Author's Notes: I SUCK. There's no other excuse. :sigh: I had a lot of trouble with a certain scene, and even now I'm seriously contemplating over whether I should just cut it out and move on. I'm leaving it in because it was a bitch to write, and I would suck even more if I spent so much agonizing over the scene without anything to show for it. (Besides, I think it turned out waaaay better than I expected it to...) I will tell you this, though: There are REASONS I keep the romance sparse in my fics. I swear I'm this shy of being haphephobic and couldn't see the appeal of sharing skin surface for the life of me...

Weeellllll... mostly. :grins sheepishly: I get that it's hot. I'm just weird about things like that.

Sorry for the ridiculously long wait. I'll also apologize in advanced if this is a poor chapter in comparison with past updates, though the last half is something I'm actually proud of for once...

To lovely beta-mine, through whom all things are possible. Zanne deserves hugs. Lotsa hugs. And candy. Good luck on your exam, Zanne!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to review!


Harry Potter and the Forgotten Heirs Part 18

Since the discovery of Ravenclaw's Library only two weeks ago, almost every spare moment of their precious time was spent hiding away absorbing every intricate detail about the blood ritual, which was looking a lot more troublesome as the days passed. In truth, Draco and Hermione didn't need to be present for Ravenclaw's lessons. Like Wufei, Hermione diverted her attention amongst the Founder's numerous volumes. Draco just wanted to make a nuisance of himself and spend time with his boyfriend at the same time. Unfortunately, Ravenclaw's threatening stare often forced him to bury his face in a book, as well.

While Wufei, too, enjoyed the literary boon, he usually removed one of the books from the library and dared to take it outside of the painting -but never any further than Marquise's suite. The Founder had made the student of her Originator's House swear an oath that the book never left her sphere of influence; also, he was not permitted to remove another text unless he brought the first one back.

Marquise had several nasty things to say about Ravenclaw referring to his suite as her "sphere of influence," but most of his dark words were muttered behind the safety of his closed office door.

Even though Ravenclaw spoiled Draco's fun, he was never found wanting for entertainment, which usually came in the form of Duo. The first hour and a half into the lesson, the American would be completely content. He was attentive and asked many fairly intelligent questions. Just as hour three would slowly creep upon the study group, however, Duo's posture would undergo a drastic change. He would slump in his chair, fidget with everything from the tail end of his braid to his wand, and his eyes would jump spastically around the room while never fully focusing on anything at all.

Three hours trapped in his chair and Duo would visibly vibrate in his seat, fingers twitching uncontrollably in a silent plea for action. Duo Maxwell, Draco found, was not meant to be confined one in place for long periods of time. There were probably a number of very good reasons as to why this was so, but the blond Slytherin didn't dwell upon the possibilities. The point was that Duo was suffering, and Draco derived much pleasure from his hyper friend's predicament.

Heero rarely sat in on the ritual lessons; when he did, Duo managed to remain relatively chipper through the entire lesson. Draco suspected that would have been possible only if the American spent the last half of the lecture attempting to engage Heero in a game of footsie underneath the table. Judging by the mischievous leer teasing the corners of Duo's mouth on such occasions, that was likely the case.

When Heero wasn't providing Duo an outlet for distraction, he was spending his evening aiding Trowa and Quatre with the search for the highly elusive Hall of Legacies. So far, their three-man search party was having absolutely rotten luck with finding anything remotely close to what the riddle implied. They even inspected the Quidditch pitch, believing the riddle to be rather obvious. From what Draco was to understand, they scoured every inch of pitch only to leave during the early twilight hours, disappointed and with nothing to show for their efforts. The rest of their attention was solely focused on Hogwarts itself -though they were having shoddy luck on that angle, as well.

All of their schedules were packed with a flurry of attending classes, eating, Quidditch practices, homework, and catching what little sleep any of them could; on top of it all, almost every other night was dedicated to Ravenclaw's Library or searching for the Hufflepuff's Hall. It was exceedingly rare for all of them to be seen together, though Heero surmised that this was perhaps in their favor. The Japanese boy explained his reasoning one day while he, Draco, and Trowa had sequestered themselves in their dormitory to complete the day's homework.

"There are eyes and ears all over this school," Heero said monotonously, neatly rolling his Potions essay and placing it to the side so he could lay a clean sheet of parchment before him in preparation for his Charms assignment. "Anything we say or do in public that can be construed as war preparations is sure to reach the attention of the enemy."

Trowa nodded evenly. "It's best to let them think we're too busy with individual interests than to gather together openly and risk undue suspicion."

It was annoyingly sound logic and prevented Draco from spending as much time with Harry as he would have liked, but as a Slytherin, he could understand the necessity of it. Ergo -his reason for always crashing Harry's ritual lessons.

If there were two things Draco -or any one of them, for that matter -had to be grateful for, one would be mealtime, in which the only taxing things he had to do was bring the food to his mouth, deflect Duo's frequent ribbing, and/or cautiously weave around Slytherin House's intricate social trappings. It was on a Friday evening surrounded by his house mates that he found himself attending to the latter in a way that left him cursing as he brewed a headache potion in his head. What was worse was that Trowa and Heero were not present, choosing to dine with their respective boyfriends instead.

"I heard," Pansy said with coyly lowered lashes, a simpering smile tilting her lips, "that one of the sixth year girls is trying to find a recipe for a love potion. I wonder what she plans to do with it?"

There. An opening for anyone to join in with their own theories. It was a fun game to those of the house and was largely responsible for a great many rumors that would eventually spread. This was especially so for the other three houses, since a Slytherin telling tales about fellow Slytherins was considered treasonous.

"It was that sleaze Mackenzie in Ravenclaw, wasn't it?" Daphne Greengrass said immediately, a dour scowl twisting her pretty face. "She's going to use it on Marquise!" Before anyone had a chance to ask her how she surmised that, she threw her napkin on her plate with an irritated sniff. "That bint beat me to it."

Draco frowned. "Please tell me 'love potion' was your plan B."

"Plan E, Draco," Daphne said with a frown at him. "Give me some credit." Stooping so low as to consider a love potions a viable option wasn't up to par with their standards, unless it was something like a last resort. Love potions were useless imitations of the real thing and almost always ended in tragedy -anybody with two brain cells to rub together knew that much.

"I can't believe you're even thinking about it at all," Theodore lamented with a roll of his eyes. "He's a muggle, Daphne. Where's your dignity?"

"You couldn't find it with a map and a wand," the girl said with a vicious smirk thrown in Nott's direction.

Draco almost choked on his pumpkin juice, immediately picking up on the intended innuendo. He placed the glass solidly on the table before he glanced at Blaise with one eyebrow arched inquiringly. In response, his friend hummed in what sounded like an affirmative manner as he scanned the pages of the Evening Prophet. So Theodore Nott and Daphne Greengrass had a brief fling. He didn't really need Blaise's confirmation to verify his suspicion, though it did help. Nott's red-faced indignation was telling enough.

"You-" Theodore growled before Pansy coolly cut him off.

"Now, now, children. None of that at the table," the blonde girl murmured indulgently. "Daphne is right, by the way. It is Mackenzie and, so far, Marquise is the likely target."

"She just may poison the poor sod," Draco said, grinning slightly. "That should prove entertaining." He didn't hate the man, but Draco didn't really bother talking to him unless it was related to class in some way. He certainly wasn't familiar enough with the muggle to disrupt some Ravenclaw's stupid plot.

"Hmm," Blaise hummed thoughtfully, the newspaper crinkling as he peeled the front page back to purview the other side. "Speaking of Marquise, I heard from a very reliable source that a number of students have been spotted going into and leaving his suite all hours of the night."

Damn. Draco felt something in his gut wrench at that, though he managed to school his expression before anyone noticed his guilty reaction. He hoped that Blaise didn't know exactly who was involved in that little student/teacher faux pas, but when his dark-skinned friend turned his gaze away from his paper long enough to smirk at the Slytherin Prince, he knew his hope was in vain.

Grin widening slightly, he murmured innocently, "I wonder what they're up to?"

Damn, damn, damn, Draco thought peevishly, outwardly smirking back at Blaise before he calmly reached for a pastry. He knew the only reason Blaise brought the subject up was because Heero and Trowa were absent, and Blaise would think it was safe to probe for an answer without those two around to glare threateningly at him if they felt he was out of line. He bit into the pastry, barely tasting it as he still projected an aura of indifference. Blaise wouldn't be impatient enough to call him out until he heard what the blond's reply would be; and Draco definitely had to reply.

"Sounds perversely devious," Pansy agreed speculatively, "I haven't heard anything about that. Care to name your source, Blaise?"

That was a good question. They had been careful to the point of absolute paranoia when visiting Marquise's suite, going so far as to use Harry's Marauder's Map to help them along. How in the world had they been spotted? More importantly, whose loose lips did Draco have to thank for this spectacularly horrid development?

"And ruin a perfectly untapped informant?" Blaise scoffed, obviously not in the mood to share his trade secret with everyone listening. "Bite your tongue, Pans."

"You should do something about it," Nott insisted. "Tell a teacher or something. No one can get away with shagging students -especially since he's a muggle."

As usual, someone with a one track mind jumped to the wrong conclusion. Not good. Luckily, Draco mental scrambling yielded results. The only thing left to do was to mentally cross his fingers and spread his line of BS evenly.

With this in mind, Draco snorted derisively, adopting a bored expression as he studied his cuticles. "It's nothing so sordid, Theo. Trowa, Heero, and the others go to Marquise's suite to discuss what they'll be doing in class. You can't expect them to work with the muggle if they don't know what's going on." Finally, the coup de grace. "I've even gone with them a few times. It's incredibly boring." He sighed and rolled his eyes for added effect, hoping that would be enough to stave further inquiries into the subject.

Blaise narrowed his eyes suspiciously, gauging the authenticity of Draco's explanation. The blond smirked smugly at his friend as if silently declaring checkmate, hoping his friend would buy his lie... or at least go along with it until they were somewhere a bit more private.

"Well, that's no fun at all," Pansy said, pouting. Usually such news wouldn't stop her from spreading a few rumors for the sake of observational entertainment, but Slytherins were involved.

Draco sighed in barely contained relief. Crisis averted... for now.

Out of the corner of his eye, Draco saw Blaise covertly press the tip of his wand to the top of the front page of his newspaper before he casually offered it to the blond. "You might be interested in this evening's front page news," Blaise said offhandedly, smirking. "Seems the news didn't make the deadline for the morning edition. I suspect there will be a reprint tomorrow."

Bemused, Draco accepted the newspaper, eyes immediately drawn to the very top of the page. In glowing letters on the top margin, Blaise had written You aren't off the hook yet, Draco Black. The words soon faded as if they had never been there to begin with. It figured that someone as tenacious as Blaise would not let the subject die just yet; not until he had all of his questions sufficiently answered. Blaise Zabini was blessed with an infinite amount of patience and enough intelligence to plan his subtle word traps out in advance.

After reading Blaise's message, Draco glanced at him, annoyed. He quickly turned his attention back to the paper to actually read the article in case his friend tried to question him about it after he had given the paper back.

SCRIMGEOUR SUCCEEDS FUDGE, screamed the headline boldly, and Draco's eyebrows nearly shot up into his hairline. He quickly scoured the rest of the article, and even turned to the third page when the paper prompted him to.

Rufus Scrimgeour. Draco vaguely recognized the name. He was a pureblood man, head of the Auror Department before becoming Minister -and wasn't that sudden? He hadn't even known an election had been going on. Aside from what was already written about the man in the article, Draco didn't know much about new Minister of Magic. The man didn't run in the same circles as the Malfoys.

He'd apparently had a meeting with Dumbledore, as well, though Draco couldn't recall ever seeing the man's worn face or his lionlike mane of hair at any time since the beginning of the school year.

"Bit sudden," Draco said with a pondering frown. He gave the newspaper back to Blaise absently, attention completely focused on the news. "I didn't even know there was an election."

"Fastest campaign I've heard of to date," Blaise agreed with a nod. "I met Scrimgeour once when my mother took me to a social function the Ministry was holding a year ago. He's a shrewd one." The dark-skinned seventh year leaned closer, whispering softly, "And I hear from sources that he has a vested interest in your boyfriend. In fact, your beau was the hot topic of discussion in that meeting with Dumbledore that the Prophet mentioned."

"Is that right?" Draco whispered back, eyes narrowing. He could hear Pansy stealing center stage, distracting the others from their private conversation. Apparently, Blaise had already told her about the development, and she was running interference so the others wouldn't try to eavesdrop. "Do you know why?"

"Scrimgeour wants to meet with Potter in private," Blaise responded. "Dumbledore declined allowing it while Potter is on Hogwarts grounds. Scrimgeour said he'd find a way around it. He obviously wants an audience with Potter that badly."

"I see," Draco murmured thoughtfully. The new Minister of Magic wanted to talk to Harry? Draco bristled at the thought, seeing as how no one from the Ministry had supported Harry for over two years. To top it all off, Dumbledore hadn't thought it prudent to warn Harry at all. "Thanks for telling me."

"You owe me, Draco," Blaise reminded him staunchly, finally removing himself from Draco's personal space with a knowing stare. A Slytherin never did something for nothing, not even for the sake of friendship. What Blaise probably wanted more than anything else was the truth about what Draco and the others had been up to for the last month or two.

"Right," Draco muttered, nodding in agreement. He noticed movement on the other side of the room; it seemed Harry and the others were getting ready to leave, although Ron was intent on shoveling the last bit of his desert down his throat as hastily as possible. "I'll get back to you on that, Zabini." Draco stood, drawling lazily, "I have a study group to attend and patrol later, so I guess I'll see everyone in the morning."

When the other Slytherins dismissed him, he left the Great Hall and made a beeline towards the Gryffindor Tower. He stopped halfway there and settled himself against the wall of the corridor, waiting for the others to catch up with him.

There were a number of things he had to discuss with Harry.

He smirked to himself. Other things came first, though; he had his priorities, after all.


"Whoa," Seamus Finnigan blurted, backpedaling out of reflex as he stared down at the four Gryffindor seventh years -and one seventh year Slytherin, which had become an unusually common sight in the last year or so -all of whom were slumped in varying states of dishevelment at the table. "You guys look like death warmed over."

It was an accurate assessment. Ron, always the one to perk up when food was in sight, had pushed his unused plate away from him so he could lay his head down and close his darkly circled eyes. Harry was yawning almost every minute with his elbow planted on the table, his cheek resting listlessly on his palm as he stared blearily at nothing in particular through half-hooded eyes. His other hand was half-heartedly tearing at a roll. Even Duo, who boasted frequently that he thrived best on minimal sleep and copious amounts of trouble, appeared a little dull and worn around the edges.

Heero, clearly much better at managing his time in the most efficient manner, methodically brought his fork to his mouth and did not so much as look up from his plate. Similarly, Hermione almost missed her mouth with her potato-laden fork due to her fascination with whatever passage she was reading from a musty old book. The only signs of her exhaustion were the telling circles under her eyes and her new constant companion -a magic self-filling thermos of strong, black coffee.

Harry thought, perhaps spitefully, that Hermione may have been injecting pure caffeine straight into her veins. So far, he had no proof.

"Thanks, Sea'," Duo said, lifting his head to give the Irishman a brittle smile. The American self-consciously petted his frazzled plait with a stifled yawn. "I think we kind of feel like zombies myself -but at least we look warmed over."

"Not much of a consolation," Ron mumbled thickly around a tongue that did not intend to cooperate with him at the moment. "I think I've ricked something in my brain."

As Seamus welcomed himself to the empty seat beside Dean, the dark-skinned artist looked at his exhausted housemates in morbid fascination. "You look like you're about to go catatonic. Blimey, Hermione, what are you doing to these poor sods?"

Before Hermione could shoot back with an indignant retorted, Heero interceded bluntly, "They agreed to extra study sessions for material that isn't covered in the curriculum."

As one, Harry and Ron became aware enough to shoot the Japanese boy nasty glares. While Heero's explanation could be construed as one hundred percent truth, neither felt they had been left room to agree to anything of the sort. It was either make the appropriate sacrifices, or doom the world. They were only lucky that Hermione felt bad enough for them to offer a generous amount of help with homework so their academics didn't suffer.

"So you basically brought this upon yourselves," Dean surmised, deftly spearing a roasted chicken breast and bringing it to his plate.

"At least make Ron eat," Seamus fairly begged, poking the redhead with his index finger. After Ron sluggishly swatted the probing finger away, he lamented, "After six years of watching him stuff his belly to burst, seeing him waste away in front of me is too depressing."

Duo, taking the suggestion to heart, picked up a dish and attempted to entice the lackluster redhead with it. "Look, Ron -shepherd's pie. Mmm-mm-mmm!" He brought it under his nose and inhaled deeply, moaning lustfully. His eyelids fluttered, eyeballs rolling up into the back of his head as he groaned in an exuberant rush, "Ohmigoditsmellssogood!"

Unable to contain himself, Ron burst out laughing. He pulled himself into an upright position before he raised his arms high above his head, arching his back until several painful-sounding cracks issued. "Goofy git," the redhead admonished with a small chuckle. Nodding happily, Duo hummed as he took it upon himself to make use of the serving spoon and plopped a generous serving of the dish onto Ron's empty plate.

The American did not miss Harry's small grin of approval, nor was he blind to Hermione's beaming smile of gratitude. While Ron wasn't shoving the food into his mouth with as much enthusiasm as he normally would, he wasn't exactly wasting the time and effort to chew, either. His plate was empty in no time, and the redhead eagerly went back for seconds.

"That's much better," Seamus said, relieved.

When the dessert appeared, Heero silently handed his boyfriend a well-deserved oatmeal cookie that was piled with so much red icing and yellow sprinkles that Duo couldn't help but to get a healthy dollop of it on his nose as he bit into the tasty treat. Before Duo could do anything about it, Heero fixed the problem by swiping the dollop with his finger. He made certain that Duo was watching him when he put the icing-laden finger in his mouth and sucked it clean.

Duo's eyes glazed over, mind happily splashing in the dirty gutter from which it was born. Propriety be damned, if Heero didn't stop teasing him, they were going to find a dark corner and do very naughty things that would very likely mentally scar the kiddies for the rest of their lives. And I'm supposed to be the hedonist in this relationship...

The perversely delicious act was merely one of many that the two of them had been exchanging for the last two weeks. Duo was busy enough with Ravenclaw's lessons, class, homework, and Quidditch practice that it was hard to make time for Heero. Heero's own schedule was a mirror image of his own if one replaced Ravenclaw's lessons with searching for Hufflepuff's Hall. While class and homework had a tendency to coincide, both occurred in the presence of others. If homework, at least, was not attempted with a third party present, Duo could not guarantee theirs would ever got done in favor of more gratifying activities.

They left the Great Hall earlier than anyone else, with most of the student body still pouring over the last of the delicious sweets. Ron and Harry were dragging their feet tiredly as they made their way to the stairwell, and Hermione even dared a tiny yawn that testified to her exhaustion. Duo was glad that Ravenclaw allowed them a reprieve; sadly, he fully intended to catch some much needed shuteye instead of making with the merry with Heero. Somehow, he thought his three Gryffindor friends had the same goal in mind.

"If I don't get a break soon," Ron said with a sour grimace, "I'm gonna crack."

Duo sprinted ahead of the group and turned around so he could face them while walking backwards. He blindly reached out for the railing before taking the stairs; it wasn't a complicated feat for someone who had the agility of a cat combined with enough boredom to memorize how many stairs were behind him. "It's a Hogsmeade weekend, right? Let's beg off her lessons and make a break for it. I'm itching to do something that doesn't involve reading and writing."

"You're going to break your neck, Duo," Hermione chided him, walking up the stairs properly, like any sane person would. The American grinned cheekily in response.

"That's not a bad idea, actually," Harry mused out loud. "Going to Hogsmeade this weekend, I mean -not Duo breaking his neck."

"Glad for the clarification," Duo said dryly. "I was feeling a little unloved for a second there."

"You think she would go for it?" Ron asked hopefully.

"She's a taskmaster," Heero said matter-of-factly, "but she can't be oblivious enough to believe that you can keep it up at the pace you're going."

"Uh-huh," Duo agreed sardonically, though he thought that Ravenclaw would soon halt her lessons all together until the other Heirs were found. Yesterday, in fact, was a thorough review of what they'd already gone over, which led Duo to believe she was reluctant to go any further. There was no need to get so far ahead when they would all have to go back over the basics again.

When he reached the landing, he pivoted on his heels and slowed his pace so that he was walking on the other side of Ron. With an impish gleam in his amethyst eyes, he leaned over and murmured silkily, "In any case, it would be a perfect opportunity for a certain redhead to ask the bookworm we all know and adore on a d-a-t-e." He drew out the last word in a whispered song, unable to hold back his smirk when the blood underneath Ron's skin inflamed his freckled face up to the tips of his ears. Ron tried to swat at him, but Duo bounced out of reach with a wicked chuckle.

Having fallen back a few paces, Harry noticed the scene play out and raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry before he turned a glance to Heero. The Slytherin only rolled his eyes at his boyfriend's antics.

"Hey, dragon boy," Duo called out suddenly, drawing Harry's attention towards the front. He managed to catch a glimpse of Draco leaning against the wall, arms crossed and looking like he was bored out of his mind. Draco pushed himself away from the wall when Duo addressed him. "What's up?"

"What isn't?" Draco retorted laconically, stepping around Duo to face Harry directly. "Mind if I talk to you in private?"

Duo raised an eyebrow. "Wow. I feel so unwanted now."

"Right now? You pretty much are unwanted," Draco replied, throwing a smirk over his shoulder.

"You can say whatever it is you want to in front of us, too," Ron said grouchily, frowning.

"Who said I wanted to say anything?" the blond said airily, not even sparing the redhead a glance as he latched onto Harry's wrist and dragged him in the opposite direction. Bemused, Harry didn't fight against it. He managed to look back just before Draco turned a corner. Ron's jaw had dropped open and Hermione's cheeks were a light pink. Duo was grinning from ear to ear, giving Harry two encouraging thumbs up while Heero didn't really seem to care at all.

"What was that all about?" Harry asked curiously, hurrying a step so he could walk by Draco's side instead of getting dragged around.

"That's a good question," Draco replied, eyes forward as he finally found what he'd been looking for. "I'll tell you in a minute." He opened the door and peered inside the unused classroom; finding it empty, he hurriedly waved Harry inside.

Harry hadn't made it three steps into the room before he heard the door close behind him, more than one locking spell and even a silencing spell rapidly falling from the blond's lips. Harry turned to give Draco a questioning glance. "So what's going on?"

Draco calmly slipped his wand into his sleeve and whirled around to face him, a small, playful grin on his face. "By the spirits, you are so blatantly naive, it's actually cute."

Harry narrowed his eyes, bristling. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" No sooner were the words out of his mouth when Draco breached the small distance between them, hands reaching out to grasp Harry's hips just as petal-soft lips pressed against his mouth. A startled gasp of surprise broke the contact, but only long enough for Draco to take advantage of the opening by slipping his tongue inside to stroke against Harry's teeth.

Hazily, Harry mentally went over the last five minutes of his life as he tentatively returned the kiss, blushing when he realized that Draco had been openly hinting at his intentions since the beginning, and he was probably the only one that didn't catch on the moment the blond mysteriously parried with 'Who said I wanted to say anything?'

Right, Potter. You're a naive twat. Still, he mused as he relaxed into the kiss, wrapping one arm around Draco's shoulder as he buried his other hand in his boyfriend's flaxen hair, it's a really pleasant surprise...

With a moan, Draco pulled away to draw air into his lungs and to give Harry a moment to do the same. "Spirits," he sighed quietly, pressing his forehead against Harry's. "I've been dying to do this for weeks."

"I couldn't tell," Harry murmured truthfully. Draco had not so much as mentioned his prize for finding the Heir of Gryffindor since the night of his and Hermione's argument, and Harry didn't feel comfortable bringing it up. It was embarrassing enough when Duo outed them in front of the entire Gryffindor House; having to remind his boyfriend of the stipulations behind their agreement when said boyfriend seemed to have completely forgotten about it was just too humiliating to bear.

"Slytherin principle," Draco mumbled, pressing his lips against the tip of Harry's nose. "Never reveal your eagerness, lest someone decides to take advantage of your preoccupation. Couldn't catch a moment alone with you when people weren't around."

Then, grinning wickedly, Draco stole another kiss, advancing suddenly. Harry stumbled back a step, then two, three more until his lower back thumped against the blunt edge of a wooden table. "Budge up," the blond murmured silkily against his lips. There were hands on his hips, lifting, urging Harry to perch on the edge of the table. The blond was only a few inches taller than Harry; now that the black-haired boy was sitting on the table, they were on an equal playing field.

Harry spared a moment to shifted into a more comfortable seated position with hardly a instant to catch his breath before Draco was leaning forward again, crushing his lips demandingly over his. The position was a little awkward because the blond had to lean over Harry's knees to get to his boyfriend, which was quickly rectified when he firmly pried them apart so he could fit himself snugly between the green-eyed boy's thighs and press their upper bodies against each other. Pale hands fly to the red and gold tie, loosening the knot enough to get to the neat row of buttons starting at the collar. He made short work of the first three before he finally stopped and parted from the wet kiss. Both of them were panting, Harry more heavily so; with an evil little smirk, Draco took the opportunity to lean in and sample the slim, tanned column of Harry's neck for himself.

A sharp intake of breath. A startled mewl as Draco enthusiastically swiped his tongue across the fluttering pulse. When Draco began lavishing the spot with wet kisses and suckling on the patch of skin, Harry emitted a darling little moan, his arms draping over Draco's shoulders as his head tilted to the side in a silent plea for more. The blond didn't deny him the pleasure and felt an intense satisfaction fill the lower part of his belly when he introduced teeth into the equation.

Harry didn't just moan when Draco nipped teasingly at the jumping pulse; the Gryffindor almost screamed behind tightly closed lips, hands clutching the back of Draco's robes into fists as he pulled the blond closer and even locked his legs around Draco's lower back to get the job done. "Goddamn! Draco..." An unrestrained exaltation, the needy whisper when his name was spoken, making the blond feel lightheaded as his blood flow decided to ground to a halt before rushing in the opposite direction. By the responding firmness pressing against his lower stomach, Draco wasn't the only one suffering the effects of their deliciously extemporaneous romp.

Draco moved on, showering just as much attention along the rest of Harry's exposed shoulder as his hands encircled the boy's slim waist, pulling and tugging at the shirt until he'd managed to free the hem from the black breeches, sneaking his fingers underneath to find the smooth heated flesh underneath. Slim Harry may have been, but Draco was delighted to find firm rippled muscles under his fingertips -the advantage of being a nimble Seeker for the better part of his young life, no doubt. His hands trailed further up.

He grinned against Harry's shoulder when his fingers brushed against taunt nubs, enlisting a choked gasp from the dark-haired Gryffindor. He spread his hands and caressed Harry's nipples with his thumbs, shuddering when the other boy whimpered -whimpered!- under his ministrations. By the spirits, he could quickly become addicted to the kind of noises Harry made when he touched him!

Distantly, forbiddenly, naughtily he wondered what kind of noise Harry would make if he actually licked and sucked and nibbled on one of those tantalizing buds. He had almost decided on following through with the impulsive thought, innocent snogging be damned (and since when were snogs considered anything related to innocent anyway?), but Harry distracted him by burying both hands in his hair, tugging Draco's head back and tilting his face up slightly so he could ravage the blond's mouth to his heart's content, plunging his tongue within to stroke against teeth and tongue. The dark-haired youth pulled back slightly to suck on Draco's swollen bottom lip before he clasped it gently between his teeth.

Keeping one thumb drawing circles around a sensitive nipple, Draco moved his other hand around Harry's toned torso, sliding it down until the hand was pressed firmly against the delicate arch of Harry's lower back so he could pull the other boy closer while deepening the kiss eagerly. He wanted to find more places, more tender places on Harry's body to fondle and kiss in hopes of drawing more bedazzling moans out of him-

Knock, knock! Followed by a disgustingly familiar voice that was pitched several octaves higher with some kind of indistinguishable fake accent. "Housekeeping!"

Both boys froze. Green eyes met grey, filled with disbelief and frustration. Neither moved for the span of a moment, daring to hope that the annoying little bastard would just go away so they could continue where they left off.

No such luck. "Want me to bring you towels?"

Draco made a pitiful noise in the back of his throat before he broke the kiss reluctantly, though he didn't pull away from the warmth that encompassed him. Harry only slumped as he laid his cheek on the blond's shoulder, sighing heavily in resignation.

Another rapid series of knocks, followed by the same assonant accent. "Housekeeping! Want me to fluff your pillows?"

Draco growled irritably; Harry could hear it vibrate in the blond's chest. "Duo..."

Whoever was out in the corridor with Duo -most likely Heero- said something too low to be heard through the scarred wood of the door. Duo's voice, on the other hand, had a tendency to carry. He definitely sounded petulant about what had been said. "You're spoiling my fun, Hee-chan..."

"Idiot," Draco grumbled, throwing a glare towards the door over his shoulder. Harry snickered, turning his face so he could bury it in the soft material of Draco's disheveled robes. Sighing, Draco stroked the back of Harry's head before he planted a kiss on his crown.

"Do we really have to wait until I find the next Heir to do this again?" Draco mumbled sullenly.

"You agreed to it," Harry reminded him laughingly, pulling away grudgingly.

"A moment of utter madness," Draco said immediately. "Don't know what got into me -wait, I remember." He narrowed his silver eyes at Harry. "I had just woken up from a nap and, in my moment of weakness, someone decided to do something mind-numblingly glorious to my ear."

Harry laughed unrepentantly before he gently pushed Draco back so he could slide off the table, a light pink hue staining his cheeks at Draco's declaration. He wasn't so oblivious that he didn't realize nibbling on his earlobes did something for the blond, but the words mind-numblingly glorious hadn't actually crossed Harry's mind.

He tried vainly to fix up the buttons and tighten his house tie, knowing that whatever poor attempt to make himself presentable would be wasted without a little more time and the aid of a mirror. Checking Draco, he wondered if he looked as thoroughly debauched as the blond, with his swollen lips and tousled hair and rumpled clothing, and eyes shining a little too brightly against the faint flush of his face.

When Draco inspected him in return with a critical glance, finally breaking out into a smile that was a little too smug for his taste, Harry decided that he probably looked worse off in comparison.

"You can stop patting yourself on the back now," Harry said dryly, briefly flirting with the idea of trying to tuck his shirt back into his trousers before disregarding it as quickly as the thought had come to him. He was going straight to Gryffindor Tower anyway. Hopefully he wouldn't stumble across any teachers on his way there, nor would he have to deal with a crowd of lingering house mates before he managed to make it back to the safety of his dorm room.

Knowing his luck, that probably wouldn't be the case.

"But it's so fun," Draco replied teasingly, grin widening slightly. "And you look-"

"Allow me some ignorance over the state of my... er... dishevelment."

Draco chuckled, but refrained from embellishing further. Harry blinked when the blond tweaked his nose, the insufferably smug grin still set firmly in place. "You're too cute."

"You keep saying that," Harry said in a halfhearted grumble. "Cute. What, I can't be..." Well, Harry didn't think he was handsome. Beautiful was out, too, although he wasn't sad to note that as it sounded way too girly to him. "... moderately good-looking?" Even that sounded wrong. What in the world did Draco see in him?

"Moderately?" Draco snorted, glancing at Harry narrowly. "Are you fishing for compliments, Harry?"

"No," Harry said shortly, just shy of glaring at Draco this time.

"Mm-hm. Yeah, sure, I believe you," Draco replied in a way that suggested he was just humoring his boyfriend. Harry gritted his teeth together, contemplating his impulse to slug the blond and stomp out of the room in a snit before Draco's next words put a halt to any follow through. "Just for the record, though, I think you're bloody gorgeous any day. Right now, though..." A long, speculative once-over before the blond finished his comment with a wolfish grin, "you look irresistibly molestable."

Harry blinked wordlessly at Draco before a dark blush stained his cheeks and he looked away, uncomfortable under the favorable appraisal. After a moment, he managed to mumble, "I don't think molestable is actually a word..." Especially one that would apply to him.

"It is if I say it is," Draco retorted with a haughty lift of his head. Oh. There was the high and mighty Draco Black that most people loved to hate. It was probably a good thing for the blond that Harry wasn't like most people.

More knocking at the door, followed by techy whining. "C'mon, guys, wrap it up. Mione said Harry has homework to do before bed, and I don't think she'll let me back in the tower unless I have Harry with me."

"I knew it was a conspiracy," Draco muttered darkly, much to Harry's amusement.

"Oh, yes, I'm sure Hermione and my woeful work load have been cooking up schemes behind my back to disrupted what personal life I have left," Harry said, almost pleasantly. He started for the door, only for Draco to stop him.

"Wait, Harry..." Draco paused, appearing a little somber for a moment. Harry looked back at his boyfriend, frowning when he saw the troubled look on the blond's face. "I don't know if you read this evening's news..."

"You know I can't read that trash anymore," Harry pointed out patiently, wondering what had bothered Draco so much that he would drop his normally flippant attitude. Harry hadn't been able to consider the Daily Prophet a credible source for news since they belittled him to the point of slander when the wizarding world refused to take his claims of Voldemort's return seriously. True, the Ministry had a hand in that, as well, but when a newspaper gave people like Rita Skeeter full rights to do whatever their weasely little black hearts wanted as long as it turned a profit, Harry found he had little patience for it.

"That aside, there's a new Minister of Magic," Draco said, frowning in discontent. Over what, Harry had no idea. "His name is Rufus Scrimgeour and he was the head of the Auror Department before he succeeded Fudge. I hear he wants to meet you personally, but Dumbledore vetoed the idea while you were at Hogwarts."

Harry's brow drew together in consternation, his shoulders tensing slightly at the implication. "What kind of man is Scrimgeour?"

"A shrewd one, though I've never met the man personally," Draco replied. "I also heard that he said he'd find a way around Dumbledore's refusal to allow him to meet you, so he's probably determined to have his way. I also wouldn't put it passed him to target those closest to you, so you'll likely need to give your friends a head's up."

Harry scowled at the thought. He was fine when someone decided they wanted a piece of what made him the bloody Boy Who Lived -after nearly seven years of the preferential treatment (whether Harry wanted it or not) in hopes of gaining a spot in his good graces, he was used to it. When they started going after his friends, too, though...

That pissed him off.

"I don't know if that's dead cert or not," Draco reminded him quietly, "but it doesn't hurt to be prepared."

"Yeah," Harry murmured absently. But... "What about Duo?" he asked suddenly, motioning toward the door where he could hear Duo laughing about something -either at his own joke or something that Heero had said that had amused him. "It's a well-known fact that we're friends. How hard would someone with the power of the Minister have to dig to find out the truth behind his parentage?"

Draco actually drew back in surprise, his eyes widening marginally at the question. It actually took him a moment to formulate a reply, which was rueful and filled with a small amount of self-loathing, "Spirits, I never thought of that... Not many people know the Dark Lord's real name, and Duo goes by a different name." He frowned, turning the idea slowly in his head. "Dumbledore knows, but I don't know how hard he's tried to cover it up since Duo came to Hogwarts. The records at the Ministry might not be so easily changed..."

"And Scrimgeour, being the head of the Auror Department, probably would know Voldemort's real name," Harry finished morosely. "Not to mention what would happen if Scrimgeour got serious about targeting my friends and found out about the kind of stuff he and the others got up to in the muggle world."

"Right," Draco said with a firm nod. "So. What we need is a plan. Not just any plan either. A counter-plan." He straightened his tie and tried to smooth down his flaxen hair with his hand in an attempt to look more presentable before he took the enchantments off the door. "I'll try to drag Heero and Duo away to explain things. You tell your little band of misfits so we can get together tomorrow night and hash out some ideas."

A knock on the door. "Hey, I heard that! What are we doing?" Duo almost sounded eager. "Does it involve exploding things?"

Draco waited until he had opened the door to make his succinct, though capricious reply. "Maybe."

The braided boy grinned excitedly, opening his mouth to say something else before the view in front of him registered in his brain, leaving him momentarily speechless. Draco looked rumpled, which was unusual for a boy who insisted on having his person neat and pressed. A glance around Draco revealed a completely different sight.

Harry's hair was wilder than usual, giving Heero's own tousled look a run for his money. His shirt was crinkled, the hem hanging freely instead of neatly tucked in his trousers. His tie was crooked, revealing the fact that he had buttoned the first three buttons on his shirt wrong. Both boys had swollen lips and flushed faces, but Harry was the only one with a very visible hickey blossoming on the side of his throat. Duo thought he saw a second hickey disappear into Harry's collar.

Duo slowly closed his mouth before a slow, coltish grin resurfaced. Eyes dancing merrily, he murmured teasingly, "Wow, dragon boy got really frisky with you, didn't he?"

Harry, having completely forgotten about the state he was in, felt his face burn in response. Draco apparently took pity on his boyfriend before he pushed out of the room, grabbing Duo by the crook of his arm. "See you later, Harry. Come along, git -we need to talk about your horrible sense of timing."

"I'll have you know that I have impeccable timing," Duo said laughingly, trotting obediently along as Draco led him down the corridor. "It's not my fault my impeccable timing only works to my benefit."

Harry left the room, his face still a little hot when he caught Heero raising his eyebrows at him.

"Shut up, Heero," Harry mumbled, finally pulling the tie over his head before he removed his outer robes. He couldn't find the courage to raise his eyes any higher than the floor unless he ran the risk of meeting the Japanese boy's gaze.

"I didn't say anything." Damn him if Heero didn't sounded amused.

"You were thinking it," Harry replied mulishly, finally taking the chance to give the other boy a stern look.

Heero was smirking. "You buttoned your shirt wrong."

Harry turned away with a muttered curse, hurriedly fixing the problem before he gave someone else a reason to gawk or remark on it.

"Oi, Hee-chan!" Duo's voice echoed from further down the corridor. He and Draco had stopped long enough to wait for the Japanese boy. "You coming?"

"Hn," Heero grunted, already walking away from Harry. "See you tomorrow."

"Right," Harry said tiredly, shaking his head before he slowly made his way back to his own tower, alone and with too many thoughts crowding around his head. He doubted he would have much luck with homework, but it was worth a shot.

How was he supposed to tell Ron and Hermione that they needed to plan some kind of subversion against the Minister of Magic in case he decided to nose around where his attention definitely wasn't desired? Telling them to be careful about the Minister was easy enough, and they would understand why Duo's situation would be such a problem. Still, there was the whole 'our newest friends are actually Gundam pilots and they might be in a spot of trouble if anyone at the Ministry actually realizes that' thing, which was unchartered territory as far as Harry knew. Ron wouldn't have a clue what a Gundam pilot was or what they had done, but Hermione would know immediately.

She would probably freak out something fierce before she calmed down long enough to think about it logically. That was just Hermione -she worried over the hypothetical ifs and maybes before actually focusing on the facts long enough to make a decision. Their friends being Gundam pilots wasn't exactly something Harry could make light of in front of Hermione without getting yelled at for being flippant.

"Rubaduck," Harry muttered tonelessly once he'd reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, though the password did bring a smile to his lips. He didn't know how Duo convinced the Gryffindor prefects to let him chose the passwords, but at least words he chose were always vaguely amusing.

He crawled out of the portrait hole, straightening once he was inside. He patted his messy hair self-consciously as he looked around the common room. He was surprisingly lucky, as the only occupants were Hermione and Ron, both of whom were sitting near the fireplace with mounds of homework spread out on the table in front of them. Hermione looked absorbed in her book, but Ron was staring off into space with a thoughtful, distant gleam in his eyes.

Ron brightened when he saw Harry. If he noted anything strange about his friend (like the fact he looked well and thoroughly snogged), the redhead was determined to ignore it. "Hey, Harry! Can you tell me anything about what else Duo did to the Dursleys?"

Hermione, not turning her eyes away from the words of her book, frowned thoughtfully. She didn't ask; instead, she turned to the next page of her textbook.

Harry blinked at the sudden question, caught off guard. He walked further into the room, tossing his discarded robe and tie onto the arm of the chair he ultimately ended up flopping in, completely boneless as he slouched.

"I already told you what he did. Shaved the walrus' head. Put glue in the horse's hair. Turned the piggy into an ice cream sundae -as in, covered him with all the fixings of a sundae, not by use of transfiguration. Can we talk about something else?" Harry said meaningfully, obviously wanting to move on.

"That doesn't sound illegal at all!" Ron insisted, frowning. "Why would Duo want to keep quiet about it if it's just harmless pranking?"

"Who told you he did something illegal?" Harry nearly yelped, sitting up straight. He was obviously bothered by the accusation.

Ron, a note of confusion in his voice, mumbled, "Well... Duo told me that. He said he'd be in a lot of trouble in the muggle world if it got around that he was the one who did what he did to the Dursleys." He scratched his head sheepishly. "Duo reminded me about it when he mutter something about called people who're prejudice against others dursleys from now on, both muggle and pureblood alike."

Hermione snapped her book shut soundly, startling the two boys. She calmly leaned forward and place the book on the table before correcting her posture. Her gaze stonily expectant, she twined her fingers in her lap and prompted evenly, "Well, Harry? We're listening."

Harry winced. "I already told Ron what happened," he said, somewhat defensively. "He shaved my uncle bald. He fashioned Aunt Petunia's hair into horns with glue. He made Dudley the main ingredient in an ice cream sundae."

"That must have taken some time," Hermione murmured, vaguely relieved that, by the sound of it, the Dursleys had survived a brush with a well-meaning terrorist that had a penchant for pranking. "So how did he get them to sit still?"

By the way Harry blanched, Hermione wasn't going to like the process that led up to a rather ridiculous outcome. "I stuck them to the couch via duct tape. Nearly two rolls of it, actually."

"Bet you liked that," Ron said, snickering. Harry grinned unrepentantly, and even Hermione had to stifle a chuckle. The Dursleys were horrible people, especially when Harry was involved. That the last thing Harry ever saw was them confined under his own power and suffering under Duo's playful (and perhaps justly motivated) attention was probably the best thing for Harry. After all, he never had to go back to them again.

"However did you get them to sit still for that?"

The grin froze on Harry's face before it fell away. He knew Hermione wouldn't give up on her line of questioning. Turning his eyes away, he decided to come clean with it. "It started in the dining room," he said quietly, without emotion. "Duo got upset by the Dursleys usual regard for me. The funny thing was, they weren't even trying to acknowledge me." He sighed. "That's when Duo made the light fixture explode."

"On purpose?" Hermione asked without rancor. Harry shook his head.

"It was an accident. Heero said Duo has problems controlling his magic when he's feeling... highly emotional." Actually, Heero had bluntly admitted that, during sex, Duo had a tendency to make the air spark in small, powerful bursts of colorful fireworks. Draco hadn't stopped laughing for several minutes afterward, and even Duo's casual dismissal of the blond's amusement didn't seem to spoil the Slytherin's good mood.

Ron, enraptured, leaned in eagerly. "Then what?"

Harry wasn't nearly so enthusiastic. "Uncle Vernon thought that I did it. If they'd known Duo was a wizard like me, they would have never let him through the door." He shrugged lightly. "So he drew the most logical conclusion and hauled me off to the living room for a private chat. When Duo had enough of hearing him insult me, he... confessed to the supposed crime.

"Uncle Vernon accused me of inviting Duo. Then Duo mentioned that he was perfectly within his rights to use magic to detain him, since he was seventeen and of age. That just seemed to make Uncle Vernon even angrier at me. I smarted off to him, and he hit me.

"And that," he said evenly, before Hermione and Ron could burst into appalled sympathy, "is when Duo shot Uncle Vernon."


"What?" Hermione whispered, horrified.

"What kind of spell did he use?" Ron asked, enthralled.

"He didn't use a spell," Hermione said, understanding the term in the way that Harry meant it. "He used a muggle weapon you've heard about in Muggle Defense. A firearm."

"How do you know that?" Ron asked.

"Because I know a lot more about Duo and his friends than you do," Hermione said calmly. "At least, I know what sort of things Duo was involved him, as he's the only Gundam pilot that was ever revealed."

"You know about that, huh?" Harry said softly.

"So do you, apparently," Hermione parried, curious. "How do you know?"

"I asked him about it a long time ago," Harry admitted. "He told me he was a terrorist. Actually, I knew about the Gundam pilot thing after Quatre showed up. I even got to see Quatre's Gundam once, but I didn't recognize it for what it was at the time."

"You asked and he just... told you?" Hermione said incredulously, stumped.

"Yeah. C'mon, Mione, what does Duo always say?" Harry rolled his eyes. "'I run and I hide, but I never tell a lie.' That's him in a nutshell."

"But being a Gundam pilot isn't anything someone would confess just because a friend asked," Hermione insisted uncertainly.

"Gundam?" Ron blurted, clearly lost. Then, registering what Harry had confessed, he yelped, "Terrorist! Harry, I don't know if you've realized this, but that's what the Death Eaters are!"

"It's a little more complicated than that, Ron," Hermione explained. "The political climate was vastly different. The space colonies wanted to be independent from Earth, and the Alliance fought back. The Gundam pilots -Gundams being almost like those mobile suits Marquise has been lecturing us about, except made from a nearly indestructible alloy called gundanium -were fighting for the liberation of the colonies." After a moment, she added, "I don't blame the colonies for wanting to be independent. Earth's governments were like totalitarian dictators over them, and they were virtually powerless to stop it."

Harry grinned. That was Hermione, alright -advocating the rights of the wronged, whether the mistreatment was resented or not.

Harry felt the grin slowly fade from his face. Speaking of mistreatment, if not of governmental power than by ambiguous yet possibly immoral intentions in the name of aforementioned policy-making system... He pinned both of his friends with a weighty look. "Now that we have that out in the open, I need to tell you guys something. It's about the new Minister of Magic..."


Why can't things ever be easy?

It was a question that plagued man since the beginning of rational thought. Why couldn't life be easy? Oh, there were times when a man felt as if he was coasting on the highest cloud without a care in the world, completely content that all was right in the world. For example, finding a library that brought him one step closer to ridding himself and the mortal plane of the cancerous leech commonly referred to as He Who Must Not Be Named. Wait, scratch that -Duo had been promised that old so-and-so and his merry band of sycophants would be suffering a fate worse than death. Either way, he was guaranteed some kind of personal satisfaction, provided nothing else went wrong.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron had accepted him as Duo Maxwell, happy-go-lucky court jester, steadfast companion, and (reluctant) spawn of What's His Face without a whole lot of angsting and yelling and making hand gestures to ward off Dark Lord cooties. Considering the infamous Gryffindor Trio's lackluster acceptance of what Duo could barely stomach himself had been way better than his best case scenario, he thought his coming out confession had been a complete success.

He should have known better than to expect the good karma to last, especially since he had wracked up so much bad karma during the war that he would probably be reincarnated as a cockroach before he met a sticky end in his next life pinned to Styrofoam in some third-grader's lousy science project, neat little label and all.

This time, his trouble came in the form of politics, of all things, and wasn't that a lark? Politics had never been his strong suit and, not surprisingly, the cause of ninety-nine percent of his internal woes in one way or another. Couldn't show his face in the colonies because some ingenious jack-off way back when decided wanted posters were nifty. Couldn't show his face in the muggle world because of the same damn problem and the government wanted to nail somebody to the cross, so why not a Gundam pilot or five? Now he had to worry about the wizarding government under a more competent rule digging too deep into his personal life because of who he associated with, which ran the risk of exposing his less-than-admirable lineage to the wrong sort of people. It wasn't Harry's fault people couldn't leave him well enough alone, but damn it, it still sucked.

Then there was Blaise Zabini. Not a bad kid, actually, Duo kind of liked him. Spunky. The crux of the problem was that the Slytherin was poking his spunk in all the wrong places. Crap, that even sounded dirty and wrong in my brain. That clenches it -there's no cleansing my mind, the gutter stain set a long time ago. It should have been impossible for anyone to know about their frequent journeys in and out of Zechs' suite since the map had provided an all clear, but Blaise was getting his information somehow, leaving even Heero in a sulky, clueless snit. Not that Heero in a snit is apparent to just anyone, but he gets so friggin' stoic and stone-faced...

Dealing with Blaise was going to be delicate work. Duo was almost certain Draco wouldn't appreciate them bullying one of his friends to keep his spunk out of other people's business. God, somebody stop me from making dirty puns!

Of course, in Duo's dirty little mind, no one was there to offer salvation. Besides, spunk was too fun a word to outlaw, even mentally...

To top it all of, Draco, of all people, had seen more action than he had lately, and the blond idiot was supposed to be hopeless in leading his relationship with Harry anywhere remotely naughty. It just wasn't fair.

Duo snorted, a little disgusted with himself when he realized how whiney his inner monologue sounded. Okay, so things were starting to go a little south. No reason to sulk over it -he'd just have to make what he could of it and trudge forward with as much enthusiasm as possible. Life's a bitch, and sometimes she has puppies. Solution? Well, neutering the dog never hurt anyone... except the dog, probably.

That particularly enrapturing idea finally brought a manic grin back to Duo's face just as he obediently supplied the Fat Lady (Lilah or something, or that was what Trowa had told him once) with the password of the month. He rallied enough of his good humor to breeze into the common room confidently, immediately spotting three of his friends sitting near the fireplace. Whatever they were discussing in hushed voices halted immediately as three pairs of eyes turned to him simultaneously.

Duo made a beeline for the boys' dorms, but stopped long enough to grin disarmingly at his three friends and toss a cheerful comment towards them before he ran up the stairs, seemingly in a hurry.

Duo didn't make it halfway up the staircase before he stopped cold. What's this? My spidey-senses... They're all a-tingle. Then, with practiced ease, he slowly walked backwards down the stairs until he was at the base. He turned smartly on his heels and raised an eyebrow at the Gryffindor Trio, giving them all a critical once over.

"Okay," Duo said suddenly, interest piqued. "Why is Ron staring at me like I just won a wrestling match against a troll?" The American may have been over exaggerating about the gobsmacked expression on the redhead's face, but the imagery fit the bill. Hermione, for that matter, was staring too, though she hid what she was thinking a lot better than he could give most people credit for.

Harry scratched his head sheepishly. "They know."

Duo was almost amused that Harry thought that was an adequate explanation. "About...?" he prompted in a drawling voice.

"About what happened at the Dursleys," Harry embellished with an apologetic smile.

Instead of laughing the event in question off like Harry had expected, Duo blanched in horror. Harry barely had enough time to wonder what had caused the unusual reaction before Duo gulped and managed to voice his next words hurriedly.

"I can explain everything."


This is the part where I want to scream, "No, Duo, stop! You're just going to dig yourself a deeper hole!"

Guess you'll just have to wait until the next chapter to find out what I mean. Unless you're clever and figure it out, in which case, cleverness deserves to be rewarded with cookies. :cackles wickedly and runs away:


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