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Batch 23 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 23
Something with Ernie MacMillan. I adore that kid. for Anon

It was strange coming down to breakfast not to find Mother and Dad engrossed in the Daily Prophet over their boiled eggs and toast. Generally, Dad had the social news, and Mother read the front page. Ernie looked for the crossword puzzle.

This morning, however, Mother was ostentatiously reading Transfiguration Quarterly and Dad had picked up a Muggle newspaper (he was still reading society notices, as far as Ernie could tell, even though he'd know none of them... Herman MacMillan was a bear for gossip). Ernie pulled out his chair and waited for Hobbie to bring him an egg.

"I'm afraid," Mother said, putting down her magazine, "that you will have to look elsewhere for your crossword puzzle. I've sent a strongly worded letter to the Prophet, cancelling our subscription."

"There's one in here," Dad offered, handing Ernie a section of the Muggle paper. "You can't very well send in your time to keep track, but it's actually something of a challenge."

"Is this about the articles on Dumbledore and Harry?" Ernie asked.

"Quite so," Dad agreed.

"Disgraceful." Mother wrinkled her nose. "I smelled it in the air when they allowed that Skeeter woman to slander Dumbledore's judgment last year, with the article on Hagrid, and now they've gone completely off the map--attacking Albus Dumbledore, and the Potter boy."

Ernie's egg appeared, and he broke the top to salt and pepper it. "I'm glad you don't believe."

"Certainly, you didn't?" Mother asked.

Ernie shook his head. "Second year, we made a mistake. We thought Harry had attacked Justin Finch-Fletchley--"

"The Muggle-born boy?" Dad said. "Oh, I saw something here, a cousin of his, getting married..." He scanned the page.

"Yes, that's him. But when I realized I was wrong, I told Harry I'd been wrong, and I apologized. I don't want to have to do that again, so I'm believing him from the start this time."

"There's a good boy," Mother said.

"Also," Ernie added, "Cedric was a good champion. He wouldn't have died by accident, which is what the Prophet said. Like he slipped on a bar of soap or whatnot."

"Hear, hear," Dad said.

Ernie dipped his toast in his egg and took a bite. "I plan to write a letter to the other Hufflepuffs in our year, reminding them that we made a mistake once, and oughtn't do so again."

"Will they listen, do you think?" Mother asked.

"Of course they will," Dad said. "Who better than a Hufflepuff to recognize when someone is being cheated? Fair play does not include a professional daily newspaper taking aim at a fifteen year old boy who has no way to defend himself."

"I'm not sure about Zacharias Smith," Ernie admitted reluctantly.

"Smith?" Dad rolled his eyes and put down the paper. "The Smiths have a solid strain of idiocy in the family. Always have. This one... what makes you think he'll ignore you?"

"We argued about what happened to Justin. I said that he ought to use his brain and know that Harry would never attack Hermione Granger. He thought I was just easy to fool."

"But you turned out to be right!" Mother said, offended.

"He never actually apologized--to me or to Harry. I think he considers Harry Dumbledore's pet."

"So it comes back to not trusting Dumbledore." Mother shook her head. "What is the world coming to?"

"The Smiths are an old Hufflepuff family," Dad said. "I went to school with David Smith. They think Gryffindors are uncouth, and that very much included Dumbledore. I think it offends them that a house full of gingers with huge families has been so influential. They think--or at least David thought--that Gryffindor leaders tend to get their spots by being flashy rather than competent."

Ernie laughed. "Harry's not very flashy."

"Unfortunately," Mother pointed out, "he can't very well help it that other people keep shining lights on him."

Ernie nodded, then took the crossword puzzle Dad had found for him, and settled in to finish his breakfast.

In OoTP, Tonks mentioned, I think, that her Head of House told her quite rudely that she wasn't likely to be an Auror (or something like that - I need to reread the books). Was Professor Sprout that rude? Was it joking? I'd like some backstory on that, unless you've already written a fic about such a conversation. for author_by_night

The only thing I could find was her head of house telling her that she couldn't be a prefect because she lacked a basic ability to behave herself. I hope that's what you're thinking of.


"You don't have to do this," Tonks said, trying to catch Maddie's sleeve before she went up to the front of the greenhouses.

It made no difference. Maddie was on a mission, and Maddie on a mission left little room for discussion. She stormed up to Professor Sprout.

"Ah, Madrigan," Professor Sprout said. "I'm told you did very well last night showing the new Hufflepuffs in."

"Tonks helped me," Maddie told her as Tonks caught up, trying to will her without words to not continue this. "Which, really, I ought to have been helping her. Tonks has been welcoming first years since she was a first year. Everyone thought she'd be our prefect."

"Not everyone," Sprout said. "Clearly."

"Well, all of us," Maddie said.

"I didn't, really," Tonks said. This wasn't true--she'd expected it as much as anyone else, and had even practiced her speech to the new Hufflepuffs. She'd always been a leader, and she'd just... taken it for granted.

"There's more to being a prefect than being friendly to first years," Sprout said.

"You see?" Tonks said. "And you're probably better at all of it than I am."

"Fine," Maddie said. "Just fine. But I still think it ought to have been you."

"Why don't you get to lunch, Madrigan?" Sprout suggested. "I'd like to have a word with Tonks."

Tonks gave Maddie a nod, then watched her go. She turned back to Sprout.

"Madrigan doesn't go into full mother bear mode unless she's decided you've been hurt. Did you give her a reason to think you were?"

"Er... no, I er..."

"Your hair is brown, Tonks, and I haven't heard a single complaint from Professor McGonagall about inappropriate faces made in Transfiguration. And you moped through my class like you'd lost your best friend. If this is your mode of hiding your emotions, I'm sorry to tell you that it's not very effective."

Tonks felt a glimmer of indignation. "I'm not faking!"

"I didn't say you were faking."

"Or hiding."

"Well, you're certainly not hiding well." Sprout came around her table and sat on the wooden chest where she kept the spare flower pots and trowels. She motioned for Tonks to sit beside her. "You did expect it, don't bother to say otherwise."

Tonks kept her mouth shut.

"Everything Maddie said is true. I've noticed the way you lead. You're quite good at it. Unfortunately, you have a habit of leading your classmates directly into things they oughtn't be doing."

"So does Charlie Weasley, and he's a prefect," Tonks said before she could stop herself.

"Gryffindor's prefects are Professor McGonagall's choice, not mine," Sprout said. "And heaven knows, she can make better sense of Gryffindor House than I can. I can only think of once that she asked someone who wasn't the year's leader, and it was... somewhat less than effective. So perhaps she knows best. But I'm the Head of Hufflepuff, not Gryffindor. How fair do you imagine your classmates would think it if I made a prefect of a girl who's had detention at least once a month since she got here?"

"But they all think..." Tonks stopped. They'd all thought it, but had they all thought it was fair? There certainly hadn't been any uprising of sentiment on her behalf, other than from Maddie.

"Nymphadora, you are very good leader, and in many ways a very good young woman. But a prefect is meant to enforce good behavior in her classmates. You lack even a rudimentary idea that you're supposed to behave yourself. How could you possibly enforce it for others?"

"I could learn."

"Until the first time you decided to take a dare from Weasley, or bedevil poor Professor Snape, or to punch a classmate in the nose when he said something you disagreed with."

"He was being anti-werewolf! He said something awful!"

"And, were you a prefect, you would have been restricted to taking points. As it was, you lost points... but I'd venture to say you gained a bit more satisfaction from it."


"You'd have been miserable as a prefect. It's not your style, Nymphadora. I know you're disappointed, but that will pass. Being a prefect would have made you miserable for three years."

Tonks nodded. She'd stopped trying to correct Sprout on her name a long time ago. She stood up. "May I go to lunch?"

"Yes. But Miss Tonks..."


"Sooner or later, you will need to learn to behave yourself. You can't go on like this forever."

Hahahha, sorry if this is weird. But a very detailed description of how your Remus looks? for Anon


Dean had done several drawings of Remus Lupin over the years. He was, in a lot of fundamental ways, haunted by the man--something he thought he had in common with Teddy, though it was something neither of them could very well talk about to the other. He had an idea that Teddy understood it anyway.

But sketches weren't portraits, and to Dean's eye, none of them seemed exactly right, even the ones he'd drawn from photographs. They were all well-enough executed facsimiles, but they seemed to be missing something.

The first night after Teddy commissioned him to paint a portrait, he did several sketches of Lupin, some in colored pencil, a few in watercolor smears, trying to sense where he was going wrong.

He always began his pencil sketches with the angles. He remembered the way Lupin's bony shoulders had lifted the rough cloth of his robes, and the way, the last time he'd seen him, his sharp elbows had been tenting out the sleeves as he fell. Even his face was angles--sharp cheekbones, somewhat pointed chin, even the hair that parted up to a high widow's peak over his left eye seemed to form an architectural feature--a cornice, perhaps, overhanging a house with windows that seemed to look at passersby. His eyes seemed--against logic--to be made of straight lines. Dean always evened these out to make arches when he finished off a sketch, but when he was boxing them in, they were trapezoids, the only roundness coming in the iris. The lines on his face were faint--he was too young to have any, but stress and worry had caused a few--only added to this look. His mouth had still held a bit of the bow-shape that Teddy had apparently got from him, but years of care had drawn it thinner and paler. Its natural shape had turned down a little, giving him a pensive look when he was relaxing, but Dean remembered from class that he often had a tendency to draw it upward in a small smile, an almost certainly unconscious thing.

The colors he associated with Lupin were browns--the old, cheap robes that looked like they might have been cast off by monks; the battered old boots, the scuffed briefcase he'd carried. His skin was pale, but roughened from hardship, giving it a brown impression, even if the color wasn't there. His hair was light brown, the color of half-dry sand with perhaps a hint of red in it somewhere, but not enough to really show. It was a bit wavy. His eyes were nearly the same shade. Dean had drawn and painted those eyes often enough that he thought he had the sum of them, and often enough that he'd sometimes questioned certain things about himself. In the end, though, it was simply that the eyes haunted him. Lupin had turned as the last spell rushed at him, and Dean had seen his eyes in the light of the many fires burning at Hogwarts by then, and then they'd slipped closed as he'd fallen. Thank God for small favors, Teddy's eyes were a different color, or at least Dean thought they were. He wasn't sure he'd have been able to look into Lupin's eyes for a long time without going mad.

There were other things about those eyes that he remembered, and tried to capture, more than just the color. For that, he had to go back to pencil work, trying to shade and adjust. There'd been good humor there most of the time, mixed with melancholy. There was certainly intelligence--Dean had worked with a lot of quite bright people as a portrait artist, and he could almost always see it in the eyes, like some part of the mind was using them to look inside itself at the same time they were looking at the outside world.

But there was something else.

It was most clearly missing in Dean's drawings of Lupin's eyes--he could see it in his head, but not duplicate it, because he couldn't name it--but it was also in his posture, the shape of his body.


The shadow, perhaps, of the monster that lived underneath everything. He'd seen the same something in Vivian Waters, in Pere Alderman, in all the werewolves other than Greyback, who didn't try to keep his monster under wraps.

"You're overthinking," his younger sister (well, half-sister) Alva said, hanging up film in her darkroom. "I've seen your sketches; they're brilliant." She turned and pulled a submerged print out from the chemicals and hung it to dry. It was from a hospital in Bhutan, where she'd been covering a story about rampant hunger after a landslide had wiped out crops for several villages. Dean had asked to look (feeling guilty using a tragedy for inspiration) so he could see the deadly thinness, but that hadn't been it. But something in this picture called out.

"What's this?" he asked.

Alva looked at it. "Oh. Poor kid. The water was polluted. He picked up a parasite. It was feeding on him. They got it out, though. He's fine."

She said no more.

Dean thought about it, though. He thought through supper, and he thought when he got home stared at his sketches again.

It was feeding on him.

He thought of the horrible thinness of all the werewolves he'd met, as though some vital nutrient wasn't getting to them. The thought had even occurred to him, though he thought it would be bad form to ask--"Excuse me, but does missing human meat make you ill?"

But it wasn't just that.

It was something inside, feeding on them. And they felt it.

It was in the eyes.

Slowly, Dean pulled out a large piece of paper, and began a new sketch.

10 comments or Leave a comment
yohumblenarr8or From: yohumblenarr8or Date: December 27th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)
The last was beautiful, if horrible.

I loved the one with Ernie too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I like Ernie, same as the person who asked for the piece. He's an oddball, but cool in his own way.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: December 27th, 2009 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Have we ever met your MacMillans before? They're adorable! So very English! Kind of a hint of Ron and Hermione there, seeming so different on the outside but their common "ground" more like a common aura or something...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope. I never met the MacMillans before either. I like them. :D
malinbe From: malinbe Date: December 27th, 2009 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm. I like the Macmillans very much.

I can only think of once that she asked someone who wasn't the year's leader, and it was... somewhat less than effective.
Hahaha, poor Remus.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, poor Remus is never going to live down his lack of skill as a prefect.
From: severely_lupine Date: December 27th, 2009 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, you've been busy, haven't you?

Well, it certainly is refreshing to see some of the less-involved people supporting Harry.

I can only think of once that she asked someone who wasn't the year's leader, and it was... somewhat less than effective. -- Aw, poor Remus. Sad but true.

Haha, ah, Sprout. Nice to see she's good at her job and actually does have students' best interests in mind.

Oh, that last one. Haunting and terrible, but a fascinating way to put it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Sprout's right that Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors would be looking for rather different things! Tonks might have made a perfect Gryffindor prefect. ;p
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: December 28th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
In general the Remus sketch one kind of made me want to cry, because it's incredibly touching, but this bit really cracked me up: The thought had even occurred to him, though he thought it would be bad form to ask--"Excuse me, but does missing human meat make you ill?"
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 2nd, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry for replying so late!

I liked this very much. And yes, it was what I was thinking of - like I said, it's been a while since I've read OoTP. ;)
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