Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 23
In one of the many empty, darkened corridors of the noble manor of Malfoy, the shadows shifted silently.
"Why do I get the feeling you've done this before?"
"Why do I get the feeling you haven't?" was the nearly silent retort as one boy cautiously peered around the corner. "Could it be because you suck at it? Which way?"
"I've never had to sneak around my own home before!"
"Shh! Which way, Blondie, time's a-tickin'!"
"Left." Draco Malfoy followed the nimble and silent sneak as quietly as he could, dismayed that, even though he knew the mansion backwards and forwards, Duo Maxwell still managed to avoid every potential (and proverbial, because the mansion didn't have wooden floors) creak and scuffle, causing Draco to feel like a bogtrodding elephant next to him.
Maxwell was like a cat. A lethal cat. Strangely, this only seemed to remind Draco that his traitorous feline was pregnant with Granger's mangy cat's offspring, which put him in an even worse mood... if that was possible.
"Do you even have your wand?"
"Something like it," Duo whispered back, coming to another corridor. He checked both directions carefully, peering into the darkened corridors before glancing at Draco expectantly.
"Right." Nodding sharply, Maxwell took his advice and went right, sticking closely to the wall. Draco followed his example. "We'll want to take the servants' stairs," the Malfoy heir murmured, managing to shove down his distaste for having to do anything of the sort. "The main stairwell is too open."
"Yeah, I figured that much," Duo whispered. "What floor are we on?"
"Second." Draco thought being held on the second floor was a stroke of good fortune; it would have taken twice as long to escape were they on any other floor, and especially so if they'd been locked in one of the towers. His announcement, however, made Duo frown, his brows furrowing in thought. "What?"
"Nothing... Bit of a disadvantage, is all. Stay close."
"Tell me again why being on the second floor puts us at a disadvantage?"
"They know we're escaping."
Draco hesitated in his step, blinking. "What?"
"They know we're escaping," Duo said quietly. "They were banking on it, I wager. I saw the tower outside your window, and they could have easily locked either one of us up there. This is nothing more than a scare tactic to see how desperate we can get close to freedom."
"Wait, stop," Draco hissed, wracking his brain to think of an alternative escape plan.
"No, we keep going," Duo hissed back, peeking around another dark corridor that only led one way.
"You can't honestly expect to just walk into a trap," Draco said incredulously. "What's the point if we're just going to be caught again?"
"I don't back down. Ever," Duo whispered tightly. "Now shut up and do as I say, Dragon Boy."
Draco wanted to argue. Since when had Duo been the expert on being sly and sneaky, anyway? However, it was clear that Duo was an expert; merely observing the way the American peered cautiously around every corner and nook as he silently and swiftly crept down the corridor was enough to squelch Draco's urge to scoff at the Gryffindor and do exactly what he was told to do instead.
So he shut up and followed the Gryffindor's lead.
Trowa was a man on a mission. His current objective? To sneak into the Gryffindor dorms undetected, borrow something of Harry's without asking, and leave that same dorm just as quietly as he'd entered.
It was as easy as done.
The first part of the plan had been to sneak out of the Great Hall without being seen by any of their makeshift guardians, which was fairly simple considering how the students outnumbered the adults twenty to one. Too many were spread too thin as both Aurors and school personnel comforted some of the more hysterical students, leaving Trowa to slip out of the Great Hall only moments before Heero was to do so, as well. However, while Trowa would be going to Gryffindor Tower, Heero's mission objective was to grab their supplies from Slytherin Tower.
He then had to make his way to Gryffindor Tower without being detected by the outer guard patrolling the hallway; again, they were making this way too easy for him. The corridors, large, wide, spacious and made of stone seemed to echo at the slightest of shuffles. When it came to stealth, Duo was always their best candidate; however, Trowa had always been a close second in that department. He used the echoing corridors against the patrolling Aurors, effortlessly masking any sound he could make as he soundlessly darted from corridor to corridor and up endless flights of stairs. There was a point in time where he was almost caught on the stairwell with nowhere to go, voices from the top of the stairs clearly indicating he had at least three Aurors or some of Dumbledore's faction that were chatting rather amiably; he could see none of them, which was an advantage at that point, since the angle did not allow them to see him either.
He neatly flipped himself over the stone supports that prevented the more clumsy students from falling over the edge, scuttling far enough to lift his leg and find the overhanging side on the bottom. It was a minor quality about the stairs that he'd noticed about the school, neatly filing the architect into the back of his mind. All of the stairs had overhanging sides and a small niche in which someone could neatly fit his body if he were hiding. Most would not dare to even try it, but Trowa wasn't one to ignore an opportunity. Hanging several hundred feet above the floor, he wedged himself in that niche, pressing his hands and feet against the edge tightly so as not to fall. The process took all of five seconds, and he only had to maintain his position for a minute more as the guards descended the stairs and disappeared down another corridor.
He waited for a moment before he quickly extracted himself and crawled back over the support and onto solid stone. Caution dictated that he should have waited longer, but he was unwilling to risk the chance of the stairs shifting on him unexpectedly. Trowa had spent a little of his time memorizing the patterns in which certain main stairwells would shift, and if he wasn't mistaken, the staircase would go to the left, taking him down a corridor that would have forced him to take twice as long in getting to the Gryffindor dorms.
With only a few more corridors, Trowa stood in front of the portrait that guarded the Gryffindor Tower.
"Ah! Trowa, how good of you to come," Lilah -or as most of the students called her, the 'Fat Lady'- greeted him cheerfully, having taken a shine to him when he actually engaged in what passed for conversation for Trowa. His caution for all people and things he interacted with prompt him to greet her and ask for her name. She'd taken that as an invitation to talk to him whenever he came by the dorms, declaring him fit to enter her domain, even if he wasn't a Gryffindor; Trowa suspected she appreciated his tendency to listen without interrupting whatever the rant of the day was.
"Hello, Lilah," Trowa said simply.
"Why, aren't you supposed to be in the Great Hall with the other students?" Lilah said, looking down at the Slytherin knowingly. "You'll be in a lot of trouble for sneaking out, young man."
"I won't be if I don't get caught," Trowa replied evenly, immediately deciding to appeal to Lilah's unrivaled urge to gossip. "Have you heard? Several students have been abducted. One of them is in your house."
Lilah was absolutely scandalized. "Oh, my! I do hope Albus is planning to rectify that!"
Trowa doubted it, but he didn't voice his doubt. "I need to get in the dorm, Lilah -there's something in there that might help find Duo."
"You know I can't let you in without a password, dear boy. It's house protocol."
Trowa resisted the urge to smirk. Of course he knew the password; it was easy to overhear such things when one wasn't noticed. "Scarlet honor."
Lilah smiled benevolently. "Always observant, that Trowa Barton," she murmured to herself before the portrait clicked and swung open. He was in.
And now, he thought to himself as he crawled through the portrait hole, to find Harry's map.
Sirius Black, more commonly known as Snuffles, was Gryffindor to the core. To him, that meant he was brave, honorable, and willing to stand up for what he believed in. To someone like Draco Malfoy, he was reckless, blind to his own faults, and nosy as hell.
It was that 'nosy as hell' part that had overtaken him at this point. Sirius loved a good mystery; there was nothing more satisfying than gathering the clues to figure out the mystery, whether the conclusions drawn were correct or not. And there was nothing more curious then a handful of new students with odd mannerisms that had somehow wormed their ways into Albus' fond regard, especially when Sirius couldn't recall any of them doing anything fantastic to deserve that respect.
He had overheard Albus telling Remus to have faith in the boys, as if the renowned wizard was confident that they could save their friend before Voldemort could harm him. He'd seen one of the Slytherins -Yuy, if Sirius remembered right- slip from the Hall unnoticed, and his first instinct was to follow. And Sirius always obeyed that first instinct.
He crept after Yuy at a distance, but close enough to guess where the Slytherin was heading -the Slytherin dormitory. At first, it appeared as if the boy wasn't paying attention to his surroundings at all as he went down to the dungeons, but Sirius quickly realized that looks were deceiving; the boy seemed to tense before slipping into a dark corner behind one of Hogwarts' many suits of armor. Seconds later, an unsuspecting member of the Order rounded the corner and unwittingly passed by the boy, sparing only a cursory glance at Sirius, who had settled on his hunches behind a statue of Ulric the Oddball. Yuy didn't leave the safety of his nook until Jorgan was out of sight, purposefully making a beeline for the blank wall that marked the entrance to the Slytherin dormitory.
The boy murmured the password under his breath, standing back as the wall slid to the side. Sirius waited for as long as he could stand it before he hastily trotted to the entrance only moments after the boy had slipped through, making it inside as soon as the wall started to slide back into place.
So this is enemy territory, Sirius thought, sparing a look toward the confining corridor that led into a rather elegantly (but darkly) decorated room that had to be the common room. He almost missed the sight of Yuy disappearing down a staircase that must have led to the boys' dormitory, but he wasn't worried. His senses as a dog were heightened greatly; even if he'd lost sight of Yuy, he'd still be able to pick out his scent.
He treaded the staircase carefully until the scent branched off into a corridor while the staircase seemed to lead even further down. He followed his nose to a door that was cracked only slightly, the dim light leaking through the crack an indication that someone was in the room. He nosed the door further open, almost sighing in relief when the hinges didn't squeal in protest as he thought they would.
The Slytherin boy was emptying out a trunk, carefully placing school books, clothes, and clean sheets of parchment to the side. Once there appeared to be nothing left in the trunk, the boy reached in and pulled out a long, cloth-covered board from the bottom. A false bottom?
That's when the boy pulled out something even more curious; five miniature figures of what appeared to be robots that Sirius vaguely remembered Tonks ranting about exuberantly some time ago. The figures appeared to be small toy replicas of those robot things.
Yuy replaced the bottom of his trunk before placing his other things back inside, leaving the toys out. There had to be something more to it. The boy couldn't have gone to all of this trouble just for some toys to comfort him, especially when it was his boyfriend who was missing. Maybe those things weren't as harmless as they appeared...
But Sirius didn't have a lot of time to ponder over that when the boy shut his trunk with a firm click, picking up his wand to cast several wards over it. Then the boy was standing, and Sirius was just about to duck back out of the room when Yuy cooly lifted his wand and turned, pointing it right at Sirius.
Sirius almost froze automatically before he remembered that he was a dog, and dogs weren't supposed to notice when they were being threatened with wands. When dogs saw wands, they saw sticks that could be potential for a game of fetch. He allowed his tongue to loll out innocently as he wagged his tail in faked anticipation, his human side screaming at him in the typically fight or flight fashion.
"I'm not an idiot," the boy said coldly, "just like you're not a dog."
Shit. Did Harry tell him? Sirius vaguely remembered that Harry hung around with those new students a fair bit, but he never thought his godson would trust them enough to tell them about Sirius' Animagus status, much less why Sirius had to go around as a dog named Snuffles. He tilted his head to the side, as if asking the boy, "What are you talking about?"
Yuy wasn't buying it, judging by the ever-narrowing Prussian blue eyes. "Transform before I render you incapable of doing so."
With a vile curse in the back of his mind, Sirius transformed. He matched Yuy's glare with one of his own. "Did Harry tell you?"
"Hn," the boy snorted. "You did. Normal dogs react to tone and body language. You responded to my words while carefully choosing to ignore both my tone and body language, both of which clearly implied that I am a threat."
"Who are you?" Yuy demanded, his wand unwavering.
"Sirius Black," Sirius responded reluctantly, waiting for the instant recognition. Yuy didn't even blink, and Sirius thought he could get away from this mess relatively Ministry-free.
"The convict." Those two words immediately spoiled any thought of Sirius not having to explain anything more than his name.
"Sent to Azkaban for the death of twelve muggles and one Peter Pettigrew; the only sign that he'd even been there was by witness testimony and a single finger," the boy said flatly. "You were sent to Azkaban without a trial, but one thing that most people don't know about was that you were the Potters' Secret Keeper."
"I'm innocent," Sirius muttered, wanting to cross his arms defensively but knowing this might be a bad move.
That admission surprised Sirius. "How could you know? Most of the wizarding world thinks I'm guilty!"
Yuy smirked. "You told me. You were supposed to have betrayed the Potters, but Harry Potter clearly knows that you aren't just a dog; you so much as admitted it yourself. You were also sent to Azkaban on insufficient evidence; the Ministry relied on witness testimony, which can always be misinterpreted. If I had been James Potter, I would have declared my Secret Keeper as one person while using another friend without anyone knowing. Also, the spell Prior Incantantum was never cast on your original wand. The likelihood of a body being obliterated is inconsistent with the existence of one part appearing relatively unscathed -in this case, a severed finger- especially when the point of detachment was very clean and methodical." The Japanese boy lifted his chin in an almost arrogant manner. "Sloppy."
Sirius couldn't help but laugh bitterly. "Now why couldn't you have been born thirty years ago so you could have pointed out these things then?"
"Because the concept of fairness doesn't apply to reality," the boy said evenly.
If not for twelve years of Azkaban that opened his eyes to this fact, Sirius might have argued with the boy on that point. He knew better now; fairness really did have nothing to do with how the world worked.
"So now what?" Sirius said, still conscious of the wand that was pointed directly at his chest.
"Now you tell me whether you followed me to help or hinder," Yuy said.
Sirius narrowed his eyes. "You meant for me to see you. You... wanted me to follow you, didn't you?"
Yuy smirked again. Sirius could really come to hate that overconfident smirk.
Why did Sirius follow the boy? Because Sirius Black was a nosy son of a bitch who liked to have his fingers in everyone's pie. Sirius Black liked to be in the know. And, most importantly, Sirius Black hated to sit back and do nothing. He hated being ignored or protected, preferring to be where the action was.
Hindering the boy, he felt, would not lead him anywhere remotely near the action, especially when Yuy had Albus' silent approval.
"To help, of course," Sirius said with a casual shrug. "Can't let a bunch of newbies face off against a bunch of Death Eaters. Wouldn't be sporting."
Yuy nodded sharply, finally lowering his wand. "Then meet us outside of Hogsmeade in forty-five minutes. And bring a broom."
Meanwhile, Duo Maxwell and Draco Malfoy were in a bit of a pickle.
Their escape had been going smoothly, which didn't do anything to relieve Duo in any way. In fact, the lack of conflict had made him even more nervous, and rightly so. By the time they'd carefully treaded down the servants' stairs and made their cautious way through more ominous corridors, their freedom was just in sight.
Somehow Duo had known that their good fortune wouldn't last.
Death Eater to the front of me, Duo thought grimly, not even deeming it necessary to glance over his shoulder to see the two Death Eaters covering his back, and Death Eaters at the back of me. Fuck.
"Dad," Draco yelped, his face ashen as he stared wide-eyed at the chill-faced blond man that blocked their front; beyond him, Duo could see the tantalizing sight of their only exit.
Now, at this time, there were two parts of Duo. There was Friend Duo, who morally and consciously realized that the measures to which he was about to resort for that freedom were just bad manners, as far as friendship went. And then there was Soldier Duo, the cool pragmatic who would go to any extreme when he was backed into a corner. The two rarely mixed company, and with the very brief internal struggle that went on within him, he was more than happy to keep them separate in the future. However, in this case, Soldier Duo promptly hogtied and gagged Friend Duo just before taking the driver's seat.
"Oh, met?" Duo said casually, swiftly gliding closer to Draco, getting to the point where he was actually behind the stunned Malfoy heir. Then his arm was wrapping around Draco's neck in a gentle but firm headlock, and the barrel of his gun was pressed oh-so-very close to Draco's right temple. Using Draco's brief surprise, he swiftly turned to where his own back was facing the wall in order to see both Death Eaters behind him, as well as the elder Malfoy to the front.
"What the hell-?" Draco sputtered.
Duo cocked the gun, immediately silencing Draco. Even if the pureblood wizard didn't know what the strange muggle weapon pressed close to his temple would actually do to him, the sound of such a thing was universally heart-stopping.
"Well," Duo said cheerfully, his gaze flying from the two Death Eaters to the elder Malfoy and back again carefully. "We're at a bit of an impasse, don'cha think?"
The elder Malfoy narrowed his eyes, his wand almost deceptively lowered at his side. "What do you think you're doing, boy?"
"You should know, right? Being a Death Eater and all. I'm using my resources to my advantage. Example -I'm armed. My weapon is pressed against the head of your only son and heir. Considering that same weapon has a hairtrigger, I wouldn't make any sudden moves, if I were you -the human skull is so very delicate. At this range, my buddy's brains will be displayed very nicely all over this bust beside me. So, let's play a game called Duo Says. Very simple game, mind you -you do as I say, and my buddy Draco here lives to see the sun rise. Got me?"
One of the Death Eaters to the right of him snorted derisively. "He's bluffing. That's not even a wand!"
Duo smirked coldly. "I know exactly seven hundred and twenty-three ways to kill a man with my bare hands alone, and I've only used approximately half of them. Unlike your sorry ass, I don't need a wand to do my dirty work. Try me."
"Maxwell," Draco mumbled lowly.
"Now's not the time to distract me, Draco," Duo said kindly. "No hard feelings, right?"
"Are you serious?" Draco hissed. "You kill me, and I'm haunting you, Maxwell -haunting you for life!"
"Wouldn't be any different from any other guy I've killed, man, but if it's any consolation, I'd really regret killing you," Duo replied. "I try to make it a habit to not kill my friends."
"Then keep trying!"
"Your dad and his friends aren't really giving me that option right now, man," Duo muttered. He caught the sudden movement at the corner of his eye, and his arm whipped around, his finger squeezing down just in time for the muffled blast to ring out. The mask adorning the Death Eater's face cracked, blood exploding from the back of his head as his limp, lifeless corpse slumped listlessly to the ground.
The gun was back at Draco's temple again, not quite pressing into his skin, but close enough to where Draco could feel the sudden heat from the barrel.
"Duo didn't say he could move," Duo said coldly, all kindness drained from his voice. "Consider yourself lucky that I pointed this gun at that poor sap more out of reflex than anything else, Mr. Malfoy, or your son would have been very, very dead."
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