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Shades, Chapter 39: Extraction, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter 39: Extraction, pt. 3
Okay, Tonks and Remus are in a bad patch when he is accidentally arrested and she completely blows her stack at her colleagues, humiliating him in front of them (not that he wasn't already acting a little odd before she did it). She doesn't understand her rage, and finally goes to see her parents. Ted gives her a simple explanation of her own behavior, but is concerned about Remus. He has been using his Pensieve to put together articles on his work, and, with a significant look, leaves the room and tells Tonks not to look into it, as there are things he can't discuss with her, though he's already said that he sure wished he could. And yes, they both know it's unethical, but Ted knows Remus won't talk to Tonks and he can't actually volunteer the information. And Yours Truly wanted to tell a story mentioned at one point in Shifts.

Tonks has just dropped into the Pensieve, which is showing her own living room, many years before.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The room she found herself in had changed very little over the years. The threadbare carpet--an inheritance from Granny Tonks--had been replaced and moved to the cellar room where Dad kept electronic equipment, three new bookcases had bee set up, and pictures of Sirius had returned to their prominent places, but in its essence it was the same room she'd just come through. Even Granny was there, barely out of her kittenhood, batting at a tassel on Dad's shoe. He picked her up absently and Tonks thought, My God... were they really so young then?

She'd known intellectualy that her parents had been young, but in her memory--the vision of the strange small girl sleeping on the sofa--they had always been venerable and wise. Now, she could see Mum's rich, full hair and achingly beautiful face. Dad's skin was smooth (except for an outbreak of very late spots on one cheek). It was the year she would have turned nine; Mum and Dad were only a handful of years older than Bill Weasley, and they looked it.

Mum pulled a chair over beside the sofa and stroked the hair of the sleeping child (Tonks did not remember being so insubstantial at that age), careful not to wake her. "I should have made her eat before I let her go to sleep," she said quietly.

"She wasn't the only one who thought Remus was just running late," Dad said. "He's always sent word when he couldn't come for Sunday lunch."

"Still. It's nearly four o'clock. I should have made her eat by one. She barely had anything for breakfast." Irritation flickered over Mum's features. "Where is he? He knows she waits for him. And I don't like her deciding to take a nap. She hasnt' taken an afternoon nap for years."

Dad shrugged; he had always been a bit more sanguine about Tonks's occasional oddities, just as he was with Mum's. "I just hope nothing's happened to him."

Mum paled and stopped stroking little Dora's hair. "They've caught them all, haven't they? Wasn't Bella the last?" She sighed deeply. "Except for the ones they'll never catch, of course."

"That's not what I mean. We haven't seen him since--" Dad frowned down at the child Tonks had been, and Conjured an image of a full moon.

"He's been handling that for a long time."

"I've been waiting for something to snap, Andi."

"Don't you think it would have snapped after what happened to James and Lily and Peter?"

Tonks bit her lip; she'd forgotten how Mum had refused to say Sirius's name for years.

Dad shook his head. "No. That was just grief. We all went through it. It's the part about actually living without them that I've been worried about." He leaned over and kissed Mum's cheek. "I'm going to check on him."

Mum nodded and went back to stroking little Dora's hair. "If he's all right, please give him a piece of my mind."

"If I remember in the midst of giving him a piece of mine." Dad went out to the back garden and went to the Apparition shelter. It was still newish then, and the paint was fresh. There was a disorienting moment of nothing in the world of the Pensieve, then Dad was standing outside a run-down shack near what looked like the entrance to an abandoned mine. He went to the door and hammered on it. "Remus! Lupin, are you in there?"

There was no answer. Dad leaned toward the door, put his ear against it, then drew away, looking troubled. He raised his wand at the door. "Reducto!"

The door burst inward in a rain of splinters and Dad's nose wrinkled at something unpleasant that he was apparently smelling.

"Remus!" he yelled, and rushed toward a dark corner.

Remus was lying on a dirty mattress raised on a cheap wood frame. He was staring listlessly at a spider that was sitting on his pillow. Several red welts on his cheek suggested that the spider was a frequent visitor. His eyes moved slightly toward Dad, but that was his only response.

Dad didn't immediately try to talk to him. Instead, he raised his wand at the wall and muttered, "Fenestra." The wood rearranged itself in a square, letting in the late afternoon sunlight. Remus raised his hand to ward it off. Dad went on through the shack, pointing his wand at clothes and cleaning them, cleaning the mattress around Remus, sending soiled bowls to the sink and setting them to wash. A pile of newspapers flew across the room and landed in a box beside the bed.

By the time he'd finished, there was a second window, and Remus's eyes were less glassy, more alert. Tonks wouldn't have precisely called it a curious expression, but at least it seemed to be taking some interest. Dad Conjured a chair beside the bed and sat down in it.

"Talk to me, Remus."

Remus shrugged and looked out the new window. Tonks realized he had been younger then than she was now, but unlike her parents, his youth wasn't as clearly written on him. There was already a liberal sprinkling of gray in his hair, and he looked positively emaciated.

"Have you been here since moonset?" Dad asked.

After a moment, Remus nodded. "I got breakfast that morning," he said, or croaked--his voice was nearly gone.

Dad Conjured a glass of water and tipped it against his mouth. "That was three days ago," he said.

"Was it?"

"What happened?"

Remus started to say something, then motioned for more water. Dad gave it to him. "I lost my job," he said. "At the Squib school."

"I'm sorry about that."

"I was good at it. Dumbledore thought I would be, and I was. But I was ill. The transformations have been"--he coughed harshly, his body going into spasms--"difficult. They needed someone more reliable. They'll always need someone more reliable." He blinked slowly. "Three days?"

"Yes."

"It's Sunday, then."

"Yes. We worried when you missed lunch. You promised Dora you would write if you couldn't come."

"So I let the lot of you down as well. You're in good company." He rolled over and looked at the wall.

"Does Dumbledore know about the job?"

"I doubt it."

"So do I. I'm sure he would have dragged you out of this bed if he did."

"To do what?" Remus asked. "The war is over. I can't really do anything else."

"Remus, I know you know better than that."

"Do I?" Remus turned over, narrowing his eyes and looking fully awake for the first time. "Tell me, Ted--what exactly am I meant to do? I couldn't even get a Muggle job sweeping floors, because most of them would require being there when the moon is up."

"I heard you talking about all the possibilities. I remember James suggested--"

"James is dead."

"That doesn't mean--"

"Yes it does. Don't you understand? Any of the things I thought I could do, I could only do because James or Sirius swore they could hold doors open for me. It was all a sham. Those doors don't open unless you're human. They may look open. But it's never a question of whether or not they'll slam, just a question of when, and what exactly is going to push them shut. I'd forgotten that. My employer was kind enough to remind me."

"Remus, you can't take every setback as proof that you'll fail."

"Give me some counter-evidence." Remus lay down again and turned over on his side, staring at the wall. "They're right, Ted. That's the problem. They're absolutely right. I can't even be angry."

"Yes, you're doing brilliantly at not being angry," Dad muttered. He rubbed his head. "I'm taking you to St. Mungo's."

"I'm not one of your pa--"

The memory went suddenly blank and white, and Tonks was thrown back into her father's study.

"I put blocks on actual sessions," Dad said behind her.

"But he was all right in the end."

"Your mum has some fruit and tea out. You should come eat."

Tonks watched him go downstairs, wishing she could ask him what he had done to get Remus's head screwed on straight again and wondering what she was meant to get from this--that Remus had a deep streak of loathing for the circumstances his curse had forced upon his life wasn't news to her.

She started down the stairs, feeling empty and a bit annoyed at the waste of time.

He really believes it.

She stopped abruptly on a riser near the middle of the run, one hand on the bannister, the other floating uselessly near her forehead.

She had thought of many things over the course of the year, even considered the idea that Remus believed what he was saying in the same intellectual way that she'd realized her parents had been very young when she was small. But it had never occurred to her, not in any real way, that Remus cared about these things--the jobs, the handicaps of his lycanthropy... she'd thought of them as irritating mental obstacles, inconveniences of life that were imposed by unfair authorities from outside. It was just a question of convincing Remus that he should tell the world to sod off.

But the world was there inside him, and always had been. It wasn't other people dictating what he could and couldn't have, people she could convince him to ignore if she just tried hard enough. All the things he thought would make him worthwhile really were blocked to him, and he really, actually cared about them.

"Dora?"

She held up her hand at Mum's voice, staying still on the stairs and trying to piece together what she had just realized.

It wasn't just understanding that he cared about these things--that, she simply felt foolish over; of course she should have realized, he'd said it a hundred times, but all that seemed so transient to her, so ephemeral to everything that was true and good about him, that she hadn't really heard a word he'd said.

On the heels of this, the rest came in a rush:

He wasn't wise Remus, taking an interest in poor little pushy Dora--he was as prone to mistakes as she was, and he hadn't really heard a word she'd said all year, either. These things that were so trivial to her were so huge to him that he actually couldn't conceive of her not caring.

And she had no idea how to convince him otherwise.
27 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: bangcollision Date: October 7th, 2006 06:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh Remus oh Remus oh Remus. I just want to hug him and after he was being so horrid before.

I'm glad that Tonks has really seen how much of a barrier he's put up, how low he's gone before and what he sees himself as. I can't wait to see what she says to him, she can't exactly go, "Yeah, I saw your past in my dad's Pensieve and..." I'm worried, I'm excited, ah, excellent updatttte once again!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it would be a long time before she would share that she saw that--it may not have been the sessions, but it's definitely private!--but hopefully, she'll try to take seriously that he really does have these issues... she shouldn't ignore them, just convince him that it's okay.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 7th, 2006 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Bravo

You know, you made me glad I had insomnia tonight, even though I have to wake up in 4 hours? Very much worth it.

Wow, it's incredible what you can do with these characters... You've made them very, very real. I loved Dora's epiphany, this line especially: "She stopped abruptly on a riser near the middle of the run, one hand on the bannister, the other floating uselessly near her forehead." Been there, looked that stupid. When things like that hit you, it doesn't matter where you are, you'll just stop, because what you've realized is so important. Very powerful ending! I cannot wait until the next update.

Maryann, who has just realized that non-LJ members can comment, and just wanted to let you know she's reading and loving the story.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 7th, 2006 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
First off before I forget I found a quick fingers typo in the section below. After-bookcases had been-is what I think it is supposed to be.
Granny Tonks--had been replaced and moved to the cellar room where Dad kept electronic equipment, three new bookcases had bee set up,

I love that you had Ted give Dora a look at only the things that were not specific to Remus being his patient and therefore still keeping confidentiality. It keeps Ted the consummate professional that we have all grown to love. It also shows how much Ted knows Dora and that her mind would eventually put things together.

Many times as I have read this story I thought why does Remus keep using the same circular argument...he's a bright guy...can't he come up with anything else. But now it makes sense that since he felt Dora wasn't hearing him he keep saying the same thing.

It is also wonderful how you have Tonks literally freeze in the moment her mind finally makes the connection. I agree with previous post that I have experienced those moments. I was momentarily worried that she would loose her balance and fall down the stairs. Glad she didn't. I like how in this moment you captured how parents/teachers in the minds of there children/students can sometimes seem so God or sage like. And when the child/student finally realize that parents/teachers are people too with there own problems and insecurities it is almost surreal. Tough though when you have to finally take them off that pedestal and realize they are human too.

Wow great update. Thanks again for your excellent writing.

Katsulas
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks on the typo--one of those things spellcheck won't catch!

I still remember my mother as always having been a wise and knowing adult. Then I look at pictures and realize that I'm currently the age she was when I was a junior in high school, and she was still a teenager (if barely) in the pictures of me as a baby. I randomly picked up a picture from one of my birthday parties and couldn't figure out who that "other girl" was hanging out with my same-age cousin and me... until I realized it was Mom.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 7th, 2006 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, not to be morbid, but I almost liked that. I've rarely seen pessimistic!Remus except in way-too-angsty-stories, yet you pulled it off well. I sort of like how you showed that Remus is... well.. like everyone else. He does get discouraged and all, and not just about people really not caring.

dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: October 7th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Remus :-(
redlily From: redlily Date: October 7th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Remus. Maybe now Tonks can really get some sense into you.

P.S. I'm trying to imagine him getting mutant powers from the (ew!) spiderbites -- how would being half-spider/half-wolf work?
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 7th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, imagine his and Tonks's kids after that! Werewolf cubs with 8 multicolored legs!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
And they'll all be cuddly and cute, and the family can go frolic together under the full moon.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: October 7th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
*speechless*

You've done an absolutely perfect job of capturing one of those painful, obvious, world-altering shifts of understanding.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I was worried that the response would be, "So what? Was she really so dumb that she didn't think about it?" But we all have blinders on about some things.
liriop From: liriop Date: October 7th, 2006 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a little lazy and have not commented enough this story. It's very good and keeps getting better. But this last bit was really wonderful. You made me understand Remus a lot better. It was not only Tonks that had an epiphany. Thank you for that (and for all the rest of your story).
From: oicrylic Date: October 7th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know what? That was an absolutely fantastic chapter. Gotta love the sudden epiphanies.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 7th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was an interesting insight into Remus, both for Tonks and the reader. And you managed to get the "flashback" in without the least hint of clunkiness - but what else would we expect from you. My only quibble would be the spider bites. British spiders are all non-dangerous to people. It is possible for one to bite if provoked but it wouldn't have a reaction and this happening would be very rare. If Remus were just lying there, it would run over him but not bite.

TDU
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)
:scratches current spider bite:

That's what they say about American spiders, too. Bloody little vampires. ;)

From: (Anonymous) Date: October 11th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
It's actually the case with British spiders! I now have the world's most poisonous spiders in my garden (the Sydney Funnel Web). It's one of the 2 things that makes me seriously think of going back to England (the other being bushfires).
purebristles From: purebristles Date: October 7th, 2006 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your "one point" in shifts link doesn't seem to work for me; could be me, could be the link itself, I have no way to check. But I know which point you're talking about!

And wonderful turnabout for your Dora - I love how the realisation that she hasn't been listening, and that Remus really really really cares about the things she thinks aren't important just hits her - and your cliffie promises us that you'll be dealing with it. I can't wait.

*hugs chapter 39 pt 3*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, the Quill is currently down. The original LiveJournal post of the scene didn't change overly much in the second draft, though.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 7th, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Remus, I know you know better than that."

"Do I?" Remus turned over, narrowing his eyes and looking fully awake for the first time.

Shouldn't Remus say "Do you?"
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 8th, 2006 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
No, Remus is saying that he doesn't know better than that - that Ted is wrong in assuming that Remus knows better..

-bec
dalf From: dalf Date: October 8th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
The analogy about not hearing, about knowing somethign only in an intelctual way. Like knwing that you parents really were very young when you were small. That was perfect, and right on the mark.
aebhel From: aebhel Date: October 8th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really loved this--you've redeemed Remus for me, and after the last few chapters, trust me, I was about ready to strangle him.

The funny thing is, it's not a matter of feeling bad for him, which is where most angst fics try to take it (not that your story is an angst fic, but this chapter was pretty angsty). It's more the realization that they're both decent people who make mistakes--that Remus genuinely can't understand that Dora loves him in spite of his material lacks, and that Dora has still, to some degree, been seeing Remus as her infallible teacher rather than as a lonely, desperately stubborn man who screws up not because he doesn't care about her but because he's just as clueless as she is.
From: tonkstipied Date: October 8th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

More shades!!!!

First of all congratulations as always for another brilliant piece of remus/tonks imaginary lives. now it's perhaps my time to share the only piece of smut I have ever written. It's here: http://tonks.blogia.com/

You can check it out there, it's the first post to that blog.

The other posts there in that blog are just a long fanfic we started to write and haven't been able to finish yet. It is a collaborative thing so the style is all difficult to put together. Anyway hope you can read the first story and let me know what you think. No fear. Tell me where I need to improve.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 8th, 2006 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: More shades!!!!

Oh, sorry! As long as I'm writing Tonks and Remus, I do my best to avoid other writing on it, to avoid the problem of things seeping through (I did the rt_challenge in February, but I haven't read anything R/T since). When Shades is done, I'll have a look!
From: tonkstipied Date: October 8th, 2006 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: More shades!!!!

Very reasonable! No bother. Thanks anyway
lyras From: lyras Date: October 10th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you decided to tell this story. Poor Remus - it doesn't matter how often horrible things happen to other people, his life will always be more horrible, in a way. Excellent way to show things from his perspective!
27 comments or Leave a comment