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Amatis sat on the wooden beam, high above the Great Hall. He swung his feet back and forth as he watched the new first year students file in, small and timid. The beam was hidden from view behind the enchantment that reflected an image of the sky outside, so by definition, Amatis was well concealed too. Not that it mattered, of course; no-one down there could see him anyway. Despite all his years – centuries, really – as resident cupid of Hogwarts Castle, it never ceased to surprise him that the magical community seemed no more able to see him than the ones they called Muggles. He supposed it was all part and parcel of being an anthropomorphic personification, although his head tended to hurt if he thought about it too much.

 “Soooo. Are you ready?” Amatis was not alone on the beam. Sitting next to him was Cariad, his friend, colleague and partner-in-crime.

Amatis adjusted his regulation white toga, flexed his bow, and straightened the golden arrows in his quiver. “You know me, Cari. I’m always ready. Anyone caught your eye yet?”

Amatis and Cariad both studied the group of first years standing at the front of the hall with interest, searching out a suitable boy and girl to provide a bit of light relief amid all the hard work. Smoothing the path of each budding relationship as it blossomed (and mending the hearts broken when it didn’t) kept them as fiendishly busy as one might expect in a castle overflowing with teenage hormones. As a result, both Amatis and Cariad appreciated the opportunity to blow off a little steam, and choosing an unlikely couple from amongst the first years for a little healthy competition provided just such a welcome distraction.

“Hmm. Well, I think there’s an obvious candidate among the girls. Do you see what I see?” asked Cariad, with a grin.

“Ooh, yes.” replied Amatis, eyes bright with mischief. “Standing at the front with the bushy hair and big teeth? Check out the body language of the rest of them. You can see how much she’s annoyed them all already. She’s going to be really hard work. Perfect!”

Cariad hushed him. “Quiet! We need to hear her name.”

She was just in time. From far below them, Professor McGonagall called the girl’s name. “Granger, Hermione!”

Amatis smiled as he watched Hermione skip towards the Gryffindor table. “Hello there, Hermione Granger! Who shall we pick for your lucky gentleman friend?” 

Professor McGonagall continued to call the first years forward. Amatis and Cariad briefly considered Longbottom, Neville and Malfoy, Draco as this year’s choice, but neither seemed quite right. However, when the Professor called “Potter, Harry!”, the ripple of interest down in the hall was replicated up in the beams, although for rather different reasons.

“Ooh, Amatis! You don’t suppose that’s Potter as in James Potter and Lily Evans?” she asked, excitedly. “Do you remember the year we picked them? That was a tough one. I must admit there were times when I thought I was fighting a losing battle getting Lily to even look at James instead of the Snape boy. I still think of that as some of my finest work. Perhaps Harry Potter should be our boy?”

Amatis studied the boy with the unruly black hair below him. “Well, there’s definitely a family resemblance there. He certainly could be James and Lily’s son. You know I’m a sucker for a bit of nostalgia, so let’s say that Harry Potter is a candidate. Anyone else?”

“Actually, yes - see the boy with red hair and freckles? Must be another Weasley. How about it? We’ve never tried a Weasley before and there can’t possibly be very many more of them to come. Can there?”

“You never can tell with that lot – there’s been such a steady stream. If you’re right then he must be a dead cert for Gryffindor, and did you see the way this one rolled his eyes when our leading lady got sorted there? If he’s already that annoyed with her, it would definitely help to keep things entertaining.” Amatis tilted his head towards Cariad. “OK, your choice – Potter, for old time’s sake, or bag ourselves a Weasley?”

Cariad gave the matter some careful consideration. “Potter or Weasley. Potter or Weasley. Tricky. But I think on the basis that he’s clearly decided he hates our Hermione already, it had better be Weasley.”

“Good choice, my friend, good choice.” Amatis thoroughly approved. “So, Hermione Granger and …” He paused as below him, Professor McGonagall intoned the name of the small redheaded boy “…Ronald Weasley are our improbable couple of the year. That just leaves one thing to do.” He put his hand behind his back. Cariad did likewise. “OK, on three. One. Two. Three!”

At the count, Amatis and Cariad both whipped their hands out in front of them and looked down. Cariad whooped with delight. “Ha! Scissors cuts paper! I win!”

Amatis’s shoulders sagged. “Best of three?” he asked hopefully, but he knew he was doomed.

“Not a chance! Oh, I’m going to enjoy this! Seven years, Amatis. Seven years you’ve got to get that pair to fall in love. You know the rules – if you want to win, then nothing less than True Love’s Kiss will do, and I’ll be fighting you every inch of the way.”

“Come on. Come on. Just a little bit closer.” muttered Cariad, drawing back her bow and taking aim with a glowing golden arrow.

Cariad needed a break from trying to mend the broken heart of a Slytherin 5th year, so she had decided to make a little mischief in her contest with Amatis. After some searching, she had managed to locate Hermione in the lower reaches of the Castle. Since her last visit to this particular room, someone seemed to have conjured purple flames over one door, and black flames over the other. Honestly, wizards really knew how to make things hard for themselves. She was grateful she could simply manifest wherever took her fancy.

Hermione was having a conversation with the boy standing next to her, who, on closer inspection, turned out to be Harry Potter. They were discussing something to do with the seven bottles lined up on the table in front of her, and it was getting rather heated. Hermione clearly wasn’t happy about something, and her lip was trembling. That was good; raw emotion was always helpful. She just needed Hermione to move a little closer for the perfect shot. “That’s it, Hermione, Nearly there...”

“Ahem.” The voice sounded right next to Cariad’s ear. She jumped, and released the arrow just off target. It lodged in the wall behind Hermione, who leapt forward and threw her arms around Harry, giving him a big hug. He seemed faintly embarrassed when she let go. 

“Dammit! I almost had them!”

“Cariad! Just what do you think you’re doing?” asked Amatis, as Hermione turned and dashed off through the curtain of purple flame behind her.

“You know perfectly well what I’m doing,” replied Cariad “You might have forgotten about this year’s competition, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying to scupper your chances. I must say, you haven’t been trying very hard. You’ve barely shown any interest lately.”

“They’re eleven! Way too young for True Love’s Kiss! And you know it.”

“Actually, Hermione’s twelve. And anyway, that arrow wasn’t for true love or anything.” Cariad flicked her fingers towards the golden bolt, and watched as it dissolved. “I was only firing a little schoolgirl crush to put a spanner in the works for you. Not that it matters, since you made me miss.”

Amatis snorted with derision.

“Well then,” continued Cariad, “if you think they’re still too young to bother about, you won’t be interested that Hermione is at this very second rescuing Ron from under the rubble of a giant chess board on which he recently and heroically sacrificed himself to save his friends. There will almost certainly be A Moment.”

Amatis paused for a split-second and then said “Oh crap!” before vanishing in a puff of pink smoke that smelled vaguely of roses. When he manifested next to the chess board, it was to see Hermione already helping Ron out through the door at the far end.

“Too late, my friend,” said Cariad, who had manifested next to him. “Better luck next time.”

For the next twelve months, luck was very much something that evaded Amatis. The romantic entanglements of the residents of the castle seemed more complicated than ever, so neither he nor Cariad had much time for their contest in amongst sorting it all out. Poor Ginny Weasley and her terrible crush on Harry Potter occupied a lot of Cariad’s time, while Amatis practically seemed to live in Ravenclaw Tower, such was the strength of Penelope Clearwater’s (frankly inexplicable) attachment to Percy Weasley.

However, even if Amatis had had more time available, he doubted that there would have been much in the way of opportunity. At the beginning of the year, Harry never seemed to leave Ron and Hermione alone. Amatis really hoped that boy wasn’t going to turn out to be a major problem further down the line. Then, as term progressed, Hermione seemed to be permanently in the hospital wing. First came the weeks during which she was covered in fur, and no sooner had she been released after that disaster than she managed to get herself petrified.

Cariad thought it was hilarious. “So let me get this straight. Ron has now seen her covered in fur, and stiff as a corpse? I knew I wouldn’t have to try particularly hard to doom this one!”

Amatis fumed, trying to come up with a clever retort, but the unfortunate truth of the matter was that she might well be right.

Amatis was in an altogether more hopeful frame of mind when his charges returned for the next school year. It didn’t last. While Hermione couldn’t be blamed for the problems of the previous year (or at least, not entirely blamed), Cariad missed no opportunity to point out the same could not be said this time.

“I mean, it’s like she’s on my team, Amatis! Honestly, I couldn’t have done a better job myself. First she buys that dreadful cat that seems determined to eat Ron’s rat, then she wants to turn in the map they’ve been using, and to top it all off, she reports the broomstick! I actually think she wants him to hate her.”

Still, Amatis wasn’t prepared to give in without a fight. “Oh come on, Cari. It hasn’t all been bad. I thought I detected at least some possibility.”

“I expect you mean the Hogsmeade weekend at Halloween? Yes, I’ll give you that one, they did seem to enjoy themselves. It’s just a shame you don’t have enough range in your bow to hit them that far from the castle.”

“Yes. And she was terribly upset when his leg got broken, but I couldn’t get a clear shot with that stupid tree waving its branches around like that.”

Cariad was not convinced. “You’re grasping at straws and you know it, Amatis.”

“Well, I’ve still got four years, Cari. Don’t forget that.”

“You’re going to need them, Amatis. You’re definitely going to need them.”

That summer passed slowly. Amatis never enjoyed the quiet times. He was always much happier when he had a flock of students to shepherd through their romantic trials and tribulations, so he was delighted when September finally came, and Hogwarts came to life once more. As the new students settled in, Amatis turned his thoughts to his strategy concerning Ron and Hermione.

Opportunity finally came knocking mid-way through the Autumn term, when he and Cariad picked up word of the impending Yule Ball. The cupids knew that such an event would signal a hugely busy time for both of them - after all, nothing had the potential to cause more teenage angst and heartbreak than an invitation declined, except perhaps one not proffered in the first place. Combined with all the extra students in the castle due to the Tri-Wizard Tournament, the workload was enormous.

Still, thought Amatis, the Ball should at least provide an opening for him to work on Ron and Hermione. He resolved to find a way to ensure that they attended together, although it wasn’t until well into December that he spotted his chance. Ron had managed to ask the part-Veela from Beauxbatons to accompany him (Cariad swore it had nothing to do with her when he questioned her about it later), and Amatis was in the Common Room watching him being consoled by both his sister and Harry, when Hermione arrived.

Knowing that Ron’s attention was focused wholly on asking someone to the ball, Amatis prepared to strike. Selecting the appropriate arrow to imbue his target with sufficient courage to invite Hermione, Amatis took aim and fired the golden shard straight and true, striking Ron square in the chest. Ron’s eyes took on a new light, and he spoke the words.

“Hermione, Neville’s right – you are a girl”*

Amatis did a little dance on the spot. OK, that wasn’t exactly what he’d had in mind for Ron’s big romantic awakening, but it would do. His attention returned to the conversation, and as he did so, what Hermione was saying brought him back down to earth with a bump.

“I can’t come with you, because I’m already going with someone.”*

Amatis was livid. Cariad. It had to be! Curse that cupid for interfering! His annoyance hadn’t dissipated by the time he tracked her down, in the Ravenclaw girl’s dormitory.

What. Did. You. Do.” The thundery expression on Amatis’s face made Cariad take a pace back.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Amatis. I’ve been busy all afternoon. Cho seems really confused about Cedric all of a sudden. I really don’t know what’s gone wrong there! She was so sure yesterday. I’ve had to pump her full of arrows.” Cariad giggled nervously.

“Why has Hermione just turned down Ron’s invitation to the Yule Ball? Hmm?”

“Ron and Hermione? That’s what you’re cross about?” Cariad was clearly relieved. “I thought it was something serious.”

“Answer the question, Cariad.”

Cariad grinned. “Oh come on, Amatis! This is a competition! I’ve been helping Hermione make alternative arrangements all term. I’m just surprised you haven’t noticed the amount of attention that Viktor Krum was paying to her before now. I was expecting at least something in the way of counter-measures. You’re slipping, my friend!”

“Viktor Krum? You’ve managed to get Hermione together with Viktor Krum? Oh Gods!” Amatis was gobsmacked.

“What’s the matter, Amatis? You don’t seem that worried about any of our other competition couples. Not actually getting invested in this one are you? It’s only meant to be a bit of fun.”

Cariad had a point there. There were, after all, six other unlikely pairs in the school that were the subject of one of their friendly contests, and Amatis wouldn’t dream of getting this upset about any of them. He thought about that a lot in the run up to the ball, whenever he had a few minutes to spare between arranging last minute dates for the desperate (the nifty bit of bow-work that finally secured a partner for both Ron and Harry being a typical example), but although he tried to convince himself it was just the stress of the extra workload, he had little success.

On the night of the ball itself, Amatis felt glummer than ever about the whole thing. He had to admit that Hermione looked stunning. She seemed to glow on Viktor Krum’s arm, as though that was exactly where she belonged. Amatis wondered whether he should just admit defeat; and concede that Ron and Hermione were simply too much of a challenge, even for him. He felt so down about it that he shot a random arrow at Ginny Weasley and the Ravenclaw boy she was talking to, just to cheer himself up, but even watching that familiar look of realisation that passed between them couldn’t lift his mood.

Later, as he drifted past the Gryffindor common room, he could hear a blazing argument in progress inside. In his downbeat mood, he really wanted to just float on, but professional pride forced him in to check whether there were any romantic wounds he could help heal. When he manifested inside, he found Ron and Hermione facing one another, both red in the face and screaming abuse like a pair of banshees. The raw emotion crackling around the room was so intense that it hit Amatis like a bludger bat, and caused him to act on instinct, drawing back his bow and firing an arrow almost without thinking. It blazed through them both bang on target, just as Hermione opened her mouth for what was to be the coup de grace of the row.

“Next time there’s a ball, ask me before someone else does, and not as a last resort!”*

They regarded each other for just a split second, both slightly stunned, before Hermione stalked out of the room, leaving Ron floundering.

Amatis allowed himself a small smile. It wasn’t very much, but it was definitely a chink of light in the darkness. Perhaps all was not lost after all.

The glimmer of hope that Amatis had taken from the aftermath of the Yule Ball did not persist through the following year. It was one of constant frustration for both him and Cariad, because half their charges just seemed to disappear on a regular basis. It made it very difficult get anything done at all.

On one particularly frustrating afternoon, Amatis was hunting high and low throughout the castle for anyone he should have been assisting, but could find no sign. Both he and Cariad had the impression that the missing pupils disappeared somewhere on the seventh floor, but no matter how hard he had searched the corridor in question, all he could find was solid, blank wall. Disheartened, he made his way down a staircase and slumped onto a windowsill, next to a tiny, elfin girl with dirty blonde hair and a mildly surprised expression. He was so fed up that he couldn’t help complaining out loud.

“Where on earth is everyone? It’s like they’ve completely disappeared. It shouldn’t be possible! I can’t even find Ron and Hermione, and they’re usually pretty easy to track down.”

“I expect they’ll still be in the Room of Requirement.” Amatis almost fell off the windowsill in shock. The girl was actually speaking to him! “That’s where I’ve just come from.”

Amatis slowly turned his head to look at the girl. Her strange, silver-grey eyes returned his gaze in a steady and direct manner, as though talking to an anthropomorphic personification was the sort of thing she did every day. Amatis dug around in his memory for the girl’s name. Luna Lovegood. That was it.

“You can see me?” he asked curiously.

“Oh yes. And your friend.”

“I’m not sure you should be able to do that.”

“There are a lot of things that I can see that most people don’t notice.”

Amatis took a deep breath. This was not what he had expected when he had sat down. But he was nothing if not adaptable, and since the girl seemed to know something helpful, he decided to make the most of it.

“So, this Room of Requirement? It’s on the seventh floor?”

“Yes. Opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy.”

“That’s what I thought. It’s strange that I can’t get in to it. I can just manifest everywhere else.”

“It isn’t like a normal room. You probably have to use the door like everyone else, but it isn’t easy to open. Maybe you just don’t have the knack. If you wait here, I’m sure Ron and Hermione will be along shortly. I have to be going now. Good luck.” And with that, Luna stood up and left.

Amatis spent weeks that year haunting the seventh floor corridor, mind firmly concentrated on Ron and Hermione coming out of this strange hidden room that he couldn’t manifest inside. But although he often saw them leaving, they were never on their own, never close enough together, and he was never quite quick enough to be able to follow anyone in.

As the summer term ended, Amatis couldn’t help but reflect on another year wasted in his quest to see Ron and Hermione in love, and this time with no help from Cariad either. Amatis took hope from watching them together, though. He could see how much closer they had become, how supportive of and reliant upon one another they were. Gradually, something had changed between them, and what had once been unthinkable was now very promising indeed.

As things turned out, Amatis didn’t get another chance to work on Ron and Hermione until the following November, when, much to his delight, he stumbled across a party in the Gryffindor common room. Parties such as this were always a happy hunting ground for him as a cupid, because the students were usually so exuberantly happy that it made his job so much easier. On this occasion, the source of the excitement seemed to be another win at Quidditch.

What most pleased Amatis was that Ron Weasley seemed to be at the centre of it all, lapping up the adulation of his peers. Amatis could feel the confidence exploding from him, making him ripe for the picking. Looking around, he spotted Hermione nearby. He could feel both how hopeful and captivated she was, and it was clear to him that, despite his expectations all those years ago, this was something she wanted, very, very much. Smiling to himself, he lined up the shot, drew back his bow arm, and began to relax his fingers away from the string to release the arrow. Just as he did so, Cariad manifested right next to him, jogging his arm and sending the arrow flying wildly.

Amatis watched in horror as it rebounded off the far wall, somehow still managed to catch Ron on the shoulder, but then deflected to the left and hit Lavender Brown full in the chest. Lavender had been deep in conversation with another girl, but she immediately stopped talking and turned to find Ron already gazing at her. Within seconds, they were wrapped so tightly in each other’s arms, it was hard to decide where one person stopped and the other started. Parvati Patil, to whom Lavender had been talking only seconds before, looked both puzzled and irritated. Hermione, on the other hand, was a picture of shock and devastation.

No, no, no! Gods, Cari! How could you!” Amatis erupted with anger. He was shaking as he unleashed his fury at his friend. “I can’t believe you did that! It was reckless, and dangerous and plain mean-spirited and…”

“And perfectly within the rules of the game! Why on earth are you shouting at me? It isn’t as though you haven’t pulled tricks like that in the past.” Cariad looked genuinely surprised.

“This is different Cari! Look!” Amatis pointed at Hermione. “Look at that girl’s face. You just broke her heart, Cari, and that isn’t part of the rules, whatever game we’re playing.” Cariad winced as she caught a quick glimpse of Hermione’s contorted face as she hurried through the portrait hole. She was glad when she saw that Harry was following her, that Hermione wouldn’t be alone.

However, Amatis wasn’t finished. “And didn’t you see what happened to that arrow? They might look equally smitten now, but it only glanced against Ron and Lavender took it full to the heart. I put a lot of love into that arrow, and it’s going to hurt when she realises how one sided it is! You can be the one to pick up the pieces when that happens.”

“I… I’m sorry, Amatis. I didn’t think.”

“I know you didn’t Cari. That’s only too obvious.” Amatis’s voice was like ice.

“But Ron and Hermione were only meant to be a bit of fun! Why didn’t you tell me it had changed?” Cariad was pleading with her friend now.

“Perhaps if you’d been a bit more professional about it, you would have seen it too. They aren’t just some random kids anymore. They’re good together. They’re meant to be.”

“I hadn’t realised. I’ll make it up to you, and to them. Of course I’ll look after Lavender. And I’ll go to Hermione right now, make it alright.”

“Don’t you dare go anywhere near Hermione! I don’t want you involved; messing things up more than you have already. Leave her alone!”

And with that, Amatis disappeared. He needed to calm down and collect his thought before he could do anything to help Hermione. When at last he felt that he could be of some use, he went to find her. She was curled up in her bed, curtains drawn around her, a silencing spell cast on them so that no sound escaped into the room. Manifesting next to her, Amatis was not spared her tears; her face was swollen almost beyond recognition, and her shoulders shook as waves of grief wracked her body. Amatis sat with her through the night, soothing and comforting even though she wasn’t aware of his presence. In the end though, the only relief he could give her was sleep.

Amatis pointedly ignored Cariad for weeks following the events of that night. They weren’t fully reconciled until March, when Amatis found his friend sitting with an unconscious Ron in the hospital wing, Hermione by his side along with several of his friends and family. At first Amatis was angry to see her there.

“I thought I told you to stay away!”

“I know, Amatis. I’m sorry. Please don’t be cross with me. I just wanted to try and help.” Cariad held her breath, hoping he wouldn’t send her away. Whether Amatis would have accepted the olive branch as it stood, he wasn’t entirely sure. But at that moment, Ron began to murmur. At first it was unintelligible, but gradually it became clearer; Hermione’s name.

Amatis glanced nervously at Hermione. Seeing the hope that lit up her eyes, he looked back at Cariad. “Well. No harm done then, I suppose.”

Cariad rushed at her friend and almost bowled him over with an enormous hug.

“Where are they? They must be down there somewhere, Cari. Can you see them?” Amatis was once again kicking his heels over the Great Hall for the start of a new school year, Cariad at his side.

“No. I can’t see them anywhere. I don’t think they’re there, Amatis.” Cariad craned her neck so she could see all the pupils below. “There are a lot less than last year. It’s really sad.”

Amatis was quiet for a few minutes, desperately studying the students below. When he was completely sure that the couple he had come to think of as ‘his’ were not there, he knew it was time to admit defeat. “Well. I guess that means you won, Cari. Well done.”

Cariad turned to her friend and put her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I know those two meant a lot to you. And I don’t feel like I won anything.” She looked back down into the hall. “You can feel the misery radiating off them. I think we might be fighting a losing battle this year.”

Cariad’s assessment proved to be totally accurate. That year was the quietest that either of them could remember. There were no smiles. No covert glances. No telling giggles. Nothing at all for either cupid to work with, no matter how many arrows they let loose. Even the mass of emotions that usually provided so much encouragement let them down, as the fear and resentment that constantly emanated from the castle’s inhabitants provided no inspiration at all. Amatis and Cariad spent a lot of time high in the castle’s towers to keep away from it.

Then, one evening in late spring while they were perched at the top of the Astronomy Tower, everything changed. At first it was just a little trickle, but as the night wore on it built into a huge up-swell of feeling from below them. Yes, the fear was still there, maybe even more powerfully than before, but suddenly it was the backdrop for a pool of hope and excitement. Amatis returned Cariad’s wide-eyed stare of surprise as they felt it surging from below them, and only moments later, they watched as a glowing blue bubble seemed to surround the castle.

“What is it, Amatis? What’s happening?” Cariad looked nervous.

“I don’t know Cari. But I think we should go and find out.”

Materialising in the Great Hall, the cupids were suddenly in the middle of utter chaos. People were running, shouting, casting spells. Amatis and Cariad were immediately caught up in it, unseen by all around them as they were bashed and buffeted in the middle of the crowds, separated from one another. Amatis headed out into the corridors, to find that the pandemonium seemed to have engulfed the entire castle. It was bewildering.

Then, suddenly, running straight towards him, he was amazed to see Ron and Hermione, following close behind their friend Harry. Their arms were full of what appeared to be some sort of giant teeth. Ron looked triumphant, while Hermione’s expression was an odd mixture of dazed and determined. Amatis couldn’t believe his luck. Perhaps he would have one last shot at this after all.

He followed them on and up the stairs, bow at the ready in case there was a chance to line up a shot, but they were moving too fast, and other people kept getting in the way. As they reached the seventh floor, he realised where they were heading, and his heart sank; the Room of Requirement, the one place where he couldn’t follow them. He was doomed. He hurried to close the gap between them as door opened, but as they passed through, it immediately closed behind them and he found himself staring once again at a blank wall. He paced up and down the corridor, wondering what to do. As he passed where the door had been, all he could think about was how badly he needed to get into the room to his young charges. When he reached the far end of the corridor, Cariad appeared at his shoulder.

“What is it?” she asked him.

“It’s Ron and Hermione. They’re here, in the castle. But I can’t get to them,” he replied, frustrated.

“They’re in the room, then?”

As Amatis nodded in reply to her question, Cariad fell in beside him. They walked back down the corridor together. “I need to get in, Cari. I need to get in to Ron and Hermione!”

They turned again, and paced back again. “Why can’t you just wait for them to come out?”

“I think this is it, Cari. You know how you get that feeling sometimes? If I’m going to make it happen, I think it has to be now. I really, really need to be in there with them! Right now!”

And suddenly, there it was, melting out of the wall. The door to the Room of Requirement! Amatis and Cariad exchanged a surprised glance, and barrelled through the door. They found themselves in an enormous room, brightly decorated and strung everywhere with hammocks. Ron and Hermione stood in the middle of it, with Harry. Three women, one of whom was Ginny Weasley, hurried out just as Amatis and Cariad entered, nearly knocking them over in their haste to leave.

Understanding lit up Cariad’s eyes. “No wonder we couldn’t materialise in here, Amatis! Can you feel how bent reality is? It’s like it doesn’t really exist. At least, not actually in the castle, anyway.”

But Amatis didn’t answer her. The potential was crackling off Ron and Hermione. After all this time, seven years of work, he knew this was the moment. He reached for an arrow, loaded his bow, and drew back the string. Just before he let go, he cast an enquiring glance at Cariad, wondering if she would try to thwart him yet again.

His friend smiled, and took a pace back. “You’re right, Amatis. I never would have thought it all those years ago, but they belong together. I can feel it. Now what are you waiting for? You’ve got a job to finish.”

And with that, Amatis let go of the bow string, and watched as the glowing, golden arrow flew straight and true, first through Ron and then on into Hermione, leaving them joined by a single golden thread. Ron was talking, but he stopped as Hermione gave a little squeak, dropped everything she was carrying, threw herself into his arms and kissed him hard on the lips. Ron’s response was everything that Amatis could have hoped for her, as he scooped her up off the floor to return her kiss with an enthusiasm that even an old-hand of a cupid found impressive.

Cariad moved forward and put her hand on her friend’s shoulder. They stood still for a moment, watching as a shout from Harry finally broke Ron and Hermione apart, both rather pink in the face. Amatis let out a little sigh of satisfaction.

“And that, my friend, is the very definition of True Love’s Kiss. Come on, Cari, let’s leave them to it. Our work here is done.”

A/N - All credit for creating this wonderful universe goes, as ever, to JK Rowling. All I own are my ideas.

Direct quotes marked * are taken from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, p.348-9 & p.376 (UK edition) by JK Rowling

Coup de Grace is a French phrase, used in translated in English. It means 'the final blow'.

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