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Shades, Chapter Fifteen: Going to Ground, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter Fifteen: Going to Ground, pt. 1
Okay. Picking up after quite a few entries. I left Tonks realizing just where Narcissa had gotten her information, and what it might mean outside of the situation with Remus. She rushed home.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dad was waiting in the kitchen when she got home, flipping absently through the newspaper. "Dora," he said, getting up. "I was starting to wonder where you'd got to! We should go, if we're going to make it to the show on... Dora, is something wrong?" He put the paper down and took her by the arm. "What's happened? Is it Remus?"

Tonks felt her face go red and wished she could morph it away. Had it been Remus for so long that Dad couldn't imagine her worrying about anything else? Had she even talked about anything else? "No," she said. I saw him, but no. Where's Mum?"

"At work. The A and E is a bit swamped. They even had me in there for a bit, but I'm rubbish with physical problems."

"Why is it swamped?"

"Little things, but a lot of them. A lot of Dementor exposure. And it's just one of those days. People mis-brewing potions, having magical accidents, and so on. They happen from time to time. You know that."

"Right. I suppose I'm jumping to You-Know... Voldemort... every time something happens. We can meet Mum there. We'll catch the film another time." She started for the door.

Dad caught her by the shoulder. "What's happening?"

Tonks squeezed his hand. "I just understood something. I don't know why I never saw it before. I've been so caught up in... other things..." She winced at herself. "Let's talk to Mum. Back entrance to St. Mungo's?"

Dad nodded, and they went to the Apparation shelter in the back garden. A moment later, they were in the deserted alley outside of St. Mungo's protected from Muggle view by permanent security charms. It was here that patients were brought in emergencies, when they couldn't come of their own accord. Dad used his talisman to let them in.

There was a great deal of screaming and moaning here, witches and wizards writhing on trolley beds, Healers rushing from one to another of them. In a group of comfortable chairs in a far corner, a group of listless people sat quietly, some of them crying. Dad looked at them with some concern and ducked away to talk to another Healer, who shook her head and showed him a few scrolls. He looked at her dubiously and came back. "Sorry, Dora," he said. "There are a few more Dementor victims than there were when I left. Georgina said they're all taken care of, though--they've had a potion, and they're waiting for it to take effect--so we can find Mum."

It didn't take long, as Mum's voice rose suddenly over the din, "Dammit, try a Binding Hex if you have to!"

Tonks glanced over. Mum was kneeling over a patient on a trolley bed, furiously working charms over his throat. The flesh on his hands--all of him that Tonks could see--was erupting in green pustules.

Dad steered her away. "We'll wait for her in the staff room." He waved at Mum with a quick motion and pointed in that direction. Mum nodded curtly.

Tonks watched her work for a moment more before following him to the shabby lounge where Healers ate and rested during their rare down times. She knew the room well, but it had never become comfortable for her.

Two sets of curtains were drawn along the far wall, and she supposed Healers were sleeping behind them. She had very vague memories of sleeping behind one herself during the first war, when Mum and Dad had been finishing their apprenticeships and Granny Tonks had been traveling quite a lot. They'd sometimes left her with Sirius then, and sometimes with Remus. Peter Pettigrew had never agreed to take her, which she supposed in retrospect should have been suspicious, as he was usually eager to do what the others did, and he'd got on with her rather well. Once, she thought she might have stayed with James and Lily Potter--she had a spotty memory of a big house and a wild flight on a broomstick over the back garden--but she wasn't sure if that had actually been a caretaking situation. They'd tried to keep the number of babysitters small so she'd feel safe, so it was almost always Sirius and his friends. But they were all busy people, and it hadn't been at all unusual for her to simply come to work with her parents. After Granny Tonks had died, there had been no more sitters, and she had been with them all the time. Though she remembered much of her childhood in great detail, this room was nothing but a somewhat disturbing blur--someplace where she knew she came because there was danger out there somewhere.

She supposed it was appropriate enough to talk to them here. She chose a table far from the sleeping cubicles.

Dad, fully comfortable here, went to a locked trolley, popped handful of sickles into a collection box, and came back with pumpkin juice and treacle tarts. "Are you going to give me a hint?" he asked when he sat down across from her.

"I'll wait for Mum, if it's all right."

"All right." Dad took a sip of his pumpkin juice, then waved his wand lazily to create a privacy spell. People coming in would see them talking, but would be under the impression that they were discussing something else altogether, possibly politics or Quidditch scores. Given Dad, wandering staff members might imagine that they heard a heated conversation about thirty-year-old Muggle music. The Healers often used it to discuss patients when other people were about. "How is he?" he asked.


"Remus. You said you saw him. And I understood what Narcissa was suggesting."

"He's in bad shape," Tonks said simply. "I'm so worried about him, Dad. I think he'll be all right... I hope... but he's so far away." She thought of him pushing her away, looking at her with wild eyes. "Dumbledore says to be patient with him."

"Does he?"

"I know, you think I should just drop it and move on."

Dad's eyes widened in surprise. "What? No. I never said such a thing."

"You're angry with him."

"My little girl hurts, I'm angry. But I understand what's happening now."

"You think I should be patient?"

"I think you know Remus better than I do, and quite possibly better than Dumbledore does. I think you should use your own judgment and do what seems right."

"Then you don't think I'm being silly and shallow and..."

"Of course not. We bond with one another for a reason, and do you think for a moment that if your mum tried to leave me 'for my own good,' I'd spend a second thinking about anything else? And before you imagine some vast altruistic answer, I can tell you from actual experience that I wouldn't. When we started going out at school, Bellatrix was furious. Andi thought I'd be better off without the whole Ancient and Most Noble clan after me, so she tried to freeze me out. I wouldn't let her. So I'm the last person who would tell you to walk away."

"Were you angry with Mum?"

"No. But my mother was furious. The people who love us are angry so we don't have to be."

Tonks shook her head. "I can't even imagine Granny Tonks being furious with anyone."

"You clearly weren't raised by the woman." He smiled and looked up. "And speaking of your mum..."

Tonks looked up. Mum was coming into the lounge, trying to clean some questionable substance from the front of her robes. She spotted them and came through the barrier of Dad's charm. She offered Tonks a weary smile as she sat down. "Sorry," she said. "Please don't try to brew Amortentia while under the influence of firewhiskey. You'll get the ingredients wrong, and they mix badly."

"I'll add that to my collection of odd prohibitions," Tonks said. "I'll file it somewhere near never charming my cat to walk around on its hind legs."

"That's what you get for having Healers for parents," Dad said. "Honestly, I'm surprised you haven't traded us in yet."

"Well, I tried, but there were too many Aurors' children in line ahead of me complaining about how they have to remember a thousand rules about how to avoid dark wizards, so I gave up." She took a deep breath. "Speaking of which..."

"What is it?" Mum asked.

"I should have put this together before," Tonks said. "I knew Greyback was getting information on Remus and me from somewhere. He knew too much."


Tonks nodded. "Is the charm secure?"

Mum checked it and reinforced it. "You don't mean Fenrir Greyback?"

"Do you know another?"

"Oh, dear Lord."

"Greyback is close to Voldemort. Dumbledore wanted someone on the inside."

"Remus." Dad clenched his jaw. "I should have words with Dumbledore. That's a mess no matter what else he's--"

"I'm not talking about Remus. I mean, I am, but I was thinking too much of him. Of what it was from his point of view. I didn't think about where Greyback was getting his information, but now I know. Why would Narcissa have that article? Why would she know what it meant?"

Mum went pale. "I know Lucius knew him. And Narcissa has said that a friend of Lucius's has been 'looking after' her. I never thought of Greyback. I can't imagine she'd have him in the house."

"That's the thing," Tonks said. "I doubt it's her choice. Voldemort uses Greyback to keep people in line. If he's with the Malfoys, it's probably to keep an eye on them. And if Narcissa is thinking of trying to bolt with any information she has, he's there to threaten people she cares about. Including any of Dumbledore's known associates with whom she's been having bloody tea every other minute." She grimaced. "If Voldemort suspects she's giving you information, then it's you Greyback will go after."

"No. No, Narcissa's not about to start passing me secrets," Mum said. "She... I lost Narcissa a long time ago."

"She's not very lost if she's showing up as often as she is," Dad said.

"Do you really think she might... I mean... she was never as deep into it as Bellatrix. Maybe--"

"Mum, this isn't a hopeful conversation, really."

"But if she is wavering--"


"She's not, though. It's a moot point. She's lonely, that's all, and--"

"It doesn't matter." Tonks stood up. "Whether she's really thinking of turning or just doing something that might make Voldemort think she might be thinking of it, you're the ones who are going to end up paying for it. Greyback is watching her for a reason, and the whole lot of them are more paranoid every day than Moody is in his worst nightmares. I want you both to leave."

"What?" Dad shook his head. "Dora, you don't get to make that call."

"I know. I'm telling you what I want, so you can think about it. I'm worried. I'm scared of something happening to you because of Mum's sisters."

"They've always been there..."

"But you've always been their concern. If it looks like Narcissa might bolt in your direction, you turn into Voldemort's concern. I don't know if she realizes it, or cares if she does, but I do."

"If my sister needs me, I should be there," Mum said.

Dad turned on her, disbelieving. "After what your sisters did to you, you owe them nothing."

"I know. But if Narcissa--"

"Mum, please. If Narcissa wants to get out, there are safer places for her to do it."

"She wouldn't know them..."

"I know them. If she makes the slightest move toward leaving, I'll whisk her off to the Order of the Phoenix, and they can hide her, but I'm not letting her get you killed because she's got cold feet. You don't owe her that." She sat down again and took her parents' hands. "They've been asking for Mum in Sri Lanka, that Morphosia fever business, haven't they?"

"Yes, but--"

"Will you think about going? Both of you?"

Dad frowned. "I don't like leaving you just now."

"I'll be all right."

"We'll talk about it," Dad said. "That's all I'll promise."

"I guess that's all I can ask."

Dad checked his watch. "Now that we've had our little talk about this, I think we still have time to catch a show. What do you say, Andi? Your shift is over, isn't it?"

Mum pulled herself out of her worry and said, thinly, "This isn't that alien business is it?"

"Absolutely. Explosions, races with the clock, lots of good stuff. Back me up, Dora."


"If we're to consider leaving, then I'm bloody well going to have a night with my family. All right?"

So they ended up going to see a Muggle film together, a brainless affair which Tonks would remember very little of by the time they finished a late after-show meal, and made a point of being together as much as possible for the remainder of her stay. She returned to Hogsmeade Sunday evening, and was unsurprised on Wednesday morning to get a letter from Mum informing her--with no reference at all to their talk--that she and Dad had volunteered to help with the Morphosia outbreak halfway around the world. By Friday, they were gone.
28 comments or Leave a comment
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: January 8th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great, just what Tonks needs, her parents gone too.

*Ends sarcasm*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that's really healthy.
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: January 8th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Tonks family - they're very real to me, both individually and as members of a 'family unit'. I should imagine Tonks is both very relieved and somewhat bereft now they're away safely :(
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: January 8th, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love the Tonks family - they're very real to me

Clearly, I meant "the way you write them", rather than just in general!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I like writing normal, healthy families. :)
hymnia From: hymnia Date: January 8th, 2006 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, poor Tonks. I mean, I'm sure she's relieved to know her parents are safe, but OTOH it strips her of that much more comfort and stability in her life.

I caught one typo: popped handful of sickles into a collection box is missing "a" before "handful".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll grab that in an edit, thanks.

Honestly, I think Voldemort really just needs to be smacked around for the incidental damage he does, as well as the deliberate stuff.
From: tunxeh Date: January 8th, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
You always make Andromeda and Ted so sensible. I'm surprised we don't hear of more wizards taking advantage of convenient opportunities to leave the country. Though, this is going to leave St. Mungos short-staffed and Tonks short-parented...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2006 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. Unfortunately, I had to get them away for Christmas, since Molly's pretty sure she'll be alone. And E.R.s are perpually short-staffed, as far as I know, so I'm sure St. Mungo's will adjust...
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: January 8th, 2006 10:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
"No," she said. I saw him, but no. Where's Mum?"

I think you're missing a quotation mark before I.

I'm really loving the entire Narcissa subplot, and I can't wait to see where you go with it. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll grab the mark.

I don't know that I'm exactly going anywhere with the Narcissa line--she's what forces the Tonkses out of England when Nymphadora could probably use them, but that's about as much as it meant. Narcissa's got her own whole story going on that year, I'm sure. Husband in jail, Voldemort angry at all of them, only child forced to attempt something that will almost certainly get him killed. We know from "Spinner's End" that she's not above ignoring Voldemort's wishes when it involves people she cares about, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if she shows up in book 7 saying, "I want my son back. Do you want information?" But that's too involved a plot to deal with as a side plot when Tonks isn't really involved with her. She obviously doesn't actually try to bolt, or the conversation on the Astronomy Tower would have been different. So I guess here in Shades, it's mostly likely that she'll just be someone else Tonks is worrying about unnecessarily.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Um, I meant "worrying about against her will," not "unnecessarily."
_pinkchocolate From: _pinkchocolate Date: January 9th, 2006 01:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Okay, well, when I first saw that you had finally updated Shades, it took me all of five minutes to actually start reading it, I was so happy. This isn't my favourite part of a chapter, but I still enjoyed it immensely. Like someone else said, you write the Tonks family very realistically, and that's one of my favourite things about this story. Update soon :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor Tonks! I'd forgotten you had to get her parents away for Christmas. I'm sure Maddie, Daffy and Sanjiv won't let her be completely on her own. I hope that Ted and Andromeda will be safe in Sri Lanka, that would be the height of the civil war, I think, with all the bomb blasts.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 9th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah--the release of the Morphosia fever might even be related to that in the wizarding world's version of it, if there is one. Then again, in the inverse of what's happening in England, there may be no wizarding equivalent of the Muggle civil war.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
JKR has obviously linked events of the wizarding world to those of the muggle one in her books. Grindalwald seems to corespond to WW2 and Voldemort's first ascent ties in quite tidily with IRA attacks in the UK (those pub bombings where the actual culprits were never found?) though, of course, they continued long after 1981. So it isn't unreasonable to make similar links in other parts of the world for the purposes of fanfiction.

TDU (who forgot to sign her previous post, again!)
methe From: methe Date: January 9th, 2006 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi Fern,

Fabulous story! I read Shifts earlier - absolutely wonderful. I tend to be fandom-monogamous and was a little leary of reading Potter-fiction (I love the books and I would hate to see it poorly done), But, honest to og, this reads like canon. Brillant.

Thank you so much for writing it,
darreldoomvomit From: darreldoomvomit Date: January 9th, 2006 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)
wonderbar as always. somethings been bugging me thoug that is more than random: did they see mars attacks or men in black? or neither and i am just too hooked on a completly useless factoid?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 9th, 2006 12:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Independence Day. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi. I've liked mother Tonks being angry at Andromeda. I read your short story about Andromeda asking Ted to elope "next week" and wondered what his mother would say when finding it out. Now I'm sure she wasn't surprised at all. I would love to read your full version of the elopement. I've always figured that maybe the flying motorcycle had someting to do... but it does not fit entirely with your fics...

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 9th, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I may write it sometime. Maybe this evening, as I'm running into a block on something else I'm supposed to be writing. It's a bit early for the flying motorcycle--the absolute oldest Sirius could have been at the time is thirteen or fourteen.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: January 9th, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow.. I liked this section a lot. I love seeing Dora interact with her family... it's almost as if she has a picture-perfect one, but then you show us some little things from her point of view - her frustration at Ted's anger against Remus, for example - and it's suddenly quite realistic. I do love Ted. And Andromeda... somehow I see more of her connection to the Black family in this fic than any others you've written. It breaks my heart that she obviously feels a void where her family used to be.

And in honour of Snape's birthday, I'm leaving you something cringeworth, yet strangely appropriate...

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mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: January 9th, 2006 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
This can't possibly be chapter 15 already. It's going to end all too soon. I wanted to let you know that I'm reading and enjoying Shades just as much as Shifts, even though I don't comment as often. (Real Life.) Your writing is fabulous and I adore the Tonks family. You've also made the horror of Greyback really come alive in a way, I think, JKR intended but didn't convey in the book. Thanks, Fern! Well done!
From: tree_and_leaf Date: January 9th, 2006 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can entirely see why Tonks wants her parents out of the country - she's quite right to be worried (as well as explaining why she's alone at Christmas!)

But it does strike me that, although the cases are not parallel, there's a faint irony in the fact that she's suffering because Remus is telling her to keep away from him, for her own good, and at the same time, she is telling her parents to go away, for their own good. Result: one very isolated Dora.

The Tonks family is behaving in a far more rational and healthy way than Remus, though. I love him, but really....
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Amazing. You've triggered all my older sibling protectiveness instincts for Narcissa, of all people. All I can see is a little sister who's gotten herself way in over her head and has been turning to her older sibling for some kind of stability and protection. It probably hasn't even occurred to Narcissa that she's putting Andromeda and her family in danger. To be honest, she strikes me as being in a sort of little kid mentality herself. Andromeda was the big sister who could walk right out the door from the whole family without so much as a papercut (that's strictly Narcissa's POV and may have no relation to reality), Andromeda sailed through the last war without ever being in danger. Narcissa may have used a dark potion on Andromeda to keep her from having children, but Tonks still exists. Andromeda has also only been the concern of Bellatrix and Narcissa all these years, as far as Death Eaters go. I'm seeing Narcissa as looking at Andromeda the way a little kid looks at her parents. She just never thinks that they aren't invulnerable and outside all the dangers that may be part of her life.

Which should make me think of Narcissa as a spoiled, little kid who's recklessly endangering others because she can't even THINK. Instead, I'm just seeing a little kid needing protection. It doesn't matter right now why she can't see the bigger picture. She can't, and I feel this big sister urge to protect her.

OK, this is disorienting.

It also makes more sense of the message she gave Tonks. Narcissa sees her whole family as being in danger right now. She's being watched and threatened by a werewolf. She's been told how the werewolf her niece used to date has joined up with that werewolf and has just attacked and eaten a human being while transformed.

And the first thing she did was rush over to her sister's house and find a way of warning Tonks. She didn't even circle the article or allude to it directly . . . because she's scared to be telling Tonks things she shouldn't?

Er, did she just kind of take a stab at protecting Tonks that could be equated with the way she tried to protect Draco? Tossing orders for secrecy out the window to protect her only child? And now doing something similar to protect her sister's only child? Even if the way she did it would be a lot easier for her to deny even to herself that that's what she's doing?

This is really, really, REALLY disorienting.

And well written, don't get me wrong. I'm loving it. It's just a little disturbing to suddenly feel this way about Narcissa. Of course, maybe I'm wrong and I'm just seeing it a little too much the way Andromeda would?

From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I completely see what Ellen means - and this is despite the fact that Fern's Narcissa has actually treated Andromeda a lot worse than we have any reason to imagine canon!Narcissa has.

Compelling and depressing at the same time. More soon pease Fern!
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 9th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Please. Great, I'm on my third degree and I still can't spell ;.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 9th, 2006 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the big sister's perspective on that! As an only (sort of--I have younger sibs, but I've never met them), I'm always glad to hear that siblings come off as semi-believable.

I feel for Narcissa and Draco in HBP, without, like, approving of them. The family's in a pretty tight spot. Granted, they're there because of things they actually did that put them in that position, but it's still a very bad place to be.
28 comments or Leave a comment