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Challenges 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Challenges 2
What about a Teddy adventure from year 2, 4, or 6 at Hogwarts? Or more excerpts from Phineaus Nigellus's diary? for Beth

"No, Teddy, you may not actually do the magic outside school. It's four months until your birthday."

"Oh, just a little bit… It's my spell!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes, and I'll do it exactly as your paper suggests. I've wanted a good keyword search spell for ages, but I've never been able to get one to work. This approach looks promising. You're getting quite good at intertwined spells. Mixing the seeking spells from the Map -- and yes, of course I know where you got them -- with a Dictionary Declamation… it's a unique approach. I can't see any reason in theory why it wouldn't work. What shall I try it on?"

Teddy reached back for a pile of Duplicated books. The real books now resided in the Identity Room at the Ministry, but Phineas Nigellus's portrait had thrown something of a tantrum over the fact that they were largely unused there, and had insisted that the Ministry find some way to return them to Teddy, who had at least some right to them as a lawful descendant and…

Well, the portrait, being a portrait, had no standing and the Ministry had balked at relinquishing such an historical artifact, but Maddie had come up with a solution that mollified Phineas and, quite honestly, pleased Teddy more than his other Christmas presents: She had simply duplicated the entire run, and now they were Teddy's to keep, in nice, crisp new bindings.

"Phineas Nigellus's diaries," he suggested.

"Journals," a voice corrected from the wall. Teddy looked up to see Phineas inhabiting a painting of Ottery St. Catchpole that Aunt Ginny had bought. He sniffed disdainfully. "Gentlewizards keep journals. Diaries are frivolous things kept by -- "

"Do not finish that sentence, Professor Black," Hermione said, grinning.

" -- frivolous children," Phineas finished. "How did you imagine I might finish it, Madam Weasley?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "What shall we search for, then?"

"Mad Auntie?"

"Hardly a likely choice," Phineas said. "I, er… made my final journal entries only weeks after Walburga was born."

"What do you think we'd be interested in?" Teddy asked. "I only really know the parts about the Maze and the Department of Mysteries."

Phineas considered this. "You would perhaps be interested in my encounter with a vicious lycanthrope."

"Did you… er… "

"Certainly not. He was an old school chum prior to his unfortunate encounter with a monster."

"Oh. All right."

Hermione, looking less than reassured, raised her wand, did the series of motions Teddy had prescribed, and said, "Werewolf."

The volumes began to rise up into the air, their pages fluttering madly. As the spell finished with each, it fell down to the floor, where they began to stack up in reverse order (Teddy made a mental note to get them to return to proper order later). Either the spell didn't work, or Phineas was misremembering -- or fantasizing -- about the encounter, because none of them opened.

Hermione shrugged. "Well, er…" Suddenly, she put her hand to her forehead, and looked at the portrait sheepishly. "Sorry, Professor Black. I wasn't listening properly." She did the wand motions again, but then said, "Lycanthrope."

There was no flurry of activity this time, which surprised Teddy. He'd expected the show to happen every time. But this time, a volume extracted itself neatly from the middle of the pile, flew into Hermione's outstretched hand, and opened to a page about two thirds of the way through.

18 September 1872, Teddy read aloud.
I had the misfortune last night of coming across a lycanthrope, a poor, beset fellow who I knew in my days at Hogwarts as one Henry Pryde. He told me upon his re-transformation that he has, for obvious reasons, abandoned his surname.

"What obvious reasons?" Hermione asked. "Why should he have to do that?"

"Wordplay," Teddy said. "He felt he had no pride."

"Partly," Phineas agreed. "But -- and I don't believe I recorded this -- he also had young family, two daughters and son and wife… well, no longer his wife, I believe the marriage was annulled --"

"Annulled?" Teddy asked.

"Yes, it means -- "

"I know what it means. Just… by choice, or was that the law?"

"Neither," Phineas said airily. "It was merely custom at the time. Anything else would have been somewhat surprising."

Teddy noticed Hermione gearing up for an argument about this, and started reading again before she could get warmed up.

I came across the unfortunate creature stalking through the square outside my home in Grimmauld Place. He was stalking a Muggle child, and I did not imagine it would go well for him if he succeeded in capturing his prey. I locked my own home and had Ursula remove the children to the upstairs rooms, where she could mind them more easily, then went outside to do battle with the beast.

I did not, of course, realize that the creature was Henry at that time, but I knew it was, of necessity, a wizard, likely one unable to account for his actions in this form. While I understand the impulses of those who would kill on sight (I do, after all, have my own progeny to consider), I do not agree with this approach. A lycanthrope should not be killed without proof that he has deliberately endangered others. I recognize this as a quixotic belief of sorts, but I have studied identity, and the splitting of identity involved in this dread curse is a particularly wicked sort of magic to which the victim has been exposed. I would no more kill a lycanthrope than I would kill a man with spattergroit, and if the Wizengamot does not approve of this stance, it will be, in my opinion, proof of their idiocy, if such proof were still required at this late date.

I do not hold with those who believe it should be kept a secret, or that lycanthropes should be included in everyday activities. There is a danger after all, and it can't be discounted. But they should be allowed to make their way in the world as well as they can.

"How progressive of you," Hermione said, and Teddy couldn't tell if she was being waspish or sincere.

Phineas took it as the latter. "My dear Madam Weasley," he said, exasperated, "you are, as usual, discounting the truth of the situation. A lycanthrope is not a safe houseguest, and young Lupin -- well, I suppose elder Lupin, now -- would have agreed."

"Elder Lupin was your houseguest."

"He never transformed in this house, and would never have done so. He was an honorable man when in his right mind." Phineas announced this with an air of great generosity.

"So," Teddy said, "your plan was to keep them uneducated and outside of social circles, but alive."

"Most children do not survive werewolf attacks. Most transformed werewolves were changed as adults -- at least until Fenrir Greyback arrived -- so their educational levels were no different from anyone else's."

"Oh," Teddy said. "I never thought of that."

"And it makes it even more ridiculous that they were denied professional opportunities," Hermione said.

Teddy wondered why she was angrier than he was. He'd spent many hours reading werewolf laws, and he'd been inside his father's memories. He guessed Hermione was just one of those people who wanted perfection, and grew quite angry when it didn't materialize. For himself, he was glad to know that Phineas, who he liked, was at least not murderous on the topic, and was willing to be respectful to Dad.

Phineas and Hermione continued to argue, both of them clearly enjoying themselves. Teddy continued reading to himself.

I stalked the beast for several hours, re-directing the paths of the Muggles who came through the neighborhood, so they would not encounter him. Finally, I cornered him at a small Muggle church two streets beyond the square, and, after dodging blows from his deadly claws, and barely escaping a fatal nick from his jaws, I was able to use stones from the paving to construct a small, hive-shaped cocoon, which with a great deal of magical effort on my part, stayed in one piece until dawn.

As the sun rose, I heard a great and mournful cry from the wolf, followed by the screaming and weeping of the man. I allowed the stones to fall apart and Banished them back to their spots on the street. My old schoolmate was now on the steps of the church, unclothed and miserable. Someone had confiscated his wand, which I find a ridiculous response to the situation. After all, in wolf form, the lycanthrope can hardly be expected to perform more nuanced magic, and as a man, he might find it a useful accessory. But I could do nothing about this

Teddy knew there was a stash of wands in the attic of Grimmauld Place, many of which probably dated to Phineas's time, and rolled his eyes. The Blacks were not a generous family. Then again, if someone had confiscated Dad's wand and the Blacks had offered him one, he'd probably have refused it out of pride, anyway.

-- so I simply Conjured clothes for him, Summoned food from my kitchen, and sent him away after a brief talk. He asked if I had any work for him. I could think of nothing. Perhaps he will find employment elsewhere. He has a strong back and if not a good mind, at least a reasonably well-functioning one.

This was the end for the affair, as far as the journal was concerned. Teddy flipped through the next pages, and they were all simply day-to-day life at Grimmauld Place.

He sat back and listened to the rest of the argument.

something cute with the potters? maybe going shopping before hogwarts?for wandlessherbologist

"I'm still not entirely clear on what we're doing," Lily said.


Al raised an eyebrow. "We've already been shopping, James."

"And if the goal is Flourish and Blotts, we both already have The Queen of Time, signed by you and Teddy."

James stopped and turned on them. "Honestly, the pair of you. This is our last Hogwarts year together. I want to take you both out for lunch and… I don't know. Get something. Maybe something for Mum and Dad."

Neither of them appeared to know what to do with this, which James thought highly unfair, as he'd spent most of his life preparing them to deal with extravagant gestures from him. They still always acted surprised.

Finally, Al sighed. "James, you do know that you don't actually leave the family when you finish school, right? You're apprenticing in Dad's department and, well… you're living at home after school, right? For a while?"

"I don't know. That's the whole thing. When we leave school next June, maybe I won't come back to London. Teddy wants me to move into the other house on the island, and I might do it. I mean, I have to grow up, don't I? Maybe this week is the last time we'll all be living under the same roof. I just… I thought we should mark it, somehow."

Lily looked at him with rather bruised-looking eyes. "I hadn't thought of that."

"I haven't thought about anything else." James shrugged. "I mean, I don't want to be maudlin. I imagine that having a great childhood will mean I'll look forward to a good grown-up-hood. But you, I might miss… the portraits. Maybe Mum and Dad a bit. Kreacher. And of course, you two will be utterly lost."

"Of course we will," Al says. "We can't function without you needling us."

"You can't. Lily, he needs to be needled and often. I know you'll do it."

She didn't say anything. She was still looking down at the street.

"Hey," he said.

She sniffed. "Don't you dare hug me."

He hugged her, then kept his arm over her shoulders and steered her further into Diagon Alley, both of her arms around his waist, Al pacing along beside them. "So, I thought we could get Mum and Dad something good. A nice framed photo, or maybe an exploding toilet seat to remember our shared childhoods by."

"We never hit them with an exploding toilet seat," Al put in.

"Yes, but I always wanted to."

"You're a toerag, James," Lily said, not loosening her grip around his waist.

"We'll think of something later," James said. "Maybe some way they can always keep track of us, like Nana's clock. For now, let's have lunch first."

This was agreeable to everyone, and they went to the Willow, where the Gudgeons were serving their usual crowd. Their daughter, Tinny Apcarne, was waiting tables; apparently, they'd lost another waitress. James took a seat in a corner booth. Lily sat beside him, Al across from them.

"James, out and about," she said, waving her wand to set the privacy spell around the booth. "And here, I thought you'd be holed up somewhere with a quill, judging by husband's shrill floo conversations."

"Oh, come on. The new one just came out. I told Teddy, I'm taking a break at least until Halloween. Right now, I'm being the world's best big brother."

"Except for Teddy," Al said. "And all of the uncles."

Tinny shook her head and took their orders.

"That reminds me," James said. "Once I go, you'll be the big brother."

"I've been the big brother since Lily was born," Al said. "That's kind of how that works."

"You must make sure she looks both ways before crossing the street, and just lately, there've been crowds of boys you'll need to scare away. Also, her hair needs pulling, and -- "

Suddenly, Lily gasped in a sob, and James stopped joking. "I'm sorry."

"I like things as they are," she said, then looked up and tried to rally. "I mean, I hate you of course. That goes without saying."

"Well, I've never been able to stand the sight of you, either."

"But, you know, Mum and Dad like you, and I imagine they'll be… well, Dad was always absolutely appalling when you went off to school -- Al, too, when he started; I was left behind to watch -- and it'll just be t- t- terrible if it's forev… forever." She swallowed hard. "So, you know, I'm already furious at you for causing such a spectacle."

James wasn't sure what to say to this. He rather liked things as they were, too, and he did feel guilty about changing everything. But wasn't that the way things worked? People moved away. Children became adults. Teddy had moved out right away, even got married only two years out of school. Victoire had been right out of school. Grannydromeda didn't make fuss of it, and neither did Uncle Bill and Aunt Fleur. Marie was out of the house as well. Rosie was planning a skip year, and Aunt Hermione was not only not making a fuss, she was helping plan the trip. All of that seemed normal. But suddenly not being primarily the big brother of the Potter family? Not expecting to just go home to Mum and Dad? That seemed weirdly unnatural. His family was permanent. It was…

He lost the thread of his thoughts, but he had a feeling that, at some point in the next book, he was going to find himself writing about it.

Al looked across the table for a few seconds, then straightened his glasses and looked at the wine list -- mostly, James thought, as a piece of stage business. The corners of his mouth twitched. "You know," he said, "You'll probably be a miserable failure and have to move back home, anyway."

James raised his eyebrows, wondering where Al was going with this. Lily didn't jump to his defense.

"I mean, really," Al said. "It's inevitable. You'll probably fall in love with a Death Eater, too, and have little kids in masks..."

"He will not!" Lily said.

"Oh, sure he will. Just like I was going to be in Slytherin and Dad would disown me for it."

"Have you been saving up for six years just to hit me with that?" James asked.

"Well, someone needs to keep you humble."

"You do a terrible job at it."

"Tell me about it." Al grinned. "Now, come on. This is just… the beginning of a school year. Can we get maudlin over Easter hols instead? We do have two long visits left with Mum and Dad, you know."

"All right," James said. "But no staying at school this year, and no going to Teddy's."

"What about the Yule Ball at the Roost?" Lily asked.

"Well, no going without Mum and Dad, anyway," James amended.

Al nodded. "I think that's the best gift we can do. Be normal. And be home."

That settled, they started to talk about the coming year -- what would happen at Hogwarts, whether or not they'd find some adventure to go on, how the dance at Teddy's place would be, who Lily really didn't want chased off -- and the world went back to normal, at least for a little while longer.
8 comments or Leave a comment
shiiki From: shiiki Date: July 14th, 2017 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhh I love your Phineas! I still can't believe you've made me fall in love with a character who's essentially paint and canvas throughout the series. I like how you contrasted Hermione's idealistic view on werewolf rights with Teddy's realistic one.

Also, a Google-spell was definitely long in coming. I kind of imagine a component of the Summoning Charm might have made it in there, too!

Al's payback at James for all the teasing about Slytherin was perfect!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2017 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
My unholy love for Phineas knows no bounds. I think it was the moment when he refused to believe Sirius was dead and stalked off back to the house, and Harry imagined him searching. So really, it's my feelings about Harry's imagination of him? I don't know. (It was also such a neat moment for Harry, in the middle of all that, suddenly seeing this portrait as a person who would have had feelings and history and... it was a short moment, but there was something very Harry about it.)

I can't believe they don't have a google spell. Well, problem corrected. ;p Yes, the Summoning charm is probably in there somewhere as well. It's probably teaching it to summon a concept or idea that's the hard part.

James deserved some payback for that bit in the epilogue. Terrifying his little brother... I know, I know. It's the big brother's job. But still.
beceh From: beceh Date: July 14th, 2017 09:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent, as usual!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 15th, 2017 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, as always.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 15th, 2017 07:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I really love the idea of Hermione and Phineas clashing and getting into debates at work.
I can picture him being quite progressive... for his time and family.
Also Hermione using such debates to hone her arguments against some of the more... obstinate figures in magical society.

I also really like the idea of this generation helping to pull magical society a bit more in line with 21st century muggles.

"If only there was there was some way to help this poor fellow..."
"Professor Nigellus, do you not have stored away several--"
"IF ONLY..."

-- FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 18th, 2017 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Hermione would eventually take that argumentative streak of hers and have fun with it. Phineas... there's no evidence that he really was particularly forward-looking, but, like Teddy, I like the idea that he wasn't entirely retrograde.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2017 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
the potter kids one was fantastic. great distict characterization on all three and it's so nice to see them being so close even if they inherited their father's difficulty over talking about feelings.

I specially like seeing albus' level headed reasoning to help deal with the anxiety over the changes.

what a nice look into the siblings dinamics.

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 25th, 2017 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

oops sorry...

that last comment was me.

thanks fernwithy!

8 comments or Leave a comment