Searching For Love
By Tony Noland
Doctor Hermione Grainger leaned forward, panting as she rested against Commander Harry Potter's strong, broad chest. Her passion and his were fully spent, their hours of lovemaking now slowed to a gentle, almost imperceptible swaying in the zero gravity sleeping field. Cool air dried their sweaty-slick bodies; from the burning heat of the heights of their frenzy, she now felt almost chilly.
"Computer," she murmured, "adjust climate control upwards five degrees. And turn down the air movement by twenty percent."
"Affirmative." The voice of the computer was that of a matron, an unflappable old schoolmarm. When she'd first started bringing Harry to her cabin, it had felt... awkward, as though the computer were another presence in the room. Sensing something was wrong, he'd asked about it. She still remembered his response when she explained. He'd said, "Computers don't judge." Whether it was the boyish smile or the way the starburst scar on his forehead stood out under a blush he couldn't suppress, she'd fallen even more deeply in love with him.
They tumbled together, holding close as the gravity suppressor field timed out and they began to settle onto the sleeping cushions. Before they regained their full weight, she disentangled herself. Lovely though it was to be one flesh with him, Harry was well muscled, being from a heavy-gravity planet. She loved the weight of him during lovemaking, but otherwise, he was liable to cut off circulation.
Hermione got up, plucked a silk robe from her closet and slipped into it. The embroidery was in Arcturan flame-thread, done in a pattern of large, golden felines across the front and sides. It was not sheer, not exactly. The robe left something to the imagination, but threw all of her curves in high relief. She could see that Harry's eyes were caressing her as she moved toward the computer workstation. The robe had been expensive, but clearly worth every credit.
Still on the sleeping cushions, Harry pulled a sheet up over himself and said, "Tell me again about the 'many worlds' project."
She smiled. "You know all about that project, Commander. You were the one who approved the course Captain Weasley ordered. Would you like a drink?"
"Yes, thanks. A glass of water and some Corellian brandy, if you have any." He waited for her to return to bed before speaking again. When her robe slipped high up onto her smooth, pale thighs as she climbed down next to him, he spent a few moments kissing and caressing her, which delayed his questions again. When his none-too-serious attentions provoked more giggles than sighs, he sat back and said, "Fine, fine, I can take a hint. I know when I'm not wanted."
With a kiss on the tip of his nose, she said, "I always want you, Harry. Just not right now."
"You do realize that made no sense at all."
"If it's true, it doesn't have to make sense." She leaned back, the very picture of relaxed, fulfilled complacency.
He shook his head. "I still can't believe there's a universe, any universe at all, where I'm not with you."
She shrugged prettily, allowing the robe to fall open and well off one shoulder. "It's true, though," she said, "and there are far stranger things out there in the multiverse."
"That's what the researchers at the Azotarian Academy of Sciences call it. All the various parallel universes together make up the multiverse. It has to do with subtended infinities of collapsing probability waves. Some infinities are bigger than others. They've only begun to scratch the surface of sorting all of it out."
"Tell me again about the universe in which we're stuck on Earth."
"Which one? The one where you and I are private detectives in
"No, the one where the muon-tau charge is modified for certain hereditary DNA plasmid constructs." He leaned back against the cushioned wall. "I think it would be fun to have energy-dispersive native psionics, even if they were misinterpreted as magic by the subset of the population that possessed them."
"Are you sure you would want to be in that universe? Remember, all the psionic-capable individuals -"
"You mean the witches and wizards," he said.
"- all the psionic-capable individuals were nearly wiped out when a one of the most powerful of them went insane." She shook her head. "No, I wouldn't want to have been a part of that. The more copies of the psionic plasmid you have, the more powerful you'd be, but the more likely you are to channel the energies into aberrant behavior. If only they'd had access to some simple gene therapies!"
"Wizards don't need science."
"Wizards need science most of all. I'm sure that research would have eventually caught up to them if they hadn't allowed it to get out of control they way they did." She leaned over and rested against him. "Anyway, don't forget..."
"I didn't forget," he said, laughing. "Not only are we not together, but you end up marrying Captain Weasley! I get stuck with his little sister. I'm sure she's perfectly nice, but she's nothing compared to you, Doctor Grainger." He hugged her, a sidelong gesture of affection from their reclining position.
She hugged him back, harder than he expected.
"Hey, what about the world where you and I -"
"Shhh," she said, "no more. I don't want to talk about the many worlds project, Harry. OK? I'm just a little tired, that's all."
He kissed the top of her head. "Sure, Hermione. I love you, honey - sleep well."
"Good night, Harry. Computer, dim the lights."
They lay together and she listened to his breathing deepen and slow. For a long while, she lay awake, thinking of the endless hours she'd spent with the positron flow mass spectrometer, calibrating and recalibrating, trying to find other universes in which she and Harry Potter were happy lovers, in any context.
As far as she could tell, there weren't any.
When he's not figuring out search engine algorithms, or over-thinking about his over-thinking, Tony Noland writes some damn great fiction. See for yourself by obtaining a copy of his latest release Blood Picnic (pretty cover below), or follow @tonynoland.