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Shifts, Chapter 27: Interlude (5), pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 27: Interlude (5), pt. 2
Okay. Back to fic. Fic is good. And I work later tomorrow, so I don't have to go to bed and pretend to sleep yet.

The moon is full, and Remus is out of commission. Dora was called to the birthing party of her friend Maddie, who delivered a boy named Francis. Andromeda was the Healer in attendance. Sirius has been pouting around the house, and Phineas Nigellus called him on it, pointing out that he's destroyed everything in the house that might have kept him company when he's alone. And Edward Holmes, the werewolf from St. Mungo's, had a fairly large pre-transformation freak-out. Continuing the interlude...

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Andromeda Tonks sat on bench in the Apcarnes' back garden, looking up at the moon and breathing the fresh air. They were close to the sea here, and she could pick up the tang of salt. It was a cold March night, but she didn't much care. It seemed that she'd been cold for weeks.

She'd been surprised when Maddie Madrigal--well, Apcarne--had come call at St. Mungo's and asked her to attend the birthing. It had been years since the children had spent their long summer holidays visiting one another. They had always spent the longest with Dora at the house, but Andromeda had always assumed it was simply because London was more exciting for teenagers than the villages where Daffy and Maddie lived, and a magical household more amusing at that age than Sanjiv's Muggle home in Glasgow (though they had used these visits to do exotic things like attend films and watch music on television, a concept which Andromeda didn't entirely understand). And if there'd been any attraction other than London to her own home, she'd assumed it was Ted, with his laughter and games.

But Maddie had come to her nonetheless. Andromeda's first assumption was that she was there only in her professional capacity, but when they'd asked her to hold Francis and give him a gift...

That was not an honor lightly offered.

For a moment, she had felt well and whole, but it had faded as she watched Dora and her friends gather around the new baby, cooing and smiling.

The cold had crept back in then, as she felt the ghosts of Bella's bony arms closing around her shoulders, pinning her arms away from her wand, and the phantom of Bella's icy kiss on her cheek.

Hello, Andromeda. I see you haven't done away with yourself yet.

"Mum?"

Andromeda felt Dora sit down beside her, and a warm, solid hand touched her shoulder. She patted her fingers. "I'm all right, Dora. Go on back inside."

"Talk to me, Mum. You're frightening me lately."

Andromeda turned around. "Am I? Oh, I was trying not to." Dora did look concerned, which seemed incongruous beneath the pink and blue hair she'd morphed to match her robe. "You don't need to worry about me, Dora. I've been stepping back so you could enjoy... well, Dad says he thinks you might have something good in your life that I'd rather not spoil."

"Then you're not angry about it?"

"Angry?" Andromeda took Dora's hand and squeezed it, then let go and looked at the sky. "No. It's strange. Good Lord, it's strange. I can't even begin to conceive of you and Remus as... together. But that's my problem. I'm not angry. I want you to be happy. I know you've always loved him, nad he's always loved you, and really, what's more important?"

(Narcissa leaned across the table, a conspiratorial glint in her eye. "It's not too late, you know. If you leave them, your family will have you back.")

"Are you sure, Mum?" Dora asked.

"I'm sure." She touched Dora's face, so like Bella's in shape (at least when she appeared to be herself), so unlike it in temperament. "Do you think I'd ever push away my only child?"

Dora smiled. "I don't think you'd push me away if you'd had a houseful. I saw you when you held Fr--MUM!"

There was no warning. The tears burst from her in a hot, blinding flood.

"Mum, are you--"

"Fine," Andromeda gasped. "The window. I don't want to spoil the night."

Dora cast a quick Impervious Charm. "Mum, what is it?"

Oh, look. Isn't that your little half-blood freak? The little monster? Oh, wook! Poor wittle Andromeda is angwy...

"I didn't want to tell you."

Look at her hair, the bit of a clown. I see what you left your family for. But at least Narcissa and I

"Mum, please. I have to know. Is it about Aunt Bellatrix? What she said to you?"

at least Narcissa and I made sure

"Mum. Talk."

made sure that she was the only one.


"I already told your dad," she said. "I don't want to tell it twice more."

"I'm only--"

"Take me to Sirius. I'll tell you both."

"Dumbledore--"

"Told us the secret."

Dora nodded. "There's an alley beside it."

"I know the place."

"We can Apparate there."

They went inside and said their goodbyes to everyone. Andromeda forced a smile and kissed the baby and Maddie each one more time. Then they Apparated to the alley outside of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. The house appeared from its concealment--how that had delighted Andromeda when she'd visited as a child!--and Dora led them inside.

"BLOOD TRAITOR! GET OUT!"

Andromeda jumped back from the wailing portrait which showed a maddened Auntie, looking more monstrous than any of the guests she accused of it. The woman who had once been formidable and beautiful in her own severe way had been reduced to a blathering lunatic. The gray eyes she'd passed down to both of her sons were wide and red rimmed, and the midnight black hair Andromeda remembered was--

"Dora! I wasn't expecting you to come back to..."

Andromeda looked up.

Sirius was standing at the top of the stairs, paused mid-step. Like Bella (and Auntie), his face had changed, his beauty had been warped. His once-bright eyes had been dulled and his rich black hair hung in uneven clumps.

She smiled at him. "Hello, Sirius."

He didn't run down the stairs, as he would have when he was a small child, throwing himself into her open arms and begging for kisses. He took slow, tentative steps, his eyes never leaving her face, and hers never leaving his. He didn't stop in front of her. He just opened his arms and walked into her embrace. "Andromeda," he said. "I've missed you."

"You as well."

"Mum wants to tell us something," Dora said.

"No," Andromeda said. "I don't need to--"

"Come down to the kitchen," Sirius said. "And tell us."

"Really, I don't want you to think about it. You obviously--"

"Obviously what?" Sirius asked, leading the way down into the kitchen. He sat down at the table and pushed out the bench across from him. "Let me worry about you if you need worrying. I've got a lot of time for it here."

"I can't believe they've got you trapped here of all places. And that portrait--"

"You get used to her," Sirius said dismissively as Dora sat down beside him, across from Andromeda. "What did you need to talk about?"

"It's about Bella," she said. "I don't know anything about where she is or what she owns. It's... personal. It's something that she and Narcissa did. To me. She told me. I wasn't sure I believed her. I didn't know how they would have. Until I looked at Joe Levinson. They used the same principle. A Potion with a trigger curse. Two trigger curses."

Dora closed her eyes. "Daddy. And me."

Andromeda nodded. "After all, if I left you, by their reasoning, all would be well."

"What did they do?"

Andromeda looked back and forth between them for a long time.

Then she told them everything.




Peter Pettigrew stood in the back garden, watching his mother through the window of the conservatory. She was sitting in her wicker chair, surrounded by large leaves, a copy of the Quibbler open in her lap. He wasn't close enough to see this at the moment, but he knew. Every night, she sat here with the Quibbler, rocking back and forth and weeping.

She hadn't taken down the photograph of him, and she sometimes looked up from the magazine to the wall, burst into a fresh spate of tears, and then started to read again.

He'd stood here every night since the interview had come out. Every night, he swore it would be the last, but it never was. Tonight, he'd been out with the wolves earlier, running among their paws in his rat form, sometimes nipping at their heels to enrage them into fighting with one another. But he had tired of their fighting (which really didn't need his encouragement) and wound up here again, alone, watching his mother weep.

He transformed and made his way across the sharp plain of frozen mud, sniffing for a way inside. There was always a way inside in this shape, and he finally found it, leading into the house elf's cupboard (which had never, to Mother's disappointment, had an occupant). He skittered out of it and became human again in the front room. Now he could hear her. It wasn't an aesthetically pleasaing cry that she might offer to company. He heard her blow her nose and choke for breath. It was real enough grief.

Grief, because her son was alive.

Peter let all the old hurt and anger come up into his chest. It made magic easier, or would if he needed it. He rather hoped he wouldn't. Mother had a great many complex concerns in her life, but ingrained morality was not one of them. He hoped he would be able to walk out of the house tonight without needing to use any sort of spell.

He went to the door of the conservatory and leaned against the frame. "Mother?" he said.

She looked up, terrified. "Get back! I... I know what you did!" She waved the Quibbler at him.

"Do you believe them?"

"Why wouldn't you have come home if it weren't true?"

"Maybe I was too afraid that you would turn me out. You won't, will you? You'll let me in?"

She said nothing, just stood there, frozen.

Peter went into the conservatory. She didn't turn him out.
15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
butterflysteve From: butterflysteve Date: January 12th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
((Let me guess- the reason why Andromeda can't have any more kids is because of a curse put on both Ted and Nymphadora. But if she left them the curse would go and she'd be able to have pureblooded 'normal' children.))

Can't see anything that needs Britpicking here. Lovely chapter though, very emotional. And I especially liked the bit with Mrs Pettigrew, I never thought about that until now- I wonder how she really did take the news.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 12th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent conclusion to the interlude! The part with Andromeda is heartbreaking. Definitely something she would keep to herself for weeks before telling Ted and Dora. Am anxious to see Dora's reaction and what she tells Remus. This fits so beautifully into canon, explaining so well why Tonks and Sirius go after Bella in the Department of Mysteries. Just when I think this story can't get any better....
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: January 12th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
WOW! Excellent! Brilliant how you tied Levinson's curse to Andromeda. And could Narcissa and Bella be any more evil?
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 12th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am SO angry about what Bella and Narcissa did to Andromeda. And they told her she could return to the family after that? My God!
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 12th, 2005 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was such a powerful section! An infertility curse!!! Wow. That's brilliant and truly evil. While I'm happy that Andromeda and Sirius reunited, it was bittersweet for the reader who knows what's coming. :(

The cold had crept back in then, as she felt the ghosts of Bella's bony arms closing around her shoulders, pinning her arms away from her wand, and the phantom of Bella's icy kiss on her cheek.

That gave me goosebumps!

And Wormtail and his mother!!! Darn if I hadn't forgotten about the fact that Pettigrew's not being dead would have been mentioned in the Quibbler and would have gotten back to "his poor mother". And there he stands and she doesn't turn him out. Oh. This was evil and brilliant and very, very well done!

Yea, Fern!!
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 12th, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh, evil LJ. I deleted my other comment (since it doesnt let you edit) and it ate my new one - so I'll just say "good job" and "evil Bella."
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 12th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
See, I keep trying to remember the lovely steaminess, and this

made sure that she was the only one.

keeps coming back to me.

[shudders]

Evil.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 13th, 2005 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Since no one else has pointed it out...

I know you've always loved him, nad he's always loved you, and really, what's more important?"

Brilliant section, Fern. I'm eager for more!
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 13th, 2005 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's so horrible! What Bella and Narcissa did to Andromeda, I mean. The chapter was brilliant. You don't usually use the interludes to give plot away, do you? They've always seemed to be more of a deep breath before the storm comes back. Anyway, this explains a lot.

I was going to point out the typo, but the person above did it for me. :-)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 13th, 2005 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)
*shiver*
I especially love the paragraph about Sirius's beauty having warped, like so much of his family (but obviously for different reasons). Just such a striking image...
(Also, I really enjoyed the story about Rebecca Sealis but haven't got any particularly constructive comments so I'll just throw in the fact that I liked it here. I'd like to know if Rebecca and Ginny kept in touch at all after meeting that day.)
From: isabela113 Date: January 13th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! I just have chills thinking about the curse on Andromeda. The thing is, I have no doubt that her sisters believed in the rightness of what they did. That, to me, is the most haunting part.

mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: January 13th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
"She'd been surprised when Maddie Madrigal--well, Apcarne--had come call at St. Mungo's and asked her to attend the birthing. "

Should that be come calling ?

"But that's my problem. I'm not angry. I want you to be happy. I know you've always loved him, nad he's always loved you, and really, what's more important?"

I think that should be and he's
sep12 From: sep12 Date: January 17th, 2005 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't believe Bella and Narcissa could be that evil to their own sister, and then say that everything would be okay if she came back to the family. As if Andromeda would, after hearing something like that. Poor Andromeda, no wonder she waited so long to tell anyone what Bella said to her. How touching it was for her to give the gift of family to her daughter's friend; who would know better than Andromeda what family REALLY means? Loved the reunion with Sirius; he's so ready to help and support his cousin - it makes the events of canon so much more horrible and sad than they were before reading this.
I never thought about Peter's mother reading the Quibbler interview until I read this. He must have been waiting all of his life for her to take some notice of him and welcome him.
Great update as usual. And as usual, please write as fast as your little fingers can type!
sonetka From: sonetka Date: January 21st, 2005 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Infertility curse. Oh my God. Can *I* kill Bellatrix and Narcissa? Please? No fate could be bad enough for them, after that. (Not that I'm discounting the murders or anything, but the fact is that I've been hit by infertility, but never been murdered. So that one just knocked me out).
fair_terentia From: fair_terentia Date: December 24th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was following Teddy's story in the summer (and loved it) but got out of reading habit when university started up again. These last few days I've been reading Shifts almost non stop. I wouldn't probably have reviewed until I'd finished, but this chapter moved me to tears. I'd had no idea of what Narcissa and Bella did to Andromeda. I can't imagine anything more cruel. I was completely shocked and the scene between Andromeda and Tonks and then back at GP was almost unbearable.

So, yeah, I just wanted to say that it's amazing. And thanks. Oh, and Happy Christmas! (About 2 years after this was posted!)
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