Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 3
"Potions on Mondays?!" bemoaned Ron once he'd gotten a good look at his schedule. Harry and Ron were unpacking when Hermione stalked in with a stack of schedules in her arms. By the look of the set of her shoulders, Hermione looked none too pleased with Ron's method of relinquishing the schedules from her without her knowledge or consent.
Ron, typically, ignored her ire. "First thing in the morning, too! Gah," the redheaded freckled boy flopped out on his bed on his back, covering his face with both hands. "I hate Mondays... I hate Potions..." With a sniff, Ron sat up and pouted. "Hex me now."
"Nah, don't think I will." The almost cheerfully said comment came from an outside source, and the nosiest students of Hogwarts found their attention riveted on the particular boy standing at the door. A duffle was tossed over his shoulder, and he was peaking into the room. "Say... You guys wouldn't mind rooming with someone like me, would ya? My old roomie said I was obnoxious, loud, and annoying, but I bet we could work our way around that!" Duo Maxwell was grinning widely, his eyes twinkling in mischief and mayhem. Ron shrugged. Harry waved to one of the unspoken-for beds.
"Knock yourself out."
Duo grinned and tossed his bag on the bed. "In the wise words of my roomie: Don't encourage me." His violet eyes peaked over at Ron, and he raised an eyebrow in a way that was shockingly familiar to Harry. "Why'd you want me to hex you, anyway?"
"We have Potions first thing on Monday," Hermione replied for Ron. She stuck out her hand in a no-nonsense manner, and Duo immediately grabbed it and shook. "Hermione Granger."
"Duo Maxwell. Isn't Potions Prof's class? Bummer..." The braided boy wrinkled his nose only slightly. "Sharp guy, funny if you can ignore the undercurrent and overcurrent insults... but Jesus, he's crabby."
Harry thought this description was superbly fitting. "You've met him already?" he asked. "I've never seen you before..."
"Holy cow! You're that wizard that was never called, aren't you?" Ron suddenly demanded, pointing. Duo snorted and walked over to his bed, dumping his possessions on the sheets.
"If that's how you define it, then yeah," Duo replied. "I spent all summer with Sevy and a lot of the other teachers. That's just enough time for me to summerize his personality: He's a decrepit old has-been that gets his jollies off of terrorizing and demoralizing students due to the nature of his mother withholding too many hugs from him as a child." He paused. "But he's an awesome decrepit old has-been etcetera, etcetera." Then the braided-boy glanced at the two grinning boys and one desperately-trying-to-cover-a-smirk girl. "Sometimes it helps to remember that."
Ron was out and out laughing at this young man. "Oh, Harry! Can we keep him?" Harry snickered, shaking his head. He didn't even mind that Duo thought Snape was awesome, for some unfathomable reason.
"Feed me, cloth me, take care of me," Duo replied somberly, "and we might have a deal."
"I dunno, Ron," Harry replied doubtfully. "He's kind of high maintenance for you, isn't he?"
"Oh, pfft." Hermione intervened with crossed arms and a sly grin. "With your memory and my persistence, I'm sure we can keep the dear boy alive... until the end of the school year, that is." Hermione was once a stiff, slightly-obsessed and not-at-all modest young witch, but five years with Ron and Harry had changed her attitude somewhat. Sometimes she still reverted back to her know-it-all self, but that was simply because she almost DID know it all.
"Don't you mean your nagging?" Ron criticized, and he received a pillow in the face for his effort.
"Was it ever explained how your name wasn't put down?" Harry asked the braided boy, who had taken to sitting cross-legged on his bed, conveniently placed across from his own.
"Something about disorganization," Duo dismissed absently, his eyes on the window Harry often sat in at night or when he had nothing to do. "I was a little put off at first -didn't believe in magic and all this other mystical stuff, and my mom, who was apparently a witch, died soon after I was born." Drily, he added, "But even the most logical mind can't dismiss a little flicker of wood and a pow."
"So your dad was a Muggle?" came Ron's question. Harry didn't know how he could tell, but somehow that question was the line for Duo. His expression did not change to show his discomfort, nor did his amethyst eyes flicker. His posture, relaxed and lazy, did not tense, his constantly moving fingers did not stop in their play. When Duo's mouth opened, his words were not stifled, his tone not unwelcome or saddened or displeased. Harry was surprised to note that Duo replied with the same pleasantness in his voice as he did when he informed them that his mother died in childbirth.
"I've never met my father."
As Ron, Hermione, and Duo continued to talk about various other subjects ("Herm and Dad's told me about these tiny energy things smaller than a plug called bat adories or something-" "Batteries?" "Yeah, that. What can you tell me about them?" "Batteries are out of date, for one..."), Harry couldn't help but see a deeper meaning in the carefully phrased answer.
Seamus, Neville, and Dean soon wandered into their dorm and were introduced to Duo. The lights were turned by the prefects, Hermione left the boys dorm to turn in for the night, but a hyper Duo, an eager Ron, a giddy Seamus, a thoughtfully quiet Dean, a nervous Neville, and a subdued Harry continued on well into the night, until the full moon passed their window and provided no more light. Ron wiggled under the covers and pulled his red curtains closed. Harry sat in the window ledge, his eyes focused outward and passed the Forbidden Forest, the lights of Hogsmeade dimming as he watched. Dean, Neville, and Seamus disappeared behind their curtains, Seamus's goodnight echoed by Dean's reply. He heard Duo shift in bed, murmuring a cheerful goodnight. Ron replied the same, and Harry echoed with his own.
Harry did not hear the curtains of Duo's four-poster pull close. When he did crawl into bed, he saw that Duo hadn't done so. Somehow, the Boy Who Lived saw more significance in that than anyone else.
"I swear! It's all true!"
"No way," pointed out a voice, and there were several agreeing murmurs around that point, "You had to have made that up."
"Hey, hey, are you forgetting who I am?" A jovial cheer raised from the mass. "I'm Duo Maxwell. I run, I hide, and I never tell a lie!"
"Wouldn't that have caused grievous injury? I don't see how anyone could have walked away from something like that!"
"Simple, Hermione-dear. The idiot gets me to cart him around easy-as-you-please, and as soon as I have him where he wants... the jackass sets his own broken leg! In front of me! With his bare hands! It was the single most disturbing anti-socialite behavior I've ever cared to see, and trust me, I've seen a lot!"
Ugh. Too early in the morning, the lithe blond remarked to himself mentally, striding passed the raucous table with tired annoyance, to tempt the Iffindorks into committing murder. Not before the first cup of coffee, anyway. Oh, the humanity...
"And THEN," he heard in dramatic embellishment, pausing before adding solemnly, "he invented the fork."
There was barely a falter in Draco Malfoy's step as he glanced over his shoulder in feigned bland disinterest to catch sight of the Gryffindor bunch laughing uproaringly before disciplining the speaker with playful swats and disbelieving snorts. His interest lasted as long as the glance did -that is, not very long at all- as the strong smell of pitch black coffee drew his attention back to his Slytherins.
His Slytherins. He favored them all with a bored look, but in observing Pansy Parkinson speaking teasingly at the side of her mouth to Iva Moon and Blaise Zabini, who with the tell-tale twitches of his eyebrow and her lips signaled that they were attempting to hide smiles; in seeing Millicent Bulstrode, her back to the rest of the world, proudly smirking as Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe answered a school-related question with only a little uncertainty; in watching Malcolm Baddock gather his fellow years in strong, coded debate, his main adversary his best friend Graham Pritchard; he didn't have to stopper the pride and satisfaction of watching his Slytherins interact without the rest of the world to judge.
That was what the rest of the wizarding world did. A person was defined by his or her House, Slytherins would always be up to no good, and the sun will always set in the west and rise in the east. It didn't matter that others possessed such domineering traits that were all uniquely them, as well.
"Malfoy," Blaise said blandly from Draco's side, drawing his eyes away from the steaming cup in his hands to fix the other boy with a tolerant stare. Despite the coldness, Blaise met his stare with one of his own, his eyebrows yet jumping again as the two so-called 'in-House rivals' tried to stare the other down. Yet in this stare-down, the close friends were greeting each other as eagerly as any two Hufflepuff friends.
"Zabini," Draco drawled lethargically. "To what do I owe this pleasant if unexpected address?" Millie and Pansy exchanged looks that showed they could hardly contain their amusement. Any gossip mongers in the three other houses that would happen to look that way would see staunch up-sizing of two weary predators.
"Why, casual conversation, of course," Blaise murmured innocently. "Why else?"
"So what do you think of our new little Gryffindor?" Blaise asked casually, flickering a gaze toward the mentioned table before staring back at Draco. Draco almost smirked; Blaise was a pretty boy and wasn't afraid to admit he prided himself on this. Very few succeeded this level of beauty; Cedric Diggory, Blaise Zabini, Draco Malfoy himself, and -much to Draco's reluctance to admit- Harry Potter were the select few. With Diggory gone, Blaise only had to compete with Potter and Draco for better looks. Now it looked as if there was new competition in school in the form of their newest Self-Righteous Bastard Gryffindor (TM). Blaise was surely not pleased.
"This one has a sense of humor," the Malfoy heir couldn't help but admit in a low tone only meant to be heard by those of his own House. He succeeded in keeping his tone low enough when his entire year, listening on, gasped in mocking surprise as any eavesdropper looking on seemed disappointed.
"Surely you're having a lark, Draco," Pansy said with hidden mirth. "A Gryffindor? With a sense of... humor?"
It was laughable. Gryffindors laugh and tease each other and other people, but they could rarely take what they dish, as concluded by a Gryffindor's quick temper and bloodthirsty need for revenge. Of course, this only applied to the only Gryffindors Draco paid attention to- mainly those of his year.
"Most like a Slytherin with a sense of honor," Blaise murmured from the corner of his mouth, drawing a reluctant smile from Draco. The Malfoy heir managed to make it look as forced as possible.
"I have a feeling," Millie whispered to Pansy, "that Mr. Maxwell is more than he seems."
"Very true," Draco agreed in normal, disdainful tones. "Why waste our time speaking of a filthy little Mudblood Gryffindor? You should go to the dorms and retrieve your books." He sneered at his two supposed 'thugs', who were worth more than any loyal Hufflepuff. The suggestion was laced with ugly scorn, but the suggestion was a real one, nonetheless. "I'll be in the Potions classroom."
Draco made his journey to the class alone, but content in is aloofness. Few students were mingling in the halls, reluctant to return to class or chatting with friends not seen since the ending of school. Three first year Hufflepuffs with a Gryffindor in tow were slowly wandering passed, oohing and aahing at the sheer majestic of Hogwarts.
Even the evil bastard in him had to admit grudgingly that Hogwarts truly was a stunning sight.
He was startled out of his slight amusement (disguised, of course, as baleful disdain) by a semi-familiar voice calling for him. Loudly. The sound of feet tapping down the corridor of the potions classrooms (few were reluctant to loiter these halls, and watching the other house students look queasy at the prospect gave him a laugh) caused Draco to hesitated for a moment.
"Blondie! Boy, for a moment there I didn't think you were going to wait up," remarked his caller casually. Draco cocked an eyebrow when he turned around; such a brisk pace from the Great Hall would bring most students to their knees, desperately drawing for the next breath; the young man in front of him wasn't even breathing hard.
He had suspected the identity of his caller correctly, though Draco had only heard his voice once. Duo Maxwell, new Gryffindor sixth year, stood boldly before him, brilliantly sizing Draco up with a quick glance that, for a moment, was unreadable. Finally an easy grin found its way to his lips as his entire face lit up. Draco thought it was a little odd the boy easily brightened in Slytherin company; maybe house standings had yet to be explained.
"When I saw you in the hall at first glance, I thought you only had a passing resemblance to him," the braided boy chuckled and assumed an air of pleasant nonchalance, "but you, dude, are a spitting image of Quatre Winner! It's cool..." Pause. "If not for the creep factor of Quat having a potential double running amuck."
Draco hadn't any idea what a 'dude' was, nor did he have any knowledge of any Quatre Winner. For a moment he was completely at a loss; he hid it well behind a wall of pleasant-but-not-particularly-caring demeanor.
"Well, it's better that I can tell the difference in your eyes and posture," Maxwell rambled on. "He's got these eyes... anyway, he's a bit more childlike, I guess; his face has a rounded quality that you've lost. Other than that, you both have this air about you that screams 'I am FILTHY RICH, so NYAH!', only yours is a bit conceited and Quat... Well, Q-Bean would think the deserts of Earth went dry because of him. I'm Duo, by the by. Duo Maxwell."
That was a complete lot of NOTHING in a good waste of fifteen seconds, Draco thought nastily.
Funny how he seems like a very amiable, bold, and completely un-Gryffindorish guy stuck in that house of hypocrites, he continued to muse, this time thoughtfully, though the annoying cheerfulness fits the bill... if not the fact he's faking it. And Draco was positive the boy in front of him very well was faking his boisterous, bright attitude.
After a moment of reluctance, Draco surmised he should introduce himself as well. Manners demanded it. "Draco Malfoy."
Maxwell genuinely grinned this time. "THAT... is a really cool name."
That was a switch. Usually the Malfoy heir received funny looks, evil glares, The Look of the Scared Witless, or blatant indifference to the stupid name.
Not sure I'm liking this new look, Draco thought queasily.
"So does every house hate each other, or are Gryffindor and Slytherin special cases?"
Draco couldn't stop the snort that sneaked passed his defenses. "Gryffindors certainly are special." Draco couldn't decide if that was resentment, disdain, sarcasm, or indifference in his voice. He surmised he shouldn't have shot for all four; he probably sounded constipated.
"Aren't they, though?" breezed Maxwell with a teasing grin. "They're okay, I guess. I kind of figured Slytherin would fit me better, though."
"The Sorting Hat usually chooses for the best," Draco pointed out pleasantly, but completely agreeing with Maxwell's assessment. Duo Maxwell, from where Draco stood, had absolutely too many hidden layers and well-honed hidden defenses - a Slytherin trait if the blonde boy had ever seen one.
"Pfft, sheeyeah, like A.D. let me try that damn thing after the incident with Fawkes," came the pouty reply. "It was more along the lines of drawing straws. After the debacle with the Draught of the Living Dead that lasted an entire not-so-fun week of the Sevy's Special Punishment and Total Persecution... and then the, err, scorching accident in Fillie's class.... and you know that Sprout lady, the one with the seven greenhouses outside?"
Draco was afraid to know. "Yes?..."
"Well, she only has five now," the braided boy shrugged. "It all boils down to: the other three heads refused to take me, and as I have yet to screw up with Minnie... well, she got the short stick."
"You're kidding." His voice, tone, and stance gave nothing away as he stared at the boy with the impossibly long braid. Inside, all three of him were rolling in absolute hysteria.
"Unfortunately, nay. Hee-chan wasn't kidding when he said trouble was my conjoined twin," Maxwell said in a manner that suggested he didn't really mind. The boy paused for a thoughtful moment. "Well... can I confide in you?"
Draco was tempted to repeat "you're kidding" in deadpan, but the line was already overused. Anyone in their right mind and in possession of only their left testicle knew that Slytherins weren't above using 'confidence' in a Slytherin's best interest. He found himself nodding.
"Well, you know Minnie's tabby? I kind of turned it green," the braided boy admitted, fretting with his braid in a nervous manner. "Do you think she'll notice? More importantly, do you think she'll think it was me? She's been giving me these looks, and they don't exactly inspire the warm and fuzzies, if you catch my meaning..."
Draco Malfoy was renowned for his frigid disdain that could transform into amused contempt at the drop of a hat. In Slytherin house, he was known for his cool composure, his quick wit, and his foot-mouth insertion problem when in the company of others. It was safe to say that Draco Malfoy almost had control that could rival Albus Dumbledore himself.
All that control went to crap when Draco Malfoy, ice incarnate, doubled over and let out a loud, careless cackle.
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