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Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Five: The Last First Day, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Teddy Lupin and the Needle's Eye, Chapter Five: The Last First Day, part 3
Harry asked for help in keeping the investigation at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters quiet while the train was being boarded. Donzo and Honoria called the other prefects, and as the other members of the smallest year arrived, they joined in, until Geoffrey Phillips showed up, wearing a red t-shirt with a needle's eye graphic that said, "Revolution."

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Teddy grabbed Geoffrey's arm and pulled him aside, toward Donzo. "Where in the hell did you get that shirt?"

"What the--" Donzo broke off his greeting to a third year, tapped Honoria's shoulder, and made a sign toward Geoffrey. Her jaw dropped and she started over, but Donzo made another sign to continue what they were doing. He strode over. "Phillips."

Geoffrey smirked.

"Where did you get it?" Teddy repeated.

"Made the graphic on my computer," Geoffrey said casually. "And there are plenty of shops that'll put whatever you like on a T-shirt."

"Put on your school robes right now," Donzo told him. "No one wants to see that."

"Yeah? So why did ten kids on the platform outside ask me where they could get one?"

Donzo shook his head in disbelief. "Geoff, even you can't possibly be suggesting that sadistic murder is a good idea."

Geoffrey shrugged. "No. This bloke's a pure psychopath."

Teddy tried to think of some way to even approach this, and ended up just shaking his head helplessly.

Geoffrey took it as a question. "Being a psychopath doesn't make him wrong, per se. We needed a shock. We're too complacent. We didn't solve the problem before, and we've managed to convince ourselves that there isn't one."

"Are you mad?" Donzo asked.

"Not that I know of. Everyone else, I wonder about. This whole bloody country." He raised his voice, adopting a caricature of a posh London accent. "'Oh, dear, someone just made a war that got half of us killed and nearly turned us into a dictatorship, so let's go have a cup of tea and get back to where we were before just as fast as we can, even though that's what got us in trouble in the first place. We'll just close our eyes and keep a stiff upper lip and put the whole rotten system back in place. Tea?'" He wrinkled his nose and went back to his normal tone. "How deeply goddamned British."

"And what are you, a Venusian?" Teddy asked.

"Oh, he's far above us," Donzo said. "Trust me, I've heard the entire diatribe in the dormitory. It doesn't get any more interesting."

"Oh, so sorry not to engage your pedestrian little mind. Why should you worry about changing the country when you have a concert tour to plan?"

Donzo gave an incredibly bored sigh. "Congratulations, Geoff. You've managed to create a depth of philosophy worthy of a cranky toddler. Now get into your school robes, or so help me God, you're going on the train starkers."

"I can express any opinion I like."

Teddy shoved him back into a brick pillar. "Listen, you troll. This isn't about your politics. This is about real dead people who have real live people who cared about them. Show some respect for their feelings."

"People? Then there has been another murder. I wondered what all of this nonsense was about."

"A lot of people have died over this," Teddy said, cursing himself, but not letting go of Geoffrey. "Either Transfigure the shirt or get into your robes."

"You know I can defend against any hex you try."

"Your mistake," someone said behind Teddy, "is assuming we'd do it magically." Corky came up at Teddy's left shoulder and cracked his knuckles menacingly. Donzo loomed over his right.

"Oh, good," Geoffrey said. "The brawn." But he was a smaller than Corky, Teddy, or Donzo (let alone all three of them) and grumbled. "Fine." He opened his suitcase and got out a Hogwarts school robe, which he pulled on over the T-shirt. "But it's not the last one you're going to see. People are thinking now. We can't just bury our heads in the sand forever. This bloke"--he pointed at the now-covered needle on his chest--"might be a nutter, but he did remind us of that simple fact. We cured a symptom, but we haven't got rid of the disease yet."

Donzo looked at him blankly, then looked over his shoulder and called their other dormitory mate, Franklin Driscoll. "Driscoll! Look who's here--why don't you and Geoff find a compartment on the train. Make sure he doesn't get cold." He turned back to Geoffrey and stared at him icily until Franklin marched him away.

"You don't suppose people were really asking for those shirts?" Teddy said.

Donzo sighed. "I guarantee it. Geoff's an ass, but he's not a liar. And Dad's had letters from people trying to sell the Sisters lyrics about 'cleaning house' and so on. He didn't buy. Three of them started a band of their own. It's called TornHeart. They wanted to be Dad's opening act. Why do you think the Sisters are making noise about retiring?"

"And leave us with that as an alternative?" Corky asked.

"Well, there'll still be me. I promise, I'm not much for house-cleaning." Donzo grinned. "Come on. Crisis averted. Let's get back to the job at hand."

They continued the greeting line, though, as eleven o'clock approached, the number of new arrivals was dwindling again. At ten minutes before eleven, Granny came through the barrier and waved to Teddy. She looked irritated.

He pulled Maurice over to take his place and went over to join her.

"A note?" she said. "You left a note?"

"Uncle Harry wanted some help." He looked around, decided no one was nearby, then told her in a low voice what had happened.

"Oh. I see." She handed him a basket. "I just Charmed Checkmate to sleep, so she should be good for the whole ride." She considered what he'd said, then nodded. "You're right. I should tell Cissy and Draco. And then tell them to get out of the country again."

"And Lucius?"

"I suppose they'd see through it if I told them he might enjoy a midnight stroll in Diagon Alley." She shook her head. "No. There's been enough."

Teddy wanted to have a long talk with her about Geoffrey's comments--she'd been known to engage in a few shock tactics herself at Geoffrey's age--but there was no time. Instead, he hugged her tightly.

She pulled away and patted his arm. "You're a good boy, Teddy. But you're not a boy anymore, are you?"

Teddy wasn't sure what to say to that, other than, "Sorry."

"No." She smiled. "You're a good man. And that's even better. I'm proud of you, and your mum and dad would be as well. Go on. I'll talk to Harry after the train leaves, to get whatever details he thinks the Malfoys ought to know." She stepped back, raised her chin firmly and gave him a gentle shove to send him on his way.

When Teddy got back to the line, Uncle Harry was talking to Donzo and the others. The tail end of it made it obvious that it was a thank you. He waved them toward the train.

Teddy went to him. "I guess this is it until Christmas."

"I'll be there in October to teach again," Uncle Harry said. "And I'd best see some impressive things from a handful of seventh year N.E.W.T. students."

"We'll do our best."

"Then I'll be impressed."

Teddy gave him a quick hug, then went to the compartment on the train where they'd stashed their luggage. There was no time to settle in before the train started, and the prefects' meeting was called early. Uncle Harry had given Donzo and Honoria permission to tell everyone what was going on, and because of that, the meeting lasted for a good part of the trip. Teddy told them about Geoffrey's shirt. Most were disturbed by it, but two of the fifth years (the Hufflepuff boy and the Ravenclaw girl--the latter to Story's disgust) defended it.

When the meeting was over, they went back to the compartments they'd started in, though Victoire and Story decided to join Teddy's group. Maurice's brother Wendell had joined the non-prefects, and spent the whole trip sitting quietly in Maurice's shadow, speaking only when spoken to and looking quite terrified. He'd been Sorted over the summer in a private meeting with the Headmistress, and would be joining Maurice in Slytherin, but that was all Teddy was able to get from him. No information was offered about where he'd been.

Tinny declared a moratorium on discussing the murders, to everyone's relief, and they spent the rest of the journey talking pleasantly about their plans for the year.

"I'm going to do articles about our year," Honoria said casually as they pulled into Hogsmeade station.

"What for?" Roger asked.

"The smallest year comes to an end." She sighed. "I was going to call it 'Through the Needle's Eye,' but I guess I'll have to call it something else now."

"Good thinking," Maurice said dryly. "I still don't see where it's news."

"Of course we're news!" Honoria said, getting her trunk out from under a seat. "We're the last of the war."

"Maybe we were," Maurice reminded her. "Not anymore. The war's come back."

There was nothing to say to this.

Slowly, the smallest year left the Hogwarts Express and went out into the chilly Scottish night.
29 comments or Leave a comment
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: June 4th, 2010 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Ugh, Geoff...go diaf. It's sad that people like Geoff actually exist. I have never been able to wrap my mind around their way of thinking.

You always did a great job making Honoria and Geoffry unlikable in the past and while it's nice to see that Honoria eventually grew out of it I'm very happy to see that you've kept Geoffry's personality so disgusting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Some people grow out of it; unfortunately, others grow into it. Geoff grew into it.

Yeah... I'm going to have to get closer to Geoff to get away from the caricature Teddy is seeing at some point, but there's no part of Geoff that isn't really an asshole, no matter what he happens to think of himself or how he got there.
amamama From: amamama Date: June 4th, 2010 09:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Gods, Geoff is such an ass. Unfortunately his kind doesn't only exist in fiction. *sigh*

Grannydromeda's suggestion that Lucius take a midnight stroll in Diagon Alley is great. Shows what she really thinks about the man - and then her dismissal of the idea shows her heart. Does Geoff have a heart? *g*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Andromeda's... not a Lucius fan.

Geoff believes he has the biggest heart of all. Everyone else merely feels for people they have some connection to, the bastards, while he is concerned for the welfare of the whole world (and hey, sometimes you have to break eggs to make an omelet, right?)
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 4th, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, the revolting Geoff is nothing if not consistent. Honoria has improved with age, and he's just gotten worse. Wonder how Wendell's going to fit into the scheme of things.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Wendell's not a big part, but we'll be hearing more about Maurice's family. Now that Teddy's orphan issues are more resolved (not totally resolved, but more), he's more able, I think, to see what else is going on around him.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 4th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I was wondering about those little articles you had already started on. Will we see them, then? Sweet.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Either I'll put them in like interludes, or we'll hear about them. Either way, they'll exist. Only, obviously, not under the same name. Once I knew the name of this story, I knew I had to make Honoria drop the name of her columns!
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: June 4th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Congratulations, Geoff. You've managed to create a depth of philosophy worthy of a cranky toddler. Now get into your school robes, or so help me God, you're going on the train starkers."
These had to be my favorite lines. Go Donzo!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Donzo's been listening to Geoff for six years. No wonder he spends so much time out of Ravenclaw!
gypsy_thief From: gypsy_thief Date: June 4th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's so perplexing that Geoff doesn't understand that vanquishing and jailing the evil doers actually does mean that things have changed.

Fern, good job at capturing his madness.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
It's so perplexing that Geoff doesn't understand that vanquishing and jailing the evil doers actually does mean that things have changed.

Well, the DEs were banished before, but rose again, so clearly, the sentiments that are so horrendous still exist even when they're punished.

The problem with Geoff, I think (aside from the asshole business) is that he believes that erasing people will erase ideas. That's a very dangerous mindset. He also thinks that a malfunction of an essentially free system means that the whole thing is nothing but an illusion. The typical adolescent, "Mom and Dad aren't really perfect, like they wanted me to think, so they're really evil hypocrites, waah, waah, waah."
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: June 4th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okayokayokay, I'll start drawing again. Yay! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Cool. ;p (No pressure, I can write without them. But it sure would be fun to have images.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just want to talk about Geoff in the third person with him present, ignoring his arguments beyond what's necessary to analyze his mental state as a sort of disease. Ignoring him is the thing that would probably irritate him the most.

Anonymous Hogwarts student dumped in as authorial mouthpiece who still knows the main characters well enough to chat casually: [Shrugs and speaks in a disconcerned voice] The thing to remember about Geoffrey is that his self-definition is based entirely on presenting himself as superior and that he's only capable of doing this by hating the Other - the psychological Other, where anything apart from him is evil. While he does show some sociopathic tendencies, it actually seems to be his way of trying to emotionally connect to those around him. It's clearly the result of being abused as a child. As this is is his ONLY way of interacting with others, it's clear this is the ONLY social behavior he ever saw in his parents. He's grown up in an environment where his worth was only acknowledged to the extent he parroted back such sentiments.

The important thing to remember is that his demonization of the Other has nothing to do with real characteristics, it's a psychological crutch. He has no self-image apart from finding someone to look down on.


Yeah, I know it wouldn't help, but I just had to say it.

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I am replying to my own comments. I'm pretty sure that's bad form (I shouldn't have reread this. Geoff would no doubt be pleased to know he's irritating me more than usual).

Imaginary things for the imaginary student to add:

It's important to remember that anger and hate - oh, and a sense of being pleased with himself when he can find any excuse to aim those at people - were the only emotions that were approved of in his formative environment.

You can also see that the results of growing up in an environment where play and other activities normal to the development of a healthy psyche were forbidden. For example, Donzo, when Geoff expresses anger at someone spending time on musical pursuits, you can tell that he's repeating the same kind of verbal abuse he was subjected to as a child when he expressed interests in these sort of things.

Apart from philosophical differences in child rearing, it's important to know that play is actually an essential part of how a healthy brain forms. Certain types of psychotic violence, for example, have only been displayed in people who, like Geoff, were actively kept from playing as children.

Not that I'm suggesting Geoff has the potential for that kind of direct violence. So far, his primary emotional outlets, like the vicarious joy he takes in the violent death of another human being, have been sufficient for him. He also closely links his ability to hate and enjoy the suffering of others with his feelings of superiority. The fact that he hates them serves as direct proof that he is superior to them.

Besides, he does have some ability to look ahead. He enters verbal fights with you but he generally avoids physical attacks or threats unless it's with someone weaker or who he otherwise thinks he can keep from telling on him - or who he thinks he can discredit if they do. It's all linked in his mind. If he's upset at someone, that's proof positive they're in the wrong and deserve to be set in their place. Hence, they deserved. Hence, his actions were necessary and even provoked.

But, boy, if he ever decides to pay back his mother for what she did to him, that lady is in for a world of hurt.

[Pause] Speaking of which, has anyone checked on her since Geoff came of age and got the Trace taken off him? Might be a good idea to check for signs of memory charms, too . . . .

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Very good analysis. I do love your comments.

Mom and Dad may have let Geoff play, but I doubt they let him play with other children much, and I doubt their own games were particularly helpful to him. He almost certainly never read fairy tales (they are inherently archaic and, as folk literature, inherently tainted by the ignorant beliefs of the... well, folk), and, worse, most of them suggest that there's an underlying morality of the world that has nothing to do with economics and realpolitik. They might even lead him to question whether or not Revolution is always a good thing. Fairy tales are very dangerous things for anyone who wants to establish uniformity of thought. When a pumpkin can become a coach, and the trees have ears, nothing can be taken for granted. As Professor Tolkien said, "The escapist is not so subservient to the whims of evanescent fashion as these opponents. He does not make things (which it may be quite rational to regard as bad) his masters or his gods by worshipping them as inevitable, even “inexorable.” And his opponents, so easily contemptuous, have no guarantee that he will stop there: he might rouse men to pull down the street-lamps. Escapism has another and even wickeder face: Reaction.... Much that he (I must suppose) and others (certainly) would call “serious” literature is no more than play under a glass roof by the side of a municipal swimming-bath. Fairy-stories may invent monsters that fly the air or dwell in the deep, but at least they do not try to escape from heaven or the sea."

Geoffrey's in his comfortable little municipal swimming-bath under a glass roof, and has no clue what to do with heaven or the sea.

Edited at 2010-06-06 02:40 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't be so irritated if Geoff was capable of being happy in his little municipal swimming-bath under a glass roof and didn't feel the need to lash out at everyone.

There's a part of me that _does_ think the world should work in a neat, clock-work like way (my right brain and left brain have an interesting seesaw thing going on who's running this show). So, there's a part of me that's quite capable of looking at FUN and questioning why we need it. I could see how a person dominated by that kind of thinking could be suspicious of play and ban it entirely without being an inherently abusive person. If the brain really did work like a computer, pouring in data all the time couldn't help but be good, right?

Another part of me is quite irritated that play and fun should be "justified" by their practical value. But, all the same, we need to learn to be human - no, more than that, we need to _learn_ to be ourselves. And that takes practice.

Anyhow, I remember a National Geographic article from years back about play. It opened with a description of a polar bear observed coming up on a husky that was tied or chained to stake. The husky couldn't have gotten away, and polar bears have no problem in general eating huskies. Instead, it played with it in a friendly, both descendents of the sociable wolf-dog family sort of way (bears are probably the least sociable of the family, but no one's ever mistaken them for cats). It even went out of its way not to hurt the dog by accident (a real problem when you outweigh dogs by several hundred pounds). Then, it left.

It was a striking example of animals engaging in play - even showing a _need_ for it - that outweighed practical things like hunger and self-interest.

It puts play up there with sleep. We're not really sure why we need sleep, but we die without it. And not just us. Dolphins have evolved whe really weird ability to have one hemisphere of their brain in sleep mode and then switch so they can keep doing things like surfacing and breathing (and avoiding sharks).

Which may have something to do with why dolphins may need play even more than humans. Dolphin trainers have to constantly change the routines for dolphins. Learning new tricks also helps. A dolphin forced to do the same tricks over and over again will eventually refuse. If they only get fed if they do the tricks, they will starve rather than do the same old thing over and over again.

Er, which probably has something to do with Geoffrey.

Hey, if he gets reincarnated, could you make him come back as a dolphin? You know, karma forcing him to learn the lesson he obviously missed in this life?

hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: June 4th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is brillant, as usual. You write disgusting magot of a man (Geoff) so well. He sounds exactly like some people I unfortunately know in real life.

I agree with Honoria that the Smallest Year coming to an end would be good fodder for fluff pieces of news, and it is too bad she can't use that title anymore.

You tied in Wendell well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
It would be a good way--for other people, even--to reflect on the end of the war, and what it ultimately meant.
From: amethystbeloved Date: June 4th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's great to see the Smallest Year coming together again-- I heart Corky! Great job of developing Geoff-- he's skum alright even though it's interesting how you made two students standing up for it, and that might as well foreshadow the split between the two groups.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
There are always people who follow the sneering guy who finds it funny to stick firecrackers in other people's shoes, which is more or less Geoff's schtick, though he'd never say so much.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 5th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)

wow ficlet om my birthday!

even with Geoff's nastiness(what a horrible, creepy piece of work he is... I sure hope he is not a Gryffindor or a Slytherin. )

this was such a great chaplette to read on my birthday!

specially with lines like this:

"Congratulations, Geoff. You've managed to create a depth of philosophy worthy of a cranky toddler. Now get into your school robes, or so help me God, you're going on the train starkers."

I love Gonzo and I love Teddy.

From: amethystbeloved Date: June 5th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: wow ficlet om my birthday!

Geoff's a Ravenclaw! In the last update, you'll find "[Geoff] also ignored Teddy entirely and went to Franklin Driscoll, who he shared a dormitory with (along with Donzo)." Donzo's a Ravenclaw too.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 5th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: wow ficlet om my birthday!

I must've missed that.

Now I feel bad for the ravenclaws.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: wow ficlet om my birthday!

Yeah, especially Franklin and Donzo, who have to listen to these diatribes on a regular basis. But it seemed like something that's essentially a bit of juvenile pseudo-intellectualism would be most at home in Ravenclaw.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 6th, 2010 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: wow ficlet om my birthday!

Happy birthday!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 7th, 2010 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
As someone who is quite actively involved in the trades union, socialist and anti-capitalist movements in the UK, you'd be terrified how often you meet little Geoffrey's who take the whole 'smash the state' thing quite literally. The whole 'first against the wall when the revolution comes..' meme which is often used ironically or in jest becomes deadly serious and it's rather unpleasant.

For every view there is always an extreme, and it's interesting to see an extreme Muggleborn for once. It would be interesting to see Geoff take someone such as Hermione, who I'd imagine is a champion of the more democratic end of the cause. Though, given my knowledge of how these things go, she'll probably be accused of being a member of the bourgeois elite or whatever the Wizarding equivalent is, with little to no debate above name calling.


fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 7th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I've met them, too. I think there's a pretty broad range of ideas about government and fairness, and I honestly think that all of them have something to offer, and often our best option is to mix and match and let the best in each rise to the top. But then you get the Geoffreys in a movement, and... yeah. He's basically Madame Defarge, knitting names for the guillotine.

ETA: I think he'd consider Hermione the Muggle-born equivalent of a "blood traitor." And she'd consider him a complete whack-job.

Edited at 2010-06-07 05:29 pm (UTC)
29 comments or Leave a comment