Chapter 7 : Anarchy in the U.K.
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A chorus of protests got louder from the living room. And Wendy stood transfixed by the light extending from the object in her friend’s hand.
It took a moment for her to regain the power of speech. When she got it, she calmly asked, “What the hell is going on?”
Anarchy in the UK
Silence greeted Wendy’s question. Several pairs of eyes, each with their own unique mixture of emotions flickering behind them, stared across the room at her and Lily. The latter lowered the stick, and it ceased its glowing.
“We should obliviate her,” said James from somewhere over Wendy’s left shoulder.
“What?” asked Wendy, looking equally parts alarmed and confused. She whirled around looking for a person that would explain this to her.
“No,” intoned Sirius, “Any more of that and we risk permanent damage. She’s forgetful enough without it.”
“Sirius,” Wendy began. She walked closer, very slowly, and never quite turning her back on Lily and the strange wooden object. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“You know we can’t, Padfoot,” Remus muttered, shifting his eyes off into a corner.
“I don’t really see any other choice,” Sirius ground out. His jaw was set hard like a bulldog before a fight.
“But it’s against all our laws,” James argued, tilting his chin up to match Sirius’s stance.
“And yet, we warned her of the danger. She has a right to know what she’s getting herself into, hanging around us.”
“Yeah,” piped in Wendy, “She definitely does. Now, tell me what’s going on.”
“Are we decided, then?” asked Sirius. He looked quickly about the room. No one moved in a negative or affirmative way. He appeared to take this as silent compliance. “Wendy, we have magic.”
Wendy’s face, if possible, twisted into a more advanced grimace of confusion than before. “What?”
“I’m a wizard. Your friend, Lily, is a witch.”
“You can do magic?” She inquired, feeling as though the world had quickened around her and she was just too slow to keep pace with it.
Sirius reached into his jean pocket and withdrew a similar stick, though his was clearly made of darker wood and was slightly more hardy-looking.
“Lumos.” The tip of whatever it was lit up, but the light didn’t seem to have source. It just diffused outward from the wood, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. It was only when Wendy hit the wall with a faint thunk that she realized she’d been slowly backing away.
A feeling of nauseating fear passed through her. She felt trapped, mixed up and confused like an endangered animal captured, given an identification tag and released into the wild. She hardly whispered when she next spoke, “Turn it off.”
Sirius made no sudden movement, and merely said, “Nox.” Wendy still flinched when the small light of the thing was snuffed out.
“I expect you’ll have questions,” said James, from over Sirius’s shoulder. Dazed as she was, Wendy appreciated that James, the reporter, believed that she would ask questions. She could still only nod in reply. It didn’t even seem odd to her that Sirius put his arm over her shoulders to usher her out of the entry way and into the main room of Lily and James’ flat. There was a radio on the table that Peter had turned low for the ensuing drama, but had now pitched in normal hearing range. The announcer mentioned some group called ‘Death Eaters’ and a place that sounded like diagonally because of his accent. Then the reporter said that another attack had taken place at Trafalgar Square. Wendy stopped listening. She figured that she had enough to process without odd snippets of news.
“So. Magic,” she began, congratulating herself on the fact that her voice was clear and strong, “You ‘have’ it, Sirius says? All of you?”
“Yes,” answered James, in a very even keeled tone.
She took a deep steadying breath, decided she still felt unsteady and tried again. She wasn’t sure if what she felt was just shock the emotion or shock the medical condition, but Wendy knew she was damned confused about a great many things.
“Lily, what was so urgent?”
Lily bit her lip, a gesture which Wendy had learned meant she was considering how much information to deliver. She had a tendency to include too much back-story into any answer she gave. “There have been attacks on muggles – non-magical people, like you – all afternoon. I wanted to make sure you were safe.”
“Okay. That answers that.” Wendy sat down on the edge of the sofa. “Why didn’t you tell me before now?”
Remus, who had been listening intently to the radio, turned to look directly at her, “Our world is secret. Muggles throughout history have done terrible things to witches and wizards who have been found out. I am still not certain why we’re telling you this now,” he concluded in a pointed tone, glaring somewhat fiercely at Sirius.
“She has a right to know Remus. What if we all up and disappear tomorrow? It could happen. If she dug too deep in looking for us, what would happen to her?”
“He’s got a point, mate,” James reasoned, taking up a position between the two of them – the most volatile bond among his friends. “We couldn’t have obliviated her again either. She’s got the warning signs of memory damage.”
“Memory damage?! Obliviate?” Wendy asked, first outraged, and then settling on confused.
“Cleaned out your memory with magic,” Sirius explained, “we slipped up a few times in talking with you around – said too much.”
Wendy allowed herself to sink more heavily into the sofa. Sirius took up a protective stance, sitting next to her like a watchdog. She didn’t know whether to push him away or put her head on his shoulder. She settled for leaning closer to soak up all the moral support vibes he was sending her way.
“Too much about these –” she gestured wildly for a moment before her mind found the words. “Muggle attacks?”
“Attacks on Muggles,” Remus corrected, off-handedly.
Wendy put her head in her hands for a moment. Suddenly, there was a big, bear-like hand rubbing small circles on her upper back like a kindergarten teacher. She didn’t have to look to know it was Sirius. She looked up and assessed the room. Peter and Remus had huddled by the radio which was once again turned down low – they spoke in whispers amongst themselves. James stood, looking a little lost in the middle of the room. He hovered between her and his fiancée as if unsure which girl needed more comforting. Lily appeared to have collapsed in the armchair by the window. She was staring out without really looking at anything. Watching the play between a shock that must’ve mirrored her own face and a great depth of worry on Lily’s face, Wendy finally understood those times that Lily had had Remus or Sirius or Peter walk her home. They all knew about a danger she didn’t. A thousand snippets of conversation, a thousand suspicious physics-defying things that only happened when one of this group was around, a thousand Mary Poppins moments came flying back to her all at once. They had been hiding this huge thing from her. All of them. And they’d known all along. She clenched her fists hard to quell her anger.
“Why?” she ground out.
“Why what?” asked Sirius gently, “Why are they attacking Muggles?” He seemed prepared to answer this question.
“Why didn’t you break it? It’s just a law. Not to sound like a second grader, but I’m your friend. I know you did try to keep me safe. But I didn’t even know there was something to be protected from.”
Peter shrugged, “It’s just something you don’t do. What’s it called?—a taboo, that’s it.”
Remus stood up straight and adjusted his sweater, which was unraveling at the bottom hem, “You probably are in more danger now that you know. The Death Eaters hate Muggles, but they might hate more to know that you know about the magical world. Not to mention that we’re all in pretty big trouble with the Ministry.”
Sirius waved him off, “They can’t possibly know about this. They’re too busy trying to fix the damage from the attack. We have some time to come up with a reason why we told her.”
Wendy felt like shouting or storming out or possibly curling up into the smallest ball possible and crying for quite some time. The latter was right out, as she hadn’t really cried since Gramps died and she wasn’t sure that she’d be able to stop. Meanwhile their somewhat petty bickering had broken out again.
She latched on to the last few words of Remus’s sentence in time for “—unless we can find someone to marry her…”
“What?!” Lily had snapped out of her daze and jumped a foot out of her chair. “You can’t ask her to do that! This is our fault!”
Remus shook his head, “Be reasonable, Lily. In which other case have you ever heard of a Muggle being allowed to know about our world? The Ministry clean-up squads won’t care about giving her memory problems.”
Lily started to pace agitatedly, “There must be some other way. It’s not even practical. We’d need someone to marry her within the week.”
“Excuse me,” Wendy piped in, politely, “But I’m not sure of the rules here. Is there a law that says a Muggle must be married to a—erm—witch to know about magic?”
“In your case, a wizard, but yes,” Remus answered, sounding very much the tired professor.
“Is there a limit to this? If I go back to America—?”
“They would track you down and obliviate you there. Wizarding governments around the world have agreements in place about this sort of thing,” Peter answered, matter-of-factly.
“And it’s the only way?” Wendy inquired, shifting her gaze from face to face.
“That I know of,” said James.
“And I,” added Remus.
“Then I have to marry a wizard or risk permanent memory damage.”
“Yes. But you have to know that Muggles aren’t accepted very well in our world. You may be looked down on and given the political climate, you’ll probably be in danger,” Remus pointed out.
“But I’ll remember that I’m in danger. And I’ll be with my friends. And all I have to go through is a marriage of convenience. I’ll take it.”
“It can’t be just of convenience. You have to actually like the person for a magical marriage contract to accept it,” Lily dissented.
“So a marriage of convenience to someone I like who I’ve known for at least a week to stay in a dangerous situation with my friends rather than a dangerous situation without my friends and with an addled memory instead. I’m going for the former still. ”
Lily crossed the room and knelt to look Wendy directly in the eye. “So you’re decided. No doubts? None. Absolutely not?”
“Maybe one as big as a gnat’s eyelashes.”
Lily laughed, remembering a letter from years ago in which Wendy had critiqued the style of hyberbole in the Southern United States. It was a reference only she was meant to understand. But it meant that Wendy was okay. “So we need to find you a groom.”
Remus made an exasperated noise in his throat. It came out strangled and half-formed. “In a week, Lily? I know you think you’re a matchmaker, but in a week?”
“Well, there’s a will. There has to be a way,” Lily responded, her features settling into a determined mien that befitted the challenge.
Sirius, who had been silent since this part of the conversation had begun, cleared his throat. “That might not be necessary, Lily.”
“What?” she questioned, “You have a way she can stay without marrying someone? Why didn’t you speak up before now?”
“Because I don’t have a way to keep her from being forced to marry someone. I just have someone for her to marry.”
“Whom would just suggest?” Remus asked, his voice dripping with poorly disguised disbelief.
“Well, that is,” Sirius seemed to be casting about for the way to say this, “What about me?—If she’ll have me, of course.” There was a slight blush on his cheeks that he couldn’t seem to help.
Wendy felt the weight of five pairs of eyes from all about the room shift to her. Her heart had been pounding right out of her chest like a Saturday morning cartoon since this decision was brought up. Historically, she’d been so bad at making the big decisions. Gramps had always helped her with that. Since he’d passed, she’d jumped on a plane to hop the pond and she’d already agreed to marry someone to stay in the U.K.
Well, she thought, if this all goes to Hell, I want to be around to see it happen and I sure don't ever want to forget.
“Yes. I’ll marry you, Sirius,” she answered, her mouth as dry as the Sahara. She licked her lips. That hadn’t actually been so hard.
There was a very pregnant pause in which everyone seemed to be trying to figure out what to say or even to think about this turn of events. It was interrupted by a siren from the radio.
Peter reached over and turned the volume to full. The siren ended and was replaced by the announcer from before. In a very grim tone, he read out the news updates, “The attack on Trafalgar has left four Muggles dead and seven in critical condition. One of the Death Eaters responsible was captured at the scene. He is currently being questioned by authorities to find out more—This just in, the Ministry Office in Wales has fallen. The Dark Mark has been witnessed above the building. No word on casualties at this time. Anarchy appears to have taken over the streets there.”
“Does someone want to tell me what all of that means?” asked Wendy, she waited a beat, “Or am I pushing my luck?
“Pushing,” James affirmed, “Definitely pushing. Unless your fiancé wants to explain it to you.” His ribbing was enough to make Sirius and Lily crack small smiles.
“I rather think I’ll be doing quite a bit of explaining,” Sirius intoned.
“More about cars than anything else,” Wendy murmured.
“What was that?”
“I said ‘more about cars’. I haven’t the faintest idea how they work. I mean, I’m sure there’s a huge amount I don’t understand about the magical world, but cars are something familiar to explain first.” She whistled low after she finished the sentence. “I did a damn poor job of explaining that, didn’t I?”
“Yeah. We’re going to have to work on that,” James answered, quirking a half-smile.
“That we will,” said Sirius with a nod, giving her shoulders a tight, one armed squeeze. There was something warmer in his eyes though. Wendy wasn’t sure how she had never noticed it before.
A/N: Please drop me a line and let me know what you think. Whether you liked it, loved it or just want to gripe at me for not updating fast enough.
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