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Shifts, Chapter 28: Big D, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 28: Big D, pt. 3
Well, here's a long, rambling post during March, a time in which Harry observes a few things unlikely to cause a lot of consternation for the Order, so I'm going along with the speed accordingly.


Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Dudley was less than enthusiastic.

"I thought you said they'd fixed it already," he said, dodging a low-level Stunning Spell Remus threw at him (this particular exercise couldn't be done often, for obvious reasons). "And I talked to Mr. Levinson on the telephone, and he said was feeling quite a lot better."

"Joe is clean of it, but you're still carrying the curse."

"But it doesn't do anything to me. And H-"

"Harry," Remus filled in. He wasn't sure if it was magical blocks still stopping Dudley's tongue or not; Dudley seemed more able to talk about things than he had been.

Dudley nodded. "He was perfectly fine all summer, except for yelling in his sleep about some bloke named Cedric. Probably his boyfriend."

"Cedric," Remus told him, bristling, "was a boy Harry saw murdered last year. Under the orders of the same man who murdered your aunt and uncle."

"He saw someone snuff it?" Dudley asked, vaguely interested.

Remus rubbed his forehead. He knew that on some level, Dudley was capable of at least normal human compassion, but trying to reach it sometimes seemed a fool's errand. "When we take you to St. Mungo's," he said, "I'll let you read what he said about it, though you may not find it as amusing as you think."

"St. Mungo's. That's the place where all of... you... go."

"Yes."

Dudley frowned. "And they'd just let me stroll in?"

"Not exactly. We had to play a bit of a trick to have Joe treated."

"He didn't say anything about going to some frea-- er, odd hospital."

"His memory was modified," Remus said carefully. "It's the law, except for family members."

"You just took the memories out of his head?"

"And replaced them with a rather vague notion of a pleasant day in the country. I know how it sounds--"

"Could you do it to me?"

"There's no need, Dudley. Legally, you're the brother of a wizard. The law doesn't require--"

"But could you?" He was looking at Remus with frank avarice now. "Could you if I asked?"

"No."

"What, it's all right to do it to Mr. and Mrs. Levinson without even asking, but you can't help me if I do ask?"

"Help you?"

"You know."

"Not really. Why would you want to have your memory falsified?"

Dudley's answer was no more than a shrug.

At home, Sirius just sniffed that he wouldn't fancy remembering a come-hither look from Narcissa, either. "Besides, she left him blubbering, didn't she? Can't be all that nice for a boy like Dudley to remember being bested by a woman half his size. And she laughed at him. I'd bet a fair amount of gold that it was the laughing he remembered when the dementors came for him last summer."

Remus considered asking Dudley about this, but it felt like a poor approach. Dudley continued to evade questions about St. Mungo's.

On Wednesday, they received word from Hogwarts that Sybill Trelawney had been sacked, but that Dumbledore had seen to it that she remained in her tower room. He had seen to a replacement teacher immediately. Remus thought Umbridge had to be thrilled--he'd chosen a centaur.

The following Saturday, Joe and Miriam invited them over for a film, dinner, and cards. The film--"this month's teacher feature," Alan called it--was about a teenager and his elderly mentor working toward some sort of fighting tournament (between the student's American accent and his teacher's Japanese accent, Remus had no idea what the word for it really was). The skinny, dark-haired hero reminded Remus more of Harry than of Dudley (while the tall, overbuilt bully who tormented him was more reminiscent of Dudley), but Joe was certainly more like the good mentor than the wicked one, who taught his boys to use force to get what they wanted. The plot was simplistic and trite, but it hit its marks well enough and was good for an hour's conversation over dinner. Joe seemed fully well, and exhibited a high level of interest in Remus's classes."

"Sounds like you're ready to come back," Remus said, his jaw tight.

Joe sighed. "I retired. They're yours now. Of course, if you were to leave, I'd jump in so quickly that your head would spin." He smiled, but Remus saw something in that smile that he'd never seen before: flat, unhidden jealousy.

Worse, he recognized that its mirror--possessiveness--was in his own when he said, "Well, you never know."

The men set up the card table after dinner, while the women washed the dishes. Dora thought this a surpassingly strange arrangement, but claimed to enjoy the chance to speak with Miriam and Anna, and in fact, they seemed to laugh quite a lot. Joe sent Remus in to get a tray of vegetables.

"...the oddest dream," Miriam was saying to Dora. "You and Raymond were both in it, but you were younger."

"Sounds like a nightmare," Dora said. "Who'd want to go through all that insecurity again?"

"You?" Anna asked. "When have you ever been insecure?"

"Oh, jobs and such. The usual."

"You had blue hair in my dream," Miriam said. "Bright blue."

Remus looked at her, his eyebrows raised.

She shrugged as slightly as she could. "Sounds just like me. What all did we do?"

"I don't remember much. Raymond brought you chocolates, but you were convinced they weren't for you."

"Oh, well. Definitely a dream. Raymond knows better than that." She winked.

"What kind of job did you do?" Anna asked. "Heavens, I've known you for months. I didn't know you did work."

"I sold cosmetics," Dora said without missing a beat. "Door to door for years, but then I took an office job and traveled a lot. Had a bit of a nest egg by the time Raymond and I got married, so I quit."

They took the vegetables and an ice bucket with beer bottles in it out to the living room.

"It just doesn't sound like you," Miriam marveled. "I don't know what I thought you did, but selling cosmetics... I'd have thought you'd be the sort to say women don't need them or something."

Anna nodded. "Right. I'd have definitely pegged you for the all-women-are-naturally-beautiful type."

"Oh, I am," Dora assured them, sitting down. "But they're all beautiful differently. My sister Andromeda--do you remember her?" She asked this very carefully.

"Yes," Miriam said. "Nice girl."

"She's the natural sort. She's so beautiful, really, and she'd just look silly painted up. It's not how she sees herself. But part of being beautiful is about what you choose to do, who you see in yourself, you know? We're lucky, women are. We know what our beautiful woman inside looks like, and we can use anything to bring her out. That's what cosmetics are for. You don't use them to turn into a different person, after all."

This bit of odd aesthetic philosophy--which Remus supposed Dora had gotten from her Granny Tonks, who really had sold cosmetics--seemed to stymy the conversation while Joe dealt out the cards. They picked up hesitantly afterward, with Anna talking about her own job as a lecturer in physics at a small university. She did more research than teaching, and had no special ties to her students. Miriam had apparently once been a dancer in the ballet.

"She studied right across the street from the gymnasium where I boxed," Joe remembered fondly. "I walked out one day when I was sixteen and saw this group of pretty girls practicing twirling out on the steps."

"And Miriam was one of them?" Remus asked.

"Oh, no. I don't know who they were. I just thought they were damned pretty. I had a bit of purse money from a fight that weekend, so I went to see a show they were having."

"Romeo and Juliet," Miriam said.

"Yes, right. Loved it right away."

"You like ballet?" Alan asked.

"You have something to say about it?"

Alan shook his head, laughing.

"So the next day, I went in and said that I wanted to learn how to dance. That's when this pretty lady"--he pointed to Miriam--"came out of her office and told me I was really a bit old to start training. She offered to give me a few lessons so that I could see what she meant."

"I really was an awful teacher," Miriam said. "He never learned a single step."

He gave her a lecherous grin. "I learnt a few other things later on."

Miriam blushed prettily.

Later that evening, back at Dora's flat, Dora made a contented little sound and cuddled in next to Remus on the sofa. She took his hand and kissed it. "You see?" she said. "Miriam was Joe's teacher, and it all worked out spectacularly."

"Yes, it's a good sign."

Granny the cat appeared from Dora's bedroom and leapt up onto Remus's lap. Dora moved her hand to scratch between her ears, and the purring sent a comfortable hum through Remus's abdomen. He slipped his hand under Dora's and scratched the cat's neck. Granny rolled her eyes back ecstatically. When they both stopped scratching to hold hands, she looked at them accusingly until they resumed.

"Are you going to tell me what's going on with your mum?" Remus asked. "She did say you could."

Dora nodded. "Aunt Bella told her that she and Aunt Narcissa stopped her from having any more babies after me. Same sort of thing they did with Dudley. Er, well, obviously not the baby part. Just the way they did it. Mum reckons Aunt Bella took some hair from me the day she saw me in Diagon Alley, and got something from Dad some other time. And when she went to try and get Bella to apologize for frightening me, they acted quite concerned, and gave her food, which she reckons was full of the potion. You'd think she'd have known better than to trust them."

"They were her sisters."

"Well, thanks to them, I have no idea what that really means."

Remus kissed her cheek. "Your mum never suspected?"

"Aunt Narcissa only has one child as well. She just assumed that it was natural."

"Has she been able to clear it, now that she knows about it?"

"Yes. And she cleared the curse from Dad and me as well. So who knows? They're young. Maybe I'll have a baby sister someday after all." She was quiet. "She's relatively certain that the curse didn't do anything to me. That I'll be able to-- I mean, she was worried about that, as they wouldn't want me... any more than her..." She shook her head. "Why in the world am I suddenly having trouble talking about things like this to you? I never had a problem talking to you about anything before." She shook it off. "Tell me the truth, Remus. Are you using some sort of no-talking potion on your lips? Is that what makes them so tasty?" She grinned.

He kissed her, which was uncomfortable sitting side by side, and smiled. "That would be self-defeating. I like you talking."

But they did less talking as the days wore on, and the Blacks closed ranks. Sirius was going through family records, occasionally trying to spot the things Remus had asked him to spot for the Order, but more often finding as much information as he could about Bellatrix and Narcissa. Andromeda, whenever she could slip away from her own life unnoticed, searched the house for things that had belonged to them that might have migrated to Grimmauld Place over the years. Dora spent so much of her work time on tracking Bellatrix and Rodolphus that Kingsley himself re-assigned her to work on Rabastan, saying she was too personally involved in tracking her aunt. On Thursday, she, Mad-Eye, and Kingsley met with Sirius and Remus for their weekly information-sharing meeting, after which Dora stayed up for several hours with Sirius, talking about Bella. She apologized to Remus when she kissed him goodnight and promised to spend the next Saturday with him--"And after that, it's potion week again, so I'll be at Smeltings for lunch"--and she seemed to be genuinely pained to realize how little time they'd spent together, but she went home without staying to talk at all. Ted happened by with Andromeda on Sunday, and sighed in Remus's general direction. "Welcome to the House of Black, right?"

It got marginally better when Dora started bringing his Wolfsbane Potion again on Monday. Apparently, Ted had initiated a conversation with Andromeda and it had filtered down to Dora in the form of a lecture. "It just seemed that we should handle it. Blood business. Of course, as soon as Dad put it that way... I'm sorry I shut you out. I didn't mean to. I didn't even realize I was."

Remus nodded and drank his potion.

By Wednesday, the brief cloudiness in their relationship had passed, and Dora was speaking freely again. Remus, of course, wasn't--the moon was growing again, and his passions with it. Wednesday, he decided, was as late as he dared kiss her before Sunday's full moon.

Dora sighed in mock despair. "Four days. What am I to do for four days?"

"You'll survive."

"Well, you'd best give me something to go on." She smiled and brushed Dora Lewis's long gray hair behind her shoulders, then leaned forward for a kiss.

Before Remus could give one to her, there was a knock at the door.

Dudley Dursley was leaning into the office, looking embarrassed. "Er... sorry, Mr. Lewis," he said. "I've been thinking about that hospital business. I reckon I should go."
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Comments
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: January 19th, 2005 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, good on you, Dudley. I like how you've given him his dementor memories.

I love that Remus and Dora aren't all plain sailing, that they have little quirks in the relationship too, like how he felt shut out by the Blacks.

dipsas From: dipsas Date: January 19th, 2005 09:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Great section. As always, I love your Ted to pieces and I'm very much looking forward to see what prompted Dudley to decide to go to St Mungo's.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 19th, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad Dudley realizes he needs to go.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: January 19th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful update, as usual. You know, I really, REALLY like Remus and Dora's interactions with Joe and all of them. You just handle it so well that it makes SENSE. From the movies they watch, to the covers they have to use for their wizarding identities. We don't see a lot of wizard-Muggle interaction in fanfic, so this is a really nice thing to include.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: January 19th, 2005 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad that Remus got the chance to correct Dudley's homophobic slurs on Harry's nightmares. Also that Dudley has decided to let Mr Lewis take him to the "freak hospital." And that Dudley has the sense to be embarassed when he walks in on Mr and Mrs Lewis about to kiss!
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 19th, 2005 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was wondering if Miriam would retain some kind of vague memory of her time in the wizarding world. I'm actually quite glad she has. :)

I wonder how Dudley will react to St Mungo's? :)
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 19th, 2005 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
This whole chapter is imaginative and so well-written. The way you expanded the possibilities of the pensieve was brilliant, and thank you for giving Dudley his bad memories! Not only are they completely fitting with this fic, but they're something Harry *should* have wondered about, thereby tying canon right in with your story yet again. Gee, it's just brilliant.

I know Dora's been very occupied (and preoccupied) but I was a bit shocked at how lightly she took the modification of her good friends' memories.

So, I'm guessing Dora's Gran is dead? She was a single mother, wasn't she? If Ted is in his early 40's, she wouldn't have been very old when she died, right? (That's an assumption, I know - that a single parent would have had her child young.) What happened to her?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2005 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get into that in "Your Very Own Dora" a little bit--to the best of Dora's knowledge, there was a fire in the flat she'd been living in (she'd more or less ceded her house to Ted and Andromeda by then, though she technically still owned it--she just found a lot of excuses to leave "the children" alone together). I think that giving aid and support to a "mixed marriage" probably made her a target of the DEs, and the fire was a cover-up for her already being quite dead. And yes, she as a single parent. Her husband died when Ted was a toddler (wrong end of a fist fight), and until Ted went off to Hogwarts, she was really struggling. When he went to boarding school, she was able to take a better paying job that required travel and long nights at the office, and they ended up considerably better off financially. (Kind of an ironic effect of boarding school!)

I figure that Dora's an Auror and her mother's a Healer. They both have some pretty regular dealings with memory modification, and she doesn't share Remus's horror of them. It may bug her a little more when she sits down and thinks about it, but mainly, I think she'll regret not so much the modification of Miriam's memory, but the fact that she can't really become friends with these women she likes so much, because of all the lies she's already told.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 19th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the whole section after the card party where Remus is kissing Dora and she keeps talking! Definitely hinting for something, those kisses, and she chats away, and then the coolness while the Blacks start closing ranks... Poor Remus. Now we have Dudley to contend with as well. Will Dora be the one taking him to St. Mungo's?
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 19th, 2005 10:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
This chapter was great. I liked the little tension between Remus and Dora, and how they figured out what was causing it. I'm especially happy that Remus got a chance to correct Dudley's view of Cedric, and that Dudley decided to go the hospital. I wonder what made him do it. Oh weel. *sigh* I guess have have to wait until the next part. Oh, woe is me...:-)
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 19th, 2005 10:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ugh. Can't spell. *headdesk*
sreya From: sreya Date: January 20th, 2005 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
The chapter's developing well -- unfortunately I didn't post right away this morning, and now my first impression is lost.

However, this caught my attention again while I was skimming down the page to check in on comments.

but Joe was certainly more like the good mentor than the wicked one, who taught his boys to use force to get what they wanted.

It's confused me twice now. I read "who taught his boys" as referring to Joe, and then it turns out to refer to "the wicked one." I think the problem is that Joe is your subject here, and the "who" naturally attaches to Joe, instead of
"the wicked one." It's really a bit disturbing, because I stop and go "Wait, I thought Joe was GOOD for the boys... oh, that's not what she meant."

Is that making sense? I hope so. It's been a long day, but I think I managed to work that one out.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: January 20th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not much time, just a quick review before my exam - loved it, as usual! I am glad Dudley is going to St. Mungo's, but will he go with Tonks since the full moon is approaching? The bit with the movie and the teachers got just a bit confusing, as I wasn't sure what the subject was, but overall it was wonderful!!!
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 21st, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Joe seemed fully well, and exhibited a high level of interest in Remus's classes."

You have a stray quotation mark at the end of the sentence.
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