Harry felt like he was suffocating. Ever since he came to his Godfather's house, he felt like he was drowning in a sea of confusion, worry and fear. The only thing he wanted to do was to get out, and get some fresh air. But no, if he were to set foot outside everyone would panic, or worse give him an honor guard.
He hated this.
So he did the one thing he could do. He borrowed the owl the twins used for their business and owled the goblins. He wanted a way to get money from his vault without actually going to the bank. It also had to be usable in the muggle world as well.
They sent back what appeared to be a credit card. And a letter that said the fee for receiving the card was automatically taken from his vault. Now all he had to do was get out of the house. Maybe he could take Sirius with him, because he knew his godfather was going just as stir crazy as he was. But how to do that without alerting his so called friends.
His eyes fell on the twins and inspiration struck.
"Hey Gred, Forge...I have a proposition for you..."
They eyes gleamed an unholy light as Harry described his idea. Soon they were planning all out chaos in the house.
It all started with a normal enough prank. Everyone knew the twins were behind it. Moony turned orange. Then it changed as everything went haywire. Hermione turned into a canary after biting into her toast, Ron broke out in acne all over, Moody became a chameleon changing colors in an instant.
And no one noticed when Harry and Sirius disappeared while Molly Weasly searched for her twin boys angrily through the house.
(Fred and George took Harry's advice to disappear into Diagon to look for a good place to set up a permanent shop. Sirius and Harry promised to help fund the purchase, in exchange for their help in escaping the house for a few hours.)
Harry and Sirius (as Padfoot) walked down the street without anyone giving them a second glance. Sirius actually didn't mind the collar and leash Harry had him on. Though he did wonder why his godson was sporting Slytherin colors in broad daylight. Who cared?
They didn't realize they had walked for a while until they both realized they were starving. Fortunately there was a cart selling hot drinks and donuts nearby.
But that wasn't what drew Harry's attention.
It was a boy, from what he could tell. Though with that long hair it could be a girl. But he seemed to be arguing with the vendor over something. From what he could tell, the guy had forgotten his wallet.
So he decided to try out his new card.
Judging by the amount on the tab (and the listed prices) Harry guessed the guy bought a large black coffee and two bear claws.
"Add another bear claw and a hot chocolate."
The vendor turned to him, and Harry handed over his card. He swiped it, and his glare dropped when it went through. The guy (it really was a guy, go figure) looked a bit surprised that someone did this.
They sat on a nearby bench, and Harry got a good look at the guy he helped. He seemed familiar.
Meanwhile Sirius was enjoying the half of a bear claw Harry gave him. The boy handed one of his to the hound, and he loved the guy.
"Cool dog. What breed is he? He's huge."
"I have absolutely no idea. What breed are you Sirius?"
Since Harry didn't have his leash on his arm, Sirius used his paw to write 'No idea. Never bothered to look it up.'
The boy stared.
"Sirius is a very smart dog."
"That ain't a dog. I have never met a dog which could form a cohesive sentence on queue."
He grinned wider.
"You're right, I am bullshitting you. But the truth is even harder to believe."
The other boy smirked.
"Now that I can believe. What's your name?"
"I thought I recognized you. You're the guy those old geezers were up in arms about for fighting in what you believe in and getting caught."
Duo stared at him.
"Like I'm going to believe what some dried up old mummies say about terrorists. You never once attack a civilian base, and you tried to keep civilian casualties at a minimum. Those pacifists probably died because of bad intel."
Suddenly Duo laughed.
"Hee-chan would probably love you. Kit kat definitely. Trowa likes anyone who's nice to animals. Wuffers would most likely make you listen to his justice rants."
"I got enough of those listening to my friend 'Mione complain about slavery in my school."
"So why did you help me out back there?"
"You looked like you forgot your wallet. And I needed to try out my new card."
"So what brought you out here Harry?"
"We needed to get out of the house. The atmosphere was suffocating. Fortunately we have a pair of evil twins who were willing to booby trap the place so we could escape for a few hours."
Duo turned towards him slowly, and looked at him in awe.
"You know a pair of twins who can booby trap a house in less than a day?"
"Try two hours. In exchange me and my godfather would help pay for their new joke shop."
Duo whistled, impressed.
"How big was this house?"
"Two stories, possibly three if you count the attic, with at least ten rooms. Oh, and a large library."
"And they booby trapped this place in two hours? Color me impressed. It probably would have taken me at least four."
"They aren't called the Terror Twins for nothing."
They ended up chatting for over three hours. It was Sirius who warned Harry about the time.
"Woah...it's almost seven! If we don't get back they'll know we left the house."
"Would you really get into trouble for leaving the house?"
"Considering they managed to get my former best friends into spying on me every second of the day, yes."
"This is actually the first time I got to talk to someone normal in weeks."
Duo looked at him oddly.
"Well more normal than most people I talk to."
Duo laughed as Harry headed back. Once they were out of sight and earshot, Sirius apparated them straight to Buckbeak's room. They slipped out just in time to be drafted by Mama Weasly in cleanup.
The house was in shambles. Everywhere was the remnants of streamers, color changing and feathers. No one could find the culprits, who had been missing all day.
Harry on the other hand did nothing to help clean up. Which had Hermione and Ron whining for hours. Unlike them he was used to cleaning messes up.
But this time he wouldn't, since he had practically orchestrated this and he wanted to take notes.
An hour later the twins returned, and he held up a Victory sign.
"How long were you guys out?" asked Fred.
"Almost six hours. And not once has anyone even commented on us leaving. Hell, no one even looked twice at us while we walked halfway across the city."
Sirius walked up grinning.
"Would either of you be interested in a few more tricks you can sell?"
"This is coming from Padfoot guys. So think real carefully..."
Harry would have felt more sorry for the household if they hadn't been keeping him and Sirius inside for the past week. Or allowed Dumbledore to leave him in that hellhole he called his family. So there was no way he was going to help them.
He would wait a day before he had the twins do another run. Once they found out about his meeting with a random person in the park, they promised to help him and Sirius escape whenever they needed it. It was an excellent way to test products that were still in the prototype stage.
"So how many things did you guys test on everyone?"
"Canary creams, instant color changers, five different types of chameleon hexes and three rather spectacular small grade fireworks which will put Filibuster's to shame."
"Well done gents. Got anything else you want to try in two days?"
The twins grinned.
"I'm thinking small and large scales traps every two days or so, possibly three. During that time you two can find and renovate your new shop, while at the same time test the products."
"While you and Sirius get fresh air far from the place, and make new friends. I like it."
The second time Harry ran into Duo was three days later. It was at the same hot drink vendor as before. Once again the twins booby trapped the house. Only this time they left it to a specific area, away from a little known escape hole that Sirius had created when he was thirteen. They used it to escape.
Duo was there, with a coffee and two large twisty donuts. Harry grinned.
"Looking for someone?"
Duo spilled half his coffee from shock. Harry loved sneaking up on people...he'd had tons of practice.
"Dammit Harry! You scared the crap out of me! Which is unusual, because I'm usually the one sneaking up on people."
"Likewise. You should have seen the look on my godfather's face when I snuck up behind him while he was drinking something alcoholic. It was hilarious, because it went all over him."
Duo chuckled, and made a silent note of the betrayed look on the dog's face.
"Never would have pegged you for returning. How many times did you come back?"
"Yesterday. I would have stopped if you didn't come tomorrow."
"Better be safe than sorry. Two days of booby traps? The paranoid ex-agent would know something was up. So would Remus."
"Ah, so you decided to wait two days before repeating."
"Kept it random. Last time it was the whole house. This time I got them to hit a section farthest from our escape route."
"Smart. Wanna grab a coffee at the shop?"
"Sure. Outdoor seating?"
"Why not. Coffee shops usually smell like stale coffee and burnt beans anyway."
Once again they spent hours just talking about nothing. Duo touched on his friends (other Gundam Pilots) and his private nicknames for them. Harry talked about his school friends, the general weirdness that just seemed to gravitate to him every year.
The time seemed to just fly by, and they decided to set up a regular timetable to meet up. Every three days Harry would prank the house to escape. Sirius would decide whether he chaperoned the meetings.
Once he decided that Duo wouldn't do anything to his godson, he let Harry go alone.
On the plus side he could see a bit of the Marauder blood come up whenever Harry planned a meeting with Duo. It showed since Harry actively helped the twins planned the traps and pranks. He quite liked the kid, who was clearly a natural prankster himself.
He really loved the tale of how he switched the syrup with the shampoo. He would almost feel sorry for this Wuffers guy...if he weren't so jealous of having not thought of that on James. Then he realized something.
He could still used that one on Remus!
Which is why their fifth meeting he was missing. Duo actually asked about the dog, and Harry gave him the nervous sidelong glance...
Duo turned to him, very interested in his answer.
"He...kinda took an interest in that syrup story...and I'm fairly sure he put it into practice...on his best friend."
Now he had Duo's full interest.
Harry was more at comfort as he described the truth about his 'dog'. Duo couldn't believe the hound he usually gave have his donut to was really a mage who turned into a dog. Which lead to him describing what he knew about his godfather's days as a student and all his pranks that he had been told about.
Duo officially loved Harry's godfather. Somehow he knew the feeling was mutual.
What neither of them noticed was that they had an audience of two. A blond and a brunette. One had green eyes the same color as Harry did. The blond had teal.
Quatre and Trowa had followed Duo out when he left the safe house for the fifth time that month. Originally when he told Heero he was meeting a friend, they had all assumed it was a fellow street rat or an L2 colonist on vacation. But when he went to meet this friend every three days Heero's paranoia went overboard.
Hence why Quatre and Trowa had been drafted to follow Duo. (Meanwhile Heero and Wu Fei were doing...other...things.)
The only reason Quatre had gone along with this plan is simple. One, it was an excuse for a date with his boyfriend. Two, because since Duo had been leaving every few days to meet this friend, he came back happier, easier to deal with. But the main reason was because they were all really worried about the braided boy. Everyone thought Heero and Duo would get together, maybe Wu Fei as well. But instead Duo's secret crush falls for the only other Asian in the group.
The pranking after that little revelation had been particularly horrific.
Then he came back from outside in a very good mood. Quatre had asked what had put him in the good mood and when he heard that Duo had made a friend, he let it drop.
Right now though it made sense. This Harry had a lost puppy vibe that covered his natural aura of a good leader. It made sense that Duo had made a friend with an abused kid. It didn't hurt that Harry was completely at ease despite the soldier's aura that Duo was letting off.
Quatre really, really hoped they could remain friends...or have a more serious relationship. It would certainly do his braided friend some good.
When Duo had to leave for the bathroom, Harry bought four more drinks, and then looked right at them. He moved over to their table, and said "Hello. I noticed you two staring at us for a while. Want to sit with us?"
Duo came back and gaped at the sight of Quatre and Trowa.
"Hee-chan put you up to this?" he finally asked.
Quatre looked sheepish.
"Wasn't that hard..."
"I see you finally meet Kit kat and Trowa."
"Don't you mean Tro-bear?" teased Harry.
Duo stared at his friend.
"That is so not fair! How come you were able to come up with the perfect nickname for him on the spot, when I have been looking for weeks for one!" whined Duo.
(To Quatre's secret relief Harry grinned widely.)
"Because you never mentioned he worked in a circus. When I think circus I think bears, lions and tigers. Hence Tro-bear."
Duo's eyes sparkled in amusement.
Trowa had a sudden realization. Duo had a crush on Harry, probably for the past week or so. Quatre had most likely noticed the same thing. Judging from the look in Harry's eyes, the boy had an interest in their friend as well.
Harry went back with the knowledge that in four days time he would finally be able to meet all of Duo's friends. He liked Quatre and got along great with Trowa once he mentioned he owned an owl who treated him like her nestling.
The only thing that dampened his spirit was the knowledge that in three days time he would be on trial for perfectly legal actions. Which sucked.
Which brought his thoughts back to Duo.
Ever since the second time they got coffee and a snack, he had been on Harry's mind. Harry was quite well aware that he was bi or even gay. He felt nothing for Ginny, for good reasons.
For one thing, she was more like a little sister to him than girlfriend material. For another, she looked way too much like his mother for him to even consider her for a date. But his main reason was this.
She had gone out with almost every boy in his and her year except for her brother, Neville and Harry himself last year. Neville had only asked her out to that awful dance because he didn't want to show up alone and no one else had thought to ask her. Rumor had it she was going out with Dean, but he knew full well that Dean and Seamus were an item. Unlike his former friend Ron, he paid attention to those who were like him.
He had known it long before they did. He also knew well that if he were to tell anyone then he would have to deal with more ridicule than he needed right now. The only people who were even aware of it were Seamus and Dean, and that only because he set them up. Neville probably suspected, but he swore never to mention it to Ron.
Ron was well known for being a bit homophobic. Fred and George honestly had no problem with it, which is why Harry still considered them friends.
But Duo...it was clear that Duo was like him. Betrayed by someone close, hard childhood and no relatives that loved him. But at least he had some happiness growing up, before the Alliance screwed it all up.
Ever since Harry had originally heard about the Maxwell Massacre, he lost any faith he would have had in the Alliance and OZ. Whoever thought that bombing a church full of children and hostages to kill less than forty people when there were over three hundred hostages was clearly lacking in the brains department.
Harry had said as much to Duo, and was surprised when his friend mentioned he was a survivor of that tragedy. But it did help bring him closer to Duo, since his friend completely agreed with his assessment.
But Duo...something about the boy tugged at him, and refused to let go. When Quatre had briefly touched on the fact that Duo was gay, he had actually felt relief.
He had noticed immediately when Quatre seemed to pick up on this. His eyes had lit up in interest. Was this one an empath? It would definitely explain how Quatre knew what he was feeling. But wasn't that gift extremely rare?
But now he had to get down to studying the laws. He had ignored them in favor of his fantasies with Duo and planning their next meeting.
It was most likely because of his relaxed state that he found the law which would crack open his case and stop his worries cold.
It is against Ministry Law to try a minor under the age of seventeen without the presence of a legal guardian. A magical guardian is not allowed to qualify as a legal guardian unless they are the biological relative of said minor. Trying a minor without a guardian is punishable by a five thousand galleon fine for each Wizengamot member in attendance at trial. This law is absolute, and can only be bypassed if the Department of Magical Orphans has a majority vote in favor.
Harry memorized that law, and two others. He made a note of which page and book it came from. Then he owled the goblins, and legally changed his guardian to his godfather. Sirius would get the paperwork in the morning.
Harry walked into the courtroom five minutes late, though it wasn't his fault. Stupid Minister! Why the hell had he changed the time of his trial?
He sat in the chair nervously. Once Fudge read the charges, Harry spoke up.
"Minister, are you fully aware that trying a minor without a legal guardian present is punishable by a five thousand galleon fine of every member of the Wizengamot present at trial, and the fine goes up by three thousand if the minor is the last heir of a long pureblood line?"
Fudge stared at him.
Harry quoted the book, page and paragraphs, and three people hurriedly looked it up. Nine people paled, before someone read the laws. Accusing eyes turned to Fudge.
"Are you also aware that the Statute of Secrecy act only applies to muggleborns for their first year, or for those in muggle houses who are not told of their magic? As my Aunt was related to my mother and lived in the same house for her Hogwarts years, she was already aware of magic. As is my cousin since he lives with me. Since I was alone with my muggle cousin at the time, and as he is fully aware of the existence of magic through blood relation, the Statute was not actually breached."
Fudge was red by this point.
"Of course there is an alternative to paying over a hundred thousand galleons."
Fudge was very interested in what Harry had to say now.
"Legal emancipation and the ability to take the OWLs and NEWTs here at the Ministry and not at Hogwarts."
Fudge left with several Wizengamot members, and returned five minutes later.
Fudge looked right at Harry as he said, "Harry James Potter is hereby legally emancipated, and allowed to take his tests directly from Ministry approved examiners. All charges are dropped."
Harry walked out free as a bird, and smirking like the cat who got the canary, cream and the hound took the fall for good measure.
It had the added effect of sending Ministry employees running for their lives. Sirius would be so proud.
Now he had only one thing to take care of. Sirius had mentioned off hand about a prophecy being told about him, though he didn't have the details. Which meant he had the perfect opportunity to retrieve said prophecy and annoy the old goat who lived to ruin his life.
So when he spotted what looked like an Unspeakable, he mentioned his problem and the man took him straight to the Hall of Prophecies. Harry walked out after leaving a fake one there. He suspected this was the weapon Sirius had briefly mentioned when he first got to the house.
Best not to blow the surprise until Voldemort finally got the balls to come and get it himself.
Meanwhile Arthur was panicking because Dumbledore had gone into the court room with Mrs. Figg intent on helping Harry with a squib witness...
Only to come out very confused and irritated as Fudge informed the meddling old headmaster that Harry had not only been declared innocent (and emancipated at the same time) but that he had already left. An hour ago.
Which meant Harry was ambling around the Ministry without an escort. And with the number of Death Eaters in the building he could very well be killed.
He never looked twice at a fifteen year old boy who walked past him in full Slytherin colors. Or that the boy had just walked out to London.
Two hours later Tonks went to Arthur and asked him something that left him gaping in shock.
"Arthur! What are you still doing here? Harry's already back at the house celebrating with the others!"
Arthur arrived in time to find half the house either drunk, or on their way to being drunk. According to Moody someone spiked the punch three times.
(Twins, Sirius and Harry, unaware that the others had already spiked it.)
By the time Harry went to the meeting place (Remus had finally cottoned on to the fact that Harry and Sirius were escaping the house on a regular basis after the **ahem** syrup incident the day before the trial) with Remus and Sirius joining him. Sirius to get out of the house and Remus to see this boy that his friend/lover mentioned.
Harry immediately spotted Duo and the other two from before and made a beeline for that booth. Two others were with them. From what he could tell, the Asians were together like Quatre and Trowa. The new brunette must be Heero. The other must be Wuffers.
Much to his surprise, he got along with them better than he would have thought. Wu Fei was clearly impressed with his honor after he mentioned the tournament and the disastrous ending. Apparently his decision to help someone from the same school instead of taking all the glory for himself appealed to the Chinese man.
Heero liked him for his tactical mind, especially when he learned that Harry was actually wearing the colors of a rival house in order to dodge being attacked at random.
Meanwhile Quatre was discreetly looking at Remus in worry. Why was the man in shock and relief at the same time. So he finally asked Harry.
Harry looked at where Quatre mentioned, and turned back to them.
"Sirius finally filled his boyfriend into the fact that we have been leaving the house alone. So he came with us. I think he's in shock over the fact that I'm wearing Slytherin colors and talking to someone who isn't even involved in our world. But he's relieved that I'm finally making friends I can trust for a change and don't care about my past."
"Some nut job kills a ton of people, then comes after my family. He kills my parents, then comes for me. For some odd reason he fails, and now I'm hailed as a hero. But I didn't want to be a hero, and people just can't seem to get that through their heads. Now they expect me to kill him, and I can't do it. I hate people being hurt."
"Why do they expect you to kill him?"
"They're a bunch of sheep. They expect everything to be handed to them. And apparently a stoned woman with the power to see the future gave a prophecy."
Duo looked at him in interest.
"How do you know she's stoned?"
"She teaches how to read the future. And either she uses a lot of incense or she's high. I can't tell which. All I know is that she's been predicting my death each year and it's driving me nuts."
They chatted for a while, actually getting to know Harry. When it was time to go, they realized that even though Harry had already long ago figured out that they were the Gundam Pilots, he gave them something they had longed for, but had yet to find.
Normality. (Snort...starts to die laughing. Gundam Pilots and Harry Potter, normal? Yeah right.)
Harry enjoyed meeting the other pilots as well. While he enjoyed the normality of their conversations, he had an ulterior motive. He wanted to get closer to Duo.
Unknown to both boys, a certain blond Empath was aware of this double attraction, and was plotting with the other three to bring the two together.