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Shifts, Chapter 31: Living Memory, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 31: Living Memory, pt. 3
Ever just have one of those I'm-going-to-wring-a-neck days? All day, short-tempered. I think I covered it reasonably well, but I've spent hours being just teeth-on-edge, about-to-snap. And there's no good reason for it. Just a random seethe.

Bleh.

After Harry talked to them in the fire, Remus and Sirius discussed Snape. Both are less than thrilled with Snape, but Remus is trying to be reasonable. He's planning to go to Hogsmeade to meet Snape and have a chat about Occlumency.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Alan Garvey suggested having a drink after work the next day--"Bloody exams coming up; I need one"--but Remus declined. Severus Snape had been less than enthused about the notion of meeting him at all, and if Remus let himself be delayed even a bit, he doubted Snape would bother waiting.

Snape had insisted on the Hog's Head, although Dumbledore wasn't there at the moment (he was in Surabaya, meeting several contacts from Asian magical governments). It was, he said, not an opportune moment for him to be seen choosing to leave the apothecary in the company of an ally of Dumbledore's who he himself had long been known to detest. Remus agreed grudgingly. It would do Harry no good at all if Snape were to be removed from Hogwarts. The Hog's Head wasn't a particularly secret meeting place, but it was conceivable that two people might accidentally be there at the same time and neither would choose to leave. Sirius had been enthusiastic about the change in venue, as it could more easily lend itself to a fistfight, for which he had been pushing all through breakfast. "Just once," he said. "Hit him for me, Remus. Hit him for Harry. And for Neville Longbottom, as long as you're taking a swing or two. Didn't you say he annoyed you where Neville was concerned?"

Remus was not planning on striking Snape. He hoped that he would keep to that plan.

When he reached Hogsmeade, it was a golden late afternoon, the middle of the dinner hour, and people were eating outside and enjoying the delicate spring shades that were so beautiful they were nearly painful. Rosmerta waved at him from a chair in front of the Three Broomsticks, where she was eating a bowl of soup while a young man painted her portrait on a narrow panel beside the door. The young man raised a hand as well, and Remus recognized Dora's friend Sanjiv and waved back. As he made his way to the Hog's Head, he saw several other people he knew--at least casually--taking advantage of the beautiful weather to accomplish outdoor errands. They all seemed happy.

Until he reached Snape.

Snape was in the Hog's head, sourly inspecting a cocktail in a tall and narrow glass. He did not drink it.

Remus went to another seat at the bar, pretending not to have noticed him, and ordered a pint of mulled mead. Behind the bar, Aberforth looked nervously between them, then said, loudly enough for all the patrons of the Hog's Head to hear, "Blimey, Remus Lupin, isn't it? I haven't seen your for two years!"

"I had some errands," Remus said, as Snape turned toward him, pretending to notice for the first time.

Snape's lip curled in perfectly unpretended distaste. "Lupin," he said. "Shouldn't you be off somewhere fondling the Tonks child?"

Remus went cold, feeling wrong-footed. "I beg your pardon?"

The sneer on Snape's face deepened. "We do hear rumors. The werewolf, dallying about with his former students... I understand Narcissa Malfoy wrote to the new Headmistress specifically thanking her for ousting the man who hired you. Your... problem... clearly extends beyond the full moon."

Remus stood up, setting his drink down on the bar, his heart pounding--obviously, Snape was goading him for show, but the notion that such a letter had been written was horribly plausible. "Do you have something to say to me, Snape?"

Aberforth delivered his next line a nervous air that Remus didn't think was feigned at all. "Take it outside, gentlemen! Take it outside!"

At this, he scurried to the back of the bar and opened a door that led to an alley behind it. A surprised krup fell backward from the dustbin it had been scavenging in. Aberforth hurried Snape and Remus out, harshly whispering, "Order," as they passed him.

He left a brick propped in the door to keep it open, but cast a muttered muffling spell as he disappeared inside again.

Remus stood with his fists clenched at his sides, and said, "I will assume that your performance was merely meant to create this circumstance."

"If you like," Snape said.

"You've stopped teaching Harry."

Snape said nothing. He just leaned against the filthy wall, his nose wrinkled and his arms crossed over his chest.

"I don't care what your personal gripes are, Severus, but you're going to start those lessons again--"

"To what end?" Snape asked lazily. "Potter is too arrogant to be taught to control his mind. He sees no need for it, and actually takes pleasure in the contacts the Dark Lord has made with him." He smiled slightly. "Yes, Lupin. Your golden boy. He just loves being the center of everyone's world, feeling important..."

"He is important, Severus."

"He doesn't practice Occumency at all, and is quite frankly eager to continue the dream contact. I see no reason to continue wasting my time with him." He headed back toward the door, an air of unconcern hanging about him.

Remus grabbed his shoulder and spun him around, tossing him unceremoniously against the wall.

Snape practically spat, "How dare you!"

Remus pinned his arms before he could reach for his wand. "We both know this isn't about Harry's laziness or arrogance. I know what he saw in your memory."

Snape flushed. "He had no business--"

"I don't care what he had business doing or not doing. This isn't between you and Harry, and it's certainly not between you and James or you and Sirius or you and me. This is between Harry and Voldemort, and your job--the one you promised Dumbledore to do--is to break that connection." Remus gave him a slight shove into the bricks and then let him go, putting some distance between them.

Snape didn't reach for his wand. "The connection is not going to be broken until Potter chooses to make the attempt," he said. "And, as I mentioned, Potter is not interested in doing so. No number of lessons from me will change that, nor will the lack of said lessons influence him negatively. He understands the principle. He is simply refusing to make use of it. I know of no way to teach a student who refuses to learn. And as long as he continues refusing, I see no reason to allow him into my mind."

Remus closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was certainly a genuine problem--there were some subjects it would be possible to teach to hostile students, but Occlumency wasn't one of them--but Snape had created it for himself, goading Harry from the first day of his stay at Hogwarts, blaming him for James's affronts, and holding his renown against him. "I'll talk to him," he said. "I'll get a Dimming Draught at the apothecary..."

"You're welcome to try," Snape said nastily. "I believe Umbridge has several portraits spying, as well as her Inquisitorial Squad. Parkinson was telling me only yesterday that they've been given the passwords to all of the Houses, in case a need should arise for them to take action in a House other than their own. Of course, the new werewolf laws bar you from the grounds, but I'm sure if you were caught that it would only be a short stay in Azkaban. At least until they decided that a Dementor might induce you to share your knowledge of Black's whereabouts."

Remus cursed under his breath. Umbridge could not have been more of a hindrance to the Order if she'd been an outright Death Eater standing at Voldemort's right hand rather than Fudge's. "Perhaps Minerva could speak to him, if you asked her."

"I do not intend to spread this any further than it has already gone."

"It's not about you."

"It was my memory he was mucking about in, having a grand time watching the four of you--"

"He was hardly having a grand time. He was miserable."

"I somehow doubt it."

"He risked himself in a guarded floo system to talk to us because he was so upset by what he'd seen. He didn't--"

But Snape was giving him an unpleasant smile again. "Risked himself? You give him too much credit, Lupin. If you want to know who Potter risked for the sake of his chat, may I suggest that you contact Molly Weasley?"

Remus left the alley feeling that he'd accomplished nothing, images of that long-ago day in his mind. What if he'd stood up that day? How much would be different? Would Snape have become a different person? Would James have respected him enough not to believe Wormtail's insinuations?

He didn't know, and the memory sat heavily on his heart.

He stood on the road for a long time, looking up at the turrets of the castle, then went to the Three Broomsticks and Apparated back to the Leaky Cauldron in London.

He met Dora at her flat, and they finished off Hadria's Hope together, cuddling among a dozen pillows propped around the couch on the floor, on the theory that it would be rather difficult for even Dora to fall off of the floor. (Hadria and Redwald had a daughter, and the daughter, rather improbably, fell in love with Meleagant, who was a changed wizard--"And old enough to be her grandfather," Remus muttered, earning an extremely annoyed look from Dora--and everyone lived blissfully for several more decades, during which at least three dozen children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren joined the happy crew.) She was tucked comfortably under his left arm, nuzzling against his chest as he read and toyed absently with her hair and he tried to push away the image of James and Sirius, wands raised, attacking a boy flailing helplessly in the grass.

He closed the book when he'd finished and wrapped his arms around her, kissing the top of her head. She made a contented, cooing sound, and Remus struggled with a a rush of desire for her that came from nowhere and refused to retreat for several minutes.

"Was it a good ending?" she asked.

"It was a silly ending."

"Well, yes. All good endings are silly. Silliness is a good thing."

"In that case, it was a lovely ending. I question the character arc on Meleagant..."

She snickered. "Yes. Well, er... all right, that was stupid. Might have been nice to have something between threatening to kill Redwald and being his son-in-law. But I like it. It's nice. Everyone's happy."

"That they are." He sighed. "I'm never going to be as exciting as Redwald, you know."

"Oh, please don't try to be. That sort of excitement is usually dangerous, and when I daydream about you, it's about silliness, not about keening over your excitingly-arrived-at grave."

"What sort of silliness?"

"Private silliness." She smiled shyly, an unusual expression for her. "Some of it involving people somewhat smaller than ourselves."

Remus smiled back at her. "Have you named them?"

"Oh, not yet. It keeps changing. I got out my old Astronomy textbook and started making lists."

"You?"

"It's a curse. Someone cursed the family, and we're entirely unable to consider normal children's names. Mum should have warned me."

"Well, she did name you Nymphadora."

She gave him an entirely unconvincing glare, then kissed him. "Thank you for not being... odd... about that."

"Thank you for not censoring yourself. I've missed you talking about anything and everything."

"Really?"

"Really."

She snuggled closer to him. "You're good, good man, Remus."

He didn't answer, and his heart seemed to plummet to somewhere in his lower back.

"What?" she asked. "What is it?"

"I'm not," he said. "I'm not a good man. I'm not a bad one, but I'm not good, Dora."

And he told her what Harry had seen in the Pensieve.

She blinked her eyes solemnly when he finished. "And you just sat there?" she asked. "Didn't do anything?"

"No, I didn't do anything, I just--"

"Oh, I'm not exonerating you," she said, but didn't let go of him or pull away. "I can't believe you didn't even try make them stop. What in the hell was wrong with you?"

"They were my friends, and I was a coward."

She nodded. "Sounds like the sum of it."

Remus felt oddly comforted by her refusal to mince words on the subject. He didn't want her to brush it away as Sirius had. "What are you thinking?"

"That I'm very glad you all grew out of it and became good men when we needed you to be."

"And what about Snape?"

"What about him?"

"What if we were the ones... what if he went to Voldemort because of us?"

She did pull away now, looking at him thoughtfully. "How much of Snape's brain do you think you're in charge of?"

"I--"

"You had to deal with your monthly moons, and Sirius had Auntie to deal with. I didn't know your friend James, but I'd reckon his life wasn't perfect--"

"Close, sometimes. Except when it came to the Dark Arts. Most of his family died in the Grindelwald war."

"Oh, just a little thing, then." Dora shook her head. "The point is, you all had things that were thrown at you, but you ended up growing into good men. Snape had you thrown at him, and he decided to become a Death Eater. You're responsible for what you did--or didn't do--not for what he did afterward."

It wasn't entirely satisfying, but he understood what she meant. They talked for awhile about other matters, and he went home to Grimmauld Place. Sirius was having another row with Kreacher, so they didn't talk. Remus assumed they could talk after work the next day, but when he got home from Smeltings after a late revision session, the Weasley twins were settling into headquarters.

I feel a bit...: irritated irritated

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Comments
danel4d From: danel4d Date: February 2nd, 2005 09:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Ever just have one of those I'm-going-to-wring-a-neck days? All day, short-tempered. I think I covered it reasonably well, but I've spent hours being just teeth-on-edge, about-to-snap. And there's no good reason for it. Just a random seethe
Yeah, I used to feel like that all the time a few years back... but I think that was puberty.

A great chapter. I like how your Snape really is nasty and clever enough to be so vicious.
I question the character arc on Meleagant... is, I think, my favourite line, possibly ever. I'm not truly sure why. And the way that Tonks reacts to it is good too. Excellent.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 2nd, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dora's reaction to Remus's 'I'm not a good man' line was excellent.

I thought the Remus and Snape 'scene' was very well done as well - especially when Snape said about the Weasley twins having to pay of Harry's conversation. I hadn't really thought of it like that before.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: February 2nd, 2005 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely chapter! Snape's opening line to Lupin... GAH! Bugger Lupin, I wanted to hit him! Very effective.

Squeeeed madly at the introduction of the twins at the end. The thought that they might participate in this story from now has me all excited.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 2nd, 2005 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dora really had a great reaction; I was worried she'd be upset, especially at Sirius.

And I loved the Remus-Snape confrontation. But I can't believe even Snape would tell Remus about the letter! (Actually, I can believe it. Jerk).
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 2nd, 2005 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great installment as usual! I really like the conversation between Snape and Lupin. I'm probably in the minority, but I've always thought that Snape could have been a lot more horrible to Harry during his Occlumancy lessons (they were alone, he could have said anything), but really kind of restrained himself. I mean he says some horribly nasty things to him publicly, but not so much during the lessons. Even when provoked by the pensieve scene, he just throws him out (you'd expect something really bad there!). Anyway, I just liked the fact that your Snape is totally in character here, and actually does a good deed (perhaps unknowingly) by preventing Remus from going to the castle. Also liked the Weasley twins comment. All in all, a perfect scene! Mary
sreya From: sreya Date: February 2nd, 2005 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
While I agree with everyone who wanted to smack Snape for the Tonks comment, I'm actually starting to giggle a little from imagining Narcissa's reaction that her Metamorphmagus neice is dating a werewolf. I mean, it IS a wild combination of peculiarities!

Frustrating as it may be to say, but I think Snape has a point, and it's one I picked up on in the books. Harry really did resist learning the Occlumency properly. Not for the reasons Snape believes, but because the visions are something Harry thinks can help, and he's so desperate to be helpful that he resents that opportunity being taken from him. (Though I could smack him for that, too -- what does he think running the DA was?)

And while, yes, Snape was nasty and aggressive with the Legilimency, that's what Harry had to learn to resist and fight against. Voldemort wasn't going to "knock" and ask "Mother May I" before invading Harry's mind. So Snape was probably a very good substitute in those lessons.

Hmm. Now I'm just babbling. In sum up -- excellent piece, right on the mark.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 2nd, 2005 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm actually starting to giggle a little from imagining Narcissa's reaction that her Metamorphmagus neice is dating a werewolf.

A poor half-blood werewolf at that! It's got to be causing Narcissa physical pain just to imagine it. :p

Thanks!
sreya From: sreya Date: February 2nd, 2005 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Come to think of it, she was rather nasty to him at St. Mungo's... :~p

I'm getting too much amusement out of Narcissa right now. Because she WOULD be angry, both that Dora's doing this, and because it's bothering her in the first place, since she doesn't want to think of Dora being in the family in the first place!
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: February 2nd, 2005 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your Snape is canon to the last syllable. JKR could have written his dialogue here, and I can't think of higher praise than that.

I did get a kick out of the way Sirius urged Remus to punch Snape - the reference to Neville was especially good. But I liked Remus's conversation with Tonks even more. It reminds me of similar conversations I've had with boyfriends past.

The last several chapters have been fantastic, Fern. Cheers!
From: isabela113 Date: February 2nd, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the tension between Remus and Snape, both when they were together and when they were not. Remus' aggressiveness in the alley was great, it is nice to see his control slip. It makes him human. His willingness to blame himself and the others for Snape's defection is also such a great show of frailty on his part. He's such an authority figure, he's always the guy with the answers (except where Dora is concerned) that these moments are important.

Speaking of Dora, her reaction to Remus' concern was wonderful. She doesn't let him off the hook, she doesn't really try to make him feel better. She just tells him the truth, and it helps. If only more people were like that!
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 2nd, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Don't forget, one of the "torturers" became a traitor.

Loved the chapter. What will they read next?
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 2nd, 2005 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Snape was so very... well, Snapish. Nicely done. :)

And Dora's honest reaction to Remus' confession was extremely well done too. :)

Looking forward to more. :)
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: February 2nd, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Eureka Moment

Right, Fern, you and the rest of the people here are going to think I'm totally thick, but I just realised something.

You're using your story to explore and comment on canon, aren't you? I don't know how to express the 'realisation' part of it. The reason why your story keeps me hooked (I actually read your rants - not that they aren't great - before the latest Shifts episode, to save the best for the last) - anyway, the reason your story is so AWESOME is because you're not just telling a story with wonderfully interpreted canon characters... it's not just because you take your time with the plot and allow your characters a lot of *character* screen time, either.

It's because you're talking about your opinion on canon events, opinions that you've neatly made the characters express. You're dissecting the rights and wrongs of Harry's behaviour, you're exploring your own reactions to Umbridge's regime and to Dumbledore's actions and all the rest of it... This story is a bloody awesome commentary on OotP.

Don't rush to tell me all fan fiction is like that. My own stories are just plotty little things that try to fill spaces in the canon universe. Not that that's a bad thing to do - it's very entertaining, at least to me - but I think I've just learned how to give my story that extra bit of depth from you.

Can't wait to write something using this new principle now. Whee.

Kudos, though. I think I've only left a couple of reviews here so far... and I'm sorry about that. But you already know you're my favourite-est author in fandom, right?

Ciao!

(I'm wendelin_the_weird on SQ)
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 2nd, 2005 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I forgot - this isn't a direct comment on this chapter but: I noticed on rereading the revised chapters of this on your site - in the chapter "Big D", Dora identifies Joe to Sirius. But hadn't Sirius already seen him when he went to the garden party way back when as Snuffles?

I'm probably wrong but I thought I'd say just in case. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 2nd, 2005 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, you're right. Good catch--thanks. I think that Sirius probably didn't get a great look at him. A dog's vision isn't terribly accute. But he'd have a general idea what he's looking for.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 2nd, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that was a good chapter. Snape was absolutely canon, which I like more than some of the other versions of him. And I didn't get the thing about the twins until I read the comments. Silly me.

One typo: She snuggled closer to him. "You're good, good man, Remus." There's an article missing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 2nd, 2005 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Last night wasn't good for articles. I cleaned up about six of those stupid things, and I still seem to have missed a couple. I'll definitley run it through a serious edit before the final version goes up.
mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: February 3rd, 2005 09:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Aberforth delivered his next line a nervous air that Remus didn't think was feigned at all. "Take it outside, gentlemen! Take it outside!"

I think your missing a with.
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