Title: Never Say Let Go
Author: Skeren Dreamera and Hoshi-Tachi
Notes: So I am aware if has been a very long time since this got updated, and for that I would like to apologize. It is not, I promise you, a lack of love for the story, nor is it because I do not want to update, but a few unfortunate problems have occurred. Firstly was that I just escaped a painfully time consuming job. Secondly is that I am no longer in contact with my coauthor. These two events have led to the extremely unfair to you update times and for that I apologize. I am attempting to do my best however so I hope that this at least helps until I can get to properly writing, and hopefully finishing, any of my stories.
Hermione shot a look across the Great Hall, over to where a certain braided teenager sat for once among his housemates. "It still seems strange..." she murmured.
"What does?" Ron asked, swallowing his mouthful of chicken.
The witch glanced over at Duo again. "That Harry and Duo are related. I mean, it's not like they're very much alike."
Ron blinked, then looked over at her before shaking his head. "I don't know about that, I mean, he's hinted at a few things that make me wonder. Besidesﾅ even if it turns out to be some trick, they're both happy with it, right?"
There was a pause as the girl took in the words, and she was opening her mouth on something that looked to be an argument when a new voice entered the conversation. "Who're both happy? Are you two talking about Harry? He has seemed overly happy since he came in to the hall with you twoﾅ"
The two of them shared an uncertain look, before Ron turned to his sister. "They, um, found out they have a few things in common."
Ginny narrowed her eyes at him, her hair flame-red in the Hall's candlelight. "Alright, what are you three hiding now?"
They shared another look, and Hermione caught her friend's eye. "It's... really not our story to tell, Ginny," she said awkwardly. "I don't know how much..."
Anger filled her face. "I'm not eleven anymore!" Ginny half-shouted. "You can trust me with things!"
There was another quick, shared glance before they reached out as one to pull the girl to sit between them, Ron already talking. "It's not that! This really isn't the place for us to be telling anythingﾅ"
"Ron!" Hermione's tone was scathing, but she didn't get further before the boy was shaking his head.
"It's true!" Satisfied he cut her off, he looked to Ginny. "Look, we can't talk about this here, okay? We just found out about a... relationship that Harry has with someone, that's all. You know how dangerous that would be."
There was a moment of quiet, then puzzlement, before the redheaded girl raised an eyebrow. "You only just found out about Luna?"
Ron and Hermione were known for their squabbles. They would fight about any little thing, from Ron's habit of chewing with his mouth open to how much time the witch spent in the library. If one said something, the other was very nearly guaranteed to correct it.
Which is why it was rather surprising when they acted in concert in this one instance. Their eyes went round and their jaws dropped as they stared at the younger girl.
Not even noticing the fact they were being followed by a highly curious Ginny, both Ron and Hermione headed out of the Great Hall to track down their dear, secret keeping friend. Neither could believe he'd keep something so momentous as a girlfriend a secret from them, but there was no denying it, he had!
Hermione caught sight of him first, sitting over near the window in the common room, which was mostly empty due to everyone being at dinner. "Harry Potter! Why didn't you tell us?"
Harry twisted towards the newcomers, shocked. "W-what?" The only things he could think of that would get this kind of reaction were Duo's revelations, and he had told them about those. "What are you talking about?"
"Mate, why didn't you tell me you were dating Luna?" Ron ignored Hermione's "Tell me?" in the background, just as he ignored Harry's steadily reddening face. "I thought we were best friends?"
"We are! It's just..." Harry shook his head. "Wait. Why do you think Luna and I are together?"
There was a little cough from the girl that had followed the pair, who had gone ignored by them all. "Sorry about that Harry, I didn't realize you'd been keeping it such a secret. Luna told me about... well."
The green eyed wizard watched his friends whip around, a good reaction, considering that he felt his face flame. "Guys..." When that just brought all attention back to him, he peered up at the ceiling. "It's not like that."
Ginny twitched an eyebrow. "Really?"
Harry was sure he couldn't get any redder. "We're just friends," he said quickly. "I like talking to her."
"I see..." The redhead didn't look at all convinced, but then she sat up as a thought struck her. "Wait... If Luna wasn't who you were talking about before, who is? You mentioned Duoﾅ" She turned to look at Harry, her hazel eyes enormous. "You're dating Duo?"
There was a moment of confusion, then utter horror crossed the green-eyed teen's face. "What? No! No, don't even think that! I couldn't-!" He turned his gaze on Ron and Hermione, making a futile gesture to express his feelings on the idea, and his lack of real human speak.
Ginny stared, taking a step back from her friend turned madman, hands raising in a placating manner. "Harry, if it's not that then what is it?"
The boy's mouth worked a moment more before the words came to him. "Duo's time-traveling. He's my great-grandson. Sort of."
Ginny still stared at him, though for a rather different reason. "Ohﾅ" she said, before abruptly sitting down.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a chair there, so she thumped rather loudly to the ground. The sound broke the other two teenagers out of their stupor, and Hermione rushed to make sure she was okay, while Ron leaned against the wall next to Harry as he laughed his arse off. "I can't believe... she really thought..." he managed to gasp out in between guffaws.
"It's not funny! That's like..." He paused, then gave Ron a triumphant look as he found something that might be an appropriate comparison. "That's like someone going and saying you're dating Charlie, or your mum even!"
Ron fell silent almost immediately, making a rather interesting face. "Ew! Just... that's just nasty mate."
This time, it was Hermione that burst into laughter.
Harry turned his face back to the window, all the better to hide the relieved smile on his lips. At least they weren't talking about Luna anymore...
Duo felt a cold nose nudge leg, and almost automatically palmed a roll and held it under the table. Sirius took it delicately between his teeth and made it vanish as surely as though he'd used magic.
The action got Blaise to glance over, and he shook his head, noticing the way the hall was clearing out. "Hey, what has you so distracted? You've hardly eaten any of your dinner yourself."
The words finally got the boy to blink back to himself, gaze dropping to take in the lack on his plate, before he flitted his gaze to his friend. "You sure?"
Blaise snorted. "Come on, Maxwell. You're not that good at sneaking. It's obvious your mutt's under the table eating everything that lands on your plate." He reached for a bowl of mashed potatoes and glopped a spoonful onto the American's plate. A couple pieces of chicken followed, and he pointed to them. "Now eat. It's no wonder you're so short, if you never eat."
Duo couldn't help a scowl, remembering his years on the streets when he was lucky to get more than a couple of mouthfuls a day. "Bit too late to do anything about it, don't you think?" he shot back, his voice more heated than he'd meant it to be.
The other Slytherin was taken aback, and realized he must have hit a sore spot. "Maybe," he answered noncommittally. A change of topic would probably be best. "So, what does have you staring off into space?"
"Just... things. Not really anything I should be talking about." He shook his head, picking up his fork as he flashed the other boy a faint smirk. "But don't get worried, okay? Nothing that'll get you in trouble or anything."
Well aware of the shift in the conversation, but not quite able to grasp how the mood had changed, he shook his head. "I wasn't even worried about that, but, if you did have something in mind... you'd clue me in, right?"
Duo let out a short laugh. "Of course."
"Somehow, Mr. Maxwell, that does not reassure me." Blaise's face went blank after a brief spasm of guilt crossed it, and he turned his attention to his own plate as his head of house leaned down to speak to his friend.
"What's up, Sevvie?" the American asked, a manic grin on his face, but to Severus it felt like there was something almostﾅ off, about the expression.
There was a small twitch, then the professor leaned down, looming into their space menacingly. "Mr. Maxwell, you are to come to the infirmary this evening for your lessons." A glare was flicked between one student to the other. "And I will be hearing no more about any plots."
Duo's grin grew slightly as the professor pulled back. "The infirmary? Aww, and here I haven't managed to get injured. So concerned."
"For your lessons! Your mutt will not be allowed past the infirmary doors, so leave him elsewhere when you finish your meal." Fairly growling the last, the man left in a swirl of cloth.
Poppy peered through the glass in his office window at the two figures bent over a cauldron. She didn't have any overnight patients at the moment, so she had let them set up their equipment in the Hospital Wing itself since the fumes wouldn't complicate anyone's recovery. Even as she watched, the smaller one gestured animatedly towards the cauldron, and they engaged in a lively discussion as she chuckled.
Even if she doubted Severus would ever admit it, he and young Mr. Maxwell (or Duo, as he'd laughingly insisted on being called) worked quite well together. Why, they'd only been at it for a couple of hours and half her list of needed potions had already been crossed off! Speaking of the time, though, it was getting quite late...
Moving into the area when it seemed there was a little lull between one potion and the next, the mediwitch cleared her throat. "I'm more than happy you two managed to get so much done, but I won't have either of you becoming patients here tonight because you collapsed of exhaustion."
Mouth open to speak, Duo turned his head, looking over at the woman. "What? Nah, we're good! We're just working on through, see?"
Poppy gave him a righteous glare. The fact she was becoming fond of the rambunctious boy only made the look all the more pointed. "It's late, and you've been breathing in potions fumes for two hours." She glanced at Severus, who was looking at the clock on the wall and was obviously surprised so much time had passed. "I know you're used to working all night long, but I refuse to let a student attempt it. Perhaps you should escort him back to his dorms?"
"Of course, Poppy." Severus knew better than to defy the mediwitch, even if he was rather disappointed at having to stop. She always got even someway, usually a way much worse than whatever you had managed to avoid. Maxwell started to protest, but he gave the younger wizard a look, and amazingly he quieted.
"G'night Lady P!" Duo raised a hand, letting his head of house direct him along towards the doors once they collected the few things that would be returning to the dungeons with them. As it was, he knew that Sirius had to be waiting anxiously on the other side. Unless he had wandered off that is.
And, of course, he had. Duo wasn't really all that surprised; he was beginning to suspect the animagus had an even shorter attention span than he did. Sirius was older than he was, but in many ways he acted like he'd never matured past twenty, and from what Harry had told him in whispered conversations it was because of that Azkaban place.
The pilot shuddered, remembering those stories. Prison was bad enough, but a place guarded by things that made you relive your worst memories? He wouldn't survive a week in there. His nightmares were bad enoughﾅ
Severus bidding Poppy a good evening, as well as closing the doors, broke past the teenager's thoughts. "Come along Mr. Maxwell, we mustn't clutter up the hallways at all hours of the night."
"Yeah, I hear ya." He huffed, peering after the man before hurrying to catch up. "So, what was up with the billywig stingers?" Duo asked once he'd managed to find a rhythm with the professor's longer stride. "Adding 'em after the crushed snake fangs, I mean."
Contrary to popular opinion, Severus did truly enjoy teaching, but only those who actually put some effort into understanding his art instead of merely learning formulas by rote. It was why he despised Granger; she used memorization as a short cut in a discipline that required true comprehension. "Snake fangs are a clarifying agent. To add them before would be to cancel out the muscle-relaxing effect of the stingers."
"So that was why you added them in the end. But you didn't do that with the other formula. There wasn't any fang in that one at all before you threw them in." He was talking about the pixy pox cure that they'd started the evening with, one hand waving a bit to clarify his meaning.
"That particular property isn't the one that was being used for that potion. Instead of a relaxant, it was being used to boost the speed at which that particular potion would drain the sores." He sounded almost bored as he spoke, but there was no denying the obvious delight the boy had in understanding the answers he was getting.
In fact, he could almost see the information being carefully filed away for further contemplation. "Well, what about-"
Severus held up a hand to interrupt, seeing that they'd reached the Slytherin entrance unnoticed. "That's enough for tonight, Mr. Maxwell." For once the name was said without any particular rancor. "I'll expect you to join me in the Hospital Wing again after tomorrow's supper. You can ask me whatever questions you wish then."
Duo looked disappointed, but he nodded with a sigh. "Alright, teach. Expect a lot of them, though." He turned and spoke the password. "Oyasumi!"
To his astonishment, Severus felt a smile twitching his lips, and he ruthlessly suppressed it as the young American passed from sight. "And a good night to you as well, Mr. Maxwell," he said quietly.
It was only when he was very nearly at his rooms that the conversation replayed itself in his mind, and he stopped in the middle of the hallway. Severus had never been to Japan; there were currently no Japanese students attending Hogwarts, though there were two of Chinese descent. He did not know the language.
So how in the bloody blazes had he understood the boy?
To Be Continued.