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Shifts, Chapter 26: Shifting Focus, pt 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 26: Shifting Focus, pt 2
Okay, fairness--I did start this last night on schedule, then realized that I just didn't like how it was going. I had it taking place the next day, large section of the Order in attendance, and I kept finding myself flashing back because this is Shifts, and the major focus is on Remus, Dora, and Sirius--and I was skipping their reaction entirely. So I think, rather than mentioning that in passing and going on to a meeting of all of Harry's various designated grown-ups, I'll do the meeting more in passing and actually have, you know, my main guys react to it. Just for kicks.

So, narrative misstep causing lateness.

Anyway, Remus and Dora were getting used to the new shape of their relationship, and enjoying one another (though both of them are worried about Andromeda's behavior). They'd been out with Dora's old school friends, who wanted to meet Remus, and having a fairly good time, when they come across the new edition of the Quibbler, which everyone was reading--they saw the headline advertising Harry's interview.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Remus wove through the crowd gathered around the kiosk where the newspapers were being sold, and grabbed five copies from the dwindling stack, ignoring indignant calls about waiting his turn as he put the money down on the counter. The witch who was in charge took it in a distracted way as she tried to maintain order. He went back to Dora and her friends--Sanjiv's date, apparently bored, had taken her leave by the time he got back--and gave one copy to Daffy and Maddie, another to Sanjiv, and the other three to Dora. "We'd best be going," he said, hoping that the number of papers would tell her where.

She nodded, then went over to Maddie, who was looking at the cover of the Quibbler with some alarm, and took her hand. "Harry's telling the truth, Maddie," she said, then looked at her other friends. "I don't know what the Ministry's going to say about it, but I believe him. It's about Cedric."

Her three friends--Hufflepuffs, all--glanced at one another nervously, then Daffy nodded. "I believed it when I first heard it," he said. "But everyone was saying..."

"I know," Dora said. "Remus and I have to go now. Please read it. And I'll talk to you later this week."

They said their goodbyes, then Dora took Remus's hand and they left Diagon Alley together. The Quibblers had to be hidden on the Muggle bus ride to Grimmauld Place.

Sirius and Mad-Eye Moody were in the kitchen when they got back, both bent over the same paper, and Sirius was glad to take the third copy that Remus had brought for him. His face was pale and drawn as he read.

Remus read his copy by the fire, hearing Harry's quiet, frequently uncertain voice in his mind. He, like most of the Order (Sirius, Dumbledore, and McGonagall excepted), had heard the story second-hand. Hearing it from Harry himself was an entirely different experience.

"We decided to take the Tri-wizard cup together, you know... share it. We didn't know it was a portkey until we touched it..."

"And then he said, 'Kill the spare.' And then..." Here, Potter pauses, his eyes closed, and takes a breath. "And then Pettigrew raised his wand and killed Cedric."

"Pettigrew tied me to a gravestone... there was a cauldron... He cut off his own hand. 'Flesh of the servant, willingly given.' I closed my eyes. I didn't want to see that. When I opened them again, he was there. He cut me, here"--Potter holds out one thin arm--"and took my blood. 'Blood of the enemy.'"

Something exploded, pulling Remus out of the article. Beside the hearth, the shards of an earthenware cauldron were giving off a cloud of dust. Sirius was raging through the room, looking for something new to break. "Wormtail!" he shouted. "Bloody, goddamned Wormtail! We should have killed him."

Remus had no argument.

"When I heard it that night," Sirius said, "I was so worried about Harry. I just wanted him to stop talking, stop thinking about it. I was angry, but... the damned Ministry. They've made him go through it again. Do you know what it does to him to talk about this?"

"Speaking of the Ministry," Dora asked Mad-Eye, "what are they going to do about this?"

"Don't know. Reckon they'll try to shut it down. Don't know how much luck they'll have."

Remus frowned. "Mad-Eye, would you mind going over there, to Auror headquarters? Make a pest of yourself and find out what the mood is."

"Tonks could--"

"Tonks is staying right where she is," Dora said. "I'm off-duty, and it's more important for me to be exactly where I am."

Mad-Eye nodded curtly and left.

"What's going to happen to Harry?" Dora asked when he was gone. "Coming right out in public like that?"

"He's safe enough from Voldemort at Hogwarts," Remus said. "Voldemort won't attack while Dumbledore is there."

"And that horrid Umbridge woman?"

"If she does anything to him," Sirius said, "she'll answer for it."

"What about the other students?" Remus asked. "Harry mentions Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle by name, and their sons are there with him. I don't think any of them is strong enough magically to do any real damage to Harry himself, but they could certainly make his life difficult. We should get word to him to stop these meetings of his defense society. It's a likely target and--"

"AND YOU WANT HIM TO QUIT?" Sirius roared. "Of course, the Lupin way of doing things. Take a risk and then take two steps back from it to make sure that Nothing. Ever. Happens."

"That's not fair," Dora said as Remus stood up.

Sirius turned on her. "Isn't it? Just because he finally found the spine to touch you doesn't mean much, does it? Even you know better than to ask for much follow-through on it--"

There was harsh, sharp sound, very small, really, just the crash of a small flat hand against Sirius's cheek. Sirius fell silent, standing in the middle of the kitchen, his eyes closed, breathing loudly.

"I'm sorry I hit you," Dora said. "But you're out of line."

Remus himself didn't care about the accusation against him, or about Sirius being out of line. He'd tended to rage at his friends when he was angry about other things for as long as they'd known one another, and it was a matter of course by now. It was the intensity of the anger that disturbed him. He would have expected some raging at Peter, which was Sirius's normal response to so much that had gone wrong, but the article itself... Remus would have expected an entirely different reaction. Pride. Boasting about his godson's level of cheek, to thumb his nose at the Ministry like this. Perhaps a bit of need to restrain him from sticking his head in the fireplace to congratulate Harry in person.

There was none of it. Instead, this violent anger, turning not only on Peter, but on Remus and Dora, and probably on anyone else who happened by.

As if summoned by the thought, Kreacher hobbled into the kitchen. "Oh, Master is angry," he said. He glanced the paper. "The half-blood brat whines about--"

Remus caught the motion of Sirius's arm just in time and grabbed his wrist before it could start a vicious downward stroke to the top of Kreacher's head. "Don't do it, Sirius."

Kreacher leered. "Master won't do it," he said. "Master does nothing, Master says nothing, Master just hides in Mistress's house and lets the half-blood brat speak..."

There was no holding him back. Sirius tore away from Remus's hands, grabbed Kreacher around the neck and threw him against the stones of the hearth. Dora cast a quick spell to soften the impact, but it didn't do much.

Kreacher got to his knees, wheezing and laughing. "Master knows, Master knows... and Kreacher knows, too." He limped away to his den, rubbing his hip and singing a song to himself.

Sirius stared after him, not quite comprehending. Even from a distance of several feet, Remus could see his hands shaking. "I didn't mean to do that," he said.

"I'll check on him," Dora said. "He landed pretty hard on his hip."

"No," Sirius said. "He won't let a half-blood near him. I'll go make sure I didn't hurt the miserable little toerag." Continuing to mutter in this vein, he bent down and went into the furnace room.

"He's got to control his temper," Dora said.

"Do you think so?" Remus asked dryly.

"It's Snape," Dora said. "I wondered why they'd got into a wandpoint battle in the kitchen, and it turns out that's what Snape said to him. That he was hiding in his mother's house. At least that's what he said. Told me he knew it was a bit stupid to get so worked up and he was past it."

Remus sighed. "They were at wand-point so often in school that it never even occurred to ask what set it off this time. And he's most certainly not past it."

Sirius came out of Kreacher's den, rubbing his shoulder. "He'll be fine. Wouldn't let me do anything about the hip, but it's not broken. Just a bruise." He looked up uncertainly. "I, er... I'm sorry. Both of you. I was... I shouldn't have said what I said. That's your affair. Er... so to speak." He looked away. "Harry just did more for the war in one afternoon than any of us have done in a year."

"Harry's the only eyewitness," Dora said quietly. "No one else could be that convincing. Why do you think Fudge has been so keen to discredit him? The rest of us are second-hand. All we can say is that we believe him. If no one else is hearing him, then they have no idea why."

"I know that." Sirius shook his head. "I'm just tired of being entirely useless to him. I need to do something."

"I know," Remus said.

There was nothing else to say, and for a long time, the three of them stood at the far points of the kitchen from one another, then Dora went to Sirius and kissed the cheek she'd slapped. "I'm going to go home now," she said. "You..." She hugged him. "You try get yourself together. I love you. I'm annoyed with you at the moment, but I do."

He kissed the top of her head. "Thank you."

Remus walked her up to the door and kissed her goodnight. She held him at the door for a long time, her copy of the Quibbler pressing between his shoulder blades. She kissed him again, then slipped out into the night. Remus went back to the kitchen.

Sirius looked up. "How angry are you?"

"I'm not. I should be. If I were a hot-headed adolescent, I'd have had to hit you for insulting Dora. I can't help feeling that I was expected to."

"She didn't seem to have any objections."

"How long have you known?"

"Hmm?" Sirius had opened the Quibbler again, and casually said, "Oh, since Christmas. I assumed you'd tell me when you were ready." He went back to reading.

"It's only been a week."

"If you say so."

Remus picked up his copy of the newspaper and finished reading.
28 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 8th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful! Love the interaction between the new Trio (Sirius, Remus, and Dora). Their reactions and emotions were spot-on. At the end of this segment, I was clapping in fiendish glee. It was well worth the wait.

Quick fix...

"Harry just did more the war in one afternoon than any of us have done in a year."

You're missing a "for."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Glad you liked it.

Picked up the "for."
sannalim From: sannalim Date: January 8th, 2005 01:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Lots of things to like in this--

*Dora comforting Maddie

*the obvious Hermione-control of Rita Skeeter's word-choices in the Quibbler article

*Dora slapping Sirius, so very cool-headedly

*Sirius coming to his senses. Poor Sirius. I'm glad he's got Dora to hug him.

--to name a few.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)
What, you think Hermione had a hand in not having Harry weeping all the time and making his voice sound like his voice? :)

Glad you liked it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 8th, 2005 02:06 am (UTC) (Link)
He, like most of the Order (Sirius, Dumbledore, and McGonagall excepted), had heard the story second-hand.
When did McGonagall hear it first hand? I don't remember that but it's a while since I read GOF.
Fantastic piece, as always. I can't believe how often I check to see if there are updates- and living on the other side of the world, usually there is one when I get up in the morning! Many thanks, I can't wait to see how you finish this.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought she was in the scene--DD had sent her for Sirius, and Sirius was there, so I assumed she'd brought him, but now that you mention it... nope. I have no clue whether or not she was there. And now it's in my head that she might not be. Doesn't she come in screaming at Fudge or something? Must check.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 8th, 2005 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Just checked- Minerva collects Sirius while Snape gets the Veritaserum; both return to Moody's office. After Barty Crouch's explanation Minerva stays there to guard him while DD takes Harry to his office and hears Harry's story with Sirius. I wondered if you meant the part where they all hear Crouch's story- but Snape was there as well.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 8th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought you were taking a break? ;) Nah, I'm glad to see you back - as long as you are well rested!

I think it is very plausible that Dora would react like that to Sirius... it probably hurts her a little, though. I mean, her big cousin just insulted both her and the man she loves!

Although I will say it again - Sirius had a point. I'm sorry, but even in Your Very Own Dora... it seemed a bit coincidential that two weeks after Lily and James' deaths, Remus gets a job in Wales. (Was that at a magical school, by the way?) I'm sure he wasn't lying, but I have a feeling he was trying to get away... and left Dora behind.

Wow, I can't believe I let myself have a go at Remus like that!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I thought you were taking a break?

Yeah--I'm two days behind now, since this was my entry for today, and I missed yesterday and the day before! Ouch. I'd planned every day until the end of the month, but I'm in a bit of trouble if I think that's happening!

And yes, Sirius absolutely has point. Not one that should be shouted around and used as a stabbing weapon, but definitely a point. My theory of Sirius is "always crazy, generally right."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
BTW, definitely not coincidental in YVOD. Dumbledore found him a job at a school for Squibs. Probably an experimental thing that wouldn't have lasted long after he left, but a school run by the magical establishment, to teach wizarding history, practical defense for squibs (how to deal with a magical attack), etc.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 8th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good - I was pretty sure Remus wouldn't have done that to little Dora, but still, it did seem weird, and I had wondered if he hadn't decided last minute to take the job.

And I do hope Remus finally realizes Sirius has a point! I love him, but even in GoF, the whole time I was reading I was like "where's the letter of congratulations to Harry? Where was he during at least one task?"

Oh, and one other question - when did Tonks find out Sirius was innocent? Right after PoA or GoF?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I have a half-finished fic on the subject, and basically my theory is that a lot of things would kind of come together at the same time--she hears about the death of Cedric, wonders why no one believes Harry, and learns (from Kingsley) that he's also spun one of these "tales" about Sirius Black's innocence. When it occurs to her that if she's inclined to believe his later story, she realizes that the stories are related and make more sense both true than neither. That there is another eyewitness to the Sirius story whose testimony is rejected solely because he's a werewolf would probably set off her alarm bells as well, whether one is a WolvieWotcher crewmate or not.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: January 8th, 2005 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, Harry wasn't the only eye-witness. Wormtail, and later, the DE's all saw LV returned.

Other than that, great writing. Dora's practically quivering on my screen, you've written her so strongly. Sirius was way way way out of line.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, yeah, but unless Peter has a big change of heart, he's probably not going to be helping the Order out much with convincing people that Voldie's still kicking.

From: isabela113 Date: January 8th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
You're doing a wonderful job portraying the unraveling of Sirius' control over his actions. Watching his frustration grow and the acting out becoming more irrational, as it does in this chapter, sets up a very clear precedent for him going to the Ministry at the end. He is such an impulsive character, and you've really captured the truth that impulsivity can be a dangerous force. Too many writers are lulled into the trap of Sirius' innocence meaning he is a goodnatured joker underneath it all. I don't dispute that Sirius is a good man, but I also don't think that he is harmless.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
That's a way to think of it that I hadn't, actually--there must have been a reason that people believed so easily in his guilt. Not that he was guilty, but that he'd displayed irrational behavior in the past that would make people who knew him go, "Hmmm... you know, maybe we should have seen that coming."
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: January 8th, 2005 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it could've partly been prejiduce about his family... however, you're right, probably something else as well. But then again, if there was, why were Remus and Dumbledore so quick to believe him? (Although I suppose Dumbledore could've used Occlumency, but the idea of him doing so on random bugs me).
dipsas From: dipsas Date: January 8th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC) (Link)
This section has all the things I love about Shifts. You give us good moments, comfort and a sense of security and then remind us that it all happens in the threatening shadow of a war that really is paramount to the characters. Excellent work, and very much you.
vytresna From: vytresna Date: January 8th, 2005 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Damn, I just realized this is February. A month and a half since Kreacher visited Narcissa, and now he's back, shoving everything in Sirius's face with no one else around, and it's just no wonder he's acting this way. Curse Kreacher!

Remember what I said about Wormtongue.
volandum From: volandum Date: January 8th, 2005 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
A quick question, if I may - why can't I load the fiction archive?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not a clue. I don't work there anymore, and I haven't heard anything. FWIW, I can't load it either.
volandum From: volandum Date: January 8th, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, thank you.

What does FWIW mean?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2005 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
"For what it's worth." It took me forever to learn those abbreviations when other people used them; I don't know whatever possessed me to start using them myself.
volandum From: volandum Date: January 8th, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, thank you.

To pass on the hard-gained knowledge?
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: January 9th, 2005 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was great! Sirius lashing out is so true to form.

My only small quibble is that you paint a very strong visual of the Quibbler as a newspaper. I'm sure it was a magazine?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 9th, 2005 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's sort of a tabloid, isn't it? Like the Sun or Weekly World News?
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: January 10th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't know either of those, but it's described as a magazine in OotP. And I just checked the US edition thinking that might be different, but it's described as a magazine in there too. :~)
I always thought of the Quibbler as something like a cross between Fortean Times and People magazine. ;~)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 13th, 2005 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Just catching up on all the Shifts goodness. Sirius's casual knowledge of Remus's relationship with Tonks is perfect. I've always loved it when Harry reacts this way to R/H as well.

Tonks standing up for herself and Remus is wonderful too. It shows so many things...Tonks's ability to stand up for herself (and Remus), Remus's deep understanding of Sirius and how easily Sirius can be misunderstood.

I hate to be nit-picky, but this section took me a minute:
"Remus himself didn't care about the accusation against him, or about Sirius being out of line. He'd tended to rage at his friends when he was angry about other things for as long as they'd known one another, and it was a matter of course by now. It was the intensity of the anger that disturbed him. He would have expected some raging at Peter..."

The "he" who'd tended to rage at his friends...I thought that was Remus at first. I had to read this paragraph several times to realize you meant Sirius. I'm not sure what else you can do, but since every other "he" in that section does refer to Remus, that one threw me off. Of course, that could just be me. :)

~Jme13 at SQ (sorry, not a LiveJournal user)
28 comments or Leave a comment