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Shades, Chapter Seven: Friends and Neighbors, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Seven: Friends and Neighbors, pt. 3
Okay. Let's try to keep something like a schedule here. :p

I left Tonks and her friend Sanjiv in Hogsmeade, after he's tried to cheer her up by taking her to a Muggle club in Edinburgh. It worked briefly, but she soon lost hold of it, and had a nightmare in which she saw Number Twelve Grimmauld Place being systematically dismantled, and Sirius hanging tattered black curtains in all of the windows, and telling her that Remus will have curtains of his own, it's inevitable, and she really can't fight it. Both of them turn to corpses and grab for her before she wakes up and talks at length to Sanjiv, about her frustration at being treated like a child who can't take care of herself (she can't divulge too many details of the dream). He starts to tell her something, then stops, and when they return to Hogsmeade, she can see that he still means to say it, but he doesn't. She leaves him to go off to work.

Meh.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The next Wednesday--two weeks after the Dementor attack--Tonks was in the city again. Not Edinburgh this time, and St. Mungo's was hardly a cheerful distraction, but apparently Sanjiv's mother had been sufficiently disturbed by Tonks's abrupt un-morphing to contact Mum about it, and Mum had informed Tonks that she would appear in her office first thing Wednesday morning. Tonks considered refusing, but Robards had been there when the owl arrived, on his monthly walk-through, and he'd decided to enforce the order, preferring certainty that his Division was in full health.

So she arrived at the drab storefront at foggy dawn, barely needing to be stealthy among the bleary-eyed Muggles trudging to early jobs. The mannequin let her through, and she went quietly to Mum's second floor office.

Mum hugged her, then ushered her brusquely inside, steering her onto a high bed for an examination. "How are you feeling?" she asked, casting several diagnostic spells, then pulling Tonks's face forward and studying her eyes carefully. "Has there been any change in the morphing?"

"No. I can't believe Mrs. McPherson spoke to you about it."

"It was entirely accidental," Mum said. "She needed help getting into Diagon Alley to buy a birthday present for Sanjiv, so she called me, and we got talking, and she mentioned what happened. It worried her. It worries me. I know you've had a few slow times, but this is the longest I've ever seen you have trouble morphing."

"It has nothing to do with the Dementor attack. It started before that."

Mum nodded, nonplused, and went on with the examination. "You're tense, Nymphadora."

"A bit."

"Quite a bit."

Tonks slid down off the bed and headed for the door. "Mum, I have work to do. Remember? I can't just run off to London to talk because you're worried about my hair. I have a job."

"Dora..."

"Why does everyone forget that? I'm an Auror. I passed my bloody exams. It's not a game. Sanjiv tried to follow me on the job yesterday, like it was some school lark. And Remus--" She stopped and waved off the thought. "If you just want to talk, could we do it on Saturday? I have time off on Saturday." She reached for the door.

"Colloportus."

The door slipped away from her and sealed itself. She turned around.

Mum pointed her wand at a chair and swung it against the wall. Her lips were tightly pursed. "Sit down, Nymphadora."

Tonks sat. "I'm sorry, Mum."

"We don't have a lot of experience with Dementor attacks," Mum said. "Not even here. The victims are usually too far gone to learn much from. But we're going to see more of them, and we need to know what happens. So you will sit still for diagnostics. I know that your troubles morphing started before it, but I think it may be an aggravating factor, and I don't want to rule anything out until I've examined you."

Tonks remained silent, feeling small and chastened.

Mum went back to the exam, casting spells here and there and examining Tonks's hair and the spot on her face where the Dementor had touched her. The light from diagnostic spells pooled in a few places--Tonks's wand arm, her chin, a spot on her shoulder where she'd been touched--but mainly spread out in a thin, dingy aura around her.

When it had finished, Mum stood back, looking troubled. She pulled a chair from behind her desk and Summoned a new record scroll. "I know you have a lot of things in your life that aren't particularly conducive to feeling pink," she said. "Have you been able to morph at all?"

"Once, while I was out dancing with Sanjiv."

Mum nodded. "Will you try now, while I can trace any changes? I have the readings I've taken when you're feeling more yourself."

Tonks closed her eyes, concentrating all of her energy, everything she had, into the thought of herself in a different form. Nothing drastic, nothing unnatural. I have black hair, she thought. Black hair like Daddy and Granny Tonks and Sirius and Auntie and...

"Good," Mum said. "Very good. Hold it."

Tonks squeezed her eyes shut tighter, thinking only of her hair, of keeping it black, hoping that it was in fact black. She heard Mum muttering spells.

After a moment, Mum sighed. "You can let go if you need to," she said.

Tonks took a deep breath and let go of the thought, opening her eyes. Her hair hung limply beside her face. She could see that it was black, but it was already beginning to lighten.

"It's the same as it ever was," Mum said, scanning the record. "I don't think your problem is magical in origin. Or aggravated by the Dementor attack, but don't say you knew that, because neither of us could have been certain."

"Just feeling a bit blue. Or, well, brown." Tonks sniffed. "Apparently I'm just going mad."

"No. I watched my older sister go mad. And I think you probably remember that I've... er... had some less than stellar responses to stressful events from time to time."

Tonks looked away awkwardly. When Sirius had first been arrested, Mum had rampaged through the flat they'd been staying in, burning photographs and weeping for what seemed like days. And Sirius himself... She closed her eyes again, remembering a day last year when she and Remus had found him crouched in the kitchen, reaching for both of them for warmth, nearly unable to talk. They'd held him between them then, and Tonks had spoken to him gently, and he'd come out of it and she missed him.

"You're not mad," Mum said. "I think you may just be outgrowing the pink hair."

"I miss the pink hair."

Mum shrugged. "I miss drawing flowers on the edges of my papers."

"So draw them."

"Right." Mum made a few notes, then looked up. "There are lingering effects from the attack. Do you find yourself getting tired easily?"

"Sometimes."

"And any strange sounds?"

"The voices in my head... the Dementor voices, I mean?"

"Yes."

"Not really. I think I dream about it sometimes."

"That's understandable. I want you to monitor this, watch for any changes. Do you know how to do a simple Query charm?"

"The pregnancy test? Mum...!"

Mum rolled her eyes. "That's one use for it. It's not the only one. What it does is keep track of any major changes in your body, physical or magical. I'll cast the initial spell now, and you do the charm every day. The incantation is Exquiro corpus. Let me know right away if it picks anything up. I don't trust anything Dementors leave behind."

Tonks nodded and let Mum do the initial spellwork. "That bit of a temper you flew into earlier..." Mum began.

"I don't want to talk about it."

"Are you angry at Remus?"

"Isn't everyone saying I ought to be?"

Mum didn't answer.

Tonks went back to Hogsmeade, and put in a day's work. She sat in her room at the Hog's Head later, her quill poised over an empty bit of parchment, ultimately writing nothing. Her head was pounding.

The next day at lunchtime, while she was investigating the disappearance of two sisters who lived alone near the cave where Sirius had once hidden, Sanjiv appeared with a picnic lunch. She was irritated with him, but tried to hide it. He asked if he could help. She told him he couldn't.

A series of Dementor attacks in the countryside--one of them again on the road near the Forest--took up the weekend, and on Monday, Tonks steered a meeting with her colleagues to the subject of the Hogwarts Express, which would be arriving in less than a week, to the cheerful welcome of local Dementors if they didn't do something about it soon.

"We're trying," Proudfoot said. "Do you think you'll do better on your own? Or do you just have a far superior plan based on your extensive friendship with The Boy Who Lived?"

"I want to know why they keep coming back here. What do they want?"

"And how is that going to help us protect the train?" Savage asked.

Dawlish cut it off. "It can't hurt," he said, to Tonks's surprise. "Let's track the attacks. Tonks, find out what you can about the Forest. Didn't Minerva McGonagall share any information with you?"

"Some."

"All right. I suppose it's nothing you feel a need to share?"

"I think they're after something inside the Forest, but we didn't find anything useful about where they're coming from."

"So you didn't get anything out of it?" Savage sneered.

Tonks briefly considered telling them that she could get in and out of the Forest, but decided not to--at the moment, it had no bearing on their ongoing cases, and it wouldn't be a useful entrance point to the school, as they'd have to find their way through the trees before they could even reach the school. The Shrieking Shack was a better bet, if worse came to worse.

Her stomach twisted painfully, and she put it out of her mind.

Sanjiv chased her down for lunch again, and she was less irritated this time, though she couldn't tell him much of what he wanted to know. She sent him firmly home when he asked if he could help in the afternoon--"Those bloody damned Dementors; I'd like a piece of them."

Her shift ended late in the afternoon, when the sunlight was falling in golden streaks that seemed to have weight and solidity of their own. She finished up a quick interview with a Zonko's cousin who had come back into town to retrieve things from the flat above the store--he assured her that they would re-open soon--then started to head back to the Hog's Head. The gates of Hogwarts caught her eye, and she stopped in the street, staring at them.

So you didn't get anything out of it?

She frowned, then steeled herself and headed up the road beside the Forbidden Forest. Ten minutes later, she reached the pine with its four hanging cones, touched the wall, and opened the arch. Inside, the Forest was already dark, the sun no longer at an angle to reach through the heavy canopy. She drew her wand. "Lumos."

It didn't shed much light. She used it to sketch a quick light symbol on a tree, and went further in. The shadows grew denser. The brook she and McGonagall had followed seemed to lead in an entirely different direction today, and she followed it carefully, keeping alert for abrupt changes in its path, marking trees along the way.

I am competent, she told herself. I will get something from this.

But as she followed the stream into the shadows, nothing came, and nothing coelesced in her mind. Something skittered in the treetops above her, and when she turned her head involuntarily to see it, a flash of light to one side caught her eye. When she looked in its direction, it was gone.

She pointed her wand in the direction it had come from, but nothing moved.

Frustrated, she followed her signs back to the wall, touched it, and let herself back out into the evening.

"Wotcher, Tonks."

She wheeled around, furious. "Sanjiv! What the bloody hell are you doing? There've been two attacks on this road!"

"Which is why I didn't think you ought to be on it alone."

"I AM AN AUROR!" Tonks thundered, pushing past him. "And you are going home. What's the matter with you?"

Sanjiv hadn't moved, and when she looked back, his face was calm and serious. "Don't you think I can take care of myself?"

"It's not about that."

"It's not?"

"Do you think I want to see you get hurt? Do you think I want to be worrying about you? Do you think--?" She stopped and nodded. "Fine. All right. Please tell me you were trying to make a point and not just being an idiot."

"I was trying to make a point."

"Then why not just say it?"

"I didn't need to say it. You did." He shrugged and pointed over his shoulder. "For what it's worth, Daffy has my back."

Daffy Apcarne came out from behind a rock. "Are you all right?"

Tonks was shaking with anger at both of them, and turned on her heel. "Fine. All right. Remus isn't thinking about me at all. He's just thinking that he doesn't want me in danger. And what happened to the pair of you wanting to rip him limb from limb?"

"Oh, we're still up for it," Sanjiv assured her, catching up and walking beside her. "Anyone who hurts you stands a chance of answering to us, if he makes it past your dad alive. But this business of you being angry with him and deciding that it's because he doesn't trust you or whatnot... it's not good for you."

"And it's not fair to him," Daffy said, gaining her other side. "We're angry at him for breaking your heart. You're starting to blame him for the part that any of us--especially you--would do. And you know it."

"I--"

"You got caught by four Dementors." Daffy paused and looked ahead of him. "No one is saying you're a bad Auror for not beating all of them off single-handedly while they had hold of you."

"It's true. I think even your idiot colleagues are smart enough to know better," Sanjiv said. "I've eavesdropped on them. They haven't said a thing when I was around, and they don't know me at all, so they weren't being careful."

"It's not your fault that sometimes the other fellow is stronger, and no one thinks less of you for it."

Tonks didn't look at them. In her mind, she saw not the Dementors on this road, but her mad aunt, laughing, raising her wand. And somewhere in the distance she could hear the dream-like sound of Sirius's laughter, heard for the last time as she lay on the inner edge of unconsciousness, silenced forever seconds later.

What had Remus said? You're not actually imagining it's your fault?... Bellatrix is an expert duelist. You lasted as long as Sirius did and longer than Kingsley. She's very powerful...

"I just lost," she whispered, to whole-hearted approval from the boys.

I lost, then Sirius died, then Remus left me. And of course he doesn't trust me because I was the one who let Bellatrix through, I was the one who...

Except that it had no more occurred to Remus that it would have occurred to Tonks to think that Sanjiv wasn't trustworthy because he'd once got lost on the grounds, or that Daffy wasn't because he'd been a wretched Chaser. It wasn't about them; it was about not worrying about them.

They walked her the rest of the way home.

She sat down, wrote a long letter to Remus, and sent it by owl to the Burrow.
16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 16th, 2005 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I've been struggling a bit with the question of how much of Tonks's behavior in HBP is depression, and how much is just growing up a lot very quickly (not to mention, if there's a difference), so I wanted Andromeda to comment on it.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: October 17th, 2005 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
the question of how much of Tonks's behavior in HBP is depression, and how much is just growing up a lot very quickly (not to mention, if there's a difference)

Welcome to my life this month. I can't figure it out, either... definitely, definitely relating to Tonks at the moment!!
bronells From: bronells Date: October 16th, 2005 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad to see Tonks actually send a letter to Remus rather than just vanish it! I like Sanjiv and Daffy proving the point to Tonks rather than talking to her, as they obviously realised that talking wasn't working!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 16th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's why Sanjiv kept stopping before saying it. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to be angry--strip it down and simplify it--so dealing with a Remus she actually understands will be harder. I think Remus would have probably rather had her just get mad and go away, and now, confound it, she's going to be understanding. What're you going to do? ;)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 16th, 2005 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
It's about time Tonks did someting.

And I think Sanjiv has a lot of love towards Tonks. Not romantic (though you can certainly take that path if you wish - I forget whether he's the one who is married to Daffy, it's been ages since I've read Shifts), but very... brotherly. But he and Tonks both need to realize they just want to protect one another (and Daffy).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 16th, 2005 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maddie's the one married to Daffy. :)

Yeah, Sanjiv loves Tonks a lot, and I'm not entirely sure it's completely platonic on his end, but I doubt he'll say anything. She's just nowhere near that place.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: October 16th, 2005 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was great! I loved it when Tonks blew up about being an Auror. It is, of course, something we see a lot in fans--not realizing that she really is quite competent. It's interesting to see her respond to that in the context of the story. It's also nice to see you distribute the blame fairly between Remus and Tonks. He's being an idiot about it, but I can completely understand where he's coming from, and it's nice that Tonks is beginning to, also. Although it will still take an entire book for them to get to that point, she stands a much better chance of getting through to him if she understands his point of view.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 16th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to express the same thoughts. Instead, I'll just add that I think this last section has been your best bit of writing in the story thus far.

Beech Tree
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 16th, 2005 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think this last section has been your best bit of writing in the story thus far.
Oh, thank you. It's been some of the hardest!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 16th, 2005 10:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I've been thinking about Hermione's snap diagnosis of survivor guilt, and I think that Remus leaving her so soon after Sirius's death could probably trigger some of it--make her question herself, which of course would make her sensitive to the idea that other people are questioning her as well.

And yes, she had to get her head screwed on straight and realize that it's not about that, or she'd end up bitter and angry, and that wouldn't get Remus back any time soon.
marissa_214 From: marissa_214 Date: October 16th, 2005 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Loved it! I caught up on the last three chapters (it's been awhile!) this evening and I'm enjoying it very much! Keep up the good work! :-)

Mary
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 17th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

from Violet Azure

Great chapter! I love seeing the focus on Tonks at work. You've really captured the job of Auror in a way that's both realistic and interesting. Too many fanfics have Aurors either dueling DEs every 5 minutes or not really doing any work. I like how you take the time to show us the day-to-day aspects of Tonks' job and her co-workers. I also like how you address the vein of madness running through her family. Very realistic and sad.

One small thing:

["She needed help getting into Diagon Alley to buy a birthday present for Sanjiv, so she called me, and we got talking,]

Is Sanjiv's mom Muggle? Would Andrometer and her "call" each other or talk via Floo or owl?

I loved the Daffy and Sanjiv tagteam following Tonks; they're quite brotherly and sweet, although when Tonks immediately launches into Remus after Daffy identifies himself seemed like a weird shift. I thought she was more mad that they were interferring with her Auror duties and I thought she'd yell at them a bit more about that. This part:

[Daffy Apcarne came out from behind a rock. "Are you all right?"

Tonks was shaking with anger at both of them, and turned on her heel. "Fine. All right. Remus isn't thinking about me at all.]
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 17th, 2005 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: from Violet Azure

Well, she's skipping the interim sections--she knows they came after her to make a point about Remus, so she's just putting it on the table... "Yeah, right, fine, I get the point."

I think Ted and Andromeda have a telephone--they live in Ted's mother's old house, and it's wired, and they have a no-magic-allowed part of their basement to keep electronic things in.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 17th, 2005 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: from Violet Azure

And by the way, thanks... I'm trying particularly to get the idea of life as an Auror without doing an entire police procedural thing, so I'm glad it's coming off. I have to admit, I'm fighting a mad desire to have Briscoe and Curtis from L&O investigate a magical death with the help of Aurors, and get Jack McCoy prosecuting someone in front of the Wizengamot... ;)
aesshen From: aesshen Date: October 18th, 2005 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: from Violet Azure

That would be joyous. Umm, I hate to nitpick on such an awesome chapter, but "it had no more occurred to Remus that it would have occurred to Tonks" needs to have the that changed to than.
lyras From: lyras Date: March 15th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, poor Tonks :(. You do such a good job of depicting the hopelessness of her situation and making the whole thing believable. And I love Sanjiv and his attempts to help her! Also, I thought the scene with Andromeda in St Mungo's was particularly well done.

On to the next part!
16 comments or Leave a comment