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Shades, Chapter 29: The Poison Well, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 29: The Poison Well, pt. 1
Phew. Made it through February's full moon. Remus is still being difficult, and Tonks has finally flung the ball back into his court and told him that he knows where she stands, and the next move is up to him. Meanwhile, Tonks is still working on the problem of rescuing the pups, and they are both on guard duty at the school when Dumbledore is away (though he's back at the moment).

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Dawlish was glancing disintereredly at a bit of parchment when Tonks came down to the pub for the breakfast report.

"Dumbledore," Dawlish grumbled, wrinkling his nose and tossing the parchment over to her. "Cancelled the Hogsmeade visit from the school on the first. Reckons we can't keep an eye on children."

"There are only four of us," Tonks pointed out. "And weren't you the one going on about not going through Auror training just to mind recalcitrant children?"

Dawlish wasn't appreciative, and snatched the parchment away before she finished reading it.

Proudfoot and Savage grumped down the stairs a moment later and Dawlish called the briefing to some kind of cranky order. "Disappearances," he said. "They've picked up again in the south, though we've had nothing up here."

"Any pattern?" Savage asked.

"Not really. About half have children at Hogwarts, but none of the students we'd expect this sort of thing for. No one who's normally... oh, I suppose I'll say chosen."

Tonks didn't take the bait. "How many showed signs of a struggle?"

Dawlish check the list. "Looks like quite a few."

"Which didn't?"

"There's a Donovan Quirke," he said. "Just vanished one day. And Eliza Chambers." He shrugged. "The rest are more or less normal disappearances."

Proudfoot shifted uncomfortably. "Does it bother anyone else that we have such a thing a 'normal disappearance'?"

No one answered, though even Dawlish looked awkward. "We should keep our ears to the ground here," he said, "but I don't think we'll see another round of disappearances in Hogsmeade. Call it a gut instinct." Dawlish looked around the table. "Well, Savage, Proudfoot, I've nothing special for you today. Why don't you pop up to the Edinburgh offices and see if you can help with a few of their missings."

"And me?" Tonks asked.

"There's been someone skulking at Zonko's," Dawlish said. "You and I are going to have a look."


"The neighbors saw lights in the windows last night, and the owners are still off with their German cousins."

Tonks finished her breakfast without speaking, then followed Dawlish out of the pub. He stopped in the middle of the street and looked up at the Shrieking Shack. "I don't like that place getting active again all of the sudden either. I've seen you head up that way. Do you have anything you'd like to share?"


Dawlish curled his lip in dislike, then bent against the cold, late February rain and headed for Zonko's. Tonks caught up with him at the boarded window, where he was peering between slats of wood. "I don't see anything," he said. "You have a look."

Tonks stepped up. The inside of Zonko's, a place where she had made many fond memories, was barren and dusty. A rat was chewing something in a far corner. She pointed her wand at it and did a Stunning Spell, then--just to be sure--a reversal for the Animagus spell. The rat stubbornly remained a rat. It also seemed to have all four paws firmly attached to its little legs.

"Here, try this," someone said behind her, and she had time to notice two heads of bright red hair before the stocky boys were crouched at the next window. "Lumos amplusos!" A flash of light began at the crack between the boards, and filled up the room with a flash like lightning, lingering for a moment or two and revealing the whole room to be empty.

Fred Weasley stood up with a grin. "I've been working on that since first year. Lumos never was any good for getting a look at something big."

Behind him George stood and waved. "Wotcher, Tonks," he said. "What are you looking for?"

"It's Auror's business," Dawlish snapped.

Tonks rolled her eyes. "Were you, by any chance, doing that spell here last night?"

"Yeah," Fred said. "We got in pretty late--"

"--we had to finish up at the shop--"

"--the other shop--"

"--so it was after dark--"

"--and we couldn't find anyone to let us in, so we had a peek. Why?"

"It's a boarded up building," Dawlish said. "You've no business here, and the neighbors had an idea that someone who oughtn't be here had holed up in it." He looked at the twins suspiciously, as if they might develop Dark Marks at any moment, and confess to hiding all of the missing persons in the cellar of Zonko's.

"Oh," George said. "We didn't think of that. We were just thinking that we might like to buy the place, open up a second store. Reckoned we might get a feel for things this weekend, when the school comes up here."

"Well, the owners are abroad, and the Hogwarts students will remain on the grounds," Dawlish said loftily, "so you'd do as well to leave."

"I always knew we'd be banned from the entire village someday," Fred said. "It's like a dream come true."

"You're not banned from the village," Dawlish said, though he sounded like he regretted that.

"Oh, good," Fred said. "In that case, we'll just leave Verity in charge for a few days--"

"--fine girl, she can handle it--"

"--you ought to know... and surprise Ron for his birthday. Can we take you to dinner later, Tonks?"

"Meet me at the Hog's Head at seven," she said.

"If you're quite finished arranging your social calendar," Dawlish interrupted, "perhaps we can go about the business of investigating this report?" He pointed at Zonko's.

"I thought we'd established that--"

"Pardon me if I'd prefer a thorough investigation... without civilian assistance."

Tonks gave the twins an awkward smile; they took the hint and disappeared back to wherever they'd come from.

Dawlish, meanwhile, was reversing the various detection spells they'd put on Zonko's earlier in the year, muttering about their uselessness and vowing to have much stronger ones up soon. He finished the last one, then pointed his wand at the boarded up door. The boards obligingly turned down, and the door opened up.

Tonks and Dawlish went inside.

The door shut, and Dawlish rounded on her. "I don't care how superior you people think you are," he said. "You do not share details of an investigation with a pair of blabbermouth teenagers."

"It was hardly details, and they were the one who were responsible for what we were investigating. What's a better way to get details than asking someone who was there?"

"And of course, you can believe them."

Tonks held her tongue.

"I've looked into all of you people. Those two have disciplinary records long enough to line a Quidditch pitch. And they do business with some shady people. I'll tell you another thing--I doubt all of the ingredients in their novelty sweets are entirely legal. I've had half a mind to go and investigate, but--"

Tonks turned her back on him and started to throw detection spells around the main shop floor. There was no sign of habitation, and--

Her arm was grabbed roughly and she was spun around. She tripped over her own feet and slammed into the sales counter. Rubbing her elbow, she glared at Dawlish. "What the bloody hell--?"

"Don't you turn your back on me, you high-toned little tart. If we weren't short on good Aurors, I'd sack you in an instant, and I've half a mind to do it anyway." He wrinkled his nose. "I know your mother. She's so proud of not leaning on her family name, but what you do is hardly better, leaning on Dumbledore's good name." Dawlish let out a high-pitched laugh. "Dumbledore's good name," he repeated. "There's a laugh. A mad old man with a power fixation and--"

Tonks had her wand out already, from the detection spells, and it was pointed directly at Dawlish before she realized that she meant to do it. She held it stiffly, the point hovering between her supervisor's eyes. "That's it," she said. "I'll put up with a lot from you, because you're my boss, and because you're a good Auror. But I won't put up with being shoved about like a rag doll and insulted. Do you understand me? You laid your hands on me without my consent. Under the personal defense law, I could curse you 'til you bleed without my Auror's privileges."

"Fine. You curse me, too. That's the way you people operate when you have no real right to do anything." He wandered off, raving, and started to investigate the floor for modes of egress.

Tonks stayed at the ready, her wand pointed at him, waiting to see if he intended to attack again. When he seemed to have forgotten about her, she went back to her own investigation.

After they'd finished at Zonko's, Tonks gave herself an assignment up in the hills, and Dawlish let her go without another word. By the time she got back, he was back in his usual bad humor, and did not mention the incident in the joke shop. Tonks sat down to write a report to Robards--she could handle Dawlish herself, but Robards needed to know that one of his Aurors was acting highly irrational--but instead, picked up her quill and wrote, Dear Dad...

She'd just sent the letter off when the twins arrived for dinner.
12 comments or Leave a comment
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: July 21st, 2006 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Go ahead, Tonks, curse him into oblivion! Nothing permanent, of course, but I almost wish he were a completely original character so you could deal with him as he deserves. And I'm not surprised, with everything going on in her life, that Tonks reacted as she did. Lovely installment.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 21st, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've got the measure of Dawlish really well, there - it's so consistent with canon evidence! And I'm really pleased to see an instalment on the Tonks front.

This story is simply marvellous - I can't wait to read more about the werewolf children again!

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 21st, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
It wasn't till you described Dawlish as "acting highly irrational" that it clicked how bad this was. With what's going on, he could be heading towards a normal breakdown (almost as good as saying "normal disappearance"), or it could be something else. Physical attack on another Auror within limits that would allow her to curse him till doomsday, the sexual suggestions of calling her a tart, the irrational blast at the Blacks and at Dumbledore (not exactly connected material), and his response to Tonks talking with the Twins.

Either he's cracking under pressure and is demonizing the Order as a target he can get out, which he doesn't seem able to do with the Death Eaters, or somebody's messing with his mind. We do know there are potions that can make people less rational and probably spells as well.

And Madam Rosmerta is under Malfoy's control, and Malfoy is a fairly good hand at Potions, and it would be in Draco's interests to be drugging the man looking into the necklace and any other suspicious activities that could be traced back to him.

ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: July 21st, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope this doesn't sound silly, but I'm so relieved that she's finally writing to her parents (at least to her Dad).

You write them so well that sometimes it's difficult to remember that they're not real....
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 21st, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Fine. You curse me, too. That's the way you people operate when you have no real right to do anything."

Oh, now I get it. Dawlish is still pissed about Dumbledore's hexing, and he's taking it out on Tonks.

[feeling very dense today]

Good writing - I find it very hard to believe that this isn't what was going on during HBP.

Do you think it will be any easier to write the parallel story for HP7, presuming that Remus and Dora survive? You won't have to worry about the next book destroying yours.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 21st, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

who's sharing the details??

Hey Fern!
First, I just wanted to say that I'm loving Shades as much as all of your wonderful stories!! I haven't really been commenting, since my time is short and my connection slow, but I do manage to check in every few days and read. You are a genius of interpolation, as always--I enjoy your skill at making your story fit seamlessly with canon (and even the way you fill in some of the gaps that JKR left unexplained--like the Shrieking Shack/Whomping Willow question).

In this part, I was a little bothered by Dawlish's accusing her of sharing details of an investigation, when in fact all Tonks said during the entire conversation was, "Were you, by any chance, doing that spell here last night?"

Dawlish is the one who shares the information: "It's a boarded up building," Dawlish said. "You've no business here, and the neighbors had an idea that someone who oughtn't be here had holed up in it."

Now, don't get me wrong. Dawlish is clearly losing it in such a way that I can easily see him shifting criticism to her for something he did. But when Tonks responded "it was hardly details..." it seemed to me like an acknowledgement that she had in fact shared *something* with the twins--so much so that I went back and re-read the previous scene again just to make *sure* that it was Dawlish who was speaking.

For me it would have read more clearly if Tonks had at least thought to herself 'geez, this guy really *is* crazy if that's what he thinks just happened...' then merely remind him that questioning witnesses is a basic investigation technique. Or she could call him on it, but in my experience that would result in a sniping match that Tonks doesn't seem interested interested in.

My point is, she might have brown hair this year but she still has a spine, and for her to affirm his misrepresentation of the event struck me as more subordination than Tonks would ever allow herself.

As always, I can't wait for more Shades!!!

hymnia From: hymnia Date: July 23rd, 2006 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: who's sharing the details??

But when Tonks responded "it was hardly details..." it seemed to me like an acknowledgement that she had in fact shared *something* with the twins--so much so that I went back and re-read the previous scene again just to make *sure* that it was Dawlish who was speaking.

I thought the same thing. I read Tonks' reply, went, "Huh?", and went back to re-read. I think it would make more sense if she began her reply with something like, "I didn't tell them anything!" instead of "It was hardly details."

Good installment. I've never really seen myself as a twins fan, but for some reason it really warmed my heart to see them show up. I'm looking forward to reading about their dinner with Tonks.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 23rd, 2006 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: who's sharing the details??

Good point, both of you. Will tweak that. I think I'd honestly forgotten the course of the conversation by the time I wrote the follow-up!
_bowles_ From: _bowles_ Date: July 21st, 2006 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is Dawlish Imperio'd or something? Loved the twins scene - the twins are always fun to read.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: July 22nd, 2006 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Did you just write George/Verity?
Other than that, I loved how Tonks got the better of Dawlish. I hope Dumbledore gets to hex him again!
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 23rd, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought Dawlish was Imperio'd too, but his still smarting from Dumbledore's hex makes perfect sense.

Fern, I love your writing so much! Thanks for posting it.

From: _kneebiter Date: July 24th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Dawlish check the list. "Looks like quite a few."
Checked, surely?

He wandered off, raving, and started to investigate the floor for modes of egress.
Heh. This makes it sound like he went into full bore crackup mode then and there!
12 comments or Leave a comment