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 20 - From the Big Wide World
Harry thought he might die; the rate his heart was hammering and thumping in his ears made him absolutely positive that any second he would just keel over, and, given the circumstances, the sooner he did it the better. Holding a press conference had to be the worst idea he and Draco had ever come up with and he really wished he could run away and hide.
He and Draco were waiting outside the old charms classroom which had been co-opted for the whole event. Professor McGonagall had been remarkably efficient in organising everything after the soul mates had made the request and she was ruling the reporters with an iron fist. There were rumours that one reporter had tried to sneak away from the group and into the main school, and if what was told was true, the man had found out exactly what it felt like to be a small poodle.
At least they didn't have to contend with photographers, well none other than Creevey who was now part of the publicity team. Draco had negotiated the deal with the aspiring photographer and Colin was allowed to take photographs whenever the pair were in public situations and sell them to whom he liked, within reason. They had agreed on a deal where Draco and Harry received ten percent of the proceeds and Creevey had jumped at the chance. Harry was not really comfortable with having his picture splashed everywhere, but it meant there wouldn't be any other photographers sneaking around, and he had made very sure Colin knew he would be hexed into oblivion if any pictures the pair didn't like appeared in any publications.
[I think I'd rather walk into the Great Hall naked than go into that room,] Harry said silently as he tried not to fret.
Draco looked at him with one eyebrow raised and slowly a smile crept onto his soul mate's face; it was not an innocent expression. Harry didn't have to read his lover's mind to know what he was thinking.
[That was not supposed to give you nice mental images,] he complained with an exasperated sigh.
[I make no apologies for where mentioning you and 'naked' in the same sentence sends my thoughts,] Draco responded without the slightest indication of remorse. [And stop fretting, with the tag team McGonagall and I have worked out those reporters won't dare step out of line.]
That was another thing that had amazed Harry: quite how well his soul mate now appeared to be interacting with the head of Gryffindor. Professor McGonagall and Draco had had a little chat after he and Harry had requested her assistance while the Hecatemus had been engaged elsewhere and whatever they had said to each other had cleared up six years of dislike.
[You know it's scary quite how well you get on with my head of house these days,] Harry commented to his lover. [What exactly did you do, and please don't say 'Imperio'?]
Well it was one way to distract himself from the press conference and Draco laughed.
[Malfoy charm,] his soul mate replied with a smirk.
Harry snorted and decided that he'd pursue that line of questioning later; Professor McGonagall had just appeared at the door. They did not speak; they did not need to and the woman led the way into the other room. The reporters were all sat on chairs down the centre of the class room and what would have been the Professor's desk at the far end was set up with two chairs for the bonded pair.
Harry felt very uncomfortable as every eye in the room fixed on him and Draco, and his lover did not feel completely at ease, but to look at him no one would ever have known the Slytherin was not perfectly calm. The first thing Draco did was nod politely at Professor McGonagall as she took a position to one side, waited for Harry to sit down and then took the other chair. As Harry watched nervously his lover then proceeded to take out his wand and summoned two glasses of water.
The effect of a Malfoy with a weapon in his hand was not lost on Harry, as he quickly let his eyes run over the assembled reporters. Draco holding his wand seemed to fascinate the gathered members of the press. Draco met his gaze once as he passed him one of the glasses and Harry could see the mischief shining in his soul mate's grey eyes. Arranging himself comfortably on his chair beside Harry, Draco then sat back and gave the reporters the most angelic smile Harry had ever seen on his lover's face -- all the time failing to put away his wand.
Harry almost grinned as he watched Draco's aristocratic fingers play with the length of wood in an almost absent, nervous fashion. It was so beautifully done that for anyone not in the Slytherin's head it would have been impossible to tell if the action was a deliberate ploy to intimidate, or a forgotten habit.
[I'm so glad we're on the same side,] Harry told his soul mate.
[Best bit's about to come,] Draco replied without giving the slightest outward indication that he was not focusing his full attention on the members of the press.
"Comfortable, Gentlemen?" Professor McGonagall asked in a business like tone.
"Yes thank you, Professor," Draco replied politely in a beautiful display of aristocratic manners, "I think we're ready to begin."
Harry nodded his own approval with a smile; he didn't quite trust his voice not to give something away.
"Good," the head of Gryffindor responded and graced them with a very motherly expression.
Then the woman waved her wand and the walls lit up for a moment, sending a murmur of surprise around the gathered reporters.
"Ladies and gentlemen," the professor said and swept the gaze she usually reserved for the first years before their sorting, around the room, "I expect you all to behave with decorum. The spell in place on this room will nullify any of those ridiculously charmed automatic quills which choose to bend, misquote or in any other way 'improve' the truth for your readers. If you wish to use such a device make sure it is set to record the proceedings as they actually occur. Any infraction of the rules of which you were made aware before you arrived will result in your removal from this room. This is the only warning you will receive."
And with that she swept into the corner of the room in a manner that would have made Snape jealous. Draco had been right; the best bit had been to come.
"Harry," a familiar voice drew his attention and his eyes were drawn to none other than Rita Skeeta.
The woman was as atrociously dressed as usual and had affected a smile that would have looked false glued in place on a wax figure let alone a human being. Harry swallowed nervously once and tried to keep his true feelings off of his face. The blackmail material he and his friends had on the woman almost guaranteed she would not write any more nasty articles, but that still didn't make her a good journalist and Harry could barely stomach the woman.
[Just picture them writhing under Crutiatius at your feet,] Draco's sage advice filtered into his mind.
[Draco,] Harry replied after considering this for a moment, [most people would probably suggest picturing them naked.]
[Eeew,] was the almost instant response, [why in Merlin's name would you want to do that. Oh, now I have to scrub my brain out with cauldron scourer.]
Harry just about managed to stop from smiling.
[Love,] he said silently, [you're quite scary, and yes I know: of course you're scary, you're a Malfoy.]
Harry was sure that would have warranted a response, but Rita had taken his look as permission to continue.
"Would you mind sharing with us how you realised Draco was your soul mate?" the use of his first name obviously rankled the Slytherin because Harry felt a shot of annoyance go through his lover, but Harry was used to it.
The whole world seemed to think they knew Harry Potter, and complete strangers using his first name like they had known him for years had accosted him since he was eleven. It was not really the question he had expected first, but at least it wasn't too embarrassing.
"Um," Harry was so proud of his eloquent response. "I don't think I've ever quite thought of it like that. We became friends, and then, well we moved on to being boyfriends and, um, then things just sort of happened."
"So your relationship evolved like any other normal relationship?" the reporter asked in what Harry suspected she thought was a sympathetic tone.
That question rather stumped him since he hadn't had that many relationships and they most definitely had not been anything like what he had with Draco.
"Harry offered his friendship," Draco's smooth tones caused Rita's gaze to flick away from Harry, "no strings attached. What progressed from there was something neither of us expected but both of us welcomed. What we have is not normal, but it is both beautiful and makes us whole. I never could, nor ever would, want to give it up."
Harry couldn't help himself, he beamed at his soul mate's words letting the warmth they caused in him flow between them. When he looked back at the reporters there were several slightly awed expressions and for a moment he wondered just what the pair of them looked like.
"Mary Notarius, Teen Witch Special," a small rotund woman with a face that had seen many smiles, introduced herself as the moment broke. "If you don't mind me asking, my readers would very much like to know when you first realised you were in love?"
Some of the other reporters did not look impressed with the question, but Harry had no problem with that one.
"25th September, 10:24 pm," the Hecatemus said firmly and with absolute certainty.
Draco looked at him and to anyone else the look would have conveyed casual interest, to Harry it screamed surprise. From the murmur that went round the room, those gathered to ask the questions hadn't expected quite such a specific answer either.
[You know the time?] Draco voiced his question.
Rather than just reply Harry sent his lover a small flash of exactly what he remembered from the evening. He had etched every detail onto his memory and he shared his recollection of their first real touch.
"If it's not too personal," the kindly looking witch continued her enquiry, "how did you know?"
Harry couldn't help himself; he smiled again and blushed.
"Um, well as the Muggle song says," he said, warming to the subject, "it's in his kiss."
That drew a pleasant laugh from the assembled press and an almost love sick sigh from Mary Notarius. Harry did not think the woman knew what objective meant.
"Draco," one of the other reporters took the opportunity to interrupt and Harry felt his soul mate prickle once more at the use of his name, "Robert Scriptum, Daily Prophet, sources say you were quite the ladies man, did your attraction to Harry surprise you?"
Draco laughed at the question, but his wand twitched in his hand, Harry was impressed how much colour Scriptum lost in his face as the simple movement.
"Who have you been listening to?" the Slytherin asked in a tone that managed to be perfectly reasonable and utterly insulting at the same time. "My tastes have never been exclusive. I can't say my attraction to Harry was a surprise; you all have to admit he is very pleasing on the eye," that caused a small murmur of amusement at Draco's tone, to run round the room. "What surprised me more was our friendship which allowed the attraction to play out. It is no secret that we have been enemies for years."
"Why did you become friends?" Scriptum, it seemed, liked to live dangerously.
The question caused the first feeling of disquiet in Draco and Harry did not like that. He knew his lover was very uncomfortable with the whole topic of his change to the side of light and if they were not careful that was exactly where the interview was going. Draco was shielding Harry from the awkward questions and he decided to return the favour.
Harry's hand was sitting next to his glass of water on the table and quite deliberately he pushed a little magic at the liquid. There was just a hint of light in the water as the power entered it and it bubbled for a second.
"Draco defected," Harry said shortly in a tone that begged no argument and every pair of eyes in the room except his and Draco's flicked to the glass and then away again.
There was an air of expectant fear in the room as if everyone was holding their breath and only let it go when Harry broke the moment by looking over to his lover as if he was totally unaware of what he had just done. What the reporters had been expecting he could only guess at, but it seemed to be a lot worse than anything Harry could think up, which pleased him no end. He'd never considered using his power to coerce an audience before, but it seemed to be working nicely.
[You learn fast,] Draco commented with admiration in his tone.
[I have a very good teacher,] Harry replied and waited patiently for the next question.
"Thank you for coming," Draco said politely after he held up his hand for silence, "but I'm afraid we must call these proceeding to a halt. We look forward to reading your articles."
Not a soul chose to argue and there were even a couple of reporters who smiled and returned the thanks. The whole event had been a masterful display of manipulation through abject terror: in Draco's case because of his Death Eater reputation; and in Harry's because the whole room was convinced they might receive a display of Hecatemus power first hand if they pushed him too far and he lost control. By now the couple had the reporters so well trained that they were silencing each other if it became obvious that the questions were causing a detrimental reaction. Harry felt slightly guilty for the whole pantomime, but part of him was incredibly proud of his and Draco's achievement. From the look on her face, Professor McGonagall seemed to approve completely as well.
[Well that was not quite what I expected,] Harry said honestly as he and Draco left the room hand in hand.
He was feeling much more comfortable about the whole situation now.
[It's a matter of control,] Draco replied fondly. [Now we have it and there's not a damn thing any of them can do about it.]
[Your comment about looking forward to reading their articles caused some of them to go whiter than Sir Nicholas,] he commented lightly.
[Genius runs in the family,] Draco replied smoothly, [and some of us actually choose to use it.]
As the door closed, Harry pulled his soul mate to him and leant in for what he considered was a well deserved kiss. Draco melted to him instantly and both of them managed to forget where they were. A flash bulb going off brought them both back with a start. Harry looked up to see Colin Creevey grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"Public place," the photographer pointed out cheerfully.
For a moment there was complete silence and then Draco calmly looked at Harry.
"Do you want to hex him or shall I?" his lover asked in a very reasonable tone.
Harry looked at Colin squarely as if considering the question carefully and he watched the smile on his housemate's face slowly morph in a very unsure expression.
"I'll be back at the tower," the photographer said somewhat hesitantly and then before Harry or Draco could reply the sixth year turned and fled.
As the younger boy disappeared around the corner Harry couldn't help himself; he burst out laughing. The look on Creevey's face had been priceless.
[This is too much fun,] Harry said with a broad grin.
[Now you begin to see why Gryffindor's are my favourite hobby,] Draco replied in kind.
Meditating in their room with Draco in attendance was one thing; meditating in their room on his own was another; but neither provided any distractions for Harry. After a couple of weeks of practicing with the Prisma the Hecatemus knew he needed more of a challenge if he was going to continue to improve. Hence one Sunday morning towards the end of November he found himself with the small meditation device in his hand looking at the bedroom door.
Draco was sitting at their desk calmly finishing his Arithmancy homework and appeared to be ignoring his lover and Harry didn't want to disturb him. However, he was also not one hundred percent sure that taking the Prisma into the common room would be a good idea either. On the one hand it would give him more disturbances to deal with which would improve his concentration, on the other it was bound to attract attention and Harry was not fond of that.
"It's a good idea," Draco said without even looking up.
"It'll cause a hundred and one questions," Harry replied, not remotely surprised that his soul mate knew exactly what he was thinking even though he knew he hadn't been broadcasting.
Sometimes Draco did not need a telepathic connection to read Harry like a book; in fact he barely needed to look at him most of the time to know exactly what was going through Harry's head. His knack of reading Harry's mind without actually reading Harry's mind would have been disturbing if it hadn't been for the fact that Harry chose not to attempt to hide anything anyway.
"Then tell them to go away you're busy," Draco told him calmly and finally turned from where he was writing. "Like I said it's a good idea. You need to expand your practices."
Harry still wasn't sure; it could be more trouble than it was worth. He definitely didn't want to freak out his housemates by invading the common room with strangeness, and what if something went wrong.
"Harry," Draco said with his trademark smirk firmly in place, "what is our motto at times like this?"
The Hecatemus couldn't help the smile that graced his lips.
"Draco knows best, always listen to Draco," Harry said with a laugh and looked at the Prisma in his hands.
He could feel his lover's eyes still on him.
"Okay," he said with a shake of his head, "I'm going."
"Good," Draco responded and threw his hands up in the air in mock exasperation, "I'm busy here. Bloody Gryffindors, always getting in the way of genius."
Harry headed for the door with a laugh.
[Call if you need me,] Draco's mental contact caught him before he was properly into the stairwell and caused him to smile fondly.
[Thanks,] he returned and let his lover's warm mental presence envelope him, [I will.]
A couple of people looked up as Harry came down the stairs, but quickly returned to whatever they had been doing. He may have been a phenomenon anywhere else, but in the Gryffindor common room he was just another seventh year most of the time. Harry hoped that he wasn't about to change that by what he was going to do.
There was a spare chair beside the fire and the Hecatemus claimed it quickly and pulled the small table in front of it towards him. He then set the box containing the Prisma on the smooth surface and opened it carefully. The crystal sat on its bed of red satin waiting for him to activate it and Harry was strangely reluctant to do so.
He could call it into life unerringly now, but it was not fear of failure which caused him to hesitate. The Prisma would undoubtedly attract attention and Harry was unsure that doing so would be a good idea.
[Just get on with it,] Draco's voice sounded with an amused tone in his mind.
[Yes, Professor, right away, Professor,] Harry replied but did reach out his hands to either side of the crystal.
[If you wanted to role play all you had to do was ask,] his lover's words slipped into his mind with a rather explicit mental image involving himself, Draco and the high table in the Great Hall.
Harry took his hands away from the Prisma as all concentration fled.
[Do you want me to practice this or do you want me to come up there and shag you senseless?] he asked his soul mate pointedly.
There was amusement coming from Draco's end of the bond.
[Half an hour's practice,] the Slytherin said in a very mischevious tone, [and then, if I'm satisfied with your progress I might reward you.]
[We're back to the positive reinforcement are we?] Harry enquired dryly.
[If it works, it works,] Draco replied with a mental laugh. [Now don't disappoint me, Lover, I have plans for you.]
It took Harry a few minutes to gather his scattered thoughts as several possibilities about his lover's plans tried to grab his attention, but eventually he managed to find his calm centre. Placing his hands either side of the crystal once more, he focused his thoughts and reduced the mental babble in his mind to a low hum at the back of his brain. It was being able to push the concentration on his shields and processing the world into an almost subconscious part of his mind so he could move the Prisma freely that was the benefit of the device. Splitting his mind into various functions was a skill that was not only useful to Harry these days; it was a necessity.
As the majority of his world focused down to the crystal between his hands, it leapt into life as a rainbow of colour began at its centre, and it lifted to six inches off its base. The lights erupted from the device as it started to twist and spin on its axis and Harry let his mind absorb the input.
Time meant very little when he was using the Prisma, although he had managed to figure out how to set an alarm call in his head to bring him out of the trance like state. Harry felt vague intrusions on his concentration as he allowed the colours to flow into his thoughts, but he catalogued them as unimportant and filed them for inspection later, maintaining his concentration on his meditation. When in this state he did not exactly lose time, when he returned to the real world he would have an unbroken chain of memory, but time did not really matter.
When Harry finally withdrew his consciousness back from the single focus, he blinked and watched the crystal sink back onto its satin bed before he realised that he was no longer sitting alone. He glanced around and met the eyes of five of his housemates: one first year; two fourth years; one fifth year and Seamus.
"I have never seen a kaleidoscope do that, Harry," the Irish Gryffindor said cheerfully totally unphased at being caught watching.
"That's because it's not a kaleidoscope," Harry replied and decided to not be hideously embarrassed. "It's a Prisma."
"Never heard of one of those," the fifth year, who's name escaped Harry, admitted with interest.
The somewhat caustic voice at the back of Harry's mind that had emerged ever since he started to go out with Draco informed him that this fact was not surprising, but the Gryffindor shushed it firmly.
"It reacts to mental focus," Harry explained patiently. "You concentrate on it and it moves."
"So you were making it do all that?" the first year was obviously the brave type.
Harry nodded and went to close the device, but stopped short.
"Would you like a try?" he asked the fascinated looking girl.
"Cool," was the instant response.
Harry moved out of his seat and indicated that the first year should sit down, which she did. Now that she was the centre of the attention of the group she did not appear quite as comfortable, but she was definitely not a shrinking violet.
"Okay, put your hands either side of the crystal like I was doing," Harry instructed in a friendly manner. "You have to focus on nothing but the stone, focus your mind and your magic on it. Now don't be disheartened if it doesn't do a lot, it's mainly designed for my sort of mind and that's a very bizarre place. If it moves at all I will be very impressed."
The youngster appeared a bit perturbed by that confession, but reached out to the Prisma anyway. A look of complete concentration appeared on the girl's face as she stared at the crystal, but for a while nothing happened. She shifted in the seat and frowned under Harry's watchful gaze and then the Prisma responded for the first time. The smallest pink glow started at the centre of the crystal and it twitched, almost standing it on its end before it fell back to the satin bed. The first year huffed in a very frustrated manner.
"Hey, that was good," Harry said before the girl could become too disappointed, "I only made it move the first time I tried it because Draco helped."
The girl appeared to perk up a little at the praise, but she did not appear very pleased with herself.
"Hey, Harry," Seamus said cheerfully, "can I have a go?"
What the Hecatemus really wanted to do was pack up and head upstairs to see if Draco was impressed with his practice session, but Harry knew he had started this and he was too polite just to disappear.
"Ah, okay," he told his ex-dorm mate, "but you'll need to use the chair, if you're distracted by the way you're sitting it will never work."
The first year swapped with the Irishman and Seamus began his attempt to reproduce the effect Harry had created. It was little better than the girl's try had been, but after years of trying to turn water into rum Seamus had developed an incredible ability to focus on one thing, even if it was futile and he managed to make the crystal float although it refused to spin. After that everyone wanted a try and Harry found himself the centre of the latest craze to hit the common room.
It had to have been a good forty five minutes later that Draco moved through the crowd which had formed around the new game and into the personal space that existed around Harry.
"Do excuse me," his lover said in a tone which just begged someone to challenge him, "I need to borrow Harry."
Harry found himself grabbed under the arm and hauled to his feet and discovered to his delight that Draco was virtually humming with frustration. Usually it was Harry who had to hang on to his self control, but it appeared that he had been so distracted that he had not even noticed quite how aroused his lover had become.
"You can keep the Prisma for now but if it gets lost or damaged I will take a piece out of all of you," Draco was obviously in a hurry and not taking no for an answer.
And with that ultimatum Harry found himself virtually dragged across the room and up the stairs. On the outside Draco appeared focussed and intent upon something, but his lover was willing to bet he was the only one who knew what Draco was concentrating on.
[Did you want me for something, Draco?] he asked innocently as he was thrust through the door to their room.
[You were supposed to be up here nearly an hour ago,] his soul mate replied pointedly. [I do not appreciate being kept waiting.]
Harry couldn't quite keep the grin off his face.
"Oh just get naked you bloody Gryffindor," Draco said exasperatedly.
That caused Harry to laugh, but that did not stop him reaching for the bottom of his jumper and pulling it over his head along with the T-shirt he was wearing underneath. The moment there was bare flesh Draco pounced; in a very sophisticated way of course, but a pounce it was none the less, and Harry was quite happy to give his lover the complete single-mindedness which had so recently been directed at the Prisma.
End of Chapter 20
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