6-7-2001

9-5-2001 (revised)

TITLE: It's a Kinda Magic
PART: Chapter One
AUTHOR: AJ from NZ
E-MAIL: firemooncatblue@hotmail.com
ARCHIVES:
Liz http://www.geocities.com/liz_shinigami/ajfromnz.htm
Shinigami’s Demon http://www.geocities.com/shinigami_demon/archives.html
Celestial Chronicles http://celestialchronicles.50megs.com/
DHML http://kikotei_dhml.tripod.com

GENRE: fantasy, AU
RATING: PG
PAIRINGS: 1x2, 3+4, 5x Sally & Meiran, Cathy & Hilde,
WARNINGS: OOC, double Duos,
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own GundamWing and am using the characters from that anime series without permission - all other characters and locations are the intellectual copyright of this author.
AUTHOR’S NOTES: This is the revised version of my fic... whilst suffering simultaneously from the flu, a striking muse and writer's block I decided to revise and tidy up my earlier work hoping that it might get things moving again... it seems to have worked so here goes nothing....

Special Thanks To: Liz, Tenshi-chan, Deborah, Hana-chan, Misuzu, ld, Stormy, Christie, Ashkara and Walking Terror for their continuing support.

 

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CHAPTER ONE

 

The violet-eyed young man moved restlessly on the bare wooden bench. His long chestnut brown hair was beginning to escape from the waist length braid that normally confined it and curling softly about his face. He’d been waiting for a quarter of an hour now, and his limited supply of patience was fast disappearing. It was so like his father to order him immediately to his chambers, and then keep him hanging around uselessly.

Duo Maxwell grumbled resentfully to himself as he waited for his father to remember his presence. As Arch-Mage of the Khorasan Academy of Magics, most of the day to day running of the Academy fell upon his capable shoulders, leaving Mathias little time for his only child. In fact Duo only saw his father when he was in one of his tutorials.

The creaking of the door distracted Duo from his growing annoyance at his father. He watched as a small blonde-haired boy tried to slide inconspicuously through. “If you’re here to see the Senior-Mage you’ve got a long wait ahead of you!” he snapped bitterly.

The newcomer turned a frightened face to Duo, looking as if he was about to turn tail and flee the room. Before he could move, the inner door opened and the Senior-Mage appeared, smiling cheerfully at the two boys.

“Come through boys.” There was little resemblance between father and son. Where Duo was small and slight with a surprisingly delicate face, his father was tall and solid, with short-cropped hair and eyes of a dull brown.

Duo stalked angrily past his father, ignoring the stranger who followed hesitantly in his wake. Once they were both seated Mathias shut the door and took his own seat, facing them across his cluttered desk. The Mage looked quietly from one face to the other before speaking. “Duo, I would like you to meet your cousin, Quatre Winner. Quatre is a new student here, and I’ve assigned him to room with you and Wufei. You still have that spare bed, don’t you?”

“Yes, but does he have to room with us? ‘Fei and I are quite happy as we are.” Duo glared at his father, completely ignoring the thin-faced boy at his side who shrank away from his rage. “Besides, he’s obviously younger than us, more than likely be a couple of levels below us. I don’t want to spend all my time baby-sitting some lower level brat!”

Mathias returned the glare. “Yes, Quatre does have to room with you. To start with yours is the only room with a spare bed; secondly the fact that he’s your cousin counts for something as well. As for the baby-sitting, Quatre is on the same level as you.”

While the Mage and his son glared angrily at each other, Quatre was growing more and more distressed. The atmosphere of hostility was almost tangible, and he was acutely aware that he was the cause. “Excuse m-me,” he stammered in a barely audible voice, not daring to look at the other two. “Couldn’t I j-just stay where I am? I-I wouldn’t be any bother, I pr-promise.”

Mathias looked from his son’s furious face to the other boy’s. Biting back an exclamation he realised how upset the younger boy was; he’d shrunk as far back as he could in his seat, an expression of terror evident on his pale face. “It’s not a question of whether or not you’d be a bother, Quatre. It’s just that the infirmary is only for those who are actually sick. You no longer need to be there – you are ready to begin classes, so begin you will.”

Quatre didn’t feel any better – being a pawn in an ongoing battle between father and son was not what he wanted. He noticed that Duo was no longer regarding him with such hostility, in fact the swift glance the elder boy sent him was almost sympathetic. “B-but please I don’t…”

“What you want doesn’t have any standing here I’m afraid,” interrupted Duo. “Like me, cousin-mine, you’re just a piece of flotsam in the tide.”

“Duo!” roared his father; “I won’t have you talking like that! You’ll give Quatre the wrong ideas.”

“Is that possible?” Duo replied, looking innocent.

Despite his nervousness Quatre couldn’t help but chuckle, earning himself a wink from his cousin and rolled eyes from Mathias.

“Fine then.” Mathias sighed. “I don’t have the time to argue with you Duo… just show your cousin to your room and help him settle in. I trust you can do that much without messing up?”

Duo grimaced. “You never have time to do anything with me, so why start now.” The frown vanished as he looked at Quatre. “Come on, let’s split!”

“No! Don’t-” Mathias yelped, then sighed as his son split in two, both versions tapping their feet impatiently. “Duo! I’ve told you about doing that!”

Quatre giggled again, his earlier trepidation vanishing. His cousin was proving to be more interesting than he’d thought – and from Mathias’s reaction this doppelganger effect was nothing new. Life was suddenly looking up.

Duo winked at his cousin again, glad to see that the frail looking boy was happier than he’d been to start with. He was regretting his earlier burst of temper, and had thought that his splitting trick might raise a laugh. Out of Quatre at least. He knew from long experience what his father thought of the trick. “Come on Quat... I’ll show you around.”

Mathias watched as the two boys left, not raising his head from where he was clutching it in his hands. He worried whether he was making the right decision in leaving Quatre in Duo’s impetuous hands, but he trusted his wild son to help the other boy along. “It’s going to be a rough year.”

Once they were outside Mathias’s chambers Quatre was disappointed to see Duo dispense with the doppelganger effect. At his questioning gaze the longhaired boy sniggered.

“I only do that to annoy Father. He can’t handle it and it drives him up the wall.” Duo grinned then sobered suddenly. “Hey Quat, I’m sorry for how I acted earlier. It’s just that Father drives me crazy – he called me away from class without any explanation, and then just let me hang around there for almost two hours… and he has the cheek to complain about my class attendance. I just can’t win.”

Quatre laughed at his cousin’s lugubrious expression. “I understand… how I understand!”

“Your father’s the same I take it?” Duo queried curiously.

His cousin nodded, a troubled expression passing over his thin face. “Unfortunately yes. Only he wants me to shun my mage studies – he thinks that it’s unsuitable for one of my breeding.”

Duo snorted. “What a moron. Doesn’t he understand that it’s not something you can ignore? What about your mother – what does she think?”

Despite his best efforts Quatre’s lip trembled and he blinked back the sudden tears that had appeared. “I don’t know what she thinks… I… think… that she’s dead. Even if she weren’t it wouldn’t matter. Father didn’t approve of her either-”

“What?!” Duo frowned. “If he didn’t approve of her, then why did they wed? I don’t understand.”

Quatre sighed. “I don’t understand either. Apparently it was an arranged marriage, Father wasn’t consulted and that was a major problem. Well, one of them. The other one was the fact that he disapproves of magic and she was a mage.” He frowned suddenly. “What about your mother?”

“I don’t know either,” confessed Duo sadly. “That’s why I asked you. They were sisters after all… at least I assume they were sisters… that’s the only reason I can figure for Father to say that you are my cousin – I know all my cousins on his side.”

“Strange.” Quatre paused, breathing hard. “Can we rest for a while please? I’m kinda tired.”

Duo nodded, looking at his frail cousin with concern. “What's wrong with you Quat? Why were you in the infirmary?’

With a one shouldered shrug Quatre turned momentarily away. He muttered something too softly for the other to hear. “What?”

Seeing that there would be no way around this Quatre repeated himself. “I said that my father had me beaten… and starved… for practising.”

“That bastard!” Duo’s anger was all too tangible… across from them flames suddenly appeared, licking at the timber-clad hallway. “How dare he! How did you get away?”

“Your father.” Quatre regarded the flaming wall with wide eyes. “Er… Duo… the wall?”

“What?” Duo followed Quatre’s gaze and blinked. “Oops.” As suddenly as the flames had appeared they vanished. “Gotta learn to control that.” He turned back. “My father rescued you?”

“Yes,” replied Quatre, slightly bemused. There wasn’t so much as a scorch mark on the wall from the flame. “I don’t know how he knew but he came storming in and basically forced my father into releasing me into his care.”

Duo blinked thought for a minute then blinked again. “He can be impressive… especially when he’s in a temper,” he hazarded cautiously.

A wry smile etched itself on the blonde’s face. “He was impressive that day, believe me. I’ve never seen my father so completely… completely…” He struggled for a suitable word to describe his fathers reaction.

“Gobsmacked? Discomposed? Vexed? Mildly put out?” prompted Duo.

“Gobsmacked.” Quatre grinned suddenly, his face lighting up. “Definitely gobsmacked. No one ever gainsays my father… it simply isn’t done.”

“And knowing Father, he probably rode roughshod over everything your father said, ignored each and every objection and did exactly what he wanted to do.” Duo smirked. “Correct?”

“Yes.” Quatre grinned again. “I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing anyone ever contradict Father… and get away with it. It was a definite pleasure, not that I was in any fit state to appreciate it at the time.” His face fell.

“You are now!” Duo hugged his startled cousin. “And appreciate it you will… I command you!” He affected a lordly manner and gestured imperiously. “I, Daikoku Udo Oata doth command it.!”

Startled by both his cousin’s ebullient behaviour and outlandish name, Quatre could only shake his head. “What?”

Duo smiled gently at his confused cousin. “What I mean Quat, is that your Father is no longer is control of you. He's gone, out of sight, out of mind. He can’t touch you or hurt you.” He watched the younger boy’s face. “You are free little cousin… free to be what you want… provided of course that what you want fits in with what my father wants from and for you.”

“He’s not going to hurt me…” All Quatre could do was repeat Duo’s words. “He can’t touch me… I’m free?”

“Yes,” Duo calmed down and gently hugged Quatre again. “You are free. Free to study and learn about your abilities, free to live your life without too much interference, free to be yourself – which is the greatest freedom of all in my eyes.”

“Free,” Quatre spoke the word as if invoking a sacred mantra. “Free…” A dazzling smile lit up his face. “I’M FREE!”

Duo laughed softly at the shout. “Yes, little cousin, you are indeed.”

From behind them came a dry voice. “Looks like Duo’s corrupted another promising student.”

Duo swung around and grinned widely. “Ahh you’re just jealous Fei, don’t worry I’m sure there are lots more people out there that you can corrupt all for yourself.”

“I’m so happy.” Wufei stepped out of the shadow from which he’d been watching the cousins. Gesturing towards Quatre he prompted, “and this is?”

“’Fei, I’d like you to meet my cousin, and our new roommate, Quatre Winner.” Turning to Quatre he gestured in another broad sweep of his arm towards Wufei, who caught Duo’s arm before it hit him in the face. “Quatre, this is my friend Wufei Chang, of the Dragon Clan.”

Wufei bowed formally to the smaller boy. “I am honoured to meet you, and welcome you to the Academy.”

Quatre returned the bow, and smiled tentatively. “My thanks, and I am likewise honoured. I hope we too can be friends as well as roommates.”

“You can’t be any worse than Duo,” replied Wufei with a smirk and a wink at that person, who snorted indignantly. “In fact you’ll probably be a good influence… we can only hope.”

“Thank you for the roses Fei, I’ll remember that.” Duo grinned at the two. “Shall we guide this poor pilgrim into the promised land?”

“What?” Quatre had again lost track of the conversation.

“He means we should get on to our room,” Fei rolled his eyes. “You’ll soon get used to him… or go mad,” he added thoughtfully.

“Go mad?”

“Yes… its been known to happen after long exposure to Duo.” Wufei turned a measuring gaze on the thin blonde. “Then again, your are his cousin so it shouldn’t effect you as much as it does anyone else… though that could prove fatal for me…”

Quatre looked almost fearfully from one to the other. “I… I won’t be any problem… I…”

Duo glared briefly at Wufei before gently hugging his cousin. “You are no problem now, Q. Just ignore Fei… he thinks every mage should be sour faced… that’s why he wears his underwear two sizes too small. Keeps his mind on the discomfit of his esteemed estate.”

Fei rolled his eyes in exasperation then controlled his expression when he saw the anxiety in the new boy’s eyes. “Don’t mind us Quatre… your cousin and I have been trading insults and barbs since we first met, some eight years ago. For all his flippant attitude I consider Duo to be one of the best mages in training in the Academy.”

“Oh.” Feeling somewhat reassured more by his cousin’s comforting arm around his shoulders than by Fei’s explanation, Quatre managed to relax. “Sorry, I’m not used to being…” for a moment he paused uncertain of the correct word.

“Teased?” supplied Duo.

“Yes, teased,” confirmed Quatre, a smile, small but bright, broke across his face. “My father disliked talking to me, and wouldn’t let anyone else talk to me either… I’m out of practise.” He shrugged.

“First thing Quat – stop apologising; things aren’t automatically your fault. In fact your reactions are your father’s fault not yours.” Duo paused, trying to control his temper. The more he heard of his cousin’s family life, the more he wanted to find his uncle and reap revenge… he tucked that thought away for further consideration at a latter date. “I’m sorry if some of the things I say or do seem outrageous but that’s just how I am. Hopefully you’ll get used to it… most people around here are…” A smirk flickered on Duo’s lips. “Well, most people aside from my own dear Father.”

At Quatre’s questioning gaze Fei nodded. “Even I’m used to him… in fact when he acts all nice and polite then its time to be worried… the nicer behaved Duo is the worse the mischief is he’s plotting.”

Quatre chuckled. “I think I will like it here… so… peaceful… restful…”

His musing was interrupted by a snort of disbelief from Fei. “Duo? Peaceful? Restful? Oh my, the others are going to flip out when they hear that!”

“Hey!” objected Duo. “There’s no need to be so rude.” He sent a beaming smile at his thoroughly confused cousin. “Quatre brings an outsider’s clear sight and insight. He is a man of integrity whose-”

A well placed hand cut off Duo’s flowery speech. Keeping his hand firmly in place Wufei looked over to Quatre. “He can go in like that for hours if you don’t curtail his verbal excesses.” He nodded firmly, ignoring the muffled mutters from beneath his hand. “Shall we go to our room?”

Quatre nodded, smiling as he watched Fei steer the still objecting Duo towards their room. “How many students are there here?”

“You mean in this hall?” Wufei paused momentarily before forcing Duo around a corner. “Or how many in the Academy itself?”

“Um… both?” Quatre followed behind, taking note of the direction they took. He noticed that the halls themselves weren’t as blank or bland as he’d thought they’d be, instead they were decorated in various styles and colours.

“In this hall there are forty five students, and that’s including you.” Wufei stopped outside a door. “Here’s our room.” Looking at Duo he raised an eloquent eyebrow, and removed the hand. “Will you behave?”

Duo looked innocent – an expression Quatre noted that he was good at – and turned large violet eyes up to meet Fei’s jet ones. “Don’t I always?”

“Always what is the question,” replied Fei with a small smile, not impervious to the effect of those eyes. “I’ll trust you.”

“I’m honoured, truly,” returned Duo with a grin. “Quatre, in the Academy as a whole there are three hundred and seventy two… seventy three… almost forgot to add you.” Duo flashed another grin at his cousin. “There are nine halls for the students and one for the faculty and their families.” Tapping a finger on the door in front of them he remarked, “This is our humble abode – now yours. Come in and make a mess.”

Fei snorted again and Quatre smiled… then the smile turned into a grin of his own as the door opened beneath Duo’s hand before he could do so himself. The unexpectedness of this was obvious from the surprised look on the longhaired boy’s face. “Huh?”

“Intelligent as always,” scoffed Fei, entering the room and nodding in greeting to the unseen opener.

Duo gestured for Quatre to enter then shut the door after them before turning to look around at their guests. “Ahh… Quat allow me to introduce you to our accomplices – the lanky object on the bed in the corner – which by the way is yours – is Trowa Barton; the two persons of the female persuasion on the painfully neat bed in the middle are Sally and Meiran Po, Wufei’s wives. And exhibit number three is Heero Yuy… my soul-bond.” “Soul-bond? Wives?” Quatre shook his head, sure he’d heard wrong.

“Aye, wives and soul-bond.” Chuckling slightly Duo sat himself down beside Heero, who moved over to make room. “Sally and Meiran are twins and both of them bonded heart and soul to Wufei, who in his infinite wisdom decided that rather than marrying only one and leaving one heartbroken – his own words – he decided to marry both. It took a lot of talking but eventually everyone agreed.”

Quatre looked across at the twins, who’d wrapped themselves around Wufei in a most intimate manner. One seemed taller than the other, with red-gold hair and blue eyes; whilst the smaller had long black hair and eyes as dark as Fei’s own. They were, without question, among the most beautiful women he’d ever seen.

“When Duo says a lot of talking he means he did most of it... at length and volume. The only reason they agreed in the end was to shut him up,” contributed Trowa. He smiled at the newcomer. “I take it that you are the newest student in this esteemed establishment?”

“How remiss of me,” exclaimed Duo theatrically, mock-swooning on top of Heero who snorted and pushed him upright. “Peoples, allow me to introduce you to my cousin – Quatre Winner.”

Meiran and Sally both smiled at him, Heero nodded silently at him whilst Trowa ran assessing eyes over Quatre’s slight form and patted the empty space on the bed on which he sat. “Why don’t you sit down… this is your room after all and it’s rather rude to keep you standing around like that.”

Flushing slightly, though he didn’t understand quite why, Quatre complied, sitting rather cautiously next to the tall, green-eyed youth. “Thanks.”

Heero accorded the new boy with an amused look before turning his attention to his soul-bond whose hands were wandering freely. “Duo! Behave yourself!”

“Do you really want me to?” Duo asked, a knowing smile on his full lips.

“No,” admitted Heero, who’d wrapped an arm around Duo’s waist and had pulled the smaller boy onto his lap in a quest to control the roving appendages. “But Quatre looks like his eyes are about to fall out of his head and I don’t think you’d want that to happen.”

“Oops.” Duo looked apologetically at Quatre. “Sorry about that Quat, I should have warned you.”

“Umm…” Quatre tried to control his blushing. He’d never seen bond-mates so openly affectionate with one another before… especially those of the same sex. “I… I don’t mind it… it’s just… just…” He faltered to a stop, uncertain of how to proceed without offending his cousin or his friends. He decided that honesty was probably the best policy. “I’ve never seen bond-mates like you two before.”

A disparaging snort drew his eyes back from his cousin to their roommate. Wufei was now half-reclining on his bed with his wives wrapped around him like living blankets. He sniggered, shaking his slightly making his black locks ripple. “No one’s seen bond-mates like those two before… hopefully we never will again.”

“You’re just jealous Fei,” mocked Duo in a friendly manner. “Just cos you missed your chance…”

“He never stood a chance,” corrected Heero in a flat tone. His arms tightened slightly around Duo’s slender waist.

Quatre wondered about the tension between the three… obviously there were some secrets here, secrets that he was not about to become privy to. He turned his attention to the green-eyed boy sitting beside him. “How long have you known my cousin?”

Trowa smiled, guessing what the small blonde was trying to do. “Since I arrived at the Academy five years ago… he was the first person I met… well actually he ran me over as I was about to enter the main building-”

“And we’ve been friends ever since!” Duo interrupted with another of his wide grins. “Same with Fei and Heero… I run into people and they just fall in love with me… I’m beating them off with a stick sometimes cousin-mine, really I am… or at least I was until Heero and I bonded…” His voice softened on the last words, and the grin became a loving smile as he contemplated his lover.

The obvious love between the two boys made Quatre gasp. He could feel the intensity of their feelings for each other, and he sensed that in some fashion their personalities complemented each other. His cousin was the most exuberant person he’d ever met in his short life, and Heero appeared to be so completely his opposite and yet he could see, even after this short period of knowing them that they complemented each other the way that true bond-mates should. He felt strangely jealous.

“Fei,” he ventured shyly, using his cousin’s nickname for their roommate for the first time, “what about you? How long have you known Duo?”

“Too long for my own good.” Came the dry reply. “I met Duo for the first time when his father assigned me to show him around the Academy.”

“You had to be shown around?” Quatre’s curious gaze fixed on Duo. “I thought that your father has been Arch Mage for twenty years? How is it that you needed to be shown around? I thought that you’d have grown up here?”

“Actually I grew up in the Southlands.” Duo’s smiled disappeared and he leant against Heero, drawing comfort from his bond-mate’s presence. “I met my Father for the first time eight years ago when I was sent here after my foster parents were killed. I was seven.”

“Oh.” For several moments Quatre remained silent. “Foster parents?”

“Yes. Though it wasn’t until after they’d died that I found that out. I always thought that they were my real parents, but when they died their relatives sent me here.”

Once again Quatre felt that there was a lot being left unsaid. He decided to change the subject somewhat. “So Wufei had to show you around?”

“Yes, he was supposed to be a civilising influence on the ‘wild boy’.” Duo smirked. “That was not exactly a successful experiment.”

“No,” agreed Sally, who’d been hitherto silent. “Instead Duo proved an decivilizing influence on Fei – which was all for the best all things considered.” She shared a smug smile with her sister, who took up the tale. “Under Duo’s influence Fei forever lost his reputation as a model student, and became more likeable – and much more fun to be around.” The sisters shared another smirk.

A smirk that was shared also by the other three long-time students.

“Pity ol’ Mathias and the rest of the Council didn’t see it that way,” mourned Duo. “They didn’t approve of me then, and still don’t approve of me now.”

Quatre looked from his cousin to the other students, then smiled shyly. “I think I’m gonna like it here.”

“Great!” Duo positively beamed and even Heero smiled at the boy.

Duo didn’t miss the way that Trowa’s eyes gleamed at Quatre’s announcement. “And here is another fine student that I corrupted!” he said with a sweeping gesture in Trowa’s direction.

“Really?” Quatre was fascinated by the dynamics of the group he found himself thrust into. He noticed how the others seemed to circle almost protectively around Duo, especially when he seemed in the least distressed. That Heero would do so was a given, but the others weren’t so easily explained away. He wondered to himself why this should be - not understanding that the simple bonds of friendship could sometimes be forged into something unbreakable under certain circumstances. Friendship was something completely foreign to him; and the camaraderie so willingly offered to him was both appealing and more than a little frightening.

“Aha,” agreed Trowa. “Yes, I was another promising model student before I met Duo… after that…” He sighed slightly theatrically. “Well, there was no going back… not that I would if I could. Too boring.”

“If Duo is such a corrupting force, then why does he seem to be assigned all the model students?” This puzzled Quatre. “I mean… I… well… Why?”

“Probably because they think that the more obedient and responsible personality will rub off on Duo. They don’t understand why this doesn’t work… and every time they see a perfect student ‘corrupted’, as Duo says, by him they get more confused than ever.” Heero wrapped his arms tightly around Duo. “They don’t understand that Duo is the embodiment of freedom from senseless restrictions and predefined destinies.”

Quatre sensed that Heero was another perfect student who’d surrendered his obedience to Duo’s freedom. He decided that it seemed a good route to follow. “So, what does one do to be corrupted?”

A laugh echoed through the room at his shyly expressed question and Quatre was surprised to find himself laughing as well. He had the strangest feeling of belonging, and he found that he very much liked it.

 

tbc