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Shifts, Chapter 26: Shifting Focus, pt 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 26: Shifting Focus, pt 4
Okay. Starting out a little after nine instead of a little after midnight. Let's see if that works out. :)

Snape has made an appearance and told the Order that Voldemort is not going to be coming to the DoM and now knows that he must use Harry to retrieve the prophecy. This leaves little point in continuing the guard at the door, so Remus re-allocates responsibilities to focus on finding information about the escaped Death Eaters and any land holdings to which Voldemort might have access.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The moon was waxing.

In a month, Remus had changed the strategy of the Order of the Phoenix, made progress with Dudley Dursley, and fallen in love, but no amount of change in the life he created for himself could change the one simple, inevitable truth that had been created for him.

Dora began brewing Wolfsbane Potion for him on Friday night, and on Saturday, he again carried it in a thermos to a gathering at Alan's, sneaking out to Dora's car between card games to choke it down. Dora kissed him when he came back in, then wrinkled her nose at the taste. "Is this what I've been forcing you to drink all year?"

"You get accustomed to it," he lied.

"No, thanks." She patted his cheek and looked over her shoulder to make sure the others were involved in their own conversations. "I love you, but you taste like dragon bile."

By Tuesday, Remus knew the week might be problematic where Dora was concerned. The horrific dreams of tearing her apart had come back, and he couldn't entirely discount them. Sometimes, when she sat across from him, laughing, the need to touch her was so great that he had to sit on his hands to keep them from shaking, and when she kissed him, he wanted to devour her. By Thursday, she'd realized something was wrong, and when she came to lunch with his Potion, she set it down on his desk and sat across from him. Alan had called in sick this morning, and they had the office entirely to themselves.

"Remus," she said tentatively. "You... I mean... would it better... do you want me to keep a bit more distance the week before?"

"Wanting and needing are different things," Remus said. "What I need is for you to keep a bit more distance, at least these last few days."

"And what you want?"

"What I want is not for discussion in the middle of my workplace." He smiled in what he hoped was not too predatory a manner.

She nodded and started to set up lunch. "I've been thinking," she said, "that we're probably due for some great, traumatic argument anyway."

"Are we?"

"Oh, yes. I read a lot of love stories. There's always a great, traumatic argument. Usually caused by a misunderstanding that makes no sense at all to anyone else. But the whole business is forged in fire by it."

"Mmm." Remus took a sandwich, carefully avoiding her hand. "I can't really think of anything."

"I don't suppose you're still worried over my age?"

"Of course I am."

"Really?" she asked, dismayed. "You're not just playing along?"

"I'm really not. For years, I thought of you as the child I'd never had. What does it say about me that we're actually having this conversation?"

"I think it says that you find very odd things to worry about, and we'll definitely need to have a splashy trauma of some sort to take your mind off of it."

"Thank you for the understanding ear."

She smiled and reached across to take his hand, her fingers brushing against his before either of them remembered that they were keeping a distance. She drew back as if burned. "I do understand," she said. "Really, I do. I suppose it must be odd."

"Isn't it for you?"

"Perhaps a bit. But I had a father already. You had different sort of place in my affections. I always wanted to grow up and mar--" She smiled in an embarrassed way, raising her hand to cover her face. "I didn't get that last word out at all, right? Not after only three weeks. Even I'm not that impulsive."

"I wasn't going to take it as a contemporary proposal. And I did turn you down when you asked at the age of seven."

"Yes, you broke my poor heart," Dora said, wiping a melodramatic invisible tear from her face. She became stern. "Which, by the way, should remind you that there was nothing whatsoever questionable about your actions toward me, and you can just let go of that."

"I'll try."

"Now, all of that is more angst than trauma, really," she said. "Inborn business that you know is silly. Just like I know it's silly for me to be embarrassed that you know what I used to daydream about. It's not going to make for a great, splashy argument."

"Must we have one?"

"I'm sure it's written somewhere."

"Well... perhaps you could worry that I'm having a midlife crisis, as Alan suggested."

"Right. And you--having shown such a predilection for younger women--are going to leave me when I get old. And I could go to pour my heart out to one of my school friends, only to have you imagine that I'm having a madcap affair."

"Because of course, in seven years as best friends at Hogwarts, you didn't have a chance to decide whether or not you wanted more from Sanjiv."

"Well, I did kiss Daffy once. Of course, that was on a dare. From Maddie." She frowned. "We're not going to do well with a traumatic argument, are we?"

"I think those sorts of things need to come up on their own."

"Well, they're never going to write The Ballad of Dora and Remus at this rate."

"Good. Ballads inevitably turn out badly."

"I've noticed that. I don't want this to turn out badly." She smiled at him across the desk for a long time--her eyes shifted their color once, and he watched it with fascination--then took a breath and poured herself some juice from the second thermos. "And if I keep sitting here staring at you, I'm going to be around this desk in about ten more seconds. Tell me about Dudley. Or Alan. Or anything at all."

Remus looked away from her and told her about Dudley's lessons, mainly focused on recognition of danger now. "He's doing well enough, though I could live without his attitude."

"What about getting that Curse cleared out of him? Should we talk about getting him to St. Mungo's?"

"Has your father been able to organize the Pensieve?"

"He's having a bit of trouble with it. It doesn't work entirely well when the memories are pulled by a third party, tends to be a bit disorganized. And Joe's a Muggle, which made it more difficult. Dad's trying to get a logical thread from it."

"I think we should see exactly what happened. Then we can get Dudley in and out quickly. In the current atmosphere, I don't like to think what Fudge's people would do if we brought Harry's cousin in for treatment."

"Mmm. I can see the Prophet headline now: Potter's Cousin Cursed... Did The Boy Who Lived Attack His Muggle Relatives?"

"I really thought they might back off a bit," Remus said. "The Quibbler got a lot of readers from that interview."

"The Ministry's pushing its line. It's difficult. We're not allowed to discuss it at work, but people come up to me in the field, if they happen to see me, and ask if the Ministry is really telling the truth, or if they should believe the Quibbler. Not saying anything is something of an answer, I suppose, but it's maddening not to be able to do anything."

"They've actually forbidden you to speak at all on the subject?"

"Oh, Dawlish and Scrimgeour can speak all they like. It's only those of us who have some notion of what's happening who are expected to keep quiet. We're not allowed to talk to the press at all, for fear we'll disobey, and everything that comes out of the department has to be approved by Fudge's office. If they find out that I've gone and convinced Maddie and Daffy that Harry's telling the truth, I really will be sacked." She sniffed and waved her hand impatiently. "It's just a job, right?"

"It's a job you worked very hard to get. Are you really worried, Dora?"

She started to smile, then nodded. "You don't know what it's like at the Ministry. It's pitched camps. I'm worried. Kingsley's worried. Arthur's worried. The three of us pass each other in the corridors without saying hello, for fear that if one of us goes, someone might remember us being chummy with the others. Amos Diggory only came back a few months ago--he took off some time after Cedric died--and he's already been hauled in to talk to Fudge because he dared to say that he believes his son didn't die in a careless accident."

She looked terribly sad and very far away on the far side of the desk, and Remus chastised himself. He was a grown man and had been living with the moon's monthly promptings for more than thirty years now. He had no business being too skittish to offer her what comfort he could. He stood and went around the desk, holding out his hand, and she gratefully took it, coming into his arms as though she had never in her life been out of them.

"Thank you," she said. "How did I ever go without this?"

Remus rocked her a bit and kissed her head.

"It's really not as bad as I make it out to be," she said against his chest. He felt her voice vibrating in his nerves. "It's just frustrating. It'll all blow over, I'm sure. Not that I mind the change of heart about a bit of cuddling. Are you sure it's all right? Remus?"

She looked up, and he kissed her, pulling her more closely to him, the taste of her filling his mouth and the warmth of her rushing through him. He crushed her body against his, unable to draw her close enough. She pulled away to breathe, but he caught her mouth again, tilting her head back with his hands in her hair, and dear God in heaven she was warm...

She pulled away from him, slipping out of his arms and taking a few steps back. Her lips were puffy and she was panting a bit, trying to catch her breath. Remus could hear his own quick breathing in a counterpoint to hers, and he turned away from her, mortified. "Dora, I'm sorry," he said. "I--" He closed his eyes. "I don't even know what to say."

"Remus, I was right there with you."

He turned around. "I..."

"When I want you to stop kissing me, trust me, you'll know." He took a step forward and she held up her hand. "Which is why I stopped just now. And in case you didn't notice, you didn't try to force me to stay, and you didn't hurt me. You don't need to worry so about that. You're a good man, and I trust you."

He nodded. "Perhaps tomorrow, you should just drop the Potion off and not stay."

"I think that might be best." Her eyes, a bit dazed, roamed over him in a speculative way that he wasn't sure she was aware of. Then she smiled and said, "Goodbye, then," and left.

It took him several minutes to gather himself enough to teach his next class.
13 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
myf From: myf Date: January 10th, 2005 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
we're probably do for some great, traumatic argument

due, I think.

Wonderful, again. Your writing is beautifully consistent, plus I'm thoroughly enjoying the experience of reading a fic in which two people have got together and yet can still have normal conversations afterwards.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 10th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Caught the do/due. Thanks. :eyeroll:

two people have got together and yet can still have normal conversations afterwards.
Yeah, imagine that! Though I was with Dora at first. The segue between the two is awkward.
myf From: myf Date: January 10th, 2005 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Gah. So many fics associate 'falling in love' with 'removing half the brain' and have characters merely sit around making gooey eyes at one another and drooling. So unrealistic. :D
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: January 10th, 2005 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Yey. I'm really quite excited to see this. It's what stupid insomnia will do for you. It's nearly 6am here.

Anyway, seeing your update was the plus side of insomnia. This has to be one of my favourite bits in terms of pure erm 'aw'ness. I love Remus and Dora here. They are so beautifully in character with what you've built up - it's seamless. Them together like this makes me so happy. Remus is probably my favourite character in the books and your writing of him is superb. I loved how you got him to pull himself together to comfort Dora.
The traumatic argument idea was fantastic, by the way.
I also liked the idea of Amos Diggory getting into trouble for defending his son.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 10th, 2005 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks.

I sort of wonder what did happen to Amos, who seemed to have a lot emotionally invested in Cedric (along with simply loving him). We don't hear anything, but I'd bet this was a rough year for him.
dipsas From: dipsas Date: January 10th, 2005 10:05 am (UTC) (Link)
"I love you, but you taste like dragon bile."

I do love this story...
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 10th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yesterday, I was telling a friend how so far, this fic was staying away from the normal, superficial patterns of a lot of romance fics, and that the characters had not decided to only care about one another. I'm glad to see this is still true! :)

However, I do have a feeling they may have a fight. And I know why Remus is so confused - I mean, he *taught* Dora.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 11th, 2005 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, oh my. (mrs_who fans self delicately.) Is it warm in here or is it just me??

I've been meaning to write some lovely, long feedback on the last two weeks worth of posts, but we're getting back into the swing of schoolish things again and I can't seem to eek out the time. I will this morning, though!

She patted his cheek and looked over her shoulder to make sure the others were involved in their own conversations. "I love you, but you taste like dragon bile."

This is at least the second Tonks "I love you" since their romance started. Has Lupin said it? You said earlier, "In a month, Remus had changed the strategy of the Order of the Phoenix, made progress with Dudley Dursley, and fallen in love," and I realize we're hearing Remus' thoughts, so it's true he's *thinking* it, but I wonder if he'd said it and if not, why not? Does your Lupin have any past relationships? I know you've had the morality discussion and that he's not been loose and Tonks is still fairly innocent, but I wonder whether you've had him involved romantically with anyone in his lifetime.


By Tuesday, Remus knew the week might be problematic where Dora was concerned. The horrific dreams of tearing her apart had come back, and he couldn't entirely discount them. Sometimes, when she sat across from him, laughing, the need to touch her was so great that he had to sit on his hands to keep them from shaking, and when she kissed him, he wanted to devour her. You've already established that your Lupin has control issues close to the full moon (very expected, I'm not picking) but I was curious as to whether you got that from the Shrieking Shack scene in which he was about to commit murder in front of three children, or whether you're just inferring it? I can't come up with any other canon-type examples where his behavior is unusual before the FM.

"Remus," she said tentatively. "You... I mean... would it better... do you want me to keep a bit more distance the week before?" BE better, I think you mean.

I thought the whole "big showy argument" thing was not only completely in character for Tonks, but completely in character for just about every "young woman in first love". LOL. Great!

Well done for keeping the plot going through their lunchtime conversation! That was very tricksy of you. ;)

(Small detour here.)I really don't care for smutty fiction and don't read it unless it sneaks up on me in a novel, and then I tend to skim through it quickly like it was a pile of something questionable I stepped over on the sidewalk. That is why I enjoy genfic and mild romance. It's not that I don't know that things like french kissing and visible - um, how do I write it - male arousal? occur. I just don't really want to *read* the words describing tongues and well, other bits. (Don't want to write them either, apparently.) I can't believe I'm the first one to make the comment that the last scene was quite nearly steamy by your standards! ;) (No worries - you're miles and miles away from smutty.)

You write so very subtly, maybe people missed it? The steaminess, I mean? I suppose many readers are accustomed to flat-out graphic descriptions and you give the same issues a light-handed, delicate touch. I appreciate that - I think it's classy.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 11th, 2005 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I will this morning, though!
And I'm very grateful! It's nice to get nice, long feedback.

This is at least the second Tonks "I love you" since their romance started. Has Lupin said it?
Not unless he said it when I wasn't looking at him. ;) I think there's an awkwardness level here just because they have both said the words before and meant them, but now they mean something ever so slightly new. Dora's more casual with words, and I think is more able to use the same words for the altered meaning, while I think Remus is struggling for exactly the right words, and the right context for them.

Does your Lupin have any past relationships? I know you've had the morality discussion and that he's not been loose and Tonks is still fairly innocent, but I wonder whether you've had him involved romantically with anyone in his lifetime.

I mentioned briefly earlier on that he dated Mehadi (a widow) very casually at some point in the vague past (in my head, it's when the girls are toddlers, which is why neither of them gossips about knowing the cool new teacher; they just don't remember him very well), so casually that neither of them had any special emotional reaction to splitting up and they've remained friendly acquaintances. And he did kiss that Ravenclaw girl in Lines of Descent. In the prologue, while they're creating Dora Lewis, Sirius says that he should list all the girls Remus dated at Hogwarts, and Remus quips, "Both of them? I don't know, will we have time?" So not a big social butterfly in school, and afterward, I think he largely self-exiled and made a habit of being alone. My impression is that he got a lot of quiet crushes, of the sort that were so quiet the girls involved never had a clue.

I was curious as to whether you got that from the Shrieking Shack scene in which he was about to commit murder in front of three children, or whether you're just inferring it?

I'm mostly making it up out of whole cloth because it's convenient for my storytelling purposes. ;) There are two things happening as far as canon goes. The first is that what there is of this is something Remus brutally controls in himself, refraining from touching people and chastising himself for having the slightest affectionate thought. The second is that Remus is largely gaslighting himself, working a very mild symptom into a problem. He gets nervous before the change every month and has anxiety dreams, and becoming hyper-aware of feelings he probably has more often than he likes to admit, and those feelings--which he associates with the transformation--disturb him. That's one of the reasons Dora points out that she was "right there with him"--she's not a lycanthrope, but she's perfectly aware that there are some, er, baser feelings involved here.

You write so very subtly, maybe people missed it? The steaminess, I mean?

Remus is a gift of a POV for people who don't like being too explicit, because he's not the sort to think explicitly of such things, at least not in words. But I admit, I was beginning to wonder if I'd been too subtle!
sannalim From: sannalim Date: January 11th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remus is a gift of a POV for people who don't like being too explicit, because he's not the sort to think explicitly of such things, at least not in words. But I admit, I was beginning to wonder if I'd been too subtle!
Um, no. The picture is right there in my head, but it's too close to the line I draw for myself for me to allow myself to draw it for you, alas.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 12th, 2005 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh no, not to subtle at all.

I just spent 2 hours in a car on a trip and replayed that lunch scene in my head most of the way. Not smutty, but heavens, the steaminess of it!

[fans herself]
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 11th, 2005 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and on the past relationships issue, if you mean the more, er... intimate?... definition. No. I think he's withdrawn before becoming particularly intimate with anyone. He just seems the sort who would, regardless of the cultural climate, and I think the cultural climate would support it in this case.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 12th, 2005 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
That's what I thought. Thanks for clarifying my numerous questions! :)
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