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Shifts, Chapter 25: A Risky Idea, pt 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 25: A Risky Idea, pt 3
Well, this section was going to end in a place other than it did, but it struck me that the end of this that I'd planned fits better in tomorrow's post, so here's a short one today, with a long one coming tomorrow.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"If you get disoriented while you're Apparating," John Lupin had once told his son, "just concentrate on who you are, on staying whole. It may not get you where you're planning to be, but it will get you wherever you end up in one piece."

Remus crashed to a wooden floor from some height (he had no idea how far, but his shoulder, still aching from his last transformation, told him it was quite a distance when he landed on it), and closed his eyes. His heart was pounding and his hands were shaking. He didn't need to open his eyes to know where he'd ended up. The smell was clear enough--ancient animal smells, dust, and broken wood.

The Shrieking Shack.

He sighed and opened his eyes.

He had only Apparated once before in this sort of hurry, during the first war, when he and Peter had accidentally

(or was it accidental, even then?)

stumbled across a dozen Death Eaters, all armed, and all apparently waiting for them. He'd pushed Peter forward and waited for him to Apparate (making sure that Peter was away cleanly had always been a habit for all of them), then had simply thrown himself forward and Apparated on the fly. He had ended up here then as well.

Naturally. No matter how far he'd come from this place, it was here that he imagined himself most clearly--which wasn't particularly healthy, he supposed, but was at least convenient, as there was no one here to whom he would need to explain his presence.

Someday, he would end up elsewhere.

For now, he was glad to have ended up anywhere at all. Dad's trick was frowned upon by most Apparition guides because it instilled false confidence. A person had to have an extremely clear idea of who he was for it to work.

And of course, it certainly didn't prevent mishaps like Apparating into thin air and falling from the level of the ceiling. If his identity had taken him to a mountain with a sharp drop-off, he'd be in a considerable amount of trouble.

He stood up, pulling the mask from his face and rubbing at his shoulder. He'd fantasized as a child, before he learned how to Apparate, that his dual nature might splinch itself on one of these trips. That it would mean battling the Wolf was a great plus--he would defeat it in combat, cut its miserable head off, and burn it, which would give him great satisfaction for years of monthly torture. Losing and being eaten alive by his own alter-ego did not tend to figure in these fantasies.

But of course, such a thing was impossible. He could no more go one-on-one with the Wolf than Sirius could play catch with Padfoot.

He breathed deeply.

His heartbeat was slowing and his hands had stopped shaking. Taking his mind from Scrimgeour and Dora and the Levinsons for a moment had let it recoup, gather its resources, and assert rationality.

Scrimgeour coming after him before Dora could had been a bit of bad luck, but as half-baked plans went it could have gone more seriously wrong. The point was to get the Levinsons to St. Mungo's, and unless they'd been attacked by an actual Death Eater before Dora could get them there, they were undoubtedly being examined now. Andromeda would "discover" the curse on Joe, set the counter-curses in motion, and all manner of things would be well, except for the fact that Dudley still carried a trigger, and depending on the nature of the Curse, might reactivate it.

But Dudley was a different class of Muggle, and wouldn't need such subterfuge to receive treatment.

Sedation perhaps, but not subterfuge.

He would have to get to St. Mungo's as quickly as possible, to let Dora know that he'd made it to a safe point, but he'd also have to wait long enough so that it wouldn't seem odd that he knew. He thought his best bet was to come up with an excuse to visit Dora at work (he could return the mask to Kingsley to put back in the files while he was at it), hear about it there, and go check on her. But he absolutely couldn't go there until he had calmed completely.

He made his way to the window, casting a quick Concealment Charm to avoid being seen. Hogsmeade was bustling--it was a Hogwarts weekend, by the look of it--but no one came this close to the Shrieking Shack, except for a girl with long, thin blond hair. She turned, and he recognized her as Luna Lovegood, a friendless Ravenclaw girl who'd been in his second year classes when he'd taught. She was fascinated with conspiracies and alternate theories of events (most of them absurd), and, if he recalled correctly, was determined to prove her point of view. If anyone was likely to come into the house, it was Luna.

But she didn't seem pre-disposed to it to it today.

She saw someone coming up the road and waved. Remus wondered if she'd finally found some friends, and was shocked when the figures rounding the bend turned out to be Hermione Granger and a woman he didn't know. The three of them conferred for a few minutes (the woman, who was sour looking with limp blonde hair, looked less than happy to be here), then headed back for town, Hermione decisively in the lead. She looked like a girl with a plan.

Remus sincerely hoped it wasn't as risky as Dora's.

He Transfigured Regulus Black's fine dark robes to resemble the patched and worn ones he usually had, then Disillusioned the mask and put it in his pocket, tying it through a pair of holes to keep it secure. Finally, he broke the Appearance Charm he'd used on his hair to make it resemble Rookwood's.

Outside, another pair of students appeared. A boy and a girl, holding hands. He didn't recognize them. The girl put her arm protectively over the boy's shoulders and made an exaggerated warding gesture at the house with her other hand. The boy laughed and kissed her. They moved on, arms companionably around one another's waists.

Valentine's Day in Hogsmeade. There was always a close weekend, but it was rare for it to be on the exact day, and Remus guessed the students were making the most of it. They'd be crowding that saccharine little tea shop that so many of the girls liked, strolling through the woods at the edge of the town, buying sweets at Honeydukes to give to their sweethearts.

To his chagrin, he realized that not many people would question it if he showed up at Auror headquarters in order to bring Dora such a gift today.

It was as good a plan as any, though he thought Honeydukes would be a poor idea.

He Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron in London instead and went into Diagon Alley, where he bought a heartshaped box of Temptation Truffles (chocolates which purported to be Charmed for affection, though such a Charm was illegal and not likely to be sold openly if it actually existed) from a vendor with a cart on the street.

"Almost forgot about Valentine's Day, did you, now?" the witch who took his money asked.

Remus gave her a sheepish smile and moved on, slipping back out through the Leaky Cauldron and making his way to the Ministry's Visitor entrance. He double-checked the Transfiguration of the robes before he got out of the elevator--assuming that someday, the Ministry would decide to reverse any sort of altered appearance upon entry--but all seemed to be well. He took the lift to Level Two.

The rest of the building was Saturday-quiet, but Aurors bustled around the headquarters like any other day of the week. Remus wove his way through the crowd of them--none took any special notice--and checked Dora's cubicle. She wasn't in it, which he'd expected, so he went to Kingsley's, where dozens of pictures of Sirius smiled, grimaced, screamed, laughed, and leered at him. Kingsley stood up. "Ah," he said loudly, glancing at the box of chocolates. "Lupin. I'm afraid you'll have to leave your Valentine's sweets on her desk."

He nodded. "I think they may have missed that on Level Five, Kingsley."

From a photo of James and Lily's wedding, Sirius laughed madly.

Kingsley shrugged and came close enough for Remus to pass him the mask, still Disillusioned. He opened a drawer in his desk surreptitiously and Remus heard the thump of it falling to the bottom. "Well, Tonks has got herself in a bit of mess today, so I doubt she'll have a lot of time for sweets anyway."

"Is she all right?"

"Oh, she's fine. Had a run-in that involved Muggles. They're at St. Mungo's having their memories modified, if you wanted to bring it to her there. She's not on a break, though." He gave Remus a stern look.

Remus nodded. "I'll... I'll check on her," he said.

"You do that."

Kingsley started barking orders at another of the Aurors, and Remus slipped back through the room, sure that someone would shout, "It was him!," but no one did.
15 comments or Leave a comment
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 3rd, 2005 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmm... There is a lot of logic to the idea that Remus would end up in the Shrieking Shack. After all his presence there has been pretty strong over the years.

Quick Britpick, if you don't mind: we don't really use the term "candy" over here - it's more usual to either say "sweets" (usually for non-chocolates) or straight out "chocolates" (for chocolates ;)). Hope that helps. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 3rd, 2005 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 3rd, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Whew!* Glad to see all is okay. (And yes, I know nothing possibly could have happened to Dora or Remus, but even so...)
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: January 3rd, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fern, you're a dangerous woman :)

...and now that Remus is... pretending to have a thing for Dora... could genuine acknowledgement be far off?

I'm such a hopeless romantic ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 3rd, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
could genuine acknowledgement be far off?

:whistles innocently:
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 3rd, 2005 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Stands on chair and waves "must have Remus/Tonks" flag repeatedly*
dipsas From: dipsas Date: January 3rd, 2005 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
...and Daddy Lupin's advice on Apparating seems quite aptly placed. It might be good for his son to heed it in a metaphoric sense in other things as well...
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 3rd, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know you've been worried about how Dora's plan turned out, but personally, I liked it. Part 2 of this chapter was very exciting - you did a wonderful job writing the action, and left off at a crucial point. And Part 3 wraps it up nicely. I really like the way you tied this in with the Valentine's Day scene from canon.

I love Remus - he's sensible enough to use Valentine's Day as an excuse to see Dora at work, but I get the feeling that without admitting it to himself, he's glad Dora's plan gives him an excuse to bring her candy. This story is so much fun!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 3rd, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad the adventure worked. I always work myself into a tizzy over action scenes. I think that the fallout from this may be the bulk of the situation, rather than the workup to it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 3rd, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the short-fuse setup you did for this plan is perfect. If you'd had them planning it any longer in advance, they'd have had time to realize what a stupid idea it was. Speaking of stupid, I hope Remus isn't going to say anything to Dora about how the chocolates were only intended as a prop so he could have an excuse to look for her. I'm curious to see Joe and Miriam's reaction to seeing Remus and Dora out of their disguises, before they get obliviated. I liked the way the last line echoed for me the earlier chapter's "You are the murderer!".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 3rd, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
What, Remus? Do something stupid like blowing a perfectly healthy relationship because he has to be all self-sacrificing? Nah!


I'm still trying to decide whether or not Miriam and Joe will know who they are or not. Hopefully, I'll figure it out before I start writing tonight!
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 3rd, 2005 10:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I thought from your descriptions that Remus didn't change his looks all that much. Dora could always be explained away as a niece (or something) of her older self.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2005 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, disguises aside, I just realized... they know Andromeda already, and she was only disguised by her clothes. Her face won't have changed at all. Tonks is going to have to tell them something before they say, "Hey! Aren't you Dora Lewis's sister?"
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 4th, 2005 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's true. Silly me, thinking I know more than the author. :-)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 4th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
"....then headed back for town, Hermione decisively in the lead. She looked like a girl with a plan.

Remus sincerely hoped it wasn't as risky as Dora's."


I had doubts about the "plan" until reading the last line and thought about how you were interweaving it with canon details (a bit like Dudley and Harry kicked off their respective teams). With that one line, the plan, the sequence, and resolution (in the same chapter) are more convincing to me.

Needless to say, I liked it ;)

15 comments or Leave a comment