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Shifts, Chapter 23: A Trick of the Firelight, pt 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 23: A Trick of the Firelight, pt 2
You know, this really has to be in two parts, just because of where it breaks. So I skip a day and add a day to the schedule. Not good. :p

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"I don't understand it," Dora said, pursing her lips and scowling at the empty road. "They didn't try a thing."

"You don't think they'll attack the Hogwarts Express anyway? That they were trying to throw us off?"

"I don't know. Kingsley and Mad-Eye thought they might be, so they're on board, though as I understand it, Umbridge wasn't happy to hear about it."

"I didn't know that."

"We talked about it at work. I don't know why Mad-Eye bothers pretending to be retired sometimes. And there was no point telling Sirius that it could be anything other than Harry. We told Dumbledore. I guess he didn't think it was likely."

Remus sighed, feeling put out that he hadn't been informed--he was supposed to be aware of nearly everything Dumbledore was--and feeling petty for feeling put out. "Let's hope he's right. There wouldn't be much for Voldemort to gain from it."

Dora closed her eyes and took a deep breath, and Remus noticed that her skin was starting to tighten as she relaxed her morph. "Well," she said, frowning slightly as her lips became fuller, "I suppose that means I'm done for the day."

"Are you going to Apparate back?"

"Maybe later." She opened her eyes, which were dark again, and smiled. Her nervousness about the trip seemed to simply disappear. "I have an errand to run in Hogsmeade. I may as well run it while we're here anyway. What do you say? Do you want to join me for lunch?"

"We should get back to London..."

"Are you in that big a hurry to get back to Auntie's?"

"Sirius--"

"Still has Molly and Arthur until this afternoon." She squeezed her face in concentration, and shrank four inches. The bottom of Dora Lewis's long-ish skirt dragged in the snow, and the buttons on the front of the jacket she was wearing strained a bit as Dora Tonks's slightly rounder form pushed against the clothing. "Come on, Remus. We'll take an afternoon and just do something. No Lewises allowed." She looked down at her costume. "Though I suppose I should have left my body alone. Bit stupid, really. Oh, well." She shrugged. "My errand's at the seamstress anyway; I'll just have her resize this a bit while I'm there."

Remus glanced up toward the castle. The children still hadn't looked back, and everything seemed to be all right. In one of the high turrets--Dumbledore's office--he saw a flash of scarlet, then a feather fell into the snow at his feet. The children were safe within the grounds, and under Dumbledore's eye.

Dora started down the road. "Are you coming or not?"

"Really, I should--"

She raised an eyebrow in a challenge he knew perfectly well: Go on. I dare you to make an excuse.

He rolled his eyes and started after her. "What if I just said I didn't want to?"

"I'd say, 'Suit yourself,' and go find my old mate Sanjiv. He lives above that horrid little tea shop and sells portraits for a galleon apiece. He's always good for a good time." She turned and smiled. She'd morphed back entirely, her gray hair deepening to black as it disappeared under its scarf. "But I'd rather have lunch with you. Not at Auntie's, and not in costume. Isn't it a mad idea?"

"Barking, as the children would put it."

"So are you in?"

He pretended to weigh his options. "You convinced me."

She clapped her hands. "Our first date. Well, without benefit of costuming, anwyay."

"You said that when I took you out for ice cream when you were eight."

"I'm a bit older than that now."

"Yes, you look at least ten."

She turned up her nose playfully. "Perhaps I'll go look up Sanjiv after all."

He laughed, feeling the tension fall away. "All right. Twelve. At least twelve."

She punched his arm, then linked her own through it. "It's a pretty day, isn't it?"

"Mmm."

"Talkative as always, I see."

"Well, you can generally carry on the conversation for both of us."

"What are you going to do while I'm being measured? Just stare at the wall?"

"What are you being measured for?"

She shivered melodramatically. "Robes for Maddie's birthing party. I thought the miserable things she put me in for the wedding were bad."

"You're going to the birthing party?"

"Yes. Of course I am." She smiled as they came around a bend. "I don't know what she's going to ask me for. Guess it doesn't matter. Mum gave me my scroll when I came of age, and the only three people who signed it were Sirius and Granny Tonks and--I can't believe this--Gilderoy Lockhart."

"According to Harry, Lockhart will sign anything."

"He was supposed to teach me to take pleasure in my beauty or some such. Sirius was meant to teach me how to laugh, and Granny Tonks was to make sure I knew where I came from." She looked troubled, then shook it off. "At least Granny and Sirius had excuses for not being there. Lockhart only came around about four times. Though, to be fair, he did bring me ribbons and jewellry and such. Did anyone from yours give you anything?"

"My mother was Muggle-born. She thought it was a barbaric idea and had no intention of playing hostess while she was giving birth. So I only got Charms from her and from my Dad."

"Have you ever been to one?"

"Just Harry's. Unlike Mum, Lily thought it a grand idea that Muggles should all adopt."

"Oh, what are you supposed to teach Harry?"

"Lily asked me to teach him how to feel safe and calm and... I think she said grounded. I don't think I've done a very good job. Is this your first?"

She nodded. "I watched a unicorn being born in Care of Magical Creatures, but this is my first person."

They rounded a bend, and the outer houses of Hogsmeade started to appear. Remus cast around for a different topic of conversation, as this one made him a bit uneasy. "So this Sanjiv you mentioned," he said after awhile. "Is he a boyfriend?"

She stopped and looked at him, amused. "No," she said. "He's just a friend. And anyway, I'm a married lady." She stuck out her tongue and started moving again.

"I thought we were leaving the Lewises behind."

They reached a small white house with a pair of large wooden scissors moving above the door, and Dora turned up the path. "Are you coming in?"

"Do you mind if I find something else to do while you're buying clothes?"

She gave an exaggerated long-suffering sigh, then said. "No, it's a good idea. I'll meet you at the Three Broomsticks in an hour."

"Good." Remus resisted an absurd urge to pinch her nose, then watched her disappear inside, the sodden hem of Dora Lewis's skirt dragging against the stones. He went on.

If he was going to eat lunch out, there wasn't much he could do--he could shop or eat, not do both, and any friends he had once had in Hogsmeade were so distant that he couldn't immediately call them to mind. He sat on a bench in front of Honeyduke's and pulled out a small, flat bit of tin, then tapped it with his wand, releasing the sketchpad and art supplies that Sirius and Harry had given him. He'd Stored them almost immediately, hoping he'd have a chance to go somewhere and draw, but there hadn't been time over the holidays. Now, he supposed he had an hour, and it was as good a way to pass the time as any.

He chose a thin charcoal stick and quickly sketched the Whomping Willow from memory, its branches waving as well as he could make them wave. He glanced around the village and drew a line of shops, rough, boxy shapes that didn't please him much. Finally, he settled for trying to capture Dora's transformation on the road--the loose skirt dragging in the snow, the shoulders of her coat dwarfing her real shoulders, her large winter scarf growing loose as a bit of black hair escaped from it. He never tired of watching her morph, but had never actually tried to express it on paper, and he kept at it for nearly half an hour before the icicles above him started to melt. He put an Impervius Charm on the paper before it could be damaged, but that also prevented him from marking it any further.

He checked his watch. It had been nearly forty-five minutes. He supposed he could nurse a butterbeer for the remaining fifteen before he was meant to meet Dora. He went to the Three Broomsticks, not bothering to Store his art supplies for the short walk, and found a seat at the bar, where he spread the sketchbook out again and looked for something to draw. There was an old man by the window, looking out at something Remus couldn't see. Rosmerta bustled around the bar. A couple huddled in the back corner, sharing a large drink between them. None of these appealed to him.

A lovely woman was sitting by the fire reading the Daily Prophet. She was curled up comfortably on one of the armchairs there, absently twisting a bit of her long black hair around her finger and letting her free foot sway a bit. Her graceful, swan-like neck cast a flickering arch of shadow onto the back of the chair. He couldnt't see her face clearly in the wavering of the fire, but he could tell she was fine-featured, with high cheekbones and large, dark eyes. He started to sketch her, hoping that she wouldn't notice him, letting the charcoal trace the pretty bend of her jaw, feeling the dainty curve of her shoulders with his eyes.

Abruptly, she seemed to feel his gaze on her, and he unceremoniously snapped the skectchbook shut, hoping that she hadn't realized he was drawing her. She didn't seem angry, at any rate. She just smiled and stood up, raising a hand in greeting. "Wotcher, Remus," she said. "You're early."
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Comments
dipsas From: dipsas Date: December 25th, 2004 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
For me, this turned into a lovely Christmas present. The last few pieces have been delightful as well (well, it is good to see Remus wake up a little at long last...). Thank you for all the work you're putting into this, and for sharing.
mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: December 25th, 2004 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

A merry christmas to you.


Just logged in to catch up on shifts.
castaliae From: castaliae Date: December 26th, 2004 01:54 am (UTC) (Link)
This had three things I love in a HP fic:
1) a conceivable wizarding cultural event- The birthing party concept is interesting and really reminds me baptisms, actually.
2) Remus being adorable- what more explanation is needed?
3) Cute Remus/Tonks interaction.

Thanks.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: December 26th, 2004 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
1) a conceivable wizarding cultural event- The birthing party concept is interesting and really reminds me baptisms, actually.

This is a really neat idea. Could this be the origin of the faeries gifts in the Muggle fairy-tale "Sleeping Beauty"? ;)
castaliae From: castaliae Date: December 26th, 2004 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Good point. YAY. I love it when myth and HP could come together. It makes it all the more real.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 26th, 2004 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's, er, not accidental. I cribbed it directly. ;)
castaliae From: castaliae Date: December 26th, 2004 02:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Of course you did, thats what we've grown to expect from your work. :) Its fun to actually catch what the author intends, though.
From: isabela113 Date: December 26th, 2004 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm fascinated and a little horrified at the idea of a birthing party. I hope we get some more details on the premise, or at least Dora's experience of it.

One thing that didn't really register about Tonks and Remus' realtionship until this chapter is how open she is about it. She makes no secret of her feelings, Remus doesn't hide that he knows, and they both know he ignores it out of some undefined feeeling of inappropraiteness. That is very strange. (But very interesting to watch.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 26th, 2004 06:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope we get some more details on the premise, or at least Dora's experience of it.

Conveniently enough, Maddie's going to go into labor during April's full moon. :)

katchuri From: katchuri Date: December 26th, 2004 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great, as ever.

But I'd caution you on the idea of Remus taking Dora out for ice-cream when she was eight. Ice-cream parlours are still a very rare thing here, and back then would have been non-existant.
He'd have been more likely to buy her an ice-cream from a van or kiosk.

Perhaps they could have eaten at a cafe or something?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 26th, 2004 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not too much of an issue in the wizarding world, as Florian Fortescue's place in Diagon Alley seems pretty popular. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 27th, 2004 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Birthing parties?

Er, I'm hoping I'm just being a bit confused and not following things perfectly, but surely you don't mean the people who attend the birthing parties are hanging around during the actual birth and all that? I only ask because -

1) Sirius would have been a teenage boy. Getting to see the physical details of labor could be enough to scare some teenage boys off the opposite sex for the rest of their lives.

2) Only so many amateurs should be allowed in the delivery room, and it helps immensely if those amateurs have taken several childbirth classes and know when to make themselves useful (not to mention how) and when to get out of the way.

3) Things can go wrong during childbirth. I know a woman who developed a life threatening case of toxemia, a woman whose newborn nearly died of pneumonia developed in utero, a woman who's lucky she lives in the age of blood transfusions or placenta previa would have killed (and I wish doctors could avoid chirpy comments like "I've never seen so much blood." They're discouraging), a woman whose child choked on the umbilical cord, a woman who nearly died of prolonged labor and whose baby had oxygen cut off for more minutes than is recommended, an emergency room doctor who waited longer than he should have before admitting they needed to get someone else who was sober enough to do a C-section, a woman who was lifeflighted TWICE because of pregnancy complications (always take medical statements like "there's no way that can happen again" with a grain of salt), a woman who - in a state of the art hospital and with plenty of compotent help - died of complications during delivery, a woman whose pregnancy was a contributing cause to her death (primary cause being an undiagnosed heart defect), and more.

I realize there's a philosophy that birth is a natural condition and that only a minimum of medical intervention is normally needed. Statistically, I admit it has a certain force. Let's just say that I've known a bit too much of the other side to be comfortable with that mindset.

So, please, tell me I misunderstood.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 27th, 2004 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Birthing parties?

It's actually an old tradition that was commonly practiced in farming communities (though generally only attended by women). The mother giving birth would be off in her bed giving birth while all of her guests attended to her.

Given the generally old-fashioned practices of the wizarding world (and the fact that I've already been slapped around for having Lily at St. Mungo's, since it's clear that there is no maternity ward at St. Mungo's), I decided to put in this tradition, because it sounded like something they would do.
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