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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 1
Erg, these three scene chapters are getting repetitive and dull, but darnit, I ended with Remus asleep. That's a pretty chapter-ending thing, since things are different when he wakes up. (Just for the sake of time-setting, checking against the calendar at the Lexicon, this chapter opens on the morning of the day when Hermione, around midnight, will suggest that Harry teach DADA. I believe I'll follow JKR and let some time pass after a few things happen in the next couple of days.)

Quick Britpicking question: how often are teachers generally paid? Once a week or once every two weeks? And in the mid-'90s, was direct deposit in vogue yet?

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Remus was still on the sofa when his Self-Waking Charm kicked in at seven sharp. He opened his eyes groggily and found the parlor rather than his own sparse bedroom on the third floor, and was, for a moment, disoriented. Everyone else was gone, and the sun was streaming through the windows. He hadn't been in this room in the daylight for quite some time, at least since Sirius had decided to give up on the sodden, formerly-doxy-infested drapery altogether. It lay in a dispirited pile under the bureau, and the windows were open to the eastern exposure. Sitting up, Remus thought the room looked like it was recoiling from the exposure.

It also looked horrifically bare. So much of the Black family's property had been taken away or sealed off that, in full light, the room looked like it was simply waiting for movers to come along pull out the furniture as well. The old things hadn't done Sirius much good, but this new situation...

Remus frowned.

This state of permanent temporary-ness, of interrupted transience, was actually disconcerting in itself. He decided to talk to Andromeda; dealing with the kinds of mental scars Sirius had was, after all, her profession. She would know if a confusing environment really was harmful, and perhaps could suggest a few things, though of course the Fidelius Charm would render her totally unable to offer any specific suggestions for Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.

He made his way up to his room to get dressed, marveling that the only aches and pains he felt were the ones from sleeping on the sofa. He felt... well. What a difference an hour of unconsciousness and nine hours of sleep had made.

Of course, he could hardly make a habit of it.

By the time he'd finished getting dressed and doing his appearance Charms, he could hear Sirius mucking about in the kitchen, human again, to judge by the occasional sound of cursing that drifted up. There was little more in the way of conversation when Remus went down; Sirius had involved himself in an argument with Kreacher, who had apparently been hoarding flatware in his den. Neither of them took much notice of Remus grabbing two slices of toast as a quick breakfast, and a distracted, "...day" was all he got as far as a farewell went. He supposed it was "Have a good day," but wasn't entirely sure.

The walk to Smeltings from his Apparition point was pleasant and refreshing, the last kinks working their way out of his muscles. A vague but pervasive sense of well-being seemed to settle in. This wasn't uncommon during the first week of the waning moon, once the soreness and weariness wore off. He didn't know if it was a physical after-effect or just the knowledge that he was as far from the next transformation as it was possible to get.

When he got to his office, Alan was at his morning debates about people who never existed, and gave him roughly the same greeting that Sirius had, though in this case, it consisted of "...bloody Tuesday..." rather than simply "day." Remus could make neither heads nor tails of what he'd grumbled on either side of it.

He was settling in to start reviewing today's lesson plans when there was a knock at the door, followed (without waiting for a response) by the entrance of a piebald man who looked somewhat familiar.

"Mr. Lewis?" he said.

Remus smiled and stood up, offering his hand and gesturing to the empty chair.

The man shook his hand in a cursory way and sat down. "Well, how has it been going? We haven't spoken since your interview."

Blythe. The headmaster. Remus made a mental note to remember this particular face in the future.

"I've been enjoying myself," he said. "It's good to be back in the classroom."

"Yes, yes," Blythe said in a distracted way. "I sent you an e-mail last week, regarding your curriculum plans."

"I, er..."

"Hasn't a clue how to get into his e-mail," Alan said. "Hullo, Roger."

Remus blushed furiously, but Blythe just laughed. "Oh, I never even thought to ask. I'm sorry. I've got used to the damned thing now. You'll need to, really. I'd wondered why you hadn't answered."

"Well, as Mr. Garvey said..." Remus sighed. "What did you need to know about my curriculum plans?"

"Oh, not much. I just wanted to have an approximate idea of the syllabi for your classes--assignments, quizzes, and so on. It helps to know that sort of thing."

"Of course." Remus took a folder from his desk drawer, and handed it across to Blythe.

Blythe glanced at the syllabi briefly, nodded here and there, and handed them back. "Looks quite decent. A bit ambitious, but quite decent. You'll need to type those up and send them to my secretary. She prefers them either on a disk or sent by ftp, so she can work with the files without retyping them."

"In other words..."

"In other words, Mr. Lewis, you are, by all reports, a marvelous classroom teacher, but we'll need you to join us in this decade, administratively speaking." Blythe smiled in a friendly enough way. "Don't worry. You're not the only teacher on staff who's hesitant."

Remus looked over at Alan.

Blythe followed his glance and laughed. "Oh, don't let Garvey give you the wrong impression. He was trying to sell us on computers back when they would have taken up the whole office. The rest of us are on a rather steeper learning curve." He stood up, shaking Remus's hand in a somewhat better humor. "There are classes available. Teacher, teach thyself."

"Right," Remus said, looking suspiciously at the dusty computer that had been sitting, totally unused, on a table to the side of his desk. It was covered with some sort of plastic drapery and looked like an arcane idol in a museum. "I'll do that."

Blythe laughed again, and left.

Remus slowly pulled the coverings from the machine and stared at it without any idea where to begin. There was a switch under the blank screen, but it didn't seem to produce much more than a slight crackling sound.

"You have to turn on both parts," Alan said, kindly enough. "The screen is just the monitor. The computer switch is in the back, on the right. Beside the cord."

Remus reached back tentatively and found a switch by touch on the back of the lower box. He flicked it, and the computer beeped at him loudly.

"I could teach you later," Alan said. "Really, it's less complex than people make it out to be."

"Perhaps." Remus flipped the switch and turned the machine off.

"You, er, shouldn't do that. It needs to go through its shut-down procedure."


"The boys think that people who don't use computers are just being stubborn."

"The boys use these?"

"Yes. Well, not these particular ones. But most of them have computers in their dormitories. It's a great improvement over having to read teenage handwriting." He shrugged. "You might ask that second former who likes to come here to show you. They love to teach their teachers something, Lord knows why."

"It makes them feel competent," Remus said, an idea growing in his mind. True, he could ask Daniel Morse, and would enjoy learning something from him, but it wasn't Daniel he was meant to get close to.

He wondered how much Dudley Dursley knew about computers.
19 comments or Leave a comment
fluffyllama From: fluffyllama Date: July 31st, 2004 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Never heard of being paid every two weeks, it would be monthly here for all but the most casual of jobs, which would be weekly. And yes, for teachers it would definitely have gone into the bank by the mid 90's.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2004 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Monthly. :shudder: They keep talking about taking us to bi-weekly instead of weekly, and the union insists (though they haven't explained this to me to my satisfaction) that it's been "proven" that you ultimately get less money if you're paid bi-weekly than if you're paid weekly. I do all my budgeting week by week... monthly checks would be terrifying to me.

But that's good to know. Remus is going to have to set up a Muggle bank account as well!
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: July 31st, 2004 11:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Weekly? How weird. My job is student labour, and we get paid monthly. Everyone else goes out and boozes the weekend after they get it.

Also, what on earth is flatware? Crockery?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2004 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, good thing to ask. Flatware=silverware this side of the pond (just a general term, sometimes to distinguish it from actual silverware, but not all that often used; sort of stuffy and old-fashioned).
sreya From: sreya Date: July 31st, 2004 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Were computers really that pervasive already in 1996? My father was an absolute computer geek, and I still remember in 1995 email was an absolute novelty -- and the only computer we had that could use modern browsers was my father's, none of us kids had good computers yet. I guess it's possible that we were just behind because of being stuck on Okinawa from 93-96 -- maybe there was no home internet access on the base yet -- but I feel like the boys having computers in their dormitories seems overly ambitious for 1996. Laptops were still horrendously expensive, so they wouldn't have been easily bringing them from home. And a school at that point would be more likely to have computer labs then give the students personal computers, I should think.

Or maybe you're going with the idea that these are all rich brats whose Mommies and Daddies forked out thousands of dollars for computers for them to take to boarding school?

Anyway, even though I grew up with someone who probably matches Alan for geekiness, it still seems like you're anticipating the computer bit. At least for the students. Maybe instead of saying they have them in the dorms, you could say they use the computers in the labs all the time? (That ought to confuse Remus -- why would you have boxy machines in labs?)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2004 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, they are rich brats. But computers were pretty common in dorms when I was in college in 1990, though I didn't have one--I remember borrowing my roommie's Mac to finish a late paper after the computer lab closed, and that actually would have been in late 1989. I was online and in mailing list arguments like the ones I'm having Alan in around 1994 (I posted my first fanfics in June of 1995... ah, the memories, bless DejaNews, which is now groups.google.com). And Harry does helpfully tell us in PS/SS that Dudley got a new computer for his birthday that year. So I'm guessing that he'd at least have one, and given the froofy school, I doubt he's the only one. Luckily, I moved right around '95, so I remember what I was doing, because it was a hassle to get back online. (It was the first time I had to pay. Egads! I'd been on freenets before then, but Albuquerque didn't have one.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2004 08:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Getting all computer-reminiscent, I think that borrowing Christine's Mac that night was what spawned my hatred of Macs. I didn't know what I was doing, it didn't respond to any of the commands I knew, and I barely finished in time. It was very frustrating, and I've always associated Macs with frustration for that reason. Which is probably stupid, but there you have it.
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: July 31st, 2004 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
You are paid weekly? That's really weird. I get paid monthly.

Otherwise I can't say anything new: I am glad about the update, looking forward to the following parts and I really like the idea of Dudley teaching Remus how to work with a PC. But there is one thing (because I am a Sirius-fan...): I am very disappointed in him because he should have asked Remus how he feels the morning after he fainted. Maybe it is just me (because Sirius is/ was my favourite character in the books), but I don't think that he is THAT selfish. Very brooding, childish and self-centered (during OotP), yes, but generally caring. After all, his animagus form is a dog. Please give him a slap from me and tell him to behave better ;)

Oh, by the way, the first German translations of a couple of your short stories are online at "Translations für Harry"... take a look (Kathrin misspelled your name though... I already mailed her and asked her to fix it). I did the first two parts of "Shifts" and "The Hinkypunk's Lure" as well, but they are not yet online.

Here is the link (see "News and Updates" or "Übersetzungen" --> "laufende Übersetzungen"):

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 31st, 2004 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cool! I'll have to read them out loud and see what they sound like in German. Thanks!

As to Sirius, yup, he needs a good thwapping. I don't think he was being deliberately mean. He'd just gotten into an argument with Kreacher, and Remus was in and out, and probably somewhere around the time Remus was talking to Blythe, Sirius realized, Oops, he's gone for the day, isn't he?
dipsas From: dipsas Date: July 31st, 2004 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've said so elsewhere too, but those translations are really beautiful. I don't know if you read German, Fern, but Liebchen has managed to capture the tone of your stories perfectly.

Other than that, I'll just add that I found Alan's "'You, er, shouldn't do that. It needs to go through its shut-down procedure.'"absolutely hilarious.
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: August 1st, 2004 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 1st, 2004 02:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I wish I read German! A lot of my family does--I directed them over to read it, but all I can do is kind of pronounce it, though I did learn the word for teddy bear! :)
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: August 1st, 2004 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Do you have German ancestors?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 1st, 2004 10:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup. Bickels (Pickels over there; they changed it on this side to avoid being mistaken for foodstuff), from Mittelreinbach, and, though I don't know my father's family, his mother's folk were Kahlers and Heinriches (the former from Frankfurt; I don't know where the latter were from--only the Kahlers had their origin listed in the church histor I read it in). And my aunt married into a half-Scottish/half-German family, so my cousins are considerably more German. (My aunt, in fact, has her grandchildren call her Oma, though her more actually German husband goes by Pappy.) And somewhere, way back on another line, is someone who tried to Anglicize by changed Messerschmidt to Messersmith.

After the English, Germans are the biggest ethnic group in America. But, like the English, they're more or less invisible, as they've been here for so long that they've assimilated. You can walk down any street and not be far from a Chinese or Mexican restaurant, but good German restaurants are hard to find, and good English restaurants (which I'm quite sure must be theoretically possible) simply don't exist.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 31st, 2004 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay Shifts! I knew that dusty old computer was going to come and bite him one of these days. He's lucky in a way, though, because he's sort of just in time to be believably ignorant about computers. If he tried to pull this stunt now, or even, say, five years later it would have been *really* wierd for him not to know how to turn on a computer! (btw, I liked the detail of the switch at the back...I'd forgotten that)
I agree with the *smack* to Sirius for being so insensitive. Not that I'm questioning your decision to have him act that way--he was being exceptionally selfish during that year. Perhaps he would feel bad about it later, but this reflects his uncontrolled moodiness quite well.
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: August 3rd, 2004 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Just read through everything (I should have been doing homework *sniff*),
and I'm really enjoying your fic. It's gentle and slowly paced, in-character and very nice. :)

I love your 3-dimensional Dudley, having him teach Remus the computer is a fabulous idea. I love Alan, he's the kind of guy I adore hanging out with. Tonks is startlingly physically affectionate, but that is exactly what these two men, who have had such limited human contact for so long, need, so I think that is awesome. And poor, poor Sirius. :(
I love your married couples who are good together and belong together--they have that show of solidarity that Remus (and everybody) needs to see so they can imagine emulating it in their own lives.
Very nice. ^^
epj From: epj Date: February 23rd, 2005 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a little late to the party here (brought here by a rec at Bright Shiny Objects), but I am loving the story. It's brilliant, in character, and so well-written. Thanks so much for writing.

Only one thing has tripped me up so far--Lupin logging on to a computer running Windows 3.1. In what year is this story set? I always thought (perhaps wrongly) that the HP-verse was running in sync with our own, and the first book was copyright 1997. I hate to show up and be picky, but it *really* jarred me.
derangedfangirl From: derangedfangirl Date: May 11th, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is horribly late and stuff, but this: "Remus was still on the sofa when his Self-Waking Charm kicked in at seven sharp."
Made me gape at my computer screen, then bust a gut laughing, because I misread it and thought it said "self wanking charm".



amethystbeloved From: amethystbeloved Date: May 29th, 2019 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, Lupin's computer lesson was quite the blast from the past. I remember being resistant to computers. Even in 2002 I was determined to write out the good copies of my essays in pen rather than work my way around the keyboard, Of course my mind about computers completely changed once I discovered fanfiction later that year.

You did such a good job at writing Remus' confusion with such technology. The scene later on with the Transfiguration duel did a beautiful job of getting us back to familiar ground. The last scene with Dudley and Remus is great! I think I'm going to read one more chapter of Shifts before returning to my place at the Hog's Head in OotP.
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