Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 7
It was a big day for Quidditch practice, proven by none other than Katie Bell as she methodically drove the standing Gryffindor team into the ground. If Harry thought Oliver Wood and Angelina Johnson, graduated captains and ex-residential slave drivers, were strict, Katie was Satan.
A bludger came close to bludgeoning his ribs into the Slytherin stands. He managed to dodge with minimal damage to himself or his broom, but the stand told a different story. It being the Slytherin stand, Harry couldn't (or wouldn't) bring himself to care.
Katie, it seemed, did. "Potter, watch what's going on around you!" She yelled from the sidelines, observing Jimmy Peakes and Ritchie Coote pounding regular orbs resembling basketballs between themselves. "Spacing out in the middle of our match against Ravenclaw in three weeks won't win us the Quidditch cup!"
Harry took back his mental observation. Katie wasn't just Satan; she was Satan with a whip, a jar of honey, the heat of the sun, and a large fire ant hill.
"Katie," panted Demelza Robins, pausing in her game of toss and go with the her fellow Chaser Ginny Weasley, "we've practiced from breakfast through lunch. Can we please call it a day?"
Katie paused, almost like she was seriously considering the plead. Finally, she sighed. "Okay, hit the showers, guys. Practice will be early tomorrow morning, though!"
"You're a goddess, Katie," gasped Jimmy reverently.
"A true gem, Katie," agreed the other Beater.
"Don't thank me," Harry heard Katie say grimly as he landed beside her, "We'll be feeling this tomorrow." With that in mind, the two Beaters dramatically fell to the ground and laid still.
"It wasn't that bad, guys," Harry lied smoothly, smiling slightly when Ritchie cracked an eye open and glared. The two of them, while not sharing the raw talent that their predecessors Fred and George Weasley had, seemed to have the same wicked humor as the former Beaters.
"Says the Seeker to the Beater," Jimmy groaned.
"I rather say you had it easy, mate," Ritchie agreed. "All you got was those weird white goll balls thrown at you."
"Golf," Jimmy corrected smartly.
"Yes, thank you."
"Hey, what's Malfoy doing here?" Ron demanded loudly, glaring at some area in the stands. The team collectively whipped their heads around and stared at a small blonde slowly making his way down the stands.
"Spying on us he is, the great ferrety git." Ritchie claimed, getting to his feet quickly.
"And look; led here by the braided brat, eh?" Jimmy chimed, bringing attention to said braided boy waiting on the field, watching the other make slow progress down the bleachers. "Shall we tell them what's what?"
"We shall," agreed his friend before the two quickly bounded off toward the two so-called spies, the rest of the team quickly following.
Harry hesitated, narrowing his eyes slightly. Wait a moment... "Wait, guys, that's not-" he called hurriedly, running to catch up with the rest of them. They were already upon Duo and his friend. The only thing running through Harry's mind was the conversation he overheard the two having the night before.
"Hey, Maxwell, what's with bringing the companion? If you wanted the lowdown on the wonderful game of Quidditch, you should have asked your house mates," Katie beat the twins to the punch line, crossing her arms defensively as her team stood rallied behind her.
"Yeah," piped the second string Keeper (Harry vaguely recalled his name was something like Cormac McLagger or McLaggen, and that Katie had blown up at his attitude problem regarding the team quite often), glaring at the blinking blonde hesitating in the stands. "No reason to ask cheating slime like him."
Duo bristled visibly, his face becoming dark with fury. Jimmy and Ritchie backed away quickly; they'd been around Duo quite a lot, and they'd never seen him ostensibly angry before.
"Duo," a soft voice penetrated the sudden silence, drawing attention to the mouth of the blonde, "Calm down. They're just tired and made a mistake."
Harry coughed loudly. "Like I was trying to explain," he said evenly, amazed with the lack of squeak in his voice, "this is Duo's friend, the guy they put in the infirmary the other day."
Ritchie blinked and made a visible effort of looking closely. "Blimey, mate, you're nearly a dead-ringer for Malfoy," he said in awe.
"What are you trying to do, Ritchie, insult him?" Jimmy said in mock outrage. The blonde smiled graciously and finally took that last step from the bleachers. He was the same small height as Duo, nothing above one hundred sixty-five centimeters, and his teal eyes shown with pleasure.
"I don't mind. Mr. Malfoy and I have already noted the similarities between us," the blond said softly. "My name is Quatre Raberba Winner, a friend of Duo's. It's a pleasure meeting people he actually likes."
"He makes me sound like a crass recluse," Duo complained, grinning from ear to ear. "Q-bean, you KNOW I get along with everyone!"
"Except those suffering sociopathic tendencies."
"Except them," Duo agreed. "One of those in my life is damaging enough."
"Sorry for the mistake," Demelza muttered, ducking her head and blushing slightly.
"It's quite all right," Winner said reassuringly. "I can see where one would make the misunderstanding. Duo's just a little over protective," he added with a teasing smile toward his friend. "He hasn't any other hobbies."
"You treat me so wrong," groaned the braided boy.
"He invited me to view your practice," the blond said apologetically. "I'm sorry if it wasn't allowed, but I've never heard of Quidditch before. I thought it sounded interesting. He's been, well, introducing me to the team, as it were." He smiled brightly, and all of the girls swooned.
"You three are very fast," he commented to Demelza, Ginny, and Katie serenely, daring a winning smile with the three. "Duo tells me you run the Quaffle around the field and throw it into one of the three opponent hoops. I'm sure I'll be able to see you ladies in action during the up-coming game."
"Count on it!" Ginny exclaimed enthusiastically. The blond nodded happily and turned his 100-watt smile toward the two Beaters.
"Messrs. Coote and Peakes are very skilled as well," Winner claimed. "I can't imagine hitting two basketballs toward each other at such a close range. I looks very hard."
The two exchanged proud looks and puffed their chests out. "We like to think we live up to our former Beaters."
"Or, you know, at least we don't suck," Ritchie lamented ruefully.
"There's always that," chuckled Winner, shaking their hands each as he had done with the three blushing Chasers. "And the Keeper, Ron Weasley, you did a very good job out there."
The Keeper shifted from foot to foot, blushing under Winner's praise. "Thanks..." he muttered, quickly shaking Winner's hand.
Winner turned to Harry last, that bright smile coming down a few notches to resemble less admiration and even more gratitude. "And Mr. Potter, you are very talented as well. I must thank you for helping me when I was injured. I can imagine the personal risk it was to go into a forest that felt so wrong."
"Wrong?" Katie piped up, drawing a concerned nod from Winner.
"Yes, it felt... tired. Drained." Winner shivered, wrapping his arms around himself. If possible, it made him look smaller than before. "Dead. I could barely move purely due to the forest."
"That's odd," Harry murmured. "I've been in the forest before. It's never affected me that way."
"Quat's sensitive," Duo interjected bluntly.
Winner's mouth twitched into a small, sad form of the smile he wielded before the subject of the forest came up. He held out his hand once more, and Harry almost hesitated before reaching out to take the offered hand. As soon as their skin met, Winner wavered, looking pained and slightly puzzled. There was one forced pump of their hands, and Winner quickly took his hand from Harry's. He looked immediately relieved.
"What?" Duo asked worriedly, glancing between Harry and Quatre. "Quat?"
"I'm just a little dizzy," Winner admitted with a sheepish grin. "I'm afraid I've gone against Madam Pomfrey's wishes and over exerted myself."
"We were heading for the showers anyway," Demelza replied with a concerned look. "You should go lie down."
"Yeah," Jimmy chimed. "Madam Pomfrey's a bit stitchy when it comes to her patients making themselves sick."
"She'll be very cross with you if you go and make yourself faint."
"We'll see you when you're better though, right?" Katie added hopefully, her eyes shining while her cheeks flushed pink. Winner smiled pleasantly and affirmed her request.
"C'mon, guys," Ginny muttered, "I'd really like a shower right now..."
Harry didn't budge as the rest of the time headed for the showers. He stared at those troubled teal eyes and asked instead, "What really happened?"
Duo switched gazes back and forth, finally settling on Winner. "This one's all right, Quat..."
Winner gazed at Harry worriedly. "Does... do you have a migraine?"
Harry blinked at the sudden inquiry. "No..."
Winner worried his bottom lip between his teeth. "When I shook your hand, there was this intense pain here..." He pointed to his own forehead, drawing a strange symbol down the center. "It was so unnatural and violently hurtful... I can almost still feel it."
Harry jerked when the tracing finger finally hit him.
Quatre Winner was drawing a lightning bolt down his forehead... exactly where Harry's scar would be.
Heh, I was gonna clip it here... but the chapter was too short, and I decided I wasn't going to do that to you.
On with the fic!
"What does it feel like?" Harry whispered hoarsely, his throat strangely dry as he stared at the puzzled, anxious blonde still tracing an absent shape down his forehead.
"Like... Death. Hatred," Winner laminated. "It feels horrible..."
"Harry's got a scar there," Duo pointed out, nodding solemnly. "Maybe he got it in an accident?"
"No, it's much more than that," Winner insisted heatedly, staring hard at the mentioned scar. Harry forced himself to keep his ground, staring at Winner with equal intensity. "It's a connection, a link; on the other side lies the greatest evil I've ever felt..."
Harry felt a shudder tempt his spine. He spat acrimoniously, "Voldemort!"
Winner's eyes widened. "Who is this Voldemort?" His counterpart, on the other hand, narrowed his eyes intently, almost glaring at Harry's feet with a passion that could not be named; further than hate, further than anger, bordering sadness and despair... Duo looked like his worst enemy just killed his best friend.
Harry shook his head, exasperated. "You don't know?"
"Voldie's this uberjerk of the wizarding world," Duo drawled in a mock dreary tone. "Fancies himself a warlord, or worse - an actual god amongst men. He rules his army of minions by fear alone, and guess what? He ain't good news." He glanced at Quatre, cobalt eyes dull with gravity. "No telling what a psychopath like that would do with someone like you, Quatre. He hates muggles and muggle-borns -those are the guys that have normal parents and whatnot. Dumbledore told me he's all puritan wizard guy, but he knows enough muggle stuff to understand the significance of something like the devastation caused by dropping a colony on Earth or how seriously mind-fucking the ZERO system is.
But what's he got to do with you, Harry?"
Harry stared at Duo, then turned his incredulous gape on the solemn-faced Quatre. "You're not from the wizarding world, either."
"No," Quatre replied quietly, "I'm not."
"Yet you can see Hogwarts fine."
Harry sighed tiredly. "Voldemort came after my parents when I was a little over a year old. He managed to find them, and he killed them. He attempted to use the same curse to kill me, too, but somehow it backfired and hit him instead, destroying his body and sending his soul away. It left me this scar," he emphasized with an absent touch to his forehead, "and orphaned. Thirteen years later, early last June, he managed to use this connection to bring himself from toeing Death's door."
"Funny," Duo commented, "I didn't hear him coming."
Harry blinked at him. "What?"
"That's not the entire story," Quatre noted suddenly. "But yes, that is the important information. This Voldemort is after you."
"Of course. Wait, you're saying you actually believe me?" Harry cried, shocked.
"Do we have any reason not to?" Duo laughed. "Quatre and I have our own built-in lie detectors. If you were lying about anything, we'd know it."
"It's just that," Harry faltered. "Very few people actually believe a word I say. They all think I'm having delusions of grandeur. The only people who consider a word I say are Dumbledore, the professors, my friends, and my godfather."
"Now you have us, too," Duo winked. "And we're the guys you want on your team."
"We'll get our hands dirty," Quatre said softly, "to help anyone who is being unjustly repressed and prejudiced against."
"And Valuemart puritan guy is definitely of the bad," Duo inserted with a smirk.
"Um, Duo," Quatre said, hiding a smile behind the palm of his hand. "I think that's 'Voldemort'."
"Really?" Duo replied airily. "No wonder I keep having this image of a guy in a red vest attacking innocent civilians with his low, low prices."
Draco Malfoy turned the page of his book without looking toward the speaker. "I do not believe I gave you my express permission to know me so personally, McAllistar."
He felt the vile creature sit beside him on the hardback couch, spreading his arms across the back and propping one leg on top of the other as he smirked down at the blonde maliciously.
"Draco, Draco... when are you going to learn that we all aim for the same goal here."
"Strange," Draco replied offhandedly, still keeping his roving eyes on the Latin words printed tidily on the cracking parchment. "Yet you still haven't mastered the art of controlling your thugs' offensive body odor."
The bigger, darker man chuckled politely. "I believe you do not have the room to throw those stones, Drac."
"My name has an 'o'. What is it that you want, McAllistar?"
"So taut! I was simply curious, Draco," McAllistar drawled, mockingly drawing out the 'o' of his name. "You've halted your advocating of a common acquaintance. Certain circles wonder if you've turned your back on him."
How could I, Draco mused bitterly, heat seething under the surface of his skin as the swine nonchalantly laid his hand on his opposite shoulder, wrapping his arm loosely across Draco's shoulders, when I am stuck so thoroughly under His thumb that I'm suffocating?
"I've read about a small thing called tact. Have you heard of it, McAllistar?" Draco snapped his cold gaze on the grinning youth. "I've found it keeps the eyes of those who would persecute me elsewhere."
"Of course," McAllistar agreed smoothly, tossing his head arrogantly. "However, in the privacy of our own common room, you are expected to hold certain ideals proudly."
"Then again," Draco responded coolly, "there are those in this same common room that would have me suffer unnecessarily out of pure malice."
"I'm reasonably intelligent," Draco countered, closing his book with finality, and he smirked at McAllistar. "The only one I believe in our company who fears our common acquaintance is you, McAllistar."
The older boy unwrapped his arm from around Draco's shoulder like he had been burned. Jerkily, he took a damning hold of the blonde's small wrist and hissed into the shell of his ear, "Watch yourself, Malfoy. You will do well to keep me satisfied."
"Of course," Draco murmured quietly, one-handedly fingering his book casually before meeting McAllistar's brown-eyed stare again. "However, perhaps you should not manhandle me so in front of prying eyes."
McAllistar, realizing the folly of his action, squeezed Draco's pale wrist one last time before taking his hand away with an amiable smile. Draco resisted the urge to rub the soreness away; he knew without looking that his wrist would bruise quickly.
"He has substantial designs for you, Draco," McAllistar murmured softly. "Some would consider this an honor. Do not squander his attention with your foolery."
"I'll not change for him."
"Is that a challenge?"
Emotionless grey hues met burning brown. The blonde snorted softly. "Take it as you wish, McAllistar. I explain myself to no one."
McAllistar's smiled widened as he hummed quietly in assent before he and his hovering goons moved for the common room entrance. Draco watched dispassionately as they disappeared through the portal.
"That was very risky, Draco," confided a familiar murmur. Draco didn't have to glance over to see Blaise propped against the back of the couch. "Do you suppose he has any knowledge privy to you?"
Draco slid a look toward the dark-haired boy. "McAllistar's an idiot. He's attempting a sad mimicry of intimidating me, and he realizes his efforts are mediocre at best."
"Did he allow anything to slip?"
"Just further proof that he's a lapdog to the Dark Lord," Draco replied flippantly. "He insinuated that I'm not to be initiated into the ranks. For some reason, the Dark Lord has more important plans for me."
"Indeed." Zabini knelt beside Draco's ear. "Something we already suspected."
"But not proved," Draco reminded the other boy meaningfully, slowly sliding his book into the discarded bag lying against the small, cherry wood table in set as a centerpiece for seating arrangement around the burning fire. "Everything before was nothing but speculation. The question we now face is this: how many of us are in for the same plot?"
"Or are you the only one the Dark Lord has culled from the many choices."
The thought did not bode well for the Malfoy heir.
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