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Shifts, Chapter 34: Impending Doom, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 34: Impending Doom, pt. 2
I found that I had to give the three of them one more good day together. Just had to.

Remus, in the last section, gave up his teaching job, and the rumors had gotten to his students, although he hadn't planned to tell them until after exams.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dora was waiting for him in the car park on Saturday morning, leaning against the driver's side door and wearing the same outfit she'd worn for their first trip to Alan's (down to Arabella Figg's hat). She looked thoughtful until she noticed something odd in the way he was walking--maybe it was the occasional skipped step, or the the tugs on his arm--and shook her head and laughed, opening the back door and pretending to look for something. "Hup, Snuffles," she said, moving aside as Sirius, Disillusioned, jumped into the car.

"Alan said it would be all right if we brought Snuffles. He's promised to be good and Bill and Fleur are watching the house. He told Kreacher not to tell anyone he was gone for the day. If you don't want to risk it--"

"I'm fine with it."

Something shifted in the back seat, and Remus guessed that Sirius had transformed a moment before he said, "You're the risk averse one, Moony."

"How'd you get him to go along with it?" Dora asked.

"Played his own guilt games on him. Went on about how the pair of you had been neglecting me for months just to go off and paw at one another, and all that."

"He asked," Remus said. "On the way out the door."

"And Remus is mopey and nostalgic these days. Beautiful day, isn't it?"

"That it is," Dora said, and pulled out of the car park. On the way to Alan's, they talked about the weather and Smeltings, and Dora played a new Weird Sisters tune that she insisted was wonderful. Remus was getting used to the music (but would probably never like it); Sirius started comparing it negatively to the wizard bands that had been popular in their youth. To his disappointment, Dora didn't take the bait. When it came to music, she was open to everything (except for Celestina Warbeck, to whom she referred as "that godawful caterwauler").

"I think we should get some Stubby Boardman tunes, myself," Sirius said as they pulled around the last corner.

"We'll see about it. Transform."

There was another shifting sound in back, and Remus quickly reversed the Disillusioning. Padfoot grinned back at them both, tongue lolling.

Dora frowned as they approached the house. "What the--? We're going to have to park on the street." She pulled up in front of the house. There were at least six cars in Alan's driveway.

Anna came outside as soon as they were stopped and helped Dora with "Snuffles," scratching the ruff of his neck and promising him "all sorts of lovely treats," then hugged both Dora and Remus, and refused to answer questions about all of the cars. Still, Remus wasn't entirely surprised to find many of his colleagues gathered in the living room under a sign that read "Bon Voyage!" He saw three of his older students as well (Paul Freehof, Stephen Wells, and Andrew Ketterling; Dudley and Piers, unsurprisingly, did not seem to be present), gathered around Joe Levinson, who raised a glass of wine to him. Everyone shouted "Surprise!"

Dora laughed and clapped her hands, but Remus thought her smile seemed a bit forced, at least at first. As they made their way into the crowd, she relaxed, and accepted their good wishes, even around the lie she was telling them.

Remus himself made his way over to Joe (Sirius tagged at his heels for a few minutes, then went over to play tug-of-war with Anna), and said, "Congratulations. I understand you're going back."

"Yes. Mr. Wells here has been bringing me up to date on recent historical developments. I've promised to keep the club going."

"We'll miss you, though," Paul Freehof said earnestly. "Really."

"I'll miss you, too, Paul. I'm surprised to find the three of you here. It's not entirely your haunt, is it?"

Stephen laughed self-consciously. "Well, we sort of accosted Mr. Levinson when we saw him on the grounds."

"About the club," Andrew said. "To get a promise."

"And he let slip that they were having a bit of a to-do for you here," Paul put in. "I told Mr. Garvey that if he didn't invite us, we'd just have to sneak off the grounds and break in anyway."

"And we couldn't have that," Alan said, drifting through with a plate of sandwiches. "So they're here having an intensive study for their history exams, which are Monday, if I recall correctly."

"We know it all," Paul said. "Good teacher."

"Just do me a favor and stick to the soft drinks," Alan said. "And no reporting on the rest of us."

"To who? Headmaster Blythe?" Stephen asked, tipping his head toward Roger Blythe, who was sipping a bright red cocktail and dancing to a song about "a land down under."

"A valid point, Mr. Wells."

Remus made his way over to Blythe, who claimed that he saw no students present, even as the three of them went by with Sirius, having taken over Anna's half of the game. "I don't know those children," he said. "Must be relatives of Anna's."

"Well, they seem to be very good boys, at any rate."

There was a great deal of laughter that afternoon, and no serious conversations at all (any time one threatened to start, Anna Garvey blew a noisemaker at the participants and dragged them into one game or another). After lunch, Remus and Dora were herded to the sofa, where they were presented with several small gifts, most concerned with the winter weather they'd be leaving for as everyone else in the room was celebrating summer. Alan said that he'd tried to convince everyone to add to a fund for an e-mail account for Remus from a commercial company, but as everyone else had observed what a bad correspondent he was, the whole idea had fallen rather flat. Remus allowed that this was probably just as well. "At the rate I type, I think it would be faster to use birds."

"Well, there you have it," Anna said. "We'll get you a flock of pigeons."

Sirius barked enthusiastically at the suggestion, and Anna petted him vigorously.

Dora was presented with a stack of books from the ladies, most of which seemed to be mysteries. The boys gave Remus markers and white paper, the first three pages of which had been filled with racy cartoons drawn by Andrew, featuring buxom women in Australia--one was singing in front of the Sydney opera house, another was herding sheep, and the third was on the beach with a bubble coming out of her mouth saying, "G'day, mate." Remus drew each of them a quick (and sloppy) cartoon involving the scantily-clad women being chased by Dora with a sharp implement. Dora stuck out her tongue at him.

At the end of the day, they piled back into Dora's car, and the crowd of people waved to them until they turned the first corner. Dora was still laughing when Remus Disillusioned Sirius and they headed onto the main roads.

"Good people," Sirius said, apparently having transformed. "Do we have to go back?"

"I'm sure Bill and Fleur have had enough of your mother's hospitality by now," Remus said.

He grumbled, but didn't put up any further objections.

Remus put the lead back on him in the car park, and they were walking back, Remus and Dora speaking cheerfully about nothing of import, when Dora suddenly froze at the corner that led into the square, putting her hand out in front of them.

"What is it?"

"We have a visitor," she said, drawing her wand and morphing into her everyday face. "Not one that I'd like to see us going inside."

Remus chanced a glance around the corner and saw a woman standing very still beside the lamp post, staring at the spot between number eleven and number thirteen. A large handbag was beside her. In the deepening evening, her hair seemed nearly white, and her light green robes to glow.

There was a twist at his wrist, and he saw from a brief shadow on the building that Sirius had transformed and removed his collar, then he pressed himself against the bricks and blended in. "It doesn't matter if we go in," he whispered. "It's under Fidelius. She could follow us in and sit in on a meeting and she'd have no idea we were there."

"Let's not test the limits of Fidelius," Dora said. "The two of you stay here. Remus, you have no earthly business here, and Sirius, you have too much business here. I, on the other hand, have exactly the right amount of business in the neighborhood. I believe I'll go and have a chat with my aunt."

With that, she sauntered out into the square, her wand held loosely at her hip. She went casually to Narcissa Malfoy's side and looked up at the same spot. For Dora, of course, the house would be appearing by now.

"Exaudio," Sirius whispered, and Dora's voice carried back as clearly as if she were standing beside them.

"Well," she said. "Fancy meeting you here."

Narcissa turned her head very slowly, looking at Dora with great distaste. "What do you imagine you're doing here?"

"Oh, you know," Dora said, "Auror business. I make it part of my rounds. All those fugitive family members out there, I was sure I'd run into a dark witch here sooner or later. And here I thought I was already having a good day."

"What are you implying?" Narcissa asked.

"I'm not implying a thing." Dora leaned toward her conspiratorially. "If you really want to preserve your cover, you might tell Aunt Bellatrix not to tell my mother what you've done."

"Surely, even Andromeda can tell that Bellatrix is hardly a reliable source."

Something shuffled beside Remus, and with a flash of horror, he realized that Sirius had trasformed again. A paw print on the pavement marked progress toward the square. Remus made a grab for him, but got empty air.

"Mmm," Dora said, pretending to consider this. "Yes, I'm sure it's all a lie. You should talk to her about that. Oh, and do pass on the message that her Auror niece is really looking forward to seeing her again."

"Why on Earth would I risk everything to contact Bellatrix? She's a wanted fugitive. What benefit would there be for me?"

Remus, standing at the corner, bit his lip. If he followed Sirius out, he was sure he could come up with some excuse for being here--Narcissa clearly knew he was seeing Dora, at any rate--but she'd established herself as being there on duty and--

Dora's hand bobbed, and even from this distance, Remus could see her eyes widen. She shook her head very slightly as Narcissa expounded on all of the reasons why she would hardly be likely to help Bella, and, to Remus's relief, Narcissa was not suddenly tackled to the ground by a Disillusioned Grim. Remus could explain his own presence, but explaining why an Auror was ignoring Sirius would be more of a challenge.

Dora shook her head disdainfully. "Sooner or later, your political influence will run out, and I'll have you. I may not be able to get you for what you did to my parents, but I'll have you on something."

"Take your chances," Narcissa said coldly. "And with that, I believe I will take my leave of this place. It's clear that there's nothing at all worthwhile left here."

She bent her knees to pick up her handbag, and then dropped it with a shout of disgust. Remus squinted. It was dripping wet, and the white silk had been stained yellow.

Dora shrugged elaborately. "Stray dogs," she said. "The neighborhood's lousy with them. You really should watch your belongings better."

Narcissa, not bothering to hide her magic at all, levitated the handbag ahead of herself and disappeared into the alley. Remus came out and rolled his eyes at the slight distortion that was rolling across the grass. "What are you, ten years old?"

Laughter came up from the grass, and then the three of them headed inside.
23 comments or Leave a comment
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 8th, 2005 07:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Remus's coworkers and students. I love Dora. I love Sirius's somewhat immature sense of revenge. I love Remus. I'm going to be awfully sad to see this story end...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 8th, 2005 05:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to getting to the end right now, but I have a feeling that I'm going to be totally bereft once the "It's finished!" euphoria passes. This has been fun to write.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 8th, 2005 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like when you're in a play that ends. I know the feeling.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: February 8th, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL! I've felt much this way during these months of Shifts: "I love the characters!" "I love Dora!" "I love Sirius!" "I love Remus!" :)

I have to add mine, "I love Ted and Andromeda!" Can they give Dora a baby brother or sister? Can they, can they, can they, please?;)

I'm not sure what the hourly breakdown is on the battle in the MOM but when Harry is portkeyed to Dumbledore's office and has a long talk w/old Albus the sun is starting to come up. So I believe the battle which kills Sirius happens in the wee hours of the morning, which does beg why Kingsley, Moody, and Tonks were all at Grimmauld Place at that hour. I look forward to your commentary on it all, Fern!!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 9th, 2005 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooo, oooo, I love Ted and Andromeda too!!

Heh. I always feel a bit silly when all I have to say is "I love this and this and this and - oh, and also this..." but on the other hand I don't want to just read and keep quiet.

I'm looking forward to the battle too, in a totally I'm-not-looking-forward-to-this kind of way.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: February 8th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear - that's priceless. Naughty Sirius. And I was lauhging but now I've just remembered the 'one last happy day' line and ... gulp.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 8th, 2005 11:18 am (UTC) (Link)
And next chapter...

Okay, if I'm dreading reading about the death, how am I going to write about it?

I think Tonks must hate you, JKR and I. Remus probably does too.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: February 8th, 2005 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
HAHAHAHA! Sirius' revenge was brilliant. Immature but wonderfully satifying. :~D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 8th, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given the tone he takes with Bella, my guess is that deviling his cousins was a favorite activity.
sreya From: sreya Date: February 8th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ewwwww!!!!! *applauds*

The party scene really tugged at the heart. I've had to up and move so many times that it was a familiar feeling, saying goodbye to good people. At least this time Remus gets a send off, instead of sneaking out to avoid a rush of angry parental letters.

While, being a Saturday, it wasn't D-Day yet, when they left it did make me wonder how anyone would have gotten hold of them if something had happened. Bill or Fleur apparating nearby? I can't see either of them using a telephone from Number 12. Hmm.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: February 8th, 2005 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Impending Doom indeed

Did you have to make your chapter title quite so depressing? :(

You're going to make me go through Sirius's death all over again, you know? I was in a daze for days after I finished OotP. And now.. after all these months of having Sirius back - sulky or silly or smiling - it's going to be just as much of a wrench to let him go again.

Loved Remus's sketches, BTW. But everything in this section just makes me feel horrible, because doom is certainly impending a lot around here.

From: (Anonymous) Date: February 8th, 2005 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
You had to give Sirius a day of fun as Padfoot before the end, did you?
His revenge on Narcissa is very immature indeed, but that shows that he's somewhat back to his playful self. Too bad that... ARGH! I don't want to think about it?
And when is Remus going to propose? When he and Dora are as old as Raymond and his wife??? ;-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 8th, 2005 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
And when is Remus going to propose? When he and Dora are as old as Raymond and his wife??? ;-)

Alas, I don't think they're engaged at the end of OotP. But I may at least have him make an attempt soon.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 9th, 2005 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Not engaged? In whose universe?

In JKR's universe they're not engaged because JKR doesn't seem interested in adult ships. At best, they happen to be standing next to each other at King's Cross station.

But in the Shifts universe? Are you really saying that they're not yet in a state of mind where engagement is plausible? Bother, I can't have been reading properly ...

Remus could make an attempt, only to be interrupted by the news that Dora is wanted at the Department of Mysteries immediately ... The main problem with that dramatic scenario is that it's too close to the full moon; you've already had him say that he wouldn't propose just before a full moon.

But surely the real problem is not whether they are engaged, but why they don't go telling everyone? Or, more specifically, why nobody tells Harry? I would have thought the silence was sufficiently explained by the death of Sirius - it's not appropriate to announce your personal happiness within nine days of losing your best friend/cousin. So the only (literary) problem is why they don't tell anyone between becoming engaged and going off to the battle ...
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 8th, 2005 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved this one. Remus is so happy. Does it have to end?
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 8th, 2005 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad they managed to have one last happy day and that Sirius got a last moment of fredom. *sigh* What's to happen can't be avoided but at least they've had this day.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 8th, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remus chanced a glance around the corner and saw a woman standing very still beside the lamp post, staring at the spot between number eleven and number thirteen. A large handbag was beside her. In the deepening evening, her hair seemed nearly white, and her light green robes to glow.

For some strange reason, I thought the woman was Rita Skeeter the first time I read through this paragraph.
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: February 9th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, me too. It was the green robes.

Love, love your fic, Fernwithy! :)
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: February 8th, 2005 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh...this was well done, as usual. I am so impressed with the array of original characters you have created for Shifts, and with how much they (particularly Alan, Joe, and some of the students) have endeared themselves to me.

And thank you for that last happy day....

*braces self for the rest of this story*
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 9th, 2005 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm bracing myself. This is going to hurt, isn't it?

Some things that made me happy: Dora smiling around the lie she was telling them, the headmaster denying that he saw any students, and it being faster to use birds.
From: isabela113 Date: February 9th, 2005 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)
The going away party was wonderfully sweet. I loved that Sirius got to share that with them as well. (Since it is his doom that is impending.) I can just picture the cartoons Remus drew for the boys!

Narcissa visiting the house brought up all my questions about the Fidelius from the books. I hope that we get more insight into it in canon, as I don't quite see how it works. Snuffles' revenge in that bit was hilarious.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 9th, 2005 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't believe Sirius actually did that! *laughing so hard I almost pee myself* Actually, when I think about, yes I can believe he did it. Poor Sirius, he never got the chance to have any sort of adult life at all. And the end is going to hurt even more than it did in OotP. But, Fern, at least you've given Sirius and Remus (and Dora) one last great day together. Thank you for your beautiful story, I'm not going to know what to do when the end comes. Other than re-read it over and over again. I'm so sad; I have two great stories that I'm reading, this and the Disavowals series of stories by Elsha at SQ and ff.net, and they are both ending. *crying pitifully* :(:(:(
From: phaedra_hawke Date: May 19th, 2005 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

I just found my way over from the Sugar Quill

And almost wish that I hadn't- cause I can clearly see myself devouring the rest of this (which I do want to do) but then being brokenhearted that it's over. Plus as someone mentioned earlier, hearing "the drums beating" is getting louder and louder. This tale has woven a spell on me unlike any other I've read. I'll be sad to see it end.
23 comments or Leave a comment