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Shifts, Chapter 3: Old Joe, part 5 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 3: Old Joe, part 5
Table of contents and summary so far

We left our folks eating lunch in the Garveys' front room, and with Joe Levinson confiding that it's difficult to like Dudley, but hoping that his progress won't go backward.



They spoke of less consequential matters as their ice cream melted. Miriam and Anna apparently went to see films together quite frequently (along with Regina Smythe), and invited Dora to join them. Remus raised his eyebrow at her to keep her from enthusiastically accepting--she did have some time restraints. She grinned and said, "Perhaps, from time to time--we do like to spend our weekends together, you know."

"The two of you seem to spend quite a lot of time together," Anna marveled.

"Isn't that normal?" Dora asked. "We are married."

"Are you newlyweds?" Miriam asked.

Dora gave her a puzzled look. "Not at all. We've been together for fifteen years. My parents have been together"--she caught herself quickly and appeared to pretend to do math--"well, were together, of course, for nearly forty years, and they spent as much time as they could with one another."

"Only fifteen years?" Joe asked.

"We married late in life," Remus said.

"Oh... no children?" Miriam smiled in a sympathetic way when Dora shook her head. They'd worked out most of this back in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place. Dora had been keen to invent children and perhaps a grandchild, but it was the one issue both Remus and Sirius had put their feet down on--there was quite enough room for error without suddenly being expected to produce photos of non-existent children. This was Dora's first really complex prank; Sirius and Remus had experience, and knew perfectly well where in the story the holes were likely to open up.

Anna sat back in her armchair. "How did you meet?"

"Don't be nosy, Anna," Alan said.

"Oh, pish-posh. All women love to tell their love stories."

Dora laughed. "I was walking my dog in the park," she said. "Just playing. And suddenly, this charming gentleman pulled my hat from my head and tossed it to fetch. The dog loved him, so I reckoned I'd let him stay."

Anna laughed. "Oh, that's lovely! Alan and I met at a Renaissance Fair. I was a bard. He was a fool."

The Levinsons laughed at this obviously old revelation, though Remus had no idea what to make of it, so he merely smiled. Renaissance Fair?

"Well," Anna said, "I should clean up. And so should Alan."

"Let me help," Miriam offered. "Dora and Raymond can keep Joe company, and we'll be done in a flash."

"Oh, I'll help!" Dora suggested. "Let the old teachers have a nice long talk."

Remus smiled thanks to her and tapped his watch discreetly, hoping she would take the hint to draw out their conversation in the kitchen so he could have longer with Joe. She nodded subtly and dipped into the kitchen after the others. A moment later, he heard her launch into an involved story about a fabricated holiday they'd taken on the walking trails of Wales.

"Quite a lady you have there," Joe said. "Must be like holding fireworks in your hand. Or a moonbeam, as the old Rodgers and Hammerstein song would have it."

"She's nothing at all like a moonbeam," Remus said. "She's purely herself. I can't think of a thing to compare her to, actually." He took a deep breath. "Joe... would you mind telling me what happened? With your health? I don't mean to pry..."

"It's not environmental," Joe said, waving a hand. "I doubt you'd have anything to worry about from breathing my old chalk dust."

"I--" hadn't thought of that was the original sentence, but of course it at least gave an way into the question, albeit one that painted Raymond Lewis as being paranoid about contagions. "That's reassuring," he said. "I was told no one knew what was causing it."

"Not a damned idea," Joe said. "One day, I was in a pub fight, the next, I came up sick. Just a passing fever, but it left behind quite a few surprises."

Remus bit his lip, tempted to simply ask his questions straight out and do a Memory Charm. He opted not to, as he didn't especially approve of the practice, but that did mean he would simply have to pry. "A pub fight?" he repeated. "Isn't that--"

"A bit against the rules of employment, yes, but it was defending a student, so Smeltings wasn't terribly upset with me."

"Defending a student?"

"Yes... your friend Mr. Dursley, as a matter of fact."

"Dudley?"

"Yes. We were away from the school for a match with St. Adrian's. The boys decided to sneak away from their rooms and see who was willing to serve them. I found him with a woman three times his age, told her to leave him be--she'd slipped him something, I'm sure of it; a pint's not enough for the state he was in. She told me to stay out of her business, I told her to stay out of mine and keep her hands off of my students. Then a little fellow told me to sod off and picked a fight on her behalf. I knocked him cold, I'll have you know. But I was burning up by the end of the night. I thought maybe one of them had slipped me something, but my bloodwork was fine--nothing strange. Must have been a coincidence."

Remus frowned. Was the little fellow Peter? And who was the woman? And what spell had they used? And...

But those were questions that couldn't be asked without a charm. Raymond Lewis would have no reason to express interest in such a level of detail.

"Has it got any better?"

"It hasn't got any worse," Joe said. "Not since I left. But no. No better." He squinted out the Garveys' front window, then looked earnestly at Remus. "I want to go back," he said. "I miss them. I miss my classroom. I didn't want to leave. You understand that, don't you? Alan--he's a good fellow, but he's a teacher because another career didn't come through for him, not because it's what he wants more than anything. He doesn't understand it at all."

"I do understand it," Remus said. "More than you think."

Joe nodded and turned back to the window, quietly watching cars go by on the quiet road. Remus watched with him.

Five minutes later, the rest of the group returned from the kitchen. There was a bit more talk, then the Levinsons announced that they needed to leave, and Remus took the opportunity to suggest that he and Dora should do so as well.

"Did you find anything out?" Dora asked as she started her father's car.

Remus nodded. "There were two people involved in whatever happened to Dudley, and whatever it was also marked the start of Joe's illness."

"Any idea who?"

"I'd guess the man was Peter. The woman... I don't know. Nor do I know what she did. Perhaps I can talk to Dudley when he comes for detention on Monday."

"Be careful, Remus."

"Right."

They arrived back at the bookshop at four-thirty, and Remus got out of the car and leaned down to the window and did a quick Sound Bubble Charm. On a busy London street, no one would notice that they couldn't really hear what two people were saying beside a parked car. "I'll have to leave for the country tomorrow morning to get everything set for the moon. It's been awhile since I used this particular shack, and I don't trust it."

"You could just transform at Grimmauld Place, Remus. The Potion should control the urges. You did manage to drink it on the way to the Garveys, didn't you?"

"Yes. But I'm not going to risk it. Never again. Too many people are in and out of there who aren't animagi."

"Still, these shacks..."

"It's an old network. They're far from anyone, and I can magically reinforce them, just in case."

"All right. I have to go to work now," she said. "The Potion is over the kitchen fire for tonight and tomorrow morning. I'll see you Monday."

"Good."

"I wish you'd let Sirius transform with you. He could guard."

"No chances."

She nodded and turned the key. "Watch yourself, Remus," she said, and pulled away.

Remus took Muggle transit back to Grimmauld Place, his mind focused on last year's attack on Dudley and Joe. Who had done it was really a secondary question compared to what precisely had been done. He thought he would pose the question to Sirius, and let him apply his mind to it during the full moon. Sirius would be glad for something useful to do.

Unfortunately, he didn't remember to ask. When he returned to Grimmauld Place, he was met in the entrance hall by a snowy owl, which nipped his ear lightly and alit on his shoulder.

Sirius was sitting on the stairs, his eyes blazing with excitement. In his hands was a letter from Harry.
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Comments
From: anatomiste Date: June 8th, 2004 11:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to see that someone's noticed how the 'Lewises' act like newlyweds... it would have been too much if their act went off perfectly.

This is still wonderful...
myf From: myf Date: June 8th, 2004 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
*echoes* Still wonderful...

And suddenly, this charming gentleman pulled my hat from my head and tossed it to fetch.
This sentence feels like there's something missing. I know it's implied that it was tossed for the dog to fetch, but...
Just me?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 8th, 2004 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, not just you. Of all the stupid sentences, that one kept tripping me up. I didn't want to say "dog" three times in a paragraph, and just "this gentleman...tossed it" definitely didn't seem right. In the end, I just decided to let it slide, and I know better. Any suggestions?
myf From: myf Date: June 8th, 2004 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, let's see:

Dora laughed. "I was walking my dog in the park," she said. "Just playing. And suddenly, this charming gentleman pulled my hat from my head and tossed it to fetch. The dog loved him, so I reckoned I'd let him stay."

Well, I suppose you could think up a name for this dog, which would eliminate the problem - but a name which would be understandable as a name a slightly dotty woman may give to her dog. Then you could have:

Dora laughed. 'I was walking my dog in the park," she said. "Just playing. And suddenly, this charming gentleman pulled my hat from my head and tossed it for Pookie to fetch. She loved him, so I reckoned I'd let him stay."

Except, with a much better name for the dog! That one's just a stopgap measure, of course. But this way, it flows a bit better. If you don't like the two pronouns in the final sentence, it would also be easy to change it to, 'Pookie loved him, so I reckoned I'd let him stay.'

What do you think?
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 9th, 2004 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if Remus would be up to it with Dora in full flow, but perhaps there's also inserting his murmuring, "I don't know what came over me," immediately after her claim that he threw her hat to the dog. ;)
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 9th, 2004 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
....And I suppose if you don't think of a better option, the dog's name could always be Snuffles. :)
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: June 9th, 2004 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
:: This was Dora's first really complex prank; Sirius and Remus had experience, and knew perfectly well where in the story the holes were likely to open up.

For some reason, this line struck me as particularly funny. Cute. I don't know why.

Great addition to the story, as always. I really like old Joe... :)
dipsas From: dipsas Date: June 9th, 2004 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Me too! Me too!
Another sweet chapter, this one. I was just wondering where you'd tie in with the things we do know from canon, like Harry's letter.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: June 9th, 2004 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Then a little fellow told me to sod off and picked a fight on her behalf. I knocked him cold, I'll have you know. But I was burning up by the end of the night. I thought maybe one of them had slipped me something, but my bloodwork was fine--nothing strange. Must have been a coincidence."

Remus frowned. Was the little fellow Peter?


Why does Remus automatically assume it was Peter? It could have been any of the DE's that Harry saw in the graveyard. Is there something that Joe could remember about him that might prompt Remus' thoughts that way? Later in the story, Remus tells Dora that he thinks it may be Peter, but he's got nothing to go on.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2004 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Probably just the description as "little," and a belief (possibly unfounded) that no one other than Peter was involved during the GoF year. (I'm going to have to find a way around that belief myself!)
From: pandora_hyde Date: June 12th, 2004 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Only fifteen years?" Joe asked.

"We married late in life," Remus said.


All right, I must ask. Exactly *how old* does your Remus look?

To have married "late in life" would mean, what, marriage at forty or fifty? Making your Remus appear - during OOtP - as a man of fifty-five or sixty-five?

According to JKR, he is a young man with greying hair, a prematurely lined face, and is ill-looking. As far as we've been told (in canon) he doesn't appear to be elderly. Yet, your Remus does seem to be described as elderly or white-headed or some such.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 12th, 2004 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I'm going to have to reiterate in the story--Remus is disguised a bit for his role. His hair is finished graying and he has a white beard, and he's wearing plain-glass glasses.
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