i was not naked (antistar_e) wrote in veritasrecords,
i was not naked

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Fic: A Fellowship to Call Your Own [The Social Network/Harry Potter][Part 1]

Title: A Fellowship to Call Your Own
Fandom: The Social Network/Harry Potter
Characters/Pairings: Mark/Eduardo, ensemble
Summary: "'Minion'," goes Mark, looking up at the last second. "It's Slytherin for friend." And, for a beat, Eduardo looks remarkably pleased.
Word Count: 20,700
Warnings: Umm. There's some kissing, and I think somebody says "shit" once. Damn straight, I bring the hardcore to the yard.
Notes: For lovestories, on whom I blame all good ideas.

They say that what happens to first-years on the train will usually define their friendships, successes, and failings for the next seven years (give or take unexpected developments, like the Crusades or Voldemort.)

If that's the case, then Mark Zuckerberg is going to spend the next seven years with one elbow awkwardly pressed against the windowpane, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe propped open on his knees, too absorbed to even notice the lady with the snack cart go by or when his legs go numb. The kids sharing his compartment let him be, like he's some strange flesh-colored extension of the drapery.

He tries to keep reading on the boat, but by that point, the sun's gone down (this is Scotland, it's incredibly unfair) and torchlight is inconsistent at best, and he's never done too well reading on a rocking boat. Besides, the first-year sharing his bench elbows him and hisses at him to put it away, because Hagrid's giving them the fish-eye, and what first-year isn't at least slightly intimidated by Hagrid?

He's pretty sure the Sorting Hat puts him in Slytherin out of pure contempt.

Can hats feel contempt?

If anyone could inspire contempt in a hat, it's probably you, dear, his mother writes him in a letter the first week of term, and insomuch as eleven-year-olds actually think about these kinds of things, Mark thinks this is a little hypocritical of her. Isn't it culturally programmed into all witches and wizards to be proud when their children get into the same Houses they were in?

Whatever. Hogwarts is shamefully kind of dynastic, if you think about it.

Transfiguration is the only class that the Slytherins share with the Hufflepuffs. Mark's not sure whose brilliant idea this was, or if it's just one of those slightly sadistic Hogwarts traditions, because by the end of the school year, at least one Slytherin has gotten detention for "accidentally" turning a Hufflepuff into something inanimate. It's a thing.

It only meets on Fridays, but they get Friday afternoons off because Transfiguration is apparently one of those classes you need all afternoon to recover from. By Friday, Mark's already on The Magician's Nephew, and at the breakfast table, he kind of leaves for Narnia for awhile, so he doesn't even notice when the rest of the Slytherin first-years file out on their way to class. In a stab at altruism, one of them hangs back (Christina, she introduces herself formally, but the letters from home are addressed to a Christy, so Mark gets the feeling she doesn't actually like this nickname and is trying to distance herself from it and, by extension, her family) and budges at his shoulder tentatively. "Aren't you coming?" she goes, and he waves his spoon at her vaguely -- there might be oatmeal attached to the end of it, for which he'd be embarrassed if he realized it was there.

So when he finally does make it to Transfiguration, the only seat left is the one right up front, nose-to-nose with the professor, a young Auror-looking type who makes a somewhat disapproving face as Mark does the walk of shame past all the other first-years, taking the open spot next to a Hufflepuff. He folds the dust jacket of The Magician's Nephew so that it marks his spot and tucks it into his bag, noticing as he does so that his neighbor is rather damp and smells vaguely of chlorine.

The professor retreats behind the desk to start roll, and the Hufflepuff shoots him a miserable look. "Why are you late, then?"

"I got distracted by my book," Mark goes absently. They're doing roll alphabetically, and Mark is always perpetually the last one to be called, so he blinks back. "What happened to you?"

The Hufflepuff drops his head onto his arms, kind of dramatically. "There was a trick staircase," comes, muffled. "And then there was a swimming pool. And randomly, a ghost? I don't even know." And then, "I don't suppose I could borrow a quill and some parchment, could I?"

Mark hauls his bag up onto the desk. He has extra parchment, still new and crisp since it is the very first day, but the quill's a different matter, as he only thought to bring one. He finds another one at the very bottom of the bag, from where he hadn't really cleaned it out before term started. It's woefully bedraggled, the feather bent and clumpy with the grit and dirt that always somehow accumulates at the bottom of book bags. "Um..." he offers, but when he looks, the Hufflepuff is just grinning at him, like he hadn't actually been expecting this.

"It's fine," he says quickly, reaching out for it.

"Saverin, Eduardo," comes from behind the professor's desk, and the Hufflepuff pushes his arm into the air and goes, "present!", cheerful and loud like he's completely forgotten that his robes are slopping wetly around his arm.

And somehow, despite the fact they only have one class together and, being first-years, are under the strict stigma against sitting at other Houses' tables at mealtimes, Mark finds that he's kind of maybe friends with a Hufflepuff.

Fortunately for him, it's around that time that some of the third-year Slytherins find out that Divya Narendra is Muggleborn.

It's not something he really thinks on later, because Mark, it turns out, never develops a healthy sense of hindsight, but it might have been some kind of test that the third-years failed, when they immediately and single-handedly turned Divya into an overnight pariah. It's not like anyone is ignoring what's going on -- there's still whole sections of the fourth floor, fifth floor, and Astronomy Tower that have been cordoned off, because rebuilding an ancient magical structure that's been destroyed by a wizarding civil war takes more than just the right building materials and wandwork. Grief is crumbly and coarse like sand, and doesn't make for sound architecture. It will be some time yet before they'll get to repairing the damages done to the castle.

The point is, in the lull of early November (too far away from the start of term but not quite in time for first snowfall, which always distracts everybody) there is a large and very obvious space cleared around Divya at the Slytherin table.

At least, there is until Mark comes in and takes the seat across from him, because it's the closest chair to the bowl of brown sugar, and Mark likes brown sugar on his oatmeal. And if he wanted to ostracize Divya, that would involve actually acknowledging Divya's existence, which up until this point was simply too bothersome.

See, the other Slytherins are stupid. Mark figured out that Divya was Muggleborn the third week in September, when he got a letter from one of the Ministry's post owls, the ones that serve as a go-between for families that can't keep their own owls. Mark recognizes the owl because his father uses it in reverse: sends owls to the Post Office so they can attach postage to the letters and send them to his family in the Muggle world (which in winter is easier than trudging down to the post box.) He doesn't see how the third-years think they have a leg to stand on, if it's taken them this long to figure it out.

And then the fact that he's sitting at the breakfast table with a Muggleborn Slytherin catches up to him.

"I'm half-and-half," he blurts, seeing Divya almost jump at the suddenness of it, startled into looking up from his morose contemplation of his eggs. "My mom -- she's from a very, very old pureblood family, but she married my dad, who's a Muggle. She won't tell me her maiden name because she doesn't want other people to hold it against me, not after the fiasco with the Muggleborn registration committee and the war and all that. Stupid, isn't it, that I could be just as hated for her purebloodedness as you are for having no pure blood at all."

"Um," goes Divya, but he's smiling some, a twitch at the corner of his mouth, and that pretty much exhausts Mark's capacity for relating to real life people for the day, so he spoons out brown sugar over his oatmeal and cracks the spine of his book: his father recently sent him all four of Madeleine L'Engel's Time Quartet (which took one very large, very beleaguered barn owl to deliver, so that was cool,) and personally, Mark isn't all that impressed by A Wind in the Door thusfar, but A Wrinkle in Time is hard to beat no matter what and Mr. Zuckerberg keeps on telling him to give the rest of them a chance.

It just happens to be coincidence that they finish at the same time, so on their way to Transfiguration, they're more or less walking side-by-side. Eduardo joins them in the Great Hall: he hasn't yet figured out how to adjust the strap on his bookbag, or doesn't consider it important, so it's banging at the back of his knees as he trots. He comes up on the other side of Divya, recognition immediate on his face. Eduardo's kind of like that -- he's probably known the name of everyone in their year since the Sorting.

"Sean Parker and his cronies are stupid," he says decisively, and of course Eduardo knows the Slytherin third-years too. This isn't quite as shocking, since Sean Parker is kind of popular; charismatic in a way that's usually anathema to a thirteen-year-old but rests easily on Sean's shoulders. Filch has all but declared full-scale war on him, because Sean has a disrespect for authority that's almost Gryffindor in its proportions, but being hated by Filch just kind of makes him universally and irrefutably cool to the rest of the student body. Sean also has a marked disrespect for organized classwork, Muggleborns, and anyone he considers stupid, which is basically everyone in Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and (weirdly) Ravenclaw, and Mark has yet to figure out how he manages to get away with this kind of attitude, post-Voldemort.

Maybe it's a shock value thing. Or, no, it's probably the hair. Whatever.

He leans around Divya as they head up the staircase. "Do you even know what we're doing today?"

Eduardo frowns. "Paperweights into rocks, I think. No, yeah, that's right, I remember Professor Albright telling us, because it seems a shame. Some paperweights are actually quite lovely-looking. Why would I want to turn them into rocks?"

"S'that from one of your friends, then?" goes one of the Zuckerbergs at Christmas dinner, finding Mark in the hallway crouched by the end table, since most of the flat surfaces in his grandmother's house have long been appropriated by books and the ones that aren't are currently seating as many family members as possible, leaving the floor in the hall for Mark to read Eduardo's letter.

"From that boarding school of yours?" continues the relative, slurring a little.

She's obviously married in, since most everybody actually related to Mark by blood has learned to ignore him as a matter of course, because he keeps on doing weird things like talking to the toaster or the bathroom mirror like he's expecting them to reply. He forgets that Muggle things sit static, and he's not as good at faking it as his mother is.

"Yes," he says, finally, when the relative doesn't take the hint and just keeps hovering over him.

"Good on ya!" she crows, lifting her arms like she's announcing a goal. "I didn't know you had it in you. Making friends, I mean," she adds, like Mark hadn't understood her perfectly fine.

"I do," he goes, still flat. Eduardo stayed at Hogwarts over Christmas, along with Christy and a bunch of the kids in the upper years, because that's what happens in war-torn wizarding Britain. Apparently one of the students had tried to hang tinsel around the neck of the statue of Barnabus the Barmy and Barnabus had tried to strangle one of the suits of armor with it. It was very festive! Eduardo writes. If violence could be considered festive. There was a lot of tinsel. The pine pixies kept on trying to eat it, except they forgot that plastic is poisonous to them. Dead pixies weren't quite as festive.

"Well," and the relative pats him on the head, which, seriously, what. "I'm glad they finally found you somewhere where the kids are as weird as you." And she trails off, giggling at herself and pulling her new micro-thin cell phone out of her pocket to look at: probably changing the settings, because he's pretty sure everyone on the planet has better things to do on Christmas than text a Zuckerberg, even one that's married in.

Am considering selling my relatives, he writes Eduardo the next morning, while everybody else attempts to sleep off their food comas. He's even using one of his grandfather's fountain pens and paper from the printer, because it seems like serious letter-writing material. They're very stupid. And not stupid in the Muggle sense, but stupid in the general sense. Their own particular brand. Maybe I can rent them out. Do you think anyone would want to rent a family?

Eduardo's reply comes written on the back of this letter, and it simply says, Yes.

Mark doesn't know what that means, and he doesn't write back to ask. He's forgotten about it by the time term starts up again.

Final exams in June, and Mark scores the highest marks out of all the first years, which for some reason surprises everybody. With the exception of Hermione Granger's six-year streak in the 90s, it's always indisputably been a Ravenclaw getting top marks. Mark gets called into his Head of House's office and has to sit through five minutes of Professor Slughorn's awkwardly-worded questions before he finally realizes, "wait, are you accusing me of cheating?"

Slughorn harrumphs, caught out. "Well, well, Marcus, you have to admit it's a little ... unusual for a student to do as consistently well as you did."

Mark, who'd been digging bits out of dirt out of the grooves in his wand out of boredom, tightens his grip around it compulsively. He doesn't think he's been this incredulous in his entire life. "You gave me an exam, I answered the questions on the exam. You told me what spells to do for practical exams, and I did them. Why am I being punished for knowing what I'm supposed to know?"

Afterwards, he storms back to the Slytherin dungeons. Christy spots him going across the common room and unfolds from her armchair to catch up to him. "What happened?" she asks, her eyes widening at him, the way you do when something unexpectedly catches fire.

In the subterranean, lake-lit green glow of the common room, some of Mark's anger ebbs. "They think I cheated, and that's how I got Outstandings on all my finals."

Christy wrinkles her nose. "That's dumb! They can ask any of us, we were all there, and we know what cheating looks like. You did the work!"

Mark shrugs. He knows he did, she doesn't have to tell him.

She tilts her head. "Unless you're just that good that none of us noticed, and the quills didn't catch you. If you're smart enough to ace the exams, you're probably smart enough to cheat and not get caught. How did you know all the answers, by the way?"

"What?" he blinks at her.

"How did you remember all that?" This is said somewhat exasperatedly, which tends to be most girls' default reaction to him. "I crammed the week before exams and I didn't have a prayer of getting Outstandings."

He frowns. "Why not?" he asks, and heads towards the boys' dormitories before she can answer.

"What is this?"

At the blatant wonder in Eduardo's tone, Mark looks up from the desktop computer, where he may or may not be hacking into his parents' Amazon.co.uk account to see what they've ordered for his birthday (although it can't really be called hacking, since their password is their phone number, please, they haven't changed it in years.) Across the kitchen, Eduardo pulls the toaster across the counter, tipping it back and forth curiously. He prods at the heat settings.

"I wouldn't --" Mark starts, when Eduardo sticks his finger inside.

"Hey!" the toaster protests, shrilly indignant. "Didn't your parents teach you any manners!"

And then it spits a cloud of bread crumbs in Eduardo's face.

Spluttering, Eduardo puts the toaster back down on the counter, rapidly blinking crumbs from his eyes. Mark maneuvers around the cluttered kitchen to get a wet washcloth from the sink and hands it over.

"That's Hal," he says by way of explanation. "Our toaster. Hal, this is Eduardo, he goes to Hogwarts with me."

"Pleasure," says Hal, making it sound like it's anything but. Its heat setting knobs tilt towards each other in a way reminiscent of a very serious frown, and it mutters mutinously to itself. It sounds a lot like, and may your bread always burn.

"I've never seen anything like it," goes Eduardo, still a little surprised or awed. There are bits of whole wheat in his hair.

"Muggles use toasters to ... make toast," Mark offers, untangling Hal's power cord from the lazy susan in an attempt to pacify the thing. The grumbling subsides somewhat, but it hunches close to the power outlet like a disgruntled cat with all its hackles up.

Eduardo shoots him a look. "Yeah, I cottoned on to that, thanks. Why don't you use butter and a frying pan, like everyone else?"

"Because if you're friendly to the toaster, then you never have to worry about your toast coming out black because you get distracted by something and aren't watching," says Mark, like it should be obvious. "Or are half-asleep, like any normal person. Sometimes Dad forgets that our appliances can think for themselves. One time he tried to get toast out of Hal with a fork," he adds with relish, because that had been an incredibly interesting day. "Hal electrocuted him."

"Isn't that dangerous?" Eduardo asks, tentative, because he isn't quite comfortable with the idea of electricity yet and still gets a little wide-eyed when the garage door opens on its own power.

"I guess," Mark shrugs. "It was mostly hilarious, though. His hair stuck out everywhere for a couple days, and Hal would take to growling menacingly whenever he came into the kitchen."

Half-way into July, when his parents finally seemed to realize that Eduardo played a starring role in most of Mark's stories about school, they took him aside and they said, "you know, Marcus, maybe you should write the Saverins and ask them if Eduardo could come for a visit sometime," carefully, because it wasn't something they'd ever said before and Mark was just about as lost regarding the etiquette of inviting a friend over as they were, but Eduardo responded with an affirmative just a few days after Mark sent the invitation in the post. The return letter came bearing the kind of crest that Mark only sees on really old, prestigious boarding schools: it made his mother purse her mouth.

"I thought you said he was a Hufflepuff," she'd commented, quiet.

"There are purebloods in Hufflepuff too, Mum."

But Eduardo, when he did arrive via Portkey at the top of the hill behind the Zuckerberg cottage, won over Mark's parents the same easy, effortless way he won over everybody (except perhaps the bathroom mirror, which belligerently told him every time it saw him that England simply wasn't good for his complexion and has he ever thought of studying abroad somewhere south of the Equator?) He got along famously with Mark's father, who never grew tired of showing off their refrigerator and oscillating fan. Same as it is at Mark's grandmother's, there's a sore lack of flat surfaces in the Zuckerberg house, as everything has been domineered with stacks of books, and the first night, Mark and his parents talk over each other trying to explain the storyline of Lord of the Rings all at once. They wind up marathoning the trilogy on their second-hand DVD player, and Mark's mother and Eduardo both pretend they aren't crying at the end of Two Towers.

In turn, Eduardo tells them some of the stories he grew up with: Mouthharmpin the Questing Merman, Who's That Curse-Breaker, and 1000 Ways to Hex Your Friends (which for some unfathomable reason never caught on with English schoolchildren but was wildly popular in Kuala Lumpur.)

Mark and his family live in a no-man's-land on the outskirts of a Muggle village, far enough away from people that loud bangs and explosions would mostly go unnoticed, but close enough that they can go for cheeseburgers when they don't feel like cooking.

"I can't believe you've never had McDonalds before," Mark remarks, sitting on the hard plastic chairs by the Hamburglar and watching Eduardo demolish a Happy Meal. There's a Squib who runs an apothecary around the corner from the dry cleaner's, and she's notoriously paranoid and keeps her Muggle-repelling charms well-maintained, so Mark or his mother have to go when they run low on newt's eyes and shrivelfigs, since Mr. Zuckerberg will just wander in circles and then find himself in a field of cows three miles outside of town.

Eduardo sucks ketchup off his thumb. "I can feel you judging me," he says darkly, and twitches unconsciously when some machine back in the fast food production line starts beeping incessantly. "It's a heavy and oppressive weight, Mark, why would you do that to me? I thought we were friends."

A month into the start of term, there's a new notice up in the Great Hall that catches Eduardo's attention.

"Mark, look!" he grabs the back of Mark's robes and bodily hauls him backward, which Mark was not expecting. It almost sends the books in his arms tumbling to the floor. "Quidditch tryouts!"

"Ow," is Mark's input on that, feeling something like whiplash. This a complete reversal of priorities. "Do we care?"

"Of course we care!" Eduardo retorts. "We're second-years now, we're officially old enough to try out for spots on the team! Well, our separate teams, I guess."

"Okay," goes Mark, who doesn't really understand what this has to do with anything.

But Eduardo's enthusiasm cannot be dampened, so early Saturday morning finds Mark on the Quidditch pitch, pieces of toast smuggled out in his pockets and carrying oatmeal in a pint glass in his hands. The house elves consider it less of an affront to take the pints out on the grounds than the bowls, heaven knows why.

The captain of the Hufflepuff team is out on the field in full Quidditch attire, talking to a sizable crowd of team hopefuls. Eduardo is easily the smallest person there, the raptness on his face evident to Mark all the way across the pitch. He wonders at it, because while he had, on occasion, successfully dragged Mark to a couple matches last year, Eduardo hadn't expressed nearly as much passion then as he is now. In fact, Mark isn't sure he has ever seen Eduardo as passionate about anything as he's been since he saw the notice go up.

Turning to the stands, he's surprised to see he's not the only non-Hufflepuff who's showed up to watch the tryouts. Christy is up near the top, sitting with two Gryffindor girls Mark doesn't recognize. She spots him and waves, her long black hair and silver-green headband identifiable even from the ground.

"What are you doing here?" he demands, once he's climbed all the way up to her.

She rolls her eyes. "Hello to you too," she says, snagging one of his triangles of toast and biting into it before he can do more than mouth at her fishily in protest.

Up close, he can tell that the Gryffindors with her are in their year: the one on the right, with the honey-colored hair and big eyes, was the first one to get Sorted last year: everyone remembers who the first one to get Sorted is, because all first-years can't help but wonder if the Sorting Hat is going to bite their heads off.

"Hi," she says.

"Hi," Mark replies, a little baffled.

Catching this, Christy goes, "You know Erica and Alice."

"Hi," Mark repeats for lack of anything more substantial to say, looking from one Gryffindor to the other.

If Christy could roll her eyes any harder, they'd fall out of her head. "We only have Potions with them twice a week, Mark."

"It's fine," says the one on the right (Erica) quickly. "Look, they're mounting their brooms. Sit down," she grabs a fistful of Mark's robes and yanks, so he has no choice but to squeeze in between her and Christy or otherwise tip over. He stirs his spoon around in his cup-o-oatmeal. Down on the pitch, the Hufflepuff captain is shouting some kind of direction; a dozen or so kids on brooms soar into the air.

"You still haven't answered my question," Mark says. "What are you guys doing here? This is the Hufflepuff tryouts."

"Sabotage," says Erica immediately. "We're studying the way the enemy thinks, and what kind of line-up they might have this year, and then we'll report back to our own team."

"Who would suspect us?" Alice adds, pretending to flutter her eyelashes.

Mark stares.

He turns to Christy. "Are they kidding?" he wants to know. She just kind of shrugs, like, Gryffindors. Who knows what goes on in their heads.

"Why are you here?" she asks, equally curious. "I didn't think you were one for Quidditch."

"I don't -- I'm not," Mark says. "I've never cared. I don't see the point of it -- or sports in general, really. It's like, one person has the ball, and then, oh no, suddenly someone else has it and everybody gets really upset about it. And they spend ridiculous amounts of money on it every year and buy the paraphernalia to make them seem inclusive to one fan club, but really all they do is get together on weekends and cheer about a bunch of sweaty players throwing a ball in one direction or another. And don't get me started on Quidditch. I mean, broomsticks? Who ever thought that flying hundreds of feet in the air on broomsticks was a good idea. You sweep kitchens with brooms, not fly on them!"

He pauses for a breath. The girls are staring at him, the routines being performed down on the pitch completely forgotten.

"I'm here to watch Eduardo," he says finally, a mite more timidly. "He's been obsessed all week."

Christy's face splits into a smile. "Are you jealous?" she crows, sounding way too triumphant. She ducks her head to peer at his face, and he sticks his tongue out at her invasive proximity. "Awww, Mark, it's all right," she goes, all fake sympathy, patting his shoulder. "Just because he's found something else to take up all his attention doesn't mean he doesn't still care about you."

"There were two too many negatives in that statement," he informs her as cuttingly as possible. The Gryffindors are laughing at him.

Up in the air, Eduardo glances in their direction. Mark throws his arms into the air, hoping it looks like some kind of cheer.

Eduardo waves happily.

"I rest my case," says Christy, and Mark debates the merits of tipping oatmeal into her lap.

He's in the library, sometime between November and March, class and dinner, when Eduardo finds his table and swings his bookbag around, thumping it solidly against the tabletop and saying without any preamble, "The Winklevoss twins called me your minion today."

The fingers that are twirling his quill stop of their own accord, and Mark looks up, his concentration broken. Eduardo has been growing exponentially fast in the last couple months, seemingly gaining an inch whenever Mark looks away from him. It makes him feel like if he grabs Eduardo around the shoulders and holds him still, he'd be able to see the growth happening, like photosynthesis on a time lapse film. His extremities all look like they're racing away from his body: his arms and legs and fingers and ears and nose are disproportionally large all of a sudden, so when Eduardo sits down in the chair next to him, it's less sitting and more a dramatic collapse.

"Minion," he echoes at the last moment, remembering that Eduardo had said something. "It's Slytherin for friend."

And, for a beat, Eduardo looks remarkably pleased.

"Besides," Mark adds, turning back to his History of Magic text. "The Winklevoss twins strongly dislike me. Last year, I successfully aided in our losing of the House Cup to the Gryffindors, perhaps moreso than the other Slytherins. They harbor a bit of a grudge."

"Everyone harbors a bit of a grudge against you, Mark," Eduardo remarks without any malice whatsoever, sounding more like Professor Binns when commenting on the contributing factors to a goblin rebellion.

"You don't," Mark points out.

"I'm funny in the head like that."

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss bring to mind what Christy calls, "the pureblood Slytherin stereotype," whatever that means. They're both well-groomed, well-bred, and come from money; they can trace their ancestry all the way back to when the Anglo-Saxons were a little miffed at the Celts. Mrs. Norris takes to following them when they're in the corridors, because Filch hates them, but that might just be the caretaker projecting his own deep-rooted anxieties about twins.

The Winklevosses aren't and are never going to be the Weasleys (neither are the Vanes, the seventh-year Gryffindor boy-and-girl pair, or the Baginas, who are the other set of twins in their year,) but the word "twins" is only ever going to bring to mind Fred and George for their generation: Mark knows, because there's a plaque on the fifth floor to go along with the general memorial that's in the Great Hall, and he reads it unconsciously whenever he goes by.

Cameron and Tyler are the Beaters on the Slytherin Quidditch team, and were the first boys in their year to develop the shoulders to prove it.

Objectively, Mark supposes he could see how they'd be intimidating, but he shares a dorm with them, and has seen them when they first roll out of bed with their hair going every which way and their shirts on backward, and isn't as daunted by their pedigree as others are. Neither is he the only one. Divya Narendra and Christy Lee can't take them seriously after that one time in Herbology with the snarfflepods, and Sean Parker calls them the Twinkle Twins.

"And anyway," Eduardo's now rummaging in his bag for his own homework. "You're leagues smarter than they are, and they'll come to terms with that eventually."

On September the 1st, at the beginning of his third year, Mark and his father get a trolley for his trunk and have just passed between platforms 9 and 10 when Mr. Zuckerberg's phone goes off, the insistent three-tone beeping that signals a text message. He'd really wanted a cool ringtone when he first got the phone, but could never quite figure out how exactly to get one, so he still just has the basics.

"I didn't think that would work once we passed the barrier," Mark comments, surprised, and still has to stand on tiptoe some in order to see the screen, but there's a glare even when he grabs his father's wrist to try and tug it down some.

"It's from your mum," Mr. Zuckerberg absently informs him, which answers that. "She says to wait up a minute, she's bringing us your permission slip for Hogsmeade and your --" he pauses here and glances down, his expression taking on an air of long-suffering. "And your shoes," he finishes. "Mark, did you not notice that you crossed King's Cross barefoot?"

"Does it matter, since nobody else did, either?" Mark answers, purposefully blithe.

"He does that at school, too," comes Eduardo's voice. He materializes at Mark's side, seemingly out of nowhere, dragging his trunk behind him. He's alone, which isn't surprising: Mark has yet to meet or even see the elder Saverins. It's like Eduardo gets momentarily smudged out of existence when the school year ends and then shows up again when it begins again or whenever Mark sees him, like a song on pause. Mark isn't even sure where exactly in London Eduardo lives, if he does. "Drives the professors absolutely nutty. Whatever points he earns for the Slytherin House by knowing what he's talking about, he then loses by never being in proper uniform."

"Oh, don't tell me things like that," groans Mr. Zuckerberg, frowning sidelong at his son. "I thought we raised you to be better than that."

"He's exaggerating," Mark protests. "I wear shoes to class." ("Yeah, slippers. Seriously," Eduardo brings up on the train later. "You shove your feet into the bath slippers and then forget you're wearing them until you're in class and some professor marks you for inappropriate attire." "How do you know what I wear to the bathrooms in my own dorm?" Mark retorts, narrowing his eyes, which only makes Eduardo tilt his head back and laugh, "It's not that hard to figure out, Mark. Also, when you try to Transfigure them under the desk, the spell wears off after awhile and then you're wearing shoes with bunny ears.")

Mark's mother shows up presently, carrying his sneakers in one hand and the Hogwarts letter in the other.

"Oh, hello, Eduardo!" she goes, enthused by the sight of him, as if taking reassurance that the presence of a friend in her son's life hadn't been a first-year aberration, as Mark sits down on the concrete and tugs his sneakers on over his heels. "How was your summer?"

Eduardo beams back at her. "All right, thank you!"

Mrs. Zuckerberg is a broad-shouldered woman with too much hair and not enough incentive to control it: Mark inherited that from her. "Good! Are you excited about Hogsmeade?" she waves the permission slip.

The smile on Eduardo's face falters some, a sort of flinch around the corners of his eyes, but Mark, who's paying attention, catches it.

"Your parents did sign, right?" he demands brusquely, getting back to his feet. It wouldn't be strange, if they hadn't -- if Britain had been paranoid during the war, it was nothing on how they were after it was over. He knew Cameron and Tyler's parents didn't want them setting foot outside the Hogwarts perimeter unless it was strictly necessary. He wasn't sure what the Winklevosses thought was going to happen: the worst thing that had happened to Hogsmeade since Voldemort invaded was, once, one of the hippogriffs had made off with a goat from the Hog's Head, and the proprietor was very upset about it. Mark could see why that would have the Winklevosses cowering in their dragonhide boots.

"Ah --" starts Eduardo, but now Mark's parents are looking at him curiously, so he huffs out a sigh. "No," he confesses. "No, they were -- they were abroad. Their anniversary falls in the summer, so they went -- and when they were home, it just wasn't ... I didn't want to bother them with it," he goes, voice getting smaller and quieter.

Further down the platform, someone's owl shrieks indignantly.

Mark's mother exchanges a look with his father, and swiftly comes to a decision. "Do you have the slip on you?" she asks, brisk. "We'll forge it!"

"What?" goes Eduardo, but Mark's already digging in his pockets for a pen, then remembers that Eduardo comes from a wizarding family and kicks open his trunk to hunt for a quill and ink bottle. Knowing what he's doing and acting without thinking, Eduardo produces a quill out of nowhere, and if Mark isn't mistaken, it's the same woeful, beat-up one he first lent him back in first year. Eduardo does things like that, and Mark still isn't quite sure why.

"Your parents are pureblood, right?" says Mrs. Zuckerberg, eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "All our signatures look the same after several generations: a great, fancy flourish should do it."

"But. You can't just -- you can't just forge my parents' signature. I think they have ways of checking that!"

"We're Slytherin, sweetheart," says Mrs. Zuckerberg dismissively, and she holds out her hand for the permission slip. "We don't get caught."

Professor Vector is intimidatingly tall (well, compared to everybody except Hagrid) and has a way of walking that reminds Mark of something out of a Tim Burton film; she looks like she's made of nothing but limbs that bend oddly like pipecleaners. She's a black woman who wears golden hoop earrings and high heels, the latter of which propel her to the kind of height that is simply ridiculous, but very effective at making everyone else feel inadequate.

And from the moment she opens her mouth, first day of classes, Mark knows she's going to be his favorite professor. He walks out of the lesson feeling like he learned something new and important, which is such a novelty that it floors him.

"Why don't they let first- and second-years take Arithmancy?" he wants to know, slamming down onto the bench at the Slytherin table at lunch.

Divya answers around a mouthful of biscuit. "Because us regular human beings can't wrap our heads around that kind of advanced trigonometry at that age."

Mark snorts, waving that away. "I can't believe I had to wait two years to start this class. Think how much I could have learned by now if they'd only offered it earlier."

"Are you seriously already planning to do a NEWT in Arthimancy, Zuckerberg?"

That comes from one of the Winklevosses, who are coming in from Care of Magical Creatures and therefore smell like pine wood and, oddly, bat guano. Christy Lee wrinkles her nose when they sit down and deliberately scoots further down the bench.

"Yes," Mark answers, completely serious.

The twins roll their eyes, and the one that hadn't spoken leans over, snagging one of the little grape tomatoes off of Mark's plate and popping into his mouth. "Yeah, no, we're not even surprised, of course you would be. Saverin's taking it with you, yeah?" he goes, showing off half-chewed pulp and tomato seeds. Mark thinks this one might be Tyler, but he's not sure.

"Yes," he says again. He and Eduardo had deliberately matched their courses up and offered to do the same for the other second-years who wanted to take classes with their friends in different Houses (the offering to do it for other people thing was Eduardo's idea. Mark had just liked doing the work involved in juggling the Hogwarts class scheduling system.)

"What about you, Narendra?" the other twin (he's more positive that this is Cameron; Cameron's the one who likes to style his hair in ridiculous ways to make him look minutely taller than his brother) slings an arm around Divya's shoulders. He likes doing that to everyone he's talking to; Mark's pretty sure it's just an excuse to show off the burgeoning muscles in his arms, which are kind of noticeable right now against Divya's skinny shoulders. "What incredible, super-exciting class did you just come from?"

"Muggle Studies," Divya answers, unperturbed by the arm and scraping more butter on his biscuit.

Mark, Tyler, and Cameron stare at him for a beat.

"You're Muggleborn," Mark feels the need to point out, since no one else is.

Divya gestures at him with his butter knife. "Exactly," he goes. "So at least I'll be guaranteed an easy Outstanding, right? Hey, can you pass one of the little things of jam, please, thanks."

Mark does wind up being right about one thing: Arithmancy immediately becomes his favorite subject.

"It's like finally having words for something that I've always known but didn't realize I could articulate," he tells Eduardo, shoving a chair out from their table in the library and standing on it. With a flick of his wand, he starts drawing up the grid for a chart. Technically, he doubts that's what the walls are supposed to be used for, but Madam Pince loves him and as long as he erases it before he leaves, he can probably get away with it. "Except when I say words, I really mean numbers."

Eduardo grabs another chair and joins him, their beginner's Arithmancy book propped open in the crook of his elbow. He lifts his wand and tentatively begins filling in the perimeters of their chart, spindly glowing characters coming from the tip of his wand. He got a new scarf in Diagon Alley before the start of term, and he's still wearing it, even though it's still September and the weather hasn't started to turn yet. It's in Hufflepuff colors, and personally, Mark thinks it makes him look like a lopsided bumblebee.

"Think about it, Wardo," he goes, checking his math in their Arithmancy book over Eduardo's shoulder. "Numbers are a universal constant, and yet, by themselves, they have no meaning until we give it to them. Their entire existence is dependent on what we use them for, how we string them together. No wonder particular numbers have evolved to be so important to the magical world: we've been pouring bits and pieces of ourselves into them since humankind first started learning how to count."

He leans back, and with a flick of his wand, adds a couple more glowing numbers to the chart.

Beside him, Eduardo is scrawling algorithms in the air, one ear tilted in Mark's direction to show he's listening.

"Do you think it might be possible that the whole world is made out of numbers?" Mark continues, almost speaking too quickly for his own tongue. "That there's -- that there's like a base code for everything, some intrinsic identification that can be expressed by numbers? But the numbers would have to change, of course, especially when you apply magic -- it'd be forever changing. That's the difference between the Muggle world and the magical, is that element of transfiguration. Do you think all things were once functioning, and magic just helps them remember that?"

He frowns, erases what he just put down and corrects it. "I wonder if there's some way to quantify magic."

Hopping off the chair, he steps back, putting his hands on his hips and surveying their handiwork. He turns to the side to toss a grin at Eduardo, who is looking at him with something akin to wonder, the spell light casting his face a pale blue and reflecting off of his eyes. Yeah, Mark thinks, his attention flickering from the numbers on the wall to Eduardo and back again, yeah, it's pretty much the best feeling in the world.

"Oh, hell no," Divya says as forcefully as he can muster. He leans over the back of Mark's chair to get a better look at his ambitious outline for his Defense Against the Dark Arts essay. "This is too much. You don't just walk into Mordor, Mark."

Mark levels a flat look at him.

"Actually, yes you would," Divya corrects himself, nodding seriously. "You would probably just waltz right into Mordor because you got lost looking for the loo."

He flops down at the table they've appropriated, taking up two chairs so he can stretch out on his back. Like Mark, he hasn't hit his growth spurt yet, so this means the movement leaves his sneakers swinging a couple of inches off the ground. Across the table, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss exchange bemused looks, but Erica lifts a finger to forestall their next question, not looking up from scratching away at her own essay. "No," she says. "Before you ask, I don't understand the reference, either."

"I got it," Eduardo offers quietly, elbow-to-elbow with Mark. "But it's a Muggle thing."

"Thank you," Tyler goes, sarcastic but not mean. "That was enlightening."

"You know what I miss," comes from Divya's direction, his tone mostly rhetorical. "Music. Seriously, studying would be so much easier if I could put in my headphones and tune everything out. It's the first thing I do when I get home at Christmas break -- I go straight to my iPod and cue up some Thom Yorke and suddenly all is right in my world again. It's too quiet otherwise. Come on, some of the most brilliant witches and wizards graduate from Hogwarts -- is it too much to ask for someone to invent something that'll play music inside its walls? Even if it means we have to go back to the cassette player. I can handle that."

"Wizards have music, too," Cameron puts in, but tentatively, like he's not quite sure if music is really what they're talking about. "We have our own bands, even. I know you've heard of some of them, and they're always doing live concerts. Muggle music has to be substandard in comparison."

Divya's finger makes an appearance over the edge of the table, pointing at Cameron accusingly. "See, that? You just harshed my squee."

"I ... what?" Cameron blinks, utterly lost. He ducks his head to his brother, murmuring, "was that even English?"

Divya sighs. "That's another thing I miss. The Internet. Seriously, how do wizards function without the Internet? You have no idea what I would give for a Wizarding Wiki right now."

The Winklevosses look even more bewildered, and even Erica's concentration has been broken: she's looking at Divya like he's making as much sense as he would speaking Parseltongue. All three of them cut glances at Eduardo, who shrugs back at them helplessly, just as lost.

Mark, who comes from a blended family and knows perfectly well what the Internet is, smiles to himself and flips to the back of his textbook, scanning the index.

He supposes that, empirically, he can see why some people would be attracted to the Internet (it's certainly nice for ordering books that aren't stocked by his hometown's primary bookseller,) but he's never really seen the appeal of including it in every aspect of life. There's something about getting information, or a specific result, instantaneously, without doing the physical work of it (pulling musty-smelling books off of a shelf or performing a spell) that just feels like cheating. Seriously, all you have to do is put your fingers to a keyboard, without feeling any of it happen -- the weight of a book in the crook of his arm or the tug of magic in his body? No, thank you.

"I don't think the professors would let us use it even if we had one," says Sean Parker from the other end of the table. "It'd probably count as cheating since we didn't actually research the information for ourselves."

"Yes we would have!" Divya retorts, prompting into sitting up so he could level a glare at Sean. "We'd be looking things up -- that's the exact definition of doing the research. And also," he adds, his eyes narrowing. "What are you even doing here? Who invited you? You made my life miserable in the first year because I was Muggleborn!"

"Oh, that was you? My bad, man," Sean goes, and then gets up and disappears into the library stacks before Divya can find something to throw at him.

One of the things Mark will always find so bloody frustrating about Hogwarts is the insistence that the Slytherins do everything important or potentially embarrassing with the Gryffindors, year after year. It's like putting cats with dogs and locking them in a room full of rocking chairs.

"Erica Albright is a bitch," he announces, plunking down at the Slytherin table with all the weight and force of someone very, very frustrated.

"Uh oh," says Divya, who has his Divination textbook propped up against the jug of pumpkin juice. "Those are fighting words, young padawan."

Mark grabs for the bowl of boiled potatoes, scowling at them with more venom than they've ever deserved in their garlic-basiled lives. He scoops a couple onto his plate and passes them to a sixth-year girl who warily eyeballs his thunderous expression.

"Her arrogance is infuriating," he manages, finally. It takes him two tries before he realizes he's trying to cut the potatoes with his wand. He puts it down and picks up a butter knife. "She's infuriating and annoying and she always has some kind of comment to make. It's like, nobody cares to hear your opinion on everything, so can't you keep your mouth shut unless you have something pertinent to add? And she has the audacity to call me exhaustingly thorough! Just because you've read some treaty on dragon behavior over summer break doesn't give you the right to start up a debate with the professor at every opportunity! It doesn't make you look smart, it makes you look like you're desperate for attention!"

"Oh, heavens no," says Divya, completely deadpan, when Mark pauses for breath. "Please, oh please, have mercy on us poor sinners. Someone actually standing up and letting Mark Zuckerberg know he isn't, in fact, the smartest machine in the fourth year? Ye gads, it's the end times."

"You," Mark points a fork at him. "Are miserable and nobody loves you."

"That cut to the quick. Gravy?" he offers Mark the gravy boat.

Objectively, Mark knows his annoyance with Erica is irrational at best, but since the Slytherins and Gryffindors have a class together every day except Friday by some cruel twist of class scheduling, there's no escaping her long enough for him to remember this. And since Christy tries her hardest to make friends with those outside of her House and spends as much time with Alice as Mark does with Eduardo, Erica's there at their study group too, sitting across from the Winklevoss twins with her knees tucked up against her chest, her Rocket Dogs discarded underneath the table and her scarlet socks peeking out from under the hems of her robes.

Regarding notes for History of Magic, they all have a bit of a barter system, taking turns staying awake long enough to write down the keynotes so that at the end of the week, they more or less have a cohesive flow of facts, which they check against Mark, who doesn't need to write anything down to remember Professor Binn's lectures.

"Wait, so let me see if the timeline's right," Tyler's reaching across the table, picking up one of the pieces of parchment from the table (it's probably Christy's, since she's got the neatest handwriting.) "There was a tariff imposed on all imported items coming from Scandinavia in 1630, but the coalition of hags -- or whatever the official name for it was -- got around that by disguising their mead as tea, right?"

"Right, with a Disillusioning Charm, until some of the strongest prohibition wizarding families of the day got their hands on it and got all the hags hung." Mark flips the page of his textbook, scanning the tiny, narrow columns of script. "Has anyone found out which ones?"

"You should ask your mother."

When Mark looks over, all he can see if the top of Erica's head and the sweep of her bangs and the bent spine of her book.

Things might have moved right on over it if only they'd kept talking, but instead Tyler puts down the notes and gives Mark a curious look, like the remark requires some kind of answer. Mark just levels a look back at him, but nobody else says anything either, so finally he has to turn his attention back to Erica.

Folding his arms on the tabletop, he asks, "I'm sorry, but what does that mean?"

Erica closes her book, the covers snapping together like a bear trap. "I'm just saying," she says. "And please believe me when I say that I have been trying to find a polite way of putting it, but I simply cannot understand how you can consider this --" she gestures at the History of Magic notes, "-- important enough to memorize, but you can't be bothered to learn where your own family is from."

"Leeds," Mark says, flat. "And I don't see how this relates to anything at all."

"Am I wrong?" This is directed at the rest of the table. Mark's somewhat relieved to see he's not the only one who doesn't know what's going on: Divya looks puzzled and Alice looks back and forth between them quizzically, but the twins look a little like they want to be somewhere else, Christy is oddly triumphant at the corners of her mouth, and Eduardo isn't meeting his eye.

And just like that, Mark's had enough.

He turns back to his textbook, rounding his shoulders and tossing off, rapid-fire, "Well, that's a little rich coming from you, isn't it, going around and casting aspersions on other people's shameful family connections."

"How so?" Erica's guard is up.

"For one, the Albrights aren't even real Albrights, you're just faking it. You're the Albrechts from the wilds of the North, and as a general rule, for generations you lot have gone to Durmstrang and liked to support Dark wizards from behind the curtain, so it's not all that surprising that you came crawling across the Channel after the fall of Grindelwald and changed your name to something roundly English. And everyone knows Ferdinand Albrecht was one of the founding members of the International Federation of Warlocks, which is an amusing attempt at gaining distinction because warlocks are just hack wizards who aren't fond of the idea of shaving or bathing more than once a week."

He takes a breath, and the fingertip that's about to turn his page is trembling. "For another, nobody wants to ask you directly, but your uncle teaches Transfiguration here and the fact that you never see him outside of class and he never shows you any particular warmth means he resents you for being a Gryffindor, as the Albrights in Hogwarts have always been Slytherins, himself included, so your only option is to act out in the most Gryffindor way possible, and somehow this translates to being insufferable and attempting to belittle others for things they can't help.

"Now, condescend all you like on my knowledge of seventeenth century tariffs, was I wrong about any of that?"

The silence that falls after all of this isn't so much a quiet as much as it is a heavy, oppressive silence that lands smack in the middle of their table and sort of quivers.

Finally registering it past the angry pounding of his heart, Mark looks up.

Erica's face is blank, like it hasn't quite occurred to her what she should feel yet, because nobody's ever said those things to her before (Mark knows no one has ever said those things to her before, but he also knows that he can't be the only one who's thought them, just the only one unrestricted by British convention enough to say them out loud.) Cameron and Tyler are staring at him, Eduardo's eyes are closed like he's gathering strength, and Christy's got her quill gripped like one would a knife handle right before they stab someone, stayed only by Alice's hand on her wrist. At the end of the table, Divya is playing with the end of his sweatshirt drawstrings, looking desperately like he wants his iPod there so he could tune everyone out.

"You," says Cameron, straightening his shoulders and speaking very slowly, very quietly, and with more force than Mark had ever heard from him. "Are going to walk away from this table, right now."

Such is his tone that Mark's on his feet, gathering up his books, without even realizing it. He kicks his chair back and slings his bag over his shoulder.

He's past Madam Pince and almost out of the library before he realizes that Eduardo is right next to him. Not close enough to bump shoulders like they usually do, and not looking at him, but walking with him nonetheless.

He lets out a breath.

(In Potions, Erica waits until Tyler leaves in the direction of the supply cupboards, and perches herself on the stool next to Cameron. He spares her a curious look, his paring knife poised over the lacewing flies that he needs to dice.

Deceased lacewing flies are inordinately sticky and their weird insect bits tend to get everywhere, so Erica surreptitiously wipes the pads of her fingers off on the bottom of the stool and regards Cameron calmly.

"You should have been in Gryffindor," she says, and what had sounded so grandly magnanimous in her head comes out a little on this side of awkward, out loud.

Cameron jerks his eyes away, knife skittering some on the cutting board. He picks it up and brushes the bits of fly into the potion, which burbles in disgust and turns a shade of green to match. Finally, he looks back at her. "Albright," he goes, as calm and serious as she's ever seen him. "Doing the right thing isn't solely a Gryffindor trait."

She grins at him. "No, it isn't," she goes, and scoots back to her work station when Tyler ducks back into the dungeon.)

So after that Marks spends a little time being absolutely friendless again, which is just as well because Eduardo is there and Mark isn't that strongly affected anyway.

"Oh, come on," he goes the fourth or fifth time Eduardo tries to bring up the possibility of apologizing. "They're only punishing themselves by not talking to me. They've been copying my star charts for Astronomy since the second year, now they might actually have to do the work themselves. God knows their own advice stops applying once it means they're the ones who have to do the right thing."

"Mark," says Eduardo tiredly.

"Did I ever tell you," Mark says quickly, before Eduardo could continue. They're sitting on the steps that lead up to the entrance hall. It's a beautiful morning, the grass waving and the buds on the trees showing up in bright spots of color, sunlight sparkling off the surface of the lake. He doesn't want to fight. "That my parents thought I was all-Muggle for the longest time?"

Eduardo spares him a curious look. "No." People file around them, chattering and carrying bits of their breakfast: there's a Quidditch match on, Hufflepuff vs Ravenclaw, and Eduardo should probably be with his team, going over last-minute tactical plays or getting changed or whatever Quidditch teams do, but instead he's leaning his shoulder against Mark's, his Cleansweep on the step next to him. "No, I didn't know that."

"They did. I didn't show any sign of being magical whatsoever, not through most of my early school years. Aside for the fact I lived in a house where the toaster talks and the dishes do themselves, I was basically any other Muggle kid."

"What did you do?" Eduardo already sounds amused, and Mark hasn't even told the punchline yet.

He grins at him. "I made it snow inside Mum's wardrobe when I was nine. I thought if I couldn't find Narnia on my own, then I would make one."

continued -->
Tags: character: eduardo saverin, character: mark zuckerberg, fandom: harry potter, fandom: the social network, pairing: mark/eduardo, rating: pg

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