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A reality show idea, Shifts, chapter 1, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
A reality show idea, Shifts, chapter 1, part 3
Ah, first day of vacation. Feeling relaxed, doing the whole self-pampering thing. I may get a pedicure and manicure tomorrow because I'm off and I can. Maybe a facial, too. Girl day.

Or maybe I've just finished watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and really want a massage with heated river rocks, but can't afford it.

It did give me an idea. I think the Science Fiction Channel should have its own makeover show. Fan Eye for the Mundane Guy. Teach 'em how to display fan art, what good 'zines to get, how to make a killer costume, how to set up a web page... you gotta love it.

Anyway, onward with Shifts.

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
Part 2
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. In part 2, Remus teaches his first two classes, falling back into the position gratefully. He and Garvey are on their way to lunch when they meet a group of older kids bullying two of Remus's first form students. It appears to be led by Piers Polkiss, but the real leader of the group identifies himself--Dudley Dursley.

Remus just blinked at him for a moment, entirely nonplussed. A part of him--no matter what he'd objectively known--had thought, "He's Lily's nephew; I'm sure Harry's exaggerating."

But he could see none of Lily in the boy before him, and precious little of scrawny Petunia, whom he knew as a sallow girl in a Muggle photograph on a shelf beside Lily and James's fireplace. As for Harry... Harry looked more closely related to Dora and Sirius than to this boy.

"Did you want something, Professor?" Dudley asked, not sounding like he cared about the answer.

"No. I'll see you all in class later."

Beside him, Garvey was looking at the boys with some distaste. "Come on then, Lewis," he said. "We should eat."

As they walked away, not talking, Remus heard Piers Polkiss laugh sharply. "I think the new teacher fancies you, Big D. You should flash a bit of leg and get us high marks!"

There was an unimpressive thud, then Piers yelled, "Hey! By doze!"

Remus sighed. "Should we go back and do something about Polkiss's nose?"

"No." Garvey shrugged. "Those two play rough with each other. Always have. If Polkiss is hurt, he'll see the nurse. We've all let it go."

"Is that wise?"

Garvey snorted. "You are replacing Joe, aren't you? He took a shine to the Dursley boy--that's the big blonde chap--last year. Put him on the boxing team. Never saw the attraction myself, but there you have it."

Remus kept walking. He ate with Garvey, not talking, letting himself absorb the milieu. Garvey went on about a television program he enjoyed (not the one with the character called Jadzia, but one about immortal beings who made a game of chopping one another's heads off; Remus didn't catch all of it), and about the difficulty of controlling students, and about the school's substandard electronic equipment.

"I wouldn't know a good computer from a bad one, quite honestly," Remus told him.

Garvey laughed. "You'll get used to them. They're not going anywhere."

"I suppose."

After lunch, he headed up to his classroom. The fifth form class was already there, milling about in the hall. A wretchedly thin boy with a bad case of spots was standing by himself; he looked at Remus hopefully. Dudley and his gang were leaning sullenly against the doorframe. They didn't move when Remus approached.

He stopped and raised an eyebrow. "If you would be so kind?"

Dudley stared at him, then moved aside, sweeping his arm into the room. Remus went by and put his briefcase down on the desk. His first few classes with Slytherins at Hogwarts had been like this--Snape had not been subtle about his dislike--but eventually, he'd achieved at least a sullen cooperation from most of them, and even developed something resembling a rapport with Pansy Parkinson (as long as Draco Malfoy was elsewhere).

He could do this.

"Would someone get the lights?" he asked.

Dudley flipped a switch beside the door, and cold, steady white light flooded the room. The sunlight had been preferable, but the room faced east, and in the afternoon, they would need something. Remus would have preferred candles or torches, but this would have to do.

"Please take your seats."

The boys thudded into their seats, except for Dudley and Piers, who perched themselves on a low bookcase at the back of the room.

"As soon as Mr. Dursley and Mr. Polkiss are settled...?"

The two boys rolled their eyes at one another, and went to their seats.

"We're going to be talking about the Great War this year," Remus told them. "The second world war. Now, unlike some of the material you've studied in other years, I suspect you all know something about this already."

"Sieg Heil!" Piers Polkiss called, giving a Nazi salute. "Vee are goink to take over zee worlt!"

A few other boys laughed. Dudley Dursley didn't, and neither did Remus. A boy in back, wearing wire-rimmed glasses, closed his eyes and folded his hands on his desk.

"There will be no Nazi jokes in my classroom," Remus said, and sighed. He didn't like being humorless, but there were certain things... certain behaviors that he couldn't allow a foothold. Draco Malfoy had tried a few Muggle-born jokes ("How many Mudbloods can fit into a broom cupboard?"/"Depends how good your Reductor Curse is"), and had needed to be slapped on the wrist as well.

Polkiss gave him a disgusted look, but sat back in his chair.

"Regardless," Remus said, "when we look back at Germany, at the rise of the Third Reich, it all looks a bit ridiculous, doesn't it? What I'd like to talk about today is how it came to be that something like that ended up in control of such great swaths of Europe. Does anyone have any thoughts?"

To Remus's surprise, Dudley Dursley raised his hand.

"Mr. Dursley?"

Dudley stood up, clasping his hands behind his back. "I talked to Professor Levinson about it last year. He said that... those blokes before Hitler... the, er..."

"The Weimar Republic?"

"Right, them. Said they insulted Germans. Couldn't think of anything good to say, and treated people like they were stupid. Treat people like that, they'll get a bit rowdy. Then that psychopathic little twit showed up just when they were in a mood for it. Someone should have pounded the little runt before he got big ideas." He sat down.

"That's... an interesting perspective, Mr. Dursley."

A hand went up in the back, the boy in wire-rimmed glasses.

Remus checked the seating chart. "Mr. Freehof?"

"I can't believe I'm saying this--of my own free will, at any rate--but I agree with Dudley. Why didn't anyone? Pound him, I mean?"

Remus smiled and sat down on the edge of his desk. "I think it's a wonderful question. Let's toss it around a bit, shall we?"

It turned out to be a better question than he'd expected. The boys had various states of knowledge about the subject matter--gleaned, Remus thought, from films more than textbooks--and most of them had turned over the question in their minds from time to time. He found himself rearranging the curriculum in his mind, to address some of the misconceptions and include more fully some of the things that the pupils were showing greater interest in.

"Is it true that he was obsessed with the occult?" the thin, spotty-faced boy (whose name turned out to be Stephen Wells) asked. "The way the films say?"

Remus, who knew a great deal more about Hitler's obsession with the occult than he was allowed to share with his students, only said, "Yes."

"'Course he was," Dudley said. "All about power, that sort of thing, isn't it? Who has it, and where they're hiding it."

"I wonder sometimes if that's how he did it," Paul Freehof said. "Getting them all to follow him."

"It would be a comforting thought," Remus said. "That it was all a spell, and no one just made a choice. But the world doesn't work that way."

"Right," Dudley said. "'Course it doesn't. No one would do a thing like that."

"That and it being hogwash," Piers put in.

"Right. Hogwash." Dudley stared morosely out the window.

He didn't participate for the rest of the class, and didn't stop to talk to his friends on the way out. Several students came to Remus's desk to continue the conversation, and by the time he was able to get away from them, Dudley and Piers were halfway across the grounds. Remus watched until they disappeared into their dormitory.

Two sharp horn blasts distracted him, and he looked over his shoulder to see a beaten-up tan car with a flower decal on the corner of the windshield. A gray-haired woman leaned out the window. "Thought you might like a ride home, Professor," she said, and winked.

"Hullo, Dora." Remus got into the passenger seat and stretched out his legs. "Where on Earth did you learn to drive?"

"Dad insisted. It's his car, by the way. Dumbledore cleared me to tell my parents what you're up to, so Dad can help you out as well."

"Well, that's good."

Dora went through the main gate and turned off the Smeltings grounds. "Any luck with Harry's cousin?"

"It will take some time before I'm close enough to watch him properly without raising suspicions. Dora, I think someone's been here. I don't like what I've heard about my predecessor's illness, and what happened to Dudley with the Dementor this summer..."

"I'll check the files at work for anything suspicious in the region."

"Thank you. But be careful. Don't draw attention to it."

"It's difficult."

"I'll find out myself, Dora. It's better not to raise alarms at the Ministry."

"You're sure?"

"I'm sure."

She gave him a suspicious sidelong glance, then smiled and turned back to the road. "So, Professor... Tell me about your classes."
21 comments or Leave a comment
From: falco_999 Date: May 10th, 2004 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shifts is wonderful, as usual. Although why does Remus say 'We're going to be talking about the Great War this year' when he's talking about the Second World War?

I love the way you write Dudley and his gang. Very much like teenage boys.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2004 11:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Cause I'm tired and thinking of "The Greatest Generation." Will go back and fix. ;)

Very much like teenage boys.

Thanks. One advantage of my job--lots o' teenage boys to observe, day in and day out. Though I somehow doubt Dudley would be caught dead with my daily Yu-Gi-Oh crowd, his gang might be our card fraud bunch, or the filter-busters of a couple of years ago...

:smiles fondly:
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: May 11th, 2004 01:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I was going to point out the 'Great War' too. :~P

But, that said, I have to say I'm facinated with your take on Dudley. I'd have put him in the neo-nazi camp myself.

Also, it's been my experience that Brits are pretty good at having a laugh at the War, specially if it involves taking the mickey out of the French or the Germans. Or themselves for that matter.
Then again, this may just be Remus' feelings on the subject.

Interesting too the questions you have the kids asking and the possible links to the Wizarding world, which Dudley seems to suspect.

And, just when I was getting good and interested you changed to Remus and Dora! And, of course I find that sort of UST irrisitable. Once again - just too short! ;~)
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: May 11th, 2004 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I got all distracted by your fic and COMPLETELY forgot to mention how funny (and superb!) I thought your "Fan Eye for the Mundane Guy" idea was! I'm one of those who find 'Queer Eye' and it's ilk insulting, not just to the people they harass, but to our intelligence as well. Yet, I'm ashamed to say, I would probably watch the Fanboy version. Maybe you could make him 'Sports-mad' guy instead of 'Mundane'.
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: May 11th, 2004 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
This remains excellent, Fern. You even have me curious about Dudley's character, which is an unusual occurance.

One small point that occurred to me while reading this section was that Remus' addressing his pupils as "Mr Dursley" and "Mr Polkiss" would probably be out of the ordinary in a school like Smeltings. The norm would likely be just to address boys by their surnames, without the "Mr" part. Of course Remus wouldn't do that - it's not his style - but the boys or the staff might comment on Mr Lewis's strange behaviour.

Looking forward to the next installment ...
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 11th, 2004 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Remus would say 'Mr', definitely, but that it would be unusual. Girls would be Miss Surname, boys just Surname, at least, that was the way the old teachers used to do it at my school.

I was going to point out the Great War thing too, but it's been done.

Remus, who knew a great deal more about Hitler's obsession with the occult than he was allowed to share with his students, only said, "Yes."

Ha! And I like Dudley getting moody about 'Hogwash'. :-)

Dudley is blond not blonde unless he's Dudette and you're not saying.
A dormitory is a room not a building, so I don't think that Remus could have seen Dudley going into his.
volandum From: volandum Date: May 11th, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
How about "Master" for the boys? I think that girls might be "Miss Forename Surname".
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 11th, 2004 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nope, Master is for younger boys. Fifteen year olds would be insulted to be called Master Surname, and I don't think that anyone would be so formal with little boys as to call them Master Surname nowadays.
Girls are always Miss Surname unless they're being introduced, or else just called by name. That's the way it is in the outside world, and in my experience school is no differnet. But Smeltings' isn't coed anyway, so it's all irrelevant.
volandum From: volandum Date: May 11th, 2004 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think that it's necessarily insulting. Master is fairly common in formal documents aimed at the under-16 or under-18, and I think that the boys may be used to mildly insulting comments from their teachers.

As for the girls, I stand corrected.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 11th, 2004 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think a group of 15/16-year-olds would want to be treated like adults, and being called 'master', emphasising their non-adult status would be squelching. Remus isn't the sort of teacher who does that.
volandum From: volandum Date: May 11th, 2004 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Point conceded.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 11th, 2004 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I was just going by Hogwarts practice on that--Mr. Potter, our new celebrity...

The Miss Firstname Surname thing comes from addressing letters. The oldest girl would be listed on an envelope as Miss Surname, with her sisters listed, senior to junior, with their first names as well. When the oldest got married, the second oldest would become Miss Surname.
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: May 11th, 2004 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah yes, but I think our snarky potions master may be using a term of respect as a kind of inverted insult there. No biggie, in any case.
matril From: matril Date: May 11th, 2004 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Can I say how much I like this story? The idea of Lupin teaching at Dudley's school is so intriguing. I love how he deals with strange Muggle conventions - much more smoothly than a lot of wizards could manage, I'm sure. Heh.

Now, what is going on with the previous professor's mysterious illnes? I am much intrigued.
From: anatomiste Date: May 11th, 2004 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Something that made me stop and puzzle for a bit was when you described the noise of Dudley punching Piers as an 'unimpressive thud.' I couldn't figure out why you'd chosen that adjective.

Of course I only had four hours of sleep last night, so I probably missed something.

I think this is a brilliant story idea, and I'm really intruigued to read more of it...
sannalim From: sannalim Date: May 11th, 2004 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have just friended you because I want to follow Shifts. The premise is very intriguing and I like the way the story is shaping up.
sarah531 From: sarah531 Date: May 11th, 2004 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<but [...] eventually,>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

<<but eventually, he'd achieved at least a sullen cooperation from most of them, and even developed something resembling a rapport with Pansy Parkinson (as long as Draco Malfoy was elsewhere).>>

I am so tempted to beg you to do a vignette on that now. :D

Lovin' the story by the way. :)
sarah531 From: sarah531 Date: May 11th, 2004 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, that's just weird. Must be the '>' things I used...

What I was going to beg you for a vignette on was:

'but eventually, he'd achieved at least a sullen cooperation from most of them, and even developed something resembling a rapport with Pansy Parkinson (as long as Draco Malfoy was elsewhere).'


Because after that Pansy/Seamus viggy I quite like your version of her. :D
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 11th, 2004 09:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

from Sreya

"Right, them. Said they insulted Germans. Couldn't think of anything good to say, and treated people like they were stupid. Treat people like that, they'll get a bit rowdy. Then that psychopathic little twit showed up just when they were in a mood for it. Someone should have pounded the little runt before he got big ideas."

This bit from Dudley particularly struck me. Who does Dudley know that is a "runt", and that he thinks gets "big ideas"?

And of course, once I made the connection to Harry, it made me start wondering just what Dudley thinks of himself -- does he see himself as someone treated like he's stupid? And that's why he gets "a bit rowdy"? And then, there's the question of whether Dudley's conscious of all this, or if he doesn't even see all the connections he makes...

Or I could be reading entirely too much into this. But that's what I love about your stories, Fern, there's always so much subtext to look at.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 11th, 2004 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: from Sreya

Heh, no. The connection was meant to be made. The Dudley's-eye view of the world, full of little runts with big ideas who need to be pounded.

I'd thought about the possibility of neo-Nazi connection, but then I realized that Dudley is more likely to be one of those people with 20/20 hindsight. Why couldn't everyone see what a moron that guy was? Dudley would think of himself maybe as one of the plain folk, who were so badly misled that they got themselves into an unwinnable war. Sure too bad no one stopped that from happening. I have a feeling Mr. Levinson might also have something to do with Dudley's attitudes toward Nazis.
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: October 14th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I laughed my head off at the line about some tv show about immortals cutting off head's, because before I found your amazing stories my favorite fanfic was a crossover between Highlander and my favorite anime (which introduced me to Highlander in the first place.)

*Smirks and shakes head*

Anyway, I love your stories, and I always give ANYONE major thumbs up for shipping Tonks and Remus before they became canon :).
21 comments or Leave a comment