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Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 2
You know, I've been irritated with myself for having such a strict chapter "schedule" (three chapters, interlude, three chapters, interlude) and was going to try and force a change in at this late date, but thinking about it... actually, Tonks and Remus don't have much of an option about when the moon comes up, so that unforgiving, repetitive schedule actually kind of works in concept, though it wasn't deliberate.

Anyway, it's full moon, and Remus has gone into town to get paper and pens for the kids from Mag's friend, Father Montgomery. He has to hurry about it, because Greyback is going to take all of the men on a run somewhere--presumably toward a meeting with the Death Eaters the following day--while the moon is full. Logic? I know, I know. But it's a Greyback kind of ritual. He likes to run. At any rate, while everyone is getting ready, the girls Sweet and Evvie get into an argument about the use of the term "dark creatures," and in the course of it, Sweet loses her temper, and the next thing anyone knows, Evvie's mouth is sewn shut.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"Mmmph!" Evvie said and winced. "MMM-MMMMPH!"

"I'm sorry!" Sweet looked around frantically and patted Evvie's shoulder. "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."

The adults were all forming a circle, paying no attention whatsoever to the girls. They were facing outward. Remus looked at it with some confusion. He moved toward Sweet and Evvie, but Greyback held up a hand.

Everyone remained still for nearly five minutes.

"All right," Greyback said at last. "Those Accidental Magic blighters aren't coming. Had to kill the last one," he said, grinning at Remus. "Made her undo Hamilton's last little accident first, though."

"Mmmph-MMMMMPH."

Greyback turned to Evvie and frowned. "What should we do about that?" He reached into his pocket and drew out a wand, holding it awkwardly. It was shiny and obviously new. "I think..."

"MMMMMPPH!!!!"

Greyback shifted. "Reckon Lupin's probably done this a bit more recent." He looked carefully at his wand. "Sweet, come here." Sweet went over to him, looking confused, and he put one large hand over her neck, then held out the wand to Remus. He didn't change his jovial tone when he said, "Fix it if you can, and mind that's all you do," but Remus could see that he was putting pressure on Sweet's throat.

He took the wand carefully. "This is quite new," he said.

"Friend of mine made it special," Greyback said. "It's hawthorne, and it's got a hair from every one of my pups in the middle." He grinned. "Including you, Lupin. Found one snagged in the cave last month."

"Charming," Remus said. The wand took on an unpleasant weight.

"Mmmmph."

He turned to Evvie and touched the wand to her mouth. "Finite incantatem."

The stitching melted away and Evvie whooped in a great breath. "Oh, thank you!"

"I am sorry!" Sweet said.

Greyback still had her by the neck and was holding out his other hand. "I'll have that back now, Lupin," he said, still smiling.

Remus gave him back the wand.

Greyback patted Sweet's head and said, "Now, there's a good girl. Go on, now." He watched her run off. "Little ones," he said. "Sometimes it just slips out of them." He glanced up at the sky. "Reckon we'd best get ready now. Mina?"

Mina came over, averting her eyes, and he handed her the wand. "You take the girls back to their place, and put that somewhere safe before the moon."

Mina nodded and scurried off to where Mag and some of the other women were marshaling the girls.

Greyback gestured to the boys. "All right, boys," he said, "we big ones are off. Blondin, you get them back and you're in charge of them tonight. You know what to do."

"Why me?"

"You don't want to be in charge?"

"Oh, no. I didn't say that."

"Good. Then you're in charge."

Blondin gulped, then got the boys together and led them off down another path.

The men were alone.

Greyback's smile faded, and he pulled his robe off, tossing it indifferently into the same wooden crate he'd used the month they'd chased the campers. "Well, get to it," he said, pulling off his shoes, and the rest of the men stripped their clothes off. The late November air was brutally cold, and Remus wished for the wand again to do a warming charm. Beside him, Alderman jumped from foot to foot to keep warm. Remus just crouched on the ground as he had before, though it was less from modesty now than from a desire to conserve his body heat.

Greyback dropped down to mirror the posture, and after a moment, all of the men did, coming in to huddle in a tight circle that brought at least some warmth. Jamison gave Remus a sour look. Alderman, at Remus's side, was tense.

"All right," Greyback said. "Lupin and Alderman haven't run with us before, so I'll go over it. When you change, stay with the pack. It's all there is to it, and I reckon you'll want to at any rate. I'm going to keep us along the river until we smell a sign my friends have left for us, and then we'll just follow the scent."

"Er," Alderman interjected, "what kind of sign are we talking about?"

"Lady's blood, most likely." Greyback glanced at Remus for a reaction, and must have seen one, though Remus thought he was controlling his face. "Now, Lupin, don't be squeamish. Not everyone wastes the stuff like Dumbledore tells you to up at that school. Makes a right good scent marker, and I think they use it in potions or whatever it is they do up there. They don't even have to cut anyone for it. Some of the girls sell it up at Knockturn Alley and get fine new clothes for it."

"I see."

"Hardly fair they can make money we can't," Stanfield said.

"Well, I reckon no one needs to buy what you can get from a bloke," Greyback said, then laughed. He looked up. "All right, lads," he said, "we're nearly there."

Remus felt the nervous twitching in his muscles, the pull on his eyes to look up to the heavens, and he gave in to it. The clouds parted, the moon hung in the sky, and

the wolf draws air into his burning lungs, his twisting, writhing limbs clawing at the air and the earth as he flings himself over in the agony of transformation.

It ends, and he is on his belly, surrounded by others, and Alpha is standing at the rivers edge. He crouches, growls, then turns and runs.

They run with him.

There is freedom in the long, powerful stride of the wolf, and his legs barely touch the ground as he runs, more graceful now than in his other form, not unhealthy, not weak, not weary. They run beside the river, the water cutting a cold, noisy path beside them, leading them up into the hills and rocks, and he revels in the way his feet always find the right places to fall, the way his body balances even as he lands on uneven surfaces. He is unconscious of distance or time, feeling only the air that passes around and beneath him as he charges into the night with his packmates around him. Once, he stops and howls up at the moon. Alpha lopes back and howls with him, and then all of them join in, and then they catch the new scent, the blood-scent, and Alpha runs to it.

The river falls behind them as the night deepens, and they are in grassland and hills, and there are rocks here as well, daubed with the mark, and they run beneath the moon in the lonely well of midnight. They do not tire. There are mice and voles and sometimes birds, and they leap for these for short snacks. The wolf carries a vole in its jaws for a long time before swallowing it as he moves. He spits the broken bones out onto the ground.

He does not know how long they have been running when they reach the circle of boulders, each marked, and Alpha runs around it, searching beyond it for a new trail, finding none.

The wolf stops with his packmates. He feels strong and free and there is blood in his head, blood as red as the line of sunrise, blood

was seeping out of the pads of his hands when the claws pulled back into them, but he didn't notice the pain of the little cuts until much later. At first, he felt somehow cheated as the wolf ripped itself away, then he tasted mouse fur in his mouth, and his human mind shied away from it in revulsion. He reached into his mouth with his fingers and pulled out a scrap of furry skin still stuck in there. He flung it away.

"Where are we?" Alderman asked.

Remus looked around, but didn't recognize any landmarks. He shrugged. "No idea at all."

"That's the point," Greyback said, standing up. "I reckon they'll send us back by magic as well." He stretched in the morning air, seeming to take pleasure at the frosty chill on his body.

"I don't suppose they'll bring us clothes?" Remus asked.

"Right," Alderman said. "I don't fancy the idea of meeting your friends starkers."

"Besides," Jamison added. "It's bloody-damned cold. Did you think about that?"

"Have a little faith in me, lads," Greyback said. "They'll be along, and I'm sure they'll give you pack of nancies tea and a nice hot bath."

"Don't count on it," someone said behind Remus, and the hair stood up on the back of his neck. "We have better things to do today," the voice went on. "Though I do think I'd rather not spend all morning looking at your filthy bodies. Vestio!"

In an instant, Remus found himself dressed in a scratchy black wool robe. The others were also wearing them.

He stood up and turned around, already knowing exactly what he'd find.

Bellatrix Lestrange gave him a mocking bow.
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Comments
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 16th, 2006 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
God, he's sick. Creepy creepy creepy.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. I grossed myself out on the dark magic potions ingredients. Blech.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 16th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I was actually relieved to find out the scent marker was menstrual blood? After some of the spells you've been writing about... well, as Greyback says, you don't even have to cut anybody for this one. (It probably contributed that my first impression when he said "lady's blood" was actually more along the lines of "They caught some woman and either took a lot of blood at once or dragged her around the woods dripping.")

I can certainly see why selling it to unscrupulous parties would be a really bad idea, of course, considering what can be done with even random body parts...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I can see people coming up with the "Hey, it doesn't hurt anyone" argument. I seem to remember reading that it could be used in spells in one occult book or another, and in trying to figure out just what comprises "dark magic," I thought maybe things that use a lot of human-based ingredients would be a big part of it.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: March 16th, 2006 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought that was really inventive, actually. Gross, though, yes.

Man, it seems like I always find a fresh update from you when I'm just about to log off for the night. Have you any idea how many times you've kept me from a decent bedtime with this amazing story?

:D
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 16th, 2006 08:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Haha, me too with the keeping awake. By the end of Shifts last year, it was an almost-nightly routine, to the point where I knew I should be in bed but didn't want to go till Fern had posted the next installment! ;)
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: March 16th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
At the time of Shifts last year, I was having to get up at six every morning and would have freshly-posted Shifts to read with breakfast. It was brilliant!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm definitely a late-night writer. Something about those hours when sane people aren't up gets me going.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: March 16th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like the detail about Greyback's wand, although I cringe to think what they're doing to Ollivander.

Nice gross gory details about the spellwork too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Unless Ollivander's there of his own free will. The books are definitely ambiguous on that count (and I plan to be ambiguous as well)--it wouldn't be surprising. He's always been a little questionable, and one of the first things he does in front of Harry is refer to Voldemort as having done "great things."
sophonax From: sophonax Date: March 16th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good point, and it's probably best to be ambiguous where canon is, but the idea of art being created through torture does have a certain visceral nasty thrill.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: March 16th, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
EEEWWWWW! Greyback really needs to die. I think that every time we encounter him, and it's still true. It's amazing how much characterization Jo gave him in such a short page time, and you've expanded on that admirably.

Bella, eh? Another deeply hated character. Poor Remus. I wonder what's going to happen next? You're really good at this whole serial thing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I like the serial form. That's a nice thing about the internet. It really brings back some forms that were disappearing.
From: marciamarcia Date: March 16th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Well, I reckon no one needs to buy what you can get from a bloke," Greyback said

It's relieving to know that Greyback is, as of yet, unaware of the sperm bank system.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, please let him stay that way.

I'm now imagining Bella coming up with a potion and unable to get her hands on a guy (in more senses than one) and just going in and buying random sperm.
From: marciamarcia Date: March 16th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hah! Luckily, I don't think she'd really have the patience to go through the shopping process. I have some friends who did that, it involves a lot of sitting around in waiting rooms. I just don't see Bella being that into Cosmo. Though that would make for a hilarious buttfaccemakani illustration.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: March 16th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is it wrong that I think it's quite sweet that Greyback calls it 'Lady's blood'? It's a good idea, I can see the murky side of the magical community buying and selling that sort of thing.

I really enjoy the moon interludes, they're such a clever part of your story, and I love the change in tense and style when Remus is transformed. He calls Greyback 'Greyback' rather than 'Alpha' at one point during the run - has he called him that before? I thought the wolf always refered to him as alpha.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 16th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
He does. My bad. I'll fix that... thanks for the catch!

I wish we knew more about just what the murky side does magically; I'm leaning heavily on the potion Peter made to restore Voldemort as a template for what might be considered "dark" in an of itself.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 17th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I find it quite disturbing that I was more revolted about the mouse skin stuck in between Remus's teeth than the whole Lady blood business. And about the dark potions I must say - without any literary background to fall back on, or any background at all really - that I think what makes dark potions so dark is the extremes at which the maker must go to get the ingredients. Like the unicorn blood, or almost any human fluid for that matter.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 17th, 2006 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Having done a bit of folk magic and alchemy research -

1. Menstrual blood's use in Dark Magic - From a folk magic perspective, the main danger is probably that anything of yours used in magic is linked to you. Symbolically, menstrual blood would be linked to the individual woman and to the things its symbolically tied to, her sexuality and fertility (maybe other things, but those seem the most likely).

So, a potion using those may have repurcussions for the donor, possibly very unpleasant ones.

And I just snipped speculation on those repurcussions and the forms they were most likely to take because it might have made people queesy.

2. There are folk magic and alchemical things that can be done with a guy's contributions which makes me suppose there are some HP Dark Magic uses.

I'm also assuming Greyback is aware of the possible consequences to himself and, er, has legitimate fears for his, ahem, masculinity. However, to admit that might lower him in the eyes of the Pack and might also raise questions about what side effects the women might be facing that Greyback DOESN'T consider worth worrying about.

Which greatly decreases the chances of him giving donations to sperm banks. Whew.

Ellen
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