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Shifts, Chapter 29: That Freak Place - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 29: That Freak Place
Chapter twenty-nine. Sheesh. I'm now ahead of JKR on the number of chapters despite starting later (though my chapters are shorter). Her chapter 29 is "Career Advice" (which, to my fascination, I just discovered is "Careers Advice" in the British edition, since that was closer to my hand to check. One of those weird little differences that it never would have occurred to me to wonder about. I suppose it's like math/maths.)

Dudley agreed after a week and a half of dithering to let Remus take him to St. Mungo's. The full moon is approaching and Remus has decided not to touch Dora for four days.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dudley did not stay to explain what had changed his mind or even to assist in planning. He just gave Dora a mistrustful look and left.

"I'll talk to Mum," Dora said.

"I think we shouldn't use your mum and dad again," Remus said. "They already worked on this case once. I'd rather not take the chance of drawing more attention to them just now."

"I suppose that's your call." Dora looked dubious. "Who do you have in mind?"

"I'll talk to Mehadi Patil, and she can talk to your mother about the curse."

"I don't know Healer Patil very well. Can we trust her?"

"Both of her daughters are in Harry's group. And she lived in a dormitory with Bellatrix for seven years without giving away that she was on Dumbledore's side. I trust her."

"Where do you know her from?"

"She helped me bury a dear friend," Remus said. "And after her husband died, we went on a few dates. Which we mostly spent playing with her daughters. I was apparently not a memorable visitor. The girls didn't even recognize me when I was Hogwarts. It wasn't until after Christmas holidays that Parvati said, 'Wait a minute--didn't we used to know you?'"

Dora affected a scandalized expression. "That's wrong. How could any little girl forget visits from Mr. Lupin? Might as well forget about birthday presents and ice cream." She grinned. "Until you have a chance to talk to her, there's not much planning we can do, and we did have a bit of unfinished business when we were interrupted...?"

He kissed her, trying to make it count for four days and making a reasonably good job of it. They were interrupted again, by Alan this time, and she left, her face slightly flushed.

That night at her flat, after he'd finished a set of administrative reports for Blythe, they sat across the living room from one another, planning a way to smuggle Dudley out of Smeltings and into St. Mungo's. They decided on a simpler method than they'd used with the Levinsons, much to Remus's relief, though they would need to borrow Mad-Eye's Invisibility Cloak for it to work.

"Maybe Mad-Eye should come with me," he said. "You've already put a lot at risk for this..."

"What do you think Dudley Dursley would do if he saw Mad-Eye?"

Remus considered this. "I'd never get him there. Maybe it's best to keep it small. I really only need you to drive us out of Smeltings. I should've had you teach me by now."

"What, now you're cutting me out?"

"You going in would be an unnecessary risk. You should--"

"Remus, I'm joking. You're right. I have work to do. And there's no reason you can't take Dudley into St. Mungo's alone. Although, of course, I'd miss the opportunity to spend the day with you, and I've missed a lot of days this month."

"Days, we have," Remus said. "I'm not going anywhere."

She smiled in a perfectly contented way. "Good."

"I should go home. I really don't want to, but I should."

"You could stay and we could do something perfectly chaste and dull."

"Do you have anything in mind?"

She shrugged. "Well... you could read to me, as you used to."

"Read to you," he repeated.

"Mmm. I bought a new book today." She ducked back into her room and brought out a paperbound book with a wizarding picture on the front of it. It showed a young witch with flowing raven hair, wearing tight-fitting and low-cut robes that left nothing at all to the imagination. They were torn up one side of her legs and fluttering in the ocean breeze as the girl looked anxiously across the water. The title was Hadria's Hope, and it would apparently entail the buxom young witch's lordly (but quite beloved) Muggle husband being kidnapped by a dark wizard who wanted Hadria for himself.

Remus laughed. "You're joking."

"It's a thought. If it turns out not to be fun, we can always play cards. Or watch something on my television. Or you could go home." She curled up on the far end of the sofa and wrapped herself in a blanket. "I think it will be fun, though. I do love the sound of your voice."

He looked at her there, the steady electrical light of her Muggle apartment making her seem to glow, and all the Doras she had ever been seemed to be smiling back out at him.

"I love you, Dora," he said. "You're quite mad, but I do."

She smiled beatifically and closed her eyes. Remus waited for the panicked voices in his head to start up again--reading to her, was, after all, a very old part of their relationship, and he expected at least some self-berating about now abusing his caretaking role. But it didn't come. He supposed it would later, when he really sat down and thought about this.

Then again, while he had always read to her when he looked after her, it had always been something they'd enjoyed equally, and by the time she was ten, she was introducing him to books and stories as often as he was doing so for her. It had been more play than caretaking, something they shared, and he realized that he'd missed it. The films they watched together at Joe's and Alan's were a poor substitute.

He opened the book and started reading it to her. By the end of chapter one (in which Hadria stormed out of the wizarding world because her father had forced a betrothal to the wicked Meleagant), they were both laughing, and Dora was morphing her face into exaggerated versions of each character. It was an old, comfortable ritual, if one being performed in the odd new world of a torrid romance novel. He promised her another chapter after he'd spoken to Mehadi the next day.

"If you fail to do so," she said melodramatically, her hand to her heart, "I shall be forced to leave the charmed land for all time and seek my fortune in the shadow world..."

"Well, we can't have that, can we?"

After work the next day, he visited Mehadi at home to see if she would help, and after agreeing (barely even taking time to think about the question), she made a great show of checking the calendar, claiming not to see a single sign of Sunday's impending full moon.

"Unfortunately," he said, "it tends to come anyway."

"Well, whatever you're doing, keep doing it."

She agreed to meet Remus and Dudley in the transformation ward on Saturday morning--she wanted to talk to him about making the restraints less uncomfortable anyway, and it made for good cover--and he went back to Dora's and read her chapter two (in which Our Heroine found herself penniless on a Muggle fief, doing some sort of demeaning work involving animal waste--the text wasn't clear, and Remus guessed that the witch who wrote it had no idea what the task was--without the aid of magic until the lord of the manor happened by and saw her beauty through all of the filth, and engaged her in a conversation during which it was revealed that she could read, a skill which he had not thought to acquire despite his lordly status and which he asked her to teach him).

On Friday, Remus told Dudley about the plan, and Dudley, pale and obviously frightened, agreed to tell his friends that he was going into town for the day to study in the public library. Remus signed a day pass to that effect. His stomach twisted as he did so--knowingly signing a day pass to a student who didn't intend to use it for its stated purpose was considered just cause for termination of his contract, and Dudley was still not securely in the "trustworthy" column of his personal ledger. But it had to be done. Dora had an evening shift that night, so Hadria's adventures had to be put on hold. He magically bound the book so she couldn't skip ahead, and she scolded him for it all the way to Smeltings on Saturday morning.

She turned left just before the school gates and drove half a mile up a tree-lined street to the renovated church that served as the town library. She remained in the car while Remus went inside to gather Dudley, Mad-Eye's Invisibility cloak draped casually over one arm.

He spotted Dudley at a dark wooden table, looking at a book with many black and white photographs of boxers who seemed to be demonstrating different positions. Dudley looked about as natural here as Harry would in a boxing ring.

Remus went over to him and put the Cloak casually over the back of a chair. "Mr. Dursley," he said. "Fancy meeting you here. I thought you were going to be working on a history paper."

"Mm-hmmm," Dudley said. His face was as white as paper, and he was sweating. He wasn't going to be able to stage a scene for cover.

Remus lowered his voice. "Dudley, I'm going to walk away and leave the Cloak. Wait a moment, then pick it up. Go somewhere that no one is watching and put it on. It will make you invisible."


"Yes. It won't hurt you. When you have it on--make sure it covers you--come back and tap my shoulder, then follow me out. My wife is waiting with the car outside."

He walked away. Dudley waited an obscenely long time, then, out of the corner of his eye, Remus saw him touch the cloak, pull his hand away, then touch it again. Slowly, he gathered it up and walked into the narrow aisles between teh book shelves.

Remus engaged the librarian in a chat about a book Dora had told him to ask about for her book club. The book was not in--apparently, the librarian told him, several book clubs were reading it, and it wasn't on the shelf anywhere that she could put her hands on it.

"My wife will be sorry to hear that," he said as he felt a tap on his shoulder. "I'd best be going."

He headed out. He didn't need to check to see if Dudley was behind him, because he could hear the rapid breathing and occasional whimpering. He opened the back door to put a fictitious parcel in the back seat and felt Dudley dive in under his arm. The seat depressed at the center.

"Wotcher, Dudley," Dora said as soon as all the doors were closed. "I'm Tonks."

"Dudley Dursley," Dudley said quickly. "I don't like this."
22 comments or Leave a comment
awaywithpixie From: awaywithpixie Date: January 20th, 2005 09:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh! I want to read Hadria's Hope now. How tricksy of Remus to prevent her from reading a head. A bit like a fanfic WIP, eh?

I'm loving all of the little details - like Parvati - I can just imagine her saying that about Remus.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure there's a version of Hadria's Hope linked from deleterius somewhere. ;) It's probably a PotC crossover.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 20th, 2005 11:05 am (UTC) (Link)


Nice installment.

Two questions:

1) What might happen when Remus gets to the more *interesting* parts of a trashy romance novel...?

2) Does it make sense for Tonks to identify herself as such to Dudley, especially when Remus already described her as "my wife"? Remus and Tonks haven't officially let on to Dudley that their whole identity is forged, have they?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Shloz

1) I imagine Tonks is curious about this as well. Given how much unexpected (to me) laughter there is with these two, I can see them laughing themselves silly.

2) Not sure. I was thinking that she wanted to establish that it wasn't going to be a day behind masks, but you're right. It doesn't quite work.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: January 21st, 2005 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Shloz

Maybe she could say, "Call me Tonks"? And though I doubt it would make it into the story, if Dudley for some reason asks why, when Mr. Lewis calls her Dora, she could reply that it's her maiden name, and what she's gone by for years.

Just a thought.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 20th, 2005 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
This bit was quite fun! :) So wizards have trashy romance novels, too? I didn't peg Tonks for the sort to read them, but then again, who knows?

she made a great show of checking the calendar, claiming not to see a single sign of Sunday's impending full moon.

I had to read this a couple of times because I kept thinking she didn't see a sign of the full moon on her calendar. LOL. Do you mean she claimed not to see a single symptom of the full moon in Lupin?

I still like your Dudley. I like him a bit less of late. I think you've changed his tone a bit the past couple of chapters. Yes, rotten things have happened to him, but he could have made MUCH better choices and he's still a spoiled bully - which is a bit more to canon according to JKR's more recent comments about Dudley not having "more than meets the eye". Ugh. It's too early. I' used more three times in that sentence and I'm too lazy to go back and reword it. ;-)

Thanks for the latest installment!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I realized I was getting dangerously close to whitewashing Dudley, and I wanted to remind myself as much as anyone else that this kid can be pretty unpleasant.

This bit was quite fun! :) So wizards have trashy romance novels, too? I didn't peg Tonks for the sort to read them, but then again, who knows?

Well, I'd had her talk about them in the whole "splashy argument" conversation and I thought it would be fun to bring back. Or maybe I've been thinking about "Life on Mars" lately (the futurefic featuring their daughter, Mira) and the idea of a bright, independent young woman who joneses for tacky romance novels was on the brain.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 20th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Does Dora prefer kissing Raymond with facial hair or Remus without?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now, there's a question I absolutely can't envision Remus ever asking... She'd have to bring it up on her own. My own thought would be ick, facial hair. But I kind of think that Dora's philosophy of beauty extends to men as well as women, and she'd just find the facial hair/lack thereof to be a different type of experience whether than a different level of quality.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 20th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awwww.... Remus said it. :)

I'll be interested to see Dudley's reaction if Remus reveals his disguise though. And if he does, won't Dudley recognise him at Kings Cross later?

Nice writing. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
The question of Dudley's behavior at King's Cross is due to be examined. ;)
lyras From: lyras Date: January 20th, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been more or less off LJ since before Christmas, so I've just spent an enjoyable hour or so catching up on Shifts. One of these days, I will go back and reread it all at SQ.

There's a lovely ending here. You have a way with endings, I think - not cliffhangers exactly, but juicy enough to whet the reader's appetite for the next section.

As usual, it's the little touches that I like. The way you've fleshed out Mehadi Patil (and the sneaky way you tell us that Remus's current transformation thanks to his relationship is physical as well as mental!); Dudley's dementor memories; and the fact that Dudley, while still being so very Dudley, is somehow almost likeable. Nice writing :-).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a lovely ending here. You have a way with endings, I think - not cliffhangers exactly, but juicy enough to whet the reader's appetite for the next section.

Oh, thank you! I've always thought of endings as one of my weaknesses, so, yay that they're working better now!
belita013 From: belita013 Date: January 20th, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
As always, I'm completely in love with your story. The romance novel is very amusing. I can't wait to see how Dudley reacts to St. Mungo's.

One thing...
The girls didn't even recognize me when I was Hogwarts
I'm assuming that should say *at* Hogwarts or something like that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Er, it's a whole total identification thing...

likeafox From: likeafox Date: January 21st, 2005 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
You mean Remus isn't a large castle in Scotland? Boy, have I been operating under the wrong pretences... ;)

Siriously, great chapter, Fern. I love the trashy romance novel! (And I know how fun it can be to laugh at one of those with someone... special. ;)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 20th, 2005 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like how you have Elizabeth come up - its sad, but I really liked her. :) And that was an interesting tidbit on Mehadi! May I ask how her husband died?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
You may ask, but I have no idea what the answer is. It was after 1984, though not by much, and I kind of think it was an accident and unrelated to the plot.
malabud From: malabud Date: January 20th, 2005 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Slowly, he gathered it up and walked into the narrow aisles between teh book shelves.

I am afraid you've made one of the stereotypical fangirl mistakes: teh instead of the. Hee. (You are anything but a stereotypical fangirl, BTW.) Great chapter as always. I wonder how Petunia and Vernon would react if they knew their Dudders was going to St. Mungo's. Just thinking of their faces at the news makes me giggle.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2005 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, easy to do. My "e" finger is stronger than my "h" finger. It happens to me with "definitely" as well--that long middle finger on the left hand just likes to hit its key befor either the first or fourth fingers on my right hand.

I think Vernon and Petunia might wisely be left in the dark about this...
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2005 03:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Spotted a problem with a link...

The link for part two of Chapter 29 opens part one; part two doesn't seem to be uploaded. I'm eager to read it--could you please correct the problem?
sep12 From: sep12 Date: January 27th, 2005 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I was unable to get into the second part of chapter 29, it links back to the first part. Please, please, fix it so I can read about Dudley's Dementor memories. That sounds horrible, doesn't it? "I want to read about the worst things ever!" I suck. Parts one and three were lovely, as usual!
22 comments or Leave a comment