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Shifts, Chapter 12: Substitutes, Part 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 12: Substitutes, Part 1
Okay. Getting back into the quick-arc swing of things. I'll add the link to the second interlude section in the table of contents later.

Anyway, Dora and Andromeda ascertained that Joe was suffering from a curse, but there was no time to talk it out before Dora's Auror shift. Remus is staying home from work to sleep. Thanks to mrs_who, who asked who is covering Remus's classes and made the suggestion of Joe--it won't come in in this part, but that's who it was, and there'll be something of a mentor moment. I hadn't thought about the question of who was covering the class, but it works well!

Britpick question for a fairly-far-in-the-future, possible scene: Schools here have open houses (sometimes called Parents' Nights) where parents come into the school to talk to teachers. Is there a corresponding thing in British schools, and if so, what's it called?

Table of Contents and Summary so far

Judging by the sunlight, it was just past noon.

Remus buried himself in the bedclothes, wrapping them around his joints and waiting for the last of the pains to pass. That they wouldn't--not really, anyway--until tomorrow was something he knew perfectly well, but why let it interfere with a good lie-in, really?

Because it's past noon, and you can't just lie about all day.

"Why not?" he muttered to no one.

You know why.

He took a deep breath and forced himself to sit up, pushing his spine against the headboard of the bed. His head was swimming a bit, as it usually did when he slept this late, and he waited for it to settle down. He would force himself out of bed, though, because it was too easy not to.

When Lily and James had died (and when he'd believed that Peter had), he'd expected a bad turn, and had forced himself to go on. Dumbledore had found him a job away from London, teaching Squibs, and he'd made himself do it. But the transformations had been horrendous that year, just before the Wolfsbane potion, and he was out so often that in June, they'd regretfully told him that they would need to find a teacher who was more reliable the next year.

After the next transformation, he simply hadn't gotten out of bed.

At all.

He'd missed a Sunday lunch at the Tonkses', and Ted had come over and found him, and he'd ended up spending a week at St. Mungo's. Ted said it was just too much happening. Stress. Emotional overload.

It could be named anything, but Remus knew what it had been: abject surrender.

Remus wasn't a fighter like Sirius or James, and didn't enjoy fights as Peter did. He wasn't a hero, like Lily, or fearless, like Dora.

But he was damned if he'd just give up.

He put his feet on the floor, braced himself for the stabbing pains in his toe bones, and stood up.

The first few steps were lurches, barely controlled falling across the room until he could get his hands on the wall, but after holding on for a moment, some of the strength came back. He straightened his legs and pushed away from the wall, steadying himself for a moment before slowly picking his way down the stairs. It had been easier immediately after the transformation; sleeping, however healthy in moderation, made all of his sore muscles stiffen.

"Are you already up?"

Remus looked down the stairs. Sirius was at the bottom, examining the space between the wall and his mother's portrait, careful not to disturb the curtains. Remus could hear snoring coming from behind them.

He nodded and started down the stairs. He kept his voice low. "What time is it?"


"Quite late enough." He reached the bottom of the stairs and leaned on the newel post. "What are you doing?"

"Trying to work out the sticking Charm. I can't figure out what she's used to bind it."

"Any luck?"

Sirius grimaced. "I'm beginning to think I should have listened to a few of her lectures from time to time. I don't like not knowing what she's done around here."


"What do you mean, 'Hmm'?"

"Does 'hmm' mean something?"

"You tell me."

"It means that I actually don't have an opinion on the subject." Remus yawned. "I should eat something. Do you want anything?"

"There's shepherd's pie from last night," Sirius said. "I've got a Warming Charm on it."

Remus shuffled across the hall and made his way down to the kitchen, his muscles loosening up a little bit with each step. By the time he'd served himself, Sirius had come down as well, installing himself at his habitual spot at the table, sharp elbows planted on the wood.

"Do you want any?" Remus asked.

"I already ate." He watched Remus sit down. "How's the cut?"

Remus, who had forgotten entirely about the gash on his side, stretched a bit. "Seems fine. Thank you for helping with that."

"Well, I suppose I could have just let you keep bleeding, but then Kreacher would complain about having to clean it up."

"Well, we can't have that."

Sirius watched him eat for awhile. "You just missed Dora," he said. "She came by at the beginning of her lunch to check on you. I told her you were still sleeping."

"Did she have any trouble reaching Smeltings?"

"Not that she mentioned."

"And they were able to find someone to take my classes?"

"They didn't tell her, but I'd imagine they'd have to. At least you can be sure it wasn't Snivellus this time." Sirius grinned, knowing how much that particular substitute had galled Remus. "Though I'd give a sack of galleons to see him mucking about with a computer and a telephone. Or asking a student for help with them."

Remus sighed. Sirius had loathed Snape from day one--all of them had, to be honest; he'd allied himself with Bella's gang on the Hogwarts Express, and that was more than enough to draw the wrath of James, Sirius, and anyone under their influence--but since their forced alliance, the petty attacks had become constant. Sirius couldn't protect Harry from Snape's torments, so he seemed to have adopted a policy of simply striking back, even if it was just his imagination calling up a Severus Snape humiliated at facing unknown Muggle technology and having to swallow his pride and ask for help. Mainly, it was a return to his role as Snape's own tormentor. Remus didn't think he was doing Harry any favors.

And, at any rate, Snape had long since learned to handle that mode of attack.

"She seemed quite concerned," Sirius said.




Sirius was quiet for a long time (for Sirius), then said, "When I left... did she remember me?"


"She says she did, but--"

"Yes. She did. She didn't know quite what to make of you, but I promise, she remembered you. I think that's why she was so aggressive about making sure I kept checking in."

Sirius laughed. "Right. I'm certain that's exactly it. Remus Lupin, substitute cousin."

"I don't mean that I replaced you," Remus said quickly, and bit his tongue on saying, Or Peter, although the latter would have been a more likely connection in young Dora's mind. "Just that she felt the loss. And she didn't want to lose anyone else. She remembered you." He smiled. "She still has the dolls you Charmed for her when she was five. Last I knew, a handful of them were wandering around her flat, driving her cat quite mad."

"I am good with toys," Sirius said, grinning broadly.

"Brilliant. I still can't believe you bought Harry a Firebolt. You had to know we'd guess it was from you and strip it down."

He shrugged. "There was nothing wrong with it. I assumed, if he turned it in, that you could strip it to your heart's delight. Though I still can't believe he turned it in."


"Of course. Clever girl. I like her."

"So you've said."

Sirius picked up his wand and started levitating the dishes over to the sink. "Can I ask you something, Remus?"


"Why didn't you write to Harry?"

It was the last question Remus had expected, and he found himself vaguely confused by it. What on Earth...? "He... he seemed anxious to write to you. To get to know you. I had a whole year with him."

"As his substitute godfather."

"As his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher." Remus tried not to snap--he knew Sirius was just making conversation, trying to fill in blanks. But twice now, he'd used the word "substitute"--an impermanent replacement, a transient post. It was an especially dreary corner of employment purgatory, where holding one's own job was entirely dependent upon the misfortunes of others, and hoping for their recovery was hoping for another long period of scrabbling for spare knuts.

Sirius didn't notice any change in tone. "So you kept yourself to yourself to help me."

"And Harry."

Sirius gave him an uncertain look, then twitched his head quickly, like a dog shaking water from its ears. "All right," he said, his voice more business-like. "Dora will be by after her shift to tell us how she pulled our prank last night. Here's hoping she was brilliant."

9 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 13th, 2004 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)

open houses

This would be a Parents' Evening in the UK... Am really enjoying Shifts btw, it's always very exciting to come back and find an update!
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: October 13th, 2004 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I have always wondered where Lupin was during Harry's pre-Hogwarts years. Losing all his friends at once like would seriously have messed him up IMO.

I love your dialogues in this story. They just never feel long enough for me. But then, I'm greedy that way. ;~)
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: October 13th, 2004 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Fern, you made a comment in an earlier post about your unpopular opinions, one of which was that Sirius & Lupin weren't all that close. I assumed you meant during the Marauders era, and that your comment was more in relation to the slash shipping that goes on.

However, I'm wondering if you mean Lupin and Sirius weren't close at all during Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. This section seems to be implying that.

In the bedroom, you establish Remus as having been a complete loner during the first 13 years of Harry's life - other than Dumbledore and the Tonkses who looked in on him every now and again. I think that fits with canon.

You then have Lupin thank Sirius for healing him, as though it was unexpected. (Sirius' comeback to that was quite good - very in character!)

Later, in the kitchen, you have Sirius and Lupin discuss Dora - completely in character, I think.

However, you're next bringing things up from the GoF era which, I really think, would already have been known about unless - as you said - you don't think they were close. I think it's a bit odd that they wouldn't have discussed this type of thing before, considering they discussed the whole "fangs fur and finances" thing earlier -- which is a lot more personal, I think.

At the end of PoA, Lupin embraces Sirius "like a brother". Granted, we don't see any more of Lupin in GoF, but he does write to (Crouch) Moody about the classes -- so we know Lupin feels somewhat responsible for his students. We also know he's somewhere where he can write. We also found out (from Dumbledore) that Harry wasn't Sirius' "only correspondent". I see no reason why Sirius wasn't keeping in touch with Lupin as well, in which case, Lupin would be getting all of Harry's news through Sirius. Knowing what Sirius was like during GoF, I find it hard to believe he wasn't pummeling Lupin with owls about Harry.

Now as for OotP, I'm of the firm belief that Lupin lived there because Sirius needed looking after. Lupin had a house of some kind (Dumbledore said to "lie low at Lupin's" at the end of GoF) and presumably Lupin had no job in the interim (he looked thinner and shabbier to Harry at the beginning of OotP) so he was completely free to take on Order business and was unencumbered enough to move into Grimmauld Place. There clearly was a relationship between them in OotP, but one in which Lupin was the stronger figure -- the "older brother" as it were. Lupin was in shock when Sirius died. He managed to keep Harry from committing suicide, but then he just sat down on the stairs while the battle continued! A magical-eyeless Moody had to crawl across the floor to try to resuscitate Tonks! I think Lupin and Sirius became each other's family during GoF and OotP. They were definitely not as close as James & Sirius at school, but I think the relationship solidified during books 4 & 5 and they were very, very close. That's just my opinion, of course, LOL.

I'm just curious as to whether you intentionally set out to establish them as not having a particularly close relationship in this scene, or whether it was an unconscious thing, OR whether I'm reading it wrong. :) (Highly likely, I must say!)

This was a really wonderful piece, Fern. Thank you so much for updating so quickly!!! I was pleased as punch to log on this morning and see it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2004 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that the issue of why Remus hadn't written to Harry is one that Sirius is uncomfortable with, because he doesn't want to get into a fight with Remus (one of the few people he doesn't), but which bothers him. One absolute about Sirius is that he loves Harry, and I don't think he'd much like Remus doing an abrupt fade (Harry doesn't seem to notice, but for Sirius, such a thing would be a baffling and hurtful omission). So he didn't ask. But he's still a little piqued, probably, about the prank they didn't play, so he does that little passive-aggressive bit of prodding Lupin about what he thinks is a sensitive subject. I was going to pick something else--anything else--and just have Lupin flat out tell him, "I'm tired; if you want to pick a fight, pick it with Kreacher" (Sirius has been picking a lot of fights), but the scene just wasn't working that way. On the business of Dora missing him, I think that was just something Sirius hadn't thought to ask before, because the question hadn't come up.

FWIW, I agree that they were corresponding during GoF and that particularly when Harry asked him questions about curses, the first thing he did was ask Lupin for any good info that he had. He may even have encouraged Lupin to write himself, and been puzzled (but grateful, on his own behalf) at comments like, "I think it should come from you."

(Or maybe Sirius is just expressing my own exasperation with Lupin on the issue--Remus... HEADKNOCK!!!)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2004 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
As for Lupin thanking Sirius for healing him, that's just Lupin. He strikes me as the sort who would thank his parents for getting him inside in the morning, or thank Madam Pomfrey for doing her job. Ingrained habits--Sirius helped him; he thanked Sirius.

I don't think they were especially close within the Marauders' circle, but of course they were good friends by virtue of being in that circle. After PoA, however, I doubt it was always equally easy to pick up the friendship. It had quite a few stress points on it--the mutual mistrust that had occurred, the idealizing of the Marauders in Remus's memory, and the fact that the "glue" that had originally held the group together was gone, and they had to rebuild. Add to that a slight resentment, as I'm sure Sirius was well aware that Lupin was meant to babysit him. I think that ultimately, they might have become every bit as close as Sirius and James had been, had Sirius lived, but I expect over the first couple of years, every now and then they'd hit an awkward patch.
noblevyne From: noblevyne Date: October 13th, 2004 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
There are no words...actually yes, there are a lot of words, most of them synonyms for 'brilliant'. I came across this site and lj quite accidently and didn't really think on it until a month or so later when I realised that Remus and Tonks were socanon. I then returned and was enchanted by Shifts, and the history you had created for the characters. You have built this entire extension on the world that JK created, and elsewhere filled in the gaps.

This is another fantastic chapter and I've been meaning to comment on your work for ages, but was actually intimidated (yes, I am a weak, sissy girl) and would like to thank you for the insight you give into the characters' personalities and relationships. So detailed and so very believable (and entertaining).

*finishes fangirlish rant with slightly glazed look in eyes*

kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: October 13th, 2004 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)
hoping for their recovery was hoping for another long period of scrabbling for spare gnuts.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 13th, 2004 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)

I knew that was wrong. Knuts.
lyras From: lyras Date: October 14th, 2004 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Agree with the anonymous poster - they are indeed Parents' Evenings over here. Actually, I think they're called something different now, but my sister, who was still at school in 95-96, definitely had Parents' Evenings.

You've just given me a wonderful vision of Remus at a Parents' Evening trying to talk some sense into Vernon and Petunia about the way they've brought up Dudley!

I've been working my way through Of A Sort, and am so impressed with all the backstory you've created, especially the pieces on Dumbledore and Andromeda/Ted/Gilderoy. Do you ever intend to write more about them - or is that a bit like asking JKR if she's going to write the story of the Marauders at school?!
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