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Shifts, Chapter 11: Interlude (2), Part One - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 11: Interlude (2), Part One
Okay, I can't do the whole interlude at a single whack.


Table of Contents and Summary so Far





"It's a full moon," Gilderoy Lockhart said, looking out the window of Ted Tonks' office with delight. "Do you suppose there are werewolves, Mr. Tonks?"

Ted nodded. "You can set your watch on it, but they're all safe in their changing places, and you don't need to worry about them, Gilderoy. And it's Ted, do you remember?"

"Ted," Gilderoy repeated uncertainly. Ted handed him another quill and a bottle of ink. Given his recent behavior--And just why didn't we see that coming?--teaching him to write again might not be terribly wise, but it seemed to make him happy. There was a kind of innocence in him now, the same that had been in him when they were children together, before he'd gone off into his own world.

And before Andi and I went off into our own world.

Ted shook his head to clear it. They'd all done what needed to be done at the time. Maybe Gilderoy could start over now. Ted had been trying different sorts of training for him, but no future he'd been able to See showed any real signs of recovery, let alone a productive life, no matter what they were able to re-train him in. The closed ward nurses thought it was hopeless as well, though they were quite charmed by him and petted him endlessly. But Ted had to try.

"Let's try your name again, Gilderoy. Do you remember how to make a capital 'g'?"

Gilderoy laboriously formed a gaudy letter. "Is your lady coming back?" he asked. "I'd like to show her my 'G.'"

"Not tonight. She has business. Another patient. I'll tell her to visit you while she's seeing her patients on the ward tomorrow."

Gilderoy clapped his hands. "Oh, good. I'll write my whole name by then." He bent over his parchment, and started another run of irregular scratching.

Ted went to the window and leaned against the sill, looking out at the full moon. Ever since Remus Lupin had told them about his lycanthropy--before he became Dora's tutor, he'd insisted on full disclosure--he'd made it his business to learn everything he could about the disease. Andromeda went on sporadic study runs, each time certain that she'd found some new path to follow to a cure, each time running into the same impenetrable barriers, but Ted just wanted to understand as well as he could. It had been helpful in his work, as he sometimes found himself helping new werewolves restructure their lives around the infirmity, but the search had only been for his own benefit, trying to reconcile the facts of werewolf life with quiet, sensible Remus Lupin.

In the end, he hadn't been able to. It was just something that happened to him.

Was happening. Right now.

Now that Dora was helping him with his Potion, she had taken a great interest in it as well, and when she'd picked Andi up earlier, she'd been fretting about not being there. Andi had given her a shrewd look, but followed her out without saying anything.

Ted didn't bother with shrewd looks. When it came to Dora, he'd realized long ago that there was no Seeing--and almost no guessing--what was going to happen in her life. He trusted her judgment.

But for Andi, Dora was always going to be a little girl to be fussed over and worried about. They'd wanted more children--a houseful--but it just hadn't happened, and a part of Andi never seemed to have got over it. Technically, it was still possible--Dora had been born when they were eighteen, and they were still relatively young--but somewhere along the line it had simply become clear that Dora would be their only child, and Andi had lavished all of her love on her. Now that she was out of the house...

Ted shook his head. Andi knew perfectly well what was happening and was trying not to hover, but it was a fight that she didn't always win. He hoped that working together tonight--with Dora in charge--would help.

"Mr. Tonks!" Gilderoy said. "Is this right?" He held up his parchment, where he had written his first name across more than half the space in clumsy script.

"Yes! Well done. Would you like to try 'Lockhart' now?"




Dudley Dursley bent over his computer, the muscles in his shoulders bunching from the prolonged hunching. He'd had another lecture from Baden about his grades--champion or not, he'd be pulled from the boxing team if he failed any of his classes--and Lewis, or whatever his real name was, had assigned another essay in history. It was the third in a month. How was anyone supposed to find that many things to write about?

In the end, he'd tossed a marker at his history textbook and ended up writing about Hitler's Enabling Act of 1933, when the poncy little git had got himself dictatorial powers by having his stormtroopers scare the Reichstag into voting for them.

He copied down the facts laboriously, wondering if Lewis's sort would even notice if he got them wrong. They didn't take much interest in the real world.

"He gives too much work," Piers grumbled. He was camped out in Dudley's dormitory, buried in half-drawn diagrams of Dachau (his essay was on the opening of the prison camp). "Bloody essays every week. Levinson didn't make us do so much."

Dudley considered reminding Piers about the exams at the end of this year, but opted not to defend Lewis, or seem to.

"Levinson's gone," he said shortly, not wanting to talk about it or compare. Piers wasn't a boxer. He'd never had Levinson come in and drag him out of a bad situation. He didn't know.

"D'you reckon he'll be back?"

Sure. As soon as they decide Lewis has been here long enough.

"I reckon he might just retire," Dudley said. "We should go see him sometime. Sneak off the grounds."

Piers looked at him strangely. "Mate, if I'm going to sneak off the grounds, it's not going to be to see an old man, even Levinson."

"Right, of course," Dudley said, his heart slamming against his ribcage.

"Now, maybe to go over to St. Ann's and visit the girls. That, I'd sneak out for. Any time. Or even one of the pub girls."

She beckons him, her long legs crossed in a sultry way, silver-gray eyes glittering in the firelight, ash-blonde hair shimmering. She is older, experienced, too beautiful to be real. She touches his knee. She gives him a drink. And then he is dizzy and the world seems to grow thin and then Levinson is there, calling her names and pulling him away and getting him outside into the clear air...

"Big D?"

"You can go broke on pub girls," he said. "I have to finish this essay."




"Nymphadora, are you certain I look... Muggle?" Mum asked, looking dubiously at the outfit Tonks had chosen for her, picking at the long beaded tassels on the the purple scarf that was tied around her waist. Tonks had rigged it to camouflage her wand, which hung beside her right hand. Beneath it was a rumpled gauze skirt with a floral print. She'd topped it off with a thin peasant blouse and another scarf tied around Mum's head, plus enough costume jewelry to line the lair of an ersatz dragon.

"Well, you're meant to look a bit strange. I'm sorry. But..."

"Camouflage."

"Exactly. The more, er, unusual Miriam and Joe think you are, the more real magic you'll be able to hide."

"Of course." Mum pulled a battered paperback book--a Muggle book--from the drawstring bag she was carrying. The title was Witchcraft Today. "Your father found this while we were at school. He thought it was funny. Muggle notions of magic. There's some dancing around, and powers in the earth. Altars."

"Is there anything about invoking gods and goddesses?"

"A bit."

"Miriam did ask that... well, something about not invoking gods and goddesses, because of their religion."

"I can work around that. I just need to get close to Mr. Levinson, and do enough nonsense chanting that I can slip in a real diagnostic spell or two. I can go with the power of the earth and the moon or whatnot. It's really a perfectly legitimate ritual, as far as such things go. It's just not magic in the sense that we use the word." Mum flipped through a few pages, then looked out the window at the moon. "What name shall I use?" she asked.

"Just use your own. By itself. They'll think you invented it."

Mum nodded and was quiet for a long time as they drove into the suburbs. "Nymphadora?" she said.

"What is it, Mum?"

"If I do find something magically wrong with him, I can't do a thing in his home. You'd have to find a way to bring him to St. Mungo's, and there will be memory altering spells."

"I know." Tonks turned onto the Levinsons' street and started looking for numbers on the houses. "Remus says that Joe's been stable since he left Smeltings. Is there any curse that would have a trigger like that?"

"Like Dudley Dursley?" Mum asked pointedly.

"Yes."

"Yes. If the person is cursed already, the presence of a catalyst can exacerbate the expression of it. Or, as your mad sister might say,"--she opened her book and affected an airy voice--"the polluted energy can be stirred into the pure heart."

Tonks grinned. "You'll be fine." They pulled up beside the Levinsons' home. "We're here."

"Let's get this over with."


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Comments
From: anatomiste Date: September 21st, 2004 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you meant to rhyme 'bunching' and 'hunching' at the beginning of the Dudley and Piers bit...

This is such an interesting story!
sreya From: sreya Date: September 22nd, 2004 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
If I get stuck in traffic because I took an extra 10 minutes for this, it's your fault. ;~P

Something that caught my attention. When Andromeda calls her daughter "Nymphadora", you might want Tonks to correct with "Dora." They're almost to the Levinsons, and Tonks would want her mother to be getting into character, so she doesn't slip up at the house. True, they COULD just explain away a slip with "Oh, my sister's a nut and decided Nymphadora is so much better than Dora", but I'm sure Tonks would rather avoid the explanation in the first place!

Besides, it would add a little more flavor of it not merely being a mother-daughter outing, but that they're actually working together, and that this is Dora's field of expertise.
dipsas From: dipsas Date: September 22nd, 2004 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm all giggles now: --and almost no guessing--

So Dudley is just waiting for 'them' to lose interest and disappear... I wonder what he figures was the reason that wizards took an interest in him in the first place.

Always a treat, this story.


mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: September 22nd, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Aha!

So, Ted taught Gilderoy to do joined-up writing!

Gilderoy laboriously formed a gaudy letter. "Is your lady coming back?" he asked. "I'd like to show her my 'G.'" Hah!! You've captured him!

I think this is the first time we've been in Ted's head, isn't it? You did a particularly good job tracing his not just pragmatic, but decidedly "male" logic.

Every scene with Dudley makes me feel like I'm missing something -- like there's some clue buried in there which I'm just not seeing. I did get the obvious one -- blonde, older, etc. but it just doesn't fit Narcissa. I don't think a 16 year old boy would think of a 39 year old woman as just "older". I think he'd think a 25 year old woman was "older", so I'm not particularly convinced it is Mrs. Malfoy here, and I think I'm missing something...


"Miriam did ask that... well, something about not invoking gods and goddesses, because of their religion."

"I can work around that. I just need to get close to Mr. Levinson, and do enough nonsense chanting that I can slip in a real diagnostic spell or two. I can go with the power of the earth and the moon or whatnot. It's really a perfectly legitimate ritual, as far as such things go. It's just not magic in the sense that we use the word." Mum flipped through a few pages, then looked out the window at the moon. "What name shall I use?" she asked.


I'm intrigued by the way you portray Magic in your stories, and the way you portray Muggle's ideas of "Magick". Your Magic seems to be part of a deeper world, a deeper truth and not, entirely, unrelated to faith - but in an old, "deeper magic", Narnia-type way.

There is one bit that just isn't "clicking" with me:

"Remus says that Joe's been stable since he left Smeltings. Is there any curse that would have a trigger like that?"

"Like Dudley Dursley?" Mum asked pointedly.

"Yes."

"Yes. If the person is cursed already, the presence of a catalyst can exacerbate the expression of it. Or, as your mad sister might say,"--she opened her book and affected an airy voice--"the polluted energy can be stirred into the pure heart."


So, are you saying that Joe was cursed and is *still* cursed, but the progression has stopped/slowed because Dudley's presence was somehow exacerbating the effects of the curse? I feel as though I'm not "getting" the point about the curse here.

Thanks!!! It's wonderful, Fern. :)
vytresna From: vytresna Date: September 23rd, 2004 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aha!

If it didn't elude you, there would be no mystery, right?

I can't believe I didn't understand that there was something about Joe Levinson until you said that. Ah well, I can be fairly dense at times.
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: September 22nd, 2004 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like the interlude chapters. It's so interesting to get a glimpse into everyone else's heads - it's as if, when it's just Remus, the world is shrunk to the happenings at Smeltings and 12 Grimmauld Place. With these chapters we're reminded about everything else that's going on.

Dudley's part was probably the most interesting for me. Since JK has confirmed that "what you see is what you get" with Dudley, I'm enjoying watching how you stick to that and still make Dudley more than the caricature we see through Harry's eyes. He's not overly bright or nice, but his characterisation is logical, and that's what counts.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: September 23rd, 2004 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, the eyes aren't blue. But there's still Appearance Charms, and the demeanor seems very... ah heck, maybe it is Narcissa. After all the Potter plotlines, that would be a twist.

Will Gilderoy's "recent behavior" be significant, or were you just talking about those autobiographies? You have great consistency in your personal canon, in any event. All my bunnies are based on theories that aren't all grounded in the same earth, which is why I comment.

Ooh yes, and Levinson's further deterioration hanging in the air... yes, the main plotline is back on track! Your character pieces were good, but now for the drama!

Where are the rest of your drabbles, by the way? You should put them all on HB.

readerravenclaw From: readerravenclaw Date: September 24th, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't reviewed Shifts in a while, and I'm still following along and enjoyed it immensely, so I should really try to give you more feedback. :)

You do interludes, with their changing POV very well, and I love getting the little snatches/sketches of other people. Andromeda is turning out to be a very interesting character. :)

Personally, I think that the mystery woman is a Veela - quite probably in league or under the command of Voldemort or the Malfoys, but not Narcissa. I figured I'd add my guess, wrong though it probably is, in as much as everyone else seems to be adding in their two knuts. :)
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