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Batch 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 4

Dudley's POV reading the Quibbler article about Harry. for malinbe


The Lewises--or Lupins, or Lupinskis, or whatever their bloody name was--were in the kitchen, making tea with as many normal bells and whistles as they could. Every beeping appliance and rushing faucet made the mad hospital seem further away.

That didn't help, in and of itself.

From the newspaper in front of him, surrounded by advertisements for cures to things that oughtn't exist in the first place and extermination services for imaginary animals, Harry Potter's face looked up at him. He had the pinched, pained sort of look he'd got in primary school when one teacher or another had put him on the spot to explain how his glasses had got broken (again) or where he'd got a black eye or how his homework had turned out soaked in a mud puddle. He'd known better than to tell the truth then, but Dudley could always see the truth floating around his mouth, ready to come out if Harry gave it even the slightest purchase. Any time this had happened, Dudley had frowned from the back of the classroom, or the crowd in the play yard, reminding him that some things were kept in the family. The truth remained unspoken, and Harry took the bad marks and the trouble for breaking his own things.

He was a tough little git. Dudley knew that better than anyone, or at least had known it before anyone else had. It had bothered him. Harry was skinny and specky, and too good at school, and by all fair standards, he should have been as easy to cow as Daniel Morse from third form.

But Harry had never been cowed. He was biding his time. Dudley stayed awake at night sometimes, thinking that Harry was going to tell on him. Not to Mum and Dad--they didn't care--but to people with power. It had been, oddly, that fear that kept him pushing. He wasn't going to be afraid of a skinny little pushover, not even after that pushover started doing things that made no sense. Of course, that was also a bit of power for Dudley, because he knew he could always hold it over Harry's head, make sly little comments that reminded him the whole house of cards could come down on a word.

But something strange had happened since Harry went off to school, something stranger than waving wands around and saying things in Latin. Harry had continued to be tough, and Dudley had continued to push him, but more and more, Harry had treated Dudley as superfluous, an annoyance to be borne, not a giant to be feared.

Until last summer. Last summer, Harry had followed him, had threatened him... and then had saved him from something much more frightening than either of them.

Dudley's memories of the attack from the Dementors were perfectly clear, though he didn't talk about it. It had got dark and cold, and then he'd felt wrapped in icy cloth, unable to breathe, and he'd looked into the void and seen his own face, seen himself throwing rocks at Harry, laughing at him. And he saw himself crouching miserably under Mum's wing every time things went wrong, hiding behind Dad as Dad bellowed their way out of trouble. He'd felt filthy and small and weak. And then Harry had charged in, wand drawn, and that had made it worse at first, the idea that Harry was strong and stood up to things like this.

But it hadn't really been a surprise.

Because Harry was a tough little git.

The only thing that had really surprised Dudley was that the toughness had been employed in defense of him. That was something that needed examination, and would get it.

Especially in light of the article.

Only moments before Harry had saved him, Dudley had been taking the mickey out of him about someone named Cedric. According to the paper, Harry had watched this Cedric bloke be offed right in front of him, then run off away from someone out to kill him as well, but had taken the time to get the body. As Dudley read the account of the battle with someone called Voldemort, he could see everything--the way Voldemort stood over him, the way Harry would have dodged from place to place, then scrambled for an escape (Harry was tough, but Harry was also fast, something which it was probably just as well that this Voldemort hadn't known). He could see it because he had seen it, lots of times. First the capture, then the pushing around, then one of Harry's lightning-quick escapes. Dudley wondered if Voldemort had stood there after with his fists clenched, not quite looking at his mates, wondering just when things had gone wrong. He hoped so.

And minutes after Dudley, who had put Harry in this position before anyone else had, had ground the memory into his head again, he'd saved Dudley.

It didn't make any sense.

He folded the paper up quietly, and sat alone until the Lupins noticed he was finished and called him out to lunch.

If you'll humour me anyway, I'd like something original to celebrate the season? for amamama


When most people hit a lottery jackpot, they go for a villa in the Bahamas, or maybe a townhouse in Manhattan. Or both, depending on just how big the jackpot was.

When my mother hit the Lotto for just over a hundred-thirty million (pay-out, sixty-seven million), she bought a ghost town in North Dakota.

No, I don't get it, either.

We're not some old homesteaders who lost the last parcel of family land during the depression. We weren't farmers in the Old Country, looking for our own little fief to till. No, Mama's from Kingston, Jamaica, where she and everyone else in her family had little businesses. Dad--though he's not around at present--was born in Shanghai, and I doubt he ever saw a farm, let alone lived on one. And I promise, until the Lotto hit, none of us had been any further into America than Brookline, Massachusetts. We hadn't even been what the locals phrased as "Westa Wistah" (that would be "west of Worcester" to the unitiated).

But Mama had a vision, aided by an article in the National Geographic, and as soon as she had the means, she snapped up twenty dilapidated buildings--she got them cheap, as they were all in default--then approached The Western Channel with the idea of Ghost Town, a show where she'd bring a lot of people from the cities and make an empty town function again.

So here we are, in the middle of the Big Empty, surrounded by a film crew that isn't allowed to talk to us and a bunch of other city people who used to think that a hard winter was one where the buses stopped for a couple of days. Not anymore.

We managed to bring in a restaurateur, a shopkeeper, a weaver with a power mill, three farming families who made up with enthusiasm for what they lacked in experience (it was a useful enthusiasm that had caused them to consult with real farmers before taking it on), a schoolteacher, a plumber, and a handful of other business owners and people to work for them. All of us being from the city, we tended to think of things like snow removal and garbage removal as something that just happened when you named the place. Someone had finally figured out the dump... but the first blizzard stranded us. The film crew called the network to get a plow out there, but the network was keen to show a real pioneer winter, or as close as they could get.

Mama, of course, was delighted with this turn of events.

"Think about it!" she crowed at the town meeting on the fifteenth of December. "We'll have a Christmas like the ones in the books!"

No one else was quite so eager (except Mariah DiAngelo, an eight year old girl who was working her way through the complete set of Little House books), but there wasn't anything else to do. We'd spent the last nine days digging through our rotting little town for everything we could find to make it a photogenic Christmas to remember. We met to celebrate it in a building that had once been a general store and now served as the town hall.

"Can't I put Santa up yet, Vea?" Mariah asked me, tugging on my sleeve. "I made him from my Snoopy doll."

I pointed to the cameras. "They're not set up yet. They have to frame it, so you can come in and show everyone Out There when you show it to us."

"Everyone's here!" Mariah pouted. "And Mr. Finster got to put up the cloths he made, and the Chavezes have their cornstalk wreaths up."

"But you're going to be the star this time. So everyone gets to see you."

This didn't mollify her.

"All right!" The producer yelled. "Everyone be natural. And... go!"

There was a flicker as the lighting went on, and the ever-present hum of the cameras came above the wind outside, so I prodded Mariah forward to put her Santa-Snoopy up on the counter...

And the lights went out.

A stream of distinctly unwholesome cursing came from the crew.

"Power's out," someone said unnecessarily.

"Grab the genny, we'll frame it again."

"Genny burned out yesterday."

There was more cursing, then something made a flicking sound in the dark. A flame went up briefly, showing Mama's face. "Anyone have a candle?" she asked, then let her lighter go dark again.

The place was an old general store, and after quite a lot of fumbling in the dark, we found a bin of candles. Mama lit one, and passed the flame around. She looked at the camera crew. "Well, come on inside," she said. "We don't bite."

"Ma'am," one of them fumbled, "the network, we're not meant to..."

"Oh, what do you mean to do, just sit there and brew until you've got power? You're not going to be filming anything at all, so come in here with us."

"What do we do?" Mr. Finster asked. "I really don't want to start singing carols."

"We should light the stove," Mrs. Chavez said. "We can burn one of our wreaths."

"And stories!" Mariah said. "We can tell stories around the fire."

"I don't know any stories," Mr. Wells said.

"Nonsense!" Mama said. "Everyone knows a story. Let me tell you my favorite, as my grandmother told it to me..."

We huddled together around the small stove, as the night's dark fell and the storm battened against the building. Once, I looked out and noticed that a snowdrift had reached the window. Digging out would be a morning's work (presuming the ceiling didn't fall in).

But somehow it didn't matter.

The stories we told each other that night... oh, they could have been any stories, I suppose. I'm pretty sure they'd never been told in this town before, but somehow, in the telling of them, we fit there, together, in a way we had never fit before.

They waited until December 27th, when the power was back on, to do a re-shoot of it. The stories weren't as good.

can I ask something with the patil twins post hogwarts? and if you could fit in Seamus finnigan there too for abby


"I can't imagine why you want to move to Paris," Parvati said, leading the way up from the Madeleine Metro station. "You barely speak French."

"I'll learn," Padma said.

"And that bloke you're keeping time with," Seamus said. "He's not your sort."

"What do you know about my sort? I've been writing to him on and off since fourth year."

"Can't he move to London?" Parvati asked. "He speaks perfect English."

"If I wanted to stay in bloody England," Padma said, "I wouldn't have bothered learning French at all."

"There's always Ireland," Seamus offered.

Padma frowned at him, then went to a bench and sat down. "Haven't you lot seen quite enough of the British Isles? I saw the last I wanted to see at the Battle. I can't send my children to Hogwarts to go eat and play tricks where people I love died. I couldn't visit them there. I couldn't even think about them being there. I want them to go to Beauxbatons."

"You don't have children," Parvati said.

"Well, I plan to someday, and there's no way in the world they're going to Hogwarts."

"That's just disloyal," Seamus muttered, sitting down beside her. "You fought for it, why wouldn't you want it to be a good place again?"

"I do. But I don't want it to be my place anymore." Padma shook her head. "The pair of you, it's different. You're Gryffindors. It sounds silly, worrying about Houses out of school, but you are. You want to keep fighting. I don't want to think about fighting at all anymore."

"There've been battles at Beauxbatons," Parvati tried. "The Vichy tried to take over and turn over the library to the Nazis, and the students had to fight them out of there."

"I know that. And in three generations, maybe my great-grandchildren will come back to Hogwarts and think, 'Oh, yes, some big battle happened here.' And they won't care any more than I'll care about the Vichy, because they won't have known Colin Creevey or Madam Rosmerta or any of the others. They'll just be names in a history book." She shuddered. "How many history books have I read? All those numbers. They're so cold. Every one of them..." She shuddered again. "Anyway, even without Didier, I'd have been looking for a post here. They're doing some good critical work on wizarding art. There's even a new, Unplottable wing at the Louvre."

"Wizarding art?" Seamus repeated, nonplused.

"There's nothing wrong with wizarding art," Parvati said. "Except that there's not enough of it to make a whole career out of."

"There's plenty," Padma said.

Seamus slouched, then sat forward, his elbows on his knees. "But you were brilliant in the battle, Padma. You've a great Patronus, and I can't believe you took out a troll on your own. You should be somewhere they'll appreciate it. You know Harry will always have us over, and be glad of us."

"I'm sure he will. But I don't care to spend the rest of my life as 'Someone Who Fought In the Battle.' I'd rather be someone who writes a brilliant paper on the spellwork of enchanted paintings."

"What about me?" Parvati said. "You've always been my best friend!"

"It's Paris, not suicide!" Padma shouted, catching the attention of a few passers by. She smiled until they moved on, then lowered her voice. "You'd be Apparating over for supper, not visiting my grave once a year."

"Our children won't go to school together."

"You don't have children."

Seamus stood up. "Are you really sure about this?"

"Yes. I thought I was quite clear."

He frowned. "Is French hard to learn?"
33 comments or Leave a comment
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izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:15 am (UTC) (Link)
I like that first one terrifically; of course Dudley would be able to see that about Harry, would be the one who knew best exactly what Harry is capable of.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Or at least knew it ahead of anyone else.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 2nd, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
WOW. That first ficlet with Dudley was awsome!

I’m sorry I’m such a lousy reviewer but I’m still regularly following your stories.
I haven’t made a request in the challenge call because I couldn’t really think of anything specific to ask for. Given the number of requests you got I guess it's not such a bad thing or you'd be there till July...

Thank you so much for doing this! Have fun with the rest of the requests!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you liked the Dudley one. Drop by to comment any time you feel the urge to do it, but otherwise, following the stories is a perfectly good thing to do. :D
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: December 2nd, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Potter stuff (you do the best Dudley)... but the original fic is BRILLIANT!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
malinbe From: malinbe Date: December 2nd, 2009 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ohh, mine was stunning. Of course Dudley can see it in his head! And it's great to see how he connects things and arrives to these painful conclusions. Thank you very much!

I really liked the original, and the last one was great. I understand what Padma's saying.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: December 2nd, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
While the Potter ficlets were beautifully done (I'd say "of course" but I don't want to imply such a calas attitude toward your work) I LOVE the original fic. Already I love the voice, the history, the premise. Will we see more of this?
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: December 2nd, 2009 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
*callus*? But that doesn't look right either.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: December 2nd, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great insight into the new Dudley -- he's growing up! Padma has a good point. I think she's wise to see what she needs and to pursue it. The original fic is wonderful and one I'd enjoy seeing more of.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I somehow think Padma's not the only one who would find enjoying Hogwarts a little ghoulish for a while.
From: itsjulia Date: December 2nd, 2009 05:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the Dudley one. As others have said, you find a way of connecting the Dudley of most of the books with the Dudley at the start of book 7. Is all of this stuff Remus is going to make him forget, though?

Also enjoyed the original--great idea! And the Patil one, and all the other batches. This is a great holiday present!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is all of this stuff Remus is going to make him forget, though?

Remus makes a half-assed attempt at a memory spell, which holds for a little while, but I figure by book 7, it's more or less worn off.
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: December 2nd, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was good, especially the Dudley story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad you liked.
From: severely_lupine Date: December 2nd, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very nice to read about Dudley. You do have a way of making him tolerable, even sympathetic, while still in character.

The original was very cool. Very original, actually. I like the idea. Though the bit about the film crew not being able to talk to them sounds a bit off. Surely they could interview the people at least, since it would be quite hard to piece together a story with no interviews, and there's really no logical reason not to.

Oh, that last one was lovely. Sad and understandable. And what was that bit about Madam Rosmerta? Did she die, too? Or are you counting her as one of the unnamed 50 who died? I suppose Rowling does give us some leeway there in that there's a lot of characters who (at least at present) we can say did or didn't die without being wrong either way. Though of course there are those who aren't in that group but I wish they were.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I have Rosmerta a ghost in my Teddy stories. I figured she could be one of the fifty who was unnamed. They're hard to work with, since I don't want to keep citing the same four dead people (Colin, Remus, Tonks, Fred), but citing a random name doesn't have much effect.
pepperam From: pepperam Date: December 2nd, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
That first one was brilliant! I love what you've made out of all of these challenge requests so far! Beautiful work.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: December 2nd, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
<3 Padma. And the original drew me right in, too - I would read more of that one. :)
satakieli From: satakieli Date: December 2nd, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love the original. Particularly like the neat turn of phrase that gets you out of it at the end. (Just finished reading Taming of the Shrew, and although it's not my favorite play for many reasons, its clumsy ending just adds insult to injury. The contrast is highly in your favor.)
alkari From: alkari Date: December 3rd, 2009 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Three more excellent fics *claps hands happily and salutes Fern*

Dudley was perfectly in character, and you could see this Dudley remaining in casual contact with Harry post DH as JKR indicated.

Interesting premise for the original fic. Loved idea that you would spend lottery money on an old town and a reality show!

Padma's story was quietly heart-breaking. Her POV is totally understandable: I am sure that many war survivors feel exactly that way about re-visiting places with memories of death and the loss of friends. As she says, there are those survivors who 'can' go on and fight to rebuild their world, and others who simply want to forget and live a new life, or just to have time out to deal with everything.

He frowned. "Is French hard to learn?" Great ending!

akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: December 3rd, 2009 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved that. I think I agree with Padma; I think I'd rather be known for something in my own right than as ''someone who helped Harry Potter win the war.''
allie_meril From: allie_meril Date: December 3rd, 2009 01:19 am (UTC) (Link)
...I would now kill to read that story about the Beaxbatons students protecting their school during WWII. :D
33 comments or Leave a comment
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