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Britpick request - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Britpick request
I'm reposting an older story here, just because it's easier for feedback than a link. I'd like to get "Loosey Lippity Lessons" together for posting on sites other than Bighead (which is largely just a convenient stash spot for me). I got called at the original posting on Americanisms, even after I fixed a couple of major ones. Could I get a Britpick on this?

"That's right! 'G' is for Ginny!" Percy exclaimed. "Good girl!"

Ginny beamed. "Good girl. That's two g's."

Molly smiled at her from across Ronnie's lines of sums. On the floor, the twins were drawing a map of Britain, and they looked up with identical encouraging smiles. "Very good, dear," Molly said. "And you should thank your big brother for teaching you that."

Ginny kissed Percy's presented cheek and gave him a hug. "Good girl Ginny," she said. "That's three g's."

"Don't forget generally gibbering George," Fred said. "That's three more."

"It's four more," George said. "Fred can't count."

Ginny laughed.

Molly shook her head. "You two are supposed to be working on your map."

"Yes, Mum."


"Ronnie, if Ginny has three g's and George has four g's, how many g's do we have all together?"

Ronnie stuck out his fingers, grubby with ink, and stuck three up on his left hand and four on his right. Slowly, he counted them. "Seven!"

"Good job."

"Really rather right, Ronnie," Fred said.

Ronnie giggled. "Funny finny Fred."

"Funny finny finey Fred," Ginny expanded, clapping merrily.

"Ginny," Percy said patiently, "those aren't really words."

"Perfectly purple Percy!" George got up and danced excitedly.

"And that doesn't make any sense! I'm not at all purple."

"Perfectly purple Percy, pawing potato pies..."

"Enough," Molly said sternly, seeing how red in the face Percy was becoming. "Back to your lessons."

"Loosey lippity lessons."

She raised an eyebrow.

George came over and kissed her cheek. "Marvelously mumsy Mum."

She tried to bite back a smile--the twins didn't need much encouragement to keep up with this sort of thing--but couldn't quite do it. "Back to work," she said, pinching George's nose. "Now."

"Nibbity nabbity now," he said, dropping down to the floor across from Fred and picking up a crayon. "Cribbly crabby crayon."

Molly checked Ronnie's sums one more time, then wrote out a new series for him. "You start here. I'll go help your sister."

"Silly silly sister," Ronnie said.

"I'm not silly!" Ginny yelled, then sat back on her high backed stool and preened. "I'm smartly sister."

"Superbly smartly silly sister," Fred agreed.


When she sat down beside Ginny, Percy gave her a long-suffering sigh and shook his head. "Children," he said in a commiserating way.

Molly pressed her tongue against the roof of her mouth and pursed her lips to keep from laughing. When the urge passed, she kissed his forehead. "Percy, why don't you finish reading the story I gave you? I want you to tell me about it later."

"I was helping Ginny with her alphabet."

"And doing quite a lovely job," Molly agreed. "But you need to do your own lessons, too."

"Lovely loopy loosey..."


Percy took his book--a story called The Adventures of Mibulia Mabulus, about a girl detective who solved mysteries in Diagon Alley--and curled up on the sofa to read.

"I want to read a story," Ginny said.

"That's why you're learning your alphabet, dear."

"I want to read a story now! Percy can!"

"Percy already knows his alphabet. What comes after 'G'?"

"I," Ginny said.

"No, dear. You're missing one."


"In the alphabet, dear, not in your name."

"Er..." Ginny bit her lip. "P?"

"No, dear."

"Why do the boys already know their alphabet and I don't?'

"The boys are older."

"I want to be older. Can you make me older with magic, Mummy?"

"No magic for you until you learn your alphabet. Then I'll give you a golden star. But I'm not going to make you older. I like you just as you are."

Ginny pouted.

Molly took her quill and wrote the alphabet on her parchment. She pointed to "H" with her wand (resisting the urge to make it glow or dance or do something interesting, since she'd said she wouldn't do a spell for Ginny until she'd learned). "What's the name of this letter?"


"Right! What's something that starts with an 'h'?"

"Er... hole."


"Hoppy, hilly, happy..."


"Mummy?" Ronnie said, frowning.

"What is it?"

"Is four-plus-three the same as three-plus-four?"

"Yes, well-spotted, Ronnie! Good job."

"And it's still seven," he said tentatively.

"It certainly is."

"And four-plus-four is eight?"

"That's right."

Ronnie laboriously filled in both answers. With a sudden flourish, he scribbled three more answers, almost illegible. "And nine and ten and eleven!" he cried excitedly. "May I have fives now, Mummy? I know all my fours. And I like fives. I'm five."

"You just add one more if it's five," Percy said wisely, looking up over the back of the sofa. "So instead of four-plus-three, it's four-plus-three-plus-one."

Ronnie's eyes grew wide. "You can add three numbers?"

"I can add three numbers," Fred said irritably. "I can add lots of numbers. Even when they're two numbers long!"

"Really?" Ron asked him, awed with this achievement.

"I can do it in my head!" George boasted.

"No, you can't!" Fred said. "You use a scroll."

"But I can."

"Can you?" Molly challenged him. "All right. Front and center."

George stood up.

"How many do you think you can add?"


"Seven. Well, isn't that a handy number for us?" She smiled. "If you added your age and all your brothers' and your sister's together, how old would you be?"

George swallowed hard. "Er... Bill is fourteen. Plus Charlie is twelve. They're... Twenty-six! That's very old."

"Terribly," Molly agreed. "Keep going."

"Percy is nine--"

"I'm almost ten! I should be ten!"

"You're still nine, dear," Molly said sternly. There had been many tears when Percy realized that, because of his late October birthday, he would be three years behind Charlie in school rather than the two he had serenely anticipated. She and Arthur had agreed to be firm about his occasional outbursts on the subject, though Arthur's idea of firmness was generally no more than a frown.

"Twenty-six plus nine..." George mused. "That's thirty-five!" He shook his head in amazement. "And then seven more for me, that's forty-two, and seven more for Fred--"

"Why do you go first?"

"I'm older."

"You are not. Mum?"

"You were born at exactly the same time. It was very special Don't-Argue-About-It magic. Go on, George."

"Seven more for Fred is forty-nine. And five for Ron is fifty-four, and four for Ginny is fifty-eight. We're fifty-eight all together. Is that older than you, Mum?"

"A bit."

"Is it older than Dad?"

"A bit."

"Is it older than both of you put together?"

Molly laughed. "Not even close, dear. Very good. Would you like a golden star?"

George smiled and nodded.

Molly waved her wand and conjured a glittering ball of golden light. It circled the wand tip, leaving a glowing trail, then floated over to George, who caught it on his fingertip and whirled it happily. It scooted up to the ceiling, then came to hover above his ear, following him back to his place by his map.

"I did all my fives by myself!" Ronnie said. He waved a piece of parchment. "Look, Mummy!"

Molly took the parchment and smiled at his large, scrawled numbers. "Very good."

She made him a star, which danced its way up his sleeves and alit in his hair.

"I want a star," Ginny said.

Molly tapped her parchment. "If you know what all your letters sound like, you may have a star."

"Will Percy have a star if he finishes his book?"

"I'm too old for stars," Percy said loftily.

"I don't want to be old," Ginny said. "I want a star. I can say my old letters."

"All right," Molly said. "Say something with an 'a'."


"Airy arty apple," Fred piped up.

Ginny giggled at this, and Molly smiled. The twins would finish their map later.

"'B,'" she said.


Molly looked at George. "Go on."

"Bill's bobbity boxy broomstick!"



"Chomping Chudley Charlie!"

By 'J,' Ronnie had started, with "Jumping jobs." By 'M,' even Percy had chimed in, with "Mad Mibulia Mabulus," and was mollified when Ginny herself rounded off his name with "peppity poppity" instead of "perfectly purple." Arthur Apparated home into this nonsense, and delightedly created something called the Zealous Zebra Zoo, earning him a round of applause for catching on so quickly.

Molly fixed everyone supper, letting Arthur entertain the children for half an hour. By the time they'd finished eating, her nerves were starting to wear--there were only so many times a person could hear "piping piles of potatoes" or "goody goody gravy" or "boring blooming broccoli" without going around the twist--but the little ones were starting to yawn widely, and the hands of the clock were moving toward "Time for bed!"

The twins put up only a mild protest. They would undoubtedly spend at least an hour playing in their room; Arthur, Molly decided, could take care of the repeated trips in to tell them to go to sleep. Percy, who had gained an extra hour on his ninth birthday, ostentatiously sat down with his book.

Ronnie and Ginny shared a room on the third floor. Bill had offered Ronnie his top room during the school year, but Ronnie was frightened of the ghoul in the attic, and of being so far from everyone else, though his stated position was that Ginny would be frightened without him. (Ginny had made an indignant face at this, declaring that she wasn't frightened of anything.) Molly and Arthur got them cleaned up and into their pajamas, and tucked them into their beds.

Ginny yawned, leaning back into her pillow. "Puffy-pilly-pillow," she said. "Slippy-sloopy-sleepy."

"Yes, dear," Molly said, kissing her forehead and drawing the blankets up. "It's slippy-sleepy time."

"Sleepy, slopey..." Ginny's eyes went wide with alarm. "Mummy, my star! You said I might have a star."

"Oh, I'm sorry! I forgot. Here you are." Molly drew her wand and conjured a glittering gold star, letting it hover over Ginny's head.
Ginny reached up and touched it, smiling.

On the other side of the room, Arthur pulled down the picture of Bill and Charlie, and Ronnie patted it. "G'night, Bill," he said. "G'night, Charlie."

Molly smiled and held her hand out for the picture. It had been Bill's idea when he first went off to Hogwarts, leaving a photo of himself in one-year-old Ginny's cradle, "So the baby won't forget me." The baby had most assuredly not forgotten.

Molly gave her the picture and she kissed it soundly. "Love Bill. Love Charlie." She smiled and hugged the picture, then gave it back to Molly. "It's a pity Bill and Charlie are off at school," she said. "I think they'd like lessons."
9 comments or Leave a comment
myf From: myf Date: August 23rd, 2004 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
*g* I've always liked this fic.

As for Britpicks, the only thing that slightly stood out to me was Molly 'fixing supper'. I'd tend to 'cook dinner', but it's time to defer to a Real Brit(TM).
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: August 23rd, 2004 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not a Britpick, but did you want to change that bit about Percy's birthday? Since we finally have an answer about when it is?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where is this birthday list? I know it's on her site somewhere, but I couldn't find it when I went to look.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 24th, 2004 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Never mind, I found it. But that definitely enters into the oh-dear-maths category, unless Charlie skipped a year.
calixa From: calixa Date: August 23rd, 2004 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Adorable! =)
volandum From: volandum Date: August 24th, 2004 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure, but I think I'd be more comfortable with "Night." than "G'night."
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: August 24th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
RealBrit (TM) chiming in here.

There are a few Americanisms here that stand out to a British reader. Firstly, the point that myf raises about "fixing supper" is a good one. Molly is much more likely to 'get the dinner' or 'make the tea'. There is also a whole long argument about the word that you use for the evening meal indicating something about your social class which I don't intend to get into here because firstly I'm not sure that the Muggle class structure translates directly to the Wizarding World and second I'm not sure that Muggles commonly adhere to the practice anymore. The words "tea" and "dinner" are pretty much interchangeable in my family anyway.

Getting back to the point, the other things I noted were all phrases that Molly uses that she would probably be unlikely to come out with. They are:

"Good job" - this sounds very American to me. Maybe try "Well done", or "Good work".

"I'll go help your sister" - Molly would definitely say "I'll go and help your sister".

"Front and center" - Not in common useage in Britain. I don't have a great suggestion as to what to replace it with though. Maybe "Come on then"?
cynthia_black From: cynthia_black Date: August 24th, 2004 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with others who said that "Good job" was something Molly wouldn't say, and that she wouldn't 'fix supper' in England.

'Front and center' is a strange expression too - I assume you mean she's telling him to stand up in the middle in front of the others? I can't think of a British equivalent, but it might be best to rephrase it somehow.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 24th, 2004 08:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Huh--it never ceases to amaze me what stands out. "Fix supper" and "front and center" wouldn't have occurred to me in a million years! (And yes, the latter means basically, come forward, present yourself, etc.)

9 comments or Leave a comment