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Shifts, Chapter 16: Fraying, part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 16: Fraying, part 2
And in keeping with this week's schedule, it's a day late...

Remus went to see Ted and Andromeda about Sirius's little escapade, and discovered that Dumbledore had refused in person to tell Andromeda where the Order's HQ was, because he was concerned about her closeness to Narcissa and Lucius, who might try to send in something nasty. Meanwhile, Remus is getting a little bogged down with work (marking papers and tests and so on), which he has to do at Dora's because Kreacher keeps trying to throw it all into the fire, pretending to think it's rubbish. The Order is keeping a clumsy eye on Sirius all day, and on Friday, he's thrown Fleur straight out of the house in a fit of annoyance. He's asked Remus to talk to Kingsley about cutting down on the babysitting, and Remus has promised to do so on Monday, albeit in a rather short-tempered way.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Molly and Arthur Weasley arrived at Grimmauld Place just after breakfast on Saturday morning, while Dora was getting the month's Wolfsbane supplies in order on the kitchen table (dosing would start Sunday, to Remus's distaste). Sirius was trying to convince her to get Remus to go to the Garveys' today, citing his own two weeks' good behavior as a reason. Remus had woken up feeling a bit guilty about being short with him and had determined to stay home and try to behave something like a friend was meant to. Dora had declared that she, at any rate, was planning to go anyway, and would come by and tell Sirius all about the film later.

"Remus can find it for himself and watch it on his own," she said, tapping him on the back of the head with a wooden spoon. "I'll find a whatsis to play it on and get one for my flat. And he can come up with a good excuse to Anna for telling her to expect us and then not showing up."

A small silver bell suddenly leapt up from the sideboard, flew over to Sirius, and rang insistently in his ear.

"What on..."

"Oh," Sirius said. "I worked this out this week to let me know when someone's at the door. Better than waking Mum, wouldn't you say? Think it's marketable?"

"Ask the twins," Remus said.

Sirius went upstairs. When he came back down, Molly and Arthur were with him, and he looked irritated.

"Well," he said, "you can go after all. The Order sent the Weasleys to look after me."

"We're not here to look after you," Molly said. Her mouth was drawn tightly. "Arthur thought... Arthur and I thought... that we should talk about Harry, and Christmas."

Sirius gave her a resentful pout, but it faded into a more normal expression. He sighed and pulled out a chair for her.

"At any rate," Sirius said to Remus, "you're free to go. So go."

"I should--"

Arthur cleared his throat. "I, er, left some papers here the last time I was in the... er, parlor, I think. Remus, would you mind helping me for a minute?" He raised his eyebrows, then headed for the stairs. Remus followed him.

"You've never brought papers here, Arthur," Remus said as soon as they got into the parlor.

"Yes, well, I didn't have time to think of anything else." He looked over his shoulder. "You can go wherever you need to go."

"It's nothing important--"

"I'll keep between them. You need a break from this."

"I've barely been here to take a break from it."

Arthur sighed deeply and went to the window. He put his hands in the pockets of his robe and looked over his shoulder. "I had two younger brothers," he said. "When one of them--my closest brother, Lance--left school, he lived with Molly and me for a bit. It was between Charlie and Bill."

Remus wasn't quite sure where he was going with this, so he said nothing.

Arthur looked out the window. "It was at the height of the war, of course, and Molly's brothers were in the thick of it, so we were... a bit tense. And my parents asked me to keep an eye on him. And I did. I wasn't always there, and we didn't spend a lot of time talking, but he got to resenting having someone look after him."

"Of course."

"And I got to resenting being asked to look after my grown-up brother when I had a life of my own--a new job, a relatively new wife, a new baby--that I didn't have time to really enjoy. By the end of two months, I was ready to kill him. I imagine it was mutual." He turned back to Remus. "So whatever you and Tonks were going to do, I think you should do it."

"But this business about Harry--"

"You want to suggest something like splitting the holidays, so Harry can see us as well as Sirius?"

"Er... yes."

"If I can slip a word in edgewise, I'm going to suggest that Harry come to the Burrow through Christmas morning, then the lot of us will come here for dinner and more presents. Harry can stay with Sirius. The children can visit. Do you have anything to add?"

"Not really, no." Remus frowned. "I still feel like I should do something. Though I suppose Harry has enough de facto guardians parceling him out."

Arthur laughed. "Oh, I don't think there are enough adults in the world to love Harry Potter as much as he needs. But on this particular matter, there are only so many approaches, and we have them covered. Unless you think his aunt and uncle will suddenly want him home."

And so Remus ended up Charming his appearance, bundling into Dora's car, and spending the afternoon at Alan's. They watched a horribly sad film about a teacher who was hired at an elite boarding school, whose students formed a secret poetry society, until one of them, his emotions stirred to a high pitch, killed himself over an argument with his father. The teacher was sacked, despite his remaining students' protest. After it, all three of the teachers in the room discussed the ethical responsibilities in the situation, until Anna declared the conversation "too dead depressing to go on with," and immediately put in another film, this one a recording of one of the television programs she and Alan enjoyed. This one involved a starship, and a character who made up stories for himself in a Charmed room that created phantoms of his shipmates. The real shipmates came in toward the end and interacted with their exaggerated phantoms. Remus enjoyed it, though the character reminded him a bit too much of Peter for his complete comfort--outwardly bumbling and fearful, inwardly indulging a grandiose vision of himself... and resentful of his crewmates. But on the program, it all worked out in the end.

Dora enjoyed it without reservation, and on the way home, she suggested that Sirius could do with a Charmed room of his own ("a hula-deck, or whatever they called the silly thing"). "He could tell us all off without getting himself into any trouble. And go to any time he wanted to go to for a bit."

"It would be an impossibly complex Charm," Remus said.

"It's worth a try. We could tell him about it. It would keep him busier than inventing a better doorbell."

"I have visions of walking in on myself waving Molly Weasley's frying pan at him. And you'd be in pigtails and riding a toy broom."

She glanced over her shoulder at him, then looked back at the road. "You keep saying that, but Sirius really doesn't treat me that way. Does he say something when I'm not there?"

"No. Why? What do you think he'd imagine you as?"

"I don't know," she said quickly. "I can't imagine. Maybe Auntie. I'm not sure I'd want to see."

"That's my point."

Dora sniffed and shrugged, putting a close to the subject.

Arthur and Molly were gone by the time they got back, and Sirius was sitting by the fire reading no fewer than seven books. They were stacked beside his chair, and he would pick one up, read until he got bored, and switch to another. It was the only way Remus had ever seen him study.

Dora related the films' stories for him, morphing as she went. Unlike the teachers (but quite a lot like the wives), Sirius's entire response to the first story was indignation on the sacked teacher's behalf. Like Dora, he thought a magical hula-deck would be a fine idea, but insisted that she wear a grass skirt and a pair of coconuts if she came to play in it.

"I think you should ask Hestia," Dora said. "I'm sure she'd be glad to split a coconut for you."

"Only if it was hosting a colony of little beasties," Sirius said.

Dora rolled her eyes, muttered something that included the word "dense," then kissed them both goodbye and left.

"Just so that everyone's clear," Sirius said, "I'm not actually that dense."

"No one's that dense."

"There are a few I suspect."

"How long have Arthur and Molly been gone?"

"They left after lunch." Sirius pointed at the sideboard. "There's still soup, if you're hungry. Did you expect them to still be here?"

"I wasn't sure."

Sirius summoned a bowl and the soup tureen, and ladled some out for himself. "We had a civilized conversation, and then they left. Harry'll come here on Christmas afternoon, with the whole Weasley family. Which I don't mind on Christmas. It's better than being alone."

"I'll try not to take offense at that."

"You know what I mean. Alone except for you and Dora, and the pair of you will be over at Andromeda and Ted's, won't you?"

"Only for a few hours."

"And while you're gone, I'll have a house full of redheads to keep me busy." He sighed. "It'll be nice. I think it'll be nice."

Remus tried to engage him in more talk, but Sirius seemed to be done talking for the night. After awhile, he transformed into Padfoot and loped around the corridors. Remus heard Kreacher yelling at him, thought about going to investigate, and didn't.

You know, I can't wait until Harry gets there and Sirius cheers up for Christmas. I'm with Anna Garvey here--this part of Sirius's life is dead depressing, and I'd like to pop in a funny Reg Barclay episode to liven things up. I'm starting to pick up his mood swings! (Alas, we're working toward a known canon scene where Harry finds Sirius totally alone in the house, looking bad, and drinking. Doesn't bode well for a lot of cheerfulness.)

I feel a bit...: cranky cranky

12 comments or Leave a comment
From: inyron Date: November 21st, 2004 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha! I love Barclay.

Fantastic section. I'm sorry I don't comment too often, but I'm enjoying all of it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 21st, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like Barclay, too--one of the most realistic characters in ST, bar none. Of course, this is getting a bit meta--a fan story involving a fan watching an episode about fannish fantasizing...
From: inyron Date: November 22nd, 2004 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
one of the most realistic characters in ST, bar none

Heh, true, true.

That reminds me of my proclaimed "favorite EU character" (Uh, sorry for the digression, but I've seen you rant about SW Mary-Sues before, so I figure you'd appreciate this.)

Cole Fardreamer- the young, eager Tatooine boy who goes to work at the New Republic, and dreams of being like his idol Luke Skywalker-

- but ends up as a backwaters mechanic as he realizes, belatedly, he doesn't have any Force powers! D'oh. So the whole hero thing's going to be kinda tough. Actually, he probably ended up helping save the day in whatever book that was, but I don't remember the end, cuz it was kinda boring.

I'm not one to talk anyway, as my actual favorite character would probably be Corran Horn, a Marty so Stu-ish he's made a triumphant return from the dead at least four seperate times. And yet I, Jedi remains one of my favorite re-reads.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 22nd, 2004 09:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not a big fan of the SW EU in general, but it's gotten to a point where disliking a SWEU character just on the basis of being a Mary Sue/Gary Stu seems petty--I mean, they all have to compete with one another, right? So it becomes a question whether the character is a good Stu or a bad Stu.

That Cole Fardreamer story sounds great, though.
jaydk From: jaydk Date: November 21st, 2004 11:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for posting another section. I'm enjoying the story a lot. One question -- why would Remus be going over to the Tonks' for Christmas? He doesn't need to maintain his fake identity over Christmas, does he? Or has Remus, shock of shocks, realized that he's dating Dora? ;-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 22nd, 2004 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm sorry--I haven't actually put that into Shifts, have I? (Except for the bit with Dora's ribbon, which could have been an isolated year.) In my general set-up, Remus has spent Christmas with the Tonkses quite a lot since 1981.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: November 22nd, 2004 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent - and depressing - installment, Fern. :) I always found it hard to imagine that Remus was without human contact for 13 years. I assumed his parents died during that time, but that he interacted with people on SOME level, although he couldn't hold a job and was somewhat of an outcast from wizarding society-at-large. He picked up his teaching skills *somewhere* along the way, at least.

I get the impression that the JKR world is one with an "old fashioned" work ethic, and that those few people who knew Lupin well wouldn't dream of insulting him by offering money, clothing or food. He probably would hate the idea of being a free-loader or a burden on anyone, and would likely be hyper-vigilant about not wanting to ask for anything or even appear to need anything. Is that at all similar to how you've seen his life being?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 22nd, 2004 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup. He wasn't going to admit to the Tonkses that he didn't have anywhere to go for Christmas, even, except that eight-year-old Dora bossed him into agreeing to join them, which everyone treated as doing for her sake, not his (though I'm sure Ted and Andromeda, when he wasn't listening, expressed relief at having a bossy child who they could use to make sure Remus didn't spend the holidays alone).
sreya From: sreya Date: November 22nd, 2004 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Sirius was sitting by the fire reading no fewer than seven books. They were stacked beside his chair, and he would pick one up, read until he got bored, and switch to another. It was the only way Remus had ever seen him study.

Oh, dear. My own study habits are almost starting to look like that... I wonder if that should worry me? :~p

I liked the way you worked in Dead Poets Society, it hits the right tone to match up with OotP at this point. Although now I'm getting a silly little worry in the back of my head about Daniel Morse and his history club... I think it's a bit too early in the morning for me to speculate!
queenrikki_hp From: queenrikki_hp Date: November 22nd, 2004 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
A wonderful addition! I love the mention of The Dead Poet's Society and the reactions to it. I also love the allusion to ST:TNG (my very first fandom) and Reg (one of my favorite characters ever.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: November 22nd, 2004 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh ooh ooh, there was more. I too study like Sirius. Dead Poets Society was a lovely touch.
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 23rd, 2004 07:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been following "Shifts" for a while now, but am not a LJ user, so have never commented. This line, however, was just perfect: "I don't think there are enough adults in the world to love Harry Potter as much as he needs." You know, I think that wraps up a lot of the reasons so many of us read fanfic. We want to see Harry get that love.

Also loved both the "Dead Poets' Society" and the ST:TNG references. I can just *see* Sirius in a holodeck. The possibilities are staggering.
12 comments or Leave a comment