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Shades, Chapter Sixteen: Interlude (4): Fade, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter Sixteen: Interlude (4): Fade, pt. 1
Chapter Eleven (Gates to Nowhere) is up at SQ. No major changes, though I think I have to thread things together better over the next few.

Anyway, I'll leave Tonks in Hogsmeade. The moon's getting pretty fat.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"Greyback's gone," Alderman said, then dropped down from a tree into the middle of the path, falling into pace beside Remus and grinning. "Left yesterday with a bunch of blokes and said he'd be back after moon."

An almost physical sense of relief pulsed through Remus--he'd been dreading what Greyback would have in mind for this month--followed quickly by the more sobering thought, "Where did they go?"

"Dunno." Alderman scooped a rock up off the ground and tossed it ahead, hitting a low-hanging branch and giving himself a cheer. "North, I think. I saw them headed out that way."

"Who did he take?"

"Jamison, a few of the others. He wanted to take you, but you were gone. Put him in a right temper, but the other bloke said he didn't trust you anyway."

Remus stopped walking. "Other bloke?"

"Big blond fellow. Never saw him before. Did you have a good hunt?"

Remus handed him two or three of the rabbits he'd caught, feeling numb, wishing Moody checked in before transformations instead of after them. He had to get word to the Order, but he couldn't very well do it with Alderman standing right beside him. "Why did he say he didn't trust me?"

"Said you were fighting with Bumbleton or something like that last year. Greyback cuffed him one and said"--Alderman dropped his voice into a low growl, imitating Greyback--"'That were last year, now. Lupin's back with us, now, right where he belongs.' They almost got into a fight over it, and Greyback said something about someone else they couldn't trust and then he said there wasn't any time and they had to leave." Alderman shrugged. "Greyback kicked in the door of your shed, though. Reckon it'll get wet tonight, if the rain comes."

"I'll be sure to put all my valuables somewhere safe," Remus said automatically, his mind going through lists of Greyback's allies and possible victims. "North?"

"North. You going to join them after all?"


"What do you reckon they're doing?"

"Nothing good." Remus started moving again. He felt ill at ease. "Why aren't you there?"

"Are you mad? I faded up into the trees as soon as he started grabbing people. After last month--" Alderman stopped talking and looked over his shoulder at Remus. "I mean, you know. I... well, you know, I'm not ready to run with them quite yet. Got a bit twisted up for awhile there. You did as well, and you just ate."

"He had you with the pack when they... when they killed her?"

Alderman nodded and went on ahead. After ten minutes of silence, he began to talk again. "I think they said something about Birmingham, so yeah, north. The blond man kept going on about a reporter for the Daily Prophet, some man who wrote something he shouldn't have or something." He glanced back carefully. "I... I sort of think that we might have someone new with us after this. The blond said something about a boy. Greyback perked right up at that." He kicked a rock and glanced cautiously over his shouler at Remus. "Wonder if that's what he looked like when he found out someone in the capture unit had a boy. My... er... my mother... was in the capture unit. I think. I know it was something with werewolves."

Remus nodded. "My father offended him. I'm not not completely sure how."

"I bet all of those idiots have the same story, and they're still rushing around saying, 'Choose me, choose me.'" Alderman gave a disdainful sniff. "'Course, my mother wasn't in much of a hurry to capture me back, mind. I'm damaged."

"She's your mother. I'm sure she'd... have you ever tried talking to her?"

He shook his head, and they reached the edge of the clearing where Remus's shed stood. The door was in splinters. Several of the children were trying to prop bits of wood in and jam them back together, but they weren't having any luck without a Sticking Charm. Alderman went on ahead, calling, "Found him!" and a moment later he was pummelled by several small werewolves, all of them trying to tell him the story of how his door came to be shattered.

"--and the other fellow said--"

"--and Greyback just kicked--"

"--but they had to--"

"--and you weren't--"

"--so he--"

Remus held up his hand. "Alderman already told me what happened."

"Old Mag tried to stop him," Evelyn said, coming forward with a reproachful look on her face. "She said it wasn't fair, and he hit her. I think he broke her nose."

"What?" Remus looked around. "Alderman didn't mention that part. Where is she now?"

"Sweet took her back to the pond to help her clean up."


"It's near where we are," Evelyn said. "The girls."

Remus thought quickly, wondering if he could use Mag's injury as an excuse to get away from the pack long enough to get word to Moody, and feeling guilty for the pragmatism. "Could you take me there?"

"You're not allowed."

"Oh, just take him there, Evvie," Blondin said. "Lupin's not interested in your little bits."

"The moon..."

"I don't know about girls," Hamilton said, "but we remember bugger-all transformed."

"I don't think I should. It's not proper. Only Greyback's allowed there. He didn't even let his friend go there." She frowned. "His friend told me Lupin would tell us lies."

"This is the same friend who was going on about how we could eat the whole town at the edge of the woods if we wanted to?" Alderman asked. "At least if we help him out?"

"Yeah," Evelyn said defiantly. "He said we were victors of dissemination!"

"Oh, grow a brain, will you?"

Evelyn kicked Alderman in the shin and sat down in the broken doorway, sniffling. "He said I was pretty and people shouldn't be nasty to me and I should have nice things. He waved his wand and made my dress clean again." She pointed at the ratty old piece of cloth she was wearing, then started to cry in earnest. "And now it's all dirty again! I've got it dirty. I hate being dirty."

Remus sighed and sat down on the ground beside her. "I know you hate being dirty, and you are pretty, and you should have nice things. We should all at least have a decent place to live. But think about what that man wants Greyback to do. Is it fair to make someone else live like this just so we might have nice things?"

"Yes," she whimpered, but leaned into his arm. "I want pretty things."

"I know, Evvie. Will you take me to Mag? Please? I just need to know what happened from a grown-up."

"He was very nice."

"I'll bet he was."

She sniffled for a few more minutes, but finally agreed to get Remus to the pond. "But no further! And don't you look and try to find out where we are, and don't tell any of the ladies I brought you if they ask. Mina's in charge."

Remus nodded. "I'll hang back until you're gone, and if they find me, I'll say I followed you without permission."

She looked at him dubiously, but seemed content enough to let him go along with her. After nearly half a mile, she stopped and turned around, pointing to a glint of water between two trees. "It's there," she said. "You're not lying? Really not? You're not doing anything improper?"

"I'm not doing anything improper."

She looked at her feet. "That other man was trying to fool me, wasn't he?"


"I'm so stupid."

"No you're not. Everyone wants nice things."

Evelyn slipped off into the forest and disappeared. Remus headed for the water. When he came out onto the shore, he saw Mag immediately, holding a wet cloth to her face and wincing into the sunlight. A part of him felt that he should actually go there--if nothing else, so that if she spoke to Evelyn, he wouldn't come off as a liar--but there was something he needed to first. He memorized the spot he was in, noting everything he could about it, visualizing the paths that had led him here... and Apparated out.

At first, he thought he'd made a mistake in his destination, but it would be a nearly impossible one--there were only so many houses into which he could Apparate directly. But surely, this sunny room with its threadbare but clean carpet, these freshly papered walls, this tall, neatly made bed... these things weren't in the Shrieking Shack.

He looked out the window and saw the familiar view of Hogsmeade bustling along beneath him, but the view was framed by pale blue curtains, which he realized with a start had always been there. They'd been a dingy bluish-brown the last time he'd been in this room.

For a moment, he forgot entirely why he'd come here.

But there was no time to wonder at this particular marvel. He pushed the door open and went to the spare room across the hall, his eyes taking in the repaired staircase in a quick and stunned way.

The spare room, where he'd stored his desk, was untouched since his last visit, and he was glad of it. He didn't want to have to look for his wand. He pulled open the top drawer, drew it (savoring the feel), and sent his Patronus to Moody. Dora was closer, of course--Dora was everywhere here--but he couldn't see her. Not in this quiet, quaint house.

He went downstairs and was taken by surprise again when he found the parlor straightened and dusted, though the furniture here was still broken. He did a quick and highly illegal charm on the fireplace to tap it into the floo network, and a moment later, green flames erupted, and Mad-Eye spun into the room, checking madly for any spying hexes in the system and giving Remus a dirty look for using it. Remus wasted no time telling him exactly what Alderman had said.

"You're sure the lad's not setting a trap?" Moody asked. "Could be Greyback's trying to trick you into passing on information so he can prove you're doing it."

"I was careful to leave when no one was looking. And I don't believe Alderman would participate knowingly. Is there anyone who fits the description? I don't recall the Prophet being particularly harmful to Voldemort last year."

"I think I know who it is. I'll keep my eye on them. You keep your head down, though. If we do put a stop to anything, I doubt it'll take Greyback many steps to get it back to you, whether your little friend's a spy or not."

"According to Alderman, Greyback told his Death Eater friend that I'm loyal and he trusts me these days."

"Thinks he's got you under his thumb is more like it. He never was the brightest of dark creatures. Can I Apparate from the back garden? You're mad, using the floo network..."

Remus sent him outside, pointing out the edge of the anti-Apparition wards from the kitchen window, and watched him disappear. It was all he could do.

He looked around the kitchen, blinking. He'd never seen it clean in the entire time he'd transformed here, even when his mother had come to inspect it before his first year. (She'd just instructed him rather tersely not to eat here.)

"Dora," he whispered, feeling both awed and exasperated.

He Apparated back to the forest.

And nearly spun into the figure in dark robes and a Death Eater's white mask.
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jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: January 19th, 2006 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear.

Am I allowed the vain hope that it's one of the kids playing dress-up? No?

Damn. Poor Remus, I think he's in trouble....:/

Him finding what Dora had done to the Shack was sweet though. I'm sure you've said, but can I ask anyway - why could Remus apparate in but not Moody?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Am I allowed the vain hope that it's one of the kids playing dress-up? No?

I would actually strongly encourage being hopeful.

why could Remus apparate in but not Moody?

I did get into it someplace, but I've forgotten where now. Remus actually owns the place in my version (I'm starting to get a sneaking suspicion that I'm wrong), and the wards were set up so that, in a moon-related emergency, he'd be able to Apparate there. No one else has that "key."
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: January 19th, 2006 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. Now that is a cliffhanger. :)

Nice to see that Remus has made an impression on the kids (if indeed he has and Alderman isn't helping to trap him).
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 19th, 2006 08:54 am (UTC) (Link)
On tenterhooks after the last line!
Yes, Remus has a knack for dealing with children. When this war ends up (I'm sure he'll survive) and stupid Umbridge and similars are gone off the Ministry, he should go back to teaching.
He realizing Dora's cleaning says a lot of his deepest feelings and is a wonderful thing.
Finally, a big blond fellow? Oh, I found very funny Polijuiced Cissy! (grin)

tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: January 19th, 2006 10:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Sorry, that's not very coherent, is it... but damn, you've got me worried about Remus.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 19th, 2006 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know Remus will be okay... I know Remus will be okay...

harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: January 19th, 2006 02:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack! You are SO GOOD at writing in serial, and that's impressive given that we know how it will end. Poor Remus, he gets a little bit of happiness and then is immediately into trouble again. I love how the children trust him so automatically, and how he can't help himself helping them. To be truly effective as a spy he wouldn't try to turn them back to the light side, but it's too much a part of his nature.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: January 19th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ack! Cliffhanger! I'm going to scream!!

Oh goodness, please let that be... Snape. Yes. Yes. Let that be Snape. Even if you aren't planning to go one way or the other about his loyalties in this story. Because then, at least, he won't blow his cover to Dumbledore by torturing Remus, you know?

But I know it isn't him.. I just know it. Oh god I hope Remus will be OK.

And there you have it... my entire reaction to this chapter. I had very nice plans for what to say in the review as I was reading it - I noticed all sorts of beautifully done thing, like Evelyn and Alderman - but they have now all officially been driven out of my mind. I just hope Remus will be all right. I just hope.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: January 19th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern, a while back you did this post on Orson Scott Card's MICE quotient... I'm trying to find it but for some reason I can't. Could you help me out? Thanks.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: January 19th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
bloody buggering heck

I'm so glad to see that Remus can talk to the kids again, I don't think Greyback has any idea how much progress he's making. And good on him for letting Evelyn figure things out on her own.

Incidentally, I copied Of a Sort onto my friend Meagan's Palm, and now she very much wants to hug young Remus and Severus
ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: January 19th, 2006 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh. Your writing almost always affects me emotionally, but with this installment, you got me physically - my eyes opened really wide, and I was, literally, on the edge of my chair.

And now I'm soooo worried for poor Remus....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I may run and hide when I open up the next section. 'Cause I didn't mean the cliffhanger to be quite so very cliffie. ;)
camry_1 From: camry_1 Date: January 19th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like Olympe, above, I thought of all kinds of nice things while reading, but the cliffhanger drove them all out, and now I'm waiting anxiously to find out what happens to Remus.

I'll try to push on with one thought though, and please forgive me if this has already been commented on- I haven't seen it, if it has. I very much like the metaphor of life as a house; As people physically make a house into a home, they are often building a relationship. I've seen this in real life between newlyweds first moving in together, or long-marrieds who are wanting an improvement. In movies, my memories go as far back as Donna Reed as Mary Bailey, fixing up the first home while George saves the Savings and Loan, and as recently as our Hayden Christensen and Kevin Kline, rebuilding a home and a father-son relationship simultaneously. As Dora fixes Lupin's shrieking shack, she is putting her time, effort, and self into the relationship even when she can't be with him. A nice touch, Fern, and it rings true.
camry_1 From: camry_1 Date: January 19th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should have added that this particularly matters to me, because I'm a wife and a partner who has agreed to stay home in a very traditional way. Among my jobs is the care and upkeep of a too-large suburban house. With four little kids, it's constantly a mess, and it's very against my nature to tidy and clean. So it's very nice to read a bit of fic, and be reminded of a higher reason to do it.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 19th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just a request, so I can keep track...

Could you put some sort of dating on your chapters? I know you're going from moon to moon, but now I think it's November, but I'm not really sure.

Otherwise, excellent writing as always. The pups are becoming so well developed as individuals with their own concerns and characters.
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: January 19th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful writing as ever, but I must say that Greyback's "pack" continues to seriously creep me out. Even though I had anticipated the events of the last Interlude (having read Flames), I was impressed (and deeply distressed) by the way you still made the horror of the events palpable.
I found the beginning of this Interlude as disturbing when I read Alderman's off-hand comment: "Got a bit twisted up for awhile there. You did as well, and you just ate." Which I assume means Alderman participated in the killing. I realized that Greyback's pack reminds me of Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda only not as bad. If Greyback was as bad as Kony, Shades would be NC-17, but I see a lot of similarities in their methods. I can't remember if he's already said something to this effect already, but does Greyback use the pups' participation in "hunts" (once they're allowed out of the cave) to scare them away from escaping? Say that they'll be sent to Azkaban for life or worse if anyone takes them into custody? He certainly seems to be taking that sort of tack with Remus..."You can't escape now that you've fed, no one will ever accept you again"?

Sorry for the dark comment, and I believe it's my first too. I'm a longtime fan of your stories *cues standard "first comment introduction"*. A Shades update really makes my day :).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Had to check up on my African politics to respond! Thanks for the prompt to do so.)

I think it's an apt comparison, looking at information on Kony. I've always had an interest in weird, destructive cults, and I'm leaning pretty heavily on that with Greyback--Kony is an example of the type, but I'd also look at luminaries like Jim Jones and other murderous/suicidal cults.

I think he probably does use participation in the hunts to reinforce loyalty--both through threats and psychological terrorism (which is what he's doing to Remus)--and that's why he was keen to have Remus go along this time. And Remus, who thinks everyone but Greyback and himself is innocent of crimes committed while transformed, isn't seeing that Alderman has been pretty profoundly affected by all of this... and not necessarily in the way Greyback was thinking.

And, oh, hello. :waves:
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: January 19th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, cliffhanger!

I really loved this part. It takes a lot for me to enjoy OCs, such as Alderman, but you do such an excellent job with them that I begin to feel as if the characters are really a part of canon.

By the way: "My father offended him. I'm not not completely sure how."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 19th, 2006 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm very glad I have readers to notice these things for me, because my eyes probably would have cheerfully skipped over it several more times.
mindset From: mindset Date: January 20th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a teeny-tiny grammar nitpick with Alderman's line, "You did as well, and you just ate." While it works, it distracted me from the story a moment. I was thinking, "Remus just ate? When? On his rabbit hunt?" before realizing he meant that Remus only ate and didn't kill.

It might be just me, but thought it couldn't hurt to point it out. Very much enjoying the story -- I don't have you friended, but I come by about once a week or so. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 20th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
You're right. I'll change that to "only."
cleindori From: cleindori Date: January 20th, 2006 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Ack! Cliffhanger!

I'm so glad Remus had a chance to realise that Tonks has been cleaning the Shrieking Shack. Also, my heart just goes out to all the pups...Evelyn, wanting to be clean and have pretty things... *sniff*
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