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Shades, Chapter 36: Interlude (9): The Top Side of the World, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 36: Interlude (9): The Top Side of the World, pt. 3
After transformation, Remus finds Dumbledore waiting... with an undercover teaching job. Remus is to substitute in three schools in villages where Riddle may have visited the seaside as a child, and listen for the children's gossip. He is to reassume his "Raymond Lewis" identity, and Kingsley has obtained references from Roger Blythe at Smeltings. Commenters guessed right about why I added that. ;)

BTW, I am quite aware that all three villages I mention in here aren't real. They are utterly made up. If Rowling can make up Little Whinging in the perfectly Muggle world, I can make up Harrington-on-Sea. So there. ;p

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Ted Tonks offered to loan Remus a few suits, but the thought of actually wearing Dora's father's clothes was somewhat repulsive, so, instead, Remus went to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place, to gather up the tiny collection of clothes he'd accumulated last year. They were in a trunk in the third floor guest room--the room Sirius had offered to Remus and Dora, the room where he'd been taken to recover last month, the room where... He avoided looking at the bed, or thinking of the warm smoothness of Dora's skin, or the not-quite-gentle pressure of her nails pressed into the flesh of his back. It would do no good to think of those things.

Instead, he Transfigured the trunk into a suitcase, carried it out to Ted's car, and put it in the boot. He got into the passenger seat, and Ted gave him an unreadable glance from behind the wheel. They were quiet as he drove them out of London, and it wasn't until they were halfway to the sea that Ted took a deep breath and said, "I know what happened, Remus."

Remus looked out the window at passing countryside, which was suddenly deeply interesting. "Dora told you?"

"She didn't need to."

"You scried it?"

"I didn't need to."

"Oh."

"It's not all right."

Remus turned to him. "I beg your pardon?"

"It's not all right. Andi doesn't know, and I'm not going to tell her, because I don't think she'd tolerate it. I'm doing my level best, because I know my daughter, and I know it's as likely to be her as you that pushed things. More likely, actually," he admitted. "But she's worse than she's been all year, and even Dumbledore is worried about how she's behaving."

"I'm sorry," Remus said, and it sounded quite pathetic to his ears. "I don't know what to do to help her. Every time I see her, I seem to hurt her again."

"So your natural choice was to abandon her entirely." Ted deftely maneuvered the car into the right lane. "It's Torchester first," he said. "The call came when Dumbledore was barely out the door. They need an art teacher for a week. It should be right up your alley."

"Ted--"

He turned onto a new road, then continued to turn, pulling the car into the car park of a tiny shop. He slammed on the brakes and sat at the wheel, gripping it tightly, his jaw clenched. "It's not all right," he said again. "If you want to stop hurting her than stop hurting her."

"I've tried--"

"You've tried to run away." He peered intently through the window at gull who was making a meal out of someone's dropped sandwich. "When I looked after you that year, after James and Lily died, I remember you telling me that you felt there was no one left who wanted you around, or would care if you stopped being around. I thought you'd learnt better since."

"I know she cares for me, but she shouldn't. There's nothing... I'm nothing. I have nothing."

Ted closed his eyes and pressed his thumb and forefinger against the bridge of his nose for a moment, then opened them and re-started the car. He pulled out of the car park and back onto the main road. "Dumbledore found you a flat in Harrington-on-Sea with a more likely address for these three schools. It's an easy enough distance from Torchester and Draedway that no one will question it. Don't ask me how he found it; seaside flats aren't easy to get. But you know Dumbledore. I suppose he'll have a telephone for you before your next assignment."

"I--"

"I gave Dora your address."

With that pronouncement, he stepped on the accelerator and drove the rest of the way to the run-down village of Harrington-on-Sea without further comment. The flat Dumbledore had found was the upper story of a yellow house with peeling paint. Remus could see a lace curtain in one window, and was not in the least surprised to see a thin, pale hand drawing it closed. Before he had even got out of the car, Dora had come out of the ground level entrance, her hands in the pockets of her jeans. "You're late," she said to her father.

"He insisted on a sidetrip," Ted said, opening his door. Dora came around to the passenger side and looked in at Remus. She looked a bit low and too thin, and he expected her to make some comment about... what, exactly, he could not imagine. But he did not expect her to say softly, "Do your appearance charms before you get out of the car. We have visitors."

"What?"

She leaned across and hissed, "Dad!"

Ted bent back to the window and looked across the interior of the car at her. "What is it?"

"Go along with whatever I say when we go in. I told them that my dad was bringing 'Raymond,' so that should be all right. Remember, they know Mum. They think she's a bit of a flake, but they know her."

"And who, exactly, are you meant to be?"

Dora grinned sheepishly. "I wasn't thinking on my feet very well. I just told them my name was Dora. Then I had to say I was named after my dear old aunt--Aunt Narcissa will love that, won't she? So I'm still Dora. Only Mum also has a sister named Dora." She turned her head slightly to look at Remus. "I'd just got here when they came knocking. I couldn't morph. I told them that 'Aunt Dora' was still in Australia and you were back for a family emergency that was taking longer to sort out than you'd expected. I hate lying to them. I hate it. And I hate Alan being polite to me."

"Alan! You don't mean Alan Garvey?" Remus floundered, his head spinning. Garvey had shared his office space at Smeltings last year, and they'd become friends, as much as it was possible to be friends while telling enormous lies about oneself.

"Alan," Dora confirmed. "And Anna. And Joe and Miriam. Blythe told them you were back in the country, and they decided to accost you to see why you didn't say hello."

Remus gulped and did his appearance charms as well as he could remember them--fully gray hair, slightly wavy. He'd worn a beard last year, but he opted against it this time. And... something else.

"Specs," Dora said, pointing at her eyes. "They had gold rims."

Remus Conjured the plain glasses and put them on. "What should I tell them?"

"That your communication skills leave a bit to be desired." She gave him a weary smile as he got out of the car. "Come on. It's actually good to see them again, and Joe brought cards."

The entrance flew open again, and Anna Garvey burst out of it, dressed in a pale green sundress and a floppy hat, even though the day was cool and cloudy. She threw her arms around Remus and kissed his cheek. "Oh, it is good to see you. We worried when you dropped off the face of the earth. Gravity really isn't meant to let you do that, you know."

"Oh, well, I--"

But before Remus could stammer anything out, Alan was outside, shaking his hand. "Lewis! Damned good to see you."

Stunned and a bit wrong-footed, Remus let them lead him inside while Dora introduced them all to Ted, who was looking nearly as uncomfortable as Remus felt.

The flat was furnished sparsely, but Dora seemed to have set up a card table, and they took their seats in beach chairs around it. Miriam Levinson, the wife of Joe Levinson, for whom Remus had allegedly been substituting last year, picked up a picnic basket from beside her chair and started to hand out sandwiches. "I thought you mightn't have had time to shop," she said crisply.

"Cards?" Joe asked, shuffling a deck.

"Oh, no," Anna said. "First, I want to know how Dora is! And don't skimp."

"The man can talk about his wife while he's playing a hand of cards," Joe said.

"Raymond?" Alan said, rolling his eyes. "He can talk about his wife while doing just about anything. I swear I heard all about her macramé while he was marking essays on the Black Death." He took the deck from Joe and started to deal, then stopped. "Odd number. We can't play bridge. What's the game?"

The distraction, much to Remus's relief, veered the conversation away from making up a story about where the ebullient Dora Lewis was and how she was doing in Australia. Last year, Dora--the real one--would have started spinning an elaborate story that undoubtedly would have ended with one-on-one combat with a dingo, but this year, she seemed as eager to get off the subject as Remus did. They finally settled on whist, and played for a few hours. Dora finally came up with a thin story about her "aunt" doing a great deal of traveling and seeing things she always wanted to see, and Remus fleshed out the "family emergency" with garbled details about the conflict over Sirius's will, though of course he didn't use anyone's real name. Ted was called upon for information on Andromeda, who had impressed Joe mightily last year, and he did well enough under pressure. It was long after dark before they left, Remus finally begging off with the very real excuse that he needed to make lesson plans for his first day as the Torchester art teacher. He stood with Ted and Dora at the window and watched his old friends go, wishing it was all different, wishing he could have spent the day with them with no lies, and wishing he were going to be at Smeltings tomorrow in his ugly, cozy office, with an evening at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place to look forward to--having a mulled mead with Sirius, joking with Dora, listening to Walburga Black scream her curses.

But it wasn't to be.

They watched the car back away, Alan at the wheel. Just before it hit the road, Anna leaned out the window and called, "We're stalking you, Raymond! We'll be back!"

Remus shook his head.

Alan leaned out the other window. "Welcome back to the top side of the world!"
19 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: September 21st, 2006 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, this chapter makes me want to cry. But I'm glad I was still awake for it. Poor Remus... and poor Dora too.
shadowturquoise From: shadowturquoise Date: September 21st, 2006 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! My favorite OCs are back! I've really missed the Smeltings bunch. I love the way they manhandle "Raymond" into being sociable.

I was also glad to see that Ted is at the end of his rope with Remus. It's a shame that canon requires Remus to remain stubborn for a few months longer, the angst is killing me and I devour any time bit of camaraderie you throw at us. I hope you plan on a loooooooong and eventful passage to cover the time from the hospital scene until the funeral.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 21st, 2006 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Mr. Lewis/Lupin, you have friends whether you want them or not! So there!

As for Ted, for a person who (I'm assuming) hasn't been diving into Dumbledore's penseive, he did a remarkable impersonation of Morfin. "You're not welcome" and "It's not all right" seem incredibly similar under the circumstances. I loved his advice as well (momentary disorientation as I imagine Ted doing family therapy with the Gaunts). I liked his comment on Andromeda, crisp, to the point, and avoiding all of the graphic details of what Andromeda would do to Remus if she found it.

Most of all, I loved the solution he offered Remus. If he wants to stop hurting Dora, he should STOP hurting her. All this time, I've been thinking of hitting Remus with a blunt object. Ted just cut to the chase.

Ellen
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: September 21st, 2006 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
YAY!!! You brought back the Garveys and everybody!!

I mean, poor Dora...and really, I wish Ted would rip into Remus. But it's great to see old familiar faces!
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: September 21st, 2006 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved the conversation between Ted and Remus - the matter of fact way he switched between telling Remus some needed home truths, and briefing him on the situation.

The Smeltings bunch obviously are wasted on teaching and should be on MI6's payroll - but it's lovely to see them again.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 21st, 2006 09:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Well, you did make me cry.

Unlike the 1st post it didn't just make me want to cry...I actually did cry. I love the end most as Remus stands
with Ted and Dora at the window and watched his old friends go, wishing it was all different, wishing he could have spent the day with them with no lies, and wishing he were going to be at Smeltings tomorrow in his ugly, cozy office, with an evening at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place to look forward to--having a mulled mead with Sirius, joking with Dora, listening to Walburga Black scream her curses.


It made me cry because this showed how much we should try to enjoy what we have when we have it...Last year Remus didn't always want to go back to Number Twelve...but now that things are that much worse, what he wouldn't give to have those moments back.

And as his mind is wishing for what can't be...He hears the friends he tried to throw away hanging on to him...I hope this helps Remus realize that Dora is not the only one who loves him. Even though he and Dora lied about there names they were still themselves and made friends that seem to be willing to take the time and effort to not just let Remus/Raymond and Dora/Dora get away.

Fern this is one of those moments that is an example of how good you are. You have the ability to make us feel and maybe even learn through a blend of JKR's characters and your OC's. The way you have of weaving through canon makes your stories seem the best plausible story for our other favorite characters.

I also like the way Ted has to try to control himself but still tells Remus how wrong headed he is being. Even reminding him of how far back he has regressed bringing up James and Lily. Since Ted and Dora are left alone with Remus after the Smeltings crowd leave I wonder weather Ted will be able to resist or will he give both Remus and Dora a bit more of a talking to. And since Ted believes Dora to be just as responsible as Remus I wonder what he would say.

Thanks again for a wonderful update,

Katsulas
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: September 21st, 2006 10:29 am (UTC) (Link)
The Smeltings teachers! Its great to see them again.

I loved Ted's conversation with Remus. Especially the 'stop hurting her' line.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 21st, 2006 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Go Ted! Remus does need someone to knock it into his thick skull ... I'm always impatient with him whenever he makes all his excuses to stay away from Dora. I'm glad to see that her father can see what's best for them both!

I wish Dora did have time to morph ... I would've liked to see Dora Lewis again, though under the circumstances, things probably wouldn't be as cheerful as before. But Miriam and Joe and Anna and Alan were fantastic, and thank you for bringing them back, even if its only a one-time appearance!

~shiiki
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: September 21st, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Garveys and Levinsons...They don't realise how they're torturing their friend...Poor Remus, too. Is it wrong that I want to give him a hug?
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 21st, 2006 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
"If you want to stop hurting her than stop hurting her."

then
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 21st, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whist? For 7? I never knew.

I love how awkward you portray everyone. When you said "flat-footed" you then made the entire scene work in the same fashion, but without a single hint of bad writing.

You're a pro, Fern.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: September 21st, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Just caught a typo

deftely: deftly
miseri From: miseri Date: September 21st, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, as others have said before, it's good to see the old crowd from Smeltings back again. I wonder if Miriam doesn't get an odd sense of deja vu from talking to Tonks as she is now.

Also:

"...the upper storey of a yellow house...", not "...story...".

"If you want to stop hurting her then stop hurting her."

I don't actually know anything concrete about Whist, but I was under the impression that, like Bridge, it was a 4-person game. I could be wrong.

From: (Anonymous) Date: September 21st, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Bridge and whist are both 4 player games (though, if you're not too fussy you can play whist with three using a "dummy") but you have to deal to 4 people even if one of them isn't really there. If they are regular bridge players, they wouldn't have to stop and think about the numbers after dealing. Having four players is so integral to the game, the question would be raised before dealing. It would be possible to play Black Lady (Black Widow) but the number of cards would have to go round evenly (take out 2 of diamonds and clubs if there are 5 players, plus 3 of diamonds if 7).

It was lovely to see the Smeltings people back in the story. They were always such fun. Poor Dora not being able to be "herself" with them.
purebristles From: purebristles Date: September 21st, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Work has kept me away for two weeks, but now I'm back, and more in love with your characters than ever! Alan and Miriam and the gang are back - with threats of stalking! Excellent stuff!
dalf From: dalf Date: September 22nd, 2006 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
That Ted and Remus talk was perfect. When I complained that the Remus/Dora argument was getting old I was not sure what was needed. But, I think you hit it perfectly. It was a logical progression of the .... situation ... but one that does not lead to premature resolution. That is the hardest part I think is that it was starting to feel like you were trying very hard to not resolve the situation before cannon did, but without keeping them appart. Only its hard to write so many scenes with both of them and not resolve it since it has not changed for so many chapters. This was perfect though. I am not sure where it will/should go next but I have faith.
lyras From: lyras Date: September 22nd, 2006 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
...and I am caught up.

How lovely to see the Garveys and the Levinsons again! I've missed that part of Remus's life more than I realised. And as others have said, that long paragraph near the end is beautifully done.
alexandramuses From: alexandramuses Date: September 23rd, 2006 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi again - I can't seem to get to part 2 of this chapter! It's not listed on the 19th...
keestone From: keestone Date: February 11th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I just came across this poem, and found it somewhat apropos considering I've been rereading Shifts and Shades. Thanks again for giving us such a good read.

10. The Cruel Moon. Graves, Robert. 1918. Fairies and Fusiliers:
Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

The Cruel Moon


THE CRUEL Moon hangs out of reach
Up above the shadowy beech.
Her face is stupid, but her eye
Is small and sharp and very sly.
Nurse says the Moon can drive you mad?
No, that’s a silly story, lad!
Though she be angry, though she would
Destroy all England if she could,
Yet think, what damage can she do
Hanging there so far from you?
Don’t heed what frightened nurses say:
Moons hang much too far away.
19 comments or Leave a comment