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Batch 27 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 27
An excerpt from the only unpublished novel of Fifi LaFolle, originally entitled "Dora's Devotion."
for Anonymous

Night pressed down on the land like a smothering black pillow.

The day had been hot and humid, and the coming of darkness had brought no relief to the army that lay restlessly on the rocky hillside. Perhaps there would have been solace in the trees on another night, but now, with the full moon casting the forest below them, those shadows held only death and Curses. Even now, guards stood at all of the high places, watching for any movement, any chance that an unwelcome visitor would come.

At the highest point, a small-figured witch stood, her long, flowing hair turned silvery and strange in the moonlight. She was, for the moment, herself, waiting behind no false face. Her features were delicate and fairy-like, her eyes a flash of purest silver. Her willowy arms were bare, her short tunic pressing against her shapely legs. Starlight spilled from her sharp cheekbones and flowed over her gentle, womanly curves. Her armor, for tonight, had been cast aside with her glamors, and she waited pensively upon the hill, teeth pressed against her full lower lip, trying not to scream in sympathy as the unearthly howls rose up from below.

The soldier who came to relieve her watch was young. They all were. He was barely more than a boy, and his voice cracked when he said, "Dora? You should get some sleep."

She didn't turn to look at him. "Do you really think I can sleep tonight, Carpenter?"

"I think you should try."

She shook her head. "It doesn't matter. He won't be able to get us in right away. I can sleep tomorrow, and the next day. It may be a week before he's able to get us word. Or two weeks." She sighed from the depths of her soul. "He has no business in this war. He's a teacher, not a soldier."

"He was a soldier before he was a teacher," Carpenter said. "He told me about it."

"That was a long time ago. When this war should have been over. He's been a teacher of children for as long as you and I have been alive."

"I think he can handle it," Carpenter said after a while.

Dora smiled. "Oh, I know he can. I just wish he didn't have to. I wish he were really going there to be my brother's tutor. I wish him a life where he never had to see another battle. He hates it as much as I do, but he's already done his duty, and I haven't yet. And of course, I simply hate the thought of him being where I can't reach him."

Carpenter shifted uncomfortably, as boys of his age tended to. Dora wasn't that much older than he was, but she felt sometimes as if there were a lifetime between her and her soldiers.

The lifetime of the man lost in the shadows below, the man whose hands were so gentle with her and so brutal with the enemy.

Ah, Rollo, she thought. Dawn will come soon... come with it.

Dawn came through the treetops, and with it came the pain. The man swore he wouldn't scream this time, but he always did as his body rearranged itself and the beast once again left him.

He became aware of himself on the forest floor, lying naked in the moss. His clothes had been cast aside before the moon had taken him, but he wasn't sure where he'd wandered in the night. His scarred body glimmered in the morning sun, his graying hair catching it in small, golden sunbursts. The morning dew glistened on his well-muscled chest, and caught in the line of hair that traced the hard center of his abdomen, and down the length of his body. His face, lined gently with years of experience, was thoughtful and grave. Had anyone been there to see him, they might have mistaken him for a demi-god, a nature spirit thrust up from the earth itself.

He was full--a suspicious circumstance. He prayed that he hadn't fed. He'd tried to steer himself away from the camp before the change took him, but once it had, would he have been able to control any craving that came upon him?

He moved his hand, and found the half-gnawn carcass of a small deer.

Bad. But not as bad as it might have been.

He checked himself for injuries, then prepared to make his way back. He was expected somewhere today--expected at the castle. Kindly Professor Bardolph, no threat to the new order, just the tutor to the young prince, as he had once tutored the princess, before she had been expelled from her home and cast out into a misery so deep that she found even a poor aging werewolf a comforting presence...

I'd like some Celia, please!
for Anonymous

Picking up from this one.
Celia was suspicious when James Potter gestured to her from across the guest tower, but then, she was pretty much suspicious when James did anything at all. He'd arrived her third year, and had been finding ways into and out of trouble since. She didn't necessarily dislike this about him, but she did have a feeling that, since neither of them was the Hogwarts champion, any trouble he decided to get them into would probably end up with them being sent home from Beauxbatons in disgrace.

Then again, at least that would mean not having to deal with Horace Goyle.

"...so really," Goyle was saying, "I did quite well when you think about it. I've had practice with Dark creatures... I know how to handle them." He waggled his eyebrows at her.

She tapped her teeth with her wand to Charm them sharp, and smiled at him invitingly. He went a bit green and backed off. She went to the little gilt door that James had left ajar and joined him out in the corridor. "He knows how to Handle Dark creatures?" she muttered, shaking her head. "That idiot couldn't handle a moderately dim creature."

James laughed. "I thought he was a dim creature."

"Good point. And with lines that bad, I imagine he handles himself quite a lot."

"As someone currently sharing a dormitory with him, I'd prefer not to contemplate that. Let's go up the mountain and try out that haunted house."

This was intriguing enough to make the subject of Horace Goyle's advances retreat entirely. "I knew you'd get us into some trouble."

"What trouble? It's on school grounds."

"Madame Maxime said that it was forbidden."

"So we both plead lousy French."

"Except that I actually live in France, and you've had conversations with her in French."

"Details," James said airily. "Are you in?"

"Oh, definitely. When are we going?"

"No time like the present."

"Excellent." Celia Summoned her poncho from her dormitory (shared unpleasantly with a sixth year Hufflepuff named Alissa Smith). She enjoyed the poncho--it swayed most satisfyingly when she walked, and it was made of llama wool. Mother Viv had picked it up for her in Peru last year. Celia particularly liked the fact that Alissa clearly thought it ever so common, and that the French girls at Beauxbatons treated her like an up-country rube when she wore it. The werewolf business, all of them seemed determined to show the greatest tolerance in history for, but the fact that she lived in the mountains (and not in a faux-rustic chalet) and wore homespun clothes that her adopted mother found on mission--that was too much to be considered ladylike. The boys didn't seem to mind, though. She hadn't lacked for male attention since she'd finally given up on Neil Overby and turned her attention to the rest of Hogwarts.

James's attention, unlike any of the others, seemed to be purely platonic. They'd grown up on the fringes of one another's lives, and he seemed to accept her as one of his odd assortment of unrelated relatives, like Teddy Lupin and Andromeda Tonks, or Alderman, or the Longbottoms and Scamanders. She was more distant than any of them--a second cousin compared to an extra sibling--but hardly more attractive. They'd spent a lot of time together in France, based on such things as a shared disdain for Horace Goyle, a certain loathing of Beauxbatons architecture, and being the only two members of the Hogwarts contingent who hadn't needed any French lessons, and had therefore been able to enjoy a lot of afternoons tromping around the less manicured parts of the grounds.

Together, they climbed the rugged hill that looked out of place on the grounds. Celia felt at home here; it was like the sanctuary to the south. She'd been there for most of her life that counted, and was certainly more wanted there than she was in her parents' home. They had finally recovered from the attack, covered with marks of the mauling but perfectly well and un-Cursed, and Mother Viv had tried to take Celia back to them. They'd said vile things to Mother Viv, and told her that they didn't want a werewolf child. Mother Viv had tried to couch this as "They didn't think they had the wherewithal to take care of you," but Celia had seen the truth in her eyes, along with a stab of guilt. Celia couldn't imagine why she felt guilty. She'd been transformed during the attack, and aimed at them like a nasty hex. They, on the other hand, were perfectly lucid when they decided that they just couldn't bear the thought of a little moon-howling and some scratch marks. Let them have their little normal life. Celia was more than happy to have Mother Viv instead. At least Mother Viv wanted her. Celia herself didn't care about the idea that she'd never have children--she had other fish to fry, and planned to be frying them for quite some time--but it had made Mother Viv miserable, and if having Celia around made her happier, then Celia was glad to be her daughter.

Except when she decided to be strict about clubs, but then, what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her.

Celia and James reached the top of the hill and spied the house through the trees. It was an old abbey, actually, once the home of witches who had been in religious orders, long-since abandoned as most young witches had better things to do than wear habits and wander around chanting. Rumor had it that any number of nasty things had taken up residence here.

Celia glanced at James and grinned. He grinned back.

They went in.

21 comments or Leave a comment
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: January 4th, 2009 06:41 am (UTC) (Link)


My, isn't Celia a firecracker. She seems to have missed the angst of being a werewolf. It's really a pity Remus never had the opportunity be thwapped upside the head by her!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2009 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Celia

It would have done him good. Probably does Vivian some good, come to think of it!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 4th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I enjoyed Dora's Devotion much more than is appropriate. But with delicious purplish lines like
"Her armor, for tonight, had been cast aside with her glamors,
and she waited pensively upon the hill, teeth pressed against her full lower lip...

"The morning dew glistened on his well-muscled chest, and caught
in the line of hair that traced the hard center of his abdomen

how could I not nearly fall off the couch in a fit of giggles.

Who knew you had such good fluffy-romance-novel prose in you Fern :-D

Also, She enjoyed the poncho--it swayed most satisfyinglying when she walked. I think that should be satisfyingly ;-)


fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that should be satisfyingly ;-)

:looks furtively around; makes edit:
I'm not sure what you mean... ;p

Trying to write about Remus abdomen (which I picture in my mind as pretty much over-skinny and sort of caved in) sent me into fits of giggles, I'm afraid.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: January 4th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I am so, so glad Celia doesn't harbour any ill feelings towards Vivian. How can her real parents be so horrible? Bastards, they don't deserve such a great girl as Celia, anyway.

Mmm, llama wool. So soft. I'm a bit envious.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm allergic to pretty much all wool--:(--but it just sounded like a nice, comfy thing to give someone.

I'm glad the magical government took a look at the situation and said, "You know, Vivian might be better for her after all."
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: January 13th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Ever tried pure alpaca? It's not wool at all, and has no lanolin on it. Give it a shot, if you haven't already. It feels heavenly.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 4th, 2009 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
No words for how wonderful that excerpt was.

There's a market for paranormal romance, you know.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've thought about it, but I somehow don't think that it's a good thing to try and seriously sell something that just makes you giggle when writing it...
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 4th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whyever not?? Write under a pseudonym, write something you can enjoy in an ironic way, make some money to support your more "serious" non-pseudonym writing. Sounds pretty good (and quite reasonable) to me...
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 4th, 2009 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I nearly died at "they might have mistaken him for a demi-god" - this is priceless!

~Hermione Stranger, giggling~
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 5th, 2009 01:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that, somewhere in the afterlife, the Marauders are ragging Remus to the dogs and back on that one. ;p
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 4th, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't been leaving enough comments on these ficlets, but I have been thoroughly enjoying all of them. I love the little bits of character development you're giving us, many of them have made me tear up or laugh out loud, I've shared a few with other people, they're just all-round great and I am counting them amongst my best holiday gifts this year. Thanks!! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 5th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you're enjoying! I'm slowly but surely making my way down the list...
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: January 4th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Celia is a great kid and one who has her head screwed firmly on her shoulders. I'm sure she and Vivian do each other lots of good. I love the glimpses of the loving, boisterous extended family that Harry created for himself and everyone else who is a part of it. It's such a happy vision coming after so much pain and loss.

I loved the excerpt from "Dora's Devotion." You got the tone just right.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 5th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I didn't want it to be too awful, just... a little on the absurd side of things.
yesaffirmative From: yesaffirmative Date: January 5th, 2009 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)

A bit off-topic, but...

So I've been piddling around in your old Star Wars backlog (and loving it) and I had a couple of quick questions.

First, on your page for "Carrier of the Dead" (http://www.dragonlibrary.net/2000/story281.htm) you mentioned a couple of Sith Uprising stories that have dead links and I can't seem to find anywhere else. I'd love to read them, though. Are they archived someplace online?

Second, do you have any recommendations for other Star Wars fic authors you love? I think I've about exhausted your oeuvre, but I'm in a mind to read more lately and you're someone who's opinion on fic I trust.

Finally, I think I have a little inkling of what you were planning way back when for the Laryhi family and the Ka'alyan and I just wanted to see if I'm on the right track. Shmi in the "Hidden Face" was meant to be Ka'alyan, correct? Were you planning for her to end up being a descendant of the Laryhi as well? It seemed like there was a lot hinting in that direction and I just wondered. :)

As usual, I love your stories and story-telling.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 5th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A bit off-topic, but...

Oh, wow, that's a blast from the past!

I don't remember entirely, but I think that I had intended Shmi ultimately to have been descended from the Laryhi line, but it's definitely pretty distant. "Zemai" and "Shmi" are related names, though.

I think "Sith Uprising" is gone--it was strictly on the forums, and I think they've been pruned a few times since we stopped writing--it was several people together working on it. It never did get to the end!

Who do I admire? Well, ami-padme (along with Lady Aeryn on the first one), who was my partner on the "Lady Vader" series, has some terrific stuff. She and darth_pipes had a time travel story that was very good. I've read a lot of what's on theforce.net (I used to be an editor), and there's lots there that I like. One long one is "The Sands of Time." But it's been so long now since I've been in SW fandom (I just got turned off by RotS) that I don't remember everyone!

Edited at 2009-01-05 01:55 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 5th, 2009 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A bit off-topic, but...

Hmm, what could possibly have turned you off...? Was it that Padme dies?!! I definitely got a little miffed at that self-contradiction. But I still love SW; it's just too big a part of my childhood to loose completely :-)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 5th, 2009 06:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A bit off-topic, but...

Yeah, I know. It was my first fandom, and I won't abandon it, but I did find myself less than inspired after that flat contradiction, combined with undermining the series' own notion that Anakin's ability to love was what made it possible for him to turn away from the Dark Side. Twisting that ability was the thing that made the whole moral logic of the series go haywire.
From: yesaffirmative Date: January 9th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A bit off-topic, but...

For me, it was so much at that Padme died, as it was the "died of a broken heart" thing.

A friend of mine who'd had a baby shortly before ROTS came out was just infuriated by that...the idea that a new mother would rather just will herself to die of sadness, as if there was absolutely nothing to live for.

I tend to agree. Also, it just didn't make much sense with Padme's personality up to that point.

--as a side note, I just saw this book review on io9 and thought you might be interested. http://io9.com/5126067/at-last-a-book-that-explains-why-obi+wan-is-such-a-dick?skyline=true&s=x
21 comments or Leave a comment