrs. Weasley mentioning muggles, which Hagrid had said was a magical world word," Harry replied. "She was saying she couldn't remember the platform number, Ginny had to tell her it was nine and three quarters."
Hermione's hand shot to her mouth. "It was set up, wasn't it?" She asked.
"What do you mean?"
"I really wish you'd read 'Hogwarts: A History!' someday, Harry. The train has always, and I mean ALWAYS, left from Platform nine and three quarters. There are no other magical platforms at Kings Cross."
"Then why would Molly Weasley, who has been sending her kids to Hogwarts for over eight years, not remember the number? That's at least four times a year she goes there, including Christmas break. Then, of course, there is the seven years she went to Hogwarts herself. Could you imagine ever forgetting what the platform number is?"
"No," Harry admitted. "So they were doing it for me."
"Exactly, Harry," Miranda said.
"So his friendship was faked all of these years?"
"No, but the Manipulator arranged for you two to be put together early in hopes of you two becoming friends. He wanted you influenced by a family he himself influenced. I have nothing against Molly Weasley, except her overbearing motherness, but that's beside the point. I had planned on your soul mate meeting you on the train first. She would have come into the car looking for that toad, seeing you alone, she would have struck up a conversation and you two would have become friends before ever making it to Hogwarts. You would have been more inclined to follow Hermione's studying habits instead of Ron's."
"Okay, so Ron wasn't Harry's best influence, can you explain the soul mate stuff now?" Hermione asked.
"Of course, dear," Miranda replied. "But before I do, may I ask if you liked the kiss? Was it everything your dream promised?"
"You knew about my dreams?"
"Who do you think has been sending them to you," Miranda asked with a smile. "Ever since you met Harry, I've sent those dreams to you. Each time the dream showed Harry, but your subconscious has always prevented you from seeing who was kissing you."
"But last night..."
"Last night, you were so exhausted while all the dangers you had experienced were over, so your subconscious was wide open. You finally saw the whole dream as it should have been. So did you like the kiss?"
Hermione blushed as she looked at Harry. "Yes, uh...very much so. It was everything I dreamed it would be."
"Why didn't you send similar dreams to me?" Harry asked.
"That bloody horcrux you had in your head, of course," Miranda said. "Nasty magic. All I needed was for Voldemort to get a dream of kissing Hermione. Of course," She added with a wry smile, "that might have caused his head to explode."
Hermione paled severely at the thought of Voldemort imagining kissing her.
"Now as for what a Soul Mate is; well, every so often I can see into the future and find those cases where love can play an extremely important part in major events in time," Miranda explained. "In this case, I saw the importance of Harry in the time stream."
"Yes, dear, the prophecy; it was in the time stream years before Trelawney spit it out," Miranda said and continued. "In those cases, I search for the one person whose love would match perfectly with the one that is in need of the love. Once I find the person, in this case it was you, Hermione, though at the time you were still a thought in your parents mind, and Harry wasn't even that, I magically bind their futures as much as I can. The final binding happens at the first kiss between the two. For the need was so great in this case I went to such lengths to get you two together."
"As I said, the prophecy. You needed help and love."
"But it's too late now. Voldemort is dead."
"And at what cost?" Miranda asked softly.
Harry thought of all the bodies that he had seen in the Great Hall. "Too many deaths of good people."
"Exactly, Harry," Miranda responded sounding a lot like the silver haired Headmaster did in a time previous.
"If we had...eh...kissed and did this soul bond thing earlier, would it have made a big difference?" Harry asked.
The Goddess of Love looked saddened, "Yes, Harry, it would have been much different. At the very least, you would have listened to Hermione when she told you she thought the Department of Mystery thing was a trap. You would have shown her the package from Sirius, and she'd have insisted on you opening it. You would have had the mirror and a way to communicate with Sirius."
Harry's gaze moved to one of the white walls of the room as tears crept into his eyes. He could see the final seconds of his Godfather's life. The agonizing slowness of the fall through the Veil. He harbored the guilt of that moment deep in his heart, because Harry knew it was his fault. His godfather had only been at the Ministry because of him. It took several seconds for him to recover. His gaze left the wall and he found Hermione looking at him with concern. It was a look she'd had many times in the past, one he'd never defined before. That brought another question to mind. Harry turned back to the petite Goddess, "So, if Hermione and I were destined to be together, why did I see her as my sister, if our love was so compatible?"
"Tell me, Harry, when you sat in front of the Mirror of Erised, what did you see?" The Goddess of Love asked gently.
"And family is what you most desperately desired. But what was family to you at the age of eleven? You'd seen the marriage of Vernon and Petunia Dursley, and their relationship wasn't want you wanted, what you desired. When you found the woman or young girl you loved, you didn't call her someone you wanted to marry, you called her sister because with nothing to compare it to, that's how you defined true love."
"So a soul mate is a person's true love?" Hermione asked.
"It's much more than that, dear," Miranda answered. "It's a love so deep that it binds the two people together in heart, in mind, and in soul. If you two had carried on and married other people, you would have always found yourself feeling incomplete."
Hermione turned to Harry, "How are we going to explain this to Ron or Ginny? With Fred dead it's going to devastate the Weasleys."
"I just wish there hadn't been so much loss of life," Harry said. "I could spend my life with you, Hermione, and be truly happy, but how can I ever be happy when I know I was the cause of so much death."
"You were the cause?" Hermione asked forcefully. "Rubbish. You saved more lives than you can imagine. You were willing to die so others could live."
"And that brings us to the final point," Miranda said. "Harry, your sacrifice was made in the name of love. You willingness to die so that so many deaths would end purely out of love gives me a chance to help you."
"What do you mean? How can you help me?" Harry asked suddenly with a glimmer of hope. "Can you...can you bring those people back? Fred, Sirius, Tonks...everyone?"
"In a way, yes," Miranda said. "But not as you're thinking. If you both could go back in time, to relive your lives knowing what you do now, would you? You would have to fight Voldemort again, but you would already know his secrets. You could save many of the lives lost recently, and you might be able to save your friendship with the Weasleys."
"How far back? Far enough to save Cedric and Sirius?" Harry asked.
"I can just do Sirius, but I can't give you back Cedric," Miranda explained. "The events that transpired that night are too far dissipated into the fabric of reality to unwind."
"What about the Horcrux that was in me?" Harry asked.
"I can either leave it out, or put it in. I would recommend having it in your head."
"WHAT? WHY?" Harry sputtered.
"Considered it a get out of a Killing Curse free permit," Miranda replied. "Remember, it is your blood in Voldemort that links you. As long as the killing curse has something to destroy, you will be tethered to life. But I will need you to be able to keep your secrets of the future...well, secret, so I will offer you Occlumency protection. You will feel no pain from your scar and, can block Voldemort from projecting to you or take over your mind."
Harry looked over at Hermione then back at Miranda, "Can we talk about it?"
"Of course. It's an important decision; it is possible to lose someone else while saving someone you love."
Harry turned to Hermione, "What do you think?"
Hermione looked at Harry, "Before I answer that, I would like to talk about us, Harry. While we are here, while we have time, and before we make any kind of life changing decisions, I want to know about us. Are we really in love? Do we have a future together? I came to you just a few minutes ago so you could dispel a dream, and then I was going to go tell Ron I would be his girlfriend. But now, I'm...well it can't happen that way can it?"
"And I was going to go talk to Ginny, but do we presume Miranda is telling us the truth?" Harry asked. "If she is, we were tricked into those relationships. You have any reason to doubt her?"
"No, but I also have no reason to believe her either," Hermione responded.
"If we agree to have her send us back, and she does, would that be proof enough?"
"It would take a Deity to put us back in the same bodies in the past, especially with us able to keep our memories. But Harry that kiss was real, which means the dream was real. Maybe you are my soul mate."
"If I am, are you sorry for it?"
"Sorry to be the soul mate of the kindest, most loving, handsome but stubborn beyond belief man? I think I could live with it. Especially if you keep kissing me like the way you did earlier," Hermione replied with a smile. "What about you? I'm not Ginny or Cho. I'm just a bookworm who has bossed you around for seven years."
"You're right; you're not Ginny or Cho. I think I've already addressed that issue, but I don't mind repeating it. You, Hermione Granger, are as beautiful if not more so, than they are. You are also not JUST a bookworm. Do you think just a bookworm could have saved me from Nagini? Or those Death Eaters at the Lovegoods?" Harry face broke out in a crooked grin. "Now as for being my soul mate? I guess I could deal with the smartest witch around. Can you do me one favor though?"
"What favor, Harry?" Hermione asked. "I asked for a simple one, and now our entire lives have been changed."
"True, but this one is far easier. I just want to dance with you."
"Dance? You want to dance? We're about to make a life-changing decision and you want to dance?"
"I'm remembering you at the Yule Ball, and...and want it to be us this time."
Hermione couldn't resist the emerald green eyes that now were upon her. "But...my clothes; will it be same if I'm not in my dre..." Her objections ceases as her clothes transformed into the dress she wore that night. Harry now stood in front of her in the same bottle green robes he'd worn that night as well. Without even reaching up, Hermione knew her hair was back as it had been that night. She glanced over at Miranda.
"My Realm, my rules. Enjoy," And with another wave of her hand music started playing.
"My Lady, will you allow me the pleasure of this dance?" Harry asked in a mock bow.
"Where ever did you learn those words?" Hermione asked with a smile. She then nodded her head slightly. "Certainly, kind sir," As she felt Harry's arm encircle her waist, she was surprised at how pleasant it felt. They didn't move very far or fast, but more of swayed to the music. One song ended, and another began and still they danced. In Harry's arms, Hermione felt safe and secure, something she hadn't felt in a long time. As her eyes found his, she was entranced by the depth she found in them. Even as their bodies moved to the music, their lips came together again. As the kiss deepened, all sense of time and place disappeared from Hermione's consciousness. In Harry's arms, she had found her perfection. She knew, without a doubt, that it really was Harry Potter she loved.
Harry was coming to the same conclusions in his own mind. As they danced, he tried to imagine Ginny or Cho as his partner and each of the thoughts vanished as quickly as they came. He knew without a doubt the woman in his arms was who belonged there. It was as if a part of himself, long forgotten, was now back, and he felt whole for the first time.
As their second kiss came to an end, the music faded away. Harry found himself looking into Hermione's gorgeous almond eyes. With a smile he took her hands in his. "I don't know what this is all about or where this is going to go, but I now know I truly love you. Though it seems the Goddess of Love herself has blessed our relationship, I wish to take nothing for granted. Will you, Hermione Granger be, my girlfriend?"
With wetness coming to her eyes, brought about by the pure happiness she felt and the look in Harry's eyes, Hermione could only at first nod, but then she recovered herself. "Yes, I will be yours, Harry," as she put her arms around his neck. "I love you, Harry Potter."
"And I love you, Hermione Granger," Harry replied and once again their lips met as they melted into the emotions.
Neither of them noticed the smirk that was on the Goddess of Love's face.
Harry smiled at Hermione when the kiss ended. "I think that answers your question on do we have a future together."
"Yes, it most definitely does," Hermione agreed as she wiped the wetness from her eyes. "That only leaves whether we go back in time or back to our lives as they are."
"I'd like a chance to save Sirius and if that means facing Voldemort again, it'd be worth it," Harry declared. "Maybe we can settle this before Hogwarts itself is hurt. We can save Hedwig, Remus, Tonks and Dobby, and maybe even Dumbledore," He paused. "But what do you want to do?"
"Go back, see if we can make a difference," Hermione replied honestly. "But are you sure you want to take on Voldemort again?"
"Want to? Not really. Willing to, to save Sirius, Tonks and the others, yes."
"So, we go back to sometime in our fifth year?" Hermione's eyes lit up. "You know what that means? I can redo my OWLS. That Exceed Expectations on my Defense has always bugged me."
"For all things that change, some things stay the same," Harry remarked with a smirk as he stroked Hermione's cheek. "Yes, love, you can retake your OWLS."
"Do you really think Ron and Ginny gave us potions?" Hermione asked.
"Does it matter if we don't give them a chance this time?" Harry replied.
"I guess not. We can take a trust but verify attitude, though if you're my soul mate, Ginny better not try anything with you."
"Same with Ron and you."
In unison, they turned back to the Goddess of Love. "We decided we will go back and do what we can do," Harry told her.
"I'm glad. I think you will be happier to know you tried. Now before I send you back, I need to discuss Dumbledore with you," Miranda said.
"What about him?"
"You know he's been manipulating you all of your life, don't you?" Miranda said. "The Dursleys," The petite Goddess actually growled the name out "Talk about a family that needs some love in it. I know he sent you there until you went to Hogwarts, but why afterwards?"
"What do you mean; it was for my protection, wasn't it?"
"Why not have you stay at Hogwarts? Tom Riddle stayed there some summers. That's why he turned Hagrid in, remember?"
"Maybe he didn't think of it?" Harry suggested with a shrug.
"You don't believe that, now do you?" Miranda asked. "No; you were definitely there for protection, just not what you think."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked. "I was protected there, I mean those Death Eaters couldn't attack me until we left."
"Those wards protected number Four Privet Drive. So, yes, you were protected while you were locked away in your bedroom," Miranda explained, "but nowhere else. If they had protected you anywhere else, how did you get attacked by Dementors just a few blocks from there? Or how did you keep getting attacked at Hogwarts? And as you pointed out, those Death Eaters who were waiting that night of your escape were just above that property."
Harry and Hermione looked at each other, then back to the Goddess, "Then why?"
"Before I answer that, let me ask you one last question. Why even send you back there after your sixth year? Why not directly to the Weasleys? Or why until almost your birthday? And coinciding your departure with your relatives?" Miranda looked at Harry directly. "Albus made an oath as part of the agreement with Petunia taking you in, that he would protect them as well. So year after year, he used you to fulfill his oath. That's why his portrait made the particular horrible plan to rescue you. He needed the Dursleys out at the same time. Even in death, he was fulfilling his oath."
"WHAT?" Harry exclaimed. "No..."
"Think about it Harry," Miranda said. "In a time of war, Albus had always looked out for the Greater Good. Tell me, in your opinion, when fighting Voldemort, who was more valuable to the Greater Good, Mad-Eye Moody or the Dursleys? The potential for loss was even greater than just Alastor. George almost died, and so did Hagrid."
Harry just stared at the petite Goddess, "I hadn't thought of that."
"Just be careful when you go back. Keep a very open mind when it comes to Albus. You know he has a weakness for power, so do not give it to him. Knowledge of the future is power. Do not let him know your secrets, and for Heaven's sake, listen to your soul mate. Oh that reminds me. I need to give you your Occlumency and another gift. One I think you really need."
"What do we need?" Hermione asked.
"Something neither of you will like in the beginning, but something I think you each need to understand the other better," Miranda looked at the two soul mates in the eyes and each felt a wave of nausea sweep over them as memories poured into their minds. After what felt like an eternity, but really was only a few seconds, the onslaught ended and they were able to regain their focus.
"There," Miranda said with a tone of self-satisfaction, "You each have some of the memories of the others childhood in your brains.
"WHAT?" Harry yelled. "How could you do that?"
The Goddess of Love looked at Harry and shrugged, "How I did it was quite simple. I simply used my Deity powers and it was done. Now as your Soul Mate will tell you, the question should have been, WHY did I do it."
"Well, why did you do it then?"
"As I said, you both need to understand a little more about the other. Harry, you will now see why Hermione has a hard time not respecting authority figures. Like you, she didn't have friends at school, and the only people who would protect her were the teachers and her parents. Hermione, you can now get an idea of how badly Harry was treated in his youth, and understand why he doesn't like bullying teachers like Snape. Early on at schools he tried to complain to the teachers, but they just reported it to the Dursleys, who then beat him for complaining. That is also why he feels he has to solve the issues himself all the time."
Harry and Hermione looked at each and nodded, each with an understanding that they would discuss it later.
"Now, the memory dump also will help you control your Occlumency. Now are you ready? I'll count to three and then send you back so take a deep breath and -"
" – One – "
" – Two – "
"Oh, when you get back there you might want to check yourselves out on that Marauder's map of yours. You might find out something interesting."
"Wh.." Harry started but then
" – Three – "
The white room faded around Harry and Hermione, as for the next several minutes they were awash in something indescribable. Colors, sounds, and even smells seemed to fly by as their senses were overloaded. Suddenly everything steadied, and they found themselves in a familiar spot. They were sitting side by side on a sofa in the Gryffindor common room. Around them laid the evidence of a large party, as litter, empty butterbeer bottles and other party supplies were scattered over the floor.
"Are...are we back in time?" Hermione asked but as she turned to Harry she knew they were. Though his brilliant green eyes still were the same, she could tell Harry was definitely two years younger.
"I think so," Harry replied, making the same observation of Hermione.
"I…I guess that means it's all true…..about everything," Hermione said. "She really was a deity."
"It seems that way," Harry agreed.
"I wonder when we are."
Harry's eyes swept the room and a familiar site greeted him. He nodded toward the table near the back of the room where a Silver Quidditch cup was sitting. "Got to be end of fifth year," He nudged a bottle with his foot. "Must be the leftovers from the party from that night."
"That would have been the end of May," Hermione replied. "You weren't playing, but... oh we met Grawp that... I mean today."
"So..." Harry looked at Hermione. "Where do we begin?"
"Well, first we have to remember that we can't do magic outside of Hogwarts," Hermione reminded him. "We're both under seventeen again."
"True," Harry sighed. It'd be another year and two months before he'd be 'legal' again.
"I only have to wait until September," Hermione added.
"Lucky you," Harry grumbled.
"I wonder if Harry's still okay with us. Is he going to regret it in the morning?"
"I'm more than fine with us, Hermione," Harry replied as he looked over at his new girlfriend. "And I'm not going to regret it in the morning."
"I…I didn't say that out loud, Harry," Hermione sputtered. "I only thought it," Her eyes went wide as a possible realization hit her. "Can you hear this?"
"What?" Harry exclaimed as he clearly heard Hermione's voice but could see she wasn't speaking. "Uh…yeah I did hear it. What's going on?"
"You try it, think something to me," Hermione said urgently.
"I love you Hermione."
Hermione blushed but smiled. "I love you too, Harry," She replied softly.
"What does this mean?" Harry asked. "This mental talking thing?"
"I don't know, but it has got to be something with us being soul mates," Hermione replied but then Miranda's voice echoed through both of their minds, "In heart, in mind and in soul you are bound."
"So this is the mind?" Hermione responded to the Goddess's voice.
"Heart is our love?"
"What about soul, what does that mean?"
"Did you check that map yet?"
"No, but what does that have to do with it?"
"Check the map dear, just check it."
"What could be on the map that would have something about our souls?" Harry asked.
"I don't know, but go grab it and let's find out," Hermione replied.
Harry raced up the steps and then quietly crept into his room. He only gave Ron's curtained bed a glance before he opened his trunk and pulled out the map.
Back in the common room, he unfolded the parchment. He then tapped it with his wand as he recited the all too familiar words. "I solemnly swear I am up to no good," As he finished, lines and dots spread out of the parchment, until the entire school was drawn. Harry and Hermione quickly turned the gaze upon the Gryffindor Common room where they saw a little dot marked 'Harry Potter' sitting next to another dot labeled 'Hermione Potter'.
"What the bloody hell?" Hermione screamed in her mind.
"Language, love," Harry thought.
"You aren't the one sitting there with a last name suggesting that I am…we are…married," Hermione yelled mentally.
The giggling voice of the Goddess reappeared in their minds. "Bound in soul, yes you are married in the magical world. You can choose to tell or not tell, but it can be verified in the magical records office. You have no fear of any love potions or in this case jealousy potions as nothing can come between you two. Have a wonderful life; I'm off to finally have that Champagne."