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The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 29: The Poison Well, pt. 3
Tonks got press-ganged into analyzing the poison that Ron drank on his birthday, and spent all day at it. She headed back to the Shrieking Shack through the tunnel, and when she came up, to her confusion, she found her parents waiting.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Mum smiled and put her arms around Tonks, making a contented sound, and Tonks tried to remember whether or not Mum had always been shorter than she was. She'd played around with her own height so often that she just wasn't sure. "What are you doing here?" she asked. "I mean, I'm so glad you're here, but..."

Dad came to her and hugged her. "Well, the letter sounded a bit troubling and--"

"I just sent that owl last night! He made it all the way to Asia?"

Dad looked confused. "You sent an owl? We came because Remus wrote to us. He--"

"Is that Dora?" Remus asked, coming down the stairs, looking as confused as anyone else. "Why are you coming up through the trapdoor?"

Tonks shook her head. For a moment, the shock of seeing her parents had chased everything else out. "Where are the twins?" she asked. "It's important."

Remus called up the stairs. "Fred! George!" He looked back. "They found a trick chair up in the attic; they've been trying to puzzle out the charms all day. What's happened?"

The twins thundered down the stairs. "Tonks!" Fred called. "It's good to--" He stopped. "What's wrong?"

"Ron was poisoned this morning."

"Poisoned!" Mum echoed.

"What?" George said. "This morning? Why didn't you--?"

"I got pulled into duty analyzing it, and Poppy didn't want anyone else there just then, either. He's going to be all right, but--"

"It's his birthday. We were going to sneak in through Honeydukes to see him!"

"You'd have had a time of it," Tonks said. "That tunnel's been sealed."

"They can use this one," Remus said.

Tonks shook her head. "No. Slughorn is going to meet us at the gate in a few minutes." She looked at her mother. "Or... Remus, would you...? It's no secret you're in Hogsmeade, just don't let people know you're here."

He nodded, and took the twins out the back, leaving Tonks with her parents for the first time in months.

"Remus wrote to you?" she asked after the silence had spun out too long. "Come into the parlor."

She led them into the parlor, and noticed them looking at it oddly. Neither of them commented. Dad sat down in Remus's chair and leaned forward with his elbows on his knees; Mum curled up at one end of the sofa, and Tonks took the other, sitting between them.

"What did Remus say that made you come back?"

"He said he was worried about you, of course," Mum said. There was a touch of acid in her voice.

"Mainly, he wanted to mend fences," Dad said, raising his eyebrow at Mum. "He's been our friend for a very long time."

"Hmph," Mum said.

Tonks shook her head. "Well, I'd appreciate it if you'd stop fuming at him, anyway. He's still my friend."

"So I see," Dad said, looking around the parlor with a distinctly amused glint in his eyes. "Nice portrait."

"He drew that last year," Tonks said.

Dad smiled awkwardly. "Why did you write?"

"I wanted your professional opinion," she said. "It's about Dawlish..." She told them about his increasingly erratic behavior, culminating in yesterday's utterly bizarre behavior at Zonko's. "Do you think he's under a curse, or drinking a potion? Or is it just... you know." She couldn't think of a word, and just repeated, "You know."

Dad sighed. "It's hard to say without a thorough examination. I'd want your mother to check for potions. But honestly? It sounds to me like he's just becoming frustrated, like all of you. And apparently, when he's frustrated, he becomes a bigger berk than usual."

"I'll hex him to the end of the earth for you," Mum offered.

Tonks smiled. "It's a tempting offer, but let's not, all right?" She looked between her parents. "So... is the Morphosia Fever outbreak over?"

"It seems contained," Mum said. "I think it was started deliberately. There's a lot of tension right now between different groups. Tamils, Sinhalese, every now and then India involves itself. There's growing faction in the magical community that just wants to wash its hands of all of it. They were the ones who got sick."

"Who do you think did it?"

"If you want a suspect, throw a dart at a map. All the factions hate them."

"Do you think Voldemort is involved?"

"No, Nymphadora. It's quite possible for magical communities to get themselves into trouble without Voldemort's help, and this trouble's been going on since long before Voldemort resurrected himself."

"Are you both well?"

"What a very formal question," Dad said.

"We're fine," Mum answered. "But you are still not morphing. That's what has Remus worried."

"Remus is tearing himself to shreds over things that aren't in any way his fault, and he's worrying because my hair is brown?"

"He said something quite similar in his letter," Mum said. "Reversed, of course--She's working herself to the bone and clearly still not feeling well, but she's spending time worried about me because I don't always finish dinner." Mum smiled. "The pair of you always were well-suited to one another."

"It's not just not finishing his dinner," Tonks grumped.

"And it's not just your hair," Dad pointed out.

"Have you been doing the Query Charm every day?" Mum asked. "Has there been any change?"

Tonks bit her lip. "I, er..."

"Stopped doing it? Honestly, Dora. You do understand that it's meant to help you?"

"It never showed anything."

Mum raised her wand and pointed at Tonks. "Exquiro corpus."

The odd light of the diagnostic spell played over Tonks, pooling here and there, making no particularly distinguishing patterns, fading away without showing the slightest hint of a change.

"Told you," she said. "Though it would have served you right, just doing it like that, if my body had gone through a fairly common change."

"Oh, right. After mooning about over Remus for several years, you'd suddenly decide, in the middle of a war, to take another lover."

"Well, no. But it would have served you right. My body, my business. We're not at St. Mungo's, Mum."

Mum frowned, then nodded. "You're right, Nymphadora. I'm sorry."

"I should have been doing the charm," Tonks said grudgingly.


The back door opened and Remus came in. "We haven't had dinner," he said. "I can put some things together..."

Dad looked at Mum. "Andi... why don't you help Remus?"

Mum went without argument, and Tonks sighed. That had clearly been a planned maneuver. "What is it, Dad?"

"First of all, give your Mum a break. We've all been apart for quite a while now, and you need to get used to one another again."

"But she--"

He held up his hand. "I want to know how you really are," he said. "Before I make any kind of peace with Remus Lupin, I want to know how you are."

Tonks glanced at the kitchen, where she could see Mum and Remus working together in tense silence. It was easy earshot. "Let's go out to the garden," she said, and led him through the kitchen and out the back door. She Conjured two large rocks, and they sat down on them. "Don't put this on Remus," she said.

Dad leaned forward. "All I know is that he hurt you."

"He's hurting himself more. He believes he can't ever have a real home. He believes he doesn't deserve one, and he thinks he's helping me. And honestly, Dad... Remus is just the last straw. It's everything. I can't seem to solve anything now, or get anything done. I just go through the motions. And that isn't Remus's fault."

Dad nodded uncertainly. "I understand that," he said. "I don't like it, but I understand it. Now, aside from Voldemort--who no one else has caught, either, I'll remind you--what's troubling you?"

Tonks launched into the story of the pups, and Vivian, and her strange, growing alliance to help them. "They all want to help," she said. "But I don't know what to do. I don't know where to start."

"Don't you?"

"Well, the gate. I have to activate the gate somehow. I have..." She wrinkled her nose. "I have the bones of a child. Regulus and Sirius's teeth. And the blood of a dark creature... I suppose I could ask young Alderman to cut himself before he changes. But the rest of the spell--I don't know, Dad. Maddie was able to find the ingredients, but it's a bit difficult to find explicit instructions on how to do a dark spell."

The back door opened, and Mum leaned out. "We've got something resembling a stew going, if anyone's hungry!"

Dad gave Tonks a significant look, which she didn't understand at first, then she remembered his voice, cheerfully going on during an autumn morning last year: Unlike Sirius, Andromeda learned a thing or two from her parents...

Tonks raised her eyes to her mother, who looked about as dangerous as a Pygmy Puff at the moment.

But that face was a mask.

Beneath it was a powerful witch who knew exactly the sort of magic Tonks needed to learn.
22 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2006 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, anyone might think that you had "Shades" planned already when you were still writing "Shifts" - it just fits together so well. It's hard to believe you really didn't have any more idea what was going to happen in book 6 than the rest of us. Are you sure you haven't been tapping into JKR's subconcious all this time?

I'm glad we got to meet Ted and Andromeda again - they are both just so normal, it's a relief after all the odd characters in the magical world. It was a nice blending of magical and muggle political issues in Sri Lanka.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are you sure you haven't been tapping into JKR's subconcious all this time?

I wish, I wish... then I'd know who she was planning to kill off, so that I could write future-fic without fear!
prelud From: prelud Date: July 27th, 2006 10:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Dark Witch!Andromeda. I cannot wait for more!

You have several tense dialogues in this segment and you handled them all so well. Brilliant as always!

I loved the Exquiro corpus moment. I love how worried mother Andromeda doesn`t realize that such diagnostic spell is an invasion of privacy, although it doesn`t require undressing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2006 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Parents and kids getting used to each other as equal adults is always a little weird.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 27th, 2006 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you go back and reread Shifts so that you tie the two together so well?

I've been wondering where this was going. I'm hooked.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you go back and reread Shifts so that you tie the two together so well?

If I remember something specific that could be useful, I go back and re-read for context, so I don't contradict myself. Mostly, though, after I read HBP, I just spent a few weeks trying to figure out how to retcon story elements, and that's what I usually think of wiht Shades. I lucked out; there aren't a vast number, unless you take Ron at his word that Tonks never knew Sirius very well, but that was easy retconning (why would Ron know?), so I just ignore it entirely.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never saw Ron as a reliable source of information on that one. How would he know after all? I thought it was probably just a comment to throw dust in our (Harry's) eyes about what was really going on. If, for example, McGonnagal had said it (it would obviously have to be a different context) I would have believed it, but not Ron - bless him!
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 27th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you, Ron's not a reliable source about Tonks and Sirius at all. If Tonks was at all involved with Remus during OOTP, then she'd know Sirius.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: July 28th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)

I agree, Ron had no real way of knowing. Plus, you could simply look at it as... Tonks never knew him outside of being a kid, and admiring him, until OoTP. Or something.

Plus, if you spend your whole time making sure a fic is 100% canon, it loses it's fun. I prefer close to canon, but at some point, speculation has to come into play, as well as things that could possibly contradict it. (Heck, look at original characters - those are definitely not canon! ;))
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 29th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Ron was right and knew because Tonks has been talking about her family in the Weasleys home. she was willing to tell Harry things about her parents when we meet her in OoP. What is surprising is that, after the talk with Sirius around the tapestry, Harry never had curiosity to talk about Tonks' family with his friends or Molly or Lupin.

I can't imagine Bellatrix being evil since craddle, less since the introduction of her head of house, who by the way is the same than Andromeda's. As I can't imagine Andromeda being totally different from her sisters since birth, like an alien left at their door.

Plus, there is some very interesting discussion in FA about the meaning of the names. Notice that Bellatrix translates literally from latin into female warrior (or amazon), whilst Andromeda translates from greek into "the ruler of the men" in direct reference not to the chained princess, but Hyppolite, the warrior queen whose belt was stolen by Heracles (so, it refers as well to an amazon). Curoius, isn't it?

Anyway, it's always nice to read something well written.

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 29th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's also JKR's comment that she based the 3 Black sisters on 3 of the Mitford girls. Whilst not ignoring the meaning of the names, that does give a different view to interpreting their characters. I still wouldn't necessarily take Ron's comment at fase value. I think he believes it but he is not very observant and I doubr he has been particualarly interested.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 30th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it does strike me that Ron is meant to be right, and if I were starting fresh, I wouldn't have Tonks know Sirius as a child. However, fanfictionally, the only thing that matters is a reasonably believable retcon, and in this case, just saying, "Well, Ron didn't know" works fine, unless JKR addresses it again in book 7.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was wonderful as always!

I'm so glad that Ted and Andromeda are back. I'm reminded of Ted's somewhat cryptic revelation some months back that Remus had been a patient of his ... I would love for Ted to have a serious talk with Remus, but I suppose the conflict of interest has grown a bit too large for that to work at this point. Although, where his daughter is concerned, perhaps Ted is willing to waive the protocol. (Andromeda certainly didn't have any problem with that!)

Can't wait for the next installment!

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2006 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful as always.

I've been one of the people saying I wish someone would hit Remus with a brick, etc. But, now that Dora's mom seems very on the verge of doing that, I can just imagine his reaction.

"Oh, Dora's mum hit me with a brick. Oh, I deserved that. I've just no good for Dora. I deserve to be hit with a brick, with lots of bricks. Maybe I should go find her some more bricks to hit me with. Wait, how can I be so self-centered? Dora's mum has a busy life and shouldn't be wasting any time on me. I'll go and hit myself with bricks. It's the only right thing to do. Besides, I can make sure they REALLY hurt . . . ."

From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG, so accurate. ;)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I love that Ted and Andromeda are back because of Remus writing! And just in time, too. It's amazing how you manage to weave your plot together so adeptly, such that one detail from aeons ago comes in useful now!

Well done, and keep up the good work! I'll certainly be eagerly awaiting it!

nundu_art From: nundu_art Date: July 27th, 2006 04:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sigh* You know these updates don't come nearly often enough for me! Maybe one an hour would keep me satisfied? :P

Wonderful as always. Your dialogue is so natural and comfortable to read. Your characterisations are perfect and your words draw the picture of the scene in my eye. Speaking of scenes, I am tempted to reproduce Lupin's sketch of the attack. Would you mind?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never, ever mind. :D

marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: July 28th, 2006 01:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Shades updates are the high point of my flist reading. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 28th, 2006 10:29 am (UTC) (Link)

I can't wait for the next installments...!

I love the way the last couple of installments have been arcing back to HBP. The way you write seems the only plausible way things could have been going outside of the Harry verse. As I was reading the last installment were Dawlish grabs Tonks I just pictured if Fred and George just happened to see. I imagined them swooping in and teaching him a lesson. But I was glad to see Tonks giving him a sound verbal lashing and a firm warning that if there is a next time she would not hesitate to curse him into a pile of goo!

I also love the interplay with Poppy and Slughorn...and Tonks being pulled into service to assist and her catching Sluggy's eye. Maybe another "Black" to collect? Maybe now Tonks can get the supplies she needs to put together the Wolfsbane for Remus? I hope so...it might make things better again. Maybe put and end to the nightmares? Although I have a feeling that Remus may try to "help" by challenging Grayback just long enough to distract from the pups.

"Are you both well?"

"What a very formal question," Dad said.

"We're fine," Mum answered. "But you are still not morphing. That's what has Remus worried."

"Remus is tearing himself to shreds over things that aren't in any way his fault, and he's worrying because my hair is brown?"

"He said something quite similar in his letter," Mum said. "Reversed, of course--She's working herself to the bone and clearly still not feeling well, but she's spending time worried about me because I don't always finish dinner." Mum smiled. "The pair of you always were well-suited to one another."

"It's not just not finishing his dinner," Tonks grumped.

"And it's not just your hair," Dad pointed out.

I love this part most there is so much in just these few sentences. Tonks trying to act like there is no problem and trying to have a "normal" conversation. And both of her parents pulling her back to why they are there. I like the interplay with Andromeda saying why Remus was worried and Tonks throwing back that her "little brown hair" problem is nothing compared to what Remus is going thru. And the best ever...Andi in the end saying that they were always well suited to each other. That even though Andromeda is obviously still angry with Remus she still allows herself to see that Remus and Tonks belong together. The whole thing being rounded out by Tonks saying what I imagine is quite petulantly that it is not just him not finishing eating and Ted throwing back that it is not just her hair either.

How else can I say it I love the way you write the characters. It makes the most sense that Remus wrote to Tonks' parents even though he might get a severe talking to from them about how much he hurt Dora and threats to curse him senseless if he ever does it again. I also like that Tonks may learn that her "Black" heritage and the knowledge that it represents should be learned, not shunned, and put to better use.

Thank you again for all your writing efforts. I can't wait for the next installment.

(Deleted comment)
22 comments or Leave a comment