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Shades, Chapter Three: Vanishing Acts, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Three: Vanishing Acts, pt. 3
Okay. Tonks has been throwing herself into work after Remus's dump-o-gram, but as the war is escalating, this has been a rather grim escape. People are disappearing with some regularity. She'd just gotten off a night shift when she learns that Florean Fortescue has disappeared.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"I hate to do this to you," Robards said without preliminaries, before Tonks had much of a chance to do more than pack her casefiles into a satchel to bring home.

She sighed and put the satchel down on her desk, still feeling distantly low from being close to Dementors. Better to be busy than brooding, anyway. "I didn't have anything special planned. How long do you need me to stay?"

"The morning at least." He rubbed his head. "I've left Dawlish at the scene, but Fortescue's well-known--I think we all remember doing our homework over an ice cream--and I want to secure the scene as quickly as possible before... well, you know how people are."

"Yes."

"I have to get to one of these ruddy meetings, or I'd do it myself--I hate this desk business, never let them promote you--I have Harmon and Star out on the Emerson disappearance, and--"

"I'm on it, Robards."

"You're a godsend, Tonks."

"No, just a single Hufflepuff with no remaining commitments."

"Administratively, there's no significant difference." He handed her a scroll. "I put together what I could on Fortescue. Aside from the ice cream shop, he's a bit of a hobbyist historian, though I can't see why the Death Eaters would be interested in either."

"Maybe Aunt Bellatrix has a sweet tooth. I'll ask Mum."

Robards gave her a slightly confused smile, then said, "I need to get to my meeting with Scrimgeour. Only stay as long as you need to in order to do the initial evaluation, then go home and get some sleep for the afternoon, will you? I'll still need you for the night shift." He hurried off, trying to organize several scrolls as he went. Tonks sighed, gathered up her equipment, and headed back out into the field.

Diagon Alley was crowded by the time she got there. The disappearance of as much of a fixture as Florean Fortescue had brought out the curious onlookers, and the first decent weather in several weeks had brought out the shoppers. She went through Dawlish's security barriers--her Auror's talisman allowed it--and stepped into the ruins of Fortescue's shop.

"Mind the glass," Dawlish snapped, waving a hand toward the floor beneath the window. "I'll repair it after I've had a better look."

Tonks stepped around the glass shards. "What are you looking for?"

"Does it look to you like it broke inward, or just shattered when he hit it?"

Tonks went to the other side of the room. The shattered glass spread out in a well-devined fan. "Definitely blown in," she said.

"That's what I thought." Dawlish crawled behind the counter and sneezed as he breathed in the dust. "I don't see anything that suggests who it was. If they'd already broken the security wards, why not just Apparate in, as they did with Madam Bones?"

"Maybe they wanted him to watch them destroy his shop."

"Maybe. Though they didn't break anything else, just tipped things over. And you'd think they'd set it on fire if they were serious about that."

"They frightened him first," Tonks realized, glancing around. Several of the tables had been jostled, but not overturned. She could picture Fortescue walking backwards from the window, knocking clumsily against them as he saw... whoever was out there. The last table was skewed more acutely than the others, and the chair beside it was on its side.

He lurched onto that table, now wild with fright, and only caught the edge of the chair on the way down.

And when he fell, the window crashed in, and they came for him.

She shuddered, imagining a hunched figure grasping at the window frame, outlined against the large...

Moon.

"We may be looking at someone who doesn't Apparate well," she said, feeling like she was in a room full of Dementors again. She would need to talk to Remus for the first time since he'd...

And it would be business.

"Is there"--she closed her eyes--"blood back there?"

"Just a little. I don't think they killed him, unless it was a Death Curse. A splash of blood back near that door." Dawlish indicated the swinging door that led to Fortescue's small living quarters. "Looks like they blocked the back way out."

"How?"

"Look for yourself. Robards sent you to work, not get my report."

Tonks went back into the living quarters, which were full of historical bric-a-brac and books piled onto the floor in front of overcrowded shelves. A book on the end table--set down carefully, she supposed, when he'd first heard a noise--was open to an investigation of the witch Nimue, also known as Niniane and sometimes Vivian, who had imprisoned Merlin in an oak tree. She read the page over and over. The last sentence--which began, "Though many reasonable witches and wizards over the years have doubted the existence of"--wrapped around to the next page, and her mind snagged over and over on the idea that Fortescue might never find out just what reasonable witches and wizards doubted. At some point between the mention of the doubt and identification of its subject, he had been torn out of his life as easily as she might tear the page from the book.

Tears stung at her eyes, and she forced them back. Fortescue had been a kindly, totally inoffensive man, who generations of children had fond memories of. What business did Voldemort have interfering with him? Why would he ever imagine he had the right...?

She looked up and noticed a disturbance of a few of the loose piles of books, making a rough line from the door to the back of the flat. She followed it. In the tiny kitchen, shattered dishes were all that stood to show that a struggle had occurred here. A door that led to the back alley was closed solidly, and Tonks could still see a faint green glow around the edges of it. The door and the jamb had been fused together.

She noted it in her casebook, then pointed her wand at the door and said, "Finite incantatem." The green disappeared and the door separated itself. She opened it easily, and hated the Death Eaters a little more for frightening poor Fortescue enough that he hadn't had the werewithal to simply end the spell.

The alley behind the shop was undisturbed by any sign of a struggle. A pile of newspapers sat beside the dustbins. A relatively fresh apple core, only starting to brown, was on the ground beside it.

She couldn't be sure--the alley did open have a narrow, crooked path leading out to the street, and someone could have come in later, before the disappearance was discovered and the barriers put up--but she was sure nonetheless: One of them had sat back here, eating an apple, while Fortescue was terrorized inside.

She followed the path out to the street, finding no further information along it, and used her talisman to get through the barrier. A few curiosity-seekers who knew where the path came out were there, but she refused to answer their questions. For all she knew, one of them had a taste for apples.

She looked out over the milling crowd, most of which was gathered in front of Fortescue's shop, and her heart did a strange, nervous sort of flip.

Remus was standing near the back of the crowd, talking to a slightly familiar-looking round-faced boy who looked quite upset. He looked up and noticed her watching. He seemed ready to move--whether toward her or away from her, she was no longer willing to guess--but the boy he was speaking to was talking, so he couldn't leave.

Tonks watched him for a moment as he looked back down at the boy, then took a deep breath and started to weave through the crowd toward him. by the time she reached the two of them, both of them were looking at her. The boy smiled. "Hello," he said. "I'm glad you're better."

She frowned. "I, er... thank you..."

"This is Neville Longbottom," Remus said quietly. "He was at the Department of Mysteries when you were hurt."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I only saw you there for a moment before I fell. I didn't--"

"It's all right," Neville said.

"Neville, this is Tonks. She's an Auror, and she works with us."

Neville looked at her uncomfortably, and she thought of his Auror parents, lying vacantly in their beds in the ward at St. Mungo's. He held up a thin box. "My wand broke during... you know. Gran just got me a new one for my birthday tomorrow."

"It's your birthday tomorrow? Happy birthday."

"Thank you."

"Well," she said, "it's nice to meet you, Neville." She looked at Remus, who didn't look back at her.

"I should go," he said.

"I need to talk to you."

"I don't--"

"Actual business."

"Oh."

"Could you wait while I tell my partner where I am?"

He nodded, looking flustered. Tonks smiled at Neville again, and went back into the shop. Dawlish was less than thrilled when she refused to tell him to whom she'd be speaking or what she wanted to ask, but she reminded him that he was there to work, not interrogate her about her methodology.

When she went back outside, Remus was still with Neville Longbottom, but a formidable-looking older witch was making her way toward them, looking quite irritated.

"Neville!" Tonks heard as she approached them. The older woman put her hand on Neville's shoulder. "Neville, how often do I need to tell you about giving gold to beg--"

Neville, mortified, was shaking his head. "No, Gran... this is..." He looked at Remus miserably. "This is my teacher, Professor Lupin. He was with us at..."

Neville's grandmother blushed and held out her hand stiffly. "I apologize, Professor," she said.

Remus shook her hand, but continued to look at the cobblestones. His face was brick red. "It's all right, Mrs. Longbottom. I know I look a fright."

"Nevertheless, I shouldn't have presumed." She turned Neville around. "Do you have everything you came with?"

"Yes, Gran."

"We should leave, then." She nodded to Remus. "Again, I apologize."

Remus managed to meet her eyes and nod back. He muttered, "It was nice to see you," or something of that sort. He didn't turn to look at Tonks when the Longbottoms left. "What did you need, Dora?"

She cast a Distraction charm (although no one was paying attention to them anyway). "Where was Greyback last night?"

"I don't know." He crossed his arms when she came closer to him, and took a step back. "They're starting to gather for the moon tomorrow night. Several of them were wondering. He never made an appearance. Do you think...?" He gestured at the store.

"You know, I'm just going to either nod or shake my head until you're forced to look at me."

"Please, Dora." His gaze flickered up to her, then he cast his eyes down again. "Please."

"All right. Yes. I'll leave you a note at Molly's explaining why. Please keep your eyes open for anything on Fortescue, and dammit, Remus, look at me."

He took a deep, shaky breath, and looked up. His face was still red. "I'm sorry," he said. "Molly told me that--"

"I told her not to scold you. I don't want to scold you myself, either, if that's what you're worried about. I just need you to..." She reached out, touched his wrist. He shivered. She bit her lip. "I just need you."

"For what?" he asked bitterly, looking in the direction the Longbottoms had gone. "I have nothing."

Tonks shook her head. "That's because you keep throwing away the things you do have. I don't want to be thrown away."

"I'm not throwing you away."

"Then stop treating me like rubbish."

He looked at her, his eyes bruised and lost. "I'll watch for Fortescue," he said. "Goodbye, Dora."

He turned and left. She watched him until he'd vanished into the morning.
53 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
caitie From: caitie Date: August 28th, 2005 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
The bit with Gran thinking Remus was a beggar was incredibly sad but inspired, too. It was a perfect sequence.

I loved this chapter, especially the interaction between Remus and Tonks. Oh, I wish everyone who has been hating on Tonks would read this fic. :(
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I don't hate Gran Longbottom or anything, but she definitely strikes me as the sort that might make a snap judgment.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: August 28th, 2005 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Tonks shook her head. "That's because you keep throwing away the things you do have. I don't want to be thrown away."

"I'm not throwing you away."

"Then stop treating me like rubbish."


Awww......
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 28th, 2005 05:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Nice

***Tonks shook her head. "That's because you keep throwing away the things you do have. I don't want to be thrown away."
"I'm not throwing you away."
"Then stop treating me like rubbish."
He looked at her, his eyes bruised and lost.***

Great exchange and wonderful description.

This is really well done--I am amazed at all the detail regarding Tonks' profession. You've taken small moments from the text and expanded on them so well, that once again, as in "Shifts," I feel like I am reading canon. I thought I would miss seeing this fic from Remus' POV, but I am really enjoying your portrayal of Tonks.

I'm really looking forward to the next chapter.
~madame en
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Nice

:is a little sheepish now in saying that the next chapter is in Remus's POV: :)

I have a feeling that a lot of her work is repetitive, so once I get her routine established, there probably won't be quite as much, but I'm glad you like it. I've been messing around at the FBI website to see how they follow cases. It doesn't translate exactly to the magical world, but I'll try and work some of the procedural stuff in. I mean, we got a lot of Remus's teaching in the last one, so it's fair. I mean, I spend a lot of time at work, and it's less than Tonks spends, so...

Shrug.

I also just like showing her as an Auror.
bronells From: bronells Date: August 28th, 2005 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
"You know, I'm just going to either nod or shake my head until you're forced to look at me."

I love this line, my instant reaction was "you go girl!" Your writing is making me really feel for Tonks, I always feel very angsty and upset after reading. But I'm addicted... I can't wait for the next update.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad that worked. I was worried that she would come off as being mean-spirited when he's obviously not exactly feeling his best himself, but you know... maybe he needs people to stop fussing over how bad he feels!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: August 28th, 2005 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Mostly I like that you actually referred to the Awful Letter as "Remus's dump-o-gram". The heartbreaking-ness of the conversation between Tonks and Remus at the end goes without saying, and what I want to mention in particular is the interaction between Tonks and Robards at the beginning. I like Robards. And I like that Tonks can still crack jokes.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Robards continues to surprise me. I'm just going to let him do his thing, I think.

I don't want to have Tonks giving in to the depths of despair before it's absolutely necessary, so I'm glad her ability to still crack a joke or two at her own expense seems to work.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: August 28th, 2005 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
This story is just amazing! I especially liked this part:

She read the page over and over. The last sentence--which began, "Though many reasonable witches and wizards over the years have doubted the existence of"--wrapped around to the next page, and her mind snagged over and over on the idea that Fortescue might never find out just what reasonable witches and wizards doubted. At some point between the mention of the doubt and identification of its subject, he had been torn out of his life as easily as she might tear the page from the book.

There's a lot of good fanfic out there, but what you write is pure literature. I don't say that lightly.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
:blush:

Thanks. The disappearance of Fortescue really got to me, because he was just one of those people who was randomly nice to Harry-as-Harry, not Harry as Boy-Who-Lived.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 28th, 2005 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I like Robards, too. It's a nice change to have someone in authority who seems half-way decent - I wonder where he'll take you? Was he confused because he doesn't know that Tonks is related to Bellatrix?

Some grammar queries...
"was open to an investigation of the witch Nimue" - should this be "was open at an investigation..."?

the para that starts: "She couldn't be sure--the alley did open have a narrow, crooked path..." seems to be a word missing or extra here.

(Do you want these sort of comments here?)

I loved the Remus-Neville-Gran interaction, especially liked Neville. I felt his embarrassment on behalf of both his grandmother and his teacher.

The closing between Remus and Tonks was ... bitterly perfect.
ladybug
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would think "was open to" would be correct--books are open "to" pages, perhaps marked "at" places. I've never heard of a book being open "at" something.

the para that starts: "She couldn't be sure--the alley did open have a narrow, crooked path..." seems to be a word missing or extra here.

An extra word. That "open" shouldn't be there. I can't remember why it is... thanks, good catch.

(Do you want these sort of comments here?)

As someone just reviewed Shifts and said that it was riddled with enough grammar problems that she thought I spoke English as a second language, it would probably be wise to have more of them.

I really have to sit down and write some Longbottom-centric fic. I enjoy them.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
dalf From: dalf Date: August 28th, 2005 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)
The whole exchange with Robards was perfect, especially this:


"You're a godsend, Tonks."
"No, just a single Hufflepuff with no remaining commitments."
"Administratively, there's no significant difference."


I dunno why but the peripheral characters you write so well tend to become my favorites. Then again Remus became my favorite with JKR and he was just that at the time. I hope JKR does not include him in book 7 because if he does not turn out just like this I will cry.

Again with the her Auror's talisman, in a less well writen fic my advice would be to do what you are doing. Invent, create your own flavor your own items but dont focus the sotry around them because as good as they are you really have to build somethign like that up carfully to use it as more than background. But, you walk the perfect balance, so much so that if you WAANTED to create yoru own uber-item and focus a fic around it I suspect you might just pull it off (where as most fics that I have read that tried did not).

Oh and I see yoru promise to focus on Tonks as a detective or at least high calaber law enforcment type person. I take it your research in at least the potrayal of such characters is going well. I am really impressed at how you invoke the images of the events at Fortescu's using only Tonk's powers of deduction.

And then with Remus. You know I should stop listing all the perfect little details. Suffice it to say this section is just perfect.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 01:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am really impressed at how you invoke the images of the events at Fortescu's using only Tonk's powers of deduction.

Oh, good. :) I thought about having some kind of spell involved, but I decided I liked it better if she used her brain.

I'm not much for uber-items, but I'm glad you think I could pull it off. The Auror's talisman was just kind of a last-minute solution to why an Auror could get in while the crowd was out.
drakyndra From: drakyndra Date: August 28th, 2005 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, not a fantastic review here, but I am loving this story, but I just had to comment on something that amused me:

I have Harmon and Star out on the Emerson disappearance, and--"

Was it the Harmonians that took him?
(Deleted comment)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: August 28th, 2005 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, that was completely low of Mrs. Longbottom. Even if it had been a beggar, it wouldn't have been right - will she ever learn?

And why can't Remus at least discuss the war with her, if nothing else?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Mrs. Longbottom isn't the most gracious woman who ever lived.

And why can't Remus at least discuss the war with her, if nothing else?

He can; that's why he stayed after she told him that she wanted to talk business, though he can't be seen too long in public, as you'll see in the next chapter. He was just still mortified about being mistaken for a beggar in front of the woman he'd planned to marry.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: August 28th, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow, you're breaking my heart. I don't have anything constructive today, I just wanted to mention that you're brilliant, the story's brilliant, and I'm so happy you're writing this. It is excellent.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 28th, 2005 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I'll take "brilliant." :)
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: August 28th, 2005 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
squeeee! Nothing more articulate than that, sorry to say.

squeeee!

...and people are using your name to describe InCharacterFan-Fic (ICFF) across the 'net.

triple squee!
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: August 28th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this just keeps getting better! I'm a complete sucker for Auror-procedural stuff, so it's nice to see this turning into a proper mystery. And the bit with Neville's grandmother was just ... gah. How utterly horrible and perfect.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 28th, 2005 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, I haven't commented on the last few segments, first week of the semester is always brutal. :)

Oh, this is just heartbreaking. The scene with Neville's grandmother was very effectively done. Remus' embarassment and pain were palpable, I wanted to cry. And the final exchange between Remus and Tonks.... I really have no words. Just really well done! I'm going to have to re-read this one and assure myself it will all be all right in the end. :) Mary
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: August 28th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
The sidewalk scene with Neville and Mrs. Longbottom was inspired, and beautifully sets up Tonks discussion with Remus afterward. This passage in particular is wonderful:

"For what?" he asked bitterly, looking in the direction the Longbottoms had gone. "I have nothing."

Tonks shook her head. "That's because you keep throwing away the things you do have. I don't want to be thrown away."

"I'm not throwing you away."

"Then stop treating me like rubbish."


It just sizzles. It's an excellent chapter.
lorelei_lynn From: lorelei_lynn Date: August 28th, 2005 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent segment! I enjoyed seeing Tonks in action at her job.

The parts with Remus seem designed to hit us readers in the gut - being mistaken for a beggar, refusing to meet Tonks' eyes until she scolds him. Looking forward to more...
kismeteve From: kismeteve Date: August 29th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I really love the way you seamlessly bring in the procedural side of the Auror business in and make it stand on its own. I'd love to read the Auror casefiles on various happening in the HP-verse.

"For what?" he asked bitterly, looking in the direction the Longbottoms had gone. "I have nothing."

Tonks shook her head. "That's because you keep throwing away the things you do have. I don't want to be thrown away."

"I'm not throwing you away."

"Then stop treating me like rubbish."


While part of me wants to go "silly Remus," I can really understand where he's coming from and why he believes what he believes.
kinderjedi From: kinderjedi Date: August 29th, 2005 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I love all of the small details, like the apple core and the Auror talisman. And the exchange with Neville's Gran? *sigh* Poor Remus. I was torn between wanting to hug him and put Gran in her place.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: August 29th, 2005 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)
the beggar moment has been well commented on, but I liked that you snuck a character note for Neville in as well =)
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: August 29th, 2005 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with everyone else - especially the passages they've picked out. Beautifully and heartbreakingly written and an interesting, Shifts-like idea to bring the disappearances into the plot (Fortescue the historian knowing where Founder-objects might be found?).


Just struck me that Remus' looking-down-at-the-floor behaviour is very reminiscent of his behaviour in the Hospital Wing scene. Nice touch.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: August 29th, 2005 12:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the first reading, a lot of the things that struck me were ones that have already been mentioned: the vividness of the image of Fortescue's capture, a gut-level shudder at the thought of the moon, the "Administratively, there's no difference," the bit about never finishing the sentence -- you are very good at evocative details. (I'm still struck by the time you had Sirius and Regulus exchanging little notes to each other sealed with the family seal!)

But I also wanted to say that I ended up left with the exceedingly peculiar mental image of poor Fortescue making ice cream for the DEs. With one of those hand freezers. Nobody else would take a turn at the crank, either.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 29th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh-heh.

Did you see this pic from AgiVega?
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: August 29th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Amazing, as always. That last exchange between Remus and Tonks, which so many have quoted already, is imprinted in my mind permanently. *sniffles*
From: psalm_27 Date: September 1st, 2005 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Catching up with my reading after being away pretty much for the last week or so. You continue to deliver great work. Your missing moments feel so right with canon, that I almost can no longer distinguish. I liked how you tied in the werewolves with Fortescue's disappearance. Nice touch with Neville's grandmother helping Remus down the path of "woe is me". His heartbreak there at the end became mine quite easily. I imagine the heartbreak will only get worse before it gets better.
53 comments or Leave a comment