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Shades, Chapter 42: Sunrise, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 42: Sunrise, pt. 1
The hospital scene just happened, and McGonagall has just taken Harry and the Heads of House (now there's a fanband name) up to the Headmaster's Office to talk about what comes next. Remus, Tonks, Fleur, Luna, and the Weasleys remain around Bill's bed.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

It seemed a long time later--though it couldn't have been--when Bill woke up with a groan, and everything else was forgotten as he discovered the extent of his injuries. Fleur made a great fuss over him, and he looked at her with mute gratitude. The story was told again, for his benefit, and the repetition helped it seem less ethereal somehow. This time, Remus's arm was around her. That helped as well.

"So McGonagall called the Heads of House up," Ron said. "And Hagrid. And Harry." He snorted. "Of course, Slughorn is there for Slytherin. I don't know what they're talking about."

Remus sighed deeply. "I imagine they're discussing closing the school."

"What?" Hermione shook her head. "No, they can't..."

"Sure they can," Ginny said bitterly. "They almost did it the year I let the Basilisk out. They'd have done it if you and Ron and Harry hadn't been able to solve the problem."

"Hush," Arthur said, and hugged his daughter with one arm, not letting go of Bill's hand. "That wasn't you."

Ginny leaned into the hug, and Tonks had the distinct impression that Ginny and Arthur had gone over this many times. Ginny yawned deeply, and Ron and Hermione mirrored her.

"My goodness!" Molly said. "You three all need to get some rest. Go to your dormitories."

"Mum--" Ron started.

Hermione took his hand. "We should be there when Harry gets back, anyway. I'll stay in the common room. You go up to the dormitory. He'll want to talk to at least one of us."

"Probably you. He'll want you to explain everything."

"I don't think he will. Not tonight. I think he'll just want to be understood."

"We spent all year trying to tell him he was wrong," Ron said dully. "And he was right all along."

"I know," Hermione said. "But I think Harry needs us to understand him, more than give him some long apology."

Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Luna mumbled good-nights and trudged out of the hospital wing. Molly sat on the bed, opposite from Fleur, and straightened Bill's hair out on the pillow. "You should sleep as well," she said.

"Been sleeping," he muttered, though through his swollen lips, it came out "M'shleemn."

"Sleep more," Fleur said. She looked for a place to kiss his face and found a relatively untouched patch of skin near his temple. "I weel be 'ere."

"Perhaps we should go as well," Remus said.

Tonks nodded and went to Molly, giving her a litle hug. "He'll be all right, Molly."

"Of course he will, dear."

Remus was shaking Arthur's hand, answering a few more questions about possible "wolfish characteristics," and Tonks went to Fleur. She tapped the other woman's shoulder. "I, er... sorry I... I'm not even sure how to say what I'm apologizing for, but I feel like I should."

Fleur laughed and hugged her. "Zere eez no reason for eet," she said. "Go feex things."

On impulse, Tonks kissed her cheek, then went over to Remus. They left together.

The short northern night was coming to an end, a pinkish dawn rising over Hogsmeade. Tonks and Remus walked into it, holding one another's hands, not talking. There was a light mist in the air, cleansing and fresh, not like the Dementor mists that had plagued them last summer. They crossed through the main gate of Hogwarts, and Remus stopped, turned to her, held her. He was shaking.

"He's gone."

She nodded. "Yes."

"Do you have to report to Dawlish?"

"No. I'm sure Robards will tell him everything."

"Could you..." He swallowed. "We should talk. Can I make you breakfast?"

She nodded. "I'm not very hungry."

"Neither am I. But... I'd like to make breakfast anyway."

They went to the Shrieking Shack, and she sat at the table while he pulled out several pots and pans and ingredients. The routine seemed to calm him.

He set a bowl down and reached for an egg, but his hand stopped midway. "I'm terrified," he said.

"Everyone is."

"I'm terrified of what comes next. And I'm terrified that I'm really going to destroy things with you." He leaned his head back and blinked at the ceiling. "And equally worried about both. And I wonder if that means my priorities are out of order."

"I understand that."

"Do you?"

"Robards was going on about my work suffering this year. I was mortified."

He pulled out the chair across from her and took her hands, but didn't look her in the eye. "When Lily Potter was pregnant for Harry," he said, "I was over at the house after James had left on some mission or other. She just burst into tears and talked about how useless she'd made herself, just when everyone needed to be in top form. She couldn't even brew a lot of the potions they counted on her for, because of the fumes. I told her not to be silly. That it was important for life to keep going. It's very easy to say that when you're not the one feeling awkward about it."

"I suppose..."

"That doesn't make it untrue." He looked up, cradled her face in one hand, ran his fingers over hair. "I've treated you abysmally this year."

"You were doing what you thought was right."

He took a deep breath. "I was right," he said. "I am right." He held up his hand against her protest. "It's not ever going to be easy."

"Is it for anyone?" She buried her fingers in his hair. "But it's a lot more difficult to be alone."

He nodded and took a deep, shaky breath. "I'm so tired, Dora," he whispered, and lay his head down on her shoulder.

Tonks was tired as well, tired to the center of her bones, and after they'd held one another for a long time, they decided to postpone breakfast and get some sleep. Without discussing it, Tonks went to the sofa in the parlor, and Remus went upstairs. There might be a time for discussion of this later, but right now, in the shadow of what had happened only hours before, anything else seemed obscene. Remus brought her a blanket and kissed her before she drifted off.

Her dreams were kind that morning, pleasant and healing, and when she woke up close to noon to Remus's voice in the kitchen, she almost sprung lightly to her feet, smiling, before it all came back to her.

"...parents allow them to stay?" Remus was asking someone.

"Some aren't," Minerva McGonagall said. A teacup clinked down into a saucer. "Thank you, Remus. I didn't sleep a great deal. We had to send word to the families, of course. The Patils and Evander Smith were all at the school before breakfast. They insisted on taking their children home. Moira Finnegan--you'd remember her as Moira O'Dell, a few years ahead of you--"

"Yes, she was on the Quidditch team with James."

"--came to take Seamus, but he refused." McGonagall sighed deeply. "Harry thinks most of the students will want to say goodbye," she said. "But it will take a few day to make the arrangements. How many more will be taken away by then?"

Tonks let it all settle into her, then pulled herself up from the sofa and dragged herself to the kitchen, still wrapped in Remus's blanket. Remus had already set a place for her at the table--"I would have woken you up in a few minutes," he said--and she slipped into it. "Good morning, Professor McGonagall," she said.

"Is it? I haven't slept yet."

"Minerva, you need to sleep," Remus told her sternly.

"Before the parents started arriving, I had to put the security measures back up. Filius, Miss Delacour, and Molly helped. Horace, as well, of course. Arthur went back to the Ministry to try and get things under control there, but as I understand it, Scrimgeour personally sent him home to rest."

Tonks picked her tea from the air before the cup even made its way to the saucer and took a sip. "How is the Ministry handling this? Who are they blaming?"

"Curiously enough," Remus muttered, "Voldemort. At least so far."

"They wouldn't dare attack Albus," McGonagall said fiercely. "Not now."

Tonks supposed she was right. Too many people had fond memories of Dumbledore. She didn't expect the attacks to start for another week at least, though she wouldn't put it past the Prophet to include a few tastefully couched insinuations that the tragedy had been "avoidable." "How is Bill?" she asked.

"He's actually up and walking about," McGonagall said. "His face is a loss, but it seems to be the only injury he took. Miss Delacour has been with him all morning. She finally went to sleep in one of the other beds just before I left."

"And Neville Longbottom?" Remus asked.

"He'll be quite all right. The injuries weren't terribly serious. Poppy has let him go. He has a bit of a limp."

"She wasn't able to heal the break?"

"There was a nasty sprain around it. It will take a bit more time to heal."

Remus sat down at the table with them and put out the food he'd cooked. They all looked at it dully for a while, then, slowly, began to eat.
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redlily From: redlily Date: October 21st, 2006 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, the poor things. I'd've hoped they could platonically share a bed (it's been done!!), but it's too raw even for that, I suppose.

When Lily Potter was pregnant for Harry . . . .

Is that preposition a Britishism? How odd.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: October 21st, 2006 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
"When Lily Potter was pregnant for Harry . . . ."

Is that preposition a Britishism? How odd.

I was going to ask that, too; because it does sound familiar, but I can't remember where I've heard it. (Maybe it's like saying that someone is "in hospital" instead of "in the hospital"...)

Also, wow. A beautiful, painful, real place to bring them to. Thank you.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: October 21st, 2006 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
That was so realistic. I was so happy for them that they started sorting things out between them, but you were right to de-emphasize the romance in light of the circumstances. Can't tell you how many horrible hospital scene fics I've read where the author had no respect for the characters of Remus and Tonks because the happy couple had no respect for Dumbledore. You got it right, though.

Minor nitpick: While Remus is making breakfast, you say that he takes the seat across from Tonks. I took that to mean, across the table. But then they're getting all touchy-feely and he lays his head on her shoulder. That makes it sound as if he's sitting next to her, not across from her.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2006 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, good point. I meant that he took the chair next to her, but they were turned to face each other. It would help if the dispatches from my brain bothered to share their staging diagrams, wouldn't it?
From: maxzook Date: October 21st, 2006 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
It seemed a long time later--though it couldn't have been--when Bill woke up with a groan, and everything else was forgotten as he discovered the extent of his injuries. Fleur made a great fuss over him, and he looked at her with mute gratitude. The story was told again, for his benefit, and the repetition helped it seem less ethereal somehow. This time, Remus's arm was around her. That helped as well.

The penultimate sentence needs to be clarified -- I thought for a monent that Remus was putting his arm around Fleur ...

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2006 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh. Oops. I'll see what I can do there.
cheddartrek From: cheddartrek Date: October 21st, 2006 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Marvelous update as always. One minor correction though,

"But it will take a few day to make the arrangements..."

Shouldn't that be days instead of day?

Kudos again for such a brilliant story!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2006 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Shouldn't that be days instead of day?

But it's my self-expression!!! ;p

Er, yeah.
alphielj From: alphielj Date: October 21st, 2006 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I just wanted to let you know that I totally agree with you that Remus and Tonks did not have sex on this night. So many R/T shippers out there say that the pink hair is from sex and I disagree. YOu got it sopt on when you said "anything else owuld be obscene." Right on. Well done.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2006 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
And here I just thought it was the reconciliation. I'm so very innocent. ;)

Seriously, I played with the idea of them sleeping platonically in the same bed, and only rejected it because it's exactly what I did in Shifts and I didn't want to repeat myself. But the idea of them saying, "Oh, Dumbledore's dead, let's shag now"... that doesn't seem right for either of them.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 21st, 2006 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
There's a kind of emotional exhaustion coming to the end of all this and Dumbledore's death (again! How can it be draining to go through Dumbledore's death when I've already been through it before?).

Anyway, I feel like I should be able to make some good observations but all I want to do is stop and catch my breath.

Er, that's in a good way, to let you know.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 21st, 2006 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I'm a bit exhausted as well. Which could have something to do with it being 2am, but is also the whole scenario in the story. Nothing got me more than Harry remembering Dumbledore's welcome speech in PS/SS--that's when it really hit me. The little stuff is where the big feelings hit.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 21st, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
"He took a deep breath. "I was right," he said. "I am right." He held up his hand against her protest. "It's not ever going to be easy."

"Is it for anyone?" She buried her fingers in his hair. "But it's a lot more difficult to be alone."

He nodded and took a deep, shaky breath. "I'm so tired, Dora," he whispered, and lay his head down on her shoulder."

That exchange was most interesting to me. It's what he's needed to hear all year, with his putting Bill/Fleur on a pedestal as the perfect relationship where nothing goes wrong. Does this mean that she has finally gotten it into his head that life often sucks for everyone, not just him?
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 21st, 2006 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
-Maryann, who forgot to sign her post.
sugarannie From: sugarannie Date: October 21st, 2006 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
What a great continuation of the canon scene. You make it all fit so well, it's great.
Every time I try to do something like this, it sounds terribly different, but you do seem to be able to fit right in.

Also, sorry for not reviewing on the last chapters. I did read them, and liked them as much as this one.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: October 21st, 2006 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)
That was excellent. The sense of emotional exhaustion and dullness you get after a bereavement, and yet you make the way remus and Tonks are slowly coming to an understanding entirely possible.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 21st, 2006 10:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw. Very good scene.

I feel bad for McGonagall... she's got such a large weight to deal with, losing a companion/leader, and possibly her students too, if in a different sense. Ouch. :(
matril From: matril Date: October 21st, 2006 01:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very nice. The much-anticipated reconciliation has come, and it hasn't disappointed. It makes a lot of sense that their newfound happiness is considerably subdued in light of Dumbledore's death - it's quite reminiscent of the ending of Shifts, actually.

And it was so, so poignant and ironic to read the story about Lily feeling guilty for being pregnant...if she had had any idea that she was carrying the one person who would be able to destroy Voldemort!! ...which makes me wonder if the Potters did find out about the prophecy...I wonder if Dumbledore would have told them...
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 22nd, 2006 01:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I always had the impression that the Prophecy wasn't made until after Harry's birth and he would have had to have told the Potters and the Longbottoms because they were instructed to go into hiding.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: October 21st, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful. It seems so realistic after Dumbledore's death. Now I want to hug someone.
alkari From: alkari Date: October 21st, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent as usual. I particularly like the sense of dullness and 'just coping' which you get after someone's death. You are in a sense of unreality: you 'can't believe it, yet you know it is true. And as you deal with this emotionally, there are all the day to day practicalities that have to be dealt with - you have to eat, you have to sleep, you have to keep things going as Minerva does with the school.

Couple of comments. You have Remus admit that he is "terrified", and you repeat the word. I was wondering whether in one of those instances he would used the simpler "I'm scared". Yes, it has a slightly different sense in one way, but he is suddenly admitting his fears, and so I was wondering whether he might actually say that he is scared, and then elaborate that he is terrified about what was going to happen?

I liked the fact that Hermione took Ron’s hand! But I was wondering whether they would actually articulate ‘what’ Harry would want to do when he got back (talk to one of them), or whether they would both simply want to “be there” when he returns without going into all the reasons or commenting on what he might want to do. I know Hermione is Amateur Psychologist Hermione!! but for me this jarred a little because it somehow seemed TOO objective and analytical for both Ron and Hermione in this situation, when they are all exhausted physically and emotionally.

And yes, I add my note about pregnancy. “Pregnant with”, not “pregnant for”.

dalf From: dalf Date: October 22nd, 2006 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
The mood and pacing here are perfect. That feeling of "what do we do now" somehow amplified by the almost mechanical going thought the motions. breakfast, evaluating their losses, thinking about the politics, replacing the wards.

Poor everyone!

miseri From: miseri Date: October 22nd, 2006 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Evander Smith? That sounds a little off. If there is any connection between Zacharias Smith and Hephzibah Smith, wouldn't Zacharias' father's name would be something a little more Biblical and a touch obscure?Ezekial, Ephraim (I love that name), Zedekiah, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jeroboam, etc..
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 22nd, 2006 06:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I'll pick one of those. That was just a question of, "Grr, throw a name in and finish the damned scene."
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