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Shifts, continued - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, continued
I'm going to pick up immediately following the last entry. It's not a new scene, actually; I realized that going for the surprise "Smeltings" as the end of the scene was fun for an LJ entry, but not so much good for it as a scene in a larger story. In the interest of making it continuous, I'll paste a few of the last lines in at the beginning (in italics, to draw the distinction). Sorry about the flakiness inherent in the approach! Writing a long fic in LJ is an experiment. It's not quite the same as a thread on a messageboard.

There was a lull in the conversation as Sirius puttered around at the sink, putting together a lunch. He brought them sandwiches and sat down on the other side of the table. "I still think we should tell Harry," he said. "We're keeping too much from him."

"It hasn't occurred to him to worry about this, and he can't do a thing about it," Remus said wearily. "Do you really want to add to the number of things he's worrying about?"

"I don't know how much he'd worry."

"He's Harry," Remus said. "He'll worry. He'll kick himself for worrying, but he'll do it. And he doesn't need to. I've got this one."

"And your sick days?"

"I'm just going to have to drag myself in the day after a transformation."

"Remus is looking forward to this," Dora said with friendly confidentiality. "Can't wait to get chalk on his hands, that one."

"He doesn't do very well covering it," Sirius agreed.

Remus didn't bother to argue. "Still, I have to say--I'm not at all fond of Smeltings."

"Any particular reason?" Dora asked.

Remus thought about it. His interview had gone well; he might not even have needed the slight Persuasion Charm he'd used. He'd studied intensively to have the material he would be teaching mastered, and, although his Qualified Teacher Status was forged, he'd made a point of educating himself on the matters he would have had to learn to achieve it. As a result, he'd been able to answer all of the Headmaster's questions clearly and succinctly, and when the Headmaster--a piebald man called Blythe--had asked him how he would explain the appeasing strategy of Chamberlain, much of his frustration at the current Ministry had come out, and had apparently given Blythe the idea that he was a passionate scholar of history. They had talked for nearly three hours, and Remus had known he had the position long before it was formally offered.

He was expected to know how to use a computer, something he had been unable to teach himself in a magical environment, and that contributed to the anxiety. He'd gone to the public library where he'd studied the other material, and had a go with one of the things for an hour or two. He hadn't been able to do much. It took that long to understand the input devices--a keyboard which bore no resemblance to the English alphabet and a strange, rolling contraption that would allegedly allow him to move around the screen, but which kept locking up as something stopped the motion of the small plastic ball on its underside. He found it easier to use the arrows on the keyboard, which at least made sense. The machine made him nervous, but it was also exciting. It was something genuinely different from the world he knew.

But Dora and Sirius were right. It was the prospect of having a class again that excited him most, and he'd spent days drawing out different lesson plans and assignments, learning the Byzantine ways of the Muggle educational system. He was certain to make some mistakes, but Blythe had cheerfully promised him that no one really understood the ruddy system except for the school's secretary, who filed all the necessary papers with the government.

Still, he didn't like Smeltings.

Maybe it was just because he was expected to ignore it when teh boys hit one another with sticks (though that was the de facto policy at Hogwarts when students threw spells at one another). Maybe it was because Blythe had described the national curriculum guide to discussing cultural diversity as "that bleeding heart rubbish." Maybe it was simply that it was an all-boys' school, a notion that struck Remus as profoundly unnatural.

Or maybe it was because Smeltings was in the process of producing its third generation of Dursley men, a fact which would never recommend it to Remus Lupin. Vernon Dursley had been a stupid and intolerant young man, and according to Arabella Figg, he'd only grown moreso over the years. Dudley was, by all accounts, a dimwitted bully. That he was quite popular in his year at Smeltings didn't speak well for the student body.


He looked up. Dora was waving her hand playfully in front of his nose. "Right. I can't put my finger on it. It's just not a place I like. Or maybe I'm just not looking forward to a year in the company of Dudley Dursley."

Sirius pretended shock. "Kindly Professor Lupin, pre-emptively disliking a child? Next thing, you'll tell me that you weren't looking forward to teaching my dear little cousin Draco."

"And yet, he turned out to be such a joy to me."

Dora snickered.

"Maybe he'll surprise you," Sirius said. "Turn out to be all Evans."

"Hmm." He shrugged. "Well, Petunia's not a stupid woman, just a closed-minded one. When Lily and I were prefects fifth year, I remember her bragging about how clever Petunia was, and wishing she were around to help get things organized. Do you remember when her parents told her that Petunia had decided to leave school at sixteen?"

"That was the first time I saw a patented Lily temper tantrum." Sirius smiled fondly. "First time I saw what James saw in her, too. It was impressive." He laughed. "Remember James egging her on?"

Dora was looking between them curiously. "Er... this is Harry's mum?"

"Oh, yes," Remus said. "I'm sorry. I forgot that you wouldn't know that right away."

Sirius was still chuckling fondly, his eyes deep in the past. "I remember that she finished breaking everything she could reach. James repaired three vases and handed them to her to smash again. God, she was furious. James loved it when she lost her temper, as long as it wasn't at him."

Remus smiled. "Well, as I understand it, Dudley does, in fact, have an Evans temper."

"Yes," Dora said, "getting back to the present?"

Sirius looked at her vaguely, coming out of whatever reverie he was about to enter. Remus was worried about these forays into the past--they were startlingly vivid for Sirius--but they didn't seem to be doing him any harm. "Right. Protecting Dudley. What do you plan to do if Voldemort drops by?"

"I doubt he'd come himself," Remus said. "And Privet Drive is safe--Dudley isn't the Secret Keeper, so he can't tell anyone that Harry is there. I think it's a low level danger. Only if someone remembers that Lily had a sister and thinks that a sister might be helpful."

"In other words, someone who didn't know Lily and her sister very well."

"But knew she had one, and would know her name and who she married. I can think of at least one person in the inner circle who would know that, can't you?"

"Peter." Sirius ground his teeth and muttered under his breath. "If he shows, let me in on it."

"It might be a keen idea to let him live," Dora said. "He could testify under Veritaserum."

"Barty Crouch did that," Sirius said. "The Ministry ignored it. I think we should just kill him."

Dora started to argue, but Remus held up his hand. Sirius wasn't going to change his mind, and it wouldn't come up--if Peter Pettigrew showed his face, and Remus avoided the urge to kill him himself, it was Dora or Kingsley he would call. The Ministry might ignore any individual testimony, but the more of it built up, the more difficult it would be to do so.

Miraculously, Dora held her tongue. She just stood up and kissed the top of Sirius's head, burying her hands in his long hair and scratching vigorously, as she'd done when he was in his dog form in the park. He looked irritated with her for a moment, then smiled.

"We should do some planning," she said. "Not to dwell on on unpleasant issues, but Sunday night is a full moon. I'll have to start bringing you your afternoon Wolfsbane by Wednesday at the latest."

"Right." And class Monday morning. I'll be falling over the desk. "My lunch period is at a quarter past noon. Will you be able to make it?"

"Kingsley put me on evenings. I should be fine for that. And I'll leave the Potion over the fire here for the night time doses."

"I'm glad you're on this instead of Snape," Sirius said. "I don't trust that git any further than I can throw him."

"Well, he taught me to brew it," Dora said. "So if he's planning anything nasty..."

"It was fine last month," Remus said quickly, before Sirius got started on Snape. Fine was an overstatement--the Wolfsbane Potion was wretched-tasting stuff no matter how you looked at it, and there was nothing fine about the need to take it--but it had accomplished its purpose with no side effects.

Dora grinned with pride. "What can I say? I'm a genius Potion brewer. Even old Snape couldn't find anything to complain about, except that I spilled the dragon bile when I tripped over the carton he had it on."

"Please don't talk about the ingredients," Remus said. "I have to drink it."

She rolled her eyes at him. "At any rate, I'd best come up with an 'appropriate' look." She walked over to the large empty area of the hearth. The arch of the empty fireplace framed her. "All right, Remus," she said, shaking out her arms and adopting a loose, at-the-ready pose. "It's time. Make me into the woman of your inappropriately old dreams."

9 comments or Leave a comment
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: April 29th, 2004 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
when the Headmaster--a piebald man called Blythe--had asked him how he would explain the appeasing strategy of Chamberlain

Slightly OT, but you should read this post by acemyth. He's not that active right now (in the Israeli army), but he is a GENIUS. I think you would enjoy it.

Okay, now about the story. I loved it. The premise is absolutely fascinating and I can't wait to read more. I really do enjoy your Lupin--he's just so...Lupin.

Make me into the woman of your inappropriately old dreams.

I can't wait to see what comes after this. LOL!
myf From: myf Date: April 30th, 2004 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
The last poster was right - your Remus is so very Remus. I'm adoring this fic. Naughty James repairing vases for Lily to smash... I can perfectly visualise the scene and it's hilarious.

A couple of (possible) Britpicks *looks around for bona fide Brit* - a 'keen' idea? I've only ever heard Americans use that. Plus for some reason 'when Lily and I were prefects fifth year' sounds like it really should have 'in fifth year'. But it might be just me.

atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: April 30th, 2004 03:03 am (UTC) (Link)
*pets the bunny*

This gets more interesting. I want to see what Dora ends up looking like. That is if Remus can overcome the embarrassment that he is undoubtedly feeling after her last remark!

On the Britpicking, "when Lily and I were prefects in the fifth year" would be a more Brit way of putting it. A 'keen idea' doesn't sound off to me as a phrase but I can't find the sentence where you've used it (doh) so I can't reall comment properly on that one.
myf From: myf Date: April 30th, 2004 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Seeing as I brought it up, here's where it is:

"But knew she had one, and would know her name and who she married. I can think of at least one person in the inner circle who would know that, can't you?"

"Peter." Sirius ground his teeth and muttered under his breath. "If he shows, let me in on it."

"It might be a keen idea to let him live," Dora said. "He could testify under Veritaserum."

"Barty Crouch did that," Sirius said. "The Ministry ignored it. I think we should just kill him."

What do you think about the usage? As an Aussie, I can never be too confident about Britpicking.
volandum From: volandum Date: April 30th, 2004 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Which area of Australia?

"keen" is more usually used to refer to very direct ideas [because of its use to refer to bladed weapons.]

It might be better to use the unspectacular "better" or "nifty". Alternatively the rephrase "Might [or Could] be an idea to let him live," might work better.
myf From: myf Date: April 30th, 2004 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey Volandum!


And I've been to Leicester!

*hands Fernwithy back her LJ*
volandum From: volandum Date: May 1st, 2004 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow! Do you plan to revisit Leicester any time in the near future? When was the last time?
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: May 4th, 2004 01:22 am (UTC) (Link)
It would be a little bit unusual in a Brit context IMO. I like the suggestions below, or another possibility would be to change "keen" for the common or garden "good".
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: April 30th, 2004 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fabulous!!! I'm really enjoying what you're doing with this, Fern. I look forward to further installments!
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