"I fail to see how leading Klaue to more vibranium will result in his capture." Gods, you just can't tell these people, can ya?
Slouching on his throne, Erik considers the tribe elders, almost wishing that he had one of his old SEALs team with him, if only so he could share a 'are these folks for real?' look with them. The Dora are too fucking serious all the time to even consider that (nevermind the fact the newly promoted captain of the guard has been trying to set him on fire with her gaze alone ever since he'd had the necklace of kingship -or whatever the fuck it is- place atop his collarbones). Clearly close to Cuz.
Sidestepping that uncomfortable topic, Erik looks to W'Kabi and finds the same deep-rooted suspicion in his gaze. Great.
"See, this is why none of ya have caught him yet. You're all wrapped up in here, safe in your little vibranium bubble with no idea how the world out there works. But I do, ya see? Klaue's running scared and scared little bastards like that? They go to ground and don't come back up. Not unless you dangle something particularly tasty before them."
"You're baiting him." Ah, now they finally get it. Best technology in the world and without the brainpower to use it. Well, most of them, Erik amends, recalling little Shuri's desk. For a squirt, what she's working on ain't bad… nah, he can't lie. It's fucking impressive. More black excellence there.
"Fuck yeah, I'm baiting him. He should never have been allowed to get away. Killing Wakandas, stealing from us. Fuck, he knows the truth and he's been left to go wild. Hell, if the CIA had gotten their shit together and caught him, Klaue wouldn't spilled his guts for a stay of execution. The last thing we need is the Whiteys tryna colonise us for the vibranium. They'd've been in for a hell of a shock, but that'd be it. No more isolationism for y'all." There're various reactions to that statement. Looks of outrage, of disbelief that anyone would dare to try and invade Wakanda. Then, there's those who sit upon their high horse and think that, once they've beaten back their would-be invaders, they'd be left alone. So ignorant, it's like they haven't picked up a world history book. The European countries went out to war with each other in order to claim land, to re-claim land, never giving a fuck about the fact it wasn't their land to claim in the first place.
Relaxing further back into the throne, Erik lets himself drift as the council squabble among themselves. He knows there's two pieces of vibranium out there; his dad had shown him museum articles of uncovered African artefacts, pointing out all the discrepancies of what the white man claimed a savage's tool but was, in actual fact, a lost piece of Wakanda. Both would be easily accessible enough with Wakandan resources; drawing Klaue out will be the main issue but even then, Erik is (now former) special forces. He knows where to look, how to approach it. He's done enough wet work now that he won't even flinch about it. And speaking of flinching-
"What's Wakanda's stance on international aid?"
The squabbling ingrates that were lucky enough to be born inside Wakanda's boarders stop their nattering, all turning to look at him with varying degrees of discomfort.
"We accept not aid, your majesty. King T'Chaka did not feel it fair to accept unneeded aid."
"Yeah, I know that," Erik grunts, straightening up and staring down the fucker who thinks him too stupid to research how Wakanda appears to the outside world, their stance on international aid included. "I'mma talking 'bout what we're doing to aid others. All sorts of folks that look like you and me on this continent and they ain't got it so good. We sending them food, any help with the oppressors that're keeping 'em down?"
The looks on their faces says it all. Fuck this shit.
Erik orders the court scribe (more like the noob who's in charge of making sure the recordings are jotted down) to make a list of things they need to address. Starting with reviewing the War Dog missions (which is apparently the only international aid they bother with; Erik'd had to walk away from the room before he went off on one because these fuckers could have made such a difference, could've helped during the civil rights movement, could've ended slavery before it even got going but they did fuck all. They'd kept to their little patch, fuck what happens to the rest of the world. Well, no more. He's gonna drag Wakanda kicking and screaming into helping their brothers and sisters as they damn well shoulda been doing from the start.
So yeah, that's on his list too. In fact, there's a shit ton of stuff he has to get done, starting with Klaue and then dealing with the former king. The rage still bubbles and boils for that one, frothing inside his guts but Erik pushes that away, puts the cap on that to explode at a later date. Klaue first. Which means finding the bastard's trail. Can't be that hard; from what he's been able to gather, T'Chaka had refused to allow the Wakandans to chase him, had forbade the search from continuing. Well, no more. They're gonna find him and bring him to justice. He's got away with it for too long as it is.
He claims he's retiring to his study (and it is his study, he refuses to use T'Chaka's, had gotten some of the workers to clear out an unused room for him) to plan Klaue's capture. And that's not a lie. But, it's not the only thing he wants to look into. Wakanda's supposed to be the best of the best, ain't it? Yet, they've got shit all on the magical society Harrie belongs to. Oh, sure, they've got a few stores where War Dogs have found children with powers, but it all trails off into nothingness. Harrie's people at work? He's got to assume it's that. He vaguely recalls something about memory magic and he knows Wakanda can change what the brain remembers too, though theirs is technology based as opposed to mystic voodoo shit.
Regardless, Wakanda has fuck all on the magical community, just like the magical community has fuck all on Wakanda. Harrie, after all, has never made mention to the fact she's aware the country is more than it seems.
What Wakanda does have is documents of Harrie. Pictures of her ever since she'd worked her lilywhite face into high society with his soulmark seared across her forearm. They've documented her every move since then (and laughably tried to dig up her nonexistent internet history, hell, girl don't even have a phone, nevermind even actually using the world wide web).
The latest is an article on how she's been in a hotel in Hong Kong for over forty-eight hours now and hasn't surfaced once. Not even the War Dog they've got there (some chick called Nakia) had been able to spot her, though no cameras had caught her leaving. Erik's not surprised. She's magic, girl don't wanna be seen, she won't be. 'Specially with that invisibility cloak thing.
Finger tapping at the kimoyo beads, Erik allows a frown to smear across his lips. He shouldn't be doing this, shouldn't be checking in on her just 'cause he's now got the resources to do so. He's got more important shirt to be getting up to. He's gonna track down Klaue, get the alliance of the tribes, then work on freeing his brothers and sisters, work on establishing a world where they're on top. He very aggressively pushes down the thought of Harrie's place in all of that, instead looking at the picture of the hotel room that the War Dog had sent in within the last five hours.
"Wha're'ya up to, Snowdrop?"
Transfiguring T'Challa's 'ritual combat' clothes into more acceptable wear had been a bit of a trial, if only because the other had a whole slew of questions for her the moment she was done. Something about equivalent exchange and the laws of physics, or matter; in truth, Harrie didn't catch it all, nor does she particularly want to. Academia is not and never will be her subject. It's more Hermione's cup of tea but Hermione has a sensible, friendly soulmate who isn't an asshole who's tired off his cousin for a shiny crown.
The headwear better have been fucking worth it; Harrie is least impressed by the idea of killing family for something as useless as a pretty headband. If Erik wanted one so badly, Harrie could have magicked him up an island and slapped a crown across his brow.
No, she's being unfair. This is Erik's homeland, a homeland that no doubt has something to do with his father's questionable afterlife status, a homeland that has abandoned Erik to a world outside their borders with no familiar aid or comfort (it's a sensation she knows well, given how the magical world had slotted her away and brought her out only to play when they needed her, and even then slung mud when they didn't agree with her assessment there was any actual fucking danger).
Yes, she's irritated she's been left to sort out his should-be-dead cousin. But she does like T'Challa, so it is perhaps a good thing that Erik offered up that charm. Given what little the man has shared of his culture's ways, the very fact he's alive right now is causing problems given it's a 'yield or death' decision that's needed for victory. And, again, this isn't something she'd predicted she'd be worrying about a decade ago. Hell, a decade ago, she'd only been concerned about staying alive long enough to find a way to win Erik over. Now she realises it's never going to be a case of winning him over; instead, she'll have to drag him along, most probably kicking and screaming, if she wants any hope of anything. It means sticking her nose in, respecting his decisions but making her own opinions aggressively clear. Probably not what he has expected when he'd been instructing her to stand tall and take no shit, but hey-ho. You reap what you sow and all that.
"I've already messaged our government and made a request for a portkey– just where did you say Wakanda was located again?" Harrie asks, cocking her head back over her shoulder to meet T'Challa's eyes, waiting for his response as they both hustle into the elevator to the Department of Magical Transportation. The two office jockeys that are in there suck in a harsh breath each at the sight of her (understandable; Harrie's travelling a hell of a lot now, this is probably the first time she's been out and about Magical England for a few… years. Oops).
"It lies between the lands of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. From there, I can barter passage to the boarders of my own country."
"Naww," Harrie cuts in, shaking her head and then grimacing over just how Erik that particular expression had been. "Look, no offense, but it's my fault you're even–" Harrie cuts off, gesturing vaguely with her hand in an attempt to try and convey the fact T'Challa is most certainly alive from a fall that would have otherwise killed him. He very politely does not verbalise it either, not quite eyeing the two Ministry employees who seem a half second away from vibrating out of their skin, but the set of his face tells her T'Challa is very much aware of them. Harrie dutifully ignores it, secure in the knowledge that they won't approach when she is so very clearly on a mission.
The elevator doors ping open, allowing Harrie to stride right out and make for the front desk. The receptionist manning the front of house takes one brief glance up from her magazine before returning to the pages. Then, when her brain registers what her eyes have just seen, the way her head snaps up to stare at her is almost funny. Almost.
Harrie doesn't say anything, just offers up to the short note Kingsley had sent her, the one that had begun fluttering around her head the second they'd both arrived at the Ministry.
Instead, she turns her attention back to T'Challa, cocking one eyebrow up in an unspoken 'don't even try to fight me on this, we both know you need me right now'. And it's the truth; true, he could contact the British government, could ask for a favour as a prince of another nation, could return home under his own power. But she doesn't doubt that the British government will attempt to contact the King of Wakanda to inform the man of his son's return. Given the mark of Harrie's arm, she's well aware the current King of Wakanda is not one they will be expecting to deal with. And, for all that Erik is an ass, she's not about to bring down world-wide attention upon him. Admittedly, that's probably not quite the reason T'Challa is refraining from accepting help other than her own; no doubt he doesn't wish to expose his country's current problems to the rest of the world, what with their notorious isolation policy.
It really is like looking at another Wizarding World only, you know, muggle.
"Right this way, Miss Potter. We've managed to tag you in for a Portkey to Nairobi, Kenya."
"Thank you." Harrie dips her head to showcase her gratitude; she might have little time for small talk, but she's not rude. Not to those who don't deserve it anyway.
"I owe you a great debt for your aid, Miss Potter."
"It's Harrie." It's awkward. With any other muggle soulmate, she'd be introducing herself to his family with her first name, all friendly and trying to make a decent first impression to prove she's good enough for the person they love so dearly. Instead, she's got this; T'Challa who knew her before he knew the family she comes attached to, and Erik's whole… Erik-ness. On the plus side, there's no feasible way that T'Challa and the rest of his family could ever decide she's not good enough for Erik when she's not tried overthrowing their monarchy. So yeah, that's a plus point.
On the other hand, she's going to have to pull out all the stops to prevent Erik's family from extracting whatever vengeance they deem necessary for this whole 'kingship' business. Speaking of-
"Out of interest, when you get back and complete the challenge, what happens from there?"
T'Challa adjusts the collar of his shirt, just until the soft grey fabric sits nearly across his clavicles. "Upon my return, the challenge will continue until one of us yields or dies."
"Question; does yield include if you knock the other unconscious?"
"To become unconscious is for your body to yield to greater force of the opponent," T'Challa says, not saying outright that it would be classified as a win, but confirming it nonetheless. For a moment, Harrie toys with the idea of briefly stunning Erik so they can get this shit show over with but quickly tosses the idea out. He'd never forgive her and, given she's gunning for some form of relationship with him (even if he's about as open to the idea of it as a pistachio shell; that's fine, Harrie has long been good at cracking difficult nuts), doing so would probably be the final nail in the coffin. No, she can't stick her nose into this any further regarding the proceedings.
Pinning the man down and demanding he tell her what the fuck is running through his head? Yes. Actually interfering? No. How irritatingly refreshing it is to know her involvement would only make things worse.
"I don't want to get involved in how you run your country," Harrie admits, leading T'Challa over to the correct port-key point where they can both eye the threadbare glove dubiously (honestly, they're travelling from the Ministry to another Ministry, would it kill them to select an object that's a little more, becoming). "Just like everyone here would frown on a muggle stomping in and trying to run the Ministry. I get it, I'm an outsider who doesn't belong and doesn't understand. The Wizarding World is far from perfect and we're not at a secure enough stage and we can open ourselves up to allow the world to see us for what we are. Not fresh out of war; we're still recovering."
And isn't that the truth? Just because she's not often in the country, doesn't mean she isn't kept up to date (force-fed the facts by Hermione's letters and mirror-calls). But they're not doing enough. For all that Harrie is out and about, working on charity and empowering people where she can, she's one person. It's going to take some serious effort, some genuine revolution in the Wizarding World to get them to branch out and actually try to help their fellow humans. Who cares if they have magic or not? What does it matter when they've got technology and billionaires who fly around in metal suits saving lives? No one expects technology to instantly solve every problem and, maybe, someday magic can be regarded as the same tool.
She'll keep grinding away at this side, setting an example and guilting others into copying her. She'll entrust the whole 'force the country into enlightenment' to Minster Hermione (she gives it ten years until that particular hurricane is unleashed on the Wizarding World).
"I do not understand why my father would knowing leave N'Jadaka alone. It does not matter that he was not born among us, we share blood. I am disappointed." The man's sad eyes says he's more than just disappointed and Harrie swallows around the lump in her throat, plucking up the glove and holding it out for T'Challa and the two other travellers to grasp.
"Sometimes, we realise things about our family that make us uncomfortable. Knowing they've made mistakes, well-intended actions or not–" Sirius, despite how she loved him, so clearly falls into the latter with his actions towards Snape that one time. "–can hit hard."
T'Challa shares a look with her that implies, despite the suddenness of his own realisation, he shares her understanding of this.
Then, the Portkey whisks them up and away.
I tried writing about eleven other fics these past two days, but this is the only one I could get some traction going on. So here, Chapter 3.
I hope you're all staying safe atm.