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Shifts, Chapter 34: Impending Doom, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 34: Impending Doom, pt. 3
Hmm. Ended up changing my mind about a few things I'd planned here.

As things wind down, Sirius is in a manically good mood, Remus is not (because he's having to give up his job again), and both Sirius and Dora are quite focused on Bella and Narcissa.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus invigilated examinations on Monday and Tuesday mornings, and used the afternoons to mark the exams he'd set himself in the lower years. Most of the students did quite well, which pleased him. Dora began bringing the Wolfsbane Potion during lunch, but she was subdued and didn't stay long. She had been packing up their flat, and slowly moving all of her furniture to the empty rooms at Grimmauld Place. Remus's desk was now in the drawing room, across from the family tree, and Dora's bookcase was in the room the girls shared when they stayed. Her private belongings were going to her parents' home, where she was staying until she found a new place.

He had no further invigilation duties and classes had been suspended for the year, so Blythe told him that he was welcome to take the remaining days off if he so chose. He didn't choose to do so--time was short enough as it was--and spent Wednesday cleaning out his desk and talking to students who came by to wish him well. Most of them weren't quite finished with exams yet and were nervous, and Remus tried to calm them down, reminding them that they knew their material and would certainly do well.

Daniel Morse came in at one o'clock, following a maths exam, shortly after Dora had left. The empty thermos was in a box with the few belongings that had collected in Remus's desk throughout the year. Daniel trailed directly behind Alan, who pulled him gently around and said, "Lewis, Morse here wants a word with you."

"I don't have to," Daniel whispered.

"Say whatever you need to say," Remus told him, pulling out a chair. Alan ducked into the corridor, and Remus heard him spreading out papers in a fan around himself.

Daniel sat down and stared at his own hands, grasping a spiral notebook, for quite a long time, then said quietly, without looking up, "I wish you wouldn't go."

Remus came around the desk and pulled his rolling chair out to sit across from him. "Thank you, Daniel."

Daniel looked up, eyes wide. "Mr. Levinson doesn't let me talk much, and no one else ever came to fencing matches to see me even though I'm no good at all at it--"

"You're just beginning," Remus said. "Very few people are exceptionally good at things the first time they try them."

"Still, my mum says it's not very interesting to watch people bumbling about..."

Remus bit his tongue to avoid insulting Daniel's mother (as he had frequently done when the subject of Neville Longbottom's grandmother had come up, though he knew and liked that particular lady in other circumstances). "You're very good at many things, Daniel."

"School things."

"It's good to be good at school things. And Mr. Levinson has promised to keep up the history club. Stephen Wells has got him up to date about it, and he's very excited. So you'll still be able to one-up anyone around when it comes to gruesome diseases."

Daniel laughed, despite himself. "I suppose."

Inspiration struck. "And--I don't know why I never thought of this before but--Mr. Garvey?" he called. "Are you still out there?"

Alan leaned around the door frame. "Right here."

Daniel looked at him curiously. "What is it?"

"Well," he said, "you do want to keep fencing, don't you?"

Daniel nodded.

"Did you know that Mr. Garvey has some sort of sword-fighting business that goes on after school?"

"Right," Alan said with great gusto (perhaps overdoing the performance, but Remus was grateful for the effort). "It's a little offshoot from the Society for Creative Anachronism. Do you know what that is?"

Daniel shook his head, entirely bewildered.

"Well, there's quite a lot of gory business to learn," Alan said. "Come see me in September." He went back to his exam papers.

"There you are," Remus said. "Sword-fighting and gory history. You'll have a lovely year."

Daniel smiled, but it faltered quickly and he bit his lip hard. Remus pretended not to see the tears he was trying to blink away. "Will you remember me?" he asked in a small voice.

"Absolutely," he said, reaching across and mussing Daniel's curly hair with one hand.

"Every time you pick up some horrible disease, right?" Daniel sniffed and smiled, rolling his eyes at himself.

"At every sniffle." Remus smiled back at him and handed him a tissue from the box on Alan's desk; Daniel took it and wiped his nose and cheeks. "There," Remus said. "It will all be fine."

Daniel nodded. "I'd... I'd best go wash my face. I shouldn't go out on the grounds... you know."

"A wise precaution. You may use the staff toilets up the corridor if you like."

Daniel disappeared, and Alan came back into the office, putting the exams on his desk to mark. Remus went out onto the grounds.

Jittery boys were quizzing one another under trees and those who were finished were releasing the pent up nervous energy on the playing fields. None of them took much notice of him today.

"Lewis."

He turned. He was walking by the willow near the stream, and the voice had come from behind the curtain of leaves.

"Dudley?"

The leaves parted, a ham-sized fist pulling them aside.

Remus walked under it.

Dudley leaned against the trunk of the tree, his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed. "So I was right," he said. "You did whatever you came to do, and now you're letting Mr. Levinson come back."

"I was here to protect you, Dudley."

"And now, I don't need protection any more."

"We're going to extend the charm that protects you at home to protect you here."

"Right."

"Why wouldn't you believe that?"

"Like you lot give a damn about us?"

Remus shook his head and started to leave. He wanted to take Dudley and shake him, but, as it was his own fault for doing the memory modification, it didn't quite seem fair. He stopped when he reached the leaves. "You know, Dudley, it might help if you gave a damn in return."

"Like there's anything I could do, anyway."

"You have sharp eyes," Remus said. "Keep them open."

Dudley snorted.

Remus went back to the office, gathered his things, and left Smeltings.

Sirius tried to jolly him out of a low mood at home, and he did his best to go along with it, but he still felt tired and out of sorts. He took the evening's Wolfsbane Potion from the cauldron Dora had set up in the kitchen, and had just finished it when she arrived with a large box of cutlery from her kitchen. She sat down across the table from him and sighed. "I gave my landlady a notice of intent to vacate," she said. "It's mostly empty now."

"How's the search for a new place?" Sirius asked.

"I'm not really looking," she admitted. "Not yet. Though I hope my being home doesn't, er, distract my parents."

"Distract them?"

She smiled. "There's a reason Mum's mood has been better lately."

"Oh. Well, no one has ever succeeded in distracting them before. I'm sure they'll be fine." Sirius grinned.

Remus excused himself to go clean his mouth before he kissed her, and when he came back, she was sitting on the table and Sirius was going through the Daily Prophet, looking at advertisements for open flats.

"How about this one?" he asked, and read alound. "'Spacious flat, near Gringotts. Security charms unsurpassed'--"

"They've clearly never been here," Dora said.

"'--and a commanding view of Diagon Alley's business district.'"

"In other words, it's a flat above a store on a busy street."

Remus leaned over and kissed her, then sat down beside her and took her hand. "You could look at the Muggle listings again. In a different neighborhood."

"No. I'd rather not lie to all of my neighbors again."

"Understandable."

"I suppose I just don't want to go to some nameless, meaningless temporary place."

"Well," Sirius said, "not to repeat myself, but you could certainly move in here. Join your furniture."

"And about half of my clothes," Dora agreed, then shook her head. "No. I don't feel right with it."

Sirius rolled his eyes and threw his hands in the air, then abruptly looked at Remus. "Come on, Moony. Solve her housing problems."

Dora's jaw dropped, and she raised a finger first at Sirius, and then, changing her mind, at Remus. "If you propose to me to 'solve my housing problems,' I will never speak to you again."

Remus kissed her finger and said, "I wouldn't dream of it."

"Well, propose to her for something, will you?" Sirius said. "Honestly, how long are you going to keep me waiting?"

"You do realize that you won't actually be present for a proposal, don't you?" Remus asked. "Your presence is a bit of a hindrance."

Sirius laughed, but made no move to leave. He took out a deck of cards, and dealt them instead, and they played a desultory game until after midnight, talking and laughing. By the time they'd finished, Remus's melancholy fit had passed, and Dora was looking at the advertisements herself--still finding each listing lacking in some regard, but doing so in much better spirits. After the last hand, she slipped easily into his open arm and hugged him.

"My work is done," Sirius announced, cleaning up the cards. "You've both stopped moping, and now, I believe I will stop being a hindrance."

He left without saying another word.

"You don't need to," Dora said. "I'm quite comfortable, really. And I'm perfectly all right with the notion of staying with my parents. I know it's unfashionable, but I rather like them."

"Well, I wouldn't want to do it with you thinking that Sirius bullied me into it, at any rate."

"What would you want me thinking?"

Remus could actually hear his heart pounding as he pulled her closer and kissed her forehead. He turned his chair around so that he was facing her, and took both of her hands. "I'd want you thinking that it's because I've loved being your husband this year. That I don't want it to end. That I love you, and my life makes more sense with you in it, even though I think we're both utterly mad most of the time."

"I could imagine those things." She smiled gently. "And I wouldn't want you thinking that I'd say yes because I need a place to live."

"Really."

"Really. I mean, I've loved you since I was a little girl, and I love being your wife, and I want it all. You, a home, babies." She looked up at him with some uncertainty, and he kissed her.

"I think they'll be beautiful," he said.

She closed her eyes. "One of us should actually ask a question," she said. "So the other one can answer."

Remus took a deep breath. "All right," he said. "It's a good point. Then, er..."

Upstairs, the door crashed open, and Mrs. Black awoke in a fury. Someone was bellowing, and a dog--not Sirius--began to bark weakly.

"Damn!" Dora said, getting up.

Remus followed her to the stairs, but caught her at the bottom before she turned around. "Before whatever the catastrophe is," he said. "Will you marry me?"

"Yes." She smiled and closed her eyes. "Yes, yes, yes. I can say it as many times as you'd like to hear it."

"I doubt that."

The bellowing upstairs became clearer. Dora kissed him quickly. "Catastrophe," she said.

Remus nodded.

"...ruddy Ministry! Go' Fang here!"

Dora frowned and ran up the stairs. "Hagrid?"

Remus came up around her, and, indeed, found Hagrid in the entrance hall, sitting on the floor with a dazed-looking Fang. Sirius came running from the attic.

"Hagrid!" he said. "What on Earth are you doing here?"

"That ruddy Umbridge woman! Had Aurors chase me out!" He looked at Dora. "No offense."

"None taken. What were they doing there?"

"Don't know. She was going to sack me; I reckon she didn't want me putting up a fight about leaving."

"Is Fang all right?" Sirius asked, kneeling beside the dog with a concerned look.

"Fang'll be fine," Hagrid said. "Only one of the bastards got him. It's Professor McGonagall I'm worried about."

"Minerva?" Remus asked. "What happened to her?"

"She came an' tried to help me. And all six of them shot her. I don't even know if she's alive."
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Comments
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danel4d From: danel4d Date: February 9th, 2005 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I like this. So wonderful in so many ways - Dudley back to his old self, Hagrid's arrival... and of the course the proposal.
Yay.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 9th, 2005 08:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm really torn between "I love you" and "I hate you in the best possible way" right now... just so you know. Once again, the ending is infuriatingly inspired, and I'm not sure I've mentioned this before but I love how easily you move between scenes. You often cover a lot of ground in these relatively short sections but it doesn't feel like you're rushing things or just picking up the action and plunking ot down someplace else. Another thing I've been admiring in the last few sections is how neatly you're winding down so at the end of the story, things will be status quo with the end of the book, ready to be picked up again at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince... I mean, I know you know you're doing it, but I love how naturally you're doing it.

I need to stop raving and go to bed now. The one edit thing I noticed immediately on one readthrough is the missing word "us" in Dora's "one of us needs to ask so the other can asnwer" line.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 9th, 2005 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Picked it up; thanks.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 9th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow! What a lovely proposal scene! Love the interaction between Sirius, Remus and Dora. And the conversation leading up the proposal was golden. When Remus proposed to her right before the "catastrophe", it made my heart ache a bit. Impending doom, indeed! The ending with Hagrid is spot on as well. All in all, lovely job (as usual)!

I will so miss Shifts when it's finished (guess I'll just have to start from the beginning and read it all again at HB or SQ). :) You can't know how many mornings I've gotten out of bed just to read the updates. It's a wonderful way to start my day! Thanks, Mary
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 9th, 2005 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Proposal! Hurrah! :)

Nice chapter. It never occurred to be before that Hagrid might have gone to Grimmauld Place. I wonder how he got to London though - it's a good question, are people who aren't allowed to do magic allowed to use floo powder, the Knight Bus and such? Or perhaps he flew down on Sirius' motorbike?

Random thoughts there. But good part. :)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 9th, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Hagrid! :(

And... I just can't look...

sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 9th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
If I were the sort of person who cried over books and movies, this installment would definitely have me crying. It's got an overall bittersweet melancholy, and then the farewell scene with Daniel, and the interrupted proposal scene, and MgGonagall may be dead...!

You, my dear, are bloody brilliant, just like The Lady herself.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 9th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew they'd be engaged at the end! That gives me all sorts of warm fuzzies. And it DOES TO work with canon because there was no reason for them to tell Harry at the end and if Harry didn't know then we wouldn't know. So there.

Thanks. I needed something happy before the rest of the story happened.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 9th, 2005 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I knew they'd be engaged at the end!

Heh, you were a step ahead of me. Right up until Remus actually stopped her and made her turn around before they ran upstairs, I was going to leave the proposal interrupted and unanswered.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 9th, 2005 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
"And all six of them shot her" -- would he really use that verb? I'd expect "stunned" or maybe "hexed".
Anyway, yet another good chapter. I was glad to see that the impending catastrophe made Remus forget how he doesn't trust himself coming up on a change, and got him to do the right thing instead of trying to walk away from things as he had in past situations. I am starting to wonder how you can put a real ending on this story when the end of OotP is so inconclusive, though.
Hexnut
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 9th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
"And all six of them shot her" -- would he really use that verb? I'd expect "stunned" or maybe "hexed".

:headdesk:

This is what comes of writing quickly.

It's a good thing I have people to catch this stuff for me.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: February 9th, 2005 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Oh, wow.

I really like the way they stop and take just a moment for themselves "before the catastrophe," when they know there's only so much difference precipitating themselves right in will do and they really do have something important, if less urgent, that deserves its own moment. Even a half-stolen one.

I think you did a really good job of letting the reader stop and focus there, too, before fixing us again on what we know is going on from canon that has to be worried about.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: February 9th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like the way they stop and take just a moment for themselves "before the catastrophe," when they know there's only so much difference precipitating themselves right in will do and they really do have something important, if less urgent, that deserves its own moment. Even a half-stolen one.

What she said, Fern. :-) That moment brought tears.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 9th, 2005 09:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love the proposal! So very perfect for Tonks and Remus. Not fancy or fussy, just sincere and heartfelt. "You, a home, babies." Awww, I love it so much :) And the scene with Daniel in Remus's office was lovely. For someone who wants so much to be accepted, hearing that must have been both wonderful and awful for Remus. Just like it is for us. Great job Fern. I know I've said it before, but, YOU ROCK!
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: February 10th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved that first Sirius, then Dora had to push Remus into the proposal. It's *so* in character that he would procrastinate forever about it, but at the end he rose to the occasion. Very IC for both, I think that wasn't an easy thing to do - too easy to go smarmy. You pulled it off brilliantly, Fern.
From: inyron Date: February 9th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Yes." She smiled and closed her eyes. "Yes, yes, yes. I can say it as many times as you'd like to hear it."

"I doubt that."



Awwww. Just lovely.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 9th, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! That was sooooooooo cute!!!! What a proposal.

And little Daniel, that was adorable! Gah, I remember how scared I was about McGonagall when i first read it...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 10th, 2005 01:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Tell me about it! How smart was JKR to play the hype game, revealing a major character death when she knew she was going to just about kill everyone fans would suspect? I was sure Arthur was a goner, too.
mrs_norris_mous From: mrs_norris_mous Date: February 9th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I gave my landlady a notice of intent to vacate,"

This is a bit on the formal side, I would expect "I gave the landlady my notice". In general thats something we can't do as we have something called a "short term assured tenancy" which usually has a period of either six months or a year.
uraneia From: uraneia Date: February 10th, 2005 01:06 am (UTC) (Link)

Sniff

I love Daniel. I love that he's just enough like Remus that Remus understands him perfectly. I love Remus for being the teacher who wants to understand. And I love Sirius for: "Honestly, how long are you going to keep me waiting?" and: "You've both stopped moping, and now, I believe I will stop being a hindrance."

I'd hate myself for loving the proposal, but, come on. How sweet was that? Just... wow. Thanks for writing the whole deal. I feel a bit guilty for not commenting more often, but there you have it. Is this the end, or is there an epilogue? Can you hold off with it til July 15? *ducks nasty glares of other Fern fans* It's so sweet right where it is...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 10th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sniff

Oh, no. I'm going all the way through. There's an epilogue, but there are three or four more chapters before I get to it.
raistmimi From: raistmimi Date: February 10th, 2005 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Perhaps I should have done my homework...

Hello. I found this fic at two o'clock, and I just finished it. It was all lovely.
Tonks is still uncertain sometimes, even after everything that has passed between them. That merits an 'Awwww.' Silly Tonks. You read Hadria together. Of course the love is cemented!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 10th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Perhaps I should have done my homework...

Welcome aboard--glad to meet you! :) Sorry you're coming on board just as things are going to hell!
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