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Challenges 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Challenges 4
Andromeda and Ted as Tonks goes to Hogwarts for the first time. for maidenjedi
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"Eleven is too young," Andromeda said, crossing her arms over her chest as Ted drove out of London.

"We were eleven once," he reminded her.

"That was different. My parents didn't miss me." She smiled. "All right, maybe they did. Maybe everyone's did. But eleven years is not enough time. I need another eleven. Or twelve. Or twenty."

Ted reached over and squeezed her hand, but couldn't hold it for a long time, given traffic. He was a confident driver, but not a stupid one. "She'll be home for holidays. She's been looking forward to this."

"We could adopt," Andromeda suggested. "Just a sweet little baby…"

"I looked into it. Last time we… tried. When it wasn't working."

"You didn't say anything."

"You were upset enough." He sighed. "The wizarding world is rather good at taking care of its orphans. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and godparents… they all take seriously the notion that they might end up caring for a child. Which means that there aren't many wizarding children up for adoption. That's too generous -- there aren't any, even after a major war."

"We could adopt a Muggle baby!"

"We'd never get past the screening. We have no record of employment, and no way for them to check on us. We wouldn’t be approved. And how would we deal with the Statute of Secrecy?"

She looked at her shoes. "We could find a way."

Ted glanced over at her and decided not to press it. She'd realize the impossibility fairly soon, if he let her work it out on her own. "Dora will be having a wonderful time, though. We both did, you know it."

"She'd best not have as wonderful a time as we did."

He laughed. "I think your parents made them put the ghosts on more frequent patrols to keep an eye on Cissy after you and I… disappointed them."

"Why do I find that very believable?" She sighed and looked out ahead of her. "I'm not ready for her to not be a little girl. Does it always go this fast? I don't remember it being this fast."

"For kids, I reckon it's always a long time. I'm starting to think being a grown-up might have some drawbacks in that area."

This earned a rueful little smile. "I'm being that annoying mum, aren't I? The one she always gets frustrated with."

"Yes, but she's not here, so you can indulge all you like."

"No. I need to get it together. I have to work the evening shift."

"Yes, and they'll all be talking about how popular their children are, and you don't want to be the only one in the whole break room crying about how homesick you are."

"Oh, shut up."

The city traffic was drying up now, and Ted gratefully pulled into a more suburban lane. Soon, they'd be in the country, and he would do a few magical enhancements on the old big to get it to crawl faster. Andromeda wouldn't be better when they got home -- she'd most likely haunt Dora's room and start looking for all the thing she might have left, and she'd have a good cry -- but that part had to be got over with.

And Ted would probably be doing a good bit of the same sort of thing.

Once it was over, though, she'd go to work, and he'd wait for the owl from Dora at Hogwarts to tell them what house she was in and what friends she'd made, and they'd go about the business of becoming Hogwarts parents for the next seven years.

Andromeda reached for the dials on the ancient radio and the tinny sounds of an oldies channel came through. Not the sixties, where Ted felt entirely comfortable, but old rock-and-roll from the fifties. He started singing along with "Yakkety Yak," and Andromeda pretended to be pained by his efforts, and the comforting ritual took them most of the way home.

Ted pulled the car into the garage behind the pond -- the enlarged garden had been one of his favorite magical tinkering projects for years -- and went around to open Andromeda's door. It was an old-fashioned bit of business, but it had been a not-quite joke between them since they were at Hogwarts. "I may be a strong and liberated witch," Andromeda had said, "but if you don't have the manners to open a door for a lady, the lady will get out and walk in the other direction."

Why in the world a pure-blood girl had any sort of entrenched attitude toward car etiquette was something Ted had wondered about over the years, but she'd never told him.

Now, it was just their life together. She fussed over his clothes, he opened doors for her. In the grand scheme of things, these things were nothing. But for Ted, they were what made their marriage theirs, and not someone else's, and he loved every little ritual that had emerged over the years.

He held out his hand to her and embellished the ritual with a little bow.

She smiled, took his hand, and stepped out of the car. Once he closed the door, he dropped his arm over her shoulder.

"Come on in, love," he said. "I'll make us some lunch."

She nodded.

As he'd expected, while he heated up soup and made sandwiches, she wandered the house aimlessly, poking her head into Dora's door, flipping through some books she'd left behind. Dora had inherited Andromeda's outsized sense of romance, apparently, as she'd taken to reading Fifi LaFolle last year. Andromeda said it was probably just to get to the naughty bits -- "It's quite a big deal when you're ten, to try and figure out where everything goes" -- but Ted had his doubts. Dora was not shy about asking any questions that occurred to her about sex, and they were frank with the answers. Ted thought the awful novels were more about the larger-than-life relationships for her. Dora was a daydreamer. She was a tomboy and a rebel in her daily life; in her daydreams she escaped to a prettified girl world, where her brave antics won a man who would treat her as a queen.

As Ted believed every woman ought to find someone who would treat her as a queen, he supposed he approved, at least to a modest extent. If she started trying to fill her life with melodrama to get there, he'd have to intervene. Melodrama was fine for Fifi LaFolle. It was not fine for his only daughter.

Andromeda came back in, a small kitten tucked up near her neck. It was the last of Granny's most recent litter. (A temporary contraceptive charm was on the cat now. Andromeda could not bring herself to do a Sterilization Spell; it hit too close to home.) This one would be going soon. Dora had been diligent about finding homes for the kittens over the summer, and it was headed for the home of a little girl named Millicent, but at the moment, Andromeda was fussing at it as if it were Dora herself.

"So… what do Hogwarts parents do all day?" she asked, sitting down, and setting the kitten on the table, Summoning a bowl of broth for it. "I mean, I really have no idea."

"Well, I can think of a few things," Ted suggested, waggling his eyebrows.

"Maybe tomorrow. I don't have it in me today."

Ted sighed. "Neither do I, really. But… well, we've had a life other than Dora. We could talk about work."

"That's true. No worries about confidentiality now."

"Or we could go on a date. Not today, since you have to work, but I'd love to take you on a proper date. The film and food variety, maybe. The sort we dress up for."

"Do you think that's what other parents are doing?"

"Oddly, I don't care." Ted smiled. "I think the first-timers are all sitting down to lunch and wondering what to do now."

"And what houses their children will be in?"

"I'm wondering that," Ted admitted. "I think she's got a good possibility of Gryffindor."

"Gryffindor?" Andromeda raised her eyebrows. "Well, that would certainly shock my family. I'll fully support that."

"Do you think she'd be able to be Sorted into Slytherin, despite… well, me?"

"There've been half-bloods. I think there've even been Muggle-borns."

"In Slytherin?"

"Well… yes. The Hat seems less concerned with the blood issue than it is with being cunning and sly. Of course, a Muggle-born Slytherin would go out of his way to hide that fact, even now." She sighed. "I hope it's not Slytherin. I don't see Dora fitting in there, and I don't think she'd be happy. She's most like you. I think she'd be happiest in Hufflepuff. I hope that's where the Hat sends her. I like that she's like you."

"I do, too," Ted declared. "Helga Victrix, then."

"But wherever she is -- "

" -- is the best house, I know."

"I suppose we just have to wait to find out."

"At least you'll be passing time at work. I shouldn't have taken the day; I've got nothing to do."

"You could always read her stack of books…"




Young Lily and Petunia in the summer of your choice for Niki.
-------

"What," Lily asked, "is this?"

Petunia squared her shoulders. "I'm getting ready for work."

Lily looked entirely nonplused. "You're in the typing pool at a drill company. You look you're going to a party."

"It's a perfectly proper work dress."

"And you smell like a perfume factory."

Petunia turned her nose up. "Don't your sort bother to dress professionally? Or do they wear those robe-things in everyday life?"

"They wear robe-things in everyday life," Lily said, without any noticeable inflection, ignoring the change of subject entirely. She took the little gilt chair Petunia had been sitting on. "I can get some of that perfume off if you like. I'm of age now, so -- "

"No thank you."

"It's a bit much!"

"Hmph." Petunia went to the smudged and crooked mirror that hung on her bedroom door and started getting her hair in order. "I'll have you know that people where I work appreciate the effort I make. Why, Mr. Dursley says he looks forward to seeing me every day because I brighten the place."

"Brighten…" Lily shook her head, as if such thing simply didn't compute. "It still doesn't look like a dress for typing. And your nails are so long. Tuney, what are you really doing? Did you decide to skip uni and go straight to finding a husband?"

"Oh, don't get on your high horse about uni! You're not going, either."

"There's no such thing in the wizarding world! Just apprenticeships. I'm going to study law enforcement, if they accept me."

"Of course you are."

Lily ground her teeth, like she was making some effort to control her temper. This effort didn't last long, as she abruptly blurted out, "You're too smart for this, Tuney. You know you are. I don't know how you convinced the teachers that you couldn't do maths, or why you insisted on writing bad papers -- "

"My papers weren't bad, just because you didn't agree with the conclusions. Or because the teachers didn't."

"The problem is that you don't seem to agree with the conclusions. Or at least that you don't bother making arguments for them." She turned the chair around and sat on it backward. "I had to do a paper for Transfiguration last year, talking about the ethics of deception in appearance. My teacher made me take a position that I didn't agree with, just so I'd learn to make an argument. Your papers… well, you just repeated things back from articles. I know you can do better than that. You've been arguing with me for years."

"Pfft."

"Or, well, you used to argue. You used to make cases against everything I was doing. Now, you just make pronouncements about how much you hate me."

"I don't hate you. I just hate… this." Petunia waved her hand around, pretending that it was Lily's wand. "It's freakish. And lazy. I notice you don't need to take a summer post. Mum and Daddy aren't even making you contribute to your ridiculous education."

"First, I have a summer post. I'm brewing antidotes for the apothecary. What do you think I'm doing in the kitchen all day? Second, I've worked out finances with Hogwarts. They don't deny anyone based on gold, and they aren't charging anything outlandish."

"Is that how that Snape boy can afford boarding school?"

Lily flinched as if struck.

Petunia pushed it. She wasn't sure why. But watching perfect, beloved Lily squirm seemed a good enough reason. "Oh, that's right. He turned out to be filth, which is what I told you in the first place."

"Tuney…"

"Threw something at you, just like he threw that branch at me, didn't he?"

"Tuney, stop it."

"But of course, it was fine when he was just attacking me. I'm just a Muggle. Who cares if I'm your sister? But when he attacked someone important…"

"I gave him what-for about that branch he threw at you."

"I observe that you stayed friends with him until he attacked the other freaks." Petunia turned decisively away and went back to work on her hair. "You can get out of my room now."

"Oh, please." Lily rolled her eyes and didn't make any move to leave. "And we aren't talking about me. We're talking about you. What is this?" she waved her hand at Petunia's dress again. "You look like an advert for some cleaning product, about the little wife who looks good at the end of a day cleaning so that her husband isn't forced to look at broken nails or whatnot." She wrinkled her nose. "You look like you're about to vacuum in pearls and heels."

Petunia dropped the pretense of fussing at her hair and turned on Lily. "So what if I did? Where would that be your business? We can't all be out catching magical crooks or whatever you mean to do. What if I did decide to keep a house instead of… instead of being like you and Mum? What if I don't want to be like you? I'm tired of living in a broken-down pigsty and pretending it all means something great and noble. All it means is that Daddy didn't choose to do a job that made money, and Mum thought it was more important to get up on her soapbox and preach than to bring in a paycheck. It doesn't make us better than working folk, you know. You don't make us better, either, just by being weird. So what if I want a nice little house? So what if I did vacuum it in pearls? Why shouldn't I, if I can afford a string of pearls to do it in?"

"Because, well…"

"Wouldn't it be my business? And don't tell me you don't want to be comfortable. I know you're dating a rich boy now. I saw the flowers he sent."

"We're not dating. He just said…" Lily fumed. "Never mind, it's not your business."

"But my perfume is yours?"

"Fine. He's been a little toerag since we started school, but he said something happened last year, and he thinks I was right about him and he wants to… to start fresh and try to be friends, since we're going to be working together… well, not working, but fighting… oh, rubbish. The flowers were an apology for being an idiot, and it was a well-owed apology, and I accepted it, because we were a good team when we -- well, we worked on something that you don't want to hear about, and have made it abundantly clear that you don't want to hear about. None of which has anything to do with you wasting your brains and your life --"

"I decide what's wasting my life," Petunia snapped. "Not you. Not Mum. Not Daddy. Me. I mean, even though I can't wave a wand and see the future, I can at least do that, can't I?"

"I didn't mean it that way, Tuney," Lily said morosely. "I really didn't. I didn't mean to come in here and fight with you."

"And yet."

"I just feel like you're barely even Tuney anymore."

"That's because I'm not. I've been Petunia to everyone but you for five years."

"You know I'm not talking about the nickname."

"Neither am I."

Lily sighed. "You don't even read anymore. You used to read a lot. And I don't mean the gossip papers, before you point them out."

"Tastes change."

"I miss Tuney."

Petunia felt the fight go out of her. The girl sitting on the little gilt chair was still Lily, still her baby sister.

But that smug little look on her face…

Petunia picked up her handbag. "Tuney grew up," she said. "Perhaps you ought to try it."

She turned on her heel and marched out of the bedroom, down the stairs, and out to the bus stop. She looked up at her window and saw that Lily was still there, fiddling with a hairbrush (as if her hair ever needed special care).

Lily saw her looking up and raised one hand in a slow, tentative wave.

Petunia turned away and waited for her bus.
15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
beceh From: beceh Date: July 22nd, 2017 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant, both of them.

It does seem rather cruel that wizarding parents don't really have a choice about the whole boarding school/local school thing! 11 really is very young to be sending your kid off and to only see them at Christmas and Easter! I suppose a lot of parents with the time/means would probably try and catch up with their kids at a Hogsmeade weekend (well, I know mine would haha).

Here where I grew up, quite a few families send their kids off to posh boarding school, but it's usually not until Year 9 (14/15 years old). One of my good friends got sent to a school a couple of hours away, and there was an awful lot of homesickness and phone calls home that first year!

There's really not much/any pastoral care shown in the books... I'm currently re-reading the series in order for the first time in a long time, and the first time since becoming a teacher, and all these practical things keep jumping out at me that I have to tell myself to ignore! (like the impractical timetable, lack of staff... there can't possibly be just one Transfiguration or DADA or Potions teacher to cover ALL the classes!!!)

-
Petunia has always been one of the saddest characters to me. Such bitterness, hatred and small mindedness... I like how you write her. She's always been rather unaccessible to me.

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2017 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Re: timetables, I tried to do the maths the other night myself. Worked out that each transfiguration/DADa class would have less than 2 hours a week even providing that there's only 1 NEWT group per year and they teach to silly O'clock in the evening with no free periods! With Herbology and Potions, provided they teach 2 houses at a time regularly, it wouldn't be quite as excessive, but still rather less than you'd call an optimal amount of teaching time for the students. Then again, as you so rightly point out occupational health, work/life balance etc seem to be as foreign to the wizarding world as safeguarding and risk assessments! Cate
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 23rd, 2017 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rowling said that they do have the choice to home school (or did until Voldemort took over), but... yeah. In a world where which house you're in opens career doors, that would be a seriously unusual choice.

Yeah, Transfiguration is single-house, so four houses, seven years... Poor McGonagall would be teaching 28 full classes every year, or at least 20 (years 1-5) plus however the NEWTs work (I don't remember whether or not those were mixed-house). A couple of classes a week for each, plus all the homework-grading... maybe she had connections for time turners for a reason!

Petunia feels like she has occasional moments of wanting to be more, but steps on her own feet to keep it from happening.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2017 07:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Did Andromeda get a similar empty-nest syndrome with Teddy (especially with no Ted to be with her), or did going through that with Dora help any?
Also, considering they are from babies, you'd think that Muggle adoption isn't that harder to deal with than marrying a Muggle regarding the SoS. Unless of course there's a political element to it.

It's a pity how Petunia's pride and bitterness caused her to essentially salt the earth between her and her family (and even her own potential).
While it's tempting to compare her to Mir, I get the feeling that the latter's spite would do the opposite; ie make her strive for success and independence.

-- FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 23rd, 2017 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Andromeda got big empty-nest with Teddy, too.

I think the problem with the SoS isn't so much the baby itself as the process you have to go through to adopt. There's a lot of prying, a lot of home visits, checking up at work, etc. The Ministry might be able to make up covers for some of it, but I can't see them going out of their way to adopt Muggle children.

I think the main difference between Petunia and Mir is that Petunia wants money and comfort to fit in, while Mir wants in order to stand out.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: July 22nd, 2017 08:06 am (UTC) (Link)
These are such a wonderful look at families! I love the dynamic you create between your characters. Andromeda and Ted are great in particular (your take on the Tonks family is pretty much canon for me!) and I love how the dialogue shows the comfortable pattern of interaction they've built up over the years.

But for Ted, they were what made their marriage theirs, and not someone else's, and he loved every little ritual that had emerged over the years.

That sums it all up. Perfect.

Would the Millicent receiving the kitten be Miss Bulstrode by any chance? I remember she was worrying about her cats in Hunter's Moon ...

As for Lily and Petunia ... *sniffles* I can see the sisters' concern for each other hiding beneath their lines. It's sad how it got warped by circumstance and the inability to understand each other's choices. (And I love Lily, but yes, she's judging Tuney's decisions just as much as Tuney is judging hers here!) I like that you show them both as having a hand in the growing divide between them.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 24th, 2017 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Millicent is, in fact, Millicent Bulstrode... and that's the cat whose hair ends up in Hermione's Polyjuice potion. :P

As an outsider to couple-dom, I like observing the little quirks that different couples have. Some goof at little traditional rituals, others take them super-seriously, others wouldn't dream of them, and, in the immortal words of Pete the Cat, "It's all good."

I tried to do a little bit of Harry in Lily -- well-meaning, but yeah, pretty damned judgmental sometimes. Usually right, but I can imagine growing up as a sibling to someone who is that utterly sure about everything.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2017 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wanted to add that I loved both of these. You've made me feel genuinely sad about Ted dying in canon - I'd felt more sorry for Andromeda and Dora in the past, as we never really got to know him that much in his own right. But you show him as an actual person, which makes it so much worse.

And Petunia.... she's an awful person, in many ways, but you move her away from the caricature she can so easily become. At her age here I was desperatley wanting to be convetional too! Sad that she never got the chance to interact with Lily as an adult when they could both be a little more accepting.

And saying that, you've made me spot an interesting parallel between Lily/Petunia and Andromeda/Narcissa that hadn't occurred to me before.

Cate
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 22nd, 2017 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
P.s. I realise most of my comments are about your writing making me sad in some way- I mean in a good way!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 23rd, 2017 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Ted would have to be a seriously good egg to deal with the fallout of marrying Andromeda without turning the household into some kind of us-against-them mentality (which Dora didn't seem to have grown up with).

At that age, I desperately wanted not to be conventional. I was so not the June Cleaver type! I refused to take home ec and wouldn't have dated hometown boys even if they'd asked (except for the ones who also were "unconventional"... which, erm, turned out to have its own problems, though at least there was never dating fallout). It was later on that I realized that there's nothing wrong with wanting to keep house or get married or have kids. By then, I never had developed the necessary habits.

I'd bet Lily and Andromeda would have gotten along well, had they had a real opportunity to know each other.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: July 23rd, 2017 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)

YES!  I so love the idea of slightly bereft, empty-nesting Hogwarts parents.  And I adore your Andromeda and Ted to pieces.  Thank you!!!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 23rd, 2017 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome! Glad you liked them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 24th, 2017 03:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I LOVE my challenge; if it were a physical thing I would probably hug it. You've captured so many things beautifully: the theme of choice that runs through the series, how both sisters are judgmental and uncomprehending yet still care despite the distance (and how the judging and the confusion and distance made it so easy for them both to stop caring altogether later on), how this summer is so much of a turning point, how Petunia's jealousy and budding repression color so much of her actions, and how Lily's equally genuine kindness and temper can trap her into corners. I also loved the Snape and James mentions--very nice parallels with bringing up Snape's lack of apology (and how close and not close Tuney comes to guessing what happened) and James's actual apology (paired with the slight hypocrisy of Tuney defending her choice by throwing his money in Lily's face--so true to impassioned arguements). Thank you, and I'll stop babbling now!!! Niki
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 24th, 2017 03:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you liked it. I actually enjoyed writing that one a lot; the strained dynamics between the two of them just before the final split, the basis of Petunia's anger (which is the same kind of class insecurity that I can easily imagine in Snape... and Ron, to some extent; Petunia would definitely get the "Why is everything I own rubbish?" moment).

I'm not sure Tuney's being a hypocrite, exactly. She thinks she's being consistent -- she wants a nice house and a husband who pulls in good money -- while Lily is hypocritically judging her for it while dating an obviously rich boy.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 24th, 2017 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh I agree Petunia's being consistent, just in a general sense it is a little rich to be judging someone for dating someone with money while defending your point of wanting nice things, as nice can so often mean expensive. In the story though, you're right, Lily's in the wrong. I also agree about the rubbish quote. Niki
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