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Challenge fic for ashtur - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Challenge fic for ashtur
Outtake from "Lines of Descent" (well, actually an immediate prequel) when Elizabeth first tells Remus's parents who and what she is.

Start 12:55

(Note, I've completely forgotten whether or not I named Remus's father in LoD; if I did and it wasn't John... er, I'll fix it later.)



"Can't you magic me clean?" Remus asked, leaning over the basin and splashing water on everything in the vicinity except for himself. "I like the scourgy-spell."

"And I like you to know how to clean up all by yourself," Julia said. "You managed to get yourself all muddy without any magic." She handed him a towel and set about drying the water on the floor. "We have company coming over tonight. The new neighbors."

Remus stopped splashing and looked at her with the kind of terror he usually reserved for bogeymen in the horrible stories that John insisted--against her advice--on telling him at night. "They're coming over here?"

"Yes, and Mr. and Mrs. Phelan are looking forward to meeting you especially, so you need to get yourself clean and handsome."

Remus shook his head, eyes wide. "I don't want to."

"Give them a chance, Remus. You'll like them."

Remus continued protesting--he was a polite child when actually presented with strangers, and generally an outgoing one once they were actually present, but he had a mad fear of the potential of them that had come from neither John nor Julia, and left to his own devices, he would hide under his bed until the Phelans went away. Julia stayed with him while he cleaned up and got dressed (he still had trouble with buttons and never remembered to tuck his shirt in), then turned him around and marched him downstairs, where John was finishing up their dinner and setting a decent table for the Phelans. He'd brought up two bottles of wine from their meager cellar.

Remus sat down on the floor in front of the empty fireplace, and Julia kept a wary eye on on him. He loved to draw in the soot for some reason, and tended to suddenly emerge from the hearth covered with ashes.

Unfortunately, when the Phelans knocked on the door, John was occupied with basting the roast, and she had to answer it, which meant taking her eyes off of her son.

The two people she found waiting nervously outside in the heavy July heat were perhaps ten years older than she and John were. The man had a sharp beak of a nose and merry brown eyes, and black hair that was starting to thin. The woman, almost too thin to be healthy, had pale blonde hair that fell to her shoulders in wavy wisps. There were dark circles under her eyes. When she smiled at Julia, she bit her lower lip, as though she expected to be sent away.

Julia returned the smile, then stepped back. "Please come in," she said. "I'm so glad John invited you. I'm Julia Lupin."

The Phelans came in tentatively.

"I'm Maddoc Phelan," the man said, then put a protective arm at his wife's waist. "This is my wife, Elizabeth."

"Hello," Elizabeth Phelan said, looking around the house with some interest. "What a lovely home."

"Thank you."

"And dinner smells just wonderful."

"John is a very good cook. He claims the Muggle way of cooking is better."

Elizabeth gave her nervous smile again.

"Would you like to sit down?" Julia asked, indicating the parlor. She started to turn. "We could talk until--Remus!"

While she'd been greeting the Phelans at the door, Remus had taken advantage of her absence to jump into the fireplace and was spinning awkwardly, arms akimbo, pretending to floo somewhere. A spill of ash had already grayed his light brown hair and settled over the bridge of his nose and his cheekbones like a half-made mask. He smiled guiltily.

There was a high, soft sound, and when Julia turned again, Elizabeth Phelan had one hand over her mouth, and was laughing into it. Her weary eyes had come to life.

Julia shook her head. "Six year old boys," she said. "I'm afraid it's next to impossible to keep them neat and clean." She turned to Remus with over-played stern-ness. "Even when they know they're supposed to be." She grabbed him and tickled him.

He pulled away, laughing. "Stop."

She stopped. Remus had very wide boundaries for a child so young, but she and John did her best to respect them.

"Where were you flooing off to?" Elizabeth asked, sitting down on the sofa.

"This is Mrs. Phelan, Remus," Julia said. "And her husband, Mr. Phelan. This is Remus," she told the Phelans.

"I was going to Greenland," Remus said, apparently finding something about Elizabeth Phelan that he liked. He didn't acknowledge Maddoc.

"Greenland?" Elizabeth asked, her eyes wide. "Goodness gracious... why Greenland?"

"I like green," Remus told her.

"He has a game," Julia said. "He's a prince--"

"I'm a knight," Remus insisted.

"Oh, I see..."

Remus, more secure once he was talking about his imaginary world in Greenland, told the Phelans about dragons he needed to slay and the giant creature--he called it a muddlewump--that was his faithful sidekick. The muddlewump's name was Louis, and he was Remus's constant playmate, even when he wasn't visiting Greenland. He kept the Phelans entertained while Julia helped John finish setting the table.

Dinner was pleasant. The house next door hadn't been occupied for quite some time, and the local magical community had been nearly ready to send it through Gringotts to a Muggle buyer. It had been a great relief when magical folk--Ravenclaws, to boot, which was an added benefit--had moved in last week.

"I don't know what we would have done if Muggles had moved in next door," John said. "There's just a bit of a rail fence between the properties, and they'd be sure to notice something amiss."

"What does 'amiss' mean?" Remus asked.

"Out of place," Julia told him. "Unusual. Strange."

"Oh. Why would they think we were strange?"

"Different." Julia shook her head. "Do you remember what we talked about when we went shopping in the village, about magic and not-magic? About very special secrets?"

Remus nodded dubiously.

"Secrets are difficult," John said. "I'm glad not to have to keep one."

"Yes," Elizabeth said, her voice tight.

"Are you sad?" Remus asked her. "You look sad."

"Remus!"

"No, it's all right," Elizabeth said. "I'm at all sad. How could I be sad with such marvelous neighbors nearby? Not to mention Sir Remus of Greenland."

Remus giggled.

"You know," John said, "I have a brilliant idea. Julia and I haven't had much of a chance to get out. Perhaps you'd be willing to look after Remus some evening?"

Elizabeth's eyes grew wide. "Really?"

"Well, if he doesn't bother you too much."

"Oh, no, not at all. If we don't bother him..." She gave her shaky smile to Remus. "What do you say? Would you like to come visit with us? I'd so like to visit with you."

Remus nodded happily, and dug into his mashed potatoes.

Elizabeth and Maddoc exchanged a glance. "We should talk to you... alone... after dinner," she said.

Julia nodded.

They spoke of other things for the rest of the meal, and laughed over memories of Ravenclaw house over pudding. When the table had been cleared, Julia sent Remus upstairs to read one of his storybooks (he took a great deal of time to choose from his box, and finally came up with the same book he took every night, which was predictably enough about a knight, a dragon, and a dog). John led the adults back to the parlor.

For a long time, Elizabeth just sat on the sofa, twisting her wedding band.

Maddoc put a hand over hers. "Would you like me to...?" he began.

She shook her head tightly.

"What is it?" Julia asked.

"As much as I would enjoy sitting for you, there's something you need to know before you leave your son in my care." Elizabeth closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and didn't say anything.

"What do you need us to know?" John asked.

"I'm a..." Elizabeth gritted her teeth, screwed her eyes more tightly shut, and breathed sharply. "I'm lycanthropic," she said in a quick staccato.

"Lycan--" Julia blinked. "You're a werewolf? I mean, I don't know, is that the wrong thing to say, to call you, to..."

"Werewolf is fine," Maddoc said, tightening his grip on Elizabeth's hand.

She nodded. "It's easier for me to say 'lycanthropic' because it doesn't... it isn't... but I am. I am a werewolf. There's no real way to mitigate that. And if you want to revoke your invitation, I won't have any hard feelings about it."

The Phelans stopped giving one another nervous, furtive looks. Maddoc just looked at Elizabeth with great compassion, and Elizabeth looked at the floor.

Julia glanced at John. He was looking back. He shook his head. "As I understand it," he said, "this is a condition that only... er, manifests... at the full moon?"

"Yes."

"And the rest of the month?"

"This is me," Elizabeth said.

"Julia?" John said.

Julia wasn't entirely sure what to say. She didn't like leaving Remus with sitters anyway, and the notion that this woman was a werewolf, that she spent a night every month as a monster, craving human flesh, that she--

She stopped herself. She had won a debate at Hogwarts as a child, arguing before Professor Binns that werewolves shouldn't be treated as Dark Creatures when the moon wasn't full. She'd stated the position over and over, as a matter of fact, throughout her tenure t here, and had argued it before the Wizengamut during her legal apprenticeship, before she decided to take time off from her career to raise her son. Were they only words?

She forced a smile. "We just won't plan any dates for full moon nights, unless there's someone else available to look after him."

Elizabeth's face registered deep surprise, followed by gratitude, followed by emotions Julia couldn't even name. "I... thank you," she said. "I can't have children, and... it would be very nice to look after a child from time to time."

"Are there any precautions we should take?" John asked.

"Button up on full moons," Elizabeth said. "I don't want you to feel prisoners in your own home and we do have a secure cage, but I don't want to risk any of you being outside. Stay in. Don't trust me when the moon is full. Not for anything."

John nodded.

After that, they were quiet for a long time. When the silence became heavy, Elizabeth and Maddoc suggested that they go. John and Julia watched them disappear along the path between the houses. "What do you really think?" John asked.

"I think it was brave to tell us," Julia said. "It must be hard for them."

Something creaked, and she looked up in time to see the flash of a bare foot at the top of the stairs. She would have to find out exactly how much Remus had overheard.

End 2:09
Oops. Overtime.

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Comments
ashtur From: ashtur Date: October 23rd, 2004 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bravo, it's truly impressive that you can come up with these in an hour or so. Writing quickly is one thing, but doing it both quickly and well... that's a gift.

thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: October 23rd, 2004 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful. Just like the rest of LoD...

<3
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: October 24th, 2004 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Really good! Poor Elizabeth, though. And it's also really sad, considering what's going to happen. :(
buongiornodaisy From: buongiornodaisy Date: October 31st, 2004 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
*Finally* got around to reading this! Elizabeth is such a wonderful character! :D
4 comments or Leave a comment