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Little Bits of Junk, part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Little Bits of Junk, part 2
Okay, back to the nineteen-twenties.

In part one, Neville came home on his birthday to find Bill Weasley and Kingsley Shacklebolt talking to his grandmother. An Egyptian artifact, the Feather of Maát, which has magical powers, was stolen from the British Museum and prominently replaced with a brooch that had Mrs. Longbottom's maiden name on the back (it had been given to a teacher whose name she no longer remembers when she was a child). The item had been sold to the museum in the 1930s; it had been missing for ten years after being stolen from a home Gran doesn't recognize when Kingsley opens a magical window to show it to her. The window is still open when Bella, wearing the Feather, leads two other DEs in an attack, during which Neville falls through and lands in the grass outside the house. Kingsley closes the window.




Neville remained sitting on the grass, blinking at the now solid sky, for several minutes. A part of him realized dimly that he was frightened of what was happening back at home, but for the most part, he was simply dazed--how had he gotten himself so quickly into this predicament? And how was he meant to get back?

And where, exactly, was he? And when?

He didn't know a lot about Muggle technology, but he'd just been on the Muggle streets this morning--he was still dressed in the Muggle clothes he'd worn to take the bus--and the cars that were making their way up the road looked nothing at all like the ones that had passed him. They were longer, sleeker, with white tires and open tops. Women with long scarves laughed merrily, holding dome-shaped hats to their heads to keep them from flying away in the slipstream. Men in cream-colored suits drank spirits from glittering glass bottles.

Neville stared at them blankly.

"Neville!"

The urgent whisper seemed to be coming from above him, and he looked back up. The window had opened again, lower this time, close to his eye level. Kingsley Shacklebolt, his eye swollen and his ear bleeding, was looking back at him. Beyond him, the drawing room was a shambles.

"Where's Gran?" Neville asked.

"She was hit with a Stunner," Shacklebolt said impatiently. "Your Uncle Algie took her to St. Mungo's."

"Why--"

"I don't know. Something about betraying the Heir of Slytherin. Bellatrix didn't stop to explain. Neville, we need your help."

"My help?"

"Yes. I got permission from the Time Division at the Department of Mysteries. The Feather of Maát hasn't been used or seen since the time you're in. It's had no particular effect until today. Get it back. Take it and bring it back. It will only change the events of this afternoon. It never should have been out of magical hands."

"But time changing--"

"Neville, do it." Shacklebolt looked over his shoulder. "I can't stay long. And I can't come back to help you. I would be... somewhat conspicuous among the Muggle elite of the nineteen-twenties. You just need to Transfigure your clothes to match what you see, or find new ones. It's an open party, as I understand it."

Neville nodded vaguely. "My Gran..."

"She'll be all right, Neville."

"And how do I get back?"

"Open this window. Use..." He looked around, then shook his head, frustrated. "Use my name. The spell would be Shacklebolt Priori Locum. It will show you where you last saw me, and you come through the way you left."

"I--"

"Neville, I trust you. I saw you in the Department of Mysteries. You can do it."

He closed the window again.

Neville took a deep breath. Of all the people to end up here... it should have been someone who could do something. Unless they'd hidden the thing in the leaves of a magical plant, Neville couldn't think of anyone less suited for retrieving it.

But he was all they had.

"All right, then," he said. He stood carefully and looked toward the road that led to the big house. More cars were passing. One pulled over to the side of the road, and a man got out of it, his pretty girlfriend at his side. They both appeared to be intoxicated, and were teasing one another as they dove for cover behind a screen of bushes.

Neville closed his eyes and tried to remember the man's suit. Cream colored trousers shiny white shoes, a puffy white shirt and an embroidered vest... at least he thought it was embroidered. It had been colorful and something had flashed in it, which he took to be a gold thread.

"Transfigure," he groaned. "Please let it work...."

It did. It took a few tries--Transfiguration would never be one of his great strengths--but finally, he got something that he thought would be passable. He started for the big house, going along the road that the cars were traveling. A line of brightly colored tents had been set up for the party, and people drifted in and out of them. A band somewhere was playing some kind of dancing music, with a lot of trumpet in it.

"...Marion, I'm sorry, but we do need to be here. Our hosts are expecting us."

Neville looked to his side. The man's voice was firm and loud. He was speaking to a girl roughly Neville's own age, whose dark hair was bobbed short under a domed hat. She wore a long-waisted dress with a short skirt, and little white gloves. When she spoke, her voice was strident--a bit shocking, actually, her words rough and cut off. "Dad, they know. I don't know how they heard about it, but they know. I thought it'd at least stay in Chicago."

"I don't know how they heard about it, either, Marion."

"Well, they look at me funny." Marion kicked at a stone on the ground. "What did Jones do, put out an ad in the newspaper?"

"Whatever he did, I'll make him pay for it," Marion's father said. "But you did show bad judgment."

"I'm not the one who had him practically living with us."

"I know. And I'm sorry. But life goes on." He smiled at her kindly. "I want you to go to that party and hold your head up. No hiding for my girl. You made a mistake, but you're not running away from it. Ravenwoods don't run away. Chin up, then."

Marion nodded and raised her head, and caught sight of Neville. She frowned. "What're you looking at?"

Neville moved on.

When he reached the door of the big house, he expected to be asked for a story, and had mostly figured one out--traveling in the countryside for the day, noted a big to-do, and so on--but when the door opened, the woman in the entrance hall didn't ask a single question. She was thoroughly inebriated. "Welcome!" she said. "What a pretty thing you are!" She pinched his cheek, then wiggled her hips. A long string of pearls clattered as she moved. She was wearing a dress cut like Marion Ravenwood's and smoking a cigarette on a long holding device of some sort. "Do you know the Black Bottom?" she asked, dragging Neville inside. "It's terribly fun!"

"Er... no..." Neville said, pulling away from her. She seemed unfazed by this, and moved on to another partner.

Neville slipped through the crowd, feeling more out of place than he ever had. He felt for his wand in the pocket of his dinner jacket, and grasped it for reassurance. From the corner of his eye, he saw Marion and her father enter. Marion headed straight for the table where several glasses of bubbly wine were set up in a neatly balanced tower. Her father steered her away from it.

"...oh, it's so interesting, don't you think, Ebbie?" a woman said, drifting in from a side passage. "Imagine burying people with so many things! I think I'd like to be buried with my pearls and my gramophone. What about you?"

"Open bar," the man she was with grunted. "Bury me with a bottle of gin." He led her over to the drinks. Neville peeked down the passageway, but was accosted by a woman a few years older than he was, who dragged him back into the main room and danced around him in a circle, flapping her arms wildly. Neville bowed to her when she finished and backed away, sitting down in a dark wood chair beside the window. He needed a plan. He'd never stolen so much as a bit of a sweet in Diagon Alley... how was he meant to even get to this Feather of Maát, let alone take it and get out?

"Will you please try to socialize?"

Neville looked over his shoulder. Marion was behind the sofa, apparently having taken a glass of wine while her father wasn't looking, and her father was grimacing at her.

"They aren't exactly my crowd," she said.

"And put this down." He took the wine away from her. "This isn't going to help your judgment."

"Yeah, me and my lousy judgment again..."

"Try, Marion. I have to speak with Mr. Holmwood."

"Right."

Mr. Ravenwood went off to the far side of the room. Marion fiddled with her long pearl necklace, then strode off purposefully toward the door the young couple had come from. Neville stood to follow her, but just then, the door to the entrance hall burst open and his attention was diverted by the entrance of the young couple he'd seen outside. The man was still obviously a bit drunk, but that hardly made him unusual here. The woman was smiling broadly.

"Well, I'm here!" the man announced. "You may all begin to have fun now."

"Tommy!" a blonde woman said, sliding off a table she'd been sitting on and shimmying over to him, her gentleman friend in tow. "Why, Charles, weren't we just saying that a party is hardly a party without Tommy Riddle?"

Riddle opened his arms and bowed. He pulled the woman forward. "This lovely lady is my good, good friend"--he slapped her bottom--"Mertysa Marvolo. Make her welcome, will you, love?" he asked the blonde, giving Mertysa a shove in that direction.

Neville felt his jaw drop. What sort of way was that to treat a lady? But the other ladies took it as a matter of course. Mertysa herself was smiling, but Neville could see her eyes, even all the way across the room, and he had a feeling that Tommy Riddle was severely underestimating his "good, good friend."

He frowned.

Marvolo. Riddle.

He'd heard the names before, but he couldn't place them. Something mentioned in passing. Something...

For some reason, he associated both names with Ginny Weasley, but he couldn't make the connection. Relatives, perhaps, in her sprawling family.

At a posh Muggle party?

Mertysa Marvolo made her way over to a small, gilt chair, and crossed her legs prettily, waving one high-heeled foot in time to the music. Someone brought her a drink. When she moved to take it, the sun reflected on something pinned to her dress, then the gleam disappeared under the filmy gauze of her long scarf. She seemed to feel Neville looking at her, and looked back. A smile played over her face, and she nodded slightly, then stood up and came over.

"My, my," she said. "Aren't we far from home?"

Neville bit his lip. "Er, no. Not really."

She bent forward, and her scooped dress dipped. Neville could see all the way down to her brasseire. "A free piece of advice," she whispered, her lips nearly touching his ear. "Be careful where your eyes are directed. I don't think you want me asking around to see if anyone happens to know you."

She straightened, gave him a cool smile, then went back to Riddle, who was regaling a crowd with a tale of a recent trip to India, and how horridly the natives were behaving. Mertysa looped her arm through his and laughed merrily.

Neville backed out of the room, more because he found that he wanted clean, Mertysa-free air more than because he had any plan in mind. He found himself in a large, high-ceilinged room, where several party-goers were looking at items in glass cases. There were animal-headed gods, golden crooks and flails, funeral masks, all manner of ancient items. A few were declared "cunning," and one woman asked her husband to have a necklace made for her just like the one they were looking at. Neville wandered among them, wondering where the Feather of Maát was, and how he could take it and open a window with this many people around.

"...stop it, will you?" a strident voice said. "I didn't come back here for this!"

"What, did you think I wanted to talk to you about ancient Egypt?" A drunken laugh came from an alcove to Neville's left. "I know what sort of girl you are. I hear you're a bit of extra credit in your father's classes."

"Let go of me! Who told you that?"

"Come on, Marion... everyone knows."

"Everyone's wrong!"

Neville saw them, then, Marion pressed to the wall, a much older man hovering over her lecherously. She was snarling at him, batting at his shoulders with her fists. He seemed to find this amusing, and pushed her harder, getting one hand under the back of her thigh and trying to pry her leg up.

"Excuse me," Neville said.

They both looked around. "Where are your manners?" the man said. "Marion and I are having a private moment."

"I'll give you a 'private moment,'" Marion steamed, and stomped on the man's foot.

Neville didn't move. "As it happens," he said, "Marion's with me this evening, and I was looking for her. I'd hoped we could dance."

Marion's eyes darted back and forth, then she smiled and slipped under the arm of the man who'd been accosting her, who seemed to be momentarily wrong-footed. "That's right," she said, putting an arm around Neville's neck. "I'm here with--"

"Neville."

"--Neville here. So you go right on." As soon as he was gone, she let go of Neville. "Hope you're not expecting anything for that."

"No, not really."

"I saw you earlier. What were you doing, listening in?"

"I'm sorry about that, really. I just... I heard you, and I'd never heard your accent before. I wondered where you were from. I suppose I should have left, but I just--I'm sorry."

"Hmph." Marion shrugged. "I'm from everywhere. Mostly Chicago lately. But Jersey, too, and New York, and Boston and San Francisco and New Haven." She shuddered at the last. "Not to mention any place Dad can find that's covered with sand. I gotta say, this stuff looks better here than it did in Egypt. Or maybe it's just not having sand in my shoes when I'm looking at it."

"I'd imagine that's it," Neville said. "Your father found all of this?"

"Oh, yeah. Abner Ravenwood, grave robber and junk collector. I'm Marion Ravenwood, by the way."

"Neville Longbottom."

"Meetcha." She wrinkled her nose at the display. "Dad mostly keeps his stuff, but this guy Holmwood paid for the dig, so Dad had to bring his stuff here. So here we are."

"What is all of this?"

She shrugged. "The usual bits of junk. Ever since ol' Carter found King Tut, people will take anything with an animal head." She pointed at a necklace. "That was with some Pharaoh's kids that were buried. And this..." She led him to another case, which had a stone slab, decorated with stylized figures. "This bunch is showing some dead guy's heart to Maát, and see, that's her feather, and if he's a good guy, the feather makes his heart light or something, so he goes to heaven. If he's a bad guy... well, you know."

"The Feather of Maát?" Neville asked.

"Yeah, we got a bunch of pictures of it. Big ol' ostrich feather. She wears it in a headband. Looks like the world's first flapper. We found one little one that's on a headband. Made of copper or something. Dad says it's a good piece, but no one else likes it. Too small. It's over there." She pointed vaguely at a glass case in the back corner of the room. She didn't head in that direction, and Neville thought it might be a bit obvious to just ask her to show it to him. Her finger was running over the glass above the stone slab. "There she is," she said, tapping the glass with one short, practical nail. "Maát herself. See her?"

Neville looked. The goddess on the stone was wearing a white dress and had bare feet and a human head. A large feather was stuck into a headband as she looked on. It was apparently a different part of the story from where the feather was already out.

"She was for truth and justice and seeing hearts of men and stuff like that," Marion said. "You know. I think."

"Sounds like you know."

"Yeah, well."

"If you know, why pretend that you don't?"

"Don't want to sound like a bookworm," she said. "I'm not," she added fiercely, as though Neville had accused her of this. "I don't even like school. I just pick stuff up from Dad." She sighed. "'Course, I'm not around anywhere long enough to do much else. What about you?"

"I like school."

"Yeah? What do you like?"

"Plants. Things like that."

"Huh." A bell rang. "Well, that's dinner. If you want to be my dinner partner, you can. Better than that guy," she said, jerking her thumb in the general direction of the man who'd been bothering her.

Neville nodded, wondering if anyone would bother him for an invitation before feeding him, but when Marion led him to a table in a room off the dining room, no one even questioned him. Apparently, people were used to strangers coming and going to these sorts of things.

A few boys from university were at the table with their girlfriends, and Marion introduced them quickly; they were apparently studying with her father this summer. A member of the staff came by with drinks (Marion took two glasses of wine for herself), and another brought bread. Neville was tearing into a dinner roll when a flash of white caught his eye. He looked up. Tommy Riddle and Mertysa Marvolo had taken the remaining two seats at the table. Mertysa smiled at him in that unpleasantly knowing way again, and waggled her fingers in a wave. "Tommy," she said to her companion, "be a love and get the lady with the drinks."

"What am I, your servant?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Unless you plan on catching a chill tonight, I think you should get the lady with the drinks."

Tommy rolled his eyes and went after the servant. Mertysa turned back to the table, conspicuously throwing her scarf back over her shoulder. She pushed her shoulder in Neville's direction.

On it was a golden brooch, set with an emerald. Around the emerald were four animals: a snake, a badger, an eagle, and a lion.

And Neville knew whose name he would find on the back.

Tags: ,
I feel a bit...: cranky cranky

8 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 8th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Shloz

I'll take first dibs on reviewing.

I was a bit confused about the "Heir of Slytherin" quote, and I'm ashamed to admit that only after reading the whole piece did it hit me fully about who the Heir is in Neville's current situation.

I like how you've made Mertysa an apparently not-too-nice person, despite our instinct to sympathize with unknown, wronged characters. It stands to reason that a Slytherin (the Heir, no less!) who got along fine with a jerk like Riddle until she got knocked up and revealed that she was more than weird, would be at least a bit nasty. How did she realize so fast that Neville is a wizard?

Oh! Could she be manipulating Tommy boy just to get the Feather herself? That would make it even better - Tom Jr. getting his penchant for Dark Magic from his Mum!
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: March 8th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern, I'm in awe of your storytelling ability! Somehow, this really works. Although there are parallels between the two... (universes? fandoms?), you seem to weave them together so effortlessly. And I'm glad to see Neville getting a chance to shine, in his own way :)
castaliae From: castaliae Date: March 8th, 2005 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no clue where you are going, but I'm willing to follow you there. I can't wait. This is interesting.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 8th, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
You write the weirdly improbable (but really, really fun) just as well as you do the missing moments.

I keep getting the feeling Neville has fallen into The Great Gatsby, possibly because I haven't actually watched Raiders of the Lost Ark all the way through and am defaulting to the next available reference.

I love Neville's rescue. It suits him perfectly. And it just adds to the... er... atmosphere that the guy who was trying to rape Marion, in spite of his claim of a "private moment" a minute ago, doesn't try to argue or fight over her claiming a date who has to introduce himself to her.

For some reason, he associated both names with Ginny Weasley, but he couldn't make the connection. Relatives, perhaps, in her sprawling family.

*dies* You don't want to know what sort of noise Ginny just made in my head at this idea.

"Unless you plan on catching a chill tonight, I think you should get the lady with the drinks."

It took me a moment to realize that (at least overtly) this threat regarded where he'd be sleeping rather than a spell.

And that she's proudly displaying a Slytherin-centered Hogwarts crest at a Muggle party is a fantastic touch. Though I'm curious as to why she's making a point of prodding Neville about it -- granted, he's another wizard, but... well, I suppose you'll get to that, right?

(I like the way you've chosen to handle Voldemort's parents. There's a lot of room for variety, but the fact that when the Heir of Slytherin went for a Muggle, she went for the rich guy up the hill, seems to say something.)
sep12 From: sep12 Date: March 8th, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern! I Love It! I enjoy stories where Neville ROX ('cause he does), and there are so few of them out there that are really well done. I enjoy the way that Voldemort's mother is not a "nice" girl. I totally agree with the person who said that we sort of feel, I don't know, sympathy for her because she was turned out by Riddle, but she WAS the Heir of Slytherin; she couldn't have been too nice in general. I look forward to the rest of the story.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: March 8th, 2005 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wish I could review, but I'm off fanfic for the remainder of lent, so I shall tell you on Sunday.

In the meantime, there are Half-Blood Prince covers released by publishers!

Here they are =)

Couple other major bits of news at Mugglenet too.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: March 8th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, Neville being heroic! I love that! And nive (or not-nice :-D) take on the future Mrs Riddle. So what was going on with her and Neville's Gran?

Brit-pick: waistcoat, not vest. Vest is undershirt :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 8th, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank you! I always wondered what a waistcoat was.

I'll fix it.
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