Disclaimer: Not mine beyond the plot – and please feel free to correct my Latin at will. The story used below is adapted from Sole, Luna, e Talia, written by Giambattista Basile as one of the oldest version of the more well-known story of today.
Exhaustion lined the faces of all those sitting in the study. Even Albus Dumbledore, characteristically resplendent in his brilliant lime-green and purple robes, looked lined and weary.
It had been just under a week ago, now, that the raid had happened. One hundred and twenty-six hours and sixteen minutes since the strangely coloured curse had broken all their shields, and struck one green-eyed boy – no, man, now – in the back.
At first they thought he had gotten lucky. There were no immediate physical affects from the curse, no visible wounds for Madame Pomfrey to attend to. It was Harry who had first noticed the slight tremors and the odd, constant tiredness, and Hermione who had forced them all out of denial to admit that there was something wrong.
Four days of frantic researching, four days of ever-mounting strain and exhaustion, four days of Harry turning pale and shaking with the stress and exhaustion, and they had their answer. It was rather ironic, Harry thought, that the half-blood Dark Lord, waging a war based on pureblood supremacy, had had to use a muggle-rooted curse to take him down.
The decorus somnus curse had been created by a Muggle-born dark wizard in the 17th century who had read of magic and dreamed of magic and loved magic – and then had been forced into a world that reviled and hated him for his blood and lineage. He had been tormented and shunned, denied schooling or acceptance from those around him. In revenge, the wizard had developed curses that twisted his original hopes and dreams into death and despair.
The one used on Harry had been the last curse that wizard had invented before his death. He had called it the beautiful sleep.
Hermione, armed with the name of the curse, had found the basis from which the dark wizard had worked. The wizard had been well acquainted, in his love of magic, with the story of the beautiful woman named Talia, who was fated to fall into an endless sleep after being pricked by a splinter of flax. He had known about how the woman was raped, and while unconscious, how she had birthed two children, named Sun and Moon, who removed the splinter of flax from her finger. And he had known, and rejoiced, in his hatred, at how the jealous queen had tried to kill the two children and feed them to the King in return for his infidelity, and how the queen was, in turn, killed by the King for the attempted murder of Talia, Sun and Moon.
These were the roots of the beautiful sleep curse; the curse's founder had understood the dark heart of the story, and had fed that betrayal and pain into a curse that weakened and twisted the victim. The spell was a slow-acting version of the flax from the story. The cure was deceptively simple, and cruel in that simplicity – for what they needed was to find one single person, like Talia's child, who could love Harry unconditionally, without desiring anything else but his love in return. Only that person would be able to lift the curse. If they were not found, Harry would continue to weaken and burn with fire, afflicted with fever and torment until he succumbed to the sleep from which the name came – the beautiful sleep, the sleep of mercy, of respite from the pain, the sleep of death.
The gathering in Dumbledore's study today of Professors and select Order members, Hermione, and Harry had been organized to share what little they knew, and to look for a solution.
It was Bill who connected Hermione's description of the cure to the wizarding concept of bonded souls, magic users whose magic and magical core were completely compatible. Together, the pair would experience a magical boost, giving them each some new set of skills or power. Every witch and wizard had a bonded soul, whether that be best friend, lover, family, or complete stranger - for it was the finding that was rare and difficult. Harry, himself, currently only knew of one pair of bonded souls – Fred and George Weasley.
Suggestions had abounded, with even the – Harry snorted softly – Dursley's names coming up. Those had, thankfully, been vetoed quickly and absolutely. Friends, adopted family, ex-girlfriends – even the bloke he had kissed last year in the Quidditch shed had had his name dragged in, although Harry never wanted to know why McGonagall knew that last bit of information.
Hands warming on a mug of steaming tea, Harry concentrated on containing the tremors and let the conversation flow around him. He heard Hermione's resolute We'll find the person and Snape's drawled The Dark Lord is happy, indeed. After all, Mr. Potter is now even less of a threat, if that is at all possible, but wasn't overly concerned with the current discussion. There had been something, a glimmer of an idea, flitting at the back of his mind, and if he could just focus on it – ah, yes. And wasn't that happy.
"Uhm – I think there is something else we need to consider."
The noise continued right over his rather hoarse voice, and would have continued indefinitely if not, oddly enough, for one Severus Snape.
"You have a thought, Mr. Potter? Do enlighten us – this is the first and quite possibly last time for such an occurrence, and I, for one, am desperate not to miss it."
Harry managed to resist sticking out his tongue, though that was more from exhaustion (and maybe, way deep down, a small smidgen of respect for the man who had managed to wrangle the identity of the curse from Voldemort) than maturity.
:"Well, yes. Uhm - I don't think Voldemort is just trying to kill me with the decorus somnus. Not that it wouldn't be a nice side affect, of course, but – what if, instead, Voldemort is worried that a bonded soul is the power he knows not. "
There was a moment of silence, and a rare, almost-approving nod from the dark-haired Potions master. Clearing his throat, Harry rushed on before the talking could erupt once more.
"What – well, what if he used this curse to make us flush out that person for him? So that he could get rid of them and thus break the prophecy?"
Looking around, Harry could see the beginnings of agreement and understanding cross the faces around him. It was, unfortunately, all too probable. The silence held, until it was broken by the quiet words of Ablus Dumbledore
"And that understanding, my dear boy, is why Voldemort fears you. Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, indeed – I think this might bear some looking in to."