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Shifts, Chapter 32: Charms, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 32: Charms, pt. 3
I think I may come out to the same chapter count as OotP. :D (Little things delight me.) Of course, that's not counting the prologue and epilogue. My chapters are shorter than JKR's, though.

(Okay, don't mind me. I'm averaging 1700-2100 words a day, and my brain is complete mush. And my temper is short, so I'm sure people around me will be glad when I'm finished. But I'm also really elated. It's like this burst of energy at the end of a marathon. Maybe I'll see if I can take a few days off from work when I finish and just have a blast. Though writing alone misses the fun of the last long project I finished (Ascension of the Queen), since there's no co-writer to party with. Maybe I'll have a big virtual party here.)

Anyway, I'm not going to finish if I keep chattering away about how close to finishing I am. And it's like, six chapters, so not imminent. It just feels that way. I left Remus doing a memory charm on Dudley. I'm kind of fudging on sports here and pretending that the boxing team would have matches all year, as the Quidditch teams do.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Altogether, the modification of Dudley's memory took twenty minutes. Remus was certain that Dora could have done it more quickly, but his own experience was limited--he hadn't done it since his N.E.W.T. in Charms, when they'd been partnered with students from other houses and he'd caused Sally MacMillan to believe she'd spent the morning picking lilacs (she panicked before her own turn, thinking that she hadn't studied, and he'd had to undo the damage)--and he wanted to be careful. The trick was in finding the paths of memories, the chains of events, and isolating them. It took a few failed tries (and increasingly annoyed glares from Dudley) before Remus was able to get the thread of his memories, beginning with Narcissa's attack and going on through its aftermath. If it worked properly, Dudley would remember only that Joe had interrupted a liaison with a pub girl, and then--thoroughly independently--gotten sick. As to Remus, he would remember that a wizard had been sent to guard him, but of the time they'd spent talking, he would remember only that he had come for help with history. The visit to St. Mungo's would be entirely removed.

When Remus finished, Dudley slumped forward in a daze, his chin resting on the desk. Remus used the opportunity to get out several textbooks and Dudley's latest essay, then tapped him on the shoulder. "Mr. Dursley?"

Dudley looked up, confused. "Er... what? Where...?"

"You seem to have drifted off."

Dudley wrinkled his nose at the papers. "I'm never going to learn this rubbish. We both know it."

"I think you'll be fine."

"I don't suppose you could wave your... you-know-what... at my brain and make it all stick?"

"No. Nor would I, if I could."

"Figures," Dudley said sullenly. He picked up his essay. "I reckon I ought to have a look at my other classes sometime as well." He stood up and swayed a bit.

"Are you all right, Dudley?"

"Fine." He left the room without looking back.

Throughout the week, Remus watched Dudley carefully from a distance, wondering if the Memory Charm was holding. Dudley was back to his normal self, which was not a marked improvement, in Remus's opinion. He broke a clay figure that Daniel Morse had made, and made crude innuendos about Stephen Wells and Andrew Ketterling. The vague goodwill that had come from believing Remus had helped him with history faded into his former hostility.

"I'm not sure I did the world any favors," he told Sirius and Dora on Friday night. "I'm not even sure I did Dudley any great favor."

"How's his homework?" Dora asked.

"Better," Remus admitted grudgingly.

"And is he still locking himself in his dormitory?" Sirius asked.

"No."

"Good," Sirius said. "Because that's not really healthy. Or so I've heard."

"I just don't feel right about it."

"Mum and I both do them routinely," Dora said. "Do you think less of us for it?"

"No."

"Then stop thinking less of yourself. You helped Dudley with something he couldn't handle on his own. What he does after it is on his own head."

"But--"

Sirius held up a hand. "Remus, stop it. It's done."

"And maybe when he grows up a bit, he'll be able to handle all of this better," Dora offered.

"But how is he going to grow up if we take away the things that happen to him?"

Neither of them answered, which Remus supposed was fair. He had made the call on his own, and it was a bit tedious to go on about whether or not he should have. He changed the subject, and let Sirius go on for a bit about how he and Andromeda were coming along in their project to find Bellatrix and find proof of Narcissa's actions. Andromeda had been busy at work lately (Sirius managed to report this with no bitterness), but Sirius had worked out a charm to reveal and analyze Potion residue, and Andromeda was planning to find her way to the Muggle pub where Narcissa had attacked Dudley and see if she could find evidence of it.

Remus found himself called in to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes again on Saturday, and he found it even busier than their grand opening. The boys were manically happy, if quite frazzled and obviously not getting enough sleep. They'd set up mass production charms in their basement workshop to do the tedious work of wrapping sweets and boxing novelty items, but they were still doing most of the potion-brewing themselves. "We'll need to hire help soon, though," Fred said. "We've only got so many of us. We sold out of a lot of stock that we thought would last longer. I guess Harry was right--people really need a laugh."

Remus guessed that the Ministry was regretting its aggressiveness at Hogwarts, as the twins and their products were considerably harder for them to control on the outside. Little atomizers full of Cock-and-Bull Cologne seemed to have appeared everywhere, and anyone telling a lie in the vicinity of someone carrying one had to endure two hours of a small, ghostly rooster strutting in circles around his head. It worked on printed material as well, and much to the fury of the Daily Prophet, it had become a lunchtime hobby for Diagon Alley workers to spread out the paper, spray it, and entertain themselves watching flocks of wispy roosters fighting. Sweets of all sorts had become prohibited items at the Ministry, as Cornelius Fudge was not the only person to burst into feather. Arthur Weasley had to endure a lecture from Fudge about his sons' new store. He took it mildly, according to Dora, then simply shrugged and told Fudge that the twins were of age, and he was delighted that they'd come upon such great success.

They closed the shop on Sunday afternoon to do an inventory and work on new product ideas and development, and finally pressured Remus into giving them the charm he'd created to make Dora's doll into a metamorphmagus. Fred drew up a quick contract promising him five percent of any profits from the product, if it should be a success (Dora, as the initial model, also got five percent for providing a face, though she insisted that it not actually be her own; she gave them a younger version of Dora Lewis instead). Sirius, not to be outdone, wrote up a list of fifteen of his favorite pranks for them when they came to the house later that night, including one that caused the floor to burst into song when someone walked over a charmed section. The three of them developed a way to work the charm into a sheet of parchment that could be set on the floor and Disillusioned, and they tried it out in front of Mrs. Black's portrait, much to its annoyance.

"Ah," Sirius said, sinking into a chair. "Passing on knowledge. It's a lovely thing. I see why you went into this teaching business."

"Oh, no. It was strictly for the money. And the glamour, of course."

"Do you think I'd be any good at it? I'll have to do something after the war."

"With a class full of students like Fred and George, I think you'd be brilliant."

"You don't think I'd be brilliant with anyone else?"

"Are you asking an honest question, or just daydreaming?"

"Both."

Remus shrugged. "I think you'd do well with the bright ones, and with the ones who need extra help. But I can't imagine you handling Draco Malfoy much better than Severus handles Harry. And I think you'd get bored very quickly with the administrative business."

"And you don't?"

"I'm better at being bored than you are."

The half-moon passed that night, and Dora began to bring the Wolfsbane Potion to Smeltings the next day.

"I passed Dudley on the grounds coming in," she said. "It seems to be holding. He didn't recognize me at all."

"Who didn't?" Alan Garvey asked at the door.

Dora jumped. "Alan! I didn't hear you coming."

"I'm catlike in my grace," he said, sitting down on one side of the large headscarf Dora had spread out and helping himself to a biscuit. "Who didn't recognize you?"

"Oh, Dudley Dursley. I was going to wish him luck on the title fight this Friday."

"Well, Dursley's back to form all right," Alan said. "I doubt he needs luck. Though Joe's back to coach him this week. I imagine he'll be in to visit before long. He'll go on about how months out of the ring make extra coaching necessary and so on, but he's just back because Baden invited him and he can be. Mad."

"Well, maybe he can volunteer to coach part time, if he wants to stay retired," Dora said, looking both hopeful and wary.

"He doesn't want to stay retired. He's been speaking to other schools. He wants to start teaching again for some reason."

Dora rolled her eyes. "Alan, you do know that you're not fooling a soul, don't you?"

"I don't know what you mean," Alan said breezily. "Any word on your Australian offer?"

Dora kept up the conversation for the rest of lunch, manufacturing a dilemma about leaving London and coming fairly close to the truth about her mixed feelings about leaving her flat ("It's been a good home!" she said, "and I don't know that I want to leave it at all"), and ultimately not giving any answer on the subject. Remus steadfastly insisted that it was her choice, and he would be happy wherever they were. Joe came in at the end of the conversation, and pretended not to have a vested interest as Remus pretended not to notice the way his eyes grew eager at every encouraging word.

Dudley's performance in school improved exponentially that week, and Remus suspected that he was trying to impress Joe by pulling his marks together. Whatever it was, it was working--he did an oral report on Hitler's suicide that came very close to being thoughtful, and according to his other teachers, the renewed effort was showing in his other classes as well. It was a bit late for it, but late was preferable to never.

Remus and Dora began another book that week, this time an adventure yarn that was a bit lighter on the romance. They quarrelled briefly about Remus's unilateral decision to scale back the physicality in the days before the moon--"Dammit, Remus, will you stop taking care of me?"--but the storm blew through their lives very quickly, as neither of them cared for quarrelling and they were able to talk it out that evening. The next day, Remus went to Gringotts and looked at a small jewelry box--his mother's--that was the sole item in his vault (barring a very small stack of Galleons that he'd been able to accumlate after the last few months of his wages). He opened the box and looked inside of it for a long time, then put it back. Three days before the full moon was not a time to make emotional decisions.

On Friday night, Joe Levinson cheering him at ringside, Dudley Dursley re-took his boxing title to thundrous applause. Remus and Dora sat with Miriam and the Garveys, and cheered with everyone else, though none of them liked boxing at all.

May died in a rush of green and glory, and June arrived blowing sails of summer rain. Remus and Sirius watched the storm for most of Sunday morning, and it showed no signs of slowing down as Remus got ready to leave.

"Come on," Sirius cajoled. "For old times' sake. I'll transform with you. Keep you company. I'm fine now. I won't go anywhere but whatever shack you're transforming in."

Remus sighed. "Maybe next month. Minerva will be back from Hogwarts, and she can watch the house for you."

Sirius smiled.

Remus Apparated to the large carriage house he'd transformed in several months earlier, but even the gaping hole in the roof didn't give him much of a view of the moon, as it hid its face behind curtains of rain.
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Comments
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 5th, 2005 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I love the idea of the Cock and Bull Cologne! :) A very nice little part - Dudley's reaction and reversion and Remus' assessement of Sirius' potential as a teacher were spot on. Regarding Dora's flat - I know they'd have to give it up fictionally, but could Dora Lewis not simply hand it over to her "niece"? ;)
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 5th, 2005 12:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
He opened the box and looked inside of it for a long time, then put it back. Three days before the full moon was not a time to make emotional decisions.

How could you just drop it in there? That is altogether too mean!

Great chapter - I did like the change in Dudley and the twins' products - Cock and Bull Cologne, indeed!
likeafox From: likeafox Date: February 7th, 2005 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree! Very cruel, Fern! ;)
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 21st, 2008 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I wholeheartedly agree! I started flipping out and emailed that part to my friend! Now she's flipping out! I seriously did not think I could be mad at a fanfictional character until then!
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: February 5th, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Cock-and-Bull Cologne. What a great idea! It's really fun to read about Fred and George's first week with the shop, their success, and how they brought in all of the Order members to help.

And thank you for giving Sirius some happy moments. I imagine he would love to come up with new pranks for the twins. And it makes so much sense that I can actually believe it happened in canon.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: February 5th, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cliffy! Evil!

And I lke that Srius is getting better; makes what's going to happen sort of relieving, that at least he was finding happiness again, and didn't die as bitter as he had been before.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 5th, 2005 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
he hadn't done it since his N.E.W.T. in Charms, when they'd been partnered with students from other houses and he'd caused Sally MacMillan to believe she'd spent the morning picking lilacs (she panicked before her own turn, thinking that she hadn't studied, and he'd had to undo the damage)
Now that you mention it, memory charms seem a very logical subject for N.E.W.T. Charms. I like the pleasant memory Remus gave his exam partner. Mmm, lilacs!

she gave them a younger version of Dora Lewis instead
Ooh, clever Dora!

But I can't imagine you handling Draco Malfoy much better than Severus handles Harry.
That's something I'd never really thought about much before, but wow, insightful! I've thought for a while now that Black and Snape are more alike than they'd really like to admit, which factors into their dislike for each other. I like Remus referring to Snape as "Severus" here, too--it shows that he, at least, has made his inner peace with that schoolboy rivalry.
kokopelli20878 From: kokopelli20878 Date: February 5th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Jewelry Box

Are we to take away from this chapter that perhaps there is an antique piece of jewelry in that box, say perhaps, a ring?

Proposing in St Mungos after the shoot-out in the Ministry of Magic would work for me.

JEC (Kokopelli)
rosetapestry From: rosetapestry Date: February 5th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
"And is he still locking himself in his dormitory?" Sirius asked.
"No."
"Good," Sirius said. "Because that's not really healthy. Or so I've heard."


I keep thinking I'm going to get over the tragic nature of Sirius's life and death in time, but it isn't happening - the more I think about it, the more upsetting it is.

It is good to see Sirius with some amount of concern for Dudley's well-being though, after he's spent so much time being angry at Dudley's treatment of Harry. Thanks for taking an unlikeable character and turning him into a [partially, at least] sympathetic one by giving a plausible explanation for his actions/behavior!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 5th, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know you must get tired of hearing this, but the irony just keeps getting heavier as the end comes. The discussion of about Sirius spending the next transformation with Remus, talking about what he might do just in terms of a job, and his being able to joke about the effect being locked away can have on someone just kept hitting me.

I wish Remus had touched up Dudley's memories more lightly. They're the basis of the trust that there had been developing between them even if Dudley's was still strongly mixed with suspicion and fear. I actually came up with what some of those toned down memories could be and also came up with reasons why it didn't happen that way.

1) Remus hasn't done memory charms in around twenty years. It's probably safer if he doesn't get creative.

2) When it comes to memory charms, Remus identifies too closely with the person being charmed. Removing memories is a hard enough concept for him. Touching up memories so that a person can remember an experience as better than it was is even more alien to the way he thinks.

OK, OK, enough about 'what ifs' and why they didn't happen. It's just that Remus has just gutted everything that had brought Dudley to trust him, and we know that Dudley seemed afraid of him in the last chapter of Phoenix. That seems pretty ominous.

And, of course, he has no idea about what happened to Harry.

Ellynne
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: February 5th, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think this chapter gave me more ups and downs than any other! I was enjoying the lighter tone so much, but all those hints about Sirius having a future was like a little stab to the heart. And Remus's "next month, you can transform with me"--gah! Stab stab stab.

I am glad you're almost done, but I want to be able to keep reading!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 5th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Can't write because of you ;-)

It's entirely your fault: I read 'Shifts' instead of resuming my own story!
Oh dear, it's June already and you're starting to be cruel to us:
"Do you think I'd be any good at it? I'll have to do something after the war."
"Maybe next month. Minerva will be back from Hogwarts, and she can watch the house for you."
I wanted to yell at Remus "Do it now, it's the last chance you've got!"
Time has moved so quickly that I was a bit shocked to realise how close to his end Sirius was. The only little consolation is that he seems much more happy than at the beginning.

The Cock-and-Bull Cologne is really brilliant and hilarious, especially the part with the Daily Prophet! I don't know how you come with such good ideas.

"He opened the box and looked inside of it for a long time, then put it back. Three days before the full moon was not a time to make emotional decisions."
Ooooh, is this what we think it is?



From: isabela113 Date: February 6th, 2005 12:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I like your approach to Memory charms. I suppose they must work in canon much as you describe, or else Gilderoy Lockhart would have been caught in the course of his "writing". I love the story of Remus' Charms NEWT. Sally MacMillan sounds like a Ravenclaw.

Sirius contemplating the future was a bittersweet moment. (Remus was dead on about his suitability as a teacher. Sirius and Snape are more similar that they would care to admit.) As the DoM draws closer in the timeline, I find myself inserting that into every Sirius scene as a sort of subtext. Definitely makes for interesting reading.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 6th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I, of course, both love and hate the way Sirius is perking up and beginning to enjoy life more as his story draws ever closer to its end... but everyone else has already mentioned that. So I will say that this is my favourite paragraph:

On Friday night, Joe Levinson cheering him at ringside, Dudley Dursley re-took his boxing title to thundrous applause. Remus and Dora sat with Miriam and the Garveys, and cheered with everyone else, though none of them liked boxing at all.

because it reminds me of Jane Austen. JKR would be proud. :)
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 6th, 2005 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
But... there won't be a next month...
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 6th, 2005 05:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, poor Remus, his last chance for a full moon with Padfoot and he doesn't get it. I know everyone else has commented on this, but each scene with Sirius is just AWFUL. Wonderful, but awful, because we all know what's going to happen in just a little while. I am glad that Sirius is getting back to the way he used to be, it shows that he is coming to grips with what has happened to him, and starting to heal. I never liked the idea of Sirius dying at all, let alone sad and miserable. LOVED the scenes with the twins. I've always wondered what happened after they left school. I think that eventually, they would have talked Sirius into becoming a consultant for them, had things worked out differently at the DoM. Lovely, as always. I can't believe it's getting so close to the end. I'm sad :(
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2005 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
It might be because I'm tired, but your sentence "May died in a rush of green and glory," took me a minute to realize May wasn't a person. My initial thought was May? Who's May?

Reading Shifts is like reading canon--I'm so looking forward to the end, but I don't want this to be all there is. That's the best compliment I can give. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 6th, 2005 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Hello, this is Polestar from SQ, and I've been reading this story for quite a while (I hadn't looked at it in a few months and then had a loooooong reading session some time in December when I should have been doing something else), and I thought I should let you know that I love it. I haven't read an awful lot of fanfic, but this has got to be the best I've read. I'm afraid I will be looking for Remus/Tonks signs in new canon from now on...

The Sirius scenes are getting more and more heartbreaking as the DoM battle draws closer. It's really quite painful, now! Next month, indeed...

I laughed out loud for quite a while at the Cock and Bull Cologne and its use on the Daily Prophet. That was just brilliant. I love the way you can insert little details like that into your stories that fit right in with the Wizarding World as Rowling describes it!
katchuri From: katchuri Date: February 6th, 2005 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Love the idea of Cock and Bull Cologne, and the name is wonderful.

...except...

Men's fragance is called "Aftershave" in Britain. Most probably wouldn't understand the word cologne used in that context. We'd know "Eau de Cologne" as a type of perfume (scent) though, but not a specific generalised term for it.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 9th, 2005 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I love how the irony gets heavier as we get closer to the end. It's a great touch, especially in an AU where we all know what the ending is going to be - at least in general.

One typo:
"Dudley Dursley re-took his boxing title to thundrous applause." Thundrous is an older, poetic form of the spelling. The word is really "thunderous".
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