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Shades, Chapter Ten: A New Leaf, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Ten: A New Leaf, pt. 3
Ah, back from Turkey Day, and the day after (which is my cousin's birthday). Also, got lots of cold, fresh air out on the Cape, about as far east as you can get in Massachusetts, looking out flat across the Atlantic, next stop, the part of Spain that's over the north of Portugal. So, hey, anyone from around Fisterra, Spain (I checked the latitude, because I am a closet map geek), I waved yesterday. ;)

Anyway, Chapter 8 (the second interlude) is up at the Quill. Not a lot of changes--a couple of fixes--but one of them is the title. When I re-read it to beta, I decided that "Lessons" was a better title than "Charity."

Tonks has been bombarded by spring oak leaves, which is odd in September. She goes to her friend Maddie, who is an Unspeakable, though they don't talk about this--Maddie's work is a lot more secretive than even an Auror's; she can't even tell people which Division she's in. Nevertheless, she's intrigued by the leaves and offers to help Tonks using her skills in a manner a bit outside of her job. A little taken aback, Tonks writes to get Dumbledore's permission, and Dumbledore responds by meeting with her, telling her he trusts her judgment, and giving her permission to use that judgment to bring in help when she needs it.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Maddie wasn't willing to go into the Forbidden Forest at night--"I would prefer that Francis not think of his mother as that long-ago woman who was eaten by one of Hagrid's pets, thanks"--and she worked during the day all week, so it would have to wait until Saturday. Tonks traded Savage for the night watch that night so she'd be free during the day, but there was nothing to do about her mystery until then. She continued work on the Dementor attacks--there was another along the Shochie Burn on Monday, which ultimately led Tonks into the city of Perth, where it turned out there was a small colony of Dementors feeding on the Muggle populace. She and Dawlish went there on Wednesday and rousted them. Dawlish considered the job finished--or as finished as it ever was with Dementors--but Tonks called her father to go and help, if he could, in the Muggle psychiatric hospital where the victims had been sent.

On Thursday, she owled Hermione's birthday present up to the school, wishing in a vague way that she could be there. Her own coming of age--the last among her friends in Hufflepuff--had been celebrated with a great party in the common room, though she supposed Hermione wasn't the sort to have such a thing. Tonks just hoped that Ron Weasley would remember it. She got a note back the same night, thanking her for the gift (a book called Practical Spells Every Witch and Wizard Should Know (But No One Teaches Anymore), which Dad considered the best book published for Muggle-borns trying to navigate their adult lives in the magical world), and assuring her that her birthday had been "quiet, but pleasant enough for all that."

On Saturday morning, Maddie arrived just after dawn, her blonde hair pulled back into a severe braid. She was wearing everyday robes, and Tonks handed her a pair of jeans and a heavy jumper as soon as she came through the door.

"We're going through the forest, Maddie. Do you remember how many school robes you tore in there in Hagrid's detentions?"

Maddie grinned sheepishly and ducked behind a screen Tonks Conjured to change. "Thanks," she said. "I've got used to thinking of work as something done in robes for the city."

"Do you mostly work indoors?"

"Lovely weather we're having."

Tonks rolled her eyes. At first, they'd all pressed Maddie with questions about what she was doing during her apprenticeship, but as she'd become better at dodging them, finally opting to simply answer any work-related question with a total non-sequitor, they'd started to just ignore Maddie's job. Tonks herself tried to think of Maddie as an assistant in a particularly dull office, who just wanted to come home and talk about more exciting things. Training out the curiosity had taken awhile, but she'd succeeded by the time they'd both finished their job training. As long as nothing particularly brought it to mind. "Is Daffy with Francis today?"

"Oh, yes. Francis likes going to work with Daddy. He goes quite a lot, actually. He likes watching the copy quills while Daffy goes through manuscripts."

"I'm surprised he doesn't grab at them."

"He's not strong enough yet to crawl up to the table. In a couple of years, there may be some interesting illusrations in the new editions of the Standard Book of Spells, unless Daffy gets it through his head that he actually needs to put up some wards around the work table." Maddie came around the screen, wearing Tonks's clothes, which she'd obviously let out a bit. She patted her hips. "I think this is the first pair of jeans I've tried since he was born. It's a bit discouraging."

"I'll trade you my hips for the baby any day of the week." Tonks Summoned a small basket. "If we run into Dawlish, I'm telling him we're just going out for a hike and a picnic up in the meadow."

"There's a meadow?"

"Quite a few of them."

"And you know where they are," Maddie marveled. "Nymphadora Tonks, ulitmate London girl, turns highland lass."

Tonks stuck out her tongue, and led Maddie out of the pub. None of her colleagues happened to be in, so there was no need to leave a story anyway.

They talked casually all the way up to McGonagall's gate, letting years of friendship follow their usual script without much thought--gossip about Sanjiv's latest girlfriend (apparently, he'd gotten a telephone number from one of the Muggle girls at the Edinburgh club and had used it liberally, but was now getting bored), a laugh or two at Daffy's absentmindedness, letters Maddie had got from friends they didn't see regularly anymore. It was pleasant and soothing, if not especially productive, and Tonks suddenly wished they were back at school, before all of this adult nonsense had begun, whispering about boys and worrying about marks. All of this was nothing but an adventure to kill a few hours when work was slow, and if the wrong person caught wind of it, the worst that would happen was a detention with Professor Sprout.

"...and do you remember Connie Peale? Lizzie saw him at-- Tonks?"

Tonks had stopped by the wall, under the four pine cones lined up in magical perpetuity. "We're here," she said.

"Are you all right?"

"Do you ever wish we were back at first year?"

"Oh, constantly." Tonks looked at her, surprised, and she laughed. "Honestly, Tonks, you don't think you're all that unique, do you? Everyone wishes to go back now and then. Our parents want it, too, I'd bet. I used to look at the Time Turners sometimes and think, 'You know... how hard would it be?'"

"And then you remembered how bad it sometimes was or whatnot? That there wouldn't be Francis, or everything gets better?"

"No. That was before he came along, anyway, and I wasn't unhappy. I just realized that if I went back, it would still be too short. No matter how many times you go back. So you might as well just keep going. It's just homesickness. And that's my philosophy for the day. This is the place?"

Tonks nodded. "Detection spells."

They sent out detection spells (Maddie's had improved exponentially since the last time Tonks had seen it, during their seventh year N.E.W.T.-level Charms class), and no one seemed to be on the road. Tonks opened the gate and they slipped into the Forest.

"Do you suppose McGonagall wishes she could be the little girl in plaits that she used to be?" Tonks asked.

"McGonagall?"

"This is her gate. She ran away to this place when she was a student. Though she did exact a promise to not share that with current students."

"McGonagall," Maddie said, bemused. "You know, I'd wager that she does sometimes, though I can't imagine it. Dumbledore, too, I'm sure. Of course, they didn't leave, did they? What are we looking for?"

Tonks told her about the stream as they went further into the Forest, but by the time the reached the sunny glade with the gate in the center of it, they still hadn't found it. Maddie only smiled faintly at the colorful fairies; her attention was caught entirely by the gate.

"May we stop and look at this?"

"I suppose. McGonagall wasn't certain, but she thinks it's likely a portal for magical creatures. It didn't take her anywhere."

Maddie bent and looked at it, frowning. "There were quite a few of these built, perhaps a hundred years ago, maybe more. It was when the Muggles really started industrializing things, at any rate. There are some here, some in the Black Forest in Germany, a few entry gates scattered in other Unplottable forests around the world." She looked up. "I imagine that's classified, though I can't imagine what for at this late date."

"I understand."

"The headmaster at the time--Phineas something or other--"

"Nigellus," Tonks said, grinning.

"Yes, well, he objected, quite rightly, to allowing anything on the grounds that humans could travel through. The gates are for magical creatures. I believe several were herded through them at the time, and they were left there as an escape."

"How would a beast know?"

"They're attractive to them somehow or other; I'm not clear on it. As you might guess, it's not my Division."

Tonks looked around the clearing. "Would they attract Dementors?"

"They shouldn't," Maddie said uncertainly. "And outside of the department, I don't think anyone knows where the gates are to lead them to directly. Have you... checked our department? No. Wait. I don't want to know that. If you haven't, you should. I don't think anyone would... But there's a lot they could use, if... well... Is that water I hear?"

Tonks listened. As Maddie had spoken, another sound had come into the clearing--the soft sound of water rushing over small stones. "That's it," she said. "It's on the far side of the clearing."

They ran across the clearing, not wanting the stream to disappear again, ignoring the brightly colored fairies buzzing after them. Soon they were back under the cover of the trees, and the wandering stream ran before them, a ribbon in the earth. They followed it, Tonks carefully leaving marks on the trees as they went.

The sound of the water deepened somehow, became rich and echoing, and Tonks wasn't surprised when the banks began to spread and the trickle of water emptied into the wide pool she'd seen the other night. At the far side of it, she saw a brilliant, sun-dappled light. Something moved, but it was too far away to see what.

"It's beautiful..." Maddie said, sitting down heavily on the moist ground. "Oh, Tonks, it's beautiful."

"What is it?"

"I don't know. We should--"

But Tonks wasn't listening. As Maddie spoke, she'd looked up into the trees. "Look out!" she yelled, dragging Maddie to her feet.

The shape fell from the trees, a line of web trailing behind it, pincers clicking. Another dropped from a tree further away.

"Run!"

The pool was already narrowing into a stream, the glade vanishing.

Tonks and Maddie ran.
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Comments
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: November 27th, 2005 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
[shudder]

Wow.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: November 27th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Yikes! Wow, but yikes!
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 27th, 2005 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
*shudders* I'm not normally disturbed by spiders in the abstract, but Aragog really doesn't have a very nice family. Nice section--I've feeling nostalgic lately, wanting to return to other school days, so I identify with Tonks. I'm glad she has friends to help her through all the stuff she has to endure this year.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 27th, 2005 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been feeling almost obscenely nostalgic lately, so naturally I'm probing the meaning of such a thing. I really must stop picking at scabs fictionally. ;)
butterflysteve From: butterflysteve Date: November 27th, 2005 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
You wouldn't happen to be going into Narnia crossover would you or Pierce because ZOMG that would be so cool.

EEEK!Spiders....:<

Loved this and it's been an age since I reviewed but loved this so much, especially Maddie.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 27th, 2005 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nah, I enjoy Narnia, but it doens't inspire me ficwise. ;) And yes, eek, spiders. But handy to keep them out.
wench2002 From: wench2002 Date: November 27th, 2005 10:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. That was awesome! Certainly shows Tonks skills as an Auror to notice something was wrong.

One typo that jumped out at me though, just a slight mix-up of letters in ultimate. :)

"Nymphadora Tonks, ulitmate London girl, turns highland lass."
wench2002 From: wench2002 Date: November 27th, 2005 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)
My bad: Tonks' Auror skills. (I can use aprostrophes. Really! :P)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 27th, 2005 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops. Will fix, thanks. :)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: November 27th, 2005 11:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Ack! Maddie had no idea that "eaten by Hagrid's pets" was, well, not as much of a joke as she thought.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 27th, 2005 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hagrid's off his gourd, not mentioning those things to people who have to come and go in the forest!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: November 27th, 2005 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's totally not where I thought it was going (and probably still isn't), but... yow.

Oh, and can the gamekeeper give detentions? Somehow I think not, but then again, Filch can.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 27th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and can the gamekeeper give detentions? Somehow I think not, but then again, Filch can.

He might be able to, but I was thinking of something more like what happened in PS/SS, where the kids got the Norbert-related detention from McGonagall, but the detention itself was to help Hagrid find the unicorns. The groundskeeper would probably have a lot of grunt-work that would make for good detentions.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 28th, 2005 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh!!!!!!!!

*gasp* *taking deep breaths*

Great section, Fern. I can't wait for more.

I pictured Maddie as olive-skinned, dark haired and short and rather - well - squat. Maddie as a blonde will take some getting used to for me. :)

"(a book called Practical Spells Every Witch and Wizard Should Know (But No One Teaches Anymore), which Dad considered the best book published for Muggle-borns trying to navigate their adult lives in the magical world)"

That's one reason I love your stuff, Fern, you do the sort of Rowling-ish details that make the story enjoyable and make me shake my head in wonder at the cleverness of you.

"into the city of Perth, where it turned out there was a small colony of Dementors feeding on the Muggle populace"

Oh, you've been to Perth, then? ;-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 28th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I pictured Maddie as olive-skinned, dark haired and short and rather - well - squat. Maddie as a blonde will take some getting used to for me. :)

She is kind of short and squat. Maddie wandered into my head looking like a girl I went to college with. Not even anyone I was close to, just a random girl who happened to be a pale blonde. But short and squat, definitely. It doesn't matter though; her blondness is never going to be a plot point, so if you like her brunette, feel free. ;)

Oh, you've been to Perth, then? ;-)
Hmmm. Interesting comment...
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