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Shifts, Chapter 14: The Evans Temper, Pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 14: The Evans Temper, Pt. 2
Okay. Spent half of dinner getting maps and name-lists set up so that they'll be handy during NaNo (don't really want to stop in the middle and go on name hunt), and the other half getting this scene started. Two more days of mad Shifts writing, then all into the mad writing that no one gets to see. And I'm not going to cheat and count Shifts segments toward it, though I'll try to keep a regular schedule of Wednesday and Saturday nights (as I can sleep in the next day in both cases).

Ah, it actually feels good to be back on a schedule.

But right now, keeping up with the speed exercise. All the corrections will be more properly appreciated when I go to save the chapters and make all the fixes.

We left Sirius, Remus, and Dora in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. Mundungus Fletcher has arrived and told them that he has bad news from Hogwarts. The plot parallel was already caught by two people in comments on the last two scenes.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"Is Harry all right?" Sirius asked immediately.

"What?" Dung asked. "Oh, right. Yea, Harry's fine. P'raps a mite sore."

"Sore?"

"Just a bit."

Remus held up his hand. "Start at the beginning, Dung. Please."

"What happened to your face?"

"I fell down the stairs," Remus said, surprised how easily the lie came.

"Picked up a bit of my clumsiness," Dora added for good measure.

"The beginning of the of what happened at Hogwarts?" Remus prodded.

"Well, I always loved Quidditch on a Saturday," Dung said, settling in for a tale. "My Mum got me in it, taking me out to see the Harpies when I was just a little thing..."

"Not quite that far back," Sirius said. "Why is Harry a bit sore?"

"Well, professional Quidditch has got expensive," Dung said, as though it were the most obvious response in the world. He looked quite insulted at the interruption. "An' if I'm in Hogsmeade, I go on up to Hogwarts. It's free there, and they're the same ones who end up playin' for the teams later, so I may as well see them now as then, when it's cheaper--"

"Dung."

"Right. So I went up t' the school," he said. "There was a Gryffindor-Slytherin match, and that's always good for a smile. Thought it would be a good way to pass the time. And keep an eye on Harry, of course," he added piously.

"Of course," Remus said.

Sirius gritted his teeth. "What. Happened."

"Well, the good news--for you lot, anyway, not me--is that Gryffindor won." He smiled eagerly, as if they'd been waiting for nothing else.

"I was a Hufflepuff," Dora said cheerfully. "I don't care a fig which of them won. What else happened?"

Dung, who had been a Slytherin (and was madly proud of his house, even though he'd been a pariah in it), stopped to blink at her in disbelief. "You? I'd never have reckoned you for a duffer."

"Reckon me for someone who earns a living," Dora said over-sweetly. "And if you insult my House again, I'm going to have to look in that satchel you're carrying." Dung paled. Dora's smile widened. "Now, what happened at the match?"

"Right, right." Dung cast his eyes down, and Remus watched him slowly inch his satchel under the chair with his feet as he spoke. "Well, they've picked the youngest Weasley boy for Keeper--"

"Harry," Sirius reminded him tightly.

"I'm getting there!"

"Ron must be pleased," Remus said.

"Reckon he's not very pleased today," Dung said. "That's where it started. He was nervous, so the Slytherins worked on him, of course. Way the game's played."

"Worked on him?" Dora repeated. "What do you mean, worked on him?"

"You know--tried to break his concentration and so on. Did quite a job of it, too. Wrote a song saying he couldn't catch anything and... well, honestly, I'm an old Snake, but I thought maybe it went a little far. Talked about his family... born in a bin, I think they said."

Even Sirius forgot for a moment about Harry being slightly sore. Remus struggled to get a complaint in edgewise between Dora and Sirius, who were speaking over one another in a pitched duet of obscenities, some of which he hadn't been aware Dora ever used.

"--my bloody cousin--"

"--of course Harry was--"

"--the damnable ba--"

"--and you sit there as if it's--"

"--normal in any way!" Dora finished. They were both standing now, hands on their hips, hovering over Dung.

Dung looked deeply impressed. "Anyway," he said, "the Weasley boy, the younger one--"

"Ron," Remus said.

"Right, Ron. He let it get to him, and he missed a block or two. Harry caught the Snitch and ended the game ahead." He shook his head. "Gryffindor always goes for the Snitch too early. Takes the fun out of it. You take a good Slytherin Seeker, he'll see it right off, but let it go. Makes for a better game, especialy when people are watching--"

"Dung."

Dung nodded in an irrtated way. "So after Harry caught the Snitch, one of the Slytherin Beaters--a right stupid one--lobbed a Bludger at him."

"After he caught the Snitch?" Sirius asked, incredulous.

"Mmm." Dung put his finger in his mouth and picked something out of his teeth. "Then... I didn't hear everything after his, mind... the Malfoy boy went over and started going on about things. I'd guess it was about the song and the Weasleys, because the twins started in. One of the girls on the team caught on of them, and Harry caugh the other. And the Malfoy boy kept going, which was stupid, and then I heard..." He winced. "Well, I didn't hear everything, but it sort of carried when Malfoy said, 'your mother'--"

"He insulted... Lily?" Sirius said, the hot fury gone from his voice and replaced with something lower and more threatening.

Dung nodded solemnly. "Harry let go of the twin he was holding onto, and the pair of them had at the Malfoy boy until Madam Hooch pulled them away."

"They cursed him?"

"No, they hit him. With fists." Dung pantomimed fighting, as Dora had last night when decribing Bill Weasley's pub brawl. "Minerva McGonagall marched them right off the field, and then--"

"And Malfoy just got away with it?" Sirius asked, apparently not grasping the point of Dung's story.

"He's in the hospital wing," Dung said. "Didn't I tell you? Or they were taking him there when I left, anyway."

Sirius sat down. "I see. How much trouble is Harry in? Did you hear? I doubt Minerva would put up with much of that."

Dung nodded. "She saw me there, so when she was finished up, she came to the village, had dinner at the pub. I was still dressed as a witch, so I pretended to be an old school chum. She wanted to give them detention for a full week, probably take some house points."

"That sounds fair," Remus said. "I'd thought it would be worse."

"It is!" Dung assured him, warming to his story again. "That Umbridge woman the Ministry's got up there has gone at got herself some new rules."

"What does Umbridge have to do with disciplining Gryffindors?" Remus asked. "That should be Minerva. Or Albus if it's something particularly important."

"Well, it's Umbridge now. Kicked the both of them off the team, and the twin that didn't get into it."

"For how long?" Dora asked.

"Permanently, McGonagall says. She's never going to let them back on the team. And she took their broomsticks."

"She has no right to do that!" Sirius bellowed. "I gave him that damned Firebolt, and he has a right to fly it whenever he wants. It's his. Bad enough they took it when they thought I put a curse on it, but to just take it for spite--"

"And Harry loves flying so," Dora said. "Poor Harry!"

Remus found his tongue blocked, unable to even begin to articulate his position. In fact, he didn't think he'd quite be able to do it until next Wednesday night, when the moon was full, and he could give it a proper howl, one of the few benefits of his non-human form.

Not only had Umbridge misused her position; she had deliberately altered centuries of Hogwarts tradition in order to persecute Harry.

Unless she was doing it to all of them.

He shook his head, dazed, and finally said, "Have you heard anything else about the way she treats students, Dung?"

"Well, judgin' from what I heard at the Hogs Head, they don't much like her. Mind, they don't much like Severus, either, and he's not stealing their broomsticks. Just a bit strict."

"And vindictive," Sirius muttered automatically, but didn't follow up. Dung went on and told them a few scattered tales from Hogsmeade--none of any great interest--then begged a chicken sandwich from Dora and left.

"You know," Sirius said, coming down the stairs after re-locking the front door, "I'm wanted for murder anyway. I could kill Umbridge. I don't think anyone would really blame me."

"Sirius--"

"I'm not kidding. I'm really not."

Dora sighed. "Sirius, you're innocent. I'm so glad to have you back. And if you go off and murder Dolores Umbridge, so help me, I'll arrest you myself."

Sirius frowned at her, then sighed and sat down. "So far, this woman has managed to wreck Remus's life--except when he's playing at being a Muggle--and is in the process of driving Harry mad. Do you have any idea what to do about her?"

"If she were using Dark Magic, I could go after her," Dora said. "Unfortunately, I have more on my own mother than I have on Umbridge, as far as Dark spells and artifacts go. Umbridge is just playing politics."

"I'll bet she's using something. Moody'd be searching her office by now."

"Only if she already had a Dark Magic connection. And for the rest of us, we'd have to get permission from Fudge to go search someone's office. He's quick enough on raids of old supporters of You-Know-Who, but you how quick d'you think he'll be to give us leave to go through Umbridge's things? We can't search unless we're perfectly certain that we'll find something, and without any connections between her and the Death Eaters, we can't really say she's anything more than a nasty, power-hungry conniver who's fanatically loyal to Fudge."

"And Fudge doesn't hold any of those things as probable crimes," Remus said.

"And we're absolutely certain about not killing her?"

"Yes," Remus and Dora both said. Sirius didn't sound particularly intense about it now, and Remus thought the likelihood of him actually acting on it was slim, but he promised himself that he'd keep a better eye on Sirius for the next few weeks. After the business with the Dursleys, the full moon, and the question of Joe's illness had been addressed, of course.

And of course, if he could work on the question of Dolores Umbridge, he would.

Sirius was angry with her on Harry's behalf, and Remus supposed he himself was as well--the idea that she'd mistreated Harry was intolerable by itself--but he was also deeply offended by her, and by the destruction she was wreaking at Hogwarts. He didn't try to express it to Sirius, who would think his priorities were skewed, or to Dora, who loved her memories of her days at school but didn't love the school itself in any particularly strong way. To watch a cruel bureaucrat systematically destroy the one of the oldest magical schools in the world was...

Simply offensive.

And Remus felt utterly powerless to stop her. Even without his lycanthropy to factor in, he knew of no roads into the political world, and couldn't have expressed himself to those who didn't already feel it even if it he did know of them. He was forced to simply watch it happen.

I feel a bit...: determined determined

9 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: October 29th, 2004 10:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
a) I love how you're kicking both Dudley and Harry off their teams at the same time.

b) You are ridiculously disciplined. Kudos to you.

c) How Remus feels about Umbridge is exactly how I felt. Offended. Like, how dare she have the audacity to change Hogwarts. You know?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2004 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
If my fingers aren't ready to fall off, I'm going to write an essay on the Offense of Umbridge tomorrow. I'm feeling reasonably verbal.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: October 30th, 2004 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I loved this! I could just HUG Sirius; oh, he made me laugh. :~D
And I adored that you had the punchups back to back so to speak. Brilliantly done! :~)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 30th, 2004 12:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Yes,I was totally sympathetic to Sirius in this scene... get on with it, will you, Dung?
sreya From: sreya Date: October 30th, 2004 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
ARGH! Why didn't Harry ever say anything about that damnable blood quill? Why, why, why?

*grumbling about thick-headed boys*

concrit:
but you how quick d'you think he'll be to give us leave to go through Umbridge's things?
Probably need to strike that first "you"

"I fell down the stairs," Remus said, surprised how easily the lie came.

Okay, I'll admit -- I'm a bit confused as to why Remus is lying here. He already told Sirius about it, and he's more likely than Dung to fly off the handle about it. Is it simply to keep Dung on his story and not distract him? Then why not just a "I'll tell you later"?

Oh, and I giggled over Dung admitting that, yes, even as a former Slytherin he thought the kids went too far in taunting Ron.

Remus really is a teacher through and through, isn't he? Yes, he's worried about Harry, but what really offends is the meddling in the school. I like that, it's a good piece of characterization.

Speaking of "offend", though, you do use the same word (well, in different forms) within only a few lines of each other in the last few paragraphs. While I understand that's the core feeling you're going for, it's slipping toward "telling, not showing" in a "hit me over the head with a bat" sort of way. Maybe one should be swapped for something similar that gives a bit more expansion to the idea.

Augh, what do I know, it's Saturday morning and I'm in a rush. Anyway, I'm loving the daily updates of this, and will miss them when they're gone.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 30th, 2004 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Dung's just not on the list of people who has the first clue what Remus is up to. That's limited mostly to the mains in this story and Kingsley. Forgot to re-iterate that, since it's been awhile.

And you're right about the "offend" part. I'll work on that in the HB version.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: October 30th, 2004 09:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, what an awesome trick. The bulk of the chapter is dedicated to relating a story that everyone reading the fic already knows, but by putting it in the mouth of a colorful character, you not only completely remove the "Yeah, yeah, we already know this" factor, but make it actually suspenseful--how is this going to work out? what are Dung's motives in telling this the way he does? and most of all, how are your main characters going to react?

Really pretty masterful.

I don't think you need the line about Dung's having been in Slytherin--his affront to Hufflepuff, the fact that he says that the Gryffindor's victory isn't good news for him, and his declaration that he's "an old Snake" are more than enough to get that across without the extra bit of exposition.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 30th, 2004 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you're right. That's what comes of just writing flat out--you think of a thing, put it in, and then demonstrate it, when it would be better to just go ahead and demonstrate.
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: November 11th, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just catching up on Shifts.
I love your characterization of Dung and Dora and everyone here, with their various houses and reactions to each other. Fabulous.

Great stuff. :)
9 comments or Leave a comment