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Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 3
Well, I did manage to knock out a couple of pages of Neville. (Trevor's repeated escapes are mucking me up, since he has to have done it enough by the time Harry sees Neville at the station that Gran Longbottom is already a bit bored and disappointed with the subject.) So, I figured I'd do some Shifts. We last left Remus and Dora in his office, after Dudley leaves. She's come to drive him home. I thought it was about time to let these folks just have a pleasant evening together. Not much plot-wise.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dora drove her father's car with a casual grace that she couldn't seem to duplicate when she was walking. A flick of the wheel here, a tap of a brake there, talking all the time, watching the brief fringe of countryside around Smeltings disappear into the rapid onslaught of urban London. "...Kingsley had me on paperwork all day," she said. "You'd think he was on the other side, punishing me like that."

"I somehow doubt that was the point."

She shrugged and maneuvered the car casually between two lorries. "He says it has to be done. You'd think there'd be a spell to take care of that dull business by now. Some Charm to just record what you're doing as you're doing it."

"I think most people would strenuously object to that. And given how much of your time you spend in the Order, I'd think you'd object to it as well."

"Right. I know." She sighed and shook her head. "It's just a bother, you know?"

"Yes, I know."

She eased the car around a corner, pulling into the strange little nest of neighborhoods near Grimmauld Place. Sirius's father had certainly not thought to include a spot to store such a Muggle contraption, so Dora stowed the vehicle at a car park three streets away. She maneuvered into a spot and opened the door, promptly catching her foot on the frame and tripping gracelessly out of the vehicle.

Remus shook his head and got out, stretching comfortably. "Are you coming by?" he asked.

"No, I just like to come down here for my health." Dora grinned. "Do you feel up to the company?"

"I'm actually feeling quite well, thank you. Sleep does that."

"I shall have to try it sometime." She came around the car, and had looped her arm companionably through his before he noticed she was doing it. "But today, I think we should go home--well, you should go home and I should go with you--and entertain Sirius. I'm feeling entertaining."

"Oh, dear."

She stuck her nose in the air in mock indignation and managed to twist her ankle on an uneven bit of pavement while she was looking up. Remus caught her and righted her.

She shook her head and disengaged her arm from his. "One of these days, I'll get a handle on this walking business."

She went on ahead, chatting cheerfully all the way into the square, only stopping when they reached the door of Number Twelve. Remus unlocked it and let her in.


"Good day to you, too, Auntie," Dora said, taking one of the curtains.

Remus took the other. "Cheers, Mrs. Black."

They each yanked, pulling the curtains together with great force and knocking into one another painfully. Remus pulled away, rubbing his elbow, which had connected squarely with her bony shoulder. "Sorry about that."

"We should just sew her shut. And nail the curtains to the wall."

"Already tried it," Sirius said, coming up from the kitchen. "Mum was mental, not stupid. She Charmed the whole works." He flapped a hand at the covered portrait. "Kreacher's latest trick is to come through here and uncover her every time he finds that I've 'accidentally hidden Mistress.' Sorry about that."

"Oh, I've got used to her," Dora said dismissively. "I'm starting to think 'unnatural freak' is a term of endearment." She sat down on the stairs. "So, Remus and I were talking. I've spent all day doing paperwork and he's just suffered through a detention with Dudley Dursley. Don't know about him, but for myself, I'm all for relaxing with a large quantity of butterbeer and the world's longest chinwag."

"I can do better than butterbeer," Sirius offered. "There's a good store of firewhiskey in the cellar."

Dora shook her head regretfully. "I'll have to work tomorrow."

"Mulled mead?"

Remus blinked. Since when had Sirius taken to offering Dora stronger spirits?

"I'd best stick with the butterbeer," she said. "But talk. Lots of talk."

"I can do that. What about you, Remus? What are you drinking?"

"I'll stick with the butterbeer as well."

They retired to the parlor, and Sirius brought the drinks. Dora led the conversation, complaining about her paperwork and Kingsley, and a martinet of an office-owl who pecked at her until she paid it. She let it steer off to Remus after an hour or so, and he told Sirius about his adventures with the computer and Dudley, and then about Alan and his electronic conversations about made-up people, realizing for the first time that he hadn't actually shared any of this business with Sirius yet.

They hadn't really had much of the case of butterbeer that Sirius had brought up, but by the time the sun set, the mood had gotten more than a little silly. Dora, now stretched out on the floor, was morphing into female versions of all the male Order members.

She scrunched up her current face (Bill Weasley), and, after a moment's thought, sprouted frazzled gray hair and a pipe-smoke lined face. "Got some business up in Diagon Alley," she said, mimicking Dung's voice. "Mind the you-know-what? Right, right. Well, I'm sure nothing'd 'appen, just for a few seconds there..."

"Oh, come on," Sirius said. "You can go all the way. Just be Dung."

Dora shook her head, relaxing her morph back to her own face, topped by the strange pink hair she'd taken such a liking to this year. "Can't morph male," she said. "I've been trying to do it for years. Reckon I could get all the secrets you lot only tell one another."

Sirius laughed. "Right. All those late nights nattering while we braid one another's hair. Good times, aren't they, Moony?"

"My hair doesn't braid well. Too short."

"Oh, fine," Dora said. "Don't tell me."

"Dora, what on Earth do you think you need to know?" Remus asked.

"If I knew what I didn't know, I'd know it," she said.

"You practically live here--" Sirius said.

"And you've always chummed with your Dad--" Remus said.

"Yes, yes, and most of my friends at Hogwarts were boys. It's not the same as being on the inside." She rolled over and sat up. "Morphing old, I've learnt quite a lot about old people that they would never say if they knew I was young."

"Like what?"

"Anna Garvey thinks Remus has a cute bum."

Remus blushed, and Sirius snorted out a mouthful of butterbeer.

"And since Joe got sick, Miriam misses her weekly--"

Remus and Sirius both held up their hands at the same time.

"--bridge game," Dora said primly. "She misses her weekly bridge game. And bingo. And tea and cucumber sandwiches."

"Valuable information," Remus said.

"Well, it is," Dora insisted. "Really. Honestly, I've been expecting to wake up some morning feeling like some dreadfully staid lady, and thinking there's something wrong with me that I haven't quite got there yet. But I think Anna and Miriam were always like this and always will be. This 'old lady' act is just put on for us young folk. They're just... people. It's good to know."

"And you think men are putting on some act for you?" Sirius asked, grinning around his butterbeer bottle, his eyes dancing. "What do you suppose Remus here is hiding?"

Remus glared at him.

Dora blushed and looked away. "I wouldn't presume," she said, as primly as before, but not at all sarcastically.

"I'm not hiding anything," Remus said. "Honestly."

"That's what my mate Sanjiv says," Dora said, picking up the thread. "Mind, with him, it may be true. Sanjiv talks more than I do."

Remus nodded. "Yes, but with someone as close-mouthed and withdrawn as Sirius here, it must be quite a mystery."

"Oh, shut up," she muttered. "I just thought it would be a new perspective. Of course, Daffy Apcarne always said I was 'one of the boys,' so maybe they were acting normally."

"Is Daffy Apcarne's vision naturally horrible, or was it a curse?" Sirius asked.

Dora smiled widely and raised her butterbeer bottle. "Cheers, Coz." She drained it, then stretched out on the floor again. "It's a bit disshevelled in here," she said. She groped for her wand, then pointed it at one of the rotting curtains. "Mobiliperistroma."

It stood up, and she guided it toward an empty crate. Obediently, it jumped in.

Sirius yawned, unimpressed, and pointed his wand at the crate. "Mensafides." The crate was Transfigured into a table.

"Amicio!" Dora called, and the table was covered with a fluffy pink cloth, complete with tiny bows at the bottom.

"Nice Conjuring," Sirius said with a pained expression. "Get rid of it, please?"

Dora stuck out her tongue and did nothing.

"Coccinatus," Sirius tried, and the cloth turned scarlet, but retained its little pink bows.

Dora raised her wand playfully, and arched an eyebrow at Remus. "What, you're not going to give it a go?"

Sirius laughed, delighted. "Transfiguration duel! Come on, Remus. Dora and I will even be sporting and give you an easy category."

"Pardon me? I happen to be quite adept at Transfiguration."

"Fine," Sirius said. "Target's the candlestick on the mantel. Your choice--animal, vegetable, or mineral?"

"Vegetable," Remus said, feeling ridiculous, but oddly content.

"I'll take animal," Sirius declared.

Dora frowned. "Oh, please! It's already mineral. Challenge me."

"Fungus," Remus said.

Sirius shrugged and raised his wand.

By the time they finished the transfiguration duel, nearly everything in the room had been changed at least once, and several of the loose items in the room were running around and making animal-like noises. (Remus would have been happy to let Sirius win, but in the case of Transfiguration, no one had ever needed to let him, except perhaps James.) Three or four objects were growing spores beneath the sofa, and Sirius's chair was sprouting a great deal of foliage.

All three of them were laughing. Dora was curled up like a large, lazy cat in front of the fire, her eyes sleepy and content. Sirius was lounging in the chair again, flapping leaves out of his face. Remus himself was lying on the sofa, looking at cracks in the ceiling and thinking that they really should clean the place up a bit, then pointing his wand at them. "Bumastus," he said, and vines crept along the cracks.

"I like it," Dora said. She stretched her arms out and laid her head on her elbows. "It's got"--yawn--"character."

"We should probably clean up," Sirius said.

No one moved to do so.

After awhile, Remus waved his wand half-heartedly and said, "Finite incantatum totalus," but it only caught about half the spells in the room. Dora caught a few more with a lazy sweep. Sirius didn't bother. The candlestick, which looked more or less like itself, scurried back and forth among them. Dora petted it like a cat and it eagerly cuddled up to her.

Remus smiled.

They didn't talk anymore, not more than a syllable or two, but none of them made any move to leave. It was too good to be together here.

One by one, they drifted off.
16 comments or Leave a comment
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: August 9th, 2004 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not much plot, you say. Not much do I care, I say. Scenes of pure character are often invaluable to a story, and this one was just charming.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2004 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Hopefully, though, the characterization stuff will ultimately gel with the plot stuff!
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: August 10th, 2004 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
That was adorable. :)
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 10th, 2004 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah - the prequel to your hp100! :) Fern, this was very, very nice! Don't apologize for warm-fuzzies... no, no, keep them coming. I like all the small, but important, details: spells in proper moc-Latin, why they didn't sew Mrs. Black's curtains shut, how they come to be found open all the time, etc. Your tidbits really add to the feel of the story and give me great enjoyment. :)

I've been pasting Shifts into Word (hubby's going to print and read at some point) and it's up to 108 pages! (Regular "wide" margins and 12 pt font.)

I noticed a little typo on "twisted her angle" should be "ankle."

"Pardon me? I happen to be quite adept at Transfiguration." The "Pardon me?" seems a bit strange, to me. (Maybe it's dialect again?) "I happen to be quite adept at Transfiguration, thank you very much." seems more Lupin-esque. But I'm just being picky! I'm not sure what a Brit might say there... Brits?

Good to see Lupin noting Sirius seems to be drinking more heavily - that's a good canon point.

"Can't morph male," she said. "I've been trying to do it for years" Aha! I've always suspected this, as well. She can't morph into just anything: men, animals, etc. but must stick with her species and gender. Sort of keeping with the "metamorphosis" theme -- she can change the "exoskeleton"only, as it were. And, as we know, there is more to male & female than the externals. Brilliant plot point. I hope JKR takes this up at some time.

about Alan and his electronic conversations about made-up people Ouch! Hey! ;-)

This was a delightful addition to my word document, Fern. Thank you very much. It's always a joy to find a new bit of shifts. :)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2004 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
108 pages? Wow. I paste it into WordPad, which doesn't count pages for me. I'm actually a day or so ahead of OotP on page count--108 pages from the place where I started (when Harry gets on the train) is still Monday in OotP; it's Tuesday here. So I'm not dragging things too much. ;P

Fixed the ankle, thanks. I'll think about Remus's line. I wasn't pleased with it when I wrote it, either.

On Tonks's morphing--yeah, I've gotten the impression that people put too much weight on it. Most of what we see in OotP is totally cosmetic, with the most complex change being her height. But in fics, she can become anyone, a la Mystique in X-Men. I guess Rowling will let us know, but I sort of prefer the limited version.
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: August 10th, 2004 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
That was so sweet!!! I liked it very much.
From: cadenza622 Date: August 10th, 2004 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I love how the interaction between the characters is so natural - it sounds like a real conversation, not like you have a list of points they have to go through. It took me until I got up and walked away from the computer that I realized a "significance" of Tonks' observation that older people are just people. Might be handy for her to keep that in mind.... ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2004 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Could be handy for other people to keep in mind as well--that this is grown-up Dora; she's not going to have an abrupt personality change someday, in which she turns into a "staid lady" as she puts it. The bubbliness is just part of who she is, not a sign of immaturity.
greyathena From: greyathena Date: August 10th, 2004 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Still loving the story - have now noticed that this is in fact also a livejournal and that I can therefore friend you in order to get updates. If that's okay.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2004 07:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Totally fine. :) Glad you're enjoying.
likeafox From: likeafox Date: August 10th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Great update! I always love these parts of stories: where characters get a chance to just relax and have a good time in the middle of all the problems they face.

The best part was definitely all the times you managed to show Dora is an adult and a peer to Remus, thank you very much. To me it seemed that even the part about Sirius offering her "stronger spirits" could work for this. Sirius might be drinking a bit too much, but it wasn't inappropriate that he offer Dora those drinks, another sign that she's an adult now.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 10th, 2004 07:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I was actually thinking more of that than of the drinking too much angle when I put it in--I wanted to show Sirius treating her as an equal and thinking of her as an equal, while Remus is rather strenuously maintaining their old roles in his mind (hence his almost prissy reaction to the offer).
vytresna From: vytresna Date: August 10th, 2004 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Always good to see someone reject the "almost" trap.
likeafox From: likeafox Date: August 10th, 2004 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's great that you meant it that way. Just another reason you're such a wonderful writer! :D I love little details like that.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 13th, 2004 03:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I was actually thinking more of that than of the drinking too much angle when I put it in--I wanted to show Sirius treating her as an equal and thinking of her as an equal, while Remus is rather strenuously maintaining their old roles in his mind (hence his almost prissy reaction to the offer).

argh. How did I miss that? Perhaps my reading skills aren't quite up to snuff this week. :/ On my second read through, I can see that this bit was one in which Lupin was supposed to "discover" that Tonks is, indeed, a grown-up. Ah well. Nice work! :)
jetamors From: jetamors Date: August 10th, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)

I just got caught up on this story.

I rather like this bit, the idea of a Transfiguration duel.
16 comments or Leave a comment