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Shades, Chapter 30: Rattling the Bones, pt.3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 30: Rattling the Bones, pt.3
Okay. Tonks and Andromeda headed down to Greyback's forest, where Alderman and Evvie helped them get to the gate. Andromeda did a dark spell to activate it, and they tested it by sending a redcap through.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Tonks had trouble sleeping that night, images of her mother flashing through her mind. She had always thought of Mum--outside of her work as a Healer and her occasional miserable, dark moods--as pleasantly silly. The sort of person, not to put too fine a point on it, who would name her baby daughter "Nymphadora." Seeing her stabbing at the earth and spilling blood and children's teeth, chanting ugly words, snarling her orders...

It had been disconcerting.

She woke up in the morning feeling achy and tired, and went about her rounds of Hogsmeade in a haze. Nothing was happening. Madam Puddifoot was convinced she'd seen a vampire, but it turned out that it had just been one of the local ghosts. Madam Rosmerta was in bed with a nasty headache, and had no news. The Weasley twins had finally got in touch with the owners of Zonko's and Tonks saw them being guided through the empty shop. They didn't see her. When her shift finally ended, she was looking forward to going back to her room to sleep.

"I remember you."

She stopped, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the dimness of the Hog's Head. There was a man leaning against the grubby bar, standing where he could see the door, obviously waiting for her. He had neatly trimmed hair and wore Muggle-style clothing. His face was pale and drawn.

"I remember you," he said again. "I was in fifth year when you came. I remember you changing your face. When Jerry said you shifted your face... I remembered that you were with Dumbledore. I saw your name in the Prophet."

Tonks shook her head. "I'm sorry. I'm usually very good with names, but I don't remember..."

"You wouldn't. I kept to myself and I was in a different house. Nothing that would have made anyone notice me."

"Who--?"

"Ralph Montgomery," he said. "Jerome's brother?"

"Jerome? Oh! Father Montgomery. He never told me his first name."

Ralph Montgomery raised an eyebrow. "You don't even know his name. You're exposing him to Fenrir Greyback, and you don't even know his name."

Tonks looked around nervously. "Can we discuss this upstairs?"

Ralph nodded in a resigned way, and let her lead him up to her room. The best thing to do would be to leave the door open, but that, she decided, was not an option. Instead, she did a simple distraction spell and sat down at her desk.

Ralph went to the window and looked out over the village. "Even after I got my Hogwarts letter," he said out of nowhere, "Jerry always wanted to play at being a comic book superhero. I was always the one being rescued, even though I was older and could do magic."

Tonks wasn't sure where he was going, so she kept quiet.

"When he was little, he used to run about the house in those... oh, what did they call them? Pants with pictures on them, so that you could be Superman or Spiderman or whatnot under your clothes. He wanted to be a policeman or a fireman. I think he was more surprised by his call to the priesthood than I was by my Hogwarts letter."

"You think he's indulging old fantasies?" Tonks asked.

"I know he's indulging old fantasies," Ralph said. "The only question is why you're letting him." He turned, his eyes narrowed. "He's a Muggle, in case you haven't noticed. Most witches and wizards can't handle Greyback, and now you've got him on the front lines. What's Jerry going to do, shrive him?"

"What makes you think it's--"

"Don't try it," Ralph said. "I tried to talk some sense into Jerry, and he was on about rescuing children from a werewolf. I think we both know which werewolf is known for that particular habit."

Tonks nodded. "Yes, it's Greyback. He's moved his people into the forest near Huntsford. We can't do anything about them until the children are out."

"Werewolf children."

"Children."

"So great and moral," Ralph said. His tone was resigned, not angry or defensive. "Phrasing it so that if I'm worried about my brother, I must hate children. I don't, you know. I have three of my own. Not to mention Jerry, who's more trouble than any of them."

"An old woman came to him and asked him for charity. He gave it. And he found out that there were children who also needed help, and he offered it. He's not being a fantasy hero. He's being a real one." Tonks sighed. "Look, Mr. Montgomery, I know it's dangerous. And your brother knows it's dangerous. But he's a grown man, and it was his choice."

Ralph nodded. "I know. I know that. Do you think I don't know my own mad brother? But he needs to be protected from himself now and then. He doesn't understand all of this, not really. He knows I married a nice witch-born girl, and that her maiden name is Macmiillan, but he has no idea what it means that I married a pure-blood. But you know, don't you?" He leaned on the window-sill. "They talked about you when you came. A Black on one side, Muggle-born on the other. There were all sorts of rumors about what happened to your father's family after your mother married him. Most of them reckoned that your cousin Sirius had done them all in, because he was angry about not marrying your mother himself."

"That's absurd." Tonks felt the blood rush up to her face. There hadn't been that much family--only Granny Tonks--and as far as most people knew, she had died in a fire. Of course, the fact that the Aurors had started to keep a patrol on the Tonks house had probably helped along the rumors that the fire wasn't entirely accidental... rumors that Mad-Eye had rather impatiently confirmed when Tonks started her own training. "We're going to go after Greyback's people after we get the children out," she said.

"You surely don't believe it ends with Greyback!"

"I believe that Greyback is the only one of them that cares at all about the pups." She stood and went to Ralph. "We'll keep an eye on the church on the full moon. We won't leave your brother to fend for himself." It was a rash promise--she'd need people in Greyback's forest and back at the Forbidden Forest, and she didn't know how many she'd be able to find--but she supposed Ralph was right that they owed it.

"I'll watch him," Ralph said quietly.

"What?"

"I'll go stay with him. Whenever you do it. I'll go and stay with him."

"Do you think you can handle Greyback?"

"I can handle getting Jerry out of there."

"Let me get back to you," Tonks said.

Ralph gave her a knowing smile. "Going to Dumbledore to make sure I'm trustworthy?"

"I can check without bothering Dumbledore," Tonks said, not looking down.

Ralph shrugged. "I suppose it's good. Better that you're diligent than that you're not." With that, he left the room without saying goodbye.

Tonks didn't doubt him--she wouldn't have spoken as freely as she had if she'd had any doubts--but it was always better to back up feelings with facts, so spent the next day in the London office, checking for any information on Ralph Montgomery, and met with McGonagall for dinner to get her opinion of him.

"A bit plodding," McGonagall said carefully. "Always cautious about everything. But a good boy, as I recall, and he spoke fondly of his brother. Got in a bit of a tussle with the Macmillans when he married Emma, but they've got past it it now."

"You don't think he could be working for Greyback or You-Know-Who and fishing for information?"

"I don't think he'd put himself in that much danger."

It wasn't as ringing an endorsement as Tonks would have liked, but it fit with her own sense of the man. If he was willing to stand up and defend his brother, she supposed it was his place to do it. She met him at the Three Broomsticks two days after her lunch with McGonagall, and told him as little as it was possible to tell him before Madam Rosmerta brought them their meal and distracted Ralph with questions about where he'd been keeping himself since he'd left school. It was nosy, even for Rosmerta, but Tonks supposed that with business as slow as it had been this year, the tavern-keeper was likely bored, and missing her old customers. At least her headache seemed to have passed, though Tonks thought she still looked a bit peaky.

Tonks didn't think about it much more--there were only two weeks left to put together the pieces of her plan, and if Ralph Montgomery wanted to take responsibility for one possible complication, then he was welcome to do it. Maybe he'd even get more involved when he actually saw the children.

That was her primary thought about Ralph Montgomery, and no matter how much she wished later that she could pretend she'd had a more nuanced view, she could never convince herself that it had actually been present. Self-deception was not her strong-suit.
26 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: August 8th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, the plot's really starting to hasten along, isn't it? Rosmerta is quietly spying, and Ralph has been introduced and his doomed offspring mentioned, and I almost wish I didn't know what was going to happen but perhaps it's best to be prepared. It's nice to see Tonks coming to terms with more of her mother's many facets, too.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, the plot's really starting to hasten along, isn't it?

Yeah. It's pushing now... though I'm not sure what I'll do between the March full moon and the battle at Hogwarts.
From: octobersnow Date: August 8th, 2006 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)
My thoughts as I read this:

"Oh, Dear. Ralph you poor stupid sod why did you mention (1) your name, (2) Your brother's name, (3) Dumbledore and (4) Fenrir Greyback in a public area! Doh! Though Tonks didn't help with the Father Montgomery reference."

I told you that the suspense is messing with my mind and I don't want the next parts to happen at all.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... they weren't being very careful. Though of course, it's Rosmerta's nosiness that's most likely to get them in trouble.
From: octobersnow Date: August 8th, 2006 09:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yea I picked up on that too, but that was written as much more subtile. That part was less of a facepalm moment for our players than a 'ooh, Draco you rotten, conniving little ****'.
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: August 8th, 2006 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)
The time difference is a wonderful thing. I seem to find all your updates in the morning. There's nothing better than reading Shades while drinking my coffee...

Of course that means that I'm running late now, but I am glad I checked this update. Its getting really interesting now...
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it's one of the few advantages of being stuck here in England.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, that and not having to wonder whether or not Jerome could have owned Underoos! ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think most people here find them in the morning, too. I write them at, like, one a.m. ;)
From: octobersnow Date: August 8th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not us Insomniacs! (which is my excuse for some of my stoopid comments).
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 8th, 2006 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Bartenders really do make wonderful spies, don't they?

I like the dynamic you've hinted at between the Montgomery brothers. Jerome is obviously a much stronger character, and it's interesting to see that play out with the weaker character as stronger in terms of power. (I am a bit surprised that Ralph doesn't appear to have thought about the possible consequences to his own children, though - or is he just too fixated on having to protect his brother for the thought to occur?)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Ralph is a bit dense. He's used to his brother being in trouble, here he goes again, and that's where his head is... If he'd stop and think, he'd know better. He knows who Greyback is, after all.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
That works for me :)... actually, it's amazing how good people in RL are at not seeing things that they don't want to.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wonderful chapter, but...

Mine are covered, too. Which makes it difficult to type sometimes...
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: August 8th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
This is good, but horrible to read. Just horrible.

Poor guy.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: August 8th, 2006 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know which would be worse: knowing that something is going to happen because of canon or not knowing what's going to happen.

Either way, I'm afeared.

Please, update quickly. I don't think I can take it.
dadaginny From: dadaginny Date: August 8th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've made me love your characters so much, and now... Akkkkk. Sigh. Dang it, makes me wish for a plotline change, lol. I wish she could see into Rosmerta's mind, or even just sit and talk with her to see if she could see if something was wrong...
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: August 8th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, dear! It doesn't look good for the future, does it? I hope that at least the children get to safety.
*keeps fingers crossed*
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2006 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I'm jumping up and down on the sidelines trying to come up with ways to protect the little Montgomery. He only needs to be publically pronounced dead, he doesn't need to be dead . . . but I don't think it's going to work that way.

And you can't dive into a work of fiction, grab the little kids who are standing in the way of oncoming traffic, and whisk them away.

Ellen
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, the Montgomery sisters would presumably know if their brother's death had been faked, and probably would have been removed from school for a couple of weeks so that they wouldn't have to walk around pretnding to be grief-stricken.

But as far as saving the kiddies - my denial mode completely kicked in during the last update and went "Oh, Andromeda wants more kids. And Ewie is probably an orphan. And she likes parents who give their kids weird namaes. And Andromeda is not likely to enter canon, so her adoption of a werewolf child (or maybe even several of them) wouldn't be contradicted by JKR. Clearly, Fern must be planning a big happy ending where nothing goes wrong ever again."

Then I came to my senses.

- Carra
elerrina_amanya From: elerrina_amanya Date: August 8th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi =) This is another great chapter—I loved seeing more of Andromeda and of Tonks witnessing and coping with a different side of her mother. Even though things are shortly going to become very dark & nasty, I still love the story; now every time I re-read HBP, I've got the events of Shades running in the background :)

I was just wondering, how old is your Tonks again? I put her at 23-24 during HBP, so if Ralph was four years ahead of her at school he would be no more than 28—and so could hardly have two Hogwarts-age children. (There isn't a third Montgomery brother, is there?) Sorry if I'm being unusually obtuse ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 8th, 2006 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! Good catch on the math, there. Tonks would be... let's see, she was 23-ish in OotP, 24ish here. He could be 28 or 29 depending on years, but that would mean that he'd have to have been 18 when the younger of the two Hogwarts girls was born. I believe I'll move him up to a seventh year when she came in. Still young, but, hey, so were Tonks's parents. And Harry's, for that matter.
miseri From: miseri Date: August 8th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could also just say he'd been doing some sort of apprenticeship thing in Hogsmeade when Tonks went to Hogwarts instead.

(Funny: I was more concerned about whether his younger brother would have had the time to do his seminary and internship and gotten his pastoral position, and completely missed the issue of the Montgomery children.)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: August 9th, 2006 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The way I see it, many wizards and witches do marry and have children young. Besides the wars, they don't have the huge step between regular school and University that we do - they seem to get jobs right away. So there's probably no real reason to wait. True, they can live longer, but I don't think that means they all do (judging from birth-death stats in various places that are canon), I think it's more like how in the real world, people can live to be 104. Doesn't make it common, it's just possible.
zyprexia From: zyprexia Date: August 10th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

excellent

nice work, although now i'm dreading how it's going to come together. what's remus doing during all of this? are they coordinating with him to plan the escape? miscommunication would be horrible about now .. >_<

i think it's almost worse that we know in what direction of it will end, according to canon, and now all i can think about is how you're going to make it work. O_o

when does harry walk into an invisible tonks at hogwarts? that seemed near, although i could be mistaken.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: excellent

Well, she's not invisible, just distracted. And hmm. Don't know what you mean.
26 comments or Leave a comment