Dear Draco and Neville,
How is Seoul? I hope you two haven't suffered from Portkey-lag. I miss you two a lot. Neville, don't forget to give Professor Lee all the Quibbler magazines. Also, be sure to look for that very rare squirrel, the one I am calling the Slytherin Squirrel (because of its green fur and its shy nature!), hidden somewhere on the Yonsei University campus. Good luck with that and your Korean herbology studies!
Are there a lot of Nargles, Wrackspurts, and Bibbering Humdingers there? I've heard that cucumber kimchi attracts them the most, so I am certain you've run into plenty there. Do keep track and see if my theory is correct.
Oh, and Draco, how's your job? You're sponsoring the Korean artists, aren't you? Don't forget your promise! Send me music samples of the artists you sponsor. I would love to hear their music. Muggles' music is so much more interesting than wizarding music.
Write back when you can. Don't mind Hermes biting you, Draco. He does that because he likes you.
"Bloody owl!" Draco glared at Hermes, rubbed his sore fingers, and watched how that blasted thing flew over to Neville. Hermes landed on Neville's shoulder and let out a soft hoot before he nuzzled against Neville's cheek.
Neville smiled apologetically. "What did Luna write?"
"The usual." He handed Neville the letter. "She's reminding you about the magazines and the squirrel, which she has decided to name the 'Slytherin Squirrel', and she wants us to test her cucumber kimchi theory, and she's asking for free samples of the artists I am working with."
"Mmm." Neville read as he petted Hermes. "You better write her now. Remember what happened the last time you took your time responding to her?"
Draco groaned. "Don't remind me. I swear, women are dangerous, and Luna is probably the most dangerous one of them all, even more dangerous than Granger. At least with Granger, she just punches me. But Luna . . . " He shook his head and took out a parchment and began to write.
"While you do that, I'll go find some treats for Hermes."
"Yeah? Just make sure he doesn't leave any of his nasty 'surprises'." Draco ignored Hermes indignant hoots as he wrote a response back to one of his dearest (and weirdest) friends.
"I'm thinking you pissed Hermes off last time, so he refused to deliver the letter . . . "
"Oh, yeah, it's always my fault!" Draco scowled at Luna's newest messenger. "But really, did she have to send a vulture?!"
Neville chuckled nervously before he put his arm around Draco's shoulders. "At least this one seems well-trained. It's not poking our eyes out . . . yet. Still, better read what she said and write back as soon as possible."
With Neville's arm still on him, Draco leaned comfortably against him, and he began to read the letter out loud, keeping one eye on that vulture.
Dear Draco and Neville,
Hermes has a girlfriend, so he's too busy with her to deliver this letter. I've sent Vladimir this time. His kind is so misunderstood. Just know that Vladimir is gentle. Try petting him on the top of his head. He loves it. One last thing about him -- he has a tendency to sing when he's hungry, so be sure to feed him. He especially loves raw meat.
So, Neville, still no signs of that Slytherin Squirrel? I'm not surprised. It really is shy, so just keep trying. I heard if you entice it with candy floss, your chances of seeing it increases. Oh, and thank you for sending me those articles about Korean herbology. They make excellent reading when I am in the bubble bath.
And Draco, I am really loving the music of Dong Bang Shin Ki, but what is the meaning of their name? Is it some sort of a secret code? Do they change into Nargles if someone figures out their name? Also, thanks for the DVD of their concert. Harry had to push some random buttons on the controller to break something so the DVD would play.
Going back to the concert, these young men are fascinating. The way they dance and sing, it is all wonderful. I think my favourite is Changmin, or Max as he prefers to be called in English. I've been learning bits of Korean from watching them. I love Korean. It sounds so different from English . . .
Draco skimmed the rest of the letter, which was incredibly long. "She goes back and forth between talking about the artists, Korean, and about her recent adventure of Wrackspurts hunting with Potter in the Forbidden Forest."
"Sounds like she's smitten by that Dong group. What does their name stand for anyway?"
"I . . . " Draco paused. "I'm not sure. I never asked."
"Are you going to find out?"
Vladimir let out a loud screeching noise, an unpleasant sound that made Draco's insides twist painfully.
Draco and Neville looked at each other. In a whisper, Neville asked, "Is that his so-called singing?"
"Well, I guess you--"
"You can feed him, and I'll write to Luna." Besides, Draco thought, the sooner he wrote, the faster he could send Vladimir away.
"Fine, but next time you deal with Hermes or Vladimir."
"Why? You deal with animals better than I. So quit complaining." He smirked. "I'll make it up to you later . . . " He winked as his voice went down to a whisper.
Draco's smirk grew louder as Neville inhaled sharply before he went to tend Vladimir. As Vladimir's "singing" increased in volume, Draco quickly started on his reply.
"No letter from Luna?"
Draco shook his head, surprised that it'd been weeks since he'd last heard from her. "No, but given that I haven't received any frantic owls from Potter, I'm guessing she's just busy."
"Shame. I kind of miss Vladimir and Hermes." Neville carefully trimmed his bonsai tree, a gift Draco had given him a few years back.
"Right. Ever since our third year . . . "
"Don't remind me!"
Neville chuckled. "I'll write her a letter." He glanced at the clock. "You better get going. Don't keep Rain waiting."
"That's the Korean word for 'rain'."
Draco checked over his suit one last time. He looked impeccable, like always. "All right. I'll be off. Don't be late tonight."
"I won't. Seoul Tower at eight. I'll get the bus up there. One of my professors told me the cable car was not worth the money, saying something about how they cram about fifty people into that thing."
"How vile." Draco pecked Neville's cheek. "I'll see you tonight."
Draco looked out the window as his driver, Mr Kim, inched the car through the heavy Seoul traffic. He'd been at the Leeum Samsung Art Museum at the edge of Itaewon, and now he had to go to Yonsei University to meet Neville for dinner. He could have chosen to Apparate, but he opted for the car ride so he could watch the scenery and the people.
He just wished they weren't stuck in traffic. According to Mr Kim, that intersection at Hamilton Hotel was the cause of the traffic in Itaewon, and Mr Kim assured him that once they passed that intersection, things would move a lot faster.
Outside, his eyes landed on a woman with long pale blonde hair. Her hair reminded him of Luna, and he fondly remembered how they became friends.
It was during his "eighth year" at Hogwarts. His father was imprisoned in Azkaban. Thanks to Harry Potter, Draco and his mother didn't get sent to Azkaban, but the Malfoy name was still disgraced after the war. He hadn't wanted to go back to Hogwarts for his eighth year, but his mother had insisted on him finishing his education, so he begrudgingly went to Hogwarts.
Seeing Luna at Hogwarts reminded him of how she was kept captive in his dungeons, and that guilt made him stay away from her. However, in her strange, peculiar way, she sought him out. At first, he hated her strange conversations about Nargles and Wrackspurts, plus the way she always talked about the Quibbler and always made sure she had a copy for him. Soon, though, Draco came to appreciate Luna's unique way of looking at the world. He still didn't exactly like her, but that all changed one day when he went to see his mother at Hogsmeade. Everyone around them had given them nasty looks and indiscreetly talked about them, but not Luna. She just came up to them both and started talking about how emeralds really made his mother's complexion look youthful.
Afterwards, when the two of them walked back to Hogwarts, Draco knew then that she was a friend. She was odd, but she was a friend, and he knew deep inside that she would not be easy to get rid of even if he'd tried his hardest to shun her.
Exactly two days after his big revelation, she had begun dragging him into the greenhouse Neville worked in. It was awkward, he remembered. Draco didn't know how to act around Neville, and to his horror, he even discovered he was attracted to him. Still, through the mysterious power of Luna, the two became friends. And it wasn't long before she began to leave them alone and even told them to hurry up and snog one another before she had to resort to locking them up in a tiny room with Nargles.
Throughout all this, Draco couldn't help but wonder if Luna really was a Ravenclaw. She seemed sneakier than most hardcore Slytherins.
"We're almost there." Mr Kim's voice interrupted his daydreaming. Draco looked up with a start at the familiar Sinchon Rotary.
Draco nodded. Neville had mentioned to him this morning that Luna hadn't written back yet. He knew that nothing had happened to her because there hadn't been any anxious owl messages or Floo-calls from Harry, but he found it odd that she went this long without writing them a letter. In fact, he found himself missing her quirky letters.
In a couple of weeks, he and Neville would finally have some time off from their jobs. He decided then to ask Neville about going back to England for a few days and surprising their friends and families on an impromptu visit. He knew Neville would love the idea, so he created a mental list of gifts, including kimchi, he could bring back home.
DEE DEE DEE DEE DEE DEE DEE DEE DEEEEEEEEEE!
"Fucking hell!" Draco hated that "Fur Elise" doorbell. He especially hated it at three in the morning! He sat up while Neville stirred next to him but didn't wake. Grumbling and cursing, Draco stomped out of the bedroom and went to look on the screen of his doorbell phone. He didn't see a face, but he saw a stuffed bear.
Frowning and wondering if a drunk was out there, he grabbed the phone and snapped, "Who are you and why the fuck are you here so late?"
"I'm not late," said a familiar, dreamy voice. "I'm early."
"Oh, great. I must be dreaming. A Korean ajusshi that sounds like Luna," Draco mumbled.
"I'm not an old Korean man. I can be one if you want, but it'd have to be temporary. I don't think Harry will appreciate me switching genders on him."
"Wait--" Draco reached the door in two seconds. He pulled it open, nearly jerking his arm out of the socket from the force, and stared at Luna and her three large rolling suitcases, her creative and colourful outfit, and her stuffed bear she had named "Bear".
She beamed at Draco and said, "Good morning!" Then she flung her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "That was a long Portkey ride. I was surprised there was such a long queue at Hong Kong, but then again, I think King Kong must have been visiting, so that caused the extra waiting around. Anyway, surprise! Happy birthday."
"Luna, my birthday was two months ago!"
"Oh, then happy early birthday!" She somehow managed to wheel in all three suitcases at the same time -- how, Draco wasn't sure -- and she sat on the couch and fingered her kimchi pot earrings. "Is Nev sleeping?"
"Yeah. You know he sleeps like a rock."
"Yes, I remember now. Oh, and I'm sorry I haven't been writing. Things have been so busy with trying to plan this surprise visit. I even told Harry to keep it a secret."
"Well," Draco said dryly. "You did a great job on that, and you beat me and Neville at our own plans. We were going to go back to England next week and surprise everyone, too."
"Daddy did say great minds think alike. I only wished Harry could have come with me, but Kingsley really needed him right now, so he wasn't able to get the time off. At least I promised to bring back a huge container of fresh kimchi."
"Anyway, I can't wait to explore this wonderful place for my one-week stay, but I think sleep is finally coming to me. Don't mind me if I start sleep-walking, all right?"
Draco couldn't help it. He began to snigger. "Right, right. Let me take you to the guest room." As he helped Luna settle in her room, he set aside his gift list and focused on a new sightseeing list for Luna.
The next few days passed by in a blur, thanks to them Apparating and Portkeying everywhere. Neville, excited by Luna's surprise visit, showed her all over Yonsei University and Sinchon, and they even walked around Yonsei University campus with Professr Lee to see if they could get a glimpse of that elusive squirrel. The Slytherin Squirrel remained hidden, but that didn't deter Luna at all as she ate some of her candy floss and said, "It has to be just right for it to appear. We just have to be patient."
Otherwise, she loved everything about Seoul and South Korea.
When they took her to Myeong-dong and Namdaemun Market, she marvelled at the marketplaces and the merchandise, amazed that these two places were more condensed and labyrinth-like than Diagon Alley.
They took her to Insa-dong on a Sunday, where the whole street was blocked from traffic, and many arts and crafts vendors filled up the streets. Luna adored that place, and there she said she had got new ideas for her future jewelleries.
She became enthralled with Korean architecture when they visited Gyeongbok Palace. Harry had given her a digital camera, and Luna had taken so many photographs that they had to go to the sprawling Yongsan Electronics Market later to stock up on more SD cards.
Luna, not really into the clubbing scene, still decided to check out the night life at Hongdae and Sinchon, and they even walked around Itaewon, bar-hopping on the side streets and in the so-called Hooker Hill area.
They rode the Han River cruise boat, and they went to the wealthier neighbourhoods in Gangnam district. From there they went to Coex Mall, and they visited a Buddhist temple, Bongeunsa, across from it.
They even managed to make a getaway to Gyeongju, the old capital of the Silla dynasty, and there Luna snapped more photographs of the old king's burial mounds.
Finally, they stopped by Jeju Island, where Luna insisted that she wanted to see Love Land, the sex-themed theme park that is popular amongst honeymooners. Both Draco and Neville found themselves blushing, but Luna remained unfazed as she clicked away on her camera. "I can't wait to show Harry these pictures," she exclaimed at one point.
Unfortunately, all good things came to an end eventually, and Luna's week was slowly, but surely coming to an end. On her last night in Seoul, Draco decided to surprise Luna.
"You have three tickets to a Dong Bang Shin Ki concert? And I get to meet them after the concert backstage?"
Draco chuckled. "Yes, you're a VIP for today."
Luna smiled widely, and she practically pounced on Draco as she hugged him. "Thank you so much! I can't believe I get to hear them live and meet them! I better get ready!"
When she dashed off, Neville leaned over and whispered, "I hope you have earplugs ready for us."
"I don't know about you, but I don't think my ears will appreciate millions of fangirls screaming for DBSK."
"Oh, right." Draco reached into his pockets and pulled out two pairs of earplugs. "I learned my lesson the last time I had to attend one of these things."
Neville pulled Draco into a warm embrace. Draco felt warm lips grazing his forehead, and that gave him an idea. He arched upward, leaned in close until his breath ghosted over Neville's ears, and said, "Want to try out some of those positions we saw at Love Land tonight?"
Draco sniggered at Neville's sputtering and red face. He laughed even harder when Luna came out and asked, "Why so red, Nev?"
"He's just a bit steamed up. Don't worry about him." Draco walked up to Luna, who was dressed in a simple black strapless dress. She had on tights that were striped in blue and bronze, and she wore a dangling kimbap earring. He held up an arm and said, "Let's go, love."
"Good morning!" Luna cheerfully greeted.
Draco and Neville stumbled towards the dining room. Neither were morning people, but they woke up early so they could pack and go back to England with Luna.
Draco stared at the plate in the middle of their table. It looked like carrot cakes, but they were cut into brownies. Both Draco and Neville sniffed the fragrance that permeated their whole place, and Draco knew then that whatever was on that plate was not carrot cake.
Neville cleared his throat and said, "Luna, is that . . . "
"Oh, that? It's my newest baking experiment. I couldn't sleep last night, and I didn't want to interrupt you two, so I made this -- kimchi brownie!"
Instead of blushing, Draco and Neville both glanced at each other, and they both mirrored the other's pale, blanched expression.
"I baked this to thank you guys for the wonderful visit. The whole week has been fantastic, and last night was especially the best. All of the DBSK boys were adorable and fun. I especially loved talking to Changmin, and I am further convinced that he's been reincarnated from a Nargle, which makes him extra special."
Draco nodded and forced a smile on his face. "That's great, Luna, and I am glad you had a wonderful visit, but, ah, I am not very hungry right now so I'll try the brownies later, all right? Besides, Neville and I have to pack."
Luna clapped her hands once. "Right! I need to pack, too! I'll bring these brownies for our trip back to England. I've a feeling we might be receiving another visit from King Kong in Hong Kong, so these will come in handy. Plus, I can give some to Harry. He'll love these." She hummed and went to her room to pack.
Neville and Draco went to their room to pack, too. Behind the closed door, Draco muttered, "Don't worry. I have some extra anti-acid potions for us."
"Might as well save some for Harry, too. I've a feeling he'll be eating most of those brownies," Neville mentioned. "Oh, and are you sure Jaejoong will be able to take care of my plants?"
"He will. You know he aced herbology at his school." Draco sniggered. "Otherwise, I can bring back Luna's brownies and give them to him."
"So cruel," Neville teased as he carefully placed his grandmother's gift, a beautiful celadon vase, in his trunk. "Still, I'm glad we're going home for a week. It will be good to see everybody."
"Yes." Draco then added, "At least no one's doorbell will play that blasted tune."
"Someone really loves Beethoven, doesn't he?"
"Ah, shut it, love. Let's finish packing so we can take some of that potion. I've a very bad feeling we will be stuck in Hong Kong for a while. This is peak season for international Portkey travels."
"Right. Do you really think King Kong hangs around in Hong Kong?"
Draco rolled his eyes and continued his packing.
"Draco! Vladimir is here. Remember, you have to take care of him this time."
"I know, I know," Draco groused. Despite his grumbling, he discovered that he and Vladimir got along way better than he and Hermes ever did. He served Vladimir some raw meat while Neville read out loud Luna's letter.
Dear Draco and Neville,
Harry suggested that I send you some more kimchi brownies, so here's another batch! I hope you guys enjoy these.
I really miss the two of you, and I am really thankful for all that you did for me when I visited last month.
The new school year at Hogwarts has started, and things have been incredibly busy. I've introduced Dong Bang Shin Ki to my Muggle Studies students, and all the girls love them. I've convinced Minerva to let Muggle electrical devices work just in my classroom. I've shown them all my DBSK DVDs, and I let them listen to their music any time they want.
Right now I am in the process of convincing Minerva to allow me to bring ten female students to South Korea during winter break for a few days. I've even told her that you'd be happy to house us while we are there. If you need assistance with room expansion charms, Harry will come along and lend a hand. He'll be able to help me chaperone this winter. Ginny, too. She wants to come along and see the Korean brooms and purchase a few for her Flying class.
So what do you think? Will you be able to let us stay? Let me know as soon as possible!
P.S. -- Hermes is now a father! When I come this winter, I'll bring you one of his babies!
Draco and Neville stared at each other. Neither spoke for a while until Neville said, "Do you still have those earplugs?"
"Yeah. I guess we'll need them if we host ten mad fangirls for a few days. Something tells me that Silencio will not block their squealing."
Neville's face turned green. "This will certainly be interesting."
"Mmm . . . " Draco scratched Vladimir's head and asked, "Think I should introduce Luna to Super Junior?"
"If you do, you're on your own hosting them this winter," Neville deadpanned.
"But both Potter and Weasley are coming. You wouldn't dare leave me defenceless against them and ten teenage girls, would you?"
"Well," Neville conceded. "Fine, but introduce her to Super Junior after they leave!"