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Shifts, Chapter 30: Missing History, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 30: Missing History, pt. 3
You know, I'm looking at how few things happen between full moons in the spring in OotP. It seems silly to do another interlude with only three chapters in between, so I think I'll skip another one... though it will end up skipping three months! (Okay, sorry. Just thinking out loud there. OotP speeds up so much in the spring--lots of stuff like, "March faded into April..." and "Next thing Harry knew, exams were upon them..." Since I'm trying to be at least a little parallel, I'm moving quickly through time as well, but that's when the difference between my POV choices and JKR's really start to get structurally sticky!)

That said, I'm not there yet, anyway. Dumbledore just arrived and told Sirius, Remus, and Dora about what happened at Hogwarts, then left for his brother's place. Because he completely changed the subject of the conversation, nothing was decided about Dudley's memory.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The three of them remained at the table for a long time, but no conversation seemed to suggest itself. Dora kept shaking her head in a disbelieving manner; Sirius picked at the splinters on the table's edge and muttering to himself. After awhile, Remus just started cleaning up. When Dora decided it was time to leave, she asked him to go back to her flat with her to "visit," as she put it, though Sirius wasn't remotely fooled. Remus regretfully declined, as it was nearly midnight and he did have classes in the morning, but he was more than happy to walk her to the car park and kiss her goodnight several times, and promised to come over after work to get further into the absurd adventures of the buxom Hadria and her dimwitted suitors.

Dora laughed and ran her fingers through his hair. "It'll be much more fun now that we can cuddle."

A troubling image of Dora at nine, cuddling beside him while he minded her and they read stories together, tried to surface in his mind and he shoved it away violently.

"What?" Dora asked.

"What do you mean, what?"

"I mean, what are you frowning about?"

He sighed and shook his head, not sure he'd be able to articulate it even if he were inclined to do so.

The next day at Smeltings, several students were discussing Dudley Dursley's apparent nerve attack. He had remained in the infirmary, and the school nurse had called in a doctor to look at him later that afternoon.

"They want to put me on some sort of brain medicine," Dudley said when Remus visited him. "Do you think I need brain medicine?"

"Do you?" Remus asked.

"Need something." Dudley shifted his head on the pillow to look around for people in earshot, then quietly said, "I don't reckon you could do that bit with my memory, could you?"

"No, Dudley. I'm not going to modify your memory. You need to come to terms with this. It's not--"

But they were interrupted by the arrival of the doctor, who sent Remus away and pulled privacy screens around Dudley's bed. On his way out of the room, Remus heard the man pull up a chair and say, "So, Dudley... would you like to tell me what happened yesterday?"

Dudley muttered something about "Exam nerves," and then Remus was beyond the sounds of their voices.

"It's psychiatry," Dora explained when he got to her flat. "Dad's read some, and uses a bit of it in his work. I used to read his books when I ran out of mine. The fellow would probably agree with you about the memory modification. They're wild about recovering memories and not having any blank spots."

"You disagree?"

She shrugged. "I don't know, really. It sounds like picking at scabs to me. I don't know a lot about Muggle medicine, but I heard that things heal better if you bandage them or let them scab. Or so Sanjiv's dad told me, but that might have been because I was picking at a scab in the living room and he wanted me to stop because it was disgusting."

"A distinct possibility."

"I'm not making myself terribly attractive, am I?"

"Well, you know that means the end of all this. I can't have you saying just anything that pops into your mind. I might mistake you for Nymphadora Tonks if you did that, and you know how unattractive I find her."

"Use that name again and you can cuddle yourself."

"Of course." Remus picked up the book and settled far back in the corner of the sofa. "Nymphadora."

She sat down primly across the room, and stayed there for approximately half a page before relenting and slipping into the space he'd left for her beside him on the sofa, curled up in the crook of his arm, her fingers trailing lazily down his side. Today's chapter featured Hadria bargaining with the evil Meleagant to save her husband-to-be--her promise, of course, was that the wedding wouldn't happen, which was a bit of a problem, as she and her dashing love, Redwald, had already made some sort of unbreakable vow. She was meant to convince Meleagant that she was really attracted to him (Meleagant) rather than to the man she loved, yet whatever charm she had used prevented her from simply lying. Somehow, the scene came around to Hadria beginning to undress Meleagant; Remus hadn't realized it was going there until she pulled out her wand and said, "Disconsui," and Dora snickered as the anachronistic buttons on Meleagant's cloak undid themselves.

Remus stopped reading. "I know perfectly well that you've noticed the poor Latin before this."

"Yes, but..." She pulled out her wand, pointed it at Remus's shirt, and said, "Disconsui."

All the stitching on the buttons fell out and the buttons dropped to the floor with a series of ticking sounds. Dora laughed. "Unsew," she said. "Brilliant."

"Yes, it's wonderful. Can we un--" He stopped.

Dora's hand crept inside his open shirt, and her finger traced the prominent line of lower ribs. "Keep reading," she said.

"Dora..." But he found that he didn't want to follow up with an admonition. He picked up the book. "'Hadria came closer to him now'"--Dora snuggled more closely--"'and kissed the deep hollow of his throat...'"

She shifted position and pressed her lips against his neck, just below his Adam's apple. He moved his free hand up to her hair and ran his fingers through it.

"Keep reading," she said again, and as he read, Hadria kissed Meleagant's chest and Dora kissed his...

And then went sprawling onto the floor as she lost her balance on the narrow strip of sofa she'd been sitting on. She covered her face with both hands, but he could see around her fingers that she was as red as a plum. She moved one hand, leaving the other over her mouth. She was laughing, but not looking at him. "Oh, dear," she said. "I don't think Hadria does that, does she?"

Remus held out his hand and helped her back onto the sofa. "Of course she does," he said. "And it gets her into much deeper trouble, because now Meleagant isn't just after her title. He's fallen madly in love with her and now he'll never let her go back to the dashing Redwald, because he's quite unable to imagine not hearing her laugh again."

"Oh, is that what happens?"

"What else would happen?"

She pulled herself closer to him, seeming to melt into him, and closed her eyes. "Tell me the rest of that story," she said. "I like that one better."

By mutual agreement, they left a few minutes later and went back to Grimmauld Place (Remus in a shirt borrowed from the collection of men's clothing she'd brought over to camouflage the wardrobe). To Remus's utter discomfort, Andromeda was there, sitting in the drawing room with Sirius and going over a pile of old letters they'd found in the attic. They had apparently decided--for reasons that seemed obscure to Remus--to try and find out precisely when and how Voldemort had entered Bella's life. Dora settled in to help and Remus went off to find Kreacher, who Sirius believed had hidden more correspondence. Remus found the house elf in the back garden, tending to a dead flowerbed, and brought him back inside.

The next day, Dudley Dursley returned to class, still distracted and unable to concentrate. Remus held a revision session after hours, which most of the boys attended. Dudley didn't answer a single question correctly.

Dora was working and he had no papers to mark, so he went straight back to Grimmauld Place. Several members of the Order were there. They'd come informally to discuss Dumbledore. Hestia seemed to think he'd become unstable--"They're planning to arrest him, and he's drinking with hags at the Hog's Head!"--but most people agreed that Dumbledore's actions often seemed peculiar until things became clear later.

Fleur Delacour reported that drunken hags in a pub weren't his only audience. "I 'ave a contact at ze French Ministry, and 'e says zat Dumbledore was there for hours. 'e was talking to many people."

In the less than forty-eight hours since he'd been sacked, he seemed to have been spotted in no fewer than six places. Remus suspected that there was some exaggeration about the amount of time he'd spent in any one place, but believed that Dumbledore was indeed making many, many visits, parlaying his reputation into an opening for trust.

"He's been telling people everything that's been going on all year," Emmeline said.

"It's about time," Mad-Eye grumbled.

"The whole bit, including what a prize idiot Fudge is." Emmeline took a deep breath. "The Ministry almost caught him outside of Flourish and Blotts, but he just waved to a couple of Aurors--I think Tonks might have been one of them--and left with the bird."

Dora arrived later that night, after the others had gone home, and confirmed that part of the story. "Wasn't all he did," she said. "Mad old man actually showed up in the middle of Auror headquarters. Gave a speech, told everyone that or job was finding the truth and we should be doing it. Scrimgeour, of course, argued with him and said that our job is finding the people we're told to find. He tried to make the arrest, but Dumbledore put a cube wall in his way and then left. Kingsley's fuming. I'm sure you'll hear all about it again tomorrow night." She morphed into a female verson of Kingsley and took on his manner of speaking. "First Sirius, now Dumbledore! I'm hiding more fugitives than I'm catching!"

As the first week of Dumbledore's exile wore on, new stories cropped up with great frequency. He'd been all over Britain and visited much of France, and the Quibbler reported that he'd been seen Tokyo and New York. Of course, the Quibbler also reported that he was traveling with an escort of bare-brested unicorn centaurs and in the company of Celestina Warbeck.

Over the weekend, Dora sheepishly admitted that she'd been reading a book she'd found in the Muggle bookshop below her on how to keep things interesting in a romance--"I don't want you to be bored with me"--and asked if Remus would mind terribly if she tossed it in the fire and ignored its contents entirely. Remus leafed through it, and although he couldn't quite bring himself to burn a book, he happily escorted her to a used bookshop, where she turned it in and bought five promising-looking paperback novels instead.

At Smeltings, the examinations drew ever nearer, and Dudley was no longer the only one of Remus's students acting peculiar. Daniel Morse, who had no reason whatsoever to be concerned about his marks or his end-of-year exams, had taken to caring an inhaling device of some sort, because he'd developed a breathing problem. Landon Fitz missed a few days of classes and a history club meeting because he fell down the stairs of his dormitory while he was walking in his sleep.

But Dudley was still of the greatest concern to him, because Dudley wasn't even bothering to put up a facade of concern about the exams. He came to class, sat silently, and left. Remus tried e-mailing him, but got no response. "I just keep thinking about her," he said when Remus cornered him after class on Tuesday. "She cut me. And I couldn't stop her. I couldn't do anything."

"I know it sounds trite, but you will get past it, Dudley. I wish I could help."

Dudley glared at him. "You can help," he said. "You're just not doing it."
22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: January 27th, 2005 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I know poor Dudley (woah - I typed that?) is having a hard time but oh this chapter was so funny. Tonks falling off the sofa with utterly superb timing, and Dumbledore's antics, and the relationship book ... I was quaking with laughter. Thank you very much for cheering me up.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 27th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. The falling scene was meant to be almost a real seduction, but then I realized that it was Tonks and she was balancing on a small sliver of the sofa. Not a chance. ;p
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: January 27th, 2005 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
By the way, though I don't comment on every chapter, I really am loving "Shifts" and am impressed with your ability to maintain the story, in terms of pacing and canonicity and just getting it out regularly.

Poor Dudley...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 27th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 27th, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel a little sorry for Kingsley; as strict as he's being, he really is in a bad situation, and I imagine it'll only get worse when Sirius dies, and he has to pretend to look for someone he just lost - even if Sirius was never a friend or anything, I imagine he'd still be uncomfortable.

And yes, poor Dudley as well...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 27th, 2005 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'd guess with everything breaking open, he won't have to pretend to be searching for Sirius. But the Order really does put Tonks and Kingsley both in a bad ethical situation, and while Tonks is very personally oriented and doesn't have a lot of qualms about hiding Sirius, I'd think that the man entrusted with capturing the dangerous Sirius Black and spinning huge lies about the search might have the occasional fit of conscience about work responsibilities.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 27th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
See, you've got everyone feeling sorry for Dudley. You're one of the very few writers I know who could do that. Great job!

Tonks falling off the sofa and turning red like a plum is perfect. Totally what would happen. I love that the "fake" spell worked too, although not quite as expected.

I noticed a few more grammar/spelling problems than usual today; you must be busy. Or I've been proof-reading too many documents. *G*
"Gave a speech, told everyone that or job was finding the truth and we should be doing it" -- our job.

"...the Quibbler reported that he'd been seen Tokyo and New York." --missing an "in".

"...had taken to caring an inhaling device of some sort..." --carrying.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 27th, 2005 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

D'oh

I got caught up on formatting and forgot to sign my name. I'm Jme13 from the Quill.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 27th, 2005 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: D'oh

Thanks for catching those! Beginning to write after two a.m. is a stupid thing to do.
myf From: myf Date: January 27th, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: D'oh

And there's also

an escort of bare-brested unicorn centaurs

breasted.

Otherwise, excellent!
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 27th, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
The scene at Dora's is so cute. Love this line:

"Well, you know that means the end of all this. I can't have you saying just anything that pops into your mind. I might mistake you for Nymphadora Tonks if you did that, and you know how unattractive I find her."

Dumbledore' s appearance at Auror headquarters sounds just like him, and Tonks's imitation of Kingsley is great.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 27th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Remus has better instincts about the relationship, even if he is too timid about it.

I was dreading the reappearance of Dumbledore (I find him intimidating), but he's actually kind of fun outside of the wise old mentor role.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: January 27th, 2005 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you're right about Remus's instincts, but I like Dora's slight insecurity about the relationship too. It's an interesting contrast to her confidence in other areas, and besides, I can relate to it. :)
sofamiliar From: sofamiliar Date: January 27th, 2005 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
You wrote that Daniel had taken to "caring" an inhaler, yet I'm sure you must mean carrying. =) Lovely chapter thus far.
From: isabela113 Date: January 27th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if Dudley will force Remus' hand in this. He is seemingly unable to deal on his own, and he is literally unable to get help from a psychiatrist or counselor. It seems then, Remus or a Wizarding source must help him. The question is, whether memory alteration actually helps anything.

I love how completely you have filled in Dora and Remus' characters. They each have clear natures, so that as I read, thi things they do feel so natural. Even their couch reading/snogging (and falling) feels wonderfully and specifically them.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 27th, 2005 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have often wondered just what Dumbledore was up to in those missing weeks but this sounds just like him. He's not the sort to rest on his laurels. :)

Dora and Remus - bless them. :)

And Dudley - it'll be interesting to see where this goes actually. Use of the memory charm will make a useful reset button for the end of OoTP if necessary but if he keeps his memories he'll also remember a great deal that might change his views.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: January 28th, 2005 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
That relationship book Dora was reading...is it the same as the one you were ranting about a few weeks ago? :)

I love that she fell off the sofa! So in-character!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 28th, 2005 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
That relationship book Dora was reading...is it the same as the one you were ranting about a few weeks ago? :)

Nah, that wouldn't have been out yet. :)

It's a made-up book, which I imagine to be like a compilation of Cosmo articles... you know, the kind that are exceedingly intimidating to those of us who aren't libidinous gymnasts.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: January 28th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Libidinous gymnasts...

djfslkajd;fja;fja;lfjkdas;lfjsa;ljfdskjfa;fjds;afjdsljkfl;safjsl;kfjsdl;kfjskl;afj;asfjds;lfkjdslkjfkls;ajfak;lfjsdlfjal;sgfjal;fsj
kinderjedi From: kinderjedi Date: January 28th, 2005 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus leafed through it, and although he couldn't quite bring himself to burn a book, he happily escorted her to a used bookshop, where she turned it in and bought five promising-looking paperback novels instead.


Promising in the manner of Hadria, perhaps? :D

I love the scenes with them reading together- it just fits.

lesera128 From: lesera128 Date: January 28th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Quite, Quite Brilliant

I found this fic recommended to me on Crack_Broom, and I have to say I have spent the majority of my free time the past three days reading every single word. It's really quite brilliant. I love your in-character treatment of Remus and Tonks... this story is definitely now in my top three favorite R/T stories of all time. Well done!

P.S.: All hail the loss of Remus' shirt. That scene really was quite priceless! Poor Remus!~
sep12 From: sep12 Date: January 29th, 2005 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Loved the chapter! Thanks also for fixing chapter 29:) How much fun is the unsewing spell? And Tonks falling off the sofa was too funny, very right on target for how I see her. I just love this story, and how it fills in all the little things we wonder about in terms of canon backstory. It's the same, but different! Drinking with Dumbledore should be your next fic! :):):) Update soon!
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