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 9 - The Passing of Time
It had not been a surprise when the request had arrived that members of staff be allowed to visit, in fact when Hermione and Ron had been the first to come and see them Harry had suspected Dumbledore's influence. He had expected more official members of the school to be the first in and he had been glad when that was not the case. As it was, the day after his friends had dropped by Madame Pomfrey had informed the pair that the headmaster wished to visit, as did their house heads.
Draco had put his foot down when it came to too many people in quick succession and so it had been agreed that Dumbledore would visit one day and Snape and McGonagall the next. It didn't stop Harry from being nervous, but at least it was going to be the headmaster first: he wanted to know he could deal with one powerful wizard before he was faced with Snape and his own house head in any shape or form.
"Harry," the headmaster said brightly after the initial greetings were over, "the furniture arrangements appear to be a little sparse, would it make you uncomfortable if I were to conjure myself a chair?"
Harry couldn't help himself, the grip he had on Draco's hand tightened.
"Um, ah, a little," he admitted honestly, "but I have to get used to it sometime and now is as good as any."
That earned him a smile from the headmaster and Dumbledore pulled out his wand. The use of magic in his vicinity that was not his own or Draco's caused Harry's mental barrier against the energy to vibrate, which was a little unsettling, but the young man handled it quite easily. Yesterday Draco had performed all the housecleaning spells to clear up the mess they had caused with the food fight after they had discovered he was sensitive to everything else, and that didn't seem to bother Harry at all.
[Just relax,] Draco said silently, [you're doing fine.]
[This feels very odd,] Harry replied analysing the experience even as he spoke. [Would you mind if I lowered the levels a little bit, I'd like to see what he's doing?]
Dumbledore had produced himself a comfortable looking armchair, but he did not seem satisfied with the arrangement and was preparing to do something else.
[Are you sure that's a good idea?] Draco asked evenly and Harry could tell that his soul mate was desperately reigning in his protective instincts.
[Won't know unless I try,] Harry admitted openly, [but I have to practice sometime.]
[Okay,] Draco agreed reluctantly, [but not too far, and see if you can just lower the one shield, Dumbledore doesn't look like the emotional type, but you never know, and I don't think you want to be swamped with anything.]
Harry gave his lover a smile and then turned his attention to the headmaster who seemed to have decided something and had his wand in the air once more. Very carefully he thinned the mental wall which prevented his mind from overloading on the magic surrounding him. It was not easy for Harry to pick just his shield to the magical energy since all his mental barriers were in essence part of a whole, but for once it worked quite well. Dumbledore was suddenly awash with metallic hues and Harry felt his mouth open slightly in awe: the headmaster was literally ablaze with magic. As Dumbledore conjured himself a large soft cushion the Hecatemus just stared.
"Harry," Dumbledore's voice broke into his reverie, as the young man stood there rather dumbfounded, "you look startled. Is everything all right?"
Dragging his eyes back to the headmaster's face Harry looked the other wizard in the eye. Dumbledore was standing in front of the large armchair and he appeared concerned.
"Oh, yes everything's fine," he told him, snapping himself out of his shock. "I was just, ah, trying to watch the spell and was ... um."
"Distracted," Draco filled in for him.
"Professor," Harry couldn't help himself, "I think I can see why Voldemort is afraid of you; you glow."
The slightly worried expression on Dumbledore's face cleared into another smile at this admission.
"Ah, well, My Boy," the headmaster said cheerfully and sat down, "the older a wizard or witch becomes the more magic they radiate. You young people tend to keep it all inside where as at my age, I'm afraid I leak."
Harry grinned at that, but he was positive that very few people would leak like Albus Dumbledore. It then occurred to him that maybe he and Draco should sit down at some point as well.
"Tea?" Harry offered since it seemed the polite thing to do.
"Thank you but not at the moment, My Boy," the headmaster said warmly, so by mutual accord Harry and Draco sat down on the side of the bed.
The Hecatemus strengthened his barriers and the world returned to normal.
"Well, gentlemen," Dumbledore said calmly, "this is an unusual situation and we must decide how to handle it."
It was a straight to the point kind of conversation then: Harry was glad.
"We have to make sure no one finds out the truth," he said very rapidly. He had been thinking about it for quite some time.
Draco felt a little surprised by the vehemence with which his soul mate stated his opinion and Harry squeezed his lover's hand in reassurance.
"Do you not think that a somewhat impractical plan, Harry?" the headmaster's tone was calm and reasonable, but it made no difference to the determined young man.
"I don't really care if it's impractical," he replied firmly, "we just have to find some way of doing it. If this gets out Draco goes from Death-Eater-in-training to number two on Voldemort's hit list. Even if he never goes home again he's just an inconvenience, if they find out about this you may as well tattoo 'Kill me I'm attached to Harry Potter' on his forehead."
It was not something on which Harry was willing to compromise: if Draco decided to withdraw from the conflict he could be ignored, if he was linked with the Hecatemus he would become a target. Dumbledore viewed Harry steadily for a moment.
"My Boy," the headmaster said kindly and looked him straight in the eye, "you and Draco are newly bonded and you have no training with your abilities. How can you hope to hide such a fundamental change in your status?"
Dumbledore was being so reasonable and his argument was sound, but Harry was adamant and he was willing to say so. He opened his mouth to reply but Draco beat him to it.
"With all due respect, Professor," his lover came in on Harry's side, "I'm a Slytherin and Harry's a Gryffindor: with my deviousness and his obstinacy I'm sure we can come up with something."
[Thank you,] Harry said warmly, gratified by the support.
[I'm not about to argue with you on this,] Draco replied in kind. [It would be safer for both of us if no one else knows, and although I think it's going to be bloody difficult, I'm willing to try if you are.]
Harry squeezed his lover's hand in reply.
[I see broom cupboards and locking spells in our future,] Draco commented dryly.
When Harry glanced back at the headmaster, Dumbledore appeared thoughtful.
"If that is the way you wish to proceed," the headmaster said calmly, "then that is what we shall do. Draconigena Mumps has a quarantine period of fifteen days which leaves us eight days remaining. Will it be possible for you both to be ready by Halloween?"
It was a daunting thought and Harry looked at Draco: eight days was not very long to come to grips with so many changes. It would be impossible to understand everything by then, but they had to try.
[I think it's going to be more than bloody difficult,] Harry commented as he considered the idea. [We're going to have to work night and day to get me to a point where I'm not going to blow the whole thing as soon as I step outside that door.]
[It's not just you I'm worried about,] Draco replied wryly. [I have to go back to my 'friends' and not hex them into next week when they start insulting you.]
[Think we can do it?] Harry asked, honestly not sure it was possible, but wanting to believe it was.
Draco gave him a small smile.
[I think we can do anything,] his lover replied.
They turned back to their audience.
"Yes," they said at the same time.
"Then that at least is settled," the headmaster acknowledged firmly. "This, however, unfortunately also means that any training you undertake must be conducted in secret. This will be complicated to plan, Gentlemen, and I will not pretend it will be easy for either of you."
"We understand, Professor," Draco said firmly, and Harry's fingers tightened reflexively on his lover's hand, "but we have to try."
The headmaster nodded sagely and then, after a few moments when the Gryffindor wondered what the Dumbledore would say next, the headmaster's face broke into a broad smile.
"Well, we have time to come up with a stratagem so on to a more pleasant topic," Dumbledore said brightly. "How are you both coming along after bonding?"
From the amusement that ran through Draco at the question, Harry had the distinct impression that his lover was likely to answer in a manner that the bashful Gryffindor would find highly embarrassing. Desperately trying to think of something to say before his soul mate opened his mouth, Harry launched into the conversation with only the barest clue of what the end of his sentence would be.
Awkward did not quite cover the overall feeling in their room, but having McGonagall and Snape visit at the same time was the only way the couple could think to arrange things without insulting one of the professors. It was also difficult to make yourself scarce when you were confined to one room and a bathroom, so inviting their house heads in separately would have been uncomfortable for each of them at some point anyway. Snape had suggested that Draco could leave the room to meet with him at which point Harry's very protective soul mate had gone ballistic and Harry had averted a conflict by pointing out to Snape that there would be a danger of someone seeing Draco. Snape had no idea how close he had come to being hexed into the next century.
Hence in the interests of harmony and general good will Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall had arrived together and then politely split to either side of the room, each with the member of their house. Draco found the whole situation absurd and hilarious, Harry just felt uncomfortable.
[I can't believe we're doing this,] Harry said silently as he poured Professor McGonagall a cup of tea. [Can't we just have a civil conversation with all four of us?]
[If our house heads wish to act like children I suggest we let them,] Draco replied with an amused mental laugh, [it could provide useful blackmail material later.]
"Sugar, Professor?" Harry asked politely.
"Thank you, Harry," Professor McGonagall replied with a smile, "I think I will today. One lump please."
The Gryffindor popped a cube into the teacup he was holding, placed a spoon on the saucer and then passed the whole ensemble to his housemistress. She stirred it thoughtfully for a few seconds as Harry sat down in the chair Professor McGonagall had conjured for him to sit on.
"How are you feeling, Harry?" she asked conversationally. "You gave us quite a scare when you collapsed like that."
"I'm fine now, thank you, Professor," he replied while trying to ignore the fact that Snape was on the other side of the room. "It's a little odd, but Draco's very good at figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing."
At the Slytherin's name a shadow passed across the head of Gryffindor's face but she hid it quickly. It seemed that the professor had not yet come to terms with the fact that one of the most hated boys in the school was actually on the side of the light. At least she appeared to be trying, however, and Harry doubted he could say the same for Snape.
[Oh, here it comes,] Draco's voice sounded in his mind as if to back up what he was thinking, [he's going to say something about you I can tell.]
[Just remember you promised not to hex him,] Harry replied, although his lover sounded amused rather than annoyed so he hoped the warning was unnecessary.
The problem was that Draco was very quick to fly off the handle just at the moment; it was something they were working on as much as Harry's shielding.
"No ill effects from the bonding then?" Harry switched back to the verbal conversation as Professor McGonagall spoke.
"Well there are effects," he said with a grin and glanced over at Draco before his brain caught up with the fact that he was talking to his housemistress not his lover, "but yes," he continued fighting not to blush at the thoughts that had been wandering though his head, "there are no ill effects."
Surprisingly when he looked back at the professor she was smiling slightly in a very knowing way. Harry was not sure he wanted to know what the woman was thinking.
"You appear very happy, My Dear Boy," she said warmly. "I don't believe I have seen you this joyful since you first arrived at Hogwarts. I am very glad."
Harry found himself beaming at his house head as his embarrassment fell away: he was extremely happy.
"It's as if I've found what I've always been looking for," he said exuberantly, wanting to share his joy. "I never realised that someone could have something in their life that made everything else irrelevant. It doesn't matter what happens tomorrow or the next day, all that's important is I have Draco and he has me."
Harry paused, not sure he could explain it in words.
"Does that sound terribly selfish?" he asked eventually.
"I think," Professor McGonagall said gently but firmly, "that even if it is, it is about time you allowed yourself to enjoy it. I have watched you grow from boy to man, Harry, and you deserve a focus in your life that is not the darkest wizard our time has seen."
It was just like when his house head had stood up to Umbridge in that the witch gave him her complete support. Harry suddenly realised that in Minerva McGonagall he had a friend who would never doubt him, and he was slightly amazed.
[I don't believe it,] Draco interrupted his thoughts with an incredulous outburst which quickly morphed into amusement. [Oh this is priceless; I think Snape is actually trying to ask me if you forced me to have sex with you. I think I might play dumb, I've never seen him quite so uncomfortable.]
Revenge for suggesting that Draco be anywhere but at his soul mate's side was obviously on the Slytherin's mind. For a moment Harry pitied Snape, but he could not quite keep the small smile off his face.
[Bet you can't get him to actually say 'sex',] he replied lightly.
There was silence from his lover for a moment and Harry could feel Draco's thoughts working madly: he appeared to be considering the challenge.
[What do I get if I win?] he eventually asked in a cajoling manner.
[Anything you want,] Harry replied without hesitation, after all he was quite willing to give Draco anything he wanted without a bet so it was not exactly a difficult thing to offer.
A mental image flashed into his head that caused him to blush furiously and he looked at Professor McGonagall to see if she had noticed. The woman was looking at him quizzically and he gave her a rather sheepish smile.
[Done,] he replied to his soul mate. "Draco just wanted to tell me something," he said aloud to Professor McGonagall.
The professor raised her eyebrows and took a sip of her tea: she did not appear to mind, but she was far too perceptive for Harry's comfort. He had never considered his house head as anything but a forthright spinster before, but it appeared that Professor McGonagall was not as repressed as he might have thought.
"You appear flushed, Mr Potter," she said in a perfectly innocent tone, "is it too hot in here for you?"
Harry gave her a grin to acknowledge he knew he was being teased and he enjoyed the feeling of camaraderie until he saw his Professor's expression become more serious.
"Have you thought much about what you will do when you return to the rest of the school?" McGonagall asked in a manner that suggested she would back off if Harry did not wish to talk about it.
"We spoke with Professor Dumbledore yesterday," he replied with a small shrug, "and I expect he told you we don't want everyone to know."
The head of Gryffindor house nodded: everyone involved would have had to know so Harry was not surprised.
"That means we have to pretend to go on as normal," he continued thoughtfully, "but to tell you the truth I really don't know what the difficulties are going to be. I don't even know what it's like outside and we're going to have to open the door sooner rather than later."
Professor McGonagall nodded sympathetically: she appeared to at least partially understand.
"Forgive me for saying so, Harry," the witch commented evenly, "but you appeared somewhat uncomfortable when I conjured the chairs."
"I was," he admitted honestly, "when people use magic I can feel it and I'm not used to it yet. It was easier today than yesterday, but I'm not sure if that's because it was Dumbledore yesterday and you today, or if the more I'm exposed to it the easier it is."
Once the words had left his mouth he suddenly realised that he might have just insulted his house head and he looked at her anxiously. Harry deduced that his emotions were showing on his face because the professor smiled at him.
"Don't worry, young man," she said with a raise of her eyebrows, "no witch or wizard could be insulted by being deemed inferior to Albus Dumbledore."
The worried youth breathed a sigh or relief.
"I think I'll ask Ron and Hermione to try a few spells when they next visit," Harry mapped out his reasoning. "That should give us an idea of what's going on. Draco can usually figure out what's happening with me, but he says he doesn't have enough information on this point yet."
"Well if I can be of any assistance just let me know," Professor McGonagall said supportively. "If anyone can achieve this endeavour then, Harry, I believe it is you and Mr Malfoy."
That brought another smile to Harry's face and he nodded again.
"Thank you, Professor," he said genuinely, "we'll keep that in mind."
There was so much planning to do, but Harry knew that the only people who could sensibly do it were himself and Draco. They could talk things over with their house heads and others who were aware of the situation, but as a couple they had to have the ideas first. With this in mind Harry decided to change the subject.
"So, have I missed anything important?" he asked in a conversational manner.
"I think perhaps Mr Weasley could do with the return of your levelling influence," Professor McGonagall said cheerfully. "Only yesterday he transfigured his quill into a rather sad looking centipede instead of a long tailed moth."
Harry laughed and they launched into light-hearted conversation about exactly what had been going on in Gryffindor house since he had been confined.
[Yes!] Draco's mental voice crowed in his lover's mind just as Professor McGonagall was chatting happily about what she had heard about the last Quidditch practice. [He said it; I made Snape say 'sex'.]
Along with this exclamation came a mental image and Harry couldn't help himself, he burst out laughing. The distaste on Snape's face was priceless and made the man look constipated. Professor McGonagall looked somewhat surprised since what she had been saying was not particularly funny.
"Um," Harry tried to think of something to say, "sorry, um, Draco," was all he managed in little more than a whisper.
The Gryffindor was facing away from his lover and the head of Slytherin, but Professor McGonagall was not and she glanced over at the pair, at which point she smiled.
"Professor Snape appears somewhat uncomfortable," she observed quietly, which seemed to please her no end. "I do wonder what they're talking about."
"Sex," Harry said before he could help himself, and he blushed with embarrassment, but it was worth it to see the look of abject enjoyment on his house head's face.
"Oh, priceless," Professor McGonagall seemed delighted and totally unphased by the whole topic, which after the pervious teasing was not a surprise to Harry.
He grinned and briefly considered what to say next, before he decided to go with the flow and be dammed with the consequences.
"Snape suggested that Draco could leave the room to meet him," he explained lightly. "Draco is a little over protective at the moment and he's taking revenge."
That drew a raised eyebrow from Professor McGonagall.
"Remind me never to place myself on the wrong side of your soul mate," she said with an amused smile. "I do hope you know what you have let yourself in for."
"Oh I have a fair idea," he replied warmly.
On impulse he sent Draco a mental embrace and settled down to drink his rapidly cooling tea. He was feeling far more comfortable now.
End of Chapter 9
Return to Archive | next | previous