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Shifts, Chapter 9: Teachers, Part 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 9: Teachers, Part 1
'Nuff politics. I've finally been putting together the SW stuff for Humongous Bighead. It's not published yet, because it's sort of a tedious job and I figure I'll put everything up at once (not the stuff that's already on the Mask), but I've got ten or eleven stories ready. I'm debating whether or not to put in a couple of novelty pieces--two which are neutral (a couple of "press interviews" with OCs), and one of which is a fairly nasty anti-EU bit that I did over at SotJ (the Mara Jade deathmatch, in which Padmé insults her and Aunt Beru beats her up). I did say I'd store everything, didn't I?

I'll write some Shifts now. We last left Dudley and Remus in a classroom, with Remus using magic in front of Dudley.


Table of Contents and Summary So Far






Dudley went totally white, his small eyes opening to their widest extent. "You... can't," he said, staring at the chair. "You're... you're not allowed. You're..."

"Not underage," Remus said. "Have a seat."

But Dudley Dursley seemed totally frozen--alarmingly so. Remus had spent enough time as a predator to recognize a prey reaction when he saw one. Dudley was just waiting for a blow to fall. His breathing was quick and shallow, and his fingertips were trembling. His eyes had not left the chair.

"Dudley?"

His eyes came up, looking around jerkily. "You can't," he said again, his voice panicky. "Not here. Not at Smeltings."

Remus frowned and moved the chair up manually. "Please sit down, Dudley. I don't intend to harm you."

Gingerly, Dudley sat down. The stare snapped to Remus's face and remained there. The amount of bravado Dudley had shown so far had led Remus to think of several possible reactions he might have, but he'd never thought of the simplest, the one thing that had come clearly through every description of the boy Remus had heard: He was terrified of magic. Literally, bone-deep terrified.

Then again, his experiences with magic were an escaped boa constrictor, a Conjured pig's tail, the Inflating spell on his aunt, some prank from the Weasley boys, and, of course, the Dementors. That, added to Petunia's jealous distaste of Lily's world, hadn't given him a very good impression. Harry, being underage (and probably disinclined) wouldn't have shown him simple Charms done for amusement, or useful spells like Claudeo, Lumos, or Alohomora.

"I can't do a lot of magic here," he said.

Dudley gulped.

"I'm here to look after you," Remus told him. "Not to hurt you. I'm here to make sure no one else does, either."

No answer.

Remus couldn't think of a logical approach here, because Dudley's response was far beyond reason. Instead, he fell back on his instincts. They might be wrong, but they were all he had.

He turned his wand around and offered it to Dudley.

Dudley looked at it like it might bite him.

"Take it," Remus said. If Dudley took it in his head to break it in two, he'd be in a world of trouble, but he didn't think that would happen.

Dudley reached for it, then pulled his hand back. "What will it... do?"

"Nothing. The wand isn't a firearm. It's a tool to focus a wizard's power."

"So normal people can't do anything."

"The wand won't simply explode in your hand, if that's what you're asking."

Hesitantly, Dudley took the wand. He held it lightly, frowning over it and turning it this way and that. "Wh--?" he started to ask, then looked away.

"Ask what you want to ask, Dudley. I'll answer if I can."

"What's it made of?"

"Willow. Its core is a phoenix feather. Like Harry's, though it's a different phoenix."

Dudley's eyes opened wider at the mention of Harry's name, and he thrust the wand back into Remus's hand with a shudder. He tried to say something, but whatever wards had been put on him in regard to Harry prevented him from even addressing the question. He snarled in frustration.

"You've tried to talk about him before," Remus said. "You know something stops you."

"Like I'd waste my time talking about that skinny little git."

"I know he's your cousin, and I know you don't get along particularly well."

"Hmph."

"Dudley, I'm here to help you."

"Right. So you got one of your mates to get Mr. Levinson out of the way, and--"

"I had nothing whatsoever to do with that.

"Right." Dudley stood up. "You just wandered in. Happened to be his classroom. All from the goodness of your freak heart."

"Dudley--"

"I can't tell anyone. Even if you lot didn't stop me, who'd believe me? I reckon your teaching certificate is forged, but you're probably ready for that."

"Dudley--"

"I'm going to boxing practice," he said clearly. "You go to hell."

He turned on his heel and left the room.

Remus didn't try to stop him. He sat on the edge of his desk, his feet swinging absently, thinking. A part of him--the rational part--thought that it had gone as wrong as it was possible to go. He certainly hadn't created a bond of trust. But had that been what he was after?

He didn't know. His instincts had not changed their input on the subject. It still felt like a step in the right direction.

The next week at Smeltings didn't give him much indication on the matter, and he could only answer curious questions about it from Dora and Sirius with a puzzled shrug (he had told no one else about this strategy). Dudley came and went in his class, turning in his assignments, speaking when he was called on, and even managing (barely) to pass a surprise quiz on Monday. He sometimes glared at Remus defiantly, but more often than not, he simply disconnected. The Friday a week and a half after his last detention, Remus caught him hitting a small second former with dark hair and glasses. He served his detention that night without a word.

"Pet project not going well?" Alan asked in a light voice as they packed their briefcases for the weekend.

"I tried to talk to him. He used to dislike me in a general sort of way. Now he dislikes me in particular."

"Well, that's progress of a sort," Alan said. "Always better to be a person than a category."

Remus nodded.

As he left the grounds, he saw Dudley and Piers sitting on the steps of the gymnasium, smoking in plain view even though it was against school rules. He raised an eyebrow.

Dudley took the cigarette out of his mouth and ground it on the pavement, not bothering with a sarcastic smile. Piers followed suit.

Remus went on to the gate that led toward the faculty car park (the woods from which he Apparated were on the far side of it), but just before he rounded the last bend, he looked back.

Two more members of the gang were there now, and Piers was talking to them. Dudley was leaning on the rail now, watching Remus leave. When he noticed Remus looking back, he turned around and joined his friends.
10 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
chienar From: chienar Date: August 24th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Shifts...

All I can say is... I can't wait to read more.
maerchen From: maerchen Date: August 25th, 2004 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, please post the Mara Jade deathmatch!

This is the first time in the story I've felt sorry for Dudley; even when he suspected Lupin of being a wizard, he could at least think of Smeltings as a haven of normalcy. Now he's seen magic done there, too, maybe he's afraid he'll never escape it. Poor guy.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: August 25th, 2004 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Mara Jade Deathmatch! Mara Jade Deathmatch!

(Count me as another nonfan of the EU; it doesn't seem bad so much as unnecessary.)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: August 25th, 2004 06:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Willow. It's core is a phoenix feather.

Surely it's "its".

Nice scene. Dudley continues to develop in ways unexpected but foreshadowed in the book. Just what's going to happen now?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 25th, 2004 12:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Surely it's "its"

Oh, eek. And it's my favorite pet peeve, too.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 25th, 2004 07:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooo! A tantalizing little cookie -- so soon! Thank you! :) Phoenix feather, huh? I would have thought that, too. Tonks' would be a unicorn hair, d'you reckon?

Thank you for the link to jibjab yesterday - I haven't laughed that much in a long time.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: August 25th, 2004 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
...I happen to like Mara Jade. But then, I'm biased. :) The Timothy Zahn Thrawn trilogy, which came out when I was thirteen, is what "got me into" SW in the first place. I've been a Luke/Mara shipper since she said "Wait, I'll come with you" at the end of The Last Command. I have read several of the other EU books, but the Zahns are the only ones that I think are worth re-reading. And the NJO stuff? Puh-leeze. It's not even worth the time I've spent skimming it in the bookstore.

Anyhow, Shifts continues to be magnificent. I quite enjoyed this scene. It played out in my head with the faces and voices of David Thewlis and Harry Melling. Well done!
dipsas From: dipsas Date: August 25th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)
This is so convincing... I really wonder what Dudley was told or what he figured out during that pub encounter - I suspect we'll find out in due course :).
From: inyron Date: August 25th, 2004 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't find your email address, so I figured I'd respond here. I wanted to let you know that I came across your site last week, and proceeded to read just about all the Harry Potter fic on it. It's all quite good. I had been searching for some decent Remus/Tonks before, but didn't know where to find it. I was also pleased to find that you posted parts ahead on your LJ (and while I was here, I took a look around- your quibbles are very well written. I hope you don't mind that I friended you.) I thought "Your very own Dora" was especially adorable , and hope you have plans to finish "Of a Sort."

Thanks for the wonderful reading material!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 25th, 2004 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't have any specific comments, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm enjoying this story immensely. I check for updates practically every day :)

Looking forward to more...

Lorelei Lynn
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