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Shifts, Chapter 18: Whispers From the War, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 18: Whispers From the War, pt. 2
At last visit, Remus was sitting at Tintagel with Dumbledore, who told him that several werewolves were seen free during the full moon, and that they suspect Voldemort's involvement, probably through Peter. He asks Remus to re-aquaint himself with other werewolves and find out what's going on.

Brit-pickers among my readers--I took a wild stab about two towns in Kent (Biddenden and Cranbrook), or rather the space in between them. And if Kent isn't in the Home Counties, please correct me and I'll fix it; I just thought I remembered reading that somewhere. Suggestions of better locations will be welcome.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Remus remained at the seaside for a long time after Dumbledore left, trying to form some plan of action. With the exception of the safe house network, which had been established by the Ministry during one of its rare fits of compassion and was still under Ministry control, there really wasn't any kind of structure among werewolves. The other werewolves Remus had encountered had all been either chance meetings or newly bitten werewolves that he'd spoken to at St. Mungo's. The rare ones who had crossed his path since Umbridge's legislation had gone through had been uniformly hostile, blaming him for the new restrictions.

He sighed. A handful of them transformed in an underground room at St. Mungo's (with a window cut high above to let them see the moon). He supposed that would be as good a starting place as any. He'd try this afternoon, see if anyone was still there. If not, he would have to transform there in January. St. Mungo's transformations involved heavy iron chains; he didn't relish the idea.

Once, not long after leaving Hogwarts, he had spoken with Elizabeth Phelan--the werewolf who had first infected him--about "the werewolf community." It had begun with serious speculation about organizing for political purposes, but had quickly degenerated into bitter nonsense. Elizabeth had suggested that they could have a full-moon beauty shop, for those hard to reach snarls in the fur. Remus though wolf-pubs would be a fine idea, where lycanthropes could get drunk together and brag about the size of their bite radii. "We could carry our registration scrolls with us," he proposed. "Just so we could prove it." Elizabeth's husband had found them nearly doubled over laughing at the notion when he'd gotten home from work, and had asked if crescent moon madness was the latest symptom.

Looking back, nothing they'd said had been particularly funny, but the concept of a "werewolf community" was laughable, and he supposed that was what had really gotten them going. Remus and Elizabeth had been odd in their propensity to keep in touch; most werewolves did not harbor fond feelings for one another. After all, the one thing every werewolf in the world had in common was that he or she had, at one point, been attacked by a werewolf. It tended to produce a strained cordiality of shared knowledge on good days, and outright suspicion and loathing on the bad ones.

He Apparated to St. Mungo's. It was a longshot to find any werewolves here this late in the afternoon--let alone werewolves who had been exposed to strange people offering them grand new freedoms--and it didn't pay out. The underground transformation ward was empty. The apprentice Healer who had drawn this duty--it shifted from one to another--gave him a suspicious look, but didn't say anything.

He went back to Grimmauld Place. Dora was still there; she had Mrs. Black's wedding robes and was holding them against herself in front of a mirror in the dining room, which informed her that the robes were far above the station of a half-blood with ridiculous hair. He could see her reflection, her face thoughtful above the graceful spill of old lace. She'd cinched the waist with a silvery cord, and was using some a mild Sticking Charm to make the arms move with her.

Remus stood in the doorway for what seemed like a long time, then cleared his throat.

She jumped, turning around and clasping at the robes and blushing deeply. Her elbow caught a chair, which clattered over into the sideboard, and she thrust the robes onto the table to right it.

"Remus," she said, her voice fairly small and tight. "I didn't know you were back."

"Where's Sirius?"

"Upstairs with Buckbeak." She gingerly picked up the robes and began to fold them. Her hands seemed to be shaking. She gave Remus a quick, nervous smile and shrugged. "They're the first family thing I've owned. I mean from the Blacks. I have lots of things from Granny Tonks, but most of them are new. They didn't have much before the sixties. Auntie's wedding robes belonged to her mother. Who was also my grandfather's mother. My great-grandmother. And I think maybe they're even older."

"It's possible."

"It doesn't make sense. I never cared much about that sort of thing. It's the Black family. I don't even like them. But I keep thinking, 'My great-grandmother wore these and now they're mine.' It's a bit disturbing. I mean, why should I care? It's not like she ever would have talked to me if she'd met me."

Remus, who had his Muggle grandfather's pocketwatch (gold-plated and worthless in any real sense) and a comb that his mother had worn in her hair in his Gringotts vault, just shrugged. "There's nothing at all rational about it. I need to talk to you. Sirius as well, but you first."

Her blush faded, and she sat down. "Dumbledore told you about the werewolves last night."

"Were you planning to?"

"Yes. I wasn't in any rush, but yes. Eventually."

"Didn't you think it would concern me?"

"No. You were in a carriage house way up in Scotland. These idiots were running about in Kent."

Remus sat down. "That's not exactly a sparsely populated area."

"They weren't in any of the towns," Dora said, running her fingers through her hair. "We caught three of them between Biddenden and Cranbrook--"

Biddenden, he thought. Something about it was trying to trip a memory. But it didn't matter. "Dora, that's--"

"I know, all right? We had to modify five memories, and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse committee put a story out about wild wolves so that people would be careful. It's a mess. But it's not one that you're involved in."

"I don't understand why you wouldn't tell me..."

"They're going to Azkaban," she said quietly. "They're going to Azkaban and I helped send them there. All because they transformed too close to the towns and something went wrong. The new werewolf laws... I'm sorry. I hate it."

"I see." Remus rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Dora, do you really think that it's particularly easy for three werewolves to accidentally transform together in the open in the Home Counties?"

Understanding dawned. "You think it was deliberate?"

"I do. So does Dumbledore. And if it was, then Azkaban is exactly where they belong."

Remus sent Kreacher upstairs to get Sirius, then relayed Dumbledore's suspicions about Voldemort to both of them. Dora told Sirius about the previous night's arrests (skipping her concerns about sending them to Azkaban, or even mentioning that she had done so), and filled in more details for Remus. The three they'd found together had been in a pitched pack fight with one another and she didn't think they'd had time to do any damage, but the fourth had been slinking around people's gardens, and had smugly refused to discuss what she'd been doing there when she'd transformed back this morning.

"Biddenden," Sirius mused. "Why does Biddenden sound familiar?"

"It's not very far away," Remus suggested, quite suddenly remembering why it had rung a distant bell in his own mind and wanting Sirius off the topic.

"No, that's not--" His eyes flared. "Peter," he said. "It's something about Peter. He used to talk about Biddenden."

Remus considered lying, but didn't. He nodded. "Do you remember that his father was unfaithful?"

"How could I forget the whinging about that?"

"The mistress lived in Biddenden."

Sirius closed his eyes. "The mistress who mysteriously disappeared. That I remember. We should have known then. If Peter hadn't been hiding anything, he'd have been crowing over it instead of acting like he was grieving."

"Dumbledore wants me to go in and find out what's happening. Get as close as I can."

Sirius and Dora exploded at this, sounding very much like Mrs. Black's portrait. Remus let it wash over him. Sirius seemed largely concerned with what he planned to do with Peter; Dora was anxious about the silver hand that Harry had observed Voldemort giving him. It might have gone on indefinitely, but thankfully, the doorbell rang--awakening Mrs. Black with her endless, distracting diatrabe--and Dung dropped asking permission to hide several bits of contraband. By the time he had finished, the subject had strayed, and Remus refused to allow either of them to bring it back.
14 comments or Leave a comment
katchuri From: katchuri Date: December 2nd, 2004 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you're ok with Biddenden and Cranbrook, although there are several villages in between them.
The other thing that's perhaps worth noting is that they're near Sissinghurst, where I remember there being a large sort-of ornamental garden that I was taken to when I was small (my mother grew up in Kent, and we used to visit my grandparents there every holiday), and also Benenden, where there's a very very very posh and snotty private girls school, which would probably be the girls equivalent of Smeltings. (See the map here

Also, you're right that Kent isn't the Home Counties. Or not what I would think of that meaning. The Home Counties are Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, the old county of Middlesex - which doesn't actually exist anymore, but is still used an awful lot particularly in postal addresses - and possibly Surrey (but I'm not sure on that one). Bits of Berkshire and Essex might also be referred to as Home Counties, given their proximity to London, but they're not official.
Kent is referred to as "The South East". For example, when there is talk of the housing shortage, or rising house prices in the South East, every British person would take that to mean Kent (and possibly a bit of East Sussex, but that's not really relevant now).

It's also worth noting that counties is still a tricky business here. The old counties changed their boundaries in a lot of cases in 1974, and several new counties were created. Then they were changed again in 1996, to almost what they were before, but not quite - for example, several cities became counties in their own right. And depending on who you're talking to - based on age, what they learnt in school, and how aware they are of administrative changes - you could get several different answers to the question of what particular county a place is in!
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2004 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
It's definitely a bit naive of her, but probably comes from the same place as readers who have spent so much time with Lupin that they forget werewolves are monsters. She's looking at them and thinking, "Whoa, Remus got out without permission, too, and I might have had to send [i]him[/i] to Azkaban."
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: December 2nd, 2004 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was told the Home Counties were any that 'touched' London, more or less.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2004 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
although there are several villages in between them.

Wow, they looked really close on the map!

Benenden, where there's a very very very posh and snotty private girls school

Hmm. Maybe that could replace Remus's comment that they transformed in the Home Counties. "...transformed in breathing distance from Benenden" or something.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2004 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the map, btw; looks like there's a large park or something there where they werewolves could have been caught.
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: December 2nd, 2004 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, they looked really close on the map!

Seen the map of the Earth at night in the latest NG? England is just one big patch of light, slightly brighter around the big cities. Only Scotland and Wales have really large dark areas. Only the big towns show up on maps, but it's pretty densely populated.
From: walkerhound Date: December 2nd, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
are there any wild wolves left in england?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2004 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Probably not, but the Ministry is just out to put the fear of wolves in people, so reporting them--even if it turns out to be false and wolf-advocates are thumping around and demanding the rumor be retracted--would serve their purposes.
_calliopeia_ From: _calliopeia_ Date: December 2nd, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
*raises hand* I'm Kentish born and bred! Admittedly, I'm a Medway Maid, but I don't think we count as a 'home county' although I've always felt we ought to. The area you're referring to falls into the Tonbridge postcode, which is generally perceived as being a nice place to live (other side of Kent to me!). It's certainly more leafy than my neck of the woods. There are lots of places of import in the Tonbridge area; Chartwell (Churchill's home) Hever Castle (once home of Anne Boleyn) and various others.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 2nd, 2004 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cool. I picked those towns randomly because that's where my ancestors are from (Biddenden girl came to Massachusetts where she married a Cranbrook boy). ;) (Another branch of the family was from Deal.) Thanks for the info. Sounds like a place they definitely wouldn't want werewolves running around!
missfahrenheit From: missfahrenheit Date: December 12th, 2004 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm Kentish born and bred! Admittedly, I'm a Medway Maid, but I don't think we count as a 'home county' although I've always felt we ought to.

Really? I've lived in Kent all my life (Medway too, interestingly enough :) ) and I've always thought Kent was one of the Home Counties and don't remember ever being told differently...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 12th, 2004 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good then I'm not imagining having heard Kent referred to as a Home County!
From: inyron Date: December 2nd, 2004 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
He could see her reflection, her face thoughtful above the graceful spill of old lace... she jumped, turning around and clasping at the robes and blushing deeply.


Backstory on Peter, oh. You have me thinking about when he's going to show up- it's pretty wide open, since he was mia in ootp.
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