"Mr. Potter. Please stay behind."
Harry looked up from packing away his Defense books. He took in the sweet smile on the woman's toad-like face with a mental grimace. Harry was perfectly aware this woman was a Ministry tool, and he really did not want to get tangled up in whatever she was planning.
"I really have to go. We're going to have a study group over lunch, and..." Harry lied with quick ease, his smile returning in attempt to charm his way out of the situation.
"It should only take but a moment," Umbridge countered, her sweet smile getting impossibly sweeter as she batted her long lashes at him.
Harry reluctantly turned to Su Li, Hannah, and Ernie who waited patiently at the door. "I guess I'll catch you guys later, then."
They nodded and left him behind without much protest. They didn't know Harry very well, after all, and had no real reason to stay.
Umbridge tittered like a pleased school girl. "Come this way, Mr. Potter. I believe we will be more comfortable during our little talk in my office."
Harry took a deep breath and followed the woman across the classroom that looked much bigger now that it was empty. They went up some stairs in the front corner of the room and into the office beyond. It was as hideous as Umbridge's horrible pink robes. The walls were white and the chairs were fluffy and pink. The desk was covered in lace doilies, a delicate tea set, and neatly stacked files. Worse, the walls were nearly covered with little plates and pictures that had moving, mewling kittens. One or two would have been weird, but the dozens of cute fluffy faces staring down at him became down right scary.
"Um," he said, just to say something over the discordant sounds of the cats.
"Have a seat, Mr. Potter," Umbridge suggest with another disturbing giggle. "I'm very interested to hear how you are adjusting to living at Hogwarts. It must be quite different from what you are used to." The heavyset witch settled behind her desk and, with two flicks of her wand, had steam rising from the china tea pot. She gracefully poured herself and Harry a cup.
Harry, of course, did not plan to drink any of it. "Uh, I'm doing alright. It's all still pretty new," he offered, not sure what it was the woman wanted.
"The Ministry was quite disturbed when we lost track of you, Mr. Potter..."
"You mean, the night Voldemort killed my parents?" Harry asked innocently, blinking his wide, green eyes.
Umbridge smiled and sipped her tea, but the tension in her hands and face revealed Harry had scored a point. "Yes. That night." She cleared her throat and set her cup down on a perfect little saucer. "You see, Harry, now that you are back in the Wizarding World, we want to make sure you are well taken care of."
Harry understood exactly where this was going, and he wasn't going to play that game. "Thank you for your concern. If that's all..." He stood with a little bow and scooped up his bag.
"Mr. Potter!" Umbridge was on her feet, hands planted on her ornate wooden desk. "Please understand that the Ministry has a responsibility to the citizens. We are merely concerned. Your steadfast evasions only increase that concern."
Harry sighed and turned back to face her. He kept his back straight and his expression as haughty as Quatre's when he was forced to face the stupidity of others. "Madam, I am an intelligent being. It doesn't take much insight to know that the you and the Ministry would never be satisfied with the answers I could give you about my guardians. So I don't plan on wasting my time answering them."
With that, he turned and took two long strides toward the door. He was almost to freedom when her spell hit him in the back. As Harry crumpled to his knees, his bag spilling to the floor, and his arms coming to wrap tightly around his stomach, he had a moment to cringe at the look he knew Heero would give him when Harry recounted this meeting. Harry just hadn't thought the woman would go so far so soon. Certainly, there would be hell to pay for her attacking him.
"I tried to do this the easy way, Mr. Potter," Umbridge said sweetly behind him.
Harry grit his teeth and curled further around his stomach. It was like butterflies times a million. Something almost intangible banging and writhing, trying to get out.
"That's the Truth, Mr. Potter," Umbridge said sweetly, her blue eyes twinkling madly. "You know so many things and all of them want to come out at once. I hear it can be quite uncomfortable." She tisked and crouched down, reaching to sooth back his bangs.
Harry yanked away as much as he could, gasping as the sharp movement jarred the thrashing spiders in his stomach.
Umbridge's sweet facade fell and a cold look overcame her features. "I'm going to ask you questions, Mr. Potter. You are going to tell me what I want to know, and with every answer you give, the sensation will decrease." She pulled a parchment and quill out of her robes and set them on the floor to record his answers. "Where were you before you returned to the Wizarding world?"
"The colonies. Most recently L3," Harry gasped, trying to keep his eyes from watering. He would just die if Umbridge thought she had made him cry.
"Were you raised by the Muggle military?" Umbridge asked with a toothy smile.
Harry glared at her poisonously. "No."
"Do you have an aqueduct and healthy family?"
"Yes," Harry gasped as the spiders became snakes that rolled and coiled painfully.
Umbridge tapped her mouth, expression thoughtful. "How can you say that, Mr. Potter? You are an orphan. And the only two people on the registry are males, either brothers or friends. How can they be adequate parents for a teenager of your stature and importance?"
"Because they give me everything I need," Harry spat furiously. "You don't even know them!"
"But you need healthy role models in your life, Mr. Potter," Umbridge said with a giggle. "For example, a mother. Can you say you have one of those?"
Harry cringed as the spell pulled the answer from deep inside him. "Yes. Trowa."
The horrible woman looked surprised. "Trowa?" She repeated the strange name. "She wasn't listed as your guardian with the Ministry." Her eyes narrowed. "Did you file your guardians under false names? That's illegal!" Umbridge tittered, excitement sparkling in her eyes. "We'll just have to start from the beginning, won't we? Who is your father, Mr. Potter? "
"Heero," Harry was forced to answer and shifted on his knees. The spell was becoming less and less overwhelming with every answer he gave, and he wanted to bolt as soon as he could get his feet under him.
"And this Duo? Who is he?" she demanded, obviously aware that Harry was close to being free.
"Brother," Harry hissed, eyes on the door, willing his body to uncurl and move. He managed to get half-upright and push up on his heels.
"Tell me everyone in your immediate family and their equivalent familial role that you associate them with!" Umbridge yelled.
"Heero is my father, Trowa is my mother. Duo is my big brother, and Quatre is my big sister. Wufei is my mentor, my grandfather!"
Shocked and mortified by his answers, Harry pushed up onto his feet and flung himself at the door. He left his bag and practically fell down the stairs into the Defense classroom below. He was drenched with sweat, panting like a dog, and shaking with emotion. He had to hide. Get away from everyone. Go somewhere quiet where he could think clearly again and understand what had just happened to him.
Fortunately, everyone was still at lunch. He made his way as quickly as possible toward the Great Hall, but instead of going in, he turned toward the grounds. He made for the lake, ran around it's border, and pushed through several feet of underbrush until he found a small clearing in the forest.
Harry fell to the ground and rolled onto his back, staring blindly up at the canopy above him. "What..." he gasped, struggling to breathe, "the hell... was that?" Did he really think of Trowa as his mother? Harry flung his hands over his face, his cheeks burning with embarrassment. God! He was so screwed up! What would his brothers think when they heard he associated them with such roles? Quatre and Trowa were not girly in the slightest! What was wrong with him? And Wufei! How could he act as a grandfather? He may be the oldest of his brothers, but he wasn't even twenty-five yet!
As his heart began to slow and his breathing became easier, Harry became aware that time was passing. His brothers would be furious if he waited much longer to contact them and tell them what happened. No matter how unsettled he was, he knew better than to stay silent.
"Heero," he said firmly, holding the mirror up to his face, not bothering to sit up or move.
Almost instantly, his brother's cobalt blue eyes came into focus, staring down at him. Heero was outside, it looked like. The cloudy sky and the edge of a brick building could just be seen around his older brother's messy chocolate hair. He and Duo weren't running a scam, however, because Heero wasn't wearing a disguise.
"Report," Heero demanded, eyes focused and intent on Harry. He already knew something was wrong if Harry was calling in the middle of the day.
Harry took a deep breath, trying to settle his nerves. "Umbridge held me after class and took me to her office to question me in private. When I tried to leave, she attacked me with some kind of Truth Spell. She interrogated me about where I was before coming to the Wizarding World, and if I had an adequate family. She was trying to find evidence my guardians were unfit so that the Ministry could step in."
Heero was already moving. The background behind him shifting quickly, but Heero's face remained centered as he held the mirror with a perfectly steady hand. "Location."
Harry flushed. "A few meters into the Forbidden Forest. By the lake."
Heero's gaze became impossibly sharper. "Status?" For Harry to have run so far, he must have been either mentally or physically distressed.
Harry let his eyes fall closed. "The spell was very uncomfortable. It felt like there were snakes and spiders thrashing around in my stomach, but it didn't exactly hurt. And, well, the information Umbridge received... surprised me." There was a pause as Harry struggled to come clean. Heero did not interrupt. He waited patiently.
Finally, Harry cracked open his eyes behind his silver-framed glasses and met his brother's waiting stare. "She asked me to detail my family unit by naming the family position I associate you with. To prove I didn't have a healthy family, I guess. That not all the family roles were filled." Harry squirmed some more before spitting it out. "I told her I think of you as a father and Trowa as a mother. Duo as my older brother and Quatre as an older sister. And Wufei as a mentor and grandfather." Nervous and stressed, Harry waited for Heero's reaction.
Heero's head cocked thoughtfully before nodding once. "I see no reason to find this upsetting. We are your family, Harry. Of course we fill family roles. Trowa and Quatre are more sensitive and nurturing, while Duo and I are more protective and aggressive. It makes sense you would unconsciously assign them the more maternal roles in our family unit." Heero's gaze softened. "Trowa will be very happy to hear you see him as a mother."
Harry's eyes widened with utter shock. "But..."
"You are not a freak." Heero said this with quiet intensity. Enough that Harry's mouth shut and two spots of color rose in his cheeks. Heero stared, unblinking, as if he were trying to brand his words into Harry's mind. "You are not a freak, Harry."
Tears unreasonably rising in his eyes, Harry nodded, throat too tight to speak.
Heero mercifully moved the conversation along. "It is evident that you are not safe at this school. One of us will have to be on the school grounds at all times. Stay where you are. I will return with you to the school."
Harry nodded again. The mirror went dark, and he let his hand fall to the soft dirt beside him. It was peaceful here under the canopy, the wind whistling through the branches of the ancient trees. The colonies had parks, of course, but it wasn't like this. Nature on Earth was richer, more vibrant. There was a subtle energy running through everything around him. It was hard to put it in words. As much as he hated the war and politics of Earth and the way Earth people were so careless and wasteful, there was something about Earth that settled deep in his bones and whispered, Home.
Harry bolted upright and grinned as he immediately toppled over again as Duo tackled him with a hug.
"Harry-chan! Are they being mean to you?" Duo cooed obnoxiously in his ear. "Don't worry! Your sexy, big brother is here to save you!"
Heero pulled his lover to his feet and off Harry. "Let him breathe."
Duo laughed wildly, pulling Harry to his feet and ruffling the thick dark bangs hanging over Harry's brow. "If I'm your brother and Heero is your father, does that make him my father, too?" Duo shot Heero a heated, wicked gaze. "I could call you Daddy if you'd like, Heero."
Harry grimaced and stuck his tongue out in disgust, while Heero calmly smacked Duo hard on the side of his head. "That is inappropriate."
Duo snickered and rubbed his sore ear. "I was just kidding, Hee-chan. I don't have a daddy kink."
"Thank the cosmos," Heero said seriously and turned his attention to Harry. The teen was disheveled, his robes wrinkled and dirty. His braid had twigs and leaves caught in it, and a few strands had come loose from the weave. He looked tired, too. Gently, Heero pulled Harry in toward his side, leaving his arm draped across the teen's slender shoulders. "Come, Harry. Let's return you to school."
Harry looked up at him with deep, emerald eyes. "Are you staying?"
"Nope." Duo popped the 'p' loudly and flashed a toothy grin. "I'll be hanging about for a while. Heero's got some work to do with Wufei, and we're trying to keep Quatre and Trowa unconnected to you for as long as possible. We don't want the Deadly Munchers to link you with the attack on the Eiffel Tower. Quatre made Lucius think the Order was after Sirius, after all."
Harry ducked his head and leaned more of his weight against Heero as they began to make their way back to the sprawling castle. "Sorry, Duo. I know you want to watch Heero's back."
Duo spun around to walk backward, slightly ahead of Heero and Harry. His long braid lashed back and forth like a cat's tail. His hands linked behind his head, he grinned with happy delight. "Are you kidding, Harry-chan!? A huge magical castle, secret passageways, tiny little witches and wizards running about, magical creatures, and evil to conquer! I'm in heaven! This is way better than stalking my boyfriend while he gets to have all the fun." Duo winked a large violet-colored eye. "Besides, it's always so much fun hanging out with my baby brother."
"Duo," Harry groaned, rolling his eyes. "You're not going to let me live this down, are you?"
Duo's grin widened. "Nope," he said happily, popping his 'p' again.
Harry couldn't help it, he laughed. If it was a joking matter to Duo, and Heero wasn't shutting his idiot partner up, then it really wasn't a big deal that he thought of them in such weird ways. Feeling light, Harry realized that Umbridge had no idea what she had started by attacking him. Duo was going to eat her alive!
Albus gave his best twinkling smile as he addressed the Great Hall full of students. Rumors had spread fast around the disappearance of Harry Potter. The teen had missed lunch, but that hadn't been cause for concern due to the fact that the 4th year Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs had reported that Professor Umbridge had asked Harry to stay for a conference. Albus had been uneasy hearing this, but he had thought, much like Harry had, that it was too soon for the Ministry to act. And, as he had been many times when it came to Harry, he'd been wrong.
As soon as it was reported that Harry had not shown up for History of Magic after lunch, he'd known something terrible had happened. Fortunately, the consequences weren't as terrible as they could have been, with Harry removed from the school by his wrathful guardians. In fact, Albus was actually pleased with the outcome.
"Good evening students!" He lifted his arms as if to embrace them all. "I am happy to announce that we have two additions to our staff. Please welcome Assistant Professor Duo Maxwell and Assistant Professor Heero Yuy." Smiling, he turned and gestured to the young men now sitting at the end of the staff table.
Duo waved cheekily, smiling an easy, friendly smile. Heero sat next to him perfectly still, face blank, his stare eerie. Dumbledore couldn't help noticing that Harry sat with his fellow Hufflepuffs with a truly happy smile on his face as he looked up at the men who had saved and raised him, and Dumbledore's smile widened. Guilt and regret eased in his heart seeing Harry so at ease.
Continuing before the children could begin to talk, Albus informed them, "They have graciously agreed to take turns helping Professor Burbage with the Muggle Studies classes this year. They are Squibs, so please treat them with respect and offer your assistance when needed." Still smiling, he clapped his hands. "Now, let's eat!"
An obnoxious cough sounded next to him. He ignored the vile woman, inordinately pleased that he wouldn't have to deal with her much longer. He kept his attention on the loud and gossiping students as they began to fill their dinner plates.
"Ahem!" Umbridge cleared her throat with more force. "Headmaster."
Albus turned to look at her and whatever was in his gaze made her pause before voicing whatever complaint she had. Just then the Great Hall doors opened and a squad of four Aurors marched stately into the Hall. Dumbledore pressed his hands into the table and stood. The children fell silent as the intimidating soldiers passed. A quick glance toward Harry showed the boy sitting with his head held high, his expression calm. Good.
"Aurors," Albus greeted with respect.
"Sorry to disturb you," the Lead Auror spoke. "Unfortunately, we have been alerted to illegal actions toward a student occurring here."
Albus nodded. "Thank you for coming so swiftly."
The squad turned as one, two coming around the table to put hands on Umbridge. "Dolores Umbridge, you are under arrest for attacking and detaining a minor child and casting at said child without acquiring guardian permission."
Umbridge was beet red by this point. "I will have your jobs for this!" she shrieked as they firmly marched her out of the Hall. "I am an Undersecretary to the Minister himself! I was merely doing my job! Unhand me this instant!"
The door slammed shut and all eyes turned toward Harry. However, as the boy's cheeks warmed under the scrutiny, Heero Yuy stood up. The young man didn't say a word. He hadn't made a sound. Nonetheless, every single eye in the room shifted to stare at him. Albus was impressed and a little concerned at the sheer amount of presence the man possessed.
"Let me confirm some information. Mr. Maxwell and I are Harry Potter's guardians," Yuy said in a monotone that carried to every corner of the room. "We did alert the Ministry to Dolores Umbridge's illegal action. If anyone else has business with Harry, one of us will now be on the premises at all times." Cobalt blue eyes burned over the children and even raked the staff table. "In the future, I suggest you come to me or Mr. Maxwell before approaching our charge."
Albus cleared his throat as the young soldier returned to his seat. "Let's eat everyone. Our beds call."
Watching out of the corner of his eye, Albus noticed Maxwell, leaning his chair back precariously on its back legs, whisper something in Yuy's ear. Yuy nodded and began to efficiently eat. Maxwell laughed and let his chair fall onto all fours. He turned to Burbage on his other side and struck up an easy conversation with the woman. Meanwhile, the children were whispering and talking furiously, hardly any food being consumed.
"I hope you know what you are allowing into the school," Severus said in such a cold voice that Albus turned to him in concern.
"We must learn to work with them, Severus," Albus insisted. "If you cannot, I ask you to keep your distance."
Severus gave him such a disgusted look that Albus felt anger stir. Before he could take Severus to task for his disrespect, the man stood and stormed from Hall, using the side entrance so as not to attract too much attention. Minerva lifted an eyebrow in question. Albus could only sigh tiredly in answer.