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Joe Umland, Teppenpaw
For once, I'm glad I have no talent for music.
Tue Sep 11, 2018 14:27

It was a fact universally acknowledged that telling someone not to think of pink elephants was, of course, the exact way to provoke that person into thinking of nothing but pink elephants. It was also, as it turned out, a pretty effective tool to use when the topic not to think about was ‘memories one rather the teacher not see.’

I wonder how much trouble I will get into if my surface thoughts are about how much I’d like to hex you for giving us this lesson?

However much it was, though, Joe was pretty sure that it couldn’t be worse than her seeing any of the thoughts which had actually bubbled to the top of his mind the moment she had told them not to worry about their deepest thoughts being exposed. The fact he wanted to commit any number of sins with girls was just embarrassing – acutely embarrassing, horrifying to even contemplate anyone else knowing about, but not actually criminal – but there were…other things, too, in his head, and they were flashing through his head at a lightning pace, now –

The first time (that he could remember, anyway) he had ever laid eyes on his biological mother.

Said biological mother standing in the back garden, by the apple tree, telling him that John’s biological father had been criminally insane and that she thought his brother had inherited said tendencies.

Said brother’s Muggle best friend pointing a gun at Mom – quite possibly the same one, if not the same user, responsible for the fact that said brother had been doing his level best to bleed to death at the time.

Another Muggle, tied up and Stunned, in the floor in front of the back door. Joanie in the kitchen, dumping piles of sugar into her tea in case he had drugged it with something which would be rendered useless by sugar. Joanie telling him that she knew what he was. Julian barging into the house at the exact moment Joe suffered from a probably non-hereditary moment of temporary insanity and kissed Joanie –

Effing pink elephants. Think about anything but that. Think about actual effing pink elephants – anything but that. Think about Professor Brooding taking the ribbons out of her hair and tying Professor Hawthorne up with them – anything but that -

He took a deep breath. Okay, it would be weird to think about the professors doing that, however great an inexplicable similarity Professor Brooding bore to the mythical version of Lady Godiva. He had to think about something, though. Anything. Anything but – all of that.

His hands obediently picked up his book and opened it when they were told to research while they were waiting, but he made no real effort to begin doing his homework. All of his attention was on keeping a straight face, on looking unconcerned and slightly bored – a job he was not, unbeknownst to him, doing very well. He was visibly less than pleased to see Professor Hawthorne by the time she appeared at his desk, nervous and tense even as he made an effort to fake a smile and make a joke with the professor about doing her worst.

He had, however, by that time, settled on a defense: Frere Jacques. His instruction in French had effectively ended the day he had enrolled in Sonora, but Mom had done her best to get all her children at least to the point of being able to get around in Quebec if they ever needed to visit the home of Canada’s second official language, and he had early memories of everyone learning to sing that stupid little song in both English and French. It had gotten annoying, too – none of them, him and his siblings, had any real gift for singing, and so all of them singing Frere Jacques off-key at slightly different times was a discordant racket which ought to drown out anything else she might notice. Legilimency did, after all, from what he had read before class – all never imagining they would have a practical lesson in this - have something to do with her ability to notice and interpret scraps of information, and making that racket in his head ought to keep her from concentrating too well on anything else.

Frere-Jacques, Frere-Jacques, dormez-vous? Dormez-vous? Sonnalaya - he had over time forgotten exactly where a couple of words separated - matin, sonnalaya matin, ding-dang-dong, ding-dang-dong.

When he felt as though something were pushing on the inside of his head, he tried to imagine it was pushing his memories out of his head, leaving nothing but the song. This, though, did involve a few flashes around the edges – the Incident with Headmaster Brockert – no, he did not want her seeing that, either, or Joanie on a bench in the park, or Julian dropping the happy domestic act while bouncing the baby on her knee in her gardens –

His textbook, without his hands going anywhere near it, abruptly moved, flying at Professor Hawthorne. Joe snapped out of his half-trance, shutting his eyes as his mouth twisted with nausea. “Sorry Professor,” he gasped. “I didn’t – sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. Sorry.” The distinctly Canadian quirks of speech which he normally avoided thickened in his voice, until the last ‘sorry’ sounded more like ‘soiree’ as pronounced by someone with no functioning knowledge of French. Sore – ee. Sore – that was a good word. That was how his brain felt now. Hopefully it was not how his teacher felt now. “And about the lousy quality of my mental singing,” he added, deflecting as best he could.

Smooth, Umland, very smooth. Great. Maybe she hadn’t noticed. Or she had just seen…a quabble with a brother that got out of hand, a girl in a park. The last a thing that anyone might have preferred their teacher not see – right? And both of those were things that just kind of happened, nothing special, nothing interesting - and Joe, at least, thought it seemed perfectly normal, nothing like inherently suspicious, not to want someone in one's head. He thought he had been a fairly private person even when his life had been blessedly uninteresting - whenever that last had been.

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    • For once, I'm glad I have no talent for music. — Joe Umland, Teppenpaw, Tue Sep 11 14:27
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