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Shades, Chapter 38: Bloodstained, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 38: Bloodstained, pt. 3
Tonks has just attended the cup match at Hogwarts; Remus couldn't because he was tutoring. Leaves had been appearing randomly, and she'd been ignoring them, until a small tornado of them ends up hitting her in the face, and she realizes that she needs to go into the Forbidden Forest because someone there wants a word with her.

Starting over, because the old version sucked rocks.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"You can' go in there!" Hagrid said, running to catch up with Tonks as she headed for the Forbidden Forest. "Aragog's family's no' takin' visitors well!"

"I'll handle them, Hagrid," she said through clenched teeth, not sure whether she was frightened by the urgent summons or annoyed at the presumption of it.

Hagrid swore a bit, fading into the background, then ran forward in stomping thunder. "I go' yer back," he said.

Tonks flashed a smile over her shoulder and ducked into the shadows of the Forbidden Forest. She was barely over the line of the protective spell that kept the more dangerous creatures away from the students when the first acromantula dropped from the trees. She Banished it, and it crashed into a tree across the clearing. Hagrid beat off another two.

"You have to get rid of these," she hissed.

"Where would I put 'em that'd be safer?"

Tonks had no answer, and she charged deeper into the Forest, listening for the sounds of the stream. It didn't take long--the Lady wasn't being subtle today--and only a moment after she first heard it, the shockingly cold water was burbling over her trainers. She looked down and had time to see a silver fish swim through the loop in the laces, and then she was in the cold embrace, under the glittering surface, in the darkness.

There was, of course, no way to tell how long it was before she blinked in the bright sunlight of the glade, but she was willing to guess that the Lady hadn't let her sleep long. Hagrid was still asleep beside her, and she reached over to wake him up.

"Let him sleep."

Tonks stopped and looked up. The Lady was standing in the water, her green gown pooled on the surface. She glided forward and glanced at Hagrid. "I thought he would be safer here."

"Yes, thank you."

The Lady stepped onto dry land and walked past Tonks, indicated with a nod that Tonks should follow. She climbed the hill to the oak tree and knelt beside the sleeping lion. There was a pool of water caught in the roots of the tree.

Tonks knelt beside her. "This is where you've been teaching Vivian to watch?"

"Yes." The Lady passed her hand over the pool. "I've been watching young Vivian. When will she come back to me?"

Tonks frowned. "We'll talk about it when the war is over. I don't suppose you've seen that?"

The Lady gave her an odd half-smile. "I don't claim to see the future with any clarity. A glimpse here, a dream there. I can tell you that, in the end, good will prevail. I can't tell you how, or what it will look like, or if it will be tomorrow or in a century. Or two. I can tell you that there is something glorious remaining here in the land, but I couldn't explain what it is, or if you'll be here to see it. I certainly can't tell you what will happen in the next two years, before it's time for young Vivian to come to school." She smiled ruefully. "I'm afraid I've come to miss her."

"You could go there to her."

"I can't leave this place, and it belongs to this land."

Tonks nodded, not wanting to engage this particular subject. "You called me here about Vivian?"

"No." She reached up and plucked a leaf from the tree, then passed it over the surface of the pool. "There are many things I can't see," she said, and leaned back to show Tonks the pool. She could see Vivian and Evvie sitting in the meadow near Valeska's sanctuary, gossiping happily. The Lady pointed to an area above them that at first seemed merely dark, but the longer Tonks looked at it, the more she realized what it was: a spreading bloodstain. The Lady raised her eyebrows. "You see it?"

"What is it?"

"More and more is obscured. I can't see Fenrir Greyback, or your Dark Lord, or anyone under his protection. But I can see that the shadow is reaching out for Vivian. That was when I first called you. But it wasn't close, so it wasn't urgent. I looked further. I couldn't find what what was happening. Someone was looking for her. For all of them. And then I realized--you were too softhearted."

"I beg your pardon?"

"You didn't kill them, and you didn't go back to arrest them."

"Who?"

Impatiently, she drew her hand over the pool again, and this time Tonks saw a dilapidated building in a run-down village. There was an alley with a dustbin at the end, and a small figure crouched beside it.

"Who--"

But the figure looked up, and Tonks knew.

The woman might have been pretty once, in a world where she wasn't too thin or too dirty, where her clothes weren't ragged and her teeth weren't filed to sharp points that showed when she smiled. As she was smiling now, looking off into the distance at something.

"Mina."

The Lady nodded. "She's not alone. All the women have left. They aren't under the protection of the shadow; they're operating on their own. And they're looking for the children. They know with whom the children left."

Two more women appeared from the alley, one chewing on a piece of what appeared to be rubbish. Mina turned her unpleasant smile in that direction, and said something that Tonks couldn't hear.

"Where are they?"

"That's why I needed you. I saw it this morning."

The image suddenly moved outward at a dizzying speed, showing a broken-down town not far from the sea. There was a park. A middle-aged couple was watching a small girl play on the swings, and at a table in the shade...

Tonks's heart stopped.

Remus was leaning over a picnic table, across from an older girl who was chewing on a pencil, struggling through her sums, utterly unaware that there was danger nearby.

"Draedway," Tonks said. "He's tutoring. He said he was tutoring. They knew he was coming..."

The Lady shook her head. "No, I don't think so. I think it's mere serendip--"

But Tonks wasn't interested. She stood up and headed for the lake. "Take me back. Take Hagrid and me back. I need to get there. Right now." She stopped. "Thank you. I should say... thank you. But I need to get there. Unless you have a quicker way?"

"I'm sorry. I don't."

"Can you get the stream closer to the edge of the school?"

She nodded, and there was a flurry of activity that Tonks understood very little of, with the exception of waking Hagrid long enough to be dunked back under the water of the lake. A moment later, they emerged from the running stream, just inside the wall that marked the boundary of the school, near McGonagall's gate. Tonks had nearly forgotten about it, but it came back to her. She placed her hands on the stones and let the arch open. As she turned back to signal for Hagrid to go through ahead of her, she saw the Lady's hand sinking beneath the surface as the stream retreated into the depths of the Forest.

"Wha's happening?" Hagrid asked.

"Can you Apparate?"

"No' so well."

"Then take my arm. I think I may need some help."

She held out her arm and felt Hagrid's great hand close around it. Her wand gripped tightly in one hand, ready to cast any spell she needed to upon arrival, she Apparated.

The smell of the sea hit her first, then the tang of the cool wind coming off of it. She was dimly aware of Hagrid letting go of her.

"Wha's happening?" he asked.

Tonks squinted down what passed for a high street in Draedway. It was lined by broken-down buildings and ancient, dusty cars. Tonks could see the alley, but it was empty now--Mina and her friends had already moved on.

"Wands out," Tonks said.

"I'm not exactly quali--"

"I'm not going to arrest you." She stopped. "Look, there are some of Greyback's people nearby. Keep your eyes open."

She looked around, trying to get her bearings and remember where the little park lay. There'd been a hill... she remembered that much. But the high street ran along the bottom of a hill as the land sloped down to the sea cliffs, and it could have been anywhere as she faced inland. Little roads wound up through the village. No signs pointed the way.

A door banged open and a little boy sulked out of it, looking over his shoulder at an incoherent scolding that was coming from behind him (it sounded like Auntie on one of her bad days at Grimmauld Place). Tonks caught him by the shoulder. "Is there a park here?" she asked.

He pointed dumbly up the hill.

"Which street?"

"Any street. They all go there." He slumped and sat down hard on his front steps. "Nothing's there, though."

The loud scolding began again, and Tonks was momentarily torn by a desire to go inside and punch the screeching woman in the mouth for talking to her child that way, but if Mina and the women had already started for the park, there was no time to settle a domestic problem.

Tonks bit her lip, nodded to Hagrid, and headed for the nearest of the climbing streets.

She'd just spotted a gate to the park when the screaming began.
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Comments
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redlily From: redlily Date: October 4th, 2006 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
EEEEE!!

I was willing myself to read as fast as I could all through this. The suspense!!
kinderjedi From: kinderjedi Date: October 4th, 2006 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no. I hope they get there in time.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 4th, 2006 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
You're incredible! The tension doesn't let up, does it? Terrific new segment.

Maureen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 5th, 2006 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
The tension doesn't let up, does it?
We're heading up to the end now!
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 4th, 2006 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)
AaaHHHHH!

Ok no more meds for you ;-P

Your killing me, the suspense...it's nerve racking.

Katsulas
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 5th, 2006 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Ok no more meds for you ;-P
I'm sure a firmly worded note to my sinuses will do the trick. ;)
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: October 4th, 2006 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Nasty cliffhanger - have you been saving them up?

I'm glad that Vivian has come to mean as much to the Lady as vice versa, and yay! for Hagrid being so brave and just the right person to have along.

Looking forward to the next post (as always).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 5th, 2006 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Hagrid's not my favorite character, but going into the Forbidden Forest? Yeah, he's the one I'd want along!
lucathia_rykatu From: lucathia_rykatu Date: October 4th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh darn. Wish Tonks had noticed the leaves earlier!

Heh, it would have been nice if Tonks had time to punch that screeching woman!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 5th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, it would have been nice if Tonks had time to punch that screeching woman!

Well, she can always go back to 12GP and take it out on Mrs. Black's portrait...
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: October 4th, 2006 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah! Wonderful cliffhanger! I loved the combination of the Lady's urgency and lack of sense of time. To her knowledge, the attack could have been happening any time after now; Tonks will be kicking herself for not acting faster (presuming she's not half-dead in St. Mungo's).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 5th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved the combination of the Lady's urgency and lack of sense of time.

Oh, I'm glad that came off all right. I think that someone who is quasi immortal and living in an almost literally timeless place is doing pretty well to have an intellectual understanding of urgency... but it does mean that scenes with her can be frustratingly non-urgent!
beceh From: beceh Date: October 4th, 2006 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhhh cliff hanger!!! I hope you get the next installment out soon *bites nails*
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 4th, 2006 11:23 am (UTC) (Link)
You are evil!
weaselsu From: weaselsu Date: October 4th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my! I'm so excited! I love how Hagrid is the one helping but I do hope you update soon!!! You love keeping people in suspence don't you?
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 4th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aah - Just when we thought the werewolf danger had finally ended! At least I can't see any way of Mina figuring out where the pups are, but that doesn't seem to be stopping her from causing a lot of trouble in trying to find out! And of course, if anything happens to the girl Remus is tutoring, he's just going to have another reason for self-loathing... Update soon!
-Cara
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: October 4th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my God! And here I thought not much was going to happen until the battle at Hogwarts...
lyras From: lyras Date: October 5th, 2006 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Me too! Argh, what a cliffhanger :).
sannalim From: sannalim Date: October 4th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aaaaaaugh! Remus! the children! I hope Tonks gets there quickly enough that she and Remus together can stave off Mina and her pack....
From: lianna_blanca Date: October 4th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damn, you DO have a talent for keeping me on the edge of my seat.

By the way, I like seeing Hagrid prepared to fight with a wand rather than brute force; it suits his personality a lot better. Randomly, I wonder if he took a kwikspell course after expulsion (perhaps under a false identity... though maybe that's too subtle for Hargid); the famous trio aside, I can't imagine anyone being very effective in a fight armed only with spells learned in one's first three years.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 4th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
At the risk of telegraphing one of the story's most amusing plot points, you might want to read After the Rain's "Correspondance Course," in which teenage Remus and Sirius become Kwikspell instructors.
From: bangcollision Date: October 5th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I am so excited and worried about this. Right when it gets near to a lull, all the energy goes back up! I am on the edge of my seat about this.

Slight nitpick, not grammar or anything:

"I'm not exactly quali--"

I really doubt Hagrid would be saying "qualified" in the way I see his vocabulary, but I really could be mistaken. It's just a matter of opinion, but again, WONDERFUL installment.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 5th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
It probably should be "I ain't...", but I think that "Qualified" is a status that he'd have heard often enough (in the negative, in regards to himself) that it would be in his vocab.
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