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Chapter 12 : twelve
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“I’m aware of that, Lil.” I stared into my own tea cup, wondering whether it could have given me some advice on what to do, had I studied Divination. “So, what can I do?”
“There’s only one thing to do,” she said quietly. “You know that. Deep down, I think you know that all you can do is have her Obliviated.”
This was one of the reasons why I’d wanted to go to Lily in the first place. Unlike Brigid and Rose, she didn’t get angry often. She was more likely to respond with disappointment and while that made me feel incredibly awkward, I tended to respond to anger by getting angry myself, which never helped.
The other reason I’d needed to talk to Lily was that she was the only person who truly knew what I was going through.
“What’s it like?” I asked gently. “Having someone Obliviated?”
Her face fell. It wasn’t something she liked talking about. In fact, she’d barely talked to anyone about it; the only family members she’d confided in were Mum, Hugo and Teddy.
“Horrible,” she said dully. “I mean, it’s not as though removing someone’s memories is an easy thing to do at the best of times. I couldn’t be there when they did it. I didn’t want to watch it.” She paused, but I remained silent, not wanting to interrupt her. “I still see him around sometimes. He smiles, and waves, sometimes he says hello. But I can’t bring myself to respond. Why should I? For those few hours when he knew the truth about who I was, he loathed me. I can still remember that look he gave me as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. Like I was the scum on the bottom of his shoe. But, of course, he doesn’t remember a thing. That’s the hardest bit. Not the actual act of taking away his memories, but knowing what he would really think of me, if he still knew. Knowing that I probably look like the bad person, by not wanting to have anything to do with him, when the reality is so different. Knowing that he has no idea what he did...” She paused a second time. “It’s not so bad now. It’s been three years, it gets easier to deal with. Those first few months afterwards were awful though.”
For a moment, I didn’t know what to say.
“I never realised it was that bad for you...”
“I didn’t want to burden you. You, or anyone else. I mean, you had your own worries. You were doing your N.E.W.Ts at the time and looking into Quidditch teams to join. I had Maddie and Kit to help me through in the end.”
“But then, if it’s that bad, should I-”
“You don’t have a choice,” she said firmly.
I frowned, and swigged my lukewarm tea.
“Maybe it would just be easier if the Statute didn’t exist?”
“That would never work,” she said flatly. “For every Muggle who can just accept the wizarding world, there are a hundred who need a month or so to adjust to it, and a thousand who just can’t accept it. That’s why the Statute exists in the first place and why we have the Obliviators and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee. The very idea of magic is so impossible to them that it scares them, and that fear leads to loathing, and that’s when our existence is threatened. The Statute is for our self-preservation; it has to exist, or we won’t survive.”
I knew all this already, of course; I had studied Muggle Studies up to N.E.W.T level, and Muggle attitudes to the wizarding world were on the curriculum. But Lily was far more of an expert on wizarding/Muggle relations than anybody else I knew, and so I let her talk.
“And yet, there are more wizard/Muggle relationships now than ever before...” I mused.
“Well, yes, but the general rule with that kind of thing is to not let the Muggle know until it’s really serious; that way there’s more chance of them accepting it, and less chance that they’ll just leave without a trace. There are still countless instances when the Muggle isn’t accepting, unfortunately. But yes, there are more Muggles who know about us than there have ever been before. But then, that’s the way it has to be if we’re to stop ourselves dying out.”
“But you think Carlotta needs to be Obliviated?”
“Well, for a start, it was hardly serious between you two, was it?”
I shook my head.
“She was a nice girl, much better than the last few, and I reckon I could have stuck with her for a while ... but you know me, I’m not looking for commitment right now.”
“Still saving yourself for me?”
Maddie and Kit joined us at the table we were sitting at, in the corner of the quiet tea shop which they and Lily often frequented at the weekends.
“Of course, Mads,” I said fondly and ruffled her hair. “You alright?”
“Marvellous. How’re you holding up now your Spanish lover has left you?”
“You know me, I’ll soldier on.”
“You having her memory wiped?”
“We were just discussing that before you ever so rudely interrupted,” Lily said delicately. “In my opinion, if her initial reaction was one of fear, then there’s little hope of her adjusting to it. Like I said earlier, if she did then she’d be in the minority.” She glanced slightly at Kit as she spoke. “And besides, even if she did come round to it, then what would you do? It’s not as though you and her were going to last. You’ll probably never see her again now, and so it’s dangerous to leave her knowing about us.”
“Although very few Muggles would run off and tell their friends about the wizarding world, in fairness, for fear of looking like a complete nutter,” Maddie chipped in.
“But some might,” Kit said quietly. “It’s not worth the risk.”
Lily nodded, and I knew she was thinking of the Muggle she’d had Obliviated.
“Obliviation it is, then,” Maddie said softly.
I sighed heavily.
“I don’t want to do it.”
“Neither did I. I didn’t have a choice, and neither do you. If you don’t have her Obliviated, and it gets out that she knows, then the consequences could be catastrophic. She found out three days ago, she could already have told people. She might yet do so. Yes, she’s a nice girl, and yes, it’s a horrible thing having to wipe someone’s memory, but you have no choice. And I know you’ve heard this from Brie, and I know you don’t want to hear it, but you have to. I’m sorry, Jim, but you have to.”
I didn’t respond.
“I need a cuppa. You having one, Kit?” Maddie got to her feet, giving him a questioning look.
“Coffee, please. God knows I need one after traipsing round the shops with you all morning.”
“I was going to buy you a drink, Christopher, but after that you can cough up for mine. Come on, hand it over.” She held a hand out, across the table. Kit pulled a face, but dug into his pocket for some change.
“You two want anything?” Maddie asked Lily and me.
“What, I’m buying the whole bloody round now, am I?” Kit rolled his eyes and dropped a fistful of coins into Maddie’s hand. “Go on then, drinks on me, if I must.”
Lily and I both opted for a refill, and Maddie headed to the counter.
“How’s training going?” Kit asked me.
“Okay. Same old, I guess. We just want to get out there and play now, you know? I mean, we’ve been in pre-season for nearly five weeks now, and there’s only so much you can do without feedback from the games.”
“No worries of a hangover from last season?”
“No, I don’t think so. We won the season before last, and that didn’t affect us last season.”
“You guys have to make sure you don’t get too confident though. You’re only as good as your last game, remember,” Lily chipped in.
“You had a change of career path? Going for sports psychology now?” I jeered light-heartedly.
“Whatever you do,” Kit said warningly, “don’t utter those words in the earshot of Madeleine.”
“She’s been reading all these books,” she said darkly. “She’s like a woman possessed! I swear, we get a different mantra every day! Not even Kit escapes from it. If she ever asks to come to an open practice, for God’s sake don’t let her.”
“Sounds like she’d get on well with Sinead,” I said. The prospect of two of them wasn’t an appealing one.
“When does the season restart, then?” Kit asked hurriedly, as Maddie reappeared with a tray of steaming drinks.
“Two and a half weeks,” I said promptly, taking my tea.
“How the hell do you know that? You barely remember when family birthdays are, let alone your fixtures!” Lily said incredulously.
“Brie told me yesterday. And the day before. And the day before. And ... well, you get the point. You tend to remember something when it’s drummed into you that rigorously.”
“Okay, then, here’s a test for you. Who are you playing?”
“Tough fixture first up.”
“Yeah, but it’s at home. Means we avoid playing at their place this year, with how the season’s been chopped. We have to go to Portree and Kenmare later in the season though, they’ll be difficult; the Pride and the Kestrels were both shit hot last year.”
“Nasty,” Lily agreed. “What about the Bats?”
“Home. Last game of the season.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Potential title decider, that one. What a game to draw at home! You have to get us tickets, Jimmy, that’ll be a cracker.”
“So long as it’s not in the literal sense.” I really did not like the Lynch brothers’ bats.
“Get the Bagmans to take them out in the first minute and the game’s yours. Where’s the Cannons match?”
“Chudley. So that’s as good as another home game, they’re terrible.”
“You shouldn’t be too cocky about it, or you’ll trip up,” Maddie said warningly. “A team is only as good as its last game, you know.”
Lily and Kit both suppressed groans.
“Nice bit of sports psychology there, Mads,” I said innocently. “You been reading up?”
Lily kicked me in the shin.
“Just been doing a bit of extra studying on it all,” Maddie was oblivious to Lily and Kit’s anguish. “I figured you can never be too clued up on how the mind works, you know? Thought it might help us a bit. And I think it’s working, right, Lil?”
Lily nodded slightly over-enthusiastically.
“The biggest thing that they emphasise is that one of the keys to being successful as a team is to be exactly that – a team. I know it’s fairly self-explanatory, and you hear it all the time, but it’s so true. You can’t have a player thinking they’re bigger than the team-”
“In that case, why is Rosalind still on the team?” Lily grumbled. “If ever there was a person who had an inflated opinion of her self-worth, it would be her.”
“I know, but the only reason she’s not our highest scorer this season is because she’s been out with injury. She is good, you know,” Maddie said begrudgingly.
“Only cause she hogs the ball,” Lily moaned. “Okay, she’s good, but she bloody knows it.”
“Well, that’s what I’m trying to quash.”
“And were the porridge oats meant to help that?” Kit asked with a grin.
“No, she was just doing my bloody head in,” Maddie scowled.
“I tried telling her that porridge was good for your hair. You know, diffusing the situation and all that, like I do. I’m not sure she believed it.” Lily shrugged. “What more can you do, eh?”
“So who is your highest scorer this season?” I chipped in.
“Lil, of course, by a country mile.” Maddie swirled her tea with her finger.
“Not by that many,” Lily rolled her eyes. “You’re exaggerating again-”
“She’s scored eight more than Gracie and twelve more than Rosalind. Don’t listen to her false modesty, Jimmy.” Maddie shook her head in fake disapproval.
“That’s what I like to hear. Tearing up the league, following in your big brother’s footsteps,” I grinned.
“Now who’s bigheaded?” Lily said dryly to Maddie. “Honestly, James, sometimes I wonder how you all fit in your changing rooms, what with all the egos.”
“We all bounce off each other, it’s fine,” I smirked. “Feed off each other’s confidence and all that.”
“I wouldn’t let yourselves get too confident if I were you,” Maddie said warningly. “Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link-”
She was cut off as Kit stood up, reached over the table and stuffed a napkin into her mouth, despite her squealing protestations.
Lily looked at Kit, crestfallen.
“I wanted to do that.”
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