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Shades, Chapter Eight: Interlude (2): Charity, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Eight: Interlude (2): Charity, pt. 3
Remus is back with the wild wolves, and they've gathered for transformation. Over the month, he's bonded with some of Greyback's "pups," and he notices that Greyback is very, very suspicious of this. Greyback instructs him to send the pups to him (Greyback) if they have questions about pack life; answers are to come from him, not Remus. To Remus's disgust, Greyback takes personal pride in the wolfish accomplishments his "pups"--including Remus--have under their belts.

The sun is setting; the moon is rising.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"Well," Greyback said to the men who remained, dragging a wooden box out into the clearing, "what are you all waiting for? Leave your robes in the box and meet me by the waterfall." He glared at them sternly for a moment, then turned and went off in the direction the women had taken. Remus could smell them, now that they were gone, a maddening kind of scent that he'd almost consciously been blocking.

After a glum moment, one of the other men pulled off his tunic and trousers and dropped them into the box. Alderman followed suit a moment later. Remus sheepishly removed his own clothing (noting to his embarrassment that he could smell the girls on it). The others were obviously accustomed to this ritual--most had probably grown up in the pack--but there was still palpable hesitation, and Remus noticed as they gathered for a trek down one of the forest paths that there was very little talk, and almost no looking up or down, or side to side. Finally, they stopped moving alongside a stream, where water cascaded over a shallow fall. Remus crouched, then, more protected, looked up. The others were doing the same.

"This'll be a bit nippy in the winter, won't it?" Alderman said.

One of the other men--Jamison--grinned. "I just take a charity cloak in the winter and let the bloody thing get ripped."

"And here's me hoping you'd say he'd have us transform someplace warmer."

"Where is he, anyway?" Remus asked.

"Where do you think?" a third man spoke up. Remus was reasonably sure his name was Stanfield. "He's off to transform with the females. Reckon there'll be a fight this month?"

There was some desultory debate about whether or not the females had a power struggle going on. Mina was thought to be angling for better position, but the current favorite, Caroline, wasn't known for losing challenges.

"How is he going to meet us here?"

"He'll just come," Alderman said. "When he's... done."

"But transformed... how can he keep it straight in his mind?"

The others looked at him like he was quite mad. Jamison said, very slowly, "He's the one who chooses where to meet."

"But--"

"I think I see your problem, mate," Stanfield said. "You're split right in two, aren't you? You don't have a damned clue what you're doing transformed."

Suspicious looks went around the circle. Alderman shuffled over to him sideways, remaining in a crouch. "You have to want what the wolf wants," he whispered. "That's how you control it. And they didn't know it 'til Greyback taught them, either, so don't pay any mi--" He froze, the muscles in his neck stiffening as he moved to toss the hair out of his eyes.

Remus felt the pull as the stream brightened, the clouds breaking apart overhead. He couldn't resist it.

He turned up his face.

For a moment, it was just the moon, silent and peaceful in the sky.

Then the bright, hot fire

rips through him, tearing him, re-shaping him. The moon is red and the red is blood and the blood is prey.

He has no name.

The pain passes and he stretches his legs. The others are doing the same. The young wolf beside him crouches, growling, lips drawn back in a play challenge.

He mimics the pose, growling, circling, and they feint at one another.

Another ends the game with a powerful swing of his forepaw, sending the younger wolf limping into the stream, then challenges in earnest. There is more circling, more growling, more nipping.

And then there is alpha.

He appears at the top of the rise, and the challenges, play and otherwise, stop. There is no thought about this matter. Alpha comes into their midst, leads them along the stream, leads them to a place where the smell of True Prey is strong, where the underbrush is cleared, where they pass back and forth. Alpha crouches, then lurches into a run.

The pack follows.

Somewhere in the wolf's mind, he hears, or feels, the Other, the Man, telling him to stop, but the Man is quiet and weak. The wolf goes on. The scent is stronger, stronger, then all around, and there is a small fire and screaming prey, running, but they will never outrun the pack.

They run to something metal and foul smelling, and there are sharp clicking sounds as they shut themselves inside, and the pack circles, growling, barking.

There is a grinding noise and a stench of fumes, and then the prey is gone.

Alpha runs after it, but can't catch it. He comes back to the pack, all of them panting. After this, there is a time of roaming the together, and then gathering by the water again to sleep until the sun


rose, bringing pain with it, the second transformation, the beginning of a new month of waiting.

Remus jumped to his feet, staring at the others, covering himself with a handy branch.

Greyback smiled at him. "Bit of fun there, weren't they?"

"Who were those people?"

"Don't know." Greyback got to his feet, not remotely embarrassed at being unclothed. He scratched himself. "Campers, I reckon."

"Why... " Remus took a deep breath, and crouched down into a more protected position. "Why were we hunting them?"

"They were there." Greyback crossed the clearing and tapped Remus's forehead with one strong finger. "You were there as well, mate."

"We didn't..."

"No, they got away." Greyback looked over his shoulder. "Did anyone get a bite in?"

No one had.

"Go on then. Get dressed. We'll have a better hunt next time."

The others left the clearing. Remus remained crouched at the water's edge.

"You planning to stay there and shiver all day, or do something useful?" Greyback asked him.

"Why were we hunting innocent humans? They didn't even do anything to you."

"Why not ask yourself why you were right there with us?" Greyback said. "Answer that question, and it answers your other one as well."

"I don't know."

"Yes you do. Say it."

"Instinct," Remus muttered reluctantly.

"I didn't catch that."

"Instinct. It was instinct."

"Right. And it's instinct because it's what we are. Even you... Professor Lupin. Get dressed."

Remus obeyed.

He didn't see the pups that morning, but the other adults were straggling back to their lairs, looking weak and ill in some cases. Old Mag grabbed his arm and leaned on him for support for the time their paths crossed, but left without a word when hers forked in a different direction. Remus trudged on alone.

He'd wanted to Apparate to the Burrow, to give Harry good wishes before the school year, to have some of Molly's good cooking for lunch, to clean up and become human, and to read Dora's letter again and again, to imagine her voice whispering in his ear. But then he thought of the screaming campers, and the way the scent had filled his mind, and the idea of Apparating was ludicrous. The idea of even making it back to his shed seemed ludicrous until he actually reached it, and fell face down on the floor.

He slept, not bothering to close the door.

I feel a bit...: tired tired

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Comments
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: October 27th, 2005 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
This is very reminiscent of last January/February, when very often in the early hours of the morning, I would think "okay, I am checking my f-list one more time, and then I am going to bed" and lo and behold, there would be a new segment of Shifts, and I would get to read it before bed and sometimes be the first to comment.

I think that maybe the only difference, besides this being Shades and not Shifts, obviously, is that now I'm in a different house.

All of this to say that it's creepy and still so good. I've never been able to decide if I like your abrupt shifts to the italic, immediate, present-tense Wolf, exactly... I don't dislike them, certainly... they work, I think, because they're so jarring - which I assume is what you're going for.

Anyway, great work as always - I am really loving reading about the interactions within the pack.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's what I'm going for, though I think as Remus gets better control of his wolf-mind, I'm going to have him start learning to remember names or at least tag the others and himself in some way, because writing with no names at all... that's irritating to me.
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: October 27th, 2005 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I suppose some good could come out of this, if Remus gains a better understanding of his wolf mind. Still, a scary scene. Having been camping frequently, I don't understand how the campers could reach their car without being bitten let alone killed, unless some of the wolves spoiled the surprise by sounding from a distance.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I kind of grant that they were the luckiest campiers in the whole wide world. Either that or the car was within a few feet of them.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 27th, 2005 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I do have a nitpick: I honestly think Remus would either use Wolfsbane, or refuse to transform near campers. I don't know - I just think if Remus had bitten someone, he'd never let himself get close to anyone again.

Otherwise, very good; I love how you writ the transformations.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
He didn't know they were there. There will be fallout. :)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 27th, 2005 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sighhh.... this job of his is getting more and more dangerous. If I were Tonks, I'd go nuts.
From: isabela113 Date: October 27th, 2005 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I feel like there is some muddying of the lines for Remus in this chapter. Little things like thinking of the children as pups, and his physical response to Greyback's presence (crouching into a submissive position.)And the incident with the campers- *shivers*. As always, wonderful writing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
:note to self--not being as subtle as you think ;):

Yes, Professor Lupin is getting schooled in animalism. I doubt Greyback had any other purpose in mind for chasing those campers, either. The crouching is only partly submissive, though, and I think Remus is thinking of it entirely--at this point--as covering up his various assets.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: October 27th, 2005 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Fern. Now you've made my mind wander in the direction of Remus's assets. O.O
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: October 27th, 2005 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
*shivers* Wow. The switch to italics may be jarring, but I think it's effective. I hate to see Remus lose himself to the wolf, though, and I almost wish you weren't bound by canon--Fenrir needs to die immediately.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I so hope Remus kills Fenrir in book 7.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: October 27th, 2005 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I don't like Remus getting more wolfy...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think Remus likes it much, either.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: October 27th, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Scary chapter. I knew it was going to be scary, what with the transformation and everything, but it really got to me that Remus was beginning to think like.. a different person, a little. And when he spoke to Greyback after... I hated that. I don't like the thought of Remus conceding anything to Greyback. That was the scariest, because it made me think, "What's next?"

Altogether, excellent writing and nice new insights into how lycanthropy works. Why am I not surprised that the only way to reconcile the wolf-human duality is to want what the wolf wants? But I wonder if this is completely true... I wonder if the wolf can be made to want what the human wants. I guess that's what Wolfsbane is for.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if the wolf can be made to want what the human wants.

:lots of innocent whistling:

Honestly, you just stumbled on something that Remus is going to do a lot of thinking about. Unfortunately, his whole life as a lycanthrope has been focused on total separation of the two, and the thought that it could be controlled in either direction is new to him. I doubt the wolf could be made to want to read the collected works of Shakespeare, but is there a way Remus can find a harness to control the wolf without the potion?
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: October 27th, 2005 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. That's going to be interesting. Remus tends to have such interesting thoughts when he gets started on something like this, especially.

BTW, what about NaNo? Have you decided what you're going to write? If not, may I join the long line of people clamouring for Hadria's Hope?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 27th, 2005 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a different idea. And I've got time off coming. I think I'm going to do it.
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