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Shifts, Chapter 19: That Awful Man, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 19: That Awful Man, pt. 2
Okay, putting on the gas means writing even when I feel like a dishrag. Remus was in the middle of a random, why-isn't-he-home-for-most-of-the-holidays adventure anyway... shouldn't leave him hanging!

Dumbledore told him that several werewolves had been spotted during the full moon, running free. Everyone agrees that if Voldemort is recruiting werewolves, then that's probably what Wormtail is up to, since has werewolf outreach experience. Unable to find a way in among frequently hostile werewolves, Remus decides on another approach--he goes to visit Peter's mother. Mrs. Pettigrew, still believing that Sirius killed Peter, doesn't trust Aurors and has avoided telling them that she's been receiving things from "Sirius"--including the wedding ring that belonged to her unfaithful husband, and a lock of his mistress's hair. Remus asks if he can take the hair back to Grimmauld Place.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"Why would he send her hair?" Dora asked, frowning at the contents of the envelope after dinner on Monday night. She shook her head and handed it over to Sirius. "After all this time?"

Sirius tossed the envelope aside casually. "Bragging. Telling his mum he solved her problem."

"Trying to tell her where he is," Remus suggested.

Sirius raised his eyebrows. "Why would he want to do that?"

"Peter. His mother."

"Right."

"I'm not sure," Dora said. "I don't like it. It smells wrong."

"You didn't know Peter and his mother," Sirius said.

"No. But I've spent a lot of time with the pair of you this year. Tossing ideas around, coming up with answers."

"Or more questions," Remus said.

"Yes, well, here's a question: What if Mr. Pettigrew knew that sooner or later, you would say, 'Peter. His mother. Right.' What if he's telling you where he is?"

"He's stupid," Sirius said. "Not mad. He knows I'll kill him."

"Does he know Remus would?"

Remus frowned at her. "I'd think so. I was right there in the Shack with Sirius, ready to do it."

"And then you lost your job--a job everyone knew you loved--and any chance you had of getting another. Dumbledore didn't refuse your resignation or do anything to hinder it. He stood up for Hagrid the next year when his secret came out, and his record is considerably more blemished than yours. Could make a man bitter." She shrugged. "I'm just saying, standing on the outside of this, that it looks a bit off to me."

Remus considered it, started to reject it, re-considered. "I'm not sure," he said. "Although if he is trying to reach me, I might be able to get close enough to capture him."

"Not by yourself, you're not," Sirius said.

"I'm neither stupid nor mad," Remus told him. "Dora, are the Aurors still investigating what happened down on the scene?"

She nodded. "It turns out that the fellow whose garden we found the last wolf in--the former boss--hasn't been seen or heard from where he's meant to be."

"Another missing person," Remus mused.

"Yes. And of course, they're not treating any of it as linked." Dora shook her head. "I'm assigned to be there tomorrow evening with a team. Why?"

Remus nodded. "I'll send you a signal if I see anything suspicious."

"I'll be with my team."

"And it will be a genuine call for help from Aurors. Which will give you a good pretext to come and find whatever there is to find."

Sirius was less than happy--he had no role to play--but in the end, it was decided. Remus had to supervise a history club after school (Sirius rolled his eyes fondly), then he would go to Biddenden.

School was uneventful. Alan asked what Remus and Dora were doing for the holidays, and gave him a book for Dora that Anna had chosen for the ladies' book group. Daniel Morse had moved on from the Black Death, and spent Remus's office hour working on a presentation on smallpox for the club. Remus talked him out of demonstrating the method of vaccination that had been devised, which involved cutting the skin and sewing a piece of infected thread back in. Daniel was disappointed to give it up, but did a perfectly gruesome history of the disease without benefit of visual aids. Stephen Wells was disappointed to report that Catherine the Great had apparently not died in the stables, as he'd heard, but promised to be on the lookout for other good stories. By the time they finished, it was dark outside, and Remus didn't have to walk far into the small wooded area before he could break his appearance Charms and Apparate safely away.

He found himself on a quiet, well-kept road, with screens of trees between it and the houses. It was obviously a wealthy neighborhood, and Remus wondered how a secretary had been able to afford a home here before realizing that the question had no meaning. She had lived here, and it was here that Peter's father had come for his trysts, until she disappeared. He'd died a week later. The Order had investigated her disappearance, and Remus remembered Peter going through her things with disdain, although he'd been distraught when he'd heard.

She was his first kill. Of course he was distraught.

Remus wasn't sure. It didn't feel right. Peter was the sort to build up to things, not to start big and then back off. So what had happened?

A wish made near the wrong person? A request he never imagined would be answered? And then he'd be in. Oh, yes. One didn't take favors from Voldemort or his Death Eaters without paying for them.


That felt more right, felt more like the Peter he remembered, but it was something he would probably never know. It could as easily have been an act that he was forced to perform to prove his loyalty. Or a whim. The Peter he remembered, after all, would not have done the things that Peter incontrovertibly did.

Remus slipped through the gate and onto the property. There was nothing obviously magical about it--not here among the Muggle houses; like Ted and Andromeda's home, this one had begun its life as a perfectly Muggle home and what magic touches there were had been inside, out of sight of the neighbors. The front garden was empty. A large oak tree, bare in the winter, reached its stark arms into the sky. An ornate swing, no doubt once used on lazy, romantic afternoons, hung askew from a frame hidden among the branches. A slight breeze blew through the garden, and it creaked.

He almost passed the tree with nothing but the maudlin observation of its loneliness, but the clouds parted, and the still large moon lit the garden. In the bark of the oak, black in this light, there were four fresh marks dragged across it, shining in the moonlight.

Claw-marks. Remus would know them anywhere.

Whatever else was here, this was part of Dora's search. He sent the signal.

From the front, the house seemed to be completely deserted, but Remus didn't believe it. He eschewed the front door and slipped around to the back.

About halfway down the house, he saw a small square of flickering torchlight, just above his eye level. As he got closer to the window, he could hear muted voices inside.

"...the matter?" one of them said when he got close enough to hear more than a mutter. He could see that the window was open a crack, probably for air. "Don't you like what we're feeding you? Don't you like being pried and prodded?"

A weak, pining sound answered, but Remus couldn't make it out.

"Personally," another voice said, "I can't wait until the first couple of twists at full moon. I'm going to stay out of the moonlight long enough to watch that."

The weak voice spoke again. Remus caught only, "...please..."

"I wonder if he's been gone long enough to lose his job yet," the first voice said, and there was a plopping sound. "Of course, even if he hasn't, he'll lose it when they find out why he's been gone."

Remus sighed. Well, here it was, the great goal he had once joked with Elizabeth about--werewolf solidarity. How else would it be?

There was no back door (or, rather, where there had been one, the arch had been filled with brick-work for some reason), and Remus didn't trust that suspiciously deserted-looking front door. Carefully--he was about twenty years older than he should be for this--he wrapped his fingers around a stone on the wall and pulled himself up, finding a foothold on another stone. He could see through the window now. Two burly men had their backs to him. One had a small cauldron of something red, and as Remus watched he flung a bit of it at a naked man lying on a dirty mattress on the floor. The man put up his hand in a warding gesture, but it didn't have any impact. He was obviously very ill. Remus could see an angry red infection on his leg. He wasn't close enough to see what had caused it, but he didn't need to see it to know that it was a bite.

The man holding the cauldron flung more of its contents at the mattress, and Remus realized with distaste that it was raw meat.

Wonderful, he thought. Simply brilliant. What an ingenious way to convince the magical world that we're trustworthy.

He pulled himself up a bit further, trying to get a better idea of--

"Well," someone said behind him, in a high, cheerful tone of voice. "I was beginning to wonder if I'd have to resort to just sending you an invitation by owl."

I feel a bit...: drunk still cold-drugged

13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
stars_fell From: stars_fell Date: December 12th, 2004 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG YOU DID NOT LEAVE US HANGING LIKE THAT. :P
castaliae From: castaliae Date: December 12th, 2004 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
That was really rather cruel to just leave it there. I'm eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: December 12th, 2004 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
What they said. You LEFT it THERE??
Well, you're going to have to update very soon, or else we'll all go mad.

Write, Fern, write like the wind!
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: December 12th, 2004 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoa - who is it?

On a side note, I can see Peter thinking Remus could be on his side after all. He already did want him to be in PoA. Peter is, after all, a very sick human being.
sreya From: sreya Date: December 12th, 2004 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
*cracking up* Admit it -- you got a kick out of writing a cliffhanger where Remus is literally hanging by his fingertips! :~p

Alan asked what Remus and Dora were doing for the holidays
Wouldn't Alan be asking what Raymond is doing, not Remus? Just seemed a little odd to use "Remus" here.

This is certainly getting exciting! Though I feel positively sick for that poor man. What an awful thing to do to him!
mincot From: mincot Date: December 12th, 2004 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I liked the reflections on Peter, and thought that the conversation between Dora, Remus, and Sirius did a lovely job showing how ambivalent they all are about the events of the last couple of years.

One nitpick: "A slight breeze blew through the garden, and it creaked." I know you're referring to the swing in the previous sentence, but the direct antecedent is the garden, which likely does NOT creak :)
mincot From: mincot Date: December 12th, 2004 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Despite that, I wish I could write like this when I'm sick ...
From: strangebacon Date: December 12th, 2004 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Aah! That's tense!
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: December 12th, 2004 11:11 am (UTC) (Link)
You built up the scene so nicely, and then to leave us hanging like that! Cruel woman! :)
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: December 12th, 2004 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked the fact that Dora calls Wormtail "Mr. Pettigrew" - it seems so incongruous, and yet, it fits with Dora's history (having known him only as a child.)

But that was a horribly cruel way to end the chapter.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: December 12th, 2004 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gaahhh! Don't leave us hanging, Fern! (Unless, of course, you like watching readers beg :)).

It's too bad those serial stories are pretty much a thing of the past; I can see you doing well with them in original fic.
From: inyron Date: December 12th, 2004 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Well," someone said behind him, in a high, cheerful tone of voice. "I was beginning to wonder if I'd have to resort to just sending you an invitation by owl."

Score! Anxiously awaiting next part.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 12th, 2004 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
mrs. pettigrew: how annoying would she be to be around your whole life? and i thought MY mother could grate on your nerves after a while. geesh, i probably would have been a death eater too with her as my mom (not really, but i'm just saying...) it looks like peter was an even worse boy than we've all thought wasn't he? killed the assistant (and his old man to boot, or am i reading into it wrong? - or was it done by deatheaters to convince him to join? or was it sort of thank you for joining the deatheaters, here's your free murder, like when your get a new checking account and you get a new toaster? sorry i'm rambling here...) and no one ever guessed until now.

now, really, HOW could you leave it like that!!??!!??
that was just really mean and awful of you to do this to all of us loyal readers. even if i am new.
it IS christmas-time, after all. spirit of giving and all that stuff.
be nice and update this quickly and maybe santa will bring you a lovely present:)
13 comments or Leave a comment