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Shifts, Chapter 15: "You Are The Murderer!", Pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 15: "You Are The Murderer!", Pt. 3
Please tell me why I'm starting to write at 1:39 am. Honestly. It's not fair that I'm best at being creative in the wee hours of the morning, but I cannot get the rest of the world to bend to the sleep schedule that entails.

Feh. I can do it tonight because tomorrow is Veteran's Day and I'm off.

I'm going to be writing all day tomorrow on The Redeemed, which should at least prevent rambling BtVS posts (hears sigh of relief from HP and SW friends).


Tonks and Remus found Sirius waiting in the rain outside Andromeda's empty house, disguised as Padfoot. They bring him home, but before Remus can chew him out, they notice that he's in a bad mental state, and the both of them cuddle him for awhile instead.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dora spent the night in the room that Hermione and Ginny had shared over the summer. Sirius suggested that she stay in the larger room that Ron and Harry had shared, but she shuddered and said that she didn't fancy the thought of Phineas Nigellus eavesdropping on her while she talked in her sleep.

Sirius (who had grown up in that room) managed a wan smile and said, "He is a creepy old git, isn't he?"

Dora smiled and kissed him goodnight, holding him for a moment before disappearing. Sirius seemed to just accept the affection with gratitude.

He watched her go up the stairs. "There's going to be trouble, isn't there?" he asked when she was gone.

Remus patted his shoulder tentatively (this, too, was accepted with a slight relaxing of the muscles). "I'll handle the trouble," he said. "Don't worry about it."

"I don't know why I didn't just come back here when I realized they weren't home. Or even Apparate somewhere else. I thought about going to Hogwarts."

"I guessed as much."

"I just couldn't seem to move." Sirius went to the bottom of the stairs and looked up, seeming weak and bewildered. "I kept thinking they would catch me--the Aurors, I mean; I could see four of them. They went away."

"Kingsley sent them after a false report."

Sirius winced. "I really did cause trouble then."

"I'll take care of it," Remus said again.

"Anyway, I kept assuming they would catch me and I just... stayed. I don't think, precisely, as Padfoot, but I remember a feeling, like he was saying, Go ahead. Try it.."

"You're tired."

"I am," Sirius said. "God, I'm tired." He looked up the stairs again, seeming to measure their length and steepness. He didn't turn around. "Moony?"


"I'm glad you were here."

"So am I."

"You're... the best of my friends for this... sort of thing. The one I'd be glad to have even if..."

He didn't finish, but Remus knew the end of the sentence. Even if James were here. He was touched, but had no idea how to respond to it without sounding like he'd just won some sort of competition.

Sirius looked over his shoulder. "Was it a good day?" he asked. "Before I spoiled it, I mean."

"It was a good day."

"Will you tell me about it tomorrow?"

"If you'd like."

"I'm sorry for spoiling it. I didn't set out to make trouble for you."

"We should have had you there," Remus said. "To hell with Kingsley."

A faint smile. "Well, there have it, Moony," Sirius said. "It's all your fault again." He grabbed the rail and dragged himself up the stairs, shuffling into the entrance hall like an old man.

Remus wandered around the house for a long time after that--straightening pictures, cleaning cobwebs that Kreacher had missed, staring aimlessly out the windows. He stood outside Dora's door for several minutes, thinking he should apologize for not consulting with her about Sirius's request, but he could hear her faint snores, and decided that she'd probably rather sleep than hear an apology that she would only dismiss as silly anyway.

Somewhere past two, he asked Phineas Nigellus to see if Dumbledore was awake, and while he waited in the room, he toyed with a scroll one of the boys had left behind. Harry's, by the handwriting, though Ron seemed to have scribbled notes on it during classes. He smiled, imagining them in class, only listening with half an ear (Yes, Professor Lupin... even in your august classes), Hermione looking over at them with a barely checked lecture behind her lips. Dean Thomas would be behind them, listening avidly if the subject interested him, doodling on his desk if it didn't. Parvati Patil, whose widowed mother he had very briefly dated many years earlier (but remained on reasonably friendly terms with anyway), would look up at him and smile brightly, and Neville Longbottom, to her left, would be scribbling notes madly, trying to record the lecture word for word so that he wouldn't have to trust his memory. For a moment, the memory was so clear that he could see the pattern of cracks in the finished surface of his desk, and smell the faintly gamey odor of the grindylow tank behind him.

He set the scroll aside.

Someone sighed heavily, and when he looked up, Phineas was back in his frame with an exquisitely bored expression on his face. "Are you quite finished?" he asked petulantly.

"Was Dumbledore awake?"

Another world-weary sigh. "Yes, he was awake. He's heard all about my great-great-grandson's little adventure. Shacklebolt actually flooed to Hogwarts himself--under the guise of reporting on the abysmally performed false lead--and they had words. Shacklebolt is calling an Order meeting at Arabella Figg's home tomorrow afternoon. Or today, however you like to word it. To discuss Sirius."

"Discuss him?"

"What's to be done about him."

"Shouldn't it be here, so he can have a say in it?"

"The lack of his presence," Phineas said in a supremely unconcerned way, "appears to be the entire point of meeting elsewhere."

"That's not right."

Phineas didn't bother himself with the ethical question. "The headmaster told me to have you attend. And to remind Shacklebolt that in his absence--Dumbledore's, that is--that you, not he, will make the vital decisions for the Order. For whatever reason, he also told me to inform you that he trusts your judgment. I've been known to question his, of course."

"Then he won't be there?"

"The headmaster has matters of actual importance to which he must attend," Phineas said loftily, and left the portrait frame.

Remus didn't bother going to his room. He curled up on the bed where he was sitting and fell asleep there, using a Self-Waking Charm to rouse himself at eight-thirty.

Sirius was in the kitchen making breakfast, Dora watching him sleepily. Remus told them about his conversation with Phineas.

"It's about what I expected," Sirius said, sliding an omelette onto a plat in front of Dora.

"It's not what I expected," she said. "Not from Kingsley. He's supposed to be on our side."

"He's on the Order's side," Sirius said bitterly. "And there's a rather marked difference between the Order of the Phoenix and the House of Black."

Dora fumed a bit longer, then kissed them both goodbye and told Remus that she would meet him at Arabella's later. Sirius transformed into Padfoot and curled up by the fire. Remus made him transform back long enough to promise on James's memory that he wouldn't do anything crazy, then left him to do as he pleased.

He took the train to Little Whinging (it wasn't safe to Apparate there without an Invisibility Cloak, particularly in the daylight) and reached Privet Drive at roughly one o'clock. He saw Petunia Dursley packing her flower beds under mulch for the winter, but he didn't greet her, and when she looked up, she showed no recognition for him without the appearance charms he used as Raymond Lewis. He waited for her to look away again--not a long wait--before going to Arabella's door.

The Weasleys (Molly, Arthur, and Bill) were there, along with Fleur Delacour. Hestia Jones arrived at the same time Remus did, running up from the other end of the street so that Arabella wouldn't have to come to the door twice. Kingsley and Dora were have a long, intense-looking talk in the kitchen, and Emmeline Vance, whose business was magical construction--had a wand out to repair some loose window-frames in Arabella's bedroom. Dung, who seemed to know where everything in the house was, was flitting busily around, handing out sandwiches and fizzy drinks. Arabella herself looked frantic having such a houseful, and kept chasing after her wayward cats to keep them from being stepped on by her guests.

"Are you the last?" she asked him, a rather desperate look in her eyes. "Please tell me you're the last."

"I think I'm the last," Remus said.

Relieved, she sat down in an old chair with a lace doily on the back, and promptly jumped up again when a gray cat yowled from the seat. She picked it up and petted it convulsively as she sat back down.

Remus called the meeting to order.

Kingsley came out of the kitchen, Dora beside him. She crossed the room quickly and sat down on the sofa behind Remus. Kingsley looked vaguely surprised that his meeting had been called to order by someone else, but accepted it.

"I'm sure we all have at least an idea of why we're here," Remus said. "I'll let Kingsley explain the situation." He gestured to Kingsley and sat down.

"Sirius Black is unstable," Kingsley announced with no preliminaries. "Yesterday, against my explicit instructions, he went wandering about London in his dog guise. He nearly walked into four of my Aurors who were stationed at his cousin's home, and in order to remove him from harm's way, I had to send those Aurors--and the Aurors I have stationed in Hogsmeade, just for safety's sake--on a mad chase through Birmingham, where they caught up with Dung, who miraculously had no contraband on his person at the time."

"Well, it's easy enough to get rid of if you know the Aurors are after you!" Dung said. "It was my job to put on a black wig and look dangerous, not get arrested."

Kingsley physically bit back a response to this. "Black controls our headquarters," he said. "If he's captured, we are likely to lose them. And not to put a selfish spin on this, but if he's captured, Tonks and I will end up on trial for aiding a fugitive... if Fudge bothers with a trial at all. Right now, as the Order, we're doing nothing more illegal than standing guard at the Department of Mysteries when we probably shouldn't... nothing more illegal, that is, until you factor in hiding a convicted murderer."

He stopped speaking.

Dora stood up, and Remus recognized her. "Sirius is in trouble," she said. "But that's a family matter, not one for us to be having meetings about. The Order's only concern is the house, and Remus can get in. I'm blood as well, and if I ask, Sirius will make sure it comes to me if anything happens to him."

"Unless you're in Azkaban!"

"I disagree with Kingsley about that being a problem. If Sirius is captured, he'll tell whoever does it that he's been in Timbuktu for two years, and Kingsley and I knew nothing of him."

Molly raised her hand tentatively, and Remus frowned, wondering what she meant to say. He recognized her.

"Kingsley," she said. "I, er, don't want to disagree with you, but--" She swallowed. "I don't get along with Sirius Black, and I think he's an irresponsible and unstable man at best. But this business yesterday was about you and your Aurors. It's not about the Order. He wouldn't betray the Order of the Phoenix."

Dora blinked at her, flatly surprised, then smiled.

Molly smiled back and sat down.

Arthur took up her point, defending her notion that it was "family business," and Fleur said that she felt badly for Sirius and didn't want to see anything done about this. That seemed to be too extreme a stance of nonchalance for most members--there was a general agreement that some sense of security was owed to Kingsley and Dora, though Dora argued Fleur's point rather vociferously. Remus unilaterally vetoed a proposal (from Hestia) to set up headquarters elsewhere, and another (from Arabella) to put "some kind of capturing spell, if there's such a thing" on Sirius. No one argued with his authority to do so.

In the end, they came to a vague decision to make sure he wasn't alone any more often than he needed to be--Molly would come visit during the days from time to time, and Dung would casually drop by when she couldn't. Remus would remain the most responsible for him, with Dora a close second, but to Remus's surprise, no one seemed to begrudge him having spent the day frivolously on Saturday. ("I don't care if you were playing 'Sing Along With Celestina' and dancing on the table in the Leaky Cauldron," Bill Weasley said. "You weren't the one doing something you shouldn't.") They just suggested that, in the future if he was going to make plans, he should ask another Order member to come by for a few hours for a casual visit.

"What are you going to do?" Dora asked as they made their way to the train station.

Remus put his hands in his cloak pockets and started ahead into the gray afternoon. "I'm going to go home, and I'm going to tell him exactly what we talked about and exactly what was decided."

"Don't you think he'll be insulted?"

"Exactly how many casual visits from Molly Weasley do you think he'll see before he figures it out anyway, and feels lied to as well?"
14 comments or Leave a comment
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 11th, 2004 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Please write in the wee hours more often!

This was good on so many levels, I'm having trouble starting. First of all, the interaction between Remus & Sirius is marvelous - as usual - but particularly poignant today. I'm really enjoying (that's awful to say!) the way you're showing Sirius's mental state as multi-dimensional. He isn't a flat crazy character, but has periods of perfect lucidity intermixed with confusion over past/future. When he says "You're... the best of my friends for this... sort of thing. The one I'd be glad to have even if..." it just about broke my heart. Remus is the only one of his friends left, of course. :(

I loved the Order meeting. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who noticed Lupin was obviously Dumbledore's unquestioned second during OotP. But your spin on it -- that he's in charge but a bit baffled by being so -- is SO Lupin. LOL.

All the little details were just so delightful - Aunt Petunia in the garden, Hestia running up the street, Dung knowing his way around, Arabella in a tizzy, even Emmaline doing magical construction were just so well done. You captured the mood of the place, as well as the idiosyncrasies of each character really well. Kingsley, Arthur, Molly, Bill, and even Fleur (I guffawed over the French politics there) are beautifully in character. Gosh, I'm crazy about Molly as a character and you manage her as well as JKR. Certainly she doesn't get along with Sirius, but just try and criticize him and she'll jump to his defence. Arthur's feeling it was a "family matter", too. Everyone was just so real, Fern - well done!

Is this the first time we've seen Phineas in your story? He was perfectly in character and I'm glad did that scene -- obviously Lupin would have been in some kind of contact with Dumbledore off and on, even though we didn't see it in OotP.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2004 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Please write in the wee hours more often!

I loved the Order meeting. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who noticed Lupin was obviously Dumbledore's unquestioned second during OotP.

You know, I can't even point to why this seems to be so, but it really, really does. Just something about the way he is.

Anyway, thank you. I'm always a bit nervous on crowd scenes, for fear that I'll either spend too much time giving idiosyncracies or that everyone will be indistinguishable from everyone else.

I guffawed over the French politics there

HA! I hadn't thought of it, but poor Fleur does end up being a symbolic French mouthpiece, doesn't she? (In this case, though, I think she was just trying to out-Molly Molly, in an attempt to prove she was kind and compassionate enough to deserve Bill.)
contrail From: contrail Date: November 12th, 2004 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Please write in the wee hours more often!

*waves shyly*

I've been following Shifts for a while, but I haven't commented on it before, so, hi. :^) I've really enjoyed reading it and your other fics.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that you pointed out an instance of Fleur trying to 'out-Molly Molly', since I'd noticed her doing that in Chapter 14 (when she was so pleased to know a recipe that Molly didn't) but hadn't picked up that she was also doing that here. Having Fleur be insecure about how she compares to Bill's dear old Mum is a nice humanizing touch, and one that makes sense for her to have, I think. That's one of the things I like about your writing, the way you make people seem human and fallible, but in ways that make sense with the rest of their characters and without falling into the trap of making everyone seem nasty and unlikable in the process.

dipsas From: dipsas Date: November 11th, 2004 07:36 am (UTC) (Link)
One thing you bring out really well (both here and in other chapters) is how large a place Hogwarts holds in Remus' heart. Those little hints you've dropped now and again about Remus feeling homesick for Hogwarts, yet not bitter about having to leave, seem to me to play an important part in the characterization, implying both a desire to be needed and to really belong as well as professional confidence and pride. It feels very much right.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2004 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
It felt right while I was writing it, too. It wasn't initially going to be there--he was maybe going to have a maudlin thought about how he missed it, but the way that missing came out was in that vivid moment of total recall. I enjoyed that paragraph. :)
From: fireflash_yalie Date: November 11th, 2004 09:22 am (UTC) (Link)


Hello! I've just read this entire story in two days (taking as much time as college allows!) and I must say that I am enjoying it immensely. I love how well you get into your (well, Jo's) characters' minds and figure them out and make them so...multi-dimensional. That is a fantastic skill you have.

I'm also enjoying how you make the plot of this story weave in and out of what really happens in OotP, but it never contradicts what Harry told us: Dumbledore is never gone when he shouldn't be and things occur as they should.

I'm looking forward to reading more and am loving the tension between Tonks and Lupin!! Good job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2004 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Review

Glad you're enjoying, and thanks for dropping by! :)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: November 11th, 2004 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
and if I ask, Sirius will make sure it comes to me if anything happens to him."

Oh my, what subtle foreshadowing. Breathtaking.

I had not picked up that Remus was the head after Dumbledore, and now I shall have to go back and read again, post NaNo, of course.

I started wondering when the concept that "Sirius is a person who must be cared for" developed, instead of "Sirius needs a safe place to hide but he's an adult and we ultimately have no control over him". The shift is peculiar and you have made it without fanfare, but it's most certainly there. I find myself getting annoyed by it sometimes. Sirius had to make the choice to stay hidden to protect himself (and as you point out, Kingsley and Dora) but now I have the sense that he's caged by the Order instead of protected. We will see how useless it is to try to restrain Sirius when he decides to go (oh, come to think of it, Sirius' escape to the Tonks house is a foreshadowing of that, isn't it?)

Once again, Fern, this is truly one of the best fanfics I've ever read. The development of this story exceeds any thing else I've read that's concurrent with OOTP.

mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 11th, 2004 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
...I find myself getting annoyed by it sometimes. Sirius had to make the choice to stay hidden to protect himself (and as you point out, Kingsley and Dora) but now I have the sense that he's caged by the Order instead of protected. We will see how useless it is to try to restrain Sirius when he decides to go (oh, come to think of it, Sirius' escape to the Tonks house is a foreshadowing of that, isn't it?)

I think he was definitely caged by the order in OotP and I believe the scene with Harry in the fireplace (asking about the Snape's Worst Memory) is just one example. (In that Lupin basically restrains Sirius and forbids him from going to Hogwarts to speak to Snape.)

On that topic, will we see whether Lupin tried to talk to Snape (about Harry's occlumency lessons) or not? I can't imagine the "new" Lupin -- the one who tells Sirius and Molly what to do -- would NOT speak to Snape about it, I mean it's rather serious!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 11th, 2004 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that just seemed to me why Remus was staying there. Sirius isn't quite right. He's not incapable of taking care of himself, but I think that it would be very easy to fall into thinking of him that way. It's odd, but when Remus and Dora are basically thinking this way ("We need to keep Sirius safe"), it comes off as concern, but damn, when the Order does it, it comes off as total arrogance.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 12th, 2004 08:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and I forgot to answer--yes, of course he'll have something to say to Professor Snape. Though by plot necessity, it can't be anything very effective.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 11th, 2004 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Phineas just rocks. If he weren't a portrait, I'd marry him.

The paragraph where Remus remembers his students is just heartbreaking. He SO belongs in the classroom (on a permanent basis, that is, and in a situation where he doesn't have to lie to his students). Sigh.

And authoritative-yet-clueless-about-the-fact Remus is perfect, and priceless.

- Nora
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 12th, 2004 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Phineas. He and Tonks are my hands-down favorite new characters. If he weren't a portrait (and thereby limited in his movements), I'd totally write a story about him.
michelle_ravel From: michelle_ravel Date: November 14th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mrs. Figg doesn't live on Privet Drive. She lives on Magnolia Crescent, doesn't she?
14 comments or Leave a comment