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Shades, Chapter Eight: Interlude (2): Charity, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Eight: Interlude (2): Charity, pt. 2
Remus has claimed a run down shed in the woods, and the child werewolves have started to wander over to it. The morning before transformation, one of the older wolves, a woman called Mag, has brought back a charity box from a priest in a nearby village, and Remus comes back to the shed (after a check-in at the Burrow) to find the children going through it. He refuses to take anything. He has learned--or, well, Bill has, and has passed it on--several things about the children, including several names and stories of their parents. He doesn't think it will do them much good to know in several cases.

In the course of looking through the charity haul, they find books, and Remus discovers that Alderman can read (somewhat) and a few of the others seem interested in the concept. One, Hamilton, is hostile, claiming that he doesn't want to turn human, although he's been frankly fascinated watching Remus read.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




By the time the box had been divvied up--Sweet and Evelyn were careful to make sure that some things were saved especially for girls who hadn't left the cave this morning; the boys seemed to just put everything into a communal pile--it was nearly noon, and several of the children were getting anxious to get to the gathering. Alderman directed them to cover up some of the more obvious hand-outs, offering Remus's place as a hiding spot without asking permission (not that it would have been denied). It took some talking to get Evelyn out of the satin evening dress with sparkling plastic jewels on it, but she finally capitulated when Remus told her that proper ladies only wore such clothes in the evening for dancing. Eager to be a proper lady, Evelyn set it aside, and asked if they might all dance some evening.

"I think that's not allowed," Sweet said after a very long time. "It's like having a mate."

"It is not," Blondin said. "I've seen people dancing, and they aren't mating at all."

"It's still a stupid idea." Alderman folded the dress carefully and then tossed it casually into the shed.

"What do you think, Remus?" Sweet asked.

"I think you and Evelyn are both too young to go out dancing in evening dresses anyway."

"Can we just go to the gathering?" Hamilton interrupted. "I'm not dancing."

"So go yourself!" Evelyn said. "I want to stay with Lupin."

Remus winced, but didn't acknowledge the proprietary tone in her voice. "Well, as it happens, I'm going to the gathering."

"And if you want Lupin's throat to stay in his neck," Alderman offered, "you'd best be where Greyback expects you to be."

On that cheerful note, the conversation stopped, the charity clothes were decently stowed away, and they left, en masse, for the clearing where Greyback's wolves met.

Remus arrived close to last, but he didn't need to see into the clearing to know that Greyback was already there, because the children grew quiet and pensive, quickening their steps to go stand in his presence and be counted. He wasn't surprised to come around the last bend to find Greyback standing across from him, his arms crossed, his eyes narrowed.

"Lupin," he said. "I see you've made friends." Alderman muttered something, and Greyback turned on him. "What did you say, Alderman?"

Alderman shrugged. "Lupin's there, is all. Handy place. He lets us talk there."

"Is that so?" Greyback looked at Remus, his eyes glittering nastily. "Well, Lupin always did like children nearly as well as I do."

Blondin looked over suspiciously and Evelyn frowned, knowing there was something sinister in Greyback's words, but not quite able to work it out. Alderman, to Remus's unending gratitude, rolled his eyes as soon as he was sure Greyback's back was turned.

Sweet, who was standing beside Remus, simply kept her eyes cast down. When the quiet faded back up to the conversational buzz, she said, "Did you always like children? Before you came here, I mean?"

Remus hesitated before answering, not wanting to confirm a single word out of Greyback's mouth, but there was certainly a preponderance of evidence on the subject available if Greyback chose to follow up his obscene insinuations. It was better to have a more accurate picture there. "I've always enjoyed working with children," he said. "I was a teacher."

Sweet turned to him, her eyes flatly hungry. "In a school?"

"Once or twice. More often in students' homes."

"I've seen children going to school."

"Have you?"

"Yes. I tried to follow them for a few days last year, but they made fun of my clothes." She looked away. "And my face. One of the girls called me 'Mangle.' They wouldn't let me into the school."

"Well, you have to be registered in the school to go."

"How?"

Remus was spared answering the question--an abducted child whose de facto guardian would be arrested on sight had no chance at all of being registered for school--by Fenrir Greyback, who steered Sweet a few steps away, looked down at her, and said, "Go over with the others, Sweets. We'll have a hunt soon."

Sweet left without argument.

"I was half-expecting you to disappear," he said to Remus when she was gone.

"And go where?"

Greyback gave him a mistrustful look. "Your Little Red isn't in London anymore."

"She isn't?"

"Don't insult me."

Remus didn't answer.

Greyback didn't continue his line of thought. "What do you think you're doing with the pups?"

"Alderman was telling the truth. They wander by, talk, and wander out."

"And you're not encouraging it at all?"

"Not in any manner I'm aware of, other than not forbidding it."

This seemed to be a particularly bad answer, as Greyback turned and glared at him, fingers twitching like he meant to strike. "You think you're so clever, don't you? Do you think I don't know what kinds of ideas you'll try to fill their heads with?"

"So far, we've had conversations on the seditious topic of dancing."

"Dancing!"

"The girls were debating whether or not it was forbidden."

"And the boys?"

"Have you ever met a boy who would particularly care?"

Greyback laughed. "No. I reckon I haven't."

"What's the answer? Do you allow dancing? I'm afraid I'm not entirely certain."

For the first time, Greyback looked genuinely thoughtful, and almost flattered that Remus had asked him a question. "Well," he said, "I think they might dance in a circle, or some such thing. That would be all right with me." He nodded to himself, pleased with his own largesse. "I'll tell them when we hunt. They should ask me these things themselves, though. If they do that again, you tell them to ask me."

Remus gave him a non-committal nod.

"You'll stay back this time. I understand you're hunting on your own anyway."

"Foraging more often, but yes."

"Good, good. You'll learn yet. You're late, but you'll learn."

The note of genuine approval in Greyback's voice, an almost fatherly satisfaction in a child's accomplishment, chilled Remus, simply because it was entirely unfeigned and uncalculated. Greyback felt perfectly entitled to approve--or disapprove--of his "children."

Greyback took the little ones off to hunt a few minutes later, and Remus found himself alone among the adults. Alderman, trying to separate himself from the younger ones, avoided him. The woman Mina, who had... been attentive... to him last month had occupied herself conspicuously with meal preparation. Remus raised a hand in greeting to a man whose name he thought was Ralph, and got a solemn nod in return, and a short, pugnacious man called Samuel raised his fists for a sporting fight. Remus smiled, but declined.

"Did you find anything you could use?"

Remus turned. The old woman who'd helped him dress his kill last month was cutting the rotten parts from a basket of withered apples. "Hello... Mag?"

She nodded. "Alderman said you're letting them put a few things aside where you are."

"There's room."

"Did you find anything for yourself?"

"I'm quite all right without assistance."

"Aren't we fancy?" she said, but her smile wasn't unkind. "Father Montgomery says that taking charity is doing good as well as giving it is. It helps people's souls. Somehow."

"This priest knows... to whom he's giving aid?"

"Oh, yes. I've told him everything. As it turns out, his sister was a Muggle-born witch, so he believes me. More than I would have before I was bitten!" She smiled placidly. "It's good to talk to someone outside of it all sometimes. Of course, it's good to have our own kind, as well. I was alone for so long before I stumbled on Fenrir. No one understood. You know what I mean, don't you?"

"I think we all know what you mean."

"Fenrir's been talking about some new order. Do you know anything about it?"

Remus considered the question carefully. He knew nothing about Old Mag except that she defied Greyback to confess to local priest, who gave her charity. She seemed fond of life in the pack. He suspected that Greyback hadn't even been the one who'd bitten her, so he couldn't count on bitterness.

He shook his head. "I believe there are differing opinions on the subject."

"Is your opinion differing?"

"Greyback is aware of my opinions."

Old Mag gave him a secretive smile, and went back to her apples.

The children returned with a great deal of small game, and they again spent the afternoon eating heavily. Remus made a point of sitting with the other adults, though Sweet insisted on joining them as well, as she wanted to tell him about her hunt. There was a great deal of talk of injustices suffered at the hands of the outside world, and a particular excoriation of Dolores Umbridge, who had returned to her Ministry work with gusto, and proposed a regulation on how close to town a werewolf could be when he wasn't transformed. She wasn't getting on with it particularly well--with Dumbledore back in the Ministry's good graces (after a fashion), it was less socially acceptable to be non-inclusive--but Greyback took the existence of such a piece of legislation, however unlikely to pass, and fanned it into a bonfire of outrage within the pack. The abuse session lasted through most of the afternoon and into the evening, as they consumed vast quantities of meat and other foods. This time, Remus felt less ill from overeating than he had last month. He barely noticed when the women caught the girls and started pulling them away to wherever they went, and wouldn't have noticed at all if Sweet hadn't run back to make him promise that she could come by the shed the next day.

He looked up and saw Greyback in the shadows beyond the group, sunset making his narrowed eyes flare.

Greyback presented the boys with another box of rabbits, then sent them off to the cave. The evening was darkening.

Remus felt the pull of the moon.
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Comments
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: October 22nd, 2005 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to like Old Mag, aren't I? And then something awful is going to happen to her and it's all going to be very sad and I'm going to have to remind myself countless times that it's only a story, and I shouldn't let it upset me so, and...

...and it continues to be so good. You really are relieved to be back with Remus, aren't you? His world is... I don't know - darker, but less tense. Or something.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't say. I just "met" Old Mag myself, starting with a need for someone to get the charity box. I'm not sure what she's going to be about yet.

And yes, I'm relieved to be back with Remus. I love Tonks, but she's in the same kind of horrible limbo that I spend most of my real life in, and it's good to get back to someone who has a plan, however ill-defined, to get something done!
dalf From: dalf Date: October 25th, 2005 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
You know how that we are back with Remus, the fact that I have at times thought of the shifts universe as beeing almost cannon, I started thinking about what happenes at the end of HBP. Will Remus go back to them? What will his standing be then? THey will need someone to lead them with Greyback gone.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do not, at present, plan to kill Sweet off, if that helps. :D

And yeah... that line was so creepy that I was sitting here at my keyboard going, "Do I really want to go there?" I think, ultimately, that Greyback may be where all of my years of interest in weird destructive cults will go, though he's not using most of the techniques on Remus himself.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks... I think! :D

I'll only kill them off if it makes a big difference to the plot, I think...
speshalmoi From: speshalmoi Date: October 22nd, 2005 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love all the kids. I really hope you don't kill/maim permanently any of them. That would make me extremely sad, even though it's OC, which means it could turn out the kids don't exist at all and...
I'm babbling. Great section as always.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm really hoping that book 7 doesn't address too specifically what Remus has been up to. I'm playing for a tie that way.

I'm glad you like them. It's always crazy-making to introduce OCs and let them have prominent roles, so it's very reassuring to know that they're going over well.
speshalmoi From: speshalmoi Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree.
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: October 22nd, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
As usual, you've done a great job making all these OCs real. It occurs to me that Fenrir's insinuations aren't going to do anything constructive about Remus' feelings that Tonks is too young for him...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
It occurs to me that Fenrir's insinuations aren't going to do anything constructive about Remus' feelings that Tonks is too young for him...

Heheheh. Yeah. 'Cause Remus isn't jumpy enough about the subject already. It's a touchy subject, and getting as close to it as I am actually makes me nervous... and I'm just the writer! A guy who's been turned to a werewolf by an apparent pedophile and who is now in love with a woman he knew when she was a child--that's got to mess with his mind someplace, even without Greyback encouraging the comparison.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 23rd, 2005 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Greyback seems more an emotional pedophile than an actual pedophile. For him, sex is about dominance in the pack. Ergo, he has rights to the females and punishes any male who steps over the line. His interest in the children isn't healthy but, so far, I'm guessing being recognized as the dominate male (or his warped view of the dominate male) satisfies that need. So far, the problems the kids have don't seem in line with being sexually abused (except, perhaps, for the boy who doesn't want to give his name).

No, I'm more worried about what Greyback will do if he feels he has to reassert his authority with the children. And Rowling's made it clear Greyback can't be a wolfskin rug at the end of book six. Thought of any ways to get around that?

Oh, I'm also interested in this priest. You only have a few lines about him, but he's intriguing. The reference to confession made me think more of a Catholic priest, which would be a different life in the U.K. than Church of England, although I don't know if it's important to his character development. He both believes in magic and doesn't seem to have big, personal issues with it - I'm assuming he gets along with his sister? I'd love to hear his theological opinions on the magic.

I'm guessing one of two approaches. Pre-Puritan era, magic was traditionally white, gray, or black. Magical forces were viewed as heavenly, devilish, or neutral (although there were ongoing arguments about how neutral the neutral ones were, from the stories of fairies paying a tiend to hell). The Puritans rejected the idea of neutral (although the Puritans in America actually accused fewer people of being witches than those with less rigid views both in the U.S. [more accused witches died in Europe, but I don't know how different faiths scored on the issue]. Go figure). A Catholic priest shouldn't have to much trouble working in a benign attitude towards magic without feeling it flew in the face of his beliefs (I'm guessing).

OTOH, it seems a more modernist view would be to see magical ability as an inborn talent. As such, it comes under the same moral considerations as any talent. It's the use, not the ability, that defines it as good or bad. In this case, he may have worked out his position and resolved it with doctrinal points. His inner dialogue on it may be ongoing.

That aside, he believes in werewolves and wants to help them, diverting resources that could go to other charitiable groups, after all - groups, by the way, he could openly acknowledge helping. On a selflessness level, these are good deeds he gets no public credit for and may even be criticized since he may seem to provide less for those in need than other priests.

He also takes his duties very seriously. Nothing seem's to have leaked to the ministry through his sister about Mag.

Does he know Mag's a danger to him? He may know, after all, who Greyback is and realize the dangers to a Muggle who gets too close to this group. Has he decided what he'll do if he becomes a werewolf? For a Muggle, if he can hide during the full moon and cover up the illness, he might be able to continue living his life. None of his parishoners are likely to, er, throw him to the wolves over it. So to speak.

Also makes me wonder if there's a lot of silver in his church, crosses and so on. If so, has he considered any defensive uses? Or is he willing to take his chances?

And, Remus now has enough information to track him down. There can't be that many Muggleborn witches with brothers who are priests, after all.

Oh, and why did he include a book on werewolf hunters? I can see it one of two ways. There are some sympathetic to werewolves stories, even if werewolf hunters are the main characters. That would be a good to include. Depending what Mag's told him, he may realize some of them need to know why others fear them (normal people aren't rabbits and do care if they're hunted), though that's rather complex and could backfire.

Or he may have just added it from a stack without noticing it or without seeing how it might go over. He also might just have a really bad sense of humor.

Sorry. I'm always so long winded. But I really like your stories and they make me think about all sorts of things.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 23rd, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thinking is good, and what a great comment.

I agree that Greyback is more of an emotional pedophile than an actual one, and yes, the issue of control over the children is a major one, and the fact that Remus is coming in and undermining his authority without even trying probably eats at him.

I think I will, at some point, catch up with Father Montgomery (and yes, he's Catholic), who only quite accidentally tossed in the book about werewolf hunters. It was just in with a bunch of other donated commodities. I haven't tended to write werewolves with a particular silver allergy, as they don't appear to have it in canon (Remus is shown drinking from a silver goblet in OotP). And I really doubt that the padre has any idea how much danger he's in.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 22nd, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the little werewolf children. Lovely writing, like always.

- Whitney
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2005 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I'm kind of fond of the pups myself!
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: October 22nd, 2005 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely.

Sweet rushing back in front of Greyback to ask Remus if she can come over the next day... ye gods, I want to throttle her, but she's so sweet. The children are really oblivious, aren't they?

I'm wondering about the adults, though, and I hope this introduction to Mag means we will be seeing more of them. I want to know what they think of Fernir, how Fernir behaves with them, what they think of their lives.. any number of things.

I agree with everyone above that your OCs are magnificient, as usual. I have something of an aversion for OCs who are brought in to be love interests of canon characters, OCs who are main characters in the story. Even if it's all very well written, I can't stomach that much of a departure from canon. Great characters are absolutely essential to any good writing, but I think the story is more fundamental, and that characters should only exist to serve the story. And your OCs are just that... they don't take over the stage from canon characters, so that the tie to canon is still strong, and they exist not because they're cool characters (they are), but because the story needs them there.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 23rd, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
The adults are a little more reclusive than the children, but I'm going to try and give Remus some situations where he can interact with them and get their views on things. I think they must be fairly isolated from the mainstream wizarding world if they're buying Greyback's line about how good things will be under Voldemort.
bronells From: bronells Date: October 23rd, 2005 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I love how that with very little encouragement the children seem to naturally gravitate towards Remus. Greyback creeps me out though (as he should!), so I enjoy the "lighter" moments in Remus' interludes with your excellent OCs like Old Mag and the children.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 23rd, 2005 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
They are a bit of a relief from the angst, for me too. :)
sreya From: sreya Date: October 25th, 2005 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
... and wouldn't have noticed at all if Sweet hadn't run back to make him promise that she could come by the shed the next day.

He looked up and saw Greyback in the shadows beyond the group, sunset making his narrowed eyes flare.


This made such a clear image in my head that I'm very frustrated I can't paint, with the little girl looking up at Lupin, Lupin looking into the shadows at Greyback, and Greyback with his bright reflective eyes staring back out. Incredibly spooking, and saying absolutely loads about this whole chapter.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: October 28th, 2005 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd fallen behind with this story, but I've really enjoyed catching up tonight. It's such a grim year for Tonks and Remus, the story seems darker than Shifts, but it's balanced by the support and concern of Tonks's friends and family. They're all wonderful.

It's also interesting to see Remus's relationship with the children developing, but it makes me nervous to think what will come to make him so tense at Christmas.

Anyway, super as always, and now that I'm up to speed, I'll be on the lookout for the next chapter.
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