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Shifts, Chapter 37: Safe Havens, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 37: Safe Havens, pt. 2
Chapter Sixteen (Fraying) is up at SQ. Took out the reference to Harry being born at St. Mungo's (since I developed a birth theory later) and put in one referring to Remus looking after him, with accidental baby-magic involved.

This is looking like a short chapter, actually; it's finished in two segments instead of three, and this second one is a bit short. But it's aftermath. Aftermath doesn't tend to take as long.

Remus was taking the five D.A. members back to Hogwarts on Dumbledore's instruction.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The first thing Remus noticed when he arrived in the office he'd occupied for a year was that Dolores Umbridge had covered every surface with cheap lace, bows, and plates with badly painted cats on them, and it made him inexplicably teary, despite knowing it was an absurd thing to notice, let alone worry about at this particular moment in time. He fought an overpowering, childish urge to set Hermione down and blast it all away.

"Professor Lupin?" Luna prodded. "The flames."

He looked over his shoulder at the fireplace, where the flames had gone green. A moment later, Moody appeared, Dora held tightly in his arms.

"Are you all right, Lupin?" he asked.

"I'm tired," Remus said. "Let's get them to Madam Pomfrey."

Very briefly, he considered casting a Mobilicorpus charm on Ron and Ginny--Hermione was too badly injured to risk the kind of jostling that could entail--but opted against it. He was too tired. He wasn't sure he could levitate a feather at the moment, let alone two teenagers. He took the lead and Moody took the rearguard, with Luna, Neville, and the Weasley children walking between them as they made their way to the hospital wing.

Poppy Pomfrey had fallen asleep at her desk, a quill dripping pointlessly onto a parchment form she'd been filling out, and Ginny reached out to wake her up. She jumped, and her hands flew to her heart when she saw the group assembled there. She was alert immediately, taking charge, assigning beds. She looked at Hermione and Dora and said to Remus, "They need to be in St. Mungo's."

Remus nodded dully. "Dumbledore wanted them here for now. He's going to speak to Andromeda Tonks to tell her what's happened and ask her to come help with Dora and the others. He should--"

"He sent Kingsley," Moody said. "I contacted him to let him know we'd arrived safely, and he told me. He was in a rush to get back to Potter."

"Harry's injured?" Poppy asked.

Remus shook his head, not wanting to have the conversation, letting Moody tell her what had happened at the Department of Mysteries. Dumbledore was right, of course, going to Harry. But if he couldn't go himself, it should have fallen to Remus... but he couldn't abandon the children... and what would Andromeda say if she found him anywhere but with Dora? And...

He was suddenly pushed into a soft chair, and found a blanket around his shoulders. Madam Pomfrey was looking at him with great concern. "Remus, you look terrible."

"I'm fine. I wasn't even hit."

"Yes, you were," she said. "And the full moon is Sunday night. Have you taken your potion?"

He thought about the wasted potion earlier that night, about Kreacher injuring Buckbeak, about Sirius raging and the frightened look on Dora's face, and had it really only been a handful of hours ago?

"How is Dora?" he asked.

"Nymphadora Tonks?" Poppy asked.

"Yes, Tonks. She hates being called Nymphadora, though. How is she? Please don't call her Nymphadora."

Poppy frowned at him, then pulled the blanket more tightly over his shoulders. "She'll be all right. She needs rest, but Moody seems to have repaired all of her major injuries. Would you like to sit by her while I tend the others?"

She didn't wait for an answer, simply charmed the chair to carry Remus over to Dora's bedside. Dora was lying still on the mattress, her hair reverting to its natural wavy black as she slept deeply. He took her hand numbly and held it to his face. It was cold and clammy.

He wasn't aware of thinking anything in particular, even when Andromeda and Ted arrived. Andromeda was weeping, but after she was certain that Dora's injuries were healed, she helped Poppy with the others. Ted sat across the bed from Remus, holding Dora's other hand and not talking. Remus was vaguely aware that Dumbledore came in and spoke to Poppy. The question, "What may I tell Harry about their condition?" seemed to float at him from that general direction.

Out of nowhere, there was a sharp pain in his cheek, and he looked up to see Ted withdrawing his open hand, looking intensely worried.

"Remus, are you even here?"

Remus nodded. "I'm sorry. I couldn't stay with her. They... the others... the children..."

"Of course you couldn't, and she wouldn't have forgiven you if you had. She's an Auror." His voice was full of pride and bitterness. He looked down at her face. "When she decided on this particular business, Andi and I tried to talk her out of it. Do something a bit safer. But she wouldn't hear of it."

A few minutes later, Andromeda came back to the bed. She'd informed Dumbledore that she'd be taking Dora back to St. Mungo's. Dumbledore hadn't objected--he didn't think Dora was as clear a target as the children because she was less connected to Harry. They asked if he was coming, and he had no idea what to say. He hadn't seen Harry since Bellatrix had made her escape, and he thought he should, but Harry was talking to Dumbledore now, and it was a long overdue conversation.

And Dora... he wanted to be with her when she regained consciousness. He needed to be the one to tell her what had happened to Sirius--Andromeda and Ted hadn't been there, and besides, it was he who had offered to be her husband, an offer she had accepted. He belonged at her side.

The haze descended again, threatening to prevent any decision, but he forced his mind to function. Harry was safe, among people who loved him and knew what he had been through. Remus's responsibility now was to Dora. It was his job to comfort her.

Andromeda got Dora prepared for transport, and Remus said his goodbyes to the children (Ginny, her ankle fully healed, hugged him fiercely and told him that he would be all right, which seemed odd, as he hadn't been injured.) Then he followed Ted, Andromeda, and Dora back to London.

Dora slept for the full length of the day, propped into a near sitting position by pillows for medical reasons that Remus only vaguely understood. Remus, Ted, and Andromeda watched her in uneven shifts. Mehadi Patil brought Remus morning and noon doses of Wolfsbane Potion without comment. For a time, Kingsley and Moody were there, and close to suppertime, they carefully led Minerva McGonagall downstairs to visit. She gathered herself and spoke very highly of Sirius to them all, while reassuring them that she'd always thought Dora was strong and healthy. After they took her back to her own bed, Moody and Kingsley left.

As the sun set, Ted suggested that they go back to the house and get some rest. Andromeda didn't seem to have the strength to argue with him.

"Come with us, Remus," Ted said. "You've been up for two days, and a lot has happened. You need rest."

Remus shook his head. "No. I'll stay here. I'd rather be here."

"You really do love her, don't you?" Andromeda asked.

"Yes."

She nodded. "Good. I'm glad. Stay." She let Ted lead her out.

The hospital was growing quiet as night fell, and weariness was beginning to overcome Remus at last when he heard Dora's voice.

"Remus?"

He looked up, wondering if he'd fallen asleep and imagined it, but Dora's eyes were open and troubled. He leaned over the bed and kissed her cheeks and her forehead and her lips. "Dora," he whispered.

"Is everyone all right?" she asked.

Remus took a deep breath. "No."

She opened her mouth to ask what had happened, but something changed in her face. Her eyes widened and she bit her lip. "Sirius?" she asked.

Remus nodded. "He... Bellatrix sent him through that veil. He..." His throat locked up.

Dora put her hand over her face, and her body shook with tears. When the first wave passed, she held the hand out to him, and he took it in both of his. "How are you?" she asked.

Remus opened his mouth to tell her that he was unharmed, to say something to comfort her, to tell her that she didn't need to worry about him, only about healing herself.

But nothing at all came out.

She looked at him expectantly for a moment, then seemed to become very alarmed. She opened her arms. "Remus?" she said. "Remus, come here. Come to me."

He sat gingerly on the edge of her bed and again tried to say something. Nothing came out.

She folded him into her arms, and the world was full of the clean smell of her skin and hair. Her fingers traced gently over his head as she held him to her.

The haze and fog disappeared, and it was like ripping a bandage from an infected wound. There was pain, bright, clear, powerful, and utterly without words.

"It's all right," she said. "It's all right."

The tears seemed to be torn from him, as though fate had punched a hand into his chest and ripped them out. They weren't quiet tears, slipping out around his defenses, but great, braying sobs that he was certain would tear him in two.

"I'm sorry..." he managed somehow. "I'm sorry... I meant... to comfort... you..."

"Shhh."

"I..." But no more words would come.

"It's all right," she said again, holding him tightly. "I'm here. You're safe. Your Dora is here."

He couldn't have said how long they remained there. By the time the tears finally stopped, his eyes were sore and he couldn't have spoken through his aching throat if he had tried. She took her wand from the nightstand and expanded the bed slightly, and he lay down on top of the covers beside her. There, in her arms, he finally slept.
33 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 19th, 2005 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
... *sob*
And - are you all right? Is this ten times more soul-wrenching to write than it is to read? Hugs, in any case.
nicolen From: nicolen Date: February 19th, 2005 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Just wow. I'm speechless.

I've been reading Shifts for quite a while, but I'm fairly sure I haven't commented before. The whole story has been phenomenal, but this is really the most devastating scene so far. In any case, it's the first time that it's left me in tears.

Poor, poor Remus. I'm so pleased that Dora was there for him when he needed her to be.

FernWithy, you must be absolutely shattered after writing the last few posts. You've written an absolutely fantastic story, and it's something I look forward to reading every day. Thank you.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 19th, 2005 09:16 am (UTC) (Link)
That was just....

*speechless*

Wow. So moving, so sad and so completely in character for Remus. The most realistic Remus aftermath reaction I've seen.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and sob for a bit....
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: February 19th, 2005 09:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought nothing could possibly be more heartwrenching that reading Sirius' death.

I was evidently wrong.

::goes off in search of tissues... again::
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 19th, 2005 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dora has a heck of a lot of strength, just for that line. "And how are you?"

I do think she'd be a tad more shocked - he *was* the only relative she had left that she had respect for. Or was she putting on a face?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2005 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
She's not exactly putting on a face, but she's realizing that she's had a day to sleep and rest and Remus has been awake for about forty-eight hours and is in shock.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 19th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fair point... and really, he needs her. He's been comforting people over death and such for years, it ought to be *his* turn to get hugged.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: February 19th, 2005 12:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
And fate is just the word.

Augh
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: February 19th, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. Reading it in such small installments, I hadn't quite cried yet, but this really did it. Poor Remus, insisting so bemusedly that he wasn't injured, and then breaking down in Dora's arms--they really are right for each other. And I think a short chapter is best here. Anything more would be too much. As it is, it is just right. I haven't commented before on LJ, and I never really use mine, but I'm friending you, ok?
harmonicalesson From: harmonicalesson Date: February 19th, 2005 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh man. Now I'm going to be walking around sighing tragically all day and people will ask me what's wrong, but I won't be able to explain it. That was just...well...*sigh*
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
The last few segments have all been heart-wrenching, but this is the one that really made me tear up. (And I almost never cry at things I read...) You did a wonderful job of showing Remus' breakdown after the fog of denial and exhaustion disappeared. But there's also hope that Remus and Dora can help each other heal.

Lorelei Lynn
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now I'm in tears. That was just beautiful. Wish I could say more, but I feel like I'm in shock as much as Remus. Great writing! Mary
likeafox From: likeafox Date: February 19th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damn it, I hadn't cried at this yet....

Fern, you did a fabulous job with this chapter (as always) I suppose my reaction went along perfectly with Remus's: shock during the last few instalments, then finally crying in this one. There's honestly no higher praise I can give you than to say you made me as the reader feel exactly what your character felt. Wow.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sob.

Sniff. OK, control for a moment. You are a fantastic writer. I just want you to know that.

And now I'll go back to crying quietly.

Ellynne
affabletoaster From: affabletoaster Date: February 19th, 2005 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
There, in her arms, he finally slept.

"I'll sleep in your embrace at last!"
Yes, there is a Les Mis quote for everything.
maglors_finch From: maglors_finch Date: February 19th, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is... well, I don't think I've ever read a better fic dealing with the aftermath of the Veil - and this includes about every Remus/Sirius slash story I've ever come across. Great job!
From: nothing_gold Date: February 19th, 2005 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sob*

Ginny, her ankle fully healed, hugged him fiercely and told him that he would be all right, which seemed odd, as he hadn't been injured.

Oh God. Poor Remus. *hugs him*
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 19th, 2005 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern.
You. Are. A. Wonderful. Writer.
We (those of us reading your lovely fic) expect a sequel to this. You do realize that, right?

::sobbing, sobbing, sobbing::
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: February 19th, 2005 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was beautiful. Remus' initial shock and delayed reaction struck me as incredibly canon and true to him. Thank you.
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: February 19th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
It takes quite a lot to move me to tears when I'm reading, but this...it was such a perfect rendition of the shock and sorrow of a loved one dying. I couldn't have not been affected.

I'm going to miss this story so much when it's over, I don't know what I'll do.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 19th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the way all the children are taking care of Remus, even though he doesn't realize yet how much he needs it.

plates with badly painted cats on them
**giggle** Umbridge's taste in decorating is horrid, isn't it.

Poor Remus. He's in for a terrible, awful, horrible transformation this moon.
of_polyhymnia From: of_polyhymnia Date: February 19th, 2005 09:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your writing. It's lovely.

And I think this was the saddest section yet.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Fall

This story has been like watching a slow motion accident, especially the last few chapters. You see it coming, you KNOW it's going to hurt, but there is nothing you can do to stop it. Now the actual trajedy is over and the mangled corpses are coming into focus. I won't say I've cried, but your work certainly affects my emotional state. I'd love to see Remus interacting with Dudley after this. Dudley will get a new one torn if he shows his (trademark) insensitivity. Thank you for sharing this work.
-BookWorm848
From: isabela113 Date: February 20th, 2005 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely lovely.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 20th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Art for you.

I still can't say enough how much I love this story and how much I love your writing, in general. You write the whole emotional range, from joy to pathos and from intensity to apathy, with such skill.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2005 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much!

(Everyone, click over--it's a great pic!)
kinderjedi From: kinderjedi Date: February 20th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Absolutely heart-wrenching. Like others have said above, I loved how the children were looking after Remus. And then Dora, looking after him also. Beautiful.





From: (Anonymous) Date: February 20th, 2005 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was beautiful. Remus' initial shock and delayed reaction struck me as incredibly canon and true to him.

I completely agree with that review. Remus doesn't realise that he must look terrible and keep wondering why the others ask him if he's alright. I always thought reading OotP that Remus's grief must have shown a lot because even Harry noticed it through is own terrible grief and guilt.

I can't tell you how glad I am that Dora is here to get him out of his shell shocked state. I'm glad he has her and I'm trying not to think that he doesn't in the books because it's too painful to imagine him grieving alone.
Miniual
sreya From: sreya Date: February 20th, 2005 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
*keening*

I've been catching up on the week's posts, and... and... *sniffle*

And I almost never cry while reading!

The scene with the children, while waiting for Harry and Dumbledore, was so very poignant. Waiting and not knowing is such an awful feeling, and it really launched into the limbo that continued until here -- waiting for the impact, waiting to discover what the aftermath really be... waiting to see how the world has changed.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: February 20th, 2005 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was absolutely wonderful. I echo all the praise each of the readers above have written. I will be actually depressed when Shifts comes to an end. You're a delightful writer and I've enjoyed these months so much. I feel like you're a "friend" and I don't plan to desert your blog any time soon. :)

I do have one little quibble.

"Is everyone all right?" she asked.

Remus took a deep breath. "No."

She opened her mouth to ask what had happened, but something changed in her face. Her eyes widened and she bit her lip. "Sirius?" she asked.


This was such a jar to me that I actually stopped reading for a time - it really interrupted the whole flow. The Order went to the MOM because Harry and five children were in grave danger. Tonks went "down" before any of the children were found and secured. She wakes up a day later and obviously figures out she's in St Mungo's. She sees Remus who must look like absolute hell and asks if everyone is all right. Yes, she certainly includes the Order in that general question, but her first thought has got to be Harry and kids. When he says "no" she must think "Did they get Harry? Are the kids all right?" Only after being reassured that Harry and the kids are all right and safe at Hogwarts would she then suspect Sirius or some other order member. (I think Moody went down before she did in your story, she'd probably assume him.) I just can't believe that her first thought is Sirius. I don't think you set that up in your previous chapters and I don't think it would be a canon response. I think she'd wake up, see Remus and then have a panicked response of "Is Harry OK? Are the kids OK?" and try to get up. She never asks about Harry, the kids, or the prophecy in your bit. It was - as I said - fairly jarring to me. Unless you're trying to say the three (Tonks, Lupin, Sirius) of them have some sort of psychic connection. LOL. To me, it's not a throw away detail. They can easily move on to Sirius' death AFTER she hears that Harry and the kids are all right.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 20th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't cry at fics... i don't cry at fics...

Aw screw it. *sobs* this was sooooooooo heartwrenching to read.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 21st, 2005 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, I can identify with your Remus so much. I'm the oldest child, and it's my instinct to look to other people first. A year a ago one of the teachers at my school died in a car accident, and my grandfather died about six hours later. Between home and school I don't think I ever actually got to react. I just shoved everything away so I could help everyone else, because of course there were people hit by the deaths harder than I was. I felt like it was my responsibility to take care of them. Big kudos to Dora for knowing Remus so well.

< /emodump>
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 21st, 2008 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
jeez louise, you've made me cry! There are going to be water stains on my desk for all eternity!
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