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Batch 30 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 30
Neil's future friends realizing that he is, in fact, potential friend material and not a monster out to get them.
for Anonymous

Wanda Senspedig was in the Common Room because her pillow was soaked. The other girls in her dormitory had declared that she needed to wash her hair--"before it slithers off of your head!"--and had doused her as soon as she was lying down. She thought about looking for a good drying Charm, but she hadn't been very good in Charms class (or any of her classes, yet), and didn't think she wanted to accidentally burn the pillow up or whatnot. Gavin Cleary was just there, he said, because he had better things to do than listen to his cousin H.J. expound, yet again, about the dangers of living with a werewolf. Neil Overby, for obvious reasons, had apparently tired of the same subject.

"Just for the record," Neil said morosely, "I don't have fleas, and even if I did, they wouldn't make your spots any worse."

Wanda bit her lip, tales of children stolen by werewolves running through her head. And they were true--Neil was one of the children that had got stolen, wasn't he? But he didn't seem to be in a stealing mood, so she said, tentatively, "My dogs at home get fleas a lot. They never give me spots, except for, you know, biting me." She stopped herself, wondering the word "bite" was offensive to werewolves. Neil didn't react to it, anyway, but she decided to avoid it in the future. "I think the spots are just oily things. My mum has a bubotuber potion that cleans them right up, if you want it," she told Gavin.

"I'll try anything once," he said. He looked askance at Neil. "Was any of that other rot true? About wanting to eat babies out of pregnant ladies, or chase after witches to do perverse things with them?"

Neil wrinkled his nose. "Do we have to talk about the werewolf thing?"

"I just want to know."

"I don't know." Neil shrugged. "I reckon, when I'm turned, I wouldn't think very hard about it. And Greyback sometimes took women. But I don't. And my mum and dad don't, either. And I never ate a baby. Or a grown-up person. When I'm not a wolf, I mostly don't even want to."

"Mostly?" Wanda said, shocked.

"Well, I might make an exception for H.J."

Gavin laughed, and seemed surprised by it. Wanda wasn't sure whether or not she was meant to, so she just smiled.

"How come you're not going to school in France?" she asked. "Isn't that where you live?"

"Yeah, but I'm still English. And besides, Beauxbatons hasn't decided to let us in yet. They don't even like poltergeists there, let alone real Dark creatures."

"I think that's stupid," Gavin said. "Aren't you better off with us than going off with some pack?"

"That's just what Hermione Weasley told the Board of Governors," Neil said.

"I said something Hermione Weasley said?" Gavin asked, looking deeply pleased with himself. "I guess I'm smarter than H.J. thinks."

"Smarter than he is, anyway," Neil said. He and Gavin grinned at each other.

Gavin opened his mouth to say something, then looked back at the fire instead.

Neil rolled his eyes. "Get it out of your system. You ask, I'll answer."

"Does it hurt?" Wanda asked.

"Not that I was inviting you," Neil said, "but yes."

"Do you remember it?" Gavin asked.

"Not very well."

Wanda thought about it. "Do you hate everyone else?"

"Only the ones who want me to."

Gavin started to ask something, then looked puzzled. "I guess I don't have anything else. If I have to kill you, I reckon silver will do it."

"Sure," Neil said. "Just a sprinkle on my porridge will do the trick."


"No. You can kill a werewolf with pretty much anything you hit it with hard enough. Nothing special about silver. But please don't kill me."

"As long as you return the favor," Gavin said.

"That's a deal."

They sat in awkward silence for five minutes, then Wanda said. "I have a question."

"Fine. Go ahead," Neil said, looking like she was sentencing him to the pyre.

"Do you happen to know a good drying spell? My pillow is soaked."

I've noticed that you've had several students besides Hermione--Luna and Oliver for example--figure out during PoA that Remus is a werewolf, feel comfortable with the idea, and not tell anyone they know. I wonder if there was ever a student who found out and was unnerved, or couldn't reconcile the idea of "kindly Professor Lupin" with a dark creature, but who comes around by the end of the year?
for Anonymous

It had been Marietta Edgecombe who'd first brought up the connection, though she was only joking. "Oh--Lupin's sick on another full moon! He must be a werewolf!" To her, the idea of the Ministry allowing a werewolf to teach had been so self-evidently impossible that the whole thing had been a lark. Beatrice Dalrympe, who thought Lupin "quite tasty," had suggested that she wouldn't mind getting a few doggy-kisses from him.

For the first four months of the year, Cho had played along, and found the idea quite hilarious. Professor Lupin, one of the most gentle men she'd ever met--second only to her own father--running around like a rabid wild animal... it was preposterous.

But over Christmas hols, she'd happened across one of Baba's journals, The International Journal of Health and Healing, and it had featured an article by a lychanthropy expert who'd mentioned that--rare and obscene cases aside--untransformed werewolves frequently had "a high degree of patience and even a strong desire to please. They are, after all, pack animals, dependent on pleasing a leader, and their aggression may well be so highly focused that it appears only when the visible curse is upon them." He'd gone into the effects of the new Wolfsbane Potion, and how its long-term effect might be an evening-out of the werewolf's personality.

When she'd returned, the other girls had largely given up the game of pretending Lupin was a werewolf. Marietta had become quite infatuated with Snape and had decided that he was some other sort of Dark creature, now cursed to prowl the halls pretending to be cruel when he was really just suffering in silence. (Cho didn't think there was anything particularly silent about Snape, but what did she know?) Beatrice had moved on to an infatuation with Oliver Wood.

Cho had not moved on. She saw almost immediately upon her return that Lupin had been ill again--around the the time of the full moon. This repeated itself in February, and in March. None of the other students seemed to be paying any attention to it anymore (Marietta's affections, by the beginning of April, had fallen on the unsuspecting Harry Potter, who she thought might be a changeling, which was why he'd survived the Death Curse--"it's only meant for humans, you know!"). And it still rang in Cho's mind that the Ministry would never let a werewolf teach children, never let such a dangerous creature near them, never let him earn their trust.

He was ill again in April.

It was impossible. It wouldn't be allowed.

She sat in Potions on a day late in the month, wishing for a room with at least a bit of sunlight in it. She'd had Snape in two classes this year--he'd substituted for Lupin during one of his ill periods--and he was in a foul temper, even for him. He'd been working quite hard outside of class, Cho knew; she'd been doing a project on her own and using the student area of the dungeon for it while he muttered under his breath in his private work area. She'd visited him there to ask a question, and the whole place had been filled, to her surprise, with lovely purple flowers that--

She froze.

His office had been filled with Wolfsbane plants.

After Potions, she steeled herself and went to the door of Lupin's office. She had to know--or tell him that she knew. If he was trying to hide, if he'd somehow tricked Dumbledore...

The door was ajar, and he was at his desk, marking papers. He noticed her and tipped his head. "Miss Chang! I'm glad to see you. I just finished reading your essay on the Cruciatus Curse. That was very good work. I'd never heard of the Chinese variant you mentioned."

Cho entered, thinking, Werewolf. She sat down and said, "My father has a lot of books at home, in Chinese. I read a few of them over hols. Also an article in The International Journal of Health and Healing."

He frowned slightly. "Really?"

She nodded. "About werewolves. Did you read it?"

"I read it."

She waited, then said, "What did you think? Do you think they really are calmer than other people when they're not transformed?"

"No, I don't," Lupin said. "That's an old stereotype, nearly as old as the vicious savage. Some are quite calm and reasonable. Others... are not."

Cho swallowed hard. "Oh."

Lupin tapped his quill on the blotter and said, "I... imagine there may be some werewolves who are quite careful to control their tempers. It would--I suppose--remind them too much of the transformed state. But that doesn't mean that the feelings they're controlling aren't present."

Cho could hear her heart beating, somewhere up behind her nose. "Are they dangerous?" she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper.

"Only at the full moon," Lupin said. "And a decent werewolf is always careful then."

Cho forced herself to look up. Lupin was staring back at her. He looked unsure of what she meant to do, and that was enough proof for Cho. She was right. The joke had been no joke.

She stood up. "I, er... I have to go. I need to finish my Transfiguration homework, and I have work to do." She backed out of the door. Halfway down the corridor, she turned back. Lupin was standing in his office door. Their eyes met. Cho turned away and went on to Ravenclaw Tower.

13 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2009 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)

I'm first????

Okay, so if I post fast I will be the first to comment here! I really am enjoying your ficlets Fern! You always keep everyone in character!

Anyway, so I really loved your first with Neil and other first year Gryffindors. That last sentence made me laugh!

The second was interesting and I like that Cho was one to find out about Lupin and not Marietta! I shutter to think what she would do with the information having a mother that worked at the MoM.

I loved them, as per usual, and I can't wait to see what you do with the rest of the Challenge because I'm always so happy to see that you've added another batch on your LJ page!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I'm first????

More Ravenclaws than other houses might do the necessary math, but not too many could have given it much thought, could they? The likelihood of more than a handful just letting it go seems remote.
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shiiki From: shiiki Date: January 7th, 2009 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
That one mentioned in book 6 (in Fern's canon, at least, which is canon enough for me :D) was actually the youngest Montgomery boy, nephew of Father Montgomery in Shades.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: January 7th, 2009 11:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Neil (Overby) is the kid Greyback bit in Hunter's Moon; he's a Slytherin first-year during Daedalus Maze and Teddy makes Wolfsbane Potion for him, sort of as penance for killing Greyback in third year.
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shiiki From: shiiki Date: January 7th, 2009 11:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's great - you have them to look forward to! You're definitely in for a treat! :)
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2009 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha, I'd forgotten that line. Apparently not entirely, if it was swimming around in my brain somewhere, but I think it's probably something people would wonder about.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: January 7th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC) (Link)
It's great to see more of Neil and some friends. I love reading about all your OCs.

Cho's one was interesting. She fits the bill perfectly for the request.

There's one thing that confused me, though. You had her mention that My father has a lot of books at home, in Cantonese.

Thing is, Cantonese is a spoken language, not a written one. All the Chinese dialects are the same, written.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

I know that. I just didn't think about it for even a second.

Neil's friends are little geeks, but I like geeks.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Strangely, Neil and Cho's stories made me think of recent articles on child slavery in the third world, because it's one of those things I've read about in history books and (in that context) just see in terms about why culture A did it with reasons for and against presented in a very abstract, unemotional way. When reading about it three thousand years ago, I just stuck the mental tag on it of "preferable to infanticide" (the other option for children whose parents couldn't support them in that time) and moved on.

Then, you read about a nine year old working twenty hour days and locked in the garage at night - and she's expected to be grateful.

There's this part of me that keeps trying to look at the werewolf thing from a logical, abstract angle. In that context, there are two goals: reducing/ending the transmission of the curse to new victims but reducing the suffering of those afflicted with it (social isolation counting as suffering). Technically, I suppose those goals partly go against each other but they also partly support each other (history on leprosy shows draconian laws to isolate lepers encouraged them to hide their illness as long as possible and shooting the goal of quarantine in the foot).

But it's just math, optimum A versus optimum B. Figure any extra values that should be given to one over the other and see where the lines intersect.

Then, you see a little kid's suffering versus a sympathetic person's fears. I always walk away from those stories with no answers.

etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: January 7th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nicely done on both of these. Very often, Children are more open to other people's differences, so I'd expect that Neil would have an easier time of it in general, although some folks (i.e. his dorm mate) would already have strongly biased ideas. From a slightly older young person, Cho's reaction was perfect -- the cool Ravenclaw logic followed by a less disciplined search for the right emotional reaction.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: January 7th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very, very nice. I liked Neil's plea of not being killed :D

And Cho was perfect for that request. She has a progressist mind, but still retains all the conservative rules of the wizarding society. Oh, she'll grow up soon enough.
maz333 From: maz333 Date: January 8th, 2009 05:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah ickle Slytherins and bonding! Man, I love that crew.
kanga_tigger From: kanga_tigger Date: July 27th, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

second post

Just had a thought...is it terribly confusing to get reviews for ficlets published years ago? It's just I'm going through them all now and having thoughts etc I'd like to share.

I think the other students to figure Remus' secret out would be the girls who have a teacher-crush, almost like Florence Nightengale syndrome, they love him because there is something vulnerable and lovely about him (i.e. looking ill). I think Hermione falls into this category, but I think in general it would make a lovely fic about any of the Hogwarts girls being worried about him and fawning a little bit...or even a series of ficlets which essentially show a similar reaction from lots of girls much to Remus' amusement (potentially featuring Minerva or Madame Pomfrey explaining this to him, or even Dumbledore).
13 comments or Leave a comment