Chapter 10:   The Family Tree

It had been a busy few weeks for Harry and Hermione. The weekdays were filled with Ministry visits, different class times at Hogwarts, and studying sometimes late into the evening. Other than breakfast and an occasional evening meal, they had not spent much time together. Harry suggested a picnic for just the two of them and she thought it a great idea. When the weekend arrived, they floo'd to the Burrow about midday with basket in hand. The secluded and peaceful surroundings of the Burrow had always been special to Harry. Ginny and Ron greeted them when they arrived. Arthur and Molly were away at Diagon Alley.

Ginny said, "Hermione, do you have everything you need for your picnic?"

"Would you have an old blanket we can borrow?"

"Certainly," replied Ginny. "I'll go get it."

Harry said, "Ron, let's go outside so you can show me a good direction to go."

"Sure." They both moved toward the kitchen door and stepped outside.

"Ron, can I borrow a broom?"

"Yeah, of course." They began walking toward the broom shed.

"I want to take Hermione to that hillside with the big tree. Remember, you pointed it out to me that day we went flying. You said it was a great place for a picnic."

Ron's eyes brightened. "Yeah ... that's a great place to go. Do you remember how to get there?"

"Sort of," Harry pointed. "It's across the meadow in that direction, right?"

Ron pointed. "Yeah, see that mountain peak just above the tree tops? Start in that direction. When you see a farmhouse with a red barn, turn to your left and head toward a small lake. You'll spot the tree on the hill above the lake."

"Thanks Ron." Harry stepped into the broom shed and after a brief moment, emerged with a large broom in hand. "Now I just have to reassure Hermione when she realizes we're going flying."

"Sandwiches, fruit, drinks ... ah, the blanket. Thanks Ginny." She placed the blanket on top of the basket under the handle and tucked it in to cover the contents.

In a dreamy voice Ginny said, "How romantic."

"I'm just happy to get some quality time with him."

"I think you'll have a nice quiet afternoon."

Hermione raised her eyebrows and smiled mischievously. "I'm sure we will." They both grinned at each other.

With basket in hand, Hermione and Ginny made their way to where Harry and Ron stood in the backyard. Hermione eyed Harry apprehensively at the sight of a broom in his hand.

In an admonishing tone of voice Ginny said, "You're not going flying on that are you?"

Harry and Ron just glanced at each other.

Ginny rolled her eyes. She took the broom from Harry and handed it to Ron. Then she pointed her wand toward the Burrow. "Accio broom!"

A moment later, a broom sailed silently toward her and she caught it in her hand. She turned back to Harry. "Here, use this one."

"Ginny, this is the Nimbus broom you got for your birthday. Are you sure?"

"Yes," said Ginny firmly. "It's in your very good and capable hands. Hermione will enjoy the ride much better."

"Thanks Ginny." He turned to Hermione. "Ready?"

In an unsure tone of voice she said, "Yes, I think so. Not too fast."

Harry smiled and nodded. He took the basket from her, passed the broom handle through the basket handle, and then mounted the broom. He kicked off into a very low hover. Hermione got on and sat behind him putting her arms around his waist. He eased the broom forward and they smoothly and silently rose into the sky. They made slow graceful arcs over the meadow and then disappeared above the distant trees.

Ginny looked at Ron. "Where are they headed?"

"The family tree."

"Oh Merlin, really? Does that mean—"

"He didn't say it to me, but I reckon that's what he has in mind."

"It will be the perfect place for them." Ginny sighed, "There's so much magic there."

"Does Hermione know about the family tree?"

She gazed thoughtfully. "No, I don't think so. We've never talked about it and it's not mentioned in any of our books. Her muggle parents wouldn't know about it either."

"Good," said Ron with a satisfied expression. "It'll be much more memorable for her. She's really hard to surprise."

"Yeah," said Ginny smiling. "Harry will be happy about that. How much does he know about it?"

"Just that it's a secluded and private place to have a picnic."

"Good. Then Harry will get a surprise too."

"Well sis, what say we have lunch and a cup of tea for a while."

Looking out over the distant trees, she smiled. "It might be a long while."

Ron put his arm around his sister and they walked back toward the kitchen.

Harry cast a disillusionment charm around them. It was a warm day with a light breeze. The sky was a deep blue and puffy white clouds dotted the skyline. The ride was smooth, the air crystal clear, and the view, spectacular. Many of the trees now had red and gold leaves. From above, fields of amber grain rolled gently in the breeze, like ripples on a lake. Harry flew slow and gentle sometimes skimming the treetops. The countryside stretched below them, checkerboard-like patterns imprinted by the people who lived on that land. The cares and concerns of Harry and Hermione were part of the world below. Here above was a feeling of freedom and peace. You could choose your direction, change it at any time, and it all led to the same limitless horizon of possibilities. Flying this way always made Harry feel lighthearted. Having Hermione along to share it with him was exhilarating.

Hermione gradually relaxed her anxious grip. "Harry, this is so beautiful and peaceful." She drew herself close, took a deep breath, and softly sighed.

After about ten minutes, Harry spotted their destination. He flew a wide circle around the tree while gradually descending. They lightly touched down and dismounted. The tree was majestic with many of its branches seemingly twisted together at its massively wide trunk. Branches of different sizes and shapes twisted and spiraled one hundred feet up and away from the trunk. They spread the blanket in its shade and enjoyed a quiet lunch until ...

"Last strawberry for you Hermione. Open up."

"Make it dark chocolate this time."

He pointed his wand and the strawberry floated and dipped itself into a container. Then it floated toward her. She tilted her head back slightly and opened her mouth. She hadn't seen his mischievous grin. The strawberry slid down the bridge of her nose, leaving a trail of chocolate, and dropped into her mouth. Harry grinned broadly.

"You'll pay for that Potter," she muttered to herself while chewing the strawberry. Unnoticed by Harry, she tilted the wand in her hand, mostly hidden from his view, and pointed it at him. An instant later, a pink puffball shot from the wand's tip. It struck him in the forehead leaving a pink cloud as it burst like a large soap bubble. A pink powder mark now showed on his forehead.

"Ah hah ... being sneaky are we." He retaliated. Two blue puffballs shot from his wand. She dodged one and the other hit her on the arm.

"Eek," she scrambled to the tree for cover. Then she fired three more at him.

"Oof," as one got him on the cheek. He waved his hand trying to clear away the pink cloud in his face.

For the next few minutes, there were shrieks, shouts, and considerable laughing as pink and blue puffballs flew between them. Most were deflected or dodged but many found their targeted area of the body. In an all-out barrage, she sent fifty pink puffballs flying at him in rapid fire.

"Aahhh." He ducked and dodged as many as he could while running to the other side of the tree.

Peeking around the tree, they saw each other and fired at the same instant. They both missed. He quickly ducked back and around the tree silently coming up behind her. He put his arms around her and held her arms at her side.

As she gently squirmed he said, "Truce, truce, kiss and make up now."

She stopped squirming and turned around to face him smiling. As she moved close to him, she brushed her nose on his cheek. But chocolate on his face didn't bother him as their lips met and they wrapped their arms around each other.

After a few moments, or maybe longer, they stepped back and laughed at the sight of each other, both marked in pink, blue, and chocolate. After using a cleaning charm, they lay down on the blanket, side by side, and looked up at the clouds in the sky. They spent a long while pointing out cloud pictures to each other and sometimes changing the cloud shapes with magic.

... "That one looks like a cute little bunny," said Hermione. "Let me fix the ears a bit. ... There, how's that?"

"Aww... Very nice" ... With a grin he said, "How about that one over there? It looks like a snitch. See the wispy wings?"

She giggled. Then in mock sarcasm said, "How romantic ... first a broom, and now, a snitch?"

Harry chuckled. "Okay then. Let's see ... that one over there, just above the tree, looks like an otter."

"Hmm, sort of, but maybe more like this." Her happy feeling at that moment needed only the spell to be spoken. She softly said, "Expecto Patronum!" Her patronus appeared and the otter hovered above them.

This being one of the happiest days of his life, he said, "Expecto Patronum!" The stag appeared instantly.

Pointing with their wands, the patronus' playfully chased each other. Then, the stag didn't see where the otter was hiding. The stag turned its head and saw the otter reclined on its back looking safe and happily contented. The eyes of the otter were soft and inviting. The stag stretched up its head and slowly turned, its great antlers warning any foe that might be watching. Then, with softness in its eyes, the stag's head turned to look at the otter. The two patronus' swirled into each other and merged into a single vaporous cloud. The cloud sparkled randomly for a moment and then dissolved.

Still lying on her back and looking up where the patronus' had dissolved she said, "Umm ... did you feel anything just now?"

"Yeah, during the sparkling. What about you?"

"Yes. I felt something too. What did it feel like to you?"

"Umm ... it's a bit hard to put into words." Looking up at the sky with a thoughtful expression he said, "Kind of like ... a chocolate ice cream sneeze."

Her eyebrows furrowed and she turned her head to look at him. "A chocolate ice cream sneeze? What's that?"

He looked at her. "Well, it's the good feeling you get when you taste chocolate ice cream. And the nice tingly feeling you get right after a good sneeze. I felt both at the same time."

She giggled. "Well, I agree with you about the sneeze feeling. But ... it seemed more like vanilla to me."

"Did you know that would happen, what we both felt?"

"No, I didn't. Patronus' are from our happy memories but I didn't think they could connect and feed back to us."

"Hmm ... seems we've found another connection between us."

For the next few minutes, they quietly lay next to each other gazing up at the sky. Then, Harry sat up and turned his body to face her. Taking her hands, he gently pulled her into a sitting position. He held her hands and they just looked at each other. Time seemed to slow down.

He thought about what they had been through together since the day he met her on the train. She had always been by his side, helping him accomplish what he had been called to do. She had freely chosen to stand by him through it all, enduring the risks and consequences of that choice. Her faithfulness to that decision had never wavered even in their darkest and seemingly hopeless moments.

She looked at him and saw her best friend. She thought of the implicit trust they shared in each other. He had supported and unconditionally accepted her, just as she was, from the beginning. In spite of all his burdens and uncertainties, there had always been a subtle and steadfast connection between them. She felt so much more now, beyond friendship, and knew that it grew from their deep and genuine care for each other.

"Hermione, your friendship has meant so much to me over all these years. You've made my weakness' strong and helped me become more than I ever thought possible." He smiled. "Sorry to have caused you so much trouble."

She smiled. "It was a bit challenging at times wasn't it." Then, with a more serious expression said, "But you helped an insecure little girl grow in so many ways. You helped make her complete by being a kind and supportive friend. It just feels right being with you. I can't imagine my life any other way. In spite of all the hardships and risks we endured, I would not trade it for anything."

Harry felt his heart start to beat faster. He looked deeply into her eyes. Softly and sincerely he said, "You are my closest and dearest friend. I thought it could never be better than that. But over these past months, it did become better ... I fell in love with you."

The intensity of his gaze into her eyes made her heart race. "Oh Harry, I'm in love with you too. It's such a happy feeling when I'm with you." She looked softly into his eyes, and held her breath.

"I love you so very much ... and ... I want to spend the rest of my life with you. ... Hermione, will you marry me?"

To Harry, it seemed the question hung in the air for such a long time waiting for her answer. Jubilation flared from her heart. Then a sparkle in her eye and a radiant smile dawned on her face.

"Oh yes Harry!" She threw her arms around his neck. "Yes, yes I will marry you!" He wrapped his arms around her and they kissed long and lovingly.

They released each other and Harry took hold of her hands. They gazed at each other for a moment and saw joyful giddiness in each other's eyes. Then he put a hand into his pocket and withdrew a golden engagement ring. The diamond sparkled in the sunlight. She took a quick breath at the sight of it. He slowly slid the ring onto her finger. As he did so, the diamond began to sparkle more brightly.

He held her hand for a moment as they both gazed upon it. Her beautiful hand, a shimmering ring with two intertwining spirals on the band. It was a marvelous sight. Their parallel lives had just changed direction and were now tracking toward a union. Harry felt great happiness and fulfillment. Hermione felt like she would burst with joy.

She moved forward and guided him onto his back. She lay on top of him and passionately kissed him, pouring in her love and joy. He held her tightly and with similar enthusiasm, focused his happiness on her. They had little perception of anything but each other as a faint golden glow of enchantment enveloped them. The breeze rustled the tree leaves and the birds sang sweetly in that peaceful heavenly place.

A while later, cuddled in each other's arms, he said, "I want to stay with you here like this forever. But we should start back for the Burrow."

She reluctantly nodded. They collected everything and were about to mount the broom when Harry stopped. She watched as he took out his wand and moved toward the tree trunk. He carved the shape of a heart into the bark of the tree. He added the words Harry and inside the heart shape and looked at her. She smiled, took out her wand, and added Hermione 1998 * * making a pink and blue puffball. They kissed softly.

As their lips parted, they glanced toward the tree and saw that hundreds of other carvings in the trunk had appeared. They looked back at each other with delighted smiles. Then, they began looking at the other carvings. Most were weathered and old.

Harry said, "Look, Arthur and Molly."

"1969, that's not long after they graduated Hogwarts. Ginny mentioned that to me."

"Hermione, look up over there, that small tree branch. There are two leaves on it with Arthur and Molly's name."

She said, "Yes, and there are seven open buds under the leaves, one for each of their children. One has a vine growing out of it and one has lost its petals."

A brief moment later, she pointed. "Oh Harry, look at the tree trunk here."

Harry silently looked at it for a moment, a heart shape with James and Lily 1978 inside it. There was also a doe and a stag.

She bit her lip and pointed. "Harry, the branch is there." He looked to see a small branch with two leaves bearing the names James and Lily. There were two buds under the leaves, one flowering, and the other closed. Harry stared at it.

She put her arm around him. In a quiet voice he said, "What do you make of that closed bud?"

"I don't know. We'll have to ask Arthur and Molly."

"Hang on, where's our carving?" He led her back to where they had carved their names in the tree. Then, they began looking up at the branches.

"There," said Hermione pointing. A new small branch with two leaves holding the names Harry and Hermione were there. Under the leaves, two, very tiny, unopened buds.

He turned to her with a soft glorious expression. "Two children? ... Ours?"

She softly smiled. "Perhaps." She glanced up into the canopy. "But I think this tree shows what has happen, not what will happen."

He looked thoughtfully at her and nodded his head. "Reckon we'll just have to wait and see what grows from our love. I think I like it better that way."

"Me too Harry."

They shared another embrace and a long kiss. Then, mounting the broom, they kicked off and started back toward the Burrow.

Ron and Ginny were sitting at the Weasley picnic table in the shade of the oak tree. Each had a glass of pink lemonade. They had been having a quiet and pleasant brother sister conversation. Ron couldn't remember the last time this had happened but they were both enjoying just spending some time with each other. They both agreed that they would do it more often.

A spot appeared low over the trees across the meadow and began to grow larger.

"Here they come," said Ron.

Ron and Ginny walked toward them as they gently touched down. Harry and Hermione were both smiling broadly. Hermione quickly got off the broom and moved toward Ginny with her left hand outstretched in front of her. Ginny squealed and they hugged each other.

Hermione turned to Ron who took her left hand in his. After a brief moment, he looked up at her. "Congratulations Hermione."

She embraced him in a strong hug. Ron said, "I wish all the best for the both of you. I know you will be happy together."

"Thank you Ron," said Hermione with tears in her eyes. She kissed him on the cheek.

Ginny moved to Harry. With a broad smile and tears of joy in her eyes, she hugged him firmly. "I'm so happy for the both of you."

"Thanks Ginny," he said as he looked at her again. "I think Hermione likely has a lot she wants to tell you. Go with her, I'll bring your broom."

She kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks." Ginny and Hermione left for the house in excited conversation. Harry and Ron watched as they went inside.

"Did you find it okay, the family tree?"

He looked at Ron. "Yeah, it was perfect. She's very happy right now. There were also a few surprises for me in that tree that you didn't mention."

"That makes me feel really good," said Ron smiling. "You look very happy too. Congratulations mate."

"You are already my best mate but I want to ask you properly. Ron, will you be my best man at the wedding?"

"Yes, I'm honored. When's the bonding day?"

"In a few months." He smiled. "Hermione will likely have the details worked out in short order." Ron smiled and nodded in agreement.

They were all sitting around the kitchen table sipping tea, talking, laughing, and planning. There was a flash of light and a whoosh from the fireplace. The conversation around the table abruptly ended and four very broad smiles greeted Arthur and Molly as they stepped into the kitchen.

Molly's eyes slowly narrowed as she surveyed the scene. "Okay, what's going on here? I can tell you lot are up to something."

No one said a word. After a moment, Arthur smiled and stepped beside her. "Molly dear, have a look at Hermione's left hand."

Molly's eyes widened as the realization of a ring on her third finger set in. "Oh my word, you're engaged! How wonderful! Oh, I'm so happy for you! Come here you two." She gave both of them a smothering hug. "When did this happen?"

Harry said, "Just this afternoon, during our picnic at the family tree."

"Oh, how perfectly lovely," said Molly. "Hermione, do your parents know yet?"

"No, not yet."

"Why don't you call them and see if they want to come over for supper so you can tell them."

"Thank you. That would be very nice."

When Arthur arrived with Dan and Emma, after only a few seconds, Emma squealed and quickly moved to hug Hermione and Harry.

Harry went over to Dan. "I'd like your blessing to marry your daughter."

Dan briefly glanced at Emma. "Thank you Harry. You've had our blessing since our time together in Australia. We know Hermione will be cared for and loved by you. Our family will be blessed with you as a part of it."

There was lively conversation as the meal was prepared. A few bottles of champagne found their way to the kitchen table.

Later, while they were all sitting in the parlor, Harry whispered to Hermione and she enthusiastically nodded her head.

Harry said, "Arthur, Molly, you've been like a father and mother to me for many years. Will you stand in for my parents at the bonding?"

Molly pulled a hanky from her pocket and dabbed her eyes. Arthur said, "Yes, we are very honored Harry."

Hermione said, "Harry took me on a picnic today to a place called the family tree." She looked at Harry and smiled. "It was lovely and that's where Harry proposed to me." She looked at Arthur. "We saw lots of interesting things in that tree. Can you tell us more about it?"

"The family tree is alive with the life force of the families it represents. You must have seen many names and mementos carved into its trunk. Each branch grows from the bud of a previous generation and the leaves have the parent's names on them. If you want to know about family genealogy, you just need to go and have a look."

"Will my mum and dad's names be there too?" asked Hermione.

"Yes, once you and Harry are bonded. There would be no past generation but they would be the start of a new branch. There will be connections with you and Harry."

Harry said, "We also saw unopened flower buds. What do those mean?"

"They mean possible children if the couple decides so. You should only count the open buds. A bud will blossom when a child is born. When the child marries, the blossom sprouts into a new extension of the branch with vine connections to both sets of parents. I'm sure you noticed the whole tree was very tangled. It shows just how interconnected we all really are."

Hermione said, "Mum, Dad, I want to take you to see it after we're bonded."

"It sounds wonderful and we'd very much like to see it," said Emma.

They all talked for a while longer. Then Harry and Hermione thanked the Weasleys for dinner. Hermione and Ginny agreed to talk more the next day before Ginny returned to Hogwarts. Bringing Dan and Emma with them, they floo'd to the Granger home. Harry and Hermione spent a long while with Dan and Emma talking about the Granger's wedding and sharing their joy with them.

A few hours later, Harry and Hermione return home to their flat. They had taken only a few steps toward the hall and bedrooms when she stopped and turned to face him. There was a bit of uneasiness in each of their faces. It was clear to each of them what the other was thinking.

"Erm ... Harry ... I want us to wait to have ... umm ... to consummate our union until our bonding night. I've read about a special bonding ceremony called Vinculi Spiritu. There are extraordinary magical possibilities when this bonding ritual is used. I think we should experience it. But we must both be chaste for the enchantment to be successful."

He nodded. "And we're wondering ... can we resist the temptation if we sleep together."

"Ye-es ... Can we do that? ... That is ... wait until after the bonding ritual?"

"We slept together last year on Christmas day in the tent."

"Yes, but we were fully clothed and you were in a painfully sick condition. I was just trying to comfort you. Our relationship is much different now. We'll both have much stronger desires to be intimate, to keep moving closer in our relationship. It will be hard to wait."

"We could stay mostly dressed like we did on the sofa. Wear pajamas."

"Ye-es, but ... maybe a little bit more comfortable than that ... sometimes?" There was a momentary distant expression on her face as she remembered the last time they fell asleep together on the sofa. Then, with a slight gasp and shocked look she said, "Oh my, see what I mean? It will be hard."

"I like that thought," grinned Harry. She rolled her eyes and smiled warmly.

"How 'bout we have my mum and dad in the room? They can chaperone us."

"Harry, that's a wonderful idea. But," her eyebrows narrowed, "will they let us snog each other in bed wearing knickers?"

He grinned, "I think so. This is very important and I trust your judgment to know what's best. It will be hard for both of us, but I will honor your desire to wait."

She smiled warmly at him. "Okay then ... so ... my place or yours?"

"Yours, it has the nice comfy queen size bed." She giggled.

Harry said, "Have I told you lately how much I love you?"

"Hmm ... why no, not in the last few hours."

"Well then, we need to remedy that as soon as my mum and dad are settled in your room."

A short time later, he levitated the picture frame into her room. She used a sticking charm to affix the picture frame to the wall above the bed. Then he touched the frame and James and Lily appeared standing side by side. They briefly glanced around the room and then looked at him.

"Mum, Dad, we need your help. We're engaged now and it's important to us that we're not fully intimate with each other until after our bonding. Cool us down if it looks like we're getting physically out of control with each other."

A delighted grin came to the face of James. "This is going to be fun." He walked off the edge of the frame and after a short moment, returned holding a glass pitcher with water sloshing in it. A few drops splashed on Harry and Hermione's faces. He took his place next to Lily and looked out at them with a broad grin.

Lily looked at James and rolled her eyes. Then she looked out at them with a mischievous smile. "Why yes Harry, we'd be happy to do that for you."

With a look of misgiving on her face, Hermione said, "Maybe you shouldn't have used the words, cool us down."

Bond of the Spirits is an original fanfiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fanfiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.

Copyright © 2012-2019 Don Buczynski
San Diego, California
Published: 6/24/12
Last Updated: 8/31/19