Consider this a submission of formal apology to all my Boblander peeps. I'd stick around to chat, but I've been on a forty-eight hour writing marathon, and I just want to pass out from the excruciating pain leftover from when Dom forced my head in a rusty bear trap to "get the creative juices flowing." Stupid muse... :drags herself to bed with a sleepy wave:

Author's Note: OMGWTFBBG? Look, everyone! It's the longest chapter EVAH! Forty pages even! Gah... :clutches head feebly: It just wouldn't END. :sob:

Author's Note the Second: By the way, I was too lazy to proofread it. Again. :pause: But I promise I'll do it later when the mood strikes. :grins sheepishly:

As always, eternal gratitude goes out to my lovely reviewers!

Harry Potter and the Forgotten Heirs Part 6

"Wow," Harry murmured in awe once the nausea faded away. He was sitting on the soft, dewy patch of grass that had broken his fall, his eyes focused on the magnificent sight that stretched out before him. He had no doubt the scenery would have been even more breathtaking in full daylight; however, even with the meager aid of the large full moon that had already broken the horizon in the distance, Harry couldn't help but marvel at the untouched beauty of nature surrounding him.

They'd appeared in a rather secluded clearing that was densely populated with trees that towered over him. The view before him, however, was unblemished by so much as an errant twig. Harry could tell they were elevated far above sea level; farther than Harry was accustomed to, anyway. The air was thin and crisp with wild plant life and a heavy scent of pine. Several feet in front of him, the land seemed to disappear -swept away by some mighty force of nature long ago. There were small, rolling hills as far as the eye could see. In the distance, Harry could almost make out what appeared to be a large home.

"Gorgeous, isn't it?" someone drawled softly, directly into Harry's ear. The Gryffindor succeeded in choking back his cry of surprise, having not been prepared for the silence to be broken. Unfortunately, he failed to recover quickly enough to contain his involuntary start.

Draco Black pulled back a little, a satisfied smirk on his face when Harry shot him a stern glance. "Got you."

"You wish," Harry automatically retorted, a hint of teasing taking away the sting of the comment. It was their thing. Draco attempted to get a rise out of Harry, and Harry would, in turn, reply, "You wish." Harry regarded this practice fondly, like it was a tradition to their complex (but amazingly simplistic) coupling. Of course, 'their' thing was something completely different. Back when there was nothing but harmful intent and wounded pride, Draco was a spiteful little bugger who did everything he could to butt heads with Harry. Harry, in return, was bloody determined to prove himself a worthy wizard; despite whatever sense of doubt in his mind, Harry was going to lift his chin, look his opponent straight in the eye, and utter those two words with confidence resonating from his voice.

Draco was still a spiteful little bugger when he wanted to be. He still openly ridiculed Hermione, and Ron hadn't been spared of the former Malfoy's full scorn. When it came to Harry or any of the Slytherin's friends, though, he was definitely a lot more casual about it. Oh, he probably still meant most of what he said; Harry didn't doubt that. Nevertheless, the lack of real bite in his tone mixed with his quick wit was actually quite endearing. It was almost like a subtle homage to those he formed bonds with, whether the status of the relationship be friendly or romantically.

It took another moment for Harry to fully register the situation. "Draco! When did you-?"

"I apparated," Draco said offhandedly, waving a hand dismissively around his ear. Harry smothered a grin when he noticed that he'd seen Duo Maxwell display the exact same mannerism. Those two really were starting to emulate each other. "Brilliant trick, apparation. You should learn how."

"I haven't exactly had that opportunity yet, but it'll be the first thing I do," Harry replied dryly.

"No, it won't," Draco said, miffed. "The first thing you're going to do is greet your boyfriend properly. No slacking off, Harry; you have a duty to make me happy."

Harry snorted and didn't even dignify that with a response. Everyone knew it was impossible to make Draco happy. He certainly wasn't going to waste the energy.

The blond pouted petulantly. "You could at least try and make me feel somewhat content. Harry, I've been lonely." His words ended on a rather high, reedy note that indicated that, yes, Draco was going to be a whiney, high-maintenance boyfriend. Of course, Harry would have been an idiot to not consider that before pursuing a relationship with the recalcitrant former Malfoy heir in the first place. He could live with whiney. The high-maintenance bit was something he would just have to tolerate.

A quick spark of mischief lit his eyes, and before Draco could interpret Harry's intentions and move out of the way, the Gryffindor Golden Boy besottedly murmured, "Oh, Draco!" before he immediately lunged at the unprepared boy, tackling him firmly to the ground. Despite Draco's struggling (combined with several grunted choice words expressing his frustration), Harry clung to him like an octopus, keeping his boyfriend firmly pinned to the ground.

Harry laid his head on his chest and sighed heavily, mockingly amorous as he wistfully said, "I missed you so." While Harry's mockery was very clear, his words were spoken with a certain amount of conviction. He had really missed Draco; oh, Harry felt that he'd certainly gotten to know his new boyfriend better over their letters. Draco was as expressive in written word as he was in person. Letters, however, didn't quite satisfy Harry's desire for Draco's actual presence.

Unfortunately, Draco was a bit more focused on other matters to play along as he usually would. "The ground! I'm on the ground! Harry, I'm getting all dirty -Harry!"

When Duo snickered at the scene they were making, Harry immediately unwound himself from Draco and scrambled away, a light shade of pink staining his cheeks. He was a little ashamed that he'd forgotten that Duo was also with them, but to be fair, the American hadn't said a word since they appeared in the clearing.

"You deserve it," Duo said, wicked amusement dancing in his eyes as he looked over his two friends. He was sitting on the hood of a rather expensive sports car. "'Make me happy, Harry, I've been looonelyyy...'"

The blond spared a vicious glare for Duo after Harry helped him to his feet; Draco pointedly refused to acknowledge the amused smile on Harry's face. The American had pitched his voice in a high falsetto as he recounted Draco's earlier words, exaggerating the purposeful whine of discontent that the former Malfoy had adopted for the sheer purpose of prodding a reaction out of Harry.

He certainly hadn't expected to be bloody glomped.

"It's so nice to hear that you've decided to pursue a career as a transvestite," Draco said airily, delicately brushing blades of grass from the back of his expensive attire. "Decided to perfect your woman voice, have you?"

"Your mother," Duo replied with a catty wink. He slid from the hood of the car and walked around the other side, walking a fair distance away before kneeling out of sight.

"I hate it when he says things like that," Draco admitted grudgingly to Harry, crossing his arms and rolling his eyes in exasperation. "It doesn't make any sense to me, and I can't decide if I've won the battle of wits or not. Bloody Americans always have to make things difficult."

"I'll have you know that making things difficult for you is my specialty," Duo boasted. "We'll start the bonfire, drink some of Tipsy's delicious cocoa, and burn rubber all the way back to the mansion when I bury the remains after the fire goes out."

"Tizzy, Duo," Draco said wearily. "Her name is Tizzy."

"Yeah, but she's even more fun when she's Tipsy," Duo said slyly.

"What...?" Harry finally said, obviously confused.

"It's terrible," Draco bemoaned, taking Harry by the hand and literally dragging his boyfriend around to see Duo better. He made sure to give the strange contraption that the American's bum had been resting on just moments before a wide berth. While he was vaguely certain he knew the function of Duo's frivolous purchase, he was still leery about how it worked.

"He keeps randomly giving the house elves butterbeer despite my protests! Just the other day I found Gordy in the closet fondling one of my mother's expensive stilettos in a drunken stupor. It was the most horrifying experience of my life."

Harry blinked, bemused. "You have a house elf named Gordy?"

Draco gave his boyfriend a shrewd look. "You focus on the strangest details."

"Ask him where Babe is(1)," Duo said eagerly, throwing two bags of trash in the large hole he'd been hollowing out. "Draco loves it when you make jokes he won't likely understand," he added, his words weighing heavily with sarcasm that suggested Draco's opinion on the matter was completely opposite.

Harry belatedly noticed that the American had forgone the skirt, stockings, and shoes, having donned a pair of stone-washed jeans and worn sneakers in the place of the offending items. The discarded women's clothing joined the bags of garbage in the hole, along with a pile of wood from the surrounding area. Harry caught a fleeting glimpse of a lacy lavender brazier and matching panties before the wood obstructed his view.

Laughter caught in Harry's throat, and he painfully swallowed the urge to release it. Only Draco would go as far as to force the American to wear lingerie.

In any case, it was no wonder Harry had forgotten Duo's presence. Apparently, the American had been busy with other things.

"Why are we having a bonfire again?" Harry asked, dreading the answer.

"To drink cocoa," Duo replied cheerfully, pointing his wand at the hole and murmuring a spell that drenched the pile with something that smelled vaguely of petrol.

Harry sighed. He knew it. It was just impossible to get a straight answer out of Duo. "Okay. Why?"

"You can't drink cocoa at night in the wilderness without a bonfire, Harry. Jeez," the American said teasingly, "we really need to expose you to the delights of camping."

"Don't do it," Draco whispered urgently. "I've heard about this camping thing -it sounds positively ghastly. It's all about some ancient muggle ritual to prove one's worth by taming nature and taking advantage of the natural resources the wilderness provides. I'm almost certain he made it all up just to see me sleep outdoors."

Harry couldn't stop his laughter this time. "I can't believe you told him about camping and expected him to be all for it."

Duo looked slightly offended. "Harry! Have a little faith in me!" He paused. "I was going to take him camping without telling him what it was all about. Unfortunately, he's wised up to my wicked ways and asked Heero about it instead."

By the time Harry recovered from his fit of uncontrollable laughter, the three of them were sitting in front of the roaring fire, sipping hot cocoa from the magical equivalent of a thermos that Draco had brought with him alongside the new change of clothes that Duo was wearing. It had taken only a minute of relentlessly inquiring as to why the blond had been so generous to bring along a spare set of comfortable clothes for the American Gryffindor, but the former Malfoy finally gave in with a disappointed sigh.

"Heero said hamster boy's debt was paid the second you two left Surrey," Draco admitted, clearly sulking. "He warned me that Duo was going to be driving back to the manor, and he didn't want to hear about any accidents along the way because Duo would be in a rush to get home and tear the clothes off."

"It's nice to know Heero has so much faith in my driving," Duo mentioned nonchalantly, stirring the contents of the fire with a long stick. "Jerk." The insult was said fondly, with no apparent sting meant behind it.

Harry stifled a snicker. "Did you conveniently forget to bring along an extra shirt?"

Duo made a sour face and persistently poked at the fire again.

"That shirt actually looks good on him. Kind of makes him look like a gay gypsy," Draco said smugly. "It's one of my mother's favorites, anyway. I wasn't about to let him burn it."

"I bet gay gypsies are so much cooler than effeminate wizards," Duo murmured cattily, giving Draco a blatantly and specifically slow once over.

"Only in the fantasy world you live in," the Slytherin retorted, equally catty.

If Harry didn't stop them now, the contest of wits would continue until dawn. Quickly, before Duo could get the next parry in, Harry asked, "Why are we burning all of this stuff, anyway?"

"Getting rid of the evidence," Duo replied, temporarily pausing the ongoing battle of wits. "Those two trash bags contained not only the things I used to clean the bathroom, the kitchen, and the den, but also a hairbrush and a wash cloth I used at the Dursleys. I have to dispose of the shoes in case I left any shoe prints behind; burning the rest is sheer vindictiveness on my part, but there's also a chance I left behind clothing fibers."

"That's why you made me clean my room," Harry realized, impressed. "You wanted to get rid of all the forensic evidence as best as you could. That also explains why you asked me to pack my sheets. You were on the bed."

"Bingo!" Duo said triumphantly. "No doubt there's at least a couple of strands of hair and possibly some epithelials on those sheets. We'll figure out what to do with those later. Personally, I think we can do something along the lines of a toga party. Togas mandatory."

"I'm not even going to pretend I know what epithelials are," Draco muttered cuttingly, immediately sending Duo a warning look when the American opened his mouth. "And don't even bother explaining. It'll probably just irritate me."

Duo closed his mouth with an audible click before a single eyebrow rose. "Probably?"

"I'll rephrase that. Your explanation will definitely just irritate me," the former Malfoy repeated knowingly.

Duo chuckled knowingly, a lazy smile on his lips as he propped the stick on the ground, laying his head against it as he stared at the fire. Finally, after a moment of silent debate, Duo murmured softly, "That's one hell of a shiner you have there, Harry."

The Gryffindor's hand immediately went to the side of his face, wincing in pain when his fingers brushed the sore, swollen skin there. The reminder of what Duo saw earlier in the evening made Harry feel cumbrous and slightly penitent that his friends were forced to witness what they had. His face flushing with embarrassment, he replied hesitantly, "Yeah... They haven't been able to land a blow for so long that I almost forgot how painful this is..."

"Which is probably something you shouldn't bring up right now," Draco said pointedly, reaching out and taking Harry's chin in his hand as he gently tilted Harry's face for a better view of the damage. "Heero made me promise not to let Duo go back and do something he'll probably never regret. Personally, I think I can conveniently forget to watch over Duo for about ten minutes if he's willing."

Duo huffed indignantly. "Hee-chan's such a spoilsport."

Wanting to divert his friends' focus on the Dursleys (mostly out of embarrassment, but partly out of honest concern for the Dursleys if Duo stewed over it long enough), Harry asked, "How in the world did you come up with a moniker like Hee-chan for someone like... Well, like Heero." 'Hee-chan' was cute and affectionate; the one with the nickname was most certainly neither cute nor affectionate unless the person he was talking to was named Duo Maxwell. Well... excluding the cute part. The word didn't fit Heero's looks by anyone's standards. The Japanese Slytherin could only be described by more masculine adjectives.

"It's kind of hard to explain, since it's a cultural thing for Heero," Duo hedged, absently stirring the content of the fire once again. "The Japanese use a slightly different form of address than Westerners do. If Lucius Malfoy had any dealings with wizards in the East, Draco might understand what I'm talking about. Lucius has a high social status, so a Japanese wizard might address him as Malfoy-dono, or even Malfoy-sama. Any Japanese wizard with an equal or higher status would call him Malfoy-san."

"I've heard the first one a lot, but I vaguely recognize the last," Draco murmured thoughtfully, staring at the fire with an unfocused gaze. He was probably thinking about Lucius and the major upheaval between them. Harry reached out hesitantly and slipped his hand into the blond's warm palm. The Gryffindor was rewarded with a small squeeze of acknowledgment in response.

"Malfoy-sama is reserved for high nobility and the CEOs of major corporations," Duo explained. "Malfoy-dono would be for the wealthy, I think. Subordinates of either sex or younger men would be referred to as something like Duo-kun, or Maxwell-kun. That one's also used between friends, particularly with boys and men. The suffix I use with Hee-chan is typically used... Er..." The braided boy twitched, suddenly realizing the implications of explaining the Japanese form of address.

Draco grinned knowingly. "Let me guess. If -kun is for boys, then -chan would be...?"

Harry's jaw dropped open when he realized what Draco's sly inquiry was leading to. "Duo! For Heero?"

"Hey, a guy can handle that particular suffix if his flipping boyfriend is using it," Duo replied defensively. "I'm allowed!"

"You did it before you got together," Harry cried.

"Yeah, and he used to punch my arm hard enough to leave bruises when I first started doing it," Duo retorted, crossing his arms huffily. "Heero always got under my skin. I helped the guy break out of a Federation hospital, and he returned the favor by stealing parts from my aibou to repair his own before taking off! He didn't even apologize when we met each other again! He pissed me off, and I was just returning the favor. Besides, he was ridiculously serious and antisocial, enough so that he actually drew a lot more suspicion to us than he accused me of with my 'outlandish flamboyance.' Those are his words, mind you! I had to do something to loosen him up, or at least make him appear less hostile."

"By using a suffix meant for girls and lovers?" Draco snickered. "You deserved to be punched. He would have shot anyone else that dared to pull that stunt. I bet your motivation was more a revenge tactic than making him appear a little more harmless to the public."

"I admit nothing," Duo said haughtily, which was a blatant admittance in and of itself.

Soon the fire began to fade, having already engulfed all that fueled it until there was nothing left but smoking, fiery embers and withered, charred items that were beyond recognition. Satisfied with how little was left, Duo easily filled the hole with the excess soil until the only sign there was once a hole there in the first place was a slight, suspicious lump of bare dirt.

"That should about do it," Duo crowed triumphantly, jumping to his feet and brushing the clinging dirt from his hands. "Burned and buried in the middle of nowhere. The chances of the cops ever finding this junk way out here are slim to none, but if they do and they also happen to find anything incriminating on me, I freaking deserve to be caught."

"Would they honestly try that hard? You didn't really hurt anyone," Harry pointed out logically as he, along with Draco, followed the American to the expensive sports car. Draco was giving the muggle form of transportation an uneasy once-over, as if the former Malfoy heir hadn't quite figured out what they were supposed to do with such a contraption. Harry wouldn't have been surprised if that was exactly the case.

"I still technically kidnapped them by holding them against their wills," Duo explained knowingly. "It's certainly not my worst offense, but the government kind of frowns on things like that."

"What is this thing supposed to do?" Draco asked irritably, his arms stubbornly crossed as he watched Duo pull the handle of the door on one side as Harry made his way to the other.

"It's a car, Draco," Harry explained patiently, opening the passenger's side door and lifting the seat forward. "You've had to have seen one before. I know for a fact the Ministry of Magic has several magically enhanced vehicles, and the Knight Bus..."

"The Knight Bus is a tool for commoners to travel," Draco said haughtily, lifting his chin, "and the Malfoys have always utilized carriages for long-distance traveling. Then again, I don't understand why we couldn't use our broomsticks. Black Manor is just down there." He pointed toward the side of the cliff, and Harry realized the large residence in the distance he saw before must have been their destination.

"Because driving is so much fun," Duo replied gleefully. "Just as fun as flying a broomstick! So stop complaining and hop in, dragon boy, we're ready to roll!"

Harry thought it would have been prudent to forgo mentioning how these words, said with such wick glee and combined with the manic gleam in his vibrant eyes, inspired a certain amount of terror within the very depths of his soul. Indicating that anything could possible go awry in front of Draco wouldn't inspire the Slytherin to feel any better about actually sealing his fate and crawling into the car with Duo behind the wheel... Then again, Harry reconsidered the importance of his gut instinct as Draco quickly bypassed the empty front seat and chose to sit in the back with Harry instead. The Gryffindor wasn't sure if keeping silent about his unease was a good thing for either of them, as he was almost positive there would be at least one or two occasions where he would feel his life was in danger.

He was proven right when Duo floored the gas petal, the car fish-tailing wildly in the clearing before the braided maniac righted the car and peeled onto the minute road that encircled the steep cliff. In less than five seconds, Duo was roaring down the narrow road at a steadily climbing 70 km/h, whipping around dangerous curves with the windows rolled down, the wind whipping around the inside of the car wildly as the pounding music attempted to unsettle the quiet countryside that lay between them and their destination.

Duo's thick, heavy braid was even stirring at the phenomenal wind that tore at the occupants of the car, his head thrown back as loud, barking cackles overpowered the music.

"Seatbelt," Harry screamed at Draco, desperately scrambling to attach the only safety feature that would prevent him from being thrown through the windshield, or worse; rolling unrestrained in the interior of the car and breaking every bone in his body, possibly killing him. Judging by the frightened expression on Draco's face, Harry voicing his fears at this point would probably have a negatively adverse effect on the poor muggle-ignorant boy's mental state.

"What?" Draco yelled back, a shrill note of terror in his voice and, for once, showing plainly on his face. Fear was an emotion Harry didn't often get to witnesses, especially since third year, when Harry scared the obnoxious Slytherin at the Shrieking Shack under the protection of his invisibility cloak. In any case, Harry didn't waste time answering, instead reaching over his boyfriend and snapping the seatbelt into place himself.

"Spoilsports!" Duo called back to them, laughing insanely as he whipped around another dangerous curve with a drop off that was only meagerly protected by a rather shoddy metal guard that, at the speed Duo was going, would have fallen easily to the power of the American's car. Harry closed his eyes tightly, unbidden images of the car sailing over the side of the cliff at 90 km/h coming to the front of his mind, forcing him to whimper. Should it have even be physically possible for the American to keep something going that fast at a downward incline around dangerous, almost catty-corner like turns on the road?

Harry breathed easier when the finally reached the bottom, the road doubling in width as the sharp curves straightened out over rolling green hills. Even if Duo was still going at death-defying speeds every time he crested a hill (Harry could feel his stomach jump all the way up to the back of his throat as he literally felt the very car drop out from under him as Duo flew over the top of another hill), after surviving that terror-filled beginning, the Gryffindor Golden Boy had much more confidence in Duo's ability to manipulate the car to its full potential.

Draco wasn't so inspired. "You mad, evil little cockroach," the Slytherin roared over the music, uncharacteristically infuriated enough to lose almost all of his carefully cultivated icy exterior. "You spirit cursed, dastardly madman. People like you deserve to drool in their cereal in St. Mungo's for all of eternity!"

"He says the sweetest things to me," Duo yelled, sounding oddly pleased by Draco's venomous words.

"Take me seriously when I'm angry with you!" Draco bellowed.

To which Duo responded with a glibly delivered, "Nope!"

"I'm telling Quatre you scared Harry!"

Oddly enough, that forced Duo to pause before he lowered the volume of the music pumping through the speakers, a pout just on the verge of making his lower lip tremble. "That's a low blow, dragon boy." Still, Duo slowed down to a much safer speed of 75 km/h, so Harry couldn't complain about Draco's method... even if he did think it was kind of childish.

"If it makes you feel any better," Harry mentioned casually, "I think you scarred Draco for life."

Duo preened as Draco glowered petulantly at Harry, his crossed harms stubbornly held close to his lower chest. Harry thought it was probably more of an effort to keep whatever was left in his stomach where it belonged and not all over the nice leather interior of Duo's vehicle instead of any resentment over Harry taking Duo's side, if only to mediate between them.

God. They were exactly like kids. Kids of the annoying sibling variety.

Luckily, it didn't take much longer for Duo to roar passed the elaborate private gates that still displayed the Malfoy insignia, though the property was clearly listed as the Black family's asset as far as the Ministry was concerned. Harry wasn't completely surprised to find that Trowa and Quatre were waiting for them on the front porch of the expansive mansion.

"Duo," Quatre said chidingly, his hand hovering over the vicinity of his heart.

Duo held up a finger in the air after kicking the door shut with his foot, a mockingly solemn expression on his face as he said, "In my defense... it could have been a lot worse."

"Yes," Draco said testily, trying to recover at least some semblance of his old scathing sarcasm. "Yes, we could all very well be dead now."

"See, Draco? I told you fields are always greener if you look at them from the right perspective," Duo claimed brightly, casually clapping the disgruntled former Malfoy heir on the back as he breezed his way towards Quatre and Trowa. Quatre still looked reproachful, but Trowa was definitely amused.

As the two recovering passengers followed the exuberant American, Harry laughed quietly and murmured, "This is like an everyday thing for you? Suddenly I'm realizing just how lucky I was being ignored every day."

"Speak up, Harry," Duo called over his shoulder, his braid trailing behind him as if it had a mind of it's own, much like a cat's tail. He'd just reached the threshold of the doorway when he'd heard the green-eyed Gryffindor's nearly incoherent murmur. "I can't think of dazzlingly witty comebacks if you mumble."

"It's safe to say you won't be ignored around here," Draco said dryly in return. "Frankly, I'm still boggling over the fact I've made it this far with my sanity relatively intact."

"Relatively," Trowa amended, his one visible green eye shining with humor that didn't quite reach the rest of his face.

Quatre, of course, was all smile when he said, "It's nice you'll be spending the rest of the holidays with us, Harry. I'm sure Draco especially appreciates your presence; he still has some lingering hope that Duo's rather mischievous behavior will lessen if there's more to spread around." Judging by the wry twist to Quatre's smile, Draco's hope was one destined for disaster.

"Of course, that will be Draco's primary excuse to be grateful that you're here," Trowa added with a sly smirk. "Then again, we all know the real reason."

"You people are just as bad as he is when it comes to teaming up on me," Draco said haughtily, his nose lifting snobbishly in the air. There was no denying the faint tinge of pink in his cheeks, inspiring Harry to grin wildly at the other boy's back.

They finally found the rest of the gang sequestered in the elegantly furnished living room. Chang Wufei sat languidly in the window sill, his face upturned to the moon in solemn contemplation, his long fingers almost absently playing along the hilt of his sword. The studious Ravenclaw turned slightly to them as they entered, his ebony eyes focusing immediately on Harry before Wufei bowed his head in a silent greeting. The Gryffindor returned the favor, aware that the Chinese youth tended to be a lot more reserved than his friends.

Heero was likewise seated at a writing desk, his back to the rest of the room as he penned out a letter. Duo was leaning against the back of the Japanese Slytherin's chair, nosily reading over his boyfriend's shoulder.

"Who are you writing?" Duo asked curiously, his interest clearly piqued.


"Oh, that's nice. Tell him I hope he fatally contracts syphilis from a used tampon," Duo said sweetly. Harry shuddered in revulsion at such vivid imagery before he boggled over this newfound resentment Duo had for Dumbledore. What had the Headmaster done to deserve the full brunt of the American's ire?

"That's disgusting, Duo," Heero said flatly. Nevertheless, Heero picked up the quill and easily scrawled a post script.

"That's pretty much the point, Hee-chan," the American replied flippantly as he read the letter from over the Japanese Slytherin's shoulder. When Heero began folding the letter, the braided boy pouted. "It just doesn't have the same effect without that last part."

"That's pretty much the point, Duo," Heero parried with a surprisingly soft look. "Calm down. You shouldn't let your anger cloud your judgement."

"My judgement is fine," Duo protested. "It's my temper that's the problem. Shinigami hasn't been out to play in ages."

"That's a good thing, Duo," Trowa pointed out logically. "Shinigami tends to traumatize people, if they're unfortunate enough to survive the encounter."

Well. That sounded rather... ominous.

"What did Dumbledore do?" Harry asked, insanely curious. He didn't understand why everyone suddenly quieted down and just looked at him like a peculiar bug trapped under a microscope, but all of the attention made him feel a bit nervous. "What?"

"God, I hope you're not serious," Duo murmured faintly.

"I'm afraid that's the case," Draco responded with a shake of his head. "The expression currently on Harry's face is like a milder, non-threatening version of a Heero Death Glare. I've come to call it a Harry Oblivious Stare. This one says something like, 'Not only do I not know what is going on, but I would not know what to do about it if I did.'"

Harry was tempted to tell Draco to shut up, boyfriend or not. Unfortunately, he knew such a command had the exact opposite effect when applied to Draco and gave it up as a lost cause. He was in too good of a mood from leaving the Dursleys forever behind him to throw it all out of the window by taunting his boyfriend into an angry tirade about being told what to do so rudely. Especially since he hadn't even been in the manor for half an hour yet. "It would help if you explained."

"We're flipping pissed at Dumbledore because he stuck you with those intolerant fu-"

"What Duo means to say is," Quatre interrupted the American quickly, no doubt sparing them all from a long rant that included many words most would consider too impolite for public consumption, "we're upset that the Headmaster left you in such a negative atmosphere. Harry, we're your friends; seeing you being treated like you are less than a human being is intolerable."

Oh. "Would you feel less hostile towards Dumbledore if I told you there's a very specific reason for that?" Harry inquired weakly, suddenly apprehensive about the Headmaster's health if the wizen man were ever faced with five terrorists and a pureblood who was most likely taught straight out of the womb that it was completely within reason to punish the people who irritated him.

"Oh, do tell," Duo drawled wryly, flopping lazily on the couch.

"I had to stay with the Dursleys because of the blood protection," Harry explained earnestly. "My mum sacrificed her life for me, which invoked some ancient magic that protects me from Voldemort. Dumbledore said that, as long as I was with Aunt Petunia, the blood protection could keep me safe during the summer."

Draco frowned thoughtfully. "That doesn't make sense. You told me that scar on your inner arm was from when Wormtail used your blood in the ritual that brought the Dark Lord back. I remember because you were nattering about Voldemort actually being able to touch you without being hurt."


"So wouldn't it stand to reason that since your mother's blood doesn't protect you from Voldemort's touch anymore, any blood protection that hag of an aunt of yours had to offer would be rendered completely useless?"

Harry automatically opened his mouth to rebuke Draco's conclusion, only to find that no words would come to him. That... made sense. Whenever Voldemort tried to physically impair Harry before the ritual, the Dark Lord was severely burned for his efforts. Whatever meager indemnity his mother's blood offered him was quickly nullified when Voldemort used Harry's blood to give himself a new, stronger form.

It was very possible that the blood protection was utterly useless.(2)


"See, now that just makes me even crankier," Duo said with forced nonchalance, his well-crafted mask almost slipping to reveal the American's inner rage. "Remind me why I can't go with you guys tomorrow morning?"

"Despite the blatant injustice, the rest of us aren't quite so eager to see the Headmaster die in a vicious manner only befitting Shinigami," Wufei said solemnly. There wasn't even a subtle trace of anything remotely resembling a punch line in the Chinese Ravenclaw's voice.

Duo smirked nastily. "Oh, but you're all angry enough to inflict Quatre's tender mercies on the old bastard? Man, if I really didn't hate him right now, I'd feel sorry for the old man. I wouldn't wish Quat's righteous fury on just anyone, you know."

Draco and Harry exchanged incredulous glances before both turned their attention explicitly on the genteel Hufflepuff that was peacefully sipping at his tea, his countenance one of serene royalty as he sat primly in the high-backed chair aside the couch Duo was lounging on. Harry honestly thought that, if he were to compare Duo's hot temper with Quatre's so-called "righteous fury", Quatre's scolding would be like a pleasure cruise of mildly chastised guilt. He suspected that Draco thought much of the same thing.

Boy, were they wrong.



I am sure you are aware of the recent development concerning Potter's relocation; as such, I see no reason to go into detail in a letter that can be intercepted.

I still intend to meet with you tomorrow about the project I have been working on. We will meet at the designated time at your preferred location. Be aware that Potter will be attending our meeting. His attendance will be explained at that time.

Quatre Winner and Draco Malfoy will also be joining us to discuss an entirely different matter that is separate from the project.

If you seek to contact Potter before our meeting, we will sternly consider taking affirmative action to derail any persisting attempts. If you send anyone to the manor in hopes of collecting Potter, we will perceive you as a threat.

Do not force us to perceive you as an enemy, Headmaster. I am positive you know more about our past then you would lead us to believe. We both know who will come out of this victorious.



Duo wishes you a warm salutation. He would like me to further indicate that he hopes you contract a fatal strain of syphilis.


Apparently, the designated time at the Headmaster's preferred location translated into 9:00 AM at Number 12 Grimmauld's Place. Harry still didn't know what sort of project Heero had been working that required Dumbledore's attention. He would have been a little more irritated about it if his attention wasn't so focused on preventing Draco from burning all of the clothes he deemed unacceptable.

"Oh merciful spirits... Harry! Harry. Please tell me you have a better fashion sense than this!" The blond Slytherin waved a handful of clothes in front of him emphatically. For the occasion, Draco had barged into Harry's guestroom before dawn, dressed to the nines in durable clothing that covered almost every inch of his skin, thick rubber gloves that coned around his elbows, a white cotton mask tied around the lower part of his face, and... a hairnet.

"Welcome to the Twilight Zone," Harry had mumbled dazedly, rubbing his eyes sleepily as Draco marched over to his wardrobe, his big, heavy boots audibly thumping against the carpet.

Duo Maxwell was leaning against the doorframe, smiling wickedly at Harry. "Draco's afraid of muggle germs," the braided boy had said gleefully, his amethyst eyes dancing with laughter.

"Oh, for pity's sake, that is the ugliest eyesore I've ever seen," Draco said faintly, dropping his handful of clothing. He lifted the tongs that had been hanging from the belt around his hip and used it to carefully pry a ratty orange and green jumper from its coat hanger. Harry could just imagine the sneer of revulsion under his boyfriend's concealing mask.

"Oh," the Slytherin whimpered, dropping the jumper on the floor as his attention found something even worse. "Are those... Are those pinstriped parachute pants?"

Harry winced. "Um. One of Dudley's least desirable castoffs."

Draco stiffened. Duo, having welcomed himself to a comfortable reading chair close to the French balcony door, managed to conceal his frustration with a tiny flinch. The two of them were oddly silent and unmoving for a moment; so much so that Harry became just a little more concerned about the Dursleys' well-being.

Finally, Draco inquired calmly, "So none of these clothes are actually yours? They're just..." The former Malfoy made a face, choking out, "just... hand-me-downs?" The last part sounded like it had been torn from him, as if it actually caused him physical pain to speak the words. Harry couldn't decide if the reason for this was because Draco was trying to choke down his anger at the Dursleys, or the indignity of speaking of something he considered plebeian.

"Yes," Harry sighed, finally reaching over and donning his glasses.

"So... you think wearing things like... like this..." Insert melodramatic wave of his arm that encompassed what consisted of Harry's wardrobe here. "You think wearing things like this is acceptable?"

Harry snorted. "Of course not. I just had very little choice in the matter."

"Praise the spirits," Draco said in relief, tossing the tongs to the ground as he bowed his head. "My boyfriend doesn't have a tragic taste in fashion. First thing we do when we go to Diagon Alley is buy you an entirely new wardrobe. This atrocious pile of rags is going to be sealed in a biohazard bag and sent to toxin disposal after that."

"Why not burn them in the backyard? We can have a party and everything," Duo said cheerfully, adding a glib, "with s'mores!"

"Don't be disgusting," Draco said haughtily. "I'll not pollute this semi-muggle atmosphere with your muggle diseases. There's no telling what kind of deadly germs might be roaming on this sorry excuse for clothing; burning them will just make them airborne." With that, he turned on his heels and left, presumably to carefully strip himself naked and take a very thorough shower that included a lot of anti-bacterial soap.

"I think I've been subjecting him to too many B-rated movies about deadly disease epidemics caused by monkeys," Duo mused absently, staring out of the window with a faraway look in his eyes.

Harry smiled reluctantly. It figured.

Deciding the chances of him getting anymore sleep would be a pointless endeavor, Harry shooed Duo from his room and put together a respectable outfit that wouldn't force Draco to officially announce that the Gryffindor was a fashion disaster. It was six o'clock in the morning on a holiday. What did people do at this ungodly hour?

More than Harry realized, apparently. Heero was busy in the living room paying more attention to his laptop than the news on the telly, while Duo was idly sweeping the tail of his braid along Heero's bare collar bone as some form of entertainment. Harry could see Trowa lounging on the patio, painstakingly sharpening his wide array of knives with a wetstone.

"Where are the others?" Harry asked, leaning against the doorframe.

"Wufei's out playing Mr. Miyagi to Draco's Karate Kid," Duo said with a hint of amusement. "Quatre's trying to convince the house-elves to make a meal fit for seven, and not an entire army like they'd originally intended. Turns out, you're hot stuff around these parts."

Harry faintly hoped that all Malfoy house-elves (former or not) were nothing like Dobby. He honestly didn't think he'd survive if that was the case.

Luckily, breakfast was ready before Harry had enough time to work himself up over the possibility. It was almost unanimously decided to take advantage of the nice morning to take their breakfast on the patio, and Harry was just getting settled when Wufei and Draco walked around a corner of the manor, both appearing a little winded and sweaty from exertion. Instead of bemoaning his unclean status, Draco seemed oddly pleased with himself.

"Fun work out?" Duo asked nonchalantly, eagerly serving himself a generous helping of scrambled eggs and plump sausages. He topped off his eggs with ketchup, humming jauntily as he stirred the stark red condiment with his fluffy yellow eggs.

"Black finally nailed the third kata," Wufei replied, grudgingly impressed. "I'm teaching him the fourth kata tomorrow."

"Oooh, good job, dragon boy," Duo cheered, saluting the preening blond smartly. "Bet your ego feels ten times heavier."

"Draco deserves to feel proud of himself," Quatre said kindly. "At the rate he's going, he might learn the sixth kata before we go back to school.

"There, see? I deserve to bask in my own glory," Draco said smugly, smirking at Duo. "Leave me to my innocent ego stroking, hamster boy -with you around, I don't get to do it as much as I'd like."

"Aha!" Duo cried triumphantly. "So you're finally admitting I'm better than you. You have no idea how long I've been waiting for that."

"I said no such thing!" Draco snapped sharply.

"If Duo's eggs end up in my hair again," Heero broke in, his tone vaguely threatening, "I'm going to be in a foul mood."

"The same goes for me and the pancake syrup," Trowa added casually, gracefully moving the container of syrup out of reach.

"Harry, why don't you join Draco and Wufei?" Quatre suggested serenely, spreading jam along the surface of his toast absently. "It's very good exercise, and you could find a muggle approach to defense useful if you ever lose your wand. I'm sure they wouldn't mind."

"It would be a wise decision," Wufei said solemnly, his head tilted thoughtfully. "The first step to protecting others is to learn how to protect oneself. We might as well take him down to the basement and cover all the bases."

Even though Harry was excited about the possibility of doing something new, he couldn't help but lodge a small complaint. "You mean I have to learn something over the summer?"

Draco laughed wryly. "Welcome to my life."

Nevertheless, Harry accepted Quatre's proposal. Breakfast was hurried along after that, Heero having announced that Draco only had an hour to wash away the grime of the morning and put on clothes a little more acceptable for a meeting with Dumbledore as the head of the Order of the Phoenix instead of as the Headmaster of Hogwarts. No one was overly surprised that Draco took advantage of every second allotted to him, which gave Harry plenty of opportunity to drill Heero for answers.

"What kind of project are you working on that would involved Dumbledore?" Harry asked, watching Heero scan the Daily Prophet for anything newsworthy to kill time.

"You'll hear about it in the meeting," Heero pointed out rationally, casually pressing a few keys on the laptop that was sitting on the breakfast table.

"Dumbledore and the others usually don't allow me to sit in on meetings," Harry replied stonily, resentment stirring in his stomach. He always hated it when Dumbledore left him out.

"Dumbledore doesn't have any say in the matter," Heero said monotonously, finally closing his laptop and storing the muggle device in its bag. "Besides, you're somewhat involved. There's no logic in leaving you out of any discussion that involves you."

Talk about novelty.


Having dealt with such wizarding conveniences as the Floo Network since he could reach the powder, Draco didn't even stumble when he came flying out of the grate and into the darkened living room. He remained firmly on his feet, his clothes barely stained with a hint of ash that he dusted away with a slightly discontented scowl. Heero, having gone through the Floo before him, had already approached the only man in the room.

Apparently, Sirius Black had been waiting for them.

Draco was a little more hesitant about approaching someone who's name had only been whispered in his father's circles; though his mother spoke of her favorite cousin with a fond, almost wistful regard. "A diehard Gryffindor to the core," she would say with a minor note of disdain mixed with a certain amount of affection, "but my favorite cousin, if only because no one could claim he was boring."

I wonder how he will react when Harry breaks the news that his godson is going out with Narcissa Black's son? Draco wondered absently, turning back to the grate just in time to catch Harry before he stumbled and fell on his face. Unfortunately, the Gryffindor, not quite as accustomed to the Floo as Draco, managed to tackle the former Malfoy heir to the ground.

Harry blinked and fixed his glasses while Draco surveyed his soot stain a la Harry with a disposition of a defeated man. "Huh. Why am I not shocked that Duo wasn't joking when he said you'd break my fall?"

"That braided idiot would be the one indirectly responsible for the Harry-shaped soot stain on my favorite red shirt," Draco said haughtily, inspecting his clothes derisively.

Harry snorted. "Somehow I knew the first thing that would draw your concern was your clothes," he said cattily before scrambling to his feet, helping Draco up in the process with a critical once-over. "Red suits you."

"Start fantasizing about me wrapped in a red and gold ribbon and nothing more and you'll know the true meaning of torment," Draco retorted with a smirk, obviously pleased with Harry's observation. "Gold is an atrocious color on me."

Black's bark of laughter was almost as loud as a gun shot. Heero and Quatre, who apparently Flooed in several seconds after Harry, flinched visibly, their hands hovering over where their own firearms would be. "Now, would Harry be tormented by the image itself," the man said jokingly, sidling up to his godson with a quirky grin, "or by the atrocity that is Draco Black wearing gold?"

Cheeky bastard. "Both," Draco responded airily, "if only because the fantasy version of me would have to beat the fantasy version of Harry senseless for forcing him in anything related to yellow. Even the fantasy Draco has to have some sense of reality."

Black smirked, glancing at Harry. "He's Narcissa's brat, all right," the man said wryly. "She always was a cheeky bint."

Draco would have protested Black's description of his mother if his observation hadn't been so bloody accurate. Instead, he sighed in defeat and shook his head, pondering aloud, "Hm, I wonder if it's because I've been exposed to the full brunt of Mother's sarcastic, manipulative tongue straight out of the womb? Lucius has told me such fascinating stories about my mother's charming remarks about how I looked so much like a runty prune that she found it hard to believe I gave her ten and a half hours of labor no medicine could help. These kind of things tend to leave an impression."

"Yeah," Black said with a rueful grin. "Cissy hasn't changed a bit."

Draco smirked. "And she still hates it when people call her Cissy."

"Who do you think circulated that nickname? Ah, to be young again," Black mused, his eyes dimming somewhat. Draco saw Harry nibble his bottom lip as he looked to his godfather with concern; apparently, Black had been taking the loss of twelve years of his life harder than he let on.

"We're late for our meeting," Heero said quietly, breaking the uncomfortable silence. Black reacted almost instantly, throwing his arm around his godson's shoulders and rubbing the Gryffindor's messy black hair affectionately. Draco noticed that his boyfriend flinched, for a moment visibly uncomfortable with the fatherly gesture. As soon as he recognized it for what it was, the green-eyed boy seemed to slowly calm down until he was left with content confusion.

Why was affection such a foreign concept for Harry? The answer, immediate and undeniable, had Draco clenching his teeth in restraint. Those bloody Dursleys...

Luckily for Dumbledore (and Draco's climbing blood pressure), Black broke through the former Malfoy's almost animalistic desire for vengeance with his lazy drawl of, "Can't keep such a chatty guy like Yuy waiting, can we?" With that, arm still securely wrapped around his godson's shoulders, Black nearly swept the boy out of the living room, followed closely by Heero and Quatre. Draco hurried to walk closer to Heero's side, mostly in hopes that anything that attacked them from the shadows would swiftly be dealt with while Draco's dignity was still intact.

Ew... Were those house-elf heads mounted on the bloody staircase? Draco shuddered in revulsion and forced himself to look at Harry's back. Narcissa Black, while being frightfully honest about how insane her family was, still managed to hold a tone of respect to her bloodline for hiding their eccentricities for so long. Personally, Draco thought any family who made it a tradition to proudly display the heads of decapitated house-elves deserved to be put away in a mental institution forever. If only because of sheer tackiness.

The heir to the Black Legacy didn't seem affected by the gloomy atmosphere of his ancestral home too much. (Draco later found out that it used to be much, much worse, thus Black's apparent comfort with some of the creepier aspects of his home; if what he'd seen was considered "progress," he really didn't want to see what "worse" would entail.) In fact, Black's spirit seemed to have been renewed, almost so much so that his sudden enthusiasm couldn't have been a front. Draco was slightly puzzled; why in the world would Black be so inspired to smirk so cockily over a meeting Heero had set with the Headmaster? What manner of project was so important that it needed to be discussed within the very headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix?

Mercy of the spirits, what was Dumbledore wearing?

"Aha," Dumbledore cried in delight, his eyes twinkling as he looked to the committee standing in the doorway of the makeshift study. "You see, Severus? It would only be polite to allow Harry and Sirius a little time on their own."

Yeah, Draco thought snottily, since they don't exactly get to see each other very often... Crafty git.

Severus Snape, schooled early on just how one would go about reading Draco's mind, merely looked at the blond and raised his eyebrow in wry bemusement. The former Malfoy rolled his eyes petulantly, haughtily predicting that Severus was going over every little detail and turning the possible conclusions around in his head carefully. The Potions Master was probably privately stunned that Draco seemed so resentful on Harry Potter's behalf. Of course, the man wasn't aware that Harry was Draco's new beau, and the Slytherin Prince wasn't about to update his Head of House on that matter without several emergency escape routes and surefire certainty that he could easily avoid the man for a week or two. The news would probably be delivered in letter format, and damn whatever the boy's Malfoy instincts screamed about propriety.

Once Quatre closed the door after subtle scanning the hallway for potential eaves' droppers, Heero immediately got down to business. "The case is air-tight. All you have to do is have one of your Auror operatives sign-out and protect the evidence the Ministry cast aside; I need it uncorrupted if we're to have the hearing in two days."

"Hearing?" Harry questioned hesitantly.

Black's grin seemed to be catching, as Quatre couldn't prevent himself from beaming, as well. To affect even Quatre, the man's enthusiasm must have been phenomenal. "Yuy here took it upon himself to orchestrate a plot to have my judgement overturned. If he's as good as Albus says, I might be a free man by next week."

Harry was absolutely ecstatic, which amused Draco more than anything. His boyfriend looked like he'd just been told his puppy sidekick had finally found his way back home, his expression delicately ensnared somewhere between the elation of hearing the announcement and anticipation over finally rejoining with his lost dog. Draco grudgingly admitted that it was kind of... cute.

Judging by the disgusted sneer that twisted his face, Severus didn't think the scene was quite so endearing.

"The evidence does most of the talking for me," Heero said monotonously, barely sparing a glance for the psuedo-family moment between godfather and godson. "Black's wand still remains, and Pettigrew's autopsy report -if one can call it that- and the photos of the severed finger will explain the logical conclusion the evidence points to. Draco has already promised to answered a controlled list of questions under the influence of Veritaserum; all I would need is for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to agree to the same treatment. Their witness testimony is critical because they've actually heard Pettigrew confess to both being the Potters' Secret Keeper and killing twelve muggles in covering up his tracks. Draco has only ever seen someone called Wormtail on one occasion."

"What about Moony?" Black spoke up, looking directly at Heero. "He's an adult; the Wizengamot might find his testimony a lot more reliable than the kids', especially after the Prophet smeared Harry's name a few years ago."

"Lupin is a werewolf," Heero pointed out quietly. "While I find him to be a perfectly competent, reasonable man, Wufei pointed out that the social climate in regards to werewolves in general might hinder our case."

"Which just started Wufei off on this rant about the bigoted hypocrisy of the wizarding world," Draco couldn't help but to add sardonically. "Best let that subject die, I think."

Harry smothered a grin. "You're the one who brought it up."

"Just inflicting them with a smidgeon of the torture I've had to put up with so far this summer," Draco said loftily.

"And who opened up his home to the muggle-touting parade again?"

"I don't know why you keep pointing out flaws in my passive-aggressive vengeance that I'll simply refuse to acknowledge," the former Malfoy heir said indifferently. "You should know by now that it's a wasted effort."

Of course. Draco would swear to his dying breath that anything wrong that transpired during his life would always be someone else's fault. "Silly me."

"You are sure that the mutt doesn't have to be present for his own hearing?" Severus asked oilily, crossing his arms over his chest as he met Heero's narrowed gaze bravely.

"I went over wizarding law thoroughly with Wufei," Heero said flatly. "Sirius Black doesn't have to be present for a hearing held in his defense. Besides, the Wizengamot can have anyone connected with this case arrested and charged for harboring a criminal if Black is present; even in defending him, it's important that everyone participating in this trial remember that any affiliation with a convict can have dire repercussions. Our case can be thrown out of court."

"As usual, Black would only complicate matters," Severus drawled dully.

"Say that again, Snivel-"

"Sirius," Dumbledore warned sternly, and the irate Black immediately quailed the man's desire to physically and verbally attack the surly Potions Master (but only just). "Severus, I would appreciate it if you would stop baiting Sirius."

"Headmaster," the Potions Master murmured respectfully; however, the sneer that remained on his face spoke of just how little he thought of that particular idea.

"In any case, it will be nice to see Sirius a free man once more, as he rightfully deserves," Dumbledore said whimsically. "I'm sure you are counting down the days when you can legally live with your godfather, though it saddens me that this trial is too little, too late."

"Actually, sir," the Winner heir spoke up, a fond smile on his face as he glanced toward Harry and Draco for a moment. "We'd all prefer that Harry stay with us. I think Duo's become rather protective of Harry, and we're all extremely self-efficient and capable of defending both ourselves and others. The manor is impenetrable as it is, and Heero's already scheming to increase security by muggle means. Harry has also expressed an interest in taking the same self-defense lessons as Draco, and I think the exercise will be good for him."

Black was confused, and possibly slightly hurt by the announcement. He looked to his godson questioningly, but made no accusation of being left at the wayside when they finally had their chance to be something like a family. Draco thought that said a lot about his cousin's disposition, especially considering his Gryffindor nature. "Harry?"

"It is a very good idea, Sirius," Harry said earnestly, trying to appeal to his godfather's better reasoning. "I'm sure Draco can make allowances for you to visit as often as you'd like, but the opportunity to learn something new, something I can use for... well, later... It's really too good to pass up, at this point."

"I guess you're right," Sirius said, still sounding slightly disappointed but resigned. As a way to boost his spirits, the man proclaimed, "But I get to drop in on you any time I want. Even if it's just to balance a bucketful of pigment potion above your door, I'm allowed."

"We might want to make sure the others know about that," Harry said with a nervous laugh, awkwardly rubbing the back of his messy hair. "They don't like surprise visits very much."

"Well, then, as long as we're clear on that," Sirius said with a lopsided grin, "I guess I can live with that arrangement."

Not surprisingly, Dumbledore wasn't very keen on the idea. "I don't believe it would be a wise decision for Harry, Duo, and Draco to be together. Voldemort wants all of them for his own nefarious reasons, and the temptation might prove too great for him."

Quatre's eyes hardened, which should have been their first clue that things were really about to turn interesting. Something in the Winner heir's congenial attitude began to slowly fade away, leaving behind a darker, almost more sinister aura. "I don't believe I gave you a choice in the matter." The faint chill of ice in his voice certainly brought anything else Dumbledore had to say to a sputtering stop.

Draco's jaw literally dropped open in shock. What... the... hell? What just happened? What manner of dark creature replaced the sweet, polite blond angel in the span of a second? Why didn't the world make sense anymore? Draco dazedly turned his head slightly to gauge Harry's reaction, and he was relieved to find his boyfriend in a state of similar shock. Snape was a little different; the sallow-skinned man had raised a single inquisitive eyebrow in interest as his attention with the proceedings was renewed. Heero merely looked bored, and Sirius Black appeared oddly pleased with how things were progressing.

Apparently, the felon had a few grudges against Dumbledore, too.

Dumbledore, of course, was a little perturbed by little Quatre Winner's hardened demeanor and faint withering glare. A glare, he noted worriedly, that was becoming more pronounced by the second.

"You have no right to demand where Harry lives," Quatre continued, his voice practically arctic by this point. "As far as the rest of the world is concerned, the only time you have a right to be worried over Harry's whereabouts is during the school year. No matter how highly you consider yourself in his life, you've given Harry no reason to pledge his allegiance to you. You've manipulated him and the people around him from the very beginning, and you've done a substandard job of it. It stops here."

"Mr. Winner," Dumbledore began, a fair amount of uncertainty overshadowing his normally jubilant countenance.

"I'm not finished," Quatre snapped. Whatever Dumbledore could possibly say in his defense was immediately culled, and the room momentarily plunged into silence.

"Oh, spirits, I am so glad I didn't miss this." Draco broke in with his reverent, almost humble words as he stared at Quatre's profile. He honestly felt like crowing in delight and laughing. He wanted to jump up from his chair and yell, "Yes! Yes! He is worthy of his Malfoy blood! Yes!"

Draco didn't particularly care about Quatre's muggle parentage. Okay, so maybe he cared a little. His subtle, deceptively innocent comments about muggles and muggle things had a sting to them, no matter how glibly he expressed his negative thoughts about muggles and mudbloods. It couldn't be helped; an entire life of his parents, his parents' friends, and even Draco's own friends conditioning him to think lowly of muggles and mudbloods wasn't about to be changed, no matter how determined Harry and the others were to prove otherwise. To be fair to Harry, he wasn't particularly enthusiastic about instilling total respect for muggles into someone who'd been predestined at birth to hate them. Still, he certainly wasn't about to get in Duo's way of attempting to achieve an impossible goal.

Even so, Draco was beginning to see mudbloods in a different light. Oh, not all of them -not by a long shot. The only way Draco could fully accept them was if they earned his regard. This was actually a pretty tough goal, by anyone's standards; Draco was very hard to please. He was overly critical, overly opinionated as to what constituted as "worthy of respect," and he found the most insipid reasons to keep people from achieving such an objective. However, it became more and more clear that out of a small number of people that already had Draco's respect, the mudbloods were starting to outweigh the purebloods.

Heero Yuy and Trowa Barton were two of the best examples of what any Slytherin could only ever hope to be. Draco could only assume that, because of Heero and Trowa's mudblood nature (perhaps partly because of introducing the tactics of war out of the womb had a little something to do with it, as well), they were destined to be Slytherin to the core despite their heritage. If he really wanted to be honest, Draco secretly thought most of the pureblood Slytherins were often blinded by hatred of a race of individuals they barely knew anything about was at fault for the lack of real Slytherin instincts. Oh, the prejudices against muggles were understandable enough, but few hated them more passionately than the Malfoys. Malfoys weren't foolish enough to silently wage war on a race of people that never did anything to them.

It was the only muggle history Draco knew by heart. In 1233, a man named Gregory IX -highly revered as a highest representation of that Catholic religion the muggles were raving about at the time- pronounced the official beginning to what he called The Inquisition. Dominican monks were sent to Languadoc, their leader's attraction of the town specifically because of its abundant wealth and valuable land. The proceeded to set an ultimatum; everyone had exactly one month to confess every wicked, evil notion that challenged the existence of what their Messiah and their God stood for, and they would allow the people to walk away with minimal punishment.

The Malfoi Family was literally wizarding royalty. Oh, they knew to keep their distance from muggles, but that didn't stop the family from using their keen business sense to their advantage. The Malfoi Family owned much of the land surrounding the outskirts of Languadoc, and they had several dealings in the more successful muggle businesses. To the wizards, however, Malfoi Family was truly addressed with the same titles as royalty.

The last thing a Malfoi would do was to bow down to anyone who dared order it, especially the divine leader of a muggle religion wizards barely acknowledged. Purebloods of the day were heavily steeped in pagan beliefs; the open practices of pagan rituals faded over time, but even Draco showed his reverence to the spirits, nature, and the gods every once in a while. They weren't about to confess to anything they didn't truly believe in, and the mere thought that they would be punished if they did made the family indignant. Many wizarding families followed the example of the people they considered royalty.

Then the month passed by, and the Malfoi Family suffered a massive blow that they had only begun to recover from recently. Almost all of the wizards and witches in Langaudoc suffered tragically during this time, but none as much as the Malfois. Because of their open defiance to the Church, they were forcibly ordered to turn over all land deeds and the wealth they'd accumulated because of muggles. The fact that they had been wizards never actually came out; it was their assets in the wizarding world that saved them from complete destitution. Many members of Draco's extended family were lost to hedonistic torture and eventual death.

Whatever was left of the Malfoi Clan quickly pulled up roots and fled to Britain, along with anyone who could afford to do so. However, the Malfois felt a profound sense of duty to their people, and many of the less fortunate were able to leave the country as an expense to the newly dubbed "Malfoys." It was probably one of the only completely selfless stunts the family ever pulled.

Draco, as a former Malfoy, wasn't about to forget exactly why he hated muggles in the first place. However, many of his peers were ignorant of exactly why they hated muggles; they were simply aware that they did. This example of such blind hatred could be why the amount of Slytherin prowess was... lacking.

Heero and Trowa had It. A Slytherin's instinct as it should be, and not as it had become to purebloods. In that, they had Draco's respect.

Harry had earned his respect, if only because his boyfriend had sheer dumb luck coming out of the arse. Draco had been raised to criticize everything ideally Gryffindor since he'd been in the nursery; surprisingly, this was mostly his mother's influence. Lucius couldn't care enough about silly Gryffindor ideals to ridicule them much. Narcissa wasn't quite so discreet about her derision.

However, time and time again, Harry proved that the Gryffindor thing actually worked for him. There he was, boldly facing the Dark Lord down since diapers, and he'd yet to show that he'd cracked under the pressure of over thousands of hopes and expectations of those in wizarding society to defeat Voldemort for good this time around. Harry had the best damn luck out of anybody that Draco knew, and if that wasn't worth respect by itself, Draco didn't know what else would be.

Quatre had his respect before this new side of him made its appearance. Oh, the blond took an entirely different approach to using his charisma to his advantage; Quatre was more about what was good for the people instead of what would be good for his bank account. He especially excelled at explaining his point of view so thoroughly that anyone listening wouldn't be able to believe they'd ever thought any differently. To coin of phrase he'd adopted because of Duo's obsession with something called Star Wars, Quatre used his powers for the Light Side of the Force.(3)

However, Malfoys in general thrived on the Dark Side of the Force. While Quatre was worthy of Draco's respect despite his halfblood status, Quatre's easy manners and polite posturing often culled Draco's urge to think of him as a descendant of the Malfoys. Now there was proof, right in front of his eyes, that Quatre was capable of being just as spiteful and vindictive as a true Malfoy. What was better was that he had the talent to turn the situation to his advantage while still portraying his utter disdain with the Headmaster. Brilliant. Draco couldn't wait to tell Blaise, Pansy, and the others of the most Slytherin-worthy battle against Dumbledore.

"You were aware that Harry wasn't happy living with the Dursleys, were you not?"

"I knew that Harry was a little discontent, but-"

Quatre swiftly cut him off, the same impersonal, emotionless quality in his voice as the first question. "Yes or no, Headmaster."

Dumbledore shrewdly considered the blond Hufflepuff before heavily replying, "Yes."

"You were aware that Petunia Dursley often called him horrible names and insulted both him and his deceased parents for their magic on several occasions, were you not?"

"Of course I am regretful that Lily's sister would harbor such bitter resentment for both her sister and her nephew, however-"

"Yes. Or no," Quatre almost purred malevolently, his teal eyes barely visible through the heavy lids over his eyes.

The wizen man sighed. "Yes."

"You were aware that Dudley Dursley continuously hounded his cousin, going as far as to threaten physical violence while the Dursley parents turned a blind eye, were you not?"

"Sometimes boys that age vent teenage frustration through physical altercations-"

"I won't warn you again."

The Headmaster tensed, his eyes flickering toward Snape for only a second before he responded in the affirmative. Draco, too, managed to tear himself from the scene before him long enough to spare the others a look. Snape, in particular, looked intrigued not only by Quatre's new "face", but his posture as well. The Hufflepuff had one leg crossed over the other, elbow resting on the arm of his seat as he supported his tilted head on the back of his hand. Quatre spoke slowly and attentively, his face carefully devoid of emotion as he stared cooly at the Headmaster with a heavy-lidded gaze. Every time Dumbledore went farther than a single word answer and Winner had to remind the man that he didn't want to hear any excuses, his tone became a lot more... predatory.

That was it. Quatre Winner was a dangerous predator in his current state of mind. He was far from mindless anger; every word that came out of his soft, thin lips were coldly calculating, his questions seemingly devised in advance.

Quatre was playing with Dumbledore.

"Were you aware that Vernon Dursley would become so furious over Harry that he would go as far as to strike him?"

"What?" Sirius bellowed, shooting to his feet immediately and crossing the room to kneel at Harry's side, his hand almost immediately reaching out to hover tentatively over the green and yellow bruise that almost engulfed one whole side of the boy's face. "Harry, did that fat muggle do this to you?"

This time, Dumbledore looked completely unruffled. "Of course not! I wouldn't have allowed Harry to stay with the Dursleys if I had any suspicions that Mr. Dursley was physically abusive toward Harry!"

"Please," Harry broke in nervously, glancing between the two wearily as he hurriedly said, "Most of the time Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon were satisfied with screaming at me and adding on more chores or sending me to my room." Mostly because they couldn't stand to touch him, afraid his magic germs would taint their happy, normal family. "Last night was an accident -I should have ducked."

"You shouldn't have to duck, Harry!" Sirius exclaimed in a mixture of frustration and concern. "Spirits, Albus, you promised me Arabella would inform you immediately if she saw anything like this happen!"

"Arabella admits that she fears Harry isn't eating enough or the Dursleys treat him poorly, but she has never informed me of a time that either his aunt or uncle has raised a hand to the boy. I wouldn't have it." The man's adamant response was filled with confident certainty that he would have removed Harry from Number 4 Privet Drive in a heartbeat if he had any reason to believe the Gryffindor was being physically mistreated. There was also a tinge of honest concern with how everything seemed to be falling apart around him.

Quatre's teal eyes nearly glowed with triumph as he purred darkly, "So you believe emotional and verbal abuse are perfectly acceptable, and physical abuse can be ignored as long as it's just between the boys -but when you hear of Vernon Dursley striking Harry in a fit of rage, you are beside yourself over how unforgivable the man's actions are? My, my, Headmaster, the manner in which you sort your priorities is most unorthodox."

"Mr. Winner," Dumbledore said genteelly, attempting to somehow erase the dangerous gleam from Quatre's eyes with soft, earnest words and slow, submissive hand gestures, "there are several very important reasons Harry must be with his relatives for as long as possible during th-"

Winner was on his feet in an instant, both hands slamming down on the surface of the desk before him; none of the room's occupants expected such a hostile reaction, for they all flinched (in Harry's case, gasped) in shock. A derisive, wrathful sneer twisted his angelic face as he hissed, "Don't patronize me. Don't you fucking ever patronize me."

Heero slowly came to his feet, the hand closest to his gun held out and splayed -a nonthreatening gesticulate. "Quatre, you need to calm down. If we honestly wanted him dead, I would have brought Duo instead."

Quatre didn't even spare his friend a look before he sharply demanded, "Stand down, Yuy."

Heero didn't move. "Quatre-"

"That's an order, soldier."

And Heero stood down.

Nothing really makes sense anymore, Draco mused to himself, almost one entire side of his brain numb with shock. Should I be upset that I'm not more upset about this?

That was probably the shock talking.

Once certain that Heero wouldn't interfere, Quatre smirked callously down at Dumbledore's blank face before murmuring, "That won't work, hiding from me. I know what you're feeling, even if you don't want me to. I can tell when you're being sincere, when you are being deliberately deceitful... when you're lying to me." Quatre's smirk widened maliciously. "It's very fortunate for you that you didn't lie to me, Headmaster. I don't take well to being lied to.

"Harry explained the protection against Voldemort his aunt's blood provided him. The blood his aunt shares with Lily Potter -the blood that's supposed to protect him." Quatre paused for a long, deliberately drawn out moment before he stated flatly, "We also deduced that his aunt's blood protection became meaningless after Voldemort used Harry's blood to return. And yet... you still sent him back. Not once. Not twice. Three times. Very puzzling, don't you agree?"

Dumbledore didn't so much as flinch.

"I understand," Quatre went on, an empty smile on his face as he finally straightened, lifting his angry red palms from the desk. "You're so easy to read, Headmaster -perhaps it's because you and I are so alike? Master strategists... The Chess masters." The blond smirked and leaned forward again, his hands clasped tightly behind his back as he sing-songed, "I'm so much better at this game than you. Can't you tell? I'm already turning you into my king."(4)

The jeering countenance faded almost instantly as Quatre straightened again, his face once again carefully devoid of emotion. The boy seemed to be turning something around in his head absently, a stray thought of his own making or an emotion that Dumbledore was unwilling to reveal. No one quite knew what the blond was thinking; they only knew that, when he spoke once more, his voice was oddly deadpan, a note of finality the only thing that put any meaning behind his words.

"I don't hate you, Headmaster. I don't like you very much right now, but I don't hate you. In fact, I think I respect you, in my own way. It's only for the sake of better relations between our camps that I will silently bear the secrets behind your methods. Nevertheless, you will not force Harry to do something he doesn't want to do. He's of legal age now; if you didn't have a legal leg to stand on before, you certainly don't now."

A small amount of warmth was returning to the boy's voice and eyes, and a true smile of kindness was beginning to tilt the corners of Quatre's mouth. Politely, without an infliction of hostility or ice, the Winner heir added, "I appreciate that you answered all of my questions about the Dursleys truthfully. Even if what Harry said was true -that the Dursleys only physically lashed out at him occasionally- I'm a great deal less angry with you for being unaware. I understand that things like that are sometimes hidden too well, and I'm sure Ms. Arabella would have reported it to you immediately if she saw any proof of it.

"You were very sincere when you said you would have removed Harry from that environment at the first whisper of physical abuse, and I'm very relieved by that. Please keep in mind that physical health isn't everything; if Harry has any chance of being a strong, confident young man (and I have no doubt in my mind that he will), he needs positive reinforcement and not constant derision. I can guarantee that he'll receive plenty of encouragement for the month he will be staying with us at Draco's manor."

The more words that tumbled smoothly from the Winner heir's lips, the more it seemed like the old Quatre was slowly returning. Only faint shadows of the predator were left in his wide teal eyes filled with understanding and respect, and those shadows were quickly fading. Soon the predator had almost completely bled away from the blond, his body language shifting once more, open and friendly but... cautious.

Dumbledore silently contemplated the Hufflepuff standing across from the desk he'd adopted as his own, nothing of his facial expression or his typically expressive blue eyes allowing even a glimpse behind what the man was thinking or feeling. Then the man slowly tilted his head to Quatre, a humble sort of smile barely lifting the corners of his mouth. "Very well, Mr. Winner. I have no doubt you'll succeed in what you've set out to achieve."

Well... damn. Quatre did it. Quatre actually talked the Albus Dumbledore into a corner. A seventeen year old boy succeeded where many who were older and (would claim to be) much wiser than the muggle-raised halfblood had failed. Oddly, Draco thought there needed to be a celebration to mark the momentous occasion. A celebration in which there would be a serving of cake and wine.

Quatre's smile almost lit up the entire room alone. "Of course, Headmaster."

"The hearing will be held at ten hundred hours in two days," Heero spoke up, receiving some invisible sign from the Hufflepuff that indicated it was safe for him to take the floor. "Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger must be present here tomorrow if I'm going to prepare them for both the examination and the cross examination. With added testimony from Harry and Draco, including the amount of evidence I've managed to mount against any defensive argument, Sirius Black should officially be declared a free man by next week, barring any rampant stupidity on the Ministry's part."

"Yeah," Draco said dryly, "you might want to prepare for that. Wherever the Ministry is involved, stupidity usually follows."

"Our society won't tolerate another mistake on Fudge's behalf," Severus said dismissively, breaking his silence. "If Yuy does manage to prove Black's innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt, we might be looking at a hasty election for a new Minister of Magic."

"Wufei will be ecstatic," Quatre replied with a knowing smile. "He doesn't think very highly of the ethics of the Minister and his cabinet."

Their business completed, Sirius took it upon himself to escort the four boys to the crackling hearth in the living room. The older convict took this rare opportunity to share some private words with his godson, and even made a cheerful jibe or two at the expense the somber Japanese Slytherin. Heero, by then nearly immune the quick-witted through the efforts of his rather loquacious boyfriend, took the teasing with a grain of salt and a barely audible "hn."

It did not escape the Potions Master's notice that Yuy was only remaining close to Potter's side as a precautionary measure, which fed his blasted curiosity even more. Was Yuy concerned that Black would attempt to force Potter to stay behind, and if so, why? There were too many contrived answers for such a vague question, and that unsettled the spy more than he was willing to admit. The sad fact of the matter was, almost all of those contrived answers lead to a more interesting and frustrating question: What was their drive?

A Hufflepuff who, despite his congenial and approachable disposition, had quite a venomous bite in him; a Ravenclaw who spent more of his free time approaching various professors for slips allowing him in the Restricted Section, always with the perfect excuse as to why he needed particular books; a Slytherin who kept to himself, enough so that no student nor professor noticed when the boy was about when they discussed private matters; another Slytherin who was every bit as analytical of every situation as Severus himself was, though the boy wasn't above resorting to violence when it was necessary; and a Gryffindor who was persistent to catch anyone for daunting chats filled with such wit, his very nature so friendly and open and trustful that one could not help but to confide in him.

These weren't normal teenagers; not by muggle standards, and certainly not by wizarding standards! No, these five companions were more than just friends. They were a well-trained unit. The strategian, the researcher, the spy, the analyst, and the undercover agent -all within a single group of five extremely gifted teenagers who could probably show seasoned Aurors a thing or two. Specifically trained at such an early age to take advantage of any and every military procedure that could be thrown at them...

These boys weren't mere boys. They were some form of highly respected (possibly decorated) special operations force. So highly regarded that they rubbed friendly elbows with not only the head of that muggle Preventers group, but the muggle Vice Foreign Minister, as well.

Yet... How dangerous were they?

Winner and Draco lagged behind Black, Potter, and Yuy, probably to allow Black and Potter some semblance of privacy. It gave Severus the perfect opportunity to soothe his curiosity. He towered beside Draco, who seemed to be speaking rather adamantly to Winner.

"You need to show that side of you more often," Draco was saying excitedly, a wicked gleam in his grey eyes. "I mean, spirits, I thought you were going to give the Headmaster a coronary!"

Severus cleared his throat pointedly, drawing Draco's immediate attention. The boy appeared sheepish, possibly ashamed that he'd forgotten that his favorite professor was present. Nevertheless, the Potions Master allowed the slightest of smirks when he quietly murmured, "Perhaps it is best you keep your exuberance over this matter to yourself, or at least until you can accurately deliver a detailed word by word recollection to Maxwell in a more reserved manner."

"Well, it's not every day one is privileged to see a Hufflepuff everyone perceives as rather mild-mannered back a crafty man like Dumbledore into a corner," Draco murmured slyly in response. "Quatre's certainly proved to be more than worthy of his mother's heritage."

Considering that Winner's father was a muggle, Draco's addendum was... almost mind-blowing.

Winner's face almost split in two, his face absolutely beaming. "Mr. Black, I do believe that's a very high compliment in your regards. It's possibly the most respectful thing you've ever said to me."

Ah. So Winner understood the full implications of Draco's statement, as well.

"I wouldn't let it get to your head," Draco said slyly before, after a pause, adding, "... cousin."

Winner laughed in delight. "I've never had a cousin before."

"Oh, you have several distant relations on the Malfoy side," Draco said with a dismissive wave of his hand. The sly smirk never leaving his face, he cast his cousin a smug glance as he added, "but I'm your favorite."

Winner laughed again, softly this time, as he looked to Draco with dancing eyes. "Just like I'm your favorite out of all of your fifty-seven cousins from my side of the family."

"Fifty-seven!" Draco cried in disbelief, stopping directly on the threshold to the living room; the others were looking back at Draco with varying degrees of curiosity and interest.

"You know I have twenty-nine sisters," Winner said laughingly. "All of them are older than me. Most of my older sisters are married and have children of their own. I became an uncle to both a niece and two nephews when I turned four."

Draco muttered sullenly under his breath -if Severus heard correctly, it was something about Vikings, whatever that was supposed to mean- as he walked forward, the first to take a generous pinch of Floo powder and throwing it into the fire. The flame billowed out before bleeding into an emerald green that cast ominous shadows around the room.

The boy paused, glancing at Potter. "Well? Are you going through?"

Potter crossed his arms challengingly. "What's wrong with you going first?"

"Because Duo Maxwell lives to torment me, and he's bound to have booby trapped the fireplace for my inevitable arrival," Draco said with a dark scowl. "If you spring the trap, he'll feel guilty and weasel his way back into your good graces. If I do it, he'll laugh maliciously and take several incriminating photographs." Ah. Narcissa Black's patent I'll-get-it-worse-like-I-always-do-guilt-trip defense. A very wise maneuver, but certainly not for Draco. Narcissa, being a very quick-witted woman of her stature, could often convince any man, woman, child, or beast to bend over backwards to make her life easier. Draco, being a man, had to alter the defense to suit his sex and sounded less convincing and very indignant. (Severus strongly believed the only reason Draco wasn't a carbon copy of Narcissa was at Lucius' stern insistence that if Draco was going to be like his wife, the boy wasn't going to sound so, quote, "bitchy about it." Unquote. This, of course, didn't translate well to a four year old, and Draco took it to mean that he could be exactly how he wanted to be, as long as he acted more like a petulant child instead of a nagging wife.)

"Duo didn't booby trap the fireplace," Yuy said monotonously. "He wouldn't be able to safely determine whether or not Quatre would come through first. Trowa would have certainly deterred him if he tried."

"There," Potter said triumphantly, waving his hand to the fire. "After you, Draco."

Clearly, Potter was assuring Draco he had no intention of catering to the boy's every whim. That, of course, didn't sit well with Draco. When the blond began to make further protests against having to head into the lions' den first, Severus was immediately distracted from the scene that was unfolding when Winner, still standing in front of and slightly to the left of the Potions Master, quietly said, "You want to ask me something?"

Severus narrowed his eyes on the boy's back, reading nothing from his posture that would indicate what the blond was thinking. "What would you have done if the Headmaster had lied to you?"

Winner's head fell forward slightly, but when he spoke, he spoke with utter conviction. "Voldemort and his followers wouldn't have been his only concern," Winner replied quietly. "We're used to going against the odds; myself and the other four faced massive forces by ourselves, so going against Voldemort and Dumbledore at the same time would have been cakewalk.

"Harry is in a rather delicate situation for someone like him. With us, he can only become better prepared for what's to come. And... he's our friend. We've lost so many chances to make lasting relationships with people outside of our circle that we can't help but to both treasure and protect those we do have."

The Winner heir's head lifted again, and the blond's teal eyes met Severus' stony black gaze without flinching. "We've been treated like weapons before, Professor. To be treated as nothing more than something trained to kill... Harry doesn't deserve that. No one deserves that."

With one last searching glance, Winner turned to his friends and moved forward, a genteel lull in his melodic voice as he bravely volunteered to venture through the Floo Network first, effectively ending the almost-teasing banter that was transpiring between Draco and Potter. Green had faded from the fire long before, forcing the Winner heir to take another pinch of powder to renew the connection.

It didn't matter. Severus understood perfectly. He just found it rather difficult to believe.

They weren't even normal soldiers.

Any Slytherin worth his mantel knew well enough that it was important to keep up with important muggle events, even if they found it inherently displeasing to do so. While Severus wasn't quite as informed about the recent end of the war only a year and a half ago as he would like to admit, he still knew quite a bit more than the average pureblood wizard.

Five against the world...

Those colonial vigilantes the muggles called Gundam pilots; people who had frequent brushes with the higher political hierarchy and highly decorated military officials alike...



Teheh. I needed a Snape moment. :grins lopsidedly:

(1) Gordy and Babe! Get it? Get it?... Gaaah, stupid movies about talking pigs... :bows head shamefully: Never mind. Er, forget I made such a terrible joke.

(2) Look, here's the thing. Lily's blood protected Harry from Voldemort, right? It's because of Lily's blood protection that Harry had to stay with the Dursleys. So why did Harry have to go back to the Dursleys after Harry specifically reported that his mother's sacrifice was nullified because Voldemort had the same blood in his veins? (Might I add that Dumbledore appeared rather triumphant when Harry announced this, which just fuels my distaste for Dumbledore's methods even more.) After the events in his fourth year, Harry had every right to tell the Dursleys to sod off and stay wherever he was welcome. (Of course, he didn't find out about the protection Petunia had to offer him until the fifth book, but the fact Voldemort now has the same blood as Harry still applies to the situation.) It just doesn't make sense to me.

Did anybody else notice this, or did I just prove to all and sundry that I'm a complete nerd?

(3) Eh, Duo strikes me as a Star Wars nerd. Who am I to ignore whimsical fancy while I'm being fanon? As an afterthought, I would like to apologize for the completely unfound back-story as to why the Malfoys would legitimately hate muggles. I'm bound and determined to keep Draco exactly the way I like him -derisive and snotty as hell, and too set in his ways to change how he views muggles. He's too stubborn to give up ALL his bad qualities. (And really, isn't Draco's unforgivable character flaws something we all just secretly love to bits?)

(4) Quatre's making a Chess reference here. Why not a pawn, you wonder? Because pawns are actually useful, and Quatre would treasure them above all else. Sure, they only move forwards, or sideways if the move is right. However, once they reach the other side of the board, they become a better piece previously lost in battle. Dumbledore is Quatre's "king" because the king is not only truly the most vulnerable piece, but also needs to survive until the end of the game. Basically what Quatre is trying to say here is that he will personally use all of his skills to protect Dumbledore because he honestly believes the Headmaster is that important. On the other hand, he's also clearly informing Dumbledore that he'll begin his own game if the Headmaster persists in using his friends so carelessly.

END NOTE: I'm trying to erect a forum for HpatSL and HpatFH, so I'll try to describe the method to my madness about Zero!Quatre there. Until then, please leave me yummy reviews! They make me feel better about being blonde. :grins:


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