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Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 5 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 8: Thoroughly Modern Mr. Lewis, part 5
Well, I don't really like what I wrote at the hospital yesterday, so I'll wing it. We left Remus at Smeltings, having received an e-mail from Dudley informing him that he (Dudley) would not be attending detention. Attached was an essay titled "Hitler liked magic, too." Remus has reached the conclusion that he needs to have a talk with Dudley. But there's a whole school day here.

I'm going to go back and edit the previous scene, so that Remus overhears Molly talking to Dora about her reputation, rather than simply having it said in his presence.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dora showed up for lunch, offering no particular reason for doing so. She'd brought enough for Alan, but he chose to leave, shaking his head oddly and saying, "You know, I really ought to ask Anna to do this again, from time to time." Then he left.

Dora laid out the meal, not quite looking up. "I, er... shouldn't have stayed last night. Molly reckons people might think... things they oughtn't, and wouldn't if they knew us."

"Right. I'm sorry, I should have reminded you to go."

"Right. People... are odd." Dora bit her lip. "Would you mind talking to Sirius? He keeps asking me to move in and I can't."

"You've been handling him perfectly well."

"But would you talk to him?"

"Of course. You'll break his heart, though."

"Would I?" she mused. Then she shook off the unusual awkward mood--literally shaking her head, shoulders, and arms like she was trying to warm up--and her normal smile came through. "Anyway, I brought good things for lunch. Molly cooked before she left." She wiggled her eyebrows, gloating over acquiring such a treasure.

As they served themselves, sitting on the floor in front of his desk with lunch spread out on a large headscarf of Dora's, Remus let his mind wander. This was becoming routine. Chatter about the school over sandwiches--it was rather like being in the faculty room at Hogwarts. Dora seemed genuinely interested in life at Smeltings. Of course, he felt a bit selfish--she wasn't free to talk about a great deal of her work, so his tended to monopolize the conversation. And she did love her job--he knew that much--but...

"Dora, can I ask you something?"

"Oh, never."

Remus ignored her and listend very carefully to the sounds of the building. The lift didn't seem to be coming up, and no one was moving on the floor. "Dora, do you know much about wizading law?"

"Only what I need to know to keep people from breaking it."

"That's all I need."

Dora took a moment to listen carefully to the building now. "What are you planning to do?"

"Dudley knows. I don't know how he knows. But I'm certain of it. If I tell him I'm here..."

Dora was shaking her head. "Dudley's Harry's cousin--his brother, legally speaking. The Statute of Secrecy doesn't apply to him, if that's what you're worried about."

"It is."

She looked at her mostly-finished sandwich like she was expecting it to give her advice, then put it down. "Remus, are you sure it would be the best notion? It's not illegal, but this is Dudley Dursley. Telling him you're a wizard might not be the best way to get him to let you in."

"It's an instinct," he said. "I ignored it on Monday. Or talked myself out of it, at any rate."

Dora frowned dubiously, but then shrugged. "You know more about working with kids than I do. Your instincts are probably better than mine."

"And would the Ministry notice a small spell of some sort?"

"No. Only if they were paying attention. And if they were paying any special attention to Smeltings, you wouldn't need to be here."

Remus nodded. "Thank you. I never studied the law much, except for the lycanthropy laws."

Dora made a face, grimacing and morphing subtly to look a bit like a rampaging troll, then she settled back into the Dora Lewis character and shook her head.

Remus laughed.

A slight hum at the end of the corridor announced the arrival of the lift, and a moment later, its soft bell sounded. Real talk was over.

Dora stayed until they finished eating, chatting about macrame, a craft which she had decided Dora Lewis ought to take up, in her ever-increasing elaboration on the role. She helped Remus hoist himself back up to his desk (it was, to his annoyance, not just an act that his hips bothered him these days after sitting on the floor for any length of time), kissed his forehead, and left with a wave.

He went to his fifth form class, feeling resigned but oddly excited. This was the right thing to do. A mad thing to do, but every instinct he had told him that he should do it anyway. It was far from the script he'd intended to play here, and he didn't know where it would lead... but as Sirius had told him long, long ago, that was when the play always got interesting.

He smiled as he turned the corner into the classroom. That had been the morning in first year that they'd come to visit him in the infirmary, asking if he'd caught any prey the night before, or if he'd rather have some bacon from breakfast. All perfectly casual, followed up with some candy they'd brought from his stash and a game of chess (between James and Sirius, at the end of the bed; Peter had seemed content to watch them, and Remus had been to busy trying not to cry in front of his friends to commit to anything else).

"Did you get my e-mail?" Dudley called from the back of the room.

"See me after class," he said. He went to the desk, checked the chair, and then sat down. "Now, I'd like to talk about foreign reactions to what was happening in Germany in the build-up to the Third Reich. Young intellectuals all over world went to Hitler Youth rallies. Quite a few of them came back with grand reports. What do you all think of that? Paul, you did your first essay on this. Tell us what you found."

Paul Freehof stood beside his desk and looked around a bit defiantly. "It's really rather similar to what the intellectuals did in Russia, under Stalin. It was something new and different and they liked it for that reason, I suppose. So they ignored things. They thought that German antisemitism would go away if..." He bit his lip, then shook his head. "Mr. Lewis, people are stupid, and I'm afraid that's all I really have to say. The essay was just a pile of synonyms for it."

"Fair enough," Remus said. "What do the rest of you think?"

The class veered dangerously close to wholescale denigration of intellectuals, which Remus didn't care for, so he redirected the conversation to talk about what image the Reich had been deliberately trying to impress upon its visitors, and how it had done so. By the time the class bell rang, tempers were a bit short, as they often tended to be with perfect hindsight. It wasn't a bad thing; it meant they were actually thinking, to some extent. Remus looked forward to continuing the conversation on Friday.

They crowded out, and Dudley tried to go with him, but Remus raised his his eyebrows and pointed to a chair in the front row. Dudley glowered, but went to it.

The last of the class got out the door, and Remus waited until the noise in the corridor subsided.

Dudley stood up again. "I did my ruddy extra essay," he said. "I have boxing practice." He started toward the door.

Remus drew his wand from his briefcase, pointed it at the door, and said, "Claudeo."

The door slammed shut.

Dudley turned. Remus pointed at the chair with his wand, and it turned.

"Have a seat, Mr. Dursley," he said.
24 comments or Leave a comment
mafdet From: mafdet Date: August 22nd, 2004 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whee! Another Shifts chappie! I can't wait to see what happens in the next chapter, now that the kneazle is out of the bag about "Mr. Lewis."

I loved the Dora/Lupin luncheon. The interaction between them is so in character and so wonderful. The dialogue flows.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Yes, that dialogue came a lot easier than the dialogue in the last section.
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: August 22nd, 2004 10:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
You make me go "Ooooo~!" when I sould be sleeping.^_^

I always look forward to your posts.

bimo From: bimo Date: August 22nd, 2004 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a neat cliffhanger to end the chapter! I'm looking forward to reading the conversation between Remus and Dudley when I've returned from my holiday trip to Rügen (really pretty isle in the north-east of Germany)


Also, it was good thing you had Dora mention the Statute of Secrecy, because that reminded me to be more cautious and precise about how my OC for the Dumbledore's Grid challenge feels about interacting with muggles. She's a good girl, and a faithful employee of the German Ministry of Magic. However one, who still has much too close ties with the muggle world of her parents *g*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that Statute has got to be getting pretty fuzzy around the edges. I'm introducing a whole weird American belief in "middies"--people who are sort of magic, but not really, and no one can tell whether or not the Statute applies (and of course, in Boston, loads of streetcorner debate on the issue).
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: August 23rd, 2004 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Does the Statute apply outside Great Britain?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's international, and was adopted... I don't remember when and am currently too lazy to look it up. Sixteen or seveteen hundreds, I think.
dipsas From: dipsas Date: August 22nd, 2004 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my. I can't wait to find out how Dudley takes this, if he'll think he's gaining or rather losing influence over the magical world co-existing with his own.

'Shifts' is always a treat.
ajaxbreaker From: ajaxbreaker Date: August 23rd, 2004 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Another wonderful chapter. Dora's characterisation in particular was lovely, I adore her light-hearted ways, such as making the troll face and the sudden interest in macrame. And I can't wait to see how Dudley will react to Remus' revelation.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: August 23rd, 2004 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Something very interesting about this scene is the way you ended it. We're in Remus's POV all along, and we know perfectly well he's benevolent -- but in the last few lines, all the cues are there to see the scene as ominous from Dudley's perspective. You backed out, just a bit, from anything specific to Remus's thoughts (or perspective, except that Dudley wasn't looking and couldn't have seen the wand removed from the briefcase), and the last few lines manage (unless it's just me) to look rather sinister.

I think I like the effect. It's kind of disconcerting for a minute.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I didn't intend that, but you're right--it does work that way. Cool. :)
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: August 23rd, 2004 05:34 am (UTC) (Link)
One minor typo: wizading missing the R

Otherwise, oooh I'm enjoying this.
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: August 23rd, 2004 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I am really beginning to love the relationship you paint between Remus & Tonks. There is so much unspoken affection there, and they are so comfortable with each other - it's just lovely. And it's so like Remus not to connect the dots as to what this might mean. Bless him :)
sreya From: sreya Date: August 23rd, 2004 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I have this lovely image in my head of Dudley hyperventilating and falling over. *laugh* The ending turned out interesting. All of Remus's hesitation and deliberation over telling Dudley seemed to imply that he'd ease into it -- and then he turns around and intimidates Dudley anyway. Which actually may work with Dudley, since the boy seems to only recognize intimidation as authority anyway.

Probably doesn't need to be said, but I'm looking forward to the next scene. As always.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I think Remus's instincts are good here, but I'm not sure how Dudley's going to react yet.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank You! :)

Thank you for another wonderful section of Shifts. This was such a delight; you should "wing it" more often!

Your Tonks is just - perfect. She *is* JKR's Tonks and I absolutely adore her. You kept her in character w/o ever crossing the line - for instance the way she wouldn't look up at him when explaining what Molly said. It was clear that she agreed but didn't WANT to agree and thought it utterly unfair that she HAD to agree for the time being. This little moment between she and Remus was as sweet as any you've written so far, and there was such a give-and-take in their conversation showing how much of a partnership they're becoming. Warm fuzzies abound!

What a bittersweet memory when Remus recalls how his three friends told him they knew about his condition. That thought coming out when Remus was about to do something a bit daring, shows how still close to his heart all three of his friends are, and how they still influence his decisions. *sniff* Good bit of character detail there!

Gosh, I want to be in that Smeltings class. Lupin's interaction with his students is well written and delightful, as usual. "It's really rather similar to what the intellectuals did in Russia, under Stalin. It was something new and different and they liked it for that reason, I suppose. So they ignored things. Hmmm... intellectuals do seem to hop on the bandwagon, don't they? Things haven't changed much. You probably didn't intend this as a political statement. Or did she? :) Still - you can't miss the parallel.

The cliffhanger was brilliant. I'm off to find a latin/english dictionary to discover what claudeo might mean, I assume it's a locking spell beyond colloportus... aha, found it: claudo (clausus) - to confine, shut up, close, blockade, besiege
Blockade! Oh, I like it.

I agree that you pulled back in a rather sinister way in the final two/three sentences. We have no idea what Remus is about to do, and he's not telling us.

Well done, Fern! Thank you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank You! :)

I got Claudeo a bit more simply--just plugged in "close" and "shut" into an English-Latin dictionary (infinitive, claudere). The proper imperative is "claudete," but I wanted to prove I'd done it myself, rather than cribbing from Buffy, where Willow tried and failed to close the curtains with Claudete. I didn't want to lock it, so I didn't use colloportus.

Hmmm... intellectuals do seem to hop on the bandwagon, don't they? Things haven't changed much. You probably didn't intend this as a political statement. Or did she? :) Still - you can't miss the parallel.

Reading books on the history of antisemitism (a depressing but interesting study), it never ceases to amaze me that people would just go to these places and say about the most outrageous beliefs, "Oh, that's just a fringe thing, and it's a Jewish problem anyway." I can imagine a similar attitude in the wizarding world about the original Voldie war--"Okay, they have some nutty ideas about Muggle-borns, but the whole wizarding pride thing is great, and the rest... well, it's really just a problem for the Muggle-borns and half-bloods, right?"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2004 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank You! :)

(Arg, Latin fan just realizing, of course a "clause" of a sentence--a "closed-off" part of the sentence. How'd I miss that?)
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant cliffhanger! I am impatiently awaiting the next installment.
greyathena From: greyathena Date: August 23rd, 2004 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Terrific! Hope your foot is feeling better. I can't wait for the talk with Dudley, and I'm really liking the way the Tonks/Remus relationship is going.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 23rd, 2004 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, cliffhanger! That was a pretty dramatic way to go about affirming Dudley's suspicion. I'm *dying* to know what Dudders will think. I agree with someone (urgh, can't remember who said it...) that the end of the scene could look pretty intimidating to Dudley--especially given his history with magic...the boa, the pigtail, the toffee, Aunt Marge...

It was far from the script he'd intended to play here, and he didn't know where it would lead... but as Sirius had told him long, long ago, that was when the play always got interesting.

I loved this line--it was one of those that made me stop and read it again. In some ways Remus and Sirius are an odd pair of friends (especially given the manic-depressive, hair-triggered Sirius we see in book five, they seem lopsided, with Sirius the loose cannon that Remus has to manage). But people like Sirius are dynamic, moving, shaking types, and its good to see that Sirius has his own form of wisdom and to see that Remus is drawing more from the friendship than simple acceptance. Not that I would have doubted that, of course, but it's not always something that authors capture.

And Tonks. That was a wonderful lunch scene. I loved the awkwardness--particularly hers--of her having to tell Remus what Molly said--a nice choice.

vytresna From: vytresna Date: August 23rd, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, this is going to be a completely unsubtle interrogation. As I see it. That was a bit of an unexpected turn, but it's certainly better than the painfully slow character development I foresaw. (No, I'm not a writer. How could you tell?)

And yes, that bit of wisdom from Sirius was just so cool.

Re: the interview, someone said that both the reason that Dumbledore didn't try to kill Voldemort and why he didn't die was that Harry possesses a bit of his soul, and they must both die. Yes, it's perfectly reasonable, pertaining to the prophecy and all, and that would then be the crime implied in self-incrimination. You know, before that was brought up I was almost sure that JKR had a different definition of "incriminate" from everyone else in the world. Two full days of sand-headed neo-Fudgian glory. The lengths my subfandom will go to.. mine were relatively reasonable.. but nope, opposite side of the coin. Harry must die for Voldemort to, or some other authorial crime. Without which incrimination does not exist.

I'm disgusted with myself.

purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: August 23rd, 2004 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
readerravenclaw From: readerravenclaw Date: August 23rd, 2004 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no particular comments to make, but I just figured I should let you know that I read all new installments of Shifts and enjoy them immensely. The ending was very well done; is this the end of an entire chapter, or just an installment? I'm eagerly looking forward to the next part. :)
24 comments or Leave a comment