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 37 - Apologies
It took days before the pair could bear to be out of each other's sight and they stayed together through everything including interviews with Aurors for the official records and talking with their friends and house heads. It was also well over a week before they could go anywhere without the other for any amount of time. Both Harry and Draco decided that they needed to overcome the irrational need to be in each other's company the entire time and they set their minds to returning to normal as quickly as possible. Over time they both found their memories returning as well, which was hard on them both, but they faced it together and the nightmares did not keep them awake every night.
With his returning memory came the realisation that Harry had been nasty to quite a few people when he had been separated from Draco. None of them appeared to blame him for it, but it didn't help his guilt at all. His soul mate had tried to convince him that it was not his fault and he should forget about it, but even Draco had finally realised that remorse was something that Harry just did.
"If it will make you feel better, apologise," had been his soul mate's honest opinion.
So Harry decided to do just that: Dumbledore walked into his office three days after Harry chose to make amends to find a large selection of Honeyduke's best sweets on his desk, so large in fact that it covered the whole surface of the piece of furniture; Madame Pomfrey was presented with three vials of different, somewhat difficult to come by healing potions by owl; Professor McGonagall found a small, very old book about ancient shape changing rituals wrapped in tissue paper in her office; Professor Snape entered his rooms to find several new jars of some of his rarer potions ingredients sitting on the sideboard; Remus Lupin walked into his kitchen to find a copy of the diaries of one Jemima Cranbrook, the only Hecatema in history to have married a werewolf; Tonks found a new set of everyday robes in lurid pink on the bed of the guest room in which she was staying which made her chortle with laughter; Ron woke up to find a five year subscription to Quidditch Weekly sitting on his beside table; Hermione opened her eyes to see a complete, new set of "Arithmancy - Advanced Magic by Numbers" books which she had been borrowing from the library all year, next to her bed done up with a ribbon; and lastly Cornelius Fudge received a letter by owl where Harry apologised for his behaviour, but not the sentiments behind it.
It had taken every spare minute of the three days leading up to these events to prepare, and long hours to compose the notes that went with each gift, but when he had finished, Harry felt very pleased with himself. His actions assuaged his guilt, but they did not remove it entirely, as Draco put it, he was far too much of a Gryffindor for that. After the thank yous from his friends the aftermath of the whole event could actually be summed up by Ron's question at breakfast:
"Just how loaded are you?"
Draco had nearly choked on the bacon he had just stolen from Hermione as he tried to laugh and eat at the same time. Harry went red and hedged around the question.
Everyone accepted the gifts graciously, sending him a note saying thank you, he shouldn't have done and he was forgiven and those sort of things, everyone except Snape. The Potions Master's note had simply told Harry to be in Snape's office at five after his last class. He turned up on the dot feeling like his life was about to end and knocked on the door.
"Come in," Snape's cool tones greeted him.
As he entered, shutting the door behind him, Harry could not help but notice that the four jars of ingredients that he had sent the Slytherin head were sitting on the desk in a neat row.
"Potter," the professor greeted and stood up.
"Professor Snape," Harry returned in kind.
There was a moment's silence as Snape walked round his desk to stand beside where he had placed the jars.
"What exactly are these?" the man asked and flicked his hand past the containers.
"Potions ingredients," Harry tried hopefully.
Snape looked at him coolly for that reply and Harry had to admit it was rather literal.
"I know that," the professor said pointedly, "now answer the question."
"Didn't you get the note?" Harry asked, suddenly worried that Snape would misconstrue the whole thing.
"All the note said was 'I'm sorry, Potter.'," the Sanpe said evenly.
Harry opened his mouth to reply and then shut it again for a moment. He realised that possibly the note had been a little short, but he had had no idea what to say to the man. They didn't like each other, the only reason they ever had a civil conversation was because of Draco and Harry really didn't know how to talk to Snape.
"That's what they are," he said eventually, "an apology. I remember biting your head off at least twice when we were going after Draco and I'm trying to make it up to people."
Snape looked genuinely surprised for a moment until his normal mask slipped into place. It occurred to Harry then, that maybe apologies were not something the older wizard received very often.
"You feel guilty for a perfectly natural reaction?" Snape said slowly. "Potter, sometimes you amaze even me. Your bond with Mr Malfoy was under the Dissaepius curse; that you were sentient at all is an indication of your character. You have nothing for which to apologise."
It took Harry a moment to realise that Snape might actually have just given him a compliment.
"That's what Draco said," the words came out of his mouth before he thought about it.
"Yes well, young Mr Malfoy has always been the brighter of you two," Snape said with a raise of an eyebrow.
"But I do have something to apologise for," Harry insisted firmly. "It wasn't just what I said; it's what I have done in the past."
Snape obviously had not expected his words because the professor actually showed open surprise.
"I have owed you an apology since I invaded your privacy two years ago. There was no excuse for what I did, but despite the hype I am only human and I was an angry fifteen year old, so all I can do is say I'm sorry," Harry said honestly. "I can't pretend that I like you, but I do respect you, and the things I said were uncalled for."
The fact that Harry had done more than just talk did enter into his head, but he was not ready to cross that bridge yet. Snape turned and walked back behind his desk.
"You must take these back, Mr Potter," he said coolly.
"No," Harry said instantly and then remembered who he was talking to when Snape's expression hardened. "When I make an ass out of myself in front of my friends I like to make up for it. The jars are yours."
"These are very expensive ingredients," Snape began to say, but Harry was having none of it.
"That has nothing to do with it," he said quickly, "I just bought what I thought you needed. If I got it wrong you can change them, but I will not take them back."
The two regarded each other in silence for a few moments neither willing to back down, but eventually Snape looked away.
"Apology accepted," he said shortly. "You may go."
Then Snape sat down in his chair and left Harry standing there knowing he'd won, but not really feeling like it was his victory. The head of Slytherin really was the most frustrating man. Eventually Harry turned to leave at a loss for anything else to say.
"Oh, Potter," Snape said just as he reached the door.
The young man turned to look back at the professor.
"Did you just insinuate that I was your friend?" the tone was icy, but the look in Snape's eyes was unreadable.
Harry did not know what to say for a moment as he realised that that was precisely what he had said.
"Yes, Professor, I did," he said eventually. "You have risked more for me in the last year than I can ever repay. If you need my help for anything, all you have to do is ask."
Then he left. Harry doubted that he and Snape would ever particularly like each other, but that wasn't always the definition of a friend.
The note turned up at breakfast with no signature, but in a very familiar hand. Draco did not look over at the Slytherin table after he read the message since he knew exactly who it was from and passed it to Harry calmly. As his lover read, Draco watched Harry's face and saw the frown developing, which was not a surprise. After all, the note said "It was not us. Meet me tonight, usual place. I need to speak to you."
"You are not going alone," Harry said firmly and Draco met his soul mate's gaze firmly.
"I wasn't planning on it," he said honestly and managed to catch his lover off guard, which made him smile. "You're coming with me, it's time Pansy came to terms with you and me anyway, and we can use your cloak to our advantage as well."
He looked over to where Ron was pretending not to be listening and smiled innocently.
"How do you fancy a bit of undercover surveillance, Weasley?" he asked calmly, at which point the redhead discarded all pretence of ignoring the pair and turned towards them both.
"Sure," Ron said instantly and, from there, the plan took shape.
Hence, that evening found Harry and Draco waiting in the out-of-the-way classroom for Pansy to arrive with Ron in one corner under Harry's cloak and Hermione in another behind an unused cupboard, both with wands drawn.
"She's coming," Harry said calmly as Draco watched the door, and the Slytherin walked back to his lover slowly.
He wanted to make a very specific impression and it started with being as close to his soul mate when Pansy entered as possible. The moment the young woman walked through the door, Draco knew he had succeeded in his initial message, because Pansy looked momentarily annoyed but then resigned. It was obvious that she did not like the fact that Harry was there, but it was also clear she was not about to object.
"Hello, Pansy," Draco said calmly, "you called, we came."
The Slytherin girl let her gaze wander over Harry dismissively and then looked back at her fellow prefect before she chose to speak.
"I am beginning to see your point about the Dark Lord," Pansy said slowly. "Your father..."
"Not my father anymore," Draco snapped coldly, on that point he would make no compromise.
"Lucius'," Pansy corrected as if she understood his view, "choice of action was irrational at best, insane at worst and we are all aware who's orders he was following."
Draco lifted one eyebrow calmly; his old friend's words were a little too up front for a Slytherin.
"And pray tell, Pansy," he said evenly, "how can I be sure it was not you who allowed Lucius access to Hogwarts?"
The young woman frowned in distaste, but Draco did not think it was at him.
"Because I am about to break the first rule," Pansy said pointedly, "I am about to give information about Slytherin to an outsider."
That grabbed and held Draco's attention since if there was one thing that was drummed into every Slytherin from day one it was that you could do what you liked inside the house, but you never took it outside to others. He did not reply, it would not have been prudent, but he indicated that Pansy should go on.
"After I found out that you were supposed to be meeting me when you were kidnapped I used a few spells," Pansy said obviously uncomfortable with what she was doing. "Someone must have suspected what we were doing. I found the remnants of tracing spells on my things; very sophisticated tracing charms that are beyond most of our classmates."
"Well, opening the wards to let Lucius in was beyond most of our classmates as well," Draco replied dryly. "It is safe to assume someone is not what they seem."
Pansy nodded her agreement.
"It is a seventh year," the girl said firmly and managed to surprise her housemate and he and Harry shared a glance.
Draco had expected Pansy to deny all knowledge of the plot; in fact she was low on his list of suspects, but he had not expected her to be of help in the effort to track down the traitor in the midst of Hogwarts.
"I tracked the charms back," Pansy told then evenly. "The only people with opportunity are the seventh years, and it was definitely a Slytherin."
"I take it you have proof of what you're saying," Draco said calmly.
The young woman produced a wad of parchment from her robes and walked up to Draco; handing him the notes she moved back to her original position.
"Those are all my observations," Pansy said without the usual cagey manner Draco expected from members of his house. "They are all I can manage without drawing attention to myself. So far all they have on me is that I was talking to you, I will not make myself a target."
"You have to choose sometime," Draco did not blame Harry as his lover chose to speak, but he knew it would not sway the young woman in front of them.
"And I shall," Pansy replied acidly, "when I know which side will keep me alive longer. At the moment the light appears to be the better choice and you may have noticed I am giving you my assistance, but, Potter, I am a Slytherin and I will not show my cards until absolutely necessary."
An underlying current of annoyance ran through Harry and Draco placed a hand on his soul mate's arm, but, from the look his lover gave him, the Slytherin knew the Hecatemus was not about to say anything else anyway.
"I assume you will let me know if you find out anything else," Draco said evenly.
Pansy just smiled, they both knew the answer to that question; Draco would receive any information if the girl thought it was in her own best interest.
"Goodbye, Draco," she said with a slight smile. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you survived. You're far too pretty to die so young."
And before the young wizard could reply Pansy turned and left the way she had come. That was not something he had expected to come out of his old friend's mouth, well not since the Yule ball, and it rather shocked him. When he turned to Harry he was even more surprised as his soul mate burst out laughing.
Draco looked up from his revision sheet as Harry walked into their room. His lover looked pensive and there was a vague sense of unease coming from him.
[What is it?] Draco asked, frowning.
[Your mother's here,] Harry replied with uncertainty in his mental voice. [She's already threatened to kill Lucius if she ever gets her hands on him, and she wants to see you.]
For a moment Draco's thoughts ground to a stop. He had not seen his mother since the previous Summer when she had been standing directly behind his father sending him off to school. In the time since, she had not written or tried to contact him in any way apart from the one letter dictated by Lucius and Draco had assumed she had disowned him. The fact that she actually wanted to see him was mind blowing and once his thoughts started moving again they exploded in complete turmoil. Harry came and sat next to him wrapping him in both a physical and a mental embrace.
[Do you know what she wants?] Draco asked eventually.
[I didn't see her,] Harry admitted, [if I had you probably could have felt the emotional spike from here to China. One of the second years just ran over with a note from Dumbledore. She's waiting for you in his office.]
Draco just let his thoughts wander through the many possibilities that had jumped into his head for a while. He really didn't know what to think. His mother had spoiled him all his life until last Summer when things in the household had changed. When Draco had refused to be part of his father's plans for the coming year and the man had used the Cruciatus curse on his son for the first time, Narcissa had withdrawn from her child. Draco had assumed she was upset with him, but even when he had pretended to go along with Lucius she had not returned to the doting mother he had known all his life. Her appearing now after Lucius had so publicly been displayed as a Death Eater for a second time filled Draco with worry.
"Will you come with me?" he asked quietly as he stared at the floor.
"I'll be wherever you want me to be, Draco," Harry whispered back firmly.
With a look at Harry's worried green eyes Draco nodded and made his decision.
"Let's go then," he said quickly and put his notes to the side.
Narcissa Malfoy looked as beautiful as the day Harry had seen her at the Quidditch world cup, only this time her beauty was not marred by a sneer. In fact she appeared somewhat serene, which caused a shot of surprise to go through Draco. When she looked up and saw her son it was like a light illuminating her face: there was actually joy in her expression. That caused even more shock in Draco, the echo of which took Harry along for the ride.
"Oh," the woman said and immediately rose from her chair, "how you've changed this last year."
Then she moved across the room so fast neither Harry nor Draco had time to react and before his soul mate could move Draco was enveloped in his mother's arms. Harry saw him tense and the conflicting emotions that ran through his lover were incredible. Draco was obviously having as much of a problem figuring out what was going on as Harry was.
Not sure what else to do, Harry lowered his mental barrier to emotions a little and let the colours through. The moment he saw Draco and his mother, Harry knew he had to show his lover the truth. Flashing a mental picture of what he was looking at to his other half, Harry watched Draco relax into his mother's embrace: he was as tall as his parent, but somehow he seemed to shrink back to a small boy in her arms. The woman was literally glowing gold with the love for her son.
"I've missed you so much," she cooed into Draco's hair and Harry could see her eyes tearing up, "but after what your father did I didn't dare see you."
The blond youth pulled free of his mother's arms looking angry.
"He hurt you?" Draco's voice held an edge to it that bordered on violent hatred.
It was funny, Harry had never heard or felt that from him before, even after what Lucius had done to Draco. His soul mate had been angry and hurt, and he refused to acknowledge that he had a father, but at the suggestion of injury to his mother the firey emotion jumped out of Draco.
"No, Draco," Narcissa said quietly, cupping her son's face in her hands, "one thing your father is not guilty of is harming me. But last Summer I saw how far he would go to bend you to his will and I knew he would use me to make you obey him. I could not let that happen so I shut you out."
"You could have left him," Draco said almost desperately.
He was trying to understand, Harry could feel it, but there was a sense of betrayal in him and Draco did not seem to be able to move past it.
"I thought I could bring him back even after everything he had done," Narcissa said in no more than a whisper. "I thought I could keep him from what he has become, but the Dark Lord's hold was too strong. I should have come to you, Draco," she said earnestly, "but I didn't want to see what a monster he had grown to be. For what he did to you I would kill him myself."
Tears were rolling down her face now and Harry felt Draco's sense of loss melt away and he leaned back into his mother's arms. Harry did not know what to do as his soul mate clung to his parent like his life depended on it. Draco's emotions were all over the place and if it had not been for Malfoy pride Harry knew his lover would be crying just like his mother.
Eventually Narcissa looked up from where she had buried her face in her son's hair and grey eyes very similar to Draco's fixed him with a look. Harry felt like he was being appraised and then finally Draco's mother gave a small smile. When Draco finally pulled away Narcissa looked into his eyes.
"Well, My Darling Boy," she said her composure returning, "at least you chose the best of the other side."
That caused a spike of amusement to run through Draco and he actually gave a small laugh. Harry thought he now knew where his lover inherited his warped sense of humour.
"Narcissa Malfoy," she said extending her hand towards Harry as if they had never seen each other before, "I don't believe we've ever been properly introduced."
"Pleased to meet you," Harry said calmly, playing along.
He took her hand lightly and, feeling the need to meet the Malfoy charm head on, he deftly bowed and kissed the back of her fingers.
"And such manners," Narcissa said warmly.
[I didn't know you had it in you, Potter,] Draco's voice said dryly in his mind, [you'll be telling me you have designs on my mother next.]
[Shut up, Malfoy,] was Harry's response.
"Tea, anyone?" Dumbledore asked and drew everyone's attention.
It was quite obvious to Draco that Harry did not really know how to react around his mother. For that matter he was a little flustered by the whole situation as well. His mother had always been one for shows of affection at home, behind closed doors, and for big displays of overt indulgence of her offspring by buying him large gifts outside the Manor, but she had never shown the kind of attention she was showing now in public. As the three had moved through the school, having been given leave to show Narcissa around and make use of Hogwarts facilities, his mother was continually reaching out to touch him. She would touch his hair and embrace him at the oddest moments and Harry had found himself on the end of her exhibitions of affection on more than one occasion as well.
This was a side to his mother that Draco had never experienced before and he was beginning to see how much Lucius had curtailed the woman's actions. Once Narcissa's behaviour would have horrified him, but now he found her lack of proprietary absolutely wonderful. They received many curious glances from around the school and Draco was not inclined to hide the joy he felt at the return of his parent. By the time the small party headed through the Gryffindor common room and up to Harry and Draco's room, all three were quite used to the stares they received from students. The whole school was probably talking about the return of Narcissa Malfoy if their usual reaction to anything involving the bonded pair was anything to go by.
Harry waved at Ron who was sitting in the corner of the common room as the three walked through, and Draco sent the redhead a beaming smile in greeting as he disappeared up the tower steps. Weasley appeared quite shocked by the whole experience and the Slytherin made a mental note to flabbergast his friend more often, since he did a most amusing impression of a goldfish. When the three entered the room, Draco was incredibly glad he had bullied Harry into helping tidy up only the evening before.
"A Slytherin refuge in Gryffindor tower," his mother commented with a smile as Draco hurried to move a chair for her to sit down. "I think I approve."
Her laugh was light as she took the offered seat and then Draco moved to the bed where Harry was hovering. They sat down rather like a synchronised pair of animate bookends, which caused his mother to smile even more. The delight she seemed to be taking in everything he and Harry did was rather disconcerting to Draco.
"Thank you for the tour," his mother said politely and glanced around the room, "and thank you for welcoming me into your haven. I fear that I do not deserve it."
Draco would have said something in response, but Harry seemed to be thinking faster than he was ever since the news of his parent's arrival had reached him and the Hecatemus was on his feet once more.
"Mrs Malfoy," Harry said formally even though he had been instructed to call her Narcissa or Mum several times already, "we're very glad to have you here. You have no idea how glad I was to see what I saw when we walked into the headmaster's office today; Draco has missed you so much."
Then much to his mother's surprise Draco watched as Harry threw his arms around her and gave her a warm hug. It was just like the Hecatemus to go from formal to completely the opposite in a heartbeat and Draco couldn't help but smile.
"Oh Merlin," his parent said blinking hard, "if you keep doing things like that, Harry, I'm going to cry again."
The bashful Gryffindor part of his soul mate came to the forefront then and Harry appeared at a loss as to how to react to that, which was so typically him; starting something and then having no idea how to finish it. Draco really didn't know what to say either so he just beamed at the pair of them.
"Well, yes," Narcissa said brightly, regaining her composure quickly, "Draco, I have something for you."
At which point she pulled out a small box from a hidden pocket in her robes and handed it to her son.
"What is it?" Draco asked, not sure what could possibly be in the black container.
"What should have been yours on your seventeenth birthday," his mother replied calmly and the Slytherin's eyes fell back to the box.
The object was sealed with wax and Draco reached into his pocket for his knife to open it. When he revealed the utensil in his fingers his mother's hand went to her mouth and she made a small sound of pleasure.
"Oh," she said, her eyes fixed on the knife, "you liked it."
Draco looked at the blade in his hand where Calonis was stirring sleepily to peer at the world and then back at his mother. It was all suddenly so obvious and he couldn't believe he hadn't seen it before. Who but someone who loved him would have sent such a precious gift?
"I love it," Draco replied honestly, "I carry it everywhere with me. Thank you."
"I could not let your birthday go without sending you a gift," his mother said, her eyes never leaving the knife, "but I had to be very careful that your father did not find out."
"It caused quite a debate when it arrived," Draco told her, unwilling to dwell on the thought of Lucius and not wishing to tell his mother that he no longer considered the man his father.
He looked back at the box and carefully split the seal with the blade. There sitting on a bed of black velvet was a blood red ruby with the design of a dragon magically formed into its surface.
"Your father and I had this made on the day of your birth," his mother explained calmly, "a little part of each of us was placed in the jewel as a gift for you when you came of age. It is a little late and you may not wish a part of your father, but he was a different man when this was created and in it is only his love for you. It is a token with little magical value, but I wanted you to have it."
So far Draco had managed to keep the tears which had threatened several times that afternoon at bay, but on seeing the ruby he could hold them back no longer. The token of affection was all that was needed to finally crack his iron control and he felt the first tear fall as joy at the return of his mother caused his heart to burst. Two pairs of arms enveloped him as he closed his eyes and squeezed the jewel in his hand and at that moment he had everything he could possibly want in the entire world.
End of Chapter 37
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