Thanks for all the responses. You guys are great, even though I suck. Weeks turn into months so quickly. This year is flying by…

And now, ladies and gents, without further adieu…

Chapter 41

Harry couldn't quite hold back a giddy smile, even as he assessed the wounds covering Draco's face. Bruises, lacerations… He'd barely been gone two days, and he looked like this? But he was back, and that was most important. A trip to Madam Pomfrey and he'd be good as new.

There would no doubt be repercussions, and Harry's thoughts darkened. His smile faltered slightly as he ran a hand lightly down his lover's face. Stressed, bloodshot eyes looked up at him and Draco smirked slightly.

"What, Potter? Couldn't handle it without me?"

Harry snorted. "I need you like I need a pet hippogriff." Draco groaned slightly.

"There is no way in hell you'll ever get one of those, Potter. Not so long as I'm alive."

The dark-haired young manlaughed softly, oblivious to the commotion beginning around them. Draco wasn't, though, and he looked up to see Ron glaring down at him.

"Ah, the Weasel. Morning. Or afternoon," he amended. "Or perhaps it is morning. I'm not sure."

"What the fuck happened to you, Malfoy?" Ron demanded. "And what are YOU doing, Harry?"

Harry's head shot up when Draco spoke, and he'd frozen with his hand touching Draco's face affectionately.

Behind them, Duo grimaced. "Busted," he mumbled. Hermione looked at him in surprise.

"What?" She turned back to Harry and Draco, moving closer. "Harry, you're –." There was a moment of silence as the three friends assessed each other. Slowly, Harry got to his feet and faced them properly.

Off to the side, Heero and Sirius were speaking in low tones, as Sirius hadn't attracted the attention of Harry's friends just yet. As they discussed what would be done next, the face off continued while the other pilots maneuvered around it.

"I don't need any help," Draco grumbled as Trowa moved forward in an attempt to get him on his feet. His protest wrangled nothing more than a snort in response from Trowa, as he and Duo had been the only ones to see what shape his body was really in under the stolen Death Eater robe. He carefully helped Draco to his feet.

"What's going on?" Hermione asked. "What… Why are you wearing those clothes? What happened to Malfoy?" She paused. "Where did you go, Harry? Why weren't you here?"

"And why the hell were you petting his face?" Ron demanded hotly, looking furious. "Don't tell me you're having some kind of… of relationship," he nearly choked saying the word, "with that bloody prick!"

Harry's eyes narrowed. "Fine. I won't. What I do hasn't been your business for a long time."

"What?" Hermione exclaimed, shocked. "Harry, how can you possibly treat us like that? We were worried sick about you!" Harry grimaced at her words, shaking his head slightly.

"Can we discuss this later?" he requested, with a bit of pleading in his tone. The sudden adrenaline was wearing off, and exhaustion from lack of sleep was creeping up on him, but he still had things to take care of. If he continued like this with Ron and Hermione he would no doubt say something he'd later regret. "We need to get Draco to the Infirmary."

"Oh no, you're not leaving us behind until we get the WHOLE story!" Ron exclaimed. "Where in the hell have you lot been?" He looked at Duo. "Well?"

The longhaired young man shrugged. "Don't look at me. It's not my place to tell you anything." He cast a glance at Heero, and after a moment Heero looked back at him. They stared at each other for a moment before Heero turned back to Sirius.

This moment of communication between Heero and Duo had drawn Ron and Hermione's attention to the elder wizard.

"What is HE doing here?" Ron asked, exasperated. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" His face had grown flush, and even his ears were reddening.

Duo took a few steps over to Trowa and Draco, where Wufei and Quatre also stood. Quatre was leaning and grimacing still, but seemed to have recovered from the spell. Harry glanced at Heero and Sirius, where Sirius had nodded to whatever Heero had told him. He looked back at Hermione and Ron, who seemed to be getting angrier the longer he delayed.

While he couldn't really blame them for being upset, he really wasn't up for the long explanation right now.

You don't have much of a choice.

Harry sighed at Draco's message. Yeah, he knew that. He seriously contemplated his two once-best-friends. "Fine. I'll tell you what's going on. But first Draco goes to the Infirmary, Sirius gets the hell out of sight, and we get inside Hogwarts."

"This should be bloody rich," Ron grumbled, signaling his acceptance of the plan. Hermione only nodded, a troubled look on her face, as her eyes darted between Harry and Draco. Harry surmised that she already had everything figured out and was keeping quiet for Ron's sake. That was fine with Harry… his once-best friend deserved to hear about the past few years from Harry's own mouth.

Ron… would be angry. Of course he'd be angry. Hell, Harry would be furious if Ron had held out on something like this for so long! Especially if it was someone completely off-base, like Pansy Parkinson. Knowing that he'd missed out on something like that for so long would drive him absolutely bonkers.

Behind him, Trowa had Draco braced against him, and Wufei had come up to his other side. Draco was snorting and acting tough for the group, even though it was a challenge to look proud when his face was black and green. With a glance back Harry led the way toward the castle, Ron and Hermione hot on his heels. Trowa and Wufei followed with Draco. Hanging back was Heero, Duo and Quatre. Sirius had already taken off, and if they looked they'd barely be able to see the shadow of a dog scampering across the field.

Quatre leaned over and watched the others advance across the field ahead of himself. "This is going to be messy," he murmured. Duo and Heero nodded in unison.

"More importantly, we shouldn't be dealing with this right now," Heero replied. "We need to be preparing for an attack on the school, should something like that happen."

"So that's what you were talking to Sirius about. Well, maybe we should go to Dumbledore? It IS his school, after all." Duo sighed and rubbed his forehead. "I am so tired of taking magic into account. Give me mobile suits, or even troops with machine guns, and at least I can calculate scenarios. I have no idea what we're up against."

"That's been my problem for a while now, too," Quatre said grimly. "I'd say we should just wait it out and be prepared ourselves, but I sincerely doubt that alone we'd be able to take out a group like the one we escaped from today."

Duo cringed at the reminder. "Man, that was a messy escape wasn't it? Dumb luck and track-style running. Definitely not my preference."

"At least we got out," Quatre offered. "Could have been worse."

"Never want to do it again."

The three fell silent as they reached the Hogwarts entrance, where the others had somewhat assembled. Just beyond Harry, who had been leading, the others could see Professor Snape and Headmaster Dumbledore standing in the entryway.

"…Ah shit," Duo cursed.

It was cramped in the Infirmary. Harry had insisted upon it, though, and not even Dumbledore could persuade him to have this particular discussion elsewhere. Draco would receive treatment immediately and then he would consider responding to any queries they may have had. Snape had been surprisingly helpful, which had been attributed to the fact that the injured student was Draco. Presently the entire group was collected in various parts of the small Infirmary, some seated on the beds and some simply standing.

Conversation was very, very limited and mostly passed between the pilots themselves. Snape and Dumbledore had let out choice words to either Draco or Madam Pomfrey and nothing else. Hermione and Ron had not spoken a word, and Harry remained hovered at Draco's side. Duo and Quatre were seated on a bed, with Heero standing nearby. Trowa leaned against a separate bed, and Wufei stood nearer to Draco and Harry than the rest, continuing to act as a type of bodyguard to both.

Once Pomfrey had assured mother-hen Harry that all Draco needed now that he'd taken some potions was old-fashioned rest, Dumbledore asked her to excuse herself and ensure that others did not enter the Infirmary.

"Well," Dumbledore began after a moment, as silence reigned once the door had shut. "Perhaps we should start at the beginning." Harry looked fairly uncomfortable until Dumbledore clarified. "You five young men… would you care to enlighten us?"

The pilots regarded him for a moment – the old man they'd deemed an extremely low risk at first sight. A current of thoughts streamed between Duo and Heero, and although the other three were oblivious to them, the same thoughts were running through their own minds.

Would it be considered detrimental to their returning home if they continued to keep their origin a secret?

Fuck it. Just tell them, Duo suggested. How bad can it be?

Heero nodded once, but it was Quatre who took the cue.

"We're pilots." He let that statement sit for a moment. "We're not from this world. A few days ago we were somewhere in what we think is the future. In our world there is no magic, or no discernable magic. We deal mostly with electronics, which is probably why you've seen us with what is, to us, primitive models of computers."

The residents of the era were now watching the five with varying looks of disbelief on their faces. Snape was the first to respond.

"If this is true, how did you manage to find yourself here?"

Quatre quirked a small, disarming smile. "You may remember an article in a newspaper that featured a woman on the front page? She happens to be from our era as well, and somehow managed to bring us here with her. It all seems pretty surreal, I know, but maybe it'll make more sense to you than us."

"A time travel spell?" Dumbledore wondered. "I suppose it's feasible, since if you boys are from the future there may have been more discoveries in the field…"

"I'm not liking the unsure tone of that," Duo admitted. "It suggests that you don't know how we'd manage to get back. Which would mean we need to find that witch."

"I admit time travel is not my forte," Dumbledore replied. "But that I hope is a matter we can discuss later in further detail. Right now, however, I should like to hear about how Mister Malfoy ended up in such dire straits?"

Harry cringed. "That's… another story entirely."

"Well, spit it out," Snape ordered. "We haven't got all day here, Potter."

"Draco's father is alive," Harry replied quickly, bypassing the entire backstory with an angry flush on his face. "He kidnapped him, and transported him within Hogwarts' boundaries."

Hermione's eyes widened. "That's impossible. You can't teleport from within Hogwarts! It says so in every history book ever written! The wards-"

"Calm down, Miss Granger," Dumbledore soothed. "With all the strange occurrences that have happened of late, it is entirely possible."

"We went to a place called… Cambridge. Or something. A large muggle cathedral. They weren't pleased with my dissention from Voldemort's following," Draco croaked out groggily. He hadn't fallen asleep yet, it seemed.

"Then why are you wearing Death Eater robes?" Ron hissed, eyes narrowed. "Unless you really are a traitor."

"That would be my fault," Trowa interjected, before Harry could get riled up. "He wasn't looking too good when we found him, and to partially shield him I used the robe. If you hadn't noticed, everyone is wearing a Death Eater robe except me. That should explain it."

"Did they question you, Malfoy?" Ron continued. "What did you tell them?"

"What do you think I told them?" Draco muttered. "I told them Ron Weasley still sucks his thumb and has a blankie. They're coming to get you, Weasel…" His breathing evened out, and Harry glared up at the redhead.

"He's sleeping now. Don't wake him." His eyes moved over to Dumbledore. "Well, Headmaster? What do you think? Obviously they won't ignore that we've rescued their captive. What should we do? We can't let them attack the school with the students completely unaware!"

"And what do you suggest, Potter?" Snape returned. "Tell the students that at any moment Lord Voldemort could burst through the front doors and kill them all? We'd be better to shut down the school."

"If you shut down the school," Quatre butted in, "then who will defend it? You need wizards and others experienced in magic. Who knows what he's planning? Maybe he won't counterattack because of our rescuing Draco. Chances are that he will. Are you willing to shut down or keep open the school on a hunch? Either way it will become apparent that you knew all along. Wouldn't it be better to issue a warning at least?"

Dumbledore regarded the young blond seriously, and silence hung in the room.

"What you are suggesting, young man, is that I not only warn the students, but recruit any with sufficient magic skills?"

"Why the hell not?" Duo asked. "Anybody can do magic better than we can, and we'll be here until we can leave this world."

"There are children within these walls," Hermione protested. "They can't possibly be involved in a war of this magnitude! Think of how many would lose their lives!"

"Just because they're young doesn't mean that they can't fight," Trowa retorted evenly. "And regardless of whether they fight or not, lives will be lost. Your war, from what I can tell, has been long coming. If you're not sufficiently prepared it's your own fault. Hiding from the truth won't make it disappear. He will attack, if not soon, then eventually. Shouldn't you have begun training wizards already to deal with the attack? Wasn't that the point of Defense Against the Dark Arts?"

Please tell me they've been recruiting wizards…

It won't be pretty if they're as unprepared as they seem, came Heero's reply to Duo's thoughts.

No shit. The grimace behind the words could be felt clearly.

"Mister… Barton, is it not? Mister Barton, rest assured that the proper measures have been taken to ensure the safety of our students," Dumbledore replied. "I no longer see any point in keeping this a secret, seeing as you will no doubt find out sooner or later."

Harry shifted uncomfortably, listening for the Headmaster's admission.

"There is an Order that has been entrusted with the task of safeguarding Hogwarts and the wizarding populace. It is a close knit group, one to which both myself and Professor Snape are involved. Should you be truly concerned about the well-being of the school, rest assured that I intend to call other members to Hogwarts in order to defend its boundaries."

"And how many people make up this Order?" Quatre asked, suspicion in his tone. "I won't be too assured if you say any number less than twenty, as there were alot of Death Eaters at that Cambridge site."

Dumbledore only smiled.

"So you want us to go up against impossible odds…?" Hermione trailed off, disbelief written on her face.

"Odds are never impossible," Heero corrected immediately. "They can be for, they can be against, but they're never impossible. Impossibility means that there are no odds."

"Man, you're so bright and cheery. No wonder I love you," Duo proclaimed with a sarcastic grin. "For there to be odds, we have a chance. Fighting losing battles is our specialty."

"Although I'm afraid we won't be much help unless we learn a large amount of magic in a limited amount of time," Wufei spoke up, the first words he'd spoken since the group had congregated. "As of right now, the only thing you've successfully accomplished is the creation of an owl and some clothing. That won't do very much when fighting a war."

Duo nodded. "And even then, only Heero and I have done things like that."

"I can teach you," Harry told them. "Draco and I can teach you to use magic, like we had started to a few days ago."

"I can help to," Hermione added. "I wouldn't want you to go into this unprepared."

Ron watched his friends volunteer readily, and felt like he was standing at the end of a precipice. If he moved too far in the wrong direction, it was all over. He wasn't sure yet, which way the cliff face ended, but he had to make a choice, didn't he?

"I'll help to." Hermione and Harry both looked to him in surprise. He nodded. "I will. I may not be as good as it as some, but I can help. I want to help."

"That still doesn't decide what to do about the rest of the student body," Heero pointed out. "It prepares us, but what about everyone else? There could be spies everywhere that will alert Voldemort to our movements. If we dismiss everyone it'll attract a large amount of attention."

"Maybe we could use that to our advantage?" Quatre wondered. "That way it could set up a time frame, and allow us to plan it…"

"Unless he strikes sooner," Heero returned.

"Of course. But it's a possibility, and any possibility is better than none."

"Then I will summon the Order," Dumbledore told them. "Although your actions in retrieving Draco were not entirely commendable, it was a heroic deed, and he owes his life to them. I personally thank you for acting upon this, and apologize for not being able to assist you." He let that hang in the air and the group watched him for a moment. One by one the pilots nodded their acknowledgement of the apology.

"The next time you see Black," Snape spoke up after Dumbledore finished, "tell him to report to the Headmaster as soon as possible. If we're to effectively defend this place, we'll need to work together." The grimace on his face showed how much he liked that idea.

"These next few days should prove interesting," Dumbledore admitted, eyeing the group gathered in the Infirmary. "Very interesting indeed."

"How could you lose him!"

The outraged cry could be heard echoing throughout the corridors. Those who were within range cringed in sympathy at the unfortunate soul who had to inform Lucius Malfoy that his son had been taken.

"Do you have any idea how important he was? How much we needed him? You IDIOTS! You'll be the ones answering to Lord Voldemort, and it will be YOUR skins that he devours for this outrage!"

In one of the many corridors of the cathedral, one Death Eater stood, smile on her face even as new, pained screams filled the air. She knew that whatever had occurred would spur them into action. She knew that now it would only be a matter of time before they acted.

And this time, she would be there to ensure that the Dark Lord emerged victorious.

As always, my Order may not coincide with that of the book. Seeing as I've screwed up other major facts along the road, let's just take extreme liberties with that one.