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Shifts, Chapter 32: Charms, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 32: Charms, pt. 2
I'm so stupid. It's three in the morning. Oh, well. I don't have to work; I'll sleep really late. I have two more scenes until the last Interlude chapter, and then just work-up to the DoM battle. Whoa. I should write the epilogue so I know where I'm going. (Well, I already do. I've worked epilogue imagery into the story here and there, particularly in one spot. But I like working with my last line in place when I'm this close.)

Fred and George appeared at Grimmauld Place and told Remus and Sirius about what's happening at Hogwarts and their own exit. They also let slip about the Ton-Tongue Toffee incident, and Remus realizes that this is what set Dudley off on his weight-loss kick. Between that and the confrontation with Snape, he's starting to question his decision not to let Dudley forget some things. He e-mailed Dudley and asked him to meet and talk about it.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




In Remus's fourth form class, Landon Fitz did the by-now-ritual condemnation of British imperialism in an oral report, and a third former named Bowdoin Chubb, who had joined the history club recently, showed his class a diorama he'd made of a gory batle scene, complete with severed limbs made of pipe cleaners dipped in iodine, but other than that, the morning's classes were uneventful--thinly disguised revision sessions, possibly Remus's least favorite part of the academic year. He'd written the end-of-year examinations for the classes in which he set them, and was now just waiting for Blythe to approve them. The boys were keyed up, and every third question out of their mouths was, "Is this going to be on the exam?"

Alan Garvey had decided to earn a bit of extra money by taking in marking on science exams of some sort, and headed off to the library to refresh his knowledge on the subject before lunch. Dudley arrived just as he was leaving, and watched him dully until he disappeared.

Remus pulled out a chair for him. "Come in, Dudley," he said. "Please sit down.

Dudley sat in the visitor's chair, and Remus pulled his own chair around the desk, so he could speak to Dudley witthout the intervening furniture putting them on different levels. He shut the door and did a quick Signaling Spell on it, so he would know if anyone else was approaching.

He sat down.

"Dudley," he said, "I want to tell you why I don't want to do a Memory Charm on you."

Dudley got up to leave, but Remus looked at him steadily until he sat back down, a wary look in his eyes. "All right, then."

Remus took a deep breath. "I'm not saying I won't do it," he said. "I've been giving it thought, and talking to some people I trust. And I've learned a bit in the last week or so about memories. But I want you to listen to me and think about it for a few days."

Dudley blinked at him.

"First of all," Remus said, "your memories are yours. They belong to you. They're part of what you've become, for good or ill."

"Right. And I know you think I'm a right prince, and would never want to change me."

"I like you more than you think I do, Dudley. But that's neither here nor there. The point is that you don't belong to me to remake."

"Hmph."

"Even horrible things can help you grow. I know what the Weasley twins did to you--"

"Who?"

"The ones with the toffee that made your tongue grow."

Dudley turned bright red. "Oh. Them."

"And I also know that it's what got you started running and losing weight, and got you into Joe Levinson's circle."

"Oh, of course," Dudley said. "They're princes, when you put it like that. My own guardian angels."

"That's not what I mean. I think what they did was inexcusable, though they are otherwise decent enough people. But that event had consequences, and those consequences shaped you profoundly."

Dudley gave him a guarded glance. "I'd forget about boxing and Coach Levinson and such?"

"No. It's far too late to modify that particular memory; it's shaped your life in too many ways. I also couldn't have you forget that you know I'm a wizard, since your mother knows, and--as I'm sure you're aware--she would not take kindly to this sort of thing."

"Yeah. I reckon she'll ask."

"And it would look quite suspicious if you couldn't answer."

Dudley thought about this ponderously. "What can you do?"

"I can remove the memory of Narcissa--the blonde woman--and modify your memories of everything that's happened related to it. You would remember me coming here to serve as a bodyguard, but you wouldn't have any recollection of a tie to Joe's illness, or of your visit to St. Mungo's." Remus looked at his fingers. "That's as much as I can do. If you let Dora--my wife--well, my... Raymond Lewis's wife... " He stopped. "If you let Dora do it, she's had more training in this particular sort of magic, and she can work more gently, so that, when you're more prepared, the memories will come back."

"Don't want them back."

"Dudley, I'm not going to let you give me an answer right now. I want you to think about it carefully. I'll give you the weekend. Talk to me after class on Monday."

Dudley frowned and nodded, getting up to go. He stopped at the door. "Lewis? Or Lupin, or...?"

"Mr. Lewis, Dudley. Or Mr. Lupin, if you prefer."

"Right. Will I remember my classes for the GCSEs? I can't very well afford to forget everything."

"You'll remember them as well as you generally do."

Dudley nodded and wandered out.

He'd been reinstated to the boxing team, and had a match the next evening, which Remus and Dora attended, but he was off his rhythm and was beaten badly.

The Weasley twins' shop opened on Saturday, and after a panicked call for help, several members of the Order ended up working as shop clerks for a day. Word of their merchandise had made it out of Hogwarts somehow, and people had been queued up outside waiting to get in before they opened the door. Mad-Eye Moody was particularly entranced with the line of Headless Hats, and managed to disturb people even more than he normally did by greeting them at the door with no part of his body visible above the neck. Remus spent the day taking down orders for items they needed to re-stock, and Dung Fletcher demonstrated several items to customers. Dora and Kingsley were on duty, but both stopped by during the course of the day to wish the twins well. Molly appeared at mid-morning and told them that while she still didn't approve of them leaving school without N.E.W.T. qualifications, she did know a thing or two about running a chaotic room full of people. They were happy to put her to work getting the purchasing queues in order.

Arthur, who had stayed the night helping them set up, was wandering the place in delight, telling anyone who happened to ask that yes, all of this had been made by his sons. It was probably lucky that he'd been so visible, as someone seemed to have got a pack of Canary Creams into the office of the Cornelius Fudge, and he showed up just before closing, yellow feathers still in his hair, irate. The twins offered no apology. Nor did Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was grinning broadly behind him.

The boys were more prepared on Sunday, and had hired Dung to help out, leaving Remus and Dora free to explore the place. The boys really had used some clever ideas. Aside from their novelty items and enchanted food, they had a small toy section, including several designs of wizard chess and a stuffed bear that occasionally turned into a spider. ("That's just for Ron," Fred said obscurely.)

"They asked about my dolls," Dora said. "The ones you and Sirius and Mr. Pettigrew charmed when I was little."

"They asked me about them at Christmas."

"Are you going to tell them how to do it?"

"I don't know. They want the Marauder's Map as well." He shrugged. "How would you feel if I told them how to do the army charm? Or the one that made your favorite into a metamorphmagus?"

"Terribly betrayed," she sniffed. "Those were just between us, and we certainly have nothing else that's just between us..." She grinned. "They said if they made a metamorphmagus doll, they'd put my face on her. I dared them to figure out which it was."

"Would you really feel wrong about it?"

"No. You can give me some new special thing."

"Could I?"

"Oh, most definitely." She winked.

"I see you two found the Nauseating Nostrums," George said, grinning broadly.

Dora smacked him on the forehead with the back of her fingers. "Just for that, I'm not going to let you play with my dolls anymore."

George didn't have a chance to answer it, as he was swept into a crowd of customers. Remus recognized Edith Culmer, from Werewolf Services, and wondered if Macnair would find himself feathered soon. Dora bought a bagful of Puking Pastilles, saying she didn't know if she might use them, but one never knew about these things. The bag ended up remaining at Grimmauld Place after she left that night, and when Remus came down to the kitchen Monday morning, it had migrated to a pile of Sirius's belongings, and its label had been transfigured to something less descriptive of its function.

"What are you doing?"

"Thought I'd see if I could send a message back to Wormtail, after that lovely bit with the Hogwarts Express ticket. He always did like sweets." Sirius laughed.

Remus wanted to caution him on the matter--it seemed like a foolish tweaking of Voldemort's nose--but there was no time, and Sirius was, at any rate, in high spirits, the kind of manic good cheer that there had never been a chance in the world of stopping. The trick was juvenile and stupid and possibly dangerous, but it was quite decidedly Sirius-like, and Remus was torn painfully between a desire to make him stop and an achingly acute relief at seeing how long this mood had been sustained. He was getting better.

Remus just hoped that it would take him some time to figure out how and where to send his cheerful little package.

Daniel Morse gave his final presentation of the year that morning, an animated talk about the Medicis. Remus congratulated him, and reassured him for the fifth time that he was more than prepared for the end-of-year exam. The first formers he saw immediately afterward were actually less nervous than the other years. Andrew Metcalf and Robert Kelly were the only ones really putting in a great deal of work, and Remus helped them set up a study schedule during his office hour. He had lunch with Alan, who asked about Dora's plans for the job offer in Australia, and Remus allowed that they were considering it very seriously. "It's a well-paying position, and we never did get to travel much."

"We'd miss you here."

"I'd miss it here as well."

After lunch, he taught fifth form, and Dudley watched him silently throughout. When it was over, the class filed out, and Dudley waited alone at his desk.

"Big D!" Piers called. "Aren't you coming?"

Dudley shook his head. "Exam problems."

It was an accepted excuse for every boy in Dudley's year, and Piers left without further prodding.

Dudley came to the front of the room. "I've thought about it," he said.

"And?"

He looked at the door. "I can't keep my head together," he said. "With that bloody toffee, I just decided that I'd stop eating everything I could get my hands on. That was..." He shuddered, not finishing the sentence. It wasn't necessary. Remus could imagine how shaming it must have been; the twins had laid a trap for him, but all it had taken was knowing that he was greedy, slothful, and gluttonous to make it work. The humiliation of having his own weaknesses used to create the mockery must have hit him hard. "But the thing is," he went on, " there was something I could do about it. That... woman, though. What am I meant to do about that?" He looked away. "No one ever touched me like that before her. And then she cut me and used me and laughed at me. And I couldn't do anything to make her stop. I don't want to remember. I can't remember."

"You were able to carry it for most of the year, Dudley."

"And then that place. God, the chains on the beds. And everyone with freak probems and--" He shook his head. "I can't, Mr. Lewis. I really, honestly can't."

Remus looked at him. His eyes were sunken, the bruises from his last match mottling the skin around them. His hands were pale and shaking and his hair, listless. He obviously hadn't been eating or sleeping properly.

"All right," he said. "I'll have Dora come--"

"No. You do it. Even if it means it won't come back. You do it. I know you."

"You won't when I'm finished, not really."

"Then before you do it..." Dudley looked gruffly away. "Well, you know. Thank you for doing it." His pale face flushed red and he looked at his shoes.

"You're absolutely certain?"

Dudley nodded.

Remus drew his wand.
15 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
chienar From: chienar Date: February 4th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful, I've really been enjoying Shifts, and your vision of what was occuring outside of Hogwarts. You have completely captured the characters.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 4th, 2005 10:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Fantastic. The part about Fred and George's shop - I'd never thought about people helping out there, but of course it makes sense. That was so funny - with Kingsley and Canary Cream!Fudge, but to then have the Dudley scene after that... I think that's the sorriest I've ever felt for dear old Dudders.
sreya From: sreya Date: February 4th, 2005 12:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
He's performing the memory charm in the classroom? Wouldn't it be better to, I don't know, go back to his office or something? I dunno, just gave me a sense of foreboding. (*gasp!* When a werewolf and a muggle share a memory charm when Mars is high, it is a sure sign that they shall be trampled by hippogriffs!)

Oh, and I almost died laughing over Sirius wanting to send Peter the Puking Pastilles. Is that why he wasn't at the Ministry -- too busy puking his guts out? :~p
sreya From: sreya Date: February 4th, 2005 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ach, just occurred to me -- wouldn't Bill have shown up to help out at the shop over the weekend, too? If he's working in the London area I can't imagine he wouldn't be there at all for his younger brothers.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 4th, 2005 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ach! I forgot about Bill. This is what comes of starting at three in the morning. I'll work him into the first edit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 4th, 2005 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to send them back to his office, but it just seemed like people were moving around too much, so I left them where they were. Nothing threatening. ;)
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: February 4th, 2005 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adored the stuff about Sirius sending (or planning to send) Peter the puking pastilles! Brilliant and totally understandable that planning such a thing would improve his mood no end. I really hope he succeeds!
And Fudge picking yellow feathers out of his hair! LOL! XD

Dudley came across as a wuss, which is the way it should be.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 4th, 2005 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good, as usual! :) I do agree that Bill would probably visit his brothers, though.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 4th, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
The last seven lines of this section are the first time this story has made me cry so far. I expect that with the end approaching this phenomenon will become more common and I'll spend the last few installments as a weepy, pathetic mess.

Before I got to the crying part, I thoroughly enjoyed your description of Fred and George's first day of business - especially the mental picture Order members being drafted to help out, and the conversation between Remus, Dora and George, which was just so natural and real-sounding. I love your Dora. :)
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: February 4th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is an excellent chapter. I really appreciate the way you've presented the ethical issues involved in memory modification. Somehow I missed the connection between the Ton-Tongue Toffee and Dudley's weight-loss, but it makes perfect sense. I'm impressed by Dudley's decision to accept that memory as part of his life, and I sympathize with his feeling of powerlessness over the memory of Narcissa. It's not like he can see a Muggle therapist to work through it.

I also *loved* the opening of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes. I just wish Sirius could have been there to enjoy it.

One quibble: I thought the bit with Fudge was great, but why was he in his office on a Saturday?

From: (Anonymous) Date: February 4th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Weeps* Sirius is getting better. I can't even explain to you how that makes me feel.

Loved the opening of WWW. Along with Bill, I could even see Charlie coming in; he made it to London a time or two in OotP, didn't he? Or I may possibly be delusional...

I feel both extremely sorry for Dudley and proud of him in a weird way. He understood why Remus was reluctant to modify his memory, and took the time to actually think it over.

Great job, as usual!
~Jme13 from the Quill
From: isabela113 Date: February 5th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I'm impressed that Remus is going to perform the charm, after all. I think it says a lot about the relationship you have developed between them. Remus clearly cares enough about Dudley to go against his own moral inclincations for the boy's good, and Dudley is showing a great deal of trust in a wizard, and in magic in general.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: February 5th, 2005 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Man, that bit with Fred and George last time just gave me the warm fuzzies. But then, the mere fact that Fred and George are at Grimmauld Place means we've crested the thirty-chapter mark canon-wise. And then I read it again, and I want to mash my fist into things.

Well-steeped in the Rowling tradition - this is only a compliment because it's one of those instances where you can still think about it in immediate terms.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 5th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

I love shifts

Hi!
I started reading shifts at SQ, and every day I would eagerly check the updates to see if you had updated it yet. Then I checked out your live journal and saw you were many chapters ahead of what you had posted on SQ. I read all the chapters in one sitting to catch me up. Now each day, I check your live journal to see if there's more. I just wanted to say that this is one of my favorite fics right now. I absolutely love your characterization of Dora and Remus. I can't wait to read more!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 5th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I love shifts

I've started reading 'Shifts' at SQ too and I was beyond myself with joy when I realised after a looong time (I'm dense, I know) that you were much more ahead in story at your LJ.
I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this. I was afraid for a while that you wouldn't tackle Remus/Dora and leave them hanging between friendship and love. That would have been a pity as you really write them wonderfully. Your characterisation of Remus is painfully perfect (it's painful for me because I'm trying to write him and it's not easy).
You always come up with a lot of original ideas and your OCs are so well created that I'll miss them in the next books.
I've come to realise (dense, I told you) that you are writing OotP from Remus's POV (and others, but it's Remus mainly), that you write missing moments from the book and it's a huge task you've undertaken. I'm probably going to read the last chapters through my tears, but I'll enjoy them anyway.
Minuial
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