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Shades, Chapter 19: Guard Duty, pt. 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 19: Guard Duty, pt. 4
Hmm. I'm going to have to make this part a little more interesting in revision. Anyway, what's been happening is that Tonks and Bill went up to the school to do guard duty. McGonagall joined Tonks to keep her company, and the two of them see something mysterious across the lake. They speed over on their brooms, and they find Bellatrix, Fenrir, and an unidentified third D.E. trying to open a gate to let a colony of Dementors enter the grounds through the Forbidden Forest. Fenrir has provided the old skeleton of a child, and some of the bones are missing from it. They have also, out of spite, killed a black dog that Tonks had befriended earlier. The D.E.s are able to get away, but Tonks is able to destroy the gate, and she and McGonagall chase off the Dementors and protect the valley they were in from being re-invaded. One of those weird oak leaves comes, but Tonks is annoyed with the whole thing and throws it away. She dreams of Emmeline Vance's murder--and the message she tried to write--but doens't remember it in the morning.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"Am I understanding you correctly?" Dawlish said the next evening, waving her report in her face as soon as she reached his table at the back of the Hog's Head. She felt like a cat being punished for not quite making it to the sandbox. "You had Bellatrix Lestrange in reach, and you just... returned a dog's body to the village and then went back to Hogwarts?"

"She'd Apparated out. There was nothing more to be done."

"And it never occurred to you to send for help before investigating?"

"I didn't know what we'd find, and once we found it, things moved too fast to send for help."


"Minerva McGonagall was with me."

"Oh, lovely. An elderly schoolteacher."

"She's fully recovered from you and your mates throwing Stunning Spells at her last year."

Dawlish flushed and slammed the report down on the table. "You know procedure, Tonks. You should have sent for help before you ever went. Aurors, not Transfiguration teachers."

"And if I'd called you all in from posts or sleep, and it had turned out to be a vagrant trying to keep warm?"

"Are you incapable of doing a quick reconnaissance? Flying high overhead and looking, then sending for help? You lost Bellatrix Lestrange."

Tonks gritted her teeth and sat down. "Fenrir Greyback as well. And no one wants either of them more than I do. But it all happened very quickly."

"And the third?"

"I don't know. He cast the Cruciatus Curse, and it was definitely a man's voice, but it was muffled with the mask and probably a spell. It sounded like he had a cold."

"Ah, good. We'll be looking for Death Eaters with runny noses." Dawlish batted her report off the table, then Banished it into his briefcase. "You're careless, Tonks."

"Yes, sir."

"Perhaps we should discuss this more privately?"

Tonks groaned and looked over her shoulder. Gawain Robards was weaving through the crowd. She didn't argue when Dawlish led them to the desk in his room. Robards looked grave.

She sat in a high, uncomfortable wooden chair that kept her back perfectly straight. Dawlish sat behind his desk. Robards paced once or twice on the carpet, then sat casually on the edge of the desk, his arms crossed loosely over his chest.

"Dawlish contacted me," he said. "You attacked a Death Eater encampment without notifying your superiors or asking for back-up?"

"Yes." Tonks swallowed. "I've explained the situation to Dawlish."

"Explain it to me."

She took a deep breath and told Robards the sequence of events as well as she could without giving too many details about her business at Hogwarts. When she finished, she met his eyes steadily.

He waved a dismissive hand. "All right. Yes, I can see where it would have been difficult."

Dawlish stood, fuming. "Look, Gawain, I know you're dying to find out just how many of her shapes she can shift, but--"

Robards grabbed the front of Dawlish's robes and twisted, putting pressure on his windpipe. "The lady you're slandering is your colleague, and I am your boss." He let go and shoved Dawlish back into his seat. "You are, however, quite correct about procedure, and I'll discuss it with Miss Tonks privately, if you'll excuse us." When he turned his back, Tonks caught Dawlish rolling his eyes.

"Er, Gawain," Tonks said, "this is Dawlish's room. Perhaps you could scold me down at the bar?"

He looked irritated, and she suspected that he was about to suggest they move to her room, as he suddenly seemed to understand what she was saying and nodded curtly. He took her back downstairs and chose a table in the back, casting several distraction spells.

"You know that Dawlish is right," he said, then again seemed to realize a misstep. "I don't mean about... Well, not that you're not attractive, but..." He gnashed his teeth. "Oh, for God's sake, Tonks, you know damned well that you shouldn't have gone into that mess without dragging every other body available into it. Bellatrix Lestrange nearly killed you last year."

"I didn't know it was Bella until it was too late to do anything about it. If I'd known she'd be there, I promise, I'd have called in the entire Division and the Royal Air Force, if it makes you happy."

"Don't joke about it. And have I mentioned that it's disturbing when you refer to her by a nickname?"

"Well, I could call her Aunt Bellatrix, if you're more comfortable with it..."

"Not especially, no, and this is not a casual conversation about your family troubles, Tonks."

She looked down at the tablecloth. "I'm sorry, sir."

Robards rubbed his eyes. "I need to know one thing, Tonks, and I will only ask it once. And I'll believe your answer, but you must tell me the truth."

"What's that?"

"Did you let them get away on purpose to further Dumbledore's goals?"


"You heard me." He didn't quite look at her. "You spent a year harboring a fugitive--"

"Sirius was innocent. Bellatrix Lestrange isn't."

"--and using your position to gather information on the Ministry. That's not just grounds for sacking you, it's grounds for trying you for treason. But we did neither, because you were in the right, and somewhere in his thick skull, even Scrimgeour knew that. But Dumbledore's wishes can't always come first, Tonks. These people are dangerous. Lestrange, Greyback, the lot of them. If you're letting them go, thinking they'll lead you to--"

"I didn't let them go. They just got away."

"And you're aware that capturing dark witches and wizards is your job, not trailing them to larger prey, unless it's an absolutely certain thing. And a short term thing, not long enough for them to do more damage to anyone."

"I know, sir. I want them in Azkaban." Or dead, she didn't add, though she supposed anyone in the Division knew the feeling.

Robards nodded. "I have to file Dawlish's complaint," he said. "He's right about the procedure, and I want you to be more careful in the future."

With that, he closed the scolding, and asked if she wanted to join him for dinner. She shook her head and rolled her eyes at him, then went to eat at Sanjiv's place to avoid the rest of the evening. Sanjiv listened to her tale, and proceeded to issue the night's second scolding for the same mistake.

"Oh, please."

"If you want me to, I'll call Daff and Maddie, and they'll scold you as well."

"There. Was. No. Time."

"Fine. Now, as to this Robards bloke..."

"Don't start."

"You do know that the idiot in charge here isn't wrong? I mean, as a bloke, I'll tell you that much."

"Well, as he's being a perfect gentleman about the whole thing, it doesn't matter."

They spoke of other things for the rest of the night, but Tonks left early, feeling a bit miffed at him. When she got back to her room, she found a brightly colored bird with a red mask and a striped tail sitting on her windowsill. He fluttered down to the floor as soon as she got in. She took the envelope he was carrying and gave him a shallow dish of water, which it bent to gratefully. She opened the letter.

Dora, Mum had written, Things here are quite hectic. Dad and I find ourselves ducking a Muggle civil war, which quite unfortunately has caused damage to the international floo systems, so it's not safe for us to travel home for Christmas next month. Neither of us knows the region well enough to try Apparating. Please don't spend the day alone, this year of all years. How I loathe wars of all sorts...

Tonks put the letter down without finishing it. All she needed was another letter from Remus telling her to move on and forget about him, and her day would be complete.

She stroked the bird's head. "You stay here. I'll return a letter tomorrow."

The bird looked thankful. He perched on top of her wardrobe and put his head under his wing.

Tonks went to the Shrieking Shack.

She worked for a short while in the entrance hall, sanding and polishing the floor (which should have been a simple matter, but took her no fewer than seven attempts at the proper charms), but it didn't succeed in clearing her mind. She went upstairs to the room she'd been sleeping in, fussed at the drapes, and abandoned that as well. She finally ended up in the room at the top of the stairs, where she'd put the desk that she'd bought Remus last year. His wand was still in the top drawer, and she took it out. Holding it, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply. It was smooth, and slightly worn in the shape of Remus's thin fingers.

After a few minutes of this, she took a deep breath and set the wand down in the drawer, feeling both better and slightly foolish. Something rattled as she displaced it and she frowned and pulled the drawer further out.

("Return this to me, when it's time. When you need me.")

The ruby she'd been given in return for her help with the gates. She picked it up dubiously. It glittered darkly in the dim starlight that showed between the slats of the wood covering the window in this room. She shook her head and put it away. She couldn't think of a thing in the world she needed from a wood sprite.
13 comments or Leave a comment
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: March 12th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good chapter!

I feel a bit sorry for Tonks, and I really hate how the whole Auror Division thinks any mistake is a Dumbledore related plot.

She probably should've gotten help, but the other stuff - that was out of line.

As for "hiding a fugitive" - I'm just really, really glad Harry wasn't present for that one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 12th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm just really, really glad Harry wasn't present for that one.

Yeah. For all of Harry's professed desire to be an Auror, he seems to neglect that it wouldn't mean going after Voldemort. It would mean, as often as not, going after Sirius, whether you believed him guilty or not.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 12th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I thought it was interesting anyway -- nice little dynamic there between Tonks, Dawlish, and Robards!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 12th, 2006 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm weirdly fond of Robards.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: March 12th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like the fact that there are consequences to the Order's deception from last year. Tonks and Shaklebolt should have been fired, even if they were right. That they weren't was a very political decision and you've nailed Dawlish's attitude perfectly.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 12th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Exactly. There's no way people working for the government would get away with the stuff they did--especially Kingsley, who was hiding the man he was supposed to be in charge of finding--without serious strings being pulled in the aftermath.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: March 12th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe Kingsley's punishment was to work for the Muggle PM.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2006 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful, as usual. I agree, it's nice to see the consequences of last year's deception coming back to bite the Order. Or at least Tonks, anyway. One minor quibble:

She took the envelope he was carrying and gave him a shallow dish of water, which it bent to gratefully.

I assume the it should be another he.

I'm really enjoying Shades- thanks for posting it.


marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 12th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was the only edit thing I noticed, too - and I'll decond the praise for the dynamic between Tonks, Dawlish and Robards... and the fact that Tonks is now, still, paying for her involvement in the Order the previous year. I'm still really enjoying this. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 12th, 2006 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops. Yeah, I kept switching back and forth betwween "it" and "he," and I just missed one.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 12th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the one hand, it's kind of right that Tonks should be paying for the previous year.

On the other hand, don't get going on what I think is wrong with the wizarding worlds legal system. I went and made a lengthy list once of all the things wrong with Harry's trial (although let's start with the fact that being tried before the whole Wizengamot seems to be the equivilant of Harry's crime being knocked up from Juvenile Court to Federal Court, which means [among a whole lot of other things] he's being tried as an adult for an action which was only a crime if committed by a minor! Hello!!!).

Somehow, I keep thinking that should add up to them being better able to forgive Tonks and Kingsley for being right and doing the right thing about it. Don't know why, since I can't cite much in human history to support that idea, but it's still my gut feeling.


From: (Anonymous) Date: March 16th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another great chapter! I love how you've nailed the inter-departmental politics. And I agree that Kingsley's punishment was working for the Muggle PM. :)

I'd kill to see McGonagall's reaction to being described 'an elderly schoolteacher'. :)

kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 29th, 2008 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)
This story is probably one of the best-written, most thought out pieces of work I have ever read. I was about to move on to the next chapter when I suddenly recalled that I had to stop with this one, as it is two o clock in the morning. I literally had to scold myself to keep from continuing onward. I will be coming back first thing tomorrow, I promise!
13 comments or Leave a comment