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 13 - Explanations
The common room was pretty quiet when Harry opened the entrance even though there were at least fifteen people in it doing various things. The gentle chatter, however, went from a low companionable level to completely nothing when Harry stepped into the room. The young man had thinned his mental barriers slightly just in case and the room was awash with metallic silvers and golds, as well as a blue haze of shock. He had not yet pinned on his prefect's badge and he held it tightly in one hand using the sharp edges to distract him from how nervous he felt.
"Harry," Ron greeted in surprise and stood up from where he was playing chess with Neville, "we didn't expect you back yet."
Once again Harry was incredibly glad that he had a friend like Ron.
"We thought you'd like an explanation," was the only thing he could come up with to say in response to the question.
At that, someone disappeared up the stairs to the girls' rooms and someone disappeared up the stairs to the boys' rooms; Harry had no doubt every member of Gryffindor house in the tower would be in the room in seconds.
"We?" Ron really was a fantastic friend.
Harry looked over his shoulder at the shadowed, still open door.
[You're going to have to come in some time,] he said silently.
[I'd rather be drunk first,] Draco replied and did not even attempt to hide his nervousness.
[I won't let anyone curse you,] Harry said, trying to make light of the situation.
[Easy for you to say,] his lover shot back, [it hasn't been your mission in life to make every Gryffindor hate you.]
[Draco, please come in,] Harry gave up trying to be funny, [I love you and I want you here for this.]
Finally his soul mate appeared in the doorway and a disgruntled murmur went round the room, even Ron looked surprised.
"What's he doing here?" someone asked from the back of the room.
"He's with me," Harry said very firmly and fixed the speaker with a glare, "and he's going to be living upstairs so get used to the idea."
That brought a stunned silence to the entire assembly and several mouths were hanging open.
"Way to go breaking it to them gently, Harry," Draco commented sarcastically, "maybe you should tell them Voldemort will be joining us next."
"Draco, shut up," Harry said pointedly, "you're not helping."
It had become quite obvious even before Harry ended up in Draco's head that the Slytherin used sarcasm as a defence mechanism: right now it wasn't particularly useful.
"Since when have you two been on first name terms?" surprisingly it was Neville who spoke up.
"Oh we're on more than first..." Harry turned around and fixed Draco with a glare before his other half could finish his sentence.
"Will you please let me do this?" he said firmly and after a moment or so Draco nodded.
[Sorry,] came the mental apology.
[It's okay,] Harry replied in kind, [I'm scared too.]
At that moment Hermione came down the stairs with a couple of other girls.
"Harry, Draco," she greeted with surprise in her voice, "I heard, but I thought someone was pulling my leg."
[I wish,] Draco muttered in Harry's head.
"We came to explain," Harry said aloud.
"Oh," was Hermione's response, "good for you."
Then like the jewel she was she made her way across the room and placed herself right next to Draco pledging her support so that no one could mistake it.
"Okay, Harry," Colin Creevey said in a reasonable tone, "we're listening."
At the invitation all his prepared speeches fled and Harry was left feeling awkward and at a loss. Then Draco's fingers brushed his arm lightly and he tried to pull himself together.
"Ever heard of Hecatemae?" he finally started.
There were mostly blank stares looking back at him and a couple of faces that thought they knew, but didn't appear sure. Harry considered giving them the explanation as he saw it, but, since he had help, he decided to use it.
"Hermione, would you mind, you probably have it memorised?" he requested hopefully.
"No problem," she replied with a smile and then proceeded to rattle off the dictionary definition of exactly what a Hecatema was.
Some of the faces in the crowd looked no clearer when she had finished, but the majority had cottoned on.
"So how did you get mixed up with a Hecatema," one of the fourth years asked once Hermione had finished, "and what does it have to do with Malfoy."
"I didn't get mixed up with one," Harry said with a resigned sigh, "I'm a Hecatemus."
"Hecatema are all female," one bright spark put in and there were murmurs of agreement, "there's no such thing as a Hecatemus."
Hermione's definition had woken up a few memories.
"That's what everyone thought," Harry said honestly, "but someone forgot to mention it to me. Someone always forgets to mention these things to me."
[Maybe being gay counts,] Draco offered in his mind.
[You're the first male I've ever been attracted to,] Harry replied trying to figure out what to say next, [I'm not sure that makes me gay, I'll give you bi though.]
"So you can sense what we're feeling, and the raw magic and things like that?" another voice chipped in.
"Sort of," he admitted, not sure he could quite explain exactly what it was he could see. "I can put barriers up to stop it all or I'd end up crazier than I already am."
That earned him a little laugh from some of those that knew him well.
"And you needed a bond mate to help..." someone else started and then paused. "Oh my god, you're saying your soul mate is Malfoy?"
The room exploded with sound and Harry shoved his barriers up to full strength to keep out the emotions that began flying around. There was no way anyone could hear anything sensible with the number of questions soaring around the room. Draco moved closer to Harry and slipped his hand into his. It was Ron who came to the rescue with the rest of the room. His ginger haired friend climbed up onto the common room table and yelled at the top of his lungs.
The sound in the room fell to a gentle muttering.
"But Malfoy is a Death Eater," an anonymous voice said as a semblance of quiet fell.
"You're thinking of my father," was Draco's succinct reply.
"Draco has been on our side since the beginning of the year," Harry said pointedly, "which is why we attempted the charade at the feast yesterday. He's been our eyes in their camp since term started."
[You make me sound like a full-fledged spy,] Draco commented wryly.
Several of the older pupils were now looking at the Slytherin as if he had grown another head and Harry had to admit that if asked who would turn out to be a good guy a last year, Draco would not have even made the list.
"So you and he ..." someone began and then realised that there were youngsters in the room.
"Draco and I will be sharing what used to be the junk room above the seventh year dorms," Harry said calmly, saving the commentator from herself. "It was that or the Slytherin dungeon and both of us fancied living until the end of the year."
There was another titter of laughter from the younger members of the house, only the older ones knew that Harry's light tone belied the fact he was serious.
"Look, guys," Harry said as the laughter died, "I know this is strange, trust me it's even stranger from this angle, but I would really like not to have to stay in the hospital wing for the rest of the year."
There was muttering from around the room and Harry just prayed.
"Come on, Gryffindor," it was Seamus' voice that broke through the low rumble, "this is Harry Potter: he's saved our arses loads of times."
There was a moment's silence and then the room erupted in a distinct yes. Total astonishment came from Draco's direction when he found himself patted on the back by a Gryffindor he was sure he'd terrorised for at least three years.
[You are aware your housemates are insane,] he commented as Harry turned to him and beamed.
There was of course one more group that needed to be told exactly what was going on, more so than the Gryffindors. As soon as the arrangements for Draco and Harry to move into the upper room had been made, Harry cast the charm on his galleon, which called all current members of the DA to a meeting. The information sent round to the other houses had been bare facts and Harry knew he was going to have some explaining to do. At eight thirty all twenty-five members of the DA arrived at the Room of Requirement.
There had been twenty-five original members and so it was that they had agreed that when they left school those leaving would find their own replacements. Hence the group remained the same size. Some of the faces in the crowd did not look at all happy to see Draco Malfoy upping their numbers.
"You shouldn't have brought him here," one unhappy voice stated as soon as the door closed.
Harry's eyes fixed on the fourth year Ravenclaw who had spoken and narrowed. The irrational anger that welled up in him was not exactly productive, but he was already on edge and he did not need the DA being openly hostile. Somehow this was entirely different than explaining to the Gryffindors: this felt more dangerous, possibly because every person in the room was technically just that little bit more lethal than their school friends.
"I know you all already know what I am," Harry said evenly, refusing to give an answer to his critic straight away, "but I thought you deserved a better explanation. The first thing I have to make clear is that what I know Draco knows. There is nothing I can do about that and I wouldn't even if I could. If you decide you can't handle that then I will leave."
"Draco Malfoy stands for everything we don't," it was Zacharius Smith who spoke up next and he appeared decidedly unhappy. "He'll sell us out to his father if he hasn't already."
Draco's hand gently rested on the small of Harry's back, which was the only thing that stopped the retort that jumped to his mind. Having a screaming match with any of the members of the DA would not be productive, but right about then it was what Harry wanted to do. He was tired, he was on edge and all he really wanted to do was go to bed.
"I am not now, nor have I ever been a Death Eater," Draco's voice was calm, cool and very firm. "If you ever meet Voldemort face to face you will understand my decision."
A twitch at the open use of the Dark Lord's name and a murmur went round the room at Draco's admission, but Smith did not look convinced. Harry continued to glare at the Hufflepuff in a very annoyed fashion. To prove his point Draco pulled back the sleeves of his uniform to show he was not marked.
"Draco came over to our side before anything started between me and him," Harry said, trying to make them understand. "I don't think I could make a move before he did. We weren't compatible until then."
Trying to explain instinctive reasoning was not easy and it was all he could do to make it sound half sensible. How could he tell them that things had to have been just right for his heritage to kick in, when he was not exactly sure what the criteria had been to begin with?
"How do we know it's not you who went over to them?" Zacharius did not appear to be in the mood to give up.
There were several retorts of outrage from the Gryffindors in the room, but some of the other pupils appeared to think Smith might have a point. Draco stepped past Harry as the Hecatemus warred with himself trying to stay calm. The young man had had one too many things to deal with today and he was realising that meeting with the DA tonight may not have been such a good idea. The Gryffindors had been so easy in comparison.
"You actually think The Boy Who Lived would side with Voldemort?" Draco asked pointedly and another convulsive shudder went round the room at the name. "Did you conveniently forget how many times Harry has stood against that madman? Which bit of the past six years did you miss?"
"People change," Smith replied coldly, "there was no attack last year; maybe that was because good old Harry was changing sides. Who knows what he'd do for his soul mate."
The way the Hufflepuff said 'soul mate' was not nice and Harry suddenly realised that this was not just about Death Eaters. Smith made it sound as if what Harry and Draco were to each other was a dirty word. It appeared Draco had come to the same conclusion because there was white-hot anger running through him that cut through Harry's emotions like a knife. It was obvious to Harry that his lover was furious and the tension in Draco's stance was obvious. The Slytherin's hands were clenched by his sides and Harry knew his soul mate really wanted to reach for his wand and teach the Hufflepuff a lesson.
This was not a prejudice Harry had yet had to face one on one. In the wizarding world choice of sexual partners was not really an issue, and being Hecatemus had removed any of the remaining possibility of stigma associated with Harry's choice in the minds of most wizards and witches. Zacharius' father was a Muggle and it appeared that he had instilled some of his Muggle prejudices in his son.
"He is the only pure thing I have ever known," Draco's voice was low and dangerous. "How dare you suggest otherwise."
There was righteous anger in his every word and several faces paled under his wrath.
"Nice try, Malfoy," Zacharius said pointedly, "How do we know you're not relaying everything to Voldemort right now?"
Harry wanted to strangle the little prat with his bare hands, but sat on the desire before his anger and Draco's could combine and get really out of hand.
"You're a danger to us all, Malfoy," Smith said with uncompromising certainty in his voice, "until we have decided this I think you should be out of the loop."
Then the Hufflepuff did something that drew an amazed gasp from the entire room: the youth had his wand already in his hand and he raised it and said one word: "Stupefacio."
Harry's world slowed down to an almost stop as the red flash lanced straight at Draco. His lover had no chance to defend himself and as the curse hit him Draco folded like a rag doll. There was total silence and Harry's already precarious control snapped. The sudden absence of Draco's conscious mind in his thoughts wiped every rational idea from the Hecatemus' brain and shock coursed through his system. For a moment he just stared at the crumpled heap that was his soul mate and then his barriers came crashing down.
There was no gap between thought and action as they became one in Harry and he swung his gaze up to look at the person who had thrown the curse. Magic leapt at him from around the room and Harry took hold of it, not even trying to control the power that it fed into the surrounding air. His hair and robe moved as the spirals of raw energy moved over the surface of his body.
"Oh Merlin," Harry caught the sound of someone speaking behind him but barely noticed; "someone revive Malfoy now."
The growl started low in his throat and it moved up through his larynx and out of his mouth, growing with every micro second. Then as he released it into the world he sent with it the power hovering around him and it had only one target. Zacharius Smith never stood a chance: his wand dropped uselessly from his hand as he flew bodily backwards and collided with the wall. The magic surrounded the Hufflepuff and Harry watched it swirl around the youth as the power pinned Smith to the wall like a fly on glue. Harry was completely focused and he wanted to make his enemy pay. He hardly noticed that he was walking towards his helpless captive, and the fact that there were other spells being cast in the room was irrelevant.
Harry reached out to take hold of Zacharius through the prison he had formed of the magic. He had no idea what he was going to do, but thinking was not high on his list of priorities at that moment.
[Harry, no!] Draco's voice sounded in his head and the Hecatemus froze.
His soul mate's inner tone felt dazed and a little confused, but it was real and it touched the part of Harry that had switched off when it was gone. This caused raw power and a sudden lack of clarity to converge: it was not a good combination. The magic surrounding Smith leapt back at the Hecatemus and whipped around him; it wanted to be used and it sang its captivating song to his every cell. He barely noticed that Zacharius slid to the floor in front of him, he was too caught up in the power flowing through and around him.
Suddenly Draco was there standing directly before him. His soul mate's grey eyes bored into his and pale, shaking fingers reached up to rest on either side of his face.
"[Harry, you need to release the magic,]" Draco's voice sounded on a mental and physical level. "[If you block it now it could hurt people. You need to disperse it. Push it into the room; let it flow back into the walls.]"
Harry found himself frowning: he could hear Draco, he could understand the words, but it was so hard to think. The power in his veins was like a whirlwind in his mind that he had to overcome before he could know anything properly. Draco's gaze held steady and Harry felt the love pouring down the link between them.
"[I'm alright,]" his soul mate assured him firmly, "[everything is how it should be. Let the power go, you don't need it anymore. Send it back from where it came.]"
The Slytherin's eyes closed and his head went back at which point Harry found the mental presence of his lover within him strengthen. With an effort of will the Gryffindor managed to make his body work and he pulled Draco close, wrapping his arms around the slim, muscular frame of his soul mate, needing the physical contact to distract his mind from the purely elemental. Draco's essence stood like a rock in his mind and Harry clung to it. He had never deliberately connected with the magic around him before, only accidentally, and letting go was one of the most difficult things he had ever done.
It felt like Harry was pushing out a part of himself as he tried to control the power he had dragged to his will. It did not want to leave him, it was dangerously unstable and it took every ounce of concentration he could muster as well as Draco's commanding presence to push it away, giving it back to the room from which he had taken it. Harry lost track of time and physical reality, all he knew was the power and his soul mate.
Pushing the power away was of course not enough: he needed to keep it away and slowly he rebuilt his shields. It felt as if it took him forever to put his mind back behind its barriers, but as the world slowly returned Harry had enough brainpower left to realise it could not have been long. He found himself kneeling on the floor with Draco clutched to him. Smith was still on the ground next to the wall, looking dazed and confused and the rest of the room was eerily silent. When he blinked and looked around everyone was staring at him.
"Harry," Hermione said gently as his eyes flicked across her, "are you and Draco okay?"
It took a moment for Harry to come to any conclusion about that and he found himself looking down at Draco's back before he could answer. His lover was half wrapped around him and had not moved from where he had his face buried in Harry's shoulder. Draco's body was as still as his thoughts and only gradually did Harry become aware of a fury growing inside his soul mater. All at once Draco exploded from his arms, coming to his feet and rounding on Zacharius Smith in one, graceful, terrifying movement. The Slytherin's hands snaked out at speed and grabbed the Hufflepuff by the front of his robe, dragging Smith to his feet with rage-induced strength.
"Are you a complete moron?" Draco yelled at the top of his lungs, face no more than an inch from his captive's. "Have you any idea what you just did? Do you know how many laws you broke? Do you even understand how incredibly stupid that was? Can you even conceive of how dangerous your petty little game could have been?"
Harry just knelt there watching as his lover screamed at the helpless Zacharius. Strangely he did not feel tired, not like the previous evening: in fact he felt somehow energised, but he could not quite put his body into motion.
"He could have killed you, you imbecilic little pedant," Draco was nowhere near finished yet. "He has more power at his beck and call than you could possibly imagine and he could have snuffed you out like a candle. And do you even care what that would have done to him? He blames himself for enough death already you filthy, hypocritical worm, can you even begin to understand how he would have felt if that power had wiped your insignificant hide off the face of this planet?"
There was something almost apocalyptic about the Slytherin at that moment. His rage was so pure that it gave him an ethereal quality. Draco appeared to be holding the Hufflepuff against the wall effortlessly.
"The only reason you're still alive is Harry is the most good, noble, just and kind hearted person I have ever met," Draco threw the words like knives. "He could have blown you into little pieces: scattered your atoms to the four winds, but he didn't. Can you get that into your thick skull? You took away the one thing keeping him sane and he did! not! kill! you! Do you understand? Harry Potter is good. At a fundamental level he is better than every one of you. He has seen more pain and suffering than any of you are ever likely to know and he is still good. If any of you ever suggest that he is in league with Voldemort ever again I will take you apart with my bare hands."
Then as if he had run out of steam Draco just dropped his captive. Smith slid down the wall bonelessly, a look of complete shock on his face. As Draco took his gaze off Zacharius and glared around the room at the rest of the DA, Harry finally forced his limbs into motion. He pushed himself into a standing position and reached for his soul mate, pulling Draco into his arms, not quite sure who needed the touch more, him or his lover.
"We're going to bed," he said quietly, only knowing that he did not wish to be here anymore. "You decide what you like; I'll abide by whatever you choose."
Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out the galleon he used to call meetings and then he flipped it onto the floor. With a last look at Hermione and Ron he walked towards the door with Draco close by his side and they left the room together.
End of Chapter 13
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