The moment Harry had placed wild wand on the matrix stone it had initiated the ritual. Turning back to the stone now, he picked up the silver knife from the ground and brought his wrist over the bowl on the surface. The blade was very sharp and all Harry had to do was touch it to his arm for blood to begin to flow.
It hurt as the knife cut into his flesh, but Harry was distant from it, almost as if it was not really his arm that he was slicing. His life's blood dripped from the wound in a steady stream as he watched it slowly fill the small bowl in a detached almost serene manner.
Only as blood eventually dripped over the edge of the tiny vessel did Harry raise his arm. Draco took hold of his wrist and slowly brought his head down until his lips closed over the wound. Draco drank deeply and his mental presence felt intoxicated as Harry pushed his own magic through the channel of blood between them.
It was then that the sea of calm on which Harry's thoughts had been floating began to gather a storm. His heartbeat increased and excitement curled in the bottom of his stomach making him feel empty inside.
"Two are one," Harry whispered to the night as his head swam, "one is two."
Draco only let go of his arm reluctantly and when Harry looked up at his soulmate, Draco's eye were shining. The normally grey irises were sparkling with metallic facets and the whites were deep red. Blood had dribbled from the corner of his mouth over Draco's pale chin and down onto his white robe. His lover was beautiful and eerie in the white light of the moon.
"It is time," Draco said quietly, "I see with your eyes: it is coming."
Harry did not hesitate, he turned back to the stone in front of him and he dropped all his barriers. Adrenaline flooded his system as the thrill of what he was doing pushed away all other emotions. Draco's hands fixed back onto his shoulders and Harry picked up the wild wand from the stone and called to the magic of the circle.
The wand sent power off in four directions causing the circle to flare brightly, throwing silver to the sky and then the wild magic Harry had summoned by spilling his blood on the stone crashed into the barrier. This magic was cold and powerful and ancient and it swirled in hundreds of different hues as it beat against the power keeping it out.
Harry heard the exclamation from his godfather and turned to see Sirius unconsciously backing towards the edge of the circle. Without thinking Harry threw out his hand and Sirius froze before he could reach the barrier. There was no time to worry about what he had done or how he had done it; he had more important things to think about.
Letting his mind feel it Harry explored the power surrounding them with his thoughts. He found its currents and its eddies letting it dance around his senses, trying to understand it. This was true magic, uncorrupted by the will of man. It was dangerous.
This magic did not want to be harnessed, it did not want to be used, but it did not flee from his touch. The wild magic he had used with his wand was a mere reflection of the power that he felt throwing itself against the wards of the circle. It was an incredible feeling to be in the presence of such energy.
Harry found himself drawn to the power, sucked in by the energy and intoxicated by the sheer magnitude of the magic around him. It called to him and he wanted it; he wanted it badly. However, this was not a power that could be forced, it was a power that had to be coaxed, and Harry knew that it required something of him first.
Closing his eyes he tried to calm his thoughts and prepare his mind knowing that to do this he had to be completely focused on his task. The wild magic wanted to come to him and he was drawn to it as much as it to him. Harry knew if he was not careful he could easily lose himself.
Taking one last centring breath, he smashed the wild wand against the matrix stone and drained the power from the circle. The protective wizard's magic fell away and the ancient forces it had been keeping at bay swooped down on him. The sheer energy that hit Harry should have vaporised him, but where it touched his skin it snaked inside. It was beyond pain, beyond pleasure and it threatened to take away his mind. It took every ounce of will he had and Draco's indomitable strength, not to just let the power take him.
"Please," he begged, bearing his soul and what needed to be done, to the thing that had invaded him, "this must be made right."
There was no way he could force the wild magic to do his bidding, all he could do was ask. It did not have a mind as a human being would think of a mind, but it was aware and Harry showed it the wrong that had been done. In no more than a heartbeat he offered it himself as a tool and showed it his lifeblood sitting in the little bowl; then he surrendered completely.
Harry's eyes opened, but it was not he who had forced his muscles to move. It felt wonderful and horrific at the same time and drew conflict from deep within his mind. He was a passenger in his own body as he looked down at the stone and brought his hands either side of it. He watched fascinated as the magic burning in his cells erupted from his fingers and engulfed the small block and everything that was on it, spitting and jumping as if it was truly alive.
The power continued to pour out of him swirling and obscuring the stone he had prepared so carefully over the previous week. The wild thing that had control of his body was enjoying the physical sensations that the magic caused in his flesh and it was playing. Pain and then pleasure ripped through him in alternating waves as it tested him and revelled in his surrender. When Draco screamed Harry did not know if he could go on. He wanted it to finish, to end the cycle which threatened to drive him out of his mind and take his soulmate with him, but it was too late; Harry had already opened himself, there was nothing he could do now.
Then the game was over, as suddenly as it had begun the teasing stopped.
Harry felt Draco collapse against his back. His soulmate was clinging to him as if their lives depended on it. It probably did; Draco's presence was all that kept Harry's awareness from spiralling away from reality.
The magic flared around the stone, blinding his sensitive vision and then it disappeared into the rough surface. For a moment it vanished from his sight and he was confused, left stunned by the sudden lack of stimulation before it leapt out again straight at his chest causing the air in his lungs to be expelled in a mad rush.
The power began flowing through him as if he was a conduit; out of his fingers, into the block, and then back into his body, changing subtly at each pass. Harry knew if it hadn't been for the controlling magic in his body he wouldn't even have had the strength to breathe.
The wild untamed energy was forming into something more controlled and with every trip through the power matrix Harry had created in the stone it gained purpose. It passed through him so many times that he lost track of the number and he fell into a kind of hypnotised stupor. His body was acting without his volition and in protection his mind ceased to function normally, slowing down thought and leeching out emotion once again. Draco's presence felt stunned and barely aware drifting alongside Harry's with no will.
When the cycle changed it almost caught Harry by surprise. He heard a grunt escape from his taxed body as the influx of energy to his chest stopped while the power continued to feed into the stone from his hands. His mind began to wake up again and with it came a vague fear.
He felt mostly numb in a physical and emotional sense, almost unable to comprehend what was happening. When the magic had disappeared completely, Harry watched his limbs move up above the block without trying to understand what was going on. They stopped, hovering closer together over the tiny bowl of blood, poised, waiting for whatever was about to happen.
When the eruption came Harry knew if he had been in control of his muscles he would have reared back as shock made his heart pound and his eyes water. Power exploded upwards from the stone through the bowl, shattering it and taking the liquid up high as the magic literally absorbed Harry's lifeblood. He felt it like a connection made in an electric circuit as the ancient power accepted the part of himself he had given for it to keep forever. His palms turned upwards and he felt his own innate magic forced out of him as the elemental power controlling him used it to bring order to the swirling metallic red mass that was now suspended above him.
Ever so slowly the cloud began to change shape and it formed into a large oval, crisscrossed by a network of thin red lines. Harry felt himself stand, somehow dragging Draco with him. He turned, arms outstretched to where Sirius was standing a few feet away. His godfather was still frozen; Harry's power keeping him rooted to the spot. Sirius' expression was one of awe and horror.
It filled Harry with disgust at himself as he realised the fear he had caused. This was his fault and there was nothing he could do to change it now. He knew this had to be done, knew that the universe had been wronged and it needed to be set right, but he was suddenly very afraid.
His body, however, was not concerned with his mind. He felt himself move his hands in a strangely formal gesture and the final touch was completed. The floating matrix moved towards Sirius at speed, coming down to ground level, turning on end and then flying straight at his rigid godfather.
It only slowed when it touched Sirius and Harry could not look away as the red crisscross of power wrapped itself around his godfather like a net, even as the outer ring continued its journey. Then with almost agonising slowness the taught magic began to disappear through Sirius.
It was then that Sirius regained his power of movement and screamed. With the image of his godfather ingrained on his mind, Harry felt all power and strength leave him. His arms dropped, his body sagged and he began to fall. If he could he would have said something, done something, but he was robbed of all of that as he lost the ability to think completely.
* * *
There was something important trying to force Draco to wakefulness: something that would not let him float in the blissful blackness that required no thought. When he considered consciousness his thoughts filled with pain and he shied away, but eventually the something trying to hold his attention won through.
Draco opened his eyes slowly and decided that everything hurt; there was not a single cell in his body that was not complaining. The microsecond after he realised this he remembered where he was and what Harry had been doing. Harry: that was the important something that had caused him to wake up. It took him a good thirty seconds to summon up enough strength and coordination to move and then he pushed himself shakily off the ground on which he was lying face down.
Every cell was no longer simply complaining it was rebelling and Draco fought down the urge to be violently sick. He hurt; he hurt almost as much as he had felt Harry hurting during the ceremony, but he was not going to let that stop him reaching his soulmate.
Harry's presence was still firmly in his mind, but Draco could tell that his lover was deeply unconscious and weak. Nothing would have stopped him reaching Harry. Looking around he realised he had awoken a good ten feet from where he last remembered being and Harry was slumped next to the matrix stone in his now bloodstained white robe. Half walking, half crawling, Draco made his way back to his soulmate as fast as he could.
When he touched him the Draco could feel the residual energy from the ceremony running through the prone Hecatemus and Harry made no indication that he knew Draco was there. Harry's face was pale to the point of almost being grey and his breathing was ragged. The wrist cut during the ceremony still oozed blood from the congealing wound and Draco reached for his wand without thinking. Only as he tried to remember the charm for healing cuts did he realise he could not think of it. His mind was so confused that he could not even put together the words of a simple spell. Draco almost lost it at that point.
The event that stopped him was a hand settling on his shoulder. He turned in desperation and looked into the eyes of Sirius Black. Harry's godfather looked different: that was the first fact that made it into Draco's thoughts, past the desire to loose his mind. Black looked somehow younger or possibly just less haggard and the semi-wild look that Draco was used to appeared to have left Sirius; except for his eyes. Draco would have been shocked, or pleased, or something if he had had enough brainpower left to do anything but accept everything and keep going.
"Let me," the older man said in a voice that sounded calm and sure.
Draco let his lover's godfather take over gratefully, somehow not surprised to see Sirius pull a wand from his clothes. The dark haired man sealed the wound on Harry's wrist with a whispered charm and then looked back at Draco.
"We need to get Harry to help," Sirius said evenly, "can you walk?"
"I can if I have to," he replied even though his body cried out in protest at the very idea.
Harry's godfather nodded at him as if he understood perfectly and then Sirius did something that surprised Draco completely; which was an achievement given his current mental state. Sirius moved round the other side of his godson, shifted his arms under the unconscious Hecatemus and lifted Harry off the ground. Harry was not a child, he was almost a full-grown man, and the strength it must have taken to lift him did not escape Draco. There was strain on Sirius' face, but also a cold determination that Draco did not question. Using the now inert matrix stone Draco pushed himself to his feet with a similar use of pure will power.
"Let's go," he said quietly.
It was the hardest walk of Draco's entire life. Every muscle hurt, every bone ached and half the time he could barely tell which way was up, let alone which way he was supposed to be going. Then of course there was Harry; barely breathing and closed off from him in unconsciousness. It was almost too much for Draco, but being an obstinate bastard helped a little. By the time they reached the castle he was hanging on to Sirius and stumbling over every step. If it hadn't been for Harry's godfather Draco knew he would still have been in the forest, probably face down, and encircled by wolves.
The effort it was taking for Sirius to keep them going was also showing on the older man; Sirius was physically shaking and he missed a step or two, but Harry's godfather was refusing to give up. Draco was not sure what dying and then being brought back could do to a psyche, but he suspected it was even worse than twelve years in Azkaban, and it had definitely given Sirius an edge. Draco, however, did not have the energy to be more than vaguely impressed.
It was Halloween, the school was deserted as everyone feasted in the main hall and that was where they were going. Draco had given up trying to figure out which direction to walk in and was half following and half being dragged by Sirius. He only knew that they were nearing the hall because he could hear the noise coming from inside. The doors were open and the cheerful voices raised in celebration spilled into the hallway.
Sirius did not pause as they reached the entrance, he walked straight through and only inside did he stop. It seemed to Draco that it was as if walking into the Great Hall turned off a power switch in the man and he felt the tremors in Sirius' body increase. What he assumed was a first year screamed and then total silence engulfed the hall as Draco looked around trying to make out anything in the blur that his eyesight was showing him. As he stared stupidly Sirius finally succumbed to the strain he was under and fell to his knees.
"Someone help, please," the man said in a voice that no longer held the strength and certainty Draco had heard before.
Then, still holding Harry in his arms Sirius toppled over sideways and lay on the floor unmoving. Draco just stood there, wobbling on his feet looking at his two fallen comrades. He heard some whispers and some movement, but they didn't really mean much to him; he knew his mind was shutting down.
"Everyone remain calm," Dumbledore's voice was strong and even as it rang through the hall. "Stay in your seats the staff with deal with this."
Draco looked up at the tones of the headmaster and he saw a tall, black, blurry shape coming towards him down the side of the hall. There were other shapes moving towards Harry and Sirius and the fact that they were all somewhere safe made it into his confused brain. It was all his mind needed to close off the final shred of whatever will power he had been functioning with and he felt himself caught by strong, wiry arms as he too gave up on the vertical. The smell of potions made it into his nose and then Draco passed out.