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Shades, Chapter 17: The Shrieking Shack, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 17: The Shrieking Shack, pt. 2
Left off with a meeting at the Shrieking Shack, where Dumbledore and Tonks work on arranging extra security at Hogwarts while Dumbledore is away. It involves Hestia, Bill and Fleur, and Tonks's friends Daffy and Sanjiv. Dumbledore also has Remus come, to tell them how to get around the Marauder's Map, as Peter might have one. (And as I was re-reading and going, "Duh, the Order's apparently providing that extra security every time he's gone, but Harry never sees a sign of them, despite the fact that he spends half the year looking for Malfoy... they have to know how to hide from it!" He's also astonished to find Tonks, even though she can't be far from the RoR, and he'd been looking there only a moment before and seen Goyle by himself--this can't be accounted for by Polyjuice theories, as Goyle is PJ'd at the time and accounted for. So she must just not be appearing on the map.)

Anyway, Remus is in shock at how much work Tonks has done on the Shrieking Shack and is a bit cool toward her (she's embarrassed), and then sends her away so he can talk to Dumbledore. Sanjiv and Daffy want to cause him serious pain.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

She shooed the boys off after they insisted on dinner at the Three Broomsticks, changed into comfortable exercise clothes, caught up on her surveillance paperwork for Dawlish, and was settling in to study some information Maddie had sent through Daffy about the forest gates when he arrived.

She knew it was Remus from the moment he knocked, and she was not surprised when she opened the door to find him standing in the corridor, staring at the toes of his shoes. If he'd owned a hat, he would have been twisting it in his hands.

"Dora, I..." His eyes darted up to her face, then he looked down again.

"Come in, then," she said. She walked across the room and sat down at her dressing table, so that he wouldn't have the option of staying outside. "I'll be good."

"It's not you I'm worried about," he muttered, but came in anyway. He pulled over the chair from the desk and sat down across from her. "I owe you an apology."

"Don't be silly. I should have mentioned what I was doing. And I suppose I didn't because I knew you wouldn't want me to. I don't blame you for being angry. Really."

"You don't understand. I'm not angry. I'm not sure what I feel. A bit frightened, I think."

"My housekeeping does that."

He laughed, and seemed surprised at the sound of it.

"Really," she said. "I have to close all the windows, because when I set the sponges going, they're always flying off the counters, and they'd be all over Hogsmeade if I didn't lock them in. And don't look too closely at the beds I made." She blushed, realizing the double-entendre. When she looked up, he was looking at her steadily, but his face was quite red as well. She smiled. "Well."

"Yes. Well."

They stared at one another for a very long time and Tonks was almost certain that he meant to kiss her, but he abruptly put his hand over his eyes and leaned forward, rubbing his face vigorously. "I should go."

Tonks took a deep breath. "You don't have to. If you'd rather... stay."

His breathing became very rapid for a moment, and his eyes seemed to get darker, but he shook his head. "No. No, I--" Abruptly, he moved across the space between them and turned her around toward the mirror on the dressing table. They were reflected in it together. She thought she looked drawn and a bit surprised; he looked desperate. "Look at us," he said. "Look. You're young. Beautiful. Oh, God, you're so beautiful. I look like an elderly vagrant."


"I won't ruin your life. I won't." Despite his words, he kissed her, his lips probing hers harshly, hungrily. He stood up and covered his face. "I can't do this. I can't be with you and not..." He touched his head and lurched over to the door, leaning against the frame. "Dumbledore and Molly both told me to try to see you again. They're worried."

"I'm worried."

"But I can't. I don't think there are big enough rocks on the planet to keep me away from you when you're right here." He didn't offer any explanation of this oddity. "If I'd known you would be there, I'd have... I would have waited until..."

"Until I left?"

He nodded. "It's not fair. It's not fair, my doing this."

"Dumbledore didn't tell you I'd be there."

"I'm sure he had his reasons."

"Sure. He was tricking you into seeing me." She went to him, but didn't touch him. She could see him trembling. "I want you out of there," she said. "This is killing you."

"Everyone dies sometimes." He backed into the corridor. "I'm sorry I hurt you tonight. About the house. It's beautiful. And it's yours. Do with it as you will. Look in the dining room."

With that, and no goodbye at all, he fled down the corridor.

Tonks rummaged around her potions kit for a headache potion she was certain she had, but came up empty-handed. She thought about brewing one, but it would take less time to just go to sleep and hope it would pass by morning.

So she pulled on a cloak over her exercise clothes, checked to make sure no one was watching her, and returned to the Shrieking Shack.

Look in the dining room.

She leaned curiously around the door frame, using her wand to cast light into the shadowy space. She hadn't done much here yet, and it didn't appear that Remus had moved in any of the furniture or repaired any of cracks in the plaster on the w--

She stopped, her wand playing over the mantel.

The drawing he'd made of her, which she'd framed and then taken back down, was hanging neatly over the hearth.

She imagined him standing here after Dumbledore left, the skittish look on his face that had been there in the corridor outside her room.

Without knowing that she meant to do it, she strode over to the trap door in the entrance hall, dropped herself into the tunnel, and made the long, cramped trek to Hogwarts. She used the passage into the staff room that they'd chosen for nights they patrolled, and made her way up to Dumbledore's office without running into anyone. To her surprise, the gargoyle leapt aside without waiting for a password, and when she arrived at the office door, it was open.

"Ah," Dumbledore said from his desk, "Nymphadora. I've been watching you." He pointed down at a scrap of parchment on his desk which she recognized as a scribbled map they'd made to test ways to hide from the Marauder's Map. Dumbledore looked delighted. Beside the map, his Pensieve rested, full of silvery thoughts. "Ingenious spellwork. I've never had the opportunity to study the one in Harry's possession. They always were clever. Did you need something?"

"You should have warned Remus that I would be there. He was upset."

"It was an oversight."

"Was it?"

Someone snorted on the wall, and she looked up to see Phineas rollling his eyes. "I'm sure," he said, "that the headmaster has more urgent matters than your love life to which he must attend."

"To the contrary, Phineas," Dumbledore said, "I consider Mr. Lupin's actions of late to be a rather high priority. He's in a sensitive position, and his behavior has been erratic. Had I stopped to consider the ramifications of forcing a meeting, I would have done so a good deal sooner. Alas, as it happened, it was merely an oversight." He gestured to a chair, and it moved up toward the desk. "Please sit down, Nymphadora."

She sat. "I'm sorry, sir. But you upset him a great deal. He came to see me--"

"I'm aware of that. He realized he'd treated you badly, and when we finished our conversation, he said he meant to offer an apology. Matters with Greyback's people have been pressing on him. I thought it would do him good to think about something outside of it."

"I don't think he can. He needs to get out of there."

Dumbledore nodded. "You'll have no argument from me. He brought valuable information that almost certainly saved a boy's life last night, though."

"Oh," Tonks said, nonplussed. She started to get up. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come here. I worry. I worry too much. Winding my life up around Remus's. I should worry about other things."

"You do quite a lot of that as well," Dumbledore said, smiling. "I've been doing a great deal of thinking about our Mr. Lupin tonight as well," he said, gesturing at the Pensieve. "He's always been a very stubborn person in his own way. May I share a memory with you?"

Tonks felt a bit lost, but Dumbledore's mood seemed odd and brooding. "If you'd like."

He nodded and gestured for her to come around the desk, then took her hand and leaned over the Pensieve. From the top, she could only see a cloud of yellowish dust. They broke the surface, and fell into a room Tonks recognized immediately. It was the entrance to the Shrieking Shack, and the trapdoor was raised. The wood was rough and sawdust hung everywhere.

The shoulders of a much younger Albus Dumbledore emerged, and he pulled himself up into the house.

Beside her, the older Dumbledore smiled. "I generally Conjure a ladder now. At the time, I rather enjoyed the exercise."

There was a quick clack of heels from the kitchen, and a tall, thin woman appeared, biting her lip and looking frantic. Tonks didn't need to ask who she was--there was no way she could be anyone other than Remus Lupin's mother. She had his light brown eyes, his sharp, narrow nose, his bow-shaped mouth. Her light brown hair was even graying in the same pattern as his. In her lithe body, Tonks could see Remus's strangely graceful movements. "Headmaster," she said, "I'm so sorry. I don't know where he found an owl. John is trying to talk to him, and he is in a great deal of trouble, but after everything you've done for us, I can't believe he'd write to try and decline--"

The younger Dumbledore patted her arm. "It's quite all right, Julia. I'm happy to talk to him, and I have already misplaced the letter he sent me. I'm quite hopeless that way."

"It was all he could talk about. Going to school, buying his books, getting a wand. You'd think no one else had ever gone to Hogwarts. And then, this." She rubbed her forehead. Tonks watched this with some fascination. It was exactly Remus's gesture. Her voice was wrong--shaky and a bit shrill in her nervousness--but other than that, she could be Remus as a woman.

"Where is he?"

"In the bedroom, upstairs."

She nodded toward the staircase, and Dumbledore went up it. Tonks and the older version of Dumbledore floated after him.

A young blond man was leaning against the wall beside a door, his arms crossed lightly, one quizzical eyebrow lifted, and again, Tonks would have needed no introduction. She'd seen his son in this casual pose so often that for a moment, she'd mistaken one for the other, though they didn't look alike. "Well, Remus," he said into the room, "the Headmaster himself has come to talk to you."

In the room, she heard a perfectly recognizable, if high-pitched, Hmmph.

John Lupin's amusement left his face, and he ducked into the room. Tonks could hear a quiet murmur of conversation, then he came back out. "He'll talk to you," Lupin said. "This is not his normal behavior. We plan to discuss it with him rather extensively."

"I'm sure he's just nervous."

"So is every other child boarding the Hogwarts Express next week."

"They're not werewolves!" a high voice yelled from the room.

"They're also not grounded," Lupin answered easily. "And yet, you are. The world is full of curiosities."

The younger Dumbledore smiled. "I'd like to talk to him alone if I may, John. Perhaps we can come to an understanding."

"He does want to go to school," Lupin whispered. "He's been excited about it. Please..."

He didn't finish the request and didn't need to. Dumbledore gave him an understanding nod and slipped around him into bedroom. Tonks and the older Dumbledore followed, unseen.

The younger Dumbledore looked around the room, which seemed to be empty at first glance, then smiled broadly. "Ah, Master Lupin," he said. "I'm glad to see you've found the furniture to your liking."

Tonks frowned, then realized that there was a barely perceptable lump in the bedclothes, only slightly bigger than one of the overstuffed pillows. Slowly, the edge of the blankets and sheets lifted, and a small, pale face appeared in the shadows of the fabric cave, framed by grubby boy's hands. Unknowingly, Remus Lupin looked directly at Tonks.
15 comments or Leave a comment
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 13th, 2006 07:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! You know, if you hadn't posted to admit that you're having trouble with the middle of the story, nobody would know. Can't wait to see where this is going.

There were a couple of small edit things I noticed, but now I can't remember where... if nobody else gets them I'll go back and find them. Right now I'm going to bed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can't wait to see where this is going.

Heh. Me, either, because I don't know! :p

Glad the strain's not showing too badly.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: February 13th, 2006 08:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope I've mentioned before how much I love your Dumbledore. Misplacing the letter is so perfectly him.

My housekeeping does that is just one of those absolutely perfect laugh-and-cry moments, I really liked that.

His breathing became very rapid for a moment, and his seemed to get darker.

Pretty sure you mean his eyes seemed to get darker.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pretty sure you mean his eyes seemed to get darker.

Got it, thanks.

I've been working on Dumbledore--he's not one who comes easily to me--so I'm glad you like him.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 13th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
"They're also not grounded," Lupin answered easily. "And yet, you are. The world is full of curiosities."

You're channelling Pride and Prejudice there. Not that I mind!

I know the frustration of "middles," I'm there myself. If only I can come through as well as you do. Tenderness, you've conveyed it so sweetly and without a false note. Both the memory and the reality are full of understanding Remus. Tonks comes across as submitting to the realities of the Order's needs, at the same time, that Black backbone is still there.

I can't wait to read more.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're channelling Pride and Prejudice there. Not that I mind!

How funny! I've never read it or seen any of the movies.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 13th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay child!Remus! I love him.

Btw I reread shifts thsi weekend. Glorious.

Out of curiousity are you going to rework the little bits for it to be HBP compliant? Remus's backstory i mean.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Out of curiousity are you going to rework the little bits for it to be HBP compliant? Remus's backstory i mean.

In all likelihood, no. Usually, when I finish a thing, I just let it be. So I'm just going to not mention it any further, and use the new backstory in subsequent stuff.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 13th, 2006 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

I love it! Uhm, maybe a little help?


I wanted to tell you that I just love your stories, and I am so in love with your Remus *sigh* The interludes with him are my favorite parts!

Anyway, this isn't probably the place but I can't help it. I'm doing a fanfic where Harry meets Merlin in his time and I've been trying to figure out exactly what sort of language Merlin would be speaking at that time, but it's all so damn confusing. I thought that maybe you would have an inkling since you seem to know so much about a lot of stuff! (I read just about every one of your posts) Please, if you would... what sort of language would be spoken in England around the 4th-5th century? I would be so grateful!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I love it! Uhm, maybe a little help?

There would have been a lot of languages spoken in what's now England at the time, none of which would be Enlish as we know it. There'd be different sorts of Gaelic, Latin, I believe some proto-Germanic languages. I'd recommend using modern English and just avoiding anachronisms. It might be best to assume the language they're using is Latin, since Harry would at least recognize some of it from spellwork, and an educated wizard would probably know it then as well. But I'm no expert on the history of language in England, so don't take my word for any of it. I'd try some wiki-fu on it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 13th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I love it! Uhm, maybe a little help?

Thank you so much Fern! I did the Wiki search, and there's too much information to make it confusing >:~|

I guess I wasn't clear when I first wrote it, but I wasn't thinking of actually using the language (I can barely speak proper english, I can't imagine trying to figure out Gaelic or Latin or proto-whatever!) My strategy will be that Merlin (of course) will have a handy "translating" spell, sort of like the universal translators used in Star Trek *grin*, and I wanted to say that he was translating from his common language to modern day English so Harry could understand him. But thanks for the pointer, I now have something to call it!

From: isabela113 Date: February 13th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am absolutely charmed by Remus' parents, and I do look forward to a petulant young Remus as well.

I hope your writing struggles resolve themselves, although I am of the party that can't tell from the writing that you are having any difficulty at all.
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: February 13th, 2006 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful section. Possibly one of my favourite so far. Even if Remus is breaking my heart (and Tonks') ... :(
faeriemaiden From: faeriemaiden Date: February 13th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, exceedingly well done! You very nearly had me in tears at the bit with the portrait, and that is a great feat. I want to hug Remus so badly; his fragmented sentances are really heartbreaking.

Love the glimpses of young Remus and the way Tonks notices the similarities in his parents; can't wait to see where you decide to go with this. Must stop fragmenting my own sentances this way. :p
caitie From: caitie Date: February 13th, 2006 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed this installment muchly. Seeing a young Remus in the Pensieve is something I hadn't expected but am LOVING. :)
15 comments or Leave a comment