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People Like Us (Draco Gen, PG-13)

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Mar. 20th, 2006 | 08:32 pm
music: "City of Blinding Lights" -- U2

ETA: This Draco's LJ can be found on dm1980. This Su Li's LJ can be found on androgynous88.

"People Like Us" by lilian_cho
An atomic_fiction challenge fic
Beta: somigliana and rea_saint. All remaining errors are mine. Inserted the Babel pisces spell (03/13/06). Thanks ruien for the nitpick.
Rating: PG-13 for derogatory terms and taking the Lord's name in vain :-P
Pairing(s): Draco/Su Li pre-smth, H/D if you squint.
ETA 01/23/07: Will be H/D in the sequel to the sequel *cries*
Warnings: Gen, but can be read as either pre-het or pre-slash, since Su Li's gender is not determined in the books. (In this story, Su Li is a Chinese Ravenclaw, but Rowling might cast him/her as a love interest or leader of Death Eaters or whatever in Book Seven. You could never know with that woman... *shrug*)
Length: 1806 words
Archives: lilian_cho and atomic_fiction. Please ask permission first.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

These East Asians are rather like house-elves—he can't tell their gender apart when they're wearing bulky sweaters. He's never sure whether he's hitting on a flat-chested girl or a pretty boy.

“The plane’s getting ready to leave the ground. You better fly.”

Draco stared at the crazy Muggle who had just asked him to remove his belt and shoes because the buckles made the security doorway light up in Day-Glo colours.

He started questioning the accuracy of this Babel pisces spell, which supposedly allows him to understand all the major Chinese dialects.

Putting his shoes and belt back on, he gave the Muggle his most disdainful stare. The woman waved at him impatiently, muttering under her breath about eccentric angmos.

Draco was offended. There is no single red hair on his body! In fact, he threw a fit last month when he was told to impersonate a redhead during a reconnaissance mission.

Which is why he was here instead, trying to get the River Dragon Gods Association to help out in a missing person’s case.

He entered a toilet stall, preparing to Apparate to his gate—only to discover Anti-Apparition wards all over the building.

Cursing the paranoid Chinese magical community, Draco broke into a sprint and ran the two flights of stairs down and one more flight up to the S gate.

He has never lacked the opportunity to exercise his legs ever since Professor Snape told him, “Run, Draco!” Presumably he meant Apparition, not Muggle running.

Draco groaned when he saw the long line of people “boarding” the plane. Why must he fly with all these unwashed Muggles on a wobbly mechanical bird?

Ever since the dragon egg smuggling incident a decade ago, the magical government of China had restricted the use of long distance Portkeys to high-ranking government officials.

Goddamn Commies.

Not that he did not share their sentiment. As Prefect, he had taken away the first-years’ privilege to use the Slytherin Common Room when some spotty first-year stole all the raspberry truffles from his box of handmade sweets.

Draco checked his reflection on a display window. Hair, perfect as always. He winced at the purple shadow under his eyes. Mother will lecture him about his “unhealthy lifestyle” again no doubt. And his lack of marriage prospects.

He went into the small bookstore and grabbed a paperback featuring a green-skinned witch on the cover. He also bought a bag of what looked like colourful limp worms.

He was a bit disappointed when the Muggle sweet failed to wiggle down his throat.

Surreptitiously licking his now sour-sweet fingers, he handed his “passport” to the cute Muggle attendant, who proceeded to check him out from head to toe. Draco couldn’t resist smirking. Let the Muggles drool.

Upon entering the plane, he was blinded. Why must red and orange be considered lucky colours by the Chinese? They dress like Gryffindors but are as slippery as Slytherins.

He gingerly sat in his aisle seat and turned to look at his neighbours across the aisle. And promptly wished he hadn’t.

A man in a godawful sleeveless shirt sat across him. Draco looked down and saw the beginning of a beer gut. He blamed his innate nosiness.

Sinking deeper into his cramped seat, he hopelessly tried to find a comfortable position for his legs that did not involve some yoga twist.

Clang of cymbals and grating melody permeated the plane. Perhaps these are the spells that Muggles use to get the plane up in the air. He just wished they weren’t this bloody long and stupid.

He pressed the button which his department head assured will summon the Muggle version of a house-elf.

Draco thanked the gods when he finally grasped the Muggle concept of “skirts.” These East Asians are rather like house-elves—he can’t tell their gender apart when they’re wearing bulky sweaters. He’s never sure whether he’s hitting on a flat-chested girl or a pretty boy.

That’s why the Malfoys had their house-elves wear different coloured pillow cases the last century or so. The males wear faded denim and the females wear washed out pink. Except that one weird Doody who refused to be categorized by gender.

Draco had to remember to thank Potter for getting rid of that one. He always had a nagging suspicion that the house-elf sold the household’s used underwear in Knockturn Alley.

Speaking of used underwear, he heard that they fetch high prices in Japan. And Doody immediately worked at Hogwarts doing laundry. Most suspicious…

Draco scowled when thinking of people bidding for the Boy-Who-Lived’s dirty laundry. Potter’s stinky sock probably fetched a higher price than that set of Mdm. Morgan lingerie Mother said she lost.

That line of thought was cut off when something dropped into his lap and started purring most menacingly.

“I’m sorry, I was putting my flowers in the overhead compartment—”

Draco looked up at the unexpected British accent and met the eyes of yet another androgynous Asian.

“Malfoy? Draco Malfoy?”

Draco raised an eyebrow. A Hogwarts classmate?

“I’m Su Li, from Ravenclaw. We were in the same year.” Said with a wide smile.

“You’re that Ravenclaw whose school picture could never turn out right.” That Ravenclaw who always got upstaged by that Chang girl.

Su Li chuckled. “Yes, people always told me I look ugly in pictures. Wizarding pictures, Muggle photographs…the camera hates me, apparently.”

Draco thought it was also because non-Ravenclaws could never tell whether they were dealing with a tomboyish, sloppy girl or an effeminate boy in raggedy clothes.

“Sir? Is everything alright here?” The Muggle house-elf finally arrived. Draco suddenly remembered the purring menace in his lap.

The skirt-wearing Muggle looked at Draco’s lap and proceeded to scold Su Li rapidly in Chinese.

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Chinese,” Su Li said solemnly.

Looking disgusted, the Muggle gestured at Draco’s lap. “That’s not allowed on board. You take foreign thing, foreign diseases enter China. Kill all Chinese trade.”

Draco wondered whether he should feel insulted or not.

“The customs official had cleared these flowers to be on board,” Su Li said calmly.

Shaking her head, the Muggle stomped away.

Su Li leaned forward, and for a fleeting moment Draco thought he? she? was trying to grope him.

Grasping the object that was now whining in a most constipated manner, Su Li whispered conspirationally, “I’m smuggling some wizarding flowers for a friend in China. This one is a Tiger Lily that Longbottom cultivated last month.”

Draco caught the slightest whiff of cologne. Not floral or fruity. Not earthy. He cursed the new lines of unisex fragrance that hit the market.

Su Li stowed the snarling speckled orange plant in the overhead compartment. With Longbottom as its breeder, there’s a high chance of the flower sprouting fangs and fighting its way back into Draco’s lap.

“So, how have you been doing?” Su Li asked. “I haven’t seen any of our classmates since graduation. Well, except for Longbottom last week.”

Giving his most winsome smile, Draco replied, “Why don’t you sit next to me? I’m sure we have a lot of catching up to do.”

Round brown eyes widened in disbelief. “I guess it’s true that people change.”

Seeing Draco frown, Su Li sat down. “I meant no offence—just that you wouldn’t have given me a moment’s notice back in Hogwarts.”

“Well, perhaps it has something to do with how you always got lost in a crowd,” Draco looked down at the top of Su Li’s head.

“I’ll have you know that I’m quite tall—for Chinese people.”

Draco calculated Su Li’s height and tried to remember if there was anybody shorter than Su Li besides Cho Chang. He quickly realized that there had been no other Chinese in their year.

“You look better now,” Draco gave Su Li’s khaki turtleneck and black suit a onceover. “No more handmade clothes?”

A bark of laughter. “That’s what Longbottom said too. Except with much less subtlety and snark.”

Grinning, Su Li said, “I was going through my I-will-be-the-next-Kenichi phase at the time. By the end of fifth year, I realized that I’m colour blind and have no sense of style.”

“I beg to differ,” Draco said. “Although that purple patchwork you wore at Yule Ball was a monstrosity, the white embroidered robe at Fifth Year was inspired. The blue and bronze accents were a nice touch.”

“You really think so?” Su Li’s face brightened. “I got sent to the Headmaster for not wearing standard robes. He told me to go change then ‘dropped’ a book on glamours from his table.”

“It was fun to come up with a glamour that’s good enough to fool the teachers—at least for a class period.” Su Li was grinning now. “I never dared to try it out on Professor Snape though.”

Draco muttered about never being able to fool Professor Snape with glamours in sixth year.

There was a sober silence as they remembered sixth year and its aftermath.

“So,” Su Li gave a tentative smile, “I heard you’re working for an investigative company now?”

Draco nodded. “It was either that or work in Potions research and turn into Professor Snape. There’s always the Auror Department and the Ministry, but I don’t want to work alongside Potter and Weasley.”

“I figured it was something like that.” Su Li laughed. “I’ve been self-employed these past few years…and avoiding Cho’s Dad. He wants me to work for his research team.”

“A smuggler—that’s an unusual Ravenclaw occupation.”

“It’s more widespread than you think.” A wry laugh. “Ravenclaws hate any restriction on knowledge. Even if it means risking a pandemic,” Li glanced at the overhead compartment.

“And here I am thinking that you Ravenclaws never get down from your ivory tower.”

“You’re confusing us with Gryffindors.”

Draco gasped. “Blasphemy! Are you saying that the House of vaulted savior of the Wizarding world is self-righteous?”

Su Li laughed. “Now you’re putting words into my mouth, Malfoy.”

“You can call me Draco.”

“You can call me Li.”

“Haven’t I been calling you by your surname anyway?”

Su Li grimaced. “Li is actually my given name. But it’s too troublesome to explain when Cho follows the Western convention of putting surnames last.”

“Alright, Li then. Su is a terrible name to give to your child anyway.” Draco paused. “Unless they grow up to be a lawyer.”

“That was lame.” Li stared at Draco. “Please desist from punning for the rest of our confinement in this plane.”

A different Muggle house-elf came asking what meal they would like to eat.

Li readily told her their chosen menu in Chinese.

“I thought you said you don’t speak Chinese,” Draco said once the Muggle was out of earshot.

Li gulped down a mouthful of screwdriver. “I lied.”

Draco smiled. “I think I like you.”

“I think I like you too.”

They grinned at each other. At that moment, Draco couldn’t care less whether Li was male, female or house-elf.

“So. Which ones of our classmates should we mock and belittle?”

*******

Li will explain the cultural references in Draco's first encounter with Li.

1) The woman waved at him impatiently, muttering under her breath about eccentric angmos.

Li: "Ang mo" is Hokkien dialect referring to Caucasians. It literally means "red hair"--perhaps referring to the Dutch, one of the early foreigners/colonists in Asia. The Babel Pisces spell translates the Chinese that Draco heard literally, without taking cultural context into account.

2) Cursing the paranoid Chinese magical community, Draco broke into a sprint and ran the two flights of stairs down and one more flight up to the S gate.

Li: Oh yes, Chinese magical government is definitely paranoid. (Not to the extent of Muggle American government, of course). They've placed a tracking charm on every single dragon egg ever since the smuggling incident.

3) Why must red and orange be considered lucky colours by the Chinese?

Li: I have no idea why. Because apples are red and oranges are orange? Or are apples and oranges considered lucky because of their colours?

4) Sinking deeper into his cramped seat, he hopelessly tried to find a comfortable position for his legs that did not involve some yoga twist.

Li: People with long legs should not fly economy.
Unless they're yoga masters.

5) Clang of cymbals and grating melody permeated the plane.

Li: Draco had the misfortune of flying shortly after a Chinese holiday.

6) He’s never sure whether he’s hitting on a flat-chested girl or a pretty boy.

Li: *blushes* I've made mistakes too in the past.

7) Speaking of used underwear, he heard that they fetch high prices in Japan.

Li: Some Muggle highschoolers in Japan sell their used underwear to perverted old men so that they can buy brandname goods. *shrug*

8) “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Chinese,” Su Li said solemnly.

Li: Speak English and they'll respect you. Speak Chinese and you'll get into more trouble. Better yet, speak French so that they understand you even less.

9) “I’ll have you know that I’m quite tall—for Chinese people.”

Li: My exact height? It's-a-se-cret ;-)

10) “Li is actually my given name. But it’s too troublesome to explain when Cho follows the Western convention of putting surnames last.”

Li: Most Chinese have three characters in their name. Some, like Cho and me, have two characters. Cho's Chinese name is Zhang Jiu--Jiu means autumn. It's pronounced Cho because the Changs speak a Chinese dialect, instead of the standard speech.

*******

"City of Blinding Lights"

The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now

Neon heart, dayglo eyes
A city lit by fireflies
They're advertising in the skies
For people like us

And I miss you when you're not around
I'm getting ready to leave the ground

Oh you look so beautiful tonight
In the city of blinding lights

Don't look before you laugh
Look ugly in a photograph
Flash bulbs purple irises
The camera can't see

I've seen you walk unafraid
I've seen you in the clothes you made
Can you see the beauty inside of me?
What happened to the beauty I had inside of me?

And I miss you when you're not around
I'm getting ready to leave the ground

Oh you look so beautiful tonight
In the city of blinding lights

Time... time
Time... time
Time won't leave me as I am
But time won't take the boy out of this man


Oh you look so beautiful tonight
Oh you look so beautiful tonight
Oh you look so beautiful tonight
Yeah this city of blinding lights

The more you know the less you feel
Some pray for others steal
Blessings not just for the ones who kneel.... luckily

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Comments {16}

ferporcel

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from: ferporcel
date: Mar. 21st, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
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Me likes! :0)
I really like the way you portray Draco. He's very much in character, with that Malfoy charm. *sigh*
I really liked Su Li, too. A Ravenclaw with some Slytherin traits. ;0)

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Mar. 21st, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
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Yay, thank you! :-D *huggle*

Hehe, now I know that the Malfoy charm works on you...*gleefully rub hands together*

I really liked Su Li, too. A Ravenclaw with some Slytherin traits. ;0)

That's the idea, thanks!

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dadomz

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from: dadomz
date: Mar. 22nd, 2006 09:45 am (UTC)
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I so see the H/D... LOL

Hey! angmo is what they refer to caucasians.

In our country, we use: bikok-lang refering to Americans and erm, forgot what we refer to english individuals. LOL. Our Hokkien is warped!

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Mar. 22nd, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
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rotfl, so you don't have to squint?

Heh, rea_saint think this Draco's het because he ketp on mentioning women. somigliana thinks he's gay/bi because of the interest in fashion. ruien thinks he's gay, IIRC.

:-D I presume you think he's gay and lusting pining over Harry?
What vibes are you getting from Su Li? Male? Female? Het? Gay? Bi?

Oh what does "bikok-lang" mean? "lang" = person?
Well, Hokkien is different in Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia...now I know that it's different in Philippines too :-P

In Singapore: "Lu Gong Xi Mi?"
In Indonesia: "Lu Gong Ha Mi?"
Meaning, "What the heck are you talking about?"

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dadomz

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from: dadomz
date: Mar. 23rd, 2006 08:21 am (UTC)
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Bikok is America in Hokkien, methinks. Lang is person. So - American + Person = American Person! (ROTFLMAO)

Yeah and it is different.

I think Su Li is bi... she seems to be a wicked person and it seems to me that she wouldn't want to limit her options to merely one. LOL. Maybe bicurious or something.

As for Draco... well... he be ghei--to quote: Effeminate boy and a Tom-boy.

Hee :P

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Mar. 23rd, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
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Ah "Bikok" = "Mei Guo" got it.

Ahahaha, I guess I need to learn more on how to write male/male interaction X-D Everyone (barring somigliana just automatically thinks that Li's a girl.

Bicurious sounds fun :-D

lol, what's a Tom-boy?

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dadomz

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from: dadomz
date: Mar. 25th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)
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Tomboy is somewhat like a girl with the spunk of a boy--she doesn't indulge in girlish activities.

hehehe.

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lilian_cho

(no subject)

from: lilian_cho
date: Mar. 25th, 2006 08:37 am (UTC)
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*headdesk*

Of course! The dash threw me off, lol. Coz I was thinking "tom" from "tom-cat" :-P

Go guess which 5 statements are lies ;-)

Will be posting a Veela!Draco plotbunny thingy shortly.

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the pink plotbunny's penfriend

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from: wordplaywright
date: Mar. 26th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Ah, here at last! It was a very funny and entertaining read :) Babel Pisces - hilarious. The "I lied" part as well.

Some Muggle highschoolers in Japan sell their used underwear to perverted old men so that they can buy brandname goods.

That's the thing they call enjo kosai, right? I can't help but think that those girls interpret the term 'business savvy' somewhat differently than Westerners.

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Mar. 27th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)
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Thank you! :-D

Yay, you get the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference.
And the "I lied" part is one of my fav.s too X-D
I know people in rl who lie just to see how gullible people are, lol.

Yep, I guess they just have a v. diferent set of priorities and principles than most people :-P
Japanese culture are v. different from other Asian culture in their view and treatment of the human body. Basially, nakedness is fine as long as you don't show any pubic hair.

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Jade

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from: jadeites_lady
date: Apr. 7th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
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I liked this too. It's great to see Su Li get some fics of her(his? ;) own.

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Apr. 7th, 2006 01:01 am (UTC)
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Aww thanks :-D

So did Su Li come across to you as female or male in this fic? ;-)


If you like Draco/Cho (squee~!), you definitely have to check out the Fourth Year in sarahtales's If You've a Ready Mind. Read my rec of it here. (It's #2)

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Jade

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from: jadeites_lady
date: Apr. 7th, 2006 05:00 pm (UTC)
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I was thinking Su Li's a girl... just because I've seen a couple references to the character in other fics (usually Cho-related fics) who have Li as female (to give Cho a 'sister' who could understand/relate to being only one of a few Asians at Hogwarts). But your fic - you did a good job of keeping the fact hidden - whether she is a she or he is a he.

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Apr. 7th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
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*nod* I've only seen one fic where Li is male. Incidentally, this fic is also the only one where "Li" is the given name instead of the last name. HP Lexicon speculates that Su Li is a prototype of Cho Chang and Rowling scrapped her when she wrote Cho Chang. (Like how Mafalda Weasley was scrapped for Rita Skeeter).

But your fic - you did a good job of keeping the fact hidden - whether she is a she or he is a he.

Thank you :-D Most readers think Li's a girl in this fic. I think I need to work on male/male interaction more. Basically guys would have been more competitive and bragged a bit about their accomplishments to ex-classmates ^^;;

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(no subject)

from: _geektanic
date: Sep. 22nd, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
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I love this! I'm a huge Su Li fan and frequently RP her. What's funny is how many similar traits she seems to have in different stories and RPs, despite the fact that we know NOTHING about her.

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lilian_cho

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from: lilian_cho
date: Dec. 5th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
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(Sorry for belated reply)

Thanks for the comment! =D
I've RPed Su Li once too. I just wish there's more boy!Su Li fics. The one where Su Li is a fanboy was fun *g* (furiosity's Wanton Wonton)

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