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Shades, Chapter Ten: A New Leaf, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter Ten: A New Leaf, pt. 1
[petulant grumpy voice]I feel like writing Shades, so there.[/petulant grumpy voice]

Okay. Where were we? After Remus failed to check in following a transformation, Tonks and many other people worried, and ended up more or less dragging him to the Burrow, where he and Tonks had another of their little pep talks, full of his usual totally unmixed messages about their relationship. A confused Tonks wandered around until she finally landed at home, where she talked to her father and learned for the first time that Remus had once been a patient of his (he doesn't tell her this, per se). Ted tells her that maybe Remus needs to vanish for a little while, and what that she needs to hold onto isn't so much Remus--who Ted genuinely believes isn't really slipping away from her--as something in herself. She responds to this rather gnomic pronouncement with a bout of housecleaning at the Shrieking Shack.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

It was ten o'clock when Tonks finally got the kitchen in as decent a shape as it was going to get. It probably would have taken a much shorter time if she'd been better at householdy spells, but she'd never bothered to learn them decently, and she supposed she was just beginning to pay for that. Mum would teach her if she asked, but she didn't feel like looking at the archly raised eyebrows that would accompany the teaching.

She wasn't sure why she was cleaning the kitchen at the Shrieking Shack, either, and if someone asked for an explanation of her sudden interest in domesticity, she didn't know how she would answer it.

So she'd repaired broken floorboards and flattened out some warping, done a very bad Sanding Charm three times before giving it up and letting the scratches remain, re-hung the doors of the cupboards, and Banished the accumlated waste of the small creatures who used the empty house as a handy den. The creatures themselves were hiding in the walls; she would have to get them another time. It didn't exactly end up looking as warm and inviting as Molly's kitchen, but it was possible to sit down here now, maybe have a cup of tea and a sandwich if a person was so inclined. She glanced into the shattered dining room and saw a chandelier lying broken on the floor, the boards under it smashed. An ancient sideboard with half of one of its legs missing listed against the wall, and the wallpaper--which had a rather horrible dancing-fairy motif--had been ripped brutally at some long ago point. Curls of it lay on the floor, draped in years of dust.

She didn't have the energy to begin work on the dining room.

She headed back to the village, picking her way along the uneven road and rolling her ankle once on a loose rock. She sat down for awhile on a rock beside old Mrs. McCrea's place to rub out the kinks. Mrs. McCrea's dog--a large, friendly black dog that never failed to make Tonks feel teary--came out and licked at her face until she laughed and scratched its ruff (it had a dirty white bib) and hugged it. Mrs. McCrea said she didn't mind people playing with him, as she herself was too old to play "the way a big puppy likes to" and she was quite devoted to the dog. Tonks kissed its snout and sent it back inside. "Go watch the lady of the house, Bibs," she said. Bibs let his tongue loll out, then padded up to the door.

Tonks tested her ankle, found it solid, and went on.

As she reached the road that led to the Hogwarts gate, something fluttered down from the sky. She jumped and batted at it, and it fell to the ground.

"Lumos," she said, and pointed her wand at it.

And rolled her eyes.

It was an oak leaf. There were no oak trees particularly handy, but there was a breeze, and a single leaf could easily have been caught in it and carried for some distance. She picked it up. It was an odd, pale green, more like a spring leaf than one that had flown from its tree in early September. It also seemed to be in perfect health--elastic and untorn.

She frowned at it, and was still frowning at it when the stars and moon disappeared and a chill fell over her.

"Oh, bloody...!" She shoved the leaf into her pocket without thinking and held out her lit wand. The Dementor was on the hillside near the road, headed down toward the wall of the Forbidden Forest. She pointed her wand at it and sent her Patronus leaping in its direction. The wolf went in with its head low and its lips drawn back from its deadly teeth, and she could almost swear it was growling, though it was usually silent.

It tackled the Dementor when it was halfway down the hill, clamping its white jaws around the the neck and pushing the creature backward. The light came back into the sky. Tonks went partway up the road, looking carefully for any others and prepared to Apparate out if she saw a sign of them, but this one appeared to have been alone.

Moony loped back to her with no particular hurry, looking up at her with an expression that could only be read as, "Again?" before he dissipated.

"Why here?" she muttered, scanning the top of the wall. "What are you looking for?" She wasn't really looking for anything in particular, and rather expected to just mutter uselessly at the stones, but after a moment, she took a few steps forward.

For several feet, the line of trees was unbroken darkness, but just around a bend in the road, she saw a soft, rising light.

She hurried to McGonagall's gate and opened it, slipping under the canoopy of trees and into darkness only lit by her wand. She couldn't see the source of the light, but then the Forest was bigger inside. Leaving a magical flicker on several trees as she passed them, so she could find her way back, she worked her way deeper in. Night creatures crawled in the branches above her, and a great white flower--seeming out of place in Scotland in autumn, even here--opened abruptly, sending out a heart-stoppingly lovely fragrance. She stood beside it for nearly a full minute, almost intoxicated by the scent, but then backed away from it quickly, realizing that drowning in an unknown flower was not a particularly good idea just now. She moved on. The stream appeared when she'd been walking for ten minutes--and it did just appear--burbling in the night. She followed it.

It bent around a low hill and into a grove of pine trees, and Tonks paused when she saw a distant centaur at the top of a rise, but he took no notice of her and she went on. The stream tumbled over a waterfall and she picked her way down the steep hill beside it, marking boulders with her symbol until she came to rest at a small pool backed up behind a dam. Through the trees on the other side, deep behind them, she could see the light. It didn't seem to be a fire, or the flickering of wandlight, but almost... sunlight.

A warm, kind smelling breeze came across the water.

She started to walk along the edge of the pool, but the light remained constantly distant from her, the water beside her growing narrower and narrower, finally finding its current and becoming a stream again as she ran beside it. Abruptly, it veered off to her left.

She sighed and sat down on a fallen tree, her weariness descending again.

"Tonks? That you? What're ye doin' this deep in the Forest?"

She jumped to her feet, wand at the ready. "Hagrid? What are you doing here?"

"We're on school grounds. I b'long 'ere." He pointed his pink umbrella in her general direction, but menaced her more effectively simply by stepping close to her. "Yeh're not meant to be wandering about. Yeh gave a kitten to Charlie Weasley in yer third year. What'd 'e name it?"

Tonks cast her mind back--she thought it had been Bill she'd given it to, but on further reflection, she guessed Hagrid was right, as she now remembered the silly thing going up with Charlie on his broomstick. It hadn't been one of Granny's brighter descendents. She could see it in her mind's eye, but what in bloody hell had he named it? And why would Hagrid remember?

"Keys!" she said. "Keys, because he left him with you when we went on holiday, since he hadn't asked his mum, and you were Keeper of the Keys."

"A'right," Hagrid said, now smiling in a friendly way. "Well, yeh can't be too careful. Yeh shouldn' be about in the Forest alone this late."

"You are."

"I know this Forest."

An idea occurred to Tonks. "Do you know there's something with sunlight? In the middle of the night? Do you know what it is?"

"'aven't the foggiest what it is," Hagrid said, "but I've had a peek once or twice. It's where that wanderin' stream stops."

"There's a pool there. Like a beaver pool."

"Why are yeh lookin'?"

"There was a Dementor. He was looking for something. I thought that might be it."

"Well, ruddy good luck to 'im findin' it, if it is! I never found it on lookin', just stumbled across it, you might say."

"Did you ever get inside of it?"

Hagrid shook his head. "Reckon I wouldn't know if I happened to stumble in during the day, though."

"I imagine a place that has sunlight all its own is quite magical enough to notice during the day." She looked around. "How far are we from the castle?"

"About fifteen minute's walk, but I reckon yeh'd best go back the way yeh came."


"Never you mind, is why." Hagrid looked very glum. "Reckon even I won' be able to go through there soon. Poor bloke."


But Hagrid just shook his head. "Yeh can find yehr way, can't yeh? I'll take yeh through if yeh can't, but..."

"I can find my way. Hagrid, is something wrong with one of your animals?"

"'E wouldn't take kindly to be called one of my animals," Hagrid said with a slight smile. "'E's a good sort of soul, and 'e belongs to himself."

"Is there anything I can do?"

Hagrid burst into tears and said no over and over, and Tonks stood up on the log to pat his shoulder until it passed.

"There now," she said. "It's all right."

"Yeh're a good girl, right enough," Hagrid said, sniffing and flicking away a tear that soaked the right side of Tonks's hair. "And me goin' on so. I'll walk yeh to the wall. Yeh use McGonagall's way?"

"You know about it?"

"Of course. Dumbledore showed me. Great man, Dumbledore..." He went on muttering as he led her through the trees without even looking at her marked path, and she had to nearly run to keep up with him, which took most of her energy. They reached the wall in twenty minutes and stopped.

"Yeh go on abou' fifty more yards," he said. "Jus' stay agains' the wall, an' yeh'll be fine."

She started to go, but turned. "Hagrid?"


"Next time you come to the Hog's Head, come and say hello to me, will you?"

"Got the lonelies up here, 'ave yeh?"

"I had them in London, too."

"Well, drop 'em. Yeh've got plenty of friends, and I'd be happy to tip a pint with yeh nex' time I'm up."

Tonks waved and slipped back along the wall, finding the gate again and letting herself out onto the road. She didn't realize until much later that night, at she lay in her bed looking at the roof of the Shrieking Shack, that the whole time she'd been in the Forest, she hadn't thought about her own problems once.

And she felt quite a lot stronger for it.

She finally fell into a deep sleep just after midnight, and when she awakened, she was surprised to find another pale green oak leaf had been blown through her window during the night.
29 comments or Leave a comment
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: November 16th, 2005 04:09 am (UTC) (Link)
You always had Remus. You always had Tonks.

But you rock doing Hagrid.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank you. Hagrid frightens me to write!
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 16th, 2005 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, no need to worry. You're one of the few people I've seen who can write both his personality and his dialect effectively.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: November 16th, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Word*—I almost always hate Hagrid in fics (I'm not even a huge fan in canon) because it gets so over-the-top so quickly. Another great segment, and I'm intrigued to see where the leaves are coming from. I do love a mystery!
On really nitpicky thing, and I don't blame you if you ignore this. For some reason in this sentence: "An ancient sideboard with half of one of its legs missing listed against the wall, and the wallpaper--which had a rather horrible dancing-fairy motif--had been ripped brutally at some long ago point," I kept rereading "had been ripped brutally at." Maybe if it were "had been brutally ripped at some point..." it would be clearer? I think I am trying to read it as "ripped at," like "he ripped at the wall" instead of "ripped at some point."

Aaaaanyway you're such a smooth writer that the occasional phrase that stops me to reread for clarity really stands out. I hope it's not offensive nitpicking?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, it's good. I use these comments when I beta. ;)

I'm not a huge Hagrid fan, either, but if I'm going to be using the Forbidden Forest, he's definitely got to be there at some point.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: November 16th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad you take it in the spirit in which it's given! I'm a journalist but I would really rather be an editor, I think.

Yes, of course Hagrid has to pop up—it's just relief to see it done without the horrible "I AM WRITING DIALECT!" approach.

(I friended you, after months of lurking and ages reading your fics. I hope you don't mind.)
antonia_east From: antonia_east Date: November 16th, 2005 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Joy is refreshing my f/list one last time and finding that Shades has been updated! I loved the glimpse we have of her Patronus here, and the detail of Charlie's kitten. Two green oak leaves - I suppose they have some secret significance?
I can't remember how brit-pickety you like to be, but you had a 'fall' rather than an 'autumn' in there ... paragraph starting She hurried to McGonagall's gate.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Better to catch it now than in the final version. Though I will :headdesk: myself for an hour over it.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: November 16th, 2005 09:40 am (UTC) (Link)
While we're on Britpicks, I think 'turned her ankle' or 'twisted her ankle' would be better than 'rolled'.

You write Hagrid very well. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess I think of "rolling" as different from twisting or turning. I can't explain how, though I've used all three, and the latter two are more common.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 16th, 2005 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
She jumped at batted at it
Should that be "and"?

Lovely excerpt. It's nice that Tonks can feel competent at something, and I liked the part about fixing up the Shrieking Shack, too. I'm curious about those oak leaves. And if you feel like writing Shades, no one's about to stop you! We'll all cheer instead.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Heh, my NaNo word count should stop me. I'm in the doldrums there, and I spent all day thinking, "I really want to be writing Shades and I can't because I have to work on that thing and..." Well, I'll get work done on it today. Doing 2000 words a day means I can take a total of five days off in November, so a third won't totally kill me.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 16th, 2005 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know NaNo's about making yourself work, but it should also be enjoyable. If you need a day off here and there to recharge, you should take it! You seem to be enjoying yourself much more this time around than last year, and I'd hate to see you jeapordize that by pushing yourself too hard.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: November 16th, 2005 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
After the depression and angst of the previous installments, this was....sorely needed. The stream and the distant sunlight...and Hagrid showing up, being just himself, worried for his brother....

Tonks needed this, but we did too, and thank you for giving it to us.

*goes off to wonder about young, green oak leaves*
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: November 16th, 2005 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! One more thing: when she picked up the first leaf, and the moon and stars went out, I totally didn't think "Dementor" at first.

I thought, "Portkey."

Heh. Constant vigilance!
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: November 16th, 2005 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me, too! Moody would not have been pleased.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 07:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

I never thought of the Portkey possibility. I'll try and clear that up.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: November 16th, 2005 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Hagrid showing up, being just himself, worried for his brother...

I read him as talking about Aragog there(?)
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: November 16th, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
*facepalm* No, you're probably right. I've been talking OotP with a new fan, hence the confusion.

Also, I should probably not read Shades late at night! LOL.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: November 16th, 2005 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I haven't reviewed in a while but I am still reading and very much enjoying this fic! Hagrid is a nightmare to do (I avoid him when possible in my own fic) so kudos on such a good interpretation. :)

Just one thing - I'm not sure Tonks would have referred to something as being like a beaver pool. We don't - well, didn't until I saw on the news that they were reintroduced here literally a couple of weeks ago! - have beavers here and as a Brit, I'm not sure a beaver pool would be the first thing to spring to mind. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, serves me right for spending a lot of time re-reading my Lewis lately, with his British beavers and beaver dams in prominent places. ;) What else would make a natural dam, though?
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: November 16th, 2005 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)
That was a very nicely done Hagrid -- not everyone does him well or even tries, so congratulations.

I must admit I have no idea where this Forbidden Forest subplot might be going or how it links with the rest of the story and/or HBP, but look forward to finding out. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know where I mean for it to go, and I hope I can get it there without it being quite annoying.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: November 18th, 2005 01:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I didn't mean it was annoying -- just that I haven't a clue where it fits yet. :)

It does seem a bit unconnected to the rest of the story at the moment, although I'm guessing that that's actually the point, and it provides a sort of "other important stuff going on in the background that wasn't in the book because it never appeared on Harry's radar" subplot, like the Dudley & Narcissa storyline in Shifts.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: November 16th, 2005 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm... Mysterious oak leaves... I agree with everyone else: you write Hagrid quite well. Only one thing I'm not sure about, but I think his prononciation of "your" is "yer", not "yehr". I haven't checked, though, but the h seems weird to me.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 16th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yer right. ;)
From: (Anonymous) Date: November 16th, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been reading your HP verse on LJ since the first few chapters of Shifts and I think it just keeps getting better and better.

In the paragraph that begins "She hurried to McGonagall's gate..." you'll want to change the typo "canoopy" to "canopy."

I've missed reading this story while you're busy with Nanowrimo. I'm so glad you updated!
sunsethill From: sunsethill Date: November 16th, 2005 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't get to this installment immediately, so I will have to just agree with everyone else. You do write Hagrid really well, and bringing in his concern for Aragog here was a really nice touch to tie this with HBP. And I too thought "portkey" with the leaf. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment after you get your word count in!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: November 16th, 2005 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nothing anyone else hasn't already said, except... ohhh, Bibs.
29 comments or Leave a comment