Author's Notes: I'm rather surprised that, for a chapter that gave me so much trouble to begin with, it only took me ten days to post it. Let's hope the trend continues, shall we? I know I am. :grins sheepishly:
As always, thanks to all my reviewers. You guys all rock my socks in the best of ways! Now... Once more, into the brig!
Harry Potter and the Forgotten Heirs Part 3
13 July, AC 197
I feel as if I am confined in a mad house with five dangerous lunatics.
I suppose that is not the best way to start a letter to one's boyfriend, but there is simply no better way to accurately describe my utter vexation with the five aforementioned lunatics with whom I now live. The pitiful part is that, despite the fact they are dangerous lunatics, they really mean well.
I suppose that is why I haven't spiked their tea with lethal doses of belladonna yet. However, it's on the list.
Before I get too riled up in the details of What These Idiots Have Done Now, I would like to point out that I would apologize for taking so long in replying to your last letter, but I feel deep within my very soul (and yes, despite what Weasley would say to the contrary, I have one) that it is not my fault. All responsibility of my very late reply rests solely on -you guessed right- the Mad Five. Oddly enough, every time I refer to them as the Mad Five to their faces, Duo tends to feel a little nostalgic and wistfully claims that Pestilence would be "so very proud." I don't know what he's talking about, either; frankly, I don't care. The point is, perhaps you should bring it up to Duo whenever you write him again. I hope you make him feel contrite, but knowing you, I doubt you could manage it. Making people feel bad isn't exactly your style.
Then again, I am almost certain that four of the Mad Five are completely impenetrable when it comes to being bombarded with guilt trips. I wouldn't try it with Quatre, though; his boyfriend wouldn't appreciate the gesture. (And I hate that Trowa can still scare me with a single expressionless look. I hate I hate I hate.)
Needless to say, it has been a rather hectic two weeks.
Deviating from my original rant, I simply must know if what Duo says is true. He claims that all muggles know how to remove bloodstains from any material of clothing of any color just as well as their maths and alphabet. Something to do with bleach and elbow grease. Personally, it sounds like a disease.
(In the margin beside the above paragraph, in a another shade of ink and a script that was vastly different from Draco's own carefully crafted cursive, was a hastily scrawled "You smell like a disease!" One could only assume that such an impromptu addition was made after the letter itself had been completed, and someone had felt remarkably Slytherin enough to read Draco's letter before the blond had time to send it. Popular consensus believed that Duo was at fault here.)
In any case, my irritation with the group as a total did not start with one Duo Maxwell during this particular period, whereas Duo is usually the culprit of my irritation. Not long after I sent you the letter before this one, I retired downstairs to make use of the library when, much to my horror, I stumbled across Heero knocking holes in my walls.
Literally. On both accounts.
Draco's journey to the library to finish a book he'd recently found on dark magic not yet classified as forbidden by the Ministry of Magic (though the book had been written in the eighteenth century and much had changed since that time) was abruptly halted when the blond tripped over some metal box that someone had carelessly left lying in the middle of the floor.
"Ow! Bloody he-who left this here?" Draco demanded loudly, looking around for the perpetrator. When no one had come forth to claim the responsibility -Draco hadn't really expected much, as the room appeared deserted- he took a moment to inspect the metal box. The lid was open, revealing odd objects that Draco couldn't possibly put a name to; oh, he recognized the hammer well enough, so it was probably safe to say that the objects in the tin box were tools of some kind, and most likely muggle in origin.
"Who could possibly need tools, and for what?" Draco mused.
"I do." The blond stifled a yelp and whirled around, finding Heero standing in the doorway of the living room. The Japanese boy walked further into the room and quickly selected the hammer and a pronged tool with a black handle and a metal spike that flattened out at the end. "I hadn't intended to level these tools in the middle of the floor. Duo wanted my attention and, as usual, he made it sound urgent."
Draco smothered a smirk. Once again, Duo had used his superior acting skills to drag Heero away from his original task. Knowing Duo, the reason for Heero's attention most likely involved something sexual in nature. It wasn't the first time Duo had taken Heero away for a supposedly innocent private chat. The rather fresh hickey glaring at Draco from Heero's exposed neck only proved it.
"Understandable," Draco replied, watching in interest as Heero kneeled down directly in front of a wall. The Japanese Slytherin placed the pronged tool against the wall and held it in place as he lifted the hammer.
It only took one solid thwack with the hammer, the pronged tool breaking through the wall, for Draco to go from curious to absolutely beside himself in incredulous anger.
"What are you doing?" Draco shrieked, finally shaking himself from the shock of seeing Heero carelessly knock holes in the wall as if this were a normal, everyday occurrence.
"Installing electricity," Heero replied, not even hesitating as he delicately continued the procedure of putting a hole in the wall with the use of the flathead screwdriver and the hammer.
Draco wanted to scream. "Electricity!"
"I asked you about it three days ago."
"You didn't tell me adhering to your silly muggle whims would involve you putting holes in the wall, Heero!"
Heero paused to look at Draco with a raised eyebrow. "You didn't ask what installing electricity would entail."
"Because common sense dictates that you inform me of things that involve a drastic remodeling of my home!"
Heero gave Draco a peculiar look. "I would hardly call installing a couple of outlets anything as strongly as a 'drastic remodeling', Draco. And if I remember correctly, when I asked you about installing electricity in the first place, you made it quite clear you didn't even want to know how or why, just as long as I didn't explain it to you."
Draco mentally cursed his lack of patience with Heero when the subject was brought up. He'd endured far too much information about muggles from his five friends; if allowing Heero to install this electricity thing without knowing too much about the process in which that entailed, he was only too happy to let Heero do whatever the hell he wanted. In hindsight, his forced ignorance on the matter was a bad call. If he had known the extent Heero had to go to in order to have electricity at the manor, he would have probably immediately vetoed the idea no matter what excuse Heero came up with his need for it.
Now it was too little, too late, and Draco would have to allow Heero to continue what he started.
That didn't mean he couldn't complain about it. "Why do you need electricity, anyway? I thought you were getting along just fine with magic!"
"I'm afraid constantly recharging my laptop by way of magic will wear on the circuitry faster than normal," Heero replied simply, pounding the handle of the screwdriver with the hammer again. With a few good hits, the blunt, flat edge of the screwdriver pierced through the wall. "Duo's stereo started malfunctioning a few days ago. When I took it apart to see what was wrong with it, the circuitry appeared as if it had been slowly cooked from the inside. Magic just isn't very compatible with technology, no matter how many times we attempt to substitute through magical means."
So now the manor has electricity. As much as I hate to admit, I barely realize the holes are even there. These "outlet" things seem to blend into the wall remarkably well. However, if I had been completely aware of what having electricity would mean to Duo's plot to (and I quote) "advance the insidious liberal agenda", I would have had one more reason to staunchly veto the installation completely.
The insidious liberal agenda of which Duo speaks happens to be his own personal mission to make me a little more tolerant of muggles. I didn't quite understand how Duo was going to further this agenda with what little materials he has to work with, but apparently he's found some hidden websight over the internet that is wizard friendly. Imagine my surprise when twelve owls delivered a rather large package to the manor, alongside two smaller packages. Duo later informed me that these strange muggle devices are called a telivision, a data disk player, and data disks that he calls "movies."(1)
Whatever that means.
"So basically, this is a lot like that digital thing Quatre got for you on Christmas?"
"Digital disc player. And kind of," Duo hedged, hanging the strangely flat muggle invention on the wall and standing back to inspect his handiwork. "The digital discs that you use with a digital disc player wouldn't be at all compatible with a data disc player, which only plays data discs."
Draco stared at him, nonplused. It all sounded like the same thing; he didn't see why everything couldn't work with everything else when it all sounded like the same thing. "Okay. Explain why that is."
"Digital disc players are portable so no matter where you are, if you're in for a bit of a wait, you can pull it out and instantly be entertained. For that, they had to make the discs fit to size." The American began rummaging through one of the smaller boxes, pulling out a slim, rectangular box with a wildly colorful picture of an eccentric-looking man in a purple top hat. After expertly tearing away the slim, clear covering that wrapped the box, he found the grooved corner and pulled; the box almost split in two with a "snap!" The only thing that held the box together was one of the longer sides.
Now that he thought about it, it kind of worked like a book.
"This round disc here," Duo pointed at the aforementioned disc resting safe in the center, "is a data disc. The simplest why I could possibly explain it to you without getting too much into mechanics is that a data disc couldn't possibly fit in a digital disc player. Likewise, a digital disc is too small to fit in a data disc player. Make sense?"
"Muggles make things entirely too complicated," Draco murmured, shaking his head.
Duo snickered, snapping the box closed in his hands and lying them on a corner table before going about fiddling with the cord things in the back, poking some of the cords from the data disc thing (which was bigger than what Draco remembered of the digital disc player) into the back of the almost flat box with the black screen that Duo called a "flat-screen television."
"Oh, but the end result is going to rock your socks, dragon boy," Duo said with a rather bright gleam in his eyes. "Now that we have all the ingredients, we're going to have a movie night."
"Movie night?" Draco murmured questioningly.
Duo didn't embellish. Instead, he finally came to his feet and reached for the slim box that contained the data disc he'd used as an example. Upon studying the cover, a wide grin of glee split his face.
Draco wasn't exactly comforted by the appearance of such a devious grin. "What is it?"
Duo looked up with glee, quipping quirkily, "There's nothing like a prize than a SUR-prise, heh-heh!" Without another word, he quickly turned his back to the confused former Malfoy heir and bounded away with a skip to his step, calling out for anyone to hear, "Oi! We're watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight!"
Somewhere behind Draco, he could hear Quatre, sounding defeat, murmur the words, "Oh, dear..."
Draco turned to look at the weary-looking blond, slightly paranoid. "What?"
"Well, it's just that Duo likes to replace all the characters' names with people he knows," Quatre replied tiredly. "I'm always Charlie Bucket, Trowa and Wufei are always Oompa Loompas, Heero is Mike Teevee, Duo, of course, likens himself to Willy Wonka... and I'm afraid he finally found someone to be his version of Veruca Salt."
Draco blinked. "Who?"
I am nothing like Veruca bloody Salt. Nothing. Her arse was thrown down a garbage shoot by a bunch of rodents; I wouldn't have put myself in such a foolish situation in the first place, as I have no desire to own a trained rat like a common plebe! Her father certainly wasn't anything like Lucius, either!
On this "movie" thing overall, I would have to say my theory about the inner psyche of muggles has finally been proven. They're all barking mad.
In all truth, Trowa doesn't bother me as much as the others save for one thing. You, of all people, should know how much it irritates me to hold my tongue for the sake of anyone. Curbing my desire to voice my opinion, no matter how scathing it may be, has never been much of an option for me. It's simply not the way my mother raised me to be, but Trowa can scare me better than Heero Yuy ever could. Oh, he's a great friend and a worthy Slytherin, but when it comes to protecting his angel from scorn, Trowa knows how to convey an inevitable retaliation with just a glance, and not a promisingly bloodless retaliation, either. It's the only thing that consistently irritates me that I'll probably have to learn to live with, and that's just not how I operate, damn it all.
Then again, I find myself less and less disapproving of Quatre's character as a whole, no matter how much of a true Hufflepuff he is. It seems like Quatre is the only one that almost takes me seriously on a day-by-day occasion, and it's remarkably refreshing. His earnest goodwill and positive outlook on everything under the sun works for him because, unlike most Hufflepuffs, he has the charisma to inspire people to think the way he thinks and the tenacity to stay dedicated to creating a safer, peaceful, and fair world for everyone, be they pureblood or muggle, rich or poor. Things like that usually disgust me because I honestly do not believe that's how the world should be, but Quatre knows exactly what to say to make his hopes become a reality. It's sort of inspiring, really, that one teenager could have so many goals in life and still have the absolute certainty that he can reach every single one of those goals.
"I don't think you're thinking very realistically on this matter, Quatre. The purebloods disapprove of muggleborns being included in the wizarding world not out of unreasoned hatred and bigotry, but because their introduction to our world inevitably leads to even more muggles realizing our existence. We both know that, according to past experiences throughout history, our kind aren't fondly thought of by muggles. They're panicky and fearful of things they couldn't even begin to comprehend, and they lash out by attempting to wipe us out. Despite what the Ministry wants us to think, purebloods usually have enough status to know that many witches and wizards died during the Spanish Inquisition before word of charms that protected against burning spread. A lot of lines were almost ended because of that disaster."
"But I do understand," Quatre said somberly, taking a moment to taste the steaming tea from the expensive china that rested in his hands. "It's a very realistic fear to have, but it doesn't just apply to muggles. Wizards, too, tend to be irrational about cultures they aren't familiar with, as well. All-wizarding families like the Weasleys tend to have a blind optimism about how harmless muggles are, and they simply aren't. What muggles lack in magic, they make up for in technology; and some muggle technology can be quite dangerous on a widespread scale. However, you're also guilty of stereotyping muggles on the opposite side of the spectrum. You realize muggles can be a threat, but you can't seem to accept that all muggles aren't like that. Only one of my sisters knows exactly where I've disappeared to, and she's absolutely fascinated and amazed by the implications of a purely wizarding society hidden away from the rest of the world. She's very enthusiastic and quite accepting of the new lifestyle I lead, and she happens to be a muggle."
"Squib," Draco corrected Quatre. "Your mother was a witch. I wouldn't doubt she didn't even bother telling your father about it, though I would like to know how she hid her magic from him. In any case, your sister would be classified as a squib. All of your sisters would, in fact." Draco blinked, suddenly realizing for the first time that Quatre had more than one sister. How many squib cousins did he have? "How many sisters do you have?"
Quatre suddenly smiled. "I have twenty-nine older sisters."
"You're kidding." There was no way that was even possible.
"I'm not," Quatre promised, chuckling. "I haven't met them all yet, but I know each of their names."
No wonder Lucius' sister turned her back on the family. Quatre's father must have been quite the Viking in the sack.
(Beside this single sentence was another thing that appeared to have been added after the fact, but instead of words, it was a single drawing of a stubby person that looked remarkably like Duo, pointing at the sentence while clearly howling with laughter, a few block-lettered "ha!"s crowning the doodle's bread-bearing head.)
"What is Draco boggling over now?" Trowa asked his boyfriend as he swept through the room they'd adopted for tea time. The tall Slytherin casually laid his holster on the breakfast room's table, the butt of his gun jutting out from the leather confinement. There was no doubt where he had decided to spend his time; Draco didn't doubt that Duo, Heero, and possibly Wufei were still taking advantage of the dungeons new purpose as a firing range-slash-training course.
Quatre smiled at the taller boy, an almost innocent amusement shining in his eyes. "I just informed Draco of how many sisters I actually have."
Trowa raised an eyebrow and looked at Draco. "They're all overprotective, too."
The poor bastard, Draco mused, absently replying, "I'm beginning to understand why you don't act like other boys our age, Quatre."
Quatre blinked, honestly confused. "What do you mean?"
Draco would have explained that Quatre wasn't quite as masculine and grandstanding as most seventeen year old teenage boys were, and he probably would have been very honest about it. However, a stern, blank look from Trowa immediately caused him to rethink his initial reply and, adopting a facade of nonchalance, said, "I meant that you are astonishingly mature for someone who would normally be thinking less about politics and more about typical teenage drama, like angst over spots and getting called out for misbehavior by teachers. I've heard older siblings tend to have such an influence." Which was a bald-faced lie, but he had to have some reason to justify his reply.
"I've just never considering things like that as something to really think much about," Quatre admitted, taking Draco's word at face value. Trowa nodded silently in approval and took a moment to pour himself a cup of tea, and Draco allowed himself to relax in relief while still attempting to swallow the indignity of having to placate anyone. "Worrying about pimples and showing off to gain attention aren't really things that are important, in the long run."
If there's one thing I have to say about Quatre, it's this: he has an amazing talent of simplifying a common action and making people realize how ridiculous a person's actions are with only a few words and an earnest expression. He's almost every bit the half-Malfoy that he is, but with wildly different opinions and a very sincere persona. Malfoys, as a rule, are also very opinionated but condescending to the point of cruelty.
I would also like to take this opportunity to say it again: I bloody hate having to mince words just to placate Quatre so Trowa won't enact some sort of vengeance on me for hurting his angel. I hate I hate I hate. Wufei, however, has been irritating me on an entirely different matter, but I can't blame him solely for this one. To tell the truth, I asked for it.
"I want you to teach me your style of fighting."
Wufei looked up from his book, appearing slightly befuddled by Draco's sudden declaration as the blond barged into the library. "Pardon?"
"You remember our wager," Draco said, standing at the end of the table Wufei was sitting at and lifting his chin proudly. "I've decided what to have you do for me. I want you to teach me your style of fighting. I particularly like the sword style that you practice, but the hand-to-hand looks bloody amazing, as well."
Wufei blinked, slowly placing a bookmark between the pages he was on and closing the book. "You want me to teach you martial arts?"
Draco frowned. "What? You don't think I could do it?"
"It's not that," Wufei replied, shaking his head. "Although I do find it difficult to believe that you'd willingly adhere yourself to my schedule, I'm mostly surprised that you've decided to use this opportunity to learn something new instead of using it to humiliate me like Maxwell would."
Draco waved his hand in the air with a derisive snort. "Please. Duo's going to get exactly what he deserves, and he's going to have to grin and bear it. You, however, really don't deserve the kind of plot I have for Duo. While you tend to be a bit condescending and appear to have a stick permanently wedged in a place I'm not going to take the time to name, you don't actively annoy me. It helps that you look absolutely wicked when I see you practicing your katas. As much as I hate to admit that something so obviously muggle fascinates me, it's certainly something that intrigues me."
Wufei smirked. "You could have stopped at the point where you mentioned Maxwell is going to get exactly what he deserves, and I would have immediately agreed to teach you martial arts."
There were more than a few important things that Draco and Wufei had in common. For one, both were fiercely loyal to family and friends, but not to the point they would not take the time to question their methods. For another, both of them were very aware of the importance of tradition, no matter how outdated the world seemed to perceive such things. Thirdly, although Wufei and Draco defined the concept differently, both were very concerned with honor and how their actions honored themselves and their families. One of the most important commonality between them, however, was their desire to see Duo Maxwell taken down a peg or two. The mischievous American tended to use the two of them for his own amusement, and finally being able to one-up the Gryffindor was both refreshing and worthy of combining forces.
"You do realize I'm not going to go easy on you," Wufei added solemnly, crossing his arms. "You are going to wake up every morning as the sun rises and join me in the clearing of the grove until breakfast, and you're going to do it with minimal complaining. I'll allow you a little leeway about complaining for the first few weeks, but I'll expect you to have a better attitude later on. Do you understand, Black?"
Draco almost considered rethinking his intentions when Wufei basically informed him that he'd have to be sociable at such an ungodly hour of the morning, but Draco Black never backed away from a challenge. "I understand completely, Chang."
"Good," Wufei said with a final nod, finally opening the book he was reading previously. "We'll start tomorrow morning."
Not that I'm regretting my decision to actively pursue this sudden introduction into physical defense and offense or anything, but I have to admit that I wasn't particularly prepared for the task master that is Chang Wufei. He's strict and irritatingly condescending of all my mistakes, but at least he evens out his scorn with a fair bit of encouragement when I do something competently. He's informed me that my previous experience with fencing helps, particularly when it comes to the sword. I just have to remind myself that the rules between the two sword styles are very different when it comes to posturing, and I have to admit that I'm quite good at it. The hand-to-hand form of fighting, however, is a bit more tricky. I'll just say it's a work in process.
As you've probably noticed, it has been a rather hectic summer thus far. I honestly can't see how I'm going to survive the rest of the holiday with my ever-so-endearing personality unscathed, though I suspect you may think this is a good thing. The unwavering optimism of a Gryffindor is something you clearly are not lacking, Harry. Even though my inner Slytherin wants to snark at you for it, I can't help but to find that optimism adorable on you.
Which proves that you, too, are trying to infect me with your silly ideals, whether you mean to or not. I just can't seem to get away from people like you. At least I'm never bored.
I hope this letter finds you well. After reading your last letter, I realized that, compared to my summer, yours is turning out to be rather mundane. This is simply intolerable, and I vow that the situation should be promptly rectified. As such, expect very unique and amusing experience to happen to you on your birthday. I'll even give you a hint: it involves humiliating Duo and entertaining you. Doesn't that just put a smile on your face? It certainly puts one on mine.
I've said it before and I'll write it now. Victory is sweet.
Draco's parting words, illuminated with the aid of a torch as it was well past midnight, really did put a smile on Harry's face. Despite the pompous aristocracy that simply dripped from every word of the letter, it was very clear that spending time with their five friends was having a very positive impact on the recalcitrant former Malfoy heir. In fact, the letter Harry held in his hands was the first that didn't have anything despairingly scathing about muggles in general. Oh, there seemed to be a fond dislike of muggles in general, but it was clear that Draco was far less disapproving and a little more tolerant of muggle things.
Who knew Draco could take so well to the positive things that muggles had to offer? Harry had certainly been leery of Duo's intentions when he first heard about it. The green-eyed boy had doubted Duo's personal mission would ever succeed, but it actually appeared that the muggle-oriented group was making some progress on that point.
He folded the letter carefully and slid it back in the envelope it arrived in. He quietly pried the floorboards from their place under his bed and placed the newest letter from Draco in a stack of letters that included not only letters from Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, but a fair few from Duo and Quatre, as well. Once that was done, he quietly replaced the floorboards and crawled back into bed, silently promising to write back to Draco during his free time tomorrow.
"I wonder what he's planning for my birthday?" Harry whispered to himself, staring vacantly out of his small bedroom window. Draco had seemed rather giddy about what he had planned, and his plot required Duo's full cooperation.
One thing was for sure, however; Harry suspected that the Dursleys weren't going to know what hit them if Duo Maxwell ever darkened their doorstep.
Harry smirked. Whatever Draco's plan, it would certainly prove... interesting.
(1) All misspellings in this paragraph are intentional. The letter IS written by Draco, and I doubt he'd actually go about asking how certain things are spelled.
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