The Untold Tale of Wendy Ryan

As Lord Voldemort steadily rises to power and innocent people are dying left and right, Hogwarts begins to feel like less of a safe haven and more of a war zone. The First Wizarding War is in full swing., and while many of the fighters will be noted for many years to come as heroes and saviors, some of the bravest people's stories remain untold.

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3. The Slug Club

"It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness."

-Leo Tolstoy

 

“The match,” Wendy demanded, tearing her mind away from the subject of Sirius. “Did we win?”

Holly and Cadmus exchanged a look, and she said, “Well, they’re not entirely sure. See, James had his hand on the Snitch” - next to her, James mimicked holding the Snitch - “but he dropped it when he saw you fall, and that Ravenclaw wanker picked it up. So James is… imprinted on the Snitch.”

“Imprinted?” Wendy repeated.

“Snitches have flesh memories,” Remus explained. “James was the first person to touch that Snitch, so it remembers him and not the other Seeker.”

“McGonagall’s vouching for us,” Marlene offered.

“Fighting, more like,” Lily said darkly. “I’ve never seen her so flustered. She was going on and on about how it was your broom’s fault… the broom, not you,” she added hastily.

“Yeah, not your fault at all,” Holly reinforced. “We don’t blame you in the slightest.” A chorus off affirmations chorused throughout the room - no, Wendy, it's not your fault.

“You probably should have backed out, though,” Remus said.

James shoved him with his elbow. “You don’t just ‘back out’ of Quidditch, mate.” He was still in his uniform, Wendy noticed. She hadn’t been out for too long.

 

As Wendy would later have it explained to her by Remus and Lily, James’ response to seeing her fall was to drop the Snitch and send a cascade of spells at her. None hit her, but it was hard to miss the multicolored lights soaring around the pitch. Because Quidditch players were not supposed to have their wands drawn during the match, James received two detentions and it was ruled that thanks to his illegal actions, Ravenclaw would earn the short-lived game by an astonishing one hundred and forty points.

Although she was fine for the most part - certainly enough so that she could walk around the castle and socialize - Wendy, on Madam Pomfrey’s insistent demand, was restricted from the Easter feast that night. Normally this served as a time to say goodbye to professors and friends with whom they wouldn’t be spending the upcoming break, but Wendy wasn’t all too disappointed. Lily had promised to skip the feast and spend the time in the hospital wing with her, and the quiet atmosphere seemed much more appealing to Wendy at the time.               

She flounced into the room, slamming the door behind her, and strode briskly over to Wendy, who was sitting up and waiting for her. “Sev and I had a fight,” she announced.

Wendy was tempted to smile or even laugh, but choked it back, instantly feeling sickened with herself. “What happened?”

Lily had been waiting impatiently for her to ask that question. “He called some poor little Hufflepuff girl a - a you-know-what…” she lowered her voice, and began to pace back and forth at the foot of Wendy’s bed. “He calls every Muggleborn person that but me, it’s only cause I’m his friend, you know he’d  be calling me names if I wasn’t hanging around him all the time… his friends are no better, too…”

“I’ve been saying it for years,” said Wendy coolly.

“I know! I - I know,” Lily stammered. She took a deep breath, then carried on. “Then he had to drag James Potter into it… he told me he wasn’t as bad as Potter… he wants me to hate him! James Potter is an arrogant toerag-”

“He has morals!” said Wendy heatedly. “He’d never use that filthy word. None of the Marauders would.”
    “Exactly,” Lily said, missing her friend’s accusatory tone. “And to use someone else’s actions to belittle his own…” She sat down at the foot of the bed, looking immensely exhausted. “I mean, I want to be his friend-”

“Why on earth would you want-”

“...but all that, it has to stop,” Lily finished, ignoring Wendy’s interruption. “You know what else, though…” She softened her voice to a whisper. “He’s obsessed with Remus. You wouldn’t believe. He likes to talk about Remus almost as much as he likes to talk about James Potter, and that’s saying something.”

“What’s his issue with Remus?”

Lily sat down on the bed. “He thinks - oh, I shouldn’t be telling you this - his scars, don’t you ever wonder about his scars?”

“Yeah, he told me he was attacked by a dog as a kid,” Wendy replied tentatively, unsure as to where this was going.

“A dog,” Lily repeated thoughtfully. “And how he gets ill every month? Have you never asked him about that?”

“Of course I have,” Wendy said defensively. “I asked him a couple years ago, he said he had a terminal illness…”

“A terminal - and you didn’t ask what?” Lily spluttered.

“It’s none of my business!”

Lily let out a slow sigh. “Wendy - that’s you’re problem, isn’t it? You didn’t even wonder what -”

“- if he wanted me to know, he could have told me! You’d have me pry into his life…”

She paused. “I mean, when you put it that way… I suppose… but don’t you care?”
    “I care enough to respect his privacy.” Wendy said assertively, knowing that Lily was now seeing her side.

“I… yeah,” Lily said, defeated.

“You’ve been spending too much time with Snivellus,” said Wendy scornfully. “What was his great Lupin theory, anyway?”
    Lily hesitated, then said slowly, “He thinks Remus is a werewolf.”

Wendy dismissed the notion with a wave of her hand. “Snape wants to make out Remus as a horrible monster, which he’s not. If he were a werewolf, where would he transform that he couldn’t hurt someone, anyway? It’s not possible for a werewolf to attend Hogwarts.”

“Try telling that to Severus,” said Lily darkly. “It’s not entirely far-fetched, though-”

“Lily!”

“Sorry.” After a moment of contemplative silence, Lily’s face brightened. “I almost forgot to tell you - I wrote my parents a few days ago - I’m going to stay here for spring break, with you.” She looked directly at Wendy and fixed her with a warm, genuine smile. “I didn’t want you to be alone over break…. It’s the least I could do, considering…” She waved her hand around. “the entire mess with your brother and all…”

Wendy beamed at her. “Thanks, Lily. Really,” she said fondly.

 

Lily was ushered out and to the Gryffindor common room after the feast, leaving Wendy alone with a nasty tonic to drink and a copy of that day’s Daily Prophet to absentmindedly flip through. However, her thoughts (most of which revolved around the ridiculous pettiness of what news the Prophet elected to display) would before too long be penetrated by a very loud “Merlin’s Beard, can’t an injured child get rest anymore without dozens of visitors pounding at the door!” from outside the hospital wing before through the heavy wooden doors emerged Albus Dumbledore, in all his magnificence and exuberance, followed closely by a rather agitated Madam Pomfrey.  

“Ms. Ryan, a pleasure,” Dumbledore greeted cordially, as Madam Pomfrey scurried into her office, muttering indecipherably.

Feeling all of a sudden extremely self-conscious, Wendy shifted into a more erect position on the bed. She could only imagine what the headmaster of a prestigious school would want to speak with her about. Her mind began to race. Had she managed to get herself in trouble? Expelled? Had she broken something? Perhaps she had done something wrong during the Quidditch match - if anything, it’d be the Quidditch match. She swallowed a rush of air, and folded her arms over her lap. Whatever was about to happen, she was determined to stay completely composed the entire time.

Dumbledore took a seat next to her bed and fixed her with a surprisingly warm smile. “I’m glad to see you’re looking well, Wendy,” he said.

“Certainly better than I was a few hours ago, sir.”

“Indeed,” he said vaguely. “I humbly accept partial responsibility for your survival, Wendy.” He held up his wand and looked at it as if to question its very existence. “Aresto Momentum - a handy spell. I expect you’ll be learning it in Charms next year, should you decide to remain in that class. Although,” he carried on, lowering the wand, “one must prudently recognize the wonders achieved by your friend Mr. Potter’s frenzied spellcasting.”

“I’ve found he’s prone to things like that,” Wendy said neutrally, thinking it best to display the outer reaches of her vocabulary whilst the Headmaster was talking to her.

Dumbledore looked thoughtfully at her for a brief moment; his light blue eyes gave the impression that she was being scanned. “That he is,” he replied. “But as you have probably guessed, Wendy, I haven’t come to talk to you about Quidditch or James Potter.” He paused a moment, waiting for an answer, but receiving none. “As it happens, Professor McGonagall was quite impressed by your blatant abandonment of your family’s values, and deemed you worthy of a rather special meeting of the Slug Club-”

“The Slug Club, sir?” she interrupted. “Isn’t that for people with special talents and connections?” Lily was a member of that group, and Wendy loved to tease her for it.

“Who’s to say you don’t have those?” he replied calmly, despite her interjection. He reached into one of the deep pockets of his flowing robes and procured a tightly rolled up scroll adorned with a dark red ribbon. “I’m afraid I must insist that you attend,” he said, handing the invitation to her. “The meeting on this date will be crucial.”

“Why’s that?”

Dumbledore took a moment to peer at her over his half-moon spectacles. “You quite remind me of another student, one who walked these halls some several decades ago.”

She didn’t care who she reminded him of; truly, it didn’t matter. “Sir, why do I have to attend?”

To her surprise, he smiled at her. “I’ve already answered that question.”

“Who is it, then?”

Dumbledore hesitated, then decided, “If I tell you that now, you won’t be so curious to present, will you?”

“I suppose not,” she replied. “I would like to know.”
    “Then I’ll see you there, won’t I?”

Wendy opened her mouth to affirm, then hesitated, realizing she didn’t want to be convinced so easily. She had no issue with going to the meeting, unless it interfered with Quidditch, but surely her persuasion should amount to more than Dumbledore’s hazy analysis of her character. “Who else will be there?”

“Not the Marauders, I’m afraid,” he said, seemingly expectant of this question. “I suspect they’ll be busy on that evening.”

Wendy couldn’t imagine a single reason for all four Marauders to be ‘busy’ on any one specific night other than that they had all gotten themselves in detention somehow. She wouldn’t be at all surprised, despite Remus’ fairly good reputation when it came to detentions, at least in comparison to the other three. Or perhaps it was Dumbledore’s polite way of saying they weren’t wanted at the meeting, but she didn’t want to believe that, and felt terrible for even having the thought.

“Does that make me a permanent Slug Club member?” she asked, this time needing a genuine answer and not stalling for dignity.

“Certainly not, if you don’t wish to be.”

    She carefully maintained eye contact with Dumbledore, for whom it seemed to come effortlessly. There was no good reason to refuse an invitation from the headmaster, she decided, and she definitely didn’t mind at all. “I’ll be there,” she told him.

    “I know.” Dumbledore stood up, fixed her with one of his warm, inviting smiles, and made to walk away, but then changed his mind. “I’m rather surprised that you didn’t ask why your friends couldn’t come.”

    “No offense, sir, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out all the possible reasons for that,” she replied coolly.

    He nodded thoughtfully. “Then if you’ll forgive me, Wendy, for having such a brief conversation with you when you deserve so much more information, I have far too many urgent matters to attend to and not nearly enough time.”

    “Of course, sir.”

 

    Wendy was released back to her common room after almost all of the students of Hogwarts had boarded the train home - quite likely at Dumbledore’s insistence, given Madam Pomfrey’s disgruntled muttering and overall cross attitude as she shortly told Wendy to go back upstairs. After speaking with a rather exhilarated Fat Lady, she climbed through the portrait hole to find Lily sitting in her favorite squishy armchair by the fire, working on what appeared to be a very long, detailed essay. It took for Wendy to slouch in the chair next to hers for Lily to finally be distracted from her work. “Madam Pomfrey let you off?”

    “Not happily,” Wendy replied. “What’s that you’re working on?”

    With a final jab at her parchment and a flourish of her hand, Lily dropped her quill back into the ink bottle and leaned back, surveying her progress. “Foot-and-a-half long essay on the uses of aster in potion-making, don’t you remember?” she said. “Slughorn assigned it just last class.”

    Wendy cursed loudly.

    “Sh, there are people asleep right now,” Lily scolded, though a grin played at the corner of her lips. “You’ve got a week to do it, at any rate. I just finished writing about the combination of aster and Acromantula venom, that’s used in the Replenishing Potion, which of course is very advanced, so I got several paragraphs in on that...”

    As Lily went on, Wendy found herself zoning out of her friend’s words in favor of admiring the way the crackling fire sent shades of red, orange, and shimmery gold through her long hair, how every time she flipped it out of her face it appeared to be another fire altogether, that the warm, comforting light given off flickered in her almond-shaped green eyes.

    Thanks to her father and brother, Wendy had grown up in the Muggle world. She, like every other young Western child, read poetry about the moonlight shimmering in a woman’s hair, stories of love interests who danced in the rain or the forest; she was bombarded with action movies with female characters whose hair was perfectly shiny and curled, tossed just right over her shoulder to look simultaneously windswept and flattering; women in magazine ads who spent hours getting their hair and makeup done then twisted their bodies into unnatural and surely uncomfortable positions; a director’s imaginations of preppy high school girls with long blonde hair and stunningly blue eyes. Yet, in this moment, Wendy found that the girls she had envied for their beauty all her life were missing so much more important things that made a person beautiful: a complex and layered personality that could hardly be contained in a human body, eyes that could see past appearances and straight into the soul, unapologetic acceptance of their inner self regardless of others’ opinions, a good and kind heart, to name only a few.

As Lily carried on about aster in a Draught of Living Death, Wendy silently pledged to never again view beauty as the two-dimensional image that had been impressed upon her since birth.

 

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