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Shades, Chapter 25: The Lady of the Lake, pt. 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 25: The Lady of the Lake, pt. 4
Okay. Last Shades entry for a couple of weeks, but I figured I should at least finish the chapter before I enforce a break on myself.

Greyback has exiled both Sweet and Remus (playing a rather nasty trick in the course of it), and now they are in Hogsmeade. Tonks doesn't think that Sweet should go to France yet, but remembered an alternative. She lets Remus and Sweet rest in the Shrieking Shack and suits Sweet (called by her real name, Vivian) up with all the smaller-sized clothes she can find. She also brings her cat, Granny, over. They spend the night in the parlor, then Tonks leads the way to Hogwarts, and the Forbidden Forest, where there's a water nymph who owes her a favor. Hagrid gets them past the acromantula infested part of the forest, then the water nymph magically carries them under the surface of a small pool, and Tonks loses consciousness as she goes.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




There was sunlight on her face.

She knew it before she opened her eyes. It was a strong, direct light--warm and summery. The air she was breathing was fragrant, laden with the green smell of leaves an wood, and the light pink aroma of wildflowers. She was lying on grass softer than her bed at the Hog's Head, and she could feel a breeze tickling across the small hairs on the back of her hands.

A high-pitched, delighted laugh brought her up from her semi-doze, and she opened her eyes. Vivian was already up and running around, and had spotted a fairy in a hedge. She was laughing at its antics. Granny was running about like a kitten, pouncing on insects in the grass. Tonks herself was curled up on the edge of a small stream. Beside her, Remus was rubbing his eyes groggily and looking around in utter confusion.

"Where are we?" he asked quietly, then a look of great alarm crossed his face. "Be careful," he said, standing up protectively in front of Tonks. "Dragons. They're sleeping but..."

"They haven't woken for many years."

Tonks turned. The Lady was walking upstream, past the hill where the great oak tree stood, past the sleeping lion. She held her hand out silently.

Tonks handed her the ruby.

She looked at it, then drew the sword from her waist and replaced it in the hilt. "You have need of my help?"

"Yes, I do. Vivian?" she called.

Vivian looked up from the hedge and caught sight of the Lady for the first time. She tilted her head curiously and came over, Granny at her heels. "Hello," she said. "My name is Vivian."

The Lady smiled. "So was mine once."

"She needs a place to stay," Tonks said.

Remus shook his head. "There's not even a house here."

Vivian laughed. "I always lived in the woods, Remus."

"It's only for a little while," Tonks went on. "Just until it's safe to move the others. Then she can join them. But for now--she needs somewhere safe to be. Somewhere that no one will find her."

"Vivian is welcome here for as long as she would like to stay." The Lady turned to Vivian and bent her knees, so they could see each other eye to eye. "Do you want to stay here with me?"

Vivian looked at Remus. "I... well... would I be able to see Remus and Dora?"

"Not often," the Lady said. "It would hardly hide you if they were to see you regularly."

"Oh."

"It's only for a little while," Tonks repeated, and squeezed Vivian's shoulder. "We'll come and get you. And there will be a nice home for you and all of the other children."

"And there are ways for you to see them," the Lady told her. "As I saw you, preparing to come to me, and as I saw Nymphadora arriving in Hogsmeade."

"How?"

"I watch. It's what I do now. I see in the pool. Would you like to learn?"

"She's underage," Remus said.

The Lady didn't bother answering this. She continued talking to Vivian. "Since I expected you, I found some things you might like to have. Do you see the oak tree?"

"Yes."

"You'll find a chest among the roots. What is in it is yours, and will remain yours even if you choose to leave."

"If?" Remus repeated.

The Lady finally turned to him. "If. I will not hold her against her will. Nor will I force her to leave unless she chooses to do so. You don't trust me?"

"If you're who you claim to be, history doesn't suggest that I should."

"Remus!" Tonks scolded.

The Lady simply smiled. "A wise man, protecting his family. But I've claimed no identity. I'm unsure if I have one anymore." She turned to Tonks. "I'm sure you understand."

"I beg your pardon?"

"I've been watching you search for who you are. Finding what doesn't change. And you haven't, not yet. Holding your face still solves nothing."

"You don't know Dora very well," Remus said. "She's always known exactly who she is."

"And I'm hardly holding my face still," Tonks said. "It's just not moving."

The Lady's smile didn't falter, though her eyes grew distant. "Perhaps I'm wrong. It's been a very long time since I've read a human face."

Something soft bumped against Tonks's leg, and she looked down to find Granny rubbing against her. She scooped the cat up unthinkingly. "I appreciate you taking Vivian," she said. "I didn't believe you when you said I'd need a favor."

"I imagined you would ask something for yourself."

"It's beautiful!"

Tonks looked up. Vivian was running down the hill, barefoot, wearing a lovely green dress. She carried something in her hand that trailed out behind her.

"A veil?" Remus asked.

"For my face!" Vivian said, and twirled in the sunlight. She placed it on her head, right over Tonks's plastic tiara, and a gauzy bit of green cloth floated down over her face. "I love it, thank you!"

The Lady nodded to her. "And now, I believe your friends should leave. You're satisfied that she's safe with me?" She looked at Remus.

Remus looked around the glade, at the bright sunlight, the sleeping dragons. Tonks didn't remember the last time she'd seen him look as young and healthy as he did in this light.

He went to Vivian. "Your new friend has promised that you may leave if you'd like."

Vivian nodded.

"And if she tries to stop you... you'll find a way to contact me? Somehow?"

Tonks put her hand over her face, but the Lady touched her shoulder gently. "He will do what he must do," she said.

"I'll find a way," Vivian said. "But I don't think she'll hurt me. We have the same name." She smiled brightly.

With a flash of anxiety, Tonks thought of Barty Crouch, and even the man who had once been a boy called Tom Riddle. The same name.

"You're troubled?" the Lady asked.

"Can I trust you?" Tonks asked plainly, and turned to the Lady. "Can I?"

"Can you trust yourself?"

Tonks looked into the Lady's deep eyes, felt herself searching her own mind, her own judgments, her own choices. She saw her parents there, and she saw her friends. She saw Dumbledore tugging on her hair, and she saw Sirius reaching helplessly for her in the kitchen of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. But mostly she saw Remus, saw herself loving him, saw him walking away from her, saw herself still believing in him.

Did she trust herself? Her own judgment?

She turned away from the Lady and looked at Remus, who was involved in a long, careful conversation with Vivian. The years had settled back onto his face, and his gentle hands were resting on Vivian's shoulders.

He was a good man.

"Yes," she said. "I can trust myself."

"And do you trust me?" the Lady prodded.

Tonks turned. "Yes," she said.

"If you can trust yourself and you do trust me, then you can trust me."

Tonks nodded and took a deep breath. "It's time to go, Remus," she said.

Remus looked over his shoulder, then came back over, leading Vivian with a hand on her small shoulder. "All right," he said.

Vivian ran to Tonks and petted Granny's head enthusiastically. Granny started purring. "Can I see Granny again?" she asked.

"I'm sure you will," Tonks said.

"The cat is younger here," the Lady said. "Healthier. She may stay as well, if you would care to leave her."

Tonks felt like a knife had been twisted in her chest, and she drew Granny closer. "I don't... She's always... " But it was hardly fair, was it? If she could be younger and healthier... She set Granny down in the tall grass. "What do you say, Gran? Young and healthy again?"

"You can stay with me," Vivian said, but made no move.

Granny sniffed at the grass, ate a mouthful of it, then came back to Tonks and lay down on her feet, asking to be picked up.

Gratefully, Tonks picked her up.

"Very well," the Lady said, smiling in a knowing way. Then she came forward and put her arms around Remus and Tonks.

There was darkness and the roar of water, and then they burst up into the Forbidden Forest. The stream around their feet receded, and Tonks looked back in time to see a hand disappearing beneath the surface of the pool, before the pool itself disappeared.

"Can' get used to that," Hagrid said, standing up. "You were gone a goodish time. Near an hour."

They didn't speak as they made their way back to the Whomping Willow, and Tonks and Remus only passed a few words as they went back through the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack. Remus went up first, and Tonks handed the cat up to him before climbing up herself.

He set Granny down and closed the trapdoor.

She caught him as he rose, put her arms around him, and kissed him.

After a moment, he responded.
16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: June 2nd, 2006 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
All I can say is, it's about time!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2006 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. I think I just have a thing with the end of chapter 25 in these things... ;P
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 2nd, 2006 05:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Overall, I loved this, but about this veil . . . .

I'm assuming it has more than just its practical function because, while I can see how that might appeal to Vivian (especially after the sunglasses), it doesn't seem like a very good message to be sending a little girl who already has some issues with how she looks.

Although Vivian and Dora both seem to be looking for the face they want to show the world right now, don't they?

Oh, and I loved the Lady's line, "A wise man, protecting his family." Yep, she's got Remus pegged, even if he doesn't want to admit that's what they are to him.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2006 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
It's honestly not a very good message. The Lady, like Fleur, has some problems with the messages she tends to send. ;)

I've been kind of enjoying doing the "woman power" thing in this story, but I wanted them to really appreciate Remus's power as well.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: June 2nd, 2006 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
About time, dude! Thanks for the update!
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: June 2nd, 2006 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, that didn't come out the way I meant it. About time he kissed her, but thanks to you for the update. Have fun these two weeks, I'll be around here, re-reading :P
singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: June 2nd, 2006 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Marvelous. I like how even Remus-the-rather-sensitive shares an instinctive prejudice of the poor ole lady of the lake with his fellow wizards, even though he too has a dodgy magical heritage.
I can just imagine what sort of reputation she has in the Wizarding World. I take it, since she can be trusted with Sweet, that a lot of it is rubbish.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: June 2nd, 2006 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah good. Finally, you get them to admit their feelings to other again! No doubt they'll start making a mess of things once more shortly afterwards, but it's a start, and a nice to place to break for a couple of weeks. :)
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: June 2nd, 2006 10:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Wooot! About time!

I really liked this chapter, all of it, from their uneasiness at the beginning to the kiss at the end. And Vivian does seem happy there, but I hope it won't have to be for long.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: June 2nd, 2006 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh.

Question, though: Who IS The Lady? Or did I miss a chapter? I know she was mentioned before, but... it seems in that chapter, it was a mystery, and that in this one, we should know...
miseri From: miseri Date: June 3rd, 2006 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
The Lady of the Lake, from Arthurian legend; known as Vivien, Ninian or Nimue. Supposedly she's responsible for seducing Merlin and trapping him forever under a hill.

(Pedantic PS.: Traditionally, "Vivian" is a man's name; for a woman, it may be spelled "Vivien", "Vivienne" or "Viviane", and pronounced exactly the same way. If I ever have children and they are a boy-and-girl pair of fraternal twins, I shall name them Vivian and Vivien. These days, though, "Vivian" is far more likely to be applied to a woman than to a man.)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: June 2nd, 2006 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for letting us know about an impending break. It is worrying when an author stops working on a story for a while without notice.

Although, what a place to leave us!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: June 2nd, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Finally. :)

I really enjoyed this chapter, too. I liked seeing Remus interact with Vivian outside of the pack - and I liked seeing Tonks watch Remus interact with Vivian. Good place to leave it for a break.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: June 2nd, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tonks handed her the ruby.

She looked at it, then drew the sword from her waist and replaced it in the hilt. "You have need of my help?"


I'd suggest cleaning this up a bit, perhaps and replaced the jewel in the hilt. I had to reread this sentence several times before I remembered the source of the ruby.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 2nd, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter. The part with the Lady had a very dreamy quality. No wonder that Remus and Dora kissed after that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 3rd, 2006 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
A more comfortable point to leave the story for a couple of weeks than the end of the last part, at least for the readers - and Tonks I suppose. I shall look forward to you resuming the story.

TDU
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