Chapter Twenty-Six: Bridging The Cultural Divide
Lord Harrison James Sirius Potter leaned back against the cushioned seat inside his limousine and listened as his guests spoke excitedly about their day out. Unusually quiet, he finally realized what had been bothering him. He was falling into another depressive state. Harry had convinced himself he was fine earlier. He had taken the punishment like a man, had taken the teasing the jibs and had even managed to hang out in London with Takashi, his brother, and cousins. It was all a lie, a smokescreen to mask his true feelings, whatever they were. He knew he was depressed, but he couldn't figure out why he was depressed.
Harry stilled as he stared out the window of the limo as it passed through the streets of London, his face carefully blank as he riffled though his occlumency barriers examining the emotions he'd been under the last few hours. As such, he couldn't join in on the Morinozukas' merriment. Outwardly, he had a good time, but it felt as if his mind was beginning to shut down as it did during the trials of Dumbledore and the Dursleys'. He refused to allow himself to go through that mind numbing experience again.
So, he needed to conquer these feelings. But, what were his feelings? The more he sat the more he recognized what he really felt was anger: Anger at himself for once again falling prey to depression and weakness. Anger at Sensei and his family for putting him into this pathetic state. And even anger at Takashi who had put distance between them now they were out in the open and surrounded by his relatives. Anger, anger, anger.
When they reached Potter Hall, Harry had stalked out the vehicle and made his way up to his suite not speaking a word to anyone not realizing he'd done so. He didn't see the concerned and worried glances shot in his direction.
Tossing off his clothes, he pulled on a pair of sweats and fell back onto his bed curling his body into a ball. He just needed a minute, a moment to rest and put everything into perspective. His mind healer always told him to take his time to compartmentalize his feelings and examine them before acting out and jumping to conclusions. It was time he took her advice.
There was a quiet pop and Dobby appeared before him bowing happily in his Potter uniform. Despite everything, Harry couldn't help but smile at the sight before him. Dobby always made him smile.
"Master Harry Potter, sir? How may Dobby serve you?"
"Dobby can you make sure I'm awake in time to shower and dress for dinner? Until then I don't want to be disturbed no matter who it is."
"Of course Master Potter, sir."
Harry relaxed as he felt Dobby's magic ward the room repelling all visitors before the elf popped out himself. He just needed a moment, one moment. He fell asleep minutes later.
Harry should've known his dreams wouldn't be peaceful.
"It is imperative you be purified, Lord Potter." A voice whispered in his ear.
Startled, Harry's eyes popped open. He immediately felt a burning in his rapidly pounding chest. He couldn't breathe. In horror, Harry realized his hands and feet were spread eagle and nailed to the floor like some religious sacrifice. The pain was intense. Tears poured down his face and when he coughed, he coughed blood.
Goblins in white robes surrounded him chanting in their native language. Added to that were hissing noises. It took a moment for Harry to realizing the hissing came from a basilisk brushing against his body.
"You killed me," the snake hissed in parseltongue. "Despite knowing I'd been controlled, you killed me. You didn't try to save me."
Harry opened his mouth to speak, but only coughs and gasps came out. The chanting increase so did the pressure on his chest. He was suffocating. The snake, which weighed several hundred pounds, slid a top his body. Harry wheezed in soundless gasps. Fear consumed him. His heart beat so fast one could see ripples on his skin.
"You profited from my death," the snake continued. "It's time you pay."
Sharp fangs sunk into his neck. Harry screamed. The pain was agonizing. His vision became blurry, then black. Blind, all he could see was an occasional shadow.
"Harry, you're dying." Takashi's voice whispered in his ear. "I'm glad. Now I won't have to distance myself from you. I can't be with anyone who has failed to please my family. Sorry."
"I would never allow my son to be with someone like you," Akira Morinozuka spat.
Sensei sighed with sorrow. "What a disappointment. Why couldn't you do as you were told and get my family to like you, brat? I can't believe I wasted time on you."
Tears poured down Harry's face as he listened to the constant chanting, hissing, and insults spewing from those around him. Helpless, unable to move, speak, or see Harry cried. Physical and emotion pain consumed him. If he had access to a weapon, he would plunge it into his own heart just to end the agony.
Then in the darkness came an intense flare of color. Harry focused on the flare of light as it became brighter and cycled through every color in the rainbow. As the image got closer, Harry realized it was a butterfly. So beautiful. Harry tried to reach out a hand to touch it but because of the nail buried into his palm and the weight of the snake pressing down on him he couldn't. His breathing became shallower as his panic increased. This was the end. It was time to die. Harry was grateful to see the butterfly in his last moments.
"Master Harry Potter!" a voice cried out in the distance.
The butterfly morphed into a girl . . . Luna. Strange he could see her so clearly when everything else was dark. Luna framed his face in her hands.
"You are covered in wrackspurts HarryHeart," she rasped in an unusually harsh whisper. "Get rid of them. Now!"
"Okay," Harry answered with his last breath meek as usual when caught up in the tornado that was Luna Lovegood.
"Master Harry Potter, sir," Dobby called frantically.
Harry blinked confused as Dobby's voice penetrated through the hisses, chanting, and yelling. What was Dobby doing here? Oh, Luna said his head was full of wrackspurts, did that mean this wasn't real?
Frowning, Harry concentrated on the bounds restraining him and felt them fall away. Using all his strength, he pushed the basilisk off his body and sat up. His vision cleared and he glared at the people surrounding him.
"Stop tormenting me," he screamed. "I know I am worthy!"
Just like that, his tormentors smirked and popped away though Luna lingered for a moment. With a large grin on her face, she bent forward, kissed his forehead, transformed into a butterfly, and flew away. In the distance, a familiar owl barked in agitation.
The next thing Harry knew he was sitting up in his bed, Dobby stood beside him wringing his hands while Hedwig perched on his bedpost. Harry placed his hands over his heart, it pounded frantically, and his body was drenched with sweat.
"Sorry Dobby, it was hard to pull myself out my nightmare," Harry wheezed shakily. "Can you do a couple favors for me?"
Dobby's eyes gleamed. "Of course Master Harry Potter, sir."
"I'm going to skip dinner downstairs. I'm not in the frame of mine to banter with my guests tonight."
"Of course not, sir," Dobby growled. "Your guests including Ikeda Morinozuka made several attempts to get into your bedroom. I told them you were sleeping and to leave you alone."
Dobby had a malicious glint in his eyes that caused a shiver of fear to run down Harry's spine. The last time Dobby had that look on his face Lucius Malfoy had been tossed back forty feet in the air and landed on his ass.
"Umm, you didn't do anything to them Dobby?" Harry asked hesitantly.
Dobby straightened to his full height and blinked wide, innocent eyes at him. "Master Harry Potter, Dobby didn't do anything to masters ungrateful guests."
Harry was positive he missed something crucial in the wording of Dobby's cryptic statement, but frankly he was too disorientated from his nightmare to figure it out. He rose from the bed and went to the closest to pull out clothes to change into.
"Can you get into Hogwarts and apparate Neville, Hermione, Ron, and Luna over? I need to talk to them and we can have dinner here in my rooms away from everyone."
Dobby gave an energetic nod and apparated away. Harry went into the bathroom to shower and change. He took his time with the process to give himself time to wash away the nightmare and to come to terms with his still chaotic feelings. He hoped since Luna had been in his nightmare, she and the others might be able to help him make sense of his feelings. In any case, a friendly face would be a blessing right about now.
So, Harry couldn't help the excited squeal that escaped his lips when he walked into the sitting area of his master suite and saw the table set for dinner and his friends lounging around watching the telly.
Harry engulfed Hermione in a bear hug. "Thanks for breaking out to come see me."
"What's the risk of death or worse expulsion between friends," Hermione quipped.
He and the others guffawed before they exchanged hugs and sat around the table to eat with the television playing quietly in the background.
"What's wrong Harry?" Neville asked concerned. "Dobby was adamant that you needed us."
Harry nodded and told them everything that happened since the Morinozukas' arrived on his estate.
"I knew he wasn't good enough for you," Neville groused.
"They were a little extreme with their punishment but I've read that the Japanese are fanatical about honor and respect and you did break the rules," Hermione said with a sigh.
"Yes," Neville snarked, "so let's allow the most lethal martial artist in the world to break his bones."
"We can mend them in a second," Luna said airily as she twirled pasta around her fork. "I don't think they anticipated Harry really getting hurt that badly. It's not like they tossed him out a window hoping to jump start his accidental magic." Neville flushed, but Luna went on as if she hadn't just stirred a hornet's nest. "But what are you going to do?"
"Well it's obvious Takashi's family hates me. I just fear that it won't be long before Ikeda and Takashi feel the same way," Harry whispered picking at his meal.
"Mate," Ron burst out excited as he stuffed his face his eyes glued to the telly. "We got to do this trip the summer we turn seventeen. That looks awesome!"
Startled, Harry pulled out his morose thoughts and looked at the telly. Sky 1 was on. Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman were driving motorcycles from London to New York eastward. They were currently stranded in Mongolia in the middle of nowhere with a broken bike. The locals that were helping them fix the motorbike were laughing in their native dialect about how the two actors had every tool known to mankind yet had no clue how to fix the damage. Harry had to admit a motorbike trip across the world with just him and his mate sounded wicked.
"Ronald focus," Hermione snapped. "Harry is having a crisis. Stop being selfish."
"I'm selfish? Me?" Ron snapped right back at Hermione. "All I'm doing is passing the time waiting for you three to finish giving Harry pointers on how to navigate around a large, insane family with a controlling, domineering parent at its head."
Everyone stopped and gaped at Ronald who smirked at them.
"Oh," Hermione whispered deflating and sinking down in her chair like a popped balloon. "Right."
Luna looked between Ron and Hermione and giggled. Neville bit his lip to stop himself from laughing. Harry had no such qualms and chortled like a two year old. He so loved his friends. Despite everything, he was the most fortunate orphan in the world.
"What should I do?" Harry asked Ron.
"Screw them. They're in your world now, not theirs. Be yourself, but be respectful. His father sounds like Mum. She'd never accept a boyfriend or girlfriend who wasn't on her approved list of suitors no matter how awesome they are to us. She wants us to live the life she and Dad have only with more money." Ron snorted. "Bill and Charlie have this thing they do," Ron grinned manically. "When they're thinking about becoming serious with someone they bring them to meet the family. It's a test. Mum thinks it's to get her stamp of approval, but it's not."
"Then why . . ."
"If you really love someone, you accept them, crazy family and all. You don't have to like the family, but just acknowledge that they are a part of his life. It doesn't sound like this Takashi was really a part of what was going on. But he does have a need for you to accept his family, just like Charlie and Bill want their significant others to accept us. From how you talk about this bloke, it sounds like he has to be careful about not pissing off his family who holds the strings until he's of age. Do you care enough about him to put up with his insane family for a few days or a few years until he can become independent?"
Hermione gasped staring at Ron admiringly.
"You don't have to look so surprised," Ron grumbled. "I do have occasional moments of brilliance."
Never underestimate Ronald Weasley. Harry giggled then sobered quickly as he thought about the other. The thing he'd been avoiding. The thing he now realized really caused his nightmare and depressive state.
"Yes. But I don't know about Ikeda. He really hurt my feelings."
"Then let him know," Hermione said. "From what you said it sounds like he was stressed and worried about you and acted without thinking. People make mistakes."
"Yeah, but I'm tired of always being the one who must forgive them their mistakes against me."
Since no one knew what to say, they changed the subject. After dinner, they sat around and watched Long Way Around. Long Way Around was Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman's motorbike documentary, he and his friends discussed the logistics of taking a magical motorbike camping trip around the world. He and Ron were still fantasizing about the possibilities when a knock sounded at the door. From the way his magic curled around him, Harry could tell his visitor was Takashi who had Mitsukuni with him.
"Come in," he called biting his bottom lip.
His friends chuckled as the four foot nine Mitsukuni pulled the six foot two Takashi into the bedroom.
"Nev-chan!" Mitsukuni beamed upon seeing Neville and raced across the room to engulf the larger boy into a hug. He began chatting to Neville a mile a minute about different ski trips they should take together.
Takashi, who looked amazing in a suit and tie, stood awkwardly at the door. Harry grinned at his friend to put him at ease.
"Harry," Takashi intoned quietly, his usually expressionless face looked worried.
"You never met my friends." Harry began. Mitsukuni paused in his monologue to smile cutely at the others as Harry introduced them. "Hermione Granger, Ronald Weasley, Luna Lovegood, and of course you remember Neville. Guys this is Takashi Morinozuka and his cousin Mitsukuni Haninozuka."
"Ah, the lover and the fighter," Ronald smirked.
"Ronald!" Hermione and Harry snapped.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Ron rose from his place next to Harry and went back to the table to eat more dessert.
Harry rose from the settee at the foot of his bed and went to the doorway to pull Takashi into the bedroom sitting him down next to him in the seat Ron abandoned. Hermione and Luna laid sprawled across his bed flipping through the books they found on his nightstand, Luna humming happily. Neville and Mitsukuni sat at the table with Ron, the latter longingly eyeing Ron as he ate a thick piece of cake.
"You might as well join him," an amused Harry told the smaller boy. "If you wait any longer it'll be gone. Ron has the appetite of sumo wrestler."
"I'm only eating this cake because you offered and I'm on vacation. Besides, it would be rude to be anything less than gracious to my hosts," Mitsukuni said solemnly. "Understand?"
"Of course," Harry answered solemnly trying not to giggle at Mitsukuni's unaccustomed seriousness.
With Harry's acknowledgement, Mitsukuni quickly sat down and devoured the elaborately decorated Battenburg cake in under a minute. Ron looked at Mitsukuni with worship in his eyes. Harry figured he should be worried that Ron found a new best friend.
"Sorry, I didn't come down to dinner," he told Takashi.
Takashi shrugged. "You needed to make your point though the porridge and Hedwig were a bit much."
"You don't know?"
"While we were eating dinner Hedwig popped in and began pecking Uncle Ikeda and father on the head and we were only served porridge for dinner," Takashi informed them.
He and his friends snorted out a single word. "Dobby!"
Harry choked back a laugh. "I knew the little bugger was up to something. Sorry. Dobby and the other elves are fiercely loyal. And Hedwig is too. Is your family angry?"
"Shamed," Mitsukuni piped up cheerfully now that he had sweets in his system. "They saw the porridge for dinner and you not joining us as your way of saying how disrespectful we were being while being guests inside your home. They do think you made your point in a childish manner, which Uncle Raiden said was expected considering you're thirteen. Sorry about the arm, I lose myself when I'm fighting because of my condition, which is why no one likes to spar with me. Can I have more cake please?"
Harry chuckled and called for a house elf from the kitchen for more cake for Mitsukuni while asking the kitchen elf to thank the rest of his elves for supporting him even if it was in an unorthodox manner. Frankly, knowing Dobby, it could've been much worse. The elf bowed and beamed happily before popping away.
"How is sensei?" he asked quietly.
"Getting reamed by your other guards," Takashi answered. He looked solemn. "I am not worthy of you."
"What!" Harry asked shocked.
Takashi bowed his head. "I should have done more. My family, while having the right to discipline me should not have involved you. You should sever our friendship. I am not worthy of it."
Hermione and Luna snorted from behind them as if they were expecting this. But Harry's eyes widened, was he getting dumped?
Confused, Harry looked to Mitsukuni who rolled his eyes and twirled his finger beside his head indicating he thought Takashi was crazy. Buoyed by Mitsukuni's and his friends' presence and support, Harry bopped Takashi's bowed head, hard.
"Ow." Takashi looked up rubbing his sore head.
"What are you blathering about?"
"Harry, Takashi has always been an idiot when he feels he let down someone he cares about," Mitsukuni informed him.
"We broke the rules. I admit to thinking the punishment stupid," Harry told him, "but your family's reaction has nothing to do with you. Although it did hurt when you put distance between us today. I mean really, if I was going to be punished like I did I should've at least gotten a snog first."
Takashi blushed. "Harry."
"Your father was testing me, I guess. He probably has expectations for you and I suppose you hanging out with a homosexual wizard with emotional issues and an insane Dark Lord on his tail isn't exactly an ideal mate for his heir."
Harry went on ignoring Takashi. "Sensei hurt me though. I know I let him down, but I wish he would've went about it another way. I don't know what to do about him now."
"Dad and the others are shouting at him."
Startled, Harry looked up to see Rich leaning against the open doorway smiling at him.
Rich walked in the room and hugged Harry. After introductions were made, he sat at the table and wrestled a piece of cake from to the two garbage bins.
"What are you doing here?"
"Dad pulled me out of school for the weekend. We were planning our summer when he got the call from the others about an emergency meeting."
"What are you doing this summer?" Harry asked. His guard Chad and his son Rich were notorious for spending their vacations going across the country in their motorhome.
"We don't have everything planned yet, we've been thinking of hiking the Muir trail or maybe going to Crater Lake in Oregon when school lets out. Want to come?"
Harry wrapped his arms about himself. "It would be nice to get away. Ikeda really hurt my feelings."
"Guys, can you leave us for a moment."
Ikeda stood in the doorway. He was dressed in an immaculate black suit, his hair pulled back in a ponytail. The only thing marring his appearance was a rapidly forming black eye. Everyone looked at Harry for his answer and when he nodded hesitantly, Dobby appeared and popped the others back to Hogwarts. Mitsukuni and Rich immediately rose to their feet, but Takashi hesitated.
"Hasn't he been through enough?" Takashi asked his uncle.
Takashi seemed satisfied with Ikeda's response. He squeezed Harry's hand, rose, and left the room. Ikeda came to sit where Takashi had. Harry couldn't help but flinch; of course, Ikeda noticed and sighed.
"I could've handled myself better," Ikeda admitted. "And I am sorry to admit I was showing off for my parents and elder siblings. I wanted them to see what a good job I was doing with you, what a great kid you are. Then with the stunt you and Takashi pulled . . . I overreacted. I had been bragging about you, but I let my ego get away from me. You were caught in the crossfire and felt the sting. I damaged my relationship with you because of my ego."
Harry remained quiet.
"That is not to say that you weren't out of line for going to Takashi's room and sleeping in his bed no matter how innocent the situation was. It doesn't matter that you're both boys, it matters that you are both in a relationship, even if you can't acknowledge it as of yet. I know you hate me saying it, but you are only thirteen. Even though it didn't escalate this time, hormones are hormones and you're pushing your luck. As a male interested in a same sex relationship, you are too young to be lying in another boy's bed, too young to be kissing, too young to be in a physical relationship. I admit I didn't dole out the correct punishment. I acted before I thought, but I never had kid before. I was bound to get it wrong sometime."
Harry felt the warmth in his heart when Ikeda referred to him as his kid. He was a sucker. His resolve crumbling, he leaned against Ikeda, wrapped his arm around his waist, and laid his head against Ikeda's side.
"I was more pissed you sicced Mitsukuni on me."
"Yeah." Sensei sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. "Mitsukuni is the family's go to person when someone's ego gets too big. We set Mitsukuni on them to knock them back down to reality. Everyone in the family's been humbled by Mitsukuni. It's practically a rite of passage. It's such an integral part of our family discipline system to show them that someone is always better that they're not fallible that I'm ashamed to admit I didn't anticipate how that could trigger bad memories for you. Don't blame Mitsukuni too much, because of his forced maturity he tends to have almost a split personality when he's fighting or feels threatened."
Harry nodded and snugged into Ikeda's side.
"So what happened to your eye?"
Ikeda grumbled. "That insane elf of yours set Sirius on me."
Harry giggled. He was so buying Dobby several pairs of mismatched socks for this.
That night Harry fell into an easy sleep, but he still woke in the middle of the night feeling restless.
Slipping from the bed, he donned his fluffy unicorn slippers and made his way to the kitchen for a mug of hot tea and biscuits. Hearing voices inside the kitchen speaking Japanese he quickly cast a translation spell on himself. Although his Japanese was coming along, Harry doubted he'd be able to follow the rapid-fire conversation accurately.
". . . disappointment in you out on the boy and for that I'm sorry," he heard Akira Morinozuka say.
"You knew I was attracted to boys as well as girls," Takashi answered.
"Yes. But accepting it theoretically and it being thrust in my face are two different things."
"Father," Takashi began Harry could hear the hurt in his voice.
"I accept you son," Akira said quickly. "You are a fine boy and I have no doubt you'll grow into a fine man and company head. Underneath your quiet exterior, you have a very dominate personality. You are more mature, more steadfast, and even more masculine than my brother ever was. Because of that, I always assumed that despite your preferences you'd have more of an affinity towards women. Not for my own comfort but for yours. Being in a homosexual relationship is a hard life. I know it is accepted in the wizarding world, but that is not where your life and where your future will be. It would be easier if you stuck to women and let's face it, you're young, and your feelings will most likely change."
"Maybe," Takashi conceded. "But I don't think so. I can't imagine a person who could be as wonderful as Harry is. Nor can I imagine a person I'm more comfortable being myself around who accepts me, without question." Takashi paused. "Can you try to get to know him?"
"If he'll allow it," Harry could hear the grimace in Akira Morinozuka's voice. "We've been poor guests. If a guest in my home was treated how we treated your Harry, I would want nothing to do with him."
Feeling better about the situation, Harry canceled the translation spell and backed away from the door. He waited a couple minutes before he began making noise as he walked back to the kitchen doorway and pushed it open. Takashi as he suspected was leaning against the wall by the door while Akira sat at the island eating a tamagoyaki, a Japanese style omelette. Harry bowed to the man.
"I didn't expect anyone to be awake. I'll only be a moment."
"It is your home," Akira answered.
Harry nodded and put the kettle on before going to the bins underneath the kitchen island that resembled a counter that would've been comfortable in a centuries old general store. He opened one of the glass bins on the wooden island and scooped up several different varieties of biscuits and candy before fixing his tea. He bowed and turned to leave.
"Lord Potter," Akira said. Harry paused and turned back to Mr. Morinozuka. "My brother and son think highly of you. I look forward to getting to know you better."
Harry flushed, bit his lip, and nodded before walking out the kitchen. When he was back in his bedroom, he grinned like a maniac and punched his fist in the air.
He knew he had a long way to go to getting the harsh man's approval, but things didn't seem as hopeless as they had several hours ago.
Hiya. Sorry for the abnormally long wait between chapters. I had gotten a lot of flak for the last chapter, which I didn't understand which caused me to suffer from a bit of writer's block on this chapter. Although this story is complete for the most part their is still a lot of plot holes I have to fill and from the last couple chapters were ones I hadn't originally planned that I had written from scratch. When I got so much flak from the last chapter, I began to doubt my awesomeness and went back and forth with how I was going to deal with the chapter. I have written and discarded many versions of this chapter and finally when I said screw it and just wrote how I felt this came out.
Seriously, I didn't get the flak. Call me old fashioned, but if I found one of my bratlets at thirteen (luckily they aren't 13 yet) in bed with someone they were sexually attracted to, I would react first - i.e., loose my freaking mind - and think later. Which is what the Morinozukas did. As I read some of the comments I thought theoretically, they made sense, but when I went back and re-read the story from beginning to end, in the larger context I didn't get it. So that's what created my writers block. But I hope this satisfy's you all. If not, oh well . . . different strokes and all that jazz.
Speaking of bratlets for the longest time I believed the oldest one came from the pod people or something because she hated reading and rolled her eyes when I tried to shove the Harry Potter books down her throat. Then this year, it was a big turn around. She discovered some Warrior Cat series books and then began devouring books at a top speed. She went from needing reading help to reading at a grade level two levels above her own. Then she read the first Percy Jackson book and had me send her to school with her hair in a ponytail with a baseball cap on her head and dressed in an orange t-shirt. I breathed a sigh of relief and was like, finally I see how we can be related. Now she writes fan fiction about those Warrior Cats books on Google Docs (when I told her about Google Docs she rolled her eyes at me logged on the computer and showed me all her school assignments she had written using the program and shared with her teacher as well as the personal stories she shared with her friends - so this is what it's like to be uncool and behind the times, huh). She wants a fanfiction account, but I'm leery. Even if the writing is surprising good for her age and grammatically correct (except for a love of too many adjectives and similes). It reminds me of all the self-inserted fan fiction I've skimmed because despite being animals you can tell her characters are her and her friends. Anyhoo, I do have a point other than to brag about the bratlet and bore you with details about my personal life. Because of her budding genius it is hard to wrench the computer away from her, but I will preserve and you will see more updates from me in the future.
Love you guys and have a great day. By the way I'm going to skip my usual of replaying to all my reviews personally because it's been so long since I updated. It won't me as long next time and I will get back in the swing of things.