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Shades, Chapter Thirteen: Scattered, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter Thirteen: Scattered, pt. 1
Okay, rough time with Remus, but he's not telling Tonks about it. Last she knew, she was busy with at least four different things--mysterious gates in the Forbidden Forest, her everyday work guarding Hogwarts, watching for Mundungus trying to fence Black family property, and of course worrying about her wayward werewolf. Because that wasn't really enough to keep her busy, her boss called her to London to revisit the Fortescue disappearance. She has a strong intuition that Greyback is involved, and wrote to Remus to keep an eye out for Fortescue and any maps that may have been stolen.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far


No sign of Fortescue. No maps. Stay far from Greyback.


Tonks turned the note over, wondering if there was something else on the back of it, if he'd charmed it somehow to hide an actual message, but there was nothing but the terse response, so unlike him.

And addressed to her by her surname.

Errol pecked at a stale biscuit, and looked up at her expectantly. She pulled a clean piece of parchment out from under the avalanche of files on her desk, started to write "Dear Remus" then changed her mind and wrote, "Dear Molly." The message consisted of three words: "What is happening?"

She sent this off to the Burrow, watching Errol until he disappeared in the southern sky, then sat back down with her files, switching from the local Dementor attacks to the information Maddie had been able to get about the gates to the Fortescue files to a long list of dealers Mundungus Fletcher might use. Robards had provided this last while she was in London, and had opted not to ask her any questions about it. She'd also obtained a copy of Fortescue's book about water sprites and how they might silently figure in magical history, and it was open at the edge of her desk. It was the way Sirius had read and studied--she'd seen him at it last year--but she couldn't seem to derive the manic energy from it that he did. By the time the sun was setting, she'd nearly convinced herself that Mundungus was going to sell Fortescue's maps to a water sprite to help her build a gate for Dementors who were after Remus.

Annoyed, she raised her wand and Banished all of the files to shelves, and headed downstairs for something to eat. Aberforth's food itself wasn't half as bad as she'd anticipated, though she always took a moment to make sure nothing was alive on the plate before she ate. She took a seat at the bar and ordered soup, a beef sandwich, and a pint of mulled mead. She was just tucking in when someone sat down beside her.

"Ah. Nymphadora."

She looked up. "Oh. Professor Dumbledore! I didn't know you were here...! Oh, I suppose I should. I'm keeping track of you coming and going, aren't I? I knew you were gone, but I hadn't heard that you'd come back--"

He raised his wounded hand and smiled gently as Aberforth brought him a glass of mead. "I've just returned, Nymphadora. You haven't missed my arrival."

"I'm sorry. I... oh, I got a very odd note from Remus, and..." She stopped. Dumbledore's face had gone still and mask-like. She put her hand to her mouth. "What is it? What's happened? Is he all right?"

Dumbledore waved his hand wearily, and Tonks guessed that he'd wandlesslly cast a distraction spell. "Physically, he is well. He's had a very bad experience, and will need all the patience you can spare for him."

"A bad... what?"

"It is not for me to share with you. I think he will tell you, eventually, but it is for him alone to decide on the time and place. Will you be patient, Nymphadora?"

"I'm always patient with Remus," she said. "I've always been patient with him."

"Yes. Yes, I suppose you have."

"But he's all right? I mean, he's not hurt? He's... what's wrong? I mean, if you can't tell me what's happened, can you at least tell me what's wrong?"

"To the best of my ability to ascertain, Greyback has chosen to try and undermine various beliefs and habits that Remus has picked up in human society, and he did so in an effective manner this time. Remus is badly shaken." He frowned at his injured hand on the bar. "I seem to choose which information to share rather badly. I thought you should know, if he's writing mysterious notes. But I can tell you nothing that would ease your mind, and the full truth belongs to Remus. I can tell you nothing more, and it may have been better to tell you nothing at all."

A muscle twitched beside his eye, and Tonks noticed that he looked ancient and tired. She put her hand on his shoulder. "No, you were right. I would have gone off and demanded answers if I hadn't known anything. I did demand one from Molly."

"Molly is aware of precisely as much as I've told you."

Tonks nodded, forcing away all the questions she had, forcing herself not to cry for answers he wouldn't give. She found herself unable to speak at all, and she took a few spoons full of soup, though she wasn't hungry for it.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his good hand move, then she felt a tug at the hair beside her face. "I rather miss the pink," he said. "I am sorry for all this has done to your life."

"I miss the pink, too," Tonks said. "And purple and blue and green. It's a bit dreary to be stuck with this. I thought about getting a dying potion. But then I'd be stuck with something else. Or I could do an appearance charm, but they fade if they're anything extreme." She shrugged and did not ask what kinds of habits and beliefs Greyback was trying to excise from Remus, or how badly he was "shaken." "As casualties go, my grooming regimen is hardly a serious loss. And you know what Mad-Eye would say--don't you be sorry. That all lands on the person who's doing all of it. Though he'd say it more colorfully."

Dumbledore smiled. "Thank you, Nymphadora. And I'm quite sure you're right about Alastor's advice. I nevertheless wish things were different."

"I'll drink to that idea." She raised her glass, and he raised his in return. "I asked Robards for a list of places Mundungus might try selling," she said. "I hope you don't mind."

"It sounds like a wise course of action. I must ask you again to trust your judgment. I do."

"Have you got someone on him in London?"

"Alastor Moody is keeping a close watch on him. If you have information to share with him about London contacts, please do so."

"Right. I'll send him a list tonight. I should have asked before."

"You seem to have any number of concerns to attend to." Dumbledore took a swallow of his drink. "How are you? I know you're quite worried about Lupin, and I've asked you to keep track of several matters, and you have your job."

"I'm fine. A bit scattered, but I'm all right. I just need to focus. If I could take eight classes at school, I can handle six assignments now, right?"

"An interesting perspective."

"I just feel like I'm not getting enough of a handle on anything. I start one thing and move on and it's not done." She sighed. "It's a bit frustrating. But I guess you understand that, working for the Order and dealing with the Ministry and running the school--does it ever all start seeming like parts of the same life?"

"Eventually." He finished his drink. "I've spoken to Kingsley Shacklebolt. He said you'd been to headquarters."

"I needed to speak to Phineas, and it's easier to get there than into your office." She bit her lip. "It's a bit of a mess there, isn't it?"

"Kingsley said you were upset."

"No, no. Not really. Surprised. It wasn't... you know, it wasn't what I remembered it as. I shouldn't complain. Sirius hated the bloody place. He'd probably be glad to see it in complete disarray. It's not like it was ever home for him. He'd probably be helping Dung sell things if he were still alive."

"I've left instructions that the house is to be better cared for."

"Thank you. Er, well. It's not mine to thank you for that. It's Harry's, and I'm sure he doesn't care all that much about housekeeping. I don't know anyone of sixteen who cares all that much--"

"It is neither an office nor a store house."

"--and of course, no one is living there." Tonks stopped. "I really miss Sirius."

"We all do."

"Is that while they're shoving the furniture around and piling up his house with boxes?" She winced. "I'm sorry. Uncalled for. And Sirius would just hate it if I started treating that place like it was him somehow. I can't think of anything he'd hate more."

"Quite true. But we have what we have, Nymphadora. And I will make sure that someone sees to the state of the house."

"Thank you."

Dumbledore tried to pay Aberforth, who waved it off, then wished Tonks good night and left. She finished her dinner, and when she got back upstairs she was able to make at least a modicum of sense of Dung's contact list. Tomorrow, after her shift, she would start to put tracers on few of them.

She went to sleep and dreamed of Remus, alone and literally shaken, falling apart, his eyes collapsing back into his head and his hair falling out in graying clumps. She tried to touch him to hold him together, but he ran from her, and when she caught him at last, the touch of her hand shattered his limbs and he fell away screaming.

She woke long before dawn and wept until it was time to start the day's work.
25 comments or Leave a comment
From: hesterlester Date: December 15th, 2005 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for posting so frequently of late. I came to Shifts all in one go, and am really enjoying the way this is unfolding.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, glad you're enjoying it this way! I like writing. I do it to amuse myself, so there's no need to thank me for frequent updates. They just mean I'm spending a lot of time having fun. :)
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: December 15th, 2005 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good to see a Dumbledore-Tonks scene after the last chapter, and some sound advice for her. She certainly does seem to have a lot on!

"I seem to choose which information to share rather badly."

Is he thinking of what he has and hasn't told Harry there?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah--piling on the work seemed like a good idea, but unfortunately, Tonks isn't the only one having trouble juggling it all! ;)

Is he thinking of what he has and hasn't told Harry there?

I think so. After last year, it probably feels very bad to him to hide things from Harry again, but he knows perfectly well what will happen if he tells Harry that he knows for sure that Malfoy has been in contact with Voldemort. Harry is not known for thinking things through to all possible consequences.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: December 15th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like how all of this is working out.

One thing, though: you have Tonks and Dumbledore talking about Moody and what he would say, etc., and then you have "Alastor Moody" keeping an eye on Dung. I would guess that if they'd just been talking about him, they wouldn't repeat his full name? It sort of jumped out at me.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)

Good point.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: December 15th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, Fern.. I was looking forward to reading this chapter - I used to call it "the one in which Dumbledore tugs on Dora's hair" in my head. :) Such a sweet thing to do.

Look - you know I think you're a great writer, but this section seems a little... flat. Some of it is to do with the dialogue. See the section from "I'm sorry. I... oh, I got a very odd note from Remus, and..." all the way to "I mean, if you can't tell me what's happened, can you at least tell me what's wrong?": kind of repetitive for Tonks to ask the same thing twice, without any new info or character development inbetween the two times she asks it. Since you also have her wondering what kinds of habits and beliefs Greyback was trying to excise from Remus, or how badly he was "shaken" just a short while later, it gives the impression she's said the same things thrice in a very short passage of prose.

I like Dora's concern over the state of Sirius's house. I really get the sense that Dora needed to talk about it, to get her concerns conveyed to Dumbledore.. she's not very reassured when he immediately promises to have the matter looked it. That was nicely done. What I really loved, though, was the dream in the end. In just a couple of sentences, you conveyed true horror.

From: (Anonymous) Date: December 15th, 2005 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I rather thought the repetitive-sounding dialogue reflected her "scattered" state of mind, the reaction of someone waiting for the hammer to fall. It built her sense of suspense.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
The anon below is right--the repetition is meant to show that she's kind of gnawing at things. And also that she's trying desperately not to ask what is most on her mind... namely, what in the hell is going on with Remus, which she's been told she's not going to get an answer on, but which is where her mind is going to go with or without her help.

I do love dream sequences.

And I really want to work on the Sirius angle somehow, because the more I write, the more I think that it's a major factor, if not in exactly the way Hermione thought.
sunsethill From: sunsethill Date: December 15th, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I seem to choose which information to share rather badly.

I, too, think this is an incredible line. It does such a good job of tying us to HBP, where one of my biggest questions has been "Why in the world did Dumbledore share THIS piece of information and not THAT?"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
When you're the big cheese and the one who decides what to share and what to conceal, all of those decisions have really got to start weighing a lot after awhile. What's right? What's wrong? Is it harmful for so-and-so to know such-and-such? Is it dangerous to someone else for that to happen? What's an acceptable risk? Reasons I'd never want to be a general or a president. Armchair quarterbacking=much easier.
From: isabela113 Date: December 15th, 2005 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
The imagery from the nightmare is very haunting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I love writing dreams. I think it's the closest writers can get to surreal art. (Surrealist writing leaves me cold, but I love surrealist art.)
From: isabela113 Date: December 16th, 2005 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree "automatic writing" never evokes that dreamy, almost sinister beauty that good Surrealist art captures.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: December 15th, 2005 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
she'd nearly convinced herself that Mundungus was going to sell Fortescue's maps to a water sprite to help her build a gate for Dementors who were after Remus.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... if I can find a way to tie all of those disparate things together, I'm throwing myself a severe party. I don't think I'm going to need to break out the champaigne, ya know?
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: December 15th, 2005 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked the little tweak at the people who think Dumbledore wouldn't have liked pink hair at his funeral. Sad to see DD so tired-looking, though, and with so few answers.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Dumbledore was looking on from beyond the veil and grinning at that. Of course he'd like it pink! This is the guy whose idea of "a few words" was "Nitwit. Oddment. Blubber. Tweak." How could anyone think he wouldn't dig pink hair at his funeral? (Harry made me cry when he remembered the "nitwit" thing; I loved that.)
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: December 15th, 2005 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
The conversation between Dumbledore and Tonks is excellent, and really bittersweet considering what we all know happens. Tonks' realisation that Dumbledore doesn't have the capacity to protect Remus from himself any more, let alone Greyback, really hits home.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I read a review of HBP that said something about it being good that we knew him from other books to understand why everyone was in mourning at the end, but honestly, HBP came to me as the most human view of Dumbledore we've seen--asking for help, admitting to mistakes, and wearing a purple suit (which must have been just smashing when his hair was red!). I think Tonks is seeing that, and it's a little disturbing, but she's enough of a people-person that she wants to comfort him.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: December 16th, 2005 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG! That is creepy as all hell, and awesome. These last two chapters are the most intense yet. I sorta feel guilty that I find this story more compelling than the canon novels.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 16th, 2005 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you're enjoying, but trust me, any skill I have is entirely dependent on the canon.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 16th, 2005 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a regular lurker round here, as I love your HP fics (not a Star Wars fan, I'm afraid), they're among the best things I've come across in this fandom - well-written, imaginative and plausible both in terms of canon and psychology.

I think I might have caught a typo, though:
"--and of course, no one is living there." Tonks stopped. "I really miss Sirius."

"We all do."

"Is that while they're shoving the furniture around and piling up his house with boxes?" She winced. "I'm sorry. Uncalled for. And Sirius would just hate it if I started treating that place like it was him somehow. I can't think of anything he'd hate more."

Shouldn't that be "Why they're shoving the furniture around?"

Thanks for all the pleasure this story is giving me (even when it's harrowing!)

Lurking mediaevalist
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 18th, 2005 11:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Just my opinion...
I don't think so, Tonks is being sarcastic.
She questioning, bitterly, if the rest of the order are missing Sirius WHILE they are disrespecting his memory (ie the tidyness of the house).

Great work as usually fernwithy, really brilliant work in writting Lupins emotional confusion
dizzy_chisel From: dizzy_chisel Date: December 18th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should really comment more often on this great story. Suffice it to say that I'm keeping my eye on my news aggregator for every new instalment.

What's particularly impressive is your pacing. After the intense anguish in the last chapter, which nearly brought me to tears, this one has a much more low-key tone. Breaking up the anguish with levity would have been easier, I guess, but inappropriate at this point of your tale. You manage with this odd flatness of feeling.
25 comments or Leave a comment