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Shifts, Chapter 14: The Evans Temper, Pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 14: The Evans Temper, Pt. 1
When Joe faints at a boxing match, Remus is unpleasantly surprised by Dudley, who blames him for Joe's illness and decks him. Dudley is even more unpleasantly surprised when Smeltings pulls him from the boxing team over it.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

By the time they reached Grimmauld Place, Dora had calmed down somewhat. Shedding the Dora Lewis appearance seemed to help her do this, though her spiky hair and smooth, unlined face went oddly with the old-fashioned string of pearls around her neck, or the new (but still horrid) cloth hat she'd bought so that she wouldn't need to keep borrowing Arabella's. Since Dora Lewis was also taller than Dora Tonks, she was tripping over the hem of her skirt as they walked two streets from the car park.

"Oh, bloody--" she muttered as they reached the door and she tripped into the wooden frame full tilt. "We'll be a matched set by the time we get inside."

"Why don't you just shrink the skirt?"

"The way I do householdy spells? I'd end up with my knickers showing."

Remus rolled his eyes; Dora's refusal to learn householdy spells was the only thing holding her back. Andromeda had learned them as a rebellion against her house-elf aided upbringing, but for Dora, they weren't rebellion, but conformity. "Would you like me to do it? I'm reasonably good with clothes. I don't have many and they often need fixing."

Dora thought about it and shook her head, opening the door. "We're home now. Well, you are, anyway, and I have some clothes that fit stowed here."

Miraculously, Dora's crash into the door hadn't awakened Mrs. Black's portrait, and they tiptoed by it (Dora sticking out her tongue) to keep that luck alive as they went down into the kitchen. Sirius, who had been crouched by the hearth jabbing his wand at a patch of stubborn soot he was trying to clean, stood up quickly. He was covered in ashes and dirt.

"What happened to you?" he demanded.

"His favorite student," Dora said. She manhandled him onto the bench by the table. "The Muggle bloke who looked at him said it wasn't anything to worry about."

"Well, we don't have to worry at all," Sirius said, pulling his wand.

Remus held up his hand. "Don't heal it."

"Why not?"

"Don't you think it would be a bit suspicious for an old man to be struck by a boxing champion and come back in two days with no bruise?"

Sirius grumbled, but lowered his wand, then changed his mind and used it to Summon the teapot and three mugs. He poured three cups. "What was he on about anyway?"

"He blames me for Joe's illness." Remus took his tea. "Joe was there, and he had a fainting spell. Dudley assumed I did it."

"Don't you think we should tell him he's doing it?" Dora asked, Summoning the sugar bowl for her usual four spoons. "I mean, at least he'll stay away from Joe if we do."

"Is there some reason we haven't done that?" Sirius asked.

"I don't know," Remus admitted. "I've toyed with the idea. Right now, there's just so little we can do about any of it, because of the damned Ministry. We can't get either one of them to St. Mungo's without bringing suspicion on the Order, and we can't even sneak them to Andromeda, with her under such tight surveillance."

"We really need to recruit some Healers," Dora said.

"Mmm." Remus let the steam from the teacup caress his bruised cheek for a moment. "And if I do tell Dudley, will he believe me? Or will he assume I'm lying to him? And if he thinks I'm lying, what will he do?"

No one had much to say to this.

Abruptly, Sirius gave a short bark of laughter.

"What is it?" Dora asked.

"Well, I don't know about you lot--well, about Remus, I suppose, since you wouldn't be thinking about it, Dora--but I've wondered where Lily was in that boy. I was right in the first place. He's definitely got the Evans temper."

Remus smiled, then winced as the swollen cheek protested the movement. "You're right."

"If Lily'd thought you'd hexed... who was her favorite teacher?"

"She was fond of Kettleburn."

"That's right. Why didn't I remember that?" Sirius looked annoyed with himself, then shook it off. "If she thought you'd hexed Kettleburn, she'd have cursed you into next year."

"I don't think it's quite the same," Remus said. Lily had been fond of Kettleburn, but Dudley loved Joe Levinson (though of course, he'd never, ever put it in so many words). After a lifetime of parents who had spoiled him madly but never believed in him at all--never believed he would succeed at anything... Well, it didn't matter. Unlike Lily, Dudley needed that personal interest level. Sirius was right--love or no love, Lily would have cursed them on sight for attacking anyone in her circle.

Sirius ignored his interruption anyway, his eyes getting bright with his vivid recollections. "I think Harry's got a bit of it," he said. "That night in Shrieking Shack... at least up until let Wormtail go, that was pure James..." He sighed. "No one would have thought that about them, you know? That James was the forgiving one."

"No one except us," Remus said, letting his mouth simply fill in lines. James would have forgiven Peter--or at least given him a chance to live rather than die--but that was a far cry from calling him "the forgiving one."

"Well, of course."

Dora cleared her throat. "I don't mean to interrupt, but I think we ought to decide what to do about Dudley. Remus has already nixed my best idea, which was to hang him by his ankles in a dungeon and force him to listen to Celestina Warbeck on the wireless."

"Oh, she does have a cruel streak!" Sirius said, delighted. "I was beginning to wonder where your Black blood had gone."

"It doesn't take the weight of the family tree to be frustrated with Dudley Dursley," Dora said dryly. "And it's not like I'd actually do it. Just... fantasize about it."

Remus shook his head. "There are reasons to be frustrated with Dudley," he said. "But this?" He pointed to the bruise on his cheek. "This isn't one of them. This is because he's confused and frightened, not because he's bully. He's not a--" Remus stopped before using the word. "He's not an entirely lost cause. He's able to love someone."

He didn't really expect this to sway Sirius or Dora--they were both in full protective mode, and if he had learned one thing about the Blacks over the years, it was that this was not an easily altered state--and it didn't, but they did at least seem to realize that he wasn't interested in abusing Dudley right now. They looked at one another over his head, and Sirius shrugged and shook his head, as if to say, Well, what do you expect? It's Moony.

Remus had seen that particular bit of stage business from Sirius many times at Hogwarts--any time he'd started to object to a plan over the first few years, as a matter of fact. It's just Lupin being peculiar. Oh, Remus is antsy. Moony's having a conscience attack. It had bothered him at first, until he understood that Sirius actually ignored him when he didn't care. By the time he started making faces, he was uncomfortable with whatever he imagined Remus objecting to.

And Dora... was Dora. She didn't have Sirius's cruel streak, even if she had his imagination of it. But she had always, for some fully unfathomable reason, assumed that it was her duty to protect him, and Dudley's ill-advised strike had sealed her opinion, at least for now. She might suddenly change her mind and bring Dudley into her circle of care, and lash out at anyone who threatened him. But there would no longer be neutral ground on that front.

He gave up, excused himself, and went to bed. He could still hear the two of them talking when he fell asleep.

They didn't discuss Dudley the next morning (Dora went to her flat to sleep, but returned shortly after ten), instead choosing to work on clearing the mouldy cartons in the attic. Kreacher, who had been keeping himself scarce during the days lately, suddenly made his presence known by repeatedly "mistaking" discarded items for items that Master wanted put on prominent display in the main part of the house. After awhile, they took to simply destroying the items on sight, rather than collecting them for a larger destruction later.

It was early evening by the time they all nearly collapsed into the kitchen, covered with dust, meaning to get dinner and perhaps have a game of cards if they could agree on one. But when they got there, a veiled witch smoking a horrible pipe was already at the table.

"Dung!" Sirius said. "Don't mean to sound like Molly Weasley, mate, but do you really need to smoke that in here?"

"Oh, right," Mundungus Fletcher said, and put it out. "Sorry."

"Did you need something?" Remus asked.

"No, no. I've got news for you from Hogwarts. You're not going to like it."
11 comments or Leave a comment
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: October 28th, 2004 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh, the suspense!

I love how you think up little character details that make wonderful sense. Like how Andromeda does housework because it's actually liberating/rebellious for her, or at least it was, while it's the opposite for Tonks.

You know, this story is suffering from a severe lack of R/T porn scenes. You should get on that.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2004 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, this story is suffering from a severe lack of R/T porn scenes. You should get on that.

I know. It's a horrible failing. I'm such a bad fanfic writer! There are so many porno possibilities with a woman who can shape her body like so much Play-Dough and a guy who's all wolfy in his basic essence, and the most he's done so far is kiss her fingers?
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: October 29th, 2004 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Get with the program, Fern!

More pr0n!

I hope you know I'm kidding, though.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: October 28th, 2004 11:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! And posted before my bedtime!

I really, really like hearing about Dudley. I just have so much sympathy for him.

Remus remembering his schooldays was a nice touch. And it's nice hearing what Dudley has in common with his Aunt Lily--as horrified as the Dursleys would be to hear it.

Also, cliffhangers are evil. In case you were wondering. ;P
mylla From: mylla Date: October 29th, 2004 02:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm always so excited when I see a Shifts installment!

Hm, the Evans temper? And news from Hogwarts they're not going to like? I'm definitely seeing the parallels between Harry's and Dudley's storylines at this time! I like that, as it's something Harry himself would never expect to see.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: October 29th, 2004 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Ye gads, Shifts is over 170 pages in Word!(Standard wide margins, 12 pt type.) It's thudding, Fern!

The last two chapters have been very wonderful, I'm enjoying the plot progress and the relationship progression.

Remus shook his head. "There are reasons to be frustrated with Dudley," he said. "But this?" He pointed to the bruise on his cheek. "This isn't one of them. This is because he's confused and frightened, not because he's bully. A bully, I think you mean.

"That night in Shrieking Shack... at least up until let Wormtail go</> up until HE let Wormtail go

A cliffhanger!! Grrrr...

Your scenes with Sirius are getting more and more bittersweet, it's difficult to avoid sniffling when you know what's coming. :(

Another lovely one! Thank you!

chienar From: chienar Date: October 29th, 2004 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent as always. I look forward to the next one.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 29th, 2004 10:52 am (UTC) (Link)
All right, I feel a bit stupid because I've only just discovered that it's possible to comment on an entry without having a LiveJournal account, but I've been devouring every episode of "Shifts" and reccing it like mad at FictionAlley Park for months. It's one of the most addictive stories I've ever come across -- the plot is intriguing, and I'm dying to know what's up with Joe's illness, but the real strength is the characterizations.

I love the fact that you have Tonks brewing the Wolfsbane potion -- for some reason, hardly anybody seems to make the connection between "Auror" and "good at Potions," even though it's explicitly spelled out in OotP. Honestly, it's refreshing to find a fic that takes Tonks seriously as a professional.

And Sirius is just wonderful -- I've never quite made up my mind about whether I like him in canon, but you've done a brilliant job creating a very sympathetic, vulnerable character without minimizing his dark side. Ditto for Dudley; he's every inch JKR's Dudley, but you've made him interesting and potentially sympathetic.

And, finally, the fact that it's a genuine school story with thought-provoking classroom scenes is a real treat; this is one of the most important aspects of the HP books, and it almost NEVER gets captured well in fanfiction.

Ooh, and I'm liking the daily updates lately! Too bad they won't last...

Cheers, and thanks for many hours of happy reading.

Nora (a.k.a. After the Rain)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 29th, 2004 12:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eeeexcellent, Smithers. I'm starting to get really anxious for Joe, though. Isn't there some way Tonks - in her non-Dora Lewis form - could arrange to "accidentally" hurt him magically (I mean, just a little bit - all his body hair suddenly goes missing or something like that) so that she would then be "forced" to take him to St. Mungo's for repair and memory modification (oh yes, and incidentally so Andromeda could "just stop in" and heal whatever is really hurting him). Anyway, really looking forward to the next installment.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2004 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that's a good idea. Mind if I steal it? :) For Joe anyway. Not so much for keeping Remus on staff until June. ;) (Okay, obviously, can't stretch that plot out indefinitely and will resolve it earlier in the year; there's still the question of tracking down the Curser to worry about.)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: October 29th, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Please, feel free to steal it :). It'd be neat to see what you do with it.
11 comments or Leave a comment