Author's Notes: Thanks go to my beta and to all those who sent feedback about the original draft of the fic at schnoogle or on my LJ. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Gold Tinted Spectacles
Chapter 5 - Revelations
Harry had not felt well since the moment he had crawled out of bed that morning and it had only been getting worse since. The vague headache that had started behind his eyes at breakfast was now a sharp stabbing pain every few seconds and a sick feeling in his stomach that wanted to return the meagre amount of food he had been able to consume that morning, back from whence it had come. Even the wonderful memories of the previous evening with Draco could not distract him from his physical discomfort. Harry was reminded of the incident a week and a half ago and if he had been sitting in anyone's class but Snape's he would have asked to be excused. As it was, the ailing Gryffindor was just praying for the lesson to end. Harry had already made up his mind that he was not going to make it to his next class, and all he had to do was hang on.
Today's work was a theory lesson not a practical which was a blessing at least, but Harry had given up taking notes about half way through. Ron was scribbling away so frantically next to him that his friend had not noticed his lab partner's predicament. Harry was staring fixedly at the partially filled page of parchment praying for deliverance when his vision suddenly went negative. It was as if the whole world was leaping up to swallow him; everything was too loud and bright silvers, golds and bronzes, and Harry felt awash with emotions that seemed to have come from nowhere. The pain in his head increased to the point where he heard himself whimper.
The next thing he knew there was a dark shape looming over him and it was like an icy barrier standing less than a foot away. It was a strange relief in the turmoil that Harry's world had so suddenly become, but as part of him appreciated Snape's cool presence the rest of him knew he was in trouble.
"Is there something you wish to share with the rest of the class, Potter?" his most adversarial professor's tone was almost conversational, but there was the familiar underlying sneer.
Harry would have replied if he'd been able to, but he could barely process the fact that someone was talking to him, let alone formulate a reply. Snape's words were distorted and far too loud. It was like someone shouting in his ear but with sounds that had been bounced through a long cave system.
"Mr Potter," Snape said slowly when Harry did not reply, "look at me when I am speaking to you."
His untidy handwriting on the page was moving in his vision and every time he glanced away from the almost blank sheet Harry felt overloaded. It took an extraordinary effort for him to drag his eyes away from the desk and look up. Snape's customary sneer was in place and it jumped out at Harry with metallic tinges: it was like watching a TV where the signal was being passed through a scrambler.
Harry had hoped that he didn't look as bad as he felt, but Snape's expression changed the moment he saw his face and it shocked the young wizard to actually see concern on the potions master's features.
"Are you unwell, Potter?" Snape asked in a much more gentle tone.
The pain in his head caused Harry to wince and although the professor's words were spoken in a moderate tone they tore through the young man's senses like a knife. It was too much and Harry could feel his mind trying to shut it out and failing. He tried to tell Snape what was happening, but the only thing that came out of his mouth was a quiet whimper. Harry felt his connection to the world slipping out of his control and he began to slide sideways. Snape reached out to steady him and as the professor's hand touched his arm Harry couldn't help himself he screamed.
It was like knives being stabbed into his body as the simple touch sent pain shooting through every nerve. Harry felt as if his whole body was rejecting the contact and he couldn't take it anymore. The scream slowly dying in his throat Harry let the world fade away into blissful darkness.
When Potter screamed Snape snatched his hand away, watching helplessly as the boy slid off his chair and onto the floor. At first when he had realised the wretched golden boy had not been paying attention he had been annoyed, but the moment he had seen the child's face Snape had known something was very wrong. Potter may have been as annoying as his father, but the boy was definitely ill. It was Granger speeding out of her seat and Weasley leaning off his stool that snapped the professor back into action.
"Miss Granger, Mr Weasley, stay where you are," Snape instructed sharply, bringing the girl to a halt and freezing the idiotic Weasley in place.
"But, Professor," the worry was written all over the know-it-all Muggleborn witch and Snape could tell she was caught between obeying him and going to her friend.
"If you touch him you may injure him," he said shortly, knowing the girl had enough sense to believe him and Weasley would not go against his girlfriend.
A murmur went round the room and several chairs scrapped on the floor as the pupils attempted to see what was going on. As the children moved closer Snape saw Potter's body twitch in response. He was not sure what was wrong with the boy, but he did know he had to do something about it immediately.
"I want every pupil in the hallway in the next thirty seconds," Snape said shortly, falling back into his normal tone, "and anyone who comes within five feet of Potter on their way out loses fifty house points. Is that understood?"
To their credit the class did exactly as they were told straight away.
"Miss Granger," he said evenly as the girl hovered, "run to the hospital wing and tell Madame Pomfrey I will be bringing Potter in. Instruct her to prepare one of the isolation rooms."
The girl nodded and pulled herself together, disappearing quickly. Then Snape pulled out his wand and cast two spells: the first put wards around the shivering boy and the second levitated him off the stone floor. Planning out the quickest route to the hospital wing in his head, Snape moved towards the door.
Madame Pomfrey had instructed Snape to wait and although it irked him to be ordered around by the school nurse he had done what he was asked. It did not shock him in the least when Dumbledore appeared outside Potter's room in the hospital wing. When the blasted boy was ill the headmaster always seemed to be in attendance, however, this time Dumbledore appeared more grave than usual. Over his six and a quarter years at Hogwarts Harry Potter seemed to have spent more time in the hospital wing than the rest of the student body combined, but this time the headmaster did not appear as calm as usual. Madame Pomfrey had come out of the heavily warded room only a few minutes before and Snape assumed she had spoken to Albus.
"We have a problem," the headmaster said evenly. "I have called a meeting for the house heads in one hour."
Snape was very surprised, but he nodded anyway: this was a lot more serious than he had thought.
Minerva McGonagall did not know what the meeting was to be about, but she had heard the news about Harry Potter. She hoped fervently that the boy would recover quickly and this was not the beginning of an attack or an epidemic. Calling together the house heads in the middle of the day was not something that the headmaster would do lightly.
"Thank you all for coming," Albus greeted evenly. "I am sorry to have to disrupt your lessons but this matter is rather urgent."
"I assume Potter is in the middle of something disastrous, again," Snape's tone was dismissive, but the fact that he had made a comment at all told Minerva that the potions master was actually worried.
This fact surprised her since the head of Slytherin clearly loathed Harry with a passion that shocked most.
"What is wrong with young Mr Potter?" she put her own question in.
"That, my friends, is the centre of our problem," the headmaster told then evenly; "according to Madame Pomfrey there is nothing exactly wrong with Harry yet, however, his condition does require our immediate attention or it could progress into a situation which will cause a serious threat to his continuing health."
Now Minerva was very confused, but she waited for Albus to go on, knowing that the explanation would be forthcoming.
"It appears that Harry is more unusual that even we gave him credit for," the headmaster continued. "He is a Hecatemus."
"There is no such thing," the shocked witch said at almost the same time Professor Snape expressed the same opinion.
"Hecatemae are all female," Minerva allowed the head of Slytherin to finish their objection.
Albus nodded his head slowly.
"And the last known Hecatema died seventy five years ago," the headmaster said evenly in his usual calm tone. "There is Hecatema blood in the Potter line: Harry's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother to be precise, but how it came to be active in a male descendant is a mystery. However, it does not change the fact that this has occurred."
"You mean," Minerva said slowly realising what Albus was saying, "Harry has ... and he is trying to ... oh my."
The head of Gryffindor found it difficult to voice the conclusions to which she was coming. Harry had been under her care for over six years and never in a million years had Minerva expected to be having such a conversation about the somewhat reserved young man.
"Yes," the headmaster said evenly, "we may assume Harry is no longer, shall we say, inexperienced, and he is attempting to bond with his chosen mate."
Snape exploded from his chair as if furious about the whole situation. Minerva was not sure if he was angry because the situation was so unprecedented or that Harry Potter was at the centre of it all. One could never tell when it came to Severus Snape and James Potter's son.
"This is impossible," he said firmly. "Hecatema do not just happen. There should have been signs; the child should have been prepared since birth for this."
There was just a touch of anxiety in the man's voice and Minerva could not understand why. She wondered briefly if he knew something but dismissed the idea as ridiculous: the only thing the head of Slytherin knew about Harry was how to make him lose house points.
"Severus," Albus said calmly, "I am aware of what should have been apparent and what should have been done, but it is far too late to worry about these things now. Male children are not tested for Hecatemae abilities, an oversight which must be corrected from now on. The task before us is to make sure we do not lose Harry Potter because of this mistake."
Snape began to pace and Minerva did not blame him; this situation was unprecedented and it turned a great deal of known magical law on its head. Hecatemae were rare, only one or two a generation and they were always female. A family with history of these elemental witches in their lineage always tested female children at birth for any indications of these traits and if they were found the child was prepared for their role in life from the moment they were capable of understanding.
"We need to find the girl he slept with," Minerva pointed out, refusing to consider the consequences of the situation until a solution had been found.
The headmaster nodded.
"That is why I have called you all here," Albus said steadily. "Are any of you aware of a connection between Mr Potter and anyone in your houses?"
"He was involved with Cho Chang for a while in the fifth year," Minerva provided the information she knew, "and I believe he had a short relationship with a Ravenclaw last year, but those are the only two of which I am aware."
She looked to the head of Ravenclaw and the Charms Professor nodded.
"Briony Michello," the house head provided calmly, "but she was a seventh year and hence is no longer part of the equation."
"What about the Granger girl?" Professor Sprout offered hopefully.
The expression on Snape's face would have made Minerva smile if the situation had not been so serious. Severus did not appear impressed with the head of Hufflepuff's observation skills.
"Granger is involved with Weasley," the head of Slytherin said pointedly; "she and Potter have never been more than friends."
It did not surprise Minerva to find that Snape was aware of the connections between the three pupils; he had used the knowledge often enough to provoke them.
"Then we have no obvious candidates," Albus said as if it was exactly what he had suspected. "We cannot simply ask the school: Harry is far too vulnerable to allow this secret into the open. One correctly aimed spell, even through the wards, could kill him in his current condition. We must find his chosen mate and we must do so discretely. It is most likely that the poor child is completely confused and will start to feel the pull towards Harry very soon."
"Miss Granger and Mr Weasley may have more information," Minerva observed evenly.
"An excellent point," the headmaster replied and the head of Gryffindor was in no doubt that Albus had planned to bring the two seventh years into the plan anyway. "If Harry is to come out of this intact he will need the support of his friends. They should be told everything."
"And if that fails to solve the situation?" Snape's tone was cool but also calm.
"Madame Pomfrey suggested the ruse of a contagious disease," the headmaster said simply, "and we will move through the school discretely examining Harry's associates until we find the boy's soul mate."
Hermione was sitting there with her mouth open in shock and Ron was just confused. There was something wrong with Harry, that much Ron had followed and it involved sex, which, coming from the headmaster's mouth, had been enough to shut down any other thought processes in the stunned Gryffindor's mind.
"I'm sorry, Professor Dumbledore," Ron said slowly, "but what is a Hecatemus?"
"A Hecatema is a witch," Hermione offered the explanation quickly and Ron had the distinct impression she needed to speak so her thoughts didn't stall like his, "who has the ability to sense the world in a totally different way to normal witches and wizards. They can see magic and they can feel the emotions of others as well as other natural forces. They're connected to everything in a far more direct way than most of us. Their powers don't come out until they find their soul mate and bond with them because they need a ground or their powers will drive them mad. Hecatemus is the male conjugation. How can Harry be a Hecatemus, they don't exist?"
The explanation did help Ron to understand, but he still could not quite believe it, and the way Hermione's tone was a little strangled at the end told him that she was in a similar position.
"Professor Snape expressed a comparable opinion. I am aware of how strange this situation must be for you," the headmaster said with an understanding smile, "it was not easy for those members of staff who are involved either, but I can assure you, Harry is a Hecatemus and he is attempting to bond with someone. Do either of you know who?"
Ron shook his head straight away, as far as he knew Harry hadn't been seeing anyone since Briony. The still somewhat bemused Gryffindor turned to look at Hermione and realised that she had not been so fast to deny knowledge.
"I don't know who," his girlfriend said slowly, "but Harry has been sneaking off to meet someone."
"How do you ..." Ron felt a little betrayed that he was not privy to this information, but Hermione stopped him with a look.
Of course there were more important things to worry about now.
"I can't be certain," she continued hesitantly, "but I don't think he thought we'd approve. When I cornered him he told me he was in love, but he wouldn't tell me who with."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows at the news and Ron just goggled, because he was completely at a loss as to how to react.
"He said something was coming," the bewildered youth said as he tried to figure out how he hadn't realised what was going on with Harry. "He told us at the beginning of term."
"From what I understand of Hecatemae," the headmaster said in a gentle tone, as if he realised the quandary Ron found himself in, "when the time is right to join with their soul mate they sense the truth. If Harry's unique position had been acknowledged when he was an infant he would have been prepared to recognise the signs. It appears, however, that nature has succeeded even where the wizarding community has failed. It remains to us to find the individual Harry has chosen, discretely and quickly."
The young wizard appreciated Dumbledore's unwavering serenity, but he couldn't help feeling that he had failed his best friend somehow. Why hadn't Harry told him what was going on? What had been so difficult that it prevented Harry from talking to his housemates?
"It's not a Gryffindor," Hermione said firmly and Ron turned to look at her and saw his girlfriend's puzzle solving face in place. "The way Harry was acting I'd guess that either he was poaching someone else's girlfriend, or," she paused, "or he's in love with a Slytherin."
The fact that she'd even suggested such a thing sent Ron's thought's reeling: it was just not possible. Pinching someone else's girl was one thing, although not something he could actually imagine his friend doing, but a Slytherin? Harry would never in a million years go for one of those snakes.
"He wouldn't do either of those," Ron tried to refute his girlfriend's logic.
"Ron," Hermione said and took hold of his hand gently, "Harry was being driven by instincts. He didn't get to choose who he fell in love with: it's all about compatibility. What we have to do is find out who he's started to bond with and then support him no matter what."
She had him caught with her eyes and for a second Ron didn't know if he could live up to the expectations he saw there, but slowly he nodded. Harry was his best friend and this time whatever Harry needed he was going to get.
"How can we help, Professor?" Ron asked firmly.
"Since it appears only Harry knows who his soul mate is," Dumbledore said calmly, "we have no choice but to investigate the school population. There are plans to facilitate this activity, which you do not need to worry about, but I would ask that you both remain vigilant. Harry and his soul mate have instigated their bond and although Harry succumbed to the changes in his body first his chosen mate will feel drawn to him soon. If either of you see anything that may indicate one of your fellow students is falling under Harry's influence please contact myself or one of the house heads. It is of the utmost importance that this remain secret or Harry will be placed in severe jeopardy."
Ron nodded immediately: for once he was not about to argue about anything. His best friend's life was in danger and a Gryffindor never let a friend down.
When Harry had collapsed in potions Draco had wanted to go to him more than anything in the world. Only years of Malfoy conditioning had stopped him blowing everything in those tense seconds. Since then things had gone from bad to worse. It was like Harry was inside Draco's head. He could faintly feel the other boy's pain and Draco was almost consumed by the need to seek him out. He had lost five house points in his afternoon lessons for not concentrating and he had snapped at just about every member of his house until they'd stopped talking to him. He couldn't think and he could barely keep himself in his dorm. Harry Potter was calling to him and Draco had very little will left to refuse him.
Sleep had been a commodity that Draco had found difficult to come by since the Summer holidays and he had resorted to sleeping drafts. That was also the only reason he had managed to fall asleep the evening of Harry's collapse, but it didn't stop him waking up with a start in the small hours of the morning. His whole being screamed at him that something was wrong and he dragged himself out of bed quickly. The feeling of Harry in his head was stronger but it was also more confused and desperate. Draco didn't even pause to pull on a robe, consider if anyone might see him, or throw on any slippers: his resistance was all but gone and he ran out the door towards the common room.
Silk pyjamas were not the best things for keeping out the cold, but Draco barely registered that the night air was chilly as he moved through the Slytherin common room at speed. Nothing made it into his thoughts except closing the distance between himself and Harry and he exited into the hall quickly. He was so wrapped up in that one aim that he didn't even notice Professor Snape until he literally ran into him. The last vestiges of self-control were all that prevented the frantic boy from pushing past his house master and running on.
"Mr Malfoy?" his head of house sounded genuinely surprised. "What are you doing down here at this time of night?"
Snape looked him up and down and raised an eyebrow.
"And were you planning to spend the rest of the year with Madame Pomfrey because of pneumonia?" the question was less scathing than it could have been, but Draco was in no state to appreciate it.
The young man knew he probably looked like a blithering lunatic but there was only one thing his mind could focus on, one thing his whole body was screaming at him and it is what came out of his mouth.
"Harry Potter," he said desperately, as if it explained everything.
Professor Snape stood there for a moment just staring at him. Draco almost lost it and stepped round his housemaster but he held himself in check by driving his fingernails into his palm. He could barely hold himself still as his soul demanded that he go to Harry. He was needed, he was loved, and he had to go. Quite suddenly Draco found a cloak draped around his shoulders and Snape's arm protectively with it.
"I will take you," the head of Slytherin said evenly. "In the state you are in you will undoubtedly try and run through walls, which will do neither you, nor that wretched Gryffindor any good."
Draco had to admit that he was not thinking straight; in fact he was not sure he could even remember the way to the hospital wing in his current state of mind. Following an instinct was all well and good, but Professor Snape was most likely right and Draco did not relish the thought of being found in the morning having bashed his brains out on something sold. The beleaguered Slytherin accepted the help gratefully and let himself be led down the dark corridors, his thoughts going blank.
"Severus, is that you?" Draco's mind clicked back in when he heard the headmaster's voice.
"Yes, Headmaster," the potions master replied and Draco hoped this would not be a long conversation.
He was close now, the enthralled boy could feel it, and he was fighting the desire to run the final distance.
"Who is that with you?" Dumbledore's question was light and curious.
The headmaster whispered a single word and the corridor filled with a dim glow. The old man did not look in the least surprised to see Draco and he smiled. Although he managed to prevent his body from following through Draco's mind pointed out the fastest route past the wizard, placing the headmaster cleanly in the 'not important' bracket in his brain.
"I believe we may have been looking in the wrong place," Professor Snape said evenly.
"Ah yes, I see you are correct," Dumbledore said cheerfully, as if meeting one of the teachers and a pupil in a hallway in the middle of the night was an everyday occurrence. "Thank you, Severus; I will take him from here. I will return your cloak once this is settled."
Draco saw his head of house nod smoothly out of the corner of his eye, and then it was Dumbledore's hands on his shoulders, not Snape's. The summons was so strong Draco was glad of the physical contact because it was all that was keeping him from running blindly down the corridor, and he was pretty sure both of the older wizards were completely aware of this.
"Come, My Boy," the headmaster said gently, "he is this way."
Part of Draco's mind was whispering that this could not be happening, that this was all a trick, but most of him was not listening. Most of him was in fact informing his whole being that this was the event his entire life had been leading up to. Funny since only a few months previously he had thought his whole existence was about destroying Harry Potter's life rather than becoming part of it.
Madame Pomfrey looked shocked when Dumbledore steered Draco towards a large oak door beside which she was sitting, but she climbed to her feet quickly and pulled her keys out of her pocket. Part of Draco wanted to throw himself at the obstacle and he shifted from foot to foot as Madame Pomfrey unlocked the door. He was almost completely out of control and Draco wanted into the room with every fibre of his being; he could barely contain himself. When the door opened he literally ran past the school nurse and did not come to a halt until he for standing only a few feet from the bed in the room.
There was nothing that mattered, nothing but Harry, and Draco felt his mind saturated by his lover. This was what was meant to be.
Now he was here the need to just reach out and touch Harry was almost overwhelming but for a moment Draco stood there and looked. Harry's face was pale and the scar was livid on his forehead, and in unconsciousness he did not look seventeen. When The Boy Who Lived was awake there was an adult set to his face and his green eyes showed all the evil he had seen, but relaxed as he was now he reminded Draco more of the eleven year-old he had first seen all those years ago.
Only half aware of what he was doing, Draco shrugged the cloak off his shoulders and slowly walked the last pace to the bed. Harry Potter, the hero of the wizarding world, looked so fragile in the big white bed and Draco knew there and then that he was the only thing that could bring back the life to the still figure. All the ideas that had been plaguing him all day seemed irrelevant and calmly he slowly climbed onto the bed on his knees. Kneeling beside Harry he reached out his hand. There was no doubt in Draco's mind, at that moment nothing would have stopped him, and he placed his fingers gently on Harry's arm.
Power flooded up his limb and with a sigh he felt his body succumb to it. His muscles gave way and he began to fall towards the mattress, but two pairs of hands caught him. The final thing Draco knew were those hands shifting him into a lying position beside Harry. With the last of his strength he curled close to his lover and let his mind float away.
End of Chapter 5
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