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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2. Quidditch

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no lack of enthusiasm."

-Winston Churchill

 

Wendy received a barrage of letters over the course of the next two weeks. The first, which arrived a day after she turned her back on Graham, was a Howler from her mother. After opening it, she simply walked out of the Great Hall, leaving it to screech about “You-Know-Who’s army!” and “the Death Eaters playing hot potato with your limp body” to the rest of the Gryffindor table. The next day, three letters were dropped onto her breakfast, one each from her parents and her brother. This time they chose to plead with her, talking about how they missed her and loved her and wanted her home. She discarded these before the Marauders, or worse, Snape, could get their hands on them. After that, her family showered her with compliments. Of course, James and Sirius found this hilarious.

‘My strong-willed little girl’ - nah, I’d say she’s a bit of a tosser, don’t you think, Padfoot?” James prodded, going through the letter from her mother.

“Indubitably,” Sirius replied.

But, as Lily and Remus constantly reminded her, the Marauders were very glad she’d chosen to stay. “The Quidditch team needs you,” Remus commented, and James conceded.

The Gryffindor team would be playing Ravenclaw the last day of school before spring break, and they needed this victory to make up for their embarrassing loss to Hufflepuff a few months ago. “If we lose this game,” their captain and one of the Beaters, Holly Purnell, constantly reminded them, “we have to beat Slytherin by more than our previous two deficits combined - and that’s if Ravenclaw loses to Hufflepuff.”

Everyone liked Holly, but she was extremely intense, a trait which intensified as they drew nearer and nearer to game day. She made them practice every night - “If I cared about homework, I might be upset about that,” James had said - and twice a day for two hours on the weekends. Wendy found herself feeling constantly sore and fatigued, unable to sit still in class but unwilling to walk up the moving staircases every day. “You have great calves, though,” Lily pointed out as Wendy was complaining about the stairs one day, earning herself a sharp, amused exhale and an eye roll. Wendy's broomstick, a slightly outdated Comet, began to give off the impression of a wheezy, panting dog. Somehow, she’d have to get herself a new broom, before this one fell apart completely.

The Comet would do for now, though, as the date approached far too quickly. The team held steady, but a tension could be felt during every practice. “That’s the advantage we have, isn’t it?” Cadmus McLeod, a seventh year Chaser, observed in the changing room after a practice. “Us Gryffindors, we’re tight. We don’t let nerves get the better of us, do we, Holly? That’s why we’re in Gryffindor.”

    James, who had played as a Chaser up until fourth year when their Seeker graduated, seemed to forget that Wendy had played for nearly as long as he had. “Have you tried a Porskoff Ploy? I bet you and Cadmus could do a Porskoff Ploy,” he offered as they walked back up from the castle after the last practice before the game. He began to mimic his interpretation of the move to a disinterested Wendy, who had taken to simply letting her mind wander whenever James talked Quidditch with her.

    But by the time the twenty-eighth of March rolled around, she would gladly take advice from anybody. Her insides lurched as she entered the Great Hall and saw the entire Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables decked out in red and gold scarves, hats, and what appeared to be whistles. Wendy hated when the spectators blew whistles; her first ever match, she had fallen off her broom from being startled so bad. They weren’t ordinary whistles: When blown into, they gave off a noise obviously intended to resemble a lion’s roar.

    A red-and-gold clad Lily raced up to Wendy upon her arrival in the Hall. “Come on, Marlene’s saved you a seat.”

Marlene McKinnon, a very pretty fifth year who played Keeper for the Gryffindor team, was fairly close with Wendy and Lily, though she elected to spend more of her time with a certain group of Hufflepuff students. “You ready for this?” she asked as Wendy took the seat next to her.

“I think so,” Wendy lied. With her joints aching and her shins bruised from yesterday’s practice, she had never been less prepared for a Quidditch match.

At that moment, a uniformed Holly and her younger brother Quentin, who served as the second Beater, stood up and began shouting something indecipherable. It was only a few seconds before the nearby Gryffindors picked it up, and within the space of half a minute the entire table boomed with the deafening war-like chant.

Wendy grabbed for Marlene’s and Lily’s arms and made for the door.

 

Wendy’s Comet let off a squeaky humming noise that was hardly to be heard as the Gryffindor team lined up in the middle of the stadium, awaiting Ravenclaw’s arrival.

Though the sky was hidden behind a thin layer of flat grey clouds, the sun provided enough light for the players to see clearly. A few raindrops were to be felt here and there, but Holly didn’t look concerned, and so neither was Wendy.

“I could have hoped for better weather,” she, Holly, said to her team, “but we’ve definitely played in worse.”

At that moment, the Ravenclaw team marched onto the stadium, looking high and mighty in their royal blue uniform. Holly exchanged a rigid handshake with their bulky captain. Nearby, Wendy heard Toby Dunwich, the third and youngest Gryffindor chaser, give a derisive sniff.

Madam Hooch, positioned in between the two teams with her ball crate, Silver Arrow, and whistle at the ready, yelled, “I want a nice, fair game... from all of you.” Her eyes darted between James, Quentin, and a girl from Ravenclaw whose name Wendy didn’t know.

Hooch looked up to Dumbledore, who gave her a thumbs-up, then turned her attention back to the enchanted balls. She reached for the strappings on the Quaffle and reached her whistle up to her mouth. “Ready… and…” With a sharp, piercing blast of her whistle, the players took off.

Barely had Wendy’s broom shot off the ground did she realize something had gone horribly wrong. The soft humming of her Comet, which she had subconsciously blocked out, intensified, and it began to swerve as if with a gust of wind. But she couldn’t let her broom ruin the game for her. She urged the struggling broom forward to catch up with the other Chasers.

“McLeod with the ball, passes it down to Dunwich. Dunwich speeding down the court, dodges Smethley, and here’s McManus, McManus flying toward Dunwich, will he… mm, that’s a hit there.” Zadoc Portchester, the unbiased and reliable Hufflepuff commentator, could be heard above the roar of the crowd. “The Quaffle’s falling, Ravenclaw Green and Gryffindor McLeod racing for the Quaffle, McLeod’s got it! McLeod with the Quaffle and… where is their third Chaser? Oh, never mind, there she is. It’s Ryan with the Quaffle, and… what is she doing?”

To her horror, Wendy felt her broom jerk underneath her, swerving to her left. Fighting to regain her posture and nearly dropping the Quaffle, she saw out of the corner of her eye a Bludger speeding toward her. There was no way she could dodge it, not on that broom…

She heard Cadmus McLeod yelling from below her. She only had one option. She let go of her broom with all but her left hand, letting the Quaffle plunge down towards her teammate and the Bludger zoom over her broom.

“I don’t believe it! A brilliantly executed Porskoff Ploy by Ryan and McLeod! I’ve never seen anything like that!” Portchester yelled into the microphone. “Now it’s McLeod with possession, passes it to Dunwich, a quick pass back to McLeod - did you see that collision, Sam Smethley slams into Toby Dunwich just as he releases the Quaffle - McLeod speeding for the hoops - HE’S DONE IT! TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR!”
    Wendy had gotten lucky - she knew it, and so did her team. Having swung back onto her broom, she glanced at Marlene, who looked bored in front of the Gryffindor hoops. Marlene shot her a grin and a nod before turning her attention back to the pitch. Wendy followed suite, trying her best to ignore the sharp crescendo of the Comet’s noise. “Just make it through the game, alright?” she whispered to it.

Ravenclaw’s boulder of a Keeper tossed the ball to Delilah Green, and the game continued. “Now Green’s got the Quaffle, she passes it to Smethley, Smethley dodging McLeod, passes it to - no - it’s intercepted by Ryan, now - Potter’s seen something!

James, who had been slowly circling the pitch from high above, now dove towards the opposite corner of the stadium. Good for him. Wendy turned her attention back to the game. There was McManus, looking for an intercept. Portchester’s narrative fell into the back of her mind.  She felt her broom lose altitude, not of her accord, and so chucked the Quaffle at Dunwich, who caught it by his fingertips and shot it right back at her… She looked around the pitch for McLeod, because she couldn’t advance to the hoops with her broom moving downward this way…

“WATCH OUT!” Zadoc’s scream pierced Wendy’s ears, knocking her out of her zoned-in trance.

The warning, though not intended for James, caused him to start and look around frantically, and by the time he turned his attention back to the Snitch, it had disappeared.

Portchester’s scream had been directed at Wendy, who, snapping her head up, caught sight of a Bludger on a collision course with her head… there was no escaping it this time…

    Seemingly out of nowhere, a thick wooden club appeared in front of Wendy’s face and sent the Bludger careening away with a dull thud. Gripping her club between her legs, Holly crossed her arms to form a T, calling a timeout, and the team collectively landed back on the earth.

    “Wendy, what is up with you today?” she said instantly after the last person had dismounted their broom. “Why are you flying down, why are you swerving, why - oh,” she said as Wendy held up her broom.

“It’s old,” Wendy told her, stroking the Comet up and down with light fingers. “It was my mum’s before it was mine. Seems to be falling apart, and I don’t know how to repair it. But it’s okay,” she added hurriedly, “I can make it through the game. I’ll… improvise.”

“Right. Quentin, I want you to stay near Wendy at all times, got it?” Holly ordered. “No way she’ll be able to dodge any Bludgers with that broom of hers… good job with the first one, by the way.” Wendy shrugged. “Now, James,” she continued, rounding on the Seeker, “I need you to get in the zone. No distractions. Remember, when the Seeker goes for the Snitch, one of the Beaters follows him. I don’t want you to think about anything but that Snitch, got it?”

Quidditch was perhaps the only thing James Potter took completely seriously. He nodded, his face set with determination.

“Right,” said Holly. “Ah… Cadmus. Good job, I like what I’m seeing. Marlene, pay attention, even if the Quaffle’s on the other side of the stadium. Toby…” But she was cut off by another shrill blast of Madam Hooch’s whistle, signifying that their two minutes was up.  

Wendy took back into the air with a doubled resolve to play through the broom malfunction. She looked over to Quentin, who gave her half a nervous smile, then shot toward the Quaffle.

She couldn’t believe it: the broom was moving faster than it ever had before - surely, twice as much so. With lifted spirits, she made for the leather ball as it soared through the air, having been released by Madam Hooch. But the moment was over as suddenly as it began, for in the space of a  split second the Comet decelerated to the speed of an old dog, pitching Wendy forward and nearly off the end of the broom.  Her hair was blown into her face as McLeod and Dunwich bolted past her in pursuit of the ball. Wendy pressed her broom farther, and finally regained control, letting out a delighted yelp as it surged forward; though her command over the Comet may not last long, she’d take full advantage of it while it did.

“Here’s Dunwich with the Quaffle, flying under Green.” Zadoc’s enthusiastic commentary kept the crowd boisterous and rowdy. “He lobs the ball to McLeod, quick pass from McLeod to Ryan, she drops it down to Dunwich, he’s juking Smethley - Great Scot, and this boy’s only thirteen - Green approaching from behind, he passes it to Ryan” - Wendy could feel her Comet losing steam as she flew, and so tossed a sloppy pass to McLeod - “Ryan attempts to McLeod, intercepted by McManus, I’m McThrilled by this match… Sorry, Professor… McManus to Smethley, are those sparks coming out of her broom? Smethley back to McManus…”

Sparks were, indeed, being projected from Wendy’s broom, but as it wasn’t slow or failing to turn properly, she chose to ignore it.

“McManus approaching the goal hoops, Keeper Marlene McKinnon at the ready, he throws for the left hoop… SHE SAVES IT! That’s how you know your girl’s a Keeper… Sorry, Professor… McLeod with the Quaffle, now Ryan’s flying high above him, I’m still concerned for the sake of her broom. McLeod hurls it up to Ryan, an impressive throw from an impressive player, now she’s high above the other Chasers…”

Dropping the ball to Dunwich, Wendy was reminded of the time she was a child, before she attended Hogwarts, when her Muggle primary school bus broke down. Bit by bit, all the pieces of machinery stopped their fizzing and whirring, and the bus began to bump and decelerate, as if driving up a rocky mountain, before finally slowing to a stop. Like the bus, the sparks flying from her Comet began to sputter and die. Wendy felt herself being yanked up and down as if an invisible giant had picked her up by the arm and was shaking her as the broom fought with the last bit of life it had in it. “No.... go on, you can do it,” she said, panicked. She saw Quentin below, looking completely unsure of what to do, an instant before her broom plummeted to the intensely rich green grass of the stadium below.

 

The fluorescent lighting of the infirmary coaxed Wendy’s eyes open. Crowded around her were her teammates, the Marauders, and Lily, all looking somewhat uncomfortable.

The game. Wendy shot up, then saw what everyone was so unhappy about. In Lily’s hand was a red envelope which seemed to be letting off smoke - another Howler. “Well,” Wendy said thickly, her mouth feeling as if it were stuck with peanut butter, “let’s get it over with.” She reached for the Howler and tore at the seal with clammy fingers.

It sprung out of her hands. “I TOLD YOU HOGWARTS ISN’T SAFE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND YET? DO YOU? I EXPECT TO SEE YOU AT KING’S CROSS STATION TOMORROW OR ELSE!” her mother’s voice screeched in her face.

An unpleasant silence fell across the room as the Howler crumbled apart like a pastry, the remnants resting in Wendy’s lap. “Well…” she considered, “Yeah, I’ll be staying at Hogwarts for spring break, I think.” A slow smile spread across Sirius’ face, leaving Wendy to consider what experience he might have with shrieking mothers and with abandoning his family.

 

(A/N: This story is supposed to fit perfectly into the Marauders' tale so that it could be canon. If I make a mistake in the dispute of what is and is not canon, please let me know! And yes, I am aware that JKR said James was a Chaser, but because there is so much disagreement over whether what she says in interviews or the movies is a more primary source, I decided he could have been both at some point.)

 

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