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Shades, Chapter 18: The Werewolf Capture Unit, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 18: The Werewolf Capture Unit, pt. 2
Tonks has gone up to the Burrow for Molly's birthday, and Bill draws her aside after dinner to talk to her about Remus's project to find out about the pups. He tells her that Alderman wants to get away, and they discuss his mother, who works in Werewolf Capture. She's remarried and has other children, and Tonks floats the concept that if Alderman gets away, Greyback might well take another one of them. They decide that they definitely need to try to talk to her, though her response is distinctly up in the air.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




They passed a few ideas back and forth about how to approach Robert Alderman's mother, but didn't come up with anything that seemed safe. Tonks began to look through the other information and the remaining drawings. There were, perhaps, a dozen... accounting for nearly all of the reported attacks over the last ten years. There'd been a "hot zone" seven and eight years ago, when Greyback seemed to have taken a large number of them in rapid succession; she checked the clippings and was not surprised to see one of the periodic anti-werewolf frenzies happening at the time, though she couldn't tell which had precipitated the other. One way or another, it had apparently been marked by strikes and counter-strikes, ending only when the Muggle boy, Blondin, had been taken and Greyback had gone into deep hiding with his pack. She hadn't thought anything at the time about being required to spend time in the Werewolf Capture Unit during her training, though Kingsley Shacklebolt had been puzzled by it, since it hadn't been required of him. Looking at this string of attacks, she was actually rather surprised that they hadn't had half the Division out hunting Greyback when she'd arrived.

She spread Remus's drawings out and looked at them all. Some had names attached--there was an "Evvie (Evey?)," a "?? Blondin," "Alderman," and the scarred girl "Sweet," beside whose name Bill had scribbled "Vivian Waters." Characteristically, Remus had also put notes about them in the margin, presumably to help Bill find clues to their identities, but Tonks had no idea how knowing that Evvie enjoyed new clothes and Blondin was a ringleader would be of great value in that.

"I don't know where they'll all go," Bill said, sighing. "I can't think where to put even one of them that Greyback won't find him. It's not like they're old enough to live on their own. I mean, I'd take one of them myself, but--"

"Fleur?"

"No. Fleur would be delighted. I mean, I haven't asked her--it's one of those things I think we're all playing close to the vest--but she's got a generous heart and it would go out to them." He looked at her crossly. "Honestly, Tonks."

"Sorry. I didn't mean it quite the way it came out. I--"

Bill shook his head and cut her off. "What I was saying is that we're in the middle of the war ourselves. It's as likely as not that someone with ties to Greyback would spot one of them living with us. You and your parents would have the same problem."

"Right."

"So we--"

The door opened, and Fleur poked her head in. "Bill? 'Ave you feenished?"

"Yes. Mainly."

"Your muzzer wants you to come eenside and 'elp put ze furniture back."

Bill nodded and kissed her cheek, then gave Tonks a wave and went back to the house.

Fleur came into the workshop and looked at Tonks with some unformed suspicion in her eyes.

"Order business," Tonks said.

Fleur warmed visibly. "Oh. Oh, yes." She shifted awkwardly. "Eh... Would you... per'aps... I am planning to shop this weekend, in Diagon Alley. Would you like to shop with me?"

"Oh!" Tonks took a moment to process this. "I'm sorry, but I have work all weekend."

"I see. Per'aps some ozzer time." Fleur gave a dejected kind of nod and left the workshop.

Tonks shook her head, gathered up the information Bill had brought in, and went back inside to bid the Weasleys goodnight. She traded jokes with Charlie and the twins and hugged Molly, wishing her a happy birthday again. Molly hugged her back and said how delighted she was to have her come, and Tonks looked across at Fleur, who was watching it with a slightly puzzled look on her face.

Tonks Apparated back to Hogsmeade.

Work resumed its pace the next morning--strings of leads that turned out to go nowhere, tensions with Savage about who was guarding what at which time... what Tonks was beginning to look at, not without dismay, as the shape of her professional life. Dawlish caught her by unpleasant surprise on Friday by calling her in to grill her about Dumbledore's movements; she'd thought he'd given up on his "Us versus Dumbledore" mentality, but apparently, he'd decided that Dumbledore was still an interfering civilian, and the capture of Voldemort should be left to Aurors.

On Sunday, she had to trade watches with Proudfoot because Robards called her to London to talk about Fortescue's disappearance and the murder of Emmeline Vance. He'd run out of leads on both, and hoped she would have fresh ideas. She hadn't any. He asked if she would care to have lunch with him. She told him to have lunch with his wife.

The building was largely empty, with the more bureaucratic offices closed for the weekend, but the Werewolf Capture Unit, like the Auror Division, didn't keep banker's hours, and she thought it might at least be worth a visit. She went down two floors to the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, wrinkling her nose inadvertantly. They'd kept her in a room all night once when she was fourteen, drinking Veritaserum and testing the limits of her metamorphosing abilities. And of course, last year, they'd hauled Remus in for the great crime of helping her rescue a man being held captive by other werewolves.

She was not a great friend of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

She knocked lightly, but didn't wait for an answer before going into the Capture offices. A man she recognized slightly was leaning over a sallowm old woman in shackles, and as she came in, she heard the phrase, "...missed your registration, didn't you Holly?" The werewolf--Holly, apparently--was crying and muttering about forgetting.

The man turned when he heard Tonks approach him. "What do you need?"

Tonks flashed her Auror Division talisman and made up a story on the spot. "I'm stationed up north. Had some reports of werewolves up in the Orkneys."

"I haven't heard anything."

"I need to talk to Fiona Crowler. Is she in?"

"It's Sunday."

"Is she in?"

"Yeah, she's in her office, but she wouldn't usually be."

"All right. May I?"

The man shrugged and turned his attention back to Holly.

Tonks knocked on the door of a side office, then went in. Like most Ministry offices, it was a small, cramped space, but it was kept pin neat, and the shelves on the wall were lined with cheerful pictures of life in Fiona Crowler's family. Fiona herself was wearing sharply tailored robes and had her brown hair tied up in a tidy upsweep. She was filling in some kind of long report scroll, and Tonks could see several like it nearby. By the titles, they seemed to involve missed registration warnings.

"Bit hard on them just for missing registration," she said, closing the door.

Fiona put her quill down. "As we've seen a good deal of increased activity this year, you'll please excuse us for not particularly approving of werewolves who abruptly drop out of sight. And yes, Miss Tonks--I do remember you--that very much includes your friend Mr. Lupin, who is due here in April, whether he likes it or not, and I'm more than half-inclined to call him in early. No one has seen him since summer. What do you need?"

Tonks turned to the door, cast an Impervious Charm on it, and sat down. "When is Robert due for his?"

The color drained out of Fiona's face. "Leave my office."

"I asked--" Tonks frowned. She'd meant to shock Fiona, wrong foot her a bit, to see how she reacted to the subject, but the expression on her face wasn't just wrong-footed. She looked like she'd been stabbed.

"Leave my office. How dare you? My son is dead."

"What?"

Fiona stood. "I don't know how you found out about Robert, but you apparently missed the denouement of the story. Greyback killed him. He stood outside my house and bragged about how he tasted. How dare you bring Robert into this? If your friend can't be bothered to--"

Tonks's mind was reeling. She held up her hand. "This isn't about Lupin. It's about Robert." She fumbled in her satchel, pulled out the drawing, and thrust it across the desk before Fiona could blast the door open and let their conversation out into the main offices. It was a risk--she knew almost nothing about Fiona Crowler--but it was the only thing she could think to do.

Fiona looked down at it cursorily, then looked again. She sat down heavily, her hand flying to her mouth. "Where did you get this?"

"He wants to leave Greyback."

"Are you telling me"--he eyes narrowed dangerously--"that you know where Greyback is?"

"No, I don't."

Abruptly, Fiona swept an arm across her desk, sending things flying through the office. "Bloody Aurors! You're tracking him. Using him to get at someone bigger. There is no one bigger. There is no one worse. There is--"

"Mrs. Crowler, Robert is alive."

"And trapped with that maniac, and you're just letting..." She sat back down, put her hands over her eyes, and wept.

Tonks went around the desk and put her hand over Fiona's shoulders. "I know," she said. "I know. I want to bring him in as well."

"Then why don't you, if you know where he is?"

"He's slippery. You know that. And he's got others around him. And backing in... other places."

"You-Know-Who."

"Yes."

She wiped her nose. "Greyback stood outside my house for three hours just before the full moon. He had my husband. My first husband, Stanley Alderman, Bobby's father. Kept threatening to kill him if I tried anything. He talked about how Bobby had... tasted... Horrible things. And then the moon rose and he bit Stan. Just bit him once and ran off."

"I'm so sorry."

"Stan brewed poison before the next full moon. I found him when I got home from work."

"Robert wants to leave," Tonks said again.

Fiona picked up the drawing Remus had made of Robert Alderman, holding it so tightly that the edges crumpled under her fingers. Her eyes darted to one of the pictures of her younger children. She put her head down on the desk. "Oh, God," she said. "Where is he? And now what?"
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Comments
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 23rd, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
[shivers and goosebumps]

Wow.
ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: February 23rd, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh. Oh. Oh. *shivers* How completely awful for Fiona.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 23rd, 2006 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Aw, Fleur...

I don't comment very often--I usually just read and adore--but I had to let you know that your Fleur is really working for me. Making an effort with Tonks, trying to figure out why Molly likes Tonks better ... those little touches make her seem so real. So, yeah; love the story, love the minor characters, love it all.

Three Sickles Short
sunsethill From: sunsethill Date: February 23rd, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aw, Fleur...

I just wanted to say I agree completely about your Fleur. And, in addition, I like the turn this has taken with Alderman's mother. I'm so glad that she has not turned against him, seemingly. I guess I'll hold my breath for a few more chapters. ;-)
chengiz From: chengiz Date: February 23rd, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Aw, Fleur...

Yeah, I agree - I like the way you've shown Fleur. One part of my appreciation stems from how fed up I am with Fleur-bashers... but even factoring that out, I have to say you pick neat little moments to throw in the revealing looks and expressions.

hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: February 23rd, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooooh, another incredibly powerful one. No wonder you've been struggling a bit lately (not that your readers can tell; it keeps getting better!)—the emotional intensity just keeps ratcheting up. Well done, again. I agree with the other comments re. making Fleur multi-faceted and liking that Fiona reacted this way, and not the other. Ugh, her husband too??
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 23rd, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor lonely Fleur....

Ooh, the Alderman plot is really picking up. I look forward to seeing where it goes.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 23rd, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Fiona! :( I feel so sorry for her... though I do think she was a bit quick to accept her son had been kidnapped. Would any mother be willing to believe that at first? Or is she just one of those people who isn't going to be in denial, no matter what the the fact is?

And Fleur... I feel so bad for her, to be honest. In all honesty, Tonks of all people ought to understand. They are actually in the exact same situation - two people they care about doubting their love for someone they'd do anything in the world for. Only in Fleur's case, it's not Bill who is being cold, it's Molly. Still, Bill is in the middle of everything.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 23rd, 2006 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. The way you make it hurt is amazing. Poor poor Fiona. I just hope Alderman gets to her all right.

Your Fleur is amazing. You've really gotus feeling for her - I'm sure we've all been in a similar position - not sure quite why someone doesn't seem to like us. I liked Bil's defence of her as well. I think she does have a big heart, but a proud one. I like the idea that she wants to fit in better.
chengiz From: chengiz Date: February 23rd, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant. I officially LOVE Fiona's story, and am eagerly awaiting more. I can't believe you are struggling to write this, because the writing certainly doesn't show it.

- Olympe Maxime, who doesn't feel like signing out of her husband's LJ because it's just too much work. :D
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 23rd, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Fiona section was really well done and extremly moving. I had to scroll down after "Leave my office" so I had a mini-cliffhanger, which madr it even better. One of my daughter's best friend has the surname Alderman, so everytime you right about him I just see our Alderman's face, which makes it even more heart-wrenching.

I have to echo others' comments about Fleur. It's easy to dislike her, because she can be really irritating, but she was so magnificent in the hospital scene that you've got to admire her at the same time. It's nice to see a writer make an effort to flesh out her character a little. She was a minor character in HBP so JKR, obviously, didn't have time to develop her but I'm sure you're pretty close to what she intended.

TDU
aebhel From: aebhel Date: February 24th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)
...Ouch. I fully expected Alderman's mother to completely blow him off, but having her be in the position of wanting her son back but not wanting to endanger any of her other children is just heartwrenching. Very well-done; I can't wait to see where you're going with this.
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