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Shifts, Chapter 35: Infiltration, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 35: Infiltration, pt. 1
In the last chapter, Remus left Smeltings, Dora gave up her flat, and they were both mopey until Sirius jollied them out of it and more or less dared Remus to propose to her. They were almost interrupted by the arrival of Hagrid, who was just sacked from Hogwarts, but managed to get in the question and an answer before they joined the fray.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Hagrid told them the story in a long, disjointed way, punctuating it every few moments with curses he had not used around any of them when they'd been students. Partway through it, Phineas Nigellus made his way through the household portraits to tell them that Minerva was severely injured but perfectly stable in Poppy Pomfrey's care.

Hagrid had known that Umbridge meant to sack him, but he also knew that Dumbledore wanted him to stay. "And there's another thing, a secret thing... I shouldn't have--" He shook his head and went on without elaborating. After the debacle with Sybill Trelawney, Umbridge had decided to sack Hagrid under the cover of darkness, in hopes of avoiding a similar scene. She'd apparently had enough foresight to realize it might not go as planned, and had brought along Aurors and other Ministry workers, who had begin to throw Stunning Spells at him nearly as soon as he opened the door. Minerva McGonagall had come running out of the castle, ready to take them on herself, shouting about justice--"A proper Gryffindor, that one"--but they'd turned on her together and had all hit her at once.

"They're not authorized to do that," Dora said. "McGonagall's not even suspected of being a dark witch, and no one thinks you're a dark wizard. We're not authorized to attack. We're not--"

"Reckon Fudge signed some new decree," Hagrid said bitterly.

Dora took a shaky breath. "I'd best get in to the office and see what's happening. I'll let you all know. And I'll send Mum up to Hogwarts to check on Professor McGonagall."

She started out, then came back and kissed Remus, then left.

Hagrid grinned. "Well, glad to see something good in the world," he said.

Remus put up with half an hour of Sirius detailing the year's events for Hagrid, often with great amusement as he played all the parts.

"Well, I'm glad to know it," Hagrid said at the end. "Of course, I shoulda known anyway, what with how she used to talk about you at Hogwarts. It was Mr. Lupin this and Mr. Lupin that, and I had ter remind myself sometimes that she was talking about a skinny boy who used ter be afraid of heights, rather than Merlin himself talking out of a hawthorn tree for her."

"I imagine I've disabused her of any notions of greatness since then."

"She still seems to like you just fine anyway." Hagrid grinned, then sobered. "I s'ppose I've got ter have a place to stay for the night at least. Would you mind--?"

"You can stay in the main guest room," Sirius said. "It's a very large bed, and you're welcome to keep Fang in with you."

"An' I got a thestral in your back garden. I had ter circle back ter get him, but Dumbledore told me t'come here an' let you lot know what was happening."

"I'm sure he'll be fine. I'll have Kreacher bring him some meat."

"Thank you." Hagrid started up, then looked over his shoulder. "Yeh wouldn't mind if I peeked in on Beaky, would yeh?"

"I'm sure he'll be happy to see you."

Hagrid went on up the stairs, and Remus heard Buckbeak moving about when he opened the door.

"Eleven Death Eaters on the loose that Fudge knows about--even if he's under the impression that one of them is me--and he's wasting Aurors going after Hagrid and dueling with McGonagall?"

"I don't know how he'll justify it. McGonagall's never done a suspicious thing in her life."

"Well, she does have that strict glare, you know. Over the top of her specs." Sirius imitated it. "Clearly dark magic."

Remus laughed despite himself.

Sirius sat down on the stairs. "So, did you do it?"

Remus nodded.

"And?"

"And I hope you haven't forgotten all the rules about being best man."

Sirius let out a whoop that brought Hagrid out of Buckbeak's room, but Remus prodded Sirius not to spread it around at least until Dora had a chance to tell her parents, and Hagrid went back to visiting the hippogriff without learning the cause of the celebration.

"Well," Sirius said, "as head of the family, let me be the first to welcome you to the House of Black, Remus. I'm sure you'll find us a kind-hearted and sober group."

Remus sat down on the stairs, a few risers below Sirius, who had propped his long legs up on the bannister near the landing. "You do realize that Dumbledore has more members of the Black family on his side than Voldemort does. I mean, just by birth alone, it's you, Andromeda, and Dora in the Order. Add in Ted and myself, and it's more than two-to-one."

"Oh, but if we're adding in-laws, we have to add Rodolphus and Lucius, so we're right back to five-to-four."

"Still ahead, though."

"Not if we count Draco."

"Right. Well, perhaps you'll marry. And Ted and Andromeda will have another child. And I'd certainly hope Dora and I have children before Draco decides to."

"Well, then, the House is redeemed." Sirius grinned, obviously considering the entire notion self-evidently ridiculous. "Are you planning to stay here or get a place for yourselves?"

"In the thirty seconds between the proposal and rushing up to see what was happening, we really didn't discuss living arrangements."

"And when--"

"Or wedding dates."

Sirius shrugged. "Well, if I have a vote, I'd say stay here. Your furniture is here, and there's enough room for three families in the house. You can have that big bedroom Hagrid's staying in."

"I'm sure the room I'm staying in will be fine."

"That monastery cell? Don't be an idiot. I'd offer you the master bedroom if it didn't smell like a trapped hippogriff." Sirius got up. "And with that, I think I'll go have a nice talk with Hagrid. You take his bag up there. See how you like the place."

Sirius went on up the stairs and after a moment, Remus heard him engage Hagrid in a conversation. Remus sighed and picked up the tattered bag that Hagrid had brought (a bundle tied up from a bedsheet, Remus supposed from the Hog's Head), and took it up to the guest room on the third floor.

It was a huge, open room with high arching windows that looked out on the back garden. In daylight, he would see the colorful flowers that had run riot there since Mrs. Black had stopped being able to trim them back. Now, in the starlight, it was silver-gray and silent, the velvet draperies at the windows and on the bed deepening from red to black. He imagined Dora standing at the windows, looking over her shoulder and smiling, the starlight caught in her hair. He imagined children standing in the doorway, as he stood now--Are you awake yet, Mummy? And Dora would shift in his arms, where she had slept, and--

"Wotcher, Remus," she said, and for a moment he was so caught in his imagination that he didn't realize she'd actually spoken, and took her small hands sliding around his waist as a figment of a dream. He caught one and kissed it, and she kissed his earlobe.

The nonsensical phrase You are the murderer went through his mind and he realized that he wasn't imagining her. She was there.

He turned and kissed her. "We did actually have that conversation in the kitchen?" he asked.

"I hope so, because I told my mother about it, and she's either very happy or a better actress than she's been for months. Well, as happy as she could be in the midst of cursing the Ministry and rushing off to Hogwarts, anyway."

Remus sighed, coming fully back to reality, and led her down the corridor to Buckbeak's room, where Sirius and Hagrid were still talking.

Hagrid stood up. "Tonks... yer back already?"

She nodded and took a seat. "It didn't take long to guess what was happening at headquarters, and I reckoned I ought to leave quickly. Kingsley's in a right temper, I'll tell you. He was screaming bloody murder at Scrimgeour and Dawlish--they were the ones who went with Umbridge tonight--and Fudge showed up, and he was trying to get a word in edgewise about how they'd been explicitly ordered to go, and Kingsley bellowed out that the Aurors weren't his personal squad of thugs and so on. I'd have added something, but he was doing fine on his own. Plus he started yelling at me that I was off duty and had no reason to be there. I told him I came to get something from my desk. He said as long as I was there, I should go ask Mum to go up to Hogwarts to check on Professor McGonagall. Great minds and so on."

"So you saw your parents?" Sirius asked.

Dora looked at him curiously. "Just Mum. She was on a shift at St. Mungo's. It's over at dawn and she's going up to check then. She'll probably have Madam Pomfrey send Professor McGonagall back with her."

Remus sighed. "We should all get some sleep before she comes. I have a feeling it's going to be a long day."

They drifted off to different parts of the house (Dora again staying in the girls' room), and Remus managed a thin sleep, plagued by odd and surreal dreams, until sunrise. He got up and dressed, and made his way downstairs.

Sirius was lying on his back on the dining room table, his wand pointed at the chandelier on the ceiling, cleaning it with a series of charms. A pair of candlesticks was set to one side of his head, and Remus blinked at him for a very long time. It was a bizarre image, but he knew it from somewhere.

"Are you up?" he asked.

"Obviously."

"I couldn't sleep. Thought I'd get some cleaning done." He sat up, swinging his legs around and sliding off the table. "It's strange. It didn't seem real last night. But when I was alone, I really started worrying about her. McGonagall, I mean. She's a tough old bird. I always liked her. Even when she was giving me detentions."

"I know."

"I hope Andromeda comes and tells us how she is."

"I'm sure she will," Remus said. He sat down. "It is strange, though. Why sack a teacher during the last two weeks of school? He wasn't even holding classes anymore. If she wanted to avoid a scene, why not wait until the students went home?"

"It's a good question. It does sound stupid when you put it that way."

"It's stupid depending on what you'd want to get out of it," Remus said. "It wouldn't do any good at intimidating the students if it just happened over the summer. Students are accustomed to things happening over the summer." He frowned, liking the implications less and less the more he thought about them.

He discussed it with Sirius in a kind of distracted way while they got breakfast and waited to hear from Andromeda. Dora and Hagrid joined them within an hour, and they were all sitting at the table not eating eggs and kippers when Dumbledore arrived.
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Comments
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: February 11th, 2005 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
*antsy*

"And I hope you haven't forgotten all the rules about being best man."

*sniffle* Always the best man, never the groom....
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 11th, 2005 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
"...rules about being best man." *SOB*...*crying*. It's awful, just awful. I'm glad Sirius knew about the wedding, and that he was happy about it. And that he wanted Remus and Tonks to stay in the house. And the talk about kids and outnumbering the rest of the Black family. So happy and optimistic and ... everything. But, still, it's just awful. Knowing what we know. *SOB*...*crying*

I was interested in the conversation about Hagrid being sacked by Umbridge. I never really thought about it before, but it makes perfect sense, and I can't believe I never thought about it. Probably because my school never had that long gap between exams and stuff, so I just ignored it and didn't really realize what it meant. But now, maybe, I think I see what Umbridge was trying to do. She was trying to show everyone that the might of the Ministry cannot be impeded and was trying to intimidate the students into submission so that they wouldn't get out of control over the summer. I hate Umbridge. Bitch.

Great post Fern. Keep 'em coming.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 11th, 2005 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm feeling all warm and squishy and very nearly weeping again. I want it to stop right now and go on forever... both at once, obviously. ;)

You've got a "begin" that ought to be "begun" in the second paragraph.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 11th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
PS: I've just reread the chapter with Remus's dream and now I really am rather awash. It's brilliant, you know. I normally hate gushing but I just can't seem to help it...

I'm sorry, I'll shut up and go study now, like I'm supposed to be doing. :)
awaywithpixie From: awaywithpixie Date: February 11th, 2005 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
"It is strange, though. Why sack a teacher during the last two weeks of school? He wasn't even holding classes anymore. If she wanted to avoid a scene, why not wait until the students went home?"


Yes, it is a very good question. I can't think why I have never thought it before. I did enjoy them counting the number of Blacks on each side. Seems like you've captured the things that Sirius might be thinking about as he is going stir crazy in his confinement.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 11th, 2005 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I am really dreading chapters to come... and listening to Barb/Becky's "Afterwards" didn't help...

(That is, I'm dreading Sirius's death - I love your fic).
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 11th, 2005 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
The nonsensical phrase You are the murderer went through his mind and he realized that he wasn't imagining her. She was there.

Sirius was lying on his back on the dining room table, his wand pointed at the chandelier on the ceiling, cleaning it with a series of charms. A pair of candlesticks was set to one side of his head, and Remus blinked at him for a very long time. It was a bizarre image, but he knew it from somewhere.

Oooh, these parts give me the shivers.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 11th, 2005 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
That's an excellent point.

Just what was Umbridge up to, trying to sack Hagrid in this fashion?
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 11th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
She got rid of Hagrid in a public way when everything that happened was in Harry's line of vision and also while he was taking a test for his OWLs. All that, just to get at Harry?

Well, doing it publically at a time when the teachers were there, which they wouldn't have been once school let out, might have been a wider range of intimidation. But, if getting rid of McGonagall wasn't just a lucky coincidence (from Umbridge's POV), then this was part of a plan to remove the people most likely to protect Harry. If the end of the school year was Umbridge's deadline for getting the results Fudge wanted, she's down to the wire.

Those are my guesses, anyhow.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 11th, 2005 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi Fern - I've been following this story for a while now (I saw a recommendation from "After the Rain" on Fiction Alley). I just never got around to posting an appreciation before, for which I apologise.

Anyway, I like this a lot, which I why I sought out the LiveJournal version rather than waiting for it to go up elsewhere! When I first heard the concept "Remus teaches Dudley at Smeltings, Tonks plays his wife, they fall for each other" I thought "but that's just silly and contrived, isn't it?" Well, it could have been, but it's all in the execution, and you've handled it beautifully.

The bits of magical background work well; Dudley actually seems - well, not actually likeable, but at any rate less unlikeable; I like the way you develop Sirius throughout the year and let him get out occasionally; and I can only admire the way you work in the canon events so smoothly and fill in bits we didn't get to see in the books (such as Dumbledore's actions after leaving Hogwarts). And Remus and Tonks are quite sweet, although perhaps a little bit too comfortable - it's about time Remus got in touch with his inner passion! I'll be watching keenly for the remaining parts.

Couple of random points: it took me a while to realise that "Add to the Jedi archives" was the comments link. A discreet link saying "comments" as well would have helped ... And as to why Umbridge chose that particular moment to throw Hagrid out: I was re-reading that bit of OotP the other day, and remember that it struck me then that it comes immediately after the second incident where a Niffler gets into her office, and she goes absolutely berserk. As she thought Hagrid was doing it, I suspect that might have been her motivation - petty and nasty, yes, but pettiness and nastiness are very much in her character.

Regards

"SnorkackCatcher" (at Fiction Alley and Chamber of Secrets)
beaustylo From: beaustylo Date: February 11th, 2005 11:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Very good chapter. It's so full of imagery and so many different emotions. I especially liked how you brought in elements of Remus's dream/nightmare from earlier.

I think I must be nearly as nervous as you about the final act. I'm anticipating seeing your take on it, but I know when the death comes I'll feel it just as keenly as the first time. Which is actually good in a way, because I've had too much distance from those feelings since the release of OotP until now, so this will prepare us for Book 6 all the more.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 11th, 2005 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very true! And we'll have a sense of what it might have been like for the Order.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 11th, 2005 01:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
*shudders* So much forshadowing imagery in that chapter. Poor Sirius...*sigh*

But that being said - at least in this fic, when he dies, he isn't at rock bottom. He has things to look forward to, like the wedding, like seeing Harry again and although it is tragic that he did not get to experience these things, at least he isn't going to die after long hours of feeling alone and desolate with nothing positive to hold onto at all.

I'm not sure if that made sense or not - I can only hope. ;)
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: February 11th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
The last several chapters have been really great, Fern. You are the queen of cliff-hangers. And I'm so glad Remus proposed to Tonks!

"Well, she does have that strict glare, you know. Over the top of her specs." Sirius imitated it. "Clearly dark magic."

Love this line - it made me laugh.
From: isabela113 Date: February 12th, 2005 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus' dreams of the future are both wonderfully sweet and terribly sad. I know that there isn't any reason to believe that he won't end up happy in canon, but we already know that if he gets there, the road won't be easy.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 12th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
All right, I'm tired and can't for the life of me figure out...

1. The "You are the murderer" stuff.
2. The image of Sirius and the candlesticks.

What am I missing here, people?
(Deleted comment)
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 12th, 2005 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant. That's fantastic imagery, now that I can see it again. :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 12th, 2005 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 12th, 2005 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yikes, that threading didn't work well. Thanks for the link.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 13th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Been catching up with the past few chapters - excellent stuff, again. I loved the way you did the proposal scene earlier. Here, the talk about Sirius being the best man... Oh, just make it hurt the most it can, won't you? Bah, I should go back to studying but I really want to keep reading what you've written so far. In any case, I'm really looking forward to the remaining chapters. Although they will probably be quite painful.

- Polestar
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