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Begging to be saved from writer's block. - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Begging to be saved from writer's block.
I have sincere and complete writer's block. I've tried working on Safe, I've tried original, I've even futzed around in other fandoms. Can't get anything togeter.

So, in typical form, I'm going to lean on you guys to get me going.

Challenge call. Since I'm trying most to get going on Safe, I'm going to keep it to HP. I'll keep it open for anything that goes up for the next two hours. My little computer clock says 12:08 now; I'll take anything that comes in before it says 2:08. (ETA: I'm on Mountain Time now, so I'm two hours behind the east coast.)

ETA2: It's now 2:18 by my clock. I'll get the ones that are here!

ETA3: Writer's block makes me slower. :) I'm hanging it up for tonight, and will get back to work tomorrow.

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serriadh From: serriadh Date: February 17th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Anything from Teddy's early days at the Dept. of Mysteries.
Or an interaction between Teddy and one of his teachers where he talks about his career plans.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unspeakables didn't have offices, precisely, unless that's what they decided to turn them into. Old Croaker had a perfectly normal desk and potted plants, Davies had a windswept hill and a miniature Quidditch pitch, Doge had a Venetian grotto with many barrels of wine. Teddy spent his early days almost entirely with Maddie, whose room looked like the spare room in her house, with piles of paper, loose quills everywhere, an old carpet, and a large collection of battered old tables stacked with reading material. Her research was generally in the Space division.

Teddy assumed that sooner or later, he'd come up with his own personality for the room, maybe making it look like his Hogwarts room, or one of Mum's wardrobes, or the island he'd imagined for his parents' afterlife. But six months after he'd got there, it was still bare, a black box like a post-modern stage. He had four blackboards, one on each side, and a large crate of chalk kicked off in one corner. The only nod to decoration was a collection of quotes he'd found, liked, and written on the walls. It looked like graffiti. Several of the quotes were from Granny's book on the Black family, and he had these boxed up. Another was from one of Dad's memories on the ring: "Leave it to Lupin to have the world and fold." This had been Sirius. Teddy had attributed it as much as he had attributed quotes from Shakespeare, and it was written on the back of the door. There were also several Fifi LaFolle quotes, quite a few thing Uncle Harry had told him over the years, and snippets of poetry--Poe ("Quoth the raven..."), Eliot ("Oh, my people, what have I done unto thee?"), St. Vincent Millay ("My candle burns at both ends..."), Chang-Morse ("Lost within the endless maze..."), and dozens of others.

The blackboards themselves, he tended to use for spontaneous writing, and were more often than not covered with illegible loops and swirls.

There were also photographs and drawings stuck on the walls in no discernible pattern. Uncle Harry's family stood cheerfully beside some dour-looking Victorian Muggle Tonkses, photos of portraits were jammed against the door frame, James's cheerful old scribbles of the family were tacked in a place of honor across from the entrance, set off by travel posters of places Teddy meant to visit eventually. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it.

Stepping into his workroom was like stepping inside his own brain, which was rarely covered with polite trappings of civilization, and crammed with bits of unrelated esoterica. He thought he really ought to make an effort to organize it, but Maddie advised him against it in the strongest terms. "I used to work in Identity, remember? You can't do this job if you can't come to terms with your own nature, Ted. And if you can handle your mind with its disguises stripped away, then that's what you ought to have. Don't fight it. It's not like you'll end up with visitors here, or any of us will gossip about your housekeeping skills."

Other things made their way in from time to time, items he was researching, clues in Auror investigations that seemed connected, strange things that had caught his interest, even if they'd caught no one else's.

Today, he had an envelope from Kreacher. He wasn't supposed to take personal questions, but he justified it as not actually being a question, per se.

It was related to Identity. It was related to Death. It was related to Time.

He opened it, and a locket slithered out into his hand.
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author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 17th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
How about Sanjiv and Teddy talking about Dora? Or something with one of Tonks's friends and Teddy when he was little. (I know that's sad, sorry, but...)

If you want something a little happier, maybe Victoire and Teddy sharing a special moment of some sort?

(Sorry if this came in too late.)

Oh, and your icon. Love.

ETA to the ETA: (ETA: I'm on Mountain Time now, so I'm two hours behind the east coast.)

I feel so relieved now - I wondered why I didn't see it when I checked LJ before!

Edited at 2008-02-17 07:43 pm (UTC)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Daffy Apcarne had always been tall and too skinny, and he had light brown hair threaded with lighter strands. Some of them were already starting to go gray. He had light brown eyes. He'd been the only boy Tonks had gone out with in school, and the moment he'd met Remus Lupin, he'd understood just how he'd ended up with such an honor. They weren't look-alikes in any sense of the word--their faces were quite different, and Daffy's hair was as straight as straw while Remus's had been wavy--but Daffy also wouldn't have been surprised to dig back into their family trees and find a fairly close connection somewhere.

He didn't really mind having been an attempted substitution for Tonks's grown-up crush when they'd still been children, but it was sometimes an odd feeling, not least when when he was walking about with his own son, Frankie, and Tonks's seven year old son, Teddy Lupin.

Frankie looked like his mother--round-faced, unapologetically plump, with pale blue eyes and curly blond hair. Teddy wasn't tall for his age (yet), but he was skinny, his natural hair color was light brown, and he had light brown eyes when he wasn't doing anything odd with them. He looked a great deal like Remus, but people who didn't know Remus saw the colors and the body type and assumed that, of the two boys Daffy was traveling with, he was the more obvious son.

This assumption tended to bother both boys. Frankie was insulted that people didn't think he looked like Daffy, and Teddy was always incensed at anyone who didn't know he was his parents' son.

That was why both boys were sulking, despite the blue sky and the laughter at the beach. Daffy couldn't entice them to play with a Frisbee, and Teddy looked mutinous enough to start morphing in public.

"I'm going to get ice cream," Frankie said. "Could I have money, Dad?"

Daffy pulled out a few Muggle bills and handed them over. "Get some for Teddy and me as well, all right?"

Frankie nodded and trudged off.

Daffy sat down beside Teddy and mussed his hair. "Sorry about that, mate. You know the man didn't mean any harm by it, don't you?"

Teddy shrugged. "I'm Teddy Lupin," he said miserably. "No one ever says I look like my daddy."

"You look like your daddy," Daffy told him.

He shrugged. "I don't mean you. I mean other people. The way that man said I looked like you."

"That man's a stranger. He doesn't know you. He was just making conversation."

"Stupid conversation."

"Can't argue with that," Daffy said. "But I reckon he has children, and that's just a stupid thing that grown-ups do sometimes. They like to say, 'Oh, your boy looks just like you.' It's sort of like saying, 'Nice weather, isn't it?'"

"No it's not."

"I know you don't believe it, but it is. I've done it myself. Said it to Harry just the other day about the new baby."

"James," Teddy said. "His name is James Sirius Potter."

"James, then. It's a good name. The point is, who knows what he's going to look like? Maybe he'll look like Harry. Maybe he'll look like Ginny. Maybe he'll be some strange throwback to the Blacks. Maybe he'll look like Harry's aunt. Babies can end up looking like anyone. But grown-ups are a bit stupid about it--we always say, 'Oh, he looks just like you.'"

"But James is Uncle Harry's!"

"I know. But you can't expect everyone to know. You know, people used to say it to Harry about you when he was walking you about."

Teddy nodded. "And he always said he wasn't my daddy! He said my daddy was Remus Lupin and I should be proud of it. He didn't say 'Thank you.'"

"Oh." Daffy sighed. "All right, I see why you're upset. It's just... the man was a stranger. I didn't think we needed to give your entire life story. I did say you weren't mine, right after I said thank you. I said 'Thank you, but he's really a friend's.'"

"You didn't say 'Remus and Dora Lupin's.' Uncle Harry always says that."

"Strangers on the beach don't need to know everything."

"Do you think my parents will be angry that I didn't tell that man who I am?"

"No. I think they're perfectly serene about you not giving your life story to strangers, Teddy."

Teddy didn't look convinced, but nodded. By the time Frankie got back with the ice cream, he'd let it go.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: February 17th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh no, I'm five minutes late...but I'm also the first to comment? Really? I'd love to see more of the Smeltings teachers, or more of Daniel Morse, whichever you prefer.

And since I haven't commented before, I've been a fan of yours for years and absolutely love your extension if the HP world. I always look forward to reading your latest, from drabbles to full-length stories, and I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to Safe.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Be careful," Daniel hissed as soon as Chellsworth left the room. "They'll notice if you mention things no one else knows about, you know."

Dennis Creevey nodded wildly, not really looking at anything. "Sorry. I forgot I got that out of a wizarding book."

"And remember, you have to answer to 'Stewart.' You were slow on it."

"I know, all right?"

"All right."

"Can we try calling my brother again? I can talk him into coming here, I know I can. He doesn't need to be running, or maybe I should be there with him instead of hiding here, and--"

Daniel rubbed his head. He'd been through the whole argument with the Creevey brothers three times since Remus and Dora Lupin had brought them to the Garveys' in October. They'd packed their father off out of the country--it had been decided that it would be better for other people not to know where--but they'd been caught at the airport when they tried to use their own names, and the Lupins had barely been able to get them away. They were both supposed to be hiding at Smeltings now, but Colin, the elder, had madly insisted on going into what he called "the Muggle-born underground." He'd insisted that Dennis stay in the safe zone--the Muggle world. Dennis had tried arguing both sides, either that Colin should stay with him, or that he should go with Colin. Both had been met with refusals, and Colin had told Daniel to make certain nothing happened to Dennis. The exact instruction had been, "Tie him up if you have to. He doesn't have a wand. He can't get away."

Daniel was more than prepared to do that, and after five weeks of attempts at non-violent Creevey-control, he had a feeling he might actually take pleasure in it. "I don't think it's a good idea to call your brother," he said. "I'm sure he'll have tossed his phone by now, for one thing. And if he hasn't... what if he's trying to sneak around somewhere, and you let everyone in the general vicinity know he's there because he starts ringing?"

Dennis looked down miserably. "I know."

"Good. Now we have to get you caught up to fourth form science, or no one will believe you transferred in from a state school. They're bad, but not that bad."

"I used to like science," Dennis grumped. "They didn't tell me I wouldn't have science."

"Well, you have science now. Do you know scientific method? Hypothesis? Conclusion?"

"Sort of."

"Do you have any chemistry? Biology?"

"Chemistry's a bit like potions."

"Well, we can start there, then."

"I don't do very well in potions. Snape hates me."

Daniel ground his teeth. "But do you understand it?"

"Not really. We mostly just follow recipes."

"What about plants? Lupin said there's a plant class. How do you do in that?"

Dennis shrugged.

"All right, then. We could set up an experiment with plants. You'd just be using the Muggle sort instead of the magical sort. We'll... I don't know. Maybe do an experiment with different soil types. Do you know where to start?"

"No."

"All right. You start with a question. If I'm giving you plants and different kinds of soil, what do you think the question you'll be asking is?"

Dennis thought about it. "Well... Professor Sprout did something like that. It was about learning what worked best."

"Right. Same thing. So what's the question?"

"Er... do different kinds of soil make the plant do different things?"

"Right. So we'll find some soil, see if it does. You have to keep track of exactly what happens, and make graphs and--"

"Graphs?" Dennis repeated, looking terrified. "I don't have any maths!"

Daniel counted to ten under his breath, then got up and dug in his trunk for his first year maths book.
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persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: February 17th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The enchantment of the Sorting Hat.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I certainly hope you don't expect me to assist you in this," Salazar said, slamming down the lid of his trunk. "You can't remove me from my own project then expect that I'll participate in whatever mad scheme you've concocted."

"I didn't want you removed," Godric said. He'd expected this. It would have been easier if Rowena had come, but it wouldn't matter as much. He needed Salazar to know that even he wanted this.

"Oh, really? I seem to recall you leading the charge."

"I wanted you to drop this nonsense about the Muggle-borns."

Salazar glared at him. "Nonsense? That girl went back back to her fief, told every serf she could find, and then the master of the house. If Helga hadn't grown the hedge, we'd have ended up with the four of us against a mob of a hundred Muggles with weapons going after the children. As it is, you've got the nobles petitioning the king to stop us from taking their property. They'll win. And we'll end up breaking the law because of your insistence that unclean, illiterate peasants with no notion of magic have to be educated if they've ever so much as Levitated a cornstalk."

"Magical students are magical students, Salazar! You have to know that it isn't right for them to be treated as they are."

"It's the way the world is. Most of them have no business off the lord's property in the first place."

"It's not..."

"Will you do me the kindness of attempting to live in the world as it is, instead in the way your feverish imagination supposes it ought to be?" He shook his head. "I have quite enough trouble with magical nobles being told they have to sit in classes with their magical serfs. Baron Eastlake has threatened to withdraw his gold if his son is forced to sit with field workers. He's not particularly thrilled at the match the boy has chosen with young Helena, and she's as close to an equal as he's likely to find, and--"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, Salazar, we can't prop up the man's insane prejudices! If he had the Muggle prejudice about girls in school, would you suggest we throw all the witches out? Tell Rowena and Helga that they ought to be back in the kitchens, not worrying their pretty heads?"

"He doesn't share that idiocy."

"But if he did..."

"Your gold may be nearly unlimited, Godric, but unless you plan to support the school single-handedly, we need the parents' support."

"Then we need to convince them that Muggle-borns aren't dangerous, not cater to their paranoia."

"That's a bit difficult when we have a fifty foot thorn hedge protecting your fortress from Muggles with pitchforks." Salazar checked around his dungeon. "I'm leaving, Godric."

"I want you to stay."

"On your terms."

"Yes."

"Naturally. Well, old friend, don't worry. I've left the school something of a reminder of me. I'm sure you'll stumble across it."

"I don't need your tricks and riddles, Salazar. I need your mind."

"Well, I'm afraid it leaves with me."

"Just a bit of it, then," Godric said, and took off his hat. "Just a bit, so you'll never truly be parted from the school."
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aella_irene From: aella_irene Date: February 17th, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
James/Ruthless, Teddy/Victoire, the Roost, and Offspring. Or, alternately, Vega Potter (nee Black)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Has anyone noticed that this is an utterly barbaric custom?" Teddy said, finishing up the guy with a floppy hat and Conjured button eyes. "Really, throwing effigies into a bonfire isn't entirely civilized."

James rolled his eyes and didn't answer. Finny, Rufus, and Teddy's son John were building a second woodpile to torch later, and he thought it wise to make sure it didn't start to fall apart. Ruth was helping the twins, Julia and Polly, with an elaborate fireworks set-up, and thought James was being overcautious.

"I believe that at least a thousand people every year make the same observation," Victoire said. She wound a bit of lace into her guy's straw hair. "I can make it even worse. You know it's anti-Catholic, don't you? We're celebrating our own defeat."

"It's anti-Catholic?"

Ruth rolled her eyes. "Honestly, Teddy, you're obsessed with history. How do you not know that?"

"I thought of it as more political."

"At the time of the Reformation, you think there was a real distinction to make there?"

"Come on, Teddy," James said, "it's just Bonfire Night now. Don't over-analyze."

"Good luck with that," Victoire muttered, and Teddy threw a handful of straw at her.

James smiled and went back to watching the boys. He'd never appreciated Bonfire Night in the city. It was amusing in the way large fires always were, but out here, on the island, he felt somehow connected to it, barbarism and all. Part of him was tempted to take off his shirt and paint himself with some Celtic dye, and let out war whoops to echo over the water and shake the stones at Azkaban. He'd tried to persuade his parents and Al and Lily to come up here, but only Al had been remotely interested. He'd decided, in the end, to stay in London. By some strange alchemy, the family had split into the city branch and the branch at the Roost. It made him sad, somehow, to think that his children and Lily's would only see each other on Christmas Day, or maybe at Dad's birthday parties, which were forced on him by the public and rarely amusing occasions. Maybe if Al ever married the girl he'd been seeing for five years--an increasingly slim chance, James thought, as she was certain to run out of patience--he'd spend more time up here.

Pebbles rattled beside him, and Teddy dropped down to sit, the baby cradled in his arms. Dora. His ninth child. James wondered if this would be the last, or if Teddy and Victoire were going to go for an even dozen. It had been made clear over the years that such questions were considered in bad taste to ask, so he didn't say anything. Dora reached out for him, and he plucked her up. "Are you having fun?" he asked her.

"Fef," she said enthusiastically.

"If you say so," James said.

Teddy smiled. "She's getting it. You can usually tell by tone now. She'll be talking any day. And then she'll be off to Hogwarts like the older ones. When did time start moving so fast?"

James laughed. "I was wondering that myself."

"You're not allowed. You're just a little kid who can't draw. Perhaps a little older than Rufus over there."

"It would have been difficult otherwise," James said.

Teddy looked out across the water. "Do you suppose it ever occurred to Guy Fawkes that trying to blow up Parliament would end up with toddlers in the Orkneys dressing up scarecrows to throw in a fire?"

"I somehow doubt it. He probably wouldn't like it much more than Dad likes the dueling championships being held on Victory Day."

"He might like it considerably less," Teddy said. He sighed. "What do you think a couple of centuries will do to us?"

"I imagine we won't care much."

"Oh, we'll know. Do you think someone at Hogwarts will still have the Map?"

"Are you working up to another bit of time-traveling?"

"No. I think I'm done mucking around in time. And I'm not sure I want to see the future."

"What's wrong?"

"There was a prophecy. I can't give it to you, of course. Bloody restrictions. I don't like it."

James shook his head and handed the baby back to Teddy. "Look at this future. I think it's bloody adorable."

Teddy laughed. "Good point. What do you say, Dora? Shall we light the fire?"

"Fef!" Dora said.

A moment later, flames leapt up, a lonely light shining in the midst of the dark water.
demonoflight From: demonoflight Date: February 17th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Teddy and some friends (Maurice and Donzo?) visiting Corky in Canada? It can be during the summer holidays or after they all graduate, one or the other would be nice.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay. I don't know Toronto well enough, so they're all taking a little day trip. ;p




"Are we planning to see the actual waterfalls any time?" Maurice asked. "I heard there were waterfalls here somewhere."

"Not until we've done the wax museum," Corky said. "There's a torture chamber in there. You should see it. Thumbscrews, the whole works."

"Then the Falls?" Maurice asked pointedly. Teddy and Donzo rolled their eyes at each other. Corky's sister, Tessa--who'd driven them down--looked pained.

"No, then the daredevil museum. It's completely tacky. All of these people trying to go over, or walk across them on a tightrope."

"Jesus, Corin," Tessa said, "your guests want to see the actual Falls. Stop being an ass."

"But there are so many other things to do!" He sighed. "Oh, all right. We'll go see dirty water going over a cliff." He headed down the steep hill toward a line of expensive-looking hotels that looked out toward a plume of mist in the distance.

"We're close to the American border, aren't we?" Donzo asked.

Corky shrugged. "Yeah, but I didn't bring my passport. Neither did you."

"Don't need one," Donzo said. "I've got dual citizenship until I'm eighteen. Born there, remember? I could take them up on it then, if I feel like it."

Maurice looked deeply offended. "You wouldn't."

"I might, just to annoy you."

Teddy ignored them and went up to join Tessa, who was walking a few feet behind Corky. She was eighteen and very pretty, with a cloud of curly blond hair and wide blue eyes set in her round face. Her mouth was a pretty pink bow, and her nose was a little button. He had the impression from a few comments Corky had made that her nose wasn't naturally that shape, but Teddy wasn't one to hold shapeshifting against a person, even if it wasn't entirely natural.

"So, you go to Muggle school here?" he asked.

"Well, I finished last month," Tessa said. "Now I'm going to college. I'm getting way better educated than you guys. Which is too bad. Unlike my brother, a couple of you are actually smart."

"What are you going to study? Are you apprenticing to someone?"

"No. That's not how college works. I'm going to study drama. I'm going to be an actress someday."

"And college helps with that?"

"Well... maybe. I mean, you could meet important people there."

"I think you'll be very good at it."

Corky dropped back a few steps and gave Teddy an irritated look. "Hit on someone else's sister, all right? She's too old for you, anyway."

"Oh," Tessa said, in a voice that made Teddy feel approximately five years old, "he's just being sweet."

Corky didn't try very hard not to smile. "Yeah, that's what we all say about Lupin. He's just so sweet."

Teddy made a less-than-sweet gesture at him. They'd reached the bottom of the hill, and now he could hear the roar of the water, like constant thunder in the sky. Rainbows sparkled in the mist.

"We should go over to Goat Island," Corky said, pointing to an outcropping of rock in the middle of the Falls. "It was all wizarding until they built a bridge. Now no one goes there except tourists, but sometimes you can find things. I think the Indians--the magical ones, anyway--used to use it as a wizarding prison."

"Yeah, right," Tessa said.

"Oh, come on, I'm the expert here..."

"You haven't even lived in the country for four years. I'm the expert, and it was never a prison, wizarding or otherwise. Honestly..."

Maurice and Donzo caught up, and the five of them pushed down into the crowd that moved perpetually along the railinged pavement.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Regulus put another compress on Kreacher's head, then gave him a light potion to help him sleep.

As Kreacher's fever had waned, Regulus had started to feel like it was just transferring, burning into his brain, sending visions dancing behind his eyes, visions of his friends, of his family, of the Dark Lord who had seemed to offer the last hope of saving the world he'd grown up in.

The Dark Lord, who'd used Kreacher and left him die in agony.

That wasn't Regulus Black's world, at least not the world he saw himself as a part of. That world was kind and noble, and under threat from uncivilized boors who had somehow got control of it. He'd seen himself as Merlin, bringing light into a dark world. He knew he was closing his eyes sometimes. Mum's exilings were painful, but necessary. The plant would die if it were choked by weeds. And Lucius's friends were doing what they had to do under imminent threat, and would certainly stop once things were averted.

All of it had come crashing down on him in the form of Kreacher, sweating poison, reeling across the kitchen and saying, "Master Regulus, I've come home!"

That had started the questions. Now, they wouldn't stop. He couldn't quite just throw in the towel, as Sirius had, and pretend that nothing was wrong, but how could the Dark Lord be the answer? How could it save the family to burn cousins from the tree?

He wasn't sure when he'd left the house--that seemed to happen to him a lot now--let alone when he'd got to the house outside the city, with its little pond and sprawling garden. The Mudblood's mother had improved her lot, as far as Regulus could tell, if she could afford a place like this.

He stopped, wondering what he was doing here, or how he'd even known to come here. Had he tracked Andromeda down in the past few days, and then forgotten about it? He must have. Why would he have known that her Muggle mother-in-law had been poor? How had he known that Andromeda and her husband still lived here, if he hadn't gone about the business of learning it? He certainly wouldn't have heard it in family gossip. The only person who would know about Andromeda was Sirius, and the family didn't speak to Sirius any more.

Unless he'd done that in the past few days as well. But he didn't think so. He had no flash of knowledge about what his brother was doing. Suddenly, he was desperate for the sight of Sirius. He wished he'd gone off with Sirius when he'd first run away. He wanted--

"Who're you?"

Regulus turned. He couldn't remember where he was. There was a little girl standing at the edge of the pond. He guessed she was five, maybe six. Her hair was in pigtails. One was pink. The other was purple.

She smiled at him brightly. "I'm Dora," she said. "I lost three teeth this week. Do you want to see?" Without waiting, she pulled her mouth open to display the gaps.

"Very good," Regulus said, struggling for words. "You want to make certain that you keep the teeth safe, so no one can use them against you."

She frowned. Her hair turned uniformly light brown for a moment, then went black. Combined with her light gray eyes, Regulus realized that she was kindred. Andromeda's half-blood child. She had to be.

She looked as much like family as Sirius himself did, as much as Narcissa, as much as Bellatrix.

Something cold wrapped around Regulus's heart, though he couldn't name it.

"You should go inside," he said. "It's not safe outside the Apparition barrier."

"You seem sad. Sometimes my friend Mr. Lupin is sad, and I always tell him jokes. Do you want to hear a joke?"

"No," Regulus said. "No, no joke. You ought to be inside. Go now. I... I'm a Death Eater. I follow the Dark Lord. I..."

She looked at him in utter confusion, then brought out a doll. "This is Steffi," she said. "Would you like to see what she can do? Mr. Lupin and Sirius helped her."

"I... no... I..."

There was a sudden crash, and a blond man scooped the child up. "Get away," he said. "All of you, stay away from us."

"Daddy, this man says he eats death. What does that mean?"

The man whisked the girl away, back behind the Apparition barrier, and disappeared into the house.

Regulus blinked slowly.

A moment later--or hours later; he didn't know--he went home.
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tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: February 17th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've no idea if this is too late, but I'd like to read something with the Smelting teachers and Teddy - if that's even possible!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Teddy carried the dishes into the Garveys' kitchen, followed by Anna Garvey and Miriam Levinson. Mum stayed out with Alan and Joe. Joe wasn't feeling well these days. Granny thought he was just getting old and she could do about it, though of course she'd promised Miriam that she'd do everything there was.

"Thank you," Anna said, transferring the dishes to the sink. "You're going to break hearts at that school in September. You're getting as handsome as your dad. Really, you are. Different, though. You've got your mum's eyes."

"At the moment, anyway," Teddy said, and blinked, changing his eyes to Dad's tawny shade, then blinking them again and turning them the same deep brown as Anna's own.

She laughed. "Oh, I love that! I never get tired of it."

"I can do better," Teddy said, and morphed his hair into bright blue feathers, then turned his nose into a beak.

Miriam clapped. "Oh, your mum used to do that for us, once she stopped pretending to be... well, you know."

Teddy had a vague idea, though he didn't know the entire story. "My dad was teaching at Smeltings, wasn't he?"

"He was. We thought his name was Raymond Lewis, and he was an old thing, like us. Your mum dragged him to all of our parties. We just loved her so much! We were turning boring before she came along."

"She didn't think so," Granny said, coming to the door with her hands full of wine glasses. "She was so excited about her new friends. You were all she talked about. Well, that year, all she talked about other than Remus, of course."

"I can't believe we missed it," Anna said. "The pair of them acted like a pair of kids on their first date, and we missed that they were just falling in love."

Teddy smiled faintly, decided he didn't want to hear about that sort of thing, and slipped out to the parlor, where Joe and Alan were hunkered down over a chess board.

"Give me a hand here, Lupin," Joe said. "I know this one's up to something, but I'm not sure what it is."

Teddy examined the board, then started to point.

Alan grabbed his hand. "There, now, let him win or lose on his own. But I'm never playing you."

Teddy leaned back on the sofa, trying for an adult insouciance. "Oh, but I need to play someone who's almost my equal!"

Alan snorted. "Try your Uncle Harry's friend Ron. He's beaten me about a dozen times. Even on my sort of chess, let alone your sort."

"Everyone in the family knows better than to play against Ron."

"Now, how are you related to him?"

Teddy thought about it. "Not sure. I think his father is related to Granny's family somehow. Everybody is."

"Don't think I am," Joe said.

Alan shook his head. "Nor am I. So that's one theory shot down."

"Oh. I mean, you know..."

"Your lot."

"Right. My lot." Teddy picked at the lace on a pillow, then realized what he was doing and stopped. "Not that it really matters. Everyone's really distantly related. Almost like not being related at all." Nobody seemed to have anything to say to this, so Teddy cast around the room for something to talk about. "Could we watch that story about the space ship again?" he asked. "The one with the hula deck?"

Alan rubbed his hands together. "Ah, I knew I liked this boy. Anna! Come on back out. I think it's time to assimilate Teddy!"
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allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: February 17th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
A conversation between Andromeda and Dora, when Remus and Dora are living at the Tonks house during DH.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Mum took the wolfsbane plant away from Tonks before she even took it out of its protective cover. "Are you mad? That's a toxin. You're pregnant."

A flame of utterly irrational rage twisted up through Tonks. "I've got to be able to make some use of myself!"

"You're already getting people to safety. You're traveling and Apparating more than you properly ought to. And you're putting yourself and your child in danger even by staying to the side."

"What do you want me to do? Go to Australia? Hide?"

"Yes."

"I'm not going to do that."

Mum sighed and sat down at the kitchen table. "I know. I know that, Dora, do you think I don't? If I weren't worried about how it would affect the baby, I'd give you the same potion I gave your dad to get him to run."

Tonks's jaw dropped. "Mum! You said you just talked him into it."

"Making him more suggestible helped. I just hope he wasn't too damned stubborn to leave the country. I wish you and Remus would."

Tonks rubbed her head, then put her hand on her belly, which was actually starting to swell, almost like there was a real baby there. She tried to imagine it a few months down the line, when the baby had grown, when she could feel it moving more often. Would she flee then? Was she being selfish not to flee now? "Mum, Remus and I have Muggle connections that we can use to get people out. Kingsley's using the ones he has, but he's being watched. The whole Muggle government is being watched. We need people who are under the notice of the security sweeps."

"You're not under anyone's notice, Dora. You told me what happened in Little Whinging. You're in the sights of Voldemort's maddest disciple, and it's my fault. If--"

"That's true," Tonks said. "If I'd never been born, I'd be in no danger whatsoever."

"That's not what I meant." Mum bit her lip. "I snuck into Bella's wedding to leave a note. It was nothing nasty, but the idea of telling her that I was there, when I'd been exiled--it seemed a lark. But I should have poisoned it while I had the chance. She'd've never seen it coming."

"Mum, that's not who you are."

"Which is why you're in danger. Because I couldn't steel myself to nip it in the bud when she wasn't expecting it."

"And if someone else had handled the note first?" Tonks sat down across from her and took her hand. "Mum, murder is never an answer."

"To the contrary. It's quite frequently a very effective answer. If she's dead, she's not doing anything to you. Or anyone else. Sirius would still be alive. The Longbottoms wouldn't be in the closed ward. Lord knows how many lives I could have saved by crushing this sort of thing up"--she waved the wolfsbane around--"and infusing a piece of parchment with it. It would have to be cursed, of course, to release properly, but--"

"Mum, stop it. You could never have murdered your sister."

"And how many people are dead because of that? How many are on my head?"

"None at all. Stop this. I'm the one who gets to have insane mood swings right now. And frankly, I'm sick of you and Remus both going on about how horrible you are. He thought he should've killed himself, you think you should've killed someone else. I think you're both certifiably mad, and I'm tired of it." Mum was looking at her without much comprehension. It was time for the dirtiest of tricks. "I need peace," she said. "If you don't both stop this sort of thing, it could hurt the baby."

Mum's eyes popped open. "I'm sorry, Dora! I never thought of that. You should lie down. I'll get you some chamomile tea." She stood up.

Tonks caught her arm. "Sit down, Mum," she said, and reached up to hug her. "Come on. Let's just have a nice chat. Have I told you about Remus's old students? They've been wonderful."

"But the chamomile..."

"What's magic for?" Tonks smiled. "Maybe I can even find a spell to make the vile stuff palatable."
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aebhel From: aebhel Date: February 17th, 2008 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Something with Harry and Dudley. Or, alternately, Ron and Hermione's wedding.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Harry amused himself by imagining his own reaction at the age of ten to the idea that he'd spent a good week looking forward to heading over to Dudley's place to drink beer and talk on a newly built deck in back. In Surrey. With a perfectly tended hedge and neighbors who traded in their cars every three years for the latest models, and wore the latest tasteful business fashions.

And yet, when Dudley had invited him over, the idea of the evening had been welcome. He wasn't in Little Whinging, but Upwode-on-Water was the same sort of pre-fabricated suburban wasteland. It was strangely comforting to be back in the world he'd grown up in. There were never surprises here.

"Baby asleep?" Dudley asked, coming out with a new six pack. He plucked a bottle up and frowned. "It's warm."

"Baby's asleep," Harry said, glancing down at Teddy, who was cooing to himself in his Moses basket. "And don't worry about the beer." He drew his wand and tapped the bottles, which frosted up nicely. The caps on two of them popped off in a burst of foam.

Dudley picked up the open bottles and handed one to Harry. "Cheers," he said.

Harry drank.

"How did you end up with a house? You haven't even started uni yet."

"I'm not going. Got a job with one of Dad's clients. Construction pays well. You should try it."

"Money, I've got," Harry said. "And a house. I'd say you should come by it sometime, but I think it would disturb you. Though you're welcome to visit at Andromeda's. She's not far, really, just the other side of London."

Dudley shrugged and leaned back on his beach chair. "I'll get real furniture next. I'm already tired of sleeping on a camp bed."

"Your mum hasn't given you the bed from my old room?"

"Your friends blasted your room to bits when they came in. Mum and Dad didn't replace the furniture. I reckon I could ask for my old bed. Mum could make a sewing room or whatnot out of it. I'll ask." He looked over guiltily. "Sorry they didn't fix your room."

"I wasn't planning to go back."

"Still."

"Thanks, Big D."

"So... Manchester United over Bayern Munich. Good game, wasn't it?"

"I didn't see it."

"Oh. It was a good game."

"My girlfriend is trying out for the Holyhead Harpies next week." At Dudley's blank look, Harry qualified, "Quidditch."

"Oh. Right. The bit with the broomsticks. You told me about it. Sounds fun."

They drank quietly for a long time, watching the street lights come on.

"Do you still box?" Harry asked.

"No. Once you're out of school, you have to be really good, and I'm just school good."

"Do you miss it?"

"Do you miss Quidditch?"

"Every day," Harry said, and his voice was so fervent that it echoed off of the neighbor's swimming pool.

Dudley laughed. "That's an improvement over the garbage you've been crowding your head with all year. You should go watch a game. Especially if your girlfriend's in it. It'd be good for you."

"Do you want to come?"

"No."

"Oh."

"But any time you want to bring that girlfriend of yours by..."

"Hey!"

"She's easy on the eyes, mate."

"On my eyes, thanks." Harry finished his beer and Summoned another. Beside him, Teddy was stirring. He grabbed at a passing mosquito. Harry hoped he'd never have to worry about anything more serious than a Quidditch game.

"All right, all right," Dudley said. "Still, I can't fault your taste."

"Thanks."

They each had another beer, and didn't talk much. They just sat comfortably, listening to the soporific drone of the suburbs going on around them.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: February 17th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe something with Percy and George after the battle?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 06:15 am (UTC) (Link)
The battle was over, and the family was gathered around Fred's body again, except for Ron, who'd gone off somewhere with Harry and Hermione. No one was telling Percy to stay away, but it wasn't the time for them to be happy to see him. He took a few steps back, trying to avoid the other bodies, and ended up sitting at a long House table. He didn't know which one. Maybe it was the head table. It didn't matter anymore. He put his head down in his arms, hoping that the tears would start, just so he could get them out of the painful reservoir behind his eyes.

A heavy, warm hand fell on his neck, and he looked up to see Fred.

No, George. There would never be that mistake to make again.

The tears came.

They broke in a torrent that he couldn't have stopped with all the control in the world. George sat down beside him and put his arms over his shoulders.

"He was glad to see you," George said at last.

"If I hadn't come, maybe he'd have been paying more attention."

"And done what about the corridor falling in?" George shook his head and squeezed his eyes shut. A few tears leaked out anyway. "I'm glad to see you. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad the last thing Fred heard was you telling a joke. We always knew you were save... saveable. If we just... pushed... hard... en..." His throat worked harshly, and his face went an alarming shade of red.

Percy stood and hugged his brother to him, as closely as he could. Both twins had always liked being hugged, and before things had started going bad, they would come to Percy, who had the room next to theirs for a long time, for comfort after nightmares. Percy imagined George, small and scared, in the dragon pajamas he'd inherited from Charlie, holding out his arms.

"Shh," he said. "You're all right, Georgie."

George swallowed hard. "For a little bogey-brother, I know."

"I want to take it all back," Percy said. "Do you suppose he'd let me?"

"I reckon he would." George wiped his face. "Come on," he said. "Let's talk to him."

Percy expected to be led back to the body, but instead, George led him out of the Great Hall and up the stairs.

"Flitwick saved it. I hope they didn't make him fix it this year."

"Saved what?"

George rounded a bend, and led Percy to a secluded corner. A small swamp had taken over part of the floor. It was roped off with tattered velvet. "We turned the whole corridor," George said. "To bother Umbridge. Flitwick saved it to remember us by."

Percy smiled. What an idiotic way to fight. Then the smile broke as he remembered that Fred would never pull pranks for greater justice again. It was over. Slowly, he drew out his Ministry identification. He blinked at it, then threw it into the murky swamp water.

George nodded solemnly. "Good show, Perce."

"You know, I'll go back to work now."

"It doesn't matter. Everything's going to be different. The Ministry's going to be different. I might even pay attention to it sometimes."

"Well, I guess there are miracles."

"As long as they're not trying to close down the shop. The shop is never closing."

"If they try, they'll have me to deal with before you have to worry."

George smiled at him. "Thanks."

They watched the swamp for a while, then without talking about it, turned together and went back downstairs to the waiting family.
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coralia13 From: coralia13 Date: February 17th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Marauders, and I love the way you write them, so I'd like to request a young Marauders adventure.

Alternately, and assuming this doesn't spoil anything you want to work on later, I'd love to see Dudley at the safe-house during DH, discovering the world Harry's been living in all these years, and understanding how important Harry really is to the cause.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2008 06:26 am (UTC) (Link)
At first, Remus Lupin tried to fit it into his dream.

It had only been a day since his transformation, and his body was crying out for sleep. The sound was so small, just a light tap on the glass, that it was easy to imagine as a metronome on a piano in the king's palace, or the click of dragon's claws on the marble floor, as the beast waited for Sir Remus the Brave to challenge it. Or maybe it was--

"Lupin!" someone hissed.

In his dream, Remus turned to look over his shoulder, not sure who he was going to find, but his neck was stiff, and a jolt of pain went through his head, waking him up. He'd fallen asleep sitting up at his desk, looking out his window, waiting for the boy who now hovered there on his broomstick, exasperation in his hazel eyes.

"James," Remus said groggily, grabbing for a small canvas bag, trying to act as though he'd just been resting his eyes.

"No," James said, "I'm just a well disguised werewolf hunter, and now I've caught you."

Remus rolled his eyes and opened the window, handing his bag out to James. He didn't rush to climb out. "Are you sure about this?"

"Are you kidding? Best prank ever." James Potter grinned wickedly, then disappeared in a swirl of shimmering cloth, leaving only a memory of a wink in the starlight. The Cloak was big enough to cover his entire broomstick.

"Come on," he whispered from nowhere. "We're going to be late for the wedding, and we still have to collect Peter."

Remus bit his lip and looked anxiously at his bedroom door. Beyond it, across the upstairs corridor, he could hear his mother moving around in his parents' room. He'd been absolutely forbidden to attend Bellatrix Black's wedding, and not just by the bride. Mum and Dad loved Sirius, but the notion of their son spending any more time than necessary with the House of Black had been singularly unattractive to them. Mum was convinced that they'd learn his secret and tell everyone in earshot. "And even if they don't," she'd said, "I'd rather you not spend your time with the same people who spent my entire career at Hogwarts calling me a Mudblood."

Remus could think of better people to spend his time with as well, but the point of going to Bella's wedding wasn't exactly to offer sincere congratulations on a well-made match.

With one last look over his shoulder, he hauled himself over the edge of his window and caught hold of the trellis growing up the side of the house. Carefully, he lowered himself to the ground. A breeze circled him, then there was a thump as James landed. The air shimmered, and James's arm shot out. Remus allowed himself to be pulled in under the voluminous folds of the Invisibility Cloak.

"Isn't this underage magic?"

"I fly around all summer," James said. "And no one ever notices the Cloak. Grab on. We have to pick up some serious time, and Peter best not have gone to sleep, too."

Dubiously, Remus put his arms around James's waist, then, with a sickening lurch, they took to the sky. James leaned forward and made a loud, joyful noise as he shot forward into the night. Remus looked back at his house, hoping that his parents hadn't heard it. There was no movement as it slipped into the darkness, the stable candle in their window disappearing in the distance. As they climbed, Remus felt his house tugging at him like an anchor, but as soon as it was gone from sight, the tether broke and joy lashed back at him, whipping around his heart like golden ropes. He laughed against James's back.

sreya From: sreya Date: February 17th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Harry has *gasp* written to Remus asking for advice on something. Dora helps Remus compose an answer.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2008 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's an AU notion... ;p Okay, I can think of one time that Harry might have written Remus, among others, without letting us know about it.




"It got here a few days ago," Dora said. "When you were up at Smeltings interviewing. How did that go?"

"Well enough," Remus said, frowning and taking the letter, addressed in Harry's sensible hand. "Did it come by itself?"

"No. There were letters for Sirius, Dumbledore, Ron, and Hermione with it. Hedwig showed up again with more letters. I have the impression they were a bit brusque. She's upstairs now. Hermione says she's been pecking at them for an answer."

"Dumbledore's been fairly strict about that," Remus said, carefully breaking the seal on the letter. "I guess Harry's really on his last nerve if he's got to the point of writing to me."

Dora rolled her eyes. "Yes, it's a sure sign of desperation. What does he say?"

"Dear Professor Lupin," Remus read. "He still calls me 'Professor.' If he'd grown up as he was meant to, I'd have been 'Moony' a long time ago."

"What does he need?" Dora prodded.

"Dear Professor Lupin," Remus read again. "I have a question for a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. How am I meant to defend myself against anything if no one tells me what it is? Why isn't anyone giving me information? There were Dementors in Little Whinging. Has anyone told you that? Dudley thanks you for the Patronus, by the way or will when he starts talking again. On second thought, he probably won't. Why were they there? What's going on? I need answers! I can't keep going like this. And if they think I'm putting my wand away, they can just think again. How are you? Harry."

Dora grinned. "I like this boy."

"Harry's a good boy," Remus agreed. "But Dumbledore's been clear about not giving him more information than necessary."

"Why?"

"He has his reasons, and I trust that they're good ones. Harry's right about it putting him in danger not to know." He rubbed his head. "What am I meant to tell him? Obviously, he needs some answer. But I can't give him what he needs."

Dora sighed and sat down across the table from him. She'd turned her hair a violent shade of purple. "Sirius has been fuming about it, and I think he just gave Harry some sympathy."

"He doesn't want sympathy from me. I'm not his godfather. He wants answers."

"Which you can't give him," Dora said. "And if Dumbledore's reason turns out to be idiotic, I'll Curse him myself. Remus, it occurs to me that he might just need a grown-up around, you know? You could write back and say that you have his back. I'm not sure he knows how much he's being looked after."

"I don't think he'd appreciate the notion if he did know."

"I think you're wrong. He's demanding answers from Ron and Hermione as well, but he's still calling you 'Professor.' He's thanking you for what you've taught him. I reckon he wouldn't mind being told that there are people over fifteen who he can trust, other than Sirius, because Sirius is acting like an honorary fifteen year old."

Remus thought about this. Not long after Harry had been born, James had needed to beg off on an adventure. Instead of giving in to needling on the subject, he'd just shrugged cheerfully and said, "Mates, there's a baby here, and he needs a grown up dad. Sorry." Remus supposed this was true enough, but was he really close enough to make an attempt like that?

He frowned. "So... how do you recommend that I convey my great maturity and wisdom?"

"Well, you could just--"

There was motion on the stairs, and a moment later, Dumbledore descended into the kitchen in a swirl of lilac robes. "We're going to extract Harry tonight," he said. "I think I'll send Mad-Eye, unless you have a better idea?" He raised his eyebrows.

Remus glanced at Dora, then smiled. "I think perhaps I'd best lead. Harry doesn't know Mad-Eye. Dora... would you like to come along?"
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From: sleepingfingers Date: February 17th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Something with James Potter II? :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2008 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Uncle George and Uncle Fred had earned a place in the post-Marauder Map-lore by liberating it from Filch. Dad had got a place by dint of being Harry Potter and using it in that capacity. Teddy had found a way to unlock its deeper secrets, getting around the Marauders' security spells.

If James meant to make a start at making a place for himself, he'd need something other than sharing a name with one of the Marauders. It would have to be spectacular.

The most glaring problem that he knew of was that all of the passages out of the castle that the Marauders had discovered long gone--some had been crushed by the weather, others broken down by Voldemort's people, and the one to the Shrieking Shack blasted into oblivion by an angry Map-master. It would be very important to come up with new ones. Perhaps the Founders had hidden a lot of them around, waiting for enterprising students to discover them.

Or I could dig them myself, James thought.

The idea had a lot of glamor to it, but it wasn't enough. There could be tunnels under the wall, but going where?

And really, tunnels had already been done.

Perhaps a secret chamber. That would bring Mum into it somehow, as she'd found a secret chamber, but of course the Chamber of Secrets was hardly secret anymore--Unspeakables had been in and out of Hogwarts for years studying it now. There had to be another one. Maybe Gryffindor had built one. Not under the lake. Maybe it was behind the fireplaces, in the place Teddy had used to get away from Greyback. James could try searching for it that way, discover it, and have it to himself, and hold it for all of the Map-masters.

Though he supposed it was possible that some of them might not be Gryffindors. It was nearly unthinkable, but they were all related to the Blacks on one sideline or another, and it was possible that there'd be a Slytherin Map-master someday, and it wouldn't do for Gryffindor's private chamber to open up to a Slytherin.

But James could always build one. Himself.

The idea flared in him like a bonfire, and he imagined a little stone cottage in the Forbidden Forest, unassuming, visible only on the Marauder's Map, hidden from wandering students by powerful hiding spells like Hermione had used in the stories about the Voldemort war. He'd charm it so that it would be able to get around Hogwarts security. People who knew about it could Apparate in and out easily. And he'd keep up the tunnel tradition by magically digging one that led from the castle to the cottage. It would be grand.

And if there was another war, then the Map-masters could lead the charge, have full access to and from Hogwarts while the other side floundered around, trying to figure out who was so brilliantly sabotaging their every move! They could sneak in dragons and hippogriffs, if he worked the spells right. It could become an armory, so anyone whose wand was taken would be able to get re-armed quickly.

It might need to be a bit bigger than a cottage, though.

A secret castle. Just a small one--a tower, maybe a hall to meet in. Something that could be defended. The Sword of Gryffindor ought to be there, really. Along with other swords. James was sure there was another one in the family vault, and maybe one in the Black family vault as well. But it would mainly be wands. He would have to become a wandmaker, so they wouldn't need to depend on outside sources. He could apprentice to Berit Ollivander, and become the greatest wandmaker in Britain, and no one would ever know that he had only done it so no one else would die in a war just because someone had left him with a weak wand.

James contemplated this glorious notion--a little hidden castle in the woods, a stockpile of wands, a herd of dragons and hippogriffs, and tunnels leading between it and the main castle. It was beautiful, perfect. It would have everything he--

He was jostled by someone behind him, a boy with curly brown hair and a broad face. "Will you listen?" he hissed.

James looked up, alarmed, at Professor Longbottom, whose eyebrows were raised.

"Shall we try again?" he asked.

James gulped.

"Potter, James..."
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shake_n_shimmy From: shake_n_shimmy Date: February 17th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heee I love these, ummm

Bill and Victoire having a boy-talk? ("Boys are bad!" "No looking at boys!") :]
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
"All right," Dad said, pulling the tie shut on Victoire's traveling bag, "before you go, we're having a little chat."

Victoire sat down on the edge of the bed, surprised. Dad wasn't one for "little talks." That was Maman. But Dad had been itchy since Victoire had started begging to go camping with Teddy and his friends, and hadn't said yes until Ruth Scrimgeour had said she was going, which seemed very strange, as Victoire knew Teddy, Donzo, and Maurice considerably better. "What is it?" she asked.

"There will be two tents at this little outing."

"Yes..."

"You will be in one of them. You will not go into the other one. Nor will the boys come into yours."

"Daddy!"

"I mean it, Victoire. You're getting too big to treat boys the same way you treat your sisters. I promise, that's not how they'll be looking at you."

Victoire giggled. "I don't really think of Teddy as one of my sisters, Daddy."

"That doesn't entirely ease my mind."

"Well, he'd look a bit silly in Marie's hair ribbons."

Dad's mouth twitched under the scars, then he shook his head sharply. "Victoire, I'm trying to tell you something serious here."

"What?"

"You're a very pretty girl, like your mum."

"Thank you."

"And pretty soon, boys are going to start to notice that. And I want you to understand something with perfect clarity: Boys can't be trusted around pretty girls."

"Daddy, that's a horrible thing to say. Don't you trust Teddy?"

He thought about this. "Provisionally. And not in your tent with no adults around."

"That's silly. Teddy doesn't even notice I'm a girl. Believe me, I've tried to get him to notice--"

She realized it was a mistake to mention this, as Dad went suddenly very still.

"You're eleven, Victoire. Not old enough to be trying to get boys to notice you. Under no circumstances are you to be 'noticed' until..." He shrugged helplessly. "Until O.W.L.s."

"O.W.L.s!" Victoire repeated, alarmed. "Daddy, that's forever! I'll be old!"

"Sixteen doesn't qualify as old, and I think it a perfectly appropriate age to start worrying about this nonsense."

"How old were you?"

"That's not relevant."

"But how old?"

"Not old enough. And that just goes to prove that boys aren't up to any good at this. Even I wasn't."

"Even you?"

Victoire looked up. Maman was at the door with a picnic basket, her mouth curled up in amusement.

"Well..." Dad started.

Maman shook her head and handed the basket to Victoire. "Zere is good food 'ere. Your friends should enjoy it, even if zey are not to be trusted."
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