Blinded at the age of four, Harry Potter only wants to lead a normal life with his family. On his eleventh birthday, he finds out that he can have anything but...
Morning came far too early for Harry's tastes, especially after the events of the previous evening. Quicksilver's death had almost seemed unreal then, but as he lay snug and warm under the covers he couldn't help but think of Silverbolt and worry about what would become of the colt now.
Hearing the clock downstairs chiming the hour, Harry forced himself out of bed and went to rouse Draco. He knew the other boy up would be a hassle this early, but Sal had been insistent about his friend coming this morning's training session. Though he'd likely never put it to a test, Harry was fairly certain that refusing his mentor's request would prove to be futile.
Twenty minutes and several death-threats later, Harry and a very sleepy Draco entered the Room of Requirement. One look around the training area ended the other boy's sleepy complaints as he gaped at all of the equipment around them.
"What is this place?" asked Draco, nearly bursting with excitement. "It's brilliant!"
"This," came Sal's voice from the shadows, "is where Harry is learning to harness his magical abilities." Draco nearly jumped out of his skin at the unexpected intrusion by the old wizard. Harry, on the other hand, only smiled. Months of training had really paid off and even without using his second sight he'd heard Sal breathing the moment they'd entered the room.
"This is where he's been honing his senses," Sal continued from some unseen dark corner. "He's spent every available moment since Halloween working to get a handle on his magic. A formidable task for anyone in his situation but he's always had his friends ready to lend him their support, until lately that is."
Sal was suddenly right beside the boys and placed his hand on the shoulder of the startled, and distinctly guilty-looking, blonde. "After the Christmas holidays, Harry suddenly began distancing himself from all his former friends except you. At first I thought it was some childish squabble that would blow over shortly. What I didn't expect, however, was that Harry began to act completely unlike himself and was actually beginning to lose some ground that we'd gained in regards to his training."
Sal walked over to Harry and pulled the pendant from inside the boy's shirt. The pendant lay in the old wizard's hand, glittering in the firelight, though its jewelled eyes were darkened at the moment.
"An interesting Christmas gift he's gotten from you, Mr. Malfoy," said Sal, looking sideways at the blonde. "Fortunately for Harry, I recognised what it really was."
As the old wizard spoke, Draco's eyes widened and he began to look frantically for the door. Oddly, the spot where it had been was now a smooth stone wall. Turning back, he saw Sal glide toward him with a dangerous expression on his face. "Tell me where your father got the charm and who else is included in the activation spell."
"I -I don't know what you're talking about," the blond said in a strained whisper. "Who are you?"
"Who I am isn't important...what you've done is unforgivable and I wouldn't blame him one bit if he never wanted to see you again. But you can start making this right... who else was named in the spell?"
"What are you two talking about?" asked Harry in exasperation. "What spell? And Sal, why are you being so angry with Draco? What's this all about?"
The old wizard stared hard at Draco for a moment and asked, "Will you tell him or shall I?" When the blonde couldn't bring himself to respond, Sal nodded grimly and turned back to Harry. "Your Christmas gift from Draco is more than a simple necklace. It is a Geas Charm. They work on a principle similar to the Imperius Curse, except that the spell is placed on an object that affects the first person it is given to."
"For the why, we'd have to ask your friend here," explained Sal. "That's why I had you bring him here. As to how, the Geas Charm was invented by Salazar Slytherin himself at the request of a king he served before the founding of Hogwarts. There were never more than a handful of them in existence and I thought they'd all been destroyed until I saw you wearing this one the other day. The pendant you received on Christmas wasn't some accident. The Activation spell had to be cast and the people capable of controlling you named. I knew Draco didn't do this on his own because it takes the power of a fully mature wizard to set it. I suspect the boy's father set it so that you'd have to serve them both. Malfoy has been manipulating you since Christmas and it looks to me like he sees you as nothing more than a toy to use as he pleases."
"No!" Draco, his face red, began wildly hitting Sal's chest and stomach with clenched fists. "I hate you...I hate you! He's my last friend!" The blonde fell to his knees, his shoulders shaking with quiet sobs, his breath coming in ragged gasps. Harry was finding himself in a similar situation but for much different reasons.
As Sal had gone about explaining the charm's power and origin, the raven-haired boy found himself staring at Draco with a tortured expression. He knew that he should feel betrayed at the least, more likely furious. He could sense all these feelings boiling around deep inside his mind but the magic of the pendant was holding them at bay. He could feel the pendant's power forcing him to feel sympathy and compassion for his friend even in the face of Draco's betrayal. The conflicting impulses were warring inside him and bit-by-bit he could feel it tearing him apart. He opened his mouth to say something, anything, but was overcome by weakness. He felt his knees go all rubbery and he slumped against some of the exercise equipment, knocking both it and him to the floor.
The crashing sound from Harry's fall drew the attention of the other two back to the stricken boy. Everyone seemed to freeze for a moment, not fully able to accept what they were seeing. Harry lay sprawled over a weight bench, his pallid face covered in perspiration and breathing irregularly while he trembled so violently that he looked like he would hurt himself.
Restraining himself from immediately running to the lad, Sal glanced at Draco and said with a voice full of venom, "Oh look, you've broken your toy."
"Wh...what's wrong with him?" yelled Draco as he eased his friend into a more comfortable position on the mats.
"You're killing him," said the old wizard as brutally as he could manage. "He's fighting the charm's magic, but since he's had to give up on or has been betrayed by his friends, he has nothing left to fight for. They're stalemated and it's slowly draining the last of his strength. Sooner or later, my bet would be on sooner, the strain will become too much for him; he'll have used up all his energy and..."
"And then you can cry over him at his funeral."
A look of horror crossed Draco's face as the implications of what Sal was saying became apparent. "Stop it then," the boy begged. "Break the curse."
"I can't," replied the custodian. "The only two ways I know of to remove the magic holding him is either for him to be a blood heir of Slytherin and have enough need and will to break it, or for the one who initiated it, your father, to release him."
"Father would never do that," cried the blond. "He's convinced that Harry has some hidden power that saved him from You-Know-Who! He'll never give up control!"
Taking Draco's chin in his hand, Sal lifted the boy's gaze to meet his own. "There is a way to save him right now, though. Release him from your control. It's your betrayal that is causing this conflict; end it now."
"But he'll hate me!"
"Or he'll die," the old wizard reminded him. "This is a terrible thing, someone your age having to make this choice...I know you've already made this sacrifice to protect Miss Granger; now you need to do so again. For Harry."
The blonde stared down at his stricken friend, torn between what he wanted and what he knew he had to do. Harry was his last true friend and the blonde knew that when the enchantment was lifted, the raven-haired boy would want to have nothing to do with him; but if he didn't...
Harry's face was already pale and drawn. Covered in a sheen of sweat, his limbs were shaking so badly that he seemed in danger of hurting himself if it continued. The faint odour of burning flesh reached Draco's nostrils and he reached out to open Harry's shirt to find the flesh around the pendant was reddened and blistered.
Looking back up to Sal with frightened eyes, Draco begged, "What do I do?"
"Release him," came the old wizard's reply. "Order him to no longer allow the pendant to influence him when it comes to you."
Grabbing his friend by the shoulders, Draco spoke in a shaky but determined voice, "Harry... Harry listen. You don't have to follow my orders anymore. I release you, do you hear me? You're free."
The blonde had hoped that Harry would immediately wake up and be himself again, or at least start looking better. Instead the other boy looked, if anything, a bit worse than he had moments before.
"What's wrong?" Draco asked in panic. "Why isn't he getting better?"
Frowning with concern, Sal ran his hand over Harry's sweaty brow. "He shouldn't have gotten so weak this quickly." Turning back to the blond he said, "We're going to need some help; my own magic is somewhat limited as I am now, I don't have any healing magic."
Seeing Draco's eyes widen in fear, the old wizard shook his head, "No lad, not Dumbledore or Pomfrey. I don't think making the Headmaster aware of this would do any good and the school's Mediwitch would go straight to him. We need someone that you both trust and who knows how to keep his mouth shut."
Realizing who Sal was implying, Draco jumped to his feet and sprinted to the newly returned door.
"Wait....We need to keep this quiet, for Harry's sake as well as your own," explained the old wizard. "The headmaster uses the castle's portraits as his eyes and ears inside the castle. Go to get help quickly but don't be obvious about it. Remember you are a Slytherin."
Determination hardening his eyes, Draco nodded as he straightened his robes and stepped quickly through the portal and into the castle proper. Left alone with Harry, the old wizard bent down and gently picked up the boy and placed him on a couch that had appeared from nowhere. "Hold on lad," Sal said as he bathed the child's forehead with a damp cloth he'd conjured. "Help is on the way."
The halls of Hogwarts on an early Saturday morning were usually deserted. Teachers and students who'd spent the week rising early for classes took advantage of the ability to have a bit of a lie in. Even Mr. Filch, who would normally be searching the halls on the lookout for adventurous students, was still abed. That stillness was broken by the sounds of hurried footsteps as a young boy made his way swiftly to the dungeons.
Draco moved through the corridors of the school looking as if he owned the place. Head held high and with a haughty expression, he was the epitome of pureblood pride. It was only if you had the chance to study his face that you'd notice the slightly widened eyes or the flush in his cheeks that betrayed his agitation, or the fact that he was only a few steps short of a full run.
As he entered the dungeons, the blonde was dearly wishing that he was going anyplace else. He'd already driven away Hermione and Neville, and when Harry woke up there was little doubt the other boy would hate him for what he'd done. Now he would have to explain himself to a man who not only was like a second father to him, but also someone who had become close with Harry's family. So wrapped up in his own misery, Draco barely realized it when he found himself standing before an ornate wooden door near the Potions classroom.
Gathering himself, Draco had raised his hand to knock at the door when it seemed to swing open of its own accord. Just beyond the doorway stood a tall black-robed figure silhouetted by the light of the room beyond. Caught off guard, and a little frightened by the figure's sudden appearance, the blonde felt the air catch in his throat as he tried to speak.
"Well, well... what have we here," said Severus Snape as he let his normally stern expression soften at the sight of his godson. "What brings you out of your bed so early on a Saturday morning, Draco?"
"Uncle Severus," the boy began, his voice strained with tightly checked emotion. "May... may I come in? I need your help."
Sensing the boy's emotional state, and taking note that Draco had called him by a name the young Malfoy hadn't used in years, the Slytherin Head of House suddenly felt a stirring of unease deep in the pit of his stomach. Something had happened and he felt that whatever it was, he wasn't going to like it.
Once inside with the door securely closed, Draco grabbed onto Severus' robes with a white-knuckled grip. "It's Harry," he blurted, with fear and anxiety creeping noticeably into his eyes and voice for the first time since he'd left the Room of Requirement. "He... he's reacting badly to a necklace Father sent him for Christmas."
"What do you mean?" asked the Potions Master tensely.
"He's sick, shaking all over, and he's so weak that he won't wake up!"
"Then why on earth would you come to me?" growled Snape as he went to the hearth to pick up a bag of floo powder. Taking a handful, he threw it in and called, "Madame Pomfrey's office." The fire flared, but rather than turning green it went out altogether. Severus stared at the fireplace, not quite sure what had just happened, when Draco called for his attention again.
"Uncle," the boy said. "We have to go. The man said not to bring anyone but you."
"Man?" asked Severus. "What man?"
Frustrated, Draco answered, "He was there helping Harry with his magic. He never said his name..." The blonde's eyes widened and he pointed to a Muggle style portrait hung over the fireplace. 'Him. Well, he looks a lot like him but older."
The Slytherin Head of House stood motionless, staring into the unmoving gaze of the wizard depicted on the canvas. Gesturing for Draco to stay where he was, Snape went into another room and returned momentarily with a large satchel hung over one shoulder and a wand in his hand. "Take me to them."
The professor and Draco entered the Room of Requirement several minutes later to find Sal still mopping Harry's brow with a damp cloth. The boy still looked pale and drawn but he seemed more relaxed than when Draco had left earlier. Looking up from his task, Sal was confronted with the business end of Severus' wand
"Who are you?" demanded the Potions Master.
"See to the boy first," Sal replied simply. "Then we'll talk."
Keeping his wand at the ready, Snape moved cautiously towards the boy as the old wizard backed away, giving the other man access to his charge. Checking the stricken boy, first with a cursory glance, then with his full attention, Severus realized the boy was truly ill.
"What's happened to him?"
Sal, standing well back from the pair to help the other wizard feel more at ease, glanced at Draco. "You didn't tell him?"
Steadfastly studying his feet, the blond answered, "Er... there wasn't time. I just told him that Harry was having a problem with a necklace Father gave him for Christmas."
"Someone," said Sal, looking pointedly at Draco, "gave Harry a Geas Charm as a Christmas present and he's been under their control ever since." Draco's cheeks burned hotly and he desperately searched for anyplace else to look other than at his godfather. "When I recognized the item a few days ago I had Harry promise to bring young Mr. Malfoy here to confront him about it. Unfortunately the boy was so upset by the revelation that his feelings created a conflict with the magic of the pendant. We were able to sort it out by releasing him from Draco's influence, but the conflict inside him was enough that he's suffering from severe exhaustion."
Snape was only half listening as he dug through his satchel, looking for what would be best suited to help Harry. Taking out a vial of Pepperup Potion, he gently tipped the vial against the boy's slack mouth, letting a few drops in. The little bit Harry had taken wasn't enough to revive him, but it did bring him around enough that he was able to swallow the rest of it without choking.
After having the raven-haired boy drink two healing draughts and a vial of Dreamless Sleep Potion, Snape sat with Harry's head resting in his lap. The relief that Severus felt on seeing the boy's positive response to the potions was largely due to the promise he'd made to Petunia several weeks before about keeping him safe. Deep down though, he had to admit that Harry had grown on him.
Oblivious to the other two people still in the room with them, Severus studied the face of his boyhood rival's son, marking the similarities and differences between the two. Just to look at him it was obvious that he was James Potter's son. Except for the minute and almost invisible scars around his eyes, Harry looked exactly as his father had when Severus had first met him at the Sorting Ceremony so many years ago. He had the same untamable black hair and a face that was a mirror as his father. The Potions Master closed his eyes, banishing the unwelcome memories of the years putting up with James' abuse as he reminded himself that at least the boy's resemblance to his father was only skin deep.
Where James had been self-centered and dangerously impulsive, Harry was introspective and giving. His almost-obsessive study habits, coupled with their mutual love of potions, had forged the beginnings of fondness towards the boy in Severus' heart. The Potions Master was wryly debating how he would explain this morning's events to Petunia when an unexpected breeze caught his attention.
The Room of Requirement, in its current form anyway, had no windows open to the outside, yet somehow there was a swirling of air about them that was strong enough to ruffle hair and cause the cloth of their robes to ripple. Above their heads a quickly thickening mist was swirling like a small hurricane. The breeze turned into a wind, going stronger and faster until the cloud disbursed with a popping noise and left behind a very agitated coatl.
"Hedwig?" Snape breathed as the visibly upset winged serpent dodged about the room hissing menacingly until she spotted her master and settled on his chest.
"She must have known something was wrong with Harry," said Sal. "The coatl will guard him until he wakes up. Come Severus, the time for explanations has come. I know you have questions, and while I don't promise to answer them all, I will do my best." The two of them separated themselves from the boys to talk in relative privacy, leaving Draco to sit miserably as he waited for Harry to wake up.
When several minutes had past in silence, the blond growled to himself in frustration before addressing his sleeping friend. "Harry," he began, "I know you can't hear me, but I couldn't say this to you when you were awake." Pausing to take a few deep calming breaths, he continued. "I know it's unforgivable, using the necklace to make you stay with me when I was being mean to Hermione and Neville. You have to understand, though, I've never had friends like you before. It was never about the Malfoy name or how much money my family has; you all liked me for just being me. I've never had that before. I couldn't lose you too."
Reaching out, Draco smoothed the hair on Harry's head but gasped in shock when a hand grabbed his wrist.
"You used me."