(1940-05-13) Enlightening the Darkness
Details for Enlightening the Darkness
Summary: Rena has a pleasant encounter with a young healer outside of Saint Mungos during her new duties as a volunteer Air Warden.
Date: 1940/05/13
Location: Holborn

An Auror being tucked away in St. Mungos Hospital is hardly a rare sight. Indeed, having a reserved bed within those hallowed halls is part of the job description. However, tonight, one of the younger (and slightly infamous) Aurors is leaving the hospital at a bouncy pace, rather than going in. Not that one would know she's a witch to look at her. Even by Muggle terms, Rena looks somewhat peculiar, what with the Great War style helmet tucked under her arm, emblazoned with a large white "W" in the center, and the armband over her coat sleeve.
The young redheaded woman pauses at the bottom of the stairs leading to the seemingly derelict building and looks back with a faint sigh. Memories… Then, bearing up, she places the helmet atop her head and begins rummaging through her handbag, looking for something.

Len is leaving St Mungo's as well, though his step is far less bouncy. He shuffles down the stairs in his rumpled yellow apprentice robes, his shoulders slightly slumped and heavy bags under his eyes. Still, when he sees the young woman in front of him, he musters up a polite smile (though it does falter for a half second at the sight of that helmet). "Excuse me," he says as he moves to pass her. Then, pausing, he adds, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but do you work here? I'm sure I've seen you around here before."

The young woman jumps, slightly startled. Turning abruptly to face the younger man, her helmet (which is just a tad too large) goes somewhat askew. Chuckling at her own nervousness, Rena flashes an embarrassed smile: "Cor, you caught me off guard, you did. Sorry 'bout that!"
Stopping a moment to set the helmet right, the redhead quickly thinks better of it and simply removes it for the moment. It might be a little intimidating - Muggle garb can be for witches and wizards at times, and she does try to be respectful. "I don't work at the hospital, no," she answers at last. "But, sure as sure you've probably seen me around. I'm with M.L.E. - Auror department. We're always getting ourselves banged up, yea? Leaving it to you poor souls to patch us back up again."

"I'm so sorry," Len says right away, "I didn't mean to startle you." He looks at her, worried, but then smiles when she doesn't seem upset. Embarrassed as well, he takes a step back, rubbing the back of his neck, but his eyes widen when she says what she does. "Wow, an Auror? That's incredible." He grins, a little sheepish. "I haven't had the chance to patch one of you up before. They must save that sort of work for the real Healers."

"Oh, I don't know," Rena replies with a wry, but good-natured half smile. "Sometimes Aurors just do something silly and get themselves 'urt in a common, run of the mill way." Really, it's best not to think about some of the horrible injuries she's seen sustained by others. They don't bear thinking. "Besides," she adds warmly, "You'll soon mount up and move along through the ranks as you learn."
Realizing she hasn't introduced herself, the young woman tucks her helmet under her arm and extends a friendly hand: "The name's Lee… erm, Faulkner - rather." She catches herself, blushing slightly. "The name's new to me still. Besides, most folks still think of me as Rena Lee and it's a lot less confusing if people just call me Rena."

"I think that happens to just about everyone," Len says. "Even me." He hesitates when Rena introduces herself and extends a hand. Perhaps he feels intimidated because she's an Auror, or perhaps it's because of that helmet after all. Nevertheless, he smiles and shakes her hand. "I'm Len," he says. "Well, Leonard Banes, but my friends call me Len. Most of them anyway." He pauses and looks at the helmet. "Um, I hope you don't mind my asking, Ms, er… Mrs Faulkner, but why are you carrying that around?"

"Glad to meet you, Len!" Rena answers cheerfully. She never ceases to feel enthusiasm for meeting nice new people - and Len does seem to fit the bill for being nice.
After releasing his hand, the young woman ponders the question momentarily and draws the helmet back out from under her arm. How to explain it… It's hard to know with a Wizard or Witch offhand. Some purebloods don't even seem to realize that the country is at war.
"Well…" Rena begins carefully, "As you may know, the country is at war with Germany." She gives Len a cautious look, here, hoping that he follows. "And 'ere on the Muggle side of things, there's a blackout enforced every night - to keep the streets as dark as pitch - in case of air raids. And, come nightfall, people like myself volunteer our time to see to it that no lights show on the streets. They call us Air Wardens." Pausing again, she turns the helmet so that the white W shows plainly in the dim light. "That's what the W stands for, you see - Warden."

"Pleased to meet you too," Len says, beaming at her. But some of his cheer fades when Rena starts explaining the helmet, and he shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "I've heard a bit about it," he says, looking rather guilty. "I didn't know about the blackout though. That explains why it's always so dark out here whenever I have a late shift." He glances up and down the street, chewing on his lip, and then looks back at Rena and her helmet. "Warden," he says, nodding his head. "Er, what exactly is an air raid?"

There was a time when Rena might have gaped at Len for not knowing what an air raid was. However, she has become somewhat more understanding of different people from different worlds not knowing about each other. Besides, there is a difference between lack of knowledge and willful ignorance. At least he is interested and willing to learn.
Blinking back her inclination to exclaim something in shock, the young woman tries to explain: "Look up there," she says, pointing at the sky. "We fly brooms up there because that's 'ow we do. Muggles can't fly brooms. They fly in gigantic machines called aeroplanes. They were made for the sake of carrying people from one place to another - to connect the world and bring it together like." Breathing a faint sigh, Rena lowers her arm. "But, people being what they are, they learned a long, long time ago that you could shoot weapons from aeroplanes, and drop explosives - called bombs. And bombs can do far more damage than any potion you might've 'eard of. So, an air raid is what they call it when the enemy flies aeroplanes over our territory, meaning to 'urt us. Mind you, though - that 'asn't come about, yet. Not in London, anyway."

Len's gaze turns to the sky and nods, having heard of aeroplanes before. But when she starts talking about weapons and bombs he turns back to her, his eyes wide with horror. "I knew about errorplanes," he tells her, "but I had no idea they used them to hurt people. That's awful! So they turn off all of the lights to stop the air raids? Can errorplanes not see in the dark then?"

"I suppose the sad truth is that the blackout will only lesson the chance of an air raid," Rena answers quietly. "They've got maps and navigators and all. Even if they fly blind, they can make an educated guess and drop bombs…possibly."
Realizing how grim this all sounds, the young woman has to make a stab at cheering things up. She's all about raising morale, after all. "But, we've got our boys in the RAF to look out for us. They're always on guard, watching and patrolling the skies for enemy planes. Why, chances are, if any bloody Germans get brave enough to aim for London, our pilots will skirmish with 'em and take 'em down long before they get this near." Now, she smiles brightly: "I ought to know. My husband is one of them. Flight Lieutenant in the RAF, 'e is. And my best friend, too! Squadron Leader Grosvenor. 'E's a Squib what really made something marvelous of 'imself in the RAF. So, don't fret. Our boys are watching out for us all the time."

"Ah, a Squib!" Len says, latching onto one of the few words he understood. Then he looks embarrassed, perhaps thinking that his remark might be taken the wrong way. So he decides to shut his mouth, not wanting to make a fool of himself and show how ignorant he is of the stuff Rena seems to know so readily. Still, he seems to have gotten the general gist of her words, if not the details, because he's smiling again. "This may sound a bit ridiculous to you," he says, almost blushing, "but is there anything I can do to help? You know, with the air raids and the war and all that?"

The question gives Rena pause. What can a less-well-adapted Wizard do on the Muggle side for the war without getting himself into hot water with the Ministry?
Pursing her lips, Rena thinks for a long moment before answering: "Be vigilant, and be ready to 'elp people if danger really does come to us in London. Maybe take time to learn more about Muggles and what's going on in the world on this side of the tracks, as it were." Pausing again, the little woman shifts uncertainly on her feet. She never used to be timid about soap-boxing. "Whether Unity goes through or not, we all need one another. One world can't stand without the other. And as long as we all spend our lives avoiding each other, not learning and not understanding, we'll always be afraid and we'll always be divided. I want to live in a world that is unafraid… don't you?"

Len nods his head, eager to do what he can. "I'll try," he says. "I do want to learn more. My mother's a Muggle, but she's from Japan and she's lived on the wizard side ever since she came here." He smiles. "Yes, I'd like to live in a world like that too. It sounds like I need to find some spare time to start learning more. Do you have any suggestions for where to start? What to find out?"

Japan. The very word seems to give Rena a sinking feeling in her heart, and her expression falls. Thankfully, the poor light makes it rather difficult to discern such a change in expression, and she recovers herself quickly. "You might start with your mother," she suggests with a small smile. "Or, people like me - if you aren't worried about 'anging about with Muggleborns and witches who marry Muggles."
Placing the helmet on her head once more, the young woman further offers: "Just stopping to pick up a newspaper on this side every so often is a big 'elp, too."

Len shakes his head. "That sort of thing doesn't worry me," he says with a smile. "I try to get along with everyone. The newspaper's a great idea. I'll start doing that." He hesitates, then adds, "I think I'd like to talk to you some more about this stuff sometime. If you don't mind, that is. I know you're probably quite busy with being an Auror and an Air Warden."

Again, there is a twinge of sadness behind the young woman's dark eyes. However, she manages to maintain the smile. "My husband is often gone," she explains, "Being an officer in the air force, what with the war and all… I like to keep busy so I don't spend all my time worrying about 'im when we're not together."
Reaching into her handbag, she finally locates the torch she was looking for in the first place and withdraws it. "I'd be glad to 'elp you any way I can. I'm sure I can find time. They only want me a few nights a week for this job - if that many." Pausing to smirk, Rena tilts her head and adds: "Who knows? I might even teach you 'ow to operate a telephone or send a wireless! That'd be fun."

"That must be difficult," Len says with a sympathetic smile. "How long have you been married?" Then he grins. "That would be fun. I've heard of those before, but I've never used them myself. So, where can I find you? I hope you're not so frequent a guest of St Mungo's that I'll see you here again soon!"

As to the question of how long she's been married, Rena can scarcely help answering with a laugh: "Forever - a whole month." Days seem eternal in the midst of a war when loved ones are far away; and yet, when they are near, time is precious and fleeting.
"I can be anywhere, really. I'm at home wherever my feet take me. Mungos, 'Ogsmeade, Diagon, the Ministry - anywhere on this side of London. But, truth be told…" She stops and glances to either side before lowering her voice: "Lessons of that sort might offend the pure types on the wizard side, and they'd puzzle muggles on the other side. Maybe it'd be best if you dropped in at my place one day for tea? That'd be a lark."
Rena then reaches into her handbag and produces a sweet little card with her name and address printed onto it, indicating a certain house in the Sloane Square neighborhood. "And if you're worried about asking for an invite first, you can always send an owl."

Len starts to laugh when she says she's at home wherever her feet take her. "You sound like a friend of mine," he says. But he puts on a more serious expression when she lowers her voice, and he glances around as well. "Oh, right. Perhaps that would be best." He takes the card from her and looks at it, a little surprised by it, but he smiles and nods his head. "I'll see you soon then. I'd better start thinking about heading home soon, though, or I'll fall asleep halfway there."

"Right-o. Safe travels, Len," Rena replies brightly, offering a playful salute with her torch so that it clinks against the brim of her helmet. "And don't forget about dropping by. It'll be fun to learn about my side of the tracks - I promise." With that said, the young woman smiles and turns in the opposite direction with a genuinely light-footed cheerful bounce in her step. As she disappears into the London fog, one can faintly hear a tune being whistled through the darkness.

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