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Shifts, Chapter 13: Unsportsmanlike Conduct - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 13: Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Okay. To get some practice for NaNoWriMo before I actually start, I'm going to try to do a Shifts post every night this week, before scaling back to the usual two a week or so in November (here's hoping I don't get another stretch of writer's block; I have it planned for at least the next six entries, though). Does anyone know of a site that has word counts for famous novels? (Just to get an idea what a word count comes out to in terms of pacing.)

Anyway, aside from a short interlude at Grimmauld Place, Remus has spent most of the last three weeks really throwing himself into the Raymond Lewis persona, attending the students' various extracurricular activities and becoming part of the community. Dora has taken a flat in Muggle London.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dora was in the office when he got back from his morning classes on Friday, spreading out a blanket on the floor for lunch. For a moment, Remus was just glad of the company, then he checked the calendar.

"Already?" he asked.

Dora looked up. "Nice to see you, too."

Remus sighed and took the thermos she offered him, wrinkling his nose at the bitter smell of the Wolfsbane Potion.

"I think you don't like my cooking," Dora said lightly as he drank it. "Really, the faces you make. And here it's fresh off the fire." She grinned.

Remus swallowed the last bit and tried a smile, which felt like it was twisted into something resembling pulled taffy. "Delicious," he said. "Really. Wonderful."

Dora started taking plates and forks out of the basket, along with serving dishes, glasses, and a bottle of wine.

"Er, Dora... I'm in the middle of a work day. At a school."

"Oh, it's just juice, honestly. I just bottled it for the sake of presentation." She pantomimed waving a wand to show that she'd transfigured the original containers, and mouthed, "pumpkin juice."

"Oh. Well, in that case, certainly."

"If your head is anything like my cousin's today, a bit of juice won't hurt you much."

"He drank considerably more than I did," Remus said quickly, wanting to get off of the subject.

"He's doing that a lot, isn't he?"

"Maybe not a lot, but more than he should. I need to keep a better eye on him. I mean... you know what I mean."



"We need to. I'm his family, too, you know. You can let me look after him sometimes."

Remus shook his head. "He barely tolerates it from me. From you, it would be an insult. He still thinks of you as his little cousin."

Dora raised her eyebrows. "Does he?" she asked dryly. "How odd."

"Well, you are a bit younger than we are."

"I hadn't noticed." Dora opened one of the serving dishes, and the wonderful smell of roast beef filled the office. "Molly came by the office this morning with lunch for Arthur, and she brought enough along for two of me. She thinks I'm too thin. Or knows I'm seeing you, one or the other. At any rate, there's quite enough." Someone knocked at the door frame. "Even for guests," Dora added. "Come in."

A large boy who only looked vaguely familiar to Remus looked curiously into the office. "Er... Mr. Lewis, right?"


"Is Mr. Garvey here?"

"No. He should be along soon, if you needed help."

"No. I'm all right with calculus... he was going to come to the boxing match this afternoon. Against Greenfields. Mr. Baden said to give him a pennant." The boy waved a Smeltings pennant, the disinterested expression never leaving his face. "I best get to practice."

He handed Remus the pennant without offering his name, and backed out with a sharp bow to Dora.

"That's not one of yours, is it?" Dora asked.

"No. A-Levels aren't required in history. He must have opted out. Wonder what Joe thought." Remus toyed with the pennant, then reached up and put it on Alan's desk.

"Are we going?"


Dora ladeled out some vegetables. "To the boxing match. Seems we've managed to cheer on everyone but Dudley so far. It shouldn't seem too odd to be there."

"I hadn't thought of it." Remus wrinkled his nose. "Boxing. Couldn't he have been in dramatics club?"

Alan came in five minutes later, enthusiastically supported Dora's suggestion, and sat down on the floor to even more enthusiastically share lunch. "Would you tell Anna she should do this?" he asked. "Really, it's great fun."

"I should tell Anna?" Dora repeated.

"Aren't you in their little breakfast circle?"

Remus felt his eyes narrow, and fought an urge to ask what Alan could possibly mean by that, but Dora was entirely unfazed. "We have enough to talk about without passing each other messages from our own husbands," she scolded. "Really, Alan. Try inviting her."

Alan grumbled something and continued to eat. When he'd had his fill, he went to his desk to mark homework, and Remus helped Dora clean up from lunch. On the way out to her car, he raised the question. "Breakfast circle?"

"Oh, right. I forgot. I've been meeting the ladies for breakfast. Twice a week for two weeks now. It's a club. There are some marvelous places to have breakfast, really. We talk about books. We're reading one now called Rose Madder. Bit violent, and the magic is impossible, but it's interesting enough. Really, though, I don't see why Rosie didn't just leave Norman in the first place--"

"Dora, you're meeting the ladies before work and talking about a book?"


They reached the car, and Dora popped the bonnet open. Remus put the basket inside it and didn't look at her. "Dora, do you think you're... well, that we're taking this a bit too far?"

Dora frowned. "Get in the car, Raymond."

Remus went around to the passenger seat and got in. When they were securely inside, Dora did a quick Muffling Charm. She rubbed her temples, an uncharacteristic anxiety trait that reminded Remus strongly of Andromeda when her patience was close to the breaking point. He opted not to tell Dora that.

"I'm not doing this for the assignment," Dora said. "I like them. That's all there is too it. Anna has a really bawdy sense of humor, and Miriam--"

"That's not the point."

"It is the point. You treat me like I'm not really in this. I'm in it as much as you are. I mean, you don't tell me every match you go to."

"That's true, but some of them, I might decide to attend during the school day when you're not here. If I were really your husband, I would notice if you weren't home for breakfast twice a week."

She set her jaw like she intended to say something else, then shook her head and sighed. "I see your point. I suppose I just wanted to get that out."

"All right. Point taken."

They sat awkwardly for a few minutes, Dora with her hands on the steering wheel and her head tilted backward, Remus sitting in the passenger seat, feeling chastened.

Finally, Dora looked at him and smiled in a tired but more normal way. "I'm sorry," she said. "It's work business. The Ministry, pretending to look for Sirius, pointless arrests of harmless old crazy ladies... I suppose I drop into Dora Lewis for a bit of a break."

"I understand."

"I just wish you-know-who--"


"--would come out of the woodwork, so the Ministry would have to see him." Abruptly, she threw her head back and banged it on the back of the seat. "I'm sorry," she said again. "I'm not being cheerful Dora here, am I?"

"You don't have to be cheerful Dora all the time."

"I don't like Not-Cheerful Dora. I'd rather be cheerful." She straightened up and shook her shoulders, tossing the grumpiness off like a cloak. Remus wondered how often she did this when no one was looking. "So," she said, "Boxing this evening?"

"You want to come and watch Dudley Dursley hit people."

"What better way to spend a Friday night?" She smiled. "Is it a date?"

Remus rolled his eyes. "It's an appointment."

She nodded gravely. "I'll mark my calendar."

He got out of the car and leaned through the window. "I am sorry if you feel I've been somehow neglecting your--"

She shook her head. "I was just complaining. Forget about it."

"Really, I--"

"Don't force me to make you forget about it," she said, toying with her wand and smiling.

Remus nodded. "All right. Forgotten. I'll see you later."

He watched her drive away. As she pulled out of the car park, he heard the wireless in the car go on, playing something catchy and bright. She reached out of her window and waved jauntily.

He waved back.
23 comments or Leave a comment
sophonax From: sophonax Date: October 25th, 2004 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is completely sweet. It's so easy in fic to throw characters into soul-searching discussions just for the hell of it, and then for it to look completely unnatural afterward, but these two have just slid into telling each other how they feel, softly, easily, naturally.

And, though I don't have to deal with a war against evil, I can totally relate to Tonks' learning-to-be-a-grownup woes.

(I can also relate to having inappropriate crushes on wise and sweet older men, but that's for another time...)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Agh, learning to be a grown-up is a pain. I don't really like it. I think I'll switch careers; this grown-up thing is unsatisfying. ;)

I'm glad it felt natural. I was concerned about it, because Tonks wasn't acting her bubbly self once she got put off by the "he thinks of you as his little cousin" business, since of course, Sirius treats her as more of an adult than Remus tends to most of the time.
From: ex_olivehorn645 Date: October 25th, 2004 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know any sites with word counts for famous novels, but I've heard that The Great Gatsby is about 50k words.

Also, I used this Excel sheet last year to keep track of my progress. It tells you how far you have to go and how many words you have to average per day to finish, among other things.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Feh. I don't have Excel on my computer at home, and it won't load into Works spredsheet. Oh, well. :)
From: ex_olivehorn645 Date: October 25th, 2004 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Weird. I don't have Excel either, but I was able to open it with OpenOffice (which is free) just fine.

I put in my Works Suite 2000 disk in to see if I could convert it from OpenOffice to Works, but Microsoft Works must be something different from Microsoft Works Suite because there was no spreadsheet program on mine. Craziness...
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: October 25th, 2004 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this was exactly what I needed, Fernwithy. Another bit of Shifts. The prospect of getting a bunch of new sections in the next week is extremely comforting as well.

I loved their argument. You showed them having a really great "relationship" argument--the sort of disagreement people have when they make a transition (a shift, if you will) into being closer. When boundaries change a bit, we get this exact argument in every relationship, don't we? The only thing is, Remus and Tonks aren't in a relationship. Or... are they?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, some sort of relationship. But yes, shifts are happening down in the tectonic framework of it. A few mild warning tremors are likely to come up. :p
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: October 26th, 2004 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Also, thanks for the link about NaNoWriMo... I had actually been intending to do it this year, but forgot.

Also, I am going to co-write with my mother. I know you're not allowed to do that, so we'll have to cheat a bit. ;) But we've always been a writing team.

I'll be excited to hear about your NaNoWriMo progress from you!
maerchen From: maerchen Date: October 25th, 2004 09:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Word Counts

Yay for NaNo!

Here's a list Google found of several novels of varying lengths--hope that helps.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Word Counts

Nicely, thanks. I know enough of those to have a general feel. Mine is definitely going to have to be longer than 50,000 words. :headdesk: Oh, well. No books at lunch. Just a pen and one of the five billion notepads I have lying around.
myf From: myf Date: October 25th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Time for a fangirly moment.

Fern, I just re-read the whole of Shifts, as I've been reading it consistently in these 'third of a chapter' bites and I was worried that I'd forgotten how the story was evolving, or themes which I missed over the course of it.

These sections are a real treat, but sitting down and gorging myself on the whole thing in a day was wonderful! I’ve only just realised how much I adore this fic, and how pleasurable it is to have instalments offered up every few days. Remus (especially as teacher) is such a wonderful character, and with the extra twists of Smeltings, and behind-the-scenes at Grimmauld Place, and of course Dora… I love every aspect of it.

As for this scene: lovely! I had to think for a little bit about what ‘pulling taffy’ might mean – is it the state that hard-boiled sweets are in before they’re hard (if you get my drift), and the pliable mess is placed over a hook and pulled until it’s more malleable? (We have shops here which make the lollies in full view of passers-by – loads of fun.)

Also: will Remus please just get a clue? Please?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dora grabs Remus by the shoulders before she drives away, shakes him until his brains are rattling, and screams, "I'm in love with you, you moron!"

Remus frowns. "I think you may be taking the act just a bit too far. I'm not comfortable with that..."

Dora bangs her head on the bonnet of the car.

I'm glad you're enjoying it.

And I'm beginning to wonder if pulled taffy is a regionalism. It sounds like what you're talking about--candy being pulled on a hook, or rather a series of them--but it's not on the way to being anything else. It's sold as soft chewy candy.
myf From: myf Date: October 25th, 2004 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
0.0 It's like nothing I've ever heard of. But then, one clueless Australian does not a regionalism make.

And boo! to Remus. He's just as clueless as I am. *sigh* Poor dear.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's yummy carnival food here. They have it on these stretch racks, and you can smell it for blocks. It comes in a lot of flavors, and it lasts because it's very chewy. It comes wrapped in wax paper. I'll see if I can find a link. Meanwhile, perhaps Remus ought to compare himself to something else, like a pretzel or a bit of chewing gum stuck on someone's shoe.
From: arclevel Date: October 25th, 2004 11:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
We have taffy in the midwest USA, although I must admit that my associations are all coastal (Cedar Point, Mackinac Island) or on vacations -- mostly to Cape Cod! Also, I've never really seen it in any shape other than vaguely cubic, unless you mean what it winds up when it's warm and you're trying to get it off the wrapper without resorting to using your teeth to scrape it off.

Love the story, btw; it's really the only WIP I'm following at the moment. I'd point out that I'd really like to see more of Duddy-Dudderkins, but it seems fairly likely that that's going to happen in the next section or two, so no need. :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 11:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
At the town carnival in dear old Perry (:barfola:), they sold it in six inch wedges wrapped in wax paper (shaped more or less like a narrow candy bar), which is how I think of it in my native mind. But come to think of it, I've never seen it that way anywhere else and couldn't find pics of it.

And yes, more Dudders, coming up. Full-fledged Dudders.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 25th, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay. Animated gif of a taffy puller here, and a carnival taffy stand here (center of the bottom row).

:Fern will now stop being nostalgic for local carnivals and taffy, since the expression was used to describe a forced smile, not to make me hungry:
chienar From: chienar Date: October 26th, 2004 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Shifts is coming along very well, still checking every day for updates.


kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: October 26th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC) (Link)
That's all there is too it.

Otherwise, delightful.

thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: October 26th, 2004 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohh, thank you for posting this! What a wonderful insight into Tonks' character -- I loved this bit:

"I'm sorry," she said again. "I'm not being cheerful Dora here, am I?"

"You don't have to be cheerful Dora all the time."

"I don't like Not-Cheerful Dora. I'd rather be cheerful."

Interesting how REMUS is the one telling her (not in so many words, but) to be herself. Remus, whose entire life revolves around Presenting A Respectable Front So That People Will Not See Him As An Uncontrollable beast. Scrumptiously ironic. And ahh, Tonks. You are one of only three authors I've ever read who has managed to make me go "Yup, this is how Tonks really is." So... nice going. :)
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: October 29th, 2004 10:13 am (UTC) (Link)
thunderemerald wrote:

You are one of only three authors I've ever read who has managed to make me go "Yup, this is how Tonks really is." So... nice going. :)

Wait! You can't say that and not tell us the other two authors!
katchuri From: katchuri Date: October 27th, 2004 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Just dropping through - hope you don't mind...

A couple of brit-pick points, if you'd like them...

Private schools, or indeed any schools for that matter, don't have pennants. There's usually a school badge or logo, and sometimes it'll be displayed on uniforms, and sports kit, and occasionally on big rectangular flags, but no little triangular flags happen here.

Also, A-levels. Kids pick them at 16, and these days take 4 subjects for year 12 (junior year in high school, equivalent) and 3 in year 13 (senior year). No subject is required at all - not maths, not English, not a language, not science. Nothing.
People are advised to take certain subjects if they want to study a particular subject at university - for example, if you wanted to do architecture, the courses would prefer you to have taken art or design at A-level. But kids can do English, Psychology and History, or Art, Biology and Geography, or whatever. Nothing is required, so no-one can opt out of anything. They just choose not to study it.

That said, love the way this story is developing...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2004 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Just dropping through - hope you don't mind...

Thanks! Will remove pennant reference, and just have the student have opted out of history because he felt like it.

Ack. I dropped out of math after tenth grade (equivalent of Dudley and Harry's year here), but I know I shouldn't have. History wasn't required after eleventh grade (woo-hoo, a whole year off before college) and sciences could be foregone after tenth grade, though English was required throughout.
23 comments or Leave a comment