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Shades, Chapter Ten: A New Leaf, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Ten: A New Leaf, pt. 2
Okay. Back to Shades.

Tonks has taken back a little control of her life, first by choosing unilaterally to start repairing the Shrieking Shack, and then by tracking a Dementor to the Forbidden Forest--she is puzzling at an undamaged, spring-like oak leaf that has fallen at her feet when it appears--where she follows the wandering stream to a place that's full of sunlight in the middle of the night. She can't get close enough to see what's inside it; it keeps retreating. She talks to Hagrid, who's upset about Aragog, then goes home and realizes that she feels better thinking about things other than her loneliness. She wakes up to find another fresh and healthy oak leaf has blown through her door.

(BTW, I will edit into the last part that she, you know, tells her boss that there's another Dementor wandering around the now-student-filled school. You know, just for kicks. :headdesk:)

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




It was Sunday before she got any time to herself. A Dementor in the school's vicinity while there were students present had necessitated alternating night watches. Dumbledore had briefly left, so she'd needed to take time to investigate anyone interested in his comings and goings, which turned out to be any number of people--Dumbledore was a subject of a great deal of local gossip in Hogsmeade, where he was something of a celebrity. No one exhibited any hostile ideas, or disappeared abruptly after a conversation. She saw Mundungus Fletcher on Thursday and watched him selling several items, but none of them had been stolen from Grimmauld Place; apparently, he'd just made a shady deal of some sort for a pile of used wands, which Tonks supposed would be in high demand with Ollivander missing. She tailed his contact for most of the afternoon, and finally found him doing nothing more incriminating than selling to a tiny magical junk shop tucked away in the mountains. She pretended to be a customer to inspect the place, found it full of items which might be useful in everyday life--pre-charmed tea sets, old cutlery, a selection of storage charms, things of that sort (some of which she thought she might come back for herself later)--but nothing that particularly suggested that the place would be frequented by Dark Witches. The fact that the owner recognized her as an Auror and didn't seem nervous reinforced it.

On Friday, London Aurors arrested Stan Shunpike, a hapless boy who'd been two years behind Tonks in school and had left after his O.W.L.s. Robards said that he'd been bragging about knowledge he had of Death Eater movements, which she suspected was about as real as Gilderoy Lockhart's great adventures. Of course, people had believed Lockhart, too. She got into a screaming match with Proudfoot about the arrest, which Dawlish broke up, forbidding the subject of the Shunpike arrest to come up in his contingent again. Saturday was a wreck of running pointless errands and filling out dreary paperwork, but if she didn't take care of it, it would back up. Dawlish held another meeting for everyone to compare notes.

Each day, she'd found one or two of the strange oak leaves. She couldn't make heads or tails of them, which was why she decided on her first day off all week to pay a visit to Maddie Apcarne.

Maddie and Daffy greeted her with a nice lunch, filled her in on a great deal of gossip about old school friends, and let her play with the baby before they asked her what she needed.

Tonks kissed Francis and handed him over to Daffy. "I have a mystery," she said. "I think it may be one of your sort, Maddie. Though of course, I don't know."

"Hmm," Maddie said. "Daffy, could you take Francis out to the garden?"

Daffy rolled his eyes, picked up the baby, and went outside. Through the window, Tonks saw him bend down and start showing plants to Francis.

"Tonks, you know I can't tell you a thing about what I do."

"I know. I'm not asking you to. I won't even ask if yours is the right division for this. I don't have the faintest idea where you've been since you left the Universe division, and I know better than to ask. I do know that I... don't have any special desire to go back to the Deparment of Mysteries."

"I can understand that. What's your mystery?"

Tonks pulled a handful of leaves from her pocket, and set them on the table. They unfurled, completely undamaged by being crumpled in her pocket.

Maddie picked one up. "Oak."

"I'd got that far."

"Accio glasses," Maddie muttered, and a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles flew over to her. She tapped them with her wand, then put them on and examined the leaf without explaining this to Tonks. "It's alive," she said. "Which is a neat trick for a leaf that's not on a tree."

"Is it..." Tonks frowned. "I don't even know if I can ask if it's the sort of thing I should give to an Unspeakable."

"If you've brought it, you know the answer." Maddie took off the glasses and folded them, ending whatever enchantment she'd put on them with a tap of her wand. "My job makes conversations difficult."

"I've been there."

"Compared to us, Aurors and secret agents from Albus Dumbledore are veritable fonts of free information. But you do at least have an idea. It drives Daff quite mad that I can't tell him a thing about work."

Panicky butterflies twittered around in Tonks's stomach. "You and Daffy... you're all right, though?"

"Hmm? Oh, yes. He knew what he was getting into. It bothers him, but not so much that he's going to suddenly explode and leave me or something. He knows that I'm not going to do anything against my conscience or anything that will put him or Francis in danger, and that's enough for him. Don't worry about us."

Tonks nodded. "Right."

Maddie looked at her kindly, then touched the back of her wrist. She stood up. "Do you want a butterbeer?"

"Sure."

Maddie Summoned two bottles from a high cupboard above the sink, and got two glasses from where they were drying in the sun. She handed one to Tonks, and steered one of the butterbeers in her direction, then sat down again herself and worked the cork out of her bottle. "I'm not bringing them to work," she said.

"Oh. I'm sorry. I shouldn't impose..."

"No. I should. But I won't."

"Maddie..."

"What, you're the only person allowed to use her professional skills outside the employ of the Ministry?"

"I--"

"We'll have an Order of two, you and I. Just to investigate this. The Order of the Badger."

Tonks gathered the leaves thoughtfully. "Maddie, I'm not sure where this is going to lead. I was hoping you'd just tell me what they were. I--"

"It's involved with Dumbledore's group?"

"They came from the Forbidden Forest, I think. Which means school grounds, which may mean Dumbledore's business. I should have asked him before coming to you. I just thought it might be something simple."

"Mmm. It rarely is." Maddie smiled. "Talk to Dumbledore. See if he objects to my helping you. If not, we can start working. If so... well, I'll just tell you that there are Mysteries other than the ones we study at the Department. We come across them, and sometimes one bit or another will fit in a Division. But a lot of Mysteries, shall we say, die in captivity. Be careful."

"Do you think they're dangerous?"

"By themselves? They're leaves, Tonks. Unless there are enough to smother you in your sleep, I think you're safe. But what they're leading to? Mysteries are not, in general, tame."

Tonks put the leaves away, then they went outside to play with Daffy and Francis for awhile. Francis was just getting a handle on crawling in the grass and the three adults spent quite a lot of their time keeping him from putting worms and grubs that he found there in his mouth.

When Tonks went home, she wrote a careful letter to Dumbledore, mentioning that she wanted Maddie's help with a matter that had come up, based on her training as an Unspeakable. Dumbledore sent her a much briefer note in return four hours later, instructing her to meet him at the Shrieking Shack at ten o'clock. It was nine forty-five already, so she headed out immediately.

Dumbledore was already in the kitchen when she got there, opening the cupboard doors and inspecting the repair work she'd done on the furniture. He looked up with a smile. "You've found an interesting hobby, Nymphadora," he said.

"I hope there's no problem with it."

"Your hobbies are your own. And I daresay the house was in need of some attention." He pulled out a chair and sat at the table, and indicated that she should take the other. She sat and he Conjured a tea set, pouring each of them a cup. "I trust your judgment, Nymphadora," he said. "You should learn to do so."

"I just meant that I know it's not why I was given the--"

Dumbledore waved his good hand in an almost dismissive way. "What have you found?"

Tonks told him about the leaves, showing him the ones she had in her pocket, and about the sunlit glade in the Forbidden Forest that Hagrid hadn't been able to explain. "I suppose you probably know what it is," she said.

Dumbledore looked at a leaf for a very long time. "No," he said. "I have suspicions, but no knowledge on the subject." He smiled. It was a horrible, ancient smile that disturbed Tonks. "I nearly told you that you should speak to Nicolas," he said. "Odd how a handful of years may slip one's mind from time to time."

"Professor..."

"It's an old Mystery, if it's the Mystery I believe it to be, wrapped up in all of the others. You think the Dementors are seeking it?"

Tonks nodded. "It's full of all the things they feed on. It seems... joyful, somehow. Hopeful. The sort of thing they'd want to swallow whole."

"Hagrid told me he never saw a glimpse of the place during the year they were at the school," Dumbledore said. "It may have moved to avoid them. No place is safer, usually, but you're quite right about a Dementor's hunger. May I?" He held up a leaf and Tonks nodded. He pocketed it. "I spoke to your friend Maddie after I got your letter. I hadn't seen her since she left school. What a lovely young woman she's become. Motherhood suits her."

"Yes. And Francis is a wonderful baby. Or, well, I think he is. I suppose I don't have many to compare him to."

"Oh, he was perfectly charming." Dumbledore turned his teacup around several times. "Your judgment of people is impeccable, Nymphadora. I've never seen you snub a worthy friend, or give your heart to an unworthy one."

"I liked Pettigrew, and didn't believe in Sirius."

"Peter Pettigrew showed you kindness, and for a child as small as you were, that is sufficient. And many who knew Sirius far better than you did failed him. But as you've grown, I've watched you. I saw you in school, and I've seen you since. You showed brilliant judgment of Kingsley Shacklebolt. You were able to accept--immediately, Nymphadora--that what you'd always known about Sirius wasn't true, and were able to love him again." He took a breath. "You have your father's skill at seeing people."

"Dad--"

"Missed Mr. Lockhart." Dumbledore finished. "We can always list exceptions, but they are exceptions because there is a rule for them to be exceptions to. I assure you, even I--occasionally--have been mistaken." He smiled. "But I'm not mistaken about you. I trust your judgment, and had I not trusted it before I visited your friend this evening, I would have learned to. You may determine what she can be told from your store of knowledge. The same is true for others you feel you need. You are quite aware that this isn't a social club, and I consider you singularly unlikely to use this permission frivolously."

Tonks blinked, understanding for the first time that he wasn't simply reassuring her, or giving her permission to work with Maddie. He was--inasmuch as it was possible--promoting her. She couldn't very well give away the location of Headquarters, which was still under the Fidelius Charm, but she could bring in anyone who seemed reasonable to her. "Thank you, sir," she said. "I don't suppose you would share your suspicions about the leaf?"

"No. I'll tell you that you might have done well to listen more closely in Professor Binns' class, but I find myself telling that to a great many former students. But if my assumptions--guesses--are wrong, they could interfere with what you and Mrs. Apcarne are attempting to learn." He sighed and looked at the remaining leaves on the table. "In truth, I don't think it's in danger. But it occurs to me to wonder why the Dementors have taken such a very sudden interest in it."

"Well, they were just freed from Azkaban..."

"This place, whatever it is, has existed in the Forbidden Forest since before the Dementors were employed at Azkaban." He smiled. "I admit to some curiosity as to why you happen to be called to it, but that, my dear, is your concern."

"I'll tell you if I can," Tonks said, feeling dazed.

"Then we have finished here." He raised his cup of tea and drained it, then Vanished the tea set. "Always a pleasure, Nymphadora," he said. "And you've done quite a nice job with this kitchen. It's a nice home."

With that, he turned and went down the short corridor to the trapdoor leading into the tunnel, and disappeared from view.
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Comments
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: November 21st, 2005 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I really want to know more of this joyful glade you've invented, or whatever exactly it is. You evoke a yearning for it well, and its being part of the history of Hogwarts hints at... something very interesting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2005 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Part of the history of magic, anyway. :D I have mentioned it in another fic (not Shifts or any of the R/T ones), though it was seen in the daytime then, and not in the same context it's in here.
greyathena From: greyathena Date: November 21st, 2005 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
you say these things, and then I just *know* I'm going to devote an evening to rereading all your other fics . . . not that it won't be a blast, mind you. :)

you do such a good job of inventing mysteries that feel just as intriguing and potentially important as the ones in the books. lots of fun!
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: November 21st, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, I was assuming as close to Hogwarts as it was that there might be a connection, though not necessarily a causative one. *ponders* I checked Dumbledore's "Of a Sort" chapter first, but from your other comments I needn't try the other chapters. ;)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: November 21st, 2005 06:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooo, hurrah!!

Edit thing: "You've found interesting hobby, Nymphadora," ought to have an an in it.

Not-edit things: Dumbledore's "horrible, ancient" smile literally made me shiver. I know you've said that you find writing him daunting, but you do it wonderfully anyway.

Did we know that Maddie worked for the Department of Mysteries? If you've mentioned it before, then I missed it. Glad we'll be seeing more of her, though.

I didn't find Shifts until after the main mystery element of the plot had been well introduced, and then I read everything that had been written up to that point in the space of a day or two. Watching the plot buold from the bottom up on this one has been interesting so far, and I can't wait to see where you're going with it! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2005 06:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I just gave Maddie a job. ;) But Tonks had conveniently mentioned when she and Lupin and Sirius are working on a map of the Ministry in Shifts that she had a friend who had trained as an Unspeakable, but she didn't know where she was sent after the Universe division, which I of course meant all along to mean that she just didn't know which division she'd been sent to. :)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: November 21st, 2005 06:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I think I know...

But I'm looking forward to finding out if I'm right.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2005 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to seeing if I really am going to do it, or if I'll decide at the last minute that it's just too much. ;)
clumsymaniac452 From: clumsymaniac452 Date: November 21st, 2005 06:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Was the glade in an "Of a Sort?" I haven't read them in quite a while. Hmm. Anyway, curiouser and curiouser. It's wonderful and I must know more. Also : "a selection of storage charms" As in, they're selling charms? I never really thought of them as tangible, but I suppose the instructions have to come from somewhere. Good chapter!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2005 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking of them as objects which can be charmed to hold things, like the little plates that were in Sirius's attic in Shifts.

No, not "Of A Sort." ;) If I say which story it was, it's explained completely in a prominent place--and Dumbledore really should know and probably does know, but he's doing his information-withholding thing--and since I'm a little nervous about actually doing it and may change my mind...
vytresna From: vytresna Date: November 21st, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no, don't back out... this story could use a non-Remus-related thread that goes somewhere.

(I think I know the fic you're talking about...)
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: November 21st, 2005 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I too am quite intrigued by the leaves and the glade, but not especially impatient — I'm content to believe that you wouldn't have put it into the story without wanting to tell us more about it later.

Dumbledore seems very himself, cagy but trusting and offering good advice.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: November 21st, 2005 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Found it! And I'm willing to follow you in and see how you use it.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: November 21st, 2005 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, a mystery :) I liked this post.

"And you've done quite a nice job with this kitchen. It's a nice home."


It just sounds a bit off to have 'nice' twice in that speech. I'd change the first one to 'good', myself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2005 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ouch, you're right.
sreya From: sreya Date: November 21st, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
He smiled. It was a horrible, ancient smile that disturbed Tonks. "I nearly told you that you should speak to Nicolas," he said. "Odd how a handful of years may slip one's mind from time to time."

*sniffling* This line is just heartbreaking, and really drives home a lot of what's going on at this period of time - the passing away of the old guard, the coming of age of the new heroes of the magical world. Nicolas was always there, and now he's gone, as much a victim of Voldemort's machinations as anyone who's been directly murdered.

I have a few guesses about the glen myself, but I think it'll be more fun to see how you build it up. :~)
greyathena From: greyathena Date: November 21st, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
He kind of reminds me a bit of Gandalf, there. Then again, I totally geeked out on LotR last week and watched all the movies twice, so it's possible strange men on the Metro would remind me of Gandalf at this point. :)
ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: November 21st, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have nothing constructive in the way of comments, but I just have to tell you that I am absolutely, completely hooked on this story. (Not that I wasn't before, mind you!)

And shame on you for dropping that hint, upthread, that the Happy Glen of Mystery is mentioned in another of your stories - for now I'll have to spend the rest of the day searching for it! (Oh, poor me. *g*)
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 21st, 2005 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're so good at writing mysteries the way JKR does--they truly are mysterious, with clues built in along the way, but they're part of a larger story with compelling plot and developing characters. I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens. And the other commenters were right--that bit about Dumbledore's smile was a twist of the knife--and he speaks about occasionally, but rarely, being wrong in his judgement of people, which of course brings up Snape, and we just don't know. Oh, the wait for book 7 seems long. I'm glad there's Shades to keep me company along the way.
narnian_dreamer From: narnian_dreamer Date: November 22nd, 2005 12:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, I was reading through the back-pages of my f-list now that my internet connection has been restored, and I saw the Narnia-numbering discussion.

The new numbering was brought up in Lewis's response to a letter from a little boy who liked to read the books in chronological (new) order but whose mother thought they should be read in publication order. Lewis sided with the little boy.

When I took my summer course on C.S. Lewis, the professor mentioned (but I'm not sure where she got this information) that Lewis told his publishers he intended to edit the books so that there would no longer be inconsistencies (the end of Lion suggests that there are no human beings in the world except in the Eastern Islands, while Nephew populates Archenland from the dawn of time, and we learn in Horse that Calormen has been around since before the Pevensie era) and so that the books could be re-numbered. Lewis died before he ever edited them, and later, the publishers decided to re-number the books anyway.

I read them first in the new order, but had already seen the cartoon of Lion, so got the prequel aspects of Nephew. I reread them now in publication order, and I like it better because you can actually see Lewis change his mind about things as the books progress. Like how Father Christmas tells Lucy in Lion that women shouldn't fight in wars, and then Lucy fights in Horse and Jill in Battle.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 22nd, 2005 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Sounds to me like he was giving a little kid permission to read the books however he wanted. If he'd really meant to edit them, it would have been more of a priority.

It annoys me that they re-numbered it, even though I read them entirely out of order, based entirely on which ones were kicking around the house when I was looking for something. I mean, if the original pub order had been confusing, it would be one thing, but retconning what there was nothing wrong with in the first place was just weird.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 22nd, 2005 12:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason I think it's Blood in the Earth or one you did w/Rowena Ravenclaw as a young girl in a convent... that was yours, wasn't it? I bet it's something to do w/the oak front doors of Hogwarts! :)
From: bangcollision Date: November 27th, 2005 09:57 am (UTC) (Link)

<3

I got linked to your fanfiction through an art thing going on in lj. And oh my god. I simply adore this fic and cannot WAIT for more.

By the way I saw in your previous entry you saying something about Nano. I'm in it too and at 41k. Only 9k more in these last few days!

Continue writing, I simply can't wait.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 27th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: <3

Glad you like it!

Art thing?
From: bangcollision Date: November 28th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: <3

http://www.livejournal.com/community/fanart100/

It's really good, I'm really into it. There's a lot of Harry Potter things in there that you might like. The person who chose to have Remus and Tonks had a comment with a link to your fanfiction.

What I really love about your fanfiction is I feel Tonks was put in by JKR as a very good character but JKR didn't develop her at all. Seeing your fanfiction is like seeing Tonks as a person and she's so well developed it's not even funny. VERY good job.
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