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Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 4 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 20: Interlude (5), Accidental Magic, pt. 4
Greyback has taken the men of the pack to meet the Death Eaters, running them transformed and coming to a non-descript clearing where Bellatrix and Peter are waiting. Bellatrix spends all day giving them sermons. She does not especially trust Remus, and tries to humiliate him by forcing him to make ludicrous arguments that the other werewolves will laugh at. He later sees her arguing with Greyback about something, but can't very well join in, so he just sits talking to Alderman.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

At nightfall, Bellatrix and Peter Conjured a camp that seemed almost luxurious after months in the forest. There were individual tents kept warm by Heating Charms, thick blankets, comfortable camp beds, and even little lamps to read by, though no one had actually brought anything. Peter brought each of them supper. Remus heard him making the rounds, and was not surprised to find himself last on the list. Peter came in with a tray that carried two mugs of steaming hot chocolate and two bowls of hearty beef stew. He sat down without asking and Conjured a table. Remus didn't move toward it.

"Aren't you hungry?"

"I ate more this afternoon that I've eaten in the past week."

"Oh." He affected a sympathetic look. "You don't look very good, Moony. Do you need anything? Clothes, books, papers?"

"I'm figuring things out, Peter."

"Last year when I saw you, I was sure you'd never come."

"As I recall, you crushed all the bones in my hand over the issue."

"Er... yes. Sorry about that." He gave his most ingratiating smile. "But you see now, don't you? You see that there's no point in fighting? That there are perfectly good reasons to--"

"Good night, Peter."

Peter looked down. "I was sorry to hear about Sirius."

"Yes, you'll have to find someone else to frame for your murders now, won't you?"

"That's not what I meant," Peter said, and got to his feet. He went to the tent-flap, then looked back. "I can be your friend again," he said. "And you don't seem to have a lot of them left."

Remus didn't answer. Peter left.

Remus lay back on his camp bed, his arm over his eyes, images of his boyhood forcing themselves, unwelcomed, into his mind. He saw Peter struggling through his Potions homework, asking for help with an essay. He saw the four of them sneaking into the Forbidden Forest, wands alight, and he saw Peter falling behind, and James going back for him...

He saw James on the Quidditch field, smiling and happy. He saw Sirius sitting in the window of the dormitory, looking peacefully out over the grounds. He saw--


He moved his arm. Alderman was crouched at the entrance to his tent. Beyond him, the stars seemed dim. There was no further noise.

Remus sat up. "I must have drifted off," he said. "It's been a long day."

Alderman smiled. "I know. I'm knackered." But he didn't move to leave.

"Did you need something?"

"Greyback's asleep, and that scary woman is off somewhere."

"Are you certain?"

Alderman nodded. "I think that little bald bloke went off with her. Did you... I mean... when we talked... about me..." He looked over his shoulder. "I don't want to be in this business any more than I already am."

For the first time, Remus really felt the absence of his wand. One simple Distraction Charm was all he needed. "Not here, Alderman. We'll talk when we get home."


"I promise."

He nodded and slipped out into the night.

Remus went back to sleep, and dreamed of the Shrieking Shack. He was young again, but Dora was with him this time, and they were exploring together. It seemed that there were a great many hidden passages, some of which went to exotic locations. One went to Grimmauld Place, another to a south sea island, and a third to Hobbiton, where Alderman and Sweet were working in Bilbo Baggins's garden. It was a pleasant, nonsensical dream that left him feeling comforted when woke up the next morning, though he only remembered it in bits and pieces.

In all, they spent three days and two nights with Bellatrix and Peter. The days were often pleasant--excluding Bella's constant sermons--and the nights the most comfortable he'd spent for quite some time. Most of the men were solidly on Bella's side before they'd finished eating on the first night, and certainly by the end of their last meal together, any chance Remus might have had of convincing them that allying with Voldemort was a bad idea had passed. He considered asking Dumbledore to send an equal envoy, but the others would know he was making no promises. He was no friend of the Ministry, but neither was he planning to radically overthrow the magical establishment in Britain--and as long as that establishment existed, there would be no rapid advances for werewolves. They were uneducated, but they knew enough to understand that much, and would recognize a bribe from Dumbledore for what it was.

Late Thursday afternoon, after one last large meal, they gathered in the stone circle again, and Bellatrix told them that it was time to go home. As she didn't want them finding their way back here just yet, she would have to do a bit of magic, which would also speed them on their way. Remus sighed, expecting a Confundus Charm, or perhaps an attempt to send them along like inanimate objects (it could be done, but it was uncomfortable and not particularly safe), but instead, Bellatrix raised her wand and cast a nonverbal spell--she smiled wickedly at Remus, knowing he would want to know how she was doing this--and a swirling cloud of mist filled the western half of the clearing. It looked like an Illusion Charm.

"This will take you to a place you know."

"Why that's a right clever spell," Greyback said.

"Yes," Remus agreed. "Very clever."

"Not everyone is content to rest on pre-invented spells," Bellatrix said. "Now, just give me your hands."

She took Alderman first, and slashed his hands with a stroke of her wand before he knew what was happening, and pushed him into the mist, bloodied hands first. He disappeared as Peter pulled Stanfield forward for the same ritual. They went through, two by two, until only Greyback and Remus were left. Greyback stepped back to let Remus go first.

"You can't use your own blood?" Remus asked as stinging cuts crossed his palms.

"It has to be the blood of a dark creature," Bellatrix said with false regret. "What a shame."

"And you needed all of us for it."

She smiled. "No. One would have done it, really, but what's the fun of that?" She shoved him into the mist.

As soon as the mist hit the blood on his hands, fire burned up his lower arms, and he felt himself spinning, like he was in a mad, pain-wracked floo system. He swirled forward, his stomach churning, and landed in the dirt with his palms pushing outward. Pebbles pushed their way into the cuts. Alderman tapped his shoulder and pointed to the left, where a creek--the creek he'd been living along for months--was bubbling away. He plunged his hands into it until they were numb from the cold, and clean. A moment later, Greyback appeared, his hands uncut. No one else seemed to notice that.

He and Alderman went back to the shed, where the pups had gathered and were huddled together to keep warm. The new black robes Bella had given them were duly admired, and Remus was not looking forward to the moment the Conjuring finally gave out and he had to return to his own threadbare attire. There were arithmetic problems to mark and Hamilton had written an entire tortured page on what he'd learned from reading a simple book about volcanoes that someone had put into a charity box. It was years behind what he ought to be writing, but for only a few months of lessons, he was doing well, and Remus gave him as much encouragement to keep going as he could.

Blondin rummaged around under Remus's table and came up with another battered paperback. "This is the one with Christmas and ghosts, isn't it?" he asked. "You said we'd read it together."

Remus took it and smiled. "All right," he said. "If we read a little every day, this should take us right up to Christmas. Shall I start?"

There was general agreement--they'd got better at reading, but none of them were comfortable--and he sat down cross-legged, "'Marley was dead: to begin with,'" he began. "'There is no doubt whatever about that...'" He read through Scrooge's visit with his happy nephew--Hamilton thought the argument about door-nails and coffin-nails to be hilarious--before they lost the light, and the pups grudgingly let him stop there. They wished him goodnight and headed out, leaving only Alderman behind.

"Can we talk here?" he asked.

Remus nodded. "I think so." He checked out the door, and heard nothing. "First of all," he said, "we've seen your mother, and she wants you back."


"She thought you were dead. Apparently Greyback sent her something that convinced her of it."

"And my dad?"

Remus looked down. "I'm sorry, Alderman."

Alderman nodded. "I haven't seen him in a long time. I don't know what I'm meant to say."

"Your mum remarried and has more children."

"More..." Alderman took a shaky breath. "Greyback will--"

"We know. When you go, they'll all have to go with you and hide somewhere."

"I don't mean to make them do that!" He sat down heavily on the floor. "I hate him. I hate bloody Greyback."

"They're willing. But it's going to take a bit of time. We'll find a way, Alderman. But be patient, and for heaven's sake, don't give Greyback any reason to start paying attention to you."

He nodded tightly, and didn't say anything for a very long time. Finally, he just muttered "Good night," and shuffled outside. Remus watched him go, wondering how much he was going to turn over in his mind as he tried to sleep tonight, not knowing the best way to help him.

He turned to go back inside, and he heard a soft splash. His heart leapt into his throat, and he went around the side of the shed, where a boarded up window looked onto the hillside.

Standing there in the moonlight was Sweet, her eyes wide and solemn, one bare foot in a shallow puddle of water.
14 comments or Leave a comment
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: March 22nd, 2006 07:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Stay up way past one's bedtime does have its benefits doesn't it? :mischievous grin: As I was reading this installment I couldn't help but feel a tiny little bit bad for Peter. It was a shocking to see past Peter's betrayal and realize that - exactly the same as Remus and Sirius - the years spent exploring the Hogwarts grounds and Hogsmeade were probably the happiest of his life. You manage to portray Peter exactly as he is ... a human being coloured not in black and white but in many shades of gray.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like Peter, and I'm really hoping that the reason JKR didn't make him the fourth year DADA teacher imposter (from her notes) is because she has some cool redemption planned for him in the end. I mean, he's already tried to stand up for Harry directly to Voldemort (at the beginning of GoF), and trying to manipulate Voldemort himself has to say something in his favor.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 22nd, 2006 07:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Guh... it's creepy, and twisted, and so much fabulous. Nothing constructive on this installment, again, sorry, but I'm still loving it. And really looking forward to finding out exactly where you're going with Sweet. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm hoping Sweet "pays off" well. :fingers crossed:
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: March 22nd, 2006 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no, did Sweet hear? She's rather young to understand everything. You really do an amazing Peter. You can see the boy he was through the wreck of the man he's become.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sweet heard.
From: evalotte Date: March 22nd, 2006 12:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have been reading your fanfics for a long time and I just love your characterizations of Tonks and Remus. The interaction of Peter and Remus was great! You really know how to write dialogue!
It's also fascinating how the threads of this story come together - Remus and Tonks both meating Bellatrix, for example and the part of getting Alderman out of Greybacks reach.
I can't wait for your next update - don't feel rushed though ;-)...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Bella showed up by surprise in Tonks's plot--I wasn't planning her--so it seemed like a good idea to move her into Remus's as well.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, there's a blast from the past! :P

Love your icon!
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, it hadn't even remotely crossed my mind that Voldemort would ply the werewolves with food and comfortable shelter and put them through a cult-like indoctrination camp... that was both inspired and so obvious at the same time. Very Fern-like. I'm always *face-palm*ing when I read your work. You just think these things through to a deeper level than the casual fan, and it really pays off.

And yeah, I *really* hope Sweet didn't overhear anything... Greyback would have it out of her in no time - probably by torture, because she's too young to hide that she knows *something*, and enamoured of Remus enough to not simply spill it when threatened.

One thing seemed a little off, though, but that's a personal preference more than anything. Your Peter seems to come away with a lot more dignity than he usually does in canon. Granted, in the books we only ever see him when his masters are in the mood for some extreme servility from him... but in the Shrieking Shack scene, in Snape's place, and even in Shifts he seemed to be quite a bit more wretched than he was in this section (and the previous one, come to think of it). I rather see Peter being a bit afraid to approach Remus at all, and if he does, I think he'd try to smile and laugh nervously and pretend they've always been comrades rather than state the issues between them directly by saying he's sorry about Sirius's death or that he could be Remus's friend again. His first sentence - offering Remus clothes, books and papers - is spot on, though.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 22nd, 2006 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
She heard... and yeah--she's going to have to keep her head down and not let anything on.

I think you're right about Peter's dialogue toward the end. The "I was sorry to hear about Sirius" is mostly an attempt to be sympathetic, but by the time he gets to "I could be your friend again," he's out of tune.
kokopelli20878 From: kokopelli20878 Date: March 23rd, 2006 11:09 am (UTC) (Link)


living along or living alone? I wasn't sure.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 23rd, 2006 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: nit

"along." (Though I couldn't remember what the phrase was and had to look it up! He's talking about the creek, which he's been living along.)
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: March 28th, 2006 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
eeeek, this is so TENSE! My god, you're brilliant.
My chest hurts for Remus (and all of them, really) when he thinks back to the school years. So much lost potential...
14 comments or Leave a comment