A/N: Sorry! -_-; This is waaaaay later than I'd have hoped but it's been a busy 6 months since my last update. Thanks to Masked Fool for beta-ing and being willing to wade through all my insanity. *GLOMPS*
I should be posting my Supernatural/Harry Potter Crossover after this as well. Like I said- it's been crazy! :D
Just Another Perfect Soldier
Chapter Sixteen: The Consequence of Action
"He's simply asleep, as far as I can tell." Madam Pomfrey declared stiffly, eying the restraints clenched tightly around her patient's wrists. A matching pair could be found around his ankles, hidden just under the blankets. "A deep sleep, but just as harmless."
"His other injures?" Remus asked, trying to rub a hole in his already thread-bare robes.
The medi-witch frowned. "Healing. The friction burn along his neck and shoulder will be gone by morning, as will the other scrapes and cuts. Three ribs broke cleanly and were easy to repair. The only remaining injury is the concussion; aside from the unexplained sleep."
Dumbledore stood silently in the middle of the room. He looked old and serious. "Thank you, Poppy. Go and get some rest."
She nodded slowly, her eyes bruised and exhausted. No body spoke until the portrait hole thumped shut behind her.
"What time will Lady Une arrive tomorrow, Mr. Winner?" Dumbledore inquired softly, stroking his beard.
Quatre cleared his throat, holding a cup of untouched chamomile tea. "Nine sharp, Headmaster. Wufei sent the message that her presence was urgently desired and she booked the first shuttle from L1."
"I stressed the need for secrecy and caution." Wufei supplied as his comrades nodded or hummed in agreement. Heero barely took his eyes away from Harry's form, breathing deeply on the bed in front of him. Remus made to touch the unconscious wizard's hand, pausing suddenly before contact and quickly curling his fingers away from his godson's skin.
"Are the cuffs really necessary?"
Duo shuffled forward, the end of his braid a puffed-up mess from nervous fingers. "They're padded, professor. Harry will be fine. We're just not sure what state he'll awake in…"
Remus shook his head in a daze, still shocked about the whole affair.
"I can't believe that Harry would- that he would do it." His amber eyes sought out his old professor. "Could it have been a set-up? A mistake?" A shadow clouded his eyes as something else came to mind. "And what was wrong with him? I heard – you all know something."
"Harry was under the influence of something call the Z-" Quatre began, his mouth snapping shut as Trowa firmly touched his shoulder. His green eyes were warm but unreadable as he said "He has no clearance."
Remus balked. "Harry is my godson. If anyone has clearance it is me."
Dumbledore took out his wand. "Remus, whatever is said in this room must not be repeated to anyone outside those who reside here and now. Am I clear?"
The werewolf blinked at the underlying message. "You want me to swear a Wizard's Oath? Albus, I could lose my magic – my life!"
The Headmaster did not look the least bit repentant. "Harry's life may depend on your silence."
Remus quieted at that thought, pulling out his own wand cautiously and pressing the tip to Dumbledore's. Nothing was said as a bright white flash appeared and wrapped around both hands, winding up to touch each wizard's wrist before fading into their skin.
Dumbledore stepped away again, nodding to Quatre to continue. The blond smiled tightly at his lover before looking straight into Remus' eyes.
"As I was saying before, Harry was under the influence of a computer program called the ZERO System. If he is truly the pilot of the Gundam we found him in, it is not hard to believe that he has been destroying –" Quatre fumbled for words. "That he would do what he has done."
The werewolf stared at Harry like he could see inside his head and get the answers himself. "How? This – Zero is a computer program. What does that have to do with Harry?"
"It's advanced technology. It connects directly to a person's neural network." Duo took up the explanation, noticing how the cup in Quatre's hand trembled slightly. Talking about ZERO was not on the blonde's list of top ten things he enjoyed doing.
"It feeds information into the brain – and we're not talking little bits of math equations here – and it forces a pilot's brain to calculate possibilities and probabilities of battle rapidly. While hooked up to the System, the pilot is not only moderately psychic, but hyperaware of his surroundings and hypersensitive to the program's suggestions. The ultimate fighting machine."
"It can store information as well." Trowa added calmly. "ZERO has thousands of scenarios and training modes in its memory. It keeps building upon the basics the creators of the System started with. It also has no room for defeat."
"If Potter was connected to that System all summer, with ZERO imputed with a specific mission goal in mind, it is not hard to believe that the mild-mannered boy you all knew could do unspeakable things." Wufei finished. "No one other than Yuy and Winner has ever mastered the ZERO System. No other pilot would want to."
"That does not explain the change in Harry when he has been away from this program." Dumbledore rebutted. "Does the System cause one to act out when not still connected to it?"
Quatre shook his head, worried. "No. That is what troubles me as well. Harry has no brain damage from constant use nor any way to access ZERO while here – at Hogwarts, or that day in the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomfrey would have found it. We would have seen the signs."
"It's not possible to be connected to ZERO while, um, not connected." Duo agreed, his brows furrowed in thought.
"Yes it is."
Heero stood from his seat at Harry's side, his back and shoulders stiff with anger.
"Harry is connected to the ZERO System at this very moment."
His comrades looked aghast.
"How?!" Wufei demanded harshly. "We left his Gundam buried under mountains of Secrecy Spells and Invisibility Charms. He'd need a neural inference –"
"Not if it was already in his head."
Quatre dropped his cup of tea. "Dear Lord.
Remus began to search through Harry's wild hair - for what, no one was really sure. Duo rubbed his face tiredly.
"Are you talking like bionic here? Seven Million Dollar Man and all that crap? Because that's far out, even for us."
Heero shook his head. "No. I'm not entirely sure how he did it, but Harry isn't just a part of the ZERO System like we were - he is the System."
"You know who did this." Trowa said. It wasn't a question.
He nodded grimly. "I should have seen it earlier- his behavior, specific turns-of-phrase, even his distinct lack of emotional output - It echoes my own training."
Quatre groaned, clutching his chest weakly. "I knew it. I knew he was afraid of the name but I said nothing."
Trowa pulled the hand on the blonde's chest away, threading his fingers through them instead. "You could not have known about this."
Quatre stared up at him, equal parts grateful and guilty. "I kept it from you because it was not mine to share." The explanation was entirely true, yet merely a piece of the whole truth. He would not reveal the knowledge he had been privy to due to the bond forming between Heero and Harry. Especially among those who would either destroy it or bend it to their will.
Duo stepped towards Heero, violet eyes dark. "Are you sure, man? I locked the docs in that room good and proper. I swear."
Heero knew it was true. Duo never lied.
"Dr. J. - this is his work. I'm positive I'm right. Aren't I, Potter?" Heero asked the limp body.
Harry didn't stir and the monitoring spell Pomfrey had set up didn't jump. Remus shot the Japanese wizard a disbelieving look as he advanced on the bed to whisper in Harry's ear, "I know you're awake."
Jade eyes shot open, glaring mulishly. Harry tugged at the restrained with a huff.
"Was this really necessary?"
Heero simply stared at him. "You're a criminal, in case you've forgotten."
Harry stared up at him, hard and unreadable and nothing like any Harry Remus or Dumbledore had ever known. "Why is it the five of you can go on killing sprees under Zero and be hailed heroes while I'm the murderous criminal? Double standards much?"
Heero's eyes widened at the remark as he steeled himself against someone that was not the Harry he lo- the Harry he knew. Zero was still in there and still very much in control.
"Aw, Heero - don't look at him like that." The wizard said softly. "It's not like he killed your puppy or anything."
Quatre made a small noise as Heero turned away from the bed, unable to stop the wave of emotion 'Harry' had dragged from him. God, what else did he know about Heero and his failures?
The restrained wizard gasped suddenly, flinching at something unseen as he thrashed around on the bed slightly. Harry whispered something to himself, just low enough that no one else could catch it, before the tension drained out of him like water going smoothly down the sink.
When he looked up, something was different.
"I'm sorry. I would have never said that-"
The wizard paused, listening to something before scoffing. Quatre stood up and approached him, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
"Heero is correct then? The Zero System is inside you…" The blond wizard swallowed, tilting his head to the side. "I can feel it."
Harry turned his head away, silent and unresponsive. Just like Heero.
When Commander Une had gotten the call about the rogue Gundam, she hadn't expected it to come from Chang Wufei. She hadn't expected to be called down to Earth and secretly into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
She hadn't expected to find Harry Potter cuffed to a cot either.
"Will someone please explain to me just what is going on here?"
Potter didn't even acknowledge her, his eyes vacant and staring at the wall. It made her skin crawl, the way he seemed to disconnect from the world around him - especially with five trained Preventer Agents and the Leader of the World Police congregated in his room.
"We've discovered the identity and the whereabouts of the rogue Gundam pilot." Wufei stated quietly. His face was as expressionless as Yuy's but each of the former pilots seemed to radiate the same sort of suppressed sadness.
Une looked around the room for some kind of hint as to where the pilot could be stashed. When no one was forthcoming she frowned impatiently. "Well?"
"Potter is the pilot." Heero said suddenly, his back and elbows locked straight with tension. Had she not known better, Une would have sworn she could see hurt and betrayal written all over him.
She turned to look at the young man still chained to the cot. It was surprising and yet, she knew that the doctors who'd made the first set of pilots liked their subjects young. Still, Harry Potter… that was ambitious.
"Is this true, Potter?"
The wizard merely glanced at her, idly playing with a loose thread on the padding of his cuffs. He was smart then, not admitting anything, because he could see that there wasn't a damn thing they could do anyway.
"It seems we have something of a problem then, gentlemen." She said with a sigh. "You all know I can't very well arrest Harry Potter and drag him through the halls of the school to be deported to L1."
"The Muggle World would call for his death." Duo added. "They wouldn't even ask for a trial."
Harry didn't flinch but the air seemed to thicken with unease around him. Heero stepped forward and they locked gazes. Everyone watched them watching each other until Harry looked down and away showing the first sign of emotion Une had seen from him since arriving; he looked ashamed.
"If you arrest Harry, you'll be damning our World to the rule of a tyrant." Dumbledore cut into the silence, startling everyone with his sudden appearance. "I have it on good knowledge that Harry is the only person who can defeat Voldemort."
The Commander scowled at him deeply. "I can't very well leave this case unsolved, Albus. The Preventers' cannot take that kind of failure- especially not in the public's eye."
"What if you find the Gundam mysteriously abandoned? You leave enough blood around and it will look like the pilot became injured and bled out." Duo suggested. "Even if they never find a body, people will assume a wild animal got to him."
"You cannot take my Gundam." Harry said sharply. "She was made specifically for me; she's mine."
"It's not like you'll be using her again." Wufei said logically. "That's not happening, not on our watch."
"You should be grateful I'm not just going 'the hell with it' and tossing you to the public." Une snapped angrily, surprised at his gall.
Harry stared at her, a small dark smirk playing on his face. "If you only knew what they were planning when they kidnapped me."
"Care to enlighten us?" Trowa asked softly, eyes shadowed with intent.
Harry looked at Heero, his face blank. "He told me it was just us. We're the only ones that survived."
His bodyguard looked surprised, though whether it was the news that Harry had gone through what he had- and in such a short span of time- or that there had been more…experiments before and after him was the question.
"Dr. J never tried to put the System in me." He replied back softly and Une physically jolted at the idea.
"What?!" She demanded of her officers. "Will someone tell me-"
"I've been using the Zero System." Harry said frankly, tugging on his cuffs again. "To plan my attacks on Voldemort, Dr. J and every base I can remember the location of."
Commander Une straightened up abruptly. The new Gundam had to go- the whole reason the original five Gundam pilots were pressured into destroying their mechas was because everyone feared the idea of the Zero System surviving the War. There were still many fractions more than willing to use the technology to disrupt the peace.
"I'm taking your Gundam to be destroyed, Potter. We cannot have the Zero System floating around, waiting to be used. It must be destroyed."
Harry laughed at her. Dumbledore crossed the room to grip her shoulder gently.
"The System is not in the Gundam, Lady Une. Harry is the System now."
Dumbledore invited the Commanding Officer of the Preventers up to his office. They needed to find a way to salvage the situation that would be best for everyone involved.
Quatre and Heero joined them, upon the request of the blond himself. Wufei, Trowa and Duo stayed down in the common rooms, guarding Harry against escape.
"I can't allow Harry to walk around unwatched, Albus." Une snapped. "Professionally or personally. Do you have any idea what that System can do when prompted?"
The old wizard stirred his tea carefully. "I have been made aware by Mr. Yuy. You also granted me clearance to view the files myself."
"You and I both know that papers and second-hand accounts mean nothing when it comes to this kind of danger."
Quatre cleared his throat. "Commander Une is correct. The Zero System does not take into account who is friend and who is foe."
"But Potter does." Heero replied, "I believe that is the whole point of the matter."
Une frowned. "I thought Potter had no control over the System- explaining his captivity and actions while he was a victim of J and the Dark Lord."
"Yet, we have witnessed him take back control from the System as well." Heero parried. "Winner and I understand how the program works, Commander. Harry's actions thus far are not typical ZERO reactions."
Quatre frowned at him. "Even if that were true, it is obvious that the System holds some form of control over him."
Heero stared at his friend, slight disapproval evident on his face. "If you cannot look at this impartially Zero Four, you should not be here." Softer he added, "You are not Harry."
Dumbledore cleared his throat, distracting everyone from the scene before them. "You are all forgetting a frighteningly large part of this problem." He said at last. "We cannot lock Harry up. He is needed… and perhaps now more than ever he is the only person who can stop Lord Voldemort for good."
"Then what do you suggest we do?" Une asked him wearily.
Silence passed, seconds ticking into minutes before Quatre cleared his throat.
"I have a solution of sorts. It involves Winner Corps, so I would like your written assurance that my father's company and its employees will not be harmed."
Une nodded. "I'll get Noin to draft it up the moment I leave here." She knew that the pilots and Agent Fire had enough history together that Noin's involvement would not be contested.
Quatre nodded in reply, sending Heero a look. His friend inclined his head, agreeing to something nobody else knew of.
"I will use the remaining Gundanium that my company possesses- for purely scientific reasons- and have Rashid form it into the cock-pit of Harry's Gundam. The Maganacs can covertly pull the piece of the fake Gundam towards Earth's gravity-"
"Quatre! Pulling something that huge towards Earth-"
"We would be able to control its descent, Une." The blond businessman interjected. "How do you think we landed on Earth so smoothly during Operation Meteor?"
The Commander quieted.
"The Gundam will land in the Pacific Ocean. We can manipulate the inside of the Gundam to appear as if a person was ripped from the inside-"
"You want to stage the unknown pilot's death." Heero said flatly. "Hn."
Dumbledore tapped his chin. "I can have a few members of the Order- trusted members," He added at Quatre's and Heero's dark glances. "Perform any kind of spell you need. We'll have to be discreet, of course."
"It will appear as though the pilot left Earth after the last attack and unknowingly entered space with a broken cockpit seal." Une muttered to herself, putting the pieces together. "Yes, this could work. It would solve the problem of a body and if Harry does not attack again…."
"We'll have to be quick but precise. "Quatre admitted. "I'll need to go to L4 as soon as possible."
Dumbledore nodded. "I'll prepare for your leave. Will you be taking Mr. Barton with you?"
The blond smiled softly. "I believe so."
Une nodded firmly. "Very well. Be ready to leave with me. We'll take-off in the morning."
Everyone left to start the process.
Remus crept into their common rooms nearly an hour after Dumbledore had taken Heero, Quatre and Lady Une up to his office. Trowa stood closest to the entrance, greeting their Professor with a drawn wand and a silently raised eyebrow.
"Mr. Barton," Remus said cordially, even though the world-weary look in his bruised eyes said that this visit was more than just a social call. "Has he said anything?"
Trowa shook his head. "No, sir. He hasn't said a word since the Headmaster spoke on his behalf."
"Could I have a moment with him?"
"Professor," Duo began, trading unreadable looks with his companions. "I'm not sure how much of Harry is Harry right now. You might not end up-"
"I have to try." Remus whispered harshly and stalked past them. Wufei scowled at the professor before silently resting his back against the wall. Trowa stood guard at the entrance hole as Duo hovered worriedly at the fireplace. They couldn't give either Harry or Remus the privacy they would have liked.
"Harry?" Remus approached the bed steadily but his godson didn't move; didn't acknowledge him. Dark green eyes simply stared up at the wall, as dull and vacant as a china doll.
The professor dragged one of the kitchen chairs over towards the bed, sitting just out of reach of his favorite student. Harry didn't even flinch at the scrape of the wood across the rug.
"Harry?" Remus tried again before shaking his head sadly. "It's alright- you needn't say anything; just listen."
The werewolf fell silent then, at a loss. How did he even begin to reach someone so closed off from the world? What could he use to draw Harry out and away from the suffocating presence of this ZERO system?
"I know this isn't you." Remus muttered, jerking slightly in surprise because that hadn't been what he'd wanted to say. He continued on. "I know it. The Harry my friends- your parents died for, the Harry Sirius loved more than anything in this world, would never have done this."
The wizard on the cot didn't react to his words, except for the slightest hint of tension in his shoulders. Remus closed his eyes and said, "I know you" quietly, reassuringly, to himself.
Harry's voice sounded like broken glass and gravel from misuse. Remus blinked at the cutting tone, not sure how things got so wrong between them. When Remus stopped listening because Harry stopped talking.
"Harry, do you remember during your Fifth year-"
"Why do you do that?" The restrained wizard asked angrily, "Why do you talk to me like I'm- I'm not here? Like I'm not me?"
Remus opened his mouth and closed it again, at a loss. He didn't know how to make Harry see, how to bring him back. It felt like the little boy Lily had placed in his arms while James and Sirius rough-housed, the thin, pale thirteen year old who asked to learn how to protect himself against his nightmarish memories, was gone.
"This is me," Harry said passionately, his voice breaking, "but you just won't see it."
"I know you think you have to do this-"
"You're not listening. You never listen to me," Harry snapped, his eyes flashing ominously with amber numbers. "Stop trying to change me- like they did. The person you thought I was- he's gone," he panted in anger. "Your Harry is dead. Understand?"
Remus was pale, like the day after a full moon, worn and weary and broken. His amber eyes didn't flinch from Harry's furious gaze as he whispered, "You're just tired. You just need to heal… I'll come back when you're feeling better. I'll come back, when you're better."
He stood slowly, like the very movement hurt. Harry's chest began to tighten in an almost foreign emotion. Zero beeped sluggishly into life.
'A marked increase in heart rate. Rapid breathing. Adrenal secretions. Panic. Fear. He cannot accept you. We must learn to survive without these emotional setbacks.'
Remus was leaving him, tied to that cot and at the mercy of whatever the other pilots and their fragile, fledgling government decided to do with him. He watched his godfather walked away with an aching burn pulsing in the back of his eyes and throat. He was alone this time. Completely.
Never before had he felt more abandoned.
Heero was out, sneaking around their common rooms but Harry hadn't slept properly since they had moved him from his spot beside the Japanese wizard and chained him to his bed.
He watched with heavy-lidded eyes as Heero soundlessly moved around him, towards the tiny kitchen island and the kettle still perched there from earlier that afternoon. Only when it was filled to the brim and bubbling did Harry speak.
Heero started, whipping around to stare at Harry in the darkness. His face was perfectly expressionless- and in its own way completely open- as he responded. "Perhaps."
Harry watched him slide along the island, looking perfectly natural as he refused to turn his back on the green-eyed wizard again.
"I'd ease them if I could." He said softly, knowing it carried across the room when Heero flinched.
"They'll fade on their own. There is nothing you can do for them." He said briskly, catching the kettle before it could whistle and alert the others of their conversation.
Harry rolled the words over in his mind, reading into their tone and pitch before pulling up the nerve to ask "Can't I? Or maybe you won't let me?"
The mug on their tiny island overflowed slightly before Heero moved to put it down. He seemed to be struck silent at the statement, his eyes averted and shadowed in the darkness of the night. Harry didn't even bother to wake up Zero; he could feel the other wizard pull away as if he were a band-aid being pulled off a very old, still healing wound.
"You have no idea what you're asking for, Potter." Heero finally settled on, his argument clear and obvious. Harry scoffed at it.
"I am not a child, Heero. I'm not even innocent anymore. They strapped me down and made sure of that."
"That will not make this right, Potter. If anything-"
Harry shook his head, rising up as far as he could from his spot on the bed. "That doesn't mean this is wrong."
Harry stared at Heero intently, noticing the hard lines of his hips and shoulders and the way he said 'that's final' without even muttering a word.
"I have no say in this now? None at all?" He asked, already knowing the answer. It still hit like a punch, solid and true, when Heero said "No."
He wanted to shout loud enough to wake the others, scream until he couldn't even whisper. Sometimes, whenever it came to what he thought was best for Harry, Heero could be worse than Remus.
As if he could hear Harry's thoughts the other wizard turned around sharply. His eyes were bright in the shadows. "I'm under orders to protect you, keep you safe. While you're under my care you're my responsibility Potter, and I refuse to break the trust I have with my superiors on this."
Unexpectedly, Heero's face softened, just enough for Harry to see and know that even if the other wizard wanted this, it was too caught up in his own rules and beliefs to be set free. "I can't offer you anything more than friendship."
Zero would be no help on this, even as it beeped into life and inquired as to the problem. "You don't understand." Harry said softly. "You've seen me- the me I am now, cracked open and true. Real. I want you to see that, but how can you not expect me to want more from you?"
Heero picked up his mug calmly, staring down into its murky depths. "There will be others, I'm sure. You are-"
Harry leant forward, the chains rattled against the metal of his cot. "But they won't be you, Heero."
The Japanese wizard gripped his mug so tightly, Harry was almost sure it would break under the pressure. "You will not make me change my mind, Potter." He said, his voice ringing with finality before returned to his bedroom, closing the door softly behind him.
Harry flopped back onto the cot in frustration, ignoring Zero again as he stewed in his own thoughts. He'd pushed aside the idea before, but now it made sense in a way only Harry could seem to see. The fight was over for tonight, ending with Heero's stubborn determination in the lead but while he would not give in, Harry refused to give up.
A/N: Please Read and Review. Remember, for every review not written a Harry/Goyle plot bunnies is born. *evil grin*