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Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 3
Greyback has taken the men for a long transformed run to meet friends of his at an undisclosed location, which is an open field with a circle of large stones. Remus realizes who it is as soon as he hears Bellatrix Lestrange's voice. He turns and she bows to him in a mocking way.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Her mouth curled up in a dagger of a smile, a mockery of Dora's look of fond amusement.

"Well, well," Bellatrix said. "Remus Lupin." She pointed her wand at him, and there was no chance to avoid the spell: "Legilmens!"

Remus blanked his mind as quickly as he could, but Bellatrix was quicker than Severus had been when he'd tried this at Hogwarts. His thoughts were of Dora--Lord, he had forgotten how like Bellatrix she looked--and he felt images of her escaping him, pulled unwillingly from his mind.

Bella hissed. "Useless. I already knew you had designs on Andromeda's brat."

"His girl walked out," Greyback said.

"Yes, well. Who could blame her?" Bella wrinkled her nose. "What a cheap little trollop she is. A clown. Little half-blood whore. But even she has higher standards." Her eyes were narrowed, and Remus knew she was trying ot get a reaction from him. He cast his eyes down, trying to look ashamed instead of furious. The tips of Bella's shoes came into his field of view, and he felt her long finger under his chin.

I could reach up and strangle her.

But before he had time to analyze the thought, she let go of him. "Wormtail!" she called, and Remus felt his heart sink. "Wormtail, come here!"

The air shimmered some distance away, and Remus watched a Disillusionment spell fade away as Peter Pettigrew waded through the tall grass. Damn Harry's noble instincts; they should have killed him when they had the chance.

"Y-y-yes, B-bella?" he said.

"You know him. Is he spying?"

Peter paused, then bent over and looked into Remus's eyes. Remus looked back, not even knowing what he expected to see. Peter's eyes were distracted and distant, shifting back and forth in a pattern Remus remembered from their school days, for times when he was in charge of fabricating a story for the teachers to cover one prank or another. His hands weren't shaking, as they always had then, but he might have learned to control that in the interim. Remus frowned at him.

Peter stood up and shrugged, and Remus knew that the vacant expression he'd always settled into was on his face now, even though he'd turned back to Bella. "He wouldn't be here if he didn't have to be," he said. "Reckon even Dumbledore runs out of patience sometimes." He looked over his shoulder at Remus. "You were in charge of that fiasco at the Ministry weren't you? For the Order? The one that got Sirius killed?"

What game are you playing, Peter? he didn't ask. "Yes." He glanced at Greyback and improvised bitterly. "Of course, if I hadn't been a werewolf, he'd have given me another chance. He's full of chances for some people."

Bellatrix laughed richly. "Ah, yes, Dumbledore... he would alienate his most loyal dogs to coddle a serpent, wouldn't he?"

Feeling genuinely disloyal, Remus said. "Yes, that's just so."

"Old fool." She spun on him. "But you're not quite one of us, are you?"

"I'm not one of anybody at the moment."

"Rubbish," Greyback said, almost kindly. "You're one of mine."

"Well, I hope he suits you better than he suited my niece," Bella said.

"I'm surprised you've taken to calling a half-blood your niece."

Bella looked disconcerted for a moment; clearly she hadn't planned to call Dora any such thing. She moved her hand in a distracted brushing motion and moved on into the pack. She paused by Stanfield. "The Dark Lord owes you thanks for delivering his message to the hag Hilda Norris. Her potions have proven most useful since you persuaded her to come to us."

"Any way I can help, Miss," Stanfield said, giving her a look of unvarnished awe, which confused Remus--Bella had once been a great beauty (on the outside, at any rate), but those days were long behind her--Azkaban and madness had ravaged her face and figure--and her current manner was hardly attractive.

She stepped back and sat on one of the boulders that circled the clearing, then tossed her hair flirtatiously over her shoulder, a gesture that Remus found positively grotesque in her current state, but which met with more appreciative stares.

"I've met some of you," she said, "but we've never spoken as a group, and the Dark Lord wanted me to assure you all that it is not merely your leader we plan to honor. It is all werewolves we invite to join in the new order, in the fight against the government which has beaten you down until you strong and powerful creatures are forced to live like vagabonds in the cold forest, starving but for rabbits and berries."

"And what are you going to do about it?" Greyback asked cheerfully, obviously on a cue.

Bella leaned forward confidentially. "We're going to tear them down," she said. "We'll tear down their prisons and their cages and their registries, and we'll give them all into your claws to do with as you wish." She sat back again and smirked. "Oh, but you're only getting one side, aren't you? Really, I think you should get the other. It's only fair. We wouldn't want you to think we were trying to brainwash you. Lupin. Forward."

Startled, Remus just looked up sharply. "I told you, I--"

"You said you're not one of anyone. Surely, you're capable of telling them what these 'friends' of yours favor for them."

"Bella..." Peter started, but couldn't seem to finish. He sat cross-legged on the grass beside her rock and began picking at the grass.

Bella rolled her eyes at him, then summoned another boulder and sat it beside her. "Well, up with you, Lupin. Tell them about the 'morally superior' side of all of this."

"I'd prefer not to discuss this."

"I didn't give you that option." She pointed her wand at him, and he felt himself jerked forward. His shins slammed against the boulder, and he turned and sat. Bella smiled. "Ah. That was easy. When the Dark Lord rises, we will give prey into your hands. Werewolves will have the property they have been denied, and will be given a place of honor. What, exactly, does the Ministry offer them, Lupin?"

"They know what the Ministry offers."

"Registration!" Jamison sneered. Others laughed and added, "Werewolf laws" and "Azkaban."

"Oh, please," Bella said. "Surely, it offers something more. What, exactly, did it offer you, that you stayed so long, Lupin?"

"It's civilized," Remus muttered. "I could live as a man instead of an animal."

This was met with a great deal of laughter from everyone except Alderman, who was trying to be as unnoticeable as he could be in the back.

"Lupin's turning the pups into a pack of Hogwarts dandies," Greyback said when his amusement at the concept of civilization faded enough to speak. "Got them reading and writing. Next thing you know, they'll be writing poetry."

"Why shouldn't they write poetry?" Remus asked.

This was apparently too absurd a question to illicit a response. Several of the men rolled over in the grass and laughed roundly at the morning sun. "I got a poem!" one of them offered. "Starts out, 'I once knew a girl on the hunt, and she led me around with--' Hey!" He rubbed the back of his head, which had been hit with a pebble, then looked back at Alderman, who, Remus was horrified to note, looked furious.

The boy's expression recovered and he pointed to Bella with the same over-performed attentiveness as the others. "There's a lady here."

"And she can lead me around with anything she wants!"

Remus chanced a glance at Bella, and was strangely glad to see that she seemed rather put off by their behavior, despite her initial flirtatious approach.

She steered the conversation back to the fantasy world Voldemort was promising them, egging Remus at various points to put in token arguments bound to be laughed at raucously. The werewolves had been living in Greyback's world for years, and the rewards Bella was offering were rewards they understood--rewards to their lower appetites. There were promises of prey, veiled promises of mates and packs of their own (not that Greyback would ever allow that, but apparently even he knew it was all a fantasy, because he didn't bother to argue), promises of riches. Beside that, Remus's arguments--hobbled by the necessity to pretend he didn't really believe them anyway--in favor of living a civilized life under a wiser philosophical system always seemed to come up short.

Close to noon, Peter set out a lunch, and they all fell to it. Remus himself was famished, despite having eaten while transformed, and--

"I thought you didn't attack non-humans."

He looked up. Peter dropped down beside him, for all the world as though they were at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. "I beg your pardon?"

"I heard Greyback say you were eating rabbits and mice on the way. I thought you didn't attack non-humans when you were a wolf. I might have thought twice about wandering around as a rat."

Remus blushed, then blanched at the implications of what Peter had said. He'd never in his life eaten transformed before coming to Greyback's pack, but he'd taken to it with almost no prompting, just the blood-stained rabbits the first month. Then he remembered that Peter was directly responsible for James and Lily's deaths, and Lord knew how many he was indirectly responsible for. One crack of his jaws and...

He looked down.

That wasn't the way. Peter hadn't been guilty then, anyway. "It's hunger and pack habit, I think," he said. "I don't actually seek out other prey. I just eat if it comes to me. And with James and Sirius there, there was nothing for you to have been afraid of. Of course, they aren't here anymore, are they?"

Peter's eyes widened, then he stood and scurried over to Bella's side. He remained quiet in her shadow for the rest of the day. After the meal, Bella started speaking again. Remus had heard that she was quite the speech-maker at Hogwarts, but he had never heard her, and he had to admit, she did have charismatic speaking style, even hobbled by her madness and cruelty. She spun castles of blood in the air, and offered them to men who had nothing at all. She was forced to admit at one point that a grand plan hadn't come to fruition as intended--"You have Lupin's little friend to thank for that," she said bitterly, and Remus felt a sick fear for Dora's sake seep into his bones--but said that she had arranged to have wands made for each of them, each with his own wolf hair, if they would just see to it that Greyback got some. As soon as the war was won, they would be given the wand-carrying rights of full wizards. Remus wondered idly if that would include Muggle-born werewolves, but opted not to ask. The sham of mocking debate had already gone on too long. Toward late afternoon, they drifted into different groups. Remus saw Bella talking urgently to Greyback (Peter was cringing between them). Greyback looked irritated with her. Remus turned away with effort and spoke to Alderman about inconsequential things.
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Comments
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: March 19th, 2006 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
That wasn't the way. Peter hadn't been guilty then, anyway. "It's hunger and pack habit, I think," he said. "I don't actually seek out other prey. I just eat if it comes to me. And with James and Sirius there, there was nothing for you to have been afraid of. Of course, they aren't here anymore, are they?"

Good for Remus... but poor guy. I don't think Remus could've ever been hurt as much as when his old best friend showed up like that.

"I heard Greyback say you were eating rabbits and mice on the way. I thought you didn't attack non-humans when you were a wolf. I might have thought twice about wandering around as a rat."

I really hope the old Peter wouldn't have, that this is just DE!Peter talking.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really hope the old Peter wouldn't have, that this is just DE!Peter talking.

I think Peter may have been trying, in a very awkward way, to be friendly and remind Remus of times spent together. It is, after all, a woo-the-werewolves meeting. It backfires on him, of course, because Remus is not in any mood for joking from Peter. He's too busy trying not to be murderous.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: March 19th, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Old fool." She spun on him. "But you're not quite one of us, are you?"

"I'm not one of anybody at the moment."

"Rubbish," Greyback said, almost kindly. "You're one of mine."


You know, even though it's creepy, I almost liked Greyback for that (but only 'almost').

Concrit: I'm not sure if I am just getting confused (I am even worse than the fandom perception of JKR at getting dates right), but isn't Bellatrix older than Remus? Her calling him 'old fool' seemd to jar a bit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 19th, 2006 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, my bad. She's calling Dumbledore an old fool there!

Yeah, I'm forced to give Greyback a couple of points for attempting the loyalty thing.
From: siriuslypotter Date: March 19th, 2006 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Remus, Both Bellatrix and Peter being there. Greyback creeps me out you've done a great job with him.

tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: March 19th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, my bad. She's calling Dumbledore an old fool there!

Oh, I see - probably just me being dense!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 19th, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can almost (another big almost) feel sorry for Peter. His current position with the DEs isn't that great, and there was something kind of human about the way he reached out to Remus there. Maybe I was just reading into it but I was thinking what Remus must look like to Peter, a real mess and going downhill fast. As someone who'd known Remus since forever, that's got to jar. He's both reaching out to a friend in a bad situation and looking for a friend in his own bad situation.

And the "friend" promptly reminds him there's a reason his two most powerful protectors aren't around anymore while slightly underlining the fact that little Peter isn't going to be safe around Remus no matter which side Remus is on.

Ellen
matril From: matril Date: March 19th, 2006 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Peter and Remus, meeting like that...wow. And their behavior fits so well with both of their characters. So filled with tension, and yet very sad as well. Your depictions of the Marauders and their relationships always impresses me.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 19th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice -- good to see the DEs actually getting suspicious, and interesting dynamics with Peter. I can imagine he would be semi-willing to plead Remus' case as long as it didn't involve getting into trouble himself (as with Harry's case in the Riddle House scene in GoF).

I also like the way this links up with Remus' comment about his brand of reasoned argument not making much headway, and definitely a good idea to tackle the issue of the werewolf eating small creatures!
From: _kneebiter Date: March 20th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
One thing that niggles me about this chapter: will werewolf hair even make a functioning wand, let alone one suited to the particular werewolf the hair belonged to? I mean, I trust you not to make "Serenity Galadriel Potter-Riddle-Katana and her OMGspeshil solid gold wand with faerye dust core," but still, fics like that always make me want to bring out Mr. Ollivander to explain in loving detail the extent of the fraud some impostor borrowing his name has perpetrated on Little Miss Your Name Is What? and it doesn't seem fair to say nothing just because you aren't the kind of sicko who puts fairies into pepper mills.

For what it's worth, I privately retconned the last segment that werewolf hair works, but poorly; enough so that with the hair from all his victims Grayback has enough magical charge to power one wand, and Ollivander probably warned him it might not work well for him after being 'persuaded' to overlook his professional pride and make the thing in the first place. But if all the werewolves are going to get their own wands that can't be right (unless Bellatrix was flat-out lying; strange as it will no doubt seem :), I can imagine Voldemort making a promise he doesn't intend or even believe it possible to keep.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, we know that wands can be made from other materials; Ollivander just won't do it. He talks about it when Fleur mentions her veela-hair wand. I'd assume any magical substance can work. With Greyback breathing down his neck, I'd guess that he could be persuaded to use non-standard materials.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 05:34 am (UTC) (Link)
(And as to the promise from Voldemort, of course it's a fake. He'll probably kill all of them.)
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: March 20th, 2006 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved that interaction between Remus and Peter. Damn Harry's noble streak, indeed!
And with James and Sirius there, there was nothing for you to have been afraid of. Of course, they aren't here anymore, are they?"
Teehee.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 20th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why shouldn't they write poetry?" Remus asked.

This was apparently too absurd a question to illicit a response.



I'm guessing the word you're going for here is "elicit". I think it's becoming harder and harder for Remus to be at the pack. I felt he's become aware of the way the boundaries between Remus and the Wolf are gradually fading away (He'd never in his life eaten transformed before coming to Greyback's pack, but he'd taken to it with almost no prompting, just the blood-stained rabbits the first month.) and that is going to be - after the too poor/ too old argument fades away - the one thing that will make him want to stay away from Dora no matter what.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm guessing the word you're going for here is "elicit"

:headdesk:

Yes, of course.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: March 20th, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to be a super nitpick here, because I know how good a writer you are. What's your reasoning on Remus never eating while transformed? To me it seems odd that he would never ever eat anything. Also, in PoA there's the bit where Hagrid's talking - I think it's about Buckbeak having disappeared - and he says "It's all right, Lupin says he didn't eat anything last night." Again, to me that sounds as if he has a basis for comparison. I was just wondering if there was a reason behind his not eating anything.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Basically, that's trying to reconcile wolf behavior with the fact that the whole basis of the animagi thing is that a werewolf isn't dangerous to non-humans. I was re-reading that part and thinking, "Wait... he can't have eaten transformed, or there wouldn't have been any point to James becoming a deer!" So I was scrambling to explain why I've been having him eat rabbits and so on.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: March 20th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, a single wolf wouldn't be able to catch a good-sized deer. I always thought the rationale was that Sirius and James were such big animals that they could keep Remus more or less under control.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 20th, 2006 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah--but Peter would have been toast if he wanted a snack. ;)

Seriously, I was assuming he would eat normal prey, based on the same thing, but then I couldn't logically square it with the "werewolves are only dangerous to humans" business, which was what triggered the animagi experiment in the first place. If he'd made a habit of eating small rodents I doubt he'd have been so sanguine about one of his best friends showing up as a rat.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 22nd, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

I wish we could pay you to write full time

I read all of Shifts, even printed it out on nice resume paper and 3 hole punched it so I could place it in a binder to read over and over when away from the computer. You've brought Greyback to life so much more fully than JK has- and I've always a huge fan of the way you write Remus and Dora.

I like the interaction with Remus and Peter just now- I was thinking of Peter when Remus was eating the mouse..and then he appeared. Brilliant, as always.

Sadie Hyde
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 30th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)

How often do you update?

Hi FernWithy

I read Shifts and will be reading it to a friend shortly. (She has an injury in her neck that prevents her from reading to herself as much as she used to.) I know she will enjoy it as much as I do but I just stumbled upon Shades. It is great and I was wondering how often you update? Are you on a regular schedule?

I love the characters of Remus and Tonks and am glad that JKR is putting them together too. You are one of a small handful of writers that seem able to capture them and complete what JKR started. I especially like how you have weaved your own background stories into the back story. (I have also read Doll Army and Your Very Own Dora...(YVOD made me cry...just thought you should know that your writing is very powerful and you have the ability to charge words with emotional energy.))

Thanks for sharing you writing,
Katsulas
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