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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 21
ginny pranking umbridge without her finding out, maybe with the help of other DA members for Sally


"God, does she call that singing?" Michael asked, wrinkling his nose.

"Apparently," Ginny whispered, then tipped her wand at her mouth and made a zipper appear briefly.

Michael nodded. Too much talk in Umbridge's living quarters was probably not a good idea. Her shower might cover some... but it might not.

He found himself trying to stop and think, and made himself stop. He found that if he thought too much about Ginny's ideas, he'd back out of them, and he had a feeling he'd never forgive himself later if he didn't go along. Not because of Ginny--he was fond of her, but just lately, he'd been thinking more about Cho Chang--but because these ridiculous sorts of pranks were the only things someone in his position could do to take action against Umbridge, and he didn't think he'd like looking back at his life later on and thinking that there was something he could do, and he didn't do it. Last week, he and Ginny had broken into the Defense classroom and loosened all the screws in her desk. She'd referred to this as an action of Dumbledore's Army. Neither of them had been there when it had gone down--that had happened with the third-year Hufflepuffs--but it had apparently been quite satisfactory, as word had got around by lunch.

"...and it's pure, pure love..." Umbridge warbled, hitting the chorus at an excrutiating volume. "Pure as water, pure as air..."

Ginny, who'd been perusing Umbridge's photos with a bemused expression on her face, turned and made a gagging motion.

Michael quite agreed, but he tapped his watch and mouthed, "Time?"

She nodded and went back to looking for a prank target.

Michael joined the search. They'd agreed--reluctantly--that they couldn't very well retaliate in kind for the torture she'd been inflicting in detentions ("A little kick in the nether regions is all we can do," Ginny had said). Humiliation was the goal, not harm. And even something that would show her that her private quarters had been breached--even if it did nothing particularly ghastly--might be enough, though the sore place on the back of Michael's hand, where he'd bled for an hour after being made to write "I will not listen to idle gossip" fifty times wanted a bit more.

He wandered around her sitting area, where a large, puffy pink chair with an Ottoman showed the only real sign of life in the place--the little doily at the level of her head was askew. He tapped Ginny's arm, then pointed to it.

She shrugged, considered it, then put her hands behind her head and waggled her fingers in the air. Michael didn't get the sign, so she pulled her hair up straight from her head.

He gave her a thumbs-up.

Between them, they hexed the seat, the back, and the arms, just as Umbridge finished up the last chorus of "Pure Love" and turned off the water.

They backed out of the room and closed the door, went through her office, and exited into the corridor outside.

Ginny ran down the corridor and hid behind a tapestry. Michael followed her, and wasn't surprised to be rewarded with a kiss. She smiled broadly, then peeked out through a small hole. Michael found another.

It didn't take nearly as long as Michael had expected.

Less than a minute after they left, a high scream came from behind Umbridge's door, then it burst open and Umbridge ran out, wrapped in a towel. Her wet hair was standing straight up.

Another door down the corridor opened and McGonagall called, "Dolores? Is that you?"

Umbridge went stock still, then ducked back into her office, opened the door only slightly as McGonagall came out, apparently meaning to check on her (she looked less than charitable in this, but Michael didn't suppose she'd leave even Umbridge screaming.

"Dolores? Is something wrong?"

"No. No, Minerva, dear. I... I broke one of my plates and stepped on it. All is well."

"Are you certain?"

"Oh, yes. I'll take care of the problem."

McGonagall pressed her lips together. "I'm sure you will," she said. "Mind that you're careful about it." She looked around the corridor, and Michael was certain that she'd sweep the tapestry aside and find them, but her eyes passed over it after long look, and she returned to her office.

As soon as the corridor was empty, Ginny led them back to the Great Hall.

when dumbledore was a professor (of transfiguration was it?) and mcgonagall first day as a teacher (on same fic) for _melissa_*

Hmm... as Minerva seems to have taken over for Dumbledore, I guess that limits the year it can be!

"Minerva, I do hope you don't take offense to my seventh year N.E.W.T students wanting to finish..."

"Of course not," Minerva said crisply. "I shouldn't have wished to change teachers in my final year, either, particularly to someone still rather untried."

"My dear Minerva, I would hardly consider you untried. Nor, I'm sure, would the masters at Durmstrang. They've spoken highly of your work in repairing the damage from the war--the archives, the menagerie, and even the statuary. That was, in my understanding, some quite difficult Transfiguration work. I know that Grindelwald's people didn't destroy with mere force."

Minerva looked away awkwardly. She'd detested her time at Durmstrang, and wasn't in the least bit disappointed that they'd hidden it from her again once she'd announced herself finished. Everything there had reminded her of the war years, from a bit of unremovable graffiti left by Gellert Grindelwald (she'd done her best, but the wall had refused to be changed) to the gaunt, traumatized faces of the students, and the paranoid cross-accusations among the staff. The wartime headmaster was now at Nurmengard, but no one seemed sure who of the remaining professors had simply gone along with the regime and who had been genuinely enthusiastic about it. Minerva hadn't trusted any of them, with the exception of a scarred woman who had stayed on the inside because, as she put it, "I would not leave the children to the mercies of Grindelwald." She had apparently paid for her principles in pain, and because of that, Minerva trusted her. The others, she'd have happily seen keeping the old headmaster company. But she'd stayed, because she'd been fiercely devoted to erasing Grindelwald's presence as fully as she could, to undoing all of his works, and apparently, they'd been glowing in their praise. She wasn't entirely sure how to take that. "Thank you," she said brusquely.

Dumbledore seemed to sense her mood, and changed the subject. "How has your first day gone up to now?"

"Reasonably well."

He smiled fondly. "You've never been one for needless expansion of details, Minerva."

"Would you like expansion?"

"That would be the idea, yes."

"My first years accomplished very little, and I'm afraid they consider me a rather harsh taskmistress. My fourth years tested my patience with them--"

"Did you pass?"

"It depends on how you define passing. I let them know there were lines they weren't to cross." In fact, she'd given a detention to a Gryffindor called Fabian Prewett when he'd repeatedly ignored her in order to transfigure his quill into Muggle comb and tease his hair into an absurd pompadour with it. She'd heard him, as he left, make a crude suggestion as to why she might be so ill-tempered.

"That is precisely how you pass in this case."

"I never remember you being stict."

"Ah, but do you recall my classes being poorly behaved?"


He gestured with his hand as if to say, There you have it. "We all must find our own ways to keep discipline in the classroom."

She ground her teeth. "Well, I'm not sure I'm going about it properly. They don't seem... well, I don't recall your students ever speaking badly of you, and I'm sure they are of me. I tried to teach like you, but they simply ignored me until I became strict."

Dumbledore laughed. "Minerva, I can think of no one who's temperament is less like my own."

"But if your temperament is what was working--"

He shook his head and sighed. "You must never pretend to be anyone other than who you are with your students. They'll sense that your authority is shaky if they see that you're playacting in an attempt to establish it. You have no more chance of succeeding at being Albus Dumbledore than I have at successfully impersonating Minerva McGonagall. I suggest we both remain who we are."

"In my reading about teaching, it was suggested by experts that students respond to particular styles--"

"Hmph. I'd suggest that the experts have spent more time talking to one another than to students, or, at the very least, have failed to note that teachers with highly different styles have got equally good and bad results. It's easy to skew that sort of thing, you know."

"You'd prefer I didn't read about teaching? I don't recall that from apprenticing to you."

"I'd prefer that you read about everything that happens to interest you, Minerva. Which is well, as I doubt I could stop you. But as a long-time teacher of Hogwarts students, I'd simply remind you to be as comfortable in your own skin in the classroom as you are in the wider world. There is nothing at all wrong with being Minerva McGonagall. I've always found her rather delightful."

"Most consider her an acquired taste," Minerva said.

"Your students will acquire it. It will take time." He smiled. "Now, I'd like to start my seventh years on a major Transfiguration project. Have you any good ideas on the subject? You always found the most creative things to change..."

And as a little holiday present for you...how about you do something you want to write? for looking4shadows


"I appreciate the help," Berit Ollivander said. "If you're looking for an apprenticeship..." She laughed. "Honestly, I'm not sure you need one! You've taught yourself quite well since the day you spent here."

James smiled, and cut an intricate design into to lower part of the wand. It was decorative, but also meant to help with the grip. "I really like doing this, but I'm putting in for an Auror apprenticeship. I wanted to learn wandmaking because I thought it would be useful, but I'd appreciate if you didn't spread it around that I know. Element of surprise, you know, if someone's been taking wands, then suddenly finds everyone armed."

"Well, you'll have to keep at least one," Berit said. "You can't make a wand without a wand."

"I don't think that'll be a problem," James told her.

Berit frowned. "How many do you have?"

"Not as many as you."


She looked like she was about to add something else. James guessed it was about safety-testing, which he'd done. He'd raided Aunt Hermione's law books to learn the specs he needed to meet, and destroyed any wand that didn't meet them. He finished the wand he was working on, gave it a shiny polish, and set it in the velvet box that was waiting for it. "Oak and unicorn tail hair," he said.

"It's nice work. I'll give you fifteen percent of the sale, if it chooses someone."

James shook his head. "I'm doing this to repay you for teaching me, now that I'm old enough to do magic out of school. You don't owe me anything."

"You're not going to suddenly open a competing wand store on me, are you?"

He laughed. "No. I'll leave business to my uncle George."

"He's not going to start selling them, is he?"

"No. Ollivander's is a tradition!"

Berit smiled sadly. "Possibly a tradition that will end with me."


"Do you see any little Ollivanders in line to take over?" She sighed. "I'm trying to adopt a little boy right now--poor thing was orphaned in the Java quake last month, and I met him while I was helping to re-stock the wizarding district in Jakarta; the wand shop burned--but even if it goes through, what's to say he'll have the slightest interest in wandmaking?"

"What's to say you would have?" James countered. "But you did."

"Well, I was always expected to, as my father didn't, and--"

"So, maybe your adopted grandchildren would want to, if your adopted son doesn't." James smiled. "It's grand to think you're adopting someone. You'll make a good mum."

"An old one."

James waved this off. He went to the bin of plain wooden dowels and found a piece of mahogany that seemed to want attention. He started turning it on Berit's lathe. He wasn't sure what it would want for a core yet. At school, he used any magical substance he could put his hands on. Some worked better than others, and some--like some of Kreacher's ear hair--only worked for the person he'd custom built a wand for (in that case, Lily, who'd broken her wand last winter, and James had finally admitted his hobby to the family when he'd made her a new one from a discarded piece of wood from flooring Mum had replaced in the kitchen). But here, Berit kept it limited to four: her grandfather's standbys of unicorn tail hair, dragon heartstring, and phoenix feather, plus her own addition of hippogriff talon, which seemed to be particularly strong for defensive spells.

Out of nowhere, Berit said, "James, you're better at this than I was at your age, and as good as my grandfather at your age. What you do isn't hobby work. You'll only get better with experience."

James looked up from the lathe. "I'm a writer. And I'm going to be an Auror. I make wands on weekends. I'll never get that much experience." The basic shape of the wand emerged, and James pulled it out and started feeling for a core. Phoenix feather, he though. Mahogany and phoenix feather were always an interesting combination.

"Why do you really make wands, James? You're too good at it to claim you're a hobbyist, but I believe you when you say you have no designs on selling them."

James didn't answer.

"It has something to do with the war, doesn't it?"

He nodded reluctantly. "Let's say, I don't want to ever hear about people not being able to get wands when they need them. Dad's wand broke during the war, you know. He had to use a bad one for a while."

"I know. And I'm one of the few people who knows how he fixed it."

"And Teddy's dad and Dean Thomas were sharing one because Dean lost his--"

"I know that, too."

"Plus all of those people they called the wandless."

"So this is about solving a problem twenty years gone?"

James picked up a phoenix feather. "It's about making sure it's never a problem again. I seriously doubt Voldemort's the last dark wizard who's ever going to cause anyone trouble."

"I suppose not," Berit said. She sighed. "Well, I don't imagine you'll tell me where you keep your stockpile, and I probably don't want to know. But be careful, James. Wands aren't something to take lightly, no matter how much of a hobby you claim they are."

James didn't answer. He infused the feather into the mahogany core, and began work on the grip.

9 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: December 24th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm afraid I missed something. What exactly did Ginny do?

"I never remember you being stict." -- Or strict, even.

Looks like you've got a random paragraph break after this: admitted his hobby to the family

I like this whole idea of stockpiling wands. Very interesting, very plausible, and based on a very relateable fear.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 24th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
She just made it so that when Umbridge sat down in her favorite chair, her hair stood up straight.

Alas, when I save in Notepad, it sticks in random paragraph breaks wherever the line happened to break. I thought I'd gotten them all, but apparently, I missed one. Sorry!
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: December 24th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get around that by unchecking Word Wrap before I copy/paste it into LJ.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: December 24th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Ginny should have locked the door once Umbridge was out :D Though I suppose she would have found them...

As a teacher in training... I feel for McG. My high school seniors were rather nice to me, though.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: December 24th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really enjoyed the Berit-James interaction. Very interesting insight into James. McGonagall was great, so endearingly insecure about her first year.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 24th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

oh that was great fun to read! umbridge pranked

I loved it! you have a way with writing vivivd details
first, lady you made me cringe at imagining umbridge singing. i can imagine her off-tune screeching voice trying to sound pretty.
also quite ironic that she sings about "purity" when she probably never will know what real purity is.

the interaction between michael and gin was great, very nice. you made me like michael, even if he seems a bit of a player. (it also made me wonder when and why he liked cho, if he liked her after cedric died, or from before?)

the gin making hand gestures to indicate what to do was a nice touch.


From: (Anonymous) Date: December 25th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)

the McGonagall/Dumbledore ficlet was a perfect for xmas!

it was an absolute pleasure to read.

I love McGonagall, even as a young insecure teacher. i felt for her in her frustration! and i love it that she wanted the students to respect her, not only learn. maybe even like her a little, and that's why she is disappointed.
the mention of molly's brother was a nice touch and now i'm intrigued!

and I loved how reasuring and caring Dumbledore seems with McGonagall, praising her and trying to help her find her own strenght as a teacher. And the icing of the cake, he asks her for Help on a project! the formation of a great colleage friendship.

I really do love the mcgonagall dumbledore friendship and your ficlet was a beautiful christmas gem unwrapped early.

thank you, and merry christmas! (or hanukah, as i think it's your case)

From: (Anonymous) Date: December 25th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I loved all three of these - but especially mine (or, rather, yours, as you got to pick the subject and you wrote it!). Thank you so much for doing this....this is one of my favorite Christmas gifts. :)
looking4shadows From: looking4shadows Date: December 25th, 2009 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, that was me. xD
9 comments or Leave a comment