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Shades, Chapter 19: Guard Duty, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 19: Guard Duty, pt. 1
When last we left our handsome heroes...

Tonks has joined Bill in trying to help Greyback's "pups"--she's visited Alderman's mother, Fiona, who turns out to be an unexpected ally. She reviews the various things on her plate (including her assignment from her friend the water sprite and all of those gates). Unfortunately, when she goes out to have a bite to eat before returning to Hogsmeade, she runs into Fleur, who she'd told earlier she couldn't join for a day of shopping because she had too much work. Fleur takes what seems to be being blown off fairly badly, and stalks off without giving Tonks a chance to explain.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Tonks watched Fleur scurry off into the afternoon, thinking she really ought to go after but not having the energy. She tried to nurture a spark of indignation that Fleur hadn't bothered to give her the benefit of the doubt, but as she hadn't given a second thought to Fleur's invitation, she couldn't very well argue that she had been terribly attentive. She rubbed her face, finished her beer, and left, letting her feet guide her without much thought. She was unsurprised to find herself on a bus headed for Grimmauld Place, and she let herself into Number Twelve without bellowing this time. The screen around Auntie's portrait was still up, but she seemed to be awake behind it, muttering to herself. Tonks tiptoed past.

There was no one in the kitchen (though something was bubbling tantalizingly over the fire), and the front room was also deserted. Molly, true to her word, seemed to have cleared away most of the boxes and files, though she seemed to have made it into something like an office, with neat wooden cabinets lining the wall around the fireplace. The curtains were drawn on the square outside.

Tonks went upstairs. The parlor had also been cleaned, with boxes stacked neatly against the family tree. Some odd chance had left a gap near the top, and the words Toujours Purs peeked dourly out at her. She looked at it for a long time.

"Oh, blast!"

She looked up as something crashed above her, then ran upstairs. The trapdoor to the attic was open, a ladder coming down from it, and a puff of dust hanging in the air.

"Are you all right?" she called.

Molly Weasley's head appeared in the ceiling. "Oh, yes. I'm just fine. Just trying to get all of this in order. You can't imagine the things that are up here."

Tonks smiled. "Well, let me give you a hand."

Molly looked at her dubiously.

"No, really. I've got a bit better at it. Sort of."

"All right."

Tonks pulled herself up into the dusty attic, where the detritus of the Black family sat draped in drop-cloths and mold. She knew Sirius had started on this mess last year, but he didn't appear to have got very far with it. She turned and tripped on the edge of a leaning portrait, which mumbled something at her in garbled French. "Sorry, Grandmother," she said to it vaguely, deciding not to take a stab at how many "Greats" would go with it.

It muttered something that she thought translated to "Bastard," but she chose not to pursue the conversation to find out for certain.

"I imagine Harry would let you have any of this that you asked for," Molly said. "It's all family business. though I can't imagine what anyone would want to do with most of this rubbish."

A portrait with a large tear in it protested, but became quiet when Molly glared at it.

"Every attic is full of this nonsense, isn't it?" Tonks asked. "My Granny Tonks barely owned anything, and we still have an attic full of old school papers and broken picture frames."

"Does she have little boxes full of teeth and hair?" Molly asked, pointing distastefully at two intricately carved ebony boxes that she'd set on the windowsill.

"Er, well, no. I somehow doubt it." Tonks went over and traced them. "Probably Sirius and Regulus. I think people take their own when they get married or whatnot. I wouldn't know. Mum burned all of my teeth when I lost them. She had one of those boxes for herself, though. She told me she had to go back and steal it from her parents' house."

"Why on earth--?"

"So my aunts couldn't get hold of them do anything to us with them."

Molly glowered at this, but didn't take the opportunity to impugn Black family traditions. "And your hair?"

Tonks laughed. "I've never had a haircut in my life. Never needed one." She pushed her hair behind her ear. "Reckon I could use one now, though."

"Oh, nonsense. I like it better like this than sticking up every whichway. Looks more ladylike."

They made their way through the northwest corner of the attic, coughing at the dust (and finally resorting to Conjuring face masks) and trying to find some kind of order in the mess. One of the portraits promised to identify mysterious objects if Molly would repair it and hang it downstairs somewhere, but as they had no idea who he was or where other portraits of him might hang, they decided to let it be for the moment. They went downstairs together when it became too dark and shadowy in the attic, and ate the soup Molly had simmering.

"I wasn't expecting you in London today, dear," Molly said.

"Oh, yes. That. I think I've made an enemy of Fleur. She'd asked me to go shopping with her, and she saw me up here even though I said I was working, and I was working, but I got called up here abruptly and--"

"She's a very high-strung girl," Molly said with some disapproval.

"Will you tell her I'm sorry? I didn't get a chance to explain."

Molly agreed distantly, and they spoke of other things until Tonks realized that she had to get back to Hogsmeade for her night shift watching the road to the school.

The next two weeks didn't give her much breathing room. A Dementor attack in the countryside took her out of Hogsmeade for two days, trying to track down the origin. She thought once that she might have discovered a new gate, but it turned out to just be an oddly shaped rock formation. Mrs. McCrea's dog, Bibs, went missing, and Dawlish laughed at Tonks for spending one of her rare afternoons off helping to look for it. Dawlish himself had occupied himself with inquiring about Dumbledore's travels, though when Tonks reported this to Dumbledore--it was, after all, something she'd been asked to watch for--he just sighed and said that he would handle Dawlish on his own.

It was past the middle of November when Dumbledore sent word that he'd be away from the school for a few days, and asked her to arrange for patrols, as they'd discussed. Bill Weasley agreed to come the first night, Tuesday, and she met him in the back garden of the Shrieking Shack. He was waiting for her with a slightly irritated look on his face.

"Sorry to call you away," she said.

"It's fine," he told her curtly.

"Is something wrong?"

"Fleur told me--"

Tonks sighed. "Oh, I'm sorry, honestly. I should have written her myself to apologize, but it's been a bit hectic. I meant to. Your mum said she'd explain--"

"Explain what?"

"About my being called to London unexpectedly for work. And, well, I also spoke to Alderman's mother, since I had the chance, though I didn't tell Molly that part and--"

Bill was shaking his head. "I'm sorry. Must have slipped Mum's mind," he said through gritted teeth. "And Fleur's a bit on edge. She should have stopped to ask."

"Oh," Tonks said, unable to think of anything else to say.

Bill opened the trapdoor in the floor of the Shrieking Shack, and dropped down into the tunnel. He helped Tonks down after him. "She's not like this," he muttered, lighting his wand and starting toward Hogwarts. "Mum, I mean. She's always taken in anyone we bring home. I've never seen her do this before."

"Er, well..."

"And Ginny. Ginny and I have always got along brilliantly, and she's being a right little--" He wrinkled his nose. "She's being a bit spoiled about the whole thing."

"Well," Tonks said, "Fleur can be a bit, er, intimidating to other women."

"To my mother and my sister? It's not like she's competing with them to be my mother or my sister." He took a deep breath. "Sorry. I suppose that was bound to come out at some point."

"It's all right."

"I'll tell her what happened. That she shouldn't be angry at you."

"Oh, let her fume at me. I'm an outsider. Better me than your mum and Ginny."

He considered this for only a few seconds before nodding and moving on down the tunnel. "So... what did Alderman's mum say?" He grinned sheepishly over his shoulder. "I probably should have asked that first, shouldn't I?"

Tonks laughed. "It's all right. She's with us." She filled him in on her conversation with Fiona and gave him as much information as she had. "If we can find one of the gates they used for Dark Creatures," she said, "maybe we could send the pups to a sanctuary somewhere."

"Do we really want to send a pack of children into a sanctuary full of dark creatures? I mean, they're only dark creatures once a month themselves."

"Good point. I'll rethink that. Do you know anything about where they are? Did Remus tell you anything?"

"No. He's keeping quite tight-lipped about the whole thing."

"He's good at that. But Moody knows, doesn't he? Isn't he meant to be going there to check up on Remus?"

"Good point. I suppose we could bring Moody into this. He could get us the lay of the land. What do you think?"

They reached the base of the Whomping Willow. Tonks Disillusioned herself and watched Bill do the same. "I'll see what I can get out of him," she said. "We're turning into quite the little army here."

She pulled herself up, hit the knob on the trunk of the tree, and stepped onto the cool, fresh-smelling grounds of Hogwarts.
5 comments or Leave a comment
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: March 3rd, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, I'm starting to see how Bill got on Greyback's hit list. The idea that he might have been targeted is interesting -- I never would have thought of it, but it makes sense.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 3rd, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if I'll go there or not; I'm kind of thinking of Bill pre-emptively getting a little payback (pay-forward?). But by the time I get there, it's quite possible I'll have decided to have Greyback know who he's attacking.
fleckedwithgrey From: fleckedwithgrey Date: March 4th, 2006 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Angry veela's are scary ;)

Nice section. I like the detail about Tonks never needing a haircut, and the whole conversation with Molly. I do feel bad for Fleur, considering the Weasley's are usually accepting of outsiders, but she's not being terribly likeable either.

The Alderman plot is getting very interesting. I wonder how they'll go about getting him out of there. And when he is out, I do hope Remus doesn't have to pay for it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 7th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Baby Teeth

Hi, it's Sara Libby here. First I should add my voice to swell the chorus of how great this story is and how any faults you may see with your X-ray author vision are invisible to us mere mortals.

I wanted to comment on the issue of people saving teeth or hair. Maybe this means I'm weird (which is perfectly possible), but I saved about a dozen of my own baby teeth, which I keep in a drawstring bag in my nightstand. I also have a good chunk of my hair from when I went from long to short hair in highschool. Saving the hair was inspired by "Little Women."

I guess what I'm saying is that while Dark Wizarding families probably automatically save teeth and hair for nefarious purposes, it's not quite that unheard of for other people to do so as well. I can easily imagine parents saving some of thier children's baby teeth for sentimental reasons.

Now I've got to go hide my teeth and hair in case Narcissa decides to come after me :) 'Ta!
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: March 11th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't had time to read much fic in a while, so I've only just got caught up with this story. Some thoughts:

Great idea to have Greyback keeping tabs on Narcissa. That makes a lot more sense than Draco's claim that he's an "old family friend," and fits Greyback overiding Draco to come into Hogwarts. And then turning it into a threat to the Tonkses was a smart way to get them out of town over Christmas.

All the asides relating to Fleur are great. You make it clear why Molly and some of the others find Fleur annoying while showing her insecurity.

The scene with Fiona Crowler was very well drawn. I was so relieved to learn she didn't abandon her son, and I appreciated her final word on Remus's paperwork. I like her.

Anyway, thanks for this story - it's been a bright point in a rough week.
5 comments or Leave a comment