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Shifts, Chapter 30: Missing History, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 30: Missing History, pt. 2
Glughghgh... starting late because I updated the TofC page and put up three chapters. Realized I forgot to change that bit where Dora talks about the Room of Requirement, but I will do so before final archiving. So when she says (below) that she doesn't know of it, it's an editing thing that I haven't done yet; I've changed my mind. Dangers of WIPs. Will not take another day off this week, though.

Remus, Sirius, and Dora were discussing several things over dinner and not reaching any decisions when Dumbledore and Fawkes appeared out of nowhere.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Dumbledore took a seat at the table and helped himself to a large slice of the pie that Dora had brought for a pudding. "To begin with," he said, breaking off a piece of the crust and feeding it to Fawkes, "I've been sacked."

Sirius's jaw dropped. "What?"

"It appears that I've been recruiting a small army all year. I certainly should not have been so reckless as to list the names of all the students I planned to speak with tonight under the title 'Dumbledore's Army,' but there you have it. In the end, it worked out well, as the new headmistress had been operating under the erroneous assumption that Harry was somehow involved until I pointed that out to her."

"The new head--"

"Harry--"

"What army--"

"You don't mean Harry's--"

"...did you say headmistress?"

"Yes, Remus. Headmistress. Cornelius, in his great and sudden concern for the failing standards at Hogwarts, has seen fit to change his undersecretary's title again." He smiled. "I think she'll find it less easy to occupy the office than she believes."

Sirius put a hand down on the table. "Who is looking after Harry?"

"Cornelius may leave whomever he chooses in charge," Dumbledore said, "but I left Hogwarts and all of its students in Minerva's hands."

"And if Voldemort has just been watching and waiting for this?"

"If Tom shows himself, he will regret it." Dumbledore's face was now grave. "I have no intention of staying far from Hogwarts, Sirius. There are visits I must make and people I must see--Cornelius has certainly pushed us into open confrontation with the Ministry--but I intend to return to a convenient location daily, and both Severus and Minerva can contact me instantly if I'm needed. Cornelius fancied putting me in Azkaban, but it would have been a waste of time." He took a bite of the pie. "This is quite good, Miss Tonks. Did you make it?"

"Bought it," Dora said, bewildered. "At a bakery not far from my flat."

"I think I shall visit your flat." He smiled and took another bite.

"Headmaster," Remus began.

"Albus," Dumbledore corrected, as he had in December. "You really must master that skill now, as I'm no longer headmaster."

"Albus, then," Remus said. "What happened tonight? We all know it was Harry's group."

Dumbledore tapped the side of his plate thoughtfully. "Have any of you ever been in the Room of Requirement?"

"Doesn't sound familiar," Remus said.

"It's a room in the castle that provides what the people using it most need. Quite handy. I only discovered it myself last year, but apparently the house elves are aware of it and use it regularly. Harry's friend Dobby let him in on the secret, and that's where their study group has been meeting for months. I've been watching them when I can--they've developed some ingenious methods of communication, and Harry has proven an effective teacher--but alas, I wasn't able to tonight. Fudge appeared unbidden in my office in the company of Percy Weasley and two Aurors, one of whom, quite thankfully, was Kingsley Shacklebolt. Apparently, a student in the group had become nervous about her mother's Ministry job and had attempted to turn the entire group in to Dolores Umbridge."

"Attempted?" Dora asked.

"Miss Granger had taken precautions against such an eventuality," Dumbledore said.

"Who was the student?" Remus asked.

"One Marietta Edgecombe. A sixth year--"

"Ravenclaw, yes," Remus said. "Doesn't seem her style. She always liked to belong, spent her time with Cho Chang and several of the more popular girls, though she didn't entirely fit in..."

"Sounds like bloody Wormtail to me," Sirius said.

"Regardless of Miss Edgecombe's nature," Dumbledore interrupted before Sirius could start in on that particular subject, "she'd been able to convey that there would be a meeting this evening, and Umbridge planned to ambush them. Harry got word of it early somehow--I suspect it was Dobby again--and most of them were clear. Harry waited until last to leave. The Malfoy boy caught him, and Dolores brought him to my office with plans to expel him."

Sirius cursed under his breath.

"As I said, it was lucky that Cornelius had chosen Kingsley to accompany him. Kingsley was able to modify Marietta's memory before she could bring herself to speak, and I was able to convey to Harry that brash truthfulness was possibly not his best approach. I wasn't certain what I was going to do until Dolores produced the list on which they'd all signed their names, and I realized that I could use it. I told Cornelius that I'd been plotting against him for some time and had made the list of names from Harry's perfectly legal gathering in Hogsmeade last October. He threatened to have me arrested, as I mentioned, so I thought it prudent to leave." He had another bite of pie. "At any rate, there were many things I was refraining from doing in fear of what reprisals the Ministry might take against the school. Now that the potential has become the certain, I intend not to hold back."

Remus shook his head, trying to process this new information. Kingsley had deliberately modified a child's memory in order to rescue Harry... but he'd needed to do so because that child had turned traitor...

And Marietta Edgecombe... the girl's sole purpose in life had seemed to be pleasing her peers, not her teachers. Remus remembered her looking at everyone else's face to decide how to respond to him.

And just what had Hermione done to her?

"Who all was in this group?" he asked.

Dumbledore Conjured a sheet of parchment, thought deeply for a moment, then touched it with his wand. A list of names appeared and Remus glanced down it. All of his brightest Gryffindors. Several Ravenclaws, including both the dotty Luna Lovegood and the epitomally normal Cho Chang. He doubted they'd ever been in the same social circle before (he wondered uncharitably if Marietta had found it objectionable that she and Cho were socializing with people like Luna and the Creevey brothers, and scolded himself for thinking it; he didn't know her well enough to make such low assumption of her character). All of the Weasley children were there, of course. More surprisingly, Ernie Macmillan and his Hufflepuff group were all represented--Susan Bones, he might have expected it of, but Ernie was extremely concerned about his future, Hannah Abbot tended to be nervous and easily frightened, and Justin Finch-Fletchley (rather like Ted Tonks when he'd been at Hogwarts) generally didn't care to escalate conflicts, preferring to mediate and come to an understanding.

Remus shook his head and handed the parchment over to Dora, who scanned it. She would have known some of the sixth and seventh years. "Will they be all right without you?" she asked, handing it over to Sirius. "I can't even imagine Hogwarts without you."

He smiled. "Thank you, Miss Tonks. I don't consider it likely that the exile will be permanent. As to the students... I wish I could give you a reassuring answer. If they keep their heads about them and continue simply finding ways around the High Inquisitor, I see no reason why they can't get through their examinations in peace, but I know these children, and I think their tolerance is wearing thin, and Dolores might have more than she bargained for. I expect that there will be expulsions soon."

"You don't sound very concerned about it," Sirius muttered.

"I am vastly concerned about it, Sirius," Dumbledore said. "I am stating a fact--Dolores Umbridge has already begun to exert control over which teachers may weild influence; it is inevitable that she will exert the same control over influential students, and the group of students I'm thinking of is populated by some of our brightest minds. But I have been removed from my office and have no control at all over their fate."

Remus looked at him and realized, with something very akin to terror, that Dumbledore was frustrated and really was out of control of the situation.

Dumbledore blinked and the momentarily visible frustration disappeared behind the twinkle in his eyes. "At any rate, I have a feeling that Headmistress Umbridge will find her first days rather eventful."

"Where will you go?" Sirius asked.

"I thought I'd stay with my brother."

"At the Hog's Head!" Dora shook her head. "If they're trying to arrest you, you can't be somewhere public."

"I plan to be in many public places, but you needn't worry, Miss Tonks; I won't involve you by telling you ahead of time where I'll be at any given time, including here. But, as I told Minerva, I'm not going into hiding."

"Then can I come out of it?" Sirius asked.

To Remus's surprise, Dumbledore didn't refuse immediately. "Let me gauge the public mood about you," he said. "Harry's interview convinced a number of people about a number of things, but I'm not sure your sudden reappearance would be helpful yet. Too many still believe that you're behind the mass escape from Azkaban in January."

Sirius gritted his teeth, but didn't say anything. Since he'd begun trying to track Bella, he'd been better able to control his frustration at his situation.

Dumbledore finished his pie and stood up. "With that, my friends," he said, "I'll be going."

As suddenly as they'd appeared, Dumbledore and Fawkes vanished in a sheet of flame.

Sirius looked at the spot he'd been in for some time, then turned to Remus and Dora. "Are we still completely certain that I can't kill Umbridge?"
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Comments
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: January 26th, 2005 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd never contemplated the effect Harry's article in the Quibbler would have had on the Public consciousness regarding Sirius! And I loved that Dumbledore seriously considered letting him come into the open.

I always enjoy the way your stories make me consider parts of the story I'd taken for granted! :~)
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: January 26th, 2005 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think I've ever loved your Sirius more!
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: January 26th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love your Sirius too (especially his constant concern over Harry) and I loved this chapter. It fits perfectly in canon and all of the characters, particularly Dumbledore, were very believable.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2005 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful update! Love Dumbledore's explanation, it was just spot-on. Also liked how Remus thought of "his" brightest when he looked at the list. I know I always think of my students as "my kids", no matter how old they are.

Knowing an update could be waiting makes me get out of bed (instead of wallowing in my blankets). Thanks! Mary
sreya From: sreya Date: January 26th, 2005 01:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I get the distinct feeling that Fudge is going to have as much trouble with the Order as Umbridge will have with the students. :~p

I like Dumbledore's calm exterior, with the small glimpses of frustration. And Dora's shock came across very well. Particularly when juxtaposed against an entirely characteristic Dumbledore action - hitting the sweets.

Hmm, that makes me wonder. Do Dumbledore's sweets always show up during particularly stressful moments? I'm thinking that may be one of HIS stress management habits. Hmm.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 26th, 2005 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very good conversation. I enjoyed Remus's thoughts about Marietta and the rest of the students. It's an interesting perspective, and gives the scene a closer connection with canon events.

I also think you really caught the cadence of Dumbledore's speech; most people don't. One thing did stand out, though - he says "the Malfoy boy" instead of "Draco," which seems odd when he calls Voldemort "Tom" in the same conversation.

marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: January 26th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your characterisations are always so spot-on! Especially Dumbledore, in this bit. I also loved Remus's reaction to the names on the list... because of course he knew them all as students, I'd forgotten that.

One nit-pick:
"I am stating a fact--Dolores Umbridge has already begun to exert control over which teachers may weild influence;

First of all, weild=wield. Typo notwithstanding, the first three times I read this sentence, I thought you meant that the teachers were finding ways to wield influence over Umbridge's control... or something like that. I mean, I thought you meant not that Umbridge was deciding who could wield influence, but rather that teachers still had influence over and above the rules made by Umbridge. (Right, so obviously that was easier to think through than it was to put into coherent sentences!!)
lyras From: lyras Date: January 27th, 2005 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I have no intention of staying far from Hogwarts" - does Dumbledore mean "straying", rather than "staying"? Just wondering.

I do like your Dumbledore - he's wonderfully in character :-). In fact, it's lovely to see a bit more of him; I miss him in OoTP. Which, I suppose, is the point, since Harry also misses him, with tragic results.

Lastly, a quick Brit-pick, if you want it: """Who all was in this group?" he asked." We'd never say "who all" - just "who".
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