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.
Link to other parts: LJ | DW | AO3 | Wattpad
Harry waited with Draco under his invisibility cloak, watching as more and more Death Eaters answered the call of their master and arrived outside Hogwarts grounds. It should have been funny how obvious they were being about staying away from the Forbidden forest.
Mundungus was acting as the normal look out, but he was unaware Harry and Draco were there. There were only a few who knew the precise details of the plan, it was safer that way.
[Can you reach them?] Draco asked silently.
[Yes,] he replied as he lowered his barriers to what was probably a dangerous level.
Thanks to Snape's sacrifice in letting him practice, he knew exactly what he was looking for. He could locate the darkness in each of Voldemort's followers even from a distance. It was a shame the wards could not keep out the Death Eaters as easily as they could stop them Apparating in.
[Next,] was all Harry said as he held the feeling of evil in his mind.
The anti-Transferring ward had been dropped and Draco used the perception Harry had given him to move them to the second observation point. With Harry focused on his task, Draco was acting as their transport.
Just touching the connection Voldemort had with his followers made Harry feel soiled, but he had no choice. There were four vantage points in the grounds of Hogwarts and they used each one. At each Harry surveyed the creeping attackers, finding each man and woman and the mark they carried. The more he mentally touched, the more the scar on his forehead ached until it felt as if his head was almost splitting in two.
[Time to reel them in,] he said, doing his best to shield Draco from the pain he was feeling.
Draco did not reply, simply giving his silent support and Transferring them to where the trap was laid. They had chosen a spot bordered on both sides by parts of the castle with perfect hiding places for all the defenders.
Harry held the invisibility cloak close around both him and Draco as they appeared in the trap. This was key to whether Hogwarts would be in danger of being overrun and he knew it, but he refused to let himself dwell on that. He had a job to do and he focused on the specifics rather than the consequences. Nothing could disturb his concentration.
[I've got you,] Draco told him. [Just do what you have to do.]
Draco's arms were round him and his soulmate was in his mind. This was it, the day they had been planning for, and he was about to begin it for real.
He dropped his barriers completely, relying on Draco's firm presence to protect him, and reached for the Dark Marks. It wasn't a sophisticated spell, more a matter of focusing, balling up every shred of hatred he could find in his being, and screaming, "come to me" with his mind.
The reflection of Voldemort that came back at him made his knees go weak, but Draco held him up. He didn't need to check to see if it had worked; he could feel it had.
[They're coming,] he said.
* * *
Of course the Death Eaters couldn't Apparate to their Lord's side as they had during the TriWizard Tournament. However, they did come running. They streamed into the area, black robes flying around them and masks firmly in place.
For once Draco was thankful for the Death Eaters' fanatical loyalty to Voldemort, because not a one of them seemed to have questioned the summons. It had to have been a huge change in their plan. Yet they came like good little soldiers, so conditioned to obey were they.
Draco held Harry close and watched Voldemort's minions come round the corner and look around for their Lord. Masked faces scanned this way and that and Draco saw the moment confusion set in. That was when he Transferred himself and Harry to a vantage point above the chosen battle ground.
They did not dare leave, in case it was Harry's presence still attracting the Death Eaters, but they could be safely above it all. It was a waiting game now, as more and more of Voldemort's closest followers arrived. Only as those struggling to run brought up the rear did a shout go up and shoots burst out of the ground behind the attackers.
In seconds the seeds Professor Sprout and her team had prepared and sown reached for the sky, buds forming and bursting into more and more branches with large, vicious thorns. Before the Death Eaters could even react to the barrier trapping them between the two Hogwarts towers, the defenders attacked.
Hexes came from all directions and the slowest of Voldemort's minions fell in the first wave. Unfortunately they were not all incompetent and shields went up all through the group. It was going to be a battle.
* * *
Harry looked at Draco and nodded; it was time to go. Frankly, Harry was terrified. His heart was beating so fast he thought it might burst, but he was also determined. His whole life had been leading up to this moment. Ever since Voldemort had chosen to come after his family, everything had been building to today.
This was the end; Harry could feel it in his bones.
Moving quickly they ran from the battle as the defenders began reducing the hoard of Death Eaters to unresponsive heaps. The trap had worked perfectly and Voldemort's main forces were very much occupied.
With the anti-Transfer wards down, Harry knew he and Draco could have simply appeared in the Forbidden Forest, but he wanted no chance of anyone seeing their advantage. This had to look like an escape.
Running back through the castle they met up with Sirius and Remus before heading to the entrance closest to the forest.
"Remember," Harry said, "Hagrid's hut."
"We remember, Harry," Sirius said, "we don't have to like it, but we remember."
Sirius was still very much against the whole scheme, but he had agreed eventually. A frontal assault was much more to Sirius' liking with his Gryffindor courage. However, contrary to popular Slytherin opinion, cunning wasn't something their whole house had removed at birth.
Quickly, wands in hands, they made their way towards Hagrid's hut and the Forbidden Forrest. Behind them the sounds of battle reverberated from around the castle and the dark clouds in the sky glittered with the colour of spells. Smoke rose from several places and the Dark Mark shot into the sky.
If it had been real Harry knew he would have felt sick terror, but, as he glanced back, everything was right where he expected it to be. Fred and George had done an amazing job of making it look like a Hogwarts defended by teachers and a couple of Aurors, was falling to the Death Eaters.
When two robed figures stepped out from behind Hargrid's hut, Harry felt his heart stutter. Only when a stunning hex lanced straight at Sirius, taking him down and another barely missed Remus did he settle once more. The spells he and Draco sent back were very real, but also off target, just as they and Bill and Charlie, who made very imposing Death Eater fakes, had rehearsed.
"Harry, go!" Remus yelled at him, firing more spells to keep up the charade.
It would all have been very exciting if it hadn't felt quite so real.
Harry ran off the path, straight for the trees with Draco directly behind him. It wasn't hard to look scared, even as the mock skirmish went on, after all, they were running towards Voldemort. They ducked and weaved as very carefully placed spells missed them by inches and then they hit the tree line. Only once they were inside did either of them slow down.
[Now,] Harry said after he scanned the area for the distinct feeling of dark magic.
As one they both flowed from human to their Animagus forms. The plan was to engage Voldemort, but Harry wanted to know exactly who was in the forest and where before he did any such thing.
* * *
The Forbidden Forest always felt alive to him now, but it was even more astounding in his Animagus form. He had really had no time to practice with his unicorn shape this year as everything else had been more important. As the gloom of the trees closed around him and Draco, he realised that maybe he should have.
The instincts of a unicorn were very strong. It was what made them such elusive creatures and, for a moment Harry felt like bolting.
[It's okay,] Draco said and brushed against his side.
He looked down to see the huge fluffy cat beside him observing him with his big silver eyes.
[I'm sorry.] The apology was all he could give.
[Not your fault,] was Draco's immediate reply, [just focus on me, you'll be fine.]
Harry brought himself to a stop and took a deep breath. He brought his racing heart under control, threw his head back and snorted. The strength of his horse-like body was incredible and he allowed himself to appreciate it for a moment. With Draco in his mind and that strength at his beck and call, he calmed himself down.
[I'm ready,] he said.
[Then…] Draco started to speak, but then stopped. [Company.]
Harry glanced round to see where Draco was looking. There, among the trees, were three centaurs. In his panic at all the new instincts, Harry hadn't even noticed them approaching. Each one was armed and they looked more like a raiding party than philosophers.
For a moment all was stillness.
Then, finally, the large male in the middle stepped forward. He said nothing, but he pointed towards a small path through the trees. Even while he moved, his two friends melted back into the forest as if they had never been there.
[Do you think..?] Harry started to ask.
[Yes,] Draco said, stepping just in front of him and bowing his head to the centaur.
Harry followed his soulmate's lead, pushing doubt from his mind. And that was that. Message passed on, the centaur turned and walked away into the gloom as silently as he had come. It was surreal.
[Let's go,] Draco said and began to lope along the path.
Harry took a second to lower his mental barriers just a little-he did not want to be caught unawares again. Then he followed. His animal form seemed to have a natural instinct to move silently, avoiding twigs and tree roots as if it was second nature. Even though he was bigger, it was much easier to keep to the path than when he had come into the forest as a human.
It took him a little while, but he soon recognised where they were going.
[The clearing where we brought back Sirius is just up ahead,] Harry said. [Would Voldemort have...?]
Then it hit him, the unmistakable taint of dark magic. He stopped dead.
[They're using some kind of shield,] Draco said.
[They must be hoping I wouldn't sense them until it was too late,] Harry agreed.
Now he was very grateful for the centaur's help. Finding Voldemort and his lackies would have been much harder without being pointed in the right direction. Given how much dark magic he could feel now they were close, Harry was pretty sure he could have done it, but it would have spread him very thin.
A twig snapped somewhere to the left and a hushed admonishment followed. Harry lowered his barriers a little more and the bright spark of two magical people popped out at him from twenty feet away to the left. They had to be using a shield of some kind as well.
[They are all using a similar spell,] Harry concluded. [There must be more death eaters around. I can't spot them unless they're really close or I lower my barriers a long way.]
[We should scout around the clearing,] Draco replied.
[I don't think so,] Harry replied, [it's time to stop hiding. We know where Voldemort is, I can feel him in there now. It's time I pretend I'm stumbling into things as usual. Those two over there will be perfect.]
[We need to know more.]
Harry lowered his head so he could look his soulmate in the eye.
[I don't want to do it either,] he said as the fear twisted around his stomach, [but delaying won't help.]
[His army is being crushed,] Draco pointed out, [we could go back, pretend we couldn't find him.]
[They would rally when he came out of the forest as soon as he realised we weren't coming. This would just go on and on. I can end this now.]
This close all the doubts he had had over the past weeks came back to haunt him, but Harry pushed them aside. They had planned for this moment, worked hard to get here, he could not back out now.
[I know,] Draco said, [I just …]
[Me too,] Harry agreed, [me too.]
Then he flowed back into his human form.
[Stay hidden,] he told his soulmate, sinking his fingers into the cat's soft fur, [you are my strength.]
Draco didn't reply, but, as Harry set off towards the two death eaters, he could feel how much will it was taking his soulmate to not follow him. It was against all their instincts not to be there for each other, but, for this, Harry needed Draco to be safe.
Harry made his way to the two bright spots and then all but walked into them. He froze for one second as if startled and then brought up his wand. He got off a blasting hex before the two death eaters even moved, but sent it a bit wild. One of his opponents went down in a heap of robes, but the other sent back an attack.
He dodged and then went to run away in the opposite direction to the clearing. The fallen man sent a blasting hex of his own, barely aimed at all right past Harry, causing a tree to throw up bits of bark and wood. One hit Harry on the forehead and made him stumble, but he did so in the direction of the clearing. This was clearly what the death eaters wanted because the other decided to use the same tactic. This time nothing hit Harry, but it did force him towards Voldemort.
He was being herded, and if the men thought they were being subtle they were delusional, but Harry went with it. They wanted him to go to Voldemort, he wanted to go to Voldemort, he just had to pretend they were winning.
[Don't die,] Draco sent to him as he approached the clearing. [I love you.]