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 29 - Peace Talks
It had been a week and a half since Harry had been taken over by the vision and the incident had goaded Draco into action. The Slytherin had plans for his one-time friends that he had not yet set about implementing, but the reminder of his father and Voldemort had pushed him into motion. He had spoken to Harry at length about turning as many of the Slytherins as possible away from their current course straight into the Dark Lord's employ and the Gryffindor was quite willing to help in anyway he could.
As it was, the first move was to be Draco's alone, but Harry stood in an alcove in the dungeon corridor under his invisibility cloak as backup just in case. Running up to a Slytherin, telling them the truth and hoping that they would have an attack of conscience was not something that would work, but as Draco pointed out: he had been the prince of Slytherin for a long time and he played the game better than any of them.
[She's coming and she's alone,] Harry told his soul mate silently as he used his peculiar senses to isolate the magical field that was Pansy Parkinson.
As expected, Pansy was performing her prefect duties and patrolling the dungeon corridors for stray students before she retired to bed. Since Draco was the other prefect from the seventh year she was without company, which was what the blond youth had been counting on. The young woman walked around the corner and came to a complete stop when she saw Draco standing in the middle of the corridor.
"Good evening, Pansy," he said politely and Harry marvelled at how relaxed his lover looked and sounded.
"What are you doing here?" the female prefect snapped back and although she held her shoulders straight and looked Draco directly in the eye; it was not difficult to see that she was nervous.
Harry gripped his wand under the cloak and kept his senses extended in case of surprises: nervous Slytherins were dangerous Slytherins, although he doubted Pansy would try anything on her own.
"I wanted to talk to you," Draco replied straightforwardly, his demeanour still calm and collected.
"I have nothing to say to traitors," Pansy said viciously and went to leave.
"How very Gryffindor of you," Harry's soul mate said casually which froze the young woman in place.
Pansy had half turned away, but at the insult she turned back with a furious look in her eyes.
"How dare you!" she said pointedly.
"Knowledge is power, Pansy," Draco said evenly, "what can you lose by talking to me? Gryffindors turn their back on traitors, Slytherins learn all they can and then they remove the traitor when they have the knowledge they need."
Even though the situation was full of tension Harry couldn't help but smile at the torn expression that graced the young woman's face for a moment. Pansy was out of her league when it came to deviousness and Draco.
"Left your pet with his Mudblood friends?" the female prefect tried to regain ground by throwing an insult, but even Harry knew a diversionary tactic when he heard one.
The Gryffindor knew he would never be a master schemer like his lover, but he could not deny that he was learning.
"I told you last time, Pansy," Draco said without reacting to the dig, "Harry has nothing to do with my reasons for rejecting Voldemort."
"But you abandoned your friends for him," the young woman said hotly.
A jolt of surprise went through Draco as Pansy's reply caught him off guard. It occurred to Harry that his lover had not considered the possibility that any of his housemates might actually miss him.
"I couldn't come back, Pansy," Draco said after a few moments' silence, "both Harry and I would have been trussed up and delivered to Voldemort within a month, but I did not abandon you. They offered to resort me into Gryffindor, but I am a Slytherin and a Slytherin I will stay. The rest of the school is right about one thing, Pansy: there is too much dark influence in our house."
"You never felt that way before," Draco's old friend said firmly.
Harry watched as his lover's shoulders tensed slightly and he knew what was coming. This was Draco's gambit, the play that would either open new avenues or close them forever: he was going to tell Pansy the whole truth about why he changed sides.
"Before I hadn't seen the madness that is Voldemort and his followers," Harry's soul mate said evenly. "You've known my family for a long time, Pansy, would you say my father was a rational man?"
Without hesitation the young woman nodded although she appeared suspicious.
"That's what I thought as well," Draco continued smoothly, although Harry could feel the mix of emotions that recalling his betrayal caused in his lover. "Oh he sought perfection and he was never easy on me, but if I disagreed with him about something we would talk it out as long as I showed no disrespect and did not voice my opinions publicly. I found out the hard way that rational thought does not apply to his attitudes in some situations."
Pansy was looking nervously interested now: Harry suspected she realised she was about to become party to information that very few had.
"When I saw Voldemort I saw an insane creature not fit to lead Dementors, let alone a pureblood army," Draco maintained his emotionless tone. "I did not think my impressions could be completely correct and I wanted to understand, so I told my father the truth when we returned home. I expected him to take me into his study and explain things I did not know; I expected a rational conversation where he talked me round as he often had in the past. What happened was that my father, Lucius Malfoy, paragon of calm calculated darkness, head of the perfect family took me, his son, down to the cellar and subjected me to the Cruciatus curse until I begged to be forgiven. I didn't like what I saw when I met Voldemort, but what really frightened me was the look in my father's eyes as he tortured me."
The female Slytherin had gone pale and she appeared horrified, but it soon faded into suspicion.
"He would never have," Pansy said the disbelief clear in her voice.
Draco gave her a cold smile.
"You know me, Pansy," he said evenly, "did you think I changed sides on a whim, that I abandoned everything I have ever known because I felt like a bit of teenage rebellion? If the only way to convince your own child that they should follow you into the Dark Lord's service is to torture them into submission then it can only be the wrong choice. I did not suddenly decide I wanted to be a Gryffindor hero. I looked at my choices and I weighed them up like any Slytherin would do. I am asking only the same of you."
"And if I decide I prefer my chances with the Dark Lord?" Pansy asked, still suspicious, but Harry realised that Draco's first aim had already been accomplished: the young woman had not dismissed the idea out of hand.
"Then that is your choice," Draco replied, "but at least you will have made it yourself. They teach us to be devious and independent, but then they expect us to follow them blindly down the path they chose. I think we deserve better than that."
The female prefect did not appear convinced, but neither was she reaching for her wand to hex Draco into oblivion, which was a much better situation than the last time the two had met.
"I'll look," she said eventually, "but don't mistake me, Draco, we are still enemies."
With a small nod Draco acknowledged his old friend's affirmation and then the young woman turned on her heel and walked away: the meeting was over. Harry waited until Pansy was two corners away before he stepped up behind his soul mate and let the invisibility cloak fall from his shoulders. Wrapping his arms around Draco he looked to where his lover was staring at the last place the blond wizard had been able to see his housemate.
[So it begins,] Draco said silently.
Harry was laughing at something Ron said as he walked into the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom when all humour drained away in one instant. The feeling that ran through him was familiar: he remembered it all too clearly and he had both been dreading and longing for its return for almost seven weeks. His eyes scanned the room quickly and caught sight of the dark shape appearing to the right. Suddenly the room was spinning and Harry felt himself falling to his knees as he tried to force the barrier between himself and whatever energy his godfather was into place.
It was not that the power from which Harry was trying to cut himself off was particularly strong, it was the fact that every cell in his body was screaming that it should not be. His whole being was rebelling against the entire experience and it was difficult to manage coherent thought when every fibre of the fabric of your existence was trying to be heard at the same time. The fact that Draco was coming to DADA from the other side of the school today and hence was not in attendance did not help either.
"Harry," he heard as well as sort of felt his godfather's voice as he curled over his knees clutching his arms to his chest trying desperately to regain control, "oh hell, I'm hurting you, I shouldn't have come."
That was not the right thing to say: it pissed Harry off and some of the turmoil in his brain dimmed in a wave of righteous annoyance. His arm shot out and he waved a finger in the direction where he could sense his godfather, although he did not look up yet.
"Don't you dare go anywhere," he half said, half snarled.
"Wasn't planning on it, Mate," Ron sounded bemused and a little shocked from beside him.
The irrational desire to laugh crowded into Harry's already over taxed brain and a slightly hysterical giggle escaped from his lips before he bit it off.
[I'm coming,] Draco's voice in his head was a calming centre and he clung to it firmly.
With the extra help, Harry's mind cooperated and control surged into the chaos. One moment his thoughts and body were screaming at him uncooperatively and then everything went quiet: the relief left him gasping on the floor.
"Move it or lose it, Goyle," Draco's voice sounded from the hallway and then Harry felt his soul mate come charging into the room.
The Hecatemus was just pushing himself back onto his haunches when Draco's hand connected with his shoulder and it was like energy surging through his veins. All inner struggle ceased as Draco's physical presence sured up Harry's new barrier and the Gryffindor finally had the courage to look up at the figure which had caused the whole scene.
Sirius appeared shocked, worried and somewhat guilty, all of which surprised his godson. Harry was not sure what he had expected from his dead godfather, but what he was seeing was definitely not it. It left him at rather a loss as to what to say.
There were mutterings from the rest of the pupils who were still standing in the doorway at which point the door to Professor Daemon's rooms opened and the DADA teacher appeared. Kesquit Daemon was the seventh defence teacher Harry had had at Hogwarts and she was one of the few who was competent at her job. She recognised the strengths and weaknesses of her pupils and treated them all with the respect they earned. She surveyed the scene in her classroom calmly.
"Is there a problem, Harry?" the blond woman asked reasonably.
[Follow my lead,] Draco said silently to his lover.
"Something in here caused Harry to overload, Professor," the Slytherin said politely, "he needs to go somewhere quiet and sit down for a bit."
[I'm fine,] the Gryffindor pointed out and exhibited his shield to demonstrate.
[Do you want to have to explain why you're talking to Sirius Black or do you want to go somewhere and talk to him privately?] Draco asked reasonably.
"I'll be fine," Harry said resolutely and then slumped against Draco with his best dazed expression on his face.
"I think perhaps you should do as Draco suggests, Harry," Professor Daemon said and walked down the steps into the classroom properly. "I'll have the class notes sent over for you both after the lesson."
Harry allowed himself to be helped to his feet and lent on Draco as if he needed the support. He sent Ron a surreptitious look and tried to convey that he was actually fine and then both Hecatemus and soul mate left the room. Harry did not have to look to know that Sirius was following them.
Draco and Harry walked down the corridor slowly until they turned the corner at which point they separated and Harry spun around to look at the figure of his godfather. Sirius looked exactly the same as the day Harry had watched him fall through the veil and it brought the whole event crashing back to the front of his thoughts.
"I'm sorry," he said as soon as he could convince his mouth to work.
Sirius looked confused and a little lost, not at all what Harry expected of someone who had seen the other side. There was so much the young man wanted to say, so much he wanted to know, but no words would form as he stared at the essence of his godfather.
"Harry," the man said slowly, "you don't have anything to be sorry for."
"I killed you," the words slipped out of Harry's mouth in a breathless rush before he could think of anything else.
The fear this admission brought with it caused Harry's throat to tighten and it was like he was suffocating. The obvious pain that flashed across Sirius' face was almost more than Harry could take. For a moment all he wanted to do was run, only Draco's hand on his arm stopped him. As it was, he had to look away, his eyes falling to the floor.
"Oh Merlin, Harry," his godfather said in a surprisingly gentle tone, "you didn't kill me, my own arrogance did that."
That drew the Gryffindor's eyes back to Sirius, a denial rising to his lips. The sad, apologetic look in his godfather's eyes stopped all sound from leaving Harry.
"I'm the one who should be saying sorry to you, Harry," the older man said, looking for all the world as if he had just come back for a visit. "I was so overjoyed at getting out of that house that I was careless. As usual I acted first and asked questions later, only this time there was no James to stop me killing myself or someone else."
Harry winced and looked down again at the reference to his father and couldn't help but feel inadequate. He should have saved him; his dad would have saved Sirius.
"I couldn't reach you," he tried to explain; he wanted to show Sirius that he tried.
"Oh, bloody hell, I'm worse at this than Snape would be," Harry heard his godfather growl and chanced another look up. "I didn't mean you should have saved me, Harry. I seem to remember you were busy staying alive at the time. What I meant was that I've always been the same, only before Azkaban I had your dad to drag me out of the ridiculous situations I would get myself into. I'm a reckless fool, and I always have been; only this time my foolishness left you all alone. I will never forgive myself for abandoning you like that."
It was difficult to take in what he was hearing and Harry could not let his godfather take the blame. It was Harry's fault that they had all been at the Ministry in the first place.
"If I hadn't been such an idiot," he said a little desperately; "if I hadn't ruined the Occlumency lessons; if I had understood how important they would be ... It's all my fault. I fell for Voldemort's trap, I led everyone into danger. It was me."
Tears burned behind Harry's eyes: tears of anger and self loathing; tears of pain and sorrow. He hadn't been able to cry since the first time he had seen Sirius like this, but now he could barely hold it back.
"You were fifteen, Harry," Sirius said earnestly, his own voice full of anguish, "we all expected far too much off you. Anyone else would have folded under the pressure. I've watched you, Harry. Over the past year and a half I've seen you grow and I've seen you live with a pain that would cripple most. You have made me so proud, and you made me realise that you are a much better man than I ever was. I know I would have made a lousy father, but I love you, Harry; you are like the child I will never have."
Harry couldn't stop the tears then and sob which was wrenched from his body caused Draco to step up close to him and wrap his arms around the Hecatemus. Silent comfort came from his soul mate in waves of love and sympathy, but they could not wash away the tide of emotions which threatened to drown Harry. He had expected some sort of recrimination; maybe not a condemnation but definitely not this.
"You have never been a fool," Harry managed to make his mouth work eventually, although the tears he could see glistening on his godfather's cheeks did not help his equilibrium much. "You are the most courageous man I have ever met."
Even though the Hecatemus very rarely allowed himself to touch or be touched by anyone other than Draco, at that moment Harry wished fervently that Sirius was solid. He wanted to feel the reassuring hug he had felt just a few times before and he wanted to return it. Harry found his hand reaching out even though in his mind he knew that Sirius was non-corporeal and before his godfather could move away or Draco could stop him, his fingers connected with the energy that made up Sirius.
The very ends of his digits disappeared into the opaque vision that was his godfather and a force like none he had ever felt before leapt up Harry's arm. It was blinding and nerve shattering, but strangely intoxicating as well as the young man was overcome by the sudden sense of his godfather. It was not like seeing into Sirius' mind, but more as if Harry was engulfed by the man as a whole, seeing him fully for the first time. Unfortunately the experience also brought with it the sense of the wrongness that Harry had felt before he had blocked it and it sliced straight through his shield against it. One moment there was a sense of clarity as the Hecatemus sensed his godfather and the next there was blackness.
Harry opened his eyes slowly, blinking back the brightness and allowing his thoughts to settle into some semblance of order. He had not been out for very long, he could tell from the reaction he could still feel in Draco, but he was sitting on the floor resting up against his lover, wrapped in a strong embrace.
"You two are as bad as each other," Draco's tone was exasperated and Harry could feel the anxiety he had caused still running through his soul mate. "Harry didn't it occur to you that if Sirius causes you to nearly pass out when he enters the same room, touching him might be a very bad idea?"
[I had to,] the Hecatemus replied silently, not trusting his voice to work correctly, [I'm sorry, I had to.]
Draco did not reply, but his embrace tightened for a moment and Harry knew he was forgiven. It was strange, but even though his mental barriers were battered, he felt much calmer than before the incident.
"Are you two both okay?" Sirius asked from where he was crouching a few feet away. "I can attract someone's attention if you need me to."
For a second Harry almost just told his godfather that he'd be fine in a moment and then his mind caught up with what the man had just said.
"No one but us can see you," he pointed out.
"True," Sirius replied with a nod, "but I can affect things a little if I try really hard. I could push over a suit of armour or something."
"We'll be fine, thank you," Draco stepped in before Harry's godfather could demonstrate.
Harry would have tried to stand up, but he knew from experience that sitting quietly for a few minutes would be much the best course of action. However, rather than being afraid of what Sirius might do or might be feeling, Harry now felt an overwhelming curiosity. The guilt that had all but consumed him earlier had not simply vanished, but it was far easier to deal with knowing that his godfather really did not blame him, even if he chose to blame himself.
At Sirius' admittance that he could affect his environment something tried to spark in Harry's memory, but it wouldn't quite make itself known.
"Have you ever affected me?" he found himself asking quietly.
"Once," the dark haired man replied honestly. "Last year when that bludger caught you in the Gryffindor practice and you fell. I don't know how I did it exactly, but I stopped you hitting bottom too hard."
The recollection sparked in Harry's mind and it all made sense. At the time he had assumed that Hermione had saved him since she had been watching the practice and was the only one with a wand in her possession, but there had been such a kafuffle that Harry had never got round to thanking her. It had felt very odd and now the Hecatemus knew why.
"Um, thanks," was about all he could come up with to say which caused Draco to laugh.
"Gryffindors," was the only comment he would make when Harry looked at him quizzically.
That made Harry smile and suddenly his head was full of things he wanted to ask and things he wanted to tell his godfather. He looked the man straight in the eye.
"Thanks for coming," the young man said earnestly. "Can we sit down properly and have a chat? How long can you stay?"
"I usually manage a couple of hours," Sirius replied with a slight smile of his own, "unless I do something showy."
"And you'd never do anything like that would you," Harry replied with a grin.
That drew a chuckle out of Sirius and the Hecatemus let himself have just a little hope that this would be okay.
There was a tentative knock at their door as Harry sat on the bed, quill in hand, but quite incapable of writing the essay he was supposed to be working on. Draco was quietly looking over the notes Professor Deamon had sent over from the DADA lesson and had not commented on his lover's lack of concentration.
Sirius's visit had rather shaken Harry and although he was much calmer than he had been, and, for that matter, far more comfortable with the idea that his godfather was still around, he could not stop his thoughts spinning. Without even thinking about what he was doing Harry let his magical sense focus on whoever was beyond the door.
"Come in, Ron," he called and waited for his friend to do so.
The talk with Sirius had lasted well over an hour before the man had begun to find it difficult to retain his physical integrity. He had said he usually managed longer than that, which had caused more guilt in Harry, since he suspected it had been his touching his godfather which had shortened his stay. The issues between them were by no means completely settled, but healing had begun and Harry was happier than he had been since Sirius' first visit, almost back to the buoyant self he had found when he bonded with Draco.
Harry had been expecting Ron to come and find out what was going on as soon as lessons ended for the day, and the redhead had not disappointed.
"How'd you know it was me?" Ron asked curiously as walked in. "Can you see through doors now? Let me guess, the whole thing in DADA was a new power coming online."
The slight irreverence that his friend had taken to using when it came to any revelations about Harry was a relief to the Hecatemus. He suspected it was as much a coping mechanism as Draco's sarcasm, but Harry appreciated the effort.
"No, it wasn't," he told Ron with a smile, "it was Sirius coming back. But as for the other thing, it's more that the door is irrelevant rather than that I can see through it."
Harry watched as possible responses to those pieces of information battled it out in his friend's features. It was quite obvious that Ron didn't know what to ask first.
"If you don't mind me saying," his friend said eventually, sounding a little awkward, "you look rather cheerful for having seen Padfoot."
"Your tact amazes me, Weasley," Draco said from where he was still reading. "They had a bit of a chat, shared out the guilt evenly like good Gryffindors, and now they're fine about it."
The sarcasm would have sounded scathing to some, but Harry was glad his lover had stepped in: explaining what he was feeling at the moment would have been difficult and Draco had just saved him from that. Ron still appeared somewhat puzzled, but no longer as curious.
"We talked for a long time," Harry confirmed his soul mate's words, "and it's okay."
His best friend looked at him evenly for a while and then nodded with a smile.
"All I need to know," he said firmly. "If you ever need someone to talk to other than the ferret, you know I'll be here, though, right?"
Harry smiled and nodded as Draco snorted his contempt at the way he had been described. It was, however, quite plain to both Ron and Harry that the redhead was forgiven since the Slytherin continued what he was doing without comment.
"Hermione said she'd be up in a while," Ron offered as Harry tapped the bed and his friend sat down, "she might be a little pushier. Anyway, about this doors being irrelevant thing."
With a grin Harry tried to figure out how to explain his magical sense to his friend.
End of Part 29
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