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In Time of War

Part of the Crowd

7/20/97 10:24 pm - quinnrivers

Rafe? Why haven't you written?

7/13/97 06:09 pm - rafaelsummers


What an awful day this has been; all I'm really sure of is that none of it is my fault.

I went canoeing with Jessica today. She and I were in one canoe and the muggle maths teacher and his wife were in another; the other couple, they explained, had decided to take the ferry to Ambleside instead. Jessica and I were much faster at paddling than the teacher and his wife, and we soon left them behind, which seemed to suit Jessica quite well.

She explained--I asked--that she was here on holiday with her sister (the teacher's wife), but that until she met me she'd been having the most boring time imaginable because she can't stand anything her sister or her sister's friends like to do.

She seemed unduly angry about it; I don't think I got the whole story, because she tipped over the canoe as we were talking. I think it was on purpose, which makes the mess at least partially her fault. She did it because I had pointed out our cottage, but I wouldn't take her up to meet Mum and Dad. I told her they were still ill, but I had been telling her about the floo problem, except without mentioning the floo because muggles don't have floos, and she didn't believe me. I think she thought I thought she was too common to take home to meet Mum and Dad, which is true if you think about it--muggles are dreadfully common--but not exactly true in the way she thought it was true.

After she tipped over the boat, we were wet, and she said we should go up to the cottage to dry off, which is silly. I thought we could go up past the cottage to the table rock; it would be bright and sunny there and we could climb all the way up where no one really goes, and talk some more while we dried off. She couldn't go to the cottage anyway, because of the anti-muggle charms. So I pretended to agree with her about going to the cottage and we set off.

It would have worked, I'm fairly sure, because she was starting to calm down as we went, and the anti-muggle charms would have kept her from wanting to go to the cottage once we were close enough for them to work. But as we were going past, dad saw me and he runs out and drags Jessica and I in--he brings us past the charms, which ruined everything. He wants me to talk to some woman from the ministry who was doing a follow-up interview about the floo problem. Neither of them pay any attention to Jessica, who is listening like she's not sure whether to laugh or run away. She kept looking at me like she was looking for clues, and I didn't know what to do at all.

Then Dad does a couple of spells and she decides running away is the right thing to do; that gets everyone's attention, and the next thing I know the woman from the ministry is obliviating Jessica and lecturing us about secrecy, and dad's frowning at me as if it was all my fault.

I told him this morning that I was going canoeing with a muggle; he should have realized. Right?

I led Jessica away while she was confused; luckily she didn't recover until we were back at the canoe. I told her she had fainted, and I carried her back to the canoe.

She was touchingly grateful for about five minutes, and it made me feel like a complete cad. She was quite worried about why she might have fainted--exertion? the heat?--and I might not have been as patient as I could have been because I was uncomfortable with the whole situation. I told her she ought to just forget about it, and then we had an amazing argument that could probably be heard on the other side of the lake. When that was done, she paddled off with the canoe and my lunch and my favorite hat.

She can keep it. I'm swearing off muggles for the rest of the summer.


7/12/97 07:35 am - quinnrivers

I was up this morning in time to see the sun rise, but it's so foggy I couldn't tell when it did.

We had our family chat last night like I said. We played exploding snap and Gran told us that it was okay to worry, and that she was going to ask Dad to write every day without fail--you know how he is about writing, normally, but it's different now. She also said that if anything happened she was always here for us, and that we shouldn't hesitate to interrupt if anything happened like the other day when we came to rescue you (and I still say that we did rescue you, even if you didn't even need rescuing). But no more "your Gran of all people" from you, Rafe, she's officially volunteered to take care of everyone.

And we laughed a lot at the cards, and Vi cried a bit, and I told Gran about fifty times that I wanted to do something, and she actually listened. She's come up with something for me to do!

Seems Gran had been talking with enough folk who were worried about their children if something happened, and they all decided that it would be good if someone taught the children defense. Charms, and when to run away, and that sort of thing. They got M. Durand, who used to be an auror, to agree to the teaching, but he's also the one who repairs the boats and he has an orchard that requires a lot of work to keep up, so he insisted on an assistant to do the actual work.

So now I'm assistant in charge of French summer school. Never thought you'd hear that, did you Rafe?

M. Durand is a nice old bloke-- I've met him a couple of times. You'd never guess he'd been an auror, he doesn't look like it at all. The children all seem very well behaved-- I hardly notice them in the village.

This is going to be great!

7/10/97 11:47 am - rafaelsummers

Incidentally, I've been thinking about what you said about muggles, especially yesterday, since I went to see the poet's house with those muggles I told you about before. Actually, with Jessica; the others left us to ourselves so much that I do think it might have been a sort of date.

I think you might be forgetting: this is war. No one deserves war. You have to admit that it would be worse for the muggles if You-Know-Who won; if we could involve them, it would be in their best interests. So I really don't see why you seem to think it's such a terrible thing to consider.

As it is, they don't even know anything's going on. I had to keep remembering not to say anything to Jessica, and explaining my distraction to her as worry over my parents who are still ill. She said if they're not better soon I ought to get a doctor because it didn't sound like any floo she had ever heard of. I couldn't quite figure that one out, so I told her that I had already had two doctors, which impressed her.

Involving the muggles is really an academic question in any case, because I can't see the ministry doing it to get them on our side--it's much to radical a strategy--and I can't see that there's much they could do if You-Know-Who and the Death Eaters decided to go after muggles. There are far too many of them for us to protect. But from what has happened so far, the Death Eaters aren't going to do that, so it'll stay a wizarding conflict until someone wins.

I'm going out now; the noises from the fireplace have gotten worse, and I keep thinking about those herbs that are still in the cellar. What if someone wants them? I'd rather not be here if someone manages to break through the block on the Floo. I've sent an owl to Mum and Dad, but they were going to be traveling today, so who knows when it will get to them.

7/10/97 11:06 am - rafaelsummers

Quinn? Are you there?

This is pointless.

I wish I had made these so that we could talk instead of only being able to write. I wonder if it could be done? I could have tried a variation on the wireless charm, perhaps, except that there'd be no way of making that private, and that would defeat the point. I can't do the wireless charm in any case, it's much too complicated. Your Gran would probably know.

Actually, speaking of your Gran, if you see this any time soon could you ask her if she knows any simple charms for blocking the Floo? Ours here is supposed to be blocked, of course--Mum did it last fall when they moved up from London--but it's been making noises and I'd like to make sure.

7/8/97 10:55 am - quinnrivers

Gran has one of her sources in, they're sitting in the kitchen-- they're chatting, but it's not the usual chatting about charms. It's all about the situation at home. I know enough French to know what they're talking about, but I can't tell what they're saying.

Vi's out with Émilie, playing, but Cécile told me yesterday she would be working with her mother today, so I'm a bit at loose ends at the moment without ma belle professeure. I'll go out in a while, down to the docks to watch the ferry come in, and the fishermen if they're there, and then to the market.

Yesterday was nice, all sun and fun and laughing. We caught loads of fish thanks to Cécile, the rest of us didn't know what we were doing, but we did it with all the will in the world. We saw a giant herd of hippocampi, and Cécile got one of them to tow us half way back before it got away.

I forgot about everything all day, but then we came back and there was this news about more people disappearing. I've been thinking about that, and I can't make it out. What are they trying to do, these Death Eaters? Do they have some plan that all these things are contributing to, or are they just trying to scare everyone? I wish we knew something.

Gran says the French are talking about either sending help or setting up barriers to keep British wizards out of France. Or both. They don't want Death Eaters-- I mean, they have Death Eaters, or at least there's been demonstrations in Paris about pureblood superiority and that sort of thing, but they can take care of that as long as there's no real leader. They don't want You-Know-Who's direct influence in France.

7/7/97 07:32 pm - rafaelsummers

You owe me 4 sickles. The muggle girl didn't get upset; in fact, we're going to meet again on Wednesday and go to a place called Rydal Mount. I'm not exactly sure what it is--she explained, but I was too busy figuring out what to say to her to listen to her very much, but she did say something about gardens and poetry, and I'm sure I'll like it.

It happened like this. Mum and Dad were here all morning, with a shipment of rare herbs that was supposed to go to Scotland yesterday but couldn't because of the restrictions. In such quantities, the herbs require constant attention to keep strange things from happening, so I was taking care of that while Mum wrote letters and Dad tried to get through to the ministry by Floo.

They got permission to ship the most volatile of them this afternoon, and that stabilized things enough that I could leave the rest in the cellar while I went for a walk, so long as I left a warn spell active and didn't go too far. I went up to the table rock, you know the one, near the top of the hill.

There was a group of muggles there having a picnic--it seems you can't go anywhere without tripping over muggles. I was going to go away again when I noticed that one of the muggles was a girl about our age and quite pretty, and then one of the other muggles noticed me. It was the muggle from the pub, and it was obviously his family because they were all arguing the way families do. They shut up when the muggle invited me to join them, which was probably the idea; I was hungry, and the picnic looked good, so I did.

There were five of them--two older couples and the girl, Jessica, who didn't seem to belong with either couple that I could tell. She seemed bored, and I couldn't figure out how to get to talk to her specifically with all the others around, but I kept watching her and I think she noticed but she didn't seem to mind.

The muggle started talking about Eisenstein and mathematics again, but everyone else made him shut up and we talked about boating and the weather instead. They asked what I was doing, and I told them I was on holiday because clearly they were and it seemed easiest. They asked me if I had done anything fun in the area, so I explained that my parents were sick and so I hadn't gotten to do much of anything.

That's when the girl invited me to go to Rydal Mount with them. The others didn't seem too happy with that, actually, but she was suddenly very insistent and not indifferent at all and they didn't have a chance of deterring her, especially since I wanted to go.

We talked about the area and things to do on holiday a bit more, but pretty soon I had to leave because the warning spell was warning me about the herbs--I told them I had to go give my parents a healing potion, which made Jessica giggle. Don't muggles have potions? I was sure they did. I've seen them in bottles in the muggle shops.

7/6/97 08:54 pm - quinnrivers

Hope you had a good day today, Rafe. I did.

Not that there was anything special about today, it was just nice. Vi's found a friend to build sandcastles with, and her sister is teaching me French, and the sun is warm and the sea is unchanging and tomorrow we're all going fishing on Cécile's father's boat. Cécile's Vi's friend's sister, if you couldn't tell. Vi's friend is called Émilie.

We're to look for Hippocampi on the way back from fishing, Cecile says she knows a place where you can sometimes see a herd browsing on seaweed near the surface.

Oh, and the wireless works. I got the Quidditch scores, and I hadn't even realized I cared until I got the scores and could relax about it.

7/4/97 10:35 pm - rafaelsummers

I forgot to ask--did the wireless work?

7/4/97 03:08 pm - rafaelsummers

About that bloke in the pub, it was a couple of weeks ago, just after we moved up here from London. I was down at the village looking for something to do and I had some muggle money with me, so I ducked into the pub for a ginger ale and to see if anyone was playing darts. There were some summer people by the bar, and this bloke playing darts by himself.

He was muggle, obviously, and didn't look very interesting. Have you ever noticed how they all look the same? Dull and bland?

I asked him if he wanted to play, and we did, and I won. He was drunk, just enough to put him off his game. He bought me a drink and he asked me about school so I told him I had left school, because I tried talking about charms with a muggle last summer when we were here on holiday and she slapped me. I still haven't figured out precisely why, except I had forgotten that she wouldn't know anything about charms, but that hardly seems sufficient provocation. She could have just said.

So this time I figured I would avoid the subject.

Unfortunately, it turned out he was a school teacher, and he had to give me a long lecture on the benefits of education, most of which was complete and utter rot because I don't need NEWTs to work in the family business and I already have OWLs. Of course I'd never leave school before NEWTs, but I got to arguing with him and the next thing I know he's telling me about the beauty of mathematics, which seems to be a muggle version of arithmancy.

I felt sorry for him, because I pretty much agreed with him even though I couldn't tell him, so I showed him the calculation I did about making wands, only I pretended it was a calculation having to do with astronomy, because he was just a muggle and wouldn't know any better, and even muggles can see the stars.

I made up a very logical rationale equating the length of a wand with the distance between stars, and in fact when I have time I'm going to work it out further because I think there might actually be an equivalence that might help in choosing a wand that suits a person. He got very excited, and wrote down a very simple equation, E = me2.

I told him it didn't look very interesting, and that my equation was much more complicated, and he asked me if I recognized it, and I said no. He became very upset, and gave me a very earnest lecture on things every schoolboy should know, using the blackboard where they usually write the specials at the pub (we had been writing on napkins before). Apparently, it is very important to muggles that every schoolboy understand that light travels very quickly but has finite speed, and nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

It ended when one of the pub workers came over to rewrite the specials, and they started complaining about kids these days who had never heard of a man I had never heard of, and I slipped away.
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