Beren (beren_writes) wrote,
Beren
beren_writes

Defence, Pretence, Offence - Chapter 23 - Approve or Disapprove (Harry/Draco, NC17)

Title: Defence, Pretence, Offence - Chapter 23/70 - Approve or Disapprove
Author: Beren (aka Tasha)
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: This story is canon compliant until the end of Order of the Phoenix and then goes AU. None of the HBP or Deathly Hallows plot will be used, or the Horcruxes for that matter since this story was planned before we knew the details about those things, and hence has it's own fanon. This includes birthdays and other information that have since been revealed on Pottermore and in further productions.
Summary: The threat of open war in on the horizon. The Order and the Ministry are of one accord and both know that where Harry Potter is, Voldemort will eventually be. Preparations are being made and this time the side of the light will not be caught unawares.
Summer classes, sabotage, revelations about Draco's father, teaching and the final showdown with Voldemort all await Harry and Draco in this exciting sequel to Gold Tinted Spectacles (LJ | AO3 | Wattpad).
Author's Notes: This is the second story in the Hecatemae universe. It starts up just after the end of the first instalment and I advice reading that one first so you understand the premise. Thanks go to my sister Sophie for the beta reading.
It has taken me 12 years to finally get around to finishing this, I very much hope everyone enjoys it.
Link to other parts: LJ | DW | AO3 | Wattpad
New chapters will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

It was midnight, it was cold, but Harry was so nervous he was barely aware of the temperature. Drizzle all day had put pay to any summer warmth and made it a miserable night, but at least it almost guaranteed there would be no one else outside.

They had spent an hour earlier in the Room of Requirement with Dumbledore as they demonstrated how they could set and cancel their small ward. It had taken five times before the headmaster was satisfied and then all Dumbledore had done was nod and tell them to meet him in the entrance hall when everyone else was asleep.

Now they were following him though the unpleasant Scottish night around the side of the castle and into the grounds. So far the headmaster had done no more than say good evening.

[Where are we going?] Harry asked.

[The nexus point, I suspect,] Draco said.

[What's that?]

[Halfbloods,] Draco complained at that question. [The nexus point of any magical building is where its protections are set. Usually it's somewhere inside, a stone in the foundation or something, but since the wards here protect the whole grounds it must be somewhere outside.]

[And he couldn't just tell us this because?]

[Probably so there was no danger of eavesdroppers,] Draco replied. [The nexus is always a secret. It's not exactly a vulnerable point, but it could be used as a weakness.]

[Oh. I suppose that makes sense. Wish it was inside though.]

[Likewise.]

Dumbledore led them to a spot that was apparently nowhere in particular. There was nothing to mark the spot, no real landmarks and about the only thing Harry could say about it was that it couldn't be seen from any of the windows of the main building.

"Welcome, Gentlemen, to the Hogwarts nexus," the headmaster said and pointed to a small stone in the ground.

The light from Dumbledore's wand was just enough so that when Harry peered at the stone he could read one word: 'Rufus'. The stone looked like a grave marker.

"Who was Rufus?" he asked.

"Rowena Ravenclaw's cat," Dumbledore replied. "Where he truly lies is unknown, but the founders decided to use a false grave stone to mark the nexus point. The wards were originally designed by Salazar Slytherin, but have been added to many times over the years."

"Have they ever fallen?" Draco asked.

"Never."

Harry's stomach twisted at that revelation. He could only imagine the number of things that could go wrong with what they were about to try and do.

"Do not worry, Harry," the headmaster said as if reading his mind, "what we do here tonight cannot damage what is already there."

"But I don't know enough about wards," he replied. "What if I do something wrong?"

He was surprised when Dumbledore simply smiled.

"I will let you into a secret, My Dear Boys," the headmaster said; "there is not a wizard or witch alive who understands the protections on this school completely. The headmaster or headmistress is given the ability to disable part or all of the wards as his or her discretion, however, even our greatest wards experts could not begin to explain how they truly work."

"Then how are we going to add the new ward?" Harry asked.

It sounded like it was impossible.

"New wards are cast on the nexus," Dumbledore explained "and those the school approves of are automatically combined into its protections. Those it does not approve of simply cease."

Harry couldn't help it, he glanced back at the castle.

"Are you suggesting the school is sentient?" Draco sounded incredulous.

"Wouldn't surprise me," was what Harry commented quietly.

He had long suspected that Hogwarts was a law unto itself.

"Not as we would understand sentience," Dumbledore said, eyes twinkling with delight, "but she has her own personality."

[You have to admit that's always been true,] Harry said.

[I know we always say 'well its Hogwarts', but I always thought that was Albus,] Draco replied.

[Guess not,] was Harry's response.

"So I should cast the ward here then?" Harry checked.

"If you would be so kind," the headmaster replied with a nod.

[Help,] Harry said and felt rather pathetic.

[Just do what you did upstairs down here,] Draco told him in a very rational and calm tone.

Harry only wished he felt as confident as Draco did. What he really wanted to know was would Hogwarts think he was an idiot if he got this wrong?

Lowering his mental barriers, the first thing he had to do was adjust to the magic around him. Draco's hand firmly planted at the base of his spine helped ground him, but it took his a few moments. He had felt his way around Hogwarts many times and he couldn't believe he had never noticed where the nexus was. Standing at it now, it was obvious.

It wasn't that everything sprung from the same point, but there was a charge in the air that made his cells quiver. Now he knew what he was looking at, he realised it felt like a foundation.

Next Harry shifted his perception so the lines of energy flared into his vision. How he hadn't seen them straight away was a mystery to him as well, all it took was the slightest push in his mind for them to be obvious.

The shield spell was easy and he cast it with virtually no effort over the nexus stone. He knew he couldn't smell ozone as the charm came into existence, but the phantom scent tickled his nose as his body reacted to the magic he had cast. The next part was a little tricky, however. Weaving one magic into another magical place was not as instinctive as the shield charms had become.

He started with a most obvious thread, winding it into the grass around the nexus. However, before he could move to the next, the whole shield flared and he brought his arm up automatically to shield his eyes, losing his hold on the spell.

"Oh," he said when he could see again.

The shield was still there and it was completely grounded, glowing gently as a concentrated ward should.

"What happened, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

"The shield," he said, "I was grounding it and it did it itself."

"A very good sign, My Boy," was the headmaster's assessment of that.

Harry could only take Dumbledore's word for that as he returned to his task. He viewed the magic of the shield like threads of cotton in a weave and what he had to do was ease the strands apart gently to form a much finer fabric. It took time, but it wasn't particularly taxing, especially since, when he urged the magic into motion, it tended to keep going unless he stopped it. The problem was, the finer the strands, the more delicate the structure.

In the end it was more of a gossamer sheet than anything like the shield it had been before.

All that remained after that was to coax the magic so that it refracted energy coming at it, rather than letting it through. He remembered Hermione going on about light and science more than once and he liked to think of the magic as a pool. What he needed to do was make it so the water diffused what hit its surface.

He had to be very careful. The first few times he had tried he had moved too fast. The ward was very delicate and had to be treated very gently. There was no brute force involved in this technique.

The moment it came into line, however, Harry felt it. Draco had been right when they had discussed what it was like, it was sort of a click. The area inside the ward became a beautiful aurora, rather than the mess of connections he was aware of elsewhere. Now he just had to wait to find out Hogwarts' assessment.

He withdrew his touch from the ward, pushing his perception back to normal, but keeping his barriers low so he could see his construction.

"It's done," he said for Dumbledore's benefit.

Frankly, he wasn't sure what to expect. When he shivered from head to foot and his ward completely vanished he wasn't sure what had happened.

"Did it work?" he asked.

"I do not know," Dumbledore replied. "If it has, there will be a new option for the wards in my office. Shall we?"

Harry felt a bit let down.

[Just look,] Draco said.

[I was,] Harry replied, [it's gone.]

[No,] Draco said, smiling at him just slightly, [look for the connections.]

Harry felt like a bit of an idiot. He pushed his perception again and the air around him filled with diffuse colour.

"Oh," he said, more than a little breathlessly and he had the distinct impression Draco had probably known before he had.

"Do you see something, My Boy?" Dumbledore asked.

"It worked," Harry said, blinking and forcing his vision away from the beautiful glow, "I think it definitely worked."

"Superb," the headmaster decided with a very large smile. "I believe a celebratory cocoa may be in order.

"A lovely idea," Draco agreed, so Harry just nodded.

He couldn't help thinking of why they were having to do this, however.

* * *

Draco spent the entire walk back to the headmaster's office watching Harry carefully. He was almost sure that Harry was fine and there were no after effects of setting the ward, but he liked to be sure.

After Harry had checked to see if the ward had been accepted, he'd seemed kind of dazed.

While Draco suspected it was merely surprise that it had actually worked and wonder at the effect the ward had, he never took chances when it came to Harry. Hogwarts was a very magical place, even as most magical places went, and that wasn't always good for his soulmate.

"I do find cocoa so comforting after an evening of hard work, don't you?" Dumbledore said as they trailed him into his office. "And a most splendid evening's work it has been. I must congratulate both of you on your studious achievement."

"It's ironic," Draco commented, "if it hadn't been for Fitzsimons and his amulet, Harry might never have figured it out."

"I didn't figure it out," Harry said, "I made a guess and then you figured out how we could do it."

"A joint effort then," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling, "as it should be. I do not believe our world will be quite prepared for the impact of two such innovative minds. Which is all to the good, because if allowed our society is known to become somewhat stuffy."

[You can say that again,] Harry commented silently.

Finally Draco relaxed, if Harry was making off hand comments he was definitely fine.

"Would you care for your cocoa with or without marshmallows?" Dumbledore changed the subject without pausing.

"With please," Draco replied and grinned.

His mother had always allowed him to have marshmallows in his cocoa, although Lucius had consistently referred to it as 'a common colonial tradition'.

"I never argue with marshmallows," Harry agreed.

They made small talk as they dried off, warmed up and waited for the house elves to deliver their cocoa. It was only after the drinks had been provided and Draco was contemplating if his socks would ever be perfectly dry again that Dumbledore became more serious again.

"Hogwarts is as unique in its protections as it is in all other things," the headmaster said. "The wards around the Ministry, for example, are achieved in a different manner. However, I believe that with access, a similar solution could be achieved."

"But we can't just tell the Ministry because it leaks like a sieve," Draco said what he was sure they were all thinking.

"Precisely," Dumbledore replied with a small smile at Draco's turn of phrase.

"So how can we do it?" Harry asked. "They're never going to let me near their nexus with or without an explanation."

Draco nodded, the Ministry were not known for their common sense.

"I believe I may know someone who would be willing to assist in this matter," Dumbledore told them. "I shall make discreet enquiries immediately if you are willing."

"As much as I despise some of the idiots who work there," Draco said, "it would be disastrous if the Ministry was wide open to complete invasion."

"Agreed," Harry said, "although I wouldn't mind leaving out Fudge's office."

[So you do have a vindictive streak in there,] Draco said, [I knew I'd find it eventually.]

[I save it for special occasions,] Harry replied with a small smile.

"Quite," Dumbledore said, also smiling, "we shall have to decide what to do about poor Cornelius at some point."

It was something of an ominous pronouncement; Draco approved.

"And, reluctant though I am to add further burdens to you both," the headmaster continued, "have you considered the advantage this technique --"

"Transferring," Harry added.

"Ah, yes, Transferring," Dumbledore said, "would be to the Order?"

"We've been focused on trying to protect against it," Harry said, "but I can see what you mean. If Apparition was impossible, but our side could still pop off when they needed to it could save a lot of lives."

"But it only takes one to let the information slip," Draco pointed out.

"And how could anyone do it when they can't see the connections," Harry added.

"Both valid points," Dumbledore agreed, "and secrecy is of utmost importance. It may be that this discovery will only ever be of use to those of your kind, Harry, but I would be most grateful if you would both give the matter some thought. Although..."

Draco stopped himself commenting as the headmaster went on.

"... not immediately. You have both been working far too hard on this project."

"It was important," Harry said.

"Indeed it was, My Dear Boy, and you have both, once again, exceeded what any of us could have rightfully expected. I would humbly suggest you concentrate on the summer classes and allow the current conundrum to simmer gently for a future date."

Draco could already feel Harry's mind beginning to churn.

[Stop it,] he said.

[But...]

[You heard Albus,] Draco insisted, [now stop it. We can think about it later. One earth shattering magical breakthrough a month is enough.]

He felt a vague agreement from Harry, but he doubted that would be the end of it. Sometimes he wondered if Gryffindors had their self preservation instincts removed at birth.


This entry was originally posted at http://beren-writes.dreamwidth.org/378679.html.
Tags: category: slash, ch_story: defence, fandom: harry potter, fictype: 30kwds up, fictype: chaptered, genre: fantasy, genre: romance, offence, pairing: hp - harry/draco, pretence, rating: r to nc17, type: fiction
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