Author: Beren (aka Tasha)
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.
Sorry this took so long. I plan to get the remaining chapters up as soon as possible now. It's grown to 77 rather than 70 and it might gain another 1 or 2, but most of the rest is written - I just need to finish editing it. Thanks for sticking with me. Please remember, there are no horcruxes in this Alternative Universe - it was conceived before JKR told us about them, so it uses other reasoning about Voldie's survival - they come up in this chapter.
Link to other parts: LJ | DW | AO3 | Wattpad
They had had a bit of a break over Easter, Draco had insisted on it, but the tension refused to go away now. The enemy was always there, in the back of everyone's mind. They were all there for the trip back on the Hogwarts express, just like the journey down, but there seemed to be no relief from the tension.
Something in the air was just wrong and Harry didn't like it at all. It made his skin prickle. It was as if the magic of every student and every worried parent on the platform was fizzing beneath their human armour and he could sense it.
He and Draco left the others to be visible and boarded the train before anyone else. What Draco told everyone was that they wanted to check the carriages, just to be one hundred percent sure, but mostly it was to keep Harry from exploding with anxiety. After all, the Aurors had already been over the train at least twice.
As with the journey back to London previously, once the pupils began to board all the train, Harry, Draco and the rest of the assistant professors spread out and did their best to pretend everything was perfectly normal. Everything about the train, except for the presence of the Aurors and Professor Flitwick, was completely normal, but nothing felt remotely that way.
Five hours into the journey, Harry was playing exploding snap with a Hufflepuff first year while Draco made sarcastic comments. It would have been fun if Harry had been able to shake the paranoia that had been troubling him the entire day. The card game was silly and the first years gathered in the carriage thought it was hilarious one of their professors was playing, let alone losing.
Harry was making sure his losses were spectacular, which was pleasing his audience. However, the feeling of approaching doom was getting harder and harder to ignore.
[I'm beginning to think it's not just paranoia,] Draco commented as one of the cards went up in a cloud of sparks.
[I wish I disagreed,] Harry replied. [Do you think we should alert the Aurors?]
[With what?] Draco replied. [They're already on standby and all we have is a feeling.]
As if to back up their silent conversation, one of the Aurors on the train chose that moment to walk past. The woman shared a nod with Harry and Draco and moved on.
[I wish there was something we could do,] Harry said.
[Me too,] Draco agreed. [Just keep losing and at least the first years will be happy.]
Harry waited a fraction of a second too long to try and tap a card and it went up beautifully. Of course the students around him cheered. It was such a silly, relaxing scene, until the train lurched to a stop and a bag fell off the luggage rack.
Harry caught it before it could hit the shocked first year sitting under it and he looked at Draco. He couldn't help flashing back to the incident in their third year when the train had also stopped.
"What's going on?" the first year he had just saved asked.
"Probably just something on the tracks," Draco replied with a calm smile. "It happens sometimes."
[Like hell it does,] Harry pointed out.
[Then we're lucky we're with first years,] Draco replied without showing the faintest flicker on the outside, [because they don't know any better.]
"I'll take a quick look," Harry said and smiled as if it was all perfectly normal.
Standing, he headed to the door and stepped into the hallway. The Auror was not in the corridor and there were heads poking out of other compartments. He nodded at those who looked at him.
[Don't go far,] Draco warned.
[I'm not,] Harry said, [just to the end of the carriage.]
They were in the end compartment, so it was only a couple of steps.
Pulling down the window on the door, he stuck his head out and looked around. They were on a curve in the track and the land on the inside of the curve fell away, giving him a good view of the front of the train. It looked as if there was some sort of blockage on the line, but Harry was pretty sure that kind of thing was supposed to be impossible thanks to the magic keeping it safe.
Lowering his shields a little he scanned what looked like a simple pile of rocks.
[Magic,] he told Draco as soon as knew what he was seeing, [lots of it. We're under attack.]
Almost as if someone could hear his conversation with Draco, explosions began to go off all down the length of the train. Sparks, flames, smoke, all in lurid green. The train shook and screams filled the air. Harry grabbed at the nearest handhold, bracing himself, and then it happened, the Dark Mark burst into the sky.
[Harry,] Draco called.
[I'm okay, what about the kids?] he shot back.
[Fine, just scared.]
"Everyone stay calm," Professor Flitwick's voice echoed through the train. "Remain seated until you receive further instructions."
Of course that was never going to work and pupils were already in the corridors. It was chaos, but Harry noticed one thing immediately.
[There's no damage,] he said, looking the length of the train.
He turned as someone came up close behind him. It was a frightened-looking Ravenclaw fifth year whose name escaped Harry in the confusion. They had their wand in their hand and they looked determined.
"What do we do?" was the very direct question.
The boy might have been frightened, but he was definitely determined as well. For a second Harry was taken aback, but then a second fifth year appeared behind the first, just as focused as the first. Harry adapted quickly.
"Check the compartments," he decided quickly. "There are a lot of younger years in this section, make sure they're not hurt. Then get everyone back to their seats if you can."
The boy and girl nodded.
[No damage, are you sure?] Draco asked as soon as Harry had dealt with the older pupils.
[I can see the whole train,] he replied and showed Draco what he was looking at as he turned back to the window.
The Dark Mark hung in the sky like a festering wound.
[A warning then,] Draco concluded and Harry could only agree. [His way of saying 'I can get to your children'.]
That made Harry seethe. Voldemort had no business making war on children. It was so wrong and all the tension Harry had been feeling since the journey started burst out of him. He reached his hand out towards the foul thing hanging above the train, he dropped his magical barriers and he connected to it.
The magic was foul, twisted and disgusting with its evil intent, but Harry did not shy away. With a yell he closed his fist and ripped it apart. The spell shattered under his anger, the sky losing its sickly green tinge and returning to blue.
Faces were staring out of windows all down the train, most of them now looking at him. He didn't wait though. Harry closed the window and went back to the compartment where Draco was waiting for him.
All the first years were clustered around the window where they had clearly been looking out. All their eyes were wide, but fear seemed to have changed to wonder.
"Scare tactics," he said as they all stared at him, "just like a bad Quidditch team. The Aurors will have us moving again in a few minutes."
As if he had no worries at all he retook his seat.
[Nicely done,] Draco commented. [Care to tell me how you did it?]
[Don't have a clue,] Harry replied, [I was furious.]
[I noticed,] Draco told him, [very impressive, but you might want to make something up, because I think here come the questions.]
The rest of the journey to Hogwarts was going to seem like forever, but Harry steeled himself. If he could stifle some of the terror Voldemort wanted to create, it was worth it. Professor Flitwick would let them know if he and the Aurors needed any help, so the order of the day was to sit tight as requested.
* * *
Harry was pacing from the end of the bed to the far wall and back again, and Draco would have joined him if he hadn't thought it would look ridiculous. The incident on the train had everyone in the school tense.
The Hogwarts' Express had arrived safely at Hogsmeade. The only injuries had been a couple of bruises from falling luggage, and the staff had worked hard to make everything go as normally for the returning pupils as possible. That didn't mean that as soon as everyone was fed and the pupils had been sent to their common rooms that Harry, Draco and their close circle of friends hadn't all gathered in Harry and Draco's room.
"This has to end," Harry finally said when everyone had found somewhere to sit.
"Not going to get an argument from me," Ron backed him up.
Draco had never doubted it, when Ron was onside, he was unswervingly loyal and usually on the same page as Harry.
"But what are we going to do about it?" Pansy asked.
"We need to come up with a way to kill Voldemort," Hermione said in the perfectly reasonable tone she used for explaining anything she thought was obvious.
She and Pansy shared a look and Draco couldn't help wondering what might happen if the two worked closely together. A lot of people underestimated Pansy, and that was the way she liked it.
"There are things Harry and I know that no one else does," Draco said, "but we're too close to this. We need help sorting it all out. Consider this your chance to find them all out. Then it will be time to move on to Dumbledore and anyone else who might have information and we can talk to without compromising the situation."
"So you'll answer anything?" Pansy checked.
Draco nodded, they were through playing games. He glanced over at Harry, who looked just as determined as he felt.
"We need all the help we can get," Harry said. "Ask me anything and I'll do my best to come up with a sensible response."
This was not going to be an easy meeting, Draco knew it. Both he and Harry had things buried that would undoubtedly cause them pain, but if they could help come up with some way to stop Voldemort then so be it. Loosening his tie, Draco settled in for a long night.
* * *
In all honesty, Harry wasn't sure how scared everyone should be that Hermione and Pansy were working together so incredibly well. After the initial meeting they had all had the two hadn't stopped. For days there had been questions and more questions, but, it seemed, they finally thought they were on to something.
Harry had never really thought of Pansy as anything like Hermione before, but, as it turned out, when Pansy got her teeth into something she seemed very similar to his female best friend. Even Draco had looked impressed when the two girls had put away all previous house rivalry and resentment and started researching, momentum building with every question they asked.
When the pair dragged them into the Room of Requirement and all the wards went up, it looked as if Hermione and Pansy might have been up all night.
"We think we know how to do it," Hermione said, hair sticking out of a hastily made ponytail at all angles like a mad professor or something.
"You're not going to like it, but we think it's the only way," Pansy added, looking at Draco.
Harry suspected he knew who was going to object the loudest.
"What do you have?" Draco asked, in a tone that said he was reserving judgement.
The girls looked at each other and Pansy nodded at Hermione.
"Albus told us that it was the Dark Marks that kept Voldemort alive the last time," Hermione started, pointing to a board the girls had set up behind them. "His connection to his followers allowed him to use their combined strength to stop from crossing over and anchor him to life. Hence there is a good possibility that if Harry was just to lob his head off or throw a ridiculous amount of magic at him, we'd be in exactly the same position."
Everyone nodded; they all knew that.
"So we started with the Dark Mark," Pansy put in, "and we found a reference to something similar. In 970 there was a vampire lord, Blutgebieter, and the details are unimportant, but he enslaved a human army using something that seems to be very like the Dark Mark. He was defeated by Edgar Hauptmann using Interrumpo Catena, a hex designed to sever master apprentice bonds that were common at the time."
"I'm guessing there's a 'but' coming," Draco commented.
"For the hex to work on such a powerful individual with so many bonds it has to be done from the inside," she explained. "Hauptmann did it by letting himself be captured and, as was his habit, Blutgebieter, fed off his enemy. The blood connection this set up allowed Hauptmann to cast the hex directly into Blutgebieter, severing him from his army and causing him such magical backlash that Hauptmann was able to ram a stake through his heart."
"I don't get flashes from Him anymore," Harry said, suddenly not so sure that was a good thing. "When I bonded with Draco all that seemed to go away, I've not even felt anything since."
"We know," Pansy said, taking over again, "and we don't expect you to suddenly be a Legilimens as strong as the Dark Lord. We think there is another way inside him; through his wand."
"Because yours has the same core, if you can set up the Priori Incantatem like during the Triwizard Tournament, with the strength you have now, you should be able to force Interrumpo Catena against him," Hermione said.
"The shock alone of being severed from his followers would probably finish him," Pansy added, with more relish than Harry might have expected from a onetime Dark Lord sympathiser.
"You want Harry to duel Voldemort?" Draco did not sound the least bit happy with the idea and he felt even less so.
Harry reached out and gently put his hand on his soulmate's shoulder.
"He knows what I am, what I might be capable of and he knows we can't duel," he pointed out. "How could I even get to him?"
The girls looked at each other again.
"That's the part we haven't quite worked out yet," Hermione admitted.
"You just have to get him to believe he has the advantage," Ron said and Harry turned to look at his friend. "Make it look like a sacrificial move, probably, draw him in. If I was playing chess, that's what I'd do."
"But how?" Harry asked, he just couldn't see a way.
"What if he didn't think Harry had the same wand anymore?" Neville suggested. "Couldn't we make Harry's wand look different?"
"You can't disguise a wand," Hermione said, almost absently as her face held a thoughtful expression, "it impedes its properties... hmm... but maybe we could pretend..."
Harry wasn't seeing the difference, even as Hermione's face began to light up in the way that only happened when she was having a brilliant idea.
"I remember reading somewhere that it used to be believed that if a wizard used too much wild magic they could warp their own," she said. "The whole Wizarding World knows Harry channelled a hell of a lot of wild magic to bring back Sirius. What if we can make Voldemort believe it changed Harry's core magic, that he had to have another wand made in secret that looks exactly like his own, but has a different core?"
"He's an arrogant bastard," Harry said, catching on to her excitement, "he'd believe that no matter what, in a duel he could beat me. He knows that I have to kill him or he has to kill me."
"It could work," Ron agreed.
Draco cleared his throat very loudly and Harry realised his soulmate was definitely not on the same page.
"And exactly who believes I am going to let Harry anywhere near Voldemort?" Draco asked pointedly.
[Love,] Harry said gently, knowing only too well he would be reacting in exactly the same way if the positions were reversed, [the prophecy.]
[I know all about the prophecy,] Draco shot back, glaring at him, [but let Albus do the duelling, he's the best anyone has ever seen, and when Voldemort's nicely trussed up like a prize goose, you can walk in and finish him off.]
[He's not going to let Albus get anywhere near him,] Harry said, [and I know you know that. The prophecy guarantees that he will face me sooner or later. If we can arrange when and how, we can make sure I win.]
[He's the most powerful dark wizard ever known,] Draco said, [you're a lucky eighteen year old and an untrained Hecatemus.]
[With a very clever support network,] Harry countered. [I know I can't do this by myself, Love, but with all of you, I have a much better chance.]
Draco did not look happy and he was still glaring. Harry bolstered himself for another round of arguing, but then Draco closed his eyes with a frown and sagged a little.
"I will need to hear a very meticulous, fool proof plan," Draco said, out loud this time, "and believe me when I say, until I am satisfied, we agree to nothing."
Pulling Draco in to a one armed hug, Harry looked to Hermione and Pansy again; he wanted details as well.