Lee Jordan shut off the wireless. Not only was there dissonance between the lies of the Daily Prophet in front of him and the silly Quidditch game entering its third hour, but the bloody announcer had no flair.
Quidditch was important, it’s why he’d continued his school hobby professionally — no source of joy, no matter how small, should be discounted during a time of war — but he felt like he should be doing more. Lee had joined the Order the same day the twins were allowed and, after school, he used his job as a traveling sports commentator to get a feel for things across the continent, but it was no longer enough for Lee. He’d quit three weeks ago. Dumbledore was dead, the trio was missing, and bloody Snape was headmaster of Hogwarts. He had to do more.
He didn’t see the twins as much, because they were off running the shop, but when he’d last stopped by, they were holed up in the back office talking plans for defensive products. To help. They did the joke thing, which distracted and delighted people even in these dark times, but they were also actively resisting. More than some vague sightings of Death Eaters at international Quidditch matches. You Know Who’s official return to power had made all of that information basically useless.
Lee wanted something like what the twins had. A concrete, perfect for him way to help the war effort. But Lee couldn’t be the twins. He’d spent much of his life trailing behind them, shouting support and suggesting ideas, but he was his own person.
Lee looked at the Prophet. “Muggles Planning Attack on Wizarding World” details on page 3. “Was Undesireable #1 Radicalized by Albus Dumbledore?” “The Muggle-born Deception,” a continuing op-ed series that had gained immense popularity across country. Even without Fred and George slipping him real news, he knew the things printed weren’t true.
He was honestly, very lucky to have been left alone. He was half-blood, so he was mostly safe, and his Muggle-born mother had run off to one of the Caribbean islands where she could blend in a few months ago, with his dad packing up things up and heading out to meet her… Wherever they’d decided. Lee’s decision to stay and fight meant he didn’t want to know where they went. Just in case. But he had decided to stay and fight. So he’d better get on with figuring out how.
Lee tapped his wand on the Prophet and incendio’d the paper. Enough lies for today.
The next day, Lee stopped by Weasley Wizarding Wheezes. The twins were tinkering with some Muggle equipment, including an old television. Lee knew what it was because his dad occasionally watched Muggle Basketball on the telly when he was growing up — his mum took his dad to a basketball game on their first date. Aaron Jordan often said he fell in love with two things that day. It was unusual that the Muggle-born was obsessed with Quidditch while the pure-blood was obsessed with Muggle Basketball, but Lee wouldn’t trade his family for anything.
“Fellas!” Lee called when they didn’t notice him enter.
“Hey, mate!” The twins were distracted, but clearly pleased to see him, both rising to hug him quickly before heading back to their work table. It was commonplace these days for most greetings between friends after a few days apart to be a little extra mushy, a little more filled with heart. Even the Weasley twins weren’t exempt from that. Not with their family at the near center of the war that waged around them all.
“How’s the family?”
“I haven’t heard anything,” George said, pointing to his missing ear. Lee rolled his eyes.
“Everyone’s good from what we know. Percy the Ponce was photographed in the Prophet last week, so he hasn’t kicked it, and we have reason to believe that the Ministry break in was the Trio.”
Recently, most of the Order and Dumbledore’s Army refrained from saying their names. It was easier to consider them as a far off triple-headed entity than three kids they knew so personally and hadn’t heard a word from.
“Yours?” George asked in return. “Heard from your parents yet?”
Lee frowned. “No. Not in the last week. Dad finally legged it out after mum. He left after we’d last heard word from her. I think they’re going to head to the Caribbean when they’ve met up again.”
“How did Mrs. Jordan get out of the country?”
“She ‘went on a cruise.’ Thankfully we’d gotten her out before all this mess with Muggle-born Registration really started. The Ministry doesn’t like it but the Merpeople and the French have a cruise venture that travels to French-speaking islands. France has been using it to get people out. Sucks that we have money where others don’t, but mum took someone with her. She didn’t tell me who, but felt good about getting one more Muggle-born out of the country.”
Fred let out a low whistle.
“Glad she’s out, mate. Let us know when you hear from them.”
“Course. What’re you two up to? This doesn’t look like shop business…”
“It is and it isn’t,” said Fred.
“We’ve had the idea to put it in the shop window,” continued George.
“Once we figure out how to charm it to stay on that is.”
“We think a nice, large Muggle TV in the middle of Diagon Alley would tick off Death Eaters and their Ministry puppets just right.”
Lee was impressed. Most wizards stayed away from trying to figure out electricity. Especially pure-blood families. He knew Mr. Weasley was a bit obsessed with Muggle stuff, but figuring out the tech usually took a Muggle-born. And usually only someone as smart as a Ravenclaw or Hermione Granger.
“What kind of messages?”
Fred and George exchanged shrugs. “Dunno yet,” George replied first. “I was thinking just random Muggle stuff, honestly. Them cooking in their kitchens or playing Muggle sports.”
“Like my dad’s basketball games?”
“Something like that,” said Fred.
“If they’re pissed about the teevee,” said George, “It might distract from the other work we do back here.”
Lee frowned. “I’m not a Ravenclaw, but you don’t think it’ll get them paying closer attention to you?”
“Nah. Something about being right under their noses.”
The twins tinkered at the television, Fred poking it with his wand, while George rifled through a book titled, “Was Benjamin Franklin an Undercover Wizard?: Explaining Electricity.” Lee was sure he was the only one who knew the twins willingly picked up books.
After a bit of silence, Fred asked, “Do you wish you’d gone with them?”
“I offered to at least help dad get out, but he wanted to do it quick, before things got too hot. I’m just feeling a bit… useless at the moment.”
“International wizard spotting no longer your cup of tea?”
“There hasn’t been much to do lately. All the major players are here in town and You Know Who doesn’t exactly recruit at Quidditch matches.”
More silence. The three of them had never endured so much silence at school, always joking, teasing the girls in the common room, or making something explode. Lee walked around the back room, looking at the different defense prototypes the twins were working on lately. It was brilliant stuff.
Lee thought about his place in the world as the twins muttered spells at the TV. The Wizarding World had never kept Lee out, exactly, but the Jordans had been planning to get out for a lot longer than a lot of other half-blood families. His dad called it “being aware of their triple consciousness.” They weren’t just black and British, which had its own history of oppression and prejudice, but they were black wizards. Something about how they weren’t safe just because they were mostly magical. It wasn’t quite as bad in the Wizarding World as certain areas of the Muggle world, but while You Know Who claimed it was all about magical blood, there weren’t exactly any well known Black Death Eaters around, were there? Lee knew Josephine Zabini slept around with them, but as far as Lee knew, neither she nor Blaise’s dad were involved in the first war. To be black or brown during this war could mean that even pure-bloods could turn against you. You just never knew.
It was looking like mankind was awful and racist no matter whether you were magical or not; Lee had long abandoned his ignorance. He’d thought of running with his parents — moving to an all-black Wizarding community, but he knew too much about the inside of the fight; he had too much at stake. Two best friends in the Order, kids in his year dying before they could even finish their apprenticeships, Angelina Johnson spending a week in St. Mungo’s after being mouthy during her required Blood Status Registration to the Ministry, and Alicia Spinnett having to lie about both of her parents being Muggle-born… Lee had the privilege to help and he needed to use it. He just didn’t know exactly how.
“You lot are busy, I’m gonna shove off…”
The twins half heartedly tried to get him to stick around, but Lee wasn’t up for it.
“I’ll be back in a couple of days. Unless there’s an assignment.”
It was indeed a couple of days later when Lee met Remus Lupin at the Wheezes. It was safe enough to meet there without the wrong people getting suspicious. Just two former Hogwarts mischief makers checking out the latest joke products.
Verity brought them to the back, with two steaming mugs of tea, before leaving to go up front with Fred and George, who loudly showed their patrons the newest adornment in the window. The TV they’d been working on was already glitching, but in the perfect way. It was airing broadcasts from international Muggle stations. Randomly. Loudly. Remus explained as they walked to the back that Muggles had dishes in the sky that sent down TV channels and Lee found himself tuning out on former Professor Lupin for the first time ever.
“Sorry. It’s a bit complicated. Let’s just say that those are excerpts from actual Muggle television. It’s like it keeps changing channels on its own, like a glitch on the wireless.” Remus took a drink of his tea and looked at Lee intently. “Now what did you want to talk to me about?”
Lee thought the twins would have mentioned… “ I’d like new mission for the Order.”
“Oh? Using your Quidditch connections was what you asked for when you joined.”
“I know, I just… back then I didn’t know… I still don’t…” Lee groaned with his inability to articulate himself.
“Are you sure you want to do more?” Remus asked patiently. “Joining a resistance is no easy matter, Gryffindor or not. I certainly wish some of us during the first war with hesitations about fighting had heeded their own feelings. It might have saved a few of us all a bit of heartache.”
“It was never hesitance about joining. It’s hesitance about… Me. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what I’m good at. I’m an okay dueler, I’ve used up all my Quidditch connects, my family isn’t in the Ministry or anything, nor am I as inventive and funny as Fred and George. No, scratch that, I’m dead funny. But laughs don’t win you the war, do they?”
“They can certainly help. I’ve conjured quite a few life saving Patronuses on the merits of a few laughs in the middle of a war.”
“It just doesn’t feel like enough. Not for me.”
“You don’t know what you’re good at?” Remus said skeptically. His tone annoyed Lee. It had that patient teacher tone that told him Remus knew the answer and was waiting for Lee to catch up.
“I didn’t get any Os on my OWLs except the year you taught me in Defense. And my NEWT year was a disaster, wasn’t it? With Umbridge mucking up the place.”
“Lee Jordan. I know exactly what you’re good at.”
“You’re doing it right now.”
“Getting lectured by a teacher? Yeah, I reckon I’m plenty good at that. Sure.”
“I’ve been going through a bit of… Self doubt the last couple of months. Not sure what my place is, not sure I’m meant to have the blessings that were placed in front of me after all this time. But you know what’s helped?”
“This cuppa tea?”
Remus laughed. “No. Aside from a well-deserved reaming out by a dear friend — you. Right now. You’ve helped.”
“You’re talking. Reminding me to think about what I’m fighting for. What I’m using my experience for. What propelled me to join the war the first time. My friends and I, like you and yours, were all half- or pure-blood. We were in no real danger — aside from our own offensive antagonism. We just knew it was wrong. And had people we cared about that we wanted to protect.”
“You lot got into it all a lot of faster than I have.”
“James and Sirius, yes. And Pe— others followed suit. I hesitated though.”
“Because like you, I had something unique to bring to the fight. And I didn’t want to use it.”
“I’m not exactly a werewolf, mate. Not that I have a problem with it!” Lee flushed, his locs feeling itchy and hot against his neck, but for once, the reference to Lupin’s furry problem didn’t darken his eyes.
“That. Right there. That’s what you bring, Lee. The truth.”
Lee stared at Remus helplessly, still unwilling to see it himself.
“I’ve never enjoyed Quidditch as much as I did when you commentated at school. And I know Puddlemere was disappointed to hear you go.”
“You listened to my games?”
“A few. Dora likes to listen to Quidditch sometimes and she thinks you’re a riot. You’re full of honesty, Lee. Unrepressed honesty. That’s what you’re good at. That’s why people like you. That’s why they think you’re funny. That’s what we need these days, isn’t it?”
They sat in silence for a moment, the loud bangs, whizzes, and laughs from the front room made it slightly less awkward.
“You may not think so, Lee, but people listen to you. Fred and George talk all the time about how so many of their ideas felt stupid, or unworthy, but they ran it by you and you encouraged them. They knew you weren’t just agreeing because you were friends with them.”
“Those blighters aren’t ever that sentimental.”
“I’m good at reading between the lines. I was very much like you, you know. The support team behind two nutters with brilliant ideas and bigger jokes. It took me entirely too long, but I can finally recognize when guys like that appreciate a friend.”
“So what do I do? Ok, people listen to me. But I’m not Harry Potter. I don’t give encouraging speeches about doing the right thing or going after the enemy. I did some Quidditch. I enabled my friends’ jokes. How does that help?”
“It’s not all about inspiring speeches, though with Dumbledore gone and Harry in the wind, those will be harder to come by. Sometimes we just need a comforting, familiar voice to tell us the truth.”
Lee thought of the lies in the Daily Prophet. The distrust and lack of access to Barmy Old Lovegood’s Quibbler magazine. How the wireless only played Quidditch games and Celestina Warbeck sets.
It seemed simple enough. Tell the truth.
There was a loud sound from the TV in the twins’ front window. Lee thought the TV had exploded.
“Hey Remus, do you know how to start up a wireless show?”
Three days later, after the shop was closed, Lee looked around the back room of the Wheezes. Fred, George, Remus, and Kingsley were all huddled around a table — a wireless set with mics sat in the middle.
“You lot sure you want to do this here?” Lee asked the twins. The Ministry had come by about the TV, but it had crapped out by then.
“We may have to move around, but it’s only right the first one’s done here,” said Fred.
George looked at Remus on his left. “You’re going to have to speak up, mate,” he said loudly. “I won’t be able to hear anything you’ve got to say.”
“It’s almost time,” said Kingsley. He had been instrumental in informing those who needed to know how to access the program and telling everyone the password. “Harry.”
“All yours, Mr. Jordan.” Remus smiled at Lee, who felt like he might throw up.
“Alright then,” Kingsley gave the countdown. “In three, two…”
“Thanks for tuning in. This is River with our first episode of Potterwatch. Here, we speak the truth.”