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Shifts, Chapter 28: Big D, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 28: Big D, pt. 1
Phew. Back. Missed a few days there! I seem to recall a request for some Dudley...?

Remus was transforming when Dora's friend Maddie had her baby. Andromeda broke down and told Dora (and Sirius, to whom she asked to be taken) that her sisters had put a curse on her so that she couldn't have any more children as long as she remained with her husband and daughter. Previous to that, Joe Levinson had been taken to St. Mungo's, and Ted's been having some trouble getting the memories he gleaned from Joe and put into a Pensieve to hold together.

And argh, I've been calling the drawing room the parlor for months. I'd best fix that. (What's the difference between a drawing room and a parlor, anyway?)

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus slipped into the entrance hall just past dawn on Saturday morning, not wanting to wake Sirius if he were still asleep and not especially wanting to wake Mrs. Black's portrait. The transformation had been absurdly easy after the impassioned build-up--once his body had stopped convulsing, stretching, and twisting itself, he'd dug half-heartedly for awhile (almost from conscious boredom), then curled up beside the door and gone to sleep. He hadn't woken up until the first stabbing pains had struck his abdomen this morning, signalling the beginning of the second transformation. As a result, although he didn't feel especially good (he never would, not this soon), he also didn't feel the need to burrow into his bed and not come out until sometime next week.

He was tempted to credit it to Dora, as their relationship was the only major change in his personal life (and the Wolf cared not a whit about his professional life or the Order of the Phoenix), but he could think of no reason in the world why a love affair should make a lycanthropic transformation easier, particularly while it remained... somewhat frustrated... so he reluctantly decided it was simply a chance event, which he couldn't count on in the future. Unless Dora had changed the formula in the Wolfsbane, of course. He'd have to ask her when she--

"Damn. Come on, now."

He stopped on the first floor landing and turned toward the drawing room, surprised at the voice tha thad come out of it. Andromeda Tonks was standing close to the wall, her nose pressed up against the family tree, her wand pointed at one of the ashy marks. "Reparo," she said. Nothing happened.

"Andromeda?" Remus said.

She jumped. "Oh. You're back. Are you in one piece? Do you need anything healed?"

"It's aches and pains mainly. Sirius found a potion that works rather well on it this fall." He looked at her guardedly. "I thought you weren't going to come. Too much attention and all."

"I came from Dora's friends' home. I didn't see anyone there. They aren't very skilled at hiding, really. Do you know Dora's friends, Daffy and Maddie?"

"I've met them."

"They had their baby last night."

"Really? That's wonderful. Was it a boy or a girl?"

Andromeda smiled faintly. "A boy. Francis David. Dora's betting he'll be Frankie or Davey within a week. Given Maddie and Daffy, I'm personally placing my bets on something more unusual."

"Well, Maddie's a normal enough name..."

"When her real name is Dora?"

"I didn't know that."

Andromeda shrugged. "That's how our Dora got in this blasted surname habit. The pair of them were in the same dormitory, and they used their surnames to avoid confusion. And my Dora, of course, found it a very handy way to avoid the name she was given." She smiled ruefully. "Which I suppose was a bit of a mouthful for a little one anyway. I was eighteen. It all had to mean something. Nymphadora. The gift of a girl. I thought it was just perfect."

Remus went into the room and sat down on the sofa. "What are you doing with the family tree?"

"I used a simple Restituo to put myself back, but it faded again right away. And I can't touch any of the others. I don't know what kind of magic Auntie was using. I expect only the head of the family can change it, but Sirius didn't seem particularly interested in trying. It may require some magic he's averse to." She stood back a step, her hands on her hips, her wand angled up to the ceiling on the right. "Remus," she said. "I, er... you and Dora... I..."

Remus's stomach turned over. "Andromeda, I wasn't lying when I told you--"

"I know you weren't."

"Are we all right?"

She turned, looked him in the eye, then looked away and shook her head. "No. We're not. It's not your fault and there's nothing you can do about it. I just need time to adjust to the idea of you as Dora's... er..."

"I'm at a loss for an appropriate word as well."

"As Dora's, then, instead of as... oh, I'm not putting this properly at all. You are still our friend. I just need to accustom myself to thinking of you as belonging to Dora first, if that's at all sensible."

Remus nodded uncertainly, realizing that he had no idea how long he'd thought of Ted and Andromeda as "Dora's parents" rather than thinking of Dora as "Ted and Andromeda's daughter"--except that it had predated this Valentine's Day by some time. "And in the meantime?"

"In the meantime, there's work to be done. Maybe it will be easier when I've worked with you together."

"Right. Speaking of which, has Ted made any progress with the Pensieve?"

She looked at him, vaguely surprised. "Oh, yes. I forgot. You see how not all right I am." She gave an embarrassed sort of laugh. "That's where Dora is. Ted almost had it together before I left yesterday. She's going to find a way to sneak him over here with it. Why don't you get some rest? I'll... well, I'll have Dora... or Sirius... wake you when Ted's got everything together."

"Sirius might be a better choice."

"Good." She winced and put her hand to her forehead. "Yes, oh..."

Remus went to her and hugged her, mainly because he couldn't think of any other way to deal with her mood. She hugged him back compulsively, then pulled away, swiping at her face.

"What is it really, Andromeda?"

"I'm not going through it again," she said. "Ask Sirius and Dora after we leave. Tell them I told you that you could know. Too many things at once. Go get some sleep."

"Have you slept?"

"I really just got up a few minutes before you came in. Dora and I stayed up talking in the guest room across the way. For a long time." She smiled. "She really did become a wonderful woman, didn't she?"

"I have no argument with that."

She turned back to the tapestry, and Remus made his way up to his room and cleaned up, then dozed lightly for an hour or two. A sharp rap on the door woke him up, and he saw Sirius leaning in.

"Up and about, Moony. I told Andromeda you should sleep; she said you already told her you were fine."

"I'm fine. I'll be right down."

He ran a comb through his hair and did a quick freshening charm on his mouth, then went downstairs. Ted Tonks had set the Pensieve down on the kitchen table, and the sluggish white swirls of Joe Levinson's thoughts cast a flickering light. "'Lo, Remus," Ted said, frowning at the device and leveling his wand over it. Andromeda stood on the other side and they worked a sort of mutual charm that Remus hadn't seen before, which created a faint reddish net of light within the Pensieve.

"It's not holding together very well," Dora said, coming around the table. She took his hand and squeezed it, then let go. "Mum and Dad mostly have it pieced together. But we don't know how long it will last. We'd best all go in, see everything there is to see. Ten eyes are better than two."

"Eight eyes," Ted said. "I'll stay back and do my best to keep it coherent."

"Unfortunately, a wizard's own magic is involved in using the Pensieve," Andromeda explained. "It's not just the artifact. Ted's been able to actually retrieve the memories, but it's like trying to carry potion in a bit of cloth."

Ted inspected the spellwork with a "let's hope" sort of expression on his face, then said, "Right, then. One at a time. Andi?"

Andromeda leaned forward, touched the surface of the Pensieve, then, in a flash of light, was gone. Sirius followed.

"I've actually never done this," Dora said.

Remus raised his eyebrows. "I'd think it would be useful for Aurors."

"Oddly, most witnesses don't want us pulling their thoughts out of their heads. And the Wizengamut said that we can't compel them."

"Only Muggles?"

"I asked Joe. He said he'd like to help any way he could. Which makes him a pretty rare witness."

"Dora," Ted prompted, "you just touch the surface. You'll fall, but you'll land on your feet."

"Sure I will. I always do, except when I don't." She winked, then leaned into the Pensieve and was gone.

"Are you sure you're in shape for it?" Ted asked.

Remus nodded.

"Well, have at it then. I've got it here."

Remus bent toward the Pensieve, in which he could see a seedy street with a line of pubs, then touched the surface and found himself falling from a great height, only to land softly on the pavement.

Dora was getting up (she had, in fact, lost her balance and fallen upon landing), while Andromeda peered around the neighborhood through narrowed eyes and Sirius looked at a newspaper someone had left on a bench beside a bus stop. "It's March of last year," he said.

"That's sounds about right," Dora said. "Where's Joe?"

Remus looked around. The Pensieve's area of observation was never vast, only finding the limits of the observer's surroundings at any time. This particular view seemed narrower than most, and blurred somehow at its edges. (Remus's experience was limited, though; he had done this only twice in the past, both times with Dumbledore. The first had been before he'd started teaching, when Dumbledore had allowed him to see some glimpses of Harry--his Sorting, a talk they'd had in the hospital wing, and his first Quidditch game--nothing personal, which was not Dumbledore's to share, but little moments that had let Remus see how the infant he'd once known had grown into a strong and capable boy. The second had been Order business in June, and had involved the more troubling subject of Tom Marvolo Riddle.)

Despite the small vista, it took him a moment to find Joe. The street was crowded with rowdy young people, and music of some variety, which seemed to be largely chanted to a strong backbeat, was blasting from many opening doors. Ladies he suspected to be of somewhat less than spotless reputation were leaning against buildings provocatively. A group of teenage boys seemed to have engaged two of them in conversation--or negotiation--and Remus noticed that, although they were wearing street clothes, at least one of them was also wearing a straw boater at a drunken angle, and carrying a knobbly stick. "Smeltings boys," he said. "I don't know this bunch."

"You! Hey, there!"

Remus turned, but of course no one was speaking to him. Joe Levinson passed directly through the group of unseen watchers, looking pugnacious and annoyed.

"That's Joe," Dora told Sirius.

Sirius nodded. "I guessed as much."

Joe stepped between the Smeltings boys and the ladies they were speaking to and gave both sides of the conversation a stern look. He turned to the women. "You two," he said, "get out."

"Just doing a bit of business," one of them said, without the slightest hesitation for shame.

"Not with my boys you aren't. Now, go."

The two women shimmied off to less confrontational prey, and Joe turned back to his boxers. "Get back to the dormitory, the lot of you."

"Oh, come on," one of them said. "I'm of age!"

"You're on my team, you do things my way. I don't fancy explaining to your parents how you ended up with a social disease. And, you, Garrett!"

One of the other boys looked up, and Remus recognized him a sixth year who was plodding along in his A-levels with no real enthusiasm. He was no longer boxing. "What is it, Coach Levinson?"

"You're not even sixteen. When I tell you to stay in the dormitories, I mean it."

The boys grumbled, but slunk back off toward the edge of the field of vision, giving Joe their solemn word that they weren't staying out. When they hit it, they seemed to catch in a reddish net, then shatter and fade.

"He's not walking them back?" Sirius asked, amused. "Trusting fellow, that one."

"They gave their word," Remus said. "If you don't give them trust somewhere, they'll never give it to you."

"You lived with James and me for seven years. You know better."

"I know I never saw either one of you break your word to Dumbledore or McGonagall if you'd been asked to give it." Remus himself, of course, had broken his word to Dumbledore--the part about not allowing any danger that was avoidable--but since Dumbledore hadn't realized that James, Sirius, and Peter were joining him for transformations, he'd never asked for their word that they wouldn't.

"Which pub do you suppose it is?" Andromeda asked. "They all look dodgy. None of them look like a place where Narcissa would be caught in her worst nightmares. What on Earth are these children doing here?"

"Pushing their limits," Sirius said.

"Dora, if you ever did anything like this, I never want to know about it."

Dora laughed. "All right, Mum."

"You didn't, did you?"

"Well, I was certainly never on a street like this. And I didn't do anything mad, like sneaking into the Room of Requirement with my boyfriend or eloping out of school at the age of seventeen." She grinned.

Andromeda looked sheepish (but oddly pleased) and Sirius laughed.

Joe, who was standing only a few feet away from them, oblivious, looked after his students for a few more seconds, then shook his head. He opened the door of the pub he was standing by, looked around, and closed it again. Then he moved on to the next one.

He checked two or three in that manner, working his way up the street (the original pub faded through that red light at the blurry edge of the Pensieve), and finally came to a dingy little red door, festooned with a peeling painting of a blonde woman with her skirts blowing up around her. He saw no one during his inspection, then shook his head and went inside. A girl in tight blue jeans led him to a table and took his order for a beer and something to eat.

"There!" Dora said.

Remus turned. She was pointing to the shadows at the far end of the bar, a spot that wouldn't have been especially visible from the doorway. Dudley Dursley--fourteen and looking, in this crowd, approximately ten--was sitting on a bar stool, a beer forgotten on the bar at his side, and a cigarette turning to a long train of ash in his hand.

Beside him, leaning forward seductively with one hand on his knee, was Narcissa Malfoy.
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Comments
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 16th, 2005 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Hurrah! LJ and Shifts is back! :)

I like the idea of Andromeda trying to put herself back on the tree, although after what she's found out, I'm not entirely sure why she would want to be there. It is understandable to that her reaction to Remus in regards to the relationship should be a bit stronger than it was with Dora.

And we're finally going to find out what happened in the pub. I'm not sure Joe's memory will tell us much about motivation but it'll be interesting to know. :)

Small letter drift here: surprised at the voice tha thad come.

Oh and just FYI - whilst I was on your Humungous Bighead site, I noticed that the link to chapter 25 in the table of contents actually goes to chapter 24.

Good to have you and your wonderful writing back. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 16th, 2005 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the idea of Andromeda trying to put herself back on the tree, although after what she's found out, I'm not entirely sure why she would want to be there.

As horrid as her sisters have been to her, she's also just spent the evening pouring out her soul to her daughter and her cousin and being supported fairly well by them. She may have been forced to give up on Narcissa finally, but she has Sirius back in "exchange." By the same token, she hasn't had Bella as anything but an enemy for a long time, but she does have Dora. I think, just spitballing, that Andromeda wants to not be the aberration in the family. She wants to restore the whole tree and prove that it's really Narcissa, Bella, and Auntie who are the aberrations, while she, Sirius, and Dora are true Blacks. (Kind of the opposite of Sirius, thinking that the whole family was a waste and trashing all of its possessions, while allowing that Dora and Andromeda are all right and Regulus was really just a stupid little git and not an evil man.) I have a sad suspicion that he's marginally closer to the truth than she is, but that he's also not paying a lot of attention to the people who really are still family, but who were cut dead by the family's scions. The Weasleys, after all, are relatives, and I'm willing to bet that the Potters are as well. I think Andromeda wants the good members of the family back on the family tree to outnumber and overwhelm the ones favored by Auntie.

I noticed that the link to chapter 25 in the table of contents actually goes to chapter 24.
Oops. That's what I get for copy-pasting for format. I'll fix it the next time I'm in. Thanks!
zoepaleologa From: zoepaleologa Date: January 16th, 2005 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Just passing, and you might like to know that "drawing room" is either old fashioned, or rather grand. More ordinary people normally say, "Living room" or "sitting room", or even (shudders) "lounge".

"Lounge" might be regarded as a touch vulgar. A well bred person would comment that "Airports have lounges, not houses".

Drawing room is rather upper class diction, and tends to imply a large house with a number of rooms to be named.
danel4d From: danel4d Date: January 16th, 2005 10:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I have no real idea what a drawing room or parlour is - but on the other hand, its possible that the Black House might have one. I'm not sure whether the order would call it that, though.

A great little scenelet. I like the title, I must say.
From: hplurker Date: January 16th, 2005 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here is the definition of parlor/parlour from OED:
In a mansion, dwelling-house, town-hall, etc., orig. A smaller room apart from the great hall, for private conversation or conference (e.g. a banker's parlour, the Mayor's Parlour in a town-hall). Hence, in a private house, the ordinary sitting-room of the family, which, when more spacious and handsomely furnished, is usually called the drawing-room. Formerly often simply = ‘room’ or ‘chamber’, sometimes a bedchamber.
Also, parlor is the older word - it appears in Chaucer. The first cite for drawing-room in OED is from 1642.
katchuri From: katchuri Date: January 16th, 2005 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
A couple of things, sorry to nit pick.

I think it's "Wizengamot", not "Wizengamut". Also, my head says that there should be a double "n" in that, but perhaps it's my overfamiliarity playing tricks with my eyes.

And the Brit things:

You've used "Fall" instead of "Autumn".

And the Smeltings boy who was talking to the prostitute would have said "I'm legal", meaning that he was above the age of 16 and therefore the age of consent, rather than "I'm of age" which is a Rowling-ism. Whether he's legally able to partake of her wares is a different matter though - prostitution is technically illegal, but most police forces turn a blind eye unless it's directly in their faces (there's actually a brothel right next door to the police social club in Cardiff, which was only exposed for its true trade when a prominent Welsh ex-politician died there of a heart attack). I would have thought Joe would have erred on the side of respectability though, possibly saying that he'd report him to the headmaster.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 16th, 2005 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Fall" is going to kill me yet. The ironic part is that I actually prefer autumn.

Thanks for the Rowling-ism vs. Brit-ism note; handy when dealing with a single author to have someone point out an idiosyncratic language use.
castaliae From: castaliae Date: January 16th, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, more Shifts. I liked how you showed this through the medium of a Pensive. One question though, the part involved the birthing party and returning to Grimmuald Place, right?
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 16th, 2005 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, boy... that does not sound like anything good.

And I think it makes sense that Andromeda would still have a longing to be part of her family.
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: January 16th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
This story is developing wonderfully. The curse on Andromeda was especially brilliant - it makes a lot of sense and I can imagine that would be something Bellatrix and Narcissa would do without compunction. I love all of the little magical details you've added too that really flesh out the wizarding world a bit more and give a better perspective of people who have lived in that world all their lives (unlike Harry).

One little detail on this chapter - I don't think Dora would have known about the Room of Requirement when she was at Hogwarts. Even Dumbledore didn't know about it, so I think it's unlikely a Hufflepuff living in her cellar dormitory would have stumbled across a secret room on the seventh floor. But perhaps she only made that comment because everyone in the Order knows about the Room of Requirement now because of Harry?

In any case, great job. I'm continually impressed with the way you can churn out quality chapters so quickly. My one little request is that you give Sirius some last great and happy moment before the end.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 16th, 2005 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I think Andromeda told her about it last night while they were talking into the wee hours. But since that's not clear, I'll take it off and just say "snuck off with my boyfriend..."

My one little request is that you give Sirius some last great and happy moment before the end.

Well, I'm in the apparent minority that thinks Sirius going to the DoM wasn't one of the whacky things he did, but was outright normal and sane. So I think, now that he has a project ("Let's fry Bella and Narcissa"), I think he'll be more himself, if a slightly obsessive self.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 16th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great new chapter, Fern! I particularly like this passage, because it's such a simple yet telling detail:

Remus nodded uncertainly, realizing that he had no idea how long he'd thought of Ted and Andromeda as "Dora's parents" rather than thinking of Dora as "Ted and Andromeda's daughter"--except that it had predated this Valentine's Day by some time.

I've been missing Shifts these past few days; you've spoiled us with the daily updates. :)
alkari From: alkari Date: January 16th, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I'm in the apparent minority that thinks Sirius going to the DoM wasn't one of the whacky things he did, but was outright normal and sane."
I agree, Fernwithy - when the Order knew that the DE's were going to ambush Harry and Co. in the MOM, the only sensible thing to do was go in force. And that meant taking everyone who could fight. Actually, apart from that last incident with Bellatrix, Sirius was doing better than most of the Order in the fighting, and it was noticeable that his very first actions took him to protect Harry, with whom he formed a good fighting team. (Shades of James and Sirius?)

Room of Requirement - remember that Sirius does not know about it at all, or he would have told Harry. Same with Remus, and of course, Dumbledore.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 17th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Right. I think that Sirius unbalanced actions were all previous to the DoM battle--the sulking up in Buckbeak's room, screaming at his mother's portrait, etc. When he's in the war and being the man he was born to be--a fighter--he's more or less normal, just on an extreme rush.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: January 17th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I seem to recall a request for some Dudley...?

Yay, more Dudley! And we finally get to find out what happened!
mafdet From: mafdet Date: January 17th, 2005 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I've been a DORX, not commenting/reviewing for so long on a fic I'm really fond of. Overall, I congratulate you on doing Remus/Tonks so very well and building up to it so realistically. As you probably know, it's a favorite pairing of mine, BUT there are so many fics that don't keep the characters, especially Remus, IC. He's got a lot of barriers to overcome before he can get into a relationship, and with R/T there's the age gap which would concern him more than her, I think. I'm so glad they're together now and the "working up" to it just added delicious anticipation.

Count me in as another who doesn't think that Sirius' rushing to the DoM was "unbalanced." As you said, the sulking, drinking etc. certainly was - as was the confusion of Harry with James - but in the case of Sirius going off to the DoM, it's completely in character for sane!Sirius. He's an emotional, impetuous man who would do anything to protect those he loved - and Harry is the one he loves most in the world. It would be like a father rushing off to save a beloved child.

I have to smile at Andromeda's recounting of how she named Nymphadora. "Nymphadora - gift of a girl!" is just the sort of name an intelligent and imaginative 18-year-old new mum would think was wonderfully clever and meaningful.

The curse on Andromeda by her sisters - so sad for her. :( And just the sort of thing Narcissa and especially Bellatrix would do. Narcissa just had one child, too - perhaps the curse rebounded on her as well. Bella - I doubt she ever wanted kids. She'd have to be kind and loving to a child and "kind and loving" are not in Bella's sphere of capabilities.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: January 17th, 2005 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
And, I forgot to add - Narcissa with her hand on Dudley's knee. What would Aunt Petunia say? O_o
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 17th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

just curious....

First time replying here, but I've been following shifts for a couple months and love it. It's so great to see all the characters fleshed out like this and read an alternate view of book 5. I'm also a fan of Of a Sort, those are just great pieces.
One thing I am curious about though is why the Malfoy's would be trying to get to Harry through Dudley during the events of book 4. This didn't strike me until the pensieve scene where Sirius says they are back in last March. That would mean before Voldemort's re-birth, which would mean that the Malfoy's wouldn't have known he was coming back and wouldn't have been acting on his orders. Unless Wormtail tips off Lucius, but from what I remember of the re-birth scene in book 4, it appears as though he is as surprised as the rest of the death eaters. I'm just unclear on why right now, but I'm sure there is an explaination brewing in the plotline so far.
I'm looking forward to the rest of it. Thanks Fern, you really are an excellent writer and I hope your own novel idea comes to you soon, becuase that will be a great book!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 17th, 2005 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: just curious....

Yeah, Tonks noticed that logic gap of mine quite awhile ago, and I've been trying to work around it.

My thought now, which I'm going to work into the story, is that Lucius, like Snape and Karkaroff, noticed the Dark Mark coming back and anticipated that Voldemort might not be entirely happy with people who'd denied him, and that he and Narcissa cooked this up independently as sort of an offering that they meant to give--kill off Harry and Lily's family to show they'd been doing something.
From: isabela113 Date: January 18th, 2005 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
There's something so touching about Andromeda trying to restore the tapestry. I do hope we get to see a bit more of her with Sirius. It seems that she is one of the few who is in the position to understand him. Perhaps he would have been less desperate (in canon) if he had been able to talk with her.

I also think you captured the awkwardness between Andromeda and Remus. I don't imagine that making that sort of mental adjustment is easy, and I like that Andromeda is honest about that.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 18th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
It's way too convenient to be rereading Shifts on SQ and see how you've tied up the various strands and threads of this story. I just read the newest chapter posted on SQ - where Remus tells Andromeda that his relationship with Dora is all an act, and here Remus brings it up again and ties that all up very neatly and without contrivance.
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