The Bletchley Circle, Witch Edition
At the start of WWII, Jean McBrian left the wizarding community. I can’t remember what the HP canon is for the era, but I could see wizarding community as a whole thinking that they have no interests in this war. They wanna stay out of it.
But there were some Muggleborns and Half-bloods who did just what she did. Appeared in the Muggle world, ready to help in any way they could. They have ties to Muggle world, know what’s at stake, know it affects them all. And so, Jean, with her few extra skills landed in charge of a department at Bletchley.
And she blended in perfectly.
Especially because she's reserved and private. And of course Jean is smart, so she only uses her powers when no one is around and no one can trace them.
But there are rumors about her. Like the women talking about how she pulls on all-nighters but never looks it. (Glamour spells are a wonderful thing. Where some use then to look good, Jean uses them to hide the dark circles under her eyes.)
She has a rep as an extremely fast typist (with no errors). No one knows she uses a copying spell in the privacy of her office, dedicating that time to more research. She uses pepper up potions to stay awake too.
One night she spies something suspicious and has to change into her cat form.
Maybe it’s a girl from her team, with a soldier... and she’s worried about the girl’s reputation. So she transforms, follows them. And is shocked when the girl hands a folder to him. They both look around suspiciously, and Jean is determined to find out what’s in that folder.
And eventually she does, maybe next night, sneaking in to the officers' barracks or something.
What Jean discovers is that the soldier is a double agent. She alerts the right people so that there’s a raid the next morning and the soldier is found out. Then, Jean either turns the girl in, too... or let’s her know she knows what she did, finds out the girl didn’t realize he was a spy and Jean just has her transferred with a warning that she’s keeping her eyes on her.
Then, at the end of the war Millie finds out.
Millie comes looking for Jean. Knocks on her door, looks in, doesn’t see Jean, only a cat sleeping on the bed.
She sighs and closes the door. Wonders what to do. Decides to wait for Jean because what she needs to show her is really important and it can’t wait... and she has no idea where she should look for the woman.
So she sits outside Jean’s door and waits.
And then Jean opens the door and leaves her room.
And Millie is really confused.
Because Millie is 100% sure Jean was not in that room three hours ago. She had not fallen asleep in the corridor while waiting for Jean. The only explanation would be... but that’s not possible.
Little does Jean know that Millie is a witch as well. Born to a prominent pure blood family, Millie has always been the black sheep.
She refused to marry the man her parents chose for her, and when the war broke out and she wanted to join the British Muggles in fight against the Nazis, her parents cut her off. It was the final straw for them.
But Millie is a free spirit. She knows her mind, loves to party and to have a good time, she’s not easily daunted when things get tough.
So she’s adapted.
And now Millie has seen something that doesn't make sense in the Muggle world. She has her ideas, her suspicions, she’s good at breaking codes after all, seeing things that aren’t easily detectable. And now it’s all about connecting the dots.
And soon she feels really stupid, because it’s clear as day that Jean’s a witch.
And she starts a tiny hint campaign of her own.
Jean is looking very tired one night. It’s been a long day, they’re all still at it, breaking codes, working. Jean retires to her office for a while, looking absolutely done in.
Fifteen minutes later she joins the women on the floor again, awake and alert as if she’s never been tired in her life. Someone mentions it. “How are you so awake? Weren’t you dead on your feet just ten minutes ago?”
Jean says something about having had coffee. “Must’ve done the trick.”
Millie looks at her, knowingly. “Mm... works quite like a pepper up potion, doesn’t it?”
Jean’s eyes flash with uncertainty, wariness... she’s not sure if it was an accidental use of the words or not, but the way Millie’s looking at her tells her it wasn’t.
And then there’s something else too. Jean poured tea in her cup an hour ago and when Millie goes to her office to hand her some files, the same tea is still steaming. It’s not something most people would notice and Jean’s been reheating her tea in her office for years without anyone questioning it. But Millie makes a comment about Jean having a magic tea cup to keep the tea still hot after so long.
And then Millie has to bring papers or something to Jean again one evening and again.. she knocks, there’s no answer. She opens the door again, sees the same cat on the bed again, sleeping.
“Jean?” Millie asks. The cat awakes. Millie closes the door behind her. “It’s okay,” she says, does a spell of some kind. Maybe a door locking charm or something.
And after a moment, the cat morphs into Jean.
“How long have you know?”
“Not long. Since I came to see you here last time. Saw no one but a cat in here, but then hours later you exited the room.”
“Also, having pets is against the rules and you'd never break them by having one.”
Millie possibly also mentions the few other things she’s noticed, but then assures Jean she only noticed because she was looking for them.
They give brief histories. Jean explains her father is a Muggle, he fought in the Great War, despite her mother offering to hide them all.
He’s too old to fight now, though he opposes Hitler and his anti-Semitic beliefs... so Jean, who agrees with her father, had decided to do what she could. And she believes that if Hitler would win, eventually he would target the wizarding world as well.
She’s just thinking ahead.
And so Millie explains her reasons. Pureblood, black sheep of the family, restless soul, hates discrimination, wanted to help with the war effort. Dreams of traveling the world once this madness Is over. And so... they know.
But then the war ends and they go their separate ways.
(Jean and Millie would definitely be Unspeakables for the Department of Mysteries if they were in the wizarding world. But Wizarding world wouldn’t trust them since they joined a Muggle fight. So they’re both basically ostracized.)
Things follow canon.
Millie travels the world, sometimes getting into scrapes, tough times.
She’s fallen in love with Susan but Susan has chosen to stay home and raise a family with a man she met.
Millie had told Susan about her being a witch, but Susan didn’t take it well. Maybe that’s what kept them apart in the end.
And Millie was always... slightly resentful about it. That Susan couldn’t see past it. That here’s a Muggle she’s in love with who can’t see past the fact that Millie is a witch, when Millie’s family and so many Purebloods can’t see past people being Muggleborns or Half-bloods.
But then, years later, women die and Susan comes to see Millie, wanting to solve the crimes. And Millie tells her they’ll need Lucy’s help. And Jean’s too. She finds it amusing that Susan is still afraid of Jean.
In the meanwhile, Jean has become a librarian. It’s not glamorous by any means and a definite step down from what she did during the war and what she did before that in the wizarding world, but it’s a job where she can, on occasion, use her powers. She enjoys it.
She doesn’t have friends, she’s too austere, has too many secrets. She does occasionally write to an old friend from their time together at Hogwarts. But that’s really it.
When Jean gets shot, Millie pleads for Jean to let her take her to St. Mungo’s, but Jean refuses. So, instead, Millie goes to Diagon Alley and finds old potions books she remembers from her grandfather’s library and makes potions. She might not be able to take away the limp Jean is left with, but she can help with the pain.
Then, everyone moves on again. Susan and her family go abroad, Lucy and her new husband are busy with their lives. Etc.
And so Jean and Millie see each other more often.
They’d heard of the war between Dumbledore and Grindelwald, at the end of WWII, but because they’re practically outsiders, what they know is limited.
For now, things seem calm both in the wizarding world and the Muggle one. Of course there are tensions because of the Cold War, but other than that.
When Jean’s father dies, she goes to the funeral alone, telling Millie not to come. But when Jean’s mother dies less than six months later, Millie insists on going with her. Jean’s mother was a witch who lived a life in the Muggle world, there’s no one there to honor her wizarding heritage unless Jean and Millie do so.
They go, it brings them closer. It’s during that trip to Scotland that Jean realizes she’s in love with Millie.
But, she’s determined to keep it to herself.
Jean and Millie go to San Francisco. They solve cases. They live together. They use magic to spruce up the place a little.
One evening they talk about finding the local wizarding community. Which they do. They enter a shopping alley, not so different to Diagon Alley.
It’s been years and years for both of them since they’ve been surrounded by magic and it’s quite incredible. Sort of feels like coming home, and yet... it’s been so long. And it’s different too. It’s American, not British, it’s more modern... it’s the same but it’s different.
They do some shopping, both loving the bookshop they’ve found. Both needing to use a spell to make their purchases smaller and easier to carry.
A few days later, Millie gives a jar of something dark red to Jean. Asks her to try it on her leg.
(I’m thinking Millie was quite good at potions, might’ve had a bright future in store for herself had she not pissed off her family. Could’ve taught Severus, been someone he admired, been someone he was inspired by, had things been different.)
Millie had found another potions book, mixed some potion recipes and has come up with a new one, to help muscles heal even after a long time.
Jean starts to apply it twice a day as Millie has told her and she finds herself needing her cane less and less.
When their case is solved, Jean mentions going to New York, Millie says she wants to stay. It’s far enough from London and England... here the wizarding world isn’t so black and white. No, Muggles still don’t know about them, but wizards and witches are known to live amongst Muggles and it’s not seen as a big deal. Here she can have both worlds.
She hasn’t realized how much she’s missed being a witch.
And Jean is heartbroken. She’s not enough for Millie to come back. It’s not enough for Millie that they could still perform magic when they’re together. She’s not enough.
Then, the thing with Hayley happens.
Hayley, who is a Muggle and much younger than Jean. Jean thinks she’s a wonderful young woman but beyond that, well... nothing could ever happen.
She cares for the girl but not in that way.
She’s also been in love with Millie for years now. It’s not something she can turn off.
Millie goes out with the cop and it’s flattering to be wooed... but he’s a Muggle, she can’t bury that part of herself anymore, doesn't think he'd take it well if she told him. Also, he’s really misogynistic and she grows tired of him fast. And when she realizes one day, in the middle of a dinner date with him, that she keeps comparing everything he says and does to what Jean would say or do... she knows her future is not with him.
Jean and Millie keep living in SF, the cop disappears from the picture and when Jean asks about him, Millie just says he wasn’t the right one. They keep living together, basically pining for each other but unaware that they both feel the same.
They do little things for each other all the time. Jean studies books or files they’ve been working on, forgets to drink her tea (a habit of hers, Millie now knows). So when she absentmindedly is about to take a sip of cold tea, Millie quickly reheats the tea before the beverage touches Jean’s lips. For quite a while Jean doesn’t even notice, but eventually she catches Millie mid spell and it’s a little thing they now both have a fondness for.
Jean happens to be very good at spells that clean and iron clothes. Millie’s family had house elves, and clothing maintenance was never a top priority for her to learn.
So, Jean does quick work of that. They’re very domestic.
Then… Millie, Jean, Hayley and Iris, maybe Olivia too... go for a picnic or something. Just a day off, just them.
And there, Millie notices the way Hayley keeps looking at Jean. And the way Jean treats Hayley (kind but slightly distant).
At some point Hayley goes for a walk by herself, the other women still gathered on their blankets, talking. Millie sees Jean looking at Hayley, worried, frowning a little. So, Millie gets up and says she’s going to join Hayley.
Millie and Jean exchange looks, communicating silently. Jean wanting Millie to be careful with Hayley, Millie letting Jean know she knows and not to worry.
Jean still keeps watching them, but tries to not be obvious about it.
Millie walks over to Hayley. Asks what’s wrong. Hayley first tries to act like nothing is, but quickly caves in. Asks Millie what to do when you’re in love with someone who doesn’t love you back.
Millie looks at Jean, wonders about that herself.
Tells Hayley that you try and be their friend. Keep reminding yourself that it’s their happiness you want, at the end of the day. Learn to settle for that. And to not close your heart go other people. Because there will be a time when someone else will walk into your life and you’ll find yourself falling for them and then you can move on.
And Millie thinks about Jean and Susan. How much she’d loved Susan and had thought she’d never love someone like that. But she'd had to accept that Susan didn’t feel the same. And the Jean had been there for her, as a friend. They’d become close, their shared secret proving a strong bond. And then, she’d realized one day that her heart had moved on. Susan was in the past and Jean... well, Jean was the present and the future, in whatever form Millie could have her.
Something that Millie says, or the way she looks at Jean makes Hayley realize she’s not alone with her feelings for the Scot. Millie makes it clear she’s not jealous or harboring any ill will for Hayley over her feelings. “She has that effect on you. You just can’t help loving her.”
Later that night, when they’re back home, Jean and Millie have gotten ready for bed. They’re drinking tea in Jean’s bedroom, sitting on her bed, talking about the day. They’re meant to be talking where to find jobs, whether to seek them in the Muggle world or the Wizarding one etc. their whole plan for staying in SF.
But somehow they end up talking about the picnic, about their American counterparts and what they’ve told about what the war was like for them. Etc.
And they talk about how the lives of these women has changed since the war. How everywhere things took two steps back for them when the men came back from the war. They talk how in this, at least, the Wizarding world is ahead of the Muggle one. No, things aren’t equal, but at least witches aren’t treated as second class citizens.
Then Millie says that well, things might be a bit better in some ways (for the women they’ve come to know and call friends now). Jean waits for her to explain. Millie says something about Hayley being in a big city now, getting away from narrow minded people of a small town. It’s been good for her. She’ll still need to grow up a little, but she’ll have a chance of a good life.
Jean nods. Thinks about asking Millie what the two had talked about, but decides against it.
“You know she’s in love with you.”
Jean looks a little surprised but doesn’t even attempt to deny it. “I know.”
Millie stays silent, keeps studying Jean’s face, trying to figure out what she’s thinking.
Millie wants to know if Jean’s not bothered by it. Of course she’s not, she’s flattered even, on some level. But it could never work.
"She’s too young! And she’s... well, she’s a Muggle." Jean has seen up, close and personal how hard it can be, when one is married to a Muggle. There are always things that can’t be done, shouldn’t be done... can’t be revealed to others. It puts a strain on a relationship, and Muggles often can't understand that magic really can't fix everything.
Millie listens, mostly waiting for a reason she hasn’t heard. That they’re both women. But Jean’s not giving that as a reason. She knows Jean doesn’t have anything against same sex relationships; she’s known about Millie being in love with Susan and had never balked at it, supported Millie even, as she struggled to get over her. Still, she asks. “And those are the only reasons?”
Jean hesitates. “No.”
“The thing is...” Jean says, looking away and then pauses. She’s wringing her hands and Millie covers them with her own, wanting to assure Jean that it’s okay, she won’t judge. But she isn’t ready for the way Jean looks at her. “The thing is,” Jean tries again. “I’m in love with someone else.”
Hearing her name makes Jean look away again. She’s revealed too much. Made a fool of herself. She’s tried so hard to keep her feelings in check, to preserve the friendship she has with Millie and she’s just risked all that.
Millie can’t quite believe it. She’s almost certain of what she saw in Jean’s eyes, wants to believe it but can she? She’s almost too afraid to press further, but the way Jean is looking now, even turned away from her, Millie can’t leave it like this. Because she can see the way Jean is hurting. She wants to make it better. Not sure if she’s right but she has to do something, say something.
Millie tightens her hold of Jean’s hands, trying to get her attention. “Hayley... she asked me what to do when you’re in love with someone who doesn’t love you back...”
Millie watches Jean; she still won’t meet her eyes but it’s clear that she’s listening.
“When she asked me that, I told her what you taught me. To be there for them, to be a friend, to remember that it’s their happiness that counts. To keep her heart open for new chances. To not close her heart to others who will come into her life. Because one day you’ll find that you can be happy again, with someone else. Happier than you ever thought you could be, sharing your life with them, sharing secrets, living your life, enjoying quiet nights at home as much as big adventures around the world.”
“You said all that?” Now Jean is looking at Millie, her words not leaving much for interpretation.
“Well, not in so many words. But she knew the point I was making.”
Jean needs to know. Needs them to stop dancing around. “The point being?”
Millie takes a deep breath, hardly able to hear Jean for the pounding of her heart and the adrenaline pumping through her. She searches Jean’s eyes for something that will make her brave enough, and then she sees it. “The point being that you’ve spelled your way into my heart, Jean McBrian. It took me much too long to realize it, but there’s no question how much I love you. How much I’m in love with you.”
Jean has tears in her eyes. She finds that she hardly cares, because all she can do is try and keep telling herself she’s not dreaming. And then Millie kisses her and Jean prays she’s not dreaming.