(1940-05-27) One Little Ship
Details for One Little Ship
Summary: A group of Aurors on patrol drop in on Hugh at the docks with his boat.
Date: 1940/05/27
Location: London Docks

May is on its last legs, slowly creeping toward June. The weather has been warm and balmy all day; and, as a result, the soupy London Fog lays over the streets of the city like a wet blanket by evening. A clear sky fills with stars, and a partial moon casts very little light on the city below. The blackout is in full swing, leaving London to look like an eerie patch of darkness on the map. And if there is one thing that both Muggles and Wizards share in common, it is the simple fact that crime loves the darkness. Small wonder then that Aurors and Hit Wizards have been placed on high alert in recent weeks, actually going out on patrols, rather than simply sitting at the office and waiting for news of crime to reach them.

"This is the only good thing about the Blackout, you know," Rena remarks dryly from her perch on her broomstick. She and Shelley have been flying a grid over one of the more dangerous warehouse districts near the waterfront. "Makes it an 'elluva lot easier to get around these days without being seen."

Within the basin of London, a moustached man works on a small ketch, lying tied up at a disused wharf. His pipe glows briefly in the gloom, as he relights it, revealing the boats name. 'The Sea Witch'. Then, methodically and carefully (and only occasionally aided by minor charms), he begins to repair a frayed rope. "I'll take you out for a run as soon as I can, girl. But between patrol boats and mines, the sea's not as free as it should be." A hand affectionately pats the aged wood of the rail, as the lines of the rope continue to splice themselves back together.

"I've been saying that for months!" Shelley answers happily - she's been indulging in night flying over London since the start of the blackout. "I could do without the war - but I'd like to keep the blackout." She falls silent with this said - keeping her ears open for any suspicious sounds below, and her eyes peeled for any lanterns or lit wands where they oughtn't be. This is much better than desk work, any day of the week. 

Graham must have drawn the other short straw as well he's on foot this night dressed down to not even his suit but his muggle dock working best! He moves about the pier side. His broom is stashed nearby mind in case he needs it though for now he simply walks about looking much like any other down on his luck Londoner would out at night trying to scrape by and all that.  It still is a thought his part of the ground watch will be over soon and then back to the sky.

  "We're in trouble if the Jerries ever decide to start flying over the city," Rena responds somberly. That will put an end to their holiday from the city lights. Shelley may be an excellent broomflyer - better than most - but the rest of the Aurors have less stellar skills. 
  Pulling up, the younger woman hovers mid-air on her broom and withdraws a tiny locket-like medallion hung on a necklace chain around her neck. It is a beautiful little watch, as it so happens. "Well, we've done our rounds, anyway. They'll be sending out the next pair in a few minutes to take over." Pausing for thought, she tilts her head to one side, listening to the sound of the river below them. "I say, why don't we drop down, yea? Graham's walking a beat tonight. Besides, you've 'eard Hugh talk about that precious boat of 'is. Why don't we see if we can hunt down either of them?"
  To Rena, it seems like a jolly idea. But, then again, she did grow up on the waterfront… which may account for her taste in "fun." 

"Part of me is looking forward to that challenge. But from what I've heard - saying it would be bad for the city is something of an understatement," Shelley remarks. She circles around Rena before stopping. "I suppose we could track Cohen down. Are you even sure Carruthers is down there, though?" Tilting her head she adds, "Cohen, I spotted back thataway." 

The air of London is rich in odours. Coal. Dirt. A little petrol. mud. But also tobacco.  And that particular  blend is distinctive.

The tall young man turns the next corner still on alert it's hard to say what all can be lurking around in the darkness. Graham checks the time and he's close to completing his  time on the ground and so he'll walk down the next  block going back to where his broom had been hidden away. He glances up but the night is of course dark and without the lights from the city being out his hope of spotting broom riders is nil.

  "Oh, Shelley, I wish you wouldn't say things like that." Rena responds sadly, tightening her grip around the necklace watch before letting it drop. The last thing she wants - the last thing anyone in their right mind should want - is for Germany to begin attacking outright. But, who said Shelley was in her right mind?
  "Of course Hugh's down there - somewhere," the young woman replies, trying to keep any hint of uncertainty out of her voice. "I've been on the docks enough in my time to find 'im, one way or t'other. Besides, I think I smelled that dratted pipe of 'is just an 'alf a tick ago." Her sense of smell has become annoyingly keen of late, and as fond as she is of Hugh, his pipe has been more than a little troublesome at work. 
  "Let's go join Graham and 'ead in on foot to find Hugh. It'll be fun to see that boat 'e's always making such a fuss about!"

Shelley did say she knew it would be terrible for the city. That seems to be all the disclaimer she feels necessary. She shrugs her shoulders, before nodding in agreement. "Back this way," she states, turning her broom. "You're getting better on these things, aren't you?" she adds - was that a hint of approval in her voice? Surely not.

Graham finds his broom just whee he'd left it. He is about to hop on to fly to a likely meeting point when he spots to dots in the night sky even as the two fly towards him he'll wave to them to make sure he's seen by his co-workers and friends. He smiles  and will wait for them to fly into range or land where he can speak to them without having to shout or anything.

In the dim light, a blush can scarcely be seen. However, Rena's voice takes on a distinctively self-conscious tone, and she brushes off the remark about her broom-flying with a light little hand-wave. "Been practicing a lot over the last year, that's all. More confidence than anything else, really…" She had to have done SOMETHING to improve herself over the last twelve months. She can't have possibly spent the entirety of her time making a mess of things. 
  That said, however, she scans the dark dock area below as they make a controlled descent toward the ground. There appears to be no one in sight within the vicinity of a very disreputable looking Graham, and it's safe to swing in for a landing. Absolutely nothing smells like the London docks. That's the first thing that hits Rena square in the face as they arrive, and she wrinkles her nose a tiny bit. 

"Well it's much better than all that flailing," Shelley answers with dry amusement. As the land, Shelley takes her broom in hand - it's not her Silver Arrow, which she never brings out for Auror work - and greets Graham with a brief quirk of her lips. "Your patrol as much a waste of time as ours?" She nods her head, adding, "Rena here wants to track down Carruthers and his bloody boat."

The young man who looks much worse for wear then normal on purpose will watch as the two land close by. Graham offers a wave to each "Rena, Shelley hey."  he chuckles lightly at Shelley's question "Something like that practiced my ne'er do well-ing enough for one evening I think." he ponders about the boat a moment or two. "Sounds good, we're in the right place for a boat." he grins.

  "Bloody boat? Hugh's awfully fond of it," Rena muses, her lips forming a slight pout. "I just think it'd be nice if everyone got to know each other a little better, what with always 'aving to work on the same team." It seems a reasonable enough rationale behind wanting to catch Carruthers in his natural environment, as it were.
  Smirking at Graham, the little redhead shakes her head and remarks as she begins walking: "Is that the best you can do after listening to me talk for almost two years? Please tell me you've picked up more of my bloody awful butchery of the English language than that!"

"We know who to leave the butchery to, Rena," Shelley remarks with her usual dry humor. It is humor, isn't it? She glances around the darkened docks, adding, I believe most of the boats were… this way? Are we even sure these are the right docks?"

Graham looks between the pair as they speak about the boat. "I can agree to getting to know folks be kinda nice to not meet a co-worker when we're about to go into danger." He says giving a small shrug he doesn't seem opposed to seeing this boat either though he laughs at Rena's comment. "Hey its a start for a northerner." he teases in return though also considering  Shelley "I think they are?"

"Maybe if either of you ever actually put effort into getting to know things about your co-workers, you would know these ARE the right docks." Rena retorts, giving an exaggerated roll of her eyes. Of course, given the dismal lighting, this gesture is lost on the others as it cannot really be seen. However, the tone of her voice makes it plain. "Everyone's information like that is available, you know." 
  The ground is slick with humidity, and all of the various noises mingle together to form a rather eerie atmosphere. Little wonder that Rena keeps nattering on at random to keep up the air of confidence and pretend that she knows what she's about. 
  "This is the right place," the little redhead says cheerfully upon reaching a section of the docks. Leave it to the Hufflepuff to be the finder. "He should be about 'ere somewhere…" She gives a pause and takes a few timid steps in the darkness before pausing and holding one hand up to the side of her face to call out: "Ahoy, Sea Witch!"

  That's what they do in films, right? It's worth a shot.

And the fabulous trio are not the only ones out and about on this dark night. A couple of sailors are hurrying along, with a Home Guard Private, complete with rifle. "This way. I'm sure there was a yacht here for the commandeering."

"If I didn't insist on family names - I might not even know you were a Faulkner," Shelley retorts. This is, of course patently false. She'd gone to the damned wedding. With hands shoved into her pockets (not at all so she would have her hand on her wand already) she strolls along beside her two fellow aurors, her gaze seeking out the Home Guards with some suspicion.

"I've heard talk of a boat just not where it had been." Graham says though he follows along with the others now. He looks to Shelley and shakes his head a bit "Its good to know what to call people at least "Hey you." doesnt work when everyone turns around." He comments though looking back to Rena as she seems to have an idea of where they are headed staying close all the same. He looks over to the other group a moment but still walking.

Uhm.. think fast, little woman, think fast…
“Shh!” Rena shushes Graham and Shelley urgently.
She then takes an abrupt step back from the sailors and home guard fellow and turns away. Digging quietly into her Mary Poppins-esque purse, she withdraws a helmet, an armband and a torch. In a trice, she has herself decently made up as her legitimate Muggle self as a volunteer air warden. At least she mightn't seem so blatantly suspicious. She could always fib and say she was helping these two people find their way.
Carefully, Rena begins to move forward again, following by sound more than vision for the moment.

From down nearer- much nearer- the water, there are the sounds of stirring, and a voice calls out, "Aye, this is the Sea Witch!" It's Hugh's voice, but his tone is cautious. Presumably a lone auror on a dark night in central London does not rely on the virtue of his soul, or the nobility of his cause. The voice also draws the attention of the soldier and sailors, who move in that direction. 

Shelley raises her eyebrows at the Warden get-up - but it's not the first time she'd seen her fellow auror so attired. Shaking her head,she makes her way down the docks towards the sound of Hugh's boat. "I went through a 'hey you' phase in school. Itas more bother than it was worth."

 What have I done now? Rena thinks inwardly, straightening the helmet on her head. Poor Hugh - now those men know where he is, and after saying something about commandeering! She is pretty sure she knows what that word means… Why did she have to call out just then? And what could those men possibly want with Hugh? She's just full of useless questions tonight. 
  Noticing the shake of her head, Rena gives Shelley one of those looks accompanied by a shrug that clearly asks: "What?" However, she remains silent for the moment - silent and concerned. Slowing her pace considerably, she strains her ears to listen for Hugh's voice to come again.

The guard approaches the edge of the wharf, but it's one of the sailors who speaks. "Sir. We've got a commandeering order for any boats like yours. We need it urgently for the war effort! You come ashore now, sir, and we'll try and get her home safe and sound for you!"

Hugh does not seem at all impressed with this. Indeed an alert (paranoid) watcher might notice his right hand drop momentarily towards his wand pocket, before he shakes his head, "Not a chance, son. This is _my_ bloody boat." A beat. "Where are we taking Her?"

"They can just take his boat?" Shelley murmurs to Rena quietly, as she watches the goings on. Not being a Muggleborn, she decides, it's probably best if she lets Hugh and Rena handle this and takes her lead from them.

"I'm not sure… They've got an army man with them," Rena replies somberly, keeping her voice subdued. "If they've got orders to take things, they can take what they 'ave to without so much as an 'ow-do-you-do." 
  Biting her lower lip, the younger woman frets whilst subconsciously wringing the torch in her hands. As a result of her fretting, she has the misfortune of hitting the switch. A blazing beam of light (at least it seems blazing under the circumstances) shoots out of the lens. A startled gasp escapes from Rena as their position is abruptly given away and she freezes in place. Now she's done it.

The army man looks a bit puzzled. Then annoyed. "'Ere, you can't do that! It ain't safe! You can't…"
Hugh's response is brisk, and practical, "Sea Witch has an odd keel, and a steerboard to lower in the Dutch style. But she's not a boat for a novice. You'll wreck her. And that won't do anyone much good, will it? It has to be near, for she's got no engine, so it has to be somewhere where sails are practical business. It has to be somewhere that there's something to transport, because Sea Witch is no earthly use as a warship." He looks up as the torchlight shines. "Ah, chaps! Don't spose you'd be able to tell 'em at the Office that I might be a touch late in?"

They must be an odd sight for the three Muggle men - carrying brooms, and with Rena dressed half in flying clothes, half in her Warden get-up. Shelley herself was wearing nothing that approximated current Muggle fashion. "I'm sure we can take care of that for you," she answers Hugh.

Recovering from her momentary shock, Rena thinks quickly of her job as an air warden and reaches into the breast pocket of her jacket to snatch the silk handkerchief tucked away inside. She quickly covers the lens of the torch to diffuse and soften the light so that it doesn't make such a sharp, cutting beam through the darkness. 
  "But, Hugh…" Rena says, closing the distance between the group and docked ship. "I don't understand. Where are you going?" She asks, quickly shifting the light and her question to the strange men: "Where is he going? He hasn't done anything wrong."

The young man watches and listens to the exchange between the military folk and Hugh. Graham doesn't know the rules of these sort of things though he figures if they are asking it's important and not just taking a joyride. "Bet they can do so." he nods to himself listening further his eyes widen  reaaaaly not sure on that idea of him going with or whatever is planned.

"I suppose that's what he gets for keeping his boat on a Muggle dock," Shelley murmurs quietly to the man beside her. "Hope he keeps a broom in there somewhere - in case he runs into trouble at sea." They can always obliviate the Muggles later. If they survive.

The sailors shrug, "Your funeral chummy. Know the Channel at all? We're going to a place called Dun Cook." Hugh winces slightly, "Dunkirk. Yes. I have charts. What are we…." He looks from sailor to soldier, to colleagues, "Oh, never mind, this is going to be bad, isn't it" He pauses and looks to Graham in particular, "Am I _able_ to go, or do I need to let them wreck my boat?"

Having the strange fortune of being married to a military man, Rena is perhaps far more able to piece these puzzles together. Her husband had been talking about France…
A cold, sinking feeling begins to make itself known in the pit of her stomach, and Rena swallows hard. She gives a pleading look toward her companions before closing the distance between herself and the boat briskly. "Of course we'll cover for you… But, you don't know what you're getting yourself into!" She says, worriedly, directing herself at Hugh before looking at the other men. "This 'as sommin' to do with the Army over there, don't it?" She asks, slipping easily back into cockney like her former self.

Graham looks up broom still in hand looking a bit odd no doubt. Drat had he thought he'd have transifigured it into a push broom that'd have been more logical given he's all deshelved and a tad dusty for his role. He looks up at Hugh at the question he weighs his options a moment "Oi, helping the war effort trumps most. Though chance of losing the boat worth losing more eh?" he comes out with though he does look dismayed at the idea. He'll think a bit further trying to think what's best.

The moustached man just nods, puffs his pipe a couple of times, and turns to the sailors, "Alright. I'll go and plot charts. You cast of for'ard and then astern. We'll use the current to get us started, but we'll need to get the mainsail up pretty sharpish." He looks to the bunch of the quay, "Look, cover for me, and I'll try not to get killed, alright?"

"I'm sure Hugh can keep himself safe," Shelley answers after Graham. Though it may leave them with a mess to clean up at the Ministry - if he has to resort to magic to save his life. "We'll talk to Worthington," she promises simply.

Despite Shelley's reassurance, Rena, is anything but convinced that this is a good idea. Things could get hairy enough over there without the added insanity of crossing the channel in a boat not meant for such things.
Unperturbed, by Hugh, the little redhead hops crosses to the boat and rests her hand on his arm to stay him for a moment: "Please, Hugh…" she begins to speak, only to stop short and sigh. Her demeanor droops and she shakes her head: "What's the use? You're as stubborn as I am."
At first, she seems inclined to turn away and leave him to his fate; but then, her sweeter side overtakes her and she turns back to Hugh and offers a wan smile: "Nobody ought to go off to war without a kiss for luck." Shelley certainly wouldn't offer - and as she's the only available female…

The bookish man can simply not come up with another good idea to get them out of this besides magic. Graham nods to Shelley "Lest the world stop spinning." he says with a wink. Its a moment silence before he continues "Right, perhaps you need a broom on board tho? Could be picking up dinataries or some such thing?" He moves a bit closer offering his own an odd offer no doubt to the military men but eh not as odd as it could be. Plus sinking in the channel certainly would be an emergency worth of using magic for.

Hugh half clambers up the quayside, reaching for the broom. Oh, and of course, leaning up to take the kiss. Because, well, why on earth not!

Shelley rolls her eyes at Rena's gesture, and can only imagine what the guards make of the broom-carrying strangers wandering the docks. For her part - she only offers Hugh a nod of - what? Encouragement? Farewell? Who knows.

Rena is a married woman - everyone knows that by now - but, this is war… and one never knows who will make it back when they go off to meet it face to face.
Leaning in, the young woman doesn't hesitate an instant. She leans in and kisses Hugh fondly, leaving a bit of colour behind. The other men can make of it whatever they will. "Take care of yourself, out there," she says softly. "And your pretty boat, too."

Graham offers the broom and a nod to Hugh "Be careful hm? I really dont want extra paperwork." Graham comments with a wink given though once this is done since its truly out of his hands he'll move back to stand beside Shelley now leaning over to whisper "This is a rotton idea." he is worried indeed though he doesnt say or react to the kiss he looks to the muggles before back with a small silent sigh.

Hugh mrmmphs with a mixture of surprise and appreciation. And then starts to clamber down, with the broom. "Useful for tidying up. Yes." It gets shoved down, below decks in the tiny cabin, "Alright. Anyone else coming, before I go and be heroic?"

Why did Hugh have to ask that? Shelley lets out a quiet groan. Rena's going to jump onto the boat - she just knows it.

Rena wants nothing more than to jump in that boat and go make herself useful over there… wherever they're going. She's never been sailing, and certainly knows nothing about boats and would be sure to get underfoot. Besides, this whole situation is not one that women should get involved in - not like this. However, she does naturally ask Hugh with a smile that says she already knows the answer: "Don't suppose I could tag along, eh, Sailor?"

Graham looks to Shelley though she doesnt seem to have response. He will nod to Hughs mumble about cleaning. His attention is brought about anyone else coming and gives a small shake of his head given well someone needs to be at the office come the next day. He'll look to Rena and figures along with Shelley that she'll be tempted and sure enough. "Rena, I dont think that's the best idea. You've got your birds to look after." he says subtle-ish.. and well explaining two missing co-workers is more difficult.

Hugh pauses, and says, slowly, "I _think_… well.. you're very welcome to come. But Graham has a point."

Rena casts a regretful glance over her shoulder at Graham. Of course, he's right… and Hugh… and the other men who would undoubtedly have a great deal to say on the subject if they heard the conversation.
"Got to stay behind and make sure the blackout is observed and all," she relents after a moment's thought. She is an air warden, after all. "All the best luck in the world, Hugh," she adds, offering a more genuine smile this time. "I'm going to miss that bloody smoke stack of yours in the office until you get back."
That said, she finally rises to her full height and removes herself from the boat so that the men can be off.

And the lines go off, with the Sea Witch turning into the current, and with a deft little bit of tiller work from Hugh, going downstream, towards the sea.

"Well, that was a hell of a thing," Shelley remarks. "I hope he doesn't have to resort to magic." As calm and blase as she sounds - she is following the departing boat with her eyes. ''

The young man looks to the boat and nods "See ya soon, safe travels." Graham turns to Rena and frowns "I'm sorry Rena." He apologizes for interfering though he's glad she's not on the boat all the same. He looks to Shelley and shakes his head "Understatement there, though if he uses magic in an emergency he's well within his right. So uh… what's our story if someone wonders where Carruthers is?"

Rena lapses into a thoughtful and melancholy attitude as she watches the boat drift away into the inky blackness of the London fog. Murmuring to herself, she says: "Them that goes down to the sea in ships and 'ave their business in the great waters; these men see the works of the Lord and 'is wonders of the deep…" A beat, "Please come back when it's over."
Her eyes begin to burn with tears wanting to slip by, and Rena turns away before she can see the last hint of the boat vanish.
Looking sadly at Graham, she thinks a moment before sniffing and answering: "We could just tell them the bloody truth. It's not like 'e 'ad time to make a decision or 'ad any warning. 'E went to fill 'is patriotic duty."

Unlike Rena - Shelley keeps her eyes on the boat until it's out of sight, then turns back to her two fellow aurors. "He's a Muggleborn. And he does want to keep his boat safe," she answers. "The truth is the simplest thing. And do any of us want to be caught in a lie to Worthington?"

The boat has now got a sail hoisted. And Hugh is directing the two sailors. He's standing at the helm, puffing his pipe, standing erect. How he sails the damn thing on his own is anyones guess.

Graham nods to Rena and Shelley "Good point both of you there, the truth it is." He wonders how the chief would take this news if they do have to tell him at all which hopefully they wont. He'll sigh once more "We should probably head off soon before we're caught up in something else."

A strange look comes over Rena as Graham suggests they get out of there before anything else happens. She grips her torch rather tightly and ceases all movement. For a moment, she doesn't even breathe before saying: "I… I've got to get home. I've got to see if Birdie… Oh no." Back to incoherency, she goes.
Darting ahead, she collects her broom from the pile she ditched it in a short time ago. Without so much as a goodbye, she sets off at a dead run for some place even darker to mount up so she can get home as quickly as possible.

"Ren-" Shelley starts, but then just shakes her head. "This Muggle war is really getting to her." Not that that's any real suprise - a Muggleborn married to a military man. "Hopefully she can keep it together."

The quick escape of Rena gets a wide-eyed look for a moment before the sense to it comes to him. Graham looks back to Shelley and nods before speaking. "She's also married to a man in the military, if they are launching some sort of counter attack he could be called on to fly it." he nods about her keeping it together or at least keep a level cool head before acting rashly.

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