Because kain kiddo asked, and I thought maybe some of you would be interested. :grins:

The Marauder's Hogwarts Years: AC 170-178. Assuming they were 21 to 22 years old when Voldemort fell the first time, of course (their specific age when the Potters died was never mentioned), so it's a bit of a rough estimation.

Furthermore: A reviewer wanted to point out that Quatre's mother's name was Catherine, and I just wanted to explain something. Quatrine IS pronounced Catherine -well, with a sort of Arabic accent- but the proper way to spell it is Quatrine. In fact, I recall that Quatre was named after his mother, which is why the two names begin with "Quatr". (Also remember that Quatre's name is pronounced "Catra", at least in the English dub. It would stand to reason that Quatrine would be treated pretty much the same way.) I'm sure what was read was the common result of wires being crossed during translation. But I thank the reviewer for attempting to point out a potential mistake! I've been known to make mistakes, and I always appreciate it when someone points them out!

Even Further: I wanted to explain the title of the fic, in case there are more than several of you confused about it. DUO is the secret link. He's the son of Voldemort and friend to Harry Potter. Harry is linked to Voldemort through a prophecy, his scar, and now (though he doesn't know it) through Duo, as well.

Notice: First and foremost, sorry it's kind of short. :sheepish grin: I've had a lot of things on my mind recently, and... well, scenes didn't develop as I'd hoped. Also, I won't be able to work on the next chapter (which might just be the epilogue; I haven't decided yet) for a week, so the next update might take longer. I'm going down South to party it up at Mardi Gras. :goofy grin: Yay, Mardi Gras!

Second Notice: I'm pretty sure there's a fair amount of mistakes in this chapter. I didn't have time to really look over it, as I'm currently in the process of packing for my trip tomorrow. Sorry! On the upside, this chapter is remarkably cliffhanger free. Yay!

Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 28

My Dragon,

I know my folly.

It is quite the bitter potion to swallow, my son; as you well know, I am not one to admit to my shortcomings, especially when those shortcomings question my ability as a dutiful father to a most worthy son and heir. Certain events have led me to doubt that the paths I have chosen for you are even conceivable, especially after the events that have come to pass this night.

I never wanted you to be a follower. When my lord assured me that such was not in his design for you, I was mollified and grateful, blinding myself to my lord's manipulative nature. Now I know that it was his plan to use my reluctance to allow you to become a follower against me.

I never wanted you to be a follower. I never wanted you to be a victim, either.

I have already cast my lot in with the devil, my son. Leaving the Dark Lord's ranks is not an option for me, as I am and always have been so deep in the Circle. I cannot go against my lord's wishes, though he has said nothing of what he wants of me since he left the manor. I do know that, given the time, Voldemort will order me to have you brought home in hopes that he can finish what he intended to do; as your father, Dumbledore nor your new friends could do anything to stop me from having you sent home. As much as it pains me, my son, I could very easily manipulate the situation to have this order carried out.

It would be best for you if you did not consider coming back home, Draco.

I have already conferred with your mother on this matter, and she agrees that the solution I have decided on is for the best, considering the situation.

As of this day, you are no longer a Malfoy. I do this not out of ire or disappointment, Draco, but for your own protection. By removing myself from a position that Voldemort can ultimately use to bring you back to his hand, I give you a chance to stay far away from his reach... as well as my own. The paperwork has already been drawn, documents have already been signed and sealed with the official Malfoy Crest, and these documents have already been sent to the Ministry. It hurts me to do this when I know you are worthy of the name Malfoy; perhaps not as much as it hurts you to know the public shame of being disowned and left nameless.

I can comfort you on one thing, my former son. You will not be nameless.

Along with these documents formally declaring your disownment are a second set of documents for a different sort of annulment. As you know, your mother is only connected to Voldemort and his Death Eaters through me; she is, thankfully, unmarked and free to do as she wishes. We have decided to rescind our marriage, and your mother is to take back her maiden name. While you are no longer my son in the eyes of the Ministry, you continue to remain a part of Narcissa. From this moment until the conclusion of the war, you will be Draco Julius Daemon Monroe Black. It should be a small comfort to an otherwise terrible situation.

Unfortunately, this strategy will most certainly put your mother at risk. She has chosen to go into hiding until the climate is far more sociable, and thus, she will be unable to care for you as she normally would. I cannot disclose the location to where she has fled, not because I am unwilling, but because it would have been unwise of her to inform me. Because the unfortunate divorce has left her with a good deal of the Malfoy family assets -certainly enough to keep both of you in the lifestyle with which you are accustomed- you will not be left penniless. Your mother has arranged a generous allowance that will be paid to you weekly for you to do with whatever you like.

I realize, in retrospect, that any olive branch I could even begin to offer would be received with mixed feelings. Narcissa's settlement included our property just outside of Bletchingly. The wards have been reset to accept you and whoever you choose to stay with you. As you know, this means that whoever you find unacceptable will not be permitted to enter the borders of this property; not even your mother will be able to access the property if you do not wish her to. It is imperative that you never invite me back to that property, Draco. It would be wise of you to consider who you trust and how much the risk would be worth inviting them to Delamont's Haven, and that goes doubly so for your friends with Death Eater connections.

That is all I can do for you now.

In the eyes of the Ministry, as well as the rest of the outside world, you are no longer my son. Know that, in my heart, I could wish for no better heir.


Lucius Octavius Ruston Malfoy

So. That was it, then.

Draco Malfoy was no more.

His father -Lucius- had been right about one thing. The news was received with mixed feelings. It was those warring feelings that encouraged Draco to mentally draw into himself in some dire hope to sort out the whirlwind that raged inside of him.

He was... he was happy. His father -Lucius, damn it, the man wasn't his father anymore- was not disappointed in him. Lucius confirmed everything Draco ever wanted from the man; knowing that Lucius thought that Draco was worthy, that he wasn't upset that Draco had refused to submit to the Dark Lord... it made him happy. Perhaps the happiest he had been in recent memory, in fact. To believe his father did not want the fate the Dark Lord had wanted to force upon him and having that belief confirmed was absolutely uplifting, both in heart and in spirit. His father loved him enough to risk everything to assure that Draco would be safe, even if that meant that Lucius had to sacrifice not only his wife, but the possibility that the Malfoy name would not be carried on. On the other hand...

On the other hand.

He was saddened in the knowledge that his father (Lucius, spirits damn it...) had to make so many sacrifices because of it. It hurt, spirits, it hurt so much knowing that, while Lucius still thought Draco a worthy heir, that Lucius still loved him despite his blatant defiance... Lucius still had to disown him. For his protection. And, in disowning Draco, Lucius had to forfeit his marriage with his mother, who also had to go into hiding to prevent harm from coming to Draco through her. Most marriages amongst purebloods were more out of necessity than love. Draco had come to terms with the possibility that such a life would be for him. However, his parents were so obviously in love that most purebloods were jealous of the kind of fondness the two had for each other.

Yes, Draco was hurt. Only a small portion of that hurt was for the loss of his last name; the majority belonged to how much his father had to sacrifice to assure that Draco was safe, at least until the Dark Lord could devise a different method of getting him if the monster was absolutely hellbent on having him...

Draco was startled from his jumbled thoughts by a soft, comforting hand touching his shoulder. He shook himself from his pensive mood and glanced wearily up at the blond that had silently gone to his bedside. Draco didn't even know Quatre had woken up; the last he'd seen of the other boy, the Winner heir was sleeping next to the comforting warmth of his boyfriend.

Quatre's other hand absently rested over his breast, a small furrow on the other boy's brow. "How can you be so happy and sad at the same time?"

Draco was reluctant to put his feelings into words, and he doubted he could say anything at that point without either laughing hysterically or blubbering or probably both. Instead of replying verbally, he handed Quatre the letter wordlessly.

"What is it, Quat?" Duo asked quietly. Draco had completely forgotten that he had an audience. He didn't dare look at any one of them for fear of showing any weakness, choosing to stare resolutely at his lap instead.

"Lucius Malfoy is trying to protect Draco the only way he knows how," Quatre said quietly. "For fear of Voldemort ordering him to have Draco brought back, Lucius has decided to cut all ties with Draco."

"What does that mean for Malfoy?" Harry asked, though it sounded like the Boy Who Lived already suspected what that meant. Draco flinched violently at Harry's form of address.

"It means you can't call him Malfoy anymore," Quatre said gently, his hand squeezing Draco's shoulder lightly. "Lucius has removed himself from a position that could be used to bring Draco back to Voldemort. Draco's been disowned."

"Bloody hell," Weasel muttered, sounding oddly sympathetic. "He's left you without a name?"

"No," Quatre answered for Draco, squeezing his shoulder again. "Lucius and his wife have decided to annul their marriage so Draco can have his mother's maiden name. Narcissa has also chosen to go into hiding in case the Dark Lord tries to harm her, as well."

Despite what Lucius had written in his letter, knowing that Draco had not been left nameless was more than just a small comfort. Those forsaken by their blood kin in the past, having both name and privilege stripped from them by the heads of their respective families... they never prospered well in the wizarding world, where a last name certainly carried weight, be it muggleborn, pureblood, or otherwise. There were several cases that Draco knew of in which otherwise talented, competent individuals who were cast from their families lost not only their entitlement to an inheritance, but their jobs, friends, and very livelihood, as well. Family was everything in the wizarding world; to shame one's family in such a way that drastic measures had to be taken left a bitter stigmata on the one being disowned. While Draco's disownment was bound to become public knowledge and create some scandal, having a new name courtesy of his mother's ilk would not call for the enforcement of such practices. Otherwise, Draco would never be welcomed back to Hogwarts, no matter what the Headmaster would have had to say about it. The only way for Draco to survive would have been to leave the wizarding world entirely, and that was a sacrifice that Draco would not have been able to endure when he knew nothing of muggle culture or muggle practices.

"It's the only way to keep Draco safe?" Duo inquired solemnly; it was a rare moment in history when the American Gryffindor could be found in such a mood.

"From Lucius' end," Quatre replied. "The rest will, of course, be left to us."

Draco glanced at Quatre, surprised. "You don't-"

"You're our friend," Trowa replied, cutting off Draco's automatic protest. "We don't let friends muddle through on their own."

"You should know that by now, Dray," Duo said with a lopsided grin. "I don't leave my friends behind. Ever."

Draco couldn't stop the rueful smile that crossed his face at Duo's words, his mind immediately summoning the memory of Duo facing the Dark Lord, brazenly defiant as the American refused to leave Draco in Voldemort's hands. Duo was wrong to be uncertain about being in Gryffindor. While Draco knew that the violet-eyed boy was amazingly Slytherin when he had to be, the former Malfoy heir knew for certain that Duo was Gryffindor to the core.

"How can we be sure that Voldemort will be so determined to achieve his goal?" Wufei asked suddenly, a frown on his bronze face. "He can just as easily find someone else to possess."

"Trust me," Harry said dryly, "that git is tenacious. Once he's gotten an idea in his head, he'll never let it go. Voldemort won't settle for anything less than his first choice. Bastard probably thought long and hard about who would provide the proper host, and from what I last saw of the Death Eaters, none are as good-looking and influential as Malfoy and his kin."

"Aw, Potter," Draco cooed mockingly, slanting a smug grin at the Boy Who Lived, "you think I'm good-looking?"

Weasel, of course, jumped to Harry's defense when the green-eyed Gryffindor appeared too flustered to comment immediately. "Shut your gob, Mal -bloody hell, what's your mum's maiden name so I can yell at you properly?"

"Because you just can't call him by his given name," Duo said sarcastically, shaking his head in wry amusement.

"I'd hex him if he did," Draco retorted with a disgusted glare aimed directly toward the Weasel.

"Narcissa's maiden name is Black," Harry said hurriedly. "She's Sirius' first cousin. I remember seeing it on the Black Family Tapestry. I can just see Snape cringing at the thought of his favorite student going by the same name as the man he hates as much as, if not more than, my father."

"Speaking of the new Draco Black," Pansy said meaningfully, catching everyone's attention once more. "You're going to have to do a lot of damage control to remain the Slytherin's Prince."

"Exactly," Blaise replied with a sharp nod, his eyes narrowed in thought. "The Malfoy name is gold in Slytherin, literally and figuratively. Being disowned has the potential to cause some serious power shifts within the house itself. No matter what, people are going to realize that you've turned your back on the Dark Lord; and we don't know where everyone stands on that matter."

"We already know that Julian McAllistar and his crew aren't exactly my biggest fans," Draco noted with a disgusted scowl. "It's safe to say that I'll be getting nowhere with anyone from his group. As for everyone else?" Draco snorted. "It won't take them long to realize that being stripped of the name Malfoy doesn't make me any less the ruthless, smarmy, best looking bastard this school will see for a very long time."

Pansy smirked, nodding her head in agreement.

Blaise merely raised a single eyebrow. "Best looking?"

Draco smirked superiorly at his fellow Slytherin rival for best-looking bloke at Hogwarts. "I'm the handsomest, smartest, and most charismatic bloke Slytherin has to offer. Why do you think the Dark Lord wanted to be me? Of course, I don't blame him. Who wouldn't want to be me?"

Any further preening was abruptly halted when Duo burst into an irrepressible fit of maniacal laughter, feebly clutching at his stomach as he pointed at the varying expressions on the Gryffindor Trio's faces. Granger appeared as if she were stuck between being dumbstruck and incredulous that Draco would ever make such a claim. Harry, obviously expecting a declaration similar to that from spending time with the former Malfoy heir, merely shook his head as he rolled his eyes at the blond's gall. Weasel's expression was the most amusing, by far; the redheaded lout's jaw had dropped, agog at the prospect that Draco thought so well of himself when the Weasel clearly thought so little of him.

"If you could only see the looks on your faces," Duo cried, still giggling. "Oh, God, my sides!"

"Weren't you just complaining about how being so good-looking put you on Voldemort's list in the first place?" Wufei said critically.

"Eh, beauty." Draco shrugged, smirking. "It's both a blessing and a curse."

"You would take this opportunity to overinflate your already massive ego, Draco," Harry pointed out dryly, shaking his head once again.

Draco ignored the funny little flip that stirred in his belly when his given name rolled off Harry's tongue in such a casual manner, silently insisting that the strange feeling was the remnant of his earlier nausea. It was the only explanation; he distinctly recalled Harry taking such liberties with his name before, and while it had made him feel a little discomforted at the time, it hadn't actually affected him in that manner. Instead, he took the time to roll his eyes in exasperation at the Gryffindor. "You're never happy, are you? First, I'm always too bloody pessimistic. Then when I try to be optimistic, you insult my character. Tell me, Harry -where is this bright side you often speak of?" And Draco made damn sure to put a little extra emphasis on Harry's given name, carefully watching the Gryffindor for any peculiar reaction.

The former Malfoy heir was not disappointed; a look of surprise contorted the green-eyed Gryffindor's features for only a moment, some nameless emotion flickering to the surface of Harry's fathomless green eyes, only to disappear again before Draco could really put a name to it.

"As much as I hate to fuel your narcissism," Harry said after he recovered, smiling ruefully, "you're right. You were trying to be optimistic in your special little egotistical way, and I shouldn't discourage that."

Draco blatantly ignored everything before and after those two special little words he always loved to hear. "Hear that, Blaise, Pansy? I'm right. Harry says so."

The two Slytherins snorted in amusement. Pansy even went as far as to look to Harry with a vaguely pitying expression. "He's a stubborn git, Potter. Trust me, you can't win with him."

"That's right," Draco replied smugly. "You can't win with me."

Which just prompted Duo into another laughing fit that took quite some time to settle down from. Consequently, Duo's hilarity prompted Madam Pomfrey to bossily shoo anyone who wasn't a patient out of the Infirmary, and this time she managed to win the brief battle of wills that occurred between her and one Heero Yuy.

Of course, she might not have succeeded in that situation if it hadn't been for Duo, who decided that even Perfect Soldiers -whatever that was- needed to rest after thirty-five straight hours, most of which were spent in what Duo referred to as "pre-mission mode, mission mode, and post-mission mode."

"Go! Sleep! I promise I won't get myself kidnaped in the few hours you won't be here. If I do, you can say those words I hate so much."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "I told you so?"

"Those are the ones," Duo affirmed smartly. "Now give me a kiss and carry yourself to bed before you get cranky. I'd hate to be the one to tell the Headmaster you shot some poor bastard who peed in your Cheerios because you didn't get your forty winks in."

Trowa and Wufei snickered quietly at the end of Duo's rant. Draco suspected their amusement had something to do with the word 'cranky', which wasn't the first term to come to mind when dealing with the image of an irate Japanese Slytherin. In retaliation, Heero threw a dirty glance over his shoulder before he obediently leaned over and planted a soft, chaste kiss on the American's upturned lips.

"Oyasumi nasai, koi.(1)" Draco frowned to himself at Heero's words. Despite living in the same room with the Japanese Slytherin for almost a year, he always seemed to forget that English was only Heero's second language. Heero didn't often use his native tongue; in fact, he recalled Heero only ever slipping into Japanese once before, when he murmured those words that made Duo's face light up after the violet-eyed boy professed his feelings for Heero.

"'Night, Hee-chan. 'Night, guys."

Once assured that everyone who wasn't a patient of hers had left, Madam Pomfrey nodded her approval sharply before she busied herself with checking Duo and Draco's vitals, along with critically watching the both of them gulp down some nasty concoction that Draco was almost positive did nothing but leave a bad taste in his mouth. After being assured that the potion was merely something that reduced stress and decreased the likelihood of nightmares that could spawn from said stress (since Duo flatly refused to consume the Dreamless Sleep Potion, muttering something about not liking how that potion made him feel sluggish and unalert), the mediwitch bid them a terse goodnight before she dismissed herself through a pair of doors, dimming the lights of the infirmary with a wave of her wand.

Duo immediately turned in his bed to look at Draco, a wicked gleam in his dancing violet eyes. Draco was beginning to think such a look coming from the American was never a good sign.

Unfortunately, he was right.

"So," Duo said with a smug grin. "You and Harry."

"Not a word, Duo," Draco growled.

"Were you flirting with him?"

"Duo, no. Just no."

"It sounded like you were flirting with him."


"I call it as I see it, man. That definitely sounded like flirting."

"Shut up, Duo!"

The American sighed wistfully, but he said nothing more after that. The former Malfoy heir thought it was finally safe to relax and sleep until he heard Duo's infernal humming of a familiar childhood taunting song.

"Duo," Draco snapped. "No!"

Apparently, Duo didn't even know the meaning of the word 'no' because he soon began to sing, "Draco and Harry, sittin' in a tree. F-U-C-ACK!"

Something clattered noisily on the floor. For a brief moment, there was silence.

And then Duo said incredulously, "Did you just throw a bedpan at me?"

"Go to sleep, Duo."

"You did! You threw a bedpan! At me!"

"If you don't shut up and go to sleep, I'm going to garret you with that blood mediwitch's stethoscope, just see if I don't!"

"I'd tell Heero on you if I didn't think he'd laugh at me. He's never thrown a bedpan at me."

Draco growled roughly, turning his back to the chatty American and angrily stuffing his pillow over his head. He couldn't help but wonder if Duo would explain to Dumbledore that the reason Draco viciously attacked some Hufflepuff ninny was because of crankiness, due to the fact that Duo didn't know how to shut up and let volatile people like Draco get his forty winks in.

Probably. And the American would explain Draco's behavior with a smile on his face, too.



(1) "Oyasumi nasai, koi." Translated, it means "goodnight, love." :grins sheepishly: Yeah, I know. I promised I wouldn't abuse the Japanese TOO much.

Actually, in the GW universe, the most widely accepted spoken language is called Standard. The reason I chose to ignore this fact is because I wanted to, well, sort of emphasize on the pilots' and the HP characters' obvious ethnical individuality. I think heritage is very important, and having everyone speak a set language while possibly wiping out the common use of one's own language desensitizes one to their heritage. So the different languages is something that bled over from the HP universe.


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