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Shades, Chapter 35: The Hogwarts List, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 35: The Hogwarts List, pt. 2
Tonks and Dumbledore are on a road trip to catch up with a Muggle-born girl who abruptly disappeared. They're headed to Madrid, New Mexico. Which is pronounced "MAD-rid." I have taken liberties with the geography, because, of course, the wizarding section is hidden from Muggle eyes anyway. So I can make it like I need. So there. ;p

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

When Tonks came through on the far side of Apparition, she felt smaller than she'd ever felt in her life. There was so much sunlight that it actually seemed to have weight, and the sky itself was perfectly clear and simply huge. She hadn't thought that sky could be particularly larger in one place than another, but she would have to reconsider it. She felt like wrapping her arms around herself just to keep from seeping out into the atmosphere.

Even Dumbledore looked small here, though he seemed perfectly comfortable, walking slowly over to the wide road and looking for landmarks. Tonks followed him uncertainly. She could see a handful of woodframe buildings, distant mountains, brown earth.

"The village has changed a great deal since I was here last," Dumbledore said. "It was once entirely magical--the Muggles believed it to be a ghost town--but the Muggle buildings from the mining boom were still here, and they chose to re-populate it."

"Do they have some sort of charm on it that even we can't see through?"

He smiled. "No. Not at all. This, my dear Nymphadora, is Madrid. The wizarding neighborhood is near the old mine, just over the rise, and that was--and I presume still is--hidden from traveling Muggles. But the Dunstables live in a Muggle home, so we have little cause to go there... unless you care to indulge your curiosity?"

Tonks shook her head. "No, not really."

Dumbledore stopped and looked at her, his eyes narrow and deep. He looked like he meant to say something, but ultimately just put his uninjured hand on her shoulder, and pointed to a wooden house with faded paint that was a across the street from some sort of craft shop. The garden had no grass, just a pile of white stones with a cactus growing in the middle of it, and a fat yellow cat was asleep on the rail of the veranda. She wasn't sure why she'd anticipated a difference--they were a Muggle family and they had left Britain under particularly bad circumstances; surely, they wouldn't have a cauldron in the front yard and a Union Jack painted on the shutters.

Dumbledore went to the door and pressed the doorbell. It gave off an unpleasant buzz. Tonks found herself looking nervously over her shoulder while she listened to someone thundering down a set of creaky stairs. All that open space. She wanted to be inside.

The door opened with a protesting squeak, and a little girl with red hair and a horrible sunburn looked at them warily from the other side of a screen. "Who're you?" she asked, then added, "My parents are right outside."

Tonks thought they might have the wrong house--this girl's accent was no different from Julie Trujillo's. But then again, she was ten years old and she'd been here since she was six.

"Hello, Meredith," Dumbledore said. "I'd very much like to speak with your parents."

Meredith's eyes turned into saucers. "You're English!" she said, and slammed the door.

Tonks raised her eyebrows and looked sideways at Dumbledore. "Is she going to declare independence or whatnot now?"

Dumbledore grinned. "I suspect she's been warned about visitors from Britain who know her name. Though it would certainly not have been of any use against Dolohov, had he chosen to come."

Tonks peeked through the window beside the door. Meredith had a phone pressed to her ear and was speaking urgently. She finished, nodded a few times, then hung up.

The door squeaked open again, and again, Meredith stayed on her side of the screen.

"Mr. Chan charmed the door to keep people from breaking it with magic," she said. "My mother's coming. I'm not coming out until she gets here."

Meredith was probably better-equipped to handle a magical attack than her mother was, but it seemed less than diplomatic to point that out just now. Instead, Tonks just said, "You did just the right thing. Like a friend of mine always says, 'Constant vigilance!'" She growled like Moody as well as she could, and there was a glimmer of a smile from Meredith. "Is Mr. Chan one of your teachers?" she asked.

"No. He runs the whole school. My teacher is Mrs. Agoya. I have lessons with her on Saturday and Sunday. And that's on top of real school." She shook her head at the unfairness of her life.

"Will you be going to the Richards school in the autumn?" Dumbledore asked.

Meredith wrinkled her nose and shook her head. "No way. They're dweebs."


"Yeah!" Angry now, Meredith was nodding vigorously on her side of the door. "Total dweebs. Skylar Crow cursed me and made spiny things come out of my face, and when my dad yelled at him, he made fun of the way Daddy talks! Called him... well, you know."

Tonks had absolutely no idea, and didn't press.

"Anyways," Meredith went on, "after that, he started calling me Princess Meredith and bowing at me--but, like, really sarcastic, you know? And he and his friends stole my bike and put it way up in that mine shaft." She stood back enough to point to a place behind Tonks and Dumbledore. It was a dark opening toward the top of a high rock face, with a narrow path leading up to it. It had been buried by rockslides in several places, and the only safe ways up would be a broom and Apparition. "My mom and dad can't even see it, and I don't know how to ride a stupid broom. Mrs. Agoya's trying to teach me to pop around--"

"At ten?" Tonks interrupted.

Meredith looked pleased. "Yes. They teach us what we most need to know, and Mrs. Agoya thinks I'm more likely to need to get away quickly than to need to make some smelly potion."

"Aren't there rules about when magical education starts?"

"Sure. If you go to the Richards School." Meredith looked irritated at having been interrupted by such irrelevancies. "So anyway, my bike's up there, and I can't get it, and... oh, it's Mom." She leaned in conspiratorially as a car pulled up beside the house and a pinched looking woman with curly black hair got out of it. "I usually call her 'Mummy' when it's just us, but they get all dumb about it and call her Princess Meredith's Mummy Dearest. But you wouldn't would you?"

Tonks nodded seriously. "My own Mummy would be quite annoyed with me if I did."

"Who are you and what are you doing at my house?" Mrs. Dunstable demanded, striding up the veranda steps. "Meredith, get inside."

"I am inside."

"Go upstairs."

Meredith frowned, but stomped upstairs.

Mrs. Dunstable did not invite them in, but a indicated a rusty metal swing. Tonks sat down beside Dumbledore on it. Mrs. Dunstable remained standing, leaning against the railing beside the cat, who looked up with a sleepy mew then dozed off again.

"Explain yourselves," she said. "And keep your wands wherever you normally keep them when not in use. I want to see your hands."

Tonks put her hands on her knees. Dumbledore did the same.

Mrs. Dunstable saw his hand and gasped. "What on Earth...?"

"A war injury," Dumbledore said. "Obtained in opposition to the people who frightened you."

"What do you know about them?" Mrs. Dunstable asked, her eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"We believe the initial attack, which you escaped, was a werewolf."

"That's what Agent Aragon says."

"You were very lucky. We only recently discovered one of the boys who would have been Meredith's classmate. He was taken by Fenrir Greyback, a particularly vicious werewolf--"

"Can't you people control anything?"

Dumbledore simply smiled and nodded sympathetically. "Ah, yes. Control of our baser elements is always somewhat problematic. Though I do glance through Muggle newspapers from time to time, and I have not noticed a headline announcing that murders have ended."

Mrs. Dunstable took a deep breath. "All right, that was fair. We haven't entirely solved the problem ourselves."

"Perhaps this would be a more productive conversation if we all introduced ourselves," Dumbledore said. "I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy--"

"Deathtrap of it, you mean," Mrs. Dunstable snorted. "I'm Catherine Dunstable. I'm a nuclear physicist."

"Nymphadora Tonks," Tonks said. "Auror. That's--"

"I know what that is. I read the newspapers while Meredith is at lessons on the weekends I bring her. If you think you'll convince me to send her to that miserable place--"

"I wouldn't dream of it at the moment," Dumbledore said. "It's you we came to talk to. You and your husband."

"My husband is traveling. He's a psychologist. He makes rounds of the reservations. I'm afraid you'll have to settle for me."

"Were you there for the second, er... event?" Tonks asked. "We aren't entirely certain what happened."

"Oh, I was there, all right."

Tonks saw Dumbledore ready to jump in with a question, but she wanted to follow her training first--to get the story straight. Dumbledore could ask his specific questions when things were fixed in their minds. "What happened?"

Mrs. Dunstable gave her one last suspicous look, then seemed to give in. "All right. I haven't noticed you Aurors being especially effective, but as far as I know, you're at least on the right side."

"We try."

"A few weeks after the dog--well, werewolf--attacked us, three men came to our home. They simply popped right into the parlor. It was outrageous."

"Yes, quite rude, by any standard," Dumbledore said.

"One of them was hanging on the other. The hanging one was filthy. He had gray hair and quite a lot of unshaven mess on his face. And his teeth were filed to points. He had his hands in fists. He was hanging on a man with blond hair. Handsome, in a cold way."

"We know him."

"And then there was a homely one with greasy hair and a great hook of a nose."

Dumbledore looked at her sharply. "What did this man do?"

"I suppose I should credit him with giving us a way out," Mrs. Dunstable said. "The other one was making threat after threat, but the homely one just sneered and said that we couldn't even escape to the 'wild west,' where they were too stupid to even find mudbloods like--"

"Muggle-borns," Dumbledore said.

"--like Merry. I thought that sounded like our best chance, so I came. The bloody owls followed us all the way to Chicago--we had to spend the night there, and the filthy birds were on the balcony of the hotel room with nasty messages. So when we got here, we made enough of a magical fuss for the BMI to find us, and they made us Untraceable for the owls." She blinked and her mouth tightened briefly. "That horrid blond man--he said the grungy one would be back at the full moon. And then the grungy one opened his hands, and they were covered with blood. He looked at Meredith and... smiled. And touched her poor little face."

"You do owe that other man your lives," Dumbledore said, looking relieved, if still a bit puzzled. "You and your husband, at any rate. Meredith, I suspect, would have simply had a much less pleasant one."

"Yes, well, I'll send my greetings to him in hell if I ever hear he's died." She shuddered. "He was as frightening as the others were, if you ask me. Just glowering, like--oh!"

She jumped, and a handful of mud flew at the veranda, smattering on the wall beside Tonks. A boy in robes with colorful pattern woven into them was laughing from behind her car.

Mrs. Dunstable got up and turned around. "Skylar Crow, I will be writing to your mother!"

"My moth-ah!" Skylar Crow mocked.

Tonks stood up and drew her wand. "What is your problem?"

He stood back and gulped. "Nothing..."

"Your mother ought to be bloody ashamed of you."

Skylar didn't seem to know what to make of an adult witch pointing a wand at him, and he ran off.

"They raise them as utter savages here," Mrs. Dunstable said. "I don't let Meredith associate with them any more than is necessary in these circumstances."

Tonks expected Dumbledore to jump in with the observation that this was perhaps not the best way to correct poor impressions, but when she looked at him, to her surprise, he was paying no attention whatsoever to Mrs. Dunstable. Instead, he was watching Skylar, who was, at the moment, scurrying up the rock face toward the mine shaft Meredith had mentioned. "Of course," he whispered.

"Just so," Mrs. Dunstable said, apparently thinking he was agreeing with her social strategy.

Dumbledore turned back to her, coming out of his daze. "I thank you for your time, Mrs. Dunstable," he said. "I hope someday you'll have cause to reconsider allowing Meredith to attend Hogwarts; it is her birthright. Nymphadora, I believe we should start for home. It's a long journey."

"I'm sorry I was cross when you came," Mrs. Dunstable said. "I have... less than high expectations."

Tonks stood and nodded to her. "Hopefully, that won't always be the case." She looked up at a window as she came down from the veranda and saw Meredith looking dejected. Tonks frowned and went back to Mrs. Dunstable. "Let her meet some of the other children," she said. "Not the one that was flinging mud, but for heaven's sake, at least let her take some of her lessons with other magical children. She'll adjust better." With that, Tonks turned and followed Dumbledore out to the road.
21 comments or Leave a comment
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: September 9th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
You made Meridith sound really American!
Wonderful description of Madrid, by the way. Is that a place you've visited?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Just a couple of times. A drive-thru on the Turquoise Trail between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. It's mostly populated by artsy-craftsy types (in the Muggle area, anyway), and I believe they have a Jazz festival. Lots of little textile, painting, sculpture, and silver shops.
miseri From: miseri Date: September 9th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Missing words, I think:

"...to keep from seeping out into the atmosphere...."

"Mrs. Dunstable did not invite them in, but indicated(?) a rusty metal swing."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup; thanks!
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 9th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC) (Link)
You caught it perfectly. I've never been able to summarize how even a street lined with trees over a hundred years old in the drier parts of the west can still look like a desert when a treeless, green field along the coast looks damp. Although I'd love to know what the difference is I see in the sky in those places (of course, the trees also look like they've had their share of struggles, weathered veterans as opposed to smugly plump).

Weather aside, Snape is not looking good. And what was the blood on his hands?

By the way, what's your take on his talking to them? He told them where to run to be safe, but I'm not sure that benevolence seems like the right answer.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Weather aside, Snape is not looking good. And what was the blood on his hands?

Whoops. That was Greyback who had blood on his hands.

My take? I'm carefully avoiding a take. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 9th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops! I think I read "greasy" for "grungy."

dalf From: dalf Date: September 9th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC) (Link)
My take? I'm carefully avoiding a take. ;p


*re-reads the section about Emalean Vance's death .... cutting charms ..... sectum simpra? T-R-A ...... Plus this was AFTER, after Snape was a teacher at Hogwarts!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
All of it can be accounted for by his double-agent status. Other people undoubtedly know the cutting curse. If Emmeline saw him in the presence of other DEs, he obviously would have been playing the part--in other words, she could be wrong. Kind of sad to be wrong about a final warning written in your own blood, but possible. And here, he may very well have been giving them an "out" while still trying to convince Lucius that he was really loyal despite working for DD.
dalf From: dalf Date: September 9th, 2006 07:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Yea ok though I never thought of that. After the levi corpus spell got out of hand and was USED on him, and his enraged reaction when Harry tried it on him, I assumed he woudl keep the thigns he was proud of close to his chest. *HIS* spells "*I* am the Half Blood Prince". SOme how I don't imagine him teaching it to others (though he did leave that book where it could be found and that cannot have been an accident even ifhe did it so long ago that he had forgotten).

As to giving them an out, that is plausable in either version. Most Evil!Snape theories have him not so much evil or good but with his ear to the ground and deciding what is best for Snape (which probably makes the occlemency easier if you are actually sincear when you tell a lie).

As for me I am (most of the time) a Good!Snape beleaver though I am not a Snape fan. That makes Evil!Snape one of two* areas that I suspect (or know) are non-cannon that I like to read in fic. I figure if JKR is going to vindicate him then lets have our fun with Evil!Snape while it lasts.

* The other is Lunna/Neville which, after JKR's statments that Neville will always be somewhat alarmed by her ideas, I can totally understand as not working. There is a strange symmetry in the paring off that it produces so I still like fics that ship them.
dalf From: dalf Date: September 9th, 2006 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Ohh I want more!
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: September 9th, 2006 10:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, intriguing -- I wasn't expecting Snape to turn up in the warning party. Or Lucius, if that was him (and not the big blond on the Astronomy Tower). I'm trying to fix the dates here -- this happened four years ago, right, so during CoS? Why would they they risk blowing their respectable cover then? Or was it all part of the same plan to purge the school of Muggle-borns?

Dumbledore's distraction was curious -- I couldn't think what he could have seen there, unless it was merely that this is the point he realises that the cave where Riddle took the kids would be a good place to put a Horcrux?

Typo: "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Or was it all part of the same plan to purge the school of Muggle-borns?

My thought is that Lucius thought things were going a bit slow at the school (and no wonder, as diary-Tom changed his mind about his priorities) and Lucius, with all his messing around in school stuff that year, got a look at one of the pages of the list. He'd have asked Snape's help, and whether Snape was a double-agent trying to keep his cover or a real D.E., he'd have been expected to go along.

As to what the Dumbledistraction was, I'm afraid it was merely putting pieces together about Tom. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 9th, 2006 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting seeing your perception of magical America, not to mention the plot! I can see Dumbledore wanting to excuse Snape's participation. That was well done - having Snape ther but not giving any clue as to his loyalties (because we still don't really know).

The only note that jarred was Tonks swearing at a child. I know she is working in a profession where swearing would be commonplace and I know "bloody" isn't exactly high on the scale of profanities but to swear at a child, however obnoxious he is, seems a little out of character for how you have written Tonks - whatever would Andromeda say? I don't know, but as a teacher and a parent, I wouldn't want that sort of language used in front of a child and I am quite severe when anyone uses it in class.

(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 9th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm English and I would be objecting to a police officer using it to my child (probably to the point of a written letter) although not to me. My point isn't that there aren't people out there (in England and the USA) who don't consider it swearing but that the Andromeda that Fernwithy has written would probably have brought Tonks up to think it was, albeit mild. I would expect her to use it to other adults as the occassion arises (eg to Dawlish at work or to Remus in one of their million of conversations) but I would think upbringing would kick in and she wouldn't use it infront of a child whose confidence whe was trying to win and to any child, whatever she thought of that child.

(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, as it happens, I agree.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 9th, 2006 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope I didn't sound too preachy! It just jarred as being wrong for Tonks, although not necessarily for everyone. She is there in an official capacity but I don't think she would anyway. One of the things I liked about Shifts and Shades is that when we saw her through Remus's eyes, Tonks didn't swear but now it's Tonks point of view we get the odd bloody, damn and bugger slipping in - a nice touh of how Remus thinks she's perfect but she knows shew isn't.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: September 9th, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not preachy at all! I write quickly, and sometimes little oopses like that get through; glad to hear them pointed out.

And yeah, the eye of the beholder is an amazing thing!
From: bangcollision Date: September 10th, 2006 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I LOVE reading about American wizardry. It's amazing to see a whole new twist on it. I love how you see how it's different too, instead of a more standard education it's "what matters most". I'm really curious as to what Dumbledore sees in Skylar.

Note: Dumbledore said. "I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy--"
It would be Wizardry I believe unless he was cut off there or something.
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: September 10th, 2006 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Great work - Meredith's and her Mother's reactions were nice and believable, though I think I'd have been a bit more suspicious, had I been Catherine!

So - this particular subplot is a Lucius special... As a member of the Board of Governors, who had enough leverage to get Dumbledore himself displaced, he'd certainly have been able to see the list of incoming students! I wonder what was in it for Greyback?

I love how you've included Dumbledore's revelation about the possible location of a horcrux - and Tom's motivation for using that location. The close intertwining of the canon plot and your plot is, imho, what makes these stories great: and using these incidents to advance both plots is a classic example of that. Nice :)
From: texasstar7 Date: September 11th, 2006 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)
another mystery?! oh dear, what is going on with skylar crow? and what could Dumbledore possibly know about it? and does it have anything to do with Snape?

i'm really liking the break from Remus for a bit. well, not from him, but from them. and it is the time when people bury themselves in their work, trying to escape the pain of their romantic problems. so it's really working for me. and that there is even more mystery...very nice.

on an aside, the chamber thing, i'm as conflicted as you... it seems important, but then there IS a HUGE dead thing down there... um, unsanitary? lots of explanation to get around... seems like a big hassle to write all that explanation personally, but maybe she has that worked out. so, obviously, i'm no help at all and i therefore did not vote. sorry!
21 comments or Leave a comment