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Shifts, Chapter 6: Detention With Dudley, part 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 6: Detention With Dudley, part 1
Ouch. My neck hurts. The monitor at work is in a bad place, and... well, ouch.

Anyway, picking up after the moon goes down.

Table of Contents and Summary



It was just past dawn when Remus slipped into the dark entrance hall of Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. Kreacher, who was polishing the rungs of the bannister with a twisted expression on his face, looked up and sniffed. "It smells like blood," he said. "Unnatural dark creature..."

He went on in this vein. It was Remus's third transformation around him, and it was the same every time. The first time, it had bothered him. But when he realized that Kreacher termed everyone from Dora (as a metamorphmagus) to the Weasley boys (as twins) to Sirius (as a traitor) "unnatural," it had long since ceased to disturb him greatly.

"Good morning, Kreacher," he said quietly.

Kreacher stopped muttering and glared. "It speaks to me." He crinkled his nose and spat on the stairs, then used his own saliva as a polish, buffing the rung he was working on to a deep shine.

Remus shook his head and went down the kitchen steps. Hermione had gone on several times about being kind to house elves. Remus agreed with her in theory. But her notion that it would make a whit of difference with Kreacher was pure fantasy, and he didn't have the strength to indulge it this morning. The Wolfsbane Potion stopped the more horrific self-injuries of the transformation--there were no longer, thank heaven, any open wounds to tend--but the transformation itself was no different, and the aches and pains only got more acute as he got older. Normally, he would Charm his bedclothes to keep up a nice warmth and curl up under them all day. That wouldn't be an option this year.

The fire cast a great shadow against the back wall of the kitchen, a Muggle-storybook's impression of a wizard or a witch at a cauldron, looking decidedly mysterious and menacing if you didn't recognize the stoop of the shoulders, or hear that the muttering wasn't a doleful Curse or a rhyming couplet, but instead a re-iteration of a recipe.

"...and... let's see... a dash of Mooncalf milk, and one scoop billywig stings." He tossed this last into the cauldron as Remus came around the door. "Morning," he said.

"Good morning. Potion-brewing?"

Sirius shrugged. "Analgesic. And a bit to help you keep awake."

Remus was touched. "For me?"

"I've seen you the day after transformations. You've never been in shape to go to work. And you don't look like you are now." He dipped a goblet into the Potion and handed it to Remus. "It's been awhile since I've brewed anything. It could kill you, you know."

Remus took it and raised it to him with a smile. Sirius had never had the personality to be a strong Potions brewer (Snape flatly refused to try and teach him to brew Wolfsbane Potion), but he was perfectly capable of following a basic recipe. "I'll take my chances."

"Here's to Gryffindor courage," Sirius said, raising a glass of pumpkin juice in return.

Remus downed the Potion, and immediately felt a bit steadier on his feet. "Thanks," he said. "I appreciate it."

Sirius nodded graciously and tossed two plates of an indifferent breakfast onto the table.

Remus looked at it curiously. Sirius had never been one to fret overmuch about his transformations, usually confining himself to trying to jolly a laugh out of him in the infirmary at Hogwarts. Even in the last few months, he hadn't shown any special interest in taking on a caretaking role with anyone other than Harry. He seemed glad that this had passed to Dora.

"You should eat," he said. "School and all that."

"All right." Remus sat down and fiddled with the bland eggs, so famished that he felt vaguely nauseated. "I was thinking about this evening. Dora's off-duty, and I think Dung can come by. We can work out what to tell Harry about--"

Sirius was biting his lip. "Er, yes, about that..."

Remus put his fork down. Of course. "You talked with him in the fire."

"Nothing happened. I just told him not to ask about Hagrid, and not to worry about his scar."

"We talked about this."

"Harry needed to hear from someone. He needed to hear from me."

"And Hedwig was for some reason unavailable?"

"She's upstairs."

Remus slammed his fist down on the table. The bones in his hand, freshly back to their human configuration, protested this in no uncertain terms, and he winced as he uncurled the fist and massaged the joints of his fingers. He clenched his teeth. "Are. You. Mad?"

"I'm beginning to think that's the general consensus." Sirius got up and started pacing. "What's wrong with everyone? Everything went along just fine. Nothing happened!"

"Anything could have."

"Could have," Sirius muttered. "First Harry, now you. What kind of Gryffindors are you?"

"'First Harry'?" Remus repeated. "Harry told you not to do it?"

"Well, I don't think he minded me appearing in the fire. But when I said I'd meet him as Padfoot for the first Hogsmeade weekend..."

"No." Remus stood, found that there wasn't anything handy to hit--which was just as well--and settled for shaking his head sharply (protests from his neck and spine accompanied it). "I'm not saying that as your friend. I'm saying it as a member of the Order. Absolutely not."

"Don't worry," Sirius said morosely. "Harry already forbade it."

"Of course he did. Do you think he wants to see you back in Azkaban?"

"I should see him. I'm his guardian!"

"Yes. You are. Precisely. He's already lost two parents. He's finally got an adult he needs."

"Needs to do what? Sit here in Mum's kitchen, learning to cook? My job is looking after Harry, and I can't do that from here."

"I know you're frustrated--"

"James would have thought it a grand idea."

"At fifteen, that's quite possible."

"Harry's fifteen."

"Harry's been fighting this war for four years already. He's older than James was at fifteen."

"Still..."

"If you think James would have gone along with this now, you need to think again."

"I think I do know what James would expect of me. He made me Harry's godfather--"

"Yes. And I've stepped back as far as I can to let you be his godfather. But I'm not going to let you frighten him to death. You're toying with his greatest fears. You have to stop. No more threats to go out in public where you might be caught."

Sirius sat down sullenly. "Put some Potion in a thermos before you go," he said. "You should take it again at lunch. It keeps better than the Wolfsbane. It should still be fine in a few hours."

"I'm sorry."

"It's all right. You were always grumpy after a transformation."

Remus closed his eyes and decided it wasn't worth continuing. He'd made his point. "Right."

There was a low padding sound, and when Remus opened his eyes, he saw that Sirius had tranformed into a dog and was in the process of curling up in front of the fire, his head resting listlessly on his forepaws.

Remus sighed. "I have to oversee Dudley in detention tonight," he told the dog without changing his tone. "So I'll be a bit late. But we'll get the others together, whoever can come. You can tell us what you heard from Harry and the others."

Sirius wagged his tail and gave a dog-grin. It was the best they'd do for ending the argument this morning.

He got changed into his Muggle clothes, Charmed himself into Raymond Lewis, and headed out, tossing a rag doll that Padfoot liked to chew down the stairs to Sirius before he left. A perfectly human laugh followed it up.
14 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
mafdet From: mafdet Date: June 28th, 2004 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
This makes it clear, that Sirius is really having trouble with the fact that Harry is not James. He is not a well man.

House-elf spit cooties on the stairs? Ewwww! :p
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 29th, 2004 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Kreacher's not getting any Good Housekeeping awards, I think. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 8th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
well, you never know, House Elf spit could actually BE polish. You know, built-in cleansers and all. XD
sarah531 From: sarah531 Date: June 28th, 2004 11:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know I don't comment much *blushes*, but I'm loving this story. :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 29th, 2004 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: June 28th, 2004 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved Remus's recognition that James would have grown up and would not have approved of Sirius's behaviour had he been around now. People tend to grow up rather dramatically when they become parents.
Whereas poor old Sirius's psychological growth was stunted by 12yrs in Azkaban.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 29th, 2004 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I didn't have a lot of sympathy for Sirius before I started trying to write him. Now, I feel just awful for him!
natgel From: natgel Date: June 29th, 2004 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi there,
I've just started reading this fic (you've been recc'd at deleterius ) and I love it so far :-)
I've also friended you, hope you don't mind.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 29th, 2004 04:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I never mind friends. :)

(And thanks for the rec, silverhill!)
sreya From: sreya Date: June 29th, 2004 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
*snickering* It wasn't until after I read the whole piece that the chapter title clicked. You make it sound like Remus is the one who's been assigned detention!

Would comment more, but lack of sleep and the prospect of another 11 pages yet to write on my paper are conspiring against me. :(
akilika From: akilika Date: June 29th, 2004 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
But when he realized that Kreacher termed everyone from Dora (as a metamorphmagus) to the Weasley boys (as twins) to Sirius (as a traitor) "unnatural," it had long since ceased to disturb him greatly.


This line amuses me a lot. ^^ And, as a side benefit, I now want to go look up historical attitude toward multiple birth (if there is any). Always a good thing.

Tee. ^^
violet_quill From: violet_quill Date: June 29th, 2004 07:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I've actually just sat down and read the whole story so far from the beginning, and I'm so glad I did! It's such a unique idea, and you write Remus so well. Actually, all of your characterizations seem pretty spot on, and the way that the plot and the tone of the writing works in with OoTP is remarkable. I can't wait to see more. :)
(Deleted comment)
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: November 22nd, 2004 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Hello...I feel a bit cheeky being here, but I thought it would be cheekier to read without letting you know how marvelous this is. I've already read what's up at the Quill and I was bored and browsing about and found this and...well, I squeeed for a bit and started reading!

Remus is fantastic. I've always loved your Remus and Tonks stuff, and this is them at their best. It's a great idea - I love your description of Remus's teaching, and the fleshing out (HA HA) of Dudley's character. It is all very very true to how I imagine things to have taken place while Harry was at school - Sirius's moping for example.

It is all just brilliant. Sorry, this is getting gushy, but I am really loving this story!

Antonia
14 comments or Leave a comment