Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Shades, Chapter Four: Interlude (1): Alpha, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter Four: Interlude (1): Alpha, pt. 3
Okay. It's the day before the full moon, and the werewolves are gathering. Fenrir leads the children on a hunt, taking Remus along to learn. Remus inadvertantly challenges Fenrir by befriending the children and speaking to him (Fenrir) on equal terms, and Fenrir punishes him by hitting him and biting him, and warning him that if he's caught passing information to Tonks (who he's learned is an Auror), both of them will have their throats bitten.

Btw, chapters one and two are up at SQ.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Lunch was unexpectedly pleasant, despite the fact that his shoulder throbbed and burned all afternoon.

Fenrir distributed all the food, and they were subjected to a disjointed speech about rights to blood and the "new power rising" that would give the Muggle world into their claws, but other than that, a passer-by would likely mistake it for a large family picnic. Remus had never been in a group of more than five werewolves before; unchained, he coulnd't recall having been in a group of more than two.

The men and women he'd visited over the past two weeks in their solitary squatters' lairs had been surly and suspicious, questioning him harshly and removing him bodily on occasion. But here, they behaved with an odd courtesy, a rough code of manners that everyone seemed to recognize. Sweet, who was becoming a good deal more talkative and outgoing as moonrise approached, appointed herself his guide. Alderman laid aside his earlier mistrust and sat with them, telling epic tales of his own hunting prowess.

"He's lying," Sweet chided after a particularly adventurous tale of deerslaying. "He can't take a grown doe by himself."

"Can so!" Alderman flicked a bit of rabbit grease at her, and she put her hand up to block it. "Just ask Blondin; he ate part of it." He turned to Remus. "I think Sweet's sweet on Blondin. All the little girls are."

"I am not! That's not allowed. And I'm not little. Greyback says I'm nearly full grown."

Alderman leaned forward and sniffed. "You don't smell grown yet."

"Is that right? Wait for moonrise then. You can't smell proper yet, anyway. You'll see."

"You stay in your own place when the moon's round," Alderman said, backing away. "I don't fancy breathing through some new hole."

Sweet blanched abruptly and left their group.

"Girls. They don't understand." Alderman rolled his eyes. "You should eat the rest of that rabbit, Lupin, or you won't be able to do much more than sleep tonight."

"I haven't made a habit of eating heavy meals before transformations."

"And you don't eat during?"

"Not typically."

Alderman shook his head in disbelief. "Don't that make you tired? Greyback says we'll be ill afterward if we don't eat hearty around the moon. So eat... it's good!" He gestured with a handful of greasy rabbit.

Remus ate.

The meal went on all afternoon, and Remus ate until he felt sick (and obscurely drunk, though there had been no spirits involved). The others continued long after that point. The boys started some kind of game together--it seemed to involve stalking one another and dropping out of trees--but Alderman refused it self-importantly, reminding them that he was going off with the men this month. Sweet had come back and started picking leaves out of his hair, and when this was spotted, a woman ushered her away and swept her into a group of smaller girls, who were affectionatly tugging one another's hair. Remus looked around and noticed that the clearing had become very clearly divided between men and women. Fenrir Greyback, who had been sitting silently atop the rocky rise for an hour, stood and came down. He went to the girls, looked at them, examining the older ones, then shrugged and left them as they were. He gestured to a woman of indeterminate age and she went to him and caressed his arms.

"Evvie, get 'em off to the caves." He pinched her bottom.

Evvie pinched him back flirtatiously, then went and corralled the girls, leading them off into the lengthening shadows.

Remus felt something warm on his thigh, and looked to see a small white hand resting there. A woman with sharpened teeth was beside him, looking at him with an unmistakable invitation. He touched her hand to move it away, but it seemed to remain in his own hand, and he thought of Dora, but it was somehow fuzzy and unreal.

"I told you to blindfold him, Mina, not rub him down." Greyback pulled her away and glared at Remus. He took a strip of cloth from her and wrapped it tightly around Remus's eyes, then shoved him off in a different direction. "Alderman, take him off with the little boys where he belongs."

There was some tugging and pushing, but Alderman was careful not to let him walk into any trees or rocks, and eventually he said, "Duck," and the smell of the forest changed into the smell of wet rocks.

The blindfold was removed. He blinked in the new dimness. It was a low-ceilinged cave, sloping down toward what looked from here like a large cavern. Boys were running in around them. A pair of them carrying Fenrir's crate nudged him aside. The animals inside the crate were utterly frantic.

His head was starting to clear from the strange drunken feeling. He looked at Alderman. "What...?"

Alderman nodded in a knowing way. "Told you, didn't I? Females. They'll stir your brains. You'll get a bit more used to them, but they'll always stir your brains this close."

"Remind me to listen to you next time."

"I will." He pointed down the slope. "You go on down there. I'm going with Greyback." He smiled nervously. "Reckon I'll be the runt," he said again.

"Be careful," Remus said.

"Are you careful when the moon's up?"

There was nothing to say to this, so Remus said nothing. He nodded to Alderman and headed down toward the cavern, where he could hear the boys shouting to one another. Before he went in, he glanced up at the entrance, and saw Alderman still standing there, bracing himself against the rock with one hand, a black silhouette against the twilight. He stayed there for a long time before Blondin and one of the other boys dragged him inside, apparently excited to have an adult with them.

"Come on!" the new boy said. "You should have a good spot, with lots of room!"

"And we still have to blood the rabbits," Blondin said, drawing his knife. They came upon the crate, which was now sitting beside an underground lake. A third boy tore off the boards and reached inside, pulling a rabbit up by its ears.

Blondin raised his knife, but didn't cut the rabbit. Instead, he cut his own hand, then cut the hands of the two boys nearest him. He stood expectantly in front of Remus.

"What's happening?"

"It's to make them smell right," Blondin explained, and rubbed his bloody hands over rabbit's coat, matting it. "Can't practice catching it if it doesn't smell right, can we? C'mon, everyone has to."

Remus offered his hand, and Blondin cut a thin line in it.

The rabbits were brought out one by one, covered in human blood, and set free in the cavern. Blondin howled after the last one and capered around the crate. "Let's meet the moon!" he yelled, and ran deeper into the cave.

The others followed quickly.

Remus looked at the crate, and at his hands. The smell of their blood hung rich around him and his stomach gave a powerful twinge.

Their voices came back from further ahead, echoing, giving human howls still, but soon enough...

One of the rabbits nosed back toward the crate, and Remus touched it, running his finger over the long, velvety ears. "I'm sorry," he told it.

It didn't care for his apology, and hopped away.

He followed the boys.

A cool breeze was blowing, and he found himself at the far side of the lake, where the cavern opened up to the sky in a narrow chimney. The boys were gathered at the base of it--there were only six of them, he thought--sitting on their haunches, their heads upturned, waiting.

Remus joined them.

No one spoke while they waited. It was a solemn time, full of dread.

And then there

is pain, pain, and more pain.

Fire rips through him, his claws push through tender flesh, his spine stretches. Bones break in his face, rearrange themselves, sharpen. Skin grows rough, hair itches its way to the surface, and then all things rush into the mind... the rich smells of the cave, the scents of his packmates, the sound of scuffling animals in the rocks.

The pups collapse to the rock wall, panting, the pain passing, and the large wolf among them rises, stretching, knowing and feeling that it is alpha, that all is its for the asking.

There is a deep smell, the smell, the only one that matters.

He puts his nose to the ground, tracks it.

The pups rise, capering around him, and he swipes one of them off to one side. It bites playfully at him, then rolls over and bares its belly. The wolf ignores it.

There are only flashes now.

The blood-scent. Small creature, cowering among the rocks. Ripping flesh and cracking bone.

A drink in the lake. A fish. He eats the fish, though it isn't what he craves.

He eats another rabbit.

The pups catch a third, and tear it among themselves.

Another kill. And another.

There is a narrow shaft in the cave, and the wolf can hear faraway howling. He howls back. There is another scent here, but he can't hunt it. The pups jump on him and there is a game of sorts, and he forgets the other howls.

The game goes on, and it is rough, and one ear is bleeding, but it is only pup play. The wolf rests on the rock floor, and after a bit, the pups gather around him, and they are all asleep and then there

was pain again.

It was less severe than Remus ever recalled it without Wolfsbane potion--a sense of tearing, the crushing feeling of his skull pulling inward.

The boys rose around him, howling at the rude awakening. Blondin, who had a bruise on his face from the cuffing Remus had given him early in the night, looked at him with great admiration.

"You should come every moon," he said.

"That's not going to happen," Fenrir Greyback said, coming down the slope from the cave entrance. "I think Lupin will be with us next month. If he'll be back, of course."

"I've nowhere else to be."

"Well, find somewhere to be other than here, and stop harassing people between moons. Find your own spot. And you can bloody well feed yourself now." He stood aside and waited for Remus to pass him, then grabbed him at the exact spot he'd bitten. "We aren't all pups," he said.


"Be back here next moon, Lupin. If you're not, I'll be looking for you, and you won't want to see me. You won't want to see me if you come and I found out you've been doing something you oughtn't, either."

"Honestly, Greyback, most of the time I won't want to see you, anyway."

Greyback punched the injury, and Remus was driven to his knees on the rocky ground. He stood and left the cavern.

He felt considerably less ill than he usually did and wondered (somewhat grudgingly) if Greyback might not have a point about eating heavily. He couldn't find any path that looked like a likely route back to the clearing, so he stumbled further into the forest. He saw none of the others.

When he'd gone far enough that he thought Greyback was no longer watching, he Apparated to a dingy back street in Diagon Alley, where Bill Weasley was waiting with an Invisibility Cloak to take him back to the Burrow for Harry Potter's sixteenth birthday.
37 comments or Leave a comment
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Shades is really turning out to be better than Shifts, which is remarkable. Even though I know that it's always possible for a writer to improve, no matter how good the writer is, it never fails to amaze me that your writing gets better and better. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I wasn't ready to really write from the wolf's POV before, at least about killing and eating, so this was a new stretch.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw, I love the little segue between Remus' lives. It all seems so forgien, the "real" world, after that....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 05:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I know... it's going to take a mental shift to get back there!
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
You're really amazing.

I wonder why Greyback put him with the kids when he had to know that Remus would be acknowledged dominant among them for that night. To set him up for a fall later? Or did he not quite think about it?

I wonder if it's the eating -- or the companionship. How well does Remus remember (for comparison purposes) the times with the other Marauders?

Rubbing their own blood on the rabbits really unnerved me. Rabbits should smell enough to be tracked as it is -- to wolves -- which suggests that they are rubbing human blood on them because human blood is what draws a werewolf to its prey... Remus catches the fish, though, and that implies there's more to it. Greyback is training them for hunting humans, isn't he... Oh. That's why he put Remus with them, isn't it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Or did he not quite think about it?
Greyback=Not a great thinker

I think he had any number of reasons (not confirming or denying your final guess), which included treating Remus in what he considered a humiliating manner in front of the other adults and avoiding a challenge from a rogue wolf while in the pack (Remus isn't socialized as the others are). But the simple fact that as an adult wolf the pups would make him alpha ... I'm not sure that Greyback did think that through, and was probably thoroughly miffed in the morning to find that "his" pups had taken to Remus.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 3rd, 2005 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Dunno if answering this would be considered spoilerish, but could you tell us a bit about your perceptions about Greyback's thought processes while transformed? He seems to have wolfish characteristics while a man--does the converse apply while he is a wolf? He's obviously already near to the pups' cave as the moon sets, as if he started out to collect Remus while still a wolf, and in Flames you reference him seeming to demand that Remus partake of the kill. I've just gotten vibes that he's a little more "himself" while a wolf--not that that's any sort of praise, in his case.

Oh, and one other (rather goofy): In Shifts there were always references to Remus stripping before changing, dealing with the subsequent discomfort of coming back to himself naked in inclement weather, etc.--is that the case here, as with the others? If nothing else, I'd think that such an obviously poverty-stricken group would be interested in preserving what few clothes they had.

I wouldn't exactly call such a consideration a plot hole, but I was just wondering, for my own excessively logical curiousity's sake. And I wasn't just looking for Naked!Remus. *looks shifty*
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: September 3rd, 2005 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)
In Shifts there were always references to Remus stripping before changing, dealing with the subsequent discomfort of coming back to himself naked in inclement weather, etc.--is that the case here, as with the others? If nothing else, I'd think that such an obviously poverty-stricken group would be interested in preserving what few clothes they had.

I wouldn't exactly call such a consideration a plot hole, but I was just wondering, for my own excessively logical curiousity's sake.

I second this, Fern. When they transformed back, I found I had expected some mention of this. Not that there must be, it just jarred a bit that there wasn't.

Otherwise--excellent, as usual. Even as a wolf Remus is good with kids. :-) And putting human blood on the rabbits to "make them smell right"... *shudder*
From: tunxeh Date: September 3rd, 2005 07:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the way you make it so clear that being a werewolf is a lot more about instinct and social structure (outside normal society, but within a society of their own) and a lot less about fur and bone. It makes me think it's time to reread The Dubious Hills (odd werewolf story with related themes, by Pamela Dean, if as seems likely you haven't read or heard of it).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. Sounds good. I like odd adjective/noun combos as much as I like werewolves. ;)
dalf From: dalf Date: September 3rd, 2005 09:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Ok a few things. The transistions at the start and end of the transformation with the strange line breaks instead of elipses. I am not sure how those are suppose to read. I realise it is suppose to give an abrupt feeling, somewhat disjointed. But, I am not sure it feels right. The leading section:

And then there

is pain, pain, and more pain.

It might actually be the tense change that buged me. I'm not sure what it is really, but IT hink its the tense and the strange line break. I think instead of the sort of present tense here if it was written like it was a memory that was comming to him in the moments that he changed back. SO instead of changing to the present tense you change to the past perfect. THen again that might not work at all.

THe other thing is the apparation. As I said before, I think wandless magic in Harry Potter is just like soundless magic. That is theoritically speaking if you are powerful enough and have enough mental disiplin you can effect any spell wandlessly that you could with a wand. Aparation though seems like an area that praticing wandlessly might be too dangerious for many p[eople ot even be capable of it. There is the case from book 1 where harry did accidental apparation (it seems) so .... dunno. I actually like you including it but I think you should make a point of it being a pretty extream thing.

vytresna From: vytresna Date: September 3rd, 2005 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I liked the tense change. The present tense in this context invokes an instinctual consciousness that sees only the moment. Then again, I'm a Lines of Descent veteran.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: September 3rd, 2005 11:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Very good chapter - appropriately spooky.

One question, and forgive me if you said so in the fic (it's nearly seven thirty am for me, my mind = all over the place), but did Remus take the Wolfsbane still? It doesn't seem like it, yet, why wouldn't he? Would it look too suspicious?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seemed in canon like he didn't, so I have him off the Wolfsbane here.
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: September 3rd, 2005 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
My, that was an amazing chapter. Auch good writing. You got the wolves right. Not that I know about wolves but I know about dogs and the behaviour felt very natural. I loved the way you wrote about the wolf transformation. The line change made it separate and dark and worked really really well.

I also liked that the women with sharpened teeth was called Mina. Reminded me of the way Mina Harker is described in Dracula onceshe's been bitten.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I'm iffy on the stylistics of it, so I'm glad it worked decently to separate.

I'm afraid Mina's name was accidental. I was scrounging for names by then, just looking at author names on the books to my right. One was a "William," so I picked "Wilhelmina," but since there's already a "Bill" in the story, I figured "Billie" wouldn't be good, so I called her "Mina."
coralia13 From: coralia13 Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a wonderful section. I love hearing about the werewolf pups and adults - it's so interesting, and they seem like such fun characters to write. Seeing Moony relate to the pups was a fantastic juxtaposition with Professor Lupin relating to his students at Hogwarts. It demonstrated not only the differences in Remus transformed and Remus un-transformed, but also the differences in the werewolf and wizarding cultures in general. I doubt Neville would be impressed, for example, if Remus clubbed him in the face, but Blondin loves it. Very interesting, all of it.
Will we get to see Remus's POV on the birthday party?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2005 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been debating on the birthday party. The chapter was originally supposed to end here, but in order to segue back into the "normal" wizarding world (and Dora's POV), it would probably be a good idea to let Remus be Remus again for awhile, get the note Dora promised to leave him, and so on. So I think I am going to do a part 4 at the party.
From: fizzko Date: September 3rd, 2005 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Poor Remus, having to go back and forth between "worlds" like that.

"Honestly, Greyback, most of the time I won't want to see you, anyway."

When Remus said that I was pretty amused, but at the same time I was thinking, "No, Remus, don't be stupid!" He'd already gotten punished, after all, so I hoped he'd have some sense and keep his mouth shut.

Also, the part with the rabbits was especially disturbing to me because I own a rabbit myself, and am generally a rabbit loving person. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 4th, 2005 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I like bunnies too. But they are pretty common prey animals (for both wolves and people), so I figured it would make sense to use them.

Yeah, Remus should know better, and I debated having him leave without a parting shot, but I think, in some way, that Greyback expects it, and would be a lot more suspicious of Remus if he suddenly started being very submissive.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: September 4th, 2005 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Rabbit-hunting... human blood... *shudder*

Too late for a fully coherent review, but as always, this was a delicious read and I'm looking forward to more.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 6th, 2005 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've really enjoyed this so far! I've been wondering, though (and I'm going to feel very embarassed if it turns out you've already answered this and I missed it somehow)... how did Remus find out where the other werewolves were living? (Speaking of which, where exactly are they?) And how did they react to him when he first arrived? We haven't really seen him interact with any adults except Fenrir...and meeting him now,afer he's already spent weeks in the forest, leaves me wanting to know more! More! I mean, what do the werewolves do all day? Just sit around and chew on each other...?
Right. That's all :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2005 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
The only hint I gave was when he first went AWOL on Tonks, saying that he couldn't waste a lot of time writing a long letter, because he had to arrange an accidental crossing of paths. This was, in fact, with Greyback, and he gave a bitter story about how he'd been persecuted after the MoM battle, and his wand snapped and so on. Greyback, not being one of the world's great thinkers, believed this and let him in. (I think Greyback has wanted him "home" for awhile.) I think they don't do terribly interesting things all day--steal, hunt, hunker down alone. Except for the children, who live together, the adults only meet up as pack on moon days.
37 comments or Leave a comment