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Batch 24 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Batch 24
How about something with Remus and Lily at Hogwarts? for sr_rivka42


"I'm never going to make this O.W.L.," Remus said as Lily Vanished a Sleeping Draught that looked suspiciously like Flesh-Eating Slug slime. "I don't even know why I'm doing so badly."

"I don't either," Lily said. She wrinkled her nose at the warped sides of Remus's cauldron. It would need to be fixed. He could no more afford to replace every third cauldron than she could, but it didn't seem to stop him from melting them. "You're perfectly good at Arithmancy, so it's not the maths. And I've seen you draw, so it's not bad fine motor control on the chopping. Do you cook at all?"

"Not much, no. A fish or two, over a campfire, when I camp with my dad."

Lily smiled, seeing Remus tromping around with his father in the woods. "Well, that's not really going to help."

He sighed. "I might as well give up. I'm never going to pass my O.W.L. in this. Plus, they'd never let me be an Auror, even if I did."

"Is that what you want?"

Remus looked up and started to nod, then shook his head instead. "Not really. I like reading about it, but I don't think I'd like working at the Ministry and doing all that paperwork. Not to mention having to arrest... you know."


Remus looked around sharply and drew his breath in through his teeth. "Lily, come on," he whispered harshly. "Talk about it too much, and people won't need to be good at maths to figure it out."

"Sorry. I just... well, never mind. Sorry." Lily opened her book to try to find some potion that Remus would be able to brew, and to give her something else to look at. He'd told her this summer why she wouldn't be able to count on him for patroling the school on nights with full moons (not that he'd ended up doing much of it any other time of the month), and she was never sure how to deal with that knowledge. The idea that a boy who couldn't even stand up to James Potter could, in fact, eat him alive, was completely alien to her. She shook off the latest mistake in dealing with it, and flipped back to the beginning of the book. "All right," she said. "How about an Invigoration Draught? It's quite simple."

"In this?" Remus asked, pointing at the warping on his cauldron.

"Well, come on, we can fix that with Charms. You do that better than I do."

Remus, who apparently hadn't thought of this, repaired the cauldron with a few practiced twists of his wand and whispered spells. "Maybe I could Charm it not to melt."

"I'd think if you could do that, you'd make a fortune on the cauldron market."

"I'm sure other people have figured it out," Remus said. "All right. Invigoration Draught. Where do I start?"

"By remembering where every potion starts. What's your base?"

Remus looked at her helplessly.

She sighed. "You can remember what to feed every animal in Kettleburn's barn. You can remember which of four bases goes with which potion."

"There are only four."

"Yes. I know Slughorn doesn't really stress it, but you've probably noticed. It can be water, bile, blood, or fat. And it's never blood in class, so you're down to three."

"Invigoration. It's..." He bit his lip.

"Think about it. Invigoration is energy, and what stores energy?"

"Fat," Remus said. "I read that book you gave me about nutrition. You know I'm not actually starving, right?"

"Right. So, fat. Which ones are in your kit?"

Remus rummaged in his battered potions kit. "Liquified dragon fat, hellebore oil, salamander slime."

"Which one makes you think of Invigoration?"

"I'd be invigorated if I had to fight a dragon."

Lily raised her eyebrows.

"Oh. Invigoration. Fire. Salamanders." He brought out the bottle and poured about a tablespoon into his cauldron, then Engorged it to fill half.

"Good," Lily said. "Next is a just a touch of armadillo bile."

"How much is a touch?" Remus asked desperately, searching through his measuring spoons.

Lily rubbed her head. "You'd do well with my sister. She measures everything when she cooks. A touch. A bit. A taste. Not too much of a taste. It's armadillo bile for heaven's sake. How much of it do you want to drink?"

"Not much."

"Good. So just tip the bottle a little bit, until there's a drop at the opening, then tap it with your finger. A touch."

"Oh. Why not just say 'a tap'?"

"Because no one other than the two of us would know what that means." She watched him add the ingredient. The solution turned an appropriate shade of yellow. "All right," she said, "now you need something to make it effervesce. What do you have?"

Remus grimaced at his ingredients, like they were enemies he meant to conquer, and chose one.

Lily shook her head, and resigned herself to a long afternoon.

How about something with Remus and Hagrid during POA? Hagrid compares the Weasley twins to James and Sirius in the Hogs Head, and I've been wondering how Remus would react if Hagrid said something along those lines to him. for ~Hermione Stranger~


"Wasn't sure you were coming," Hagrid said, putting out a huge tankard of mead for Remus. "Expected you about half an hour ago."

"Sorry about that," Remus said. "I was overseeing a detention, and it ran a bit longer than I expected."

"Who got in trouble?" Hagrid asked.

"The Weasley twins." Remus shook his head. "Do you know they said they were trying to get a detention from me?"

Hagrid laughed. "Those two? They're collectin'. They've got one from every teacher. Except me. Reckon they'll get around to hexing the paddock sometime soon anyway." He smiled fondly. "They remind me a little of Potter and Black. 'fore Black went bad, of course." He looked up, alarmed. "Sorry, Lupin--wasn' thinking, them being your friends and whatnot..."

Remus, whose stomach had fallen to the vicinity of his knees at this mention, forced a smile and waved it off. "No, it's quite all right, Hagrid. They reminded me of James as well." He considered it. "And Sirius. I wonder which of them I ought to tell to watch his back."

"Aw, they're both good boys," Hagrid said. "A little wild, but that's all. Didn' mean t'bring up bad memories."

"Really, it's all right. I suppose James and Sirius left an impression on the staff. Before... well, before everything went wrong. Perhaps they were both good at the time. I like to think that the bad things didn't start until later. Though, thinking back, I wonder if there's something I could have seen."

"If you didn't see it, I guess no one would've." Hagrid took a drink. "Could be it was like you say, though I can't help thinkin' we should've known--there was never a Black that was up to any good."

"As half the wizarding world is a Black somewhere," Remus said, "I certainly hope that's not true. And remember Andromeda. She's a Black as much as he is, and she's been very kind to me."

Hagrid thought about this carefully, then said, "Yer right, yer right. It's jus'... thinking o' James, you know. If I could lay my hands on that betrayin' murderer... and I could've that very night. He tried to take Harry. Tried to just steal off with him. Glad Dumbledore tol' me to bring the baby straight there."

Remus took a sip of his mead. "I wonder why Sirius didn't just kill you both."

"Who knows why Dark wizards do things?"

"Well, as I teach the subject, I'm meant to." Remus grimaced. "It just doesn't make sense. Your defensive spells aren't all that good, and Sirius knew you wouldn't be thinking he was an enemy, so you wouldn't even be trying. And Harry was a baby. Instead, he gave you the bike and sent you on your way. I wonder if..." He sighed. "Well, I always thought it might be because he still at least loved Harry--he always loved Harry--but I suppose, if he's out and muttering about coming here to kill Harry... I guess I was wrong. Again."

"Aw, don't torture yerself about it. He put on a good act. And there's nothing wrong with trying to find some good in yer old friend, but I don't think it's there. Cold-hearted, to act like that while he was plotting a murder."

Remus nodded and finished his drink. More than a little woozy as he left (Hagrid didn't deal in small portions), he walked slowly by the Whomping Willow, and past the greenhouses, trying not to weave too much. It wouldn't do to enter the castle like this, so he went down the lake's shore, meaning to splash his face with water. Voices bounced up over the surface.

"Oy, Fred, try this one out!"

There was a crackle of fireworks, then laughter.

"George, I think that's your best one yet."

Remus did a Magnifying Charm and looked down the shore toward the cover where most of the students had discovered they could shoot off fireworks properly without being seen from the castle. The Weasley twins were sitting on a rock at the end of it, shooting fireworks into the walled section of the cove. They laughed as a bright stream of red went away from them.

They remind me a little of Potter and Black.

They reminded Remus more than a little of James and Sirius. In fact, during their detention, he'd found himself following their lead as they collected Red Caps for him, laughing at their jokes, and feeling quite at home with them. He half expected them to suddenly change into animals and caper around for the sheer joy of it, or perhaps pull out that old Map they'd had until Filch had taken it (and undoubtedly destroyed it), and see who was hiding where.

They remind me of Potter and Black.


Remus listened to their laughter, his mind gnawing at all the old questions again. He could imagine some reason not to immediately kill Hagrid. Sirius might have been burned out from all the Dark magic. Or maybe he meant to kidnap Harry and take him to Voldemort to kill.

But the motorbike... why had he given Hagrid the motorbike, and a chance to escape? He could have kept Harry in his sight until they were back with Dumbledore, then secreted him away in the ensuing chaos. It would have made sense.

Another crack of another firework, more laughter.

Remus watched the twins for a long time before he went inside.
12 comments or Leave a comment
From: severely_lupine Date: December 28th, 2009 10:53 am (UTC) (Link)
a boy who couldn't even stand up to James Potter could, in fact, eat him alive -- LOL. You do have a way of putting things in perspective.

It's always so sad to think of Remus during those years without his friends.

The thought of Lupin stumbling all drunk back to the castle, though, is pretty hilarious.

I suppose it wouldn't have helped at that moment to know that the twins might very well have taken out the map. Unless, of course, this was after they gave it to Harry. But still. I wonder what the twins would have turned into if they had been animagi.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if their Animagi forms would have been the same.

And, yeah... Remus was probably wise not to go into the castle in that state.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: December 28th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor teen!Remus. He's really hopeless, isn't he?

And, again, poor Remus- this time so much deeper felt. Those always sounded like hellish years for me, those never ending thoughts, the lack of answers... Ohh, it makes me sad.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
He's really hopeless, isn't he?

At Potions, yeah. And at being a prefect. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 28th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just curious, why do you think Remus is bad at potions? I could understand if his teacher was more like Snape (yes, I'm a Snape fan, but his teaching style was less than effective [kind of like the Titanic's anti-sinking stuff was less than effective]). But Slughorn, despite his own troubles, doesn't seem to be the sort of teacher to freak out Remus' learning.

Just to quantify, Slughorn mostly ignores kids if he doesn't see in them potential that could benefit him. I'm guessing he'd have called it on Remus' future employment activities. However, he mostly ignores these kids and doesn't give them any positive reinforcement. If they're friends of kids he does favor, they may still get some spill over of support and so on.

So, Remus wouldn't be getting too much _negative_ feedback from the teacher and would be left to sink or swim on his own.

Hmm, on the other hand, Potions, done wrong, seems to have more negative potential than the other classes. A misfired charm tends to either do nothing or overdo things in a predictable way - small sparks turning into an explosion. Transfiguration, at the beginning level, is with inanimate objects. The beginning animate is turning an inanimate thing into an animate one (or a facsimile of an animate one - they're not that clear on that point). So, there's either no potential for harm or the potential harm is something you can easily see (a turtle with a china cup pattern that breathes steam) and can fix by doing things properly.

Potions has the potential of going very wrong in unexpected ways - melting cauldrons or acid exploding onto your friends - and can create harm that you're not aware of until someone takes it, if you don't know what you're doing and/or lack the skills to see that you're potion didn't turn out right.

Remus would be especially vulnerable to this kind of fear, once it got going in his head, because that's how he sees himself. He's a "thing" that looks all right on the outside but (in his mind) is really all sorts of horrible, hidden poisons on the inside.

In fact, once he got started thinking of Potions in a similar way, it would become its own feedback loop. Even once he began learning the ways to judge a potion's safety, he wouldn't trust them. First, he'd be up against already lacking faith in his judgement in this field mixed with the fear of disasterous consequences if he gets it wrong. Second, he'd be up against his innate fear that outward judgements for anything closely associated with him give you no clue about lurking deadliness within. Third, this would all be high stakes, since it's something that, in theory, is meant to be taken by another person - a person in danger of trusting the outward appearance of something to do with Remus and not suspecting the hidden poison waiting inside.

Or that's my guess.

Applying that to the second story, I'm now thinking how Remus must have instinctively felt everything that seemed to go wrong with Sirius must somehow be his fault. James and Sirius were like brothers who would have died for each other. But they befriended Remus when (in his mind) they should have known better. Somehow, a hidden poison took root in Sirius despite all the outward signs of what he appeared to be . . . .

Oh, yeah. Skip logic. Deep in his gut, Remus has got that one completely listed as his fault.

And it had to really impact his ability to make friends avoer the following years. Some part of him is afraid of poisoning people he cares about again.

From: (Anonymous) Date: December 28th, 2009 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and I bet one joke from Slughorn in first year about someone who didn't pay attention poisoning someone else - even if it was all very silly - would be all it took to freak out Remus for the next five years.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha, your thought process is a lot more complex than mine. I just have him bad at potions because he told Harry that he was never much of a potion brewer!

I guess I think the root of it might be that he's easily distracted from minutiae in light of the big picture (hence, forgetting to take his potion when he saw Peter on the map... and apparently forgetting that the moon was full). I could see that leading to doing badly at things like chopping ingredients and paying attention to the heat of the fire. Then, compound it with a few early failures caused by this, and he starts seeing himself as a bad potion brewer, hopeless in fact, and he ends up with a major mental block long before O.W.L.s.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 29th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I always overthink things.

But, this time, I was just meandering along as I wrote, starting off with, "Huh, Fern's Remus seems to have all the skills to be good at Potions. I wonder why he's not?" Followed by, "I wonder why _Fern_ would say he's not?"

That led onto, "Must be a mental block.

Then, "But why and how? It's got to be Potion-centric."

And, "As this is Remus, how can you hurt people with Potions but not the other classes?"

"Oh. _That's_ how."

"Dang, that's close to his other issues, isn't it?"

And, finally, "Speaking of those issues and applying that kind of thinking . . . Ah, the poor guy."

Not to mention the addendum: "But I bet Slughorn didn't help."

alkari From: alkari Date: December 29th, 2009 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I also wonder whether Remus had been given so many potions and remedies as a kid, when his parents tried so desperately to find a cure for him (as he tells Harry in POA), that perhaps he got a sort of subconscious mental block about potions and brewing stuff in general. I bet he'd been given all sorts of quack remedies as well as normal painkillers and healing potions - it wouldn't be surprising if a part of his mind rebelled against this sort of thing. Only he wouldn't recognise that, and of course Lily wouldn't see it because he probably hasn't told her very much.

Anyway Fern, another nice ficlet, and also sad conversation with Remus and Hagrid. HOW Remus must have worried and puzzled over those Halloween events, poor thing.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: December 28th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
The first one was great; I just love friendshippy moments like that. The second--oh. Just aching. There's just so much there: what we know about the past and what really happened and what we know about what will happen in the future. Nice job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think everyone needs a friend who's good at something and willing to help.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 29th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
How lovely - two Remus stories in one day!
I like how you have Lily understanding/explaining the reasons for the potion ingredients, instead of just memorizing the recipes.

And "mine"... what a hard year it must have been for Remus! Kinda embarrassing, but I'd totally forgotten about the motorbike. But it's certainly something that wouldn't make sense to those who "knew" about Sirius' "betrayal".

Thank you for the wonderful ficlet, Fern!

~Hermione Stranger~
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