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Shades, Chapter Nine: Patronus, Part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Nine: Patronus, Part 3
Okay. A rather freaked out Tonks gets a feather calling her to a meeting with Dumbledore, who doesn't have the slightest idea that Remus hasn't checked in yet and asks after him after he gives her mundane instructions on Order business. Furious, he sends Moody to find Lupin, and they wait and get word that he is all right but that Greyback is "hovering." This doesn't especially ease anyone's mind...

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Tonks didn't get another owl until Thursday morning.

It was Errol, and she found him waiting for her at the end of her night shift, sleeping perched on the edge of her cauldron. She took the message.

Tonks,

I have him at the Burrow, and will Petrify him until you get here if necessary.

Molly


Tonks smiled and shook her head, sending Errol home empty-taloned. She ran a brush through her hair before Apparating after him.

The Burrow struck her as nearly sedate with no children in the vicinity, the empty garden rolling away in lush greens that disappeared into nothing. Several pairs of boots were missing from beside the door. She knocked. "Molly? It's Tonks."

The door started to open, then shut, and Arthur said, "Er... I... well, are... erm..."

Another voice spoke up softly. "Who did Alan Garvey have a photograph of in his office?"

She smiled and leaned her head on the door, trying to remember the name of the television character Remus's colleague had a framed photograph of in their shared office last year and thinking fondly of afternoons spent engaged in pleasant nonsense. "It was... oh, the one with the spots. On the space program. Started with a J."

"Hmmm..."

She reached for the door, but it remained shut. "Oh, all right. What did Sirius give me of his mother's?"

Total silence, and Tonks winced, because of course it was the wrong thing to ask, the wrong thing to think about on every level.

Sirius had given her his mother's wedding robes.

The door opened into shadow, and she was in Remus's arms before she did much more than catch a glimpse of his face. She kissed him, then punched him in the chest and pulled away. Molly was leaning against the sink, and Arthur was sitting at the kitchen table.

"Thank you, Molly," Tonks said.

"I didn't even need to restrain him."

"I wanted to see you," Remus said, sitting down at the table. Tonks traced his face with her eyes, feeling the sharp lines of his cheekbones and the rough but weirdly soft skin of his jaw in her mind. It felt like she was basking in sunlight after a long rainy spell. "I was going to see you on Monday night, but Moody wouldn't lend me the Cloak."

"Hmph," Molly said. "I'm sure it would have been a great comfort to her to not see you."

"Moody already gave me that lecture, Molly." He turned to Tonks. "No one is on my side on this particular issue."

"You're the only person who's not on your side," Arthur said, and stood up, holding his hand out to Molly. "I think we should bring in some peas from the garden," he said. "Before they go to seed."

She raised an eyebrow, then followed him out.

Tonks sat down across the table from Remus and held her hands out across the table. He stared at them, covered them with his own, then drew away and stood up, lacing his long fingers behind his neck and looking up at a nondescript corner of the ceiling. "Dumbledore has impressed upon both Molly and myself the need to check in immediately after transformations. If I haven't done so within a day, he'll send Moody."

"Good."

"Not really." He sighed and sat down again. "I'm sorry you were worried. I'm really not accustomed to having someone concerned about where I've gone."

"Bollocks," Tonks said. "I've always worried about you. Even before I knew. I remember you disappearing the year after Sirius went to Azkaban."

"It was a bad transformation."

"Then or now?"

"Then. It was bad then." His hand had crept to hers, and he looked down, apparently surprised to find his finger trailing along her wrist. He drew it away. "Honestly, as transformations go, these have been rather easy. At least the transformation part. As much as I hate to admit it, Greyback knows more tricks of lycanthropy than I do, and some things have proven... well, that's neither here nor there."

Tonks frowned. Whatever was going through Remus's mind, it appeared to be here, there, and everywhere else.

"I fell asleep after the transformation," he went on. "And when I woke up, Greyback was there. He'd brought several of the children. They'd got a pile of books. I don't think Greyback was happy about it, but they wanted to learn to read."

"That's marvelous."

"Greyback... likes everything the get to come from him. So he made a great fuss of establishing that he was ordering me to teach them. And he watches the lessons."

"Oh. That's what Moody meant by 'Greyback hovering.'"

"Partly." He looked down. "I've struck a deal with him."

"What?"

"It seems that he's not particularly keen on the children mastering a skill that he's nearly forgotten entirely. He won't tell them that he doesn't know how."

Tonks felt an amused smile playing around her lips. "You're teaching Fenrir Greyback to read?"

Remus nodded. "That's my half."

Amusement faded. "Your half?"

"Greyback is able to control his thoughts when he's transformed. Not as well as a human does, of course, but..." He sighed. "I can't have the Wolfsbane Potion this year. It has a distinct odor. They all think of it something like a neutering spe..." His face went red. "They don't think well of it. And I dislike not having any control of my own mind. I suppose I'd got used to..." He waved it off and stood up again. "I didn't put it that way to Greyback, of course. I told him I admired his sense of identity, and wanted to learn that. And so on. Horrible lies."

"So you're teaching him to read, and he's teaching you to be a self-aware wolf. Quid pro quo."

"Right. Which means I've spent a lot more hours in the company of Fenrir Greyback than I would like to have. He was there constantly the first two days. Even slept nearby to make sure the pups didn't come sneaking to me for lessons that he wasn't there to watch." His nose wrinkled and his lip curled upward. "He practically owns them, Dora. Possesses them. And some of them, the girls, when they grow up..." He shuddered. "Of course every time I start to get self-righteous about that, I think about bloody doll I enchanted for you when you were five, or about drawing kittens on your bows, and--"

"Stop."

"I can't stop." He put his hand on the windowsill and looked out over the Weasleys' garden. "Where am I different? What's the difference?"

Tonks got up and went to him, sliding her arms around him from behind. He grabbed her hands desperately. "Speaking as someone who had to worked damnably hard to get you to notice she'd grown up at all, I think it's safe to say that you didn't have a look at me when I was playing with my dolls and think, 'Ah, I'll take that one now and keep her for later.'"

He raised her hand to his mouth and kissed her knuckles. She spread the fingers of her other hand out over his chest. He shivered, and then he turned in her arms and she was pressed against him, his hands roving over her back, his lips pressed to her forehead, her cheekbones. She turned up her face and he found the hollow of her throat and nuzzled her.

She put her hands in his hair, caressing his skull. "I've missed you."

He didn't answer, just let his hands trail up to her shoulders and his lips find hers briefly. He pushed her gently away from him and caught his breath. "That was... something of a mixed message, wasn't it?"

"It didn't feel particularly mixed to me."

He took a few aimless steps away from her. "Greyback has us hunting humans," he said out of nowhere. "I was with the pack. They chased Muggle campers. They didn't bite anyone, but I was there. I went along. I couldn't stop."

"And that's why you're trying to learn to control it. From Greyback if you must."

He nodded. "Want what the wolf wants," he muttered, and she supposed it was a quote. He took a deep shaky breath. "I don't like what the wolf wants. At least not most of the time. And I can't control it. I... just now..."

"I'm not prey, Remus," Tonks said, going cold, understanding where he was going with this.

"You're not inside my skull when I touch you. I'll hurt you, Dora. Someday I'll hurt you."

"I believe that was Sunday. And you were planning to do it again on Tuesday. And I have a feeling you're plotting to do it right now. And it's the perfectly human Remus who's doing it, so don't try to lay it on your bloody inner wolf."

"Do you have the slightest idea what I am?"

"Oddly, for years, I've thought you were my dearest friend." She thought about going to him, but didn't. "There are a lot of things in my life that I can lose, Remus. You're not one of them. Don't leave me."

He closed his eyes. "Be happy, Dora," he said thickly, then turned on his heel and left the Burrow, turning as he passed the Apparition wards and vanishing into his own hell.
19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
darkeyedwolf From: darkeyedwolf Date: November 6th, 2005 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)
... ouch. *wibbles*
kinderjedi From: kinderjedi Date: November 6th, 2005 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Remus. :(
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: November 6th, 2005 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
*sniffle*

Beautiful, just beautiful. *sniffles some more*
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: November 6th, 2005 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus is so good at angsting, is he not?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 6th, 2005 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
No one better.
bronells From: bronells Date: November 6th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awww, poor conflicted Remus. I'm always so optimistic that Remus will get over his issues and just accept Tonks' love, even though I know we won't reach that canon point for some time yet. Each time he gives in slightly only to strengthen his resolve again and leave.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: November 6th, 2005 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. Another very nice bit of backstory-filling -- interesting ideas for Greyback! -- but painful once Remus and Tonks met up. Is Remus doing what he did in Shifts here and mistaking normal human desires for wolfish ones? His agonising over Greyback's treatment of the girls compared to his treatment of Dora does sound right (that particular part of the Shifts-world R/T backstory always did feel a trifle problematic, to be honest).

Couple of minor typos I noticed: "I didn't put it that way to Greyback that way, of course." and "who had to worked damnably hard"?

I especially liked the letter from Molly, and the last few paragraphs and the last line in particular were really very powerful bits of writing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 6th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
(that particular part of the Shifts-world R/T backstory always did feel a trifle problematic, to be honest).

It's quite problematic, and deliberately so. She's really not obscenely younger than he is in a technical sense--thirteen to fifteen years, roughly. We're not talking Hef and the playmate of the month kind of age difference. And for her, it's not an issue, because she more or less always had a crush, and entering the romance for her was like growing into it. But for him, it's a major psychological hurdle, because he knew and loved her when she was very much still in the territory of one of our biggest social taboos about sex, and there's not a clean enough breaking point, when it suddenly became all right. When he was just going about his life, it bothered him and he questioned himself, but now that he's with Greyback, where he's constantly confronted with it--and with someone whose only concession to the taboo appears to be that he will wait for physical maturity--I think it's battering him more and more. There isn't anything wrong with what he feels for her now, and he didn't have any inappropriate feelings toward her earlier (as she points out, she had to work quite hard to get him to look at her that way), but he's got everything mixed up in his head.
sunsethill From: sunsethill Date: November 6th, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Amen. The last phrase was like a punch in the gut. Very powerful.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 6th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
OH! I nearly said that out loud, I think. Poor confused, conflicted Remus, hurting Tonks by trying not to. That was very good. I liked Arthur's line, too, about Remus being the only one not on his own side.
From: underaloggia Date: November 6th, 2005 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

ARGH! Love that we get to see one of the "million times", hate the angst! Okay, I didn't hate the angst. It was *wonderfully* done, but... but... [wants to take Remus and shake his lovable self into acceptance]. In a word, ARGH!

Another typo: "Greyback... likes everything theY get to come from him." (missing Y)

And this is more of a personal perference, but: "turning as he passed the Apparition wards and vanishing into his own hell." I love this sentence, but might the parallel structure not be better as "vanished into his own hell"? Depends, I suppose, on how you see the turning relating to the passing and the vanishing... Wow, I'm so overthinking this. Must... stop...

Anyway, it's awesome, Fern. I like how the relationship stuff they're dealing with now is similar to what they were dealing with in Shifts, but it has a noticeably different spin due to their new (and awful!) circumstances.

cheers,
Carrie
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: November 6th, 2005 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my. Punch to the gut, that last line. Poor Remus.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: November 6th, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
This chapter has an absolutely perfect balance between Remus' capability for a real, caring love and his total inability to get any kind of a handle on his identity. Lovely and creepy both--keep up the good work!
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: November 6th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
*pang*

oh, dear.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: November 6th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's strange how Remus can't seem to get that he's making himself unhappy, he's making Dora unhappy...

Actually, I think he does geet it. But he's got this idea that it's still the right thing to do.

Darn Gryffindors.
sharonaf From: sharonaf Date: November 7th, 2005 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's true, he is making Tonks unhappy and all that, and his fear of hurting her is understandable (given what he's been seeing lately) and unreasonable, but his initial reasons for staying away from her remain true -- are even increased, no?
If he's spending /this/ much time with Greyback, isn't it even more likely that Greyback will realize he's seeing Tonks, and jeopardize both their lives and his mission?
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: November 8th, 2005 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Very good answer from Tonks over how Remus is different from Fenrir. Far from the only difference, of course, but the important one for what he's asking.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 8th, 2005 11:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dear Fern, I have been reading, tho I'm not keeping up with comments. Shades is really well done and this portion was especially good. Everything fit both your backstory and what (little) we saw in HBP. I loved Arthur in this! Well, I love Arthur & Molly always. Before JKR gave us canon Lupin/Tonks, Arthur & Molly were the only One True Ship. LOL. I always wanted to do an icon w/that line. Now they're joined with a variety of ships w/fully raised sails. Anyway, well done as usual. I'm off to bookmark your novel for future reading! Good on Fern!
From: hesterlester Date: November 10th, 2005 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)
"Oddly, for years, I've thought you were my dearest friend."

Love that line. I like your non-whimpy Tonks.

Thanks for keeping this going, inspite of your other pressing commitments.
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