Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 21

The more things change, thought the American Gryffindor with a ruefully amused smirk on his face, the more they stay the same.

He once thought that single phrase was probably one of the most useless and unfound sayings known to man. The mere structure of the sentence negated both points, but still somehow exclaimed some profound truth that people, in general, understood and accepted as fact. Duo firmly believed that when things changed, they changed. The game, the rules to play by in order to be accepted as a potentially successful member of society, hell, even becoming accustomed to an entirely different culture changed everything, didn't it? Change was constant and encompassed everything once that change was implemented. Things didn't "stay the same" in a changed situation, especially on such a large scale as going from living in a scientifically-charged existence to one that defied all scientific logic, like magic. That was a big change that Duo had been sure would require a whole different set of skills.


Here he was, in his new little magic world with some of his new magic friends, sitting in a pub of magic people while silently and quickly plotting how to escape a new yet familiar enemy he fondly referred to as "Charlie". It was true. Even if life completely one-eightied on him, his skills as an ex-terrorist was nothing to brush off since he suddenly became very aware that they could still be put to a practical use.

"Harry," Duo said in amusement, "if you don't loosen up, you're going to give away the element of counter-surprise."

The Gryffindor Golden Boy tried to appear relaxed and, well, loose; but if there was one thing Harry wasn't good at, it was acting casual in a potentially lethal situation, whereas Duo had that particular ability in spades.

"Counter-surprise?" Draco said lightly, tracing his finger around the rim of his half-empty tankard. It would take the Slytherin to know the purpose of acting natural, since deceit was basically every Slytherin's middle name.

"They expect to have the element of surprise," Duo said simply. "They don't. We're all aware they are here. Therefore, we are given at least several minutes to make counter-measures to assure our safety and make a break for refuge."

"You can't expect us to run," Ron said incredulously. "Someone should at least warn all these people!"

"If they were going to attack us in front of so many witnesses, they would have done so already," Duo replied knowingly. "They're waiting for us to leave because, let's face it, there are about fifty qualified wizards and witches here, and only seven of them -all unmasked, might I add. Trying to nab Harry here would be like suicide."

"I see. They're probably planning to follow us after we leave and ambush us on our way back to Hogwarts, since the path leading from Hogsmeade is fairly secluded," Hermione mused softly. "It's risky, but it's the best chances they've got with only seven wizards. Seven adult wizards against five that are still in training aren't very favorable odds against us."

"Oh, but we're clever," Duo said wickedly. "And they're cocky. Clever wins over cocky any day."

"Sounds to me like someone has a plan," Draco commented, finishing off the rest of his butterbeer. "I'm all for the further survival of the Malfoy lineage."

"Then you're gonna hate me for this, Dragon Boy," Duo grinned, "because you and I have decoy duty."

"I despise your plan already," Draco muttered with a pompous twist of his wrist, as if completely throwing off Duo's comment. "Make another one. A better one."

"Sorry," Duo said with a shrug. "Best one I've got. Numero uno on old Voldemort's wish list is our pal Harry. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are going to make a break for Hogwarts to inform the Headmaster about what's about to go down while you and I are going to lead the enemy on one hell of a wild goose chase. I'm going to need you three," Duo said, pointing to the Golden Trio, "to run around the back of the Three Broomsticks while Draco and I lead them on a more direct approach to Hogwarts. Then you'll need to book it through one of those secret passages Harry's made passing mention about."

"I won't leave you two alone to fight my battles," Harry said firmly, his green eyes hard behind his black-rimmed glasses.

"So you and Potter can be decoy," Draco said cheerfully. "That works for me."

"It would," Duo said dryly. "Don't be stupid, Harry. You're the target; you can't just stick around. You need to get to safety."

"What about you?" Harry said stubbornly. "And -and I can't believe I'm bringing this up- Malfoy? If Malfoy shows even one inclining of protecting me, his father will be furious. And you're new to all of this! They know more spells that can do harm than you do!"

"They may know more spells than me," Duo said with a knowing gleam in his amethyst eyes, "but I know more dirty, underhanded muggle tricks than all of them put together. And Draco can lie his way out of anything. In fact, I'm pretty sure he already has several in mind to explain why he's about to go against seven Death Eaters, right, Dragon Boy?"

"I don't know whether I should hug you for understanding me so well, or snap your neck... for much of the same reason," Draco said flatly. Duo smirked, knowing that the lack of a denial meant that Draco had thought of several reasonable explanations to soothe his father's temper should this ever be brought up.

"First thing first," Duo said, holding up a single finger. "The ingredients. Ron and Draco, this is where you have one of your typical spats in order to distract the pub owner and everyone else while I gather the necessary ingredients. Make it loud, obnoxious, and if punches need to be thrown, you throw them. Got me?"

Ron's face brightened and he smiled gleefully as he cracked his knuckles. "I like this plan!"

Draco was not so excited about Ron abusing his gorgeous face. "You owe me, Maxwell."

"What in Merlin's name do you need here?" Hermione asked crossly. "You aren't going to steal anything, are you? There isn't anything here but food and alcohol!"

"I need ingredients," Duo said simply, smiling. "I'm going to bake a cake."

Hermione and Harry exchanged wary glances when Duo slid from the booth casually. Duo supposed Harry was thinking about the flaming teddy bear instance, reminding the Gryffindor that Duo could get very creative about destruction when he wanted to be. Hermione was probably thinking about less amusing possibilities that involved Duo's past as an expert in gorilla warfare.

"I'm going to the little wizard's room," Duo announced jovially, winking at them before casting Draco and Ron a secretive glance. "Try not to miss me while I'm gone, Dragon Boy. I know how you loathe being left in the esteemed presence of the Gryffindor triumvirate here."

Draco raised an eyebrow. "I make no promises about anyone coming out of this relatively blood-free, Maxwell."

"Me neither," Duo said lowly, the grin still fixed on his face before he made a beeline to the bathroom.

Let the show begin.


A mile away, within the safety of the school's wards, Heero Yuy was doing something he was not accustomed to doing; unlike Duo, who was doing something completely within his realm of capabilities.

Heero was trying to figure out just how one went about talking about his feelings. So far, he was doing a terrible job of it.

With Duo, it was easy. The braided Deathscythe pilot knew how to interpret Heero's moods so well that Heero had taken for granted the fact that his boyfriend would be around to unveil Heero's feelings with well-spoken jokes and laughter. Relena was so different to deal with in that she had to have it spelled out to her. He couldn't blame the girl for requiring assistance in determining exactly what Heero was thinking because, well, very few people could read Heero the way Duo and the other three pilots could. Perhaps Zechs, but his interpretation of Heero's feelings were impartial and flat, whereas Heero's friends knew there were always deeper meanings to his feelings.

So Heero and Relena walked the cavernous halls of Hogwarts, bereft of students and teachers alike. Relena had taken it upon herself to inform Heero of all the goings-on, from society to politics to the next Who's Who in a world that Heero had neglected to really think about for the last few months. The Vice Foreign Minister only had half of his attention, though he was at least retaining the information she was telling him of. The other half of his attention was focused on just what they were to talk about after Relena ran out of things to say.

"Heero," Relena said softly, "how are you and the others adjusting to this... this world of magic?"

Heero stopped walking, leaning against a stone windowsill and looking out towards the direction of the local all-wizarding village before he finally replied, "Surprisingly well. Wufei's found a group of like-minded scholars to debate with, and Trowa is satisfied that we're all together again. Duo and Quatre enjoy it with an almost childlike reverence."

Relena smiled softly. "I suppose the possibility of magic existing has always been every child's fantasy. And... you? How are you adapting?"

Him? Heero searched for the right words and settled with, "I'm content." Almost happy, even. While he had no missions and still occasionally felt as if he had no purpose, the idea that Duo and the others would always be by his side helped.

"I'm glad," Relena said sincerely, a heavier undertone in her voice, "because I'm beginning to doubt you'll ever be able to come back to our world, Heero. Not any time soon."

Heero nodded stiffly. "People want the war to be a distant past. No one would appreciate being reminded of it."

Relena was silent for all but a moment before she chuckled ruefully and said, "I never stood a chance, did I?"

Heero glanced at her, startled. "What?"

"If I had known before that I was competing for your affection, Heero Yuy," Relena replied with a raised eyebrow, "I think I would have tried harder."

"You could have tried harder?" Heero muttered, hard-pressed to hide his incredulity. Instead of offending the girl, she shook her head and laughed. "How did you know?"

"I'm not blind, and I'm slightly offended that you think so," Relena said wryly. "You had a date with Duo, didn't you? Duo as much as said so. And you may not realize this, Heero, but you've been casting glances at the path Duo left on through every window since we left the Great Hall. I'm not the Vice Foreign Minister because I look pretty, you know."

"I never thought otherwise," Heero murmured.

"I've been thinking about this -you and Duo, together- since lunch," Relena admitted quietly. "I guess I've always thought of Duo as your polar opposite; the mere idea that either of you could like one another beyond friendship didn't occur to me, but... it makes sense."

Heero was glad it made sense to someone, since even he had trouble acknowledging the idea that Duo could even tolerate someone like him for long periods of time. The only thing he could possibly think of that explained that was...

"He understands me."

"I thought so," Relena said with a soft sigh. "I wouldn't doubt Duo understands you on levels even someone as observant as Milliardo would fear to even try. I'm glad that you have someone who makes you happy, Heero... even if that someone isn't me."

More would have probably been said on the matter if not for one thing. The statue of a somewhat desolate one-eyed witch slid to the side, and Heero was standing protectively in front of Relena with his gun drawn before three familiar, panting teenagers stumbled out of the dark, secret passage.

Harry Potter saw Heero, his green eyes wide with adrenaline and worry. "Duo's in trouble."

Damn. He felt a strange tug in his chest at the announcement before his Perfect Soldier instincts immediately kicked in. "Inform the professors. And find Wufei, Trowa, and Quatre."

Heero didn't bother to waste time holstering his gun before he sprinted down the corridor. He had a feeling he was going to need it.

Through the ignored window, a black cloud of smoke could be seen rising from what one could perceive to be the path leading up to the safety of Hogwarts.


To fully realize the seriousness of the situation, one should immediately backtrack to the point in time when four brave Gryffindors and one sly Slytherin were still executing a plan all but one were unsure about.

Harry did have to admit that Duo couldn't have picked two better people fit for making a scene. He supposed Duo's soldier instincts was responsible for the selection because there was nothing more heated and intense than a fight between a Weasley and a Malfoy, especially when the two aforementioned natural enemies were named Ron and Draco.

Draco, true to fashion, didn't waste time and went straight for Ron's Guaranteed to Cause a Meltdown buttons. Of course, even though the Malfoy heir was ruthless in all things, the boy had an undeniable need to start from the bottom and work his way to the top, as it were.

The first hot-button issue Draco brought up, in his high and haughty tone with that superior arch of a single eyebrow, was the Weasley family's poor finances (or the lack thereof). Ron, anger twisting his face, immediately shot off about Malfoys always buying their way out of trouble, thinking that it gave them an excuse not to live like any morally inclined human being would.

Draco, never one to be concerned with such things as moral obligations, smirked and said something akin to "if you got it, flaunt it", using intellectual words and keeping that same condescending tone that Harry hated so much. And if it annoyed Harry, it definitely irked Ron.

Draco went up a notch by insulting Ron's familial home; Ron retorted that he'd much rather live in a hole than to live in a stately manner and turn out to be a prat like Draco.

When Draco directly insulted Mrs. Weasley was the time Harry finally realized that the two had the entire pub's full attention. Even Madam Rosemerta was standing at the sidelines, looking ready to grab the feuding boys' by the ears and throw them out with a lifetime ban should even one curse be thrown. Harry couldn't see Duo anywhere in the still, mesmerized crowd, but he tried not to look too interested in anything except the rapidly declining situation between Draco and Ron.

And then Draco had to take the fighting a little too far. "Wake up, Weasel," the Malfoy heir taunted, a smug smirk on his lips as his mercury gaze flittered to Harry's face. "No matter what, you'll always just the Boy Who Lived's poverty-stricken little redheaded tagalong, complete with hand-me-down robes and appalling sense of fashion."

Harry was going to kill Malfoy... if Ron didn't do it first. The fact that Ron felt as if he would never quite compare to his brothers had been a sensitive issue since he was young; thinking that he didn't even have a chance finding his own niche with high-profile friends like the Boy Who Lived and, to some extent, the smartest witch at Hogwarts didn't exactly help alleviate Ron's fears. Having someone as cruel as Malfoy throw that in Ron's face didn't exactly do much for the redhead's already battered self-esteem, so Harry wasn't surprised when Ron went to launch himself over the table that separated the two, completely intent on throttling that smirk right off of Malfoy's smug face.

And then suddenly, Duo was there to hold the irate redhead back. "Whoa, Red, cool it. C'mon, you know Dragon Boy loves crawling under your skin. It's like a game to him. The less you let it affect you, the more you win."

But Draco couldn't let it stop there, could he? No, he simply had to add in his two knuts in that same damn condescending, cooing voice, "Aw, did I step on Weasel's wittle feelings?"

Needless to say, Duo's words did very little to quail the bloodlust in Ron's eyes. The American shot a disbelieving glance at Draco, who was looking perhaps twice as smug as he'd started out being. "You can't just let bygones be bygones, can you? You're such an ass, Dragon Boy."

"My bygones want nothing to do with some uppity commoner's feelings of insignificance," Draco said haughtily. "His problem is low self-esteem, which is very common for losers like him."

"Why you-" Ron snarled, doing his best to pull away from Duo's firm grip in order to pummel the supercilious boy to his heart's content.

Duo wasn't having it. "Knock it off, you two! You're making a scene," the braided boy lamented dramatically. With a firm hand still grasping Ron's wrist, he jerked his head toward the enthralled viewers before suggesting, "C'mon, guys -time to motor before you do something ridiculously juvenile."

Harry had to hand it to Duo -he was playing the entire situation off like a pro. If Harry hadn't known that the fight was pre-planned (even if both contenders got a little too enthusiastic about their roles) for the benefit of fooling the plain-clothes Death Eaters, he probably would have fallen for Duo's "Woe is me, the guileless American boy has to put up with stubbornly competitive idiots as friends" act, as well.

The braided boy was all smiles and teasing gestures up until the point when the Three Broomsticks door closed behind them; then the fool's mask fell away, and Harry could clearly see that the former soldier was, in all intent and purposes, on a self-appointed mission.


"They won't want to follow us immediately after that scene, so we've got about thirty seconds," Duo snapped off confidently. "You three are going to circle around the pub; stay at the back until you're positive Draco and I have their complete attention. We'll be heading up the known path to Hogwarts while you three take one of those nifty secret passages I've heard so little about. There's no room for argument now, Harry -just do as I say!" he said harshly when he saw the Gryffindor Golden Boy open his mouth to wage further protest. He was not going to argue semantics with a true blue choir boy when timing was everything except predictable.

"Get a move on it already!" he said further, shoving the three toward an alley between the pub and the bookstore. With that, he motioned for Draco to follow him as he moved down the streets of Hogsmeade purposefully, already pulling one of the items he'd lifted from the pub from the folds of his robes.

Thank God, he thought to himself in relief when he surveyed the nearly deserted streets. Duo didn't want to imagine what he would have done if there had actually been a big crowd out. On one hand, he probably wouldn't have needed the bottle of Firewhiskey in the first place; a crowd would have provided decent cover if he didn't want to get caught. In this case, however, he certainly wanted to be noticed in order to draw attention away from the fact that Harry wasn't with them at all.

"All that," Draco hissed sharply, struggling to keep his voice down, "just so you could lift alcohol?" Pretty boy was probably still stressing over what Ron could have done to his gorgeous face if Duo hadn't interrupted in time.

Duo ripped a strip of his robe from his sleeve, uncorking the bottle of Firewhiskey with his teeth before pouring a little on the strip of cloth and stuffing it into the lid of the bottle. "Makeshift muggle trick, Draco. Gotta love violent improvisation."

His wand was already poised next to the alcohol-damp cloth when he heard the signal he'd been waiting for. He turned boldly to see their little spies file out of the Three Broomsticks, 'casually' glancing around for their prey. Duo had no problem helping them with this matter when he let out a shrill whistle that caused all eight (Damn, he thought, off by one.) men to snap their gazes in his direction... much to Draco's horror.

"Incendio," the American whispered, and the cloth caught fire quickly. "Yo, Death Munchers," Duo called cheerfully. "How 'bout a little cocktail?" He threw the bottle and didn't even wait for the bottle to shatter and spill liquid flame before he turned and, grabbing Draco by the robes, fled like the very hounds of hell were nipping at their heels. He didn't need visual verification that his aim was true, judging by the panicked shouts and one shrill scream of what was, no doubt, a Death Eater caught afire.

"Where do you learn these things?" Draco demanded as they fled, glancing over his shoulder to see most of the Death Eaters had stopped to aid their companion in putting out the flames that licked at his robes. Two had decided to forgo their companion and pursue the fleeing teenagers.

"Summer Camp for Terrorists on Semi-Permanent Hiatus," Duo answered promptly. He heard one of the Death Eaters yell a curse, which was like giving one's adversary a clue as to what move one was going to make before one made it. This, of course, gave Duo plenty of time (only scant seconds, but then, Duo was good like that) to dodge the Jellylegs Hex effortlessly. "Damn. These guys play for keeps."

"Tell me, Maxwell -Protego!- are the points in which our realities coincide purely coincidental, or did the name 'Death Eater' not give you a clue that they might be a little serious about what they do?" Draco said testily, the Stupefy that had been cast harmlessly bouncing off his hastily erected shield and hitting a befuddled passerby. Neither boy paused when the woman crumpled to the ground as they broke passed the little wizarding town's borders and shot up the deserted path leading to Hogwarts.

Duo was already ripping his sleeve and confidently preparing another rough-shot version of a Molotov cocktail before he remarked casually, "No need to snark, Dragon Boy. Incendio!" He only took a moment to turn around and cast the cocktail at their pursuers before starting back up the beaten path at a fairly clipped run without even stumbling.

He was starting to really worry about the fact that only four Death Eaters were following, leaving four more unaccounted for. He realized it was an adequate worry when, just only less than a hundred yards away from Hogwarts' wards, the four missing Death Eaters popped into existence, wands at the ready.

Duo didn't have time to think about his actions; his instincts swiftly took over, and he was removing the ace up his sleeve or, in this case, from the inner pocket of his robes. The device was something he never left home without, even during the peaceful times during the summer when he clearly had no reason to be carrying it around. Small, spherical, and very clearly 'muggle', he swiftly pressed the switch down and pulled the pin, barely making note of when the red light began to blink in an increasing rhythm. He threw the grenade forward with all of his might before tackling Draco to the ground and covering the shocked boy with his body protectively.

"Fire in the hole!"

The grenade exploded in a short, deafening roar, drowning out the unfortunate Death Eaters' screams and the surprised cries from their companions.

"What the hell was that?" Draco yelled as Duo scrambled off of him. Duo doubted the volume of his yell had as much to do with panic than the loud ringing of his ears.

Draco hadn't even had a chance to stumble to his feet before a red beam of light struck the boy; the Malfoy heir tumbled to the ground limply.

Damn! The remaining Death Eaters had recovered faster than Duo had thought they would have. The American grimly realized that leaving Draco behind to face the wrath of his father -or worse- was not an option he was willing to consider. His wand grasped firmly in his hand, he held it at the ready.

Four against one. The odds weren't favorable, even by a lucky fool's standards. Duo did what he always did when it came to insurmountable odds stacked against him.

He grinned insanely. The only thing more disconcerting than a smiling victim was a laughing victim. That, in actuality, was next on his checklist.

"You guys need to seriously reconsider your training tactics," Duo gloated, the wide grin still stretched across his face. "I took out four of you with one go. That's gotta hurt your pride."

Duo hoped the Death Eaters would take the bait. He hated it when the bad guys didn't join in on the banter, especially when Duo was killing time in hopes that some kind of aid would come to the rescue.

Luckily, one man decided the insult was too great to ignore; unfortunately, he took it a little too personally as he raised his wand, hissing, "You little mudblood bastard! Avada-"

Surprisingly, one of his companions intervened. "No, you fool!" he hissed, knocking the man's hand away without lowering his own wand. "We're supposed to take him alive!"

... What?

Suddenly Duo had the sinking suspicion that Harry wasn't the target on this little kidnapping expenditure. And that, of course, ruined his plan completely.

The American chuckled grimly, recalling the words earlier spoken and feeling as if they really were ironic. "Oh, but we're clever," he repeated thoughtfully, still laughing. "And they're cocky. Clever wins over cocky any day."

Joke was on him.

He hastily cast a shielding spell when one Death Eater sent off a stunner, but he hadn't enough time to even get the vocal command from his voice when the second stunner hit him.

... And then there was nothing...

... He didn't even hear Heero call his name in anguish...


Heero arrived in time to see his lover struck down, falling limply to the ground beside the unconscious body of the Malfoy heir. He hadn't even known he'd yelled Duo's name until his lover's attackers were turning their wands toward him... but he reacted quickly enough with is own weapon of choice, raising his gun and firing a shot at the man who's spell had rendered Duo unconscious. The shot struck true, and the man fell to the ground dead instantly.

The remaining three attackers, panicked, grabbed Duo and Draco's limp hands. Heero took aim and fired, but he was too late when the three attackers -along with Duo and Draco- popped out of existence.


He felt more than saw the old man's approach behind him. He could hear teachers murmuring worriedly amongst themselves, taking in the bodies of the dead and dying on the ground and Heero Yuy standing in the middle of it.

"Duo took out those four before they overpowered him," Heero said flatly, not even bothering to lift his eyes from where he saw Duo disappear, as if willing his boyfriend back into existence by sheer testament alone. "Duo and the Malfoy boy have been taken."

"Damn it," Heero heard Harry mutter desolately. "Professor, we've got to do something!"

"That we do, my boy," the old man said solemnly. "First and foremost, we must have the children gather in the Great Hall immediately in case this isn't the last attack on the students. The muggle delegates must be sent home immediately, as well."

Heero glared at the old man. "And what about Duo?"

Dumbledore appeared regretful... but that wasn't enough. "I'm afraid, Mr. Yuy... that Mr. Maxwell is, regrettably, on his own until we can find out where they've been taken."

"Which means you'll do nothing," Heero said, his anger seeping into his voice. The man lied; Duo wasn't on his own. Duo would never be on his own.

Heero didn't take kindly to people hurting his friends. The fact that it was his lover who was taken only served to piss him off further because Heero Yuy was not one to take such offenses lightly.

It was time to regroup and plot the rescue mission. And if one hair on Duo's head was hurt... Heero would make them pay..



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