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Shifts, Chapter 21: Christmas Cheer, part 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 21: Christmas Cheer, part 1
Well, I'll be tweaking the last part a bit at some time in the future, probably have Dumbledore need to give Remus some physical thing that he has to bring back to London--nothing vital to the story, but something to make sense of the trip to Hogwarts (other than, "Hey, gotta keep Remus out of the house!"). But the holidays here, as they were in OotP, are going to be something of a break in the scenario--something a little different.

Note: This section doesn't have a "tie-off," particularly, since it's kind of the first part of a longer section that I'll pick up on tomorrow, which goes into a brief scene the same evening. There's no real break point between the two and they'll appear without a separator in the final text, but it's too much for one sitting. (AKA, Fern's tired and wants to sleep.)

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Laughter and music rang through the corridors of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, and the shadows seemed to run away from them. Even Kreacher seemed unable to stand up to the mirth, and had hidden himself away somewhere. There were half-hearted suggestions that he be found, but Sirius just laughed and said to let him have his holiday the way he felt like having it.

Harry, who had come to the house pale and upset, and had spent his first day here hiding behind closed doors, was cheerful and carefree--or as carefree as Remus had ever seen him, at any rate--playing games with Hermione and the Weasley children (mostly Exploding Snap, though Ron dragged out the wizarding chess board and defeated him several times as well), helping Molly Weasley bake (he claimed to have a great deal of kitchen experience, and did seem to surprise Molly by being a passable helper), and--most of all--spending time with Sirius. Remus watched them both come alive as they did normal, everyday sorts of things together. They joked about repairs to the house, talked about what they planned to do after Sirius was cleared, abused the Ministry, and generally... played together.

"You should join them," Dora whispered to him on Sunday night as he watched them going through a stack of owl order catalogs, looking for Christmas presents (they arranged to have gifts delivered to Bill Weasley's home, to be brought over on Christmas Eve). "Honestly, Remus, neither of them would mind."

She was right, but that was why Remus stayed back. They both needed this time to be a family, to create some shape to their relationship that wasn't wrapped up in war and misery. He shook his head, and they went to the parlor, where Hermione was entertaining the Weasleys by singing a Muggle Christmas carol about a snowman and a silk top hat that had been Charmed to bring him alive. Or that was what it seemed to be about anyway; Hermione was laughing so hard that her face was red and she was only hitting one word out of every three.

"We'll have to sell one of those hats!" George declared.

"Yeah," Fred agreed. "It's just misuse of a Muggle artifact. I'm sure Dad wouldn't mind."

"You have to sing that for Arthur," Molly told Hermione, looking up from a small mountain of yarn around her chair. "He'll love it."

Hermione shook her head.

Ron dropped a tinsel crown on her head. "Are we going to have to dare you again?"

She slapped his hand away and continued to laugh.

"We're all going Christmas shopping tomorrow," Ginny said. "Harry wants to stay and shop with Sirius, but if you and Tonks want to come..." She smiled and made a gesture with her hand to say, The door is open.

"We'd love to," Dora said.

Ginny clapped. "You can shop with Hermione and me."

Molly raised an eyebrow. "Ginny, I'm sure Professor Lupin has better things to do than spend all day with a pair of teenage girls."

"Nonsense," Remus said. "What better thing is there to do than spend the day with two of my favorite students?"

Later, while Dora was getting ready to leave, she grinned. "Since when has Ginny Weasley been allowed to boss you around? I thought I was the only one of your students allowed to do that."

"You are." He got her cloak from the wardrobe and dropped it over her shoulders. "As it happens, I really don't mind spending the day with you and Hermione and Ginny. Unless you'd rather spend it with the twins and Ron and Molly?"

She turned, fastening the clasp at the neck of the cloak, and gave him an odd smile. He was suddenly very aware of how close she was standing to him. She shook her head slightly, then said, "I'll see you in the morning." She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. Her lips seemed very warm. It might have been his imagination, but he thought the kiss might have lingered a bit longer than it should have. She left without saying anything else.

He would have to talk to her. She shouldn't--

"Remus?"

He turned. Molly was standing in the parlor doorway, a small smile playing on her lips. "Yes?"

"Don't feel pressured."

He blinked. "What?"

"About shopping tomorrow. Don't feel pressured to go if you'd rather spend the day with Harry and Sirius."

"I'd like to let them be. And I do have to shop. It'll be fun."

"She is good for you, you know."

Remus felt the blood rush up into his face. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Tonks."

"She's... an old student." Remus shook his head. "And an old friend. A good friend. Honestly, Molly, that's all."

"Well, whatever she is, she's good for you. It's good not to be alone." She smiled again. "When I thought I'd lost Arthur... I was terrified. He's my dearest friend. I don't wish alone-ness on anyone."

Remus gestured to the house, where he could hear several different conversations going on behind closed doors. "Do I look alone?"

"I suppose not." She sighed. "Well, I still have knitting to do. I'm going to finish up Percy's jumper before I go to bed. I'll see you in the morning."

They left after breakfast the next day. Sirius pressed a purse full of money into Remus's hands and told him to, "Get that set of books you've been drooling over for Harry, if you think he can make good use of it. It'll be from both of us, as I can't very well owl for his gift while he's sitting right here."

Remus didn't have time to object to the plan, because he was being swept out the door into the chilly December morning. Molly started to suggest that they invite Harry again, but Remus shook his head slightly. Sirius had been willing (in a grudging way) to give Harry up for the day, but it was better that he stayed safe in Grimmauld Place anyway, and he seemed more than happy to do so. Dora, who had chosen today to look like some close relation of Hermione's, with wild, curly brown hair and a wide, toothy smile, concurred. "It's good to see Sirius so happy, anyway," she added. "They'll have plenty of fun on their own. He'll make sure of it."

They took the tube to a station close to Diagon Alley, slipped through the Leaky Cauldron, and emerged into the bustling magical neighborhood. Molly and the boys drifted off in one direction; Remus and Dora followed the girls in the other.

Unsurprisingly, Hermione led them first to Flourish and Blotts, where she looked for a wizarding history book for her parents. Remus went to buy the set of dark arts reference books he'd seen in a catalog--it was in a section of the store where he'd never been able to afford to shop before--and Ginny tagged along with him. Dora went off to find something for her father.

Ginny's eyes widened when she saw the books. "Oh, Harry will love those!" she said. "They're just the sort of thing we could..." She looked over her shoulder nervously and lowered her voice. "He could use them for his project."

Remus did a quick Charm to distract people who might overhear. "That's the idea."

She helped him carry the series over to the counter to purchase them. "You should see him, Professor," she said. "He teaches just like you."

"Really?"

Ginny nodded. "My boyfriend, Michael Corner--"

Remus raised his eyebrows, and Ginny grinned broadly.

"My boyfriend Michael Corner said it after the first class. He said it was just like having Professor Lupin back. I hadn't noticed, because I thought he was being just like Harry, but I think Michael's right. When he's teaching, he's like you. Really good at it."

Remus felt strangely touched by this--not simply by the fact that Harry had learned something from him, but by the fact that Michael Corner, not one of the students to whom he had become close, had chosen to express his approval in that particular manner. "Thank you, Ginny," he said.

Remus Charmed the book purchases to be feather light, and let Dora choose the next shop. To no one's surprise, she chose a clothing store, and she and Ginny went off to try on hats and scarves. Hermione stayed back with Remus, looking through a basket of Charmed earrings that had been placed on sale. Remus bought a pair of them for Molly. Hermione sighed and said that she preferred to do the Charming herself. "I Charmed some homework planners for Ron and Harry," she confided. "I spent a lot of the time they were practicing Quidditch at it this fall."

Remus nodded, trying not to imagine the reaction of the boys to being given homework planners, but it was certainly a Hermione sort of gift. He spied a floppy purple hat, told Hermione to keep Dora busy, and bought it. He Transfigured it into a wrapped box before the others came over.

"Cheater," Dora said.

They met Molly and the boys for lunch, and after some wrangling, ended up changing the configuration. Remus and Dora went off with the twins, while Ron and Molly left with the girls. Ron kept looking anxiously at a package in his mother's bag; Remus wondered who it was for.

Shopping with the Weasley twins was more enjoyable than shopping with Hermione and Dora, simply because they were frank about saving money, which made him feel less self-conscious about looking for bargains. Dora didn't notice, of course, but still... he didn't like looking cheap. They dropped into a toy store, where the twins fully forgot about Christmas shopping and went to analyze the merchandise in the joke aisle, and Dora spotted a tiny model of a Firebolt, which she bought for Harry. Remus thought it might be a painful reminder of something he'd lost, but Dora said he thought too much.
22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: December 17th, 2004 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it's lovely! Can't wait for the continuation.

I thought the bit where Ginny mentions that Michael Corner thinks Harry teaches like Lupin was especially nice.

And the descriptions of Harry and Sirius playing... :~( Beautiful but so sad in retrospect!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: December 17th, 2004 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Argh. Those opening and closing paragraphs burn... just like J.K. Rowling does it.

I think Remus' debt hurts more because it's so mundane a problem, regardless of circumstance. The same way Umbridge doesn't belong at Hogwarts in part because she's the fascist assistant principal at every second-rate public school in the United States.
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: December 17th, 2004 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like it.

One little nitpicky question though: Shouldn't it be chapter 21?
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 17th, 2004 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
"Shopping with the Weasley twins was more enjoyable than shopping with Hermione and Dora."

Shouldn't this say Hermione and Ginny?
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: December 17th, 2004 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
No, because he was just shopping with Hermione and Dora, and the contrast was between Weasleys who openly bargain-hunt and the other two who, evidently, do not.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: December 17th, 2004 10:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Though, okay, I see that Dora shifted over to the new group too. Still, I'd think Ginny would have to be careful with her pocket money too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2004 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think she probably wouldn't be as frank about it in front of Hermione and Tonks as the twins would be.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: December 17th, 2004 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Point. Though that still leaves them as the reason for Remus's being less open about it, hence (I thought) your original phrasing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2004 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shouldn't it be chapter 21?

Oops. :)
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: December 17th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus needs to admit he loves her. I know he's conflicted, but we Remus/Tonks shippers want, well, Remus/Tonks! ;) So c'mon Remus, Dora...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2004 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Someone really must smack him over the head. He's clearly not listening to Molly.
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: December 17th, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The bit about Harry and Sirius playing together is at once beautiful and heartrending in retrospect. Rowling may have said that Halloween is her favourite holiday, but it seems to me that Christmas always hints at the good things in Harry's life -- in this case, spending time with people he loves.

Molly's line, "She's good for you," was perfect.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2004 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can definitely see Molly as someone who would want to see the world married off and settled down.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: December 17th, 2004 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now I feel all squishy and holiday-feeling - very nice treat to end the week with :). Thanks, Fern!
myf From: myf Date: December 17th, 2004 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sniff* lovely. It's so good to see Sirius happy with Harry.

One tiny nit-pick: I had to read this sentence three times to understand the clauses. Would it be possible to split it up into at least two sentences?
Harry, who had come to the house pale and upset, and had spent his first day here hiding behind closed doors, was cheerful and carefree--or as carefree as Remus had ever seen him, at any rate--playing games with Hermione and the Weasley children (mostly Exploding Snap, though Ron dragged out the wizarding chess board and defeated him several times as well), helping Molly Weasley bake (he claimed to have a great deal of kitchen experience, and did seem to surprise Molly by being a passable helper), and--most of all--spending time with Sirius.

Oh, and Remus shops like me. Bargains, bargains everywhere.
From: isabela113 Date: December 17th, 2004 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you solved the issue of where everyone got their Christmas gifts very well. A trip to Diagon Alley seems plausible, as does Harry's reason for staying behind. You've painted a lovely image by describing them as "playing" together.

There are some wonderful, canon-detail moments in this chapter. I loved the reference to Ron's Christmas gift for Hermione, and also the Hermione's work on the homework planners.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: December 17th, 2004 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is such a lovely chapter. First, because it's so happy - I really feel the Christmas cheer (so it's a perfect title). I love all the shopping, and I've think you've done a great job with the little throwaway details about gifts we know of from canon (like Hermione's homework planners - great idea to have her charm them personally).

And second, because Remus and Tonks are great. I love the way Remus puts her cloak around her shoulders, and the way Tonks teases him by saying she thought she was the only former student who could bully him. Their interaction is so sweet.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: December 18th, 2004 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Clever, Fern! This was brilliant. You're at your best doing Canon backstory and didn't disapoint with this. All the little details really MADE this chapter. My favorite bit? When Fred and George "discover" charmed hats. I wondered where they got the idea from! LOL! I loved it. :)

Thanks for the kiss! Warm fuzzies abound. I, like Molly, enjoy seeing the world happily married-off.

As for Dumbledore giving Remus something -- perhaps those mirrors of James/Sirius? Where did Sirius get them otherwise? Were they lying around Grimmauld Place? Possibly, but it could be possible that James would have given them to Dumbledore just as he had given him the Invisibility Cloak. Order members didn't need mirrors to communicate (says JKR) so after Hogwarts, James & Sirius wouldn't have needed them. Or, perhaps they were confiscated by Filch many moons ago? Anyway - it seems to me that Sirius would have given them to Harry back in August if he had had them then, so either Sirius recently got them back or recently found them in the cleaning. Just an idea for you.

Off to read the next bit! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 18th, 2004 08:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, that's an idea. And he doesn't mention it to Harry because it would be like rubbing salt in a wound. I'll think about it.
mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: December 27th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

minor picking

"I spent a lot of the time they were practicing Quidditch at it this fall."

1. we wouldn't say fall.
2. When was Harry banned ?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 28th, 2004 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: minor picking

Aargh. I know the fall/autumn thing. I just forgot. Thanks for the catch.

According to the timeline on the calendar (which I followed in Shifts as I use it for outlining), Harry was banned on November 2.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 18th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)

I know you probably will not see this but on the off chance you do..

was the whole italicizing "playing" when you mentioned the interaction between Sirius and Harry a sort of mention on the whole "sirius saw Harry as James, not as Harry at this time"?

I hope i'm wrong in reading it that way

_Lori
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