The story begins.
Harry felt like every bone in his body had been removed and sawn into tiny pieces, then glued back together and replaced. His head felt like it was on fire; his mouth was so dry it hurt to even breathe, let alone speak; and there was an odd sensation around his torso that felt like there was something lying on it, with a damp sensation in the sheet directly under the weight. Something also had a grip on his left hand. Harry gave a faint groan, but the mystery person did not react. Though he was not wearing his glasses, he could just about see a mass of brown hair. “Er…my…nee…” he croaked.
The mass of brown shot up and said, “Harry?” Harry nodded, blinking slightly. The blur moved slightly, letting go of Harry’s hand. A second later, Hermione slid Harry’s glasses onto his face and she came into clear focus. She looked terrible; her face was pale, her hair looked like a bird’s nest and her eyes were red. There were tear tracks covering her cheeks; her nose was running and it looked like her angelic (or so Harry thought of it) habit of chewing her lip when she was concentrating had actually broken the skin. She smiled weakly at him, and he tried to grin back, wincing as his facial muscles protested the action. He looked around for a second, recognizing the room as the hospital wing. Outside, he could hear birds singing.
“How…how long…been…here?” he croaked. Hermione frowned and picked up the jug of water from the side table, along with a glass sitting beside it. Pouring some out, she raised the glass to Harry’s mouth. Harry allowed her to pour some water in and swallowed. His headache lessened by a few degrees. He swallowed again and repeated the question, “How long have I been here? What day is it?”
Hermione chewed her lip for a second, and then said, “July 24th. You’ve been in here for a full month in a coma.”
Harry stared at Hermione, “July 24th? Not only is it a week until my birthday, what are you doing here? You should be at home with your parents!”
Hermione looked unhappy, “I told them I wanted to be here when you woke up. They know how much you mean to me as a friend and as you’re my only friend now that Ron’s gone, they understood my reasons. I need to go talk to Madame Pomfrey, I’ll be right back.” She hurried off towards the matron’s office. Harry laid his head back down on the pillow and eyed the small piece of clear azure-blue sky he could see through the window opposite. I find it difficult to believe that I just spent an entire month in a coma following… following…
Harry winced as the memory of June 24th came rushing back. Cedric’s dead body lying on the ground in that graveyard; Voldemort rising from that cauldron; the Death Eaters emerging out of the darkness; the duel; the shadows of Cedric, his mother and father around him…
Hermione returned to Harry’s bedside to find him sitting bolt upright and staring in fear at the opposite wall. “Harry?” she said worriedly. Behind her, Madame Pomfrey watched.
Harry turned his eyes towards Hermione, and the brunette was startled to see fear in his emerald eyes. “V…Vol…Voldemort! Hermione, RUN!”
Hermione looked around at where Harry was staring, but there was no-one there, “Harry, there’s nobody there!” Harry stared wildly around for a second, and then twitched unexpectedly. “Harry?” said Hermione curiously. Harry didn’t respond, but shuddered again and fell backwards onto the bed. Madame Pomfrey moved around Hermione to Harry’s side. She drew her wand and muttered a spell.
Hermione could tell something was wrong when Madame Pomfrey went visibly pale. “Madame Pomfrey? What’s the problem?” she asked.
Madame Pomfrey did not respond right away, but several things suddenly happened at once. Harry gave a particularly violent spasm and there was a peculiar shattering sound from his chest. There was a pause, and then the jug and glass on the bedside table started shaking. Madame Pomfrey’s eyes widened and then she seized Hermione’s arm and pulled her away from the bed. “What’s happening, Madame Pomfrey?” Hermione yelped as she tried to keep up with the matron.
Madame Pomfrey swallowed and explained while they sprinted for her office, “Mr Potter’s core had some kind of powerful block around it, stopping it from achieving its full potential. The massive exposure to the Cruciatus Curse weakened the block, and now Harry’s core just shattered the weakened block. My guess would be it sensed the weakness and forced itself to expand, destroying the block. The reason we’re running is because Mr Potter’s core is unstable; it’s expanding at a steady pace. There’s nothing I can do for him; his core will continue to expand until it finally collapses in on itself.”
Hermione stared at the matron in horror, “What??? He’s going to die???”
Madame Pomfrey nodded slightly, pulling open her office door and nearly dragging Hermione inside. Slamming the door, she pressed a wardstone set into the doorframe. The door flashed for a second, then glowed with a soft blue light. Stepping back, she reached up to her throat and pulled out some kind of medallion on a fine chain. Hermione saw the Hogwarts crest set onto the medallion as Madame Pomfrey raised it to her mouth, “This is Madame Pomfrey speaking; will all staff members please get into protected areas of the castle at once. Something is happening up here and the potential backlash could cause severe problems for anybody not protected.” She paused for a second, then nodded and allowed the medallion to fall back against her chest.
Hermione stared anxiously through the window to the ward. Things had started to levitate off the floor, drifting around the room as though caught in a remarkably slow tornado. Harry was lying prone on his bed, seemingly struggling for breath; until he abruptly began thrashing around. As if in response, the things being levitated about began to spin through the air with increased velocity. A second later Harry gave an even more ferocious twitch and some sort of magical pulse expanded outwards from the bed like ripples on a pond after a stone is thrown in. When it hit the office window, the wave of light seemed to slosh up against the glass like water too. “That must’ve been the shields.” Hermione thought, but then her eyes widened as the glass suddenly frosted with spider web-like cracks. A small area at the point where the cracks converged abruptly crumbled away, and something like a thin beam of light came through the hole and connected with Hermione’s chest. Hermione heard Madame Pomfrey gasp behind her and turned to face the matron, “What’s happening?”
Madame Pomfrey shook her head slightly before drawing breath and saying, “Miss Granger, this is very important. I am going to drop the shield across the door and I need you to leave the office. You will then walk slowly to Mr Potter. None of the flying objects will hit you, I’m sure of it.”
Hermione gazed at the matron for a second before nodding. Madame Pomfrey dropped the shields and Hermione opened the door, slipping out and closing it behind her. Almost immediately she heard a faint hum as the shields reformed. There was no turning back now; Harry needed her. She walked slowly across the room to Harry’s bed, dodging around pieces of spinning pieces of furniture. Harry seemed to have lapsed back into unconsciousness, so Hermione just took his hand and gazed at him. She started when she heard a voice in her mind; a voice that sounded like Harry’s but somehow layered, as though with magic, “Hermione!”
Hermione’s head shot up, “Harry?” She wondered how Harry was speaking directly into her mind when he seemed to be still unconscious.
“Hermione,” said the voice, “It’s not Harry speaking. I am Harry’s magical core, and yes I am completely sentient. Hermione, I must ask you something very important. I, Harry’s core, am unstable due to a power blocking ward and becoming even more unstable by the minute. There is only one way I, and by extension Harry, can be saved now; that being me binding myself to another core, a stable one. This is the only way. Hermione, you are the only person who I trust enough to bind myself to. Will you do it?”
Hermione stared at Harry for a second before swallowing and asking, “What must I do?”
Harry’s core responded, “Just allow yourself to relax. Oh, you may want to lie beside Harry on the bed, this could hurt.”
Hermione climbed onto the bed and lay down beside Harry. “Alright then,” said Harry’s core in her mind, “I’m going to attract your magical core, ok?”
Hermione nodded, and then she felt a sudden tingling sensation surge through her body, causing her to gasp at the feeling. Then she heard another voice in her mind, one which sounded like her own but layered like that of Harry’s core, “Hello? Who’s there? Who are you?”
There was a brief conversation between the two cores, while Hermione nervously waited, then her core spoke, “Alright then, what do I have to do?”
Harry’s core’s response was terse, “Spread throughout Hermione’s body, but stop just above the wrist of her hand which is holding Harry’s.”
Hermione twitched as she felt her core do so. “Ok…” murmured Harry’s core, “Ready?” An affirmative from her own core. “Ok, rush down the rest of the wrist and into Harry’s hand on my signal. One, two, three, NOW!”
Hermione felt the surge of magic flow down her wrist and into her hand, then a tingling sensation as the magic flowed through her hand into Harry’s, just as his magic flowed through his hand into hers. The separate magical surges met in the middle, coiled round each other and merged into one. The sensation of this, coupled with the continued tingling from the magic flooding throughout her entire body, sent Hermione into unconsciousness.
The cores however were far from finished; they kept pouring everything they had into the contact between them, feeding the link and strengthening it. The magical aura radiating from the two teenagers intensified steadily and Madame Pomfrey watched in sheer amazement from behind the shields of her office as magic not seen in thousands of years was wrought before her eyes.
The cores were intoning in an ancient tongue; the language of magic itself. It was a language known only to the world’s magical cores now; it had died out among actual wizards countless generations before. The air around the bed was now so thick with magic that walking past would have felt like wading through treacle. The cores were coming to the climax of their invocation. Finally, they threw the last dregs of their power into the link and roared as one in the language of magic:
Where once were two,
There shall now be one.
Unity, harmony and stability;
LET MAGIC’S WILL BE DONE!
There was a muffled rumbling noise and the castle shuddered from the tip of the Astronomy Tower to the bottom of the Chamber of Secrets. Madame Pomfrey watched as the pulsing aura around the hospital bed flared blinding white before doing something even more unexpected. It suddenly coalesced back into a faint orb hovering over both teenagers. There was a moment’s pause, and then the orb suddenly expanded with explosive force. Throughout the castle’s unshielded corridors and rooms statues shattered where they stood; suits of armour collapsed, their separate pieces clanging on the floor, paintings were knocked askew as their occupants sprinted for their lives; tapestries billowed and flapped as though in a high wind and window after window fragmented. In the Forbidden Forest animals ran for their lives, the Black Lake churned violently and several landslides and avalanches were triggered up in the mountains. The shockwave finally faded away and everything was quiet once more. Madame Pomfrey peered out through the window of her office towards Harry and Hermione. They lay side by side, holding each other in a close embrace, peaceful smiles on both their faces as they lay sleeping.
Madame Pomfrey eyed the two teens cautiously as she deactivated the shields of her office and stepped out into the ward. It was almost destroyed; every window was shattered and the furniture was overturned or broken. With a few waves of her wand, she repaired all the broken furniture and righted that which was overturned. Suddenly the medallion at her neck shuddered. She pulled it out and held it up. The headmaster’s voice emanated from it, “What is the problem, Poppy?”
Poppy Pomfrey replied, “I’m not sure. I’ve never seen this before. Once I find out what’s going on I will tell you.” An affirmative came back from the Headmaster, and Madame Pomfrey let the medallion drop back to her chest.
Albus Dumbledore sat back in his chair and looked uneasily at one of the small instruments on a table. It had stopped puffing just before the magical surge and Dumbledore was now very worried. This particular machine was tied to Harry Potter’s magical core. He jumped as the machine exploded, then swallowed. The machine exploding could mean only one thing. The core restricting ward had been destroyed somehow. Harry Potter’s core was now unrestricted, and there was definitely no way he could rebind it without making it completely obvious what he was trying to do.
Meanwhile, Harry’s and Hermione’s cores were roaming Harry’s body looking for evidence of the block. Hermione’s core finally spotted a small piece of concentrated magic, and waved to Harry’s core. Harry’s core came over, picked up the piece of magic and scrutinized it. “I recognize this magical signature. I’ve been seeing it regularly for four years…” Then his eyes widened and he bared his teeth. The piece of concentrated magic shook in his grip.
“What is it?” asked Hermione’s core, setting a hand on Harry’s core’s shoulder. Harry’s core looked round at her in a fury, “Dumbledore was the one who bound me. He was the one responsible for my almost being destroyed!”
Hermione’s core’s eyes widened, “Are you sure?”
Harry’s core nodded fervently, “Harry’s been in close contact with that senile delinquent quite often in the past four years; I know Dumbledore’s magical signature quite well by now. He is responsible for this atrocity! That man is lucky that this is the twentieth century and not the era of the True Mages, else he would be executed for such a crime as near sacrilegious as binding a magical core without the person’s permission or knowledge! What that old fool has done is a serious offence even in these times!” Hermione’s core’s eyes flared with magic as she understood. Dumbledore would pay for what he had done to Hermione’s bonded mate; there would be retribution.
Harry awoke to feel just as he had when he had woken up the first time round; as though he had beaten with solid steel meat tenderizers. He groaned momentarily before becoming aware of someone lying beside him. He looked sideways to see a mass of bushy brown hair. “Her…Hermione?” he queried.
The girl rolled over and gazed into his emerald eyes with her chocolate ones, “Yes, Harry?”
Harry smiled at her, before noticing something. He felt somehow more powerful, as though he had been weak before and was now much stronger. He weakly held up a hand. Hermione took it. Harry smiled; a second before his eyes widened as Hermione leaned forwards and kissed him. His eyes closed as he reciprocated the kiss. For a moment, nothing existed but the pair of them.
“So what happened? All I remember is you going away to talk to Madame Pomfrey and then… and then…” His face fell. Hermione looked at him with concern, then shuffled closer and wrapped her arms around him. He buried his face into her shoulder and murmured, “It was my fault. Cedric died because I wanted us to take the cup together. It was entirely my fault.”
Hermione hugged him to her and ran her hand through his hair, “It’s not your fault, Harry. There is no way you could possibly have known that the Cup was a Portkey.”
Harry swallowed, but then his resolve broke and Hermione felt tears dampening her shoulder. She helped him sit upright and wrapped her arms around him again as he cried into her shoulder, comforting him in his moment of grief.
Madame Pomfrey wandered over while Hermione was hugging Harry. She smiled at the pair as they broke apart, Hermione wiping tears from Harry’s face. After a second she asked, “Are you two alright now?”
Hermione nodded, “Yes, we’re fine. What exactly was that that just happened?”
Madame Pomfrey shook her head, “I know what it is, but I’ve never seen a real life example before. This is my first time dealing with this. I read about the phenomenon in a medical journal; when two people’s cores are bound together.”
Hermione swallowed, “Madame Pomfrey, did you know that magical cores are sentient?”
Madame Pomfrey stared at her, “What?”
Hermione swallowed again, looking vaguely sheepish, “Before the binding, Harry’s core spoke to me. It explained the whole story to me; Harry’s core had been bound for about thirteen years, the massive amount of Cruciatus Curses he suffered last month weakened the block, Harry’s core sensed the weakness and flexed its muscles, so to speak. The block shattered, but Harry’s core had now become unstable, so Harry then went into that seizure.”
Madame Pomfrey stared at Hermione for a second, looking confused, then her eyes widened and she headed for the office. Harry looked blankly at Hermione for a second. She laughed, “What?”
He shook his head in slight exasperation, “You just can’t stand not knowing something, can you?”
Hermione laughed, shaking her own head, “No, I can’t. It’s annoying I know…”
Harry cut her off by kissing her, “No, it’s cute. I like it.”
There was a pause, in which Hermione blushed furiously, and then Harry said, “So if you hadn’t decided to bind your core to mine, I’d be dead right now, then?”
Hermione’s eyes suddenly widened and she shied away from Harry, “Oh Harry, I’m sorry! It didn’t occur to me that you might want to see your parents again! I can’t believe I forced you to stay alive so that I wouldn’t lose my friend; that was so selfish of me!” She began to cry.
Harry gazed at his distressed friend for a moment, then said, “Hermione, don’t worry. I know I’ll see my parents again some day, I’m fine with waiting. I wanted to stay with you. I’m happy that you willingly bound yourself to me, it means I get to stay with you.”
Hermione raised her head, tears sparkling on her cheeks, “Y-you mean it? You’re not angry?”
Harry stared at her, “I could never be angry with you, Hermione. You’re my best friend. You obviously care about me; why else would you be so willing to bind yourself to me?”
Hermione gave a soft sob and threw her arms around Harry again. Harry hugged her as well, feeling her tears soaking into his shoulder. They stayed in that position for a while, simply enjoying the contact. Harry smiled slightly, softly stroking his best friend’s hair.