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Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 4

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

He wasn't sure how long he'd been awake when he finally decided that he couldn't feign sleep anymore. He opened his eyes.

Dora was still on the floor near the fireplace, blinking placidly. She gave him a dazed sort of smile and he fought off an urge to crawl down and muss her pink hair even more than a night on the floor had mussed it.

She rolled over on her side and laid her head against her arm. "I meant to go home," she said drowsily.

He smiled at her. "I'm glad you stayed."

She made a contented sort of sound, blinked a few times, then seemed to doze off again.

"If the pair of you are quite finished with your morning flirt," Sirius said with acid humor, "we may have a small problem."

"Mm-mm," Dora said. "It's--" She raised her left arm without opening her eyes. "What time is it, Remus?"

Remus leaned down and looked at her watch. "Six in the morning."

"Six in the morning," Dora repeated. "Unless there are Death Eaters in the room with us, I'm sleeping."

"No Death Eaters in the room," Sirius said.

Dora made an unidentifiable sound.

"But Molly Weasley is in the kitchen."

"Didn't do anything," Dora muttered and rolled over. Remus noted that in her sleep, she'd lost hold of part of her morph. The hair at the back of her head was decidedly black. And Black.

Sirius grabbed a throw pillow and lobbed it at Remus's head. "Wake up, will you?"

"I'm awake."

"Those curves you're staring at aren't going to change. At least not while she's asleep."

Remus sat up. "It's getting old, Sirius."

"You're telling me you weren't looking?"

"I'm telling you that curves and other sundry parts of the vista weren't particularly on my mind."

Dora rolled over. "Oh, my curves bore you, do they?"

"That's not what I said."

"So they don't bore you," Sirius said.

"I didn't say that, either, and I wish you'd both drop it."

Dora, apparently resigned to being awake, arched her back and pulled herself to a seated position. "Sorry, Remus. It is a bit early for it, isn't it?"

Remus tried to think of something snappy to say in return, but nothing occured to him. He flapped his hand at her to brush the subject off.

"I'd forgot what a grumpy git you are in the morning," Sirius said, smiling. "Do you remember James saying that sunrise might as well be a full moon?"

Remus remembered. He hadn't found it at all amusing at the time--it had been very early morning, not long after they'd all found out about his lycanthropy and he hadn't known what to make of it--but in retrospect, it did seem to be a good memory. James had said it in his offhand way, the same way he complained about Peter's bad housekeeping or Sirius's endless pacing of the dormitory. Peter can't fold his socks, and Remus is a werewolf. Same idea. "One forgets these things at one's peril," he said.

"I noticed," Sirius said, rolling his eyes.

"Doesn't he live here?" Dora asked.

"We don't talk much."

"I'm not the one who turns into a dog every time people leave."

Sirius shrugged, not at all chastened.

Dora rolled her eyes. "How long has Molly been here?"

"I heard her going downstairs about half an hour ago," Sirius said. "She tripped over something and ran to Mum's portrait before it started screaming. That's what woke me up. She's cooking now."

"Did she see me?" Dora asked.

"I have no idea."

"We could open the front door," Remus suggested. "Say 'Good morning, Dora,' and pretend she just dropped by."

Dora raised her eyebrows. "Or, we could just say, 'Good morning, Molly--breakfast smells lovely.'"

Remus looked over his shoulder. Molly Weasley was standing in the doorway, her eyes narrowed, but looking oddly merry. She gave up and shook her head, smiling. "You all know better. Come eat."

"I was expecting a lecture," Dora said as they walked to the kitchen.

"You're a grown woman," Molly said. "If you want to throw your reputation away, that's your choice." She smiled. "Of course, you all looked about five years old when I went in at first. I don't quite have the heart to lecture you. I trust you not to do it when the children are here."

"You do know it was just a Transfiguration duel, don't you?"

Molly laughed. "Yes, I know. I have seven children. I know the difference between a Transfiguration duel and a night of... affection," she said.

"There was plenty of affection," Sirus said grumpily, sitting down and digging into the eggs she'd set out for him.

"You know what I mean."

Remus sat down and decided to steer the conversation away from this. "Were you on duty last night?"

"Yes. Not a sign of him yet. Honestly, I'm not sure what I'll do if he comes while I'm there." She smiled nervously. "It would be my luck that he can see through Invisibility Cloaks, and I wouldn't get a chance to send the message."

"You'll be fine," Remus assured her.

"What about you?" she asked. "What are you doing today?"

"I have an assignment."

"I thought as much. It's the Dursley boy, isn't it? Harry's cousin?"

Remus looked up at her, surprised. "How did you know?"

"Well, Arthur told Dumbledore quite awhile ago that someone should look after the boy at school. He's a bit helpless there. And Sirius said you were working on Monday, and now you seem so happy... you're either teaching again or--well, I can't think of anything else." She busied herself serving bacon.

"Well, I suppose it doesn't matter if you know. I'll make sure Dumbledore knows you're part of it."

They had a pleasant enough breakfast, the subject veering away from how Molly had come upon them. She and Sirius only got into three arguments in the course of the meal (what Harry needed to know about, what Harry needed from the adults around him, and--surreally--the best brand of stain remover for the carpet on the stairs; Remus was beginning to suspect that Sirius was deliberately picking fights with her), and they were all of short duration.

When he couldn't put it off any longer, he went upstairs to clean up and do his appearance Charms, then said goodbye to the three of them (Sirius and Molly had moved into a fourth argument, though Remus was unable to discern its subject, and Dora was listening with a thoughtful expression on her face) and Apparated to his spot at Smeltings.

The weather was dreary this morning, a bit more than a fog but not quite to the level of drizzle, and he was glad to get to his office. Alan was settled in at his desk (for once, not his computer), marking algebra homework with a weary expression and smoking a pipe. He looked up when Remus came in. "Lewis," he said.

"Good morning, Alan."

"Dursley stopped by this morning. Told me to tell you to check your e-mail. I told him I'd help you muddle through."

"I think I've got it," Remus said. "I'll let you know if I seem to be on the verge of destroying the machine."

Alan grinned and went back to his papers.

Remus turned on the computer, willing himself to remember all the steps and not ask Alan for advice. He selected Xterm and the little white box opened. After logging in, he chose PINE mail, which seemed like the most logical place to go. There was a rather long list of messages--fifteen or sixteen--most of them with subject lines suggesting that they were general information. But at the top of the list, with the sender listed as "Dudley V. Dursley," was one labeled, "Not coming to detention tonight."

It was in a dark-on-light bar that made Remus think it was pre-selected, so he hit "Enter," and saw:

From: Dudley V. Dursley (dursley@smeltings.ac.uk)
Subject: Not coming to detention tonight
Date: 1995-09-10

I reckon if you've got this far, you can run your computer. I'm going to boxing practice tonight. Here's an essay for you instead.

Remus hit the down arrow, and found, typed neatly below the terse note, "HITLER LIKED MAGIC, TOO."

He rubbed his eyes and scanned the rather poorly thought-out (but not entirely untruthful) essay, and decided that he and Dudley would need to have a long talk during tonight's detention.
8 comments or Leave a comment
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: August 14th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I like how Dudley's so determined to be difficult. I look forward to the next part. You know these "Shifts" are a bit like a chocolate left in my friends-list. I brighten up the moment I see another chapter.
melyanna From: melyanna Date: August 14th, 2004 09:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Loved this installment. I was thinking just the other day that Dudley's relationship with Remus was oddly similar to Harry's, but instead of being a parallel it's more like perpendicular. :p I like the fact that you're not painting Dudley with the broad stroke of Harry's bias, and that Dudley does have a brain.

And of course, before that, the interaction among Remus, Sirius, Dora, and Molly was priceless. The bit about carpet cleaner cracked me up. I also find it cute that Sirius seems more comfortable with the idea of Dora being with Remus than Remus does.

(And one little nitpicky thing — I actually reread the first seven chapters earlier this week and noticed that you've spelled Garvey's first name three different ways now. I didn't know if you'd noticed and just hadn't updated that on your site or what.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 14th, 2004 09:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I kept forgetting whether I'd used Allan or Allen, so a couple of chapters ago, I decided to go with the standard "Alan." I haven't gone back and changed it on HB.

Glad you liked it!
sophonax From: sophonax Date: August 14th, 2004 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really am in love with the way you write Dudley. He's been a pain so long he's forgotten how to be anything else, but you can say this: the kid has *convictions.* Seriously flawed ones, but even if he's not bright to get all the way around an idea, he's pretty tenacious in sticking to it once he gets it in his head.

The beginning of this installment felt a little less effortless, though--the whole "curves" discussion felt out-of-character for the way you've written Tonks' feelings about her feelings about Remus previously, the tight denial wrapped in obvious affection. I feel like Tonks still looks *up* to Remus in the most important ways, which is a hurdle she'll have to get over if they're to end up together. I don't think she's gotten past it enough at this point to feel quite comfortable joking with him about her body, so that part of the conversation (and the what-to-do-about-Molly discussion) made it feel more like an exchange among three teenaged peers.

Still loving it, though, especially your take on the Sirius/Molly interaction:

Remus was beginning to suspect that Sirius was deliberately picking fights with her

Took you long enough, didn't it, Remus? The thing I love about that interaction is that in every Sirius/Molly fight I read, even though I *agree* more with Sirius, I always end up *sympathizing* more with Molly. The way you write Sirius as right-but-impossible is just right.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 14th, 2004 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I did want to catch them acting younger than they are (both Remus and Sirius kind of got stuck in time, Sirius in Azkaban and Remus in a repetitive holding pattern), but you're right. I wasn't happy with that, but I needed them to get through the conversation. I may re-write and leave Dora out of it.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: August 14th, 2004 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just wanted to say - I'm really, really liking this look at Dudley. In fact, I really want to see him starring in more scenes. Any possibility of a big Dudley-centered scene soon, or should I be patient? :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 14th, 2004 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm with Sonetka, a bit. Your version of Dudley is so interesting by comparison with Harry's version. I keep wanting to see more of him. I'm *dying* to know what sort of long talk Remus feels he can have with Dudley who ISN'T an idiot and KNOWS that Remus is a wizard. Your version of Dudley also appears not to be quite as paranoid about magic as he and certainly his parents are in canon. I mean, he seems relatively unperturbed when he sees more proofs of Remus' magic (ie getting shocked by the mouse), and he wrote this whole essay with the 'm' word in the title...interesting.

mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 16th, 2004 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I wanted to take the weekend to do another read through on Shifts (and a read through on JKR's book fair interview) before posting.

I *like* your Dudley. Yes, JRK has said "Dudley is just Dudley" meaning he's not the star of the show, but obviously there is a bit more to him -- Harry, himself, wondered what it might have been that spoiled Dudley heard when the Dementors drew near. I think that only changes your story in making sure whatever happened to Dudley doesn't change *Dudley* though it might change what we feel for him. Does that make sense? (I think you're already doing that, btw.) You aren't making Dudders some misunderstood hero -- he's very much still the spoiled, nasty person he ever was -- you're just showing us what else *might* have happened. To be honest, it's more about how the reader's perception of Dudley changes, than about his actually changing. What more could a writer do than that? Brilliant!

I do see what you were doing w/the Tonks/Lupin/Sirius scene. We (the readers) needed to see several thing: a Tonks who is not uncomfortable with her friendship with both Lupin and Sirius, a Sirius who is recognizing more and more what lies beneath the surface for Lupin and Tonks, and a Lupin who is continuing to deny (more ferociously as it becomes more obvious to him) that anything has changed in his relationship with little-girl Tonks.

BUT, I have to agree w/mrsscheisskopf that having it all happening at once doesn't exactly mesh with the characters as you've been portraying them. Right now, both Dora and Remus are uncomfortable with each other as Female and Male. They're comfortable as "friends" -- Dora more so than Remus, obviously. So having the whole curves conversation I think would mortify them both -- at this point. I also don't know that Molly would speak so freely in front of Lupin and Sirius.

It might "feel" a bit different, if Lupin should overhear Dora and Molly having the "Breakfast smells lovely" and "You're a grown woman, if you want to throw away your reputation" discussion, which Molly might stop when the men enter. (It just strikes me that she would feel *obligated* to tell Tonks that a young woman spending the night in a room with two men wasn't the best idea, but that she might not feel at liberty to discuss it in front of the men involved.)

I think Sirius and Lupin would better discuss Dora's "curves" outside of her ear shot, but they could still have the whole "grumpy git" conversation back in ear shot. So, for instance the Trio might head down to the kitchen with Remus and Sirius pausing on the stairs for their private man-to-man stuff, then they walk in on Molly and Dora's woman-to-woman stuff and then they all have the rest of it.

I loved Dora losing her "morph" as she slept. I imagine it would be even more than just a "bit" in the back when she is sound asleep in her own bed - pajamas and such. Sort of like falling asleep with make up on! I really love your attention to detail!

Hitler liked Magic, too? Oh you are going to drive me mad, woman! You always leave off on the most interesting parts! I'm dying to know what Dudley knows, what happened to Old Joe and WHO the woman is. You've done a brilliant job in setting the scene and building up the tension on all fronts.

I hope you break through your temporary writers block, my dear. :) Sending happy and creative thoughts your way...

Thanks for another terrific installment. I'm enjoying them mightily.

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