Duo had excused himself and headed for the Slytherin dorms after returning from their shopping trip. For as happy as he had been trying to show everyone he was, he was hurting inside. He muttered the password to the portrait and entered the common room. He then followed the directions Draco had told him and entered the room he would share with the blond and several others for the next year.
He flopped onto the bed where his things where and turned his eyes on the phoenix Trowa had gotten him. He was small, at least half the size of a normal phoenix. Instead of being red and yellow, this one was black and gray. Duo loved it instantly. He moved toward the cage and brought him out, allowing him to rest on his shoulder.
"Trowa was correct, little one. I love you already." He trilled softly in Duo's ear, snuggling against his cheek. "Like me too, huh?" Duo asked. The phoenix nodded in agreement, causing Duo to laugh softly. "You're a very wise phoenix, I see. What shall I name you? Shini? Gami? Megami?" When the bird simply stared at him, he laughed. "Not those huh? How about Scythe?" That gained a sweet sounding trill and a nod from the black phoenix. Duo smirked. "Scythe it is then."
"That's an interesting name, Duo," a gentle voice said from the doorway. Duo snapped his gaze toward the person, only to see Dumbledore.
"Headmaster, you startled me," Duo remarked. Dumbledore grinned at that.
"Not a wise thing to do, I'm sure."
"Not usually," Duo agreed. "What brings you here?"
"You, Duo. I heard from Draco about your familiar and I needed to give you this permission form for him." Duo sighed lightly and took the parchment from his outstretched hand.
"I forgot permission was required for certain familiars. Thank you for approving of Scythe." Dumbledore smiled and lightly caressed the tiny phoenix's head.
"You remind me a lot of myself when I was younger. I got Fawkes when I was in my sixth year of school."
"Just as I am now," Duo remarked. Dumbledore nodded.
"Precisely, Duo. I believe that if anyone can restore Hogwarts, you can. You have a determination that won't allow you to give up. Your life as a warrior has sharpened your mind. You are what Hogwarts needs."
"I'm hoping so, Headmaster." Dumbledore smiled, a twinkle in his eyes.
"Your friends were stored. Would you like to know what houses they were placed into?"
"Draco and I were talking about their sorting earlier."
"What was it you believed they would be sorted into?"
"I believed Wufei would go to Ravenclaw."
"He did as well," Dumbledore answered.
"Quatre fits Hufflepuff perfectly," Duo continued.
"He'll make a fine Hufflepuff, too."
"Heero and Trowa fit Gryffindor. At least in my opinion."
"And so you're opinion is correct. Both went to Gryffindor." Duo smirked.
"I've been reading about this time for a long while now. Obviously I've learned well." Dumbledore grinned knowingly.
"Not everything can be learned from books, Duo." Duo laughed, stroking Scythe's head.
"I know that one very well, Headmaster. It's why I only let my books give me half of my knowledge. That way I'm not totally bookish. Wufei's the one who lives by what a book can tell you." Dumbledore laughed.
"You are truly deserving of all the houses, Duo. Why did you choose Slytherin house?" Duo stood and walked toward the window.
"I've always relied on my cunning. During battles I always called myself Shinigami and had to do what was necessary to survive. Slytherin was the closest thing to myself."
"The rumors didn't bother you?" Duo laughed a little bitterly.
"Naw. A group doesn't make you evil, Headmaster. That all relies on the person themselves."
"You've learned a great lesson early in life, Duo. Perhaps you can teach the rest of your fellow Slytherin's that lesson while you're here."
"I'll be covering my fifth and sixth years during this year. I'll spend my seventh year as a normal seventh year. That is, as long as you're all right with that."
"Keeping you here for two years? That should give me enough time to teach you the finer points of being a headmaster." Duo smirked.
"Glad to know the former headmaster approves of my plans."
"Actually, Duo, I'd like you to add a special class to your list of classes." Duo nodded.
"Certainly. I can handle one more class. I don't have too many after all."
"Which will you have this year?"
"Standard Spells Grade 6, History of Magic, Transfiguration, Herbology, Potions, Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, DADA, and Astrology. Only nine classes, really. Not really too bad a load."
"Indeed. Add Leadership in Magical Positions."
"I've never heard of it. Who teaches it?"
"I do. You will be the only student. We'll meet Tuesdays and Thursdays after dinner, in my office. The password is marshmallow peep."
"I remember that one. Harry will eventually learn it."
"I suspect he will. Until later, Duo." Dumbledore stood up and headed for the door. "Good night."
"Night Headmaster," Duo watched him leave before turning to Scythe. "I do believe he knows more than he lets on, Scythe." The little phoenix trilled and nodded. Duo snickered; lying down and watching Scythe fly down and settle beside him. "I knew you'd know. We're gonna be best friends, Scythe, I know it as well." He trilled again, bringing a laugh from the boy's lips.
Half an hour later, Heero, Wufei, Trowa, and Quatre sat in the dinning hall. Each one seemed worried over their fellow pilot. Quatre rubbed the spot above his heart, his eyes downcast. Trowa sat beside him, a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"You'll be all right, Quatre. We can handle this. We may not be able to be together at night, but we can be together during the day." Quatre smiled gently at Trowa, his eyes warm.
"I know that, Trowa. I'm all right with it, really. I know it's not as if we can't be together. I'm more worried about Duo." Heero started slightly while Wufei snorted.
"It's about time Maxwell found something he's good at."
"He's our stealth expert, Wufei. No one's as good at it as he is," Quatre argued. "He doesn't plan on returning as a Preventer. He's going to get this school back into working order when we return. We won't be a full team anymore. Haven't any of you realized the changes in Duo since arriving here? He's serious about this." Everyone was silent.
"Then we keep the team together and offer to help him. We go where he goes. He's done the same for us," Heero replied. Everyone turned their eyes on Heero.
"Is that a mission order from our team leader?" Trowa asked with a grin.
"Hai," Heero answered.
"Accepted," Quatre said with a grin of his own.
"Accepted," Trowa put in.
"If I must," Wufei complained, yet they all knew he didn't want the team to split up either.
"Nimnu ryokai," Heero put in. They all smiled, Heero's small and then waited for Duo to arrive for dinner. After all, when was there ever a time when the braided American passed up a chance to eat?