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[hp] tatsu, from the juvenilia

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Jun. 22nd, 2006 | 08:01 pm


When Draco opens it, the wooden box smells like the linen cabinets and tea. Like all smells, it will bury a full-bodied moment deep into his memory and assault him whenever cedarwood or cypress appear in his future. Inside there is a pile of brightly coloured paper and a scroll which, when unwound and kicked along the rugs, measures the entire length of the ground-floor hallway from the front door to the sunken steps leading down into his mother's conservatory.

The scroll contains instructions for folding paper into animals and birds, into fantastic creatures and miniature palaces. Draco likes this idea, just as he likes his father teaching him about transfiguration. His mother tells him that this is a proper origami sukoro-ru from Kyoto, not a cheap replica with animated instructions like the ones sold in Framley's. Sitting cross-legged on a rug at the low table in the library, Draco studies the scroll's key, learning mountain folds and inside-tucks until he knows the code in the instructions off by heart. He chooses a piece of yellow paper and slides the edges around the centre line before committing to his first fold, making crisp creases with his thumbnail. On the fourth fold he stops, looks up, sets the yellow paper aside and spreads out the pile until he finds one that is mottled grey and black.

This is the year that his parents went to the Far East for their anniversary. The day before they left--leaving Draco with Mr Hodge for lessons, the house elves for supper, and Mrs Nott to call in and make sure he combed his hair--they took Draco to Alula & Patagium on Eastcheap. For his birthday some weeks previous he had received a two-volume edition of Fleyte's Avium, which was bitterly disappointing for a nine-year-old who wanted nothing more than his own owl. Theodore, who was cleverer than Draco about parents, said that perhaps they wanted Draco to choose what kind of familiar he wanted first. Draco had jammed his hands in his pockets to stop himself from reaching up to pet the birds in their roosts, and walked around the perches, softly naming each kind until he found the eagle owls. There were two, but the smaller one turned and stretched its jaw open and blinked at Draco as if to say yes, so of course that was that. Quetzal came home with Draco and he hardly noticed his parents were gone at all.

Now they are back, and his mother is wearing a new robe that looks like the sky, with gold swallows and a big sash around her waist. It was cool and slippery against Draco's cheek when she hugged him this morning. She looks up from the sofa where she has her head on his father's lap and asks Draco what he is making.

"Wait, mummy," Draco says, and he winds through the scroll, past the frog and the pyramid and the penguin until he finds what he is looking for. It takes him nearly an hour because it's hard, and the paper has too many creases from where he's made a mistake with the wings, but just before lunchtime he finishes and goes to the window-seat to throw open the sash and call Quetzal in to show him what he's made. The owl is not very interested because there are plenty of baby field mice out in the grounds, but he sits patiently on the sill while Draco pulls the paper owl's tail to make its head bob.

His father comes over to the window and sits down, scratching Quetzal underneath his chin. He asks Draco what he plans to make next and Draco tells him the dragon, of course. His father smiles and says that when Draco's made a few more he'll show him a clever enchantment for his paper animals, and then it's time for lunch.


At tea Greg doesn't grab for the one lemon tart that's left but passes the plate to Draco, and so Draco decides he will show Greg how to make a swallowtail butterfly. Vincent doesn't really like origami now after Draco learned to make his creatures run and fly. Vincent gets scared easily.

Greg does like paper-folding, although he doesn't practice like Draco does and only makes things when they're together. Vincent always huffs and wants to go outside in the garden or play on the stairwells. Theodore likes to see what Draco makes and sometimes joins in but then he unfolds his models and writes on the paper, which makes Draco cross.

They are nearly finished when Mr Hodge comes back in the room and says it is time to get back to their lessons. The rest of the afternoon is spent learning their geography and their prep is to find the seven wonders of the magical world on the globe in the morning.

Aspergia Goyle comes to collect Vincent and Greg by Floo. Theodore can't go back to York that way as he has a cold and Floo powder makes him sneeze badly, so he has to wait for his father to collect him and Apparate, which Draco never, ever, gets to do. Draco lets Theodore wait in his room and look at the ceiling, which the house elves have painted with a new treasure map puzzle.

Theodore lies on the rug for a while, frowns and blinks, then he says, "I know where it is!"

"So do I," Draco says, even though he doesn't.


Next week their lessons are at Theo's house and Mr Hodge takes them to Lindisfarne to see the sights. It is windy on the island but the abbey ruins are enormous and the castle is creepy and full of Viking ghosts, and Draco and Vincent sneak their broomsticks under their robes and fly up to the turrets, where they can see the moors go on for miles and miles and Vince pretends he can see Holland.

When they get back Mrs Nott brings them fluffy scones with clotted cream and pepperberry jam. Mrs Nott is not Theodore's real mother. Theo likes her anyway, although secretly Draco thinks he might like her just as much as Theo does. He writes a list of all the different kinds of jam she makes and folds it into the shape of a strawberry. He wants to give it to her but instead he leaves it under his plate, and that is the first year that Ida Nott sends him preserves for his birthday.


Blaise Zabini comes from Cyprus and when he talks his words go up and down. Draco quite likes the sound, but Blaise talks a lot. He's clever, too, (just not clever like Theodore though) and he likes long division and venn diagrams and is better than anybody else at Latin. Draco hates venn diagrams and Mr Hodge only gives him a mark for mathematics when Draco explains the fractions and triangles in an origami goldfish.

This is the last year that Mr Hodge will tutor them, and then they will all get their Hogwarts letters. Blaise says that his family moved just so Blaise could go to school in England instead of the Akademi Mykenaeum. Draco can't imagine what it would be like to have to move countries just to go to school, but Blaise has lived in four different countries and knows how to curse (the kinds of curses that Draco's mother raps her wand over Draco's knuckles for, not just making a house-elf trip down the stairs) in seven languages.

Draco is infuriated when, as he and Greg jump up to go outside and fly one day after dull dull reading comprehension, he discovers Blaise and Theodore smirking secretly at each other.

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Comments {2}

Leni Jess

(no subject)

from: leni_jess
date: Dec. 21st, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)

So that's where Quetzal came from! Lovely small boy fic.

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from: minimeister_101
date: Mar. 16th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)

I just can't get over the way that you wrote the story from a child's point of view. When I read this I couls clearly hear the child-like voice of draco slowly and carefully enunciating each word as he wrote it down in his journal or something. Was that your aim when you wrote this?
Also I can also sense little Draco's astute observation skills even though he doesn't understand half the things he takes note of. Kinda makes me think of my own childhood!

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