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Shifts, Chapter 25: A Risky Idea, pt 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 25: A Risky Idea, pt 4
Chapter 7 (Dis-Order) is up at the Quill, with a bit of tweaking to establish Remus's authority in the Order.

On this chapter, I left Remus heading over to St. Mungo's to meet up with Dora and let her know that he escaped in one piece, as well as check on Miriam and Joe.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




He arrived at St. Mungo's twenty minutes later.

The waiting area was crowded with people in various states of discomfort. A man whose lips had blown up to take over half of his face was trying to talk to a Healer (and not doing a very good job of it), while a woman who had clearly taken an illicit love Potion was draping herself over both of them. The man she had apparently come with was trying to pry her away. A group of people around Dora's age seemed to have had a battle with Cupid's Arrows--short shafted arrows which embedded themselves just under the skin, and which were bristling from their shoulders, chests, and arms, making it difficult for them to kiss one another, though they were certainly giving it an industrious try.

Remus picked his way across the room, trying not to run into anyone, and walked directly into Mehadi Patil. She glanced at the box of chocolates and raised an eyebrow. "Remus Lupin and chocolates. Must be love. Or Valentine's Day. Or possibly Saturday afternoon."

Remus smiled. "Do you know where Dora Tonks has got to? Kingsley said she'd had a spot of trouble with some Muggles."

"Ted and Andromeda's daughter?"

"Yes."

She frowned suspiciously--there was no good reason for Kingsley to have told Remus this, he supposed--but shrugged. Mehadi, a good Slytherin, never asked many questions about things she agreed with. "They took the Muggles down to Ted's office. It's out of the way. Whoever had the man put a bit of a tight Curse on him. Andromeda's been working on it for over an hour now."

Remus went down the narrow staircase to the basement. Miriam Levinson was sitting on a bench outside of Ted's office. She was stealing anxious glances at the door but seemed not to be overly panicked.

Dora, on the other hand, looked fully miserable. She had one knee drawn up to her chest and was rocking slightly in her chair. Her face was pale. Amazingly, Miriam had a hand on her shoulder, comforting her.

"Dora?" Remus said.

She flew out of the chair, stumbled over her own feet, and fell into his arms. "Are you all right?"

He righted her and sat her back down, choosing the chair beside her. "I'm all right."

Miriam leaned forward, her eyebrows raised. "You're Raymond. Aren't you?"

Remus snapped his head around and looked at Dora.

"I had to tell her," Dora said. "Before they saw Mum and recognized her from when we came by. I mean, how would we have explained that?" Remus glanced at the portrait of the caretaker, and she shrugged. "I put an Impervious around him. Dad does it all the time when he has patients out here who start talking. He's used to it."

Remus looked at Miriam. "Then you know..."

Miriam nodded. "You scared me badly."

"I'm sorry."

"If Joe comes out of this well, you're entirely forgiven." She took one of her furtive glances at the door. "It's strange," she said. "All these lies inside of lies. You lie to us. You lie to your own people. But I'm not in the least angry. I should be. This whole business is high-handed, if you want my opinion. And I've trusted you with a great many things." She raised her eyebrow at Dora.

"I'm still me," Dora said. "I stopped acting a long time ago, except in my face. And, well..." She nodded at Remus and blushed.

"We should have known the two of you really hadn't been married for fifteen years. How long have you really been married?"

"We haven't been," Dora said, looking at her fingernails.

"You're joking." Her eyes fell on the box of chocolates. "Then again, I suppose that's more the gift of a young lover than of a husband."

Dora noticed it for the first time. "I know," she said. "Cover for something."

Remus shrugged and gave it to her. "Happy Valentine's Day."

Dora smiled ruefully and toyed with the red ribbon that sealed the box. "Remus--Raymond--is an old... I'm an old student of his."

"And a good friend," Remus said, reaching across to take her hand. He didn't know why he did so, and in fact didn't realize he had until it was done. "We really have known one another for nearly twenty years."

"Yes, that shows." Another glance at the door. "How long will they be in there, do you think?"

Dora pulled her hand away gently and put her arm over Miriam's shoulders. "Mum says it's finicky sort of Curse. A Curse mixed with a Potion. She can fix it, but she has to do it one element a time."

"How did this happen?"

"The pub fight," Remus said. "He was defending Dudley from a witch."

"Why would a witch attack Joe?"

"We don't know," Dora said. "It might have been an accident. Dudley may have been meant to carry the Curse to someone else."

Remus looked at the door. "I should talk to him."

"No," Dora said. "Dad's working with a Pensieve while Mum Heals him. It's a bit tricky with non-magical people, and breaking the concentration..."

"Of course."

"We can retrieve it later. Go in and see what happened."

"What are you talking about?" Miriam asked, and the calm Remus had noted when he'd first come down started to break. "Curses and Potions and whatever a Pensieve is..."

Dora patted her back. "Shh. You must be terribly confused. It'll be all right."

"I know. I won't remember it," Miriam said bitterly.

"I'm so sorry," Dora said, wincing. "It's the law. I'm very sorry."

"It's a damned foolish, high-handed, arrogant law."

"It is," Remus agreed. "But it serves a purpose. Joe's an historian. He can tell you what happens when unpredictable powers are set loose in the world."

"All powers are unpredictable."

The door to Ted's office opened, and Andromeda came out. She looked haggard, as though she hadn't slept much for the past few days. Dora's eyes traced the lines of her face with concern. Andromeda came to Miriam. "I've cleared the Curse and found and an antidote to the Potion. It will take about three hours to work fully. My husband is happy to let you stay in his office while you wait. After three hours, I'll come in and see to getting you back to your lives."

Miriam barely waited through the entire speech. She disappeared through the door and Remus saw her sink into a chair beside Joe's bed.

Andromeda looked up. "Remus, you'll need to convince the Dursley boy to come in. I don't know precisely how the trigger worked, and I want to be sure he's clean of it before they're in contact again."

"I understand."

"Narcissa always loved her fussbudget magic. Picky little curlicues on everything."

"One close look at it and you're sure it's--?"

Andromeda nodded, not letting him finish. "She's my sister. When someone makes me look at her work, I know it."

"Mum..."

"Go on," Andromeda said. "Both of you. Healing and memory modification are our responsibility. You two..." She eyed the box of chocolates with an unreadable expression. "Try to have a decent afternoon."

She went back into the office.

Remus and Dora went upstairs without speaking, and only when they arrived at the street outside (another quick Tranfiguration of the robes made them presentable on the Muggle side of the shop window) did either of them say anything. "How long?" Remus asked.

"Since last week," Dora said. "She still won't say what Aunt Bellatrix said to her. She hasn't even told Dad. She took their wedding pictures down in the front room, both of them, Aunt Bella and Aunt Narcissa. You know, those clippings from the Prophet?" Remus nodded. "I have to admit, I'm a bit... I don't even know how to describe it. It's probably why I was off my game this morning. I'm so sorry. I should have let Scrimgeour Stun the Levinsons, so he'd be involved in that and I could go after you."

"Everything worked out all right."

He took her hand again--she seemed to need him to do so--and held it as they made their way to West Kensington on the underground. The train rattled too loudly for any sort of talk.

While they walked to her flat, it began to rain--large, cold drops that soaked through their hair and clothes. They hurried up the stairs, and Dora opened the door and went in. Before Remus could follow, she turned, her hand on the knob. "I'm so sorry," she said. "I was sitting there with Miriam thinking that they could be processing you for Azkaban, and it would be my fault."

"Well," Remus said, "Azkaban has sprung some leaks lately. I'm sure I'd have got back soon enough."

"That's not funny," she said, but smiled and took his hand again, then seemed to notice herself doing so and dropped it. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know I shouldn't have done that. I just... I thought I might have lost you and I just need..." She closed her eyes and said, in a lost and hopeless voice, "I love you so." She shook her head and opened her eyes, giving him a tired smile. "I'm sorry. You know what I mean."

"Yes." He found himself looking down into her dark eyes and he stepped back, letting air into the space between them. He reached across it and touched her face, feeling a deep melancholy and a calm joy.

There was no moment of inner denial, no nattering voice in his head. It would come back, he knew, with its questions of propriety and responsibility. It always did, and it probably had a point. But for now, there was just Dora--his own Dora--standing at the edge of the too-real stage set they'd built together, and the line that separated him from her, the past from the future, comfort from hope.

He stepped across it.

The first kiss was brief, less a kiss than a question: Is this what you need of me?

It was.

He kissed her again, and he felt her warm hands on his face, brushing away the rainwater from their walk, pulling him closer to her. He buried his own hands in her hair. He could feel it relaxing around his fingers, falling over his wrists in soft waves, and he knew that when he opened his eyes again, the last of the masks would be gone.
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Comments
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sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: January 4th, 2005 07:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Woohoo! :D I think I can safely say you just made a lot of poor patient Remus/Tonks shippers very happy.

I liked Mehadi Patil. She was only in there for what, two lines, but in those brief mentions - her comment to Remus, and Remus' thought that she was a "good Slytherin" there is an interesting character, especially given that we know her daughters. You have a talent for illustrating characters mentioned only in passing in a way that makes the reader - me, at least - want to know more about them. They feel like real people, not just names put in there to speak lines.

And the end...so cute. So Remus. *grins*

You know, I just realised I've made a habit of getting on the computer this time of the night, waiting for you to update. This story should have a warning on it. It's addictive.

Two minor typos - She glanced at the box of chocolates and raised and eyebrow. and "We haven't been," Dora said, looking a her fingernails.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2005 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I can safely say you just made a lot of poor patient Remus/Tonks shippers very happy.

I hope so! It's only a couple of lines. I hope they take the weight of the build-up.

Thanks for the typo catches. Got 'em.
sreya From: sreya Date: January 4th, 2005 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I am far, far too amused that their first kiss fell into the chapter titled "A Risky Idea". I know, their crazy plan and adrenaline is probably what pushed them into it, but I'm really enjoying the irony.

Time for sleep now, will attempt a more coherent and helpful comment tommorrow.
hobbitguy1420 From: hobbitguy1420 Date: January 4th, 2005 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Good tale :-)

This chapter isn't, mayhaps, going to be followed by something resembling "nothing big," is it?

Great story, by the way - this is my first post, but I've been reading along for several chapters now.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2005 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Good tale :-)

Thanks for de-lurking, nice to meet you. :)

"Nothing Big"... will work its way in in one form or another, though obviously, since I'm sticking with canon, they're not going to get engaged. I think I'll let them get a bit more comfortable before he gets nervous again.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: January 4th, 2005 08:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Fern!!! DAMN. That was impressive. Thank you so, so, SO much for sharing!

::scurries back to read it again::
affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: January 4th, 2005 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. I'm just checking my flist before I leave for Chicago, then Egypt, in two and a half hours. I'll be gone for six months, and I'll be desperately missing my Shifts. But wow. What a sendoff.

Internet cafe, ahoy! :D Thank you.
butterflysteve From: butterflysteve Date: January 4th, 2005 10:33 am (UTC) (Link)
SQUEEEEE!
You've made alot of Wotcher Wolvie shippers very very happy.
And I quite liked Mehadi, are we going to be seeing any more?
V.Excellent chapter, couldn't see one Brit-pick in it.
ann_mcn From: ann_mcn Date: January 4th, 2005 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a lovely, lovely first kiss!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: January 4th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, at least you only gave yourself away a day in advance...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I gave that away weeks ago on the Quill, when I angsted about the fact that it wasn't really a mystery who had done it, and however was I going to resolve it without being disappointing, because it wasn't going to take the plot weight. I decided to stop treating it as a mystery awhile ago.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 4th, 2005 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had to hold in a huge cheer.

However, I have a feeling that Andromeda will not be happy about all of this...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Andromeda has other things to be unhappy about; I think she may get over her squick more quickly than I'd have anticipated.
of_polyhymnia From: of_polyhymnia Date: January 4th, 2005 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
that was lovely. once again, wonderful writing. :)
siegeofangels From: siegeofangels Date: January 4th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awwww! Yaaaaay! SO adorable and well-done.

Love the "Remus Lupin and chocolates. Must be love. . . . or possibly Saturday afternoon" line.

I also like how Remus doesn't bother lying to himself (or Sirius, or Dora) about his feelings; he's a person who really knows who he is, as he shows in yesterday's bit.

Wonderful piece.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 4th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was lovely, Fern. Thank you.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: January 4th, 2005 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eeee! Squeeeeing madly now! :~D

Did you see this? http://www.livejournal.com/users/nacey/17222.html
This look so much like Remus and Tonks from Shifts!! Don't you just adore it?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 4th, 2005 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it's gorgeous. Must go comment. :)
From: fireflash_yalie Date: January 4th, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
SQUEEEEEEEE

Oh how exciting; after chapters of frustration and waiting, we finally get down to it! You do such a lovely job with teasing us and making us KNOW that something will happen eventually, and when it finally does happen, you certainly don't disappoint! Thank you thank you!!
kinderjedi From: kinderjedi Date: January 4th, 2005 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sigh* Such a sweet first kiss.

I've been following the story for a while and I love what you've done so far. Can't wait to see how Dudley is convinced to go to St. Mungo's...

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