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Chapter 7 : So-Called 'Superhero'
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No. I’m after Joanne Rowling the plumber of course I’m after you! Although seriously, tone down your message. It comes off a bit strong.
Mr Ryland poked his head around my door, and I indicated he come in.
“Sir, I’ve just been looking over the reports of the superhero possibly having worked during the week, and I think it’s unlikely, although there is some evidence of it-“ I started, picking up the papers relevant and glancing up at him. He nodded, eyes bright, but he sucked his lips in and twisted his hands together. “But I think- sorry, did you come in for a reason?”
He smiled gratefully. “Yes, I did actually- there’s a press conference in about twenty minutes; would you care to accompany me? You won’t have to speak, I just thought you should how they work.”
I looked down at the spread of work in front of me. “I’ll lock my office, I think. Yes, sir, I will.”
We made our way down to the conference room, and front and centre was Bonnie Lawrence, wearing a brighter blue suit and a green cloak today. In her colours of peacock plumage, she gave me a sweet smile and a wave, and I returned both with a little too much enthusiasm to be taken seriously. Her smile dropped.
Harry was already sat at the table, and Mr Ryland sat next to him. I went to the back and watched carefully.
From the moment we’d walked in, the photographers were taking photos and the journalists were clearly taking notes on their posture and body language.
After a private moment of whispering between the two, Mr Ryland Vanished the third chair and called for the attention of the journalists.
“The Minister would like to apologize for not attending today- he has been called away, but we will go ahead with the meeting.”
I saw several Quick Quotes Quills flicking away at parchment.
Harry was the one to make the statement, reading from a prepared sheet of paper. It didn’t sound like his words. “We have called together the meeting today because of the widespread panic about the so-called ‘superhero’ that patrols the streets at night. There’s a lot of worry that this man is going to expose our way of life to the muggles, and although it is a concern for the ministry, we would like the public to be assured that we are doing everything in our power to arrest him before he can do anything of the sort. We will not allow him to breach the International Statute of Secrecy, which has remained effective since its introduction in 1692, and we will not let this fugitive continue with his vendetta.”
Bonnie Lawrence already looked to be itching to ask questions.
“The ministry is interested in anyone who has information regarding the fugitive, however, and if anyone has something they’d like to tell us, they can. We’re offering a reward of 10,000 Galleons to anyone who has information that leads to an arrest.”
I sucked in a panicked, fast breath.
The journalists’ writing became twice as frantic as soon as the sentence had finished- I saw one wizard in bright blue robes repeatedly mend his quill in his haste to take notes.
“Are there any questions?”
All the journalist’s hands shot into the air.
Mr Ryland nodded to a witch with dark hair. “Yes, Miranda?”
“How can our way of life be safe if you’re being forced to offer a reward that big?”
Mr Ryland didn’t take a moment to begin his answer. “It’s safe because the ministry is going to catch this man. It’s only a matter of time, as we do have several strong leads, but the sooner we do it the better.”
I tried to keep my face neutral.
Harry pointed, with a raised eyebrow, at Bonnie. “Yes?”
“How do you react to rumours that the ministry is secretly harbouring the superhero in an attempt to improve relations with the muggle prime minister after the Campbell incident last year?”
Harry shook his head in disbelief. “My reaction is that the rumours are entirely fabricated, because our relations with the Prime Minister are excellent despite our differences of opinion.”
The journalists’ eyes brightened as they shoved their hands in the air, and some even wiggled their fingers like I had done at Hogwarts when I was proud to know the answer and desperate to show it.
“What differences of opinion?”
“It is the belief of many in the muggle world, the Prime Minister included, that the fugitive is doing a good thing. Whilst we disagree, it has been decided that the Prime Minister will not actively prevent us from taking down the superhero.”
Harry pointed to a young-ish girl, with flamboyant pink hair.
“Sir, do you really believe that the superhero is doing anything wrong?”
Harry was floored for a moment. “Of- of course he is-“
“Because he saved four muggle lives last weekend.”
I reined my incredulous smile in, trying to arrange a more curious expression.
“Well- of course, the Statute of Secrecy is important in protecting the lives of our way of life-“
“The muggles just think he’s a superhero, not a wizard. They’re searching for a muggle, scientific answer, and I believe they’ll find one, even if it’s wrong.”
“-who are you with?” Mr Ryland interjected.
“The Quibbler, sir.”
For an inexplicable reason, Harry smiled, as though vaguely fond of the crazy newspaper.
“Whilst yes, this fugitive is saving muggle lives, it could be argued that the that those lives are nothing compared to the catastrophic consequences it could bring down on the rest of us,” Mr Ryland said, “and if everyone behaved this way, the magical community would be brought down in a day.”
Harry turned to the next journalist. “Yes?”
After the event had been cleared and Bonnie Lawrence had been escorted away- she tried to ask questions when they’d finished- Mr Ryland and I strode down the main Law Enforcement corridor. He put the initial speech and another pile of papers in my hands. “I need you to take these to Jess-“
Mr Ryland turned, and Harry caught up to us in the corridor, passed him a note and talking in a hushed, hurried voice.
“Just got this. Listen, I don’t really want them involved, but there’s not a lot we can do-“
Mr Ryland slumped when he finished reading it. “Dammit,” he muttered.
“-so I suggest for the moment, we lay low.”
Mr Ryland nodded. “You’re right, of course. Rebecca, change of plans- take the papers to the Hit Wizards’ Office, if you please. Tell them they’re the notes on the press conference, and they’re of high importance.”
“Who am I giving it to?”
“Whoever you come to first. Tell them to take them to the head of office, though.”
“I could just take it straight to the head, I really don’t mind-“
“No, don’t do that. Just whoever you find.”
I frowned, but nodded. “Anything else?”
“No, thank you.”
Harry was looking at me through narrow eyes when Keiran appeared at his shoulder. Wordlessly, Harry grabbed the papers from my hands and gave them to Keiran.
“Keiran, take these to the head of the Hit Wizards’ office, please.”
And he disappeared, but not before winking at me. I shuddered.
Mr Ryland quizzically tipped his head to one side at Harry, and I decided to point out the obvious.
“I could have done that...”
He tried to do it quickly, but he threw Mr Ryland a stern look, who promptly dismissed me back to my office, and I had no choice but to go. I glanced back once, and they were talking in quiet voices as a lot of people passed them in the busy corridor.
Jess caught me as I headed towards my desk.
“Here’s a new case- write it up in the report,” she said hurriedly. “And you might have to go to some meetings tomorrow with Mr Ryland, I have a ton of new requests from the Hit Wizards’ office for them and I’m not sure what they involve-“ she said helplessly, gesturing to a small pile of slips on her desk.
I put a hand on her shoulder. “Calm down, Jess. Why do the Hit Wizards want meetings?”
“Because of last night,” she sighed, and threw her hands in the air. “There was a fire, and the superhero put it out- something about how the muggles didn’t even try to detain him, and that indicates none of the muggles are cooperating with our rules and new measures have to be taken. I don’t- urgh, whatever. Can you get that done? And I need to reconfigure everyone’s schedule so keep an eye on yours.”
“I can, and of course.”
I wrote it up- of course, they’d managed to ruin it and put in obnoxious and obviously made-up facts about me, but I wasn’t to complain until I realised they’d messed up what had happened with that girl, too, and how she was as scared and desperate and angry as the rest of us, but in this she sounded like the bad guy- and Cheri knocked on the door as I finished it.
“Hi!” I said, smiling at her. “Was the map okay the other day?”
“Yes,” she nodded quickly, in a breathless version of her French purr. “Thank you, it has helped a lot.”
“Oh, you’re welcome.”
“Listen, I need your help again.” She kept her eyes fixed on me pleadingly.
Although my mind had been closed concerning her- Cheri’s first impression had not been a good one- piece by piece, she was beginning to pry it open again.
“My Ryland has asked that I use the map to search for a pattern of where this ‘superhero’ will be next. I cannot make any connections. Can you help me try and find some?”
I shrugged. “Sure. There might not be any there, and I’ll just clear it with Mr Ryland first, but I’ll try to help you.”
We set off together, with Mr Ryland’s blessing, into her office. It was bigger than mine, but the floor was completely covered in the map. Scattered across the map were red dots, and the information about each one was floating above it, as well as golden floating lines connecting them.
“I have it numbered chronologically,” she sighed as I crouched down and began to examine it, “and that’s what the lines are- but there is nothing! Sometimes this man visited the same place a few times a week if there was a serious crime, but there is nothing to suggest a real pattern.”
I felt bad for her- there really wasn’t any connection, so I confirmed to her there was nothing and unless they encountered another big thing it would be unlikely we’d be able to predict her movements. She seemed relieved that I at least agreed with her, and decided to take her findings to Mr Ryland.
That night, I stumbled back into the flat straight after work. I collapsed onto the sofa, and groaned when I thought about going out again.
I couldn’t face it.
Elizabeth abandoned her work at the table and dived onto my legs, and babbling about how her and Cute Boy met up before class and these two high school kids were having coffee together on a date and he reminisced about a girl he’d asked out in high school via a note in class like ‘will you date me? Circle one: yes or no’ because she was so intimidating and amazing and she said no, and Elizabeth told him that was too bad but it was a very stupid way to ask a girl out. Then he told her to get a table and he’d get the coffee and she thought that was the end of it until he came with the coffee and sugar and stirrers and he’d written the same thing on a napkin with a little loveheart and he had this gorgeous little smile and she thinks she said yes about four times but she’s not really sure because oh my god he looked shocked she’d said yes. And fuck, did she mention he held her hand all the way to class?!
“He has actually turned you into a soppy teenage girl again.”
She shook her head. “I feel like I’m in a romance movie.”
“Has he kissed you in the rain yet?”
“It’s the summer, Becca.”
“...well, no. We haven’t gone on a date.”
“When are you going?”
“His suggestion, not mine!”
I waved her off, smirking knowledgably. I told her to get back to her work, and went into my room to collapse onto the bed.
I dozed on and off, never fully falling asleep, until I heard angry voices just outside my room. Staggering out of bed, I grabbed my wand and nearly yanked the door off its hinges in my panic to get through it.
I froze and straightened up, shoving my wand hastily in my pocket, when I saw my dad at the door.
Elizabeth was trying to get him to leave, and looked disappointed at my arrival. Dad glared at her.
“I thought you said she wasn’t in?” he snapped, then pushed past her and into the flat. I took a few steps back from him.
“I lied,” Elizabeth shrugged, standing taller than her usual slouch, chin defiantly in the air.
“Can you give us a minute?” I asked her quickly. She looked like she wanted to argue, but nodded, grabbing her mobile off the desk and slamming the door behind me.
“Before you say anything,” I hissed, “she doesn’t know about magic, so don’t mention it.”
He stared at the door she had left through. “Really?”
I snorted. “Of course. She’s studying forensic science at university. She’s one of you.”
That accusation hung in the air. He managed to finally look me in the eye, and I tried to stare him down.
“How are you?” he asked.
“I’m fine. Why are you here?”
He rubbed the back of his neck, and looked around. “This is a nice place.”
“Yeah, it is.”
It was scruffy round the edges, like us.
“What did you expect- a virgin sacrifice and voodoo dolls?” I couldn’t contain my anger. His very presence threatened everything I had worked for.
“Dad, it was a joke. What do you want?”
“I want you to come back home, with me.” It was the first time he had spoken with conviction, but his concept of home was very different to mine. He stood taller. “I want you to give up your- lifestyle- and be normal. You’ll only realise you’re wrong when it’s too late.”
“I’ve made my choices, dad, and I’m happy with them. Either accept that or leave.”
He tried to take steps closer to me, but I pointedly maintained the same distance. “Listen, the news has been saying a lot of strange things recently- about a superhero or something- and I know it’s one of your lot.”
“You’re going to get found out. You do know that, don’t you? All of your lot. You’re all going to get found out- if you come with me now, I can protect you. You don’t have to get all mixed up in it-“
“No. Don’t... don’t. Don’t ask me to give up everything because you’re afraid of the world.”
“Your mother-“ he began, resentment twisting his face.
“-is beyond redemption. You know what? So am I.”
Magic was my very being. It was in all corners of my genetics and it touched everything I did. Denying it was akin to denying my humanity.
“Stop interrupting me,” he said calmly. “You were raised better than that.”
“My apologies,” I sarcastically replied, tempted to add a curtsey for good measure.
He snapped. Striding forward and tightly taking hold of me by the shoulders, he wasn’t even vaguely aware of my instinct to catch his nose with the heel of my hand and jab him sharply in the back of the neck with my elbow, breaking his nose and flooring him. I caught myself just in time, squeezing all of my muscles not to, although the strain of it put enormous pressure on my self control, heart beating furiously and hands shaking. “Listen to me-“ he demanded, nails digging into my shoulders, probably enough to bruise “-this stuff you have doesn’t make you special!” I needed him to shut up. “That kid out there is going to put you in danger- haven’t you heard of witchhunts?” I wanted to stab at him; I wanted him to hurt. “Come with me and we can start again-“
He jumped back from me- a current, buzzing with energy and sharp anger- had surged under my skin and zapped him, like he’d been electrocuted. Surprise and fear painted across his face, I took advantage of his lack of concentration and shoved him backwards, turned on my heel and yanked the front door open.
“Get out! I don’t want you near me!”
“Leave or I’m calling the police,” Elizabeth said, behind him in the living room.
“You’re currently trespassing and harassing my friend. I’m pretty sure I could press for stalking too- get out of my flat,” she snarled, taking several threatening steps towards him.
“No, I’m here to help-“
“I can look after myself. I don’t want or need your help,” I said, my fluttering heart beating anxiously.
Elizabeth firmly took control, standing between me and him and slamming the door in his face as fast as humanly possible, yanking me into a hug. She was shaking, but not as much as me. It took a few seconds for me to respond.
I buried my face in her neck and tried to control my breathing.
“Were you listening?” I murmured into her hair.
She held me tighter. “I heard the ‘witchhunts’ line. I’m not even going to ask.”
Pulling back, I smiled at her. She weakly returned it, wiping my tears away. When she turned off her computer, she declared herself officially free for the rest of the night.
After a few hours of laughing together, of pathetic tv shows and doing better than contestants on quiz shows and pretending to understand why anyone would watch reality shows, I excused myself to bed and fell heavily asleep as soon as I settled. If I had checked my laptop before, I might have seen the new, extremely popular post that had been put up and was spreading across the internet like a new virus:
CALLING ALL SUPERFANS - I REPEAT CALLING ALL MOTHERFUCKING SUPERFANS- I HAVE INFORMATION! EMERGENCY! ALERT! READ ME! My cousin lives and works in London, and on his way back from home last night he and his girlfriend were mugged and he couldn’t do anything because the mugger had a knife but then our lovely superhero swept in and saved the day and kicked ass and gave his girlfriend her bag back and spoke to them about calling the police and he told me she’s definitely a girl! Superhero is definitely a Supergirl! I mean, look at this- he took it right before she left [picture]
I knew it. Totally called it. Look at that waist, for god’s sake #mynewgirlcrush
Can we call her Supergirl instead now? *SUPERPARTY*
She needs a better costume though... her shit’s getting serious. Get a stylist, girl!
I think Edna Mode is a little bit fictional to help her right now.
LOL I just realised everyone’s been looking in the wrong half of the population the whole time...
Guys, I think she’s a brunette- I just zoomed in and enhanced and all that crap and [picture]
Ooh, she might be...
ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE WHEN YOU’RE A SUPERGIRL.
I wanna dye my hair now #fuckingblonde will anyone help me?
Lou, I’m on my way! #hairdressersuperhero #totherescue!
My cousin is fine, btw
A/N (It may be slightly obvious I’ve never been to a press conference. Sorry.)
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