Chapter 54 - Peril of the Vassal

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The first day had been fairly uneventful as far as Draco was concerned. There had only been two exploding cauldrons, and Harry's day seemed to have passed without even such trifles to bother him. That was why Draco was in an almost buoyant mood as they sat in the Room of Requirement waiting for Hilde to arrive for their weekly training session. The bubbly woman had been on holiday down in Cornwall since her visit on Boxing Day, and Draco hated to admit it, but he had started to look forward to her company.

The Slytherin in him would say it was because she helped Harry almost every time they saw her, but the part that had given up and admitted that he was picking up Gryffindor traits had to admit she was also fun to be around. Hilde was definitely a Hufflepuff, so her sense of humour required some warping, but Draco was working on that.

"She should be here by now," Harry said suddenly, from where he was wandering around the room.

When Draco looked up there was a frown on Harry's face, and he could feel the undercurrent of worry that had wormed its way into Harry's mind. Since Harry had been in as cheerful a mood as Draco only a few moments before, he knew that there was more to this than simple anxiety.

"What did you do?" he asked simply.

"I just touched the oath bond," Harry replied, walking over as he did so. "I do it occasionally when Hilde is here; you must have felt me at some point."

Draco nodded, he had felt Harry reach out every now and then, it seemed to be something of an unconscious action on Harry's part, but he had not been paying attention for the latest one.

"She's not close," Harry continued, looking very much perplexed, "but she should be by now. She's already half an hour late."

"Maybe she was delayed coming back from Cornwall," Draco offered, but something about the way Harry was reacting made him sceptical about that possibility.

Harry thought about that, but then shook his head.

"You know Hilde, Draco," he said, worry clearly evident in his voice, "she would have sent a message. Something must have happened."

It was not unknown for Harry to overreact to some situations, but if there was one thing Draco knew, it was his soulmate usually had a good reason for reacting in the first place.

"Can you do any more with the oath bond?" he asked, trying to look at the whole situation more rationally.

"I don't know," Harry admitted with a shrug, "I've never tried. There is just a faint connection between us whenever she is at Hogwarts."

Draco was beginning to regret that there was little information on the limits and applications of the oath, other than its protection application. Everything written about it concentrated on the benefits to the Hecatemus rather than if there was anything going back the other way.

"Okay," he decided, "then we have to make it up as we go along. Come and sit down."

Harry did as he was told and Draco stood, moving in front of his soulmate and resting his hands on Harry's shoulders.

"I know it's not the same as our bond," he said, "but see if you can use it in a similar way. If there is a connection between you when she is here, there must be a connection all the time, it's just too faint for you to feel it. See if you can find it."

With a nod Harry shut his eyes and a familiar look of concentration crossed his features. It never ceased to amaze Draco how, at times such as these, Harry would do exactly as he was told. It also surprised him that he always seemed to have an idea about what to do, as if instinct kicked in whenever he needed it.

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