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Shades, Chapter 34: Exquiro Corpus, part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 34: Exquiro Corpus, part 3
Tonks and Remus are having something resembling a low-key fight because of their mutual stubbornness about how to view the relationship and its various problems. Tonks just turned her back and walked away when he tried to state his case yet again, and is a bit blue.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Days passed in a haze, the weather getting warmer and the Dementors getting more and more active. At the beginning of the second week in April, she found herself at a remote cottage in the highlands, kneeling in front of a slack-faced witch while Savage checked the other rooms for more victims.

"Can you hear me?" Tonks asked, waving her hand in front of the woman's face. "At all?" She broke off a piece of chocolate and placed it against the woman's lips. There was no acceptance of it.

Savage came blustering back in. "Place is empty, except for her. There's a ravine behind the house. Probably a good breeding area."

Tonks brushed the woman's hair out of her face. "I think they've done all the damage they can do here," she said. "Let's get her to St. Mungo's. They can see to it that she eats. Did you find out who she is?"

"Edeline Gamp," he said, dropping the morning's post onto the table. It consisted of the Prophet, some advertisements, and the month's Quibbler. No sign of a family. Aren't the Gamps related to the Blacks somehow?" Savage looked at Tonks expectantly.

She shook her head. "I think everyone is. Nothing close. And there are no more Blacks."

"Sorry. Just thought you might know of some family."

She shook her head. "We'll get her to St. Mungo's. Then we can check her records at the Ministry."

Savage nodded, and between them, they got Edeline Gamp tightly bundled and Apparated to the emergency entrance at St. Mungo's. Mum was working there; she did a quick but efficient exam, then stood up, shaking her head. "It's too late," she said. "She's been Kissed."

"I guessed as much," Tonks said. "But we had to try."

"She's the second today," Mum said.

Savage touched Tonks's shoulder. "I'll get her records," he said. "Why don't you find out about the other one?"

She nodded gratefully and turned back to Mum. "The other one?"

Mum gave a resigned sort of sigh. "Dover," she said. "Half-blood, works for the Ministry. No connection to yours. You'd think Dementors would prefer the cold weather."

"Well, I--"

"Healer Tonks!"

Mum held up her hand and turned to the apprentice who was running down the corridor toward her. The girl's long, curly hair was in complete disarray.

"What is it, Penelope?" Mum asked.

"Katie Bell! It's Katie Bell! She's woken up!"

Mum's eyes widened. "Dora, get a message to Robards; he wanted to know as soon as she opened her eyes."

"I'll want to talk to her."

"After we see to her."

Tonks nodded and watched Mum and the apprentice hurry off, then got a quick message off to Robards. By the time she finished, she realized that she had no idea where Mum had gone off to, and it took nearly five minutes to convince the desultory aide at the information desk that she was an Auror and had a need to find Katie Bell's bed, which turned out to be on the Spell Damage ward (which, Tonks supposed, she should have guessed). Mum and the apprentice Penelope were standing near a bed at the end of the ward, doing various diagnostic spells on a girl who looked a great deal younger than her seventeen years right now. Tonks stood back.

Mum turned to the apprentice. "Penelope, contact Mr. and Mrs. Bell. I'm sure they'll want to come right away."

"Are they gone?" Katie asked, looking troubled. "They've left?"

Mum smiled gently. "Sweetheart, you've been here quite a long time. Do you know how long you've been asleep?"

Katie shook her head, looking scared.

"It's April."

"April!" Katie put her hand on her forehead. "I've missed everything! I've missed my last Quidditch game!"

Tonks stifled an unexpected laugh.

Mum glanced over her shoulder, then looked back at Katie. "The Aurors will want to talk to you. Do you feel up to it?"

"May I wait for my parents?"

"They'll leave you alone until your parents get here," Mum promised, and when Robards arrived five minutes later, he was quite put out to discover that she meant it.

"I think we should press the issue," he hissed.

"This is St. Mungo's," Tonks said. "And she's a Healer. Here, she outranks us."

"Rufus might have something to say about that."

"Mum would turn around and tell him to go Transfigure impolite bits of himself, then go right back to doing what she thinks is right."

The Bells arrived in a storm of excitement and would not let anyone else talk to Katie for an hour, though they didn't prevent Tonks and Robards from hovering. Katie had no memories of whoever had attacked her--in fact, her memory stopped before the eyewitness reports started, and in the end, Tonks was answering her questions, instead of questioning her. It was nearly seven o'clock when Mum announced that Katie had had quite enough excitement for one day, and had Penelope escort them out.

"Nothing!" Robards fumed. "Dammit. I'd hoped that as soon as she came to, we'd know. Have you had any sign of the security leak in Hogsmeade?" He shook his head. "Come back to the office. I've been getting reports from Dawlish, and he's thorough, but I'd like another view. I'd like to see if there's anything he hasn't noticed."

Tonks had planned to go over to the Shrieking Shack and have another non-conversation with Remus about the same things they'd been not-talking about for months, but she supposed it could be postponed. "All right. Can we stop on the way and pick up something to eat? I haven't eaten since breakfast."

Robards agreed, and they grabbed some curry and carried it back in warm boxes, which they opened on either side of his desk. Tonks related everything she'd seen as faithfully as she could (Order business excluded, though she told him when she was excluding it), and Robards listened with a deepening frown.

"It tallies with everything Dawlish has said. There's no one in Hogsmeade who seems at all suspicious. Except for Dawlish, if what you say about his little temper tantrum is true."

"He's under stress."

"You're all under stress."

"I mean, I don't think it makes him suspicious for this."

"Nor do I." Robards scratched his head. "I need to send more people there. You're all under too much stress."

"And you'll take people off of what? Guarding London against Dementor attacks? Looking for who kidnapped Florian Fortescue? Or who killed Emmeline Vance? There's something that we're not seeing, but I don't think--"

"No, you're right. Being in charge isn't particularly easy." He sighed and leaned back, looking vaguely over her head toward the office door, then blinked in surprise and sat back up. "Dumbledore?"

Tonks looked over her shoulder. Albus Dumbledore was standing in the office doorway, his hand poised to knock.

"Professor!" she said. "How long have you been here?"

"I just arrived, as Mr. Robards could tell you," he said gently. "Gawain, might I have a word?"

Robards nodded. "Tonks, if you don't mind..."

"No, Miss Tonks is welcome to stay. In fact, I'm rather glad to find her here."

"Please come in," Robards said. "I looked into... the matter you asked about."

"About young Mr. Blondin," Dumbledore clarified, looking at Tonks. "I asked Gawain to look into the lives of other Muggle-born wizards in his year. Do you have news?"

Robards nodded. "It's disturbing. There were seven Muggle-born wizards that year. The one you asked about, Blondin, disappeared--we assume it was a werewolf attack, from his mother's description--"

"It was," Dumbledore confirmed.

"Two are safely in their homes. Two of seven in that year. And they would have come later in the list alphabetically. It's as though someone was working his way down a list." He drew a sheet of parchment from his desk drawer. "Blondin... werewolf attack. A girl called Victoria Gold, died of what the Muggle examiner determined to be poisoning; given the general theme here, I suspect a potion. John Anders, permanently injured in a car accident--no known cause, but the father, who was driving, reported being suddenly unable to control the steering. Abdullah Assiz started raving about ghosts and demons, and his parents have put him into psychiatric care."

"That's only six," Tonks said. "Er, not that it's not enough, but you're missing one."

"Meredith Dunstable," Robards said. "Her parents reported a wild dog attack--again, I suspect a werewolf, though in this case, no one was bitten--then abruptly left the country three weeks later, with no explanation."

"Where did they go?" Dumbledore asked.

"The southwest United States. One of the few places known to have difficulty identifying Muggle-borns."

Dumbledore nodded, as though he'd expected nothing else. "I'll need to speak to the Dunstables, of course," he said. "With your permission, I should like to borrow Miss Tonks for two days. An Auror will help ease the way with local authorities."

Robards looked at her. "It's up to Tonks," he said. "I'll smooth things over with Dawlish in Hogsmeade."

Tonks nodded, but smiled tightly at Dumbledore, wondering how she was meant to arrange a guard during his absence if she was absent at the same time. "When are we going?" she asked.

"I haven't a lot of time to spare for this," Dumbledore said. "If you are willing, I'd like to leave now."
27 comments or Leave a comment
From: bangcollision Date: September 5th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I love the smooth transition back into Auror work! I'm also really excited about this whole subplot with muggle-borns and how it's going to come into play. Wonderful chapter!

One little thing:

"...and in the end, Tonks was answer her questions, instead of questioning her. "

I may be reading it wrong but would it not be "Tonks was answering"?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 5th, 2006 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep. Thanks!
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: September 5th, 2006 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay! They are coming over here! ^__^ I look forward to seeing how you imagine the SW wizarding world.
darreldoomvomit From: darreldoomvomit Date: September 5th, 2006 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
"Mum would turn around and tell him Transfigure impolite bits of himself, then go right back to doing what she thinks is right."

to transfigure?

This is getting darn exciting!
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: September 5th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
The web spreads! Honestly, I was hoping to see more of this in HBP - what Voldemort does that spreads such terror, and the few incidents mentioned in the chapter with the Muggle PM weren't half as scary as the string of family murders seen later, at a distance. Can't wait for more!
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 5th, 2006 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Surely Katie was in the last Quidditch game of the year, so it wouldn't have been her last.

I don't have a copy of HBP here, or I'd check.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 5th, 2006 11:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, she doesn't know that yet, though--that's what she'll use to get her parents to let her go back. ;)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: September 5th, 2006 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Ok... But she'd know there's another game scheduled in the year. I like the idea that Katie woke up and the first thing she thought was Quidditch.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 5th, 2006 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting turn of events - I'm glad you added another subplot, rather than just wallowing in canonically-mandated Remus/Tonks angst. I'm wondering right now why only one year would have been affected - although I suppose it makes sense if someone only got a quick look and opened to a page at random - and also how you are going to avoid implicating Snape too closely, given that his loyalties are arguabaly still ambiuguous in canon. On the other hand, even if Snape is loyal to Dumbeldore, there is no way he's been a double agent for this long without doing some legitimate work for Voldemort as well, possibly without Dumbeldore's knowledge.

Anyway, another great chapter!

lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: September 5th, 2006 06:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I wonder what's so different about the American Southwest, that they can't identify Muggleborn wizards. In what what can they not be identified?

Really interesting subplot.
cleindori From: cleindori Date: September 5th, 2006 06:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, back to business in the Auror world! Excellent. Much as I do enjoy (in a masochistic sort of way) wallowing in the Remus/Tonks angst, I also do dearly love the things you come up with by way of other sub-plots. Not to mention that it's alway great to see Tonks busy doing her job, and being good at it, not just making a mess of her personal life. ;)

Keep the updates coming, please, I want to know where this Muggle-borns thing is going! :)
dalf From: dalf Date: September 5th, 2006 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahhh more plot, and not just random either growing organicaly from the old plot. very nice.

I hope they deicde the pups can go to one of the Magical schools.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 5th, 2006 11:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Great segment; I'm really enjoying the (almost) daily updates.

It should be Florean Fortescue, not Florian.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: September 5th, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Chilling stuff: I can't wait to see where this is going, and I really like all the Auror details. Good job Robards is more co-operative than Dawlish - I can't see him letting Dumbledore extract a member of staff, especially as they're so short-handed.
From: tree_and_leaf Date: September 5th, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
And good for Andromeda not letting the Aurors push her patients around!
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 5th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to see more of Tonks' parents. They are so ellusive and misterious in canon...
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: September 5th, 2006 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really really love seeing Tonks on the job. Actually, I know I've said it before but I'll say it again - I just plain love your Tonks. She is someone I can really relate to (even on the relationship level at the moment, in a lot of ways), and someone I would like to hang out with.
rdprice29 From: rdprice29 Date: September 5th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
What an excellent story! I normally don't read much that isn't Harry/Ginny, but I clicked on it at SQ and was hooked from the first paragraph! I love Remus and Tonks here and sympathize with their struggles during this year. I completely feel like I'm reading - not back-story to HBP - but a story that is happening simultaneously to what's going on in HBP. You've merged the timeline very well. I'm really enjoying this story, and I hope you don't mind if I friend you so I can keep up with the updates. Great job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I very rarely mind friends. I like H/G (though these characters just don't care much one way or the other, so I don't address it often).

Glad to have you on board!
tamethestars00 From: tamethestars00 Date: September 5th, 2006 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)


I am really glad that you introduced something other than Remus v. Tonks angst (though I do love the buildup). It will be nice for Tonks to get a bit of a holiday, and get back to work before the end of the events of HBP. Also, I really can't wait to see how you describe America, it should be interesting to see how an American woman describes America through the eyes of a British woman...hmmm... The incorporation with the muggle-born children is also very interesting, though I am wondering why it is only that one particular year-- or perhaps I read it wrong? I can't wait to see where you go with this.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: 34:3

I think that's something that's probably going to trouble Dumbledore as well.

As to writing home from a non-home-person's point of view? Should be interesting. I'm trying to keep in mind the old aphorism that the difference between Europeans and Americans is that Americans think a hundred years is a long time, and Europeans think a hundred miles is a long way.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 6th, 2006 12:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: 34:3

A hundred miles is a long way -- with our little cars!
shadowturquoise From: shadowturquoise Date: September 6th, 2006 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Tonks had planned to go over to the Shrieking Shack and have another non-conversation with Remus about the same things they'd been not-talking about for months

I really love that line! It's the little things like that which go a long way toward your characters being so real.

You have an awful lot of loose ends and plots out there. Are you sure you can tie them all up in 8 installments?? I personally think about 20 more would be good. ;)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 6th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, about eight chapters. That'll work out to around 24 installments.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 6th, 2006 03:29 am (UTC) (Link)
OH, thank... well, whatever god you believe in. Not that I don't want to know the end (and I can't wait to see Tonks of Remus' POV of that little scene from HBP), but...

Nice segment. I love the "not conversations in which they not-talk" line.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: September 6th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm wondering which year that is -- presumably not Harry's? Interesting development to have them take this road Floo trip. ;)

Nice to see Penelope Clearwater (?) as a trainee Healer here.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: September 6th, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, dear. This is getting more and more awful. I just hope Snape isn't even more guilty than he already is.
27 comments or Leave a comment