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Last spam of the night. Shifts, Chapter One, Part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Last spam of the night. Shifts, Chapter One, Part 2

Table of contents
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Prologue summary: Remus's assignment during Harry's fifth year is to act as a guard on Dudley Dursley at Smeltings, posing as his history teacher. Nymphadora Tonks, posing as his wife (disguised and aged "appropriately") will make regular visits with his Wolfsbane Potion. Sirius is disturbed by the quiet at home, now that everyone except Remus is gone.

Chapter One
Part 1
Summary: Remus meets his office mate, a maths teacher named Allan Garvey, who tells him that his (Remus's) predecessor, boxing coach/history teacher Joe Levinson, left the position because of a mysterious disease. He also warns Remus that the boxers were pretty darned dedicated to Joe--a good fellow by all accounts--and Joe's replacement might have some trouble with them.

Remus arrived in his classroom five minutes early, and sat behind the desk (a battered wooden thing that was much more to his liking than the metal monstrosity in his office), just feeling the quiet tension that filled any empty classroom. They had always seemed to him to be simply waiting for words to be spoken.

This particular room was on the top floor of Smeltings' oldest building, and had high, arched windows which faced east and let the morning sunlight stream in. It caught motes of dust floating above the rows of desks, and reflected from the polished wood floor in gleaming golden strips. Behind the desk was a clever arrangement of two chalkboards, one of which could be rolled up in its frame toward the ceiling when he'd finished writing on it, to reveal a clean board underneath it. (Remus made a mental note to check the lower board before each class and make sure that whichever gang of boys served as Smeltings' pranksters hadn't left any questionable messages there. Being friends with James and Sirius had given him some advantages of foreknowledge.)

He closed his eyes and smelled the air, the faint ghosts of chalk and book dust, of old paper rotting unseen behind shelves, of nervous boys tapping their quills--pens--on examination papers...

He smiled. It was good to be back, however many layers of concealment he was using.

"Professor Lewis?"

Remus opened his eyes. A small, dark-haired boy in a flat straw hat and a maroon tail-coat was looking around the door frame curiously.

"Hullo," Remus said, smiling. "Come in, then."

The boys filed into the room, looking around rather curiously, taking their seats. The first boy sat at a desk near the windows. He tentatively raised his hand.

"Yes?" Remus asked, checking a seating chart that Levinson had left. "Mr. Morse, is it?"

"Yes, sir. Sir?"


"Were you going to turn the lights on, sir?"

Remus frowned. "Is it too dim in here? I rather like the sunlight, but if..."

There was a round of smiles among the boys, and a great deal of waving of hands.

"Very well, then," Remus said, coming around to the front of the desk and sitting comfortably on its edge. "We're going to talk about the Renaissance this term. Who can tell me what 'renaissance' means?" A hand came up in the middle of the classroom. Remus checked the seating chart. "Mr. Chellsworth?"

Chellsworth stood up straight beside his desk, clasped his hands at the small of his back, and said, "Rebirth, sir. It's French."

"Thank you, Mr. Chellsworth." Remus fiddled with a piece of chalk in his hands. "We're going to be talking a lot this year," he said. "You'll tire yourselves out like that. Let's try staying in our seats."

A kind of nervous twitter passed among the boys, and Remus realized dimly that he was flouting Smeltings' full nine decades of tradition, which probably seemed quite ancient to them. Less dimly, he realized that he planned to do things his own way anyway.

"So if the renaissance was a rebirth," he said, "what is it being born from?"

Slowly, hands began to come up.

It took them nearly fifteen minutes to become comfortable with the new system, but by the end of class, they were engaging one another in questions about the Middle Ages (which they'd covered last year) and asking Remus questions about what made the Renaissance begin. He assigned them their reading, and promised more talk about it in class tomorrow. On the way out, Morse gave him a wide smile.

He had his first form class next (the battle of Hastings through the Middle Ages) and then returned to his office for his posted "office hours," which struck him as a good idea, though not one which any of his students seemed inclined to take advantage of on the first day. Garvey returned at twelve-thirty, carrying a briefcase that was somehow already spilling over with papers. He dropped it onto his desk and smiled at Remus.

"Well, Lewis, my second forms tell me that we're becoming quite the Summerhill here."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Experimental. Sitting down to talk." He laughed. "I told them they were welcome to try it, but as it happened, Algebra doesn't lend itself to group discussion."

"Oh," Remus said. "I suppose I'll be answering for it...?"

"No. It's a tradition, not a rule. I imagine you've made an enemy of our Latin teacher, who doesn't make much of a distinction between the two, but I wouldn't worry. Care to join me for lunch in the staff room? They installed quite a wretched little overpriced cafe there two years ago. Or is your wife coming today?"

"Not today. I brought something to eat."

"So eat it with company."

There was no reason to argue, so Remus rather gratefully followed Garvey out. The grounds looked a bit more natural with boys lounging about on them, though Remus still found himself looking vainly for girls. How on Earth would they learn to interact with one another?

"So how do you find our bit of academic paradise?" Garvey asked.

"It's good to be teaching again."

"Not quite an answer."

Remus shrugged. "The boys are quite bright. I honestly wasn't expecting that. For various reasons."

"Hmm. I see our 'legacy school' reputation precedes us."

"Something like that. Does it ever strike you as strange not to have girls in your classes?"

Garvey looked at him with some surprise. "It never even occurred to me. Did you teach in a state school before?"

"No. Not really. Just one in which... well, this all-boys business is new to me."

"You're an odd duck, Lewis."

"Am I?"

"But my students wandered in talking about the Middle Ages. I can't remember the last time they were actually talking about another class as they came into mine, except to complain about a difficult exam. So... oh, bother."

Garvey put down his briefcase and turned off the path, heading down a hillside toward the brook. Remus followed him.

The motion that had caught Garvey's eye became apparent as Remus came clear of the overhanging leaves of a willow tree. Behind their curtain, which must have tossed them aside for a moment, a group of older boys had cornered two young ones--first form. Remus had had them in class an hour ago. Southall and Metcalf. Metcalf looked up at him with terrifed eyes and said nothing.

"You boys, let up!" Garvey scolded.

"Let up on what?" a thin, rat-faced boy said, entirely unconvincingly.

"Whatever it is you're doing."

"We're just showing the new boys around," the thin boy said, straightening out Southall's tailcoat. "Aren't we, boys?"

Remus took a deep breath. "Mr. Metcalf and Mr. Southall can find their way around from here," he said. "Are you both all right?"

They nodded frantically.

"What really happened?" Garvey demanded.

"What... what... " Metcalf jerked a thumb at the older boys. "What P-Piers said. Sh-Showing us around." He gulped.

Garvey started to say something else, but Remus put a hand on his elbow. If Metcalf and Southall spoke now, they'd be beaten all year. He would talk to them both after class on Wednesday. The point now was to get them out of the situation.

When the two younger boys had scrambled away, Garvey glared at Piers. "You're trouble, Polkiss."

Piers shrugged and started to turn away without bothering to acknowledge either teacher.

Remus reached out and grabbed his shoulder, turning him around. "Mr. Polkiss? I recommend rather strongly that you refrain from giving any more tours of the grounds."

Piers shook him away. "And who are you?"

"Who d'you think he is?" a new voice said from behind the tree. "New history professor. Lewis or Lois or whoever he says. I hear he thinks he can do things better than Professor Levinson."

A massive boy straightened up from where he'd been sitting on the other side of the tree's trunk. He was tall, with thick, corded muscle in his neck and shoulders. The last remnants of baby fat floated incongrously on his abdomen, looking fully transient, and his watery blue eyes had a nasty glint to them.

And that was how Remus Lupin first met Dudley Dursley.
8 comments or Leave a comment
mafdet From: mafdet Date: May 5th, 2004 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been enjoying this story immensely. Remus is a good teacher in a suckariffic school - Smeltings sounds just awful. So does Dudley, but we know his awfulness is canon. I can't wait for the next part.
myf From: myf Date: May 5th, 2004 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! They meet at last!

I love the way you convey Remus' love of teaching... It feels so real.

A couple of typos - Professer in the first instance, and a missing word in the paragraph after that. Um, here;

"Professer Lewis?"

Remus opened his eyes. A small, dark-haired boy in a flat straw hat and a maroon tail-coat was looking around the tentatively.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 5th, 2004 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops. :blush:

Thanks. I also noticed that I used "tentatively" twice in about four sentences. I'll fix it.
myf From: myf Date: May 5th, 2004 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was almost going to mention that too, but thought you'd notice when you went back to fix the typos. ;)
wm_law2003 From: wm_law2003 Date: May 5th, 2004 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
SOOO not spam!

No R/T sadly but lovely nonetheless. I just love Remus as professor.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: May 5th, 2004 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a great story, Fern! I'm really enjoying it.

Lupin's handling this transition rather well, and I love the way you introduced Dudley. Good characterization all around and the plot's moving at a very amicable pace. Well done. :-)
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 6th, 2004 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Oho, Dudley is true to form here. :)

Britpick: Blackboard, not chalkboard.
the battle of Hastings through the Middle Ages That's definitely an American idiom. I don't think English has an exact equivalent; maybe: the battle of Hastings to the end of the Middle Ages.

Also, 'office hours' is a concept I've never come across; if we wanted to see a teacher in one of their free periods we checked the staff room, but only Heads of Department had offices anyway; I'm surprised Remus' office is in a different building from his classroom, because they usually lump all parts of departments together in one place (classrooms, stores, labs and offices, depending on what exactly the department is), but I suppose Smeltings might be more higgled-piggledy.

Also, I don't think there would be a café in the staff room. The staff room is basically a common room where the teachers drink coffee, do a spot of marking, read the Times Educational Supplement :-P and complain about their workload and their pupils. At our school the teachers (would Smeltings be old-fashioned enough to call them 'masters'?) ate in the Dining Hall with us, but at the high table at the far end from the cafeteria (a recent innovation when I was at school. Before that it was Meal of the Day or lump it). Every so often one of the teachers would stand and cry, 'Less noise please!', which of course was effectiv for about three minutes :-D
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 7th, 2004 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and they wouldn't be going into Garvey's class after an exam. Exams tend to happen after classes have stopped. Try 'test'.
8 comments or Leave a comment