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Wakanda seemed to be a city out of some science fiction story, Sonya thought. It was beautiful, with its combination of tradition and futuristic technologies and buildings. She just wished her first visit here had been under better circumstances. "Your home is beautiful," she said, resting her head on T'challa's shoulder while looking out the window of the plane as it came in to land.
He nodded. "It is. I hope that you like it enough that you might, one day, come to see it as home?"
She angled her head up and gave him a faint, sad, smile. "I wish I could. But you've seen how dangerous my life can be. I'd put you and your people in danger."
"Those wizards would struggle to find us. And even if they did, they would have to contend with our protections. Our shields combine the best technologies of our scientists and the best magic of our enchanters. And then there are our warriors. They are some of the best in the world. I will not allow them to harm you further. Even if you choose to leave Wakanda, say if you wish to return to New Zealand, I will come with you."
"I would like to continue my studies... But if they know where I am..."
"You can continue them here. We have great teaching facilities for those who wish to learn here, and not go out into the world to learn."
"I'll... I'll think about it. Thank you, T'challa."
He nodded, wrapping his arm around her. The plane nodded and they stood from their seats and headed off the plane, along with his father, Remus, Tonks and Hermione. They had barely stepped onto the tarmac when T'challa was hit by what seemed to be a flying missile of a hug. "Brother!"
"Ah, Shuri, it is good to see you again," he said, wrapping his arms around her in return. "I have a few people I would like you to meet."
The younger girl pulled back and looked at the four newcomers. "Mother said that you would be bringing guests! And magical ones at that!" She smiled at them.
"Yes, Shuri, they are magical. This is Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Hermione Granger, and last but certainly not least, this is Sonya Potter, my soul mate," T'challa reached out and grasped her hand, smiling softly at her.
Shuri gasped at this, before launching herself at Sonya and hugging her just as tightly as she had her brother. "This is wonderful! Welcome! My brother did not mention he had met his soul mate, or that he was bringing you and your friends here!"
"It was rather unexpected, and it's nice to meet you too, I wish it was under better circumstances though..." Sonya trailed off eyes blinking as she fought back the tears.
Shuri looked around at her brother, startled, and saw that he, their father, and the other three newcomers were all solemn. "What happened?"
"There was an attack, Shuri," T'challa told his sister. "One of our own, Kingsley Shacklebolt, was a friend, and gave his life protecting Sonya and Hermione. We have come home so he can be buried with honour."
Shuri seemed to deflate. "That is awful news," she said. "I had heard of him, but I never met him. Was he not among the British Wizards?"
"Yes, and he was trying to keep me safe," Sonya said.
"I must go and see to the preparations of the funeral," T'chaka said, before hugging Shuri. "Help your brother see that our guests get settled in."
"Of course father," Shuri said, nodding. When T'chaka had walked out of ear shot, she turned back to the group. "I am so sorry for acting so... Hyper. I was just so happy for my brother, and I had no idea what had happened."
"It is fine, Shuri," T'challa said, smiling at her. "The moment I saw you I was sure you had no idea. I would have tried to warn you, but you are so quick when happy. Now, how have some of the guest rooms been prepared?"
Shuri nodded. "Yes, and they are all next to each other. I made sure of it when I learnt that you had friends coming to stay," she said.
"Thank you, Princess Shuri," Remus said, stepping forward slightly.
Shuri waved her hand. "It is just Shuri. You are a friend of my brother, so there is no need for ceremony here. Come, I will show you. This way," she said, before heading off.
"How is school?" T'challa asked.
Shuri shrugged. "I'm way ahead of my class mates. I'm on university level projects, just to keep me busy. And designing some new tech too."
"I am glad you are keeping busy. Would not want that brilliant mind of yours going to waste just playing games all day," T'challa teased.
She briefly grinned at him. "I do that too, of course. All work and no play, after all. Besides, I love winding up those annoying gamer boys that think girls can't game. It's so easy. And I've made some friends with a couple of boys from New York on line. Peter and Ned. They're very good, but admit when someone of the opposite gender is able to beat them on line."
"Just don't go starting World War Three somehow, alright?"
"Here we are, our rooms are only on the floor above," Shuri said, and her brother nodded, happy with the choice and she turned to the four that had come with them. "The four rooms have their doors open. Feel free to choose between you," she said to them.
"Well, Remus and I are happy to share a room," Tonks said, smiling at the teenager, who was obviously trying hard to reign in her enthusiasm given the current situation. "But thank you."
Shuri shrugged. "That's fine. I hope you're all comfortable. I'm willing to listen if anyone wants to talk, it was nice meeting you all, now, I have to go, I do have work that I want to get done. See you later."
"Thanks," Sonya nodded to her, smiling slightly, before the teen walked away. She wished she could be happier around T'challa's sister, but right now it was just too hard.
"Dinner will be ready in about two hours," T'challa said to them, "I can come and lead you to the dining room and let you get settled in now?"
"Thank you, T'challa," Hermione said, nodding. She, Tonks and Remus all headed into rooms, leaving Sonya and T'challa alone in the hall.
"Would you rather I stayed?" he asked her.
She shook her head. "No, it's fine. Just... Everything's happening so quick and him being gone... It doesn't feel real yet. And me being here," she let out a sigh. "For the longest time I was adamant that I was never going to come here. To bring the problems of the war here."
T'challa shook his head and took her hands in his. "From what I know of these people, this war threatens everyone. The one side is willing to do anything to get you to fight for them, they have already proven that. And the other side wants to rule the world. I will not stand by and allow either of those things to happen. Neither of them have any right to what they want. They have no right to your life. And I know you worry that you bring this on us, on me, but you don't. Sonya, it is all on them. The instigators. You sent them a pretty clear message that you want nothing to do with them, yet they still persist. Everything that has happened is on them."
"I wish I could believe that."
"Did you ask for any of this to happen? This war? The death and destruction it has caused and will continue to cause?"
"No," she replied, voice quiet.
He leant down and kissed her gently, before leaning back. "Then it is not your fault. Now, go and get settled in. Rest. I will see you for dinner."
"Is there any sort of dress code I should be prepared for?"
"We tend to dress smartly for evening meals," he told her.
"I'll let the others know," Sonya said.
"Then I will leave you to it. And I hope, at some point, I can actually get you to believe me about this not being on you."
"I'll see you later," was all she said, as she headed off to one of the two remaining prepared, but empty, rooms. She would put down her bag and enlarge it and then go and let the others know to choose something smart for dinner.
Kingsley's funeral had been unlike anything Sonya had ever seen before. Everyone, but Tonks, Hermione, Remus and herself were dressed in what she could only guess was tribal wear. Shuri had been by the day before with clothes to ensure none of them were dressed inappropriately. And she was glad of that. The simple hooded black dress had some red trim and was very modest, but it was comfortable, and she wasn't sure she could have chosen something better. The other three were dressed in outfits made up of a similar colour. The elaborate body painting on the others present however was amazingly intricate, and she had seen from his open casket that someone had carefully painted the designs onto Kingsley's skin too. The dancing that some of the mourners had participated in had been indescribable. And she could tell that everyone gathered here truly felt grief at the loss of Kingsley. She had been introduced before hand to his fellow War Dogs, both magical and non-magical, and they had been kind, but obviously upset over the loss. She got the distinct feeling that a loss so sudden was rare. They were so skilled that it was hard to catch one of them out enough to land one bad blow, and they had advanced enough medicine and magic that most wounds could be easily dealt with.
But the funeral left her feeling... lighter about the whole situation. As if now he had been able to move on and had left them fully, but not in a bad way. Kingsley Shacklebolt had gone home.