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Shifts, Chapter 24: Escape, pt 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 24: Escape, pt 3
Ack. I'm four days behind. Not good, not good.

I'm keyed up for no particularly good reason. Fingers tapping at the keys. Nothing really coming out of it. Hopefully, something useful here.

I finally found the line that I think made me think Remus is Dumbledore's lieutenant. It's in the conversation after Harry's seen the Pensieve business, when Sirius says he's going to go talk to Snape. Remus doesn't just say, "I should do it because you shouldn't go out," he says in an absolute way that if anyone is going to talk to Snape about this, it should be him. As he's neither Harry's guardian nor especially involved with the Occlumency issue, the best explanation I can think of is that he does, in fact, have authority within the Order. Though why he wouldn't suggest that he talk to Dumbledore and Dumbledore talk to Snape is something of a mystery. Maybe I'll do a post on this while being restless tomorrow.

Anyway, Voldemort's DEs have escaped. The Order is shuffling around trying to deal with it. Dumbledore's direct order is to make protection a priority. And in the section before last, Dudley asked Remus for help.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The following weeks seemed to go by like a fast-flowing brook, events occasionally breaking the surface like stepping stones.

His first task the morning after the breakout--the first of a long, dizzy day following his sleepless night--was to e-mail Dudley and ask him to meet before lunch. He knew enough that he would need to know more, and--unlike the situation with Harry--Remus had the authority to use his own judgment on the subject. Dudley took it surprisingly well, only becoming deathly pale, and asked, "Should I tell my Mum and Dad?"

Remus considered it. "They're safe at Privet Drive," he said. "The magic that protects Harry protects all of you when you're there."

"And my Dad, at work?"

"I don't know how well these people would know your family. I don't know that they would search for your father. Would you be more comfortable if we put some protective Charms around Grunnings?"

Dudley thought about it in his slow and ponderous way, then shook his head. "I reckon Dad would have his head burst open if he saw you people mucking about there."

"I suspect Dumbledore will let them know what's happening, and if they want protection, he will offer it to them. You use your own judgment about what to tell them."

Dudley gave him an impressive frown, but as far as Remus knew, he never contacted Vernon and Petunia, and they never contacted the Order for protection. He wondered uneasily if Dumbledore had told them anything at all, but somehow, he never asked.

Dora was thrown into the search for the escaped Death Eaters, often working double shifts and appearing at Grimmauld Place looking strained and tired, when she came at all. Remus took her from the guard schedule at the Department of Mysteries (Kingsley, as well), but a week later, he found that she'd written herself back into it. They argued about it, but she insisted that she had quite enough energy to do both of the jobs she had agreed to do. She'd given up on her brief experiment with leaving her hair natural, declaring that she had no desire whatsoever to be mistaken for her aunt. Remus dreamed of her frequently and never with any degree of comfort--the dreams whipsawed between a sensuality that made him feel faint when actually in her presence and a godawful horror that made him want to avoid her altogether. In one of the latter type of dreams, he found Andromeda weeping over the body of her dead child, whose throat had been ripped out. She blamed Remus, who was standing beside the adult Dora, and when he tried to protest, her blood had streamed from his mouth. He'd awakened with the coppery taste of it still in his mind.

Sirius grew increasingly short-tempered, and began transforming into Padfoot more and more often, a habit Remus hadn't even noticed he'd been breaking before he relapsed. A little more than a week after the children returned to Hogwarts, Remus found him systematically breaking a collection of harmless frog-themed knicknacks in a third floor study.

"Gifts from Bellatrix," he said sullenly when Remus asked him why. "For Reg's frog collection. She bought them for his birthday the year he turned eight and he followed her around like an acolyte all day."

Remus gathered up a few of the broken frogs and repaired them. "You don't really want to break your brother's things."

"Don't I?"

"You're angry at Bellatrix, not Regulus."

"I'm angry at the whole bloody lot of them. And I can't do anything." He took the frog in his hand and put it back on the shelf without breaking it. "I thought she might try to come here. Not looking for the Order, just to get things. I wondered what would happen to someone who walked into a Fidelius house and was strangled by someone she couldn't see, because no one told her he was here."

"There's a disturbing use for Fidelius," Remus said.

"We could always wait for Peter to contact you again. Then you could have him meet you out in the square. You bring him in, I kill him."

"Or, conversely, he does the same thing and someone I can't see kills me."

Sirius shrugged, uninterested.

The next day, Remus visited Ted and Andromeda at St. Mungo's and gave them the scroll from Dumbledore. They read it, and he destroyed it, but Andromeda gave a disdainful sniff. "Do thank Dumbledore for giving us this information when we really are rather too well watched to make use of it in any friendly way." After that, they called for Mehadi Patil, and among them, they worked out a schedule for guarding the Longbottoms in the closed ward. Ted had the odd (but weirdly useful) idea of telling Gilderoy Lockhart that he would be responsible for looking after them at night and calling Ted for help if anyone who did not belong on the ward appeared. He did so four or five times when the new apprentice Healer, about whom he perpetually forgot, arrived, but Ted put up with the summons patiently and took it as a sign that he was, at least, trying to be the hero he had pretended to be for years. Remus personally thought it more likely that he enjoyed the attention, but he supposed it didn't matter what the man's motives really were, as long as he kept his eyes open.

Dudley fell into a habit of coming twice a week, trying to learn how to defend himself. To his distress, the only real defense Remus could think of for a Muggle facing a witch or wizard--the only one that didn't require a great amount of luck on which he couldn't count, at any rate--was to recognize the person quickly and get out of the line of fire. He gave Dudley his telephone number at Dora's in case anything happened while he was away from Smeltings.

This, of course, meant visits to Dora's flat every night, though she was rarely home now, to make sure that nothing had happened. He fell asleep on her sofa once and woke up to find her sitting beside him, looking down at him in a curious way. He realized what sort of dream he'd been having--it had not been one of the horrific variety--and was entirely unable to meet her eyes.

Her absence in his life as Dora Lewis was noted. She could no longer get away for lunches several times a week, and she'd only made a few of the ladies' book club meetings (Remus was surprised to hear that she'd made any, given her schedule, but he could hardly say so). Alan began asking him questions about it in a low, serious voice. The day before the next cycle of Wolfsbane was to begin, he caught Remus drawing Dora as she'd been at the Three Broomsticks, this time with shading and depth, and detailed features. This led to an excrutiating after-work drink, during which Alan awkwardly told him that he and Anna were concerned. "You've got a lovely wife," he said. "We all think the world of her, and anyone with eyes knows you're madly in love with her. And Anna and I like you. We don't want to see you have a mid-life crisis and throw away everything you've got over some pretty young girl."

Remus was finally able to explain that he was drawing Dora herself as a younger woman. This seemed not to be a perfect explanation, but it mollified Alan somewhat. He gruffly passed on a suggestion from Anna that they get away together for Valentine's Day--"Joe and Miriam are going to a holiday cottage, and it always seems good for them"--then apologized for bringing it up ("Anna insisted, you know") and asked if Remus would like a game of darts. Remus declined, annoyed with Alan and with himself, and wondering if it was whatever he'd called a "mid-life crisis" that was causing him this kind of consternation.

She came for lunch the next day--Tuesday--bringing the first dose of Wolfsbane. She'd worked two shifts, then come over to brew the Potion, and she still hadn't slept. While they ate, she nodded off with her head against the side of Remus's desk, and he had to wake her up to get her to go home. That night at Grimmauld Place, he told her that he would find someone else to brew the Potion until they re-captured the Death Eaters. She refused to consider it. Friday morning, she collapsed by the cauldron in the Grimmauld Place kitchen, and Remus informed Kingsley that he would have to do without her for a few days. Kingsley not only approved of this, he told Remus to force her to stay put. "Put a Leg Locker on her if you have to," he said. "This is last time I hire a Hufflepuff. She's going to work herself to death."

Sirius installed her in a room on the third floor--"Even Molly would understand"--and Remus called himself in at Smeltings so that she wouldn't have to come in to dose him. Blythe was beginning to have the sour, suspicious tone that he'd heard so often in the past--"You seem to be ill quite often, Lewis... have you seen a doctor about it?"

He and Sirius looked after her over the weekend, and by Sunday evening, she declared herself ready to go back to work. Remus wasn't certain.

"Dora, you look tired. You should--"

She smiled and hugged him (his nerve endings telegraphed confused and excited messages around his body), and said, "You should talk."

She brought his Potion to Smeltings the following two days, and while he transformed Tuesday night, she promised him that she'd get a full night's sleep.

"And I'm taking you off the guarding schedule again," he said. "And you are not putting yourself back on it."

"But I--"

"--won't do any good at all if you collapse outside the door. You're off the schedule, and that's an absolute order."

He forced himself to go in to work on Wednesday, even meeting Dudley after school to discuss the subject of protective amulets (Dudley decided that he didn't want one), and slept from the time he got home until it was time to leave for work on Thursday morning.

When he got to his office at Smeltings, the light was already on, but he didn't find Alan Garvey at his computer.

Instead, Dora was standing by the window, looking thoughtfully out over the grounds. She turned when he came in. "Alan let me in," she said. "He seems to think we're having some sort of argument, and he left me to talk to you alone."

"He thinks I'm considering cheating on you with a younger woman."

Dora's eyes widened in amusement, then she suddenly laughed aloud, the strain falling away from her. After a moment, Remus joined her, the whole absurd idea, the whole stressful month, momentarily disappearing. He opened his arms and she leaned into them, still laughing. "I knew I had to keep an eye on that Ginny Weasley," she said. "The little trollop." Her shoulders shook.

"That's sick, Dora." But he couldn't stop laughing, now that he'd started.

She laughed more, and finally pulled away from him. "Why does Alan think that?"

Remus reached behind his desk and gave her the offending drawing. "Is that a bit better than looking ten?" he asked.

She finally stopped laughing, but she was still smiling, and that was better than a thousand sensual dreams. "Much better," she said, and kissed his cheek.

"Are you here for a reason, or were you just discussing our marital difficulties with Alan?"

She grew serious. "I have an idea," she said. "For Joe Levinson. Courtesy of my dear Aunt Bellatrix."




Huh, that's weird. They were on schedule to still be angsting next chapter. But I think it will work better this way, so I really must thank Dora for bursting out laughing instead of going along with my plan.

I feel a bit...: restless keyed up

18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
sannalim From: sannalim Date: December 30th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Eeeeee! More Shifts!

I just got back from a few days of being unable to access the internet and have been eagerly reading the four or five installments of Shifts that have gone up in my absence. These really have all been splendid. The interlude with Dudley at the hospital--oh, wow, oh, wow. I must echo others in saying how much I like the way you've rounded out his character, giving him a sensitivity for the people he really, truly cares about, without losing his essential big bully character.
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: December 30th, 2004 08:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Huh, that's weird. They were on schedule to still be angsting next chapter. But I think it will work better this way, so I really must thank Dora for bursting out laughing instead of going along with my plan.

It's always interesting when characters decide to do things that you didn't want them to do. Sometimes it seems like they know better than the author about where they're going, at which point one starts to wonder about inspiration and possession and whether creativity really is a form of madness given that these are fictional characters.

But then, you only have to look at the fandom to know we're all insane. :P

She grew serious. "I have an idea," she said. "For Joe Levinson. Courtesy of my dear Aunt Bellatrix."

That sounds...worrying. I mean, it's Tonks and we all know she's one of the Good Guys, but it is still a startlingly ambiguous way to end the chapter. Of course, that's what you intended. Evil person, leaving us hanging like that.

I'm enjoying Remus' conscious crush on Tonks. He's so confused, poor man. You've really captured that sense of attraction combined with nervousness (I'm going to do something wrong/she'll notice/she's reading my mind!) that makes up a crush.



persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: December 30th, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
That sounds...worrying. I mean, it's Tonks and we all know she's one of the Good Guys, but it is still a startlingly ambiguous way to end the chapter. Of course, that's what you intended. Evil person, leaving us hanging like that.

You know, I read that line as having an element of vindictive satisfaction in it -- aimed at Bellatrix, though, as if Tonks is thinking how very annoyed her aunt would be to have given anyone an idea on how to help a Muggle. I do remember Andromeda's blood-based protection spell, though, and Andromeda is the Healer involved....

Actually, this is only tangentially related, but given JKR's stated derivation of the Killing Curse, I'm tempted to play with the idea that within HP it might actually have been created as a perversion of a healing spell.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: December 30th, 2004 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well that's a scary idea, but it does have merit.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: December 30th, 2004 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Snape

Probably Snape is being watched by Umbridge and minions for signs of contact from AD, not to mention the DE's. So Remus would have to be the one who talks to Snape, to protect Snape from the consequences of the meeting being known. If you decide to write the scene (I'm not sure the meeting ever happened, as the lessons didn't resume) Remus could be contacting Snape for the Wolfsbane Potion, as Dora's too busy to make it. Or it could be just a cover.

And doesn't this just tickle me? Remus has tried to kill Snape 2ce now (as a werewolf) and now he's trying to protect Snape. teeheehee! There's a lovely dose of irony in there.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: December 30th, 2004 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
When the characters start to take over the story, you know they've got you; you will never have free will in your writing again. I haven't free will for years, the little blighters. I just type and do as I'm told...;)

I must admit the idea of one of the Smeltings teachers/wives seeing Remus with "young" Dora and what they would think was going on did cross my mind so I'll be intrigued to see if you go any further with that. :) Poor bewildered Remus with his unexpected crush is so sweet. Suddenly everything's turned around and it's Dora who doesn't know what her friend is secretly feeling. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2004 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern,

What a fantastic catharsis that laughter was. Somehow that worked really well for me. You had me all wound up over everything as well, and that last scene was perfect and even after all the dreams and self-flagellation I could believe that Remus would feel comfortable in giving her a hug that's just a simple warm fuzzy hug, and in showing her the new drawing in the honest way that he did. Well done.
~Canopus
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: December 30th, 2004 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Splendid!!!!

You capture and describe the stress the members of the Order undergo very well.

And poor Remus... suspected of having an affair with a younger woman, LOL!!!! Very well written, especially Doras reaction.

I am looking forward to seeing old Joe again. I sincerely hope he will be healed soon and I am very, very curious about what Dora has in mind.

Write on fast, please!

likeafox From: likeafox Date: December 30th, 2004 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah! I love it, Fern! The whole idea of Remus "cheating with a younger woman" is absolutely hilarious, and I'm surprised I didn't think of you using it until now!

I love the way you write Remus's "crush", it's very true to life, but at the same time very Remus.

Oh, and that's a cruel ending. Won't you hurry up with the next bit? Pretty please? :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 30th, 2004 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
The whole idea of Remus "cheating with a younger woman" is absolutely hilarious, and I'm surprised I didn't think of you using it until now!

Well, given how often anti-R/Ters say that he would only date her if he were having a midlife crisis, I just had to have someone accuse him of it. It was mandatory.
likeafox From: likeafox Date: December 30th, 2004 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
te he he! It was mandatory.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: December 30th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful, I love how well you conveyed the tension and how you (or Tonks really) broke it at the end.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: December 30th, 2004 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
He knew enough that he would need to know more, and--unlike the situation with Harry--Remus had the authority to use his own judgment on the subject. Dudley took it surprisingly well, only becoming deathly pale, and asked, "Should I tell my Mum and Dad?"

There's something poignant about the fact that Remus does have that option with Dudley, but not with Harry.

Dudley fell into a habit of coming twice a week, trying to learn how to defend himself. To his distress, the only real defense Remus could think of for a Muggle facing a witch or wizard--the only one that didn't require a great amount of luck on which he couldn't count, at any rate--was to recognize the person quickly and get out of the line of fire.

And, well... ouch.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2004 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quibble

Excellent chapter as usual. Nothing constructive to say about your writing (which is always excellent), just pointing out a quick typo...

Sirius grew increasingly short-tempered, and began transforming into Padfoot more and more often, a habit Remus hadn't even noticed he'd been breaking before the he relapsed.

The the/he at the end needs fixed. Thanks again for writing Shifts, I look for an update every day.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 30th, 2004 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Quibble

Oops, thanks. Not one the spellcheck would catch.
From: isabela113 Date: December 30th, 2004 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nothing constructive to say, as I am in a cold-induced fog, but as always I enjoyed the chapter. Alan's awkward involvement in the Lewis' married life gave me a gigle.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: December 31st, 2004 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoo hoo!!! An update! I check daily and was so very happy to see this waiting for me.
I love the idea of Remus in a mid-life crisis, and cheating with a younger woman. Hilarious! I am glad that the tension was broken, and they can go back to the way things were (sort of). But who does Alan think he is, interfering in someone else's private business like that. I know they work together and have become friends, but that just seemed a little, I dunno, rude, even if he had good intentions. I suppose it's better than him talking behind Remus's back, but still... I dunno, maybe I'm being silly.
I also really like the way you present Dudley. He really does care about certain people, and it is touching to see that concern evidenced for those few, even though he is quick to want to hate Harry for things that aren't his fault. Like father like son, I suppose. sigh.
Good update, and please type quickly so that we can have the next one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 31st, 2004 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Alan's definitely being nosy. And he's also telling the truth that his wife put him up to it, so she is as well. The man's social skills aren't exactly up to snuff. :)
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