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Shades, Chapter 31: Comfort Food, pt 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 31: Comfort Food, pt 3
On Remus's birthday, he and Tonks, accompanied by Sweet, go to France to look in on the preparations for the werewolves. They speak to Fiona, who agrees to supervise guarding the egress point in the Forbidden Forest, and who asks Tonks to find her a dozen people to keep the pups in check until moonset. She is dubious about Remus's part of the plan, which he sprung into the conversation without running it by Tonks ahead of time--he plans to avoid looking at the moon until the kids have been sent through, then just wander the forest all night after Tonks destroys the gate. Tonks tells him that he should go through as well, but he doesn't answer her.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




For the next hour, Tonks, Remus, and Fiona worked out details of the plan, making up contingency plans, and nailing down what they would need. Valeska joined them after forty minutes, and agreed to be on Fiona's team. Tonks thought she looked excited, like she hoped Greyback would give her a chance to stretch her talons.

Roald Crowler called everyone to lunch around two o'clock, and Tonks settled in beside Remus. Vivian and Electa ate together, sitting on the floor of Fiona's house and talking about things that were only of interest to little girls. Electa proudly showed Vivian her collection of dolls.

"This one is from Gabrielle, and Migno made that one for me, and this is my favorite..."

Vivian bit her lip. "I used to have a doll."

"You don't now?"

Vivian shook her head. "I think I may be too old."

Electa frowned and examined her dolls, pulling out the one she'd identified as her favorite. "You may have this one," she said. "And we can be friends. And you can have Gabrielle for a friend, too. She'll like you."

Vivian smiled and took the doll, then gave it back. "I can't," she said. "I don't have anywhere to put a doll."

"Perhaps you can play with her when you come to live here," Tonks suggested.

Vivian gave her a strange little smile, then said, "Did you have dolls?"

"Did I have dolls?" Tonks asked. "Oh, did I have dolls. I still have my dolls. They live at my parents' house now."

"I don't have a parents' house," Vivian said, and Tonks felt small. She felt Remus's warm hand on her shoulder, squeezing it. Vivian noticed nothing out of the ordinary, and went back to playing stiffly with Electa's dolls.

Electa sat and watched her, legs crossed and chin rested in her hands. Suddenly, she reached forward and poked at Vivian's filigree mask. "Why do you wear that?"

"It's pretty. My friend gave it to me."

"I don't have a mask like that. Could I try it on?"

Vivian shook her head, and Tonks could see her shoulders curling in, creating a defensive ball. "I can't take it off."

"It's stuck there?"

Fiona stood up. "That's quite enough, Electa. Why don't you help your father wash the dishes?"

Electa stood up, pouting, then reached down and grabbed the doll she'd offered Vivian. She stomped to the kitchen.

Tonks went and sat on the floor beside Vivian, who was walking a doll along the edge of the rug. "Electa's a couple of years younger than you. She doesn't understand."

"I miss Evvie."

"She misses you, too. Do you know that she helped my mother and me the other day? She was very brave. I'm sure that Electa will be your friend in time. This sort of thing passes."

Vivian looked at the floor for a long time, walking the doll back and forth in lopsided arcs. "Greyback brought Evvie to be my friend," she said. "I said I wanted one and he brought me one. She would be normal if it weren't for me."

"And both of you would be perfectly fine if it weren't for Greyback."

Vivian sighed, then stood up and went to the kitchen door. "You can try it if you want," she said.

Electa left the sink eagerly and held out her hand.

Vivian took off the mask, and Tonks braced herself for a scream from Electa. It didn't come. Electa barely looked at Vivian's mangled face, just delightedly taking the mask and putting it over her own face. "Am I pretty?" she asked.

Vivian nodded. "All girls are pretty. Though I'm prettier with half my face covered."

Electa agreed without any particular judgment, then went to a mirror to look at herself in Vivian's mask.

Tonks relaxed, glad to see that Electa had been so forgiving of Vivian's scarred face--children were often cruel--until she looked up and saw the look of frozen horror on Roald's and Fiona's. Luckily, Vivian wasn't looking at them.

"Excuse me, Fiona," Remus said softly. "Would you mind watching Vivian for a moment while I talk to Tonks?"

Fiona forced the expression from her face and smiled. "Of course. I'd be happy to."

Remus nodded to Tonks, and walked her to the back door. They went out into a sharply canted meadow that led to a low wall. Tonks went to sit on it and was surprised to see a chasm just beyond it. "That's not safe," she said. "The children could climb on this, and..."

"I'm sure Fiona's taken precautions," Remus said. He sat down across from her and took her hands. "You're kind to Vivian," he said. "But she needs to learn what to do when people look at her like that. She was doing fine."

"Did you ever just wish you could give your power to someone else? I'd give up morphing entirely if she could hide those ghastly scars." She smiled. "Though at the rate I'm going this year, I suppose I wouldn't have that much to give."

"You'll morph again when you're ready."

"What did you want to talk about?"

Remus thought about this for a very long time, then said, "Vivian isn't ever going to come live with us."

"I know."

"You don't need to--"

Tonks let go of his hands and stood up. "It's not about you, you arrogant bastard. I'm worried about her. The fact that I only know her because of you doesn't mean I can't have feelings about her independent of you."

Remus blinked at her, looking surprised. "I didn't mean..."

"Like hell you didn't. I think we should go back to Hogsmeade now."

Remus looked down and nodded. "All right."

Tonks felt a familiar twist of her stomach. "I'm sorry," she said. "It's your birthday. I shouldn't--"

Remus rolled his eyes. "If I'm being an ass, my birthday is no excuse not to call me on it."

"Peace, then?"

Remus grinned, raised his wand, and etched a peace sign in twinkling stars in the mountain air.

"You're not old enough to have done that spell."

"I learned it first year. From your dad."

Tonks laughed. "Far out," she said. "Come on, let's collect Vivian. You take her back to the house. I'll stop in London and get something birthday-like to eat."




Vivian stayed with them for dinner, and the three of them had a good enough evening together, if nothing particularly memorable. Vivian ducked back into the Forbidden Forest, insisting that she go by herself--"the spiders don't come after me"--and Tonks went home with no kiss or caress.

She spent the next week looking at the Order members, trying to decide who would be willing if she were to ask for an extra favor. Dumbledore himself was investigating something that repeatedly took him away, so she didn't even request his assistance (though she used her guard duty at Hogwarts to talk to both McGonagall and Hagrid; McGonagall suggested that she include Snape, but Remus, who had come along that night, pointed out that Snape was unlikely to be receptive to the idea of risking his life for the sake of werewolves). Mum and Dad agreed so quickly that Tonks regretted asking them, waking up in a cold sweat after nightmares of Greyback's pups ripping them to shreds. Bill and Fleur, Arthur and Molly.

Tonks was glad that Valeska had volunteered by herself; looking at her selection, it was beginning to resemble the passenger list of Noah's Ark, going in two-by-two-by-two.

Sanjiv agreed to come. Daffy and Maddie flipped a coin, and Maddie joined the group. In order to convince Remus to actually use the gate rather than waiting for Greyback to come after him in the forest, Tonks had to promise there would be thirteen guards, so she asked the Weasley twins if they could break themselves away from the shop for an evening of defying a Death Eater. They were quite keen on the prospect when she phrased it like that. Molly pursed her lips and went white when she realized that three of her sons would be involved in the matter, but she said nothing.

The only night they were all able to meet was Sunday, less than a week before the full moon, which made Tonks nervous, but there was nothing to be done for it.

The younger Order members arrived promptly at tea time, and Remus made quite a production of entertaining them (somewhat to Tonks's amusement). Hagrid and McGonagall were able to slip out after making an appearance in the Great Hall. Valeska and Fiona were held up in France, but arrived before five o'clock, nearly on top of Molly. They were all settling into the parlor to talk when Remus glanced out the back window and looked up with some surprise. "Arthur's here," he said. "Along with Kingsley Shacklebolt!"

Tonks got up and looked out toward the road. "It is Kingsley," she said, though she supposed his polished, bald head should have been enough to identify him. He looked queerly comfortable in his Muggle suit and tie these days.

Remus went out to the garden and let them in; Tonks saw Arthur hold up a hand, and wasn't surprised when he came into the house and said, "Kingsley has some news for the order."
16 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: tonkstipied Date: August 16th, 2006 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Awww

You want to kill me... sigh... I gotta go to work and you leave us all there hanging... sigh.
Great as always, what else could I say? Thanks a million for great writing. AND PLOTTING!
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: August 16th, 2006 09:16 am (UTC) (Link)
It's getting so exciting! I can't wait for the next installment.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 16th, 2006 12:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Greyback brought Evvie to be my friend," she said. "I said I wanted one and he brought me one. She would be normal if it weren't for me."

Poor Vivian! That's an awful guilt trip to lay on a child. I hope it doesn't poison there friendship - on either side.

I presume the peace symbol is the same as the CND symbol. In which case the "you're too young" comment doesn't work in the UK context. For my generation (and consequently Remus's, as we are only a couple of years apart) it had very strong associations with protests against nuclear weapon depots and US military camps in Britain, especially Greenham Common. These protests were at their pinnacle in the very late seventies and early eighties (protest camps at military sites and marches in London etc) so Remus would have been very aware of the symbol if he followed muggle news. You could argue too magical but not too young. There was a very strong fear, even if ungrounded, that the USA believed it could survive a full-scale war against the USSR but would happily sacrifice Western Europe, including us, so the symbol really did have a lot of resonance for my age group.

Loved the episode and sorry to sound so Brit-picky (or is that age-picky?)!

TDU
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 16th, 2006 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks--I totally wouldn't have guessed that timing. I was watching Cold Case (a show about old murder cases that were never solved) while I was writing this, and the presence of that sign on a girl's necklace was enough to narrow down the date to the late sixties. It was still worn into the early seventies, but it's one of those things that's thought of as the very symbol of a particlar decade. You draw it and it means the sixties.

I'll just take out the "too old" comment. And you call it the "CND symbol"? (And yes, according to Wiki, it's the same as the CND.)

he USA believed it could survive a full-scale war against the USSR but would happily sacrifice Western Europe, including us...

Well, France, maybe. ;p

Seriously, the belief here (at least by the '80s) was that no one would survive a nuclear war. As to sacrificing our ancestral homelands (even the aforementioned France) and the continent we'd sent boys over to die on? That's a whole lot of blood in the earth. :blinks: I think Europe doesn't get us.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 16th, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, rationally, we all knew that the USA wouldn't survive it either. However, we weren't totally convinced Reagan knew that and the fear was still there. Nuclear arsenals were on the increase in Britain. There were several of military camps that were nominally British but were, to all effects, American. (We had a camp a few miles from us that was officially Royal Navy, despite been as far from the sea as you can get in England, but was known as "The American Camp" to all the locals). Britain wasn't involved directly in Vietnam so, although there were protests against the USA involvelment, they didn't have the same significance in Britain as they must have had in the USA (though that is something I'm only just old enough to remember). "Greenham Common" would be the thing to look up. There were several peace camps but that was the main one. It was a women only (plus children) camp. Maggie was a very divisive leader. We seemed to be protesting about everything in the early eighties! Including our own "conflict" in the Falklands.

TDU
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 16th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
P.S.

Ye we definitely called it the CND symbol (campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). I hadn't realised that CND had appropriated it from the peace movement and not the other way round. Actually, the first birthday present my (now) husband gave me was a pair of CND earrings!

TDU
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 16th, 2006 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, from the look of the Wiki, it did a boomerang--started as the CND symbol over there in the late fifties, bounced over here and become the generalized peace sign in the 60s, then I guess went back to being CND over yonder.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 16th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
As usual, that was a great installment. Nice touch to make Electa's reaction to Vivian more nonchalant than her parents.

One little detail, though - don't the twins make 15, rather than 13 guards? We have Tonks, Fiona, Valeska, Andromeda, Ted, McGonagall, Hagrid, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Sanjiv, Maddie, Fred, and George. Or are two of them doing something other than helping get the pups (and Remus) through?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 16th, 2006 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tonks is on the other end, in Huntsford, but I miscounted somewhere. Oh, wait. I think it was that Fiona is organizing the whole thing and wanted one person for each werewolf.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: August 16th, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Vivian and Electa slayed me, as I suspect they will continue to do.

I'm getting pretty frightened of what's coming up.

"Bill and Fleur, Arthur and Molly." - this isn't by any chance a note-to-self, is it?
shadowturquoise From: shadowturquoise Date: August 17th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Uh oh. I'm getting really nervous for the children now. For some reason your comment earlier that Vivian isn't where you intended her to be really worries me. But I have to be optimistic because Molly hasn't killed Tonks for involving half her brood, and Sanjiv is in the same room with Remus and hasn't killed him yet.

Shadow
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: August 17th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, dear, I hope Kingsley's news isn't too bad...
I'm looking forward to the next chapter!
aebhel From: aebhel Date: August 17th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
You know that you're murdering your readers wih suspense, right?

Seriously, though, I loved this. I really like the way you handle some seriously tricky character interactions.
From: texasstar7 Date: August 17th, 2006 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh no, i've forgotten the canon parallel with this news from Kingsley. I really am anxious now. This was a great chapter. I loved the stuff with Vivian and Remus in France. I'm wondering though, Remus seems to think Tonks wants Vivian to live with them and perhaps he thinks Vivian is thinking that as well. I was getting the feeling that Vivian is working out something "undercover" with the Lady of the Lake. When she answered Electa strangely about going to live there, I thought it was due to some plan she had of living in the woods with the Lady (or something).

Am I totally off here? Do Remus and Tonks think she wants to live with them? Do they think any of her behavior says that she does?

I may be totally overthinking all of this...

And Remus, the idiot, enjoys home life with Tonks so much. He's such an idiot really. It's obvious how well they work together.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 19th, 2006 09:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I just read the previous ... three segments, I think, in one sitting, because I'm away and haven't been able to get online. And this whole saga is unfolding so brilliantly! I wish I were home so I could go comb HBP to find where you're re-entering canon at this juncture, but as I won't see my books for another month, I'll just have to wait and read!

You're doing a wonderful job, and Vivian's comment about Evvie being brought in to be her friend was really something Greyback would do, and consider it 'caring for his pups' in that twisted way of his. It fits with how you've presented him all the way - being strangely ... paternal, for lack of a better word ... towards Remus. It's creepy, seriously. Greyback is, I mean.

Thanks for the lovely segment. I hope to read more soon!
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 19th, 2006 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)
*doh* forgot to leave a name with my review again. I'm shiiki.
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