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Shifts, Chapter 30: Missing History, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 30: Missing History, pt. 1
Oh, I hate chapter titles. I don't even know if this one is right. Blech, blech, blech.

ETA: Thanks to kokopelli20878 for the title suggestion!

Okay, whine over. ;)

When we last left our handsome (and/or beautiful) heroes, Dudley had been cured of his curse trigger, but was very traumatized by the experience of visiting St. Mungo's. Both Dora and Healer Mehadi Patil suggested Memory Charms, but Remus doesn't want to play with Dudley's memory. He seemed to be calmer after visiting Dora's flat and reading the Quibbler article. Dora was on her way over to make Wolfsbane Potion for Sunday, and was lobbying for a kiss, even though Remus told her he didn't trust himself if he started touching her.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Dora did without her kiss.

After she finished setting up the cauldron (Sirius watching the process with frank admiration), she lifted her eyebrows inquisitively, and Remus shook his head. "Oh, fine," she said, affecting an exaggerated air of annoyance. "In that case, Sirius can walk me upstairs and lock the door behind me." She turned her nose up. "This would be where you object."

"Oh, no, not that," Remus said.

"I don't want to be anywhere between of the pair of you anyway," Sirius said, smiling. "I might get caught in that Calf-Eye Curse you've both picked up."

"And which of us were you planning on making calf-eyes at?" Dora asked. "Your oldest friend or your cousin?"

"Well, given that it seems to be a two-person business, I was rather afraid I'd end up Cursed to Kreacher, as he's the only other half-sentient thing in the house."

Dora gave him a hug and a kiss goodbye, then headed up the stairs. Remus followed her.

"Sorry," she said, standing by the curtains that covered Mrs. Black's portrait and not looking remotely remorseful. "You spent all morning with your ex--"

"Two dinners does not make Mehadi my 'ex.'"

"I know." She grinned and blew him a kiss off her fingertips.

He caught it and tossed it back, some part of his mind thinking at it would be very easy to catch her in his arms and fold her into the curtains while he kissed her until neither of them could breathe--let Mrs. Black yell all she liked. "You should go," he said.

She shook her head. "Someday, you'll stop protecting me from the Big, Bad Wolf."

"Absolutely," Remus promised. "The day they cure lycanthropy, I'll never worry about it again."

She rolled her eyes and left.

Remus went back to the kitchen, where Sirius was looking at him with a bit of bedevilment in his eyes. "What's this business all about?"

"It's private."

"You're not kissing her close to transformation."

"Not that it's any of your business, but certain things are a bit... intense... this close to a full moon."

Sirius threw his head back and laughed. "You're blaming it on the moon?" He tipped his chair until it was leaning against the stone wall, howling laughter. "Mate," he said, wiping his eyes, "I think you need to set your sights a bit lower."

Remus didn't speak to him for the rest of the night, and refused to discuss that subject further in the morning, although Sirius had (almost) stopped laughing at him.

He left for St. Mungo's at four-thirty, and found Edward Holmes already chained in for his transformation. Holmes was less coherent this month than he'd been at his first transformation, and Remus was barely able to talk him out of hysterics while they waited. While the moon was high, the Wolf felt only disdain. There was no sense of a power struggle, because transformed, Holmes submitted instantly at the sound of a single snarl.

In the morning, Holmes was, for the first time, more or less uninjured. Remus himself again had a relatively peaceful transformation, and had even been able to catch an hour or two of sleep hanging off of the chains. Every joint in his body was flaring with the strain of having done so, but a few Healing Charms and Sirius's analgesic potion took care of it enough for him to make his way to work.

As usual, his students noticed that he wasn't well. Daniel Morse and Andrew Metcalf brought him lunch in his office that day, including soup from the school kitchen and some chocolates Andrew's mother had sent. When he got to his fifth form class, Paul Freehof was cleaning the blackboards for him so that he wouldn't need to stretch up and pull the upper board down, or across to wipe off the chalk from the morning classes.

"Thank you, Paul," he said.

Paul shrugged and took his seat.

Remus sat on the edge of the desk and looked out at their faces. Piers Polkiss was still looking surly, but most of them seemed friendly now, even though he was starting to put them through some rather rigorous preparations for their upcoming exams. He narrowed his eyes. "Where is Dudley?"

"Mr. Baden sent him to the nurse," Piers said. "He came over funny this morning."

"I'll e-mail his assignment to him," Remus said, trying not to sound as concerned as he was. "Did it seem to be a serious illness?"

Piers shrugged. "Just came over funny, is all."

"It's exams," Stephen Wells suggested. "Just nerves."

The other boys seemed to concur with this opinion.

Paul nodded. "Right. I heard that the year before we got here, a boy went completely mad before exams and they found him sitting in his room eating his textbooks with mustard and pickles."

"I heard he was running around starkers on the playing fields," Piers said.

"No," Stephen said. "He was just going up and down the corridors, writing his notes on all of the walls. They had to paint it all over, of course."

Remus sighed. School was school--there were always stories about someone who was there just before anyone in the room arrived. "Would a member of the history club like to explain the concept of an 'urban legend,' which Mr. Fitz discussed at our last meeting?" he asked.

There was an outcry of protest that this was true, but eventually, they realized that no one at all was able to produce a name of the student or of any acquaintance who had actually seen any of this, and they were able to have a reasonably good review session before getting on to the day's new material.

After class, he went to Dudley's residence, but there was no answer at his dormitory. A note on his message board said that he was at the infirmary. Remus went to see him, but the school nurse said he was asleep. She concurred with the idea that it was a case of pre-exam nerves. "Mr. Dursley, if I know him," she said dryly, "is not prepared."

Remus was fairly certain that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the GCSEs; in fact, he would be surprised if Dudley remembered they were approaching at all.

"You need to do a Memory Charm," Dora said over a very late dinner at Grimmauld Place that night. "Dudley can't handle this."

"Dudley needs to learn to handle it," Remus said. "The magical world isn't going anywhere, and whether he likes it or not, he's involved."

Sirius shrugged, monumentally unconcerned about Dudley. "I'm with Remus. Let him suffer. He's made Harry's life difficult enough."

"That's not exactly what I said, Sirius."

"Just summarizing."

"Not really."

"I spoke to Kingsley about it," Dora said. "He's really quite good at Memory Charms. They're a specialty of his, and he could target very specific memories..."

"Dora, no."

"Remus, will you at least talk to him? He was going to come over tonight, but Fudge called him off with Dawlish on some sort of business at the last minute."

"I don't doubt Kingsley's abilities..." Remus sighed. "I'll talk to him, Dora. But I don't think it's a good idea. All of this business at Smeltings is my responsibility, at least until the end of the school year."

Dora toyed with her baked potato, then sighed. "I met the ladies for book group this morning," she said. "I told them that my former employer has been asking me to come back to work."

"What?"

"In Australia."

Sirius frowned at her. "Why on Earth would you do that?"

"In case we need to make an exit. Leave the flat and all." She sounded pained.

"Why should you do that?" Sirius asked. "Won't Dudley still need looking after?"

"I'm not going to keep Joe's job while he's fit to hold it," Remus said. "There should be some other way to look after Dudley after the summer. The lies we're telling can only hold up for so long."

"You're lying about your names and your ages. So what?"

"And our history. And where we are in our lives." Dora bit her lip. "And things could... change. There could be... you know, things that I can't explain in terms of our cover story." She was looking carefully at her fingers as she said this, and did not elaborate on what catastrophe she was anticipating.

They ate in silence for awhile, and Sirius pulled up a box of old family things he'd been going through. He pawed through it one handed. "I found something here," he said. "On Bella and Rodo. His family owns--"

But what Rodolphus Lestrange's family owned, they never found out.

There was a flash of fire at the hearth, burning down out of midair in the shape of a man and a bird. The flames faded and solidified, beginning with a great scarlet phoenix, and ending with the robes of Albus Dumbledore.

"Ah," Dumbledore said, smiling pleasantly. "I'm glad a few of you are here. I have no intention of staying long, but certain events have transpired of which you all should be aware."
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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 25th, 2005 09:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I am so glad you've posted more! I enjoy this story so much I'm checking all the time and feel quite aggrieved if you have the selfishness to have a day off. Thanks for another great installment.

Just one thing:

There was no sense of a power struggle, because transformed, Holmes, submitted instantly at the sound of a single snarl.

I don't think you need the comma after 'Holmes'.

Monica

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 25th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think you need the comma after 'Holmes'.

Yeah, that's what happens when I change the sentence structure between handwriting over lunch and typing in later. Thanks. I'll get rid of it.
siegeofangels From: siegeofangels Date: January 25th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC) (Link)
*also lobbies for a kiss*

I love Sirius's hilarity and Remus's insistence that it's All The Lycanthropy. And Dumbledore's great entrance. It's good to see them having fun.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 25th, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
One thing about Sirius, he doesn't lack the ability to amused by life, at least when he's mostly sane and himself. :)

antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: January 25th, 2005 12:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I loved Sirius's reaction - that was priceless. Although "He tipped his chair until it was leaning against the stone wall, howling laughter" I'm thinking you need a 'with' in there.

I thought the throw away line about Kingsley going somewhere with Dawlish was a nice build up to Dumbledore at the end. And I think it's good how you've explained why Remus will be leaving next year.

I was really pleased to see this up - I too get mardy if you horror of horrors have a whole day off. It involves me from staring at the lj screen and frowning, so I'm very glad you posted today!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: January 25th, 2005 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hrm, this would be Centaur and the Sneak, wouldn't it? Oh yes, I'm dying to know your hypothesis on where Dumbledore was while he wasn't Headmaster...
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: January 25th, 2005 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
oooo-oo-oo-oo-oo, more Shifts. Yeah!

Have I mentioned that you make my day? I hope so. 'Cause you do. Fern rocks.
kokopelli20878 From: kokopelli20878 Date: January 25th, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

Titles

I think perhaps you should tweak the title to "Missing History" as Dudley did indeed miss his history class, and you are filling in the missing history of what Dumbledore was up to when he was in exile from Hogwarts.

Pity about Dora's kiss though - Remus is so honourable.

JEC
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 25th, 2005 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Titles

Oh, excellent suggestion! I'll do that.
kokopelli20878 From: kokopelli20878 Date: January 25th, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Titles

Glad to be of some assistance. I've been checking your Humongous site for months, but just recently discovered your live journal - I'm most impressed with your writing - both the quality and quantity.

Regards,

JEC
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 25th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
She was looking carefully at her fingers as she said this, and did not elaborate on what catastrophe she was anticipating.

Like, perhaps, pregnancy?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 25th, 2005 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
That would certainly require explanation in a couple in their sixties!

(And given that it's been her idee fixe lately, I think ReallyDense!Remus is giving an encore performance here.)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 25th, 2005 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Denser than the earth's core.

[thawps Remus on the back of the head]
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 25th, 2005 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I just tell you the part with Remus and Dora blowing kisses at one another made me warm? They are so cute together! (But something tells me they're going to have a fight of some sort... hope not, of course).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 25th, 2005 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I honestly don't think there's going to be a serious dust-up. Some frustration coming out here and there because Remus needs to stop protecting her from the Big Bad History Teacher, but no matter how I squeeze and push these characters, neither one of them has the slightest desire to actually fight. Makes for a totally dull romance, of course, but I like the thought of dull and uneventful romances. They sound much more restful than the other kind.
kelleypen From: kelleypen Date: January 25th, 2005 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wanted to let you know that not only is Shifts fun to read, but inspirtational. http://www.phoenixsong.net/arias/poem.php?cid=2125 You're in the dedication.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 25th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
"This would be where you object."

"Oh, no, not that," Remus said.


I can just hear him deadpanning that.
malabud From: malabud Date: January 25th, 2005 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
"And which of us were you planning on making calf-eyes at?" Dora asked. "Your oldest friend or your cousin?"

I giggled at the sideways poking fun at the Remus/Sirius ship here, although you may not have meant it that way. Hee. :)

After she finished setting up the cauldron (Sirius watching the process with frank admiration)

So, I guess Sirius isn't any good at potions? Now that I think about it, you may have mentioned that earlier in "Shifts." Otherwise, why would Dora make the Wolfsbane if Sirius could, thus making himself feel useful? Anyway, I like how he can admire his cousin's ability without words or any hint of rancor. (Snape, on the other hand....)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 26th, 2005 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I giggled at the sideways poking fun at the Remus/Sirius ship here, although you may not have meant it that way. Hee. :)

:whistles innocently:

So, I guess Sirius isn't any good at potions? Now that I think about it, you may have mentioned that earlier in "Shifts."

He's not quite as bad as Remus--he is brewing that analgesic--but Snape refused to teach him Wolfsbane Potion, and Dora hasn't bothered trying, either. Remus thinks that Sirius has the wrong temperament for it--not methodical enough. I think it impresses him that Dora, who is so often all over the map, can set up this finicky Potion and the finicky magical fire.
myf From: myf Date: January 25th, 2005 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, wonderful finish! On tenterhooks for the next instalment now.

Like everyone else, I love Sirius' teasing, but even more fun is Remus' reaction - sulking. Sirius must really have hit a nerve, but Remus doesn't really tend to sulk, does he? *glee*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 26th, 2005 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
He is sulking a bit, isn't he? How dare Sirius suggest that this might be a perfectly human reaction!
From: isabela113 Date: January 26th, 2005 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I shall be interested to see how the Memory Charm situation works itself out. The ethics of memory alteration are very interesting, especially when it comes to Muggles. I tend to agree with Remus, Dudley should learn to deal. His cousind being who he is, Dudley will always be connected to the Wizarding world. Might as well live with it.
sreya From: sreya Date: January 26th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Dudley needs to learn to handle it," Remus said. "The magical world isn't going anywhere, and whether he likes it or not, he's involved."

Just realized that this strongly reminds me of another fic, set well after the books, in which Harry and Dudley meet up in a coffee-house sort of place, just to catch up with each other. They were both very mature, and seemed to have a little regret that they clashed so badly in their childhoods and had so little in common with each other as adults. It was probably the first fic I ever found that was at all sympathetic to Dudley and presented him in a good light. Shifts could easily be a precursor to something like that if Dudley ever DID follow the path Remus wishes for him, and learned how to accept that the magical world is a part of his life whether he likes it or not.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: January 27th, 2005 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Just so you know (you may not care, of course), the cut-tag still says "Forgetting History."
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 27th, 2005 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just so you know, chapter 29 part two doesn't link right. Part one comes up instead.
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