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Shades, Chapter Twelve: Interlude (3): Human, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Twelve: Interlude (3): Human, pt. 3
Full moon of Sept 27-28, and Remus was getting a little too comfortable. He decided to get any campers out of the woods and went to a park warden to arrange it. Greyback saw him, and decided to teach him a lesson in where he belonged, first beating and bloodying him and sending him to the pups to be attacked as a human. He thought he dodged it, until he was fed an unidentified meat, then let out in the morning to discover the body of the park warden.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus had only the vaguest consciousness of running, of lurching away from the mouth of the cave, Greyback's obscene laughter chasing after him, somehow, impossibly, growing louder the further he went from it. Branches and brambles scratched at him, and at one point he tripped over a rock and went flying down the path, landing in a patch of dead bluebells. He rolled over and lay on his back, his arm over his eyes, shaking. He was surely too far away to hear the laughter anymore, but he could hear it nonetheless.

"Remus?"

He sat and scrambled backward, ignoring the little pebbles digging into his hands.

"Remus, what is it?"

He looked up and saw a small figure, human. He looked away.

"What did Greyback do to you?"

He shook his head and kept pulling himself away. His back hit a wooden post on a dilapidated gate that stood pointlessly among the trees.

"Mag!" the voice called, and his mind finally came up with Sweet's name. "Mag! Come here!"

There were more footsteps, and then a quiet and firm voice said, "Go inside, Sweet. Now."

"But--"

"Right now."

Fingers, pincer sharp, dug into his chin, pushing harder until he opened his eyes, which he hadn't realized were closed.

Old Mag was crouched in front of him, her face drawn and pale. "Get it together, Lupin," she said. "Whatever Greyback did, he wouldn't have done if he didn't think you were formidable."

Remus laughed, a high, hysterical sound.

"I know he's got a right nasty bag of tricks, and I don't care. The pups have got to like you, and you'll scare them like this."

"Can't," Remus managed to say. "Shouldn't like me."

"Nevertheless," Mag said inexorably, forcing his face back around as he tried to look away from her. "Get hold of yourself. Slow breaths."

Remus realized he was panting, but he couldn't slow down, try as he might. He reached around the fence post and touched the gate. It thrummed with some kind of arcane message, or maybe it was just the trembling of all of his muscles. His head spun, and he knew he was going to vomit just in time to tear himself away from Mag's clutch and bend toward the ground. The unspeakable contents of his stomach steamed up at him accusingly and he rolled away from them and looked up at the sky, the trembling slowing minutely.

"What have I done?" he asked no one.

"Rumor has it," Mag said matter-of-factly, "that you crossed Greyback and got some people out of trouble yesterday."

"Not all. Shouldn't have tried. They'd have just chased, like before. They--"

"They catch from time to time. They're not playing at it, as you well know."

"But--"

"Greyback brought us some as well. Mostly to Mina. She won."

Remus shook his head in negation.

"He doesn't give it to the pups. They have to join the hunt first."

"But..."

"You know what we are, Remus."

"Cannibals."

"Werewolves." She forced him to look at her again. "We're not animagi. You're not a human when you turn. It's not cannibalism. And you can't control it."

"Greyback--"

"Greyback is always a wolf these days. Of course he acts like he can control it. But even he couldn't, not really. He doesn't exactly go visit those political friends of his when the moon is full, now does he? They know better than to have him. He says that he just prefers to be here and he could control it, but it's codswallop. He'd kill them as easily as he kills anyone else, because that's what the moon wants of him. Deep breaths."

Remus had stopped panting, but his breathing was still quick and shallow. He swallowed hard and forced a deep breath. It seemed to take a lot of energy.

Mag just waited until he'd managed a few more breaths, and then looked around anxiously. "You need to not be in this place when Greyback gets here," she said. "You shouldn't know where it is."

"I don't know where it is. I don't know where I am."

"Just go deeper into the woods. Is your head straight enough to keep moving in a single direction?"

He nodded. "I think..."

"Just keep going. You'll hit the river eventually; you have to. Follow it until it lets you into town, and you can find your way back where you belong from there."

"Right. Mag, I--"

"Get out of here before you scare anyone else." She helped him to his feet. He felt shaky. "The town is Huntsford. If you need someone to talk to, remember that Father Montgomery knows."

"No."

She sighed, and led him to the edge of the trees. "I'll go back and make sure Sweet hasn't told anyone you were here, and get her to keep her mouth shut about it. You go somewhere and collect yourself."

He took a few hesitant steps, putting his hands on trees for support, and when he lookd back over his shoulder, the gate was by itself in the small clearing. Mag had disappeared.

At first he meant to follow Mag's advice and look for the river, and go to town, and come back to his shed. But his mind was scrambling for purchase, and it had landed on the thought of Moody coming to look for him, to find out why he was late for a check in. He had to go to Molly's. Put on a solid, respectable face, get in and out, and then come back. Quickly. Before she called Dora.

Unless Dora was already there, expecting him to check in, wanting to see and touch him, and he couldn't stand it if she touched him now, he might go mad, he would smell her blood and see her lying at the mouth of the cave, and he had no right to her, and she had no business...

His breathing had quickened, and he forced it to slow down again.

Whatever else he did, he had to check in at Molly's. Once it was over, he could sleep and forget until he woke up again.

He Apparated out.

The Burrow smelled of a heavy Saturday morning breakfast, and Remus fought with his gorge as he struggled to the back door, kicking aside a battered cauldron as the door opened, and Molly said, "Oh, good! I was just starting to wonder when you--Remus!"

The world grayed out, and when it came back, he was lying on a soft bed in one of the upstairs rooms at the Burrow, and Molly was piling blankets onto him.

"You're awake?"

"I need to go back."

"I don't think so."

He tried to get out of bed, but his legs didn't want to hold him up, and he slumped back down to the mattress.

"I'm calling Tonks."

"Molly, no! God, no! Please, no. Please. I'm begging you. God, don't tell Dora. Don't tell her. Please. I don't want her to see me."

Molly hesitated. "You really mean it this time."

"I've never meant anything more."

"Let me get you some breakfast, then."

"I'm not hungry," Remus said, his stomach clenching. "I've had... enough to eat."

"What can I do?"

I just need to go back was what he meant to say. I have no news, so let me be. Instead, he said, "Dumbledore."

"All right," she said. "You rest. I mean it."

"Molly--"

She raised her wand, and a moment later he was asleep.

It was dark beyond the window when another spell awakened him. Albus Dumbledore was sitting at his bedside, putting his wand away. "Remus," he said. "Are you well?"

Remus shook his head and pulled himself up to a sitting position. He was still wearing Greyback's robes.

"Tell me what happened."

Remus told him, as well as he could remember, from his grandiose fantasy of challenging Greyback to the morning's horror. He concentrated on keeping his voice even. When he finished, he lay back among the pillows.

Dumbledore took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes with his good hand, then went to the window. "I won't ask you to go back," he said. "I apologize. I should have realized where Greyback's interest in you would lead. The child who was taken back from him. He wants to reclaim you. I should have foreseen it."

"He's doing a good job."

"No, he's not." Dumbledore returned to his chair and sat down, putting his glasses back on. "He was reduced to trickery. He undoubtedly would have preferred that you participated in the hunt--"

"It doesn't matter."

"--but you made your position quite clear--"

"It doesn't matter."

Dumbledore nodded. "I won't argue with you. We'll find other work for you. I daresay Greyback's association with Voldemort is--"

"Significant. They've met with one another. Greyback comes back from his 'political friends' with enough vile lies to go on for hours. He's in there with them. Maybe not directly with Voldemort--I can't be sure--but he's tied to high level Death Eaters."

"And he is bringing his pack with him."

"He's certainly trying."

"What is your impression of them?"

"Us."

"What?"

"Not them. Us. They love him. They'll follow him. The adults anyway. Except one woman. The children don't know anything else."

"Didn't."

"What?"

"They didn't. From the story you told me, they clearly know something else now."

"I'm no different. Not anymore. I am what they are. I... ate."

"You're not going back. I want you to speak to Ted Tonks for as long as he deems it necessary--"

"I'm not going to Ted."

"I suppose it could be somewhat awkward." Dumbledore sighed. "You've done enough for the Order. Stay here and let Molly cook for you for a few days, and Nymphadora--"

"No."

Dumbledore looked at him steadily. "Very well, Remus. Molly will certainly encourage you to visit with her--and I think it would do you a world of good--but this is not a matter in which I feel I should interfere. You must choose your own path."

"There is no choice."

Another narrow look. "We will, in any case, find another approach to Greyback."

"There is no other approach."

"Remus..."

"I'm going back, Albus." He laughed again, somewhat wildly. "I belong there now, don't I? Just one of the pack."

Dumbledore put a hand on his shoulder. "If you are just one of the pack," he said, "then I wouldn't mind having the pack around in its entirety, as its sole representative is a stellar recommendation of it."

Remus shook his head.

"You're a good man," Dumbledore said. "Nothing Greyback has done to you in the past, nothing he has done to you today, has changed that." He stood to leave.

"I'm going back."

Dumbledore turned. "I beg your pardon?"

"I'm going back," Remus muttered. "Let me be. I'm going back."
22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: December 13th, 2005 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the quick update. That last chapter left a bad taste... oh, even I'm wincing at that pun.

Anyway, a stunning chapter. I did want a Dora/Remus scene, but I'll be patient.

Are Bill and Remus going to have any interaction, as a sort of foreshadowing?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Are Bill and Remus going to have any interaction, as a sort of foreshadowing?

It's planned, though I'm not sure what's going to finally set it off. The Dora plot, the Bill thing, even Fleur is involved. If I can figure out how to force events into motion.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: December 13th, 2005 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I was just hoping for an update! Oh, poor Remus. He's so wildly out of his mind here--which I'm sure he would be horrified to here me say right now. It's so painful to read all these terrible things and know that we have to wait for a long time before they can be resolved. Hopefully he'll come to terms with himself at least a little bit much sooner, though. It may be good you're going with Tonks's point of view on this one. Reading a whole year's worth of a Remus this anguished would be nearly unbearable--only nearly, though, and I'd still read it, because it's you, and it would be compelling, but also so very difficult to endure (even just to read--imagine experiencing it!). Anyway, thanks for another great update, and a swift one too!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't leave him there very long. ;)

Yeah--I find Remus's story more immediately compelling in a lot of ways, but it would be impossible to sustain that kind of emotion all year without turning it into self-parody.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: December 13th, 2005 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Shattering stuff for Remus (not nice to read, but necessary) and wonderfully characterised -- from the vomiting to his refusing to see Tonks to his "I'm one of them now and I have to go back". Dumbledore was excellent here as well. I was kind of expecting this to happen given the post-HBP oneshot, I just didn't expect to see it this early! Ugh.

A "dilapidated gate that stood pointlessly among the trees" that tingles with magic? Uh-oh.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was one of the first things I decided would happen during the year. I'd initially had it in August, but I moved it back a month to give him some time to settle in.

A "dilapidated gate that stood pointlessly among the trees" that tingles with magic? Uh-oh.

What, you don't think it's just because his muscles are all trembly? :)
From: st_sophie Date: December 13th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC) (Link)
"I'm not hungry," Remus said, his stomach clenching. "I've had... enough to eat."

ick. I love your remus interludes, the most intreiging aspect of this fic for me, not that your Dora is anything less than brilliant. Is it weird that I'm having trouble differentiating this from canon?

This is fantastic. One of the best post-HBP fics I have read. :)

~ Sophie
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. And yes--ick. This part was gross to think about.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 13th, 2005 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)

More Brit-picking

At one point Dumbledore talks about 'visiting with' Tonks. I'm sure you probably know but that's not a natural usage in EnglishEnglish. Something like 'go and see' would ring more naturally. Good though. Very good. I was sort of hoping for some Remus/Dora interaction but I can see it would be far too much for him at the moment. Poor Remus!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: More Brit-picking

Nope, didn't know that. Thanks for the info!
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, you know... Greyback is kind of Hannibal Lecter-like, except without the brains and culture. I think Lector could legitimately be classed as a werewolf-like monster.

And Lupin's doing the worst thing possible for himself, pushing away the people who love him and going back to the person who wants to drag him down, but it does strike me as something he'd do because he feels filthy and infected.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: December 13th, 2005 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad that Old Mag was there to start talking sense into Remus.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah--she turned out to be handy.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 13th, 2005 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been horrible at leaving reviews the last few weeks, the end of the semester was busy. And now, I'm just speechless as to what to say. The events this interlude are beyond horrible. They'd certainly explain why Remus was brooding so much in HBP and withdrawing from Dora and others. I just don't see how you recover from this though. I'm assuming somehow being able to save the kids in the pack or something like that. Anyway, fascinating (if uncomfortable) read! Mary
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 13th, 2005 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I may be telegraphing the plot a bit too clearly, here... ;)
From: isabela113 Date: December 13th, 2005 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love to see Remus fall apart like this. I don't mean to be malicious. It is just that he is so together most of the time. He doesn't have the all-knowing things down, like Dumbledore, but at least he always seems to be very sensible. His confusion, doubt and hysteria give him a refreshingly human dimension.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 13th, 2005 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've said it quite a few times before, but I'll say it again. Poor Remus.

I was hoping for a Dora/Remus scene, but now that I think about it, it is probably best if it doesn't happen yet. I'm sure that he would say something really ridiculous and break her heart. I guess avoiding her won't make her too happy either.

You're so good at this!

- Whitney
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: December 14th, 2005 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I read all three parts at once and didn't want to spam you, so I'll put it all here.

First of all, ew. You definitely got a visceral reaction out of me. I figured it out exactly when Remus did, but it still grossed me out a lot. Just, ew.

Also, um, of course the relationship angle is going to take a decided nosedive now that Remus has a concrete example of What Happens when you fraternize with the enemy. Poor them.

Greyback is eeevil and I love, I really do love, that you telegraph the plot to us because if I didn't think things were going to turn out nicely, I probably would be too grossed out to keep reading.

Nobody writes really decent gut-wrenching horror in HP, do they? If it's dark, it's all angsty. Props to you.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: December 14th, 2005 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Ugh. Wow. I read all three at once and was SO glad I hadn't read that second section before the third one came out. Ugh. Very well paced—I raced through all in three in 15-20 minutes or so, and didn't pick up that the meat was the park ranger until Remus did, which seems like a delicate balance. That could so easily have been too obvious.
GOD, the interludes are creepy... And of course your characterization is brilliant as always. Remus in HBP makes more and more sense the further into his story you get!
(Can't wait to see the gate thread connect with Tonks' gates...)
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: December 14th, 2005 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
"I just need to go back was what he meant to say. I have no news, so let me be. Instead, he said, "Dumbledore."

I'll tell you what's great about this section and THAT line in particular, it sets up Lupin's reaction at Dumbledore's death. Harry says he'd never seen Lupin fall apart like that. He was obviously wobbly all year between Tonks and "going underground", and I suspect Dumbledore was sort of Lupin's "father figure" - his last hope kind of thing. Dumbledore got him the job at Hogwarts, let him in the Order, etc. I love that what Remus *wanted* was the safety of Dumbledore's presence. It sets up the death-reaction beautifully. WELL DONE!
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 15th, 2005 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoa.

(Tries to think of more words to summarize response to this)

BIG whoa.

Ellen
22 comments or Leave a comment