(1942-01-01) Questioning Norman
Details for Questioning Norman
Summary: The Obliviators have taken Norman into custody to question him and decide his fate.
Date: 1 January, 1942
Location: Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, Ministry of Magic
Related: Immediately follows The Wand Chooses the...Muggle?

"Hulloooo? I'm still in here." Norman hollers at the closed door of the small room where he has been confined for the last several hours. Now and then, a young woman who he assumes to be a secretary has come in to check on him and offer him tea, each time assuring him that someone will be with him soon. But now it has been so long that he's begun to wonder if he's been forgotten. He rather doubts it, seeing what a fuss his presence had caused in the wand shop earlier. A "Muggle" in Diagon Alley. The realisation had caused onlookers to literally gasp in shock. No, it seems unlikely anyone would be forgetting about him. But if not that, what could be taking them so long? Norman eyes the door; he isn't even sure if it's locked, and hasn't yet gathered the courage to test it. So he sits in his chair at the little table in the little, sipping what little is left from his little cup of tea.

The doorknob turns slowly. It makes it halfway before it stops and resets with a snap. There's some scuffling on the other side, a dull thud, and then immediately the sharp sound of someone saying, "Ow!" A few seconds later, the doorknob turns all the way and the door inches open, pushed carefully by the Obliviator, Zack, who is balancing a stack of parchment two feet tall on one arm as he edges into the room. He just makes it inside when the papers tremble and slip, spraying out all around him until they cover the floor in parchment that ranges from quite fresh to decades old.

"Here, I'll help," murmurs a soft-ish female voice. It is Effie, and she looks some better than she did a few hours ago. Though still quite pale, she walks steadily, and she flicks her wand at the papers, tidying them into a neat pile. She has followed Zack into the room, and she levitates the pile over to the table. "Mungos discharged me. Hello there."

Norman rises at the chaotic entrance, partly in surprise, but also in an effort to help clean up the mess. But there is the Auror woman, using magic to do in seconds what would have taken him minutes by hand. "Oh…ah…hello." He stands there awkwardly, not entirely sure what he is supposed to be doing.

Zack stands rooted to the spot, not wanting to step anywhere. Some of those pieces of parchment look like a stiff breeze might do them in. He fumbles about at his robes, trying to find his wand, but Effie tidies them up before he can get to it. "Oh," he says, looking round. "The Auror. Okay. Are you allowed to be here? Oh, right, thank you." He looks at her for a second, puzzled, and then turns to the Muggle. "Your name is Norman," he accuses the man.

"Am I allowed to be here? Yes." Effie smiles. "In case any of the patrons in Ollivander's chooses to file a complaint. And in case there are any issues in which we *would* need to get involved. Beyond that, should the case be forwarded, I am requesting vetting for sanction, and am willing to help sponsor him. For the record, my name is Effie Grant, Auror, Inspector rank. My parents and brother are muggles and have been fully sanctioned."

Norman recoils slightly at Zack's accusatory tone. "Um…yes. I'm Norman Arthur Mulligan." Effie's reminder that she was born from Muggle stock sinks in this time, giving Norman more food for thought. "Inspector…so…you're a policem-…a policewoman? Have I committed a crime?" He glances nervously back and forth between Effie and Zack.

"What?" Zack says, distracted momentarily by Effie. "Oh, yes. You wanted to vouch for him. I remember. Okay, fine. You can vouch for him. But later. I have to talk to him first. I'm the Obliviator." He rounds on Norman again. "You're not allowed to be called Norman. That's my name. Well, it's one of my names. And I don't use it very often. But it's still mine and you can't have it. Pick another."

"Plenty of people have the same names, though. You can't deny someone the right to keep his given name," murmurs Effie. "And how is he not allowed his own name? I know you're the Obliviator, but stealing someone's name isn't right." She looks shocked.

Norman blinks in astonishment at Zack, and gives Effie an appreciative nod. "If it makes you uncomfortable…I suppose you can call me Mr. Mulligan. But please, tell me what's going on. You said before that you might take my memories…again. I don't want that. You can't just take someone's memories away. Memories make us who we are."

Zack glances in Effie's direction. "What?" he says again. "No, I'm not going to steal his name. He needs to pick another name for me to call him. I'm not going to call him Norman. That would be like talking to myself. And I don't talk to myself if I can help it." He looks at Norman expectantly and then nods when he provides an alternative. "Okay, good. I'll call you Mr Mulligan. Yes, I might take your memories away, Mr Mulligan. You'll still be the same person though. I'm still the same person, even though I'm missing some memories…" He frowns momentarily; and then turns to Effie once more. "Do Muggles go by Mister, or is he pretending to be a wizard again?"

"They go by Mister. We share a common language, and even though my parents don't always know what some things are in our world, generally speaking, conversations are mutually intelligible. However, sometimes there are differences in context. But Mister is a perfectly proper form of address. Mr. Mulligan is formal, but a wholly acceptable form of address." Effie conjures up a chair and sits down in it; it is notably squashy and comfortable.

"I want to know what is going on," Norman demands, if a bit bashfully. "You can't treat people like this. Messing about with memories and…and illegally detaining! I'll file a protest with Scotland Yard, I will."

"Okay, good," Zack says. "The only Muggles I've met don't speak English. Well, they speak bits of it, but not very well. Oh, nice chair!" He peers at Effie's chair until Norman calls his attention back to the matter at hand. "Hmm? Oh, well, you can if you want. But I don't think any bit of Scottish land will help you. We're in England." He draws his wand, pauses, and then, after another look at Effie, summons a chair that appears to be made entirely of emerald green rubber. "Okay, so Ms Grant…. You wanted to vouch for him. You should do that." He moves to sit down.

"I have seen this man before, but then I could neither confirm nor deny that he was a Muggle. I filed a report… ah, there." Effie points to a bit of rather violently purple parchment with orange ink writing. "Sorry for the colors. Tavish was showing off again and hit the paperwork. Anyway, filed a report. Mr. Mulligan was trying to blend in, but…. not very well. Still…." She smiles gently. "There was something about him that was filled with wonder. There is something incredibly brave about him. And…. he has a point about us helping the Muggles. There might be a way to help him and them without breaking the statute. At any rate. There seems to be something innately decent about him, and constantly Obliviating him seems… cruel."

"Constantly Obliviating? I knew it! You've been doing this for years, haven't you?" Norman slumps into his chair, shaking his head incredulously. "You've no right to mishandle people this way." Though his words are firm, his tone is saddened, defeated. "J-just because you have power, you think you can use it against those of us with none, and you think that it's fine because there won't be any consequences for you. It's…it's…it's not right. It's inhuman."

Zack reaches for the purple parchment and squints at it, then sets it aside. He listens the the witch and the Muggle speak and then all of a sudden seems to remember he should be taking notes. He fumbles around in his pockets and pulls out a bottle of ink and a very bent quill. After grappling with the bottle for a moment, he manages to open it, splattering himself with a number of sizable black drops in the process. He glowers at them and then grabs some parchment and starts writing. "Okay, hold on. So, your vouching statement -" he gestures at Effie with his quill and sends a couple of smaller drops onto his collar "- is that he's filled with wonder, he's brave, and that modifying his memory too often is mean." He writes as he speaks, then glances at Norman. "And your statement is that it's not right." He writes some more. "Is that everything?"

"No, I have another thing to add. This man saw things he could not understand. Instead of seeing reports in Muggle papers, we see him again, trying only to understand. And when he does understand, what does he do? Does he threaten to expose us? Does he threaten blackmail in exchange for favors or power? Does he, at all, ask anything at all? No. He speaks of those who are in danger, who are in need, who do not have the protection they need. He speaks of those who are dead who might have been saved if only, if only, we made other decisions. When faced with discovery, he thought of others. That is something that resonates with me as a brother. Look, obliviating him isn't working, is it? In light of all this, I am willing to vouch for him and serve as his point of contact." Effie turns her head to look at Zack, then at Norman. "Usually memory modification is for your safety and sanity just as much as our safety. Just so you know."

"My safety and sanity?" Norman gawks at Effie. "I appreciate that you're speaking on my behalf, Miss…Inspector. I really do. But…I have to wonder if you…if wizards really understand what they're doing. Everyone thinks I'm crazy. I don't have any friends left because of this. My business is falling apart. My wife…" A tense look of pain passes over Norman's features. "My wife took my son and left me. I haven't seen my boy in a year. All because of what your people have done to me." He swallows hard as he reaches into a pocket for a handkerchief to dab at his eyes. "And you," he says at last to Zack, still sadly calm, "You don't seem to care one bit. I suppose that's what they need from 'Obliviators', hm? People who don't care…so you can't empathise with the people whose minds you're damaging."

Zack squirms in his seat. "This chair isn't comfortable," he says. "It was supposed to be more comfortable." He shifts about for a moment and then looks up, startled, before hurrying to scribble down what Effie says. He listens to Norman as well, still taking notes and nodding distractedly. "Crazy," he mutters to himself, "wife, son… Doesn't like Obliviators. Got it." He looks up. "Oh. Mr Mulligan. Do you actually want to remember what you know about our world? Or are you just upset about the losing your memory thing? I'm upset the bit of my own memory I'm missing, but I already know about wizards. So it isn't the same. Oh, and also I'm not married, so no one could have left me."

"He doesn't like being *obliviated*," corrects Effie. "And from this paperwork, it looks like it was done *a lot*. That doesn't speak well to things. And, if his family and friends thought he was crazy, it wasn't effective on him. You remembered things, bits and pieces?" She shakes her head, then looks at Norman. "I'm so sorry. There are reasons this is done, for your safety and ours. Please believe me. But…." She reaches out her hand to him. "I don't know what the decision will be, and I can't change what *has* happened. But I'll make right… what I can."

Norman frowns down at the moistened handkerchief in his hands. He takes a long, slow breath, trying to regain his composure. "What I want, Mr. Obliviator, is for my mind to be left in peace. My memories belong to me, and they do shape who I am. Why do you think people started thinking me crazy when I began to remember?" He nods to Effie as he segues into her question. "The last few years…I started noticing things…and remembering things I'd forgotten. I remember…even things from when I was a boy. Just little bits…like pieces of images refracted through a crystal. It was just confusing at first. Sometimes even I thought I was losing my mind. But when I started really noticing things…people in strange clothing…or vanishing through walls…I knew I had to find out what was going on." He settles his haunted gaze on Effie's face, shaking his head. "You tell me I should believe you. But how can I? Your entire society is wrapped up in the greatest lie ever told. Wizards don't show Muggles any trust. How can you ask it of me?"

Zack continues to write, his tongue poking out as he concentrates on getting everything down. "Okay," he says, looking over his notes and not paying any attention at all to the exchange between the other two. "I think that should be enough." He slides out of his chair with a horrible squelching sound. "I have to go report to the person in charge of making the decision now. Then I'll come back in a few minutes and tell you what the answer is. Except you might not remember this, so it's a waste of time telling you." He starts for the door, then stops again. "Oh. Mr Mulligan. You're a very irritating person. And rude. You should try not to be so irritating and rude if you end up being allowed to remember everything. Wizards don't like irritatingly rude people. I don't like them. And I'm a wizard." He walks out.

"I suppose you spend your days in self-loathing then," Effie retorts before Zack leaves. "Supercilious manky git," she adds once the door shuts. She turns her head towards Norman. "Witch-burning and prosecution has been a very real thing," she says gently. "When we were well-known to Muggle society, it alternated between demanding everything of us and trying to kill us. And so many problems…. cannot be solved by magic. So. Centuries ago, we withdrew from the Muggle world and created the International Statute of Secrecy." She sighs. "We protect you from dragons, from wild magical things, from dark things. I wander Muggle London often, and protect Muggles as well as witches and wizards." A soft sigh escapes her. "My parents are Muggles. My in-laws are Muggles. I trust Muggles no less than I trust anyone."

Norman is caught completely off-guard by Zack's parting shot, and just watches him go with wide eyes coloured with the sting of those words. He sighs and lowers his gaze again, listening to Effie's justification for secrecy. "I know the legends and the history, Inspector. I do quite a lot of reading. I also know that the legends are teeming with tales of wicked witches and evil sorcerers that lorded their powers over the powerless, just as your Ministry has done to me." He looks up at Effie, his sunken eyes quite like a kicked puppy's. "But we're all still here, aren't we? It seems to me that this International Statute has created just as many problems as it solved."

Whether or not Zack hears Effie's retort, he doesn't stop to respond. He shuts the door behind him, but he can't have been gone more than two minutes before he's opening it again and squeezing back into the cramped room. He doesn't look happy. Drawing his wand, he points flicks it at the rubber chair he conjured earlier and it vanishes. Then he turns to Norman. "Your memories will not be removed," he says. "Instead you're going to come with me." He pauses, his brow furrowing. His mouth twists, and then he continues. "They've assigned me to help you assimilate to your new environment."

"Those wicked witches and wizards more often target wizardkind than Muggles. And they are my prey, as it were." Effie sighs. "They are fewer than Muggle fairy tales would have you believe, though. But…. fighting Dark wizards is the main duty of Aurors. Not just police, but track down, capture, sometimes fight or duel. I take threats to both Muggles and Wizardkind very seriously. The worst injury I ever took was defending a little Muggle girl. I still have the limp. As for the rest….." Effie looks up as Zack returns. She rises and Vanishes her chair, and her eyes glitter. "I haven't done anything personally to gain your trust, Norman Mulligan. I'm not asking for that. I'm asking if you'll let me help you. And…. I'm sorry for all you've gone through." She eyes Zack. "As this is no longer a potential Statute violation, this ends my official participation. But…. should Mr. Mulligan wish it, I will help him as his advocate."

"You?" Norman says to Zack? "I…I don't need help. I need to go home." Still, he rises obediently in spite of his protests, stepping around the table to follow Zack. All the while, his looks back to Effie pleading eyes. "I…I want her to help. She lived as a Muggle, she said. She'll understand how to help me assimilate. I want her to be my advocate."

"Well you're going to get it anyway," Zack tells the man. "And you do need it, even if you don't think so." He looks between Norman and Effie, his eyebrows still drawn together. He seems torn on whether to allow it. "Okay, fine. But since you're no longer participating officially, you'll have to come as a civilian. Which means you don't get to meddle in Ministry business. In case that wasn't clear." He frowns at the pair and then turns to open the door again. "This way. We're going by Portkey."

To Be Continued…

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License