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Shifts, Chapter 28: Big D, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 28: Big D, pt. 2
Oh, fixing logic gaps takes a long time....

Remus and the others all went into the Pensieve holding Joe's memories of the pub incident, while Ted is trying to hold it all together. They've just spotted Dudley and Narcissa at the bar.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




They moved through the crowd in the even, dreamlike glide of living thought. They were near the edges of Joe's perception here, and the shadows of the pub's corridors faded not to the advertised bathrooms but to an undefined reddish glow. Remus thought he cold dimly perceive the giant shadow of a man beyond it, but it might have been his imagination.

"So, what did you say your name is?" Narcissa asked, squeezing Dudley's kneecap.

"D--Dudley. Dursley." He looked at her, wide-eyed. "M-my friends call me Big D."

"Do they?" Narcissa laughed cruelly, a hard, cutting sound.

Dudley looked ashamed. "Just some of them, you know."

"Are they right?"

Andromeda went to the memory of Narcissa, glaring directly into her face, her own features contorted with distaste. "You twisted, wicked little... He's fourteen!"

Narcissa, not actually being here, didn't respond.

The cigarette in Dudley's hand trembled and a length of ash dropped onto his trousers, burning him. He yelped, but Narcissa had already moved her hand to brush the ash away. She was now only a matter of inches from him. Dudley was white with terror and trembling with the strength of urges he wasn't ready to indulge.

"M-m-ma'am..." Dudley took her hand to move it, but Narcissa took advantage of the initiative, closing his hand between both of hers.

"Don't you want me to touch you, Big D?"

Dudley whimpered something totally incomprehensible, but Remus was certain that it included the word "No."

Narcissa smiled and patted his hand, removing one of hers from it. "You're Lily Evans' nephew, aren't you?"

"I'm... er... what?" Dudley blinked in a confused way.

Narcissa, now leaning in closer, whispered, "The hopped up little Mudblood tramp. Your mother is her sister, isn't she?"

Dudley drew back, his terror of magic cutting through his confusion. "You're one of... " He pulled his hand away.

"Give your hand back."

"But you're..."

"Give it back. Imperio!"

Dudley's face took on a dazed, intoxicated look, and he held his hand out.

"Very good, Big D," Narcissa said, her voice dripping contempt. With one hand, she held his fingers still. She reached into her handbag with the other and drew out a silver knife. With a quick slash, she drew it across his knuckles, drawing fast-running beads of blood. She put the knife back and drew out a small crystal bottle, uncorking it and holding it to catch the droplets as they fell. When she'd gotten enough, to Remus's disgust, she licked it from her finger, then spit onto Dudley's hand. "I bind it with your filthy blood," she said.

"What in the hell..." Sirius muttered under his breath as Narcissa chanted a curse over the potion.

Dudley watched all of this through the obvious daze of a strong Imperius curse as Narcissa healed the cuts on his fingers and pressed the bottle into his hand. "A present for your mum," she said. "You'll give it to her as soon as you go home."

Dudley looked down at the bottle, confused. "I..."

"Imperio," Narcissa said again, and Remus now saw her wand, strapped to the inside of her arm, pointing at Dudley's face. Dudley could undoubtedly see it as well. "You'll give it to her, and you'll see to it that she uses it. And you'll spread it around whatever passes for a house in your little world. And--"

"What do you think you're doing?"

Narcissa jumped. So did Remus. He hadn't noticed the subtle shift in perception as Joe had moved up. The doors to the bathrooms were now clearly visible, as well as a door that Remus supposed led to a back alley. The far wall of the pub was now murky and unclear, and this time Remus was certain that he could see the enormous shadow of a hand hovering over it.

"Mr. Levinson," Dudley said. His face was still dazed and slack, but Remus could hear the relief in his voice.

Joe stepped in front of Dudley, forcing Narcissa to sit back. "What's the matter with you?" he demanded. "You're old enough to be his mother!"

Narcissa stirred her drink casually. Remus saw her reach for her wand, then pull her hand away. Others at the bar were now watching. "What business is it of yours?" she asked.

"He's my student."

"Oh. I see." Narcissa sighed dramatically and turned back to the bar. "I suppose that explains it. You wouldn't want someone else teaching your... student."

Joe took the bait. He grabbed Narcissa's shoulder and spun her around. "You'd best not be implying what I think you are."

"Well, you do seem to be unhealthfully obsessed with your student's affairs."

"Mr. L-levinson..." Dudley stammered. "D-don't... j-j-just l-let it b-be..."

"What's the matter, little boy? Having trouble talking?"

"Sh-she's a... a... " He struggled with the word and couldn't seem to get it out, finally just launching himself off his bar stool and pushing Joe aside. The bottle Narcissa had given him was hanging loosely from his hand, forgotten.

"Sh--"

The memory froze, jerked this way and that, seemed to dissolve for a moment, leaving them in a swirling mist.

Around them, Ted's voice boomed. "Hold on. I'm working on it!"

Dora drifted over to Remus. The world of the pub flickered around them once, twice. He found himself wishing that she would take his hand, but she didn't. He supposed it was the wrong venue for it, anyway. "Dad'll get it," she said.

"Where's Peter?" Sirius asked. "Didn't Levinson say there was a little man here?"

"It was obviously not Peter," Andromeda said. "There's a short fellow a bit down from Dudley."

Remus nodded. "Peter was otherwise occupied at this time last--"

"Got it!" Ted thundered, and the pub flared back into view. Remus thought the range of perception might even be a bit wider, though there was a very clear red tint to the scene from the magical net that Ted and Andromeda had woven.

The memory began again, Dudley trying to stammer out his warning to Joe, then pushing around him. Remus caught a flicker of motion behind Narcissa, and a small man with glasses, swaying a bit drunkenly, started to move up.

Joe stuck out his arm, stopping Dudley. He still had his other hand on Narcissa's shoulder. "Stay back, Dursley. I don't know what this woman's about, but--"

"'s everything all right?" the little man slurred drunkenly.

Narcissa smiled at Joe, then turned to the other man with a frantic look on her face. "He tried to hire me to spend the night with his boy! And he won't take no for an answer."

The man, obviously stirred by drunken chivalry, lurched up to Joe. Behind him, Narcissa was smiling again.

"The woman is lying," Joe said. "And you're drunk."

"That's no way to talk about a lady, you filthy old kike."

Dudley ducked under Joe's arm and threw a punch. Joe caught it, but the other man was already involved, launching drunken strikes while Narcissa laughed merrily.

The memory flickered again, faded. Dora looked at Remus anxiously, then the pub came back into view.

Dudley saw Narcissa laughing and tried again to get to her, for what purpose Remus was unsure--certainly Dudley, of all people, would know better than to try to lay a hand on a witch. Whatever he was planning to do, he never got around to it. Joe shoved the man he was fighting with away, and he careened into Dudley, who lost his balance, and lost hold of the bottle in his hand. Narcissa, too busy amusing herself with the fight, didn't notice until she heard it crash to the floor.

"No!" she yelled.

Joe slipped in the potion and fell backward, cutting his hands on the shards and soaking himself in the cursed potion.

Narcissa, no longer smiling, surreptitiously drew her wand and whispered, "Evanesco." The remaining potion disappeared.

Dudley helped Joe up. "Are you all right?"

Joe nodded. "Fine."

The drunken man Joe had been fighting had fallen, and tried to get up. He failed.

"Let's get you back to the dormitory," Joe said. He started to lead Dudley out.

"Have we got what we need?" Andromeda asked.

Sirius nodded. "I think so."

"One at a time, then."

Getting out of a Pensieve was more difficult than getting in, as they had to find the edges, but in the limited scope of Joe's memory, it wasn't quite as difficult as it would have been otherwise. One at a time, they went through the blurred barrier. Again, Remus went last. The memory was already becoming wispy as Ted exerted less effort to keep it together. He watched Joe put a protective arm over Dudley's shoulders and lead him out, casting back a single glance at the woman who had, for all intents and purposes, just destroyed his life. Narcissa, for her part, didn't look at him at all, only at the shards of the bottle that had been meant to go to Little Whinging. Her nostrils were flaring in anger.

Remus retreated from the memory.

He was thrown back into the kitchen with great force, and stumbled into the butcher's block.

Ted was bent over the Pensieve in great concentration, and suddenly said, "Damn!"

Light flashed up from the basin in a swirling storm, then broke into tiny particles and dissipated.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "I'll take a guess that that's not a good thing."

"It's gone," Ted confirmed. "Trying to hold it there with all four of you mucking about was a bit too much. The exit destablized it entirely. Did you find what you needed?" On this, he looked directly at Andromeda.

She nodded. "I'll need to work a few things out, but I know what I need to know."

"I don't understand it at all," Dora said, sitting down on the butcher's block behind Remus and draping her arms casually over his shoulders. Andromeda and Ted did their best not to pay attention. "What was she doing? This was before You-Know-Who--"

"Voldemort," Sirius said, his teeth gritted.

"--was even back. And he had a plan for Harry and all. What was she trying to do?"

"Well, if she managed to kill Petunia, it would be a severe blow to Harry's safety," Remus said.

"But he was planning to kill Harry himself," Sirius pointed out. "Remember? The cemetery, Wormtail, binding him to a headstone, all that? And he said himself that the only person he had around was Wormtail, and honestly, if you had someone other than Wormtail around, wouldn't you use him?"

Remus considered answering this, thought better of it, and remained silent.

Andromeda sat down. "I've been out of this for awhile. Well, only in it on the fringes. And when I read that article--I suppose I don't have the habit of reading it for Harry. I was thinking about what he said about the other Death Eaters. That they were called, and You-"

"Voldemort," Sirius hissed.

"--wasn't at all happy with the ones who weren't in Azkaban. I remembered because he mentioned Bella and Rodo as the really faithful ones." She closed her eyes, then opened them again. "And particularly, that Lucius wasn't."

"And...?"

"Did they have any way of knowing that something was happening?"

"I don't think so..." Remus said.

"Yes, they did." Sirius sat down across the table from Andromeda. "Harry told me. He overheard Karkaroff talking to Severus Snape. Their arms are marked. It had been getting clearer for months before Voldemort called them."

"Maybe it was meant as a peace offering. To show that they'd been doing something for the cause even before they were called. It's just a guess, but it makes as much sense as anything else. It would make Narcissa's reaction to the spoiling of the potion reasonable, anyway."

"Then again," Ted said, "given Narcissa, she might have just been trying to give Draco an edge in Quidditch."

"The point is, we can't know for sure."

Dora drummed her fingers on Remus's shoulder. "I'll talk to Kingsley tomorrow," she said. "Whatever else it was, it was illegal. There's got to be something we can do."

"You want to investigate Lucius Malfoy's wife on the strength of our word about what was in a Pensieve memory that's been destroyed?" Remus asked.

"I'll talk to Kingsley. You're too much of a fatalist."

Remus shook his head and turned to Andromeda. "You've got all of it cleared from Joe?"

"Yes. Although, since it involves Dudley's blood, I wouldn't get him too close again until we've cleared it from Dudley's system as well."

"Would it have had any impact on Dudley himself? Any lasting symptoms?"

"I don't think so. If he'd been exposed to the potion as well, perhaps. But I'd have to check him. I wish I could help at a distance, but you'll need to convince him to come to St. Mungo's."

"Couldn't you come to Smeltings?"

"No. If I'm going to clear him fully, it's going to be an extensive use of magic. It would be spotted in moments in the middle of a Muggle school."

"It may take more effort to convince Dudley than you're thinking."

They talked a bit longer, mainly about Dudley and his aversion to magic, then Ted and Andromeda checked the square carefully for watchers, found none, and left, planning to take a rather circuitous route home. Sirius excused himself to clean up, and before Remus noticed that he was alone with Dora, she was kissing him. He wrapped his arms around her.

"What was that for?" he asked when she stopped.

"I wasn't giving, I was taking," she said, leaning back comfortably against his arms. "I haven't had a kiss for two days, and I've wanted one for hours now. Which, I suppose, is terribly immature in the midst of all of this. Here's the answer about Dudley, and of course Mum's upset, and Daffy and Maddie's baby was born--"

"Your mum told me about that."

"It was amazing. I can't wait." She blushed. "Er... I didn't mean to say--"

Remus kissed her. "It's all right."

She looked like she was going to say something more, then sighed instead. "I really must warn you--you do now have competition for cuddliest man in my life."

"I'll try to restrain my jealous rages."

She snuggled up against him. "So... how do you plan to bring all of this business with St. Mungo's up with Big D?"

"Slowly," Remus said. "Slowly and carefully."



Hey, yay, me. I just checked the Lex for the Goblet of Fire date when Karkaroff was starting to get severely worried about his arm... it was March. So, good. The logic kinda-sorta works, though the date was accidental.

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Comments
akilika From: akilika Date: January 18th, 2005 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved this part . . . especially Dudley's reactions to Narcissa. It just seemed . . . very Dudley, from how you've shown him. And I could really picture it . . . very nicely done, I think.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 18th, 2005 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
You know I was wondering how a potion came to be involved in all of this back when Andromda first mentioned it but that makes perfect sense. Good part. Does Dudley remember being under Imperius (hence his out of proportion reaction to magic)?:)
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: January 18th, 2005 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, great chapter. It was really good to see how the curse actually worked. Narcissa was a very clever character, the way she was so gloating and vicious - very like her son.
She should have 'spat' in Dudley's hand, rather than spit, shouldn't she? That was the only error I picked up on.

I enjoyed Ted working like the projector operater at an old fashioned cinema!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 18th, 2005 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great installment that put a lot of tiny plot elements together! Also liked how Dora put her arms around Remus and Ted and Andromeda pretended not to notice--it's the little details that make your story. Now, when is Remus going to hear about Andromeda's curse??? Thanks, Mary
katchuri From: katchuri Date: January 18th, 2005 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
"toilets", not "bathrooms". (A bathroom in British usage would indicate that the room had a bath and a shower, as well as a sink and a toilet - and you don't find rooms like that in a pub)

Other than that, brilliant. Really enjoying it.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 18th, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't think of any nice things to call Narcissa right now.

Very good chapter - but poor Dudley!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 18th, 2005 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I. Love. This. Story.

The following sentences struck me as a bit awkward:

Narcissa, not actually being here, didn't respond. - it's just the word "here", and I'm not sure whether "there" would be any better. Maybe something more to the effect of "Narcissa, being only a part of the memory", or similar.

When she'd gotten enough, to Remus's disgust, she licked it from her finger, then spit onto Dudley's hand. - she licked what from her finger? Dudley's blood? Because you never said that any of his blood had gotten on her fingers in the first place, only that she was holding the vial. And I agree that spit should probably be spat.

The whole scenario is shiveringly, wonderfully evil...
vytresna From: vytresna Date: January 18th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remus considered answering this, thought better of it, and remained silent.

Glad to see someone isn't underestimating Wormtail... you'd think they'd learn!

Anyway, whew! What this lacked in whodunit was fully made up in what else wasn't revealed and in creepiness. I'm almost certain Dudley did have contact with the potion, so we'll just have to see how that plays out...

(Maybe you should emphasize that by "last year," Dudley meant "last school year...")
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 19th, 2005 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter, as always.

One thing: Remus thought he cold dimly perceive the giant shadow of a man beyond it.
From: isabela113 Date: January 19th, 2005 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you worked the logic rather well, all things considered. Karkaroff was definitely worried, and it stands to reason that the Malfoys were as well.

Narcissa came across to vicious. I shouldn't be surprised, considering what we know about her so far, but seeing her in action was different.

It also occurred to me how terrifying it must be for Dudley, not to be able to speak about the Wizarding World. Normally that prohibition seems totally reasonable to me, but in that moment, when he knows that a witch is trying to hurt him and he can't get the words out, it just seemed cruel. He is literally unable to ask for the help he needs, or to help Joe, for whom he cares a great deal. It definitely got me thinking about the responsibility of Wizards to protect their Muggle relatives, especially in light of the anti-Muggle feeling in the community.
akilika From: akilika Date: January 21st, 2005 07:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I've, er, given a shot at illustrating this. I'm not entirely pleased with it, but you like illustrations, so . . . I figured it was best to post it, anyway.

Hope you enjoy!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 21st, 2005 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I enjoy. :) The kind bored sultriness on her face is terrific, and the terror on Dudley's.
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