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M.U.D.S. continued - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
M.U.D.S. continued
Okay, apologies again for leaving a story mid-scene. I probably should have just left it private.



(The last few paragraphs from yesterday's post in italics)



Benjy grimaced. "We don't have to just take it," he said. "I think... well, every time, we should..."

"Have a war?" Ted asked pointedly. "'Cause that's what it would be, mate."

"It's what it already is."

Andi stood and craned her neck, checked something in the direction of the head table, and sat back down. "Well, if Benjy doesn't mind a bit of support from an inbred dolt"--Benjy smiled sheepishly and muttered an apology under his breath--"I think he's right."

"Andi, it's your sister who--"

"--leads a whole bloody gang of her Slytherin chums. It was just Lucius earlier, but you know as well as I do that he might have been with Bella, or that big firstie Goyle, or Richie Candlemas, or all of them, and they'd still have set on Benjy. When it's just Bella, you can ignore her. But all of them? You need to hit back. I say that as someone who knows them quite well."


"Exactly!" Benjy said. "They have a whole gang. We need one as well. We should, I don't know, fight back somehow. Hit them twice as hard for every one of us they hit."

A few scattered people at the Gryffindor table heard him, and craned their necks. One was a second-year Muggle-born named Jason Quinn, and he got up hesitantly and followed Benjy over. A Ravenclaw boy with whom Ted had seen him noticed and made his way over as well.

"This is getting out of hand," Ted whispered to Andi.

She nodded. "Benjy, the Great Hall isn't the best place for this."

Ted frowned. "Not exactly what I meant."

"We could meet in the library," Gilderoy suggested. "In an hour. It's still before curfew, and there's a table behind the almanacs with plenty of space. I work there a lot."

"I think--" Ted began, but there was already an agreement forming in the growing crowd. Ted looked over Benjy's head toward the Slytherin table, where Bella and Lucius were watching them with narrowed eyes. He held up a hand. "An hour," he said. "And not until then. Bring anyone who wants to come. Will you use your brains until then?" He jerked his head at the Slytherins.

Benjy Fenwick picked up on it first, and turned on Andi with a sneer. "And next time you think I need help," he announced, as loudly as he could, "I won't. I don't need help from Puries." He wrinkled his nose at Ted. "Or Purie-lovers." He stalked off, mouthing, "Sorry," at Andi as he left.

"Show's over," Ted said, waving the others off. Some looked confused, but most played along.

Andi, looking at most of them, and facing away from the Slytherin table, mouthed, "Library. One hour."

"Are you sure you didn't see anything in my cup?" Andi asked when they left.

Ted sighed. "Honestly, this is not one of our better ideas."

"That's why you're not in Gryffindor."

"Bloody right that's why I'm not in Gryffindor!" There was no space beside Andi at the table, so Ted sat cross legged in front of her and looked up. "I don't want to pick fights with your sister and her friends. I just want to be left alone. Have a bit of fun here."

"If Bella has her way, you'll be having a bit of fun back in a state school in London." Andi sighed and leaned forward. "If you don't do it together, Benjy will do it by himself. D'you really fancy the thought of him doing it his way?"

Something jabbed the small of Ted's back, and he looked up to see Gilderoy looking extravagantly away. His toe was nudged forward.

Ted looked up as casually as he could. Bella was on her way over.

"Hello, Bellatrix," Gilderoy said, bowing. "We were just saying how good it would be to see you--"

She shoved him out of her way without looking at him, and strode to Andi. She kicked vaguely at Ted, like he was a pile of laundry she wanted to hide under the table, but didn't look at him when he failed to move. "Interesting company you're keeping, Andromeda," she said, raising her pointed chin in Benjy's direction.

"I can hardly help who's Sorted into my House, Bella."

Now, Bella glanced down at Ted, her dark eyes filled with malevolence. "Or who's not," she said.

Andi pantomimed an exaggerated yawn.

Ted's eyes were on an exact level with Bella's left hand, which was twitching nervously, her long nails seeming to dig at the air. She reminded him of Dodger, who flexed his claws in just this way before deciding to attack a piece of furniture.

Andi stood up. "If you're planning to hit me, Bella, just do it. I haven't got time for a game just now. Homework."

Bella shook her head. "How much of our world will you watch them destroy before you come around? Or are you going to help them do it?" She didn't wait for an answer. Ted had to move his hand quickly to avoid her treading on his fingers as she left.

"Always a pleasure," Gilderoy muttered after her. "I'll head down now," he said to Ted. "Make sure the table is clear."

"Good idea." He looked up at Andi again. She was frowning, more upset than she usually was at Bella's taunting. "Are you all right?"

She shrugged. "I... suppose. It's just Bella. Bloody Bella. I really hate her sometimes."

"Only sometimes?"

She looked at him strangely. "She's my sister."

"Right." He stood up. "Look, I want to make sure I'm there first. I want to talk before Benjy starts."

"Wise choice." She smiled. "Don't worry about me," she said. "I'm fine. I'll be along as soon as she and Lucius go."

Ted left the Great Hall behind a screen of Gryffindor fourth years, and broke off toward the library once they got outside. When he got there, Gilderoy had already claimed his table. Ted often worked with him here; maintaining a friendship between Houses meant having a lot of habitual spots in the common areas of the school, so they could find one another without any special planning. It was a practice that had developed without any of the three of them noticing it, though when Andi had pointed it out, Gilderoy had jumped in with the explanation.

He lit a candle against the dusk and bit his lip. "Maybe now that you're here, I should go. I mean, this is... something of a Muggle-born issue. They may not want me here."

"If Andromeda Black can be here, I reckon you can."

"Well..."

"Are you scared?"

"Oh, no. No, of course not."

"I am. This is stupid. You know that, right?"

"It's our chance to be heroes!"

"It's our chance to be hexed into next year by Bella and Lucius. Every time we turn around."

Gilderoy gulped. There was sweat on his brow and his hands were shaking.

Andi found her way down twenty minutes later, still looking a bit subdued. She sat down at the table and rolled out a blank scroll. Gilderoy handed her a quill and a bottle of ink (she always seemed to forget hers), and she wrote "Meeting" at the top of the scroll, then doodled a few dots after it. She connected them, making a confusing little design, then drew a curved line through the middle of it. It now looked vaguely like a flower stem with leaves, and she drew a daisy shape at the top of it. Next, little blades of grass. And a butterfly. Then her initials, A.D.B. (her middle name was Danae). Then--

"Bother," she whispered, closing the ink bottle and forcing herself to put the quill down.

Gilderoy glanced at her doodles and pointed his wand at them. He said a Charm that Ted didn't know, and the butterfly fluttered its wings once, weakly, then was still again. He shrugged.

The others started to arrive, a few at a time, Benjy first, followed by the Gryffindors who'd overheard him. Ted was about to begin when another group drifted in, Jason's Ravenclaw friend with two or three others.

All Muggle-born.

Ted wasn't sure when he'd made it a hobby to find out who else was Muggle-born in school, but he certainly knew his own year and the two years under him. He'd sought out the others in Hufflepuff, and they'd told him about others in their years.

It had always seemed like a such a small number. One or two a year in a House, none (at least at present) in Slytherin. Nothing signficant.

Within fifteen minutes, thirty-nine Muggle-borns had crowded around Ted and Gilderoy's table. Some were looking suspiciously at Andi, but Benjy sat down beside her and started chatting comfortably, so they relaxed. Most took no notice of Gilderoy at all. There were others there as well, whose names and faces Ted didn't know. In all, he guessed there were close to fifty people standing shoulder to shoulder in the little alcove.

Madam Pince walked up to the edge of the shelves, looked at them with something like desperation, then glanced at Gilderoy.

"It's all right, Madam Pince," he said. "They're with me."

"This is not to be a regular occurrence, Mr. Lockhart," she said sternly, then waved her wand and cast a silencing Charm. Ted noted that she did not return to her desk, but instead sat at a table where she could keep an eye on them, bringing a stack of books with her to mark in.

Ted stood on his chair. "There are quite a lot of us," he said. "I never reckoned on this many."

A few smiles.

"Do you all know what happened earlier?"

Most people nodded.

"I can't say I've ever had a dead salamander put down my robes, but I've had enough food thrown at me to feed one of those starving villages my mum lectures me on when I don't finish my vegetables."

"I've been kicked," a fourth year said, lifting his robes to show a dark purple bruise on his calf.

"Albert Goyle poured ink all over my Herbology notes," a Ravenclaw girl said. "He almost poured it on my stinging nettles, but Professor Sprout caught him."

"Lucius Malfoy is always knocking my books out of my hands--"

"Bella Black spit on me--"

"Tolman Vayle shoved me into a broom cupboard--"

"Kermilla Dalton pinched me on my... er... well, on my arse, actually... and called me Mudblood filth--"

"Gytha Wulfrith hexed my hair to turn purple--"

"Morton Lud made my hands shrink--"

Ted held up his hands, thinking that it would never work, but it did. They were all watching him for some reason. He looked back at them, not sure what he meant to say. "Er... I reckon we've all had things happen with that lot. What Benjy suggested earlier--or at least what I think he meant--is that maybe we should all look out for one another. Does everyone think that's a good idea?"

The people lucky enough to have gotten a seat at the table clapped their hands on the wooden surface. Those standing stomped their feet.

Before Ted could stop him, Benjy Fenwick climbed up onto a chair. "I didn't just say look out for each other!" he said. "I said we should fight back! Look how many of us there are! We can take them!"

Fewer people responded this time, but there was something sinister in the low stomping of feet, something dark in the eyes that were now shifting over toward Benjy.

"Wait!" Ted said, but didn't know how to follow it up. He felt something tug on his robes, and looked down to see Andi.

She was biting her lip very nervously. Her scroll had a few sentences of notes on it, but was mostly aimless doodling. "May I say something?" she asked.

He nodded. "Andromeda's got something to say," he said.

"Purie!" someone in back shouted, and there was more foot-stomping.

"D'you want a brawl?" Ted asked him. "'Cause I'll take you."

Shocked silence. Ted wondered dumbly when someone would realize that they were sitting here taking orders from a third year, but either no one did, or no one cared.

Andi climbed nimbly onto her chair, somehow looking fey and delicate in the midst of the grumbling crowd. "I know you're all angry," she said. "And I'd reckon you're not all that happy listening to someone named Black."

No one spoke up to disagree, but no one took the opportunity to express unhappiness, either.

"They..." She took a shaky breath. "They look at Muggles and they think they're all thugs and criminals. They're afraid. They... they think something's slipping away. Something that's... something that's worth something. Something good."

The silence was sullen now.

Andi looked around, and Ted gave her a supportive smile. Gilderoy was watching her without much expression.

"Anyway," she said, "I think that we... that you... should be... good. You know, not give them anything to make them believe more than they already do." She sat down again, not meeting anyone's eyes.

Ted frowned. His first thought was that she looked afraid--and who was to blame her with this lot calling her names?--but when he looked more closely, it seemed to be something different. He couldn't place it.

A hand waved in back, an older boy whose name Ted didn't know. Ted pointed at him.

He came forward. "I'm Chet Egerton," he said. "Seventh year. I'm with Miss Black over there. I don't want to be at war with the wizarding world. I just want it not to be at war with me. Do you all know what I mean?"

There were a lot of murmured assents.

Chet went on. "It's better here. In a lot of ways. You all know that. I mean, if any of us had a chance to go back, how many would do it?"

No one answered.

"So I think what--what's your name?"

"Ted."

"What Ted said at first is better. We look after one another. Just a Muggle-born defense squad. We don't let anyone be hurt, but we don't start anything, and we don't do more than is necessary to stop someone from being hurt."

"We'll never beat them that way," Benjy Fenwick said. "There's something going on with them. It's in the Daily Prophet, too. Letters and articles and so on. Something's happening."

"And if it comes to fighting out in the world, I'll do it."

"Right," Ted said. "But in here... it's not like there's anywhere else to go. We're stuck living with them, and they're stuck living with us. Just because they make it difficult doesn't mean we should."

No one argued.

"All right, then," Ted said. "We'll be a Muggle-born defense squad."

Benjy Fenwick giggled suddenly. "Muggle-born united defense squad," he said.

"What?"

"M-U-D-S," Benjy said. "Muds!"

Andi and Gilderoy both looked shocked, but a slight twitter ran through the Muggle-borns, who had all been called "Mudblood" at one point or another. It was ugly, but it was also... sort of amusing.

Ted grinned. "All right, then. MUDS it is. Now, does anyone have the first notion how to do this?"

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Comments
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: May 13th, 2004 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love it! I really like how all the characters interact, how you show deep emotions with little things, like Andi's "She's my sister." One thing:
I'm guessing you didn't actually mean for Benjy to say "And next you think time I need help".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 13th, 2004 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm guessing you didn't actually mean for Benjy to say "And next you think time I need help".

Oops! I don't even know how that particular goof would end up being made. Fixing.
matril From: matril Date: May 14th, 2004 07:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Very nice. It's quite a twist to throw in the idea of Muggle-borns who bear animosity toward "Puries." It feels very real.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: May 14th, 2004 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I like your stories about Ted and Andromeda's time at Hogwarts the best. Very believable, and well-written. Benjy's a perfect foil for Ted, too - a motivated activist to Ted's reluctant "warrior". It's good stuff, Fern. Thanks for sharing :-)
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