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 10 - Plans and Practice
Harry sat on the end of the bed playing thoughtfully with the eleven inches of holly and phoenix feather that was his wand. Draco had just been putting him through his paces with ordinary magic to make sure his new situation did not affect his normal abilities and it had started him thinking. It wasn't that his Hecatemus side had repercussions to his magic: he was more aware of it now and he was pretty sure there were resources at his disposal now that had not been there before, but everything he had learnt in school was still applicable. It was more to do with the fact that it was so normal and it brought in ideas of the outside.
"We're going to have to go to the feast, you know," Harry said eventually and looked over to where Draco was playing with a levitation charm.
"Halloween is the deadline," his soul mate pointed out, "we can always come out on the Monday."
Harry looked at Draco steadily and raised his eyebrows.
"Draco, you're supposed to be the Slytherin here," he said with a slight smile, "don't go protective and Gryffindor on me."
The Slytherin scowled at him for that insinuation, but it did make him lower the book he was levitating back onto the table and walk over.
"Don't accuse me of things like that," Draco said a little sulkily.
Harry grabbed him and pulled him into a hug while depositing a kiss on the top of his lover's head.
"I'm sorry," he said playfully, and let the other youth go so he could sit down properly, "but you know we have to go. If we were like we used to be we'd be begging Madame Pomfrey to let us out for the feast. If we pop up perfectly healthy the next day even the Hufflepuffs will think it's odd."
Draco still didn't look very happy and from the emotions coming off him Harry could tell his lover still didn't like the idea.
"I know you're right," he admitted after a few moments, "but I don't have to like it."
After speaking Draco sighed and turned to face Harry with an appraising look: Harry let himself be studied.
"There's so much we just don't know," Draco said eventually, "and right now the idea of you in a crowd scares the magic out of me."
"Likewise, ditto and also," Harry admitted honestly, "but what scares me more is being across the other side of the hall from you."
He sighed; the whole idea of returning to the school population was daunting, and if it hadn't been for the fact that he was sure if people found out Draco would become a prime target, Harry would have hidden in the hospital wing for as long as possible. His lover was in no way a soft target; Draco was quite capable of taking care of himself, but Harry suspected his soul mate would be viewed as the easier way of taking out the Boy Who Lived. After all, Harry did have a nasty knack of surviving anything thrown at him.
"If Voldemort keeled over tomorrow I would shout your name from the rooftops," Harry said resignedly, "but somehow I don't see the evil bastard obliging us."
"If I ever get my wand on that dark hearted parasite he is going to understand what dying really means," Draco said rather vehemently, which caused Harry to look at his lover very carefully.
His soul mate had voiced his dislike of Voldemort several times before the pair had bonded, but Harry had always gained the impression that Draco thought the dark wizard was someone else's problem. Now it sounded personal.
"Just remember I'm the Gryffindor," he said evenly; "I'm the one who does the recklessly heroic stuff."
The worry he knew he was projecting was what finally broke through Draco's slight sulk and he grinned.
"Don't worry," Draco said in a mock superior tone, "my Gryffindor-ish tendencies only go so far as making sure no one hurts you. I am not about to go running off to face the Dark Lord on your behalf."
"Thank heavens," Harry said; dramatically wiping his brow, "I thought I might have to check you into St Mungo's, and a straight jacket can be hard on a relationship."
"Oh I don't know," Draco replied with a wiggle of his eye brows, at which point Harry burst out laughing.
It was not long before Draco was laughing as well, but they sobered quickly as Harry remembered the start of the conversation.
"So we're agreed then," he said evenly, "we tell Dumbledore we'll be leaving the morning of the feast."
[We're agreed,] Draco replied, a frown gracing his features, [but we have a cauldron full of work to do before that.]
Harry reached out and ran his hand down his soul mate's arm; the simple gesture bringing with it the quiet rightness he always felt when in contact with Draco. This sense strengthened his resolve and he looked his lover in the eye.
[We can be ready,] Harry said calmly with a certainty that beggared no argument.
[Yes, Harry,] Draco agreed with an exasperated sigh, [we can be ready. If we have to spend every waking moment practicing, we'll be ready.]
That caused the Hecatemus to smile wickedly.
"Not every waking moment, surely," he said suggestively.
Blinking and reigning back in his scattered thoughts Harry couldn't help by admire his lover's teaching methods as Draco pulled away from the very passionate kiss in which the pair had just been engaged. Harry was sitting next to the door of their room with his back against the wall: the door was open and he was practising shielding his mind from the forces emanating from beyond it.
The basic idea was the same as ever, but the more there was to sure his mental barriers against, the more difficult it became for Harry to concentrate on anything else at the same time. Draco had launched on a strategy of what he called positive reinforcement.
At first the door had only been opened a crack and remained that way for under a minute. Once Draco had closed the door for the first time he had pinned Harry to the wall for a quick kiss. In the forty-five minutes since, every time Harry's performance with his abilities improved, Draco upped the passion he put into kissing and fondling his soul mate. While it was an unusual approach Harry was enjoying himself immensely and his subconscious seemed to be paying attention as well because the youth was definitely becoming much more proficient with his mental barriers. Draco hadn't even bothered to close the door before he "rewarded" Harry the last time.
[You're doing brilliantly,] his soul mate congratulated the Hecatemus cheerfully.
There was only one problem with Draco's unique approach and that was the fact that there was only so far two people could go when fully clothed. Harry's libido was a constant force in his life these days and his lover, quite frankly, had him all hot and bothered. Draco went to move away from Harry since one of the things they were testing was how comfortable the Hecatemus was with some distance between himself and his soul mate, but Harry caught his soul mate's hand.
"Harry," Draco said rolling his eyes, "let go."
Harry grinned and shook his head.
"You play with fire, you take the heat," he said hungrily and shifted onto his knees without releasing his lover.
There was only so much teasing Harry could take and Draco had found his limit. His soul mate appeared to realise this because he allowed himself to be pulled in for another kiss.
[You're an addict you know that don't you?] he commented dryly in Harry's mind as they moulded together.
[But you have to admit I have good taste in addictions,] Harry replied and let the passion he was feeling flow through his body and into his lover's.
Draco moaned as the obsessed Hecatemus let his hands roam over his lover's body and Harry smiled as he broke the kiss so he could move down onto his soul mate's neck. The T-shirt Draco was wearing stretched down across his shoulder as Harry pulled on it, revealing enticing, pale flesh. Not worried that they were sitting on the floor the Hecatemus pushed his lover backwards and carefully lowered him to the ground, covering Draco's body with his own.
[Harry,] even Draco's mental voice sounded breathless as Harry went about showing his soul mate just how much he loved and desired him.
[Hmm,] Harry was not really paying any attention except to what he was doing.
[The door's still open,] Draco pointed out, but did not move to try and stop his lover.
From the outside the door had a temporary illusion on it so that it would appear closed to any casual observers. The illusion, however, would not work on those who knew it was there, so Madame Pomfrey could see through it to check on them in case anything went wrong. Even in his current state of arousal, Harry wasn't ready to put on a show for anyone, but he really didn't want to stop. Part of his mind decided that the door needed to be closed; the rest was completely focused on exciting his lover. He was considering moving and actually closing the door when a slam startled him out of what he was doing and he sat up and turned in shock.
For a moment Harry stared at the door and then looked back at Draco, who was leaning up on his elbows also looking at the entrance to their room.
[Harry,] his soul mate said calmly, [did you do that?]
[Um,] Harry replied, [I, ah, that is, um.]
He searched his mind for the last few seconds and there was only one conclusion.
[Yes,] he said eventually.
Harry wasn't sure how he had done it, but examining his memory he had to admit that it had been him.
[We really should figure out how you did that,] Draco said in a responsible tone as he gazed into Harry's eyes steadily.
He almost gave in then, recognising the sense in Draco's words, but his hormones were still calling. For a moment Harry teetered on the brink of pulling away and doing the sensible thing and then desire took over.
[Later,] he said shortly and leant forward again.
Harry felt his lover give in as lust warred with common sense and Draco did not resist he pushed him back to the floor. It wasn't as if they were going anywhere, after all.
Hermione banished the pillow from the bed so that it landed in the corner and Harry couldn't help himself, he grinned.
"I think I almost have the hang of this," he said cheerfully. "I noticed that, but it didn't bother me."
"I think you're always going to notice when someone does magic," she said sagely.
"Yeah, it's part of the job description," Ron joked from where he was sitting on the bed.
Harry looked to Draco where his soul mate was standing in the corner viewing him critically. Eventually his lover smiled slightly and pushed himself away from the wall.
"You'll do," Draco said and walked towards him.
They had been testing what Harry could and could not put up with for the last hour and a half and so far he appeared to have very few adverse reactions. He had not been very comfortable when Hermione and Ron had a very short, very carefully controlled duel with a select repertoire of spells, but Harry did not think it had been too bad. It was almost second nature to feel the magic those around him were using in such a direct way and Hermione only managed to startle him once.
"Maybe we should hex you and see what happens," Ron was in a very cheerful mood and he grinned impishly at Harry.
The Hecatemus was going to comment and grin back, but a wave of fury from Draco stopped anything else he was thinking. Harry glanced at his soul mate quickly and was quite shocked by the scowl he saw on his Draco's face.
"Don't you ever suggest anything like that ever again," the Slytherin's voice was dangerously low and anger was coming off him in waves.
Ron appeared surprised and aghast at Draco's reaction and didn't seem to know what to do. The glare that Draco was sending at him could have killed. Harry moved before he considered what he was going to do and he pulled his lover into an embrace.
[It's okay, Love,] he said firmly as he felt Draco actually shaking with tension, [it was only a joke. No one is going to hurt me.]
Even with Harry radiating an air of relaxation and safety it took a good few seconds for his soul mate to begin to calm down and then Draco pulled away.
"Bloody hell," the blond youth swore at himself, "I can't believe I did it again."
"You didn't go for your wand this time," Harry pointed out in the hope that looking on the bright side might cheer up his lover.
Draco looked quite uncomfortable and he could do little to help his soul mate except offer his support.
"I take it this isn't an isolated incident," Hermione entered the conversation.
"No it isn't," Draco replied, clearly annoyed with his reaction. "Sorry Weasley," he apologised much to Ron's surprise, "I tend to over react when anything threatens Harry."
"No worries," Ron replied in a surprisingly supportive tone, "I know all about flying off the handle. I think all of mum's offspring come with a lit fuse from birth, so you're talking to an expert."
Harry sent his friend a grateful smile: this was so much easier with people around who empathised.
"I can insult you all evening if you need some anger management practice," Ron offered with an innocent expression.
That managed to draw a small grin from Draco.
"Thanks for the offer, Weasley," was the smooth response, "but it's Harry you have to insult, threaten or otherwise abuse to get me riled and I think we can both live without that tonight."
Ron smiled broadly and twirled his wand in his fingers.
"You're just no fun anymore," he commented which made Harry laugh and Draco roll his eyes.
"Gryffindors," was the Slytherin's opinion, "can't please them when you stop insulting them, aren't allowed to kill them in a slow and painful manner."
Harry gave his lover a peck on the cheek as Draco grumbled light-heartedly and he headed over to the summoning alcove.
"Anyone fancy some food?" he asked cheerfully as his stomach growled. "All this magic has given me an appetite."
Ron looked terribly interested in the idea, much to Hermione's disgust.
"You only ate an hour ago, Ron," she pointed out incredulously as Harry began to request some sandwiches and some drinks.
"I'm a growing boy," Ron protested lightly.
"Grow any more and you'll been keeping goal while standing on the ground," Draco commented, much to Harry's amusement.
"Hey, I thought we weren't doing the insults," Ron shot back with a mock hurt expression.
"If you were paying attention," the Slytherin said in his most superior tone, "I said we weren't insulting Harry, but if you think you're man enough, we can play with swapping a few."
It pleased Harry no end that his lover's earlier anger seemed to have evaporated completely. They were going to have to work harder to curb Draco's instinctive protectiveness, but at least it appeared to have no lasting effects this time. As Ron and Draco launched into a round of surprisingly light-hearted insults, Harry cheerfully requested enough food to feed an army.
Draco swatted Harry's hand away from the Gryffindor's mouth where he was biting his thumbnail nervously.
"You grew out of that when you were fifteen," his soul mate pointed out as Harry glared at him moodily, "you're not starting it again now."
"I'm nervous," Harry protested, but left his hand by his side never-the-less. From the look in Draco's eyes he knew that rebelling just then would be a bad idea.
It wasn't just the Hecatemus who had a case of the jitters, Harry could feel the anxiety radiating off his lover as well. They had both agreed that they needed to do this and they'd been preparing all morning, but that didn't mean either of them would not have jumped at the chance of putting it off.
"Nervousness is no excuse for bad habits," Draco said pointedly and went back to pacing, which he had been doing for the last ten minutes.
They were about to step out of the room for the first time since their bonding and Harry was in no way trying to hide the fact that he was afraid. Yes he had sat by the door and practised with his barriers, but the wards were still around the rest of the room and so the forces he was shielding against had not been all-encompassing. Today they were going to step past the wards, although without safety in easy reach.
It was the middle of the day, just after lunch and Madame Pomfrey had cordoned off an area of the hospital wing. Draconigena Mumps had been a very well thought out cover story since it made the sufferer very sensitive to physical contact and very sensitive to magic as well, so if anyone caught a glimpse of what was going on it could be explained away. Precautions had been taken to ensure that it was highly unlikely that anything would reach the rest of the school, but in Hogwarts it always did to be doubly careful. The screens would make sure no one saw anything specific even if they happened to walk in, but with the disease in question the activity of acclimatising the victims back to normal life was valid.
"I feel like I'm about to face Voldemort, do my N.E.W.T.s and walk naked into the Great Hall all at the same time," Harry said mournfully.
It was ridiculous, all he was doing was stepping out of the room for heaven's sake and yet it was almost as if it was the hardest thing he had ever done. Draco looked at him with one eyebrow raised and slowly smiled.
"Now that's an interesting mental image," he commented wryly.
The amusement that was running through his lover was contagious and Harry found his own lips quirking slightly. It did little to dismiss his attack of nerves, but at least it lightened the atmosphere. Or at least it lightened the atmosphere until he heard a key in the lock, at which point his attention flicked firmly back to the situation at hand.
[If you need to come back in here at any time just do it,] Draco said supportively, moving to his lover's side. [No Gryffindor heroics, I do not want you in a heap.]
[No problem,] Harry said honestly, [if it's too much you won't see me for dust.]
"Ready, Gentlemen?" Madame Pomfrey asked calmly as she pushed the door back against the wall.
"As we'll ever be," Harry said and gave her the best smile he could manage.
Giving the barriers in his mind a last mental inspection Harry took Draco's hand and stepped towards the opening. The Hecatemus could already feel the magic that ran though every stone of Hogwarts thanks to the open door, but it was only as he stepped out of the protection of the room that he realised how much he was still shielded. Draco's presence intensified in his mind as the pressure on Harry's mental barriers increased and the young man had to pause to adjust. For a moment he stood very still and let his thoughts and body catch up with the changes in his environment.
[Okay?] Draco asked a little anxiously.
[Yes,] Harry replied as he took a deep, steadying breath, [so far so good.]
"The screens are charmed to prevent anyone entering but myself," Madame Pomfrey told them efficiently, "and there is also a silencing charm active over them. If you need anything touch this screen here," the healer indicated a spot on the nearest barrier, "and I will be alerted. You have all afternoon to acclimatise yourselves, but please do not over tax your systems."
Harry nodded in understanding, as did his companion and then with a slight smile Madame Pomfrey turned and left. Behind the screens just outside the door was a table, two chairs, a chess set and a pack of playing cards: the healer had done her best to make them feel comfortable.
When he held his barriers in place normally it was quite easy, but the more magic there was surrounding him, the harder Harry had to concentrate, which was the tiring part. He knew it was becoming easier the more he did it and Harry assumed that it was like exercising a physical muscle: the more he did with his abilities the more robust they became. Since Hecatemae had functioned perfectly normally in the world before him, Harry knew it was possible that one day he would not even have to think about his mental barriers, but so far it was still taxing.
"Let's sit down," Draco suggested as he surveyed the area.
His soul mate did not let go of Harry's hand and he let himself be led to the table.
"It's so big," the Hecatemus said as he tried to come to terms with what he was feeling.
Draco looked at him questioningly; it was obvious that his lover was not following.
"What's so big?" he asked curiously.
"The world," Harry said and slowly sank in to the nearest chair. "I mean I've always known the world was a big place, but I've never felt it before. It's incredible and terrifying at the same time."
[Show me,] Draco requested gently, and rather than moving to his own chair, walked to stand behind Harry.
He was still holding onto Draco's hand but his soul mate ran his free hand through the Harry's hair. The Hecatemus relaxed into the sensation and shared what he was experiencing with his soul mate. They stayed completely still for some time. Eventually Draco shifted and looked Harry directly in the eye, his expression somewhere between wonder and amazement.
"I never imagined," his lover said quietly, "you really are connected to everything."
"We're connected to everything," Harry corrected gently, trying to assimilate the enormity of what he was feeling at the same time. "I think I finally understand about the 'going mad' references; without you right here I think my brain would try and go off in a hundred directions at the same time."
Draco did not reply in words, but the feeling of love and support coming from him intensified for a moment, enfolding Harry in a blanket of security and well being. As the other wizard moved to sit down Harry was consumed by thankfulness that the universe had seen fit to give him Draco Malfoy as a soul mate.
Harry managed to concentrate through one game of chess before thinking so hard and keeping his barriers in place at the same became too much. He then lasted another hour watching Draco play solitaire with the cards before he decided to call it quits.
[Headache too much?] his lover asked supportively when Harry finally looked longingly at the door to their room.
The Hecatemus nodded slowly: the pounding behind his eyes was a little over powering.
[It's getting easier the longer I stay, but I think I've had enough for now,] he admitted defeat gratefully.
Draco put the cards he was holding on the table straight away and stood up to move to him. They had been sitting without touching for most of their time outside and Harry accepted his lover's hand with relief. It was so much easier to maintain everything with Draco's strong presence as close as possible. The headache diminished almost instantly, but it did not vanish completely and Harry climbed to his feet slowly.
"Let's get you lying down," Draco said protectively, "and then I'll see what Madame Pomfrey can do for you."
He was not about to argue and Harry let himself be led back into their safe haven. He knew he had had enough for one afternoon, but he was a little disappointed that he hadn't been able to stay out longer. They only had five days left and Harry had hoped for better.
[I know what you're thinking,] Draco commented as they made their way to the bed, [and that was good for a first try, so don't go telling yourself it wasn't. Remember the difference from the first time someone did magic in here and the second? By tomorrow that peculiar brain of yours will have it worked out much better and you'll be able to stay out much longer.]
His soul mate sounded so confident and Harry gave him a grateful smile.
[I hope you're right,] he replied and sat down on the mattress.
[I'm always right,] Draco replied with a grin and then having seen Harry safely to he disappeared outside again to summon Madame Pomfrey.
Harry kicked off his shoes and lay down; at least it had not been as bad as his lurid imagination had decided it would be.
End of Chapter 10
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