?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Shades, Chapter 25: The Lady of the Lake, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 25: The Lady of the Lake, pt. 1
Ah, that's more like it. Get through the scary scene, and dang if it doesn't start moving again. :)

Remus was having a perfectly pleasant Christmas and barely thinking about the pack, but the pack, it seems, was thinking about him. Sweet, who had cajoled him into telling her her real name, Vivian Waters, had practiced writing it, and Greyback had caught her, setting him off in believing that Remus was betraying him, and planning to rescue Sweet. (Rescuing anyone else didn't cross his mind.) He realized Old Mag was in on it somehow--though Remus tried to deny it--and killed her, then, when Sweet tried to rush out, he played a nasty card on Remus, telling him that he was to leave, and take Sweet with him... when both of them were about to turn and lose any control over various instincts. He was either to take her with him, or leave her with them... neither way would end up good for Sweet, so Remus took a chance and Apparated her out, landing in the Shrieking Shack and sealing the door between them with an Impervius Charm.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Tonks Apparated back to Hogsmeade early in the morning on Boxing Day. She'd taken the trip in four shorter hops from Valeska's sanctuary in France, where she'd ended up after wandering aimlessly for four hours after going to her parents' church for services. A friend of Mum's from choir had talked her into joining rehearsals that morning, but she hadn't felt like she knew the music well enough to actually sing along with them. She'd been invited to a few luncheons with people she didn't remember, but turned them all down, claiming vague plans and heading to Maddie and Daffy's, only to find them off visiting somewhere (she guessed Daffy's sister's home, but didn't know). Sanjiv, who celebrated Christmas, Diwali, Eid el-Fitr, Hanukkah, and any other holiday he happened to discover, was off visiting his Muggle grandparents in Bangalore, and Tonks didn't feel quite comfortable enough to impose herself on Minerva McGonagall, though she'd been invited to come along to tea with Minerva and Augusta Longbottom ("I've a thing or two to discuss with Augusta," she said crisply). So, close to noon, she'd found herself on the mountain path in France, her broomstick in her hand. She flew up to the mountaintop village and checked on the Crowlers--they seemed to have settled in well, and Gabrielle Delacour had provided Electa with a village of dolls--and spent the rest of Christmas Day helping Valeska and the others build two safe transformation areas for the pups. Gabrielle and her parents had come for supper, and it had all been pleasant in a low-key sort of way, but she'd found herself wishing she'd taken Molly up on her invitation. As much as she liked Valeska, she wanted to be with people she knew.

She would have to talk to Remus. They shared too many friends to avoid one another.

There was no one in the Hog's Head when she arrived and left her things, which she found suspicious, but then Dawlish had been suspiciously obliging for the past few days. She didn't think much of it as she headed back out. Her mind was on the parlor of the Shrieking Shack, where she meant to replace the old wallpaper soon. She'd repaired it within an inch of its life, but it still looked lifeless and dull.

She was nearly there before she noticed how heavily trodden the snow on the road was, and the chattering of a distant conversation. She drew her wand and approached the house warily.

A crowd was gathered by the fences, gaping up at it. A wiry-haired teenage boy looked pale and frightened. "Look!" he said. "The window! We ought to go up there!" But he didn't make a move.

Tonks looked up at the second floor window. The illusion of boarding was still holding, but she saw a flicker of movement there.

She moved through the crowd toward Madam Rosmerta, who was standing near the front.

"What's going on?" she asked.

Rosmerta turned. "I haven't heard anything from the place for years, but last night... it was louder than ever. The ghosts are back."

Tonks's throat seemed to go tight, and breath was hard to draw. "Maybe you should all leave," she said. "I'll have a look around."

"No, it's dangerous... the stories we heard..."

Tonks bit her lip. "I, er... you really all should go..."

It did no good.

She turned off the road, heading for the school and sending her Patronus ahead of her. McGongall was waiting at the gate when she got there.

"What's happening?" Tonks asked without preliminaries.

"What do you mean?"

"The Shrieking Shack is apparently haunted again."

Minerva frowned. "I don't know. I've only just got back myself." She turned off the path to the doors and headed for the Whomping Willow. "I imagine you're going in?"

"Of course I'm going in. You've heard nothing?"

"Nothing at all. Do you need me to come with you?"

"No. Please... can you contact Dumbledore? We may have to shore up the stories a bit, before Dawlish decides we need to clean the place out."

McGonagall snickered as they reached the outer edge of the Whomping Willow's territory. "I think Dawlish will be a bit more careful around Albus just now," she said. "I'll tell you why later. Though I'm sure you'll notice Dawlish's feathers when you see him." She picked up a stick and prodded the trunk. "Go on, now. I'll contact the headmaster."

"Thank you," Tonks said, not really processing the comment about Dawlish. She jumped down into the tunnel and struggled through it, ignoring the cold, her imagination conjuring images of destruction...

...which didn't even approach what she saw when she emerged from the trap door into the entrance hall. The carefully mended wallpaper was in tatters, the furniture smashed to tinder. A strong, unpleasant odor permeated the place. She turned her head, looking into the dining room. The drawing over the hearth was still undamaged, but all of the photographs on the mantel had been swept to one side and lay on the floor in a nest of shattered glass.

"Remus?" she called softly, mindful of the people gathered outside. "Where are you?"

Something creaked above her, and she went to the staircase, going up a few steps before she noticed the huddled, shaking form in the corridor.

It wasn't Remus.

It was a small girl with wavy light brown hair and dirt-streaked skin. She was wearing a rag that might once have ben a dress, and between her fingers, Tonks could see a network of vicious scarring on her face.

Tonks crouched beside her. "Vivian?" she said.

The scarred girl looked up, panting. "You... know me?"

"I'm Dora," Tonks said. "Sister Dora? I met you in the woods."

"You don't look like Sister Dora."

"I am, though. Where is Remus?"

"I don't know," Vivian said. "He locked me in a room to transform, and he was out here, and when I woke up, he was gone, and I don't know where I am, and WHERE AM I?"

Tonks put her arms around the girl. "Shh," she said. "Shh, be still. It's all right. I'm Remus's friend. You're safe. But we need to be quiet. There are people outside."

"I saw them," Vivian whispered. "They're staring."

"They think it's ghosts," Tonks said. "You're safe."

Vivian reflexively put her arms around Tonks's waist, and started to cry against her shoulder. "I've spoilt the carpet in there," she said, not look up, pointing at the room. "I... spoilt it."

"It's cleanable," Tonks said, smoothing her hair.

Vivian cried quietly, not saying anything more, and Tonks rocked her.

There was a popping sound downstairs, and something broke.

"Dammit," Remus's voice muttered, and then something crashed. Tonks could see down into the entrance hall, and a broken piece of a chair went flying into the wall.

Vivian drew herself away and looked up, frightened.

"GOD DAMN IT!"

There was a sudden flurry of flying wood, crashing glass, the unmistakeable sound of a fist slamming into a wall.

Tonks let go of Vivian and ran down the stairs. "Remus!" she hissed. "Remus, stop it."

He was standing beside the door to dining room and he glanced her involuntarily, then looked away. "Leave, Dora."

"I don't think so. You're scaring Vivian."

He laughed bitterly. "Scaring Vivian, am I? Don't know why that would happen. Why should Sweet be scared of me?"

"Fine, you're scaring me." Tonks came down the rest of the way. She reached for him, but he flinched away. "What happened?"

"Greyback wanted him to hurt me," Vivian said from the stairs. "But he didn't. He brought me here and locked me up, and we didn't hurt one another at all." She leaned against the railing and looked down at Remus. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm sorry, I was only trying to spell my real name, Evvie said I couldn't, and I said I could, and I didn't mean for Greyback to see and..."

"Not your fault," Remus said. "I got careless. I shouldn't have told you."

Vivian sniffed. "Was that... with Greyback... was that... Old Mag?"

Remus nodded.

Vivian turned toward the wall and began to rock back and forth, crying again.

Tonks started to go to her, but Remus was shaking and sweating.

She stood between them, unsure, and looked down at Remus, his back turned to the child, his fists clenched.

A sudden helpless fury ran through her nerves, and she grabbed his shoulders. "Dammit, Remus," she said. "Get up there. Get up there and help her."

"I can't," Remus said. "Who am I to help anyone?"

"You're an adult. Kindly start acting like one."

Remus blinked at her, stunned. "I--"

She took a deep breath. "I'm sorry," she said. "But the child knows you, not me. Please go to her."

He didn't respond for a moment, just looked at her, uncomprehending. Finally, something like acceptance came into his face, and he nodded. She helped him to his feet, and he lurched up the stairs to where Vivian was hunched.

"Come on, Sweet," he said. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have been gone when you woke up."

She wailed and threw her arms around him, and he patted her shoulders until she quieted. "Mag," she muttered. "My fault..."

"Greyback's fault," Remus said. He gathered her up and stood, nearly overbalancing, but, thank heaven, he'd apparently eaten enough at Molly's yesterday to keep from being as weak as he often was after a transformation, and he was able to catch himself without help. Vivian didn't seem to notice. He carried her down the stairs and stood in front of Tonks, his eyes lowered. "Dora, I--" He glanced around the house. "I seem to have broken the house."

She shrugged casually, although part of her--a bigger part than she wanted to admit--was stung at seeing all the work she'd done in shambles. "You can fix it when you're feeling better."

"There's no point in fixing it," he said. "No matter what we do, it'll end up like this again." He turned and carried Vivian to the kitchen, which had escaped any major damage, though the curtains had been shredded. He set her down in one of the chairs. "Did you hurt yourself at all?" he asked.

Vivian lifted the rag of her dress and pointed silently to a bite mark on her ankle. Remus produced his wand, which he'd apparently retrieved before leaving, and healed it.

"Anywhere else?" He looked guiltily in Tonks's direction. "You, er... you hit that door pretty hard."

"My shoulders are sore," Vivian admitted, also glancing nervously at Tonks.

Greyback wanted him to hurt me...

Tonks closed her eyes, understanding for the first time why Remus had locked her in, why he was digusted with himself, why...

"I'm going to kill Greyback," she said calmly.

"Get in line," Remus said, not looking at her. "I don't suppose you've taken to keeping food here, by any chance?"

"Nothing healthy, but there are some pretzels." She went to the cupboard and pulled down a box of snack foods she'd brought over to eat while she cleaned. "Oh, and fruit. I nearly forgot. I brought some oranges. They're upstairs."

She dashed up without looking at either of them, and gulped at a ball of nausea that was growing in her stomach. The little girl. The poor little girl. Greyback. And Remus... and he'd had to lock her up...

She paid no attention to her footing, and nearly stepped in a pile of waste beside the bedroom door... which was splintered on both sides--bashed at, scratched--on the outside, a long claw mark tore the surface from corner to corner, and her mind saw Remus standing here as a wolf, balancing on his back paws, battering at the door to get to Vivian.

But the spell had held.

Tonks went gingerly into the bedroom--Vivian hadn't been kidding about spoiling the carpet, but Tonks was able to clean up the worst of it with only a few swipes of her wand--and opened the door on the stand beside the bed. She'd brought some oranges here to eat while she read herself to sleep. There was a cooling charm on the cabinet. The cabinet was broken, and one leg had been gnawed off. An orange was blocking the hole in the door.

The mattress and pillows had been viciously clawed, and Tonks realized that they must smell like her, smell like a

(rival)

human woman.

She shook off the image, grabbed the oranges, and ran downstairs, trying not to see the marks up and down the corridor. She could see into the small office. The desk had been shattered.

When she got back to the kitchen, Vivian was washing her hands at the sink, and Remus was using his wand to charm away grime under his fingernails.

She put the oranges on the table and sat across from him, for the first time since she'd known him, utterly unable to think of anything at all to say.
23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
beceh From: beceh Date: May 29th, 2006 07:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I just read your last post, and then refreshed my list and here this was :-). Nice way to relax after an exam...

Feel so bad for Remus and Sweet... good chapter!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to provide you with post-exam stress relief! :)
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: May 29th, 2006 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Tonks realized that they must smell like her, smell like a

(rival)

human woman.


Nice touch of Stephen King there.

A wonderful chapter, as always. I really, really hope Greyback meets a painful death at the end of this fic. And Poor Remus. Poor Dora. Poor Sweet. You've gone and made me really care about these characters, you know?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice touch of Stephen King there.

Gotta represent for the shockmeister sometimes.

Alas, no one can kill Greyback at the end except J.K. But if she does that in book seven, I will write a loving and detailed expansion of the scene, from the point of view of each person present for it.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: May 29th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Promise?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, unless she does it in front of a cast of thousands or something. In that case, I'll only pick the major characters present. ;)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: May 29th, 2006 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)
You get that you're brilliant, right? I want to ask what happened to the ruby, butt he chapter title seems to indicate that if I just wait, I'll find out pretty soon. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup--time to pay that one off. :)
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: May 29th, 2006 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
"I've spoilt the carpet in there," she said, not look up, pointing at the room. "I... spoilt it."

I think that should be 'looking,' maybe?

Wow. Another installment so soon! Yay! Poor Remus and Vivian. And the house took a beating too. I am so glad that charm held, though.

Brilliant work.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oops, good catch.

am so glad that charm held, though.

I wish Remus would take a moment to appreciate that he was pretty damned heroic, casting a solid charm while his mind was being beaten up, all to protect Sweet. But no, being Remus, he's obsessing over the fact that it had to be cast.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: May 29th, 2006 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Man. Poor Remus, Sweet, and Tonks.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's an awkward situation. I think Tonks handled him actually eating human flesh better than she'll handle this.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: May 29th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. I was *hoping* you would update soon after that scorcher of a section the last time; this is amazing.

Many things are immensely relieving at this point - Remus's cover is blown, hallelujah! He doesn't have to go back to Greyback! Sweet is safe - ever since you introduced her I have been terrified that you were going to do bad things to her.. but hallelujah once more! Now if only Alderman's future were also assured.. Third relief is that now you can start making things better for Remus (even if he is going to be stupid about Dora) because Harry doesn't see either of them until the end (I think).

May I also put in the necessary SQUEEEEE, because you mentioned my hometown! Bangalore shows up in Fern-verse, how awesome is that! :D

One question for you about your use of this device:

"Tonks realized that they must smell like her, smell like a

(rival)

human woman.
"

I've always envied Stephen King for thinking this device up, because it's so apt and just-right to express the way those pesky, unwanted thoughts crop up. (At least I THINK King thought it up - I've only ever seen him use it.) I am always tempted to use it in my own writing, but I never do because it feels like plagiarism... but I don't know. Obviously, using it in fanfiction is fine but would you use this device in your original writing? Why or why not?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
May I also put in the necessary SQUEEEEE, because you mentioned my hometown! Bangalore shows up in Fern-verse, how awesome is that! :D

Ha! Glad to give a shout-out, though I didn't remember that it was your hometown. I just went Wiki-diving for Indian cities and picked it. Read the article of course, and linked over to the Lal Bagh. Pretty. :)

The King question is interesting; I think I'll do a post about it. In general, I tend to think of devices as up for grabs as soon as they hit print. It's reminiscent of an Eliot riff, as used in "The Waste Lands," but not exactly the same. I would use it in original writing, but its literary parentage is certainly clear, isn't it?
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 29th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to confess, I groaned a little when I saw you had started a new chapter rather than continue with the interlude. I should have known you wouldn't let your readers down!

Another strong installment--I sympathized with all three characters. I can understand Vivian's shame, Remus's reluctance to touch or even approach her, and Tonks' sense of complete inadequacy. I hope they manage to find a way out of this maze--I imagine Sweet will have to be removed to France immediately?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 29th, 2006 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
She'll have to be removed somewhere, anyway.

Glad you liked the section!
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: May 29th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
somewhere, huh?

tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: May 29th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
"You're an adult. Kindly start acting like one."

Something Remus still needs to hear.

Good pair of sections, anyway. That last transformation was pretty horrible, but at least Sweet seems beyond Greyback's reach for now.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: May 29th, 2006 05:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. That was an emotional chapter. I don't know what to say. I guess this gives extra weight to the "I don't care" in the hospital.
Great job.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 30th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. You really amaze me sometimes. These past few sections have been incredible!

- Whitney
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: May 30th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)
just...wow
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: May 30th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. I know Tonks needs to come to terms with the werewolf part of him, but I really didn't want it to have to happen. And yeah, like you mentioned above--it really was heroic of Remus to rescue Sweet. Not only did he manage to apparate, he was able to think clearly enough to come up with a plan and perform a charm. Greyback can't die soon enough for me--if only book 7 would come!
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: June 23rd, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
We don't actually do pretzels in the UK; crisps (US potato chips) have the right connotation of salty junk.

23 comments or Leave a comment