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Batch 52 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Batch 52
I've been wondering what the afterlife holds for people who reincarnate. Could we see Dora II and Elhanan in their afterlife, if that's not too far in the future? If it is too far, maybe some of Teddy's generation in the afterlife? (I love your afterlife....)
for TSS

I think that might be a little too far! :)
---
Donzo had always held the question of an afterlife in abeyance. He believed in God, but had no set idea of what became of the identity after passing the last barrier. As the days had dwindled toward the end, he'd given it more thought, and read various philosophies. Maurice, of course, believed in nothing at all, save for memories recorded, and had filled the last days of Don's life with busy recordings for portraits, Pensieves, and apparently something that was meant for the Wizarding Music Museum in Washington, D.C. He'd been frantic and anxious, which Don had actually been rather grateful for, as soothing Maurice meant that he hadn't had a great deal of time to worry about what might happen after his last breath. Teddy had spent his life studying the subject and hadn't had any definitive notions, and certainly hadn't sent word back since he'd passed fifteen years ago. (His son, Sirius, had come to the Rockies once things were safe at home, to try and cleanse his mind of what had happened, and Donzo was well aware that there hadn't been any meaningful conversation on the subject, though Sirius had regular dreams that seemed to calm him.) Donzo himself had lost Kelly two decades before his own passing, and had never dreamed more than memories, though they were enough. He sometimes amused himself by imagining her on a vast ranch (where she welcomed Teddy after he passed through, and frequently had tea with Ruth Potter, who he imagined had mellowed out a bit over the years), with all of the instruments she'd played and all of the scenery she'd most loved, but he knew it was his imagination.

He simply hadn't known what to expect. For all he knew, he'd just blink out like a candle, and everything anyone had reported was nothing but wishful imagination.

At first, he thought that was what had happened.

He took one last, painful breath, the little tears in his lungs bleeding into his chest, and then there was cool darkness. He could hear Maurice and Sirius weeping somewhere--and Sirius's infant daughter Dorothy crying lustily--but he wasn't able to respond to it, or come back when he was called.

But he was aware of himself.

The sound of weeping faded away, and Donzo opened his eyes. The world was unformed and misty, but he could see the shadows of mountains. There was a guitar beside his hand. He picked it up.

Things became more solid.

He was dressed casually, in blue jeans and a t-shirt, though he hadn't had the impression of being in clothes before (and had been in a badly soiled sickroom robe before he'd... left), and he was standing on an open-air stage. As he watched, the mist swirled and became real. It was Kelly, Kelly as he'd first seen her, singing with a gospel choir in North Carolina. He hadn't realized she was a witch then, let alone beginning a career that would rival his own. She was just a pretty girl with blue eyes and a tiny, delicate nose. Her hair was blond and curly. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at him. "I've missed you," she said.

He sat down beside her. He thought he might look as young as she did, but somehow, such things didn't matter here. "I've missed you, too. The girls have grown up. Tara's daughters are grown up. Elizabeth has a daughter of her own. With Teddy's son, if you believe it! My youngest granddaughter and one of Teddy's older children."

"I know," Kelly said. "You won't lose them, Don."

"How...?"

"Wait. Let yourself learn where you are. Then I'll show you." She grinned. "Or Teddy will. I think he's been looking forward to a chance to try out all of his mad theories."

"Sirius hasn't been getting much from him."

"Yes, he has." Donzo looked behind him. A hawk swooped down and became Teddy Lupin, Teddy as he'd been in the days when his children had been young. "He's been getting what he actually needs. I think he'll be all right. Thank you for introducing him to Elizabeth, by the way. She's done wonders for him."

"He is too old for her."

"Look at us," Teddy said. "Do you think age really means anything?"

"I suppose not." Donzo looked around. "So this place... it's what I imagined for Kelly."

"And for yourself," Kelly said. "Though I enjoy it. It's ours, isn't it?"

Donzo marveled at it. "Teddy are you... are you in the same place we are? At the ranch?"

"Yes. You've imagined me here as well. There are other places to be. Some of my grandchildren have wonderfully vivid imaginations. I think they'll probably include you. You've been good to them since I left."

"I should have been there for the war," Donzo said.

"And done what?" Teddy asked. "Played the guitar at them?"

Kelly laughed. "Lupin's become as practical as Burke over here."

"You know, I can do other things."

She shrugged. "Yes, and you did--you gave them the intellectual underpinning they needed to break Geoffrey's cult. A lot of the ones who survived have actually made useful lives for themselves, thanks to you."

Donzo couldn't think of anything to say, and it didn't really seem necessary, so he just sat there, in the golden morning sunlight, looking out across the meadow. Finally, he said, "Where is Ruthless? Is she... here?"

"When was she ever one to sit around?" Teddy asked fondly. "She's most likely looking after James and Finny somewhere."

"Can she do anything?"

"We all can. It takes some doing, but you know Ruthless--if she can find a way to take a Beater's bat to someone, she will, and I assure you, James has imagined her a good one." Teddy shrugged and sat down. "Of course, she's not actually limited to being in one place. Neither am I. Neither are you."

"How can I be in more than one place and still be me?"

"It takes practice," Teddy said. "And quite honestly, I don't particularly enjoy it. It's disconcerting."

Donzo leaned back and lay down on the stage. "What's beyond the mountains?" he asked absently.

"Something more," Kelly said. "Someday, we'll have to find out. But let's just stay here together for a bit, shall we? Wait for the others."

Donzo wasn't entirely sure what she meant, or who she meant to wait for, but whatever it was, he was content to be here with her, with them. The mountains could wait. He didn't know what was beyond them.

He decided to hold the question in abeyance until it was time to go.




Anyway, I was re-reading Shifts recently, and I came across the bit where Joe Levinson talks about his parents dying in the Holocaust, after sending him away to live with his aunt in England. I'd like to read about him reflecting on this, in relation to Remus and Dora's deaths, please.
for Victoria

---
Joe hadn't attended the funeral. He hadn't even known how to get to the graveyard, until Andromeda had come and told him. Even with that, he'd needed her help. She led him to the cemetery gate, but stared inside with hollow eyes and refused to go in herself. She'd had little Teddy wrapped in a blanket on her shoulder, and the pair of them wandered back toward the center of the village, looking lost and aimless.

Joe went to the grave. He would bring Miriam later--she wanted to pay her respects--but for now, he wasn't sure he'd be strong enough to be there for her until he'd had a chance to deal with it himself. They'd already set the stone; there was no waiting. It was cold and gray, and their names were sharply chiseled into it. It was so new that Joe felt he might actually be able to cut himself on the edges. There was a verse from the Psalms below their names, and a sterner verse, from Deuteronomy, above them: "Justice, justice, shall ye pursue." Joe's mind supplied the Hebrew--Tzedek tzedek tirdof. It was a verse he had reflected on quite often over the years.

Alas, the pursuit of justice, like the American obsession with the pursuit of happiness, led only to this madness. What justice could there be for good people, slaughtered by madmen before the fullness of their years? What justice for them, what justice for their orphaned son?

Joe bent down and scooped up a pebble, and set it on top of the stone. He put his hands on the stone and leaned forward with his eyes closed.

"He'll be angry, you know," he said. "Your Teddy. He will be angry at them, but he'll also be angry at you. I was with my own beloved parents, you know." He opened his eyes and sighed, then sat down on the grass, leaning against the stone. "I think I told you of them, Remus? They sent me to be safe here in England, but they had stayed behind. The Nazis murdered them. But so many times I thought, why? Why could my parents see enough of what was coming to get me to safety, and yet not make arrangements for their own? I imagine they thought they could help. Or perhaps they couldn't get a visa. It happened a lot. I just don't know. Did they do everything they could to come safely to me, or were they trying to play hero? The Nazis didn't record any crime of theirs, other than being Jews, and if they tried to help anyone, they don't appear to have succeeded. Rather pointless heroism, if it was that."

Somewhere in the cemetery, a bird whistled.

Joe stood and looked for it, but couldn't see it. He turned his attention back to the grave. "I know, you're thinking old Joe is angry at you," he said. "I am. And I'm angry at my own parents still. What good did it do to fight when they could have fled to safety? Leave the fighting to people who had no one who needed them, I say. Which of course leaves no one to fight, as everyone has someone. Open field for our Herr Hitler and your Herr Voldemort. What was your bravery house, Lupin? Gryffindor? I'm afraid I wouldn't have quite fit. Wasted sacrifices just enrage me." He shrugged. "I know, with six million dead, why should my parents have been spared? Would someone else just have been murdered in their stead? Would someone else have died in yours, at your battle? But why should six million have died? Tell me that, and tell me why so many should have died for your madman? Tell me what justice it is that innocents have ever needed to give up their lives for some evil ambition? Pursue justice, my ass. What justice? That bastard's name will live forever in your history books, and you'll rot to nothing here, just two more names on a list." His fist flew out, and he knocked away the pebble on top of the gravestone. "Damn you, Lupin! And you, too, Dora. What were you thinking? When the madmen are coming, get out of the way. Your boy needed you."

His blood pounded in his head for a moment, and the bird, apparently startled by his outburst, fell silent.

He leaned forward again. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. It's all just so... it's such a waste. It's always such a god-damned waste. Your boy will be angry, but I'll try to help him, if he needs my help. I'll understand. Maybe he'll need that. Of course, I think Andromeda will understand as well. When the pain fades, she's going to be angry as well."

"She's already angry."

Joe looked up. Andromeda had come up quietly behind him--or maybe arrived by some sort of magic--and was standing there, her eyes red and empty. She nodded toward the gate and began to walk.

Joe followed her.

They went up a narrow street, then turned down a side street that seemed empty, though several people were gathered around a decrepit gate.

"Where are we?" Joe asked.

"This was the Potters' house," Andromeda said dully. "I imagine you can't see it. Lily and James died here seventeen years ago. Did Remus ever tell you about James?"

"James, Sirius, Peter. Yes."

She nodded. "I've been told to remember that my grandson isn't the only war orphan in the world."

"Who told you that?" Joe asked, horrified.

"Oh, I think I may be reporting the advice a bit more coldly than it was offered. It was Kingsley Shacklebolt. It was more along the lines of, 'Remember, Andromeda, Harry has gone through this as well. Harry's parents died in the last war. Harry...'" She stopped and sighed. "Harry's been quite good to us, and I plan to mother him as much as I can."

"Good. I think."

"But dammit, James and LIly's deaths accomplished something. I can look at it and say, 'Oh, well, that ended the first phase of the war.' Everyone knows it. If you were a wizard, you'd see the statue of them at the center of town. Heroes. There'll never be a statue of my Dora, or her mad husband. They'll be honored, I suppose, with everyone else. Everyone else. That's the other side of it, of course. Andromeda, you're not alone... we all lost people. Nothing special about your people."

"I think they mean to comfort you."

"I don't want comfort."

"I know. I never did, either."

"I want justice."

Joe put his hand on her shoulder. "Good luck with that," he said. "Let me know if you happen across it. I've been looking for it for a long time, and I have a bit of a bone to pick."


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Comments
amamama From: amamama Date: February 16th, 2009 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. *sniffle* Lovely, both of them, but the last had me wanting to howl with agony. Which I'm so not going to do, as the house is full of kids. I'll just sit here with my hair as a curtain around me and quietly wipe away my tears. You do know how to get the emotions through. *nods*

As always... Cheers!
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: February 16th, 2009 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Fern.

I have a bone to pick, too.

Oh.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: February 16th, 2009 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, stupid, stupid untimely death.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: February 16th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fern, you made me cry again. Perhaps it's my mood this morning, but together these stories about death are bittersweet -- the first is the sweet and the last is largely bitter. Or maybe that's just my own reaction to Lupin and Tonks being cut down just as they have happiness in their grasp. I agree with Joe. But at least you've given us Teddy with all his Lupin-Tonks charm, and later Remus and Dora themselves getting another chance!
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 16th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I continue to love your afterlife. And I love that this afterlife story lets us know that everything will be okay in this world, or as okay as things can ever be when you're dealing with evil.

The second one hurts. (In the way that good writing *ought* to hurt when it's about awful things.) The waste of it....

Lovely, powerful stuff. Thank you.

TSS
westingturtle From: westingturtle Date: February 16th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
WHY MUST YOU MAKE ME CRY TODAY? I think it's almost more poignant that the raging comes from Joe, rather than Teddy. We know that Teddy rages, we know why. But seeing it from someone else, and for all the same reasons made it more.

I like your afterlife, and that they come together in it again. And I'm glad that Sirius finally find someone to help him, although my first gap was "woah, age gap" I am now desperately intrigued by that whole association.
tencups_i_swear From: tencups_i_swear Date: February 18th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh thats wonderful! *Sniffles* Poor Joe, ):
flyingfish33 From: flyingfish33 Date: February 20th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Belated thank you!

I'm trying out my LJ account for this, I hope it works...
I was the one who asked for the second ficlet, and it was great--thank you! I realized after I asked for it that it was an odd kind of request to make--for all I know you haven't thought about Joe's history since you first wrote it--but I did think there could be some interesting parallels between the two characters, and there were. I liked the way you worked Andromeda into it as well.
Bleak, but lovely.
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