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Shifts, Chapter 13: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 13: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Pt. 2
Okey-doke. Slept for about an hour and a half, and man, that does wonders. Funny how that works.

For tonight's madcap writing session, I'll follow up on last night's, in which Dora, over to bring Remus his Wolfsbane Potion, finds out about a boxing match and (after a bit of pretty open complaining about how he treats her) gets Remus to agree to bring her along.

I must find out how a boxing match is set up. Back in a min.

Okay, failed to find a good definition of illegal blows, but Remus wouldn't know them anyway.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




When Dora came back a few hours later, the evening's Wolfsbane Potion camouflauged as another thermos of soup, she seemed to be back to her normal state of mind--though Remus reminded himself of how easily she had adopted it earlier, like pulling on a cloak, and wondered. As they walked across the grounds to the gymnasium, he found himself glancing at her when she wasn't looking, to see if the smile faded, but it didn't.

"I've never seen a boxing match," she said as they reached the front steps. Students ran up and down around them, some waving to Remus. Most weren't precisely his crowd, but boxing here was apparently a fairly big draw. "A pub fight or two, but never a match with rules and so on."

"When did you see a pub fight?"

"Bill Weasley and Connie Peale got into a good one their last year. Over a girl, I think."

Remus raised his eyebrows. "An actual pub fight? Not..." As subtly as he could, he mimed drawing a wand.

Dora raised her fists and mimed fighting while she nodded. "They broke four chairs and tore the draperies at the Hog's Head." She blanched momentarily, but there was no reason to worry. The Hog's Head wasn't a particularly unusual name for a pub, or at least not unusual in a way that would catch attention.

Remus shook his head. "Molly must have been thrilled."

"I think Molly was a brawler in school. Can't you see it? Someone says something off to Arthur, and out comes Molly, fists up..."

The image was both too ridiculous and too perfectly plausible to not laugh at. "Who won?" he asked.

"Connie. Turned out the girl just fancied him more than she fancied Bill. All the beatings in the world weren't going to change that."

"Funny how that works."

They reached the gymnasium doors and were swept inside in a crush of large boys wearing jackets that bore the Greenlands crest (a sheaf of barley in the shadow of a tree, a marked contrast to the Smeltings crest of a blacksmith's hammer hanging over a forge). Remus was scanning for a place to sit when Dora tugged on his sleeve.

"It's Joe and Miriam," she said.

Remus cursed under his breath. "He shouldn't be here."

Dora had already waved, and Joe was hailing her in return. They picked their way across the crowded room--a large square ring had been set up in the center--and sat down beside the Levinsons, who were in the front row, as close as they could get to the ring.

"Are you feeling all right?" Remus said, nearly having to shout to speak to anyone further away than Dora, as someone had started playing exceptionally loud music, the lyrics consisting solely, as far as Remus could tell, of "We will, we will ROCK YOU, ROCK YOU." There was a verse, but the distortion at this volume, plus the crowd noise, made it entirely impossible to understand. Dora, of course, was rocking her head back and forth to the beat, exactly as Ted did whenever there was a catchy tune playing.

"I think he should be home," Miriam shouted.

"I'm fine!" Joe said. He pinched Dora's arm. "You tell your sister she's a miracle worker. I've felt much better."

"Good!" Dora said. "I'm glad!" The chorus of the song came on again, and Dora mouthed along with, "... Rock you, rock you..."

"You like this?" Miriam asked, wincing.

"It's fun. Come on. Try it." She leaned forward and sang, "We will, we will rock you..."

Miriam winced more tightly and sang along, "Rock you..."

Joe laughed.

They got settled, and after an interminable time, someone cut the music and one of the officials climbed into the ring to introduce the first match. Remus glanced at the program of the event--there would be three matches, twelve rounds each. What constituted a round wasn't any part of his incoming knowledge. Dudley, who held some sort of title in the "heavyweight" division, would be in the final match. Before it, there would be a featherweight match (Smeltings being represented by one of Remus's fourth formers, a quick-tempered and sullen boy whose name was Neville, though Remus had not for even a moment thought of him as resembling good-natured Neville Longbottom) and a lightweight match. Remus hadn't any idea what the difference was.

The first match commenced. Joe Levinson spent more time yelling instructions from the audience than paying attention to his companions. Once, between rounds, while young Neville hung limply from the ropes after a bad blow (there was some discussion of whether or not it was illegal), the boy looked up and saw Joe there, and for the first time in more than two months, Remus saw him smile genuinely. His teeth were covered with blood and his eyes looked dazed and confused, but that smile was unmistakeable.

"Lead with your left, Donaldson!" Joe yelled in a frenzied way. "A good, quick hook!"

From beside the ring, Baden gave him an exasperated frown. He went over to Neville Donaldson and whispered some instruction, which Remus was willing to bet consisted of, Lead with your left, Donaldson. A good, quick hook.

Beside him, he felt Dora shift, and looked over to see her leaning to Miriam, who was saying, "...just hate this, but he loves it so..."

Remus could sympathize. He wasn't overly fond of Neville Donaldson, but watching one of his students being beaten to a faint and bloody mess did not qualify as entertainment. (Not to mention that the smell of the blood--not something Remus normally had to deal with--was a bit maddening less than a week before the full moon, as his body began its monthly nervous ticking.) He kept flashing on Ron Weasley, his leg broken, lying in the dust in the Shrieking Shack.

Or Harry, pale and wan following a fifty foot fall from his broomstick when the Dementors had invaded the pitch.

Or James, slammed in the face by a bludger, the bow of his specs driven into his cheek.

But still--Quidditch accidents weren't deliberate injuries. Remus liked Joe Levinson, but the obsession with this particular sport, of all sports, was quite alien.

Neville ultimately lost his match, but it was a close thing (apparently), and the Smeltings fans gave him a salute by tapping their sticks on the floor in unison.

The Smeltings lightweight champion won his match easily, and Joe merely mirrored his punches in small pantomime, smiling and cheering. It was nearly ten o'clock when the official came into the ring again, a spotlight pinning him to the mat.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, the Main Event!"

A roar came up from the crowd.

"From Greenhands, two time Lightweight Inter-School Champion, moving into heavyweight fighting this year, undefeated... Wallace Forrester!"

The Greenhands champion came out to dutiful applause, ran a lap of the ring shaking his gloves in the air, then went to his corner.

"And from Smeltings..."

Roar.

"...the defending Junior Heavyweight Inter-School Champion of the Southeast..."

Roar.

"DUDLEY DURSLEY!"

The gymnasium positively exploded with applause. Dudley might be a bully to the smaller, weaker boys, but he'd apparently won the school over as an athlete.

Remus refused to let his mind make its most obvious comparison.

Dudley did a lap of the ring, glanced over and saw Joe, and smiled broadly.

"You show him, Dudley!" Joe yelled. "Lightweight!"

When Dudley turned, he was looking confident, almost cocksure.

The bell rang to begin the round.

Wallace Forrester immediately landed a punch to Dudley's jaw and ducked one of Dudley's ham-like forearms. Forrester was quick and considerably leaner than Dudley, though Remus supposed they had to be close to the same weight to fight here.

Dudley simply looked surprised for a moment.

Forrester hit him again.

Joe bit his lip. "You can take him, Dudley! Remember to watch him! Watch out for him!"

Whether the instructions were heard over the general din or Dudley came to the conclusion on his own, the cocksure expression disappeared into one of intense concentration. Dudley ducked the next blow with an easy move that was incongrously graceful for a boy his size, and landed a hard blow to Forrester's ribs.

The fight was on in earnest. The first four rounds went back and forth between the two, Dudley winning the first, Forrester winning the second, Dudley the third, Forrester the fourth. In the fifth round, Dudley came out of his corner with a quick, vicious stride, and took Forrester in only half the allotted time for the round. The six round was a repeat of it.

They'd reached the half-way point of the match, and Remus looked down at his hands. He'd been clenching his fists tightly, and his nails had made dents in the skin. Dora looked slightly disturbed, but she was still talking brightly to Miriam. The subject had come around to a book they both carried copies of, whose cover featured a picture of a wrapped painting. They were shouting to one another about a character named Peter Slowik, and whether or not he was a nice man. Or something.

Remus made his way over to Joe, who was leaning on the folding chair in front of him, held by an official during most of the event, watching the ring, where Baden was giving Dudley water and someone was toweling him down.

"Never been to a boxing match?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.

"It's my first," Remus told him. "Not..."

"Well, at your age, if this is your first one, I'm guessing it's not something that interests you."

Remus shrugged. "It's a bit violent for my taste."

"It's boxing. What did you expect?" Joe turned, and Remus noticed that he wasn't letting go of the chair. "It's not a debating society."

"Right. I know... Joe are you all right?"

Joe smiled tightly. "My eyes are getting a bit cloudy. But I'm fine. Just tired. I won't go out after the match. I..." He took a deep breath and leaned over to speak quietly to Remus. "Help me back to my seat. Don't let Miriam notice."

Remus nodded and stood between Miriam and Joe, putting what he hoped was an unobtrustive hand on Joe's elbow. When Joe was sitting again, he stayed there for a moment, so it looked like he would have another purpose.

"I hoped I could tell Dursley how well he's doing. But he can't very well come over here, can he?"

Remus, who had no idea what the rules of boxing were, agreed quickly, as he understood far better than Joe Levinson what the rules of his illness were.

He hoped Dudley would continue to make short work of Forrester in the next six rounds. Joe needed to get away from here. Apparently, this was close enough.

The bell rang and the seventh round began. Forrester, whose coach had apparently been giving him something of a pep talk, came out with the kind of fast, graceful footwork he'd shown in the first round, and Dudley barely managed to block his first strike. They circled one another like birds of prey. Dudley managed to land a single blow, but Forrester avoided the others. Behind his corner, Remus could see the Greenhands coach shouting instructions, though he couldn't hear them.

Dudley gained back some confidence, making some sort of aggressive move, but it was apparently what Forrester had been waiting for. He slipped under Dudley's arm and jabbed upward with his fist, striking Dudley on the chin and sending him to the mat, where he hung on his knees, his arms looped over the ropes. This had happened often enough over the course of the evening that Remus knew he'd get up, but he looked off-kilter as the referee counted down.

That was when Joe Levinson tried to stand up.

He got to his feet and raised his hands, as he had during the featherweight event, and started to call out, "You can get up, Dudley!"

But he only got as far as "You can get--"

He swayed alarmingly, and Miriam screamed, and then Joe was falling backward into their circle, his eyes rolling up to whites, his chair skittering away when he hit it sideways.

Remus, whose lap he'd mainly landed on, lifted him as gently as he could, ignoring a rising cry that was coming up in the gymnasium. Miriam pulled the fallen chair over, and Dora helped Remus stretch Joe out across the four chairs.

"We should get him to a--" Remus began, and that's when he felt the heavy hand on his shoulder. He was whirled around violently.

Dudley Dursley stood before him, blood running from his nose and fury in his eyes. "Do you think I don't know?" he demanded.

Remus had no idea what to say. He stammered over "Dudley, I--"

And then Dudley yelled, "You're doing this!" and there was a some kind of quick motion, and then pain exploded in Remus's jaw. The world swam as the officials dragged Dudley back--he was trying to pummel Remus again--then grayed out completely.

I feel a bit...: chipper chipper
Soundtrack: "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang

9 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sophonax From: sophonax Date: October 26th, 2004 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am having a very bad night, and reading Tonks' and Remus' reactions to "We Will Rock You" cheered me right the hell up.

The ending wasn't as cheery, but it was very very well-written.

Thank you!
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: October 26th, 2004 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somehow I have this extreme urge to go and EXPLAIN the whole thing to Dudley. I'm so glad this has blown up. It really takes the story forward.
dipsas From: dipsas Date: October 27th, 2004 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Though I don't think they're very likely to find Dudley's behaviour all that odd in this scene (they obviously have other thing to occupy them), I keep wondering whether Joe and Miriam are ever going to find out what's behind all their sorrows, and in what manner.

Oh, and you're spoiling us with these quick updates. In a good way, of course. :)
From: inyron Date: October 27th, 2004 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Dudley might be a bully to the smaller, weaker boys, but he'd apparently won the school over as an athlete.

Remus refused to let his mind make its most obvious comparison.


Ouch.

Great section, as always. Love where it's going, and can't wait for the next update!
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: October 27th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC) (Link)
*wince* Yeah, that was the line that got me too. Ouch.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: October 27th, 2004 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Keeping to the playground metaphor, and knowing some grade-schoolers, Fudge would be the playground monitor. You really have to hit them upside the head to get them connected to reality.

You can really get those "eep"s going strong, Fern.

I knew something like this would happen to Joe, but I guess I never really delved deep into it.
myf From: myf Date: October 27th, 2004 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
*hides her eyes; peeks out warily* Oh, poor Remus!

Update? Soon? Eep!
chienar From: chienar Date: October 27th, 2004 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Remus!

Bad dudders! (perfectly in character.)
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: October 27th, 2004 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant chapter! The story gets better and better. Now I am particularly glad thet you promised to post new parts of it at least once in a week.
9 comments or Leave a comment