Okay. Another segment.
Shifts, part 1
Shifts, part 2
I think maybe the best way to do an ongoing thing is to have an entry with "what's come before" when I start a new section. I'll keep up the link list, also.
Anyway, Shifts takes place concurrently with Order of the Phoenix, and began as Remus, Tonks, and Sirius made their way back to Grimmauld Place after dropping the children off at King's Cross. The other adults have gone about their business, but Tonks's business is with Remus. He will be on a special assignment this year, guarding Dudley Dursley, while posing as a history teacher. He is less than thrilled with Smeltings as a school, but excited at the chance to teach again.
In order to get his doses of Wolfsbane Potion to him, Tonks will take advantage of a Smeltings tradition allowing staff spouses to come for lunch, at which point she will bring him his Potion in a thermos. She plans to make other visits, to avoid people making the full moon connection. Remus is accutely embarrassed at the thought of a very pretty young woman showing up and pretending to be his wife--people will talk!--which annoys Tonks and amuses Sirius. When we last left the crew in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place, Tonks was loosened up and ready to morph into "the woman of [Remus's] inappropriately old dreams."
In the end, it was mainly Sirius who came up with Dora's look. Remus had been quite unable to articulate what he was looking for in a pretended wife.
"Well, what are you looking for in a real one?" Dora had asked cheerfully, pawing through the clothes in one of the four trunks she'd summoned down to the kitchen.
"I assume I'll know when I meet her," Remus muttered. "I'm certainly not looking for someone who's building herself to my specifications."
"Oh, come on, Remus. Give us a hint." Sirius leaned back against the wall with a bottle of butterbeer. "Or should I just list all the girls you dated at Hogwarts?"
Remus raised an eyebrow. "Both of them? I don't know. Do we have enough time?"
"Well, all the ones you mooned about over, then."
"So to speak."
"Any general trends?" Dora asked.
Sirius shrugged. Remus sighed and shook his head.
"Bookish or artistic?" Dora asked, pulling out two different Muggle dresses. Remus didn't know which was meant to be which.
"Rumpled," Sirius said. "The tweedy-looking one."
"Oh, artists," Dora said. "I'll be right back." She took the rust brown, rough-woven dress and ran out up the stairs.
"Where does she get all these clothes?" Sirius mused, wandering over to her trunks.
"Ted's been taking her to a Muggle used clothing store for quite a long time," Remus said. "It used to be her hobby. Now, I suppose she means to use it as an Auror."
A moment later, Dora came bounding back down the stairs, barefoot, dangling her strait-laced black shoes from one hand. She seemed to be taller than when she'd left.
"It's a bit bigger than I am," she explained. "But conveniently, I never have to alter my clothes. I just alter me." She tossed the shoes aside carelessly, and went digging in another trunk, coming up with a pair of thick-soled sandals. "These'll do." She put them on, searched in a third trunk for a rumpled, dusky red cardigan and a soft hat, which she tossed on over the dress. "How's that for a look? Artsy?"
"I have no idea about the clothes," Remus said. "But you're still awfully young."
"Right, right." She screwed her face up in concentration, and her nose lengthened, then shaped itself into a dagger between sharp cheekbones. Her skin dulled, and lines appeared around her eyes.
"Turn round," Sirius said, and did so. He frowned. "You know I love the pink hair. But..."
"Right." Dora's hair darkened alarmingly, as if black sap had been drawn into its roots. "Long or short?" she asked.
Remus didn't answer.
"Long," Sirius said. "But neat."
Her hair grew down to her shoulderblades.
"Curly or straight?"
Remus didn't have any opinion on that, either. He looked anywhere but at Dora while she and Sirius negotiated the finer points of her appearance. Straight hair. Coarse and thick. Her nails would be kept short. She'd wear some sort of jangling bracelets. And, though Remus had been unaware of such jewelry, something called an anklet. Dora was quite excited about the last, as she had apparently not had an opportunity to wear it.
"Come on, how's this?" she prodded.
Remus looked her over. He had no idea what to make of the clothes, which hardly seemed Smeltings-like but were otherwise unremarkable. He'd seen middle-aged women on university campuses dressed in this manner; it wouldn't be untoward for an intellectual. She probably wouldn't raise any eyebrows as a teacher's wife. Her face had aged reasonably. She didn't look much like Nymphadora Tonks, except for her eyes--she'd gone for a faded blue, but they danced with mischief a usual. No matter how she morphed, she always seemed to be a small girl playing pretend.
At least to someone who knew her.
"You still look a bit young," he said. "But... I suppose..."
"Oh, for heaven's sake." She twisted her face again, and her rich black hair became iron gray. It was actually rather striking, and fit this particular face better. Her eyes kept the look from actually being old. "Will this do?"
"It's fine," Remus said. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be difficult."
"'S all right," she said, waving a dismissive hand, and starting to morph herself back into her more familiar shape. "Shall I just use my own name?"
"Dora will be fine. 'Nymphadora' may not quite fit in Muggle circles."
She grinned. "In that case, I'm moving into the Muggle world."
"Nymphadora," Remus teased her.
She stuck out her tongue. "Why can't you just call me Tonks like everyone else does?"
"Because that's what people called your father. It would be confusing."
"At any rate," Sirius said, "it would be a bit odd for a man to call his wife by her father's name, wouldn't it?"
"Dora Lupin it is, then." She smiled. "Sounds lovely."
Remus felt his cheeks go red. "Don't get attached. I'm going under a different name. And a few appearance charms. In case anyone's already there. I interviewed as Raymond Lewis."
"Dora Lewis, then. But if you don't start being a bit less demanding, I'll keep my maiden name." She grinned and kissed his nose, as she had before taking her leave since she was a small child. "I'd best get home. I can put together a few more outfits with my real wardrobe."
"You have more?" Sirius asked.
"Well, my clothes don't morph with me." She hugged him and scratched behind his ears again, and he kissed her forehead. "I'll be back tomorrow after my shift at work. Try to sleep tonight?"
Sirius nodded. "I promise."
Dora shook her finger at Remus. "You, too. No lesson-planning, Professor Lupin. And don't think I won't find out."
She gave him a quick hug, then disappeared up the stairs.
Sirius glanced around the kitchen. "House is too bloody quiet," he said. "When's the next meeting?"
"Pity Molly and Arthur decided to go back to the Burrow."
"It is where they live. And unlike the children, they can Apparate out when they need to."
"You know, Dora would probably move in here if we asked her to."
"Can you even imagine what Molly would have to say about that?"
Sirius laughed without much humor. "At least it wouldn't be so quiet. I swear, that woman can outscream Mum."
"Molly means well."
"I know." He sighed and stared morosely into a dusty corner, the distracted look coming back into his face. He hadn't realized until he actually met Molly Weasley exactly how much influence she'd had on Harry, and he didn't like it. "Do you mind if I transform for a bit?" he asked. "I don't feel much like thinking."
"It's your house," Remus said. "You can be any species you'd like to be."
Sirius had transformed before he finished speaking, and padded up the stairs. A few minutes later, Remus heard him pawing at doors and whining.
Remus took a deep breath, and started cleaning up the kitchen.