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Shades, Chapter 21: Bad Habits, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 21: Bad Habits, pt. 3
When Fleur catches Bill and Tonks in what looks like a bad position, Bill just tells her the truth, and Fleur impatiently tells both of them that she can help--her grandmother has a sanctuary for various dark creatures, and she's reasonably sure she can convince her to take the young werewolves if Tonks can figure out how to free them. Once that's settled, Tonks feels a bit like a third wheel, so excuses herself to go back to Hogsmeade and play with her cat, Granny. Sanjiv shows up the next morning saying that Dumbledore has let him in on where headquarters are, and asked if she'll show him around (he produces a note and proves his identity to do this). He suggests she bring the loudly protesting cat.

Granny's days of energetic protests to being put in her carrying basket were long over, and she merely looked at Tonks resentfully when she was lowered in.

"Oh, don't scold," Tonks said. "You were the one who's tired of being left alone. Well, today at any rate." Granny gave a resigned meow. "And I'm putting the cover on. You hate the Floo network when the basket is open."

Granny laid her head down on her paws to pout, and Tonks put the cover on the basket.

"All set?" Sanjiv asked. "You don't need to get her special traveling toys or whatnot?"

"Oh, shut up."

He laughed, and teased her about her cat-mumming skills--an old joke--all the way to the Three Broomsticks, where they took the Floo network to the Leaky Cauldron, and a taxi to the car park near Grimmauld Place.

"This is the best place to park if you're driving," Tonks said.

"I'll remember that if I ever decide to give up Apparating, Floos, and broomsticks."

"My dad's car turned out to be dead useful last year," she said. "It's hard to explain showing up at a Muggle house without any kind of transportation. Don't your parents' friends ever wonder how you get around?"

"My parents live in the city. Their friends assume I take the train in and then get around like everyone else who doesn't have a car." He considered this as she led him toward the house. "They also assume I just got back from attending university abroad, and work for an advertising agency. And that I have obvious reasons for not going out with any of their daughters. And that I have a real fixation on clean floors. Mum's boss tried to convince me that I should use these odd cloth things that attach to a pole instead of all of those brooms I have stacked up in my room at home."

Tonks shook her head. "Why do you have those? Most of them are Muggle brooms."

"I was trying to learn to do the charm myself for a while. Thought I could have my own line of the things. But I never got the hang of... WHOA!"

"Don't stop and stare," Tonks said, watching the house appear between its neighbors. "The Muggles looking out their windows will think you're crazy."

"Right. And when we just disappear?"

"You know, I don't really know how that charm works, honestly. But there are no rumors about ghosts disappearing around here, so I suppose they just don't see it."

She let him in and closed the door quickly, putting her finger to her mouth and pointing to the screens around Auntie's portrait.

"What's that?" he asked.

"Shh. It's..."


Tonks sighed, set Granny's basket down, and moved the screens aside. "Hullo, Auntie," she said. "This is my friend Sanjiv."


"Sanjiv, my great aunt, Walburga Black."


"Charmed," Sanjiv said, bemused.

Tonks grabbed one of the curtains. "Get the other."

He did, and they covered her, cutting off the invective. Carefully, they replaced the screens.

"Is she always like that?" he whispered.

"Only when she's feeling friendly. Sometimes, she'll be really nasty." Tonks shrugged. "She's the one who disowned Mum."

"Your family's mental. No offense."

To Tonks's surprise, she was offended. It wasn't for Auntie's sake, with her ranting and paranoia, or for Aunt Bella's, with her sadistic curses and baby talk. It wasn't Aunt Narcissa, with her sunken eyes and frantic grasping for her family. It wasn't even for Mum, with her occasional rages and days of locking herself in her room. It was Sirius she was thinking of--Sirius locking himself in with Buckbeak, Sirius moodily stalking through the house as a dog, Sirius crouched on the kitchen floor, not talking, holding on to her and to Remus for dear life. And it was for herself, dreaming her violent dreams and trying to scrub them away with the dirt in the Shrieking Shack.

But Sanjiv didn't know those things. She had never shared anything about the Blacks with her friends. She hadn't known much about them--only about Mum's bad moods--when they'd made a habit of speaking of such things. She'd learned about it later, long after the patterns of conversation with her friends had found a permanent, comfortable shape which she didn't especially care to shift. Sanjiv was just being Sanjiv, and people who didn't live in the asylum nearly always found the mad amusing. She just shrugged.

They tiptoed past the stairs down to the kitchen, and Tonks pointed toward them. "That's where we usually meet," she whispered. "I don't think there's anyone down there just now. We can check later to see if Molly has left anything to for us eat."

Granny's basket wiggled, and the top popped off of it. Granny looked up curiously, then ducked back inside. Tonks scooped her up. "You're fine," she said. "Come on. I'd wager there's a mouse or two to chase around here."

Granny gave her a hopeful-sounding mew.

They went upstairs to the parlor, where someone--Tonks supposed it was Molly--had put the draperies back where they belonged. Several boxes from the attic had been brought down, but they were stacked neatly under a table, with only the one Molly was sorting actually open. There was a scroll beside it, and Tonks guessed she was inventorying the place for Harry.

"Can we actually talk now?" Sanjiv whispered.

"Hmmm? Oh, yes. She hears well enough in the entrance hall, but up here we're safe enough."

He sighed, relieved, and went to the windows. "Neat old place, really."

"It hasn't tried to attack you yet, anyway. Don't pick up any old clothes. Some of my uncle's robes tried to strangle Charlie Weasley's brother last year." Tonks set the cat down, and she started to explore on her own, poking at the rug, sniffing the curtains. She crouched for a long time on the rug in front of the family tree, smelling it deeply. Tonks, who had slept on that floor, had thought something in the carpet smelled odd. She wasn't sure she wanted to know what it was, or why Granny found it so intriguing.

Sanjiv wandered around the edge of the room, looking at the wallpaper, spending some time examining a tiny portrait of a little boy who did nothing but blink from time to time. Tonks thought it had been moved in here from one of the guest rooms.

"I don't know who he is," she offered after a few minutes.

"Whoever he is, he looks like you."

Curious, she bent over beside him and looked at the portrait. The boy had light brown hair, fine features, and a heart-shaped face. His eyes were gray and his mouth made a little pink bow. He was wearing a fussy set of robes that Tonks associated with the last century. He smiled.

And his hair turned black.

Tonks gasped. "My goodness. I thought I was the first in the family."

The boy in the portrait giggled and slipped out of the frame, appearing in a painting of Stonehenge and hiding behind one of the great rocks. He peeked out and grinned eagerly. His hair had gone brown again, but when he ducked behind and came out a second time, it had turned bright Weasley red.

"Has he done this before?"

Tonks shrugged. "I don't know. I never really looked at him before."

The boy ran further, out of the Stonehenge painting and into a long, thin pen-and-ink drawing underneath the family tree. He became black-and-white himself, and pointed up eagerly at the tapestry.

Sanjiv walked over to it, bemused. "There are few names to choose from up there, my friend," he said.

The boy sighed and sat down with his legs crossed, dejected.

Tonks scanned the hundreds of names. No one really seemed to stand out. "Sorry," she said. "I'll see if I can find your name later."

He turned around and showed them his back.

Tonks shook her head. "Welcome to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place," she said. "No ghosts, except for everything here."

Sanjiv laughed and continued looking around. "Why were you asking about Veela?" he said. "Back in Hogsmeade."

Tonks sat down on the sofa and pulled up one of the tasseled green pillows. She hugged it against herself. "I'm trying to help some children. Some werewolf children. Remus..."

"They're his?" Sanjiv turned to her with wide eyes.

"What? No. They're... well, they belong to a few people. They were bitten by the same person who bit Remus. I'm just... well, we're just... I want them out of there. And Fleur Delacour--do you remember Fleur?"

"Sure. From your school-guarding squad. Nice personality."

"Mm-hmm. She's part Veela, and she said I could hide them with her Veela relatives."

"Sound like a good idea. How do you mean to get them there?"

"That's the trick, isn't it? There are these gates... I don't know. If I could find one, maybe we could use it to get them to the Forbidden Forest--it would have to be while they're transformed--and then if we could hold them there until the morning, we could side-along Apparate them to France... if..." She sighed. "Of course, if I do find a gate, I'd have to seal it so Greyback couldn't come through after them, and of course I'd have to do a really dark spell to open it--"

Something shifted under the table and, and a small avalanche of boxes slipped out. Granny poked her nose out apologetically from behind them.

"Now, you put those right back," Sanjiv said, winking and heading over, wand raised. The boxes started to move, but they weren't fitting exactly as Molly had had them.

Tonks went over, and they started to move the boxes back by hand.

"Oh, here's the problem," Sanjiv said, reaching under the table. "There's an open one back here. Everything's sliding off off--UGH!"




"Well, teeth, anyway, I think." He knocked his head on the table as he pulled back, his hand full. He dropped a fistful of small white teeth into Tonks's hands. There was a small cavity in one of them, and another was chipped. "Why does your family keep boxes of teeth?" He dove back under and pulled out the ebony boxes carved with snakes and set with green glass. The open one was engraved with Sirius's name, and the date of his seventh birthday. A soft bag of hair was in one corner of it.

Thoughtfully, Tonks opened the other box, labeled with Regulus's name. Another set of teeth was there, these set carefully in a ring around the hair bag. She closed it, and curled her fingers around Sirius's milk teeth.

The bones of a child.

She pocketed them.
19 comments or Leave a comment
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: April 9th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh man... :(
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: April 9th, 2006 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant! For a while you had me really worried where, you know, bones of a child and all. A tiny little bit of nitpicking, if you don't mind terribly. As you can see here, Sirius's mom's name is spelt with a b instead of a p. Thanks for the update!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)

And here I was just glad I remembered her name. ;)
aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: April 9th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful update! A few nitpicks, though ...

Sanjiv wandered around the edge of the room, looking at the wallpaper, spending some time examining a tiny portrait of a little boy who did nothing but blink from time time.

I'm assuming that's meant to be time to time.

"There are few names to choose from up their, my friend,"

"Their" is supposed to be "there".

I'm very intrigued by this metemorphmagus ancestor. :)

Much love,
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Yeah, that's what I get for writing quickly while being distracted by the cat. ;) Thanks--I'll grab those.
satakieli From: satakieli Date: April 9th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope Tonks's metamorphmagus ancestor isn't more talkative in paintings elsewhere...

Love Granny's presence.

Tonks' reaction to Sanjiv's reaction to Sirius's mum's portrait (how's that for an ill-constructed sentence?) felt spot-on to me.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'll do a Jo and nip that one--he isn't telling any tales out of school. I don't know if he'll have much else to do. I miss Grimmauld Place and want to do more with it than I've been doing, so he may, though.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 9th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC) (Link)
The Blacks *would* be the kind of family to keep bones of a child around...just in case.

One more nitpick...you've inverted a word here.

We can check later to see if Molly has left anything to for us eat."

So glad you've updated, you've made my evening!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
That's an odd mistake. I'll fix it.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: April 9th, 2006 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Yaaaaaaay more Shades!! I was just starting to get really antsy for another installment. :)

I too am intrigued by the little metamorphmagus boy in the paintings... and of course you've come up with a logical way for Tonks to get her hands on the bones of a child - and to involve Sirius somehow. (Not to mention the fact that I have to keep reminding myself that the spell requiring the bones of a child is yours and not Jo's in the first place, but that's neither here nor there I suppose...)

I have one small nitpick, and I'm relatively convinced that only I will have it - but I feel the need to mention it anyway. When you had Sanjiv laughing at Tonks's "cat-mumming skills", it threw me and then it actually took me a moment to work out that you meant cat-mothering, because mumming is something quite a bit more obscure and completely different. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Good point; I wouldn't have thought of that.

Yeah... I actually made that up in the spell to give a purpose to that stupid box o' teeth that Sirius found in Shifts.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 9th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I didn't realise that it meant "cat-mothering". I was trying to work out the connection between cat transportation and mummers!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 9th, 2006 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Huh. I've used "to Mom" as a verb so much that it never would have occurred to me not to just switch it to "Mum" and call it good! ;)
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 9th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC) (Link)
I've used and heard "to mother" as a verb but never "to mum", although many other nouns are used as verbs in the UK as well as the USA. Maybe it's because mumming already has a different meaning so it just doesn't get used. I can see what it means now it's been pointed out to me.

From: (Anonymous) Date: April 9th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC) (Link)
You made my evening, too!

Yeah, I understand about the things you can say about relatives yourself but get all bent out of shape if someone else says anything like that (well, in theory. We're all moderately eccentric and proud of it. If one of us went really round the bend, the "aren't we wacko" jokes would be a lot less funny. If it was someone I felt protective towards, it would be very, very unfunny).

hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: April 9th, 2006 08:20 am (UTC) (Link)
"Some of my uncle's robes tried to strangle Charlie Weasley's brother last year..."
Nice detail that she refers to their mutual acquaintance, not to Ron by name. That's the sort of thing that most authors would forget, and would assume everyone knows the trio as well as readers of canon do!
Love the ancestral metamorphmagus, and am glad that the teeth came in handy for the spell.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: April 9th, 2006 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like how Dora refers to Charlie Weasley's brother instead of the brother by name to Sanjiv.
effin_hobo From: effin_hobo Date: April 20th, 2006 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found this story and "Shifts" on your Humungous Big Head site, through a friend. :)

Would it be alright if I friended you?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: April 20th, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm always good with friends. Enjoy! :)
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