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Defence, Pretence, Offence

Chapter Text

The summer classes were going well, but the search for whoever had sabotaged the first week was not. Their little group of conspirators had been trying to find any information, but there didn't seem to be any to find and, given how the Aurors were also still scurrying around, Draco doubted they knew any more either.

They were in Advanced Shielding when the saboteur struck again.

Remus was demonstrating a particularly complex shielding spell that could hide the user from all forms of magical detection when a small box on the teaching desk exploded with green sparks. When they hit Remus' shimmering shield it shuddered so hard, Remus' wand fell right out of his hand and rolled away, through the quivering shield.

However, the shield did not disappear. In fact it went as green as the sparks and turned glasslike. Draco had never seen anything quite like it.

"What on earth?" Periculum said.

Inside the shield, Remus reached out and touched it, pulling his hand back rapidly as if stung. Remus said something, but it seemed the shield was now impervious to sound.

"Finite Incantatum," Periculum said and pointed his wand at the shield.

The counter spell bounced off harmlessly and had no effect on the barrier what so ever.

"Don't panic, Class," Periculum said, "I am sure this is just a prank."

[Prank my arse,] Harry said and, as if his words were prophetic, the green shield gave a shudder and shrank a good two inches in diameter.

[I wholeheartedly agree,] Draco said. [Can you see what's going on?]

He felt Harry lowering his barriers and then he was treated to a mental recreation of what Harry was actually seeing. The magic in the shield looked like it had been turned to a solid.

The most significant thing, however, was that there was a pattern in the magic, a pattern that looked like it was warring with itself. Draco had never seen it used in the way it was being used to alter the shield, but he did know the principle.

[A second spell had been introduced to the first,] Draco said. [The two spells are polar opposites and so are causing a kind of stasis. The same principle can be used to sure up magical buildings that are on the verge of collapse so they can be restored.]

[So if we unbalance the spells the whole thing should fall apart?] Harry checked.

[That's the theory.]

The shield shuddered and shrank again. Remus wasn't quite quick enough and ended up clutching his arm.

"Auror Periculum," Harry said, immediately striding towards the front of the class, "I can fix this."

There was no hesitation in Harry as he played the hero yet again. Hand raised, he reached for the shield, at which point Draco remembered something.

[Don't put magic in,] he told Harry quickly; [it will explode. You need to take it out.]

Harry stopped and stared at the shield. He shared it all with Draco without hesitation and Draco did his best to spot anything that could help.

[There,] he said, coming to stand next to Harry and showing his soulmate what he meant.

There was a point in the pattern where the original spell looked like it had gathered into a small globe. It almost looked like a cork in hole. Harry reached for it.

[No,] Draco said, [it bites, remember.]

The shield shuddered and shrank again.

[No time to worry about that,] Harry said and just grabbed it.

Draco felt pain shoot up his own arm, even though it was Harry that was in contact with the shield. He grabbed for Harry, lending his strength as directly as he could. It wasn't agonising. Unfortunately they were both all too aware what that felt like, but it was painful. Harry's eyes were watering as he tried to grip the globe of magic and only Draco's Malfoy pride was keeping him from the same fate.

Harry was the only person who could treat magic like a physical thing. The forces Harry employed were like nothing any normal wizard could do and they always took Draco's breath away. Watching Harry work was a marvel, even if it hurt.

Once Harry got a proper grip on the globe, that was it. The magic popped out in Harry's hand and the shield dissolved into a thousand harmless sparks, including the part Harry was holding. It was quite pretty really, but Draco was more concerned with something he had just realised.

[That's it,] he decided, [we're going to see Dumbledore, now.]

[Why?] Harry asked.

[Because this is about you,] he said. [Once could have been luck, twice because someone was trying to scare the seventh years, but three times, this is definitely about you.]

[But none of the attacks have been against me,] Harry pointed out.

[I know,] Draco admitted, he hadn't worked that bit out yet; then it hit him like a lightning bolt, [but they were all things you could deal with. Merlin's balls, someone is testing you.]

[What?]

[On the Quidditch pitch you sensed the magical change and fixed it with your unique insight; in Offensive Spells you controlled the magic like no one else could; here you picked the lock of the magic and you were the only one who could see it had a lock in the first place.]

Draco began mentally kicking himself; why hadn't he seen it earlier.

[So this is about me? Again?]

[Love,] Draco replied, [until Voldemort is dead it's always going to be about you and, once the bastard is, I will take great pleasure in making sure it never has to be all about you again.]

They left a confused Remus and an astounded looking Periculum in their wake as Draco dragged Harry out of the room, straight towards the headmaster's office.

* * *

"Sorry to call unannounced," Draco said as Harry let himself be led into Dumbledore's office.

"Always a pleasure, Gentlemen," the headmaster replied, coming out from behind his desk. "What may I do for you today?"

"There's been another one," Harry said.

"Someone sabotaged our shielding class," Draco said. "They set a boobytrap that added to a shield to make it solid and then cause it to shrink."

"That is very advanced magic," Dumbledore said, expression turning serious.

"And it conveniently had a single weakness," Draco went on and Harry just let him.

He could feel his soulmate's mind churning.

"One only Harry could see, one that would have taken anyone else far too long to find," Draco continued.

The way Dumbledore looked at him then, Harry knew the headmaster was following Draco's train of thought.

"Oh, My Dear Boy," Dumbledore said with a shake of his head, "I am so sorry."

"So you agree," Draco said, "this is targeted at Harry?"

Dumbledore nodded and Harry let go any remaining hope that Draco was overreacting.

"It does appear to be an inescapable conclusion," the headmaster agreed. "Please, come and sit down and tell me everything that happened this morning."

It didn't take long to give an account of the device on the desk exploding, how it affected the shield and all the subsequent events. Harry put in everything he knew and Draco explained the rest as Dumbledore listen intently.

"I think someone is testing Harry," Draco finished when they had completed their tale.

Dumbledore touched his chin, nodding slowly.

"I believe you are correct," the headmaster said, "and they are not just testing his abilities."

"What?" Harry asked. "I don't understand."

"Each incident did not simply require your Hecatemus abilities," Dumbledore told him; "it required, in equal measure, an act of heroism."

Harry frowned, he wasn't sure that was right.

"I don't see what you mean," he said.

Draco sighed beside him.

"Harry, love," Draco said, "I know you're used to this kind of thing, but diving on a broom from the top of the pitch to get to the ground in time, was kind of dangerous. To stop the magic in the courtyard you had to call it straight to you, which, if you hadn't been able to control it, could have hurt you considerably. Then today you had to cause yourself a lot of pain to unbalance the shield. Every single incident has put you in a position where you have to take a risk or sacrifice something to solve it."

The way Dumbledore was looking at him made Harry think Draco had a point. He really hadn't thought of it that way.

"Us," he added, not wanting to minimise Draco contribution, "I had to cause us considerable pain."

Draco patted him on the hand in reply.

Of course if this really was all about him, Harry could only come to one decision.

"If this is because of me," he said, "then I'll have to stop taking the summer classes. I can't put other people in the line of fire, just because someone has it out for me."

He was enjoying the summer school and learning a lot, but he didn't see any other way to deal with the problem.

"I agree," Draco said. "Who knows what will come next."

Dumbledore inclined his head in acknowledgement, but did not immediately agree.

"If you gentlemen are willing," he said, "I believe I may have an alternative suggestion."

"We're listening," Draco replied.

"So far all the magic used against you has been very sophisticated," Dumbledore told them. "No matter what we led the school to believe, the cancellation charm which negated the safeguards on the Quidditch pitch was highly complex. As was the charm on Miss Parkinson's target and the device used today. No ordinary wizard or witch would be capable of such intricate magic.

"Also, each incident has been meticulously planned. I do not believe this is a Death Eater plot, simply by the nature of the incidents."

"More people would have been hurt," Harry said, catching on.

Dumbledore nodded again.

"The Ministry," Draco said with a certainty that belied any argument.

"I fear I have come to the same conclusion," Dumbledore agreed.

"But why would the Ministry..?" Harry started to say.

"Fudge."

Draco was clearly adamant.

"But would he..." Harry said and then paused. "What am I saying, of course he would. But I don't see how that changes things."

"There are many Ministry employees on Hogwarts grounds," Dumbledore said, "most of whom I would be willing to personally vouch for, however, there are a few who were, shall we say, forced upon me."

[Now there's a shock,] Draco said.

"I greatly suspect we are dealing with an Unspeakable," the headmaster went on. "Only they would have the capabilities these incidents require. To rid the school of this person and the Ministry's overbearing presence, we must first trap them, and then prove where their orders came from."

"And the only way to do that is if I am still involved," Harry concluded. "But what if people get hurt? I might not be quick enough one time."

"I find that most doubtful," Dumbledore said with a small smile, "however, I share your concerns about the other students, so I would suggest an alternative stratagem. We set up individual classes for both of you. That will allow our saboteur opportunity to 'test' you further, while removing the danger from the other students."

Draco was already nodding.

"We can use the cover story that it's because Harry's unique abilities require special training," Draco said, "but also let a rumour circulate that it's really because I went ballistic at Harry being in danger and demanded he be removed from the line of fire."

"An interesting premise," Dumbledore said; "most ingenious."

[You're going to look like a right prat,] Harry pointed out.

[And you'll look like a brow beaten soulmate,] Draco replied, [but it will mean the saboteur won't suspect that we've worked it out. And I did just storm out of a class, dragging you with me.]

Harry could not fault Draco's logic.

"Okay," he said, "but we're explaining to Ron and Hermione and Pansy or this could wreck the house unity we have going on. With them on side we can smooth it call over."

"Agreed," Draco said. [I think I may have you better trained than I thought.]

Harry snorted at that.