While the battle had raged upstairs, Duo had rushed down the stairs and toward the outside as swiftly as his legs could take him. He fought down the weakness and struggled not to have himself get too dizzy or lose his balance before he could arrive where he needed to be. Skidding to a halt, he watched in silent horror as Dumbledore tipped out the window and then over, beginning a plummet to the ground that would have mocked Heero's previous suicidal tendencies. Raising his wand, Duo motioned with it.
"Arresto Momentum!" he called out, slowing Dumbledore's descent. He moved underneath the headmaster and caught him as he came down almost feather light in front of him. He waved a hand, removing the body-bind curse that had hit him and helped him to rest against the wall. He then turned to the ground and used transfiguration to make the rocks look like Dumbledore's broken and bent body. Once he did that, he helped Dumbledore off to a secluded area, Duo making certain no one saw him.
"It's a little scary to see your own body broken and mangled," Dumbledore said in a less than cheerful voice. Duo laughed softly, nodding his agreement.
"I would think so, yet for the end to be correct, everyone has to believe you died," Duo murmured, looking over Dumbledore and slowly beginning a healing spell for the wound on his forehead.
Dumbledore looked at Duo, his blue eyes surprised. "How are you so certain I shouldn't be dead?" he asked in a normal tone. Duo smiled, placing a hand on the headmaster's shoulder.
"I know. Trust me on this one. Just stay hidden for a school year. Do not let anyone know you are alive until the last week of school. Even then, only show yourself to Harry and Draco. Professor McGonagall will be a great headmistress for the next term."
Dumbledore stared at him, a smile on his lips. "I would prefer to know what's going on, but I get the feeling you can't tell me."
Duo laughed. "I get the feeling you would be right. I can't stay here, but go and find a place to hide. Lay low with Sirius… and eventually both of you can reveal yourselves to Harry."
"I take it you knew about the retrieval of Sirius Black and his subsequent return to life through the same way you know I should appear dead, but really not be. Namely, those books you mentioned to me." Dumbledore's grin seemed to be mirrored by the one on Duo's lips. His violet eyes shared the same twinkle of mirth and knowledge that shined in Dumbledore's blue ones.
"Of course. I knew you would figure out how I knew all this." Dumbledore nodded, even as he glanced back toward where they had come from.
"Are you certain you should have interfered? How do you know someone else wasn't supposed to do what you did?"
"I know because there would have been no one else who could have done it. Only a teacher could have accomplished what I had done. I remembered reading about a student with a long chestnut braid who had found you among the rocks. Putting two and two together, I figure it to be myself. Seeing as I'm the only one who could have stopped your freefall, transfigured the rocks to look exactly like a victim of a long drop, and still have managed to be the one to find your body, I knew what had to be done. I'm not expected to move as fast as I did, by the time the others make it down, I'll be crying over your body when they find me. We will still need you to help send us home, but only my fellow pilots should know that you aren't dead. The others, unfortunately, must believe the worst."
"I understand. I don't get the reason behind such words, but I'm certain the reason will reveal itself in time." Dumbledore stood, holding his hand out to Duo. Duo shook Dumbledore's hand, smiling softly. "I am honored to say there is no more I can teach you. I am certain that Hogwarts will be in good hands when you reopen it in the future." Duo's eyes shimmered with unshed tears.
"Thank you Headmaster. That means a lot, coming from the greatest Headmaster this school has ever seen." Dumbledore nodded, before pushing Duo toward the door.
"Your friends are a little battered from the battle, but not slowed, I'm certain. Hurry and go before they wonder where you ran off to." Duo nodded.
"See you later, Dumbledore," Duo called over his shoulder, before heading on out and back over to the transfigured rocks. Staring at the detail that he had put into it, Duo couldn't help but feel tears well up in his eyes as he looked upon it. It really seemed as if the most beloved Headmaster of all time laid there… and it was something Duo hoped he would never have to see.
"DUO!" Quatre called, rushing over to the braided boy and wrapping his arms around him. Duo turned in Quatre's arms and cried, knowing it was important to act as if he really had lost someone special. Heero was the next one to catch up, pulling both Quatre and Duo into his arms and holding them carefully, letting them both cry.
Harry came silently after Heero, Draco beside him with his arm around his shoulders. Luna trailed behind, almost the same as she always was. Only her constant look of surprise was toned down, showing that she was just as hurt as the rest of them. They all came to rest beside the body, tears falling silently from many of their eyes.
"Did anyone notify one of the teachers?" Heero asked after a moment. Luna nodded from her place behind them.
"I told Professor Snape, who was coming down the hall when you four rushed past," she replied. Duo sniffed, wiping his eyes.
"We can't let anyone near him until Snape gets here with the other Professors," he murmured, knowing it would take a lot of skill on Duo's part to be able to keep everyone from realizing that it wasn't the real Dumbledore. Soon, the sound of the teachers reached his ears. Keeping his sorrowful look on his face, Duo got ready to answer everything they threw his away.
All classes were suspended and all exams were postponed. Several students had left Hogwarts early and others were pulled from the school against their own wishes. Some even went against their parents wishes and stayed in school to pay their last respects to a headmaster that they had all known, respected, and many had loved.
Several Ministry of Magic officials, as well as the Minister of Magic himself, came to the school. Harry and the others who had been present during his death had been avoiding them. All of the staff was dressed in their finest and McGonagall seemed rather worn and tired, a deep sadness resting in her eyes.
There was a ceremony of the likes of which not even the former Gundam Pilots had ever seen before. Dumbledore's body had been placed on a white slab. After some heart felt words had been said over him, bright white flames erupted around the body, lifting higher and higher, obscuring the body. White smoke rose into the air, creating strange shapes. For a moment, it seemed as if a phoenix flew off into the air, trilling a sweet song for the ceremony.
The fire then died off instantly and in its place a white marble tomb was in it's place, forever marking Dumbledore's resting place. Gasps filled the crowd as arrows soon shot over the tomb, landing far from the gathered crowd. That had been the centaurs' tribute, even as the Merpeople of the lake had sang a sad song as the crowd had gathered. It had been full of tears. Even Hagrid had trouble seeing where he was going, his eyes were so red.
The pilots gathered in a private room, ready to have Duo attempt to send them home. Harry, Draco, and the others had all made their good byes as they had been leaving the funeral service. Trowa had comforted Quatre even as Heero had been there for Duo. Wufei had been a rock for anyone who needed it, even as he, himself, had shed some tears at the ceremony.
"I can't believe, he's gone," Quatre said softly, watching the gathered group. They now had their books and wands stashed in their trunks, even as the trunks were shrunk into tiny squares so that they could be placed in their pockets. Duo had done the shrinking without a wand, enjoying watching the surprised looks on Wufei and Trowa's faces.
"He was an honorable man," Wufei murmured, bowing his head. Trowa nodded his agreement. Heero watched Duo, who hadn't really cried since the time they had stood before the body under the tower window.
"How are you getting us home, Duo? Did Dumbledore teach you how to do such a spell before he… passed?" Trowa asked, looking to the violet eyed man. Duo shook his head.
"No, he didn't teach me anything of the sort."
"Are you trying to kill us!" Wufei shouted, staring at Duo. A twinkling laugh filled the room as Dumbledore appeared from the fire. Everyone gasped in shock. Well, everyone save Duo.
"Actually, I wasn't trying to do anything of the sort," Duo commented, a wide grin on his lips. "Dumbledore said he'd get us home when we first came here, so he's keeping his word."
Quatre's tear filled eyes were wide. "But… he was dead. We all saw him."
Dumbledore couldn't help but go over to embrace the blond. "Yes, Mr. Winner, I was dead. Or rather, the most impressive transfiguration of myself was dead. Then again, rocks are not alive, and thus couldn't have a pulse if one had tried to find one." Every one of the pilots turned to Duo.
"Why did you do that?" Quatre asked of Duo.
"Harry and the others should know!" Trowa exclaimed, raising his voice.
"Injustice, Maxwell!" Wufei snarled.
"Hn," was all that passed from Heero's lips. Dumbledore held out his hands in a calming manner.
"Please, boys. Mr. Maxwell only did what was necessary. As long as the Death Eaters believe I am dead, they will let their guard down. They will also come to relax more, to the point where our side will win. I am sad to say that you boys can not remain around to see the outcome. But I promise you that Mr. Maxwell can tell you everything that will happen. He knows a lot more than you give him credit for. Now… the bowl on the table is your port key home. I've got to make myself scarce, but I'm certain you understand what to do."
The group stepped up around the bowl, their hands almost hesitant. Scythe was resting on Duo's shoulder while Wing was on Heero's. Lion was curled up around Trowa's neck and Iria was nestled in the crook of Quatre's neck. Sparky was curled comfortably around Wufei's left arm. Duo smiled. His friends had come a long way since the first day they had come to Hogwarts. He was certain they would all continue to grow in their skills. Once Hogwarts was running, he could invite them back as students… but until that day, he would have to part. Nodding to them, they all reached out and with a pull at their navels, they were transported from the room… and from the time they had all come to care for.
Duo stood in the great hall, a small, sad smile on his lips. The house elves had been busy while they had been away. Even now the dusty old hall was cleaned and the tables had been fixed. It was obvious Dumbledore had left instructions to them once Duo and the other pilots had left Hogwarts of the past.
Quatre's eyes looked around, a bit of the sparkle and wonder had left the aquamarine depths. "This doesn't seem like the same place, Duo. It's… missing the warmth."
Duo nodded. "Yeah, without the other students here, Hogwarts is kind of dead. But that will change, Q-bean. Hogwarts will eventually be what it once was. You'll see."
"You will be a great Headmaster, Duo. You know we'll all support you." Duo grinned at Trowa's words and gave the tall, usually quiet man a hug.
"I know, Tro-man. I thank you for that." Wufei sighed, moving from his place beside the wall.
"You call us if you need anything. Anything at all, Maxwell." Duo smirked at Wufei's words and gave the Chinese boy a hug as well.
"Understood Wuffles. It would be unjust to do anything else." Wufei opened his mouth to respond, but closed it, nodding his head in silent agreement.
Quatre came over and threw his arms around Duo, hugging him tightly. "Don't be a stranger. Keep in touch. By owl… if not by vid-phone."
"You got it, Quatre. I won't drop out of sight. I promise." He pulled back and turned to look for Heero, yet he was no where to be found. He blinked, looking around the hall, but there was no Heero. He frowned, looking to Quatre and the others. "You'll look after him for me, won't you guys? At least until I have Hogwarts up and running?" They all nodded their heads.
"You have our word," Quatre answered for them. Duo sighed, a weight being taken off his shoulders, even as he turned to Dobby.
"Do you know where the other one of the group is Dobby? Perhaps you could locate him in the castle."
"Dobby knows, sir. Dobby knows where everything and everyone is in Hogwarts. Dobby obeys the new Headmaster with fail. The boy is in the library." Duo blinked, looking at the other three.
"Thanks, Dobby." He then turned to the other pilots. "I'll be right back, I promise." He turned and rushed out of the great hall, and down to corridors till he eventually came to the library doors. Slipping in quietly, he saw Heero standing there, looking at several books, one hand in his pocket. "Gonna miss the place, eh, Hee-chan?" he asked, walking up to him.
Heero glanced back at Duo, seemingly unsurprised to see him there. Instead, he nodded, a soft look in his eyes. "This was the first real place that I felt at home in. Hogwarts is special."
"As soon as it's open, I'll invite you back as a student, so you can finish your schooling properly."
Heero nodded. "I'd like that. Yet, I hate knowing I have to leave you till you accomplish that." Duo frowned, moving over to hug him. Heero didn't hesitate, his arms returning the hug. No words were needed then. As one they turned their heads, their lips meeting in a deep, passionate kiss. Tongue met and war was waged, even as neither one wanted to be the victor. After a long moment, they broke off, simply resting in one another's arms.
"I'll keep in touch. I'll write every day. I'll even call. On days off I'll apparate to where you are and spend as much time together as possible… I promise." Heero sighed and kissed him deeply, yet quickly.
"You had better." That said, he turned and left the library, Duo in tow. They held hands and enjoyed just being together on the walk back to the great hall. Once back there, the others came forward, before all five pilots headed for the main grounds, and the area where their ship waited. Four of the stopped at the entry way of the ship, watching their fellow comrade and former pilot. Duo smiled and raised his hand, waving at them all. Dobby and some of the school ghosts stood behind him, waving as well.
Quatre, Trowa, and Wufei waved in return, before turning and heading into the ship. Heero stood there for a while longer, his gaze locked with Duo's. He then mouthed something to Duo, before turning and heading into the ship as well, the docking bay door closing as he headed inside. Right before it shut, Duo caught Heero pat his jacket pocket and then the sight was closed off to him entirely. With a grin, Duo watched the ship lift off, knowing Heero could see him.
"I love you too, Hee-chan… and we will be together soon," he murmured. Once the ship was gone, Duo turned back to those who had remained with Hogwarts since their former time there. "Come on. Time to make Hogwarts shine once more." That said, he headed into the castle, determined to make it what it once was.
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