A/N: Sorry it's been so long... Life's been a bitch, what can I say? Anyway, I'm sorry! Many thanks to the wonderful people who reviewed last chapter: catxmelons, sesshypuppysbff, rae2009, cagna, Dzem, 777angeloflove, DayDreamer1236, Aniki the Crim, Kurotaka Naoko, Lolmaster27, Natures-Rose, Tree of Angels, deddosora-, mrawgirl09, CleverPhoenix, and especially deceiving reality, who sent me a recent review that inspired me to get up off my butt and post this as well as offering some much appreciated criticism. I love all of you! And I know I said this before, but life is calming down a bit, so hopefully the next chapter will be up sooner and I'll actually reply to reviews...
With Dumbledore dead, the castle entered a state of shock. For the first couple of days, nobody knew, but once Hermione broke down crying in front of witnesses the rumors began flying. The Hogwarts rumor mill was vicious, and it operated smoothly, so by the end of the day everybody in the castle had heard about how Dumbledore had gone down in a blaze of glory, severely injuring Voldemort in a Duel. But then most of them had also heard that the Ministry had arrested him and he was being held in Azkaban.
If anyone doubted the veracity of the first theory (Luna insisted that ear pixies had made him forget who he was- they liked older people) the matter was laid to rest a week after the attack, during lunch.
McGonagall stood up in front of the remaining student body, her eyes red from crying. "Albus Dumbledore is dead," she said bluntly. Nobody made a sound, saddened but unsurprised by the news. "He died protecting us, dealing a crucial blow against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Normally, we would close the school, but I realize that many of you have no place to go. We will stay here, and in lieu of classes any teachers who are otherwise unoccupied will lead students in reconstruction efforts.
"I want all of you to think about what Albus has done for us. He was a great man, and will always be remembered."
She lifted her goblet into the air in front of her. "To Albus Dumbledore. May he find peace."
Students across the hall, regardless of house, all raised their glasses, toasting the fallen headmaster. "To Albus Dumbledore" rumbled across the hall, sounding for all the world like thunder to complement the hall's stormy grey skies.
Draco sat in the hall, thinking, left utterly alone. The other students glanced over at him frequently – he could feel them staring – as if to assure themselves that yes, the Slytherin Ice Prince was indeed sitting there instead of out partying with his Death Eater friends. This was made even more conspicuous by the fact that only a few of the Slytherin students remained, most of them younger ones who were too young to fight either way.
He tried to ignore them, instead focusing on the enigma that was Dumbledore. The man had never been particularly kind to any houses other than Gryffindor, had held a fairly blatant animosity toward the Death Eaters' children, but was still willing to give his life in defense of said students? It didn't add up.
McGonagall had said something about the old man striking a crucial blow against Voldemort. That had to be it. His motives were not drawn out of care for his students, but rather from his need to play hero. Of course.
But then wouldn't he have waited for an opportunity that didn't involve suicide?
Draco hated unanswered questions, but the headmaster was too confusing to pick apart.
The Golden Trio was crying, of course. Out of the entire house of Gryffindor, there was not one dry eye. Hermione, even through her grief, was thinking as well.
With Dumbledore gone, there shouldn't be any risk in getting Ed and Roy out of the Room of Requirement, as long as there were no Ministry officials at Hogwarts. And since being at Hogwarts would mean being pressured into actually doing something, like aiding in the reconstruction efforts, it was unlikely that any Ministry idiots would show up on the scene.
The only question was how to get to the two alchemists when the Room was hiding them.
She stood, walking over to Draco and ignoring the stares and muttering that followed her as everyone wondered why she would be talking to the Slytherin Ice Prince. That shock, of course, was nothing compared to what followed as he proceeded to converse with her quite civilly.
"Granger," he greeted, inclining his head slightly.
She rolled her eyes. "It's Hermione."
"What can I do for you?" he asked, ignoring her comment. Privately, he thought that she should just be happy it wasn't 'mudblood' anymore.
"How do you think we can get them out of the Room?"
"You think we can? The Ministry is quite interested," he replied, also being deliberately vague, aware of the eavesdropping students.
"If any Ministry people came by, they would be obligated to help rebuild."
One corner of his mouth twitched. "And McGonagall?"
"Too noble to have been involved."
He nodded, agreeing with the assessment. The woman was many things, including insufferable, but she was noble. "If the terms of them entering were just to hide, do you think it will block us if we already know they're there?"
She shook her head. "We've already tried it. You were in there and Harry wanted to know what you were doing."
"It's alright, the Room wouldn't let him in," she said soothingly.
He didn't seem terribly relieved, more offended at the thought that Potter would have so little respect for others' privacy. He took a sip of tea to clam himself.
"So… What were you doing in there?" Harry said, walking up with Ron close behind.
Draco choked. "That's none of your business!"
He sighed. "I was playing the piano. Happy?"
Ron muttered something that sounded like "Bloody aristocrat," and Hermione slapped his arm to shut him up. Draco's glare would have curdled milk, so that may have also contributed to Ron's sudden silence.
"Anyway," Hermione continued, "we still haven't figured out how to get them out of the Room."
"…Do you think we could ask the Room to tell them we're there, or to pass along a message?" Harry asked.
"Since they asked to be hidden from people, a message probably won't work, since it's a form of contact. Your first idea should work, though, since it doesn't allow any sort of contact on our part," Draco said. "Are you sure you're not a Slytherin?"
Harry grimaced. "The Sorting Hat tried to put me in Slytherin."
"And you ended up in Gryffindor?" Draco asked, appalled.
"I asked it to put me there."
"Why? Were you ill?"
Harry winced. "Well, you see, you were in Slytherin, so…"
"You were a rude little bugger," Ron supplied helpfully, by way of explanation.
"Thank you for that overwhelmingly positive assessment of my character," Draco snapped. "If I recall, you hadn't given me any reason whatsoever to be polite to you."
"You were just like your father, Ferret. How else was I supposed to act?"
"I'm not my father, Weasel." Draco jammed his fork into a slice of tomato on his plate rather harder than was necessary. The poor tomato made a very satisfying squish as it was speared, seeds flying through the air to land on Ron's shirt by way of some subtle magical intervention on Draco's part. Ron wrinkled his nose and was opening his mouth to retaliate when Hermione intervened.
"Boys," she muttered under her breath before changing the subject. "Do you think we should get them out of the Room now, or should we wait?"
"Why the hell would we wait?" Ron asked cluelessly.
"For things to calm down, Ronald," Hermione stated matter-of-factly. "Hogwarts is a wreck right now. If we leave them in there until the defenses are back up, at least, they'll be safer."
"Plus the Death Eaters are likely to stage another attack during that time period, which will distract the Ministry from hunting them," Harry added.
"If we wait, let it be just another couple of days. I know the room can give them food and all, and it's not likely they'll starve or anything, but I'd go bonkers if I was stuck in that room for too long," Ron said.
Ed sneezed as he flopped back on the bed, sinking slightly into the cushions. "This is pointless," he complained loudly, letting out a long sigh. He had no idea how long they'd been in the room – a clock appeared on the wall, but he steadfastly ignored it and it went away – and he didn't really want to know just how long he'd been sitting there without doing anything.
It's just… His life had been centered around some purpose for as long as he could remember. Whether it was learning alchemy, attempting to resurrect the dead, or searching for the Philosopher's Stone, a purpose had always been there. Now, just trying to make sure that he and Roy survived, he wasn't quite sure what to do with himself. Especially since they were stuck in the same damn room for days.
"Roy, they said they'd get us out once it was safe, right?" Ed asked hesitantly.
"Of course. Why do you ask? Your memory becoming as short as the rest of you?"
The blonde saw red for a moment. "Who are you calling so small that he could asphyxiate from the spaces between the molecules in the air?"
"Well, you're the only other one in the room, so it's a perfectly logical assumption that I was talking to you."
"Bastard General with a God complex," Ed muttered.
"You're not very good at whispering sweet nothings, are you?"
Ed leaned in close, his breath tickling the older man's ear. "Would you like to try me, sexy?"
Roy involuntarily licked his lips, his breath hitching and his palms starting to sweat at the suggestion. He kept his cool, though, or tried to. "Are you sure you're up to the challenge?"
Ed considered for a moment before answering. "You're right."
"I am?" popped out of Roy's mouth before he could help it, in a tone of incredulous surprise.
"Yes, you're right," Ed replied in a disappointed voice. "I think I have a paper cut, so I'd better not do anything strenuous."
"How's your back?" Roy asked seriously. "That rock hit you pretty hard."
Ed waved a hand dismissively. "It's not bad. I've got one hell of a nasty bruise there, though."
Well, there go any thoughts of flipping him onto his back and fucking him senseless, Roy thought in resignation.
"I know that glint in your eye. Don't you deny it."
Roy raised his hands in mock surrender. "Guilty as charged. It's your fault, though. Ever since the Room let you shower you've been wandering around with your shirt undone."
"But it's so comfortable," Ed whined.
"It's not like I'm complaining – the view is great, believe me," Ryo said, his eyes roaming across Ed's exposed chest, almost caressing the tanned expanse of skin, resting on the scars by his automail and over his stomach and heart.
"Then is there some sort of no-touch rule that I'm unaware of? You've been unusually subdued."
"Will be fine," the blonde said in exasperation, rolling his eyes.
Roy slid his hand behind Ed's head, bringing their mouths together in a searing kiss. They continued for a while, tongues twisting in an intricate dance, until lack of oxygen made them part.
They stared at each other for a moment, panting… And then Roy poked the blonde's bruise.
"Ow!" Ed exclaimed, as much out of surprise as pain. "What was that for?"
"Your back will be fine, hm?"
"It will!" Ed insisted.
Before they got the opportunity to find out, the wall started changing colors. It was slow, flowing and ornate, as though some invisible quill had started to write on the wall in a blinding silver ink.
Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy are waiting outside the room, it read.
Ed buttoned his shirt as quickly as he could, swearing occasionally as the buttons slipped through his automail fingers. The door to the Room opened just as he finished. He rushed forward, blissfully happy to be getting out. Roy followed, just as happy to be free but maintaining his composure – he did have that cool, collected and sexy reputation to uphold, after all…
His stomach rumbled.
…Though his body didn't seem to want to cooperate. The Golden Trio (Quartet?) was staring at him strangely.
"I'm hungry," he said by way of explanation and shrugged.
Hermione rolled her eyes, once again muttering something to the effect of "boys" under her breath as Harry and Ron nodded emphatically at Roy's statement. "That makes sense," she said. "It's easy to lose track of time in there and forget to eat, and you were in there for four days, after all."
"No wonder I was so bored," Ed muttered, and Roy smiled slightly. Then his stomach growled again.
"You need to eat more," Ed commented.
"I eat plenty," Roy retorted. "Perhaps if you didn't eat your own weight in food each day, you'd know that. Though, now that I think about it, that isn't that much, is it?"
"Who are you calling an ultra-midget so tiny that he could be crushed by a pea?"
"You said it, not me."
"I am not small!" Ed all but screamed.
"Whip it out and prove it," Roy muttered, just loud enough to be audible. The students choked, Hermione gasping for air.
Perhaps fearing that Ed would follow through with the dare, as the blonde looked ready to do just about anything to prove his size, Ron intervened.
"Let's go to the kitchen sand grab some grub," he suggested, only to help in pain as Hermione grabbed his ear.
"You just love to give more work to those poor house elves, don't you?' she scolded. "They work hard enough as it is without you adding to their load, Ronald!"
"But they love it, 'Mione!" he protested, cowering in fear. She sounded far too much like his mum for him to be happy. It was the high-pitched, scolding tone that every woman who had ever existed in his family had been gifted with, so he was all too familiar with it.
"Just because they've been brainwashed-"
"As enthralling as this little lovers' spat is, could we leave now?" Draco asked, staring at the bickering pair in disdain. What is it with these people? was clearly written across his and Harry's faces. Of course, they were both conveniently forgetting their infamous quarrels – those had gotten so out of hand that some second-year Hufflepuff had started a betting pool on who would get sent to the infirmary first and what injuries with they would have. The two leading theories were Harry, being hexed off his broomstick during a Quidditch match, and Draco, being bitten by a large, venemous snake that Harry had set on him.
And Harry thought people had forgotten that he was a parseltongue. Poor, naïve boy.
They walked toward the kitchen, happy to see that nobody was around. Although, sure, Roy and Ed's disappearance would have to be explained at some point, why do today what they could put off until tomorrow? Or, better yet, even later than that?
A/N: Please review! I'd really appreciate it... It helps motivate me, too! And please give me some new title ideas! This was the first fic I started working on, so I forgot about the title bit until I was putting it up... Credit, of course, goes to whoever suggests the title I end up choosing. :)