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Aargh. Just one of those restless days when I can't settle into any… - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Aargh. Just one of those restless days when I can't settle into any one thing to do. I've been working on and off on the "Doll Army" sequel, and I thought I'd give a little preview here. I'm about halfway through.

Dora ran into the kitchen, where Mum and Daddy were having coffee. "Mum! Mr. Lupin is here!" she said.

"You knew he was coming, Dora."

"Well, yes, but he's here. I saw him coming through the parade."

"There's another parade?" Mum asked, disgusted. "I suppose I don't even hear them anymore."

Daddy took her hand. "We'll go home soon."

"Mm. As soon as they catch up with the rest of my relatives." She painted a smile onto her face. "But it's not so bad here. Lots of things to do in Diagon Alley!"

The bell rang, playing a tune that Daddy said was called "P.S., I Love You." Mummy uncurled her legs and stood up. "I'll go let Mr. Lupin in."

She went out into the narrow stairwell that led to the door and Dora meant to follow, but Daddy caught her hand. "Talk, love?" he said.

Dora nodded and turned to face him. "What is it?"

"You know that Mr. Lupin was friends with Sirius and Mr. Pettigrew, don't you?"


"And you know... what happened."


Daddy kissed her forehead. "My good little girl. So many grown-ups needing things from you. But I need to ask something else. For Mr. Lupin. He lost three very good friends."

There was noise downstairs as Mum opened the door, and some muffled words as she talked quietly to Mr. Lupin.

"He's very sad, isn't he?" Dora asked.


"I can cheer him up. I can always cheer Mr. Lupin up."

Daddy smiled. "Yes, you can. But be gentle with him, Dora. He especially needs that now. Can you be a big girl, and promise to be gentle with Mr. Lupin?"

"Like with Mum?"

"Just like with Mum."

Dora bit her lip. "I'll be good," she said.

"I know you will." He pinched her nose. "What say we go for a walk after your lessons and dinner? We can go see the magical menagerie..."

"Yes, please! I could visit that kneazle again. She let me pet her last time."

"Then that's the plan."

The stairs creaked, and a moment later, Mum and Mr. Lupin came into the room, their arms around one another's shoulders like a brother and sister. Mr. Lupin looked like someone had hit him in both eyes, for some reason he had a scratch all the way across his face.

"Hullo, Dora," he said, squating down to her height and giving her her favorite smile. "I don't suppose you have a hug for an old friend?"

Dora ran to him and threw her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek. His hair smelled like he'd been in the forest, with old leaves, not long ago.

He hugged her back and kissed the top of her head. "What marvelous hugs you give," he said, picking her up. She balanced herself on his hip and hugged him again. "Shall we get your homework?" he asked.

"It's in my room."

"We have the parlor set up for your lesson," Mum said.

Mr. Lupin carried Dora down the corridor to her room, where her papers and quills were still piled up in a mess on her desk.

"I can do a backbend," she said, unhooking her arms from Mr. Lupin's neck and arching backward until she was looking upside down at the desk. She picked up a pile of papers and her quill, and was reaching for a bigger scroll when her hand hit her ink bottle, sending it toppling back toward the wall.

"Impedimenta," Mr. Lupin said quickly, shifting his hand. The ink bottle stopped before it tipped over, and Dora righted it. Mr. Lupin swooped her down and swung her upright. "Why don't we try this right-side up?" he said.

She grinned. "Good idea."

Mr. Lupin scooped up her Latin book and two scrolls, then carried her into the parlor. He put her down in Daddy's armchair, and spread her things out on the table Mum had set up, then sat down across from her and picked up the pile of Latin papers. He raised his eyebrows. "You've done quite a lot of homework, Dora. I don't remember assigning all this."

"I finished up everything from the week where I sort of didn't. And then I did the last lessons. And I kept going. Every week you couldn't come. I'm almost finished with the whole book." She bit her lip. "Was that all right? I didn't want you to be upset with me again."

"I wasn't upset with you," he said absently, scanning her pages of verbs. He looked up and smiled. "How hard you worked! Your penmanship is even good. You get full marks for effort."

"Is it right, though?"

"Well, I'll need to go over it carefully, but at a glance, I'd say you have the present tense mastered. Good work, Dora."

She clapped. "What are we going to do today, Mr. Lupin?"

He set her papers aside, looked thoughtful for a minute, then said, "Did you read any of the book I gave you last time? By Ovid?"

"The poems about people changing." Dora nodded. "I liked it a lot. Look what I can do!" She concentrated hard, making her hair stand on end, then wished it green like leaves.

"My goodness."

"I'm not done yet." She lifted her hands up to the ceiling, then spread her fingers out like little branches, then closed her eyes tight and concentrated on her skin, turning it the red-brown of bark on tree. She tried to make it wrinkle up like bark, but couldn't quite get it right. "See? Like Daphne when Apollo chased her."

Mr. Lupin laughed. "You do my heart good, Dora."

"Daphne turned to a tree and grew roots. Would you like to be a tree, Mr. Lupin?" She started to let herself morph back into her normal face, crossing her legs in the chair and putting her hands in her lap to keep her skirt down (Mum was always telling her to watch where her legs were if she was wearing a skirt). "I think it would be nice to smell like a tree, but I don't think I'd like to stay in one place all the time."

"Oh, that sounds like the nicest thing to me," Mr. Lupin said. "Can't you think of someplace that it would be nice to be?"

Dora shook her head. "I wouldn't mind going back home. To my house. But I couldn't be a tree in the house. Trees don't live in houses." She thought about it. "Well, sort of. They become houses, don't they? I think if I were a tree, I'd like to become a house, with lots of people living in me. Only I'd want to have my leaves. I could be a house with leaves on it. What would you want to be?"

"Oh, just a tree. Maybe by a stream in forest. Someplace quiet."

"That's no place with me in it."

"Well, that would be a drawback."

Dora gave him her biggest smile, and he gave one back. "Do you have something for me to read for next lesson?" she asked. "I really like the books you give me."

Mr. Lupin's smile disappeared, and he looked down at the floor. "Dora, there's something I need to talk to you about. I talked to your Mum downstairs..."

"What is it?"

"Dora, I..." He picked up her papers again and ruffled them absently, then put them down again and looked at her. "Dora, I won't be giving you lessons anymore."

I don't normally post little bits of unfinished things like this, and I'm not sure why I felt compelled to, but what the heck. Felt like it. :) I'll go dance to The Monkees now.

I feel a bit...: restless restless
Soundtrack: The Monkees--It's A Little Bit Me, It's A Little Bit You

6 comments or Leave a comment
myf From: myf Date: March 17th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked it - you'ved captured her 8-year-old voice really well.

A little thing - I had to read the two lines after 'Daddy took her hand.' (near the start) several times, as it wasn't clear whether Ted was taking Dora's or Andromeda's hand. A few more names around there would clear that up.

*picturing Remus as a peaceful tree by a quiet stream*
silverhill From: silverhill Date: March 17th, 2004 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love your writing, Fern. :)

It's so wonderfully bittersweet. I'm feeling so sorry for Lupin at the same time as I'm grinning at Dora.

And it's such an interesting read.
jiminyc From: jiminyc Date: March 18th, 2004 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)
The relationship between these two is just wonderful here...you can really feel that connection between them. I can't wait to read more!

Thanks for sharing this teaser!
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: March 18th, 2004 09:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, very good! Thanks for sharing it before it's finished. I am really looking forward to the complete story, because I like your stories very much and "The doll army" is my favourite.

mafdet From: mafdet Date: March 18th, 2004 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I <3 the Tonks family. I am curious as to where they are staying and why - was it not safe for them to be at their house?

I really look forward to reading the rest of the story. You characterize Dora, her parents and Lupin so well.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 25th, 2004 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Darwin's Apprentice

I like the unfilled references. Staying away from home. A recent full moon. Dora's age-appropriate clumsiness.

Knowing you ship R/T, I always go back and read through with that in mind, but it is very appropriate. Nothing but warm interactions between the two.

Ted is always a nice fellow. None of his "Of A Sort" action personality comes through. But he is always the dad here. Knowing the other makes me like the dad more. Especially his taking Dora aside and reminding her of the recent losses that Remus has experienced. That is spot on. Sensitive parents raise sensitive kids in just that way. I would take my kids aside like that.

I think Ted would enjoy the Monkees, too.

Love the reference to Metamorphasis. Very Remus. Will he tell her about lycanthropy? It seems like he would. Sort of like speaking to the werewolf at St. Mungos. If he thought it would help Dora, he would tell her, sometime.


6 comments or Leave a comment