Chapter 1 : I Wanna Be Sedated
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Disclaimer: I own no part of Harry Potter as a series and make no profit whatsoever from writing this. I also love The Clash, to whom I attribute the title of this piece.
I Wanna Be Sedated
It was a beautiful day outside the garage; the songbirds were chirping in a summery tone and the trees swayed lazily in a breeze that was so small it was almost imperceptible. There was even a solitary ray of sunlight that had broken through the clouds and shined down through the dingy old skylight, which desperately needed a good wash. Seeing as the garage rarely got any natural light at all though, it was a rather important occurrance. Even the chipping paint on the floor and the small grease spots looked better in sunshine. But despite all reasons that would lead an ordinary person to the contrary point of view, Sirius Black was in a bear of a mood.
"Remus!" he growled, rolling the mechanic's creeper out from underneath the car he'd been working on. He grabbed the nearest rag and started mopping the oil drips from his face, before wiping the grime off of his hands. He wished that people would bother to perform the proper maintence to keep their motors clean for not the first time that day.
"Remus!" he yelled again, growing aggravated. He had a headache pounding in his temples, forcing him to think in curt little bursts between throbs. To make matters worse, there was a missing manual. Sirius knew that it was around here somewhere, but until it was found, he was pretty much screwed trying to get this car finished before the end of the day, which meant that he'd have to push back all his appointments for tomorrow, which might've worked if Remus hadn't overbooked him by three hours. He hated staying late on Fridays, but it wasn't looking good for delivering all of these cars on time. His head throbbed harder.
"Damn it, Remus! Where the hell are you?"
"Honestly, Padfoot, I'm right here. Didn't anyone ever tell you that patience is a virtue?" Remus answered huffily. He was carrying a heavy book under his right arm.
"I haven't got many and that's not one of them. Did you find the manual?"
"Yes." Remus pushed the floppy, somewhat dirty book into his hands. "That's the right one, right?"
"Yes. It's the correct one," Sirius returned, more precisely than his companion. "Where was it?"
Remus flushed and glanced away before responding, "You know the stool behind the desk in the front office?"
Sirius raised a single eyebrow, "Yes?"
"Well, it has that one short leg.."
"Remus, you didn't. I've needed this manual all day and you've been sitting on the answer all along. Literally, sitting on it," the last three words were ground out in a deep tone that Remus knew to be potentially dangerous if one was in the direct line of Sirius's wrath.
The werewolf knew better than to come up with some kind of excuse and he knew better than to try to make it up to his friend somehow, instead he stated the obvious, "I'm sorry," before turning cautiously to go back to the front desk. With the summer in full swing, they'd been busier than ever before, which meant that Sirius worked longer hours, with fewer breaks, which made him more cantankerous that an old man who'd misplaced his false teeth at suppertime - with hunger pains.
"REMUS!" Sirius barked from somewhere underneath the car, oblivious to the fact that his friend flinched hard at the sound of his own name.
"What is it?" Remus ventured, his eyes seeking any problem that Sirius might have. It was difficult, though, seeing as there was a chaotic mess of tools strewn all over the place. He assumed that it made some measure of sense to Sirius, as he'd never truly seen the garage in better condition, but he'd always itched to clean it up a bit. But Remus had learned his lesson a long time ago about trying to straighten up his friend's things. Once, early on in their dormitory relationship, Remus had nudged a sock or two closer to their owner's bed and Sirius had gone off on him about how he'd never find anything again if people kept moving his stuff around when he wasn't looking. Privately, Remus supposed that this was the result of Kreacher's interference at home, but he couldn't back it up.
"Is this the last appointment today?"
"Yes. And you only have six tomorrow. Mrs. White cancelled again. Her son's apparently got the flu, and that's more important to her than her radiator," he informed Sirius, not looking at his partner. Ever since Sirius had bought this old building and brought him in on it, Remus had mostly worked the counter, minding the office, keeping the customers happy while his friend worked. He'd also done the accounts; Padfoot's mind was good enough to figure out advanced theorems in Transfiguration and the inner workings of a Mercedes Benz 200D, but he must've not been interested in book-keeping, considering the state of things when Remus showed up. If the Department of Muggle and Wizarding Business Relations had seen them or heaven forbid, audited them before, they would had been immediately out of business.
"Good," Sirius muttered absently, setting a tool down with a noisy clang. He yanked out the second drawer of his tool cabinet. Pushing the wrenches around a little bit with a big paw-like hand, he scattered them until he found the proper sized one and plucked it out deftly. "And...I'm sorry."
"Sorry, sorry for what?" Remus prodded, not wanting to make this too easy for Sirius. They'd been talking about this. He knew that his friend was the boss, but Sirius still needed to work on requesting things instead of ordering and growling to get his way.
"Sorry I yelled, okay?" Sirius answered impatiently, waving a hand in a vaguely off-hand manner. It was probably the best apology he'd managed in a long time.
"Forgiven, Padfoot, and nearly forgotten. Mr. Jennings is ready to pick up his car - he's waiting in the office."
"Good. Just one more bolt to tighten," he concluded, holding up the tool he'd picked out. "Do you wanna go and grab an after-hours drink down the way?"
"Sure thing," Moony managed, smiling as he walked out to deal with the customer. Things were certainly going better than he could have ever thought a year ago. And that -- that was a good thing.
She had been warned. There was no way in hell that she could possibly claim she hadn't been warned. Her father had warned her, her grandfather had warned her, the travel agent even warned her. And still, she insisted on doing this to herself. But if she looked at her options, it really was her only shot at making any kind of life for herself, on her own steam.
She shifted uncomfortably in the seat, trying to see out the window and make herself a little less nauseated. This was only her third time on an airplane and she knew herself - knew that she could get horribly plane sick. She watched the miles of blue and the wisps of cloud and tried desperately to lull herself to sleep. Wendy couldn't even watch the horizon to calm her nerves as if she were on a ship. Whenever there was the slightest bit of turbulence, her hands clawed at the armrests.
The elderly woman next to her, blue-haired because of age, not personal preference, had been knitting with the window shade half down for nearly the entire flight. Wendy was beginning to wonder where the woman got her energy and if she looked hard enough, would she find a battery attached somewhere to those papery thin skinned hands. There was a soft wooden-sounding clicking in a regular pattern that issued from the needles making contact with each other. It had an insistent rhythm to it - forceful and strong - like a heartbeat or even a the begining "1-2-3-4" of a rock song.
Wendy closed her eyes and leaned back into the headrest, praying that she was doing the right thing, flying blindly into the wild blue yonder. She'd never been across the pond before. Granted, her grandfather was an Englishman and her mother had been English too, but that didn't make her an expert by any means. She didn't know what she would do about money. She supposed she'd have to get some kind of work visa, but didn't really know the first thing about that. She'd just bought the one-way ticket and hopped on the plane. It could be one of the downsides of being impulsive - this constant not knowing what was going to happen or what she would do. Maybe she should reconsider that particular personality trait. Or maybe she should just go to sleep. It was near the middle of the night in London, so if she went to sleep now, jet-lag might not come for her too harshly.
She leaned her head off to one side, then off to the other, trying to strike a balance between comfort and waking up with a crick in her neck. She would ball up her jacket and use it as a pillow, but the cabin of the plane was so cold, she'd never get any peace. Wendy wished for the thousandth time that she could listen to some muslc, but she definitely couldn't whip out a record player in flight and she wasn't even sure it'd be worth trying over the howl of the engines. Still, if there was anything that might take her mind off of the rashness that had been the cause of her whole dilemma, it would be The Ramones or The Clash or about a million other bands that she loved to hear.
Her eyes popped open again and she looked surrepticiously at the woman next to her. She'd been surprised that the lady hadn't even batted an eye at her appearence. Normally, her metal studded leather jacket or the streaks of bright purple in her hair drew people's inquisitive gazes. And yet, this little old lady ignored her completely. She was actually kind of impressed. It must take some huge kind of concentration to never stare at anyone strange looking. Maybe the woman was one of the kind who'd seen it all already or she was just didn't care. Perhaps a bit of both. Wendy had certainly noticed that the flight-attendant, whose name was Lucy (though, as far as she could tell the woman was in the sky but had no diamonds), stared when she bought their lunches around.
"Dear," the woman began suddenly. Her accent was Southern, probably from Alabama if she'd had to venture a guess. Wendy didn't know if she was talking to her or not and elected not to answer until the woman opened her mouth again, "Dear, what is it? Did you want to learn to knit or something? 'Cause I might could teach you 'fore we land."
"Um, no, thank you. But you do some very good work," then Wendy abruptly decided that honesty was the very best policy, "Was actually wondering about something." And now she was additionally wondering if the woman would take the proffered bait.
"What's that,dear?" the old woman asked kindly.
"Well," Wendy faltered, unsure of how to word it, "Most people stare at me. Why didn't you?"
The lady seemed lost in thought for a moment, smacking her lips absently, then pursing them. She turned away, looking out the window for a while. Wendy almost reached out to touch her arm, thinking that she had forgotten the question. The woman turned back to her abruptly, and opened her mouth with a click, "You know, I've seen a lot things in my time. I used to live up North when I was younger, in Chicago. That was the Twenties, you know. You might not believe it, but I was rather rebellious then. It used to be shocking in those days to smoke and wear a dress that showed your knees. The way I look at it, your generation has just found a new way to mix it up. Besides," she paused and winked, "I like purple."
Wendy combed a hand through her hair, looking at it a little subconsciously but still secretly loving the streaks in it. "Thank you," she murmured, meaning it for more than the compliment to her appearence.
"You're welcome, dear," the woman's voice came out in the wobbly, somewhat garbled tone of an older person but she suddenly seemed a lot younger to Wendy, or perhaps not quite younger but more alive. She hoped that she would be that alive and even that accepting when she had grown old.
"Ma'am, where are you from? I mean, you said Chicago, but where do you live now?"
"Huntsville," she answered, clipping the last 'e' off of the word. The way she pronounced the town's name, it sounded almost more like Huntsvul. Wendy smiled, she'd been right - the lady had come from Alabama.
"Really? I used to live in down in Mobile."
"What a coincidence! Where do you hail from now?"
Wendy hesistated, wondering if she should name the home that she'd just left or the one that she was going to. "I'm moving to London," she responded, at length. The woman didn't press her any more than that.
"Sounds good - I'm just visiting. My son's a Rhodes Scholar," she proclaimed proudly. She bent over for a moment and grabbed her purse from underneath the seat in front of her. "Want to see a picture?"
"Sure," Wendy assented. She leaned a bit closer as the woman flicked out the picture fold; there were a myriad of pictures of a young man. In one, he wore a royal blue football jersey and was posed with a person who was obviously his coach. And then another, in which the boy was standing in his graduation robes holding a plaque that was obviously his scholarship award. He was tall, handsome and smiling ear to ear.
"You must be very proud of him, ma'am," Wendy said, tapping the nearer picture, showing off her lime green fingernail.
"Well, that I am." The lady smiled, revealing that there was a small pink lipstick stain on one of her front teeth. It was endearing in a way and it actually sort reminded her of someone, but she really couldn't put a finger on whom. It was going to bother her now.
"You know, I bet your parents are proud of you too. You seem like a good girl."
Wendy shrugged a little bit, not really willing to talk about it with this perfect stranger. She turned away from those motherly eyes that seemed to look straight through her, and hoped fervently that the remaining three hours would pass in the next three seconds so she wouldn't have to talk about it - because if she felt that if she'd had to she probably wouldn't be able to make it.
"That's okay,dear," the woman said softly. "You don't have to tell me anything. I just thought you looked like someone with a story to tell."
She thought about that, really considering. And maybe Wendy did have one, a good story. She wasn't entirely sure yet. It was rather like a song that was half-written that she didn't want to share with anyone just yet. But then again, when else was she going to get to lay out the full story? This woman had made it clear that she really wasn't seeking to judge her. And she wasn't seeking to run back to Wendy's father, so what was the point in staying all clamed up about it? Truth be told, she couldn't see one at all. And so she stopped trying to. Wendy took a steadying deep breath, opened her mouth and spilled the entire thing from the very beginning to the very bitter end. And when she was done, she not only felt a great deal better, but she was on the ground in England - saying goodbye to the woman in the seat next to her and absconding into the sunny London morning, marveling about the absolute foriegnness of the world around her and suddenly feeling that she was very far away from Kansas indeed.