The rumours of this story's death were only slightly exaggerated. This is obviously an AU since Draco is a Veela, so I won't apologize for pretending as if book six never happened.
Thanks to everyone who has kept the vigil on this story's deathbed, it may rally yet. (lol)
Disclaimer in Chapter One
Chapter 16: Bonds and Boundaries Tested
Draco woke like a swimmer breaking water, fast and looking for the next breathe. He sat up in bed and gasped in gulps of air. It took him a few moments to notice he was not alone. In a chair by the bed, with his silver-topped cane leaning against his leg, sat his father, and by the window stood his mother. He looked around the room bewildered, the infirmary? Why was he here? He couldn't seem to remember.
They both turned at the sound of him moving, their faces twin masks of concern. He hadn't seen them in the same room together since his mother had left his father during his sixth year. He must have been more ill than he had imagined.
"Draco!" Narcissa moved toward him her arms out.
"Leave him alone Narcissa." At Lucius' words, his mother stopped and glared.
"He is MY son I shall do just as I please." She sniped back.
"He isn't a child anymore; there is no need to smother him." Lucius sneered.
"Smother? I don't smother my son…"
Draco tuned them out; it was typical that they would take any opportunity to throw around barbs at each other. He knew they could go on like this for hours. To be honest he was a bit more inclined to side with his father, he had seen how broken his father had been after his mother had left him. Draco had been there to try to pick up the pieces when she had moved out. It had taken years before Lucius had been able to love again. Draco realized that if anyone had heard his thoughts they would have laughed aloud, Lucius Malfoy, the self-possessed arrogant man, broken? Not likely, but it had been the case. His mind drifted back to the present and realized his parents were still throwing insults around.
They appeared to be in fine form, and none of it was helping to cease the pounding in his head. He sat in the bed listening to his parents until finally he had had enough.
Both of his parents turned their attention to him once more, this time the look of concern replaced by a look of censure, neither of them was used to him speaking to them like that. He must have looked worse than he thought when they both tempered their parental instincts and smiled gently at him.
"We are sorry, my darling. Your father and I are beasts." His mother sat on his bed and took his hand in hers all the while shooting daggers at Lucius.
"Why am I here?" He couldn't seem to remember much of the last few weeks as it was.
He noticed 'the look' his parents shot each other at his question.
"What?" His tone was sharper than he intended.
His parents looked at each other again. This was getting annoying now.
"Quit looking at each other just answer me!" He yelled.
That seemed to get his parents' attention.
"What do you remember last?" His father asked him.
"I…I…uh…" Draco couldn't remember…anything, recent.
"How do you feel?" His mother prompted.
"I feel horrible, my head is pounding."
"Draco, not that. How are you feeling?" His mother tightened her hand around his; the intensity in her gaze strangely frightened him.
"What are y…?" Just as he started talking he did feel something, he felt Hermione, felt her presence in his mind.
The tearing emotional Veela side that he had been trying to 'control' for months was lying quiescent. That meant only one thing; somehow, he had bonded with Hermione. She was in his mind now, and he in hers. There was no longer that desperation of having to fight his blood instincts. How could that be? There had been no ritual, no marriage, at least not that he remembered. He put his hand to his pounding head and pressed, but as hard as he tried, he couldn't remember.
"What is going on?" He knew he sounded panicky.
The look his parents shot each other struck him as funny all of a sudden and a snort escaped him.
Before he knew it Draco was laughing and couldn't seem to be able to stop, for some reason. He thought that perhaps he was a bit hysterical.
His parents must have called for Poppy, because he saw her face above his as she administered something for him to drink, then all faded to black.
Severus had not stopped pacing since retreating to his dungeons. Due to the potion he was still bound to Harry, for the next…he looked at the clock…twelve hours. There was no way he was going to survive that next twelve hours if Harry did not stop moping over the temporary blocking of his spouse in his mind.
They had both been very aware of the consequences of their actions, and Harry had been only too happy to suggest they take the potion when his Miss Granger had been at risk.
Of course, in typical Gryffindor fashion it was now, after the fact, that the annoying boy would be having second thoughts. Though not spoken Severus was still an unwilling party to Harry's silent brooding, because of their blasted bond.
Severus knew he was not about to go back up to the hospital wing and hold Potter's hand, so there had to be something he could do to block some of the younger man's angst from his own consciousness. He supposed he should feel fortunate that they had not used the stronger potion that would have given them verbal mind-to-mind contact, feelings were more than enough. Severus had a cold chill run over him at the idea of being able to read Harry Potter's THOUGHTS.
After long minutes of pacing, an aborted attempt at reading, and some slamming of doors he grabbed a hangover potion from the storeroom, the bottle of whiskey he kept way in the back of his cupboard, and sat in his chair. Contemplating the flames crackling away in the fireplace, he settled in for the duration and steadily filled the glass, drinking until he could not feel Harry in his mind anymore.
Harry Potter was in Hogwarts, as was Lucius Malfoy; Anne had recognized them as they had run past her, up the main staircase, two days ago. She had known them instantly from their pictures in the 'Daily Prophet' and her prized copy of 'Hogwarts a Brand New and Almost Completely Accurate History'. They had been heading toward the hospital wing and she hadn't seen them since, any time a student attempted to loiter near that part of the castle they were strongly urged away.
She remembered she had stood staring after them, before turning to walk the rest of the way to the Great Hall for breakfast, which was where she was heading right now. She had only gone a few steps when Professor McGonagall and a tall, blond woman swept past in a cloud of perfume. Anne rotated slowly in place to watch the women, they where trailed by no less than four house elves wearing fringed velvet pillowcases. She couldn't stop herself from staring again until the strange group was out of sight. The woman's pointy chin and slanted eyes made it obvious that she was Professor Malfoy's mother.
Both of Professor Malfoy's parents and the famous Harry Potter were in Hogwarts. What on earth could be happening?
Anne hurried the rest of the way to the great hall, squeezing between the groups of gossiping students. Strangely, there were no Professors urging them on toward their breakfasts.
The Great Hall looked as it always did, trays of food sat on each house table and hungry students sat filling their plates. The difference was that only Professor Lupin was sitting at the head table, and he looked very much as though he wished he was anywhere else.
Anne sat quietly eating her toast with marmalade and listened to the whispered conversations around her. People were saying that they had seen Dumbledore and Snape running; that information coupled with Anne having seen Harry Potter, Lucius Malfoy and Professor Malfoy's mother added to the mystery.
She ate quietly her mind filled with questions.
Harry was well aware that he was making things inconvenient for Severus and he didn't mean to. It was just that he had been married now for five years and to have his spouse displaced from his mind and Severus suddenly there was far more uncomfortable than he had imagined.
In the heat of the moment with Hermione's life at stake, he had been willing to do whatever it took, and he had done. Only now he was paying for it. It wasn't that Severus was the horrible person he remembered as a child it was simply that Severus was not his idea of a bond mate, someone with whom to share his mind and soul. No indeed the very idea made him shudder.
He wanted nothing more than to run home and put miles of distance between himself and Severus for the next few hours, but instead he was sitting here with his hand in Hermione's while she slept. Even in sleep her hand was clutching his convulsively, and in truth, it made him feel better about her situation. If he had contact with her, then he could stop her from being swept away into Draco's mind if that situation should arise again.
He was sitting looking out the window when he felt something strange. Severus Snape was elated. Harry had never seen Severus as much as smile let alone show the true happiness that was flowing through their mark.
The Headmaster should be alerted; the link was obviously having an adverse influence on Severus' behaviour.
No one was telling them anything, and there was an undercurrent of thinly disguised panic in the hallways.
When they had shown up for potion's class, the wards were all up and there appeared to be singing coming from the Professor Snape's private rooms.
Standing with the clutch of other bewildered students, Anne clutched her bag of precious books closer. Professor Snape had never been late for lessons, let alone missed one; everyone looked at each other not saying a word.
"Please don't make me regret not giving you over to Professor Snape's Friday night detention Mr. Collins. I don't want to see you in this corridor again unless you are bleeding out of your ears."
"Sorry Professor Lupin." The sheepish boy ran down the staircase to where his sniggering friends were hiding. Remus sighed and shook his head, sometimes he regretted his werewolf senses, life would be easier if he couldn't hear everything within a 50 metre radius, including his wife's footsteps pacing behind the closed door of the infirmary.
Before his hand touched the door, it was opened and Poppy came out, closely followed by Albus.
"Headmaster." Remus nodded.
"Remus my dear boy." Albus turned to him and stopped. "Perhaps…"
"Headmaster, please." Poppy gave them a stern look.
"Yes, I feel you are correct Poppy. Well Remus I will wish to speak with you later…later." And with those words, they walked away with mention of Severus and happy.
It seemed as if everyone had gone crazy the last few weeks if only Draco hadn't come into his inheritance to start with, none of this would be happening.
Harry was still sitting by the side of Hermione's bed just as he had been when Remus had seen him last. Ginny was pacing but turned when he entered the room.
"Remus, did you see the Headmaster?" She came to him, and he gathered her in his arms.
"Yes…I saw him and Poppy as well they were…" He trailed off at the look on her face. "What's happening?" He shot a glance at Harry who was staring out the window, his hand tightly in Hermione's.
"Severus feels happy." Harry muttered without turning his look from the window.
"Harry thinks Severus is having an adverse reaction to the potion and bond."
"Why, what?" Remus looked between them confused.
"He said that Severus felt happy."
Remus' stomach lurched at her words. Happy? Severus Snape had not so much as cracked a smile since the day he was spawned. How could he feel happy? Severus was the most bottled up person he had ever met, if his walls had finally come down it was bound to go south, fast. Remus knew he was possibly the closest person to Severus, he decided he better go lend a hand to Albus and Poppy.
"I will go catch up with Albus and see if I can help." He turned and moved with smooth preternatural strides, not quite running, but moving swiftly in order to join the Headmaster and Poppy before they reached Severus' rooms.
He knew there were students moving out of his ways with something like fear in their eyes but he didn't slacken his pace only gave them his bland safe teacher's smile.
The Headmaster didn't look surprised to see him when he joined them in their downward journey.
The group of students outside the Potion's classroom gave them pause for a moment. Finally, Albus motioned him toward them and he and Poppy continued.
"Well should we stand around in this damp place, do you think?" He smiled at small group.
"Come; let's take this out to the sunshine." He turned and walked away fully expecting that they would follow and they did. He was hopeful that the Headmaster and Poppy would be able to deal with Severus themselves.
It took ten minutes for Albus and Poppy to break through the heavy wards on Severus' rooms. When they finally broke through Albus wished that he had lent a hand with the potion's class instead of sending Remus to do it. He had encountered more uncomfortable situations in the last few days than he had in the whole of any of the previous years. His signature eye twinkling was being sorely tested.
The usually dour potion's master was lying flat on the floor of the room, his dark robes open and disarrayed enough to show a view of thin hairy legs, and knobbly knees. It was such a vast departure from his usual meticulous modesty that both Albus and Poppy were motionless.
Upon noticing them in his rooms, Severus raised his arm and waved in a drunken fashion. Poppy immediately set about to take his vitals and Albus stood thinking about which 'Oblviate' charm he could best use to wipe this out of Severus' memory. He could only imagine how humiliated Severus would be when he sobered up and the pain and suffering to which every inhabitant of the castle would be subject, when that moment occurred.
Albus was interrupted from his contemplation of spells, by the sound of muffled cries of help. Albus turned and blinked his eyes a couple of times to make sure they were indeed giving the correct information, yes the scene still looked the same. Perhaps his mind was the faulty organ for it seemed that Severus had Poppy in an ardent embrace, kissing her with a passion that had her eyes wide open in shock.
Oh yes, this was definitely a moment for the use of a memory charm! Albus hurried to disentangle the two, before Poppy could get her wand trained properly.
One more chapter and the Epilogue.