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Batch 7 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 7
And again, with the needing of sleep. Surely, there's a cure for that. But I have Sunday off; I'll do two batches of three ficlets on Sunday, and that'll catch me up. :D

can we have Dumbledore doing something genuinely selfless? I always believe he could. for tabatha

I should say he can--we saw him drinking poison that would kill him in order to keep Harry alive!

Even in the shadows of his Nurmengard cell, Gellert retained his charm and looks. He smiled when Albus arrived and said, "So, you've come to gloat, have you?"

Albus Conjured a stool and sat on his side of the bars. "I came because you made a request of the prison authority."

"I know you haven't brought me the books I asked for. It would look quite terrible for you if you brought those particular titles."

"I brought a number of your other favorites."

Gellert leaned forward into the bar of sunlight. "Really?"

"I imagined you to be rather lonely here without them. They were always closer companions to you than other people."

"Except you."

Albus nodded. "Yes. Except me. But I've no intention of making regular visits."

"No interrogations? No demands to know where the bodies are hidden?" Gellert laughed heartily. "You've gone soft, Albus."

"Perhaps I just don't care to spend what free time I have in your company."

"Or perhaps you're afraid to."

Albus didn't take the bait. He just nodded. "Yes. Perhaps I am."

"Ah, yes. You know that here but by the grace of your over-inflated self image go you. And you know that I know who you really are, and what you really want."

"As usual, Gellert, you're two steps ahead of me. I know neither of those things, though at the moment, with the chill in this place, I believe I am really cold, and really want a pair of wool socks."

"You're such a liar." Gellert pulled his stool closer to the bars, and wrapped his right hand around them, just above Albus's left. "You have my wand," he said. "Make it warm, if you want it warm. Break the bars if you want to. Break me again, if you've a mind to."

"The wand is somewhere safe from either of us," Albus told him.

"Are you mad?"

"Not anymore. That's what you failed to grasp when we faced one another."

"So you're not here to interrogate me, or to torment me. Am I meant to consider this a friendly visit? Are we to be friends again, Albus?"

Albus removed his hands from the bars and sat back. "No, Gellert. There are hundreds of dead standing between us. Millions when I count those your erstwhile allies murdered. They stand around you. I can't ignore them."

"They wouldn't have died if they hadn't stood in the way of the greater good!"

"And you presume to call me a liar."

"So why are you here?"

"I've spoken to your guards," Albus said. "Your requests to them carried unmistakeable references to your shoddy treatment. I doubt the mention of your broken wrist was really added to request a feather-light charm on your books. By the way...?" He raised his eyebrows.

Gellert narrowed his eyes, then held out his left arm. The wrist was twisted unnaturally, and the forearm and hand swollen and bruised.

Albus Healed it.

Gellert stretched and waggled the fingers, then wrapped them around the bar as well. "So now you're trying to make absolutely certain that everyone thinks you're nothing but a kindly intercessor. No doubt you'll have the press reporting on your generosity..."

"No one other than your immediate guard knows I've come, and I've tongue-tied him to prevent mention." Albus started charming the stones in the cell walls and floors for heat. "But you'll be here quite a long time, Gellert, and you will presumably use the time for some sort of reflective thought. That is better accomplished without broken bones and pneumonia."

Gellert stood back, his face twisted with distaste. "You have gone soft. This isn't serving your idea of the greater good at all."

Albus sighed and stood up, Vanishing the stool. "No, Gellert," he said. "Perhaps I've just learned since we knew one another last that the smaller good is often the greater one."

Gellert had no answer. Albus didn't expect one. He nodded one last time to Gellert, then turned away.

He never went back.

Could I have something with the Blondon family, just after Neil comes? for Anon


Evvie Blondin hadn't been in a hospital since she'd gone to the Muggle madhouse where she'd found her mother at last. They hadn't seen one another since Greyback had taken and turned Evvie at the age of four, and Evvie hadn't known what to expect from a woman who hadn't so much as reported her child missing. It wasn't a pleasant memory, and here, in the long wards of St. Mungo's, she'd been able to feel the locked ward around her again, a ghost, and faintly, she could hear screaming--Demon child! Demon seed! Get thee hence! Daughter of monsters! Changeling!--and in each face, she could see the trail of human bite scars leading down from the chin to the neck (just missing the jugular) and in an obscene line under the neck of the nightgown, leading to the misshapen, mangled lump where her breast been. The soothing voice of the Muggle Healer, "It's not your fault, you weren't responsible for how she got you, the scars are old, she's just remembering the attack, she's frail, forgive her, it was a terrible trauma..."

She'd tried not to let these ghost memories show in her face when she'd visited Neil Overby, but he had his own ghosts and traumas, and he'd been sensitive to her jumpiness. Now that they were home, he'd attached himself entirely to Nate, who changed his bandages and talked kindly to him and held him when he had nightmares. He was polite to her, but didn't seem to trust her.

That had to be fixed.

She finished making a large stew for lunch--no one made a great deal of it, but they knew to see to it that he had a lot of meat--and put it on a lap tray. Taking a deep breath, she smiled as energetically as she could, and went into the little room that Nate had made for him on the back of the cabin.

"Lunchtime!" she said, lifting the tray in triumphantly. She set the tray down over Neil's legs.

He picked at it. The livid wound on his arm was healing, and Greyback hadn't harmed him any further... except for the permanent harm, of course. He looked perfectly normal, if a bit weak. "Thank you," he said, then went quiet.

Nate smiled encouragingly. "Neil was just telling me about his lessons. He's quite a reader. I told him I'd get the Aurors to give me whatever books they could find in his old house."

"That's good," Evvie said.

Neil shook his head.

Evvie patted his hand. "Why not?"

"The shelf..." He swallowed. "My shelf. In the parlor. And lessons. We were having lessons."

"You need to keep up your lessons," Nate told him. "I know that it was a terrible thing."

"No, I--" Neil bit his lip.

Evvie understood. "I see. Your books were open and in the parlor when the pack came."

Neil nodded, his dark eyes wide. "There was blood everywhere when he... when he killed them. It went on my shelf. And the table. My baby brother's scalp..."

Nate winced. "I'm sorry."

"We'll get you new books," Evvie said. "Whatever ones you'd like. We don't have a lot of gold, but we can do that for you."

"It doesn't matter. I'm not going to Hogwarts."

"Beauxbatons isn't practical unless you speak French," Nate said.

Neil poked at his stew. He looked sunken in the bedclothes.

Again, Evvie was brought back to the madhouse, to her mother screaming and reliving nightmares she'd been trapped in since her own visit from a man Evvie was fairly convinced was the same one who had visited Neil so barbaricly. She ground her teeth. "You're going to school," she said. "And you'll have lessons until you're old enough, and we're starting them right now."

Nate stood and came around the bed, then led her out into the main room. "It may be soon for this..."

"He needs to get away from his nightmare," Evvie said. "Nate, let me, please... I don't want him to end up like..." She shuddered.

"It's been less than a month, Evvie."

"I know," she said. "And I'd love to give him a bit longer, but if he's still this weak come moon..."

"Then there may not be more time." Nate pounded his fist into the door frame (in his bed, Neil looked up with vague interest. "God damn bloody Greyback," he said. "I want the bastard dead."

"We all do," Evvie said. "But I want Neil alive more."

Nate looked at her for a long time, then nodded. "Let me see what books I can find that we haven't read to death. We'll have to make a trip to Flourish and Blott's soon." He went into his study.

Evvie went back to Neil's bedside and Summoned a pad of paper and a quill from the kitchen. She handed them to Neil. "All right," she said. "Have you started your times tables? I always loved maths, and I think I can get you set up for Arithmancy come third year..."

15 comments or Leave a comment
yohumblenarr8or From: yohumblenarr8or Date: December 5th, 2009 09:52 am (UTC) (Link)
{i}...the smaller good is often the greater one.{/i}

This story made my shift (working an overnight right now). I love Dumbledore, despite his being a barmy old codger and all. Wish there could've been a little less war in his lifetime.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love Dumbledore, too. I don't get the Dumbledore hate in fandom. Sure, he's a manipulative old bastard, but he kind of has to be to get his job done. Other than that, he's delightful, and I love his sense of humor. Nitwit! Oddment! Blubber! Tweak!
From: severely_lupine Date: December 5th, 2009 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, poor Evvie, and poor Evvie's mom. What a nightmare. I really do think Greyback is far scarier than Voldemort.

(in his bed, Neil looked up with vague interest -- I think you left out a ")" there.

How long do you usually think about these ficlets before you write them? Do you always know where you're going with it or just start writing and see where it leads? It always impresses me how quickly you can get these written while retaining actual content.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I usually spend about forty minutes trying to decide just how to frame a scenario (longer if I'm stumped--the Dumbledore one took me two days to think of something that would seem more selfless than drinking the poison or giving up a lot of his potential in order to defeat evil three times, and I'm still not sure I've got it!), then just write straight for about the same amount of time. Sometimes, I get stuck for an ending, and have to wander around and play Sudoku (or play chase with my cat) until something comes to me.
sidealong From: sidealong Date: December 5th, 2009 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Doesn't that make you want to [write] read the Albus defeats Grindlewald scene? Very intriguing. Or Albus finally deciding to stop him. You have to wonder what prompted that overdue decision.

malinbe From: malinbe Date: December 5th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just added that to my list of challenge ideas!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Doesn't really tempt me to write it, as wizards' duels are kind of odd, and it's really hard to avoid overdoing them... but yeah, I'd be interested in reading it!
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 5th, 2009 11:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I"m not as interested in whatever spells were cast. That has little meaning for us as Muggles! I am interested in the dialogue between them!
malinbe From: malinbe Date: December 5th, 2009 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I want to hug Neil and Evvie. Those poor souls.

Dumbledore's compassion has no end, eh? That one was great. I don't think anyone could speak to him the way Dumbledore does- facing the dead he (and bloody Mr H.) killed. That brought a chill to my spine.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure no one else could speak to him that way, or would dare to. But it was an odd twist, to say the least, in DH when Grindelwald defied Voldemort. Maybe a little tough love there from Albus at some point along the way could have helped him discover remorse.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: December 5th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Interesting twisty discussion between Dumbledore and Grindlewald. I agree with D. that often the smaller goods are what counts in the long-run, if only because it limits ambitions! I also enjoyed the insight into Evvie's background and her relationship with Neil.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 5th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another point about small goods is that greater goods never survive without them--they're the building blocks. That's why the theory of "Oh, this is just a temporary Reign of Terror/psychotic dictatorship that just has to happen before the age of true freedom and happiness can occur" is always false. If you don't have room in life for individual "small goods," like kindness and charity and so on (things directed toward individuals instead of ideals), then the "greater good" is always going to end up with human sacrifice of a literal or symbolic nature.
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: December 5th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Sometimes the smaller good is the greater one." Have had that idea in my head for ages, but you put it into words.

Great fic.
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: December 5th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
The smaller good is often the greater one.

So true and I love this Dumbledore peice. As you said, he kinda had to be manipulative to get the job done, but it doesn't mean he didn't know that or that he didn't care.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 6th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)

from tabatha- that was great and bittersweet

you seriously write the best Dumbledore. and a very nice humane one too.

that piece made me actually cry, in a good way. poor professor Dumbledore.

and when for reference (in case i ask for something like this ever again in the future) when I meant selfless was *obviously in addition to things like drinking the poison) something that showed that Dumbledore genuinely cared for an individual *anyone even Harry, Hagrid, Sirius,etc) and was capable of doing something to help them in a compassionate way, in a way that had nothing to do with the war, or fixing the war, or for any reason/motive people call him "manipulative". like I mean, something like this, which was prefect:
he cared for his Friend Gellert, even after Gellert went dark side and powerhungry monster, always could forgive him enough to go help him one last time and do something for him, proving wrong Grindewald's assumptions on who Dumbledore really is.


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