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Shades, Chapter 27; Frozen, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 27; Frozen, pt. 3
Tonks has gone down to visit Montgomery and hopes to talk to Alderman. As they enter the woods, someone drops down out of the trees in front of them.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Tonks took a step back, surprised that she hadn't heard the boy crawling among the branches above. In the winter, they should have been coated with cracking ice, or at least brittle from the cold. But there had been no sound.

Robert Alderman was clearly a very good hunter.

Tonks glanced at Montgomery, who looked startled and unsure. She was personally glad that she'd seen Remus's drawing of Alderman--it had been created with great affection, and she recognized the features as someone for whom affection could be had... but at the moment, it took a great act of will to superimpose Remus's view on her own perception.

Alderman was Ginny Weasley's age, according to the reports, but his face had the pinched look of age. His body was wrapped in hard muscles with little softening, and his head was darted aggressively forward. Most disturbing, his teeth had been sharpened to points much more recently than Mag's had. When he gave her what she supposed Remus would take as a jovial grin, he looked like an overgrown doxy.

Montgomery swallowed hard. "We're friends of Mag's," he said.

Alderman nodded, still smiling his unsettling smile. "I know. I saw you come from the church. Your the one what gave her charity for us."

"Yes," Tonks said. "And now that she's gone, we're bringing it ourselves. We've brought fruits and vegetables and milk." She bit her lip. "Are the others near this place?"

The smile widened, distinctly amused now. "Don't reckon they are now, Sister."

"Are you sure?"

"Sure enough to ask how Sweet is. Lupin's been seen, but no one's seen hide nor hair of Sweet"--Alderman looked around himself ina shifty way--"and Lupin said he thought she was all right when he came the next morning, though he said to let Greyback think she was dead." Alderman gave Tonks a shallow bow. "Is there trust?"

"I guess there'd better be," Tonks said, taken aback by Alderman's casual disclosure. Either he really believed Greyback's people were nowhere in earshot, or he had betrayed them already.

"Well?"

"She's safe."

"You're certain?" He looked quite dubious about this, and Tonks wondered what on Earth he was thinking. He knew Remus.

"She's being cared for. She'll join the rest of you when it's time."

"The rest of us?"

"Lupin didn't tell you?" Montgomery asked, gathering his composure.

"Oh, he told me, but I didn't believe him. All of us?"

"We've a place." Tonks considered adding that his mother was waiting there for him, then thought better of it. She had no idea how he would respond to the news, and it would still take time to arrange the rescue. "They're preparing for you. Do you know how the others are likely to feel about it?"

"I could ask--"

"No. It wouldn't be wise. You saw... well, it's sometimes hard for children to keep a secret."

"I think they'd like to," Alderman said carefully. "They wouldn't've, not before Lupin came, but now... the little ones miss our school. Blondin squirreled away the books somewhere, and he won't even tell us where--he's always in trouble with Greyback now. He's going to get himself hurt if he don't quit it."

Tonks closed her eyes. "He's got to stop that. We can't have Greyback watching him too closely any more than he can be watching you too closely."

"Well if he stops right off, Greyback will smell a Bundimun."

Montgomery was looking around nervously. "Might we talk somewhere that company isn't likely at any moment?"

"Got a place in mind?"

"Are you allowed to visit Mag's grave?"

Alderman shrugged. "No one's said we can't. Doubt Greyback would be thrilled, but I can take a cuffing for it. I'll just say I was paying my respects."

"I don't want you to be hit," Montgomery said.

"And I don't want you drawing attention to yourself," Tonks reminded both of them. "Are they really far away?"

"Yes."

"Give me a moment." Tonks took out her wand and started setting protective wards around the tiny clearing they were standing in. They wouldn't hold long--the Ministry would notice a strong spell--but they ought to convince anyone headed in this direction that they'd forgotten something wherever they were coming from. She didn't feel especially secure, because there was no good way to test it, but it would have to do. She sat down on a handy log.

"You're a witch," Alderman said, surprised. "I never met a witch who was a nun."

"There are a handful," Tonks said, not clarifying that she wasn't one of them. "I need to come at least twice more," she said. "First, there's a spell I need to cast, and I need to do it right in the middle of where the women and girls live. And I need to get you all prepared."

"Sister, that's damned dangerous."

"That's why I need to know what's happening. Have you heard Greyback say antyhing about going away again?"

"No."

"Damn."

Alderman looked surprised again. "And you curse! Are you really a nun?"

Montgomery snorted a laugh. "You've clearly never watched the World Cup with nuns."

"No, Father, I can't say that I have." There was a quiet moment, then Alderman's mouth twitched and he laughed brightly. "I remember hearing about the World Cup when I was little. Are the nuns hooligans?"

Montgomery joined the laughter. "No one can flip a car over quite like Sister Magda. She was in charge of the school near my first parish."

Tonks imagined an old nun flipping a car over in exuberance over football, and laughed. Suddenly, Alderman was just the boy from Remus's drawing, an ill-used child with mirthful, narrow eyes. "All right," she said. "Enough hooligan nuns. I need to know when Greyback will be away, and who will be in charge. We need to find a way to get that information back and forth."

"Well, what about Sweet?" Alderman asked.

"I don't think she should be leaving her hiding place just now," Tonks said.

"Well, she don't need to, does she?"

Tonks narrowed her eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, no one's seen hide nor hair of her awake," Alderman said. "But I've... er... well, I've had a dream about her. It weren't an ordinary dream, either. That's why I wanted to know where she was. It was all a bit creepy. She didn't have her scars, and it was summer."

"Perhaps it was just a dream," Montgomery suggested.

"There was an oak tree," Alderman said. "And everything was asleep. And Sweet just wanted to know how everyone was, and I told her."

"When did this happen?"

"Two days after moon. She said she was lonely at moon."

It seems she's learning quite a lot from her new friend.

Tonks sighed and rubbed her head. She would need to talk to Vivian. "I don't know how reliable that particular sort of magic is," Tonks said. "And unless I'm mistaken, you wouldn't be able to sit down and send the initial message."

"Oh. Right."

Montgomery took a frustrated breath. "This is absurd. You can't count on a little girl whose idea of a magic trick is to catch up on the latest gossip. And the sister can't very well go into the middle of your camp without knowing who she'll find here."

"I could catch an owl," Alderman suggested. "There are lots of them."

"Post owls are quite a different story," Tonks said. "And one would be noticed."

"Write the message on Mag's grave," Montgomery said suddenly.

"What?"

"I'll leave chalk, and I'll check every morning. When Greyback leaves, find a way to sneak to the churchyard and write it. I'll get word to... someone. I'll get an owl."

"And getting word back?" Tonks asked.

"I'm sure you'll find a way, sister."

Tonks shook her head. "All right. But be damned careful, both of you." She waved her wand, releasing the security spells. "We do have food for you."

Alderman smiled faintly "I'll take it back."

"I could--"

"It's not a good idea. Outsiders aren't really welcome just now. But thank you for the food. It's appreciated."

They stood on an unspoken signal, and Alderman lifted the two hampers of food easily. Stacked on top of one another, they obscured his face.

"Well," Tonks said. "Goodbye."

"God be with you," Montgomery said.

"Yeah," Alderman answered. "Er... you too, I guess." He turned and took a few steps up the path, then turned back so that he presented his profile to them. He turned his head carefully away from the baskets and looked directly at Tonks. "Sister, do you reckon that dreaming of a person like that, like I was telling you--her soul or whatnot--means that she's happy wherever she is?"

"I'm sure she is."

He gave her one more dubious nod, then tromped noisily up the path, weighted down by the charity food.

Tonks and Montgomery went back to the church without talking.

"Are you sure about this?" Tonks asked when they got to his office. "If Greyback finds out..."

"Mag risked her life for the sake of those children. I can't look myself in the eye if I do less."

"Gryffindor," Tonks said. "Definitely, a Gryffindor."

Montgomery grinned. "My brother always says that. Usually with a hearty rolling of the eyes."

Tonks said her goodbyes, then Apparated back to Hogsmeade and walked to the Shrieking Shack.
14 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: July 6th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
this may just have been my favorite part yet!
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: July 6th, 2006 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Wait just a second - Montgomery.

Fern, I think I know where this is going and I do not like it. Well, I think it's amazingly clever actually, but I don't like what I think is going to happen.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: July 6th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me neither...
*shivers*
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: July 6th, 2006 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice work - movement on the overall plot (discounting the fact that HBP is playing in the background, so to speak) and also in characterisation: Alderman's a sharp one, isn't he? And he seems to be growing into the leader-of-the-cubs role that Remus has left vacant quite nicely.

I'd love to see the interaction between Alderman and the cub pack and Harry and the DA - I imagine the two have a lot in common. I know that you're maintaining the canon-shadow relationship here (and most impressively, too), but should you ever feel the urge to extrapolate your plot while we wait for book 7...:grins:

I hope you don't mind if I friend you - I've been checking your journal for ages now, both for this story and for the other interesting things you write.

- A.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: July 6th, 2006 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, this is my favourite part yet. It's so full of tension; I was carried along by the plot so easily that I wasn't aware of your words (which only occasionally happens unless I'm reading larger chunks of your work, like on SQ). You've also done here what I thought was the best thing about HBP: very satisfying character development that arises as a natural side-effect of the story. No big signs saying "Here Be Characterisation!"

Really love it. And if you do anything to Alderman I might just stop reading this story.

(Ugh. I just realised I've made the most ineffectual threat known to man.)

olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: July 6th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
(And by ineffectual I don't mean you won't care I'll stop reading and go right on killing whoever you want - though of course that's what you'll do - I meant that it's ineffectual coz it's *such* a bogus threat right on the face of it.)
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: July 6th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was a lovely 1/3 chapter. It's nice to have a little quiet after all the action we've had.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: July 6th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, the expression "hide nor hair" sounds a good deal more sinister when it's referencing werewolves. I really like Alderman--I so badly want him reunited with his family, although it's going to be quite a shock to his mother to see how different he is. Nice installment.
lechatbleu From: lechatbleu Date: July 6th, 2006 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! I just remembered Montgomery. Oh...noooo....

(Also, sorry, first time commenting as I was impressed by my own puzzling that out, but this was reccomended to me recently and it's brilliant....)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 6th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Alderman's really wonderful here. He's so youthful and bright and yet there's obviously a lot of danger lurking in the background of this chapter. I feel even worse for Father Montgomery today.

Oh, and the World Cup bit was hilarious!

I can't wait to see Alderman reunited with his family. He will make it, won't he?

Either I've forgotten or we haven't been told the spell Tonks needs to do in the cave with the girls. Should I reread? Probably so....
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 9th, 2006 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! This was a wonderful instalment! I’m trying not to squeal with delight (yes... I do tend to do that when I’m really happy :P) and wake up my roommates. I’m squealing internally though!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 3rd, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
As I *have* recently watched the World Cup with nuns, that part made me giggle, and wonder if you had too?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, but I'm from Buffalo, and have actually seen church announcement boards with "God Loves the Bills!" on them. So I'd have to guess that a collar doesn't prevent one from being a sports fan!
tearoha From: tearoha Date: November 25th, 2006 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Montgomery?
Hmmm... :O
Reading Avidly :)
~T.A
14 comments or Leave a comment