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Marauders ficlet - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Marauders ficlet
Ain't insomnia grand? I have to cut the caffeine. Like, yesterday.

Anyway, this little ficlet has been in my head as an event for awhile, but I never wrote it because... well, I have lots of other things occupying my brain. It's about Elizabeth Phelan, the original character from Lines of Descent, the werewolf who bit Remus when he was six. This takes place during his sixth year at Hogwarts, the October Hogsmeade weekend. He saw Elizabeth over the summer and talked to her about lycanthropy and potential problems with, as he puts it, "Er... children, and, er... you know." I don't know whether or not that will come into it or not, as this is pretty much stream-of-consciousness on particulars.




The panic attack that had been threatening for an hour finally hit Elizabeth Phelan in the apothecary shop across from Honeydukes. She'd expected Honeydukes itself to be crowded, and had braced herself for it after finding herself in the middle of a clutch of girls in the robe shop, and had managed to get in and out for Maddoc's coconut ice without screaming once, though her jaw ached from clenching her teeth. All she had left was a list of potion ingredients she needed to stock up on before the moon. Painkillers, mostly. And she didn't remember ever going to the apothecary on Hogsmeade weekends. Surely, it wouldn't be crowded.

She'd slipped inside with relief, only to turn and find herself in a tightly pressed crowd of older students, shouting to one another and checking off lists of their own. A sour-faced boy with greasy-hair glared at her over jar of armadillo bile from which he was measuring a careful phial-full.

Her hands started shaking, and the world became glassy and brittle around her, the shouts of the children like knives in her mind. She clutched her handbag convulsively and her feet started to carry her backward toward the door.

For nearly twenty-five years, she hadn't been in a crowd larger than five (herself, Maddoc, and the three Lupins). If Maddoc hadn't felt under the weather today, he would have run the errands. But she'd insisted. Why had she done that? Why hadn't she checked and realized it would be a Hogsmeade weekend? Why hadn't she--

Her shoulder hit a wooden shelf, knocking some kind of green ooze off balance. With horror, she watched it start to tumble to the floor. She seemed completely unable to remove her hands from handbag to catch it.

A broad hand attached to a skinny wrist shot out from nowhere and stopped it before it hit the ground.

Elizabeth jumped.

"Are you all right, ma'am?" the boy said. "Didn't mean to give you a start."

She turned. He wasn't a very tall boy, but he was lanky and sprawling. Glasses perched on his nose, and his black hair looked like a permanent mess.

"I'm... I'm fine, really."

He put the jar back on the shelf. "You look a bit shaken."

"No, really--"

"Elizabeth?"

She looked to the shop's front stairs. Remus Lupin was standing on the lowest riser, looking surprised (as much as Remus ever looked surprised) beween a handsome boy with sharp blue eyes and a chubby, friendly looking boy whose arms were laden with what seemed to be everyone else's bags.

The first boy wiggled his eyebrows. "Should have known," he said. "Remus knows all the pretty ones."

Remus smiled nervously. "This is Elizabeth Phelan," he said. "She... used to live next door to my parents. Elizabeth, these are my friends." He pointed to the boy at the door. "That's James Potter."

James Potter made a show of bowing and grabbing her hand to kiss it. Elizabeth's panic began to fade into a kind of nervous amusement.

"And these are Peter Pettigrew and Sirius Black."

The chubby boy, Peter, smiled behind his bags and nodded to her. The other, Sirius, grabbed the hand the James didn't have (the one in which her handbag was still clasped) and kissed it. "Don't know how Remus does it," he said. "All the pretty ones go for him."

"Will you two lay off a bit?" Remus asked, his face red.

"It's all right, Remus," she said, amusement rising. When she'd been sixteen, she had been rather pretty, but at fifty, she looked like... well, a fifty-year-old woman. She had gray at her temples and lines round her eyes, and bits of her were beginning to sag.

Remus's eyes darted into the shadows of the apothecary shop. "Was something wrong in there? If that greasy-haired prat--"

Elizabeth shook her head. "No. I just... well, it's been quite awhile since I was out in a crowd. I didn't realize it would be a Hogsmeade weekend. Panicked a bit, is all."

"Yes, we're a dangerous lot," Sirius Black agreed, his eyes on the verge of laughter. "You never can tell. But don't worry. We're here to protect you. Wands out, boys."

James pulled his wand and danced it along his fingers in an elaborate balancing routine. Peter shuffled his feet at the bottom of the steps, and Remus just sighed, his face still red. She vaguely remembered her time at Hogwarts; seeing people from the world of one's home, where there were parents and nightlights and all manner of embarrassing things, could be somewhat awkward.

"I think I'll be all right," she assured Sirius. "You boys go about your business. Which I suspect has nothing to do with an old woman in the street."

"Oh, we're mostly done," Sirius said. "James was just going to get some billywig stings for--"

"--a levitating potion," James finished with a grin.

"Mm-hmm."

"And then we were going to lunch. You could come with us."

"I wouldn't want to spoil your--"

"Then it's settled," James said.

Elizabeth looked at Remus. "Is it all right with you?"

He nodded. "Sure. And by the time we're finished, it will be time for the lot of us to go back to school, and you can finish your shopping in peace."

"You're sure?"

"Yes."

"All right. Take positions!" Sirius said. "Peter, front guard. Remus, right side. James, left side." He grinned wickedly, and waved his hands in a rough hour-glass shape. "I'll take the rear guard."

"Sirius!"

Elizabeth stifled a giggle, not wanting to exacerbate Remus's embarrassment, but quite enjoying Sirius's over-the-top antics. A fifty-year-old married werewolf was rarely the object of such attention.

Peter Pettigrew shifted the packages in his arms, and Elizabeth reached out for them. He gratefully handed her a few of them. Zonko's bags, mostly, though she noticed the corner of a magazine peeking out from under a bag of trick teacups. A witch was wiggling her bare shoulder provocatively.

Elizabeth chose not to comment.

"Forward!" Sirius commanded, and the little group moved. Elizabeth tried not to laugh.

"So," James said, grinning, "what embarrassing things can you tell us about ickle Remus? And we're his roommates, so you'll have to go aways to find things we don't already know. Dig deep."

"Remus has no embarrassing habits," Elizabeth said. "He's a very good boy, but not so good as to be shameful, and he never does anything compromising."

"Lovely and loyal," James mused. "What's your secret, Moony?"

Elizabeth's heart jumped into her throat at the nickname... surely he hadn't...

But he had. He'd told her that he had. They knew. Did they know who she was?

He shook his head slightly, apparently guessing what she wondered. "Long walks in the country," he said lightly. "It gives me that otherworldly air. The girls like it."

"I told my Mum we should move," Sirius said.

They reached the Three Broomsticks, and Sirius ran around her to go inside and snag a table. Peter slumped down on a bench and rearranged his packages again. He glanced up in sudden horror when he realized which one he'd handed Elizabeth. She winked solemnly, and he blushed.

A group of young girls went by, flashing smiles at Remus and James (one actually stopped and gave Remus a very deep smile, which he returned politely) and giggling as they disappeared into the crowd. Elizabeth had been one of those girls once--carefree and laughing, with ribbons in her hair, her monthly worries more about bloating than about fangs and claws. She pushed back the melancholy that threatened to descend; she would not think about where that girl had disappeared.

Instead, she glanced at Remus. "I think that one likes you," she said.

"That's Margaret," he said. "From Ravenclaw. I told you about her this summer?"

"Ah, yes. The nibbler."

Remus blushed deeply, and Elizabeth realized in a belated way that two of his friends were in perfect earshot. Apparently, he hadn't shared with them the information that his first kiss had included a nibble on the lip that had sent him into paroxysms of terror about spreading lycanthropy.

She winced. "Sorry, Sweetie."

James laughed. "You do realize we're going to call him 'Sweetie' for a year now, unless something better comes along."

"Really sorry."

He shrugged. "'S all right. Better than what Lily Evans calls him. What was that again?"

"'Big-headed, thick-skulled little peabrain,'" James said nostalgically. "Ah, love. At least I know she's focused on my mind, and not my stunning, Quidditch-toned muscles."

A window opened along the wall and Sirius leaned out. "I'm holding a table down. Got seven people at wandpoint for it, so hurry."

Elizabeth laughed, and followed the boys inside.

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Comments
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: April 4th, 2004 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Argh! Don't stop! Please! I want to know what happens next; the characters are all so engaging!
jiminyc From: jiminyc Date: April 4th, 2004 08:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I really love this ficlet...it's got such a cheerful feel to it, which (knowing the backstory & future of these characters) is really poignant.
delleve From: delleve Date: April 4th, 2004 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Delleve Miststone from SQ here just in case you didn't recognize me. ;) That was absolutely wonderful and I really urge you to continue it. I love Elizabeth, she's such a wonderful OC and her "encounter" with the Marauders was really great and very funny.
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