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 15 - Coaching and Other Pastimes
Harry stood in front of the Quidditch team without his uniform and looked the vice-captain straight in the eye as she glared at him. Jessica Toxton was a sixth year and a good tactician and Harry knew she could lead the team. Having all but passed out the previous day Harry had not been sure he could make the practice, but the second day did not seem to be so bad, and after a little persuading from Draco he had taken a nap in a free double lesson in the afternoon. Harry felt quite refreshed even though he had been dreading the team meeting all day.
"But it's not as if Malfoy is going to be on the other team," she said pointedly, "why can't you play?"
"Because I'm not allowed to," Harry really didn't want to have to explain in detail and he had hoped that he would just be able to tell them. "You have no idea how much I want to play, but I can't."
"Spari is no where near the Seeker you are," the girl complained, "no offense Spari."
"None taken," the team's reserve Seeker said honestly: the girl had talent, but she was only a fourth year and she had had nowhere near the practice Harry had.
Harry sent a pleading look at Ron and Ginny to help him out, but neither seemed to have much idea what to do. This was getting them nowhere and, in a desperate attempt to finish one of the most painful conversations in his life, Harry kicked open the Quidditch box. He then pulled out the snitch and set it free.
"See that," he said as the enchanted object flitted around the team, and he lowered his barriers carefully.
Jessica looked at a loss to know what he was doing but nodded anyway. Harry held out his hand and connected with the magic in the snitch and it flew straight into his fingers.
"That's why I can't play," he pointed out firmly. "It's what's known in the business as an unfair advantage and put that together with the fact that, if I let it, the snitch glows like a neon sign it's not exactly difficult for me to spot it."
The members of the team who were not privy to inside information just stared at him for a while.
"How the hell did you do that?" Jessica finally asked, her expression a little awed.
Harry realised unhappily that he was not going to get away without giving an explanation so he went for the shortest one he could think of.
"Magic's attracted to me," he said plainly, "all I had to do was connect to the right bit and the snitch came straight to my hand."
"Wow," was Jessica's concise opinion.
There was an awed silence for a moment and then reality made it back into the room.
"Oh hell, we'll never be ready in time, our first match is in less than a week and it's Slytherin," the girl bemoaned the team's fate.
"Well they'll have a new Seeker as well," Harry pointed out, not willing to be the cause of so much despondency. "Draco's not allowed to play either, even if they hadn't thrown him off the team and I'd be happy to help Spari with some intensive training sessions if you like. Oh, and she's welcome to borrow the Firebolt."
The vice-captain appeared slightly confused.
"But you're not allowed to play," she said slowly and Harry realised his housemates were being a little too literal.
"Not allowed to play in competitive matches," he clarified quickly, "I can fly a broom like anyone else, although it might be a good idea to make sure I don't land on my head, Draco might get upset."
"Then why aren't you in your uniform?" Jessica asked pointedly. "You are still our Captain aren't you?"
"Well I didn't know if," he saw his vice-captain's face take on a look of disbelief and then harden, "what with everything, that you'd..." he trailed off. "I'll be right back," he decided quickly and, handing the snitch to Jessica, ran in the direction of Gryffindor tower.
Draco had been standing outside the Gryffindor team meeting and as Harry ran he heard his soul mate's laughter in his head.
One thing Harry was not expecting as he sat in the common room reading "Hecatemae: The Greatest Loves In History" (a dull text book that had a few useful pieces of information in it) was for a copy of Witch Weekly to be dumped in his lap. There on the front cover was a picture of himself and Draco glaring and gesturing at each other in the middle of the Quidditch pitch after the previous year's house final. Harry had caught the snitch, but he and Draco had collided and crashed into the ground together, at which point they had started yelling at each other. Someone had obviously captured the moment on film and they were arguing for the whole world to see.
"You thought you were a pin up before," Ron said, flopping down onto the sofa beside his friend, "you and Draco are now the hottest thing to hit the news stands since Cecily Boden married Kirk Strange."
Harry did not get the reference, but he did understand the meaning. Ever since Harry had hit sixteen, a growth spurt and been made Captain of the house Quidditch team he had had trouble with the teen magazines. The Boy Who Lived had become The Boy Who Every Teen Witch Wanted On Their Wall and there didn't seem to be a month that went by when someone didn't publish a picture of him. Harry had just started to ignore it and continued to refuse the offers of exclusive interviews. He had known that his relationship with Draco would spark media interest, but he had assumed that the teen magazines would shy away from the subject.
"I'm firmly attached to another male," Harry bemoaned looking at Witch Weekly exasperatedly, "why would a girls' magazine want anything to do with me now?"
"Because, Harry," Hermione said coming up behind Ron, "there's nothing more romantic than true love. The first person to get a shot of you and Draco kissing will earn a fortune."
"My camera's upstairs," Colin Creevey offered as he walked past.
Harry glared at the sixth year, but the boy looked unrepentant and continued on his way. The fact that half the wizarding world was speculating on his love life was highly embarrassing as far as Harry was concerned; of course Draco was enjoying every second. As if on cue his lover came bounding down the tower steps from where he had been in their room. Draco had made himself surprisingly at home among the Gryffindors already and, although the first years were terrified of him, the rest of the house had settled into the routine of having their own Slytherin in residence. Harry thought most of them viewed the rather unconventional young man like an eccentric lost relation who had shown up on the doorstep.
"Ooh, more fame," Draco said cheerfully as he placed himself on the arm of the sofa next to Harry. "We really should take charge of this and do an interview or something."
For a moment Harry just looked at his lover open mouthed: from trying to hide, Draco appeared to have gone to the other extreme. An unrepentant grin was all that greeted the incredulous look Harry knew was on his face as Draco picked up the magazine.
"We can't stop it, Harry," Draco said as he leafed through Witch Weekly to find the article, "we may as well control it."
Harry opened his mouth to voice his opposition to the whole idea and then just closed it again: it made an odd sort of sense.
"I know I will hate myself for saying this," Ron commented as his friend tried to sort out what he was actually considering, "but Malfoy might be right."
"Of course I'm right, Weasley," Draco said with his usual impeccable timing, but his voice held no venom, "I am always right."
"And modest too," Harry commented with a laugh.
Draco pouted at him sexily with mock hurt in his face and Harry had to squelch the desire to drag his lover into his arms. From virtually nothing, Harry's sex drive had grown exponentially and was off the scale these days.
[Don't do that,] the young man warned silently, [or I'll end up ravishing you on the common room floor.]
[Although that would make great news, I find that I am not that much of an exhibitionist,] Draco returned with a smirk. [Seriously though, we really do need to take charge of this.]
[I know,] Harry replied mournfully, [but I wish we didn't have to. There's been something on us in the Prophet every day and the whole school is speculating on where we first had sex!]
[The most popular bet is the Potions classroom,] Draco provided helpfully and Harry was not surprised his lover knew all the details. [Of course when they find out the truth those toilets are going to be the hottest make out spot in the school.]
[And that will please Moaning Myrtle no end,] Harry commented.
[At least she'll have something to look at,] Draco replied and was interrupted by a cough.
Harry looked round at Ron and Hermione and realised what he and his soul mate had been doing. Speaking with their minds came so naturally to him and Draco that sometimes they forgot that they were doing it.
"Sorry," he apologised quickly, "um, ah."
"You forgot you weren't alone?" Hermione offered with a smile.
Harry gave in graciously and just nodded.
"So if we're going to do this," he said reluctantly, "do we go through channels to arrange it or do we go straight to Hermione's contacts?"
"McGonagall," Hermione said firmly before anyone else could reply, "you need her on side for it to work out okay and it's not exactly nice to be bypassed all the time. A press conference might be better than an exclusive to begin with so that no one feels left out. Then you could go for a more in-depth expose later to allay the feeding frenzy."
Draco and Hermione began to talk quite excitedly and Harry definitely heard them mention Creevey's name at one point. He went back to "Hecatemae: The Greatest Loves In History" wondering what he had let himself in for.
Draco did not know why he had been summoned to the Headmaster's office; the note had been short and polite but had not given any details as to why he was wanted. He had left Harry trying to teach Spari what came naturally to the Gryffindor Seeker and Draco was not particularly happy about answering the summons. He was well aware that his presence made the Quidditch team edgy, but he wasn't yet willing to leave Harry by himself if he could help it. Stepping on to the stairs outside Dumbledore's office he was not in the best of moods.
"Liquorice wand," he said shortly and then attempted to school his features into something other than the scowl he was currently sporting.
By the time the door opened in front of him, Draco had the perfect Malfoy expression of superior indifference well in place. He stepped into the room to see the headmaster and an unknown woman by the desk. Draco catalogued the woman in a heartbeat: she was short, brunette, slim, mid thirties or so and appeared completely calm.
"Ah, Draco," Dumbledore greeted with a smile, "thank you very much for coming. I'd like you to meet Professor Praeceptrix from the Ministry. She is an expert in Hecatemae."
Draco was not sure whether to be pleased or hostile that the Ministry had sent one of their people to Hogwarts. He did not like the bureaucrats who maintained they ran the wizarding world, but he was well aware that information was useful no matter from whence it came. He walked over and offered his hand politely.
"Pleased to meet you, Professor," he said in a neutral tone.
"Call, me Hilde," the woman said with a smile, shaking Draco's offered limb. "I'm so sorry to drag you away from your bond mate, I had no idea Professor Dumbledore had asked you to come. It must be a great strain."
The genuine concern Hilde showed surprised Draco somewhat: his experience of ministry employees was petty little people sticking their noses in where they didn't belong and she did not fit the mould.
"Draco," he replied, not sure how to take the woman. "As long as he doesn't fall off his broom I think I can cope."
She looked at him strangely then and opened her mouth as if she wanted to say something, but turned back to Dumbledore before she did. Draco was sure he had seen her dismiss an idea that had entered her head and it intrigued him.
"Hilde is here to offer her assistance," Dumbledore explained calmly. "As you know, Draco, Hecatemae are usually trained from birth. Hilde is one of the team who would be sent out if a Hecatemae child were discovered. She is here to see if she might be of assistance to you and Harry."
Draco bristled as the insinuation that he couldn't cope.
"I'm not here to intrude on your bond," the Professor said as if sensing what he was thinking. "I am quite aware that you are the only expert on how to help your soul mate, but I felt I should offer any assistance I could in case you would like it. I am trained in many meditative forms and would be most willing to assist you with the transition into your new life in any way I can."
Her words quite nicely put out the fire that was starting in Draco and he realised that he was being defensive. Over protective was not a phrase that had ever been associated with Draco before Harry, but it was a fact of life these days.
"Thank you," the blond wizard said evenly, "that might be useful. Harry's still having trouble in crowds and anything you could show us to help would be much appreciated."
Hilde had that strange look in her eyes again as if she was considering something that she couldn't believe she was considering.
"If you don't mind me asking," she said slowly and Draco was pretty sure the woman was feeling like an idiot for saying anything, "but how do you know?"
"Know what?" he asked, not quite following her line of reasoning.
"Know that your bond mate has trouble in crowds?" Hilde said as if she really didn't want to ask.
The question seemed a little strange, but Draco didn't see the harm in answering.
"Well Harry had a breakdown at the Halloween feast, but that wasn't really his fault because we were stupid enough to try and pretend that nothing was going on, and he had another one in a crowded corridor on the way to a lesson yesterday so we take the back routes now," he provided helpfully.
For a moment Draco thought Hilde's eyes were going to pop out, or that she was choking on one of Dumbledore's sherbet lemons. The woman had paled and she was looking stunned.
"I was given to understand you've been bonded nearly three weeks," Hilde said slowly, pulling herself together. "Is that in error."
"No," Draco replied calmly, "three weeks tomorrow if you go from when we woke up. Three weeks the day before yesterday if you go from, um, the initial encounter."
"And both of you are already back in the general school population?" the question was somewhat incredulous.
Draco nodded; he was beginning to think that Hilde was having trouble processing this information.
"And you didn't think it might be advisable to wait a little longer?" she asked bringing herself more under control.
"Well the cover story was wearing a little thin," he explained, wondering what reaction Hilde would have next. "It was come out or have to tell the truth and at that point we were under the illusion that we could fool everyone else. We managed it for nearly a day before Harry's shields cracked at the feast. But didn't you read all this in the papers: someone sold them the whole story?"
"I don't read the papers," the woman said as if still trying to process what Draco was telling her. "You really tried to pretend that you weren't bonded?"
"It was a valiant effort," Dumbledore put in cheerfully, "if it hadn't been for Neville Longbottom they might even had made it a whole day."
For a Ministry expert Hilde seemed to be a somewhat of a loss: Draco found her expression quite amusing.
"Before," she said quietly, "when you mentioned falling off a broom; you weren't speaking figuratively were you."
That caused a smile to play at Draco's mouth before he could stop it.
"No," he replied honestly, "Harry's taking Quidditch practice for the Gryffindors. He can't play in the games, but they wanted to keep him as team captain and he's under the illusion that they have a chance of beating Slytherin tomorrow."
"And you're here and he's there and..." Hilde seemed to be having a problem with the truth.
Dumbledore came to her rescue.
"Are you feeling alright, Hilde?" the headmaster asked supportively. "You seem to have gone a little pale."
Draco watched in fascination as shock and disbelief warred on the woman's features. He was quite surprised at just how flabbergasted Hilde appeared to be.
"I'm so sorry," the woman apologised quickly, turning back to the two wizards from where she had taken to staring at the table, "this is my life's work you see and well I just find it all quite amazing. Draco, I have to tell you that you have astounded me. From my research my best estimate on reintroducing you and Harry to normal life was three months and then I thought I was being optimistic. Whatever you are doing you are doing it spectacularly well and I offer you my complete support. Anything I can do to help, just name it."
For a moment Draco looked at her evenly: Hilde appeared to be gushing at him and he was not used to people gushing at him, well except his mother.
"Thank you," he said eventually.
He was not sure what else to say, his natural caution unwilling to go into details at that moment.
"I'm sorry, Hilde, Headmaster, but I really must get back to Harry," Draco said suddenly. "I'd rather talk about this when Harry's free anyway."
"Of course, My Boy," Dumbledore said brightly and rose to his feet, "we wouldn't dream of keeping you any longer. I'll have Hilde put up in the guest quarters and we can all meet again at a later time."
Draco stood up himself and smiled at Hilde politely, nodding at the headmaster as he turned to leave. He was just heading through the door when they started talking again.
"I am truly amazed," Hilde said and the surprise was still in her voice.
"As you will find out, My Dear," Dumbledore's warm tones replied, "Harry and Draco are two of the most remarkable young men you are ever likely to meet, and I am not just referring to their unique position."
The words caused Draco's step to falter slightly: he had always known Dumbledore thought Harry was exceptional, but he had never considered that his position in the old wizard's affections was anything but his association to Harry. He continued on his way trying to decide how exactly this made him feel.
End of Part 15
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