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Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 1
After a horrific transformation at the end of September, Remus got a slight respite in October... Greyback was away with the Death Eaters on the night of the full moon. Unfortunately, one of the women targeted him--whether because she wanted him or wanted to get him in trouble wasn't clear. Sweet followed her out to try to stop her. Remus got a lesson in animal instincts, stopped only by well-placed boulders. Greyback wasn't thrilled with anyone involved, but couldn't find any proof of betrayal among them. Meanwhile, Alderman, who was the one who saved Remus, told him that he wants to leave Greyback. Remus has gone over it with Bill. He's also seen Tonks's repairs to the Shrieking Shack. Oh, and for a reminder before I open, Old Mag has often gotten charity from a local priest whose sister is a witch, and who has heard her full confession, including lycanthropy.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus was intensely aware of his strong body odor as he slipped into the church basement. Bathing wasn't common in the forest, and the other werewolves thought of him as meticulous because he did it occasionally, despite the freezing water in the river. Here in town with humans--normal humans--he could see himself as they saw him: unshaven, with a thin scree of dirt all over his skin, his clothes tattered, his shoes held together with fraying string and hope. He could almost see the stink rising off of himself, and he didn't need to wonder why an older woman coming out of the confessional had looked at him with great distaste.

He stopped in a shadowy alcove and took several shallow breaths, trying to calm himself without smelling it too much. He could feel the blood in his face, and waited for it to fade before going into the small crowd milling around the charity tables. He didn't look different from most of the men and women already here, and as he drew close to them, he realized he didn't smell much different, either. He looked at the scarves and hats without much interest, and stepped out of the way when others grabbed protectively at them.

"Mr. Lupin?"

He turned around. "Father Montgomery?"

The priest nodded. He was a short, dark-haired man with the kind of animated features Remus had long associated with restless intelligence. "Mag told me you'd come. I wasn't sure. It's..."

"Getting toward afternoon, so I'd best hurry."

"Yes, er. Please, come to my office so we can talk. Would you like to clean up?"

"Yes, but it would be pointless."

Montgomery led the way into a small, dark-paneled office with a window near the ceiling. The shelves were lined with old books, and it smelled of candle-smoke and wood-polish. Montgomery slipped around behind his desk, opened a drawer, and came out with two plastic grocery sacks. Remus could see the edges of Muggle notebooks poking at them. "Mag says that Greyback doesn't like them taking charity. I was surprised to hear you would take these where he can see them."

Remus smiled faintly. "Yes, well. I told him that if he could teach me to forage for paper and hunt dangerous wild pens, I'd be happy to do so."

Montgomery laughed. "I'm glad to hear they're getting some education. I've tried to get Mag to bring them here, or bring me out there, but she refuses."

"Quite rightly." He took the offered materials. "I do appreciate it. They've been doing sums in mud spread on rocks."

"Clay tablets. It's old but effective. I think they'll find the paper better, though."

"I appreciate it. Thank you."

"There's no reason to thank me. You're doing God's work."

Remus nodded politely, not wanting to get into a theological debate with a priest about why these children needed to beg for paper and pens in the first place, or exactly what sort of forgiveness he offered Old Mag for taking part in Greyback's feasts. Thanks to Greyback, he had more to ask of this man. "I wonder," he said, "if I might... well, if you could do a second favor for me. Quietly. Mag doesn't know about this."

Montgomery nodded and closed the door. "Consider yourself in a confessional."

"I was never confirmed."

Another laugh. "I mean, say what you need to say, and it won't pass this door."

"Oh. Yes. Of course." Remus opened one of the packages of pens and drew one out. It felt hard and awkward compared to quills, but strangly comfortable after using them all year at Smeltings. The sensation filled his mind with memories of laughter and long talks, and he pushed it away. "Mag told me that your sister is a witch."

"My brother is a wizard, actually. I think Mag heard me talking about my sister-in-law. My brother was a Ravenclaw. I find myself trying to guess your House."

"I was a Gryffindor."

"Good."

"I mention it because... do you know how to use the owl post?"

"Yes, of course. My nieces write to me from Hogwarts frequently, and I just sent a birthday present to my nephew. I got his thank you note today. I still have to send the bird back."

Remus nodded. He drew out one of the notebooks and scribbed out a quick note to Molly Weasley. "I wondered if you might send this for me. Strictly confidentially."

"Molly Weasley," Montgomery read from the folded paper. "And the owl will know where to find her?"

"Yes. Would you be able to send it tonight?"

"Of course." He took the paper and tucked it into a folder without examining it. He looked thoughtfully at the edge of the desk. "My brother has told me... unusual things that are happening. More unusual than, well, usual."

"Yes."

"And the werewolves... where do they stand on this? Ralph--he doesn't know about Mag, of course--says that the werewolves will side with... I'm sorry, but I don't remember the name."

"It's not often spoken." Remus sighed. "I wish I could tell you differently. But helping me is not helping Voldemort. And the letter is just to reassure people I care about that they needn't worry about me."

Montgomery nodded. "I'll try to impress upon my brother that he shouldn't make such sweeping judgments."

"No. He should stay careful." Remus stood up and extended his hand. "Thank you, Father. For all of your help."

"Come any time," Montgomery said, shaking his hand. "Any time at all. Do you understand?"

"Yes. Thank you."

Remus gathered up the school supplies and left. It was already past noon; he would have to hurry back to his shed if he was to get to the gathering in time to eat. By the time he got there, he was sore from the run and his breathing was ragged. He put the notebooks in a stack beside his bed, tore another page from one and wrote out twenty sums, from single-digit to four digits with decimals, and impaled it on a bit of broken wood on the wall. He went to the gathering spot.

"Ah. Lupin," Greyback said expansively. "Thought we might have seen the last of you."

"I told you I was only going to get pens and paper if I could."

"Right. From charity tables."

"Actually, there weren't any there. A gentleman went and bought some for us."

"We have paper?" Evvie said, dancing over and clapping. She had been doing her sums better than anyone, and she hated erasing them. Sweet said she'd been scratching them onto the walls in the girls' cave, using a sharpened rock. "Oh, that's lovely!"

"Yes. I left the notebooks in a stack in my shed, and there are problems on the wall for you."

"And books?" Blondin asked. "Did you leave that one what has the singing dwarves and the bloke who lives in a hole in the ground?"

Remus tried not to smile. For the one who had been most resistant to the idea of reading, Blondin had taken to it with enthusiasm, and was struggling through the opening chapters of The Hobbit with a great deal of pride, though his retention for details was still poor and he had to go back and re-read several times to remind himself what was there. "The books are all on my table," he said. "When we come back, I thought perhaps we could start reading one together, for Christmas. It's about ghosts and a nasty old man called Scrooge."

Greyback huffed out his breath in an irritated way, and Remus directed the pup's attention back to him. It wouldn't do to have him ignored at moon.

"Pups!" he said, and the children came over to him, nearly as happily as they had during the summer. Only Alderman hung back, and that, Remus supposed, could slip by because he was being counted among the men. Greyback held out his hands. "Now, I've gone ahead and put the rabbits in the caves. You all know what to do. Mina will watch out for you while we're all gone. We should be back Thursday evening."

"Are you hunting?" Sweet asked.

"Well, I reckon we might catch something or other, but we're mainly going to be running tonight, get as far as we can while we're strong, right?"

There were grunts from the men.

"And we may bring back better presents than pens and paper!"

The pups, energetic and ready for transformation, cheered this.

"Then for now, let's eat!"

They spread the day's catches out, and huddled much closer together than they had in warm weather. Mag got a fire going, and they seared their meat over it while warming their hands. Remus talked briefly to the other men--none of them knew much more than he did about where Greyback was planning to take them, but they didn't seem concerned about it--and ascertained from a mocking promise that the forest was, in fact, empty of campers. He could only hope that Greyback's path wasn't going to lead through populated areas. He suspected it wouldn't. He suspected that whoever they were going to see tomorrow was keeping a low profile.

He entertained a mad, fleeting hope that it would be Voldemort himself, that he could end it here and now, but he knew it was wishful thinking.

A heavy hand fell on his shoulder and he wasn't surprised to see Greyback sit down beside him, looking pleased. "I'm glad I was wrong, Lupin. Really thought you'd bolted when I said we were going. There are some who reckon you might not be what you say you are."

"Who?"

"Oh... some." Greyback tore at a raw piece of meat. "You ever run under the moon?"

"Not often. But yes. I have."

"Best feeling there is, I think. Except for hunting."

"I do recall enjoying it."

"You tell anyone what you see tomorrow--"

"I know, you'll track down everyone I care about and rip their throats out. You do know I don't actually have anyone left, don't you?"

"Oh," Greyback said, looking signficantly toward the pups, "I wouldn't say that."

Remus didn't answer this. He knew Greyback meant it, and didn't want to satisfy him by an expression of horrified outrage. Instead, he turned his head to watch them as well. Blondin was climbing the trees and Hamilton was crouched at the bottom, eating. Two of the other boys were challenging one another to see who could hold handstands longer. Sweet and Evvie were arguing over something.

"Pretty, aren't they?" Greyback asked.

Remus felt his gorge rise.

As they watched, Evvie broke away from Sweet and marched straight toward them. Sweet followed, looking annoyed.

"What is it, little Eve?" Greyback asked Evvie.

"Sweet said we're 'dark creatures,'" she said. "I told her we aren't. I told her we're just special people who can be wolves. I'm right, aren't I?"

Greyback narrowed his eyes at Remus, then turned to Sweet. "Now, where did you hear about Dark Creatures?"

"I said it," Remus said. "I didn't realize they didn't know we were called that by the outside world."

"I told you!" Sweet said.

"No, you didn't. You said it's what we are, not what people call us."

"What's the difference?"

"I'm not a dark creature! I don't care what anyone says." Evvie stomped her feet.

"It's just a name!" Sweet said.

"It's a bad name," Greyback told her. "We're strong creatures. Better creatures."

"See!" Evvie said, glaring. "I told you, I told you, I--"

"Oh, shut up!" Sweet yelled, and suddenly the clearing was quiet. Evvie's hand flew to her mouth.

Which had somehow been sewn shut.
24 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: March 14th, 2006 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooo, did we know that Sweet was a witch? I can't remember what's been revealed of her background. Regardless, that has the potential to stir things up a bit.

I really don't want that priest to be punished, or Mag, or any of the others in the pack, but knowing your writing and the seriousness of the situation, I don't they'll all make it out alive. It breaks my heart, though, how the pups are being raised. Greyback really is revolting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2006 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Blondin's the only Muggle (and an earlier comment has made me wonder if he's a Muggle-born wizard). Sweet's father was an investigator who did a big exposé on Greyback, and Greyback took revenge for it.

Revolting is a good word for Greyback. Definitely.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: March 14th, 2006 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I just loved the juxtaposition of Lupin's filth and his utterly composed manners with the priest. I loved how you showed that he's a gentleman to his core, and his clothes are just a shell. Well done.

Also, Sweet as a witch...ooooooh, that's going to make things interesting!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2006 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I assume most of the children are magical--I've been trying to figure out how the accidental magic reversal people haven't found Greyback's place yet, if wizarding kids are prone to this! I guess they just need to be watching.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 14th, 2006 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear, the priest's name is Montgomery and his brother's children are at Hogwarts: that doesn't bode well.

One typo I came across: "but strangle comfortable after using them all year at Smeltings"

I don't think Remus is really strangling the pens!

Congratulations on your award. I too couldn't work out how to vote for you.

TDU
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 14th, 2006 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear, the priest's name is Montgomery and his brother's children are at Hogwarts: that doesn't bode well.

Ouch. Good point. Hadn't spotted that. Another twist that fits. (For some reason I've been reading the name as 'Mackenzie' a la Eleanor Rigby. :D)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I wondered when someone would notice the priest's name. :)

Thanks; I caught the Pen Strangler.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 14th, 2006 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, now that was an unexpected (but logical) twist, and I guess is not going to go down well with Greyback just after his 'strong creatures, better creatures' line. I can think of a number of nasty things that could now happen!

(NB - can't remember if this has been mentioned anywhere, sorry, but what's Greyback's wizarding status in this story? Presumably he must have known about the magical world to capture a werewolf in the first place?)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I assume he's a wizard--he seems to know Dumbledore and Voldemort and everyone else--but not particularly well-trained or good at magic. I mentioned early on that he used to have a wand, but it broke.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 14th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, thanks -- I must have missed that. That sounds about right.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 14th, 2006 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooo, interesting! (Sweet's name, incidentally, hasn't slipped my notice... and I'm looking forward to finding out what the connection there is going to be.)

Also, not a fan of what's coming up for Father Montgomery's family. Poor man.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: March 14th, 2006 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Waters, you mean? I can't think of any Waters in canon, unless you count Galadriel Waters.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 14th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's the combination of first name and last name. Try rereading some of the bits with Tonks investigating at Fortescue's. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good. Two name checks. :D Yes, Sweet is a place where the two threads will come together, but I'm not saying how. I'm looking forward to Tonks meeting her, though.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 14th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
My nephew, who has two older sisters and may be about the same age as Father Montgomery's nephew, just had his birthday. I guess I can't blame you for that but I'm really upset at seeing his face on storyline cannon fodder. I should have realized Greyback was more likely to target a child connected to him than the man himself. Remus may not see it but, in his way, Greyback's a real coward, isn't he? It isn't just the bully thing about going after weaker targets. Targetting children isn't just because he's a sicko. There's a part of him that's actually scared to go after an adult, even a Muggle, who knows what he is and may be prepared. I don't suppose it's so much fear of what they might do to him. It's that, if he wins, he's unlikely to have the same power over them that he does over a child. If he loses, the whole boogyman image is diminished. At that point, at least to the ex-victim, he's not that much different than a wizard who tried to get the drop on someone with a hex and got beaten soundly instead.

But Sweet's last name is Waters? I'd forgotten that. And there's a Water Sprite in this story. Hmm.

And the pups need a refuge. And an education. And the forest is right by Hogwarts. And efforts are being made to open another gate to it. What if they succeed only it's a gate for Werewolves instead of Dementors?

Can't quite see how that's adding up yet, since powerful witches and wizards trained and armed with wands aren't up to living among giant spiders and ticked off centaurs, although the Lady of the Lake fostered Lancelot, didn't she?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 14th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good. :) People are looking in the direction I'm going. Yay!

You're right about Greyback, and about, I suspect, most people who prey on children. Way to go, big man. Just pick on people who are totally dependent.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: March 14th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're going to make me hate you when you do what you're going to do to Father Montgomery, you know that? I know it isn't fair - it was JKR who did it - but you're the one who's showing us all the people who are connected with the poor child, and making them real in our heads..

Nice chapter. *snarl* Too nice.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 15th, 2006 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I decided that the Montgomery boy would be important in Remus's story. As far as I can tell, in JKR's head, he was just a reason for Tonks to be excessively worried. (Though I still fear that she may reveal that he was the one who actually killed the kid, not the rumored Greyback. It's one of those fears I make sure to nurture, to obtain relief when it turns out not to be so... or at least to not be totally blindsided if it is what happened.)
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: March 15th, 2006 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I know... I really meant my comment as a compliment. It only *just* hit me that the pastor's name is Montgomery, and since the realisation came *after* I began to like the fellow... :S That was some really good writing. This is the first time we've directly met this man, but I am already freaking out for him.

And yeah *facepalm* - of course the Montgomery boy is connected to Remus's story. Why would Tonks be worried otherwise? There's already a direct connection, and for some reason I didn't think of that.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: March 14th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gah. I have a hard time reading the Interludes because Greyback is just so disgusting; yet they're my favorite chapters, at the same time, because of Remus and things like his errand to get paper and pens for the children.

Father Montgomery...ack. You evil woman, Fern.

I totally didn't catch the Sweet Waters thing until someone else pointed it out. I am a sad clue-catcher. :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 15th, 2006 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm trying to be Rowling-esque, so hopefully a few clues will be of the "Sirius Black is a black dog" variety when I'm done. And I totally didn't get that until the secret was revealed! :p
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 14th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow ... you never cease to amaze me. What you write seems so real that I'm gonna have an awful time - when Book 7 comes out - discerning what is actually canon and what's true here.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 15th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh ... just a tiny little comment ... the lj-cut text is the same in this installment as it is in the previous one ... shouldn't it match the chapter title? just wondering
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 15th, 2006 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, the price of cutting and pasting to take a short-cut on formatting. ;) Thanks; I fixed it.
24 comments or Leave a comment