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Shades, Chapter Eight: Interlude (2): Charity, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Eight: Interlude (2): Charity, pt. 1
I have furniture. Yippee. Oh, I can't wait to unpack my dolls (though I have to wait, because my landlady is doing some repairs on the ceiling, and it's easier if everything is still in boxes and therefore easily moved). Mom painted the green linoleum on the low dresser brown, but it's still distinctly itself. I also got my pretty wooden table, my desk, my great-grandfather's steamer trunk (which he used in a traveling theater company), a bookcase of my own, my wicker shelves, and my long QL fics, long off of my computer (though they may be floating around Usenet somewhere). And that's just what I've found so far.

Oh, and my little plastic record player, that I've had since I was five, and a selection of 45s from the 80s (and the ever-present "Love Me Do," which I think is the last surviving one of my mom's Beatles' 45s), including such classics as "Body Rock" and "The Warrior" (Shooting at the walls of heartache--bang, bang...)

Ahem.

Anyway, back to Shades. Tonks, after experimenting with being angry at Remus, has found some understanding, and finally sent him a letter. Which--by sheer coincidence, of course--happens to arrive just as the moon gets full.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus had stumbled on the shed only a few days after he'd returned to the forest.

He didn't know who had built it or for what purpose, only that it had been abandoned long enough for grass and wildflowers to be growing profusely between the floorboards. Ivy had nearly buried it on one side. It was large enough to lie down in, and even to have a sort of table he'd made from one large flat rock and several smaller rocks that he'd carefully stacked to make supports. (His mother had been a great afficianado of traditional stone walls, and he'd thought, during the long and entirely dull evening he'd spent on the project, that she would rather like the silly thing). It wasn't the first time he'd stolen lodgings, and he supposed that if he survived the war, it wouldn't be the last, and as stolen toolsheds went, it was reasonably comfortable. The roof only leaked in one place.

When he'd first found it, he'd fully expected to be challenged for the territory, perhaps have to fight a stronger wolf, but he had only seen one of the other adults since the transformation gathering, and she had sniffed at it in a disinterested way and said that he'd do better finding a cave; the forest was riddled with them. Alderman, who was looking for his own lair now that he was hunting with the adults, ridiculed the shed as dandified, but Remus didn't fail to note that Alderman invariably appeared when it rained and stayed until the skies cleared. A girl called Evelyn had stumbled across him early on, and had brought Sweet by the next day, and Sweet was also a common visitor. Blondin came and went, and a boy who refused to give his name--Remus hadn't known it until this morning--sometimes sat on the hillside just outside the shed for an hour or so. It had taken Remus a bit to figure out what he was doing, until he realized that the boy was always there when he himself was reading from a box of tattered old paperbacks he'd scrounged from somewhere long ago. The boy was apparently fascinated by the idea, but Remus hadn't been able to speak to him long enough to offer to teach him.

As August wore on, he saw most of the children. He assumed that they made the rounds of adults on their daily forays from the large caves where Greyback kept them, but Blondin denied it, claiming that the other adults, for whatever reason, didn't enjoy their company. Remus's shed was just a place to go now.

Which was why he wasn't particularly surprised when he heard a great deal of talking coming from his shed the morning before the full moon, as he made his way back from a pre-transformation check-in at Molly's. There had been several things waiting for him there, and he'd thought long and hard about the possibility of bringing some of them back with him, to be hidden later, but he was glad that he'd ended up opting to leave them in the drawer Molly had cleared for him in the living room. There were matters about which he didn't have any particular desire to answer Sweet's never-ending questions.

"Oi, Lupin!" Alderman called, spotting him. "Old Mag got us some charity!"

Remus came out from under the tree shadows and got a clear view of the shed. The children were gathered around a cardboard box, pulling out clothing willy-nilly and looking at other items that had been buried in the winter clothes.

Sweet pulled out a bright red scarf and wrapped it dramatically around her neck. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asked.

"Fetching," Remus told her, joining the group.

"You should get things while you can," Blondin advised. "I think there are some boots that are grown-size."

Remus didn't move toward the box. "Where did all this come from?"

"Old Mag," Alderman said again. "She goes up to Huntsford, and there's a priest. She tells him things, I guess. And he sends her back with clothes for us sometimes. Reckon he must know."

"Oh."

"Aren't you going to get some clothes? Winter's cold."

Remus shook his head, and let them continue their game. He'd stolen lodging, but he had--so far at least--managed to avoid actually begging or taking handouts. He thought he could get another winter out of the boots he already had.

The children went back to their charity box (Remus could now see that the priest had tried to include cheerful plush toys and a handful of dolls, but these were entirely discarded), and Remus sat down on a rock beside the door of the shed.

Dora's letter had been on top of a stack of file folders Bill had brought. Remus had ignored the folders to open the letter, a part of him certain that this would be the moment she would turn her back on him, that the letter would give a proper burial to the relationship he'd destroyed. Instead, it was newsy and cheerful, with only a brief mention that she'd been angry with him, but was over it now. She told him that she loved him, that he was just not going to have any luck getting rid of her and should stop trying, but that she understood his worries and would let him decide when it was safe for them to see one another.

"She's got to give this up," he'd told Molly.

Molly had rolled her eyes.

Beneath the letter was everything Bill had managed to find so far, and it was substantial. Reports from the Daily Prophet, public records, old photographs.

Here was Alderman, Robert Franklin--seven years old, standing proudly with his mother, surrounded by a story about his abduction by a werewolf, and his mother's vow of vengeance. Then there was a certificate of death--Alderman's father, dead by his own hand. And his mother? Transferred, promoted. Her quest for vengeance hadn't survived.

Hamilton, Martin--Remus recognized him as the boy from the hill--reported dead by his parents, who claimed to have seen him torn apart. Blondin, Nathaniel was reported missing in his Muggle neighborhood, and his mother hospitalized for raving about a man who turned into a wolf before her very eyes, and who took her little boy. "I knew him! He'd asked for a handout on the street and I refused it, and he came and took my son!"

The thickest file belonged to Waters, Vivian, a child taken at the age of four, her mother killed at the scene, her grief-maddened father bitten then left behind, never to see his child again, knowing she'd been taken by Greyback, and knowing what sort of man Greyback was... Chet Waters, before his life was torn apart, had been a detective, hired by the parents of a missing child to investigate, and he'd written a hard-hitting article on Fenrir Greyback's history in British Wizarding. Remus's name had not been mentioned in the course of it--Waters had been careful not to name any werewolf other than Greyback--but the details of his attack had been meticulously catalogued along with nearly twenty others Waters had discovered. The attack had occurred on the first full moon after the article appeared. The incongrously happy family portrait in the center of the Daily Prophet article showed Waters with his wife, and their pretty little girl... before half of her face had been destroyed. Waters had looked for his daughter with great diligence, but he had not been a particularly careful werewolf, and had transformed in a populated area and been killed only six months later by another man trying to protect his home.

Sweet--Vivian--remembered none of this, as far as Remus could tell, and he wasn't sure it would do her any favors to be reminded.

He wasn't sure it would do any of them any favors.

The girl Evelyn skipped over, wrapped in an odd assortment of clothes (including, Remus thought, an evening dress), and plopped a woolen hat down on his head. "You should have this," she said, and sat down beside him. "Your ears will get cold here. It's warmer in caves."

Remus took the hat off and set it aside. "Thank you, Evelyn, but really, I'm quite all right."

Evelyn, looking disappointed, squatted on her haunches in front of him. "What's wrong with charity?" she asked.

"I'm just quite all right," Remus said again. "Do you... er... well, when do you suppose the others will start gathering? I haven't seen many of us since last month."

"They got other things to do," Alderman said, examining a pair of shoes and holding them dubiously against his feet. "Reckon they'll be in by the afternoon. We'd best finish with this rubbish first"--he indicated the box of clothes--"as Greyback doesn't like it much more than you do."

"Greyback objects to charity?"

"Greyback doesn't like old Mag talking to some Muggle priest about what we've been doing. Personally, I reckon we'll see him here with us before the year's out. Poor bloke probably doesn't even believe her, either." He shook his head.

"Books!"

Remus looked up. Sweet was halfway in the charity box, rooting around at the bottom. One thin arm waved in the air, two or three paperbacks grasped in the hand. She came up with four flat and colorful children's books in her other hand. "There are more, even," she said, bringing her find over to Remus and sitting beside him. "Will you read some of these to me?"

"Perhaps after the moon. I think we'd best get prepared first."

"I'll read 'em to you, Sweet," Alderman said. "I'm plenty prepared, and I can read."

"You can?"

"Sure I can!" Alderman came over and took one of the paperbacks from Sweet--it had a raven on the cover--opening it and frowning at the first sentence. "'Tuh-hee...' no, 'The skee... sky... was duh-ark and the moan...' Moan?"

Remus took the book and glanced at it. "Moon," he said. "That one, you should know, Alderman. But that's very good if you haven't read for awhile. How long has it been?"

Alderman shrugged, disinterested. "I read signs when I'm nicking things in the village."

"What's the book about?" Sweet asked.

Remus turned it over and read the back cover. "Ironically enough, werewolves. Or, more precisely, werewolf-hunters."

They all looked at the book solemnly, as if it might drag them before the Registry if they came too close to it. Remus tossed it back toward the box, but he thought he saw Alderman catch and pocket it before it landed.

Sweet was frowning, frustrated. "I was learning to write my letters when... you know. I can't remember, though. Not any of them."

"Like we need them!" Blondin called from the tree-line, where he was patiently stalking something in the bushes.

"There's no reason you shouldn't have them," Remus said. "You have every right to be educated..."

"To turn into right little humans?" Hamilton sneered, speaking directly to Remus for the first time. "We don't need their things."

"We are human," Remus said, stopping himself before using Hamilton's name and alerting them that he had information they weren't aware of.

"Right," Hamilton said. "Remind me about that when the moon's full." He lapsed back into sullen silence.



Obviously, that's cut mid-scene, but it will continue (and hopefully actually, you know, get somewhere) soon. Sorry--I don't like to leave things without any particular cliffhanger or shape, but I'm falling asleep at the keyboard here. ;)
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Comments
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: October 18th, 2005 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus is becoming a teacher! Knew he couldn't hold out for very long!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Remus needs a twelve-step program for recovering teachers. ;)
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: October 18th, 2005 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd say that does have shape - the charity and the interactions and the background to the kids is both interesting and chilling. (In a way it's a pity that we won't get to see Greyback get his comeuppance yet!)
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: October 18th, 2005 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)
(Sorry, by "yet" I meant "before Book 7")
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: October 18th, 2005 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Isn't Fenrir in custody? I thought he was captured in the battle at Hogwarts.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's the fannish convention, and I think it has some canon backing (though I can't remember where it comes from exactly), but the book never explicitly states that Fenrir was captured, and I personally kind of doubt that JKR introduced Fenrir just to have him captured and not active in book 7. I have a feeling Fenrir's just getting started.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: October 18th, 2005 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I must admit I'd kind of assumed from what people had been saying that he was still out and about and ready for a confrontation with Remus in Book 7. My bad.

I took a look, and actually you could well be right -- in the fight in the corridor he attacks Harry who uses Petrificus Totalus on him. I didn't spot anywhere that it actually said he was under arrest, but neither was he mentioned in the scene where the Harry fights Snape and the Death Eaters escape (and they are enumerated at one point) . It's possible that one of the Death Eaters could have unfrozen him before getting away, and that he then could have made his way out of the castle by an alternative route, but it does look likely that he was still there and ready to hand over to the Ministry. Interesting!
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 18th, 2005 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I love - well, not love, but you know - how you showed the implications of Sweet being bitten as a child and abandoned in one sentence. That's so horrible... but sadly, not surprising.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, Sweet's parents didn't really abandon her--her mother died in the attack, and her father did search for her diligently until he was killed. But the poor kid has been living in Greyback's world since she was four!
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: October 18th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is very good. I love Tonks dearly, but I miss seeing Remus. The man really can't help himself, can he? He was just born to be a teacher. The stories of those children are heartbreaking. They have been so damaged, but you can see that if Greyback were gone and Remus in charge of their welfare, there would be hope yet. Wow.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
if Greyback were gone and Remus in charge of their welfare...

A dynamic that I'm sure our friend Fenrir will notice.

:whistles innocently by:

I miss Remus, too. I was looking forward to getting back to him.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: October 18th, 2005 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
*shivers* I can tell that in addition to just being a really good writer you have a background/interest in horror. Nothing is ever unnecessarily explicit, but you're capable of showing the Bad Things that come of ever brushing paths with Fenrir. The guy is seriously creepy.
dalf From: dalf Date: October 19th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope whatever prison Fenrir is sent to after HBP cooks all its food welldone ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 19th, 2005 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
And is vegetarian.
dalf From: dalf Date: October 19th, 2005 05:16 am (UTC) (Link)
you win!
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: October 18th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can I say I love all the kids? All of them.. Hamilton included. Alderman being able to read a little was fresh, surprising and very welcome. I wonder if he's self taught, or whether he just remembers from, you know, before? I liked that Evelyn picked up on Remus's distaste for charity, even if he didn't say so - kids are good at picking up disapproval. (I'm assuming that's why she asked him what was wrong with it, because I don't see these werewolves as teaching pride and relf-respect to the young ones.) And I could hug Remus.. I can see how he's trying to take it slow, hold back, and let the children discover him rather than reaching out to them actively. Good strategy, though an agonisingly slow one when it comes to results. But I suppose Remus is the patient sort... thank goodness. I feel like breaking something just reading about it!

I loved the most recent Dora chapter, but I have to say your story flows so much better when you're writing Remus. I wonder if it's because you like writing his interactions with the children more than you like the Dora plot?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's because the interludes are very short and focused comparatively. It's a ten-or-so chapter arc, and I know at least the major events in it. Tonks is living in a kind of hellish limbo. I know where she's going to intersect with Remus's plot, and there need to be more conversations between them ("hundreds of times"), but her plot needs what she needs: Focus.

Yeah, Evelyn picked upon Remus's disapproval. Hard to hide that when you're abjectly poor and still refusing to take clothes from a charity box.

It feels good to be with Remus again.
sreya From: sreya Date: October 18th, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
*laughing* You can take the werewolf out of the teacher, but you can't take the teacher out of the werewolf! I need to make an icon of that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the things I love about Remus is that he's just so wonderfully stable in his identity, which is of course ironic because of his lycanthropy. But he's very secure in his notion of who he is and what he's about, even when he's making a mess of things.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: October 18th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ivy had nearly buried it on one side.

When I first read this sentence, I thought it meant "lvblheron had nearly buried it on one side."

Otherwise, very lovely work, in a sad and slightly disturbing way.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tee-hee. lvblheron is tricksy that way. ;)

Thanks!
From: isabela113 Date: October 18th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remus really can't help getting himself in for trouble, can he? The more I read this particular story the more I am amazed by JK Rowling's willingness to create a painfully dark universe. Not that the books themselves, go particularly far in terms of darkness- obviously there is murder, and big bads, and such but it never comes to the reader with complete and gruesome details. But when one goes poking around in the dark corners, as you have, there are some deeply disturbing things going on. What really sparked this train of thought for me was how human Remus was in this interlude. He is such a mild, compassionate man and he is forced not only by his, shall we say, illness to participate in this bestial culture but also by forces playing on his human side- his honor and sense of moral imperative.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah--I think, oddly, that being forced deeply into his beast nature is likely to bring out his humanity.

And yes! HBP really dashed the idea that this was for small children. Fenrir salivating for a taste of the children at Hogwarts was just... disturbing, in the way real fairy tale bogeymen have always been disturbing.
From: isabela113 Date: October 19th, 2005 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree, it does invoke the classic fairy tale villains in the mode of the Brothers Grimm and others. My mother, being a bit eccentric, read us fairy tales in the original as children (I'm sure you've come across the series of "color" fairy tale books) and the real danger of the villains has always stuck with me.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2005 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

from Violet Azure

Great chapter, sad and hopeful at the same time. The best writing, like yours, always is able to blend emotions skillfully, like a Pucci print. I also love how you show Remus's stubbornness with charity--it goes along nicely with his stubbornness about Dora. The case files were really sad and creepy--reminded me a bit of the some of the sad stories from kids in foster care.

I'm just a little confused as to who Old Mag is, perhaps I just need to go back and re-read.

Great job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2005 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: from Violet Azure

Old Mag is more or less the third werewolf on the left. She appeared briefly in the last interlude (the older woman who helps dress the hedgehog Remus killed), but she's no one prominent, at least not yet. (Though I'd guess from the fact that she gets clothes for the kids that she also looks after them.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

from Violet Azure

Forgot to say--glad you have furniture and stuff!!!
dalf From: dalf Date: October 19th, 2005 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I had always thought Remus was more opposed to charity from his friends. Though I could see the general aversion anyway. Though I don't think books can ever be thought of as charity, I mean BOOKS! Though I suspect some of the ones that are given away are likley not the best reading.
speshalmoi From: speshalmoi Date: October 22nd, 2005 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)
have every right to be educated..."

"To turn into right little humans?" Hamilton sneered, speaking directly to Remus for the first time. "We don't need their things."

"We are human," Remus said, stopping himself before using Hamilton's name and alerting them that he had information they weren't aware of.

"Right," Hamilton said. "Remind me about that when the moon's full." He lapsed back into sullen silence

I found that section rather chilling. Almost all of the kids have gotton so far into Grayback-ness that they're thinking as themselves as inhuman. That struck me as creepy.Concurring with the comments posted before, I hope he has charred tofu in his jail cell.
Oh. And wheatgerm juice. (That sounds disgusting, doesn't it. Teehee)
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