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Shades, Chapter 34: Exquiro Corpus, part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 34: Exquiro Corpus, part 2
Yes, I'm pushing to the end now--a couple of months, maybe eight chapters. I'd like to be done before NaNo this year, and take a break from fanfic for a month to write something original. So Shades needs to get done. Also, I'd like to know what happens next!

Anyway, in the aftermath of an unexpectedly close encounter, Remus and Tonks are both a little distracted as they follow up on the rescue of the pups. Tonks does the Query Charm her mother taught her twice, and it shows nothing in particular. Meanwhile, the young werewolf everyone had thought was a Muggle did accidental magic, and people other than Remus and Tonks are starting to ask questions about the level of coincidence required for Greyback to have chosen a Muggle-born wizard at random. Dumbledore suspects that someone saw the Hogwarts list.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Tonks did the Query Charm faithfully twice each day, upon waking and before going to sleep. Nothing changed.

A bit more than a week after the got back from France, the Weasley twins invited everyone to their shop in London for what they billed as "a double-sized birthday party." Tonks was glad to have missed the daytime segment of it, which had turned out to be a massive sale on joke merchandise, which their parents and brothers (Charlie had taken time for it), along with Mad-Eye, Remus, and Fleur, were pressed into working at. By the time Tonks got there after work, Molly had set several cleaning spells in motion, and the party was getting into swing around twirling mops and flying sponges. Remus was brooding in the back of the shop, and Tonks greeted him with a brief motion of her hand that resembled a wave. He nodded back to her. She went to another corner.

Fred was dancing with a pretty girl in braids, and George was perched on a table beside the punch bowl with their shop assistant, a lovely but harried-looking girl named Verity. When the song ended, George clapped his hands, and Verity produced a very large wrapped package from under the table. Fred came over, and he and George carried it solemnly over to Molly.

"Fred and I have been talking," George started.

"And we've got to thinking," Fred added.

"That Mum really did all the work on our birthday--"

"--especially since there were two of us at the same time--"

"--and we reckoned maybe we ought to get her a present."

Molly laughed. "Oh, heavens, you don't have to do that." But she was eyeing the package curiously.

"But we invented it just for you! You'll be the first to try it out."

Molly's curiosity got the better of her, and she opened her present. The box showed a woman in a sunhat and bathing clothes sipping a bluish drink on a sunny beach. Behind her, hidden behind what looked like gauze, was a kitchen full of dishes.

"It's a holiday-in-a-box," George announced. "Same principle as the swamp we made at Hogwarts last year--"

"--bit more pleasant though--"

"--guaranteed to get you off your feet and out in the sun--"

"--even when we can't get you away from your mops," Fred finished.

Molly laughed. "Will I be able to take your dad with me?"

"Take whoever you'd like," Fred said. "But I don't want to know."

The twins' own presents came next. Molly had made them new cloths for all the display tables, each edged with the shop's name, with animated fireworks at the corners. Remus had given them a list of Marauders' pranks which he promised to teach them later, in secret. Bill had made a point of giving them separate gifts (tickets to a Weird Sisters concert for Fred and, for some reason that all of them were laughing over, a book about dealing with Muggles for George). Tonks had forgotten their birthday until the last minute and settled on a huge hamper of sweets from Honeydukes.

After presents, they started up the music again. Tonks wandered around the edge of the cleared-off dance floor, and backed into someone near the front door. Even if her skin hadn't started to tingle, the fact that the someone in question froze entirely was enough to tell her that it was Remus. She turned and looked at him, lowering her eyes as soon as she met his. "'Lo, Remus."

She chanced a glance up. His eyes were full of any number of things, none of which seemed ready to escape through his mouth.

"I--" he began hopefully, then shook his head in a frustrated way.

Tonks touched his arm and remembered how surprisingly smooth his skin was under his rough-woven robes. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard, then took her hand and moved it away. He didn't let go. "You stay," she said. "I have to work in the morning."

"No," he said. "I don't want it to be like this."

"It'll be what it is," Tonks said. She squeezed his fingers. "It has to get better, doesn't it?" She slipped away, went out to the street, and Apparated back to Hogsmeade. She tried to catch up on her paperwork--the Dementors were starting to get active again now that spring was here, and there'd been several attacks near Glasgow that she'd been called in on for some presumed expertise in the area--but there was a party going on downstairs and she couldn't concentrate.

Oh, who are you kidding? You know perfectly well why you can't concentrate.

Of course it was true.

She packed her paperwork into a satchel and went to the Shrieking Shack. She needed to talk to Remus.

When she got into the garden, she could see that the windows were still dark. The clammy, cool night felt right to her, so she decided to wait for him here. She perched on a rock and drew her knees up, forming a warm little ball. Out of habit, she drew her wand and said, "Exquiro corpus."

The light flashed and pulsed, pooling here and there around the aches and pains of a damp evening, but showing nothing.


She blinked. The light from the spell was on her face, dazzling her vision. Remus seemed to be stepping out of a glowing nimbus.

"I wanted to talk," she said.

The lights faded. Remus was looking at her, wide-eyed. "That's... the Query Charm, it..."

She smiled wearily. "I'm not pregnant," she said. "I keep checking. Like it's suddenly going to change."

"That's good," Remus said. "I mean... I mean, that's good, Dora. I can't think of a worse time for it to have been... well, different."

"I know." She blinked rapidly. "I keep telling myself that it's good. But I also keep hoping. I'm so stupid."

"No." Remus put his arms around her and held her more tightly than he had since their afternoon together. "Oh, God, Dora. No."

She clung to him. "You were right. We shouldn't have done what we did. My head is so bad, Remus. I keep seeing children, and they keep disappearing. And I think sometimes that it would be good, that you'd have to come back to me, but that's awful. It's wrong."

"I've thought about it, too," he said. "It would be very easy, wouldn't it? Not our fault at all. We'd just have to indulge ourselves and pretend nothing was wrong, and go back to the way things were. After all, there'd be a baby to think about." He let go of her, and his mouth curled in a bitter smile. "Oddly, in those pretty little fantasies, I forget that I couldn't even provide a child with shoelaces, let alone shoes. Or food."


"I have nothing a child would need."

"Tell that to Vivian, or Evvie, or Alderman. Or Harry."

"Yes, let's talk about Harry, shall we? I ran off on him as well."

Tonks shivered in a sudden chill. "Ran off? Would you have run off on me?"

"Dora, it's all moot, there's no reason to--"

She stood up. "You're a bloody coward, Remus Lupin. I don't care how many battles you rush into. You're a bloody coward when it counts."

He nodded. "Yes. It's true."

Tonks gritted her teeth in frustration. "You're very difficult to yell at. You just agree. Can't you at least get self-righteous or something?"

"I don't know what you want from me."

"I want you to stop being an ass and come home to me." She rubbed a spot in the middle of her forehead where it felt like a huge vein was throbbing, then sat back down with a sigh. "A part of me thinks I really should let go. That I'm pushing something and you're just either too scared or too polite to tell me that you don't want it. But I can't help... after the other day, especially... it is what you want. I can feel that coming from you every time I touch you."

"It is what I want," he admitted quietly. "But what I want and what I can have are different things. My life... it's not meant to be shared. I wouldn't wish my life on anyone, least of all someone I love."


"No, listen to me, Dora. For once, stop being a headstrong little girl and listen to me."

She closed her eyes. "All right."

"I've thought of nothing but you this week. The smell of you, the feel of you. I've drawn you about twenty times and burnt them all because I don't want anyone else to stumble over what I've drawn. I love you. I've never... I haven't been in love with anyone else, and maybe I'm doing everything wrong, but I want to do one thing right. I want to do things right for you, instead of just doing what's convenient for me. On one side of the coin, I'm too old for you. I have nothing to give you. And as long as you're close to me, you're on the edges of Fenrir Greyback's circle. On the other side... what? I can't even claim to make you happy." He stroked her brown hair. "I want to see you have everything, Dora. I'd be happy to spoil your children as rotten as I can on no money, but--"

"I don't want children in the abstract," she said, and stood up. "Good night, Remus."

She left him sitting in the garden, looking lost and (truth to be told) a bit petulant. She went back to the Hog's Head and took a sleeping draught. She dreamed shapelessly of empty cribs and fading, high-pitched ghost voices echoing up a deserted staircase. She woke up sometime after three and caught a glimpse of the empty basket where Granny had slept until she'd gone to live in the Shrieking Shack with Remus.

She rolled over and looked at the wall until it was time to get up for the day.
41 comments or Leave a comment
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dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: September 3rd, 2006 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhh, angst! You know, I think Remus and Dora don't have enough angst in this story. Maybe you could have them worry a bit about where their relationship is going, don't you think? ;-)
Splendid installment. I loved Fred and George's birthday.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Maybe you could have them worry a bit about where their relationship is going, don't you think? ;-)

Yeah, it's canonically mandated. I think I'm only at 999,999 times so far. ;P
From: doctorwhohp Date: September 3rd, 2006 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)
As great as usual, but I didn't expect anything else, I'm lucky I decided to check LJ one more time before I went to bed (2:41 AM now), I'm so glad I did.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Greetings, fellow insomniac. ;) Glad to be of service.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: September 3rd, 2006 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I reaallllly miss Shifts fluffiness....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Me, too!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: September 3rd, 2006 02:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Aargh - Remus is in dire need of some perspective here - not to mention a Dumbledore-style speech about choices and who gets to make them, but Tonks just isn't coming up with the right arguments, is she?

The silly man would learn some things about making people happy if he'd just let go of his self-righteousness for a little while... and Tonks is really going to have to do some more focused thinking about wanting both a Lycanthrope and children: because there are some real issues there that she's apparently ignoring right now.

I still want to shake them both :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I think she's aware of the issues of lycanthropy (though she's not at all thinking about the actual financial situation that they'd be in--she can't very well work in the field, and he'll most likely never be able to work at all), just not really taking Remus's own fears with any degree of seriousness.
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:25 am (UTC) (Link)
It's sad to see Remus' own stubborness and refusal to listen rubbing off on Tonks - there really are some issues, but he's thinking too far ahead, and, in return, she's refusing to think ahead at all. This whole chapter, though, has made it very clear that he does want to be with her - it's not something she's pushing on him - but their shared want is actually pushing them further and futher apart.

This is excellent, complex character-driven writing (quite apart from the wonderful plots!) and something I'd love to see more of in profic, let alone fanfic.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
he's thinking too far ahead, and, in return, she's refusing to think ahead at all.

That sums it up pretty well. If she'd make some effort to address the issues instead of just dismissing them, he might be less likely to think that she doesn't really understand.
miseri From: miseri Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, NaNoWriMo! Yay! This year will be my fourth time at it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
It'll be my third try. The other two have fizzled out, but in both cases, I was writing them at the same time as fanfics that I was more "into." So hopefully, if I finish Shades and don't start a new fic, I'll have a better shot.
From: tunxeh Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
It's feeling a little like those days when you had the HBP release forcing you to push on Shifts, and we were treated to updates every night. Anyway, I liked this: the cameraderie of the party, the angst of feeling she had to leave because Remus had arrived, finally saying so explicitly how they feel about each other and it still not being enough to get either of them past their stubborn blocks. And as you say above, a million times is canon. So good update.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I have to give them something else to do for awhile, though. This is about the limit on how many times we can see the actual conversation without me going crazy. ;)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
A bit more than a week after the got back to France,

They got back from France, perhaps?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah, I decided to move Hogsmeade. In my interpretation, Scotland is a part of France, somewhere in the south, and the south of France is in the U.K.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, Remus did get that really nifty gift from Dumbledore for Christmas. Between that and the fact that he did learn a few tricks from Greyback on how to make the transformation less painful (and the wolfsbane potion, which Dora won't have to hide making anymore), he should be able to handle a teaching job in the Muggle world. Given what teachers earn, they'll still need another income, but it will take some of the pressure off Dora if she has to make career vs children choices.

I was actually a bit glad that she walked off and left Remus flat footed. If he doesn't get a chance to voice his rationalizations for acting like an idiot, the light may dawn and he'll have to notice he is acting like an idiot.

Although I doubly wish Sirius was still around. He'd have just sniggered and said, "You deserved that mate, and about time, too."

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 3rd, 2006 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
On the off chance that Remus would have behaved this badly with Sirius around anyway, I think that Sirius would have decked him sometime in September and have been abusing him ever since, if he didn't give up this silliness.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
buckbeakbabie From: buckbeakbabie Date: September 3rd, 2006 10:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus is so frustrating! She can't even shout at him properly. Silly noble man.

I second the call for dream-Sirius to give Remus a kick.
From: oicrylic Date: September 3rd, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's exciting how you keep popping out chapters! So I guess we're getting close to the end of the Halfblood Prince? That'll be really exciting to see how you conjour how Remus gets some common sense into his head and realizes that even though he's not safe, neither is the world, and Dora can die in either situation. That's life.

But keep popping out chapters!
speshalmoi From: speshalmoi Date: September 3rd, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: September 3rd, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
She smiled wearily. "I'm not pregnant," she said. "I keep checking. Like it's suddenly going to change."

Oh lord, have I ever been in that place. Painful as all hell is a mild way of describing it.

Really, really good work Fern - I loved the twins' birthday party (damn, I wish that shop existed - I'd love a holiday-in-a-box :)).
From: lianna_blanca Date: September 3rd, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
What can I say? Great chapter. I think what I like most about your work in comparison to other fanfics is that the character 'angst' feels more realistic; true, you're not the first to write about Remus wailing over finances and the link, but so often it seems melodramatic and somewhat pathetic. I'd love to kick your Remus, but I have to admit that he's got some good points.

One thing - this line seemed a bit... well, jarring:
Of course it was true. (Just after Tonks scolds herself over concentration.)

And though I feel like this is a horrible thing to do to any writer, I'm with all those people above - seeing Sirius in a dream would be great. Of course, I'm sure you already have everything planned out, but I can dream, can't I?
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: September 4th, 2006 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've finally caught up! I have to thank you for providing the perfect reading for while knitting.

The whole thing's lovely, and any further attempt at articulation will probably consist of gibbering. :)
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