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Shades, Chapter 23: Gray Christmas, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 23: Gray Christmas, pt. 2
Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Hogsmeade isn't exactly a happening Christmas shopping destination this year, and Tonks is not particularly troubled when Bill interrupts her shopping to tell her that he's gotten word from a Muggle priest (Father Montgomery), who has one of Grayback's wolves with him. Tonks disguises herself as a nun, in case anyone is watching the road, and they Apparate to Huntsford and go into the church. Old Mag is in Father Montgomery's office, and she implies that she really didn't expect them to come. She gathers that they've lied about their names (they're not exactly creative), and tries to figure out how Remus fits into it. Tonks, not knowing what Mag knows or doesn't know, acknowledges only that they know him. Mag compliments her on keeping his cover, then comments that they're doing a better job of it than he is.

Will edit in re-write: I forgot to mention that once she knows the name of the village, she recognizes it from Maddie's list of gates. A fairly important bit of information to forget to include!

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Tonks's blood seemed very loud in her ears. "What," she said carefully, "does that mean?"

Mag laughed. "Oh, don't worry, dear. He's a clever bloke."

"What do you mean about his 'cover'?" Tonks asked, trying to keep her voice steady. She felt Bill's hand on her elbow.

"Well, if he's spying--and I reckon he is, if he can get fine folk like yourselves helping him--then no one's the wiser. Except me now. But his mouth's been running all right. Ever since the men got back from wherever they went. I hear someone made him talk against Greyback's friends, and now folks are asking him questions, and the fool of a man is answering them, pert as you please. He even told Mina how to register, if she'd a mind to. She thought it a fine joke, and laughs whenever she sees him now." Mag put her hand to her head suddenly and swayed alarmingly.

Father Montgomery put his hands on her shoulders and led her to a chair. "Are you all right, Mag? Do you need something to eat?"

"If you've some fruit, I'd do well with it," she said. "There's been nothing but meat since the first snow came. And not much of that."

Montgomery nodded and left quietly.

Tonks sat down on an ottoman across from Mag. "He's trying to turn people?"

"Oh, yes. He treats it like it's a joke, but I think even Greyback is starting to catch on to how often he's doing it, and just how much he's telling people while he's joking."

"What sorts of 'jokes' does he tell?" Tonks asked through clenched teeth.

"Oh, nonsense about going to school and jobs and so on. Like he's had it much better than we have out there." Mag shook her head. "The little ones listen to it like fairy tales, but the others think he's going soft in the head."

"And Greyback believes he's trying to change minds?"

"Well, I think Greyback was perfectly relieved when Lupin said he was going off for a week or so to forage." She shrugged. "Lupin's got some notion about storing dried fruit. He's tried to talk Greyback into letting him use that wand of his to make a dry cellar or something of the sort. Greyback said he could bloody well learn to do it himself, and he's been back practicing it."

"Greyback has a wand?" Bill asked.

"Oh, yes. His friends promised us all wands. I hear your sort snapped Lupin's." She smiled and raised her eyebrows. "But I reckon that's not quite the truth now, is it? No, no. Never mind. I don't imagine you'd tell me that."

"Did Remus send you here?" Tonks pressed.

"He's been talking to the father, and just before he went off, he told me to talk to the father, and the father and I talked about what he's doing, so I suppose you could say he sent me. It's about Alderman, isn't it?"

Bill looked at Tonks. "What do you think?"

"I don't know." Tonks leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, and studied Mag's face. Her eyes were sly and sharp, her smile playful... but there were none of the nervous tics she would imagine in a woman telling a lie. A part of her was tempted to use Veritaserum--as an Auror, she was authorized, and she had a tiny vial of it in her bag--but she didn't want to do that without some reason to suppose she couldn't trust the person in question. One forced session on the nasty stuff to test her metamorphosing skills had left her with a visceral distaste for it. "Mag, will you answer something truthfully if I ask you?"

Mag nodded.

"Why don't you want to leave Greyback?"

"I was bitten when I was thirteen," she said. "They turned me out of Hogwarts, and my parents turned me out of their home. The things I did to stay alive... no one should have to do them. Greyback found me. I was one of his first, when he was just young fellow. He gave me a place. And the others... they got a place, too. It's not a great place. But little Evvie and Sweet aren't going to have to do what I did."

"No, they might just have to kill people," Bill said.

"I know." Mag sighed. "That's why I want to help them out. The last time Greyback had friends on the outside--he got the others doing things." She wrinkled her nose. "Oh, hear me lie. It wasn't just the others. I was with them. I was there as much as they were. And he's got worse. He started taking the little ones again a few years ago. He hadn't done that for a while. And I'm afraid that he'll have them..." She sighed and looked at Tonks. "I'll stay, because it's the only place I ever belonged, and I owe him that. But the little ones don't owe him. He brought them without their leave, and sooner or later, he'll turn them out on the world. They don't deserve that, though I make no claims about what the world deserves."

Tonks took a deep breath and nodded. "All right," she said. "We have a place for them. I won't tell you where, but I need your help to know how to get them out."

The door opened, and Montgomery came back in, a tray laden with fruits and vegetables balanced on one hand. He set it down on the desk. "Shall I stay?" he asked.

"Yes," Tonks said. "We might need your help, depending on what Mag has to tell us."

Mag took an apple and began to gnaw at it, the juice seeping out around her mouth. "First, you might need to hurry. Little Sweet... she knows what's happening. I know because she knows. I've got her as quiet as I can and Lupin's asked her to keep quiet. The child would walk off a cliff if Lupin told her to, but keeping a secret for a little thing like that is a bit more difficult."

"Sweet?" Tonks asked.

"Little Vivian Waters," Bill said. "Remember, the name on the drawing?"

"Waters, yes!" Mag said. "I'd forgotten that, but that's her name. I didn't know her first name was Vivian. Doesn't quite suit her, but I suppose she could grow into it."

Tonks frowned. "Why does she know about this already?"

"Oh, she follows Lupin around like his own little shadow. It's cute, actually. Though he doesn't think so." Mag laughed. "Like every little girl doesn't find some grown-up man to moon about over."

"No pun intended?" Bill asked, grinning.

"Ha! No. No pun intended. And she could do worse than Lupin. Shows fine taste, in my opinion."

Tonks blushed, remembering her own days as Remus's "own little shadow." Did he think of that as well, when little scarred Vivian looked up at him? She hoped not. "So," she said, "Vivian was following him and overheard something."

Mag nodded. "You couldn't get both of them out, could you? Sweet's a good girl, and if Greyback finds out she's keeping things from him--"

"We're going to get them all out," Tonks said flatly. "Every last one of them." She stood and went to the window, looking out of the diamond-segmented panes at the eaves of the forest. Was Remus walking about in that darkness? Was the little girl following along at his heels? "Mag, I'm going to ask you a question which may seem odd."

"All right."

"In the forest... have you ever seen a gate? It's not part of a wall, just standing on its own--"

Mag was nodding vigorously. "Right. The clearing gate. Hope you don't plan to use that, though--it doesn't do a damned thing when we're human, and when we're turned, it throws us halfway to the lake."

"I know how to fix that," Tonks said. She'd expected to have to search for the gate, but it was there. Right there. They knew it already. "We just need them to go through it turned, and without Greyback or anyone trying to stop them..."

Mag laughed. "Oh, there's a plan. And just who's going to drive a pack of turned werewolves where you want them to be? Are you going to do it, Sister?"

"I don't know yet. We'll need to know where Greyback is, of course. And... well, I can control werewolves. Perhaps Wolfsbane Potion that month, to help them control--"

"Oh, no. The stink of that damnable poison would be on them for days."

"All right, then I'd have to use something a bit less subtle," Tonks mused. "There are... well, I could prod them along. Or... well, I could be bait. And Apparate away..."

Mag looked at Bill. "Has she always been mad?"

"Can you take me there?" Tonks asked. "I just need to see it."

"No," Bill told Mag. "This is a whole new level of madness for her." He took Tonks by the elbow and led her to the corner of the room, waving his wand to cause a buzzing in the air. "Have you lost your mind?" he asked. "You can't go into the forest."

"Do you have a better idea to know what's there? I'm going to have to go eventually, and stay long enough to do the spell, and then get the children through. It'll go a lot better if I have some idea what's there."

Bill cursed under his breath. "All right," he said. He broke the spell.

Mag had stood up and was watching them guardedly. "I'll take you, Sister. Your friend will need to stay behind. It's in the women's place."

"All right, then."

"Wait!" Father Montgomery said as they headed for the door. He pulled a burlap sack from his desk and started scavenging through a cardboard box in the back corner. Scarves and mittens and dolls flew through the air. "I was going to give these to Mag anyway," he said, "but if you carry them--if anyone asks, you're just on an errand for Mother Church." He thrust the bag into Tonks's hands.

"Thank you," she said.

"And you should morph," Bill said. "Now. Whether it hurts or not."

Mag frowned. "What does that mean?"

"Hold this," Tonks said, and drew in a sharp breath. She concentrated as hard as she could and felt the flesh in her face begin to ripple. It was working--she knew, because she heard Mag gasp--and she forced her cheekbones up to a severe angle, her nose into a scimitar. She aged her skin and changed the color of her eyes. Her head felt like it was on fire, and she had to keep her jaw clenched to keep from panting. She took back the sack and opened her eyes. "Let's go," she said.

Mag, looking terrified, led her out.
20 comments or Leave a comment
From: bklyngrl77 Date: May 5th, 2006 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)
eek! I don't want Tonks to get reckless, dammit! Re-reading Shifts made me remember how damn cute and happy Remus and Dora were at the end...what a depressing year they are having.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. I've been collecting up some of the happier stories of later that I did for R/T. Maybe I'll expand some of those, just for the cheerful factor.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 5th, 2006 09:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad I know Tonks doesn't get bitten!

harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: May 5th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it's a big relief to know that, because otherwise I'd be out of my mind with worry. Great installment!
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: May 5th, 2006 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, really... but she could still come close, and that's still not good....
roga From: roga Date: May 5th, 2006 10:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Mag looked at Bill. "Has she always been mad?"

Hee! Wonderful.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Someone had to say it, and Mag's plain-spoken, if nothing else!
sophonax From: sophonax Date: May 5th, 2006 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)
"Oh, she follows Lupin around like his own little shadow. It's cute, actually. Though he doesn't think so." Mag laughed. "Like every little girl doesn't find some grown-up man to moon about over."

"No pun intended?" Bill asked, grinning.

"Ha! No. No pun intended. And she could do worse than Lupin. Shows fine taste, in my opinion."


I really like what you're doing with Mag, and am still at the edge of my seat to worry what awful thing's going to happen next...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll try to deliver!
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: May 5th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Suspense, suspense... like everyone else, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything goes well.
"Mag, will answer something truthfully if I ask you?"
Maybe a typo you have to fix?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, yes. Found one in the next line, too.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: May 5th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love Tonks, even Reckless!Tonks because, um, that's her JOB!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, and she doesn't even think twice about it, and is annoyed that Bill is questioning her. <3 Tonks.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: May 5th, 2006 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never realized I'd missed the first part of this chapter until today, lol, so I got two installments instead of one. Yay me!

I am a little worried about Tonks going into the forest, I hope there are no unpleasant surprises. I also liked how you had Bill disguise their conversation with buzzing. Muffliato?

All right, then I'd have to use something a bit less subtle.

Perhaps you mean "more" instead of "less"?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
It can't be Muffliato proper, since that's an HBP spell, but who says another student didn't come up with something similar at a different point.

No, she meant "less" subtle--instead of altering their behavior, she's going to have to corral them with magical prods, more or less.
sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: May 5th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, talk about a cliff-hanger! I am trying to imagine how they could get werewolves through the gate without using someone as bait, because Remus will have kittens when he hears Tonks's plan. And what Mag tells Tonks about Remus is great set-up for when she visits Dumbledore later on.

I like the way you've characterized Mag, btw. Her dual loyalty to Greyback and desire to help the children is really interesting and believable.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2006 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, this could well make Remus lose his temper. ;)

I'm trying to figure out the mechanics of what they'll do, though I know when they're going to do it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 9th, 2006 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)


I'm more worried about Lupin than Tonks. Greyback is going to SMELL that Tonks has been around, and he's going to take it out on Lupin!!! Clearly, they both make it through HBP alive, but this is really playing with fire.

Sara Libby
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 11th, 2006 10:18 am (UTC) (Link)


i loved it though. you write better and better every day, can't wait to read more
dalf From: dalf Date: September 4th, 2006 11:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor wonderful Mag! I hope she gets saved in the end too! Though I suspect it is mroe likely that she will die in the strugle to free the children. She does seem to "win" the womens fights so if Greback shows up and she takes him on ..... or perhaps I am being paranoied.
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