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Shifts, Chapter 25: A Risky Idea, pt 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 25: A Risky Idea, pt 2
Funniest commercial. It's for a lottery of some sort, and a man and his son are both sick. The wife/mother is taking their temperatures. The son, she says, has a temp of 101... poor baby. She goes to the husband and says, "102... aw..." She leaves the room, then the husband looks at the son and says, obviously sick, "In your face." (Tag line, "Like competition?" or something.) I've so done that. It just made me laugh.

Last section, Dora came up with a plan to help Joe--she'll set up an attack by a "Death Eater" (Remus in disguise) and stun both Joe and Miriam trying to capture him, necessitating a trip to St. Mungo's. Remus, at last look, was thinking it sounded workable and sane.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Sirius laughed.

Remus sat down at the kitchen table and poured himself a cup of tea. "What?"

"It's..." The laughing continued, and Sirius pulled himself up onto the butcher's block where Olympe Maxime had sat during the meeting. "You really are besotted, aren't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

Sirius batted his eyelashes and said in a high falsetto voice, "Oi, Remus, I've a brilliant thought--why don't you pretend to be an escaped Death Eater, and I'll come after you with another Auror who doesn't know you're faking?" He looked down and steepled his fingers, peering up with a thoughtful expression and dropping his voice. "Why, yes, Dora. Now that you mention it, that's a splendid idea. And when we've finished--assuming I avoid your partner and don't end up on the wrong end of an Unforgiveable--would you like to come by so I can sit across the kitchen and make mooncalf eyes at you for a few hours?"

Remus rolled his eyes, but he could feel himself blushing, which rather undermined the nonchalance he was going for. "Are you quite finished?"

"Are you joking?"

"I take it you don't think it's a good idea?"

"Oh, I think it's a grand idea. Though I think she should consider using an actual wanted criminal, just for realism, you know." He grinned.

"I think not."

"It sounds like fun." He Summoned over a butterbeer and uncorked it. "What it doesn't sound like, mate, is you." He took a swig. "I can see you doing it, don't get me wrong. You're not half as hard to convince to do these things as you pretend to be. But generally, you look like you're being martyred, and even when everything's gone off without a hitch, you don't say, 'Well, that was a good idea.'"

Remus shrugged. "Well, it's better than any idea I've come up with."


"I know that a hundred things could wrong. And if I get caught, I don't know how I'd explain it. It's a risky idea, but I have to try something."

"Yes, I think you may spontaneously combust if you don't."

"I'm talking about Joe."

"I'm not."

"Yes, I caught the subtle shift in focus."

Sirius grinned and raised his bottle at Remus. "All joking aside," he said when he put it down, "there are worse choices you could make than Dora."

Remus looked at the table. "I'm not waiting for someone better to come along."

"Then what in blazes are you waiting for?"

"Perhaps I'm waiting until she's old enough for you not to find it so very amusing."

"You're waiting for me to not have a go at you about your crushes?" He shook his head. "You're planning to die alone then, are you, mate?"

Dora had the following Saturday off, and they spent it making preparations. Sirius researched the missing Death Eaters in a pile of clippings from the Daily Prophet, as well as several files that Dora had been able to borrow from work. They decided that Remus was built most like Augustus Rookwood, and thought of things that might serve as clues. Dora would plant these in the area around Joe Levinson's holiday cottage. An equipment shed would serve as the "hideout," which Kingsley had given her permission to "discover" late in the week. Sirius disappeared and came back with a set of black robes.

"These'll be perfect," Dora said. "Where'd you find them?"

"Reg's wardrobe," Sirius told her sourly. "I looked for a mask, but apparently they kept that when they sent his body back."

Neither Remus nor Dora said anything. Remus put on Regulus Black's robes, and Sirius shrank them to fit without commentary.

Remus spent the week--when he wasn't teaching, directing the history club, or meeting with Dudley to check on safety--planting clues in the woods and studying photographs of the back of Rookwood's head. By Saturday, he thought he could do a reasonably good appearance Charm, and a moderate alteration of his voice should do to keep him from being recognizable that way. Dung, without asking any questions at all, arrived with a stolen broomstick--nothing that could be traced to Remus, in the event that it had to be left behind. Thursday night, without much comment, Kingsley brought over a mask that had been confiscated by the Aurors during the first war. "I can't acknowledge this scheme," he said.


"Watch your back. She's with Scrimgeour on Saturday--it was too late for me to change it when she brought this to me--and he's good."

"Thank you."

Saturday morning dawned cool and clear.

Dora couldn't come over before her shift, but she'd been over quite late the night before, making sure everything was in order. She'd "discovered" the equipment shed Wednesday afternoon, with a ratty bedroll (Sirius suggestion, along with several other practical elements of life on the run) and a few clippings from the Prophet, badly Transfigured. Three dealt with the escape; four more were about old colleagues of Rookwood's. One, about Ludo Bagman's disappearance, was carefully marked up to suggest that Rookwood might be hunting for him. In the surrounding woods, on a path headed toward the Muggle holiday cabins, she found a blackened but unconsumed log--magical fire. She found the other things Remus had strewn about. It was nothing conclusive, nothing that would draw the full wrath of the Ministry here, but something that would suggest further study.

Remus couldn't be in the equipment shed when they came. There was no easy way out. But he couldn't be far enough ahead that it would be easy for him to Apparate.

He took his broomstick and followed the path toward the cabins, inhabited at this time of year solely by lovers looking for the romance of a crackling fire and a clear winter sky.

Joe and Miriam were outside, bundled in warm clothes and sitting on a log that overlooked a burbling brook. Miriam had leaned her head on Joe's shoulder, and his arm was around her.

Remus watched them fondly, not able to hear their conversation and not wanting to. Every now and then, Miriam would turn her head and smile, or Joe would press a kiss againt the crown of her head.

You're going to terrorize them in the middle of this. What are you thinking of?

He sighed. It was a crueller thing than it had seemed in theory. But it was in order to save Joe's life.

Something grew warm beside his hand, and he looked down. His wand was glowing.

It was time.

"Finite incantatem," he whispered. The wand went dark and cold. He reached into the pocket of the robe, pulled out the blank white mask, and put it on, letting it shift its shape to meet the contours of his face before he put the Holding Charm on it. He waited until he could hear Dora's deliberately loud footsteps before he started back up the path, trying to look distracted.

He came around the bend and saw them. Scrimgeour was bending down to one side, and Dora was looking straight at him.

"Look over here," Scrimgeour said. "I see--"

Dora nodded slightly, then started to run. "There he is!"

Scrimgeour was up in a flash, and Remus was already running. The trees were too thick for the broomstick (of course) and the pace of the chase would make Apparition impossible even if Remus hadn't specifically wanted to avoid it. It would be mad to try and Apparate while moving.

The ground was uneven and rocky, and twice in the short path, he came down wrong and nearly lost his balance. His heart was racing. Foolish, idiotic idea. He never should have let Dora--

He came into t he clearing beside the cabin, where Joe and Miriam were already standing up, looking back at the running figures with alarm.

It was a split second choice.

Remus dove at Miriam, knocking her to the ground and dragging her up, his wand pointed at her head. Joe ran at him, and Remus shoved him away with the lightest Banishing Charm he could manage. Maybe not realistic for a Death Eater, but Joe was a sick man and didn't need any unnecessary manhandling.

Scrimgeour entered the clearing first, wand drawn. "Let her go, Rookwood!" he said.

"Oh," Remus said, trying to slip into his role. "You don't think I'd hurt this nice Muggle lady, do you?"

Dora ran in and didn't bother with orders to let anyone go. She threw a Stunning Spell at Joe (who was already up and trying to get to Miriam again), then raised her wand at Remus and Miriam.

"What did you do?" Miriam cried. "What did you do?"

"He'll be all right," Dora said, and Remus could see her biting her lip. "I promise."

From the corner of his eye, Remus saw Scrimgeour moving forward. He turned slightly and pushed Miriam in Scrimgeour's direction, in the path of any spell he might cast, pulling out his broomstick as he moved.

It was the end of his role, and he couldn't stay to see that Miriam and Joe were all right. He grabbed his broomstick and was mounting it when he heard someone fall to the ground.

Dora shouted, "Scrimgeour, I've got--"

"Take care of the hostages!"

Remus took off, and when he glanced over his shoulder at the pursuit, he saw not Dora, but Scrimgeour, head bent low over his broomstick, which was considerably better than Remus's... and Remus had never been a particularly skilled flyer.

A spell flew by him, just missing him, knocking a branch from a tree. He rolled the broom and skirted it down a gully, trying to keep the sightline bent, but Scrimgeour kept coming. Another spell sent a spill of pebbles down the incline. When Remus chanced a glance back, he saw Scrimgeour close on his tail... close enough to see the hate-filled grimace on his face.

Think. Don't react. Think.

The only way he'd be able to win this race with Scrimgeour was to Apparate, but Apparating at this speed was mad idea. The concentration required for Apparition was--

Another spell. This one blew a large tree limb into kindling. It hit Remus's face in shards as he flew; if it weren't for the mask, he would have been badly cut.

The ground rose suddenly in a sharp incline, and Remus felt his toes dragging on the ground. He rolled sharply and let go of the broom, letting himself fall five feet to the ground, striking with his shoulders and cartwheeling madly before finally catching himself.

Scrimgeour was headed at him at full speed, his wand out.

There was no time to concentrate, no time to really gather himself, but there was also no alternative.

Remus Apparated.

I'm really regretting this plan. Especially since I've given it a single chapter to work out. But there's no time to do a serious structural realignment--I think when I do a once-over on this section of Shifts (pretty much from the holiday interlude on), I'll try to start working it in earlier rather than just dropping the bomb and doing it all in the same chapter. :slaps own hand: If I were being really good and conscientious, I'd stop and re-work everything. But I'm putting The Judge on hold until I'm finished. I'll figure out how it all fits together later and not stop writing, and see how that works. I suppose it's no more off-kilter, pacing-wise, than the second death in The Dark Tower... then again, I ranted about that and gave it a bad review. Guess I'm reaping the bad karma by writing myself into a corner.
16 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 2nd, 2005 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Stupid idea, but at least he's admitting it now.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: January 2nd, 2005 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
For what it's worth, I have a hard time not editing as I go, so you have my respect and sympathy for doing so with this story!

Fav. bit of this chapter: When Sirius is laughing, and teasing Remus about being besotted with Dora. :-) I wasn't an R/T shipper till I started reading Shifts....
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 2nd, 2005 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, this struck me not so much as a bad idea but such a Marauder sort of prank. I really do believe that Sirius and James wouldn't have had a second thought about trying this. and upon succeeding, heading for the Hog's Head for firewhiskey to toast the effort.

As for the structure of the story, I don't see it being a problem as a stand-alone event in the series. You might prefer it to have a bigger build-up, etc., but I think it's fine (I've been checking about every hour to see if it's up, so I must love it) and as a one shot event, it does show, via Sirius, Remus in love enough to do something really foolish.

azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 2nd, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope they don't realize it was Remus... I know, we'd know if he'd been arrested in OoTP, but still.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 2nd, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was chuckling all through the Remus - Sirius interaction at the beginning of this section. Then the line, "You're planning to die alone then, are you, mate?" arrived to hit me in the face as ominous foreshadowing of Sirius' death.

Dora's half-baked plan seems to have worked - assuming Remus hasn't splinched himself.

Being an extremely slow writer, I'm continually amazed at how quickly you can turn out work of such quality (with apparently little editing). You've managed to spoil us all by giving us new "Shifts" every day. Keep up the good work!

Lorelei Lynn
socaptivated From: socaptivated Date: January 8th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Then the line, "You're planning to die alone then, are you, mate?" arrived to hit me in the face as ominous foreshadowing of Sirius' death.

I literally am still on the verge of beginning to cry from that line. I had to stop and walk away from my computer for a moment after reading it, so that I wouldn't start crying over fanfic in front of my dad.

P.S. Way sorry again for clogging up your inbox with years-late responses, fern. I am just enjoying this story so much, and I feel like I should be letting you know more often than I have.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 2nd, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It wasn't the greatest plan, but years of reading fiction have conditioned a lot of use to expect the worst. Fictional people have a much harder time hiding without sneezing at some critical moment. Characters with years of experience sneaking around in dark corners suddenly start tripping over alarms at inopportune moments (often in places that spend an unlikely fortune on huge numbers of guards with no shooting ability). I think we were more anticipating what would go wrong for interesting plot reasons rather than just saying "Remus is so doomed."

After all, Dudley does look at him (and all the other Order members present) in fear at the end of OotP. Having new reasons to think Remus is evil could do that.
sreya From: sreya Date: January 2nd, 2005 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I think the "wham bam" of the plan works here. By bringing it up and executing it all in one chapter, there's more of an impression that they haven't really thought this through very well, and if there'd been more time, they might have either found a better plan or talked themselves out of this one in hopes of finding one.

Poor Miriam and Joe. Even though their memories will surely be altered, it means they completely lost their romantic weekend together. :~( At least this should let them enjoy many more in the future.
From: isabela113 Date: January 2nd, 2005 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
All things considered, you didn't do badly at all with this being a rather abrupt addition to the story. I like that there's a bit of action inserted here, just for the sake of variety. It lets us see Dora in action, and puts Remus in an uncomfortable position, which is always illuminating. A very interesting point was Remus' realization that he was about to contribute to the Levinson's woes.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 2nd, 2005 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
All right, well, I don't like this particular plotline very much, but I'm still interested in how it ends up. And even though the story's a bit shaky, your writing can't be faulted. Personally, I like reading a serial like this where we get to see the author try things and see if they work or not. It feels a lot more - organic, if that's the right word.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 2nd, 2005 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
OK, I like it. I've been away from the computer, so I read both bits of Ch 25 in one go, and I think it does work. I wouldn't have known you felt it was shaky unless I read your extratextual notes. In fact, the whole scheme has the feel of the polyjuice plan in CoS: planned by a female not prone to mad plans, reluctantly gone along with by male friends, female's part goes awry, male ends up in great trouble... I'm hoping for "... but escapes and female gets in more trouble than she assumed, tho it all works out somewhat as they wanted."

I think it fits and I like this bit of excitement! You've got a lot of balls in the air, true, but I think you're more than capable.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: January 2nd, 2005 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it works well, but it possibly needs to be longer. Or possibly an "interlude" where this is from Dora's POV. I really like that this is the way they decide to help Joe, actually. It works because Sirius' resentment and jealousy have an opportunity to grow (here's Remus doing the daring, crazy sort of thing Sirius would LOVE to be doing); Dora and Remus have an opportunity to work closely on something, and Remus' narrow escape is going to scare Dora.

Another interlude idea? Have the near-capture of Rookwood show up in the Daily Prophet and Hermione read about it. Or something. :-)

sannalim From: sannalim Date: January 3rd, 2005 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, my. Can an Auror trace Remus's Apparition trajectory?
ncp From: ncp Date: January 3rd, 2005 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it works just the way it is. It's a half-baked plan that can go wrong in a million different ways. It makes sense that no one thought it through. If you foreshadow it ahead of time, then there's time for Dora to think about the plan and see its flaws and find a better plan.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 4th, 2005 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, that was close. Damn Scrimgouer and his ways! lol. Loved the interplay between Remus and Sirius. They ROCK!
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 18th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)
alright, i have absolutely no constructive critisism to give, I just always have some sort of reaction to cliff hangers like that. Ready for it?? AHHHHHHHHH OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!! I totally squealed in, like, excitement or anticipation, or one of those silly A words...wonderful, amazing story! I'm so glad I found it!
16 comments or Leave a comment