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Shifts, Chatper 6: Detention With Dudley, Part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chatper 6: Detention With Dudley, Part 3
Table of contents and Summary so far

When last seen, Dudley's class was filing out of Remus's classroom after playing what would have been a painful prank if Remus hadn't caught it before anything happened. Remus reminds Dudley that he was assigned detention for the office break-in earlier.

Dudley glowered at him, but stepped back into the classroom, dismissing Piers with an imperious flap of his hand. He waited for the rest of the class to file out, then sat down in the front row.

Lily's nephew, Remus reminded himself, still failing to see even a ghost of a resemblance. How would Lily deal with this resentful lump of a boy? (He had an unfortunately clear idea how James would respond to him, but he didn't htink Dudley was in a frame of mind where continuous magical pranking--James's thought would be to "get him used to the idea"--would be a helpful approach.)

Lily would probably do her best with the boy, being kind as long as she had to, then spend the next two weeks complaining about Petunia's parenting skills to anyone who would listen. James had been especially handy for these tirades, as they amused him greatly.

Neither approach would help Remus get close enough to Dudley to find out what had happened to him last year. To get Dudley's respect, he was going to have to get the upper hand without making him feel threatened. He took a deep breath, crossed his arms, and raised an eyebrow at Dudley. "You may begin by putting the chair back together," he said.

Without speaking, Dudley came around the desk, flipped the chair on its side, and started reinserting the screws that he pulled casually out of the pocket of his knickerbockers.

"Why did you break into my office?" Remus asked as he worked.

"You know why."

"I really don't."

"I want to prove that you're a you-know-what." He finished with the chair and swung it upright. If he took it in his head to swing it at Remus mid-arc, there was no good way to block it. But he didn't.

Remus almost said, Prove it to whom?, but held back at the last moment. He just didn't know how Dudley would react to a confirmation of his suspicions, and it might well be with a counterstrike. No one would believe him if he just said, "Mr. Lewis is a wizard." But if he said, "In detention, Mr. Lewis told me he was a wizard and offered to show me his wand," Remus had a feeling he'd be out on the street fairly quickly.

Instead, he said, "I met Joe Levinson on Saturday."

Dudley, back in the a seat in the front row, looked up in a guarded way. "How is he?"

"He seems to have stabilized since he left Smeltings."

"But no better."

"Not yet."

"Why do I think he'll suddenly recover when you get whatever it is you want here?"

"I have nothing to do with Mr. Levinson's illness."


"He told me how hard you worked last year. He was very impressed with you, and wanted to make sure I didn't waste your work."

"What did you tell him?" Dudley asked suspiciously.

"Nothing at all. I was listening to him. He's a good man."

"Too right, he is."

"He said he helped you in a pub fight last year... a woman?"

Dudley looked at him with cold, flat eyes. "That's none of your concern."

"I only wondered... in my office, you said I was like someone named Harry, and a woman last year. Is that the woman you meant?"

"Aren't you going to ask who Harry is?"

Curious about the answer Dudley would give, Remus asked, "Who is Harry?"

"Harry's..." Dudley's eyes glazed over and he looked mildly out the window. "A cousin. Just Harry."

For a moment, Remus thought Dudley was just being vague because of his nature, but then he recognized the dazed look in his eyes. He was under a spell that wouldn't allow him to discuss Harry in any great detail, and certainly not reveal to any wizard that they lived in the same house. That had to be frustrating to him, to find his mind suddenly blanking every time he neared a subject that was so close to him. It wasn't as total as Fidelius, and his non-magical friends undoubtedly would know about Harry, but still... the protective magic would find a way to interfere with his thinking.

Remus had never given much thought to the issue of memory spells and other mental alterations, other than a blanket, distant distaste for them. He decided at that moment that he had no intention of ever using one.

Dudley blinked a few times, then seemed to come back to himself. "So, what? Are we meant to have a bit of a cuddle now?" he asked, wrinkling his nose.

Remus's momentary sympathy for him disappeared in a wash of irritation. "One more quip like that, Mr. Dursley, and you'll be in front of the headmaster."

"What, then?"

Remus sat down at his desk (testing the chair gingerly before sitting in it) and leaned back. He wasn't especially good with standard punishments. He'd set Draco Malfoy to cleaning the grindylow tank after a particularly horrific class, and the Weasley twins--who made a hobby of getting detention in every class--had chased down redcaps with him. There was nothing quite as appropriate here.

"Very well, Mr. Dursley," he said. "Get out your textbook. There's a series of questions at the end of chapter two. I'd like them at the end of your detention, and you will be graded on them."

"Is that all?"

Remus rubbed his temples. "I'd hoped we could talk. But since that's not the case, I'll be more creative tomorrow."
12 comments or Leave a comment
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: July 11th, 2004 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
You did a very good job again. :)

It will be very interesting to watch if (and how) Remus will gain Dudley's trust. You wrote a very credible dialogue between these two. Especially the bit about the memory charm caught my attention. I liked the way you described what memory charms can do to people and Remus's thoughts about them.

One little thing: I noticed a little typo in the second paragraph: "He didn't htink".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 11th, 2004 12:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the catch!

I'm trying to figure out how to get Dudley to open up without screwing up his character, so Remus and I are floundering with him at the same time.
mincot From: mincot Date: July 11th, 2004 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I very much like the way that Remus is feeling his way (metaphorically!) with Dudley, and Remus' reaction to the memory charm is very characteristic of him. I like the fact that he accepts the necessity while never wanting to use such a thing--even though he himself could benefit from such charms. "Of course Mr. Lupin couldn't be a werewolf, don't be silly. Now, about those chewed hydrangeas and the seven missing dogs ... "

One place I noticed that I felt needed a bit of clarification: when thinking about how Lily would have handled Dudley, Remus thinks, James had been especially handy for these tirades, as they amused him greatly. What confused me a little was that the phrase suggests that Lily DID have tirades about Petunia's parenting skills--that James was reacting to those specific ones. However, the only time Lily could have seen Petunia in action as a parent was when Dudley was less than one year old, and she would not--I don't think--really have had to be patient with Dudley. Of course, she could have ranted about over-feeding, or about Petunia's constant willingness to go to Dudley every time he cried. Would she have been close enough to see those things? If not, maybe another statment would bridge the gap between theoretical and actual memories: Lily would probably do her best with the boy, being kind as long as she had to, then spend the next two weeks complaining about Petunia's parenting skills to anyone who would listen. Fortunately she had not seen Dudley for more than a few minutes at a time, but her extended rants about the behavior of idiot parents in Godric's Hollow still rang in Remus' ears. James had been especially handy for these tirades, as they amused him greatly.

That's clunky, but it gives you the idea. Of course, if I'm off base, ignore me!

But if he said, "In detention, Mr. Lewis told me he was a wizard and offered to show me his wand," Remus had a feeling he'd be out on the street fairly quickly. It is a brilliant line--and precisely the coldly-calculated sort of thing that could happen and get someone too innocent for their own good into serious trouble. But in light of the naked!Thewlis pictures floating around LJ, I was rolling.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 11th, 2004 12:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Remus is just in total fantasy mode here, imagining how Lily would react if she were alive, basing it on other rants she did when she was alive. (His weird version of Sirius-itis, I think; instead of living in the past, he's imagining the present with a different past.)

I came very close to just having Remus tell Dudley the truth here, but decided that the second week of school was too close. And in the process of that scene, I realized exactly how that would come out. ;)
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: July 11th, 2004 11:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I liked that Remus was against mind-altering charms. It's very in-character.

Marked, not graded, by the way.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 11th, 2004 12:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. One of those taken-for-granted things.
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: July 11th, 2004 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not terribly good at reading reviews, but after seeing this post I went back to your site and read the story to date.
Very interesting. You've humanized Dudley without making him acanonical (is that a word?) and I'm really intrigued as to how the relationship between Remus and Dudley will develop.

I'll confess to not entirely liking the scenes with Sirius, but that's nothing wrong with your storytelling -- just that I find it all so terribly depressing, *knowing* what will happen to him and seeing him miserable just feels like rubbing salt into the wounds. I know it has to happen this way, but I don't necessarily like seeing it. Again, nothing wrong with your writing, nor that you should change your plans for the story in any way. Just my own tastes that I'm suddenly articulating.

At any rate, I'll be looking forward to future chapters as they come forth.
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: July 12th, 2004 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, now I know you have a winning story. It invaded my dreams last night.
   Remus and Dudley were having a heart-to-heart. Dudley expressed an interest in something (owning a store or other life goal that wasn't his father's footsteps) and then dismissed it out of hand as impossible.
   Remus replied that it's perfectly okay to want, and maybe even to make them happen. Then Remus asks Dudley, if he could have anything, what does he really want?
   After a moment, Dudley replies, (somewhat bitterly) "a normal childhood."
   Remus says something sympathetic, having grown up a werewolf (which by now Dudley knows).
Feel free to steal this scene or ignore it; I just found it interesting (and impressive) that a story I only just read affected me so much that I dreamed about it.
I can't wait to see how the story continues.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 12th, 2004 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad you're enjoying the story.

They will at some point have something resembling a heart-to-heart, and Dudley's life goals might be an interesting thing to talk about. It's a bit down the line, though. First, I think Dudley should teach Remus how to use a computer.
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: July 12th, 2004 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting story! I've just finished reading all the previous chapters of the story, and I've found that you are excellent at writing Remus, Sirius and Dudley, in particular. In fact, your Tonks is probably the most in-character one that I've seen in any fic.

Anyways, great job and keep up the good work!

~Victoria Bloom

P.S. I friended you.
From: im_may_be_real Date: July 18th, 2004 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, just wanted to say I love how in character all the characters are (if that makes sense at all??. And also hope to see more soon!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 15th, 2009 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)

this is way too old so i don't think it will get answered

but... this part confused me a lot :
"but he didn't htink Dudley was in a frame of mind where continuous magical pranking--James's thought would be to "get him used to the idea"--would be a helpful approach.)"

is this teenage lilly and james remus is imagining?
because if i recall correctly in the books it said that james matured a great deal
plus it shows from his defense of lily in the "mudblood incident" in ootp, that he has no prejudice with muggles or muggleborns

and i don't think he would like to have lilly furious at him for pranking her nephew

so why he would curse dudley?
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