Harry Potter and the Secret Link Part 9
Waiting was, apparently, not a strong point of his. To fill the boredom? Why, he did what he did best!
Talked like a drugged chipmunk.
"Flity taught me this tight-ass charm that can get the charmee to laugh uncontrollable, you think I could use that on Hee-chan or Trowa, because seriously those two need to just relax every once in a blue moon, they're so uptight, do you think it has something to do with the sticks permanently wedged up their butts?-"
How did a drugged chipmunk talk, anyway? Well, in the metaphorical sense of the analogy. Some people had really bad reactions to drugs, like him; drugs were about the only possible way to shut him up for more than an hour. Of course, after that hour he started to talk to imaginary things, so maybe it wasn't such a successful way to actually shut him up.
"-Potions class was really interesting today, I think Sev was too weary to teach me something as potentially dangerous as an Aging Potion because one wrong move, one slightly different ingredient and POW! you have a De-Aging Potion instead, or a tool for inter-dimensional travel and if you get the latter, well, you're totally screwed, I'll tell you that right now-"
Now that he thought of it, a gag might have been the best way to shut him up, but even then he'd be trying to talk around the gag. He'd done so before, but it was kind of unpleasant considering the gag got soaked and his own dribble started to drip down his chin. Boy, wasn't that the most humiliating and degrading experience he'd ever had!
"-personally I think the dimensional travel thing would be kind of cool, but then you have to wonder how you'd get back to this dimension, which is totally uncool, and can you believe how good this pumpkin juice is because I tell you now that I've never had anything as pleasantly sweet as this, isn't that just weird because I've tried everything at least once-"
Speaking of humiliating and degrading... That whole debacle, with the getting captured by the bad guys, getting pummeled to a pulp, and then being saved by the Perfect Soldier himself didn't exactly inspire confidence within himself. And that whole dying from the depravity of oxygen thing, which strangely, he felt a little like he had that time with Wufei.
"-but the British love of grease does not match my palate, which is also a surprise because even Quatre will tell you I'm like a human vacuum cleaner, sucking up every food particle I could find, but some of you probably don't know what a vacuum cleaner is-"
"Do you ever shut up?" griped the Irish boy, what's his name, Finnigan? Duo gave him a poker-faced look before continuing his litany of nonsense and ramble.
Snape, passing by the table at that exact point, actually... snickered? Couldn't be right; a rusty snort of disapproval? More up Snape's alley.
Hermione watched, absolutely fascinated as he spoke and ate and laughed without the apparent need of oxygen, because he never stopped long enough to take the required intake of air for that.
Quatre sat beside Duo, calmly pinching off a portion of a buttered roll, nodding at all the proper moments and agreeing or disagreeing whenever the subject required it, as if he was actually... listening to Duo. To which no one else had really done when they realized that Duo wasn't even bothering to put pauses and hesitations where periods, exclamation marks, or question marks were supposed to go.
"-I can't believe Minny took ten points off my grade the other day just because my ant to anteater thing was blue, I mean, I can't help it if everything I try to transfigure is blue, it just happens, I don't know what to do about it, do you think it's a condition I have because I'm not particularly fond of blue, well, except for Prussian blue, but black spandex has to go with it until I even consider-"
"By the way, did you send-?"
"Of course, Quatre, I'm not a complete airhead, I know when something is so important-"
"I just... can't wait to see him. Them. Him and them."
Duo practically cooed, "Aww, is Q-bean missin' his favorite circus clown? I don't blame you, actually. It's..." Finally, finally Duo was actually talking normally. "It's weird, not having Wufei here to give me the dirty look from hell when I go on and on about this or that, or to have Heero stare at me and let me ramble until I'm tired and can ramble no more. And Trowa, man, he's a good listener. Says what matters, that guy. He never beats around that bush."
Hermione, done with her supper, leaned slightly and planted her elbows on the table, eyebrows cocked in interest. "Are they your friends?"
"You bet! The best," Duo laughed, and everyone within hearing range seemed to pause in their conversations to listen, once again, to the chestnut-haired boy. "They've-well, all of us-we have a certain dynamic, I guess you can say. We're dynamite together. Trowa's quiet, kind of blends in with the crowd, but if you know him well enough, he's the first person you see in a line of bland people. He's like a placid lake; yeah, that sounds about right. All calm and collected on a still night, but he can be like churning water during a storm, too, even when he keeps that air of placidity.
"Wufei's like burning fire-a true hero searching for truth, justice," oddly, Duo's lips tilted into a grin as he exchanged amused glances with Quatre, "and the American pie. Or the Chinese cream of sum yung guy, in this case- kidding, kidding! More like Tso chicken. Well, he's more like Tso chicken, anyway. All bland appearances, the typical Chinese dish, and wam! Take a bite, he's full of kick-ass, spicy flavoring. Take that the wrong way and die, buster." Duo pointed at Seamus, who, by the snickering, already took it the wrong way.
"Heero... he's a block of ice, that one. The kind of ice that's so cold it burns. He's the serious one, calculating and... amazing. He's... hard to describe, actually, but hearing him laugh is like, well, ice on a hot sunny day, all melting and taking away the burn of the heat. He's amazing.
"And Quat here," he waved a hand at his present friend, smiling, "is all heart. The heart of the group, I think. He's tactical, always trying to find the least harmful solution, the peace. He can befriend the people no one is willing to befriend without hesitation. Mr. Nice Guy on the outside, but inside is one of the cleverest minds I know. He's... beating, alive, the strongest organ of us. The one that keeps us existing and together."
Quatre smiled at his friend, a one-thousand watt smile that could light the entire school alone.
Hermione was quiet. Harry, thoughtfully staring like many of the others, murmured, "What about you, Duo?"
It was the first time they'd ever seen Duo Maxwell falter. "What about me?..." It sounded more of a question to himself than a diversion tactic. Like he'd never really figured out how he was a part of the group... or like how he'd never even considered figuring it out.
Quatre was silent for all but a moment before he answered, "Duo is wind." The braided boy looked questioningly at his blonde friend, and Quatre smiled again. "He's strong, a force to be reckoned with, for sure... but playful, like a breeze in the fall, teasing the golden and crimson leaves from their failing perches. Or a relieving breeze in the apex of summer, tossing the hair from sticky, sweaty foreheads to dry the perspiration from hot skin. He's... completely Duo."
Duo's amethyst eyes hid behind closed eyelids for all but a moment, a sad yet happy smile tilting his lips momentarily before the teasing grin fell back into place. He looked at the rest of the table, a wicked look in his eyes as he said, "Or a break of wind, all smelly and unpleasant."
Whatever tension could have existed, Duo easily decapitated it, bringing those who were listening-and, surprisingly, even a few Hufflepuffs within hearing distance-to exploding laughter and giggles, earning himself several slaps on the back and affirmation that sometimes he could be that, too. Quatre Winner smiled tolerantly to his friend; underneath that smile was the insistence that everything the blonde had said, he believed true.
Duo returned the smile with a brilliance unmatched by anything Hermione had ever witnessed.
She turned to Harry, planning to ask him something-homework, schoolwork, it didn't matter about what she wanted when she soon forgot-and she paused. Harry's face was a mask of ponderous wonder, unblinking, unfocused eyes staring somewhere around the vicinity of the salt shaker. Suddenly those green eyes snapped back into focus and he closed his eyes, shuddering violently before murmuring an incoherent excuse and leaving the table. No one paid attention to his untouched meal or his premature leave.
She watched him leave, knowing that somehow his mood had something to do with Duo's friends.
Voldemort was... ecstatic. And things that made Voldemort happy never bode well for Harry.
He'd known, somehow, that he couldn't have one peaceful year without something dramatic or frightening happen. Sometimes he was thoroughly surrounded by an air of naive hope that this year was the year that Voldemort -or the universe, in general- didn't spoil it with mystery, intrigue, and adrenalin-pumping fear-slash-determination. But no, it always seemed to come back to Voldemort, one way or another.
What could it be this time? It had been so quiet aside from Quatre's sudden appearance and Duo's... well, Duo's existence, mostly. He still couldn't seem to place just what was so familiar about that mobile suit Quatre had been near when Harry had found him. It wasn't like anything he remembered seeing from OZ, but... Then again, he wasn't too interested in the muggle world, even if he lived in it. The Dursleys never really kept him up-to-date on the happenings of the muggle world, nor did they care to.
Once, he had the niggling suspicion that Quatre and Duo might have been spies sent from Voldemort's camp, but the thought left him feeling doubtful. Quatre seemed to honestly be a good person, and Duo... well, half the time Harry didn't know anything about the long-haired teenager with the happy amethyst eyes. He'd worried over it, after hearing Duo's violent blow-up in the Infirmary that night Quatre informed him of something bad. Harry hadn't known what any of it was about, but... the way Duo reacted.
Betrayal. Something painful enough that Duo had said horrible things that sounded like he would have eagerly signed up as a future Death Eater in training.
Then Quatre had revealed that he was an empath, and there was that conversation about Voldemort... Duo seemed adamant about being against everything Voldemort stood for. It was so confusing...
A muffled sound caught his attention, and he turned sharply in the direction of the alien sounds before pulling his Invisibility Cloak from the recesses of his backpack, quickly donning the silky material.
"How in the world?..."
Heero quickly analyzed the bronze key carefully laid across his palm, feeling something... strange -alien- about the object, but nothing indicating an advanced transportation device, no microchip designs, no strange wiring... just a key. He clutched the small, bronze object in his hand again, simply as an experiment.
Nothing. No jolt behind his navel, nor was there an off-balanced sense of displacement. Just a key, rapidly warming in his clenched fist.
Trowa drew his fingers lightly over the cold stone walls, making note of the barren walls and the crackling fire in a large fireplace, also considering two long royal purple couches with four matched sets of chairs. In the center was a simple mahogany coffee table, three cups of steaming liquid set precisely on white porcelain saucers, set alongside the table in front of one of the couches.
"Very old," he commented blankly, his eyes never straying from the coffee table. "Medieval, perhaps older."
Heero narrowed his eyes slightly, coming to the same conclusion as Trowa. Possibly a castle, maybe a dungeon... but no, not a dungeon for he did not sense any impending danger.
"I'm aiming for 'older'," Wufei remarked suddenly, also eyeing the walls and floor with analytical precision. "The mortar doesn't crumble... this was carved from stone." He gave them significant looks. "Together. It's as if someone found a large rock and carved a precise, equally dimensional room from the inside."
Heero easily processed this information with a slight nod, and after hesitating slightly, he slid a folded piece of parchment from under the teapot.
No, you haven't been captured by the government or any rebel groups. Yes, this place is really old. And no, you cannot idly (snerk!) wander around to look for us! Believe it or not, this place is a school. I can't explain it now, but we will as soon as we sneak away from dinner. A good dinner. With really good food, surprisingly enough. (Don't worry, we'll bribe the Dream Team into sneaking us into the kitchens for you later!)
I can safely say that this letter doesn't need to be coded in any way. Everyone here is cool; if they aren't, then they don't know about the room you're in now. It's hard to explain (what isn't?), so Heero, if you'll please refrain from immediately taking hostages or harassing any random person you find, and Trowa, if you'll consider not integrating into the student body this second, we'll be there as soon as we can. (Even if you do decide to sneak around posing as a student, I think it'll be a bit harder than you expect; I know you won't have the particular "uniform" we use.) Wufei, again, I trust you to keep those two within the limits. For now, at least.
Don't be surprised if you see someone wander in before you see us-me and Quatre, that is. Don't freak out. If he or she is old, he or she is possibly a teacher. In any case, ask for names first, and anyone named in this letter is perfectly all right: Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape. If he or she is our age, he or she might possibly be a Gryffindor. Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter come to mind. Then again, Draco Malfoy, a Slytherin, is a bit too curious for his own good as well.
I know you may be angry with me for not contacting you soon after I metaphorically disappeared off the face of the world (and that analogy is too close to the truth, actually), but believe me when I say that it took a lot of time to process what I have to tell you. If my suspicions are correct, I think we're all in for a big change in our lives.
Heero, there's an object lying between the cushions of the first chair on the right from where you're standing. It's a "stick" exactly ten and a quarter inch long, polished ebony wood. I want you to CAREFULLY extract this object, place the object on the table, and leave it alone. Wufei, don't let those two take it apart. On second thought, NONE of you take it apart. I will kill you in the most bloodiest of fashions if you guys do. That's our excuse for escaping dinner you're wielding there.
Give us a few minutes,
Duo (and Quatre!)
Heero folded the letter carefully, his eyes focusing on a point in his peripheral vision. The entire purpose of his reading the letter aloud was not to "keep his fellow Gundam pilots up-to-date."
It was to attract the attention of something else in the room. Even as he began to read his friends were edging cautiously to where they "sensed" the spectator; however, no matter how often they reassured themselves that nothing was there... something proved them wrong.
Wufei nodded grimly and lifted his gun blindly at head level. The sound of the gun being cocked resonated around them all.
Then, quietly, a voice sounded, calm and resigned. "Don't shoot." Heero didn't blink when he suddenly saw a shimmer in the air directly around Wufei's aim. He swore he saw a faint outline of a figure...
"Yes, of course, what am I thinking?" Wufei mocked solemnly, never wavering from his stance, prepared to support the kick of the gun should he have to use it. "Why, it's not like you've secretly interrupted something and rudely listened in on our conversation."
"Maybe, but you knew I was in here when you began to analyze the walls."
"On that note, you're invisible." Trowa moved forward, coming close to the shimmery figure. "We won't waste our time with the how. Just reveal yourself."
Immediately the shimmer intensified before the boy appeared, a silver cloak held reluctantly out for Trowa. Emerald green eyes shaded by round, black-framed glasses and a mop of messy unkempthair akin to Heero's own messy locks. His scrawny appearance in his strange garb was too inaccurate to go by; if anything, the boy looked fast. The black-haired boy was approximately 5"6, or 167 centimeters tall according to the British geometric system, which was apparently where they were. Peru to England in a millisecond? It's like breaking all laws of physics within the span of five minutes. Not. Possible.
Another part of his mind said knowingly, And completely something Duo would find out how to do.
Heero found that a lot of things weren't possible this day when Wufei, having inspected the cloak Trowa had handed him, coolly announced that the cloak was just that-a cloak.
Heero joined in the staring contest as the three present Gundam pilots surrounded the stranger.
Seemingly unnerved by the staring, the boy shifted. "I'm Harry Potter, a friend of Duo's." He shrugged suddenly, as if not particularly caring either way if he was shot or not. "You must be Hee-chan, Chammy, and Fei."
The Chinese boy glanced at Heero irritably. "Does Maxwell have a disorder that inhibits his ability to remember anyone's real name?"
"At least he found one for Trowa," the Perfect Soldier intoned levelly, keeping half of his attention on Harry Potter. He knew he should trust Duo's judgement about this boy, yet there was something oddly... distinctive about him. As if the boy were on edge, or prepared for an attack...
"He was agonizing over it during Charms," Harry informed them nonchalantly. "Someone mentioned her sister's pet chameleon, ergo, the birth of a nickname. Said he didn't want you to be disappointed when you came to visit him," he said to the ever-silent Trowa. When Potter didn't receive any sort of acknowledgment from him, he turned to inspect the room minutely. "Portkey, right?"
The three exchanged disguised glances. "What, exactly, is a Portkey?" asked Wufei stiffly.
"A device capable of transporting a person or a group of people from one place to another despite distance and time," Potter said offhandedly before a look of horror spread across his face. He buried his face in his hands. "And I can't believe I just read off a textbook definition. Oh, the shame."
"Are you going Hermione on us, Harry?"
That voice. Heero turned and, for once in a very long while, smiled slightly. Trowa was a step ahead of him, actually taking a brisk step toward the familiar laughing blonde to wrap his arms around him, pulling him close as the blonde buried his own face into Trowa's shoulder.
Duo's wide grin seemed contagious as similar copies tried to spread across Heero and Wufei's faces instantaneously, but both managed to smother those grins into a petite smile and a crooked smirk.
"Maxwell. Forgot how to write a letter?" Wufei inquired, crooked smirk fixed in place. "You certainly didn't forget how to train random animals to deliver said letter."
"What, Yoshi?" Duo laughed in delight, throwing his arms around both Wufei and Heero, spinning them both around before his grip went lax. He left his arms across their shoulders and, for once, they didn't knock his elbows off.
"Please tell me you didn't name your owl after a video game dinosaur." Wufei's tone, however, displayed all the intentions of teasing in Wufei's normal manner.
"Of course I didn't! It just sounded like a good name at the time." Duo's amethyst eyes twinkled merrily, expressed with a higher meaning. "And I didn't train Yoshi," Duo continued in good humor. "Yoshi's just a smart owl." The grin faded somewhat, and Duo stared at them with a blank smile on his face, something... dimming in his eyes.
"It's good to see you guys again."
"As is the same for you, Duo," Wufei intoned meaningfully, all of their worry forced into that one formal statement. Heero, silent as ever, let his relief show by the warmth on his face.
Trowa, finally tearing himself away from the brightly smiling blonde, nodded once before clasping onto Quatre's hand, holding on like he was trying to prevent Quatre from disappearing again.
"I see you guys have met Harry, then?" Quatre smiled softly, tilting his head towards the boy apart from them. "Harry, this is Heero Yuy, Trowa Barton, and Chang Wufei, our friends."
Eyeing Wufei's drawn gun hanging limply at his side, Duo noted dryly, "I think they've met, Quat."
"Astute regard, Duo," the blonde said lightly, "but I was meaning that as a friendly overture instead of an oblivious observation."
"I see your point," the braided-boy replied in a tone that matched Quatre's lightness.
"Pleased to meet you," the boy Quatre and Duo introduced as Harry Potter said pleasantly to the people he didn't know, not to be outdone. He eyed Wufei for a moment before he said, "Bugger. Duo, I owe you five Galleons."
The chestnut-haired boy laughed. "See? See, didn't I tell you? And you said I was exaggerating!"
The Chinaman sighed and seemed to resist the urge to tug on his ponytail in frustration. "Like clockwork, Maxwell has managed to cause wariness and paranoia within the first five minutes of our meeting him again."
Trowa's Look said 'What, and you expected different?'
The raven-haired youth snorted. "I thought the thing with Malfoy and Quatre was pure coincidence. Now I'm starting to think this is one giant conspiracy dedicated to milking my bank account." Nonetheless, he handed Duo five, glittering gold coins. "I think Cho will forgive you after she sees him."
Duo whooped loudly, laughing. "All right! At this rate I'll be rich by the end of the year!" He pocketed the coins, his eyes twinkling mischievously as he offered, "I bet you five Galleons that within three months, Vice Minister Dorlian will find Hogwarts screaming for Heero."
"Vice Minister..." Potter's left eye ticked in want to take Duo up for that, but the internal war ended in mere second, and he managed to turn down the bet.
"You should have taken it." Wufei said, scowling at the memory of the young Vice Minister. "That woman hasn't been around to do that in a very long, very peacefully satisfying while."
Duo snickered. "Because she's been too busy. Trust me, it won't last."
Heero, always ready with a response, snorted disdainfully and refused to comment on the matter any further. This became an unspoken agreement between the five other boys, as the thunderous expression Heero was sure he pasted across his face was enough to force wild animals to back off and let him do his business.
"Ah! There it is!" Duo said loudly, drawing Heero's look. He pointed. "Nee, Hee-chan, can you hand me that?"
The object Duo mentioned in his letter. the Japanese pilot of 01 Wing Zero glanced at the lone "stick" protruding slightly from between the cushions of the chair he was standing in front of. A peculiar feeling shivered up his spine and, curiously, he wrapped his hand around the handle...
The couch burst into flames. Heero, having felt something was going to happen to begin with, jerked away before he could be scorched, bringing the stick-esque object with him.
The couch went into ashes before anyone could do anything about it. Shaken inwardly, Heero calmly handed the wide-eyed pilot his stick. Apparently Duo hadn't expected the response the object had to Heero, for the violet-eyed boy stared at Heero longer than was comfortable. The Japanese pilot didn't even blink.
"Maxwell..." Wufei breathed in, and Heero noted the peculiar lack of smoke fumes. He tilted his head to the side in a silent query.
"I suspected, but..." the American murmured in amazement. "That was so cooool."
Potter, in all of the suddenness of the situation, seemed incredibly excited about something. He thrust his own stick into Quatre's hand, saying, "Here, swish it!" before the blonde questioningly complied, bringing a wave of small fireworks from the tip.
"We didn't think!-" the boy exclaimed, turning to Duo, telling him, "Test, um, Trowa, and-here, Wufei." The instrument of fire-based lighting was shoved into the Chinese boy's hands; Heero guessed that a spark could have set the fire aflame... but so fast? Not possible unless the couch was doused with liberal amounts of flammable liquids, to which Heero doubted due to the lack of smell in the air. The material wasn't very different from any other couch...
Wufei shared a baffled glance with Trowa before, synchronously, they twitched their given "sticks" in the air. On one side of the room a vase exploded while, on the other, a huge, faded tapestry shriveled and shrunk into a hot pink warthog... with purple spots.
Wufei allowed the blonde pilot the time to slip the wand from his grip, the Chinaman staring at the purple-polka-dotted warthog squealing loudly in the corner. "That's not possible."
"But apparently completely doable," Trowa pointed out frankly, peering passed the Chinese boy to glance at his 'impossible' miracle. "A warthog, Wufei?"
"A girly warthog," Wufei snorted in aversion.
"Duo..." the boy in the glasses said, grinning as the braided boy made a squeal of delight when a sudden dawning realization fell upon him.
"Magic..." Quatre said in awe, staring at the object he received from the disgusted Chinese youth.
"Magic?" came out of Heero's mouth before he could stop it, blinking once in reaction.
"Magic." Trowa seemed to easily take this statement for true, and Heero didn't blame him-the word had, in fact, come from Quatre's mouth.
"Magic!" Incredulity was dripping from Wufei's surprised statement. The Chinese boy fell back into one of the fluffy purple chairs, looking severely disgruntled.
"What is there, an echo in here?" Duo bounced, laughing loudly as he took the object in Trowa's hand back. "Magic! Swish and flick! Wingardium Leviosa!"
Wufei, sensing something, jumped out of the chair before it could take him into the air with it. "Maxwell!"
"This is so amazing!" Quatre murmured, still in a state of shock. Suspicion cleared his amazement, hardening his eyes slightly as he narrowed a gaze on his fellow pilots. "And more than slightly dubious."
Duo instantly sobered, eyeing his companion with an air of agreement. He had time to tell the other pilots, "We've got trouble" before he turned toward the hanging tapestry Potter had come from, smiling widely as the four Gundam pilots immediately tensed.
"Hey, Albus and company. Come to meet our friends?"
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