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Shades, Chapter 41: Unlocked, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter 41: Unlocked, pt. 3
Okay, getting the brain back in order.

The battle at Hogwarts is over and Tonks has put the captured DEs in Robards' hands while Ron and Remus got Neville and Bill down to Madam Pomfrey (Ginny ran off after a DE and McGonagall ran off after Ginny). She goes to join them, and as she enters, Hermione and Luna run in. Hermione notices that Tonks is bruised and wobbly, and comes back to help her over to the group around Bill's bed.

Anyway, the next couple of scenes are largely in canon, so dialogue and action sequences are JKR's, provided I can keep track of them this time. ;)

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Once they got to the little knot of people--they were all dirty, and their eyes were blinking slowly, in shock--Hermione let go of Tonks's arm and went straight to Ron, who was standing near poor Bill's head, trying not to get in Madam Pomfrey's way.

"Oh, Ron... is he all right?"

Ron shook his head helplessly, his large eyes never leaving Bill's mangled face as Madam Pomfrey started another round of Healing charms.

"What happened to him?"

"A man with... sharp teeth..." Ron shook his head. "I think was Fenrir Greyback. The werewolf." He looked awkwardly at Remus, who confirmed it with a nod. "He..." His face twisted, like he was fighting with his gorge. "He bit him. He was human, but he bit him, and he ate his face." He started breathing rapidly, and Hermione hugged and comforted him.

Luna drifted over to Neville's bed and sat there for a moment, not really doing anything. She drew her wand and cleaned the dirt and blood off his face then covered him up. Apparently satisfied that he was all right, she wandered back dreamily, landing beside Hermione. She opened her mouth to make a suggestion--Tonks didn't know what it was going to be--but Madam Pomfrey said, "Not now, Luna. I don't have time."

Remus was standing at the foot of the bed, his face pale and deeply troubled. Tonks went to him. "Are you hurt?" she asked.

He shook his head slowly. "No. Just a little bruise where I..." He trailed off, his eyes fixed on Bill's face with horror. "Greyback's destroyed him. I never should have let him near. I should have handled Greyback myself. Bill... his whole life..."

"Greyback wasn't transformed. You don't think...?"

Remus didn't appear to hear her. "He had so much ahead of him. What have I done to him?"

"Remus, Greyback..."

"I brought him into it."

Tonks cast a nervous glance at Ron, but the children weren't paying the slightest attention. "Remus," she whispered, "it was me he was with when Greyback saw him. I didn't make him disguise himself."

"If I hadn't been there, if I hadn't..."

"Stop it," she said. "Just stop."

"His whole life..." Remus whispered. "Greyback's destroyed everything. Again. I let him."

Tonks looked at Ron again, but he still didn't look like he'd heard a word. Hermione had her hand on his arm, caressing it in little comforting circles. Luna was on his other side, not touching him, but standing close enough that he'd be able to feel her nearby.

Remus moved up, looking miserably at Bill's face. "I'm sorry," he said. "I should have taken Greyback on. He was my resonsibility. I'm sorry."

"What?" Ron blinked in a confused way. "You tried. That other Death Eater got you on the way." He seemed to lose interest in the argument, and looked back at Bill, reaching down to take his brother's hand and give it a healthy squeeze. He looked like he meant to say something more, but didn't.

Hermione started murmuring quiet reassurances to him.

Tonks looked at Bill's face, closer now, well-lit. Madam Pomfrey had cleaned off most of the blood, and she could at least see his features, or something like them. Flesh had been ripped angrily across his forehead and cheekbones. A chunk of it seemed to have been taken from one cheek and part of his nose. By sheer luck, his eyes had been missed by all but a shallow scratch, but all of the flesh around them was puffy and livid red.

"What's happening outside?" Luna asked. "I hear a crowd."

Tonks listened, and could certainly hear the low murmur of a crowd beyond the windows, but the thought of going over to the other side of the room, looking out, trying to understand... it all seemed like more energy than she had. Probably just students wandering about, trying to find out what had happened. It sounded like someone was wailing, but that might have just been a trick of the wind and the echoes. She couldn't imagine going down there to find out. The idea flitted across her mind for the first time that something might be really, truly wrong, something more than Bill's mangled face, but she wouldn't let it in. Later. She would think later about what all of the noise might be.

No one else moved to find out, either.

"We should find Dumbledore," Remus said vaguely. "He'll want to know what's happened." But he didn't leave Bill's bedside.

Tonks squeezed his hand, then turned back to Bill. Madam Pomfrey Summoned a jar of ointment, then put her wand away and started dabbing at the wounds with it, leaving an ugly green smear.

The doors opened suddenly, and they all looked up. Ginny was leading Harry Potter in, holding his hand. They both looked deeply shaken.

Hermione gave Ron's arm one more quick caress, then ran to Harry and threw her arms around him. Ginny let go and moved over to Bill's bed.

Remus finally stepped away, went toward him. "Are you all right, Harry?"

"I'm fine... how's Bill?"

It was a question that had no answer, no easy explanation.

Harry looked at him over Hermione's shoulder, then moved forward to the bed. He looked at Madam Pomfrey. "Can't you fix them with a charm or something?"

"No charm will work on these," Madam Pomfrey said, sounding frustrated and angry with herself. "I've tried everything I know, but there is no cure for werewolf bites."

And there it was, out in the open. Remus took a sharp breath, but said nothing. Harry didn't even look at him, apparently not making any connection.

Ron frowned. "But he wasn't bitten at the full moon," he said. "Greyback hadn't transformed, so surely Bill won't be a-- a real--"

He looked at Remus.

Tonks wasn't sure what to expect, given Remus's morbid words when she'd first come in. But Ron's question seemed to focus him, to make him think things through.

"No, I don't think Bill will be a true werewolf," he said, seeming to think slowly, coming up from the muddy pool of his own thoughts. He stammered through an explanation--through thoroughly uncharted territory--speculating that Bill might have "wolfish characteristics." After a year of dealing with what Remus thought of as "wolfish characteristics," Tonks wondered uneasily just what he thought Bill would become.

"Dumbledore might know something that'd work, though. Where is he?" Ron said, and Tonks happened to be looking in Harry's direction. Harry's face drained of color, and suddenly Tonks just wanted Ron to stop talking, wanted him to take back saying that, wanted to not hear the crowd outside the window or think about why they might be wailing. But Ron didn't stop talking. "Bill fought those maniacs on Dumbledore's orders, Dumbledore owes him, he can't leave him in this state--"

The world was suddenly very thin, a fragile veil hung between them and an unspeakable truth. Tonks kept hearing, "Where is he?" and realizing that she hadn't seen him at all, not even to sweep in and make sure that no one had died. Dumbledore would have come to check on Bill as soon as the corridor was clear. She'd had time to send for Robards and get two Death Eaters prepared for Azkaban, but Dumbledore...

"Ron," Ginny said, "Dumbledore's dead."

The veil tore. Red darkness poured through it, and Tonks felt like she was falling into it, whirling into space, broken off into a huge, uncharted sky.


The cry brought her back to earth.

Remus was looking wildly around the room, his hands shaking, his eyes lost and... mad. He looked helplessly at Harry, who said nothing to contradict the words that Ginny had spoken. He looked at Tonks, a small boy asking for an assurance that the monster in the wardrobe was just a bad dream.

Then he collapsed into the chair beside Bill's bed, burying his face in his hands.

Tonks wanted to go to him, but the world seemed to be filled with some kind of bitter treacle, making it hard to move or speak. She was still looking at Harry, and he was looking at Remus, his face full of horror and compassion. Finally, he looked over to his friends.

Tonks made her feet move, took a step over toward Remus, who was taking deep, shaky breaths. She touched his shoulder, but he flinched away, then looked at her with a deep apology... but still pulled away from offered comfort.

She took a shallow breath, a sip of air, then looked up and asked the question no one else had bothered to ask, because it somehow seemed immaterial in the face of the basic truth of Dumbledore's death. "How did he die?" she asked, and her voice was a whisper. It was the most she could muster, the most violation the world seemed able to take. "How did it happen?"

Harry's eyes narrowed, became cold chips of green stone. "Snape killed him," he said. "I was there, I saw it."
47 comments or Leave a comment
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redlily From: redlily Date: October 18th, 2006 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like Ron's dialogue here. This is all tough to read, but then, it should be.

You're missing an endquote on Ginny's sad declaration. :/
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 04:32 am (UTC) (Link)
You're missing an endquote on Ginny's sad declaration. :/

That's a particularly bad place for goof; thanks--I fixed it!

Glad you liked Ron here. I don't write him much, so I feel a bit unsure with him.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2006 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh good grief! It's HBP all over again, though I actually cried this time (and it takes a lot to make me do that...). Just one mistake I can see, 'chock'in the 1st line should read 'shock'. I'm reasonably sure you've got the scene in order though don't hold me to it. (If I don't spot anything vital, don't kill me, it's 5.25am in England. I'm still up, essay writing)

Anyway, just to say, apologies for never reviewing this before, just wanted to let you know I've been reading it and loving it the whole way. You've redeemed a very nasty morning of essay with this, you know :)

Trish xx
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops--first line is another bad place for a goof. Apparently they were just so chock full of shock that...

Er, either that or my fingers were typing the end of the word while I should have been at the beginning. ;)


Ugh, still up at 5:25 am... been there, done that, glad to be out of school. Good luck!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC) (Link)
I heart your canon scenes! I like seeing what Harry wasn't observant enough to catch.

Also, I have to say that this section got to me more than any other, and before the canon scene too, so I know it's not just that. Just Remus's reaction, I think, and Ron's confusion at it, as a rational outsider... It suddenly made me notice how messed up Remus's worldview actually is. Now I've lost the comforting urge to slap him with a wet noodle with the words "common sense" written on it, and all of a sudden want to cry and give him a hug.

Update soon!!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's easy to forget how utterly bizarre Remus's worldview is, because, yes--it's good to take responsibility. When things are, you know, your fault. But this guy gets sacked in PoA and is like, "Oh, yeah, I totally deserved that, because in one emergency situation which is unlikely to be repeated, I screwed up big time. But fire Hagrid over raising acromantulas in the Forbidden Forest or having a magical beast capable of killing someone on the first day of class? Why, that would just be unfair." :headdesk:
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2006 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the juxtaposition between Ron and Hermione's relationship and Remus and Tonks'. How Ron just accepts Hermione's comfort with out question. Conversely Remus can't even let Tonks hold his shoulder even after Ginny's declaration.

I especially like how you show Tonks' mind putting things together just before they are told that Dumbledore is dead. I love how you have her almost loosing it but Remus' cry so out of character brings her back. The description of the torn veil and the bitter treacle are also so vivid.

Thanks again Fern it's going great, hope you are O.K.,

From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I forgot...

I also like the way you show Remus here...turning into a child wanting someone to chase away the monster in the wardrobe. Of all the characters JK has written I think Remus is the most tragic and losing Dumbledore I think would hit him worst of all. He has just about lost everyone. I am glad JK thought to give him something...Tonks... to keep him grounded and able to go on to serve in Dumbledore's place. Some very big shoes to fill. The way you wrap around canon is simply beautiful.

Thanks again,

(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
prelud From: prelud Date: October 18th, 2006 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Fantastic work.
You described Tonks`s feelings so well that I got lost in them and now I am nearly paralyzed and overwhelmed and cannot really write coherently.
Fantastic, fantastic work.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!
From: octobersnow Date: October 18th, 2006 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
You always seem to make checking my flist one last time before bed completely rewarding. Excellent, Excellent. My favorite bit is how Remus was "a small boy asking for an assurance that the monster in the wardrobe was just a bad dream" to the little girl he once taught. Nice switching of roles there.

*is sad/excited that Shades is ending*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think at some point, their roles have to reverse if they're ever going to hit equilibrium.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 18th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Everyone has already said what I wanted to say, so I'll just say: That was an amazing chapter, and I can't wait for the next one.

--La Contessa, logged out
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. Hopefully, it will be quick.
dalf From: dalf Date: October 18th, 2006 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
This is perfect. I do not know why I did not see it comming but the plae you have Remus in at this point in the story. He has denied himself everything, all he has left is his service to Dumbledore. His duty. He was very upset in book 3 when it came to acknoledging that he had betryed Dumbledores trust and maybe that has somethign to do with his dedication to do his duty (and then punish himself for it). Some how I did not really see the implcations comming. Aside from Harry, Dumbledores death has to have his Remus hardest of the people present, infact it may be worse for him than Harry.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it hits everyone hard, but Harry at least has had time to internalize the concept to some extent. No one else even knew--for real--that he was going into danger. Then suddenly, he's dead.
tdu000 From: tdu000 Date: October 18th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wonderful! I hadn't even thought about what happened in the hospital wing before Harry arrived. I liked Tonks's worrying about what Remus might consider wolfish characteristics and Remus trying to find something else to feel guilty about. (Wasn't it in "Shifts" where Sirius kept saying. "There you are, Moony, it's all your fault!") Speaking of Sirius, the veil imagery brought his death back when contemplating Dumbledore's - as if I wasn't sad enough. Despite already knowing the news Harry would bring, it was still gut-wrenching.

Typo in responsibility here:

Remus moved up, looking miserably at Bill's face. "I'm sorry," he said. "I should have taken Greyback on. He was my resonsibility. I'm sorry."

Well, I guess we'll have Fleur's outburst in the next installment and I can't wait.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking of Sirius, the veil imagery brought his death back when contemplating Dumbledore's - as if I wasn't sad enough.

Oh, good... that's what I meant it to do. Wasn't sure whether or not it would work!

Thanks on the typo, and yup... the outburst is in part 4. (Yeah, I realized this chapter couldn't be done in three.)
lyras From: lyras Date: October 18th, 2006 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliantly done.

I'd love to know, actually, whether you had Bill play a fairly large role in the story because of that moment when Greyback recognises him, or whether it all evolved naturally. Whichever it was, that was a wonderful moment, and a great way to really keep the screws on Tonks and Remus.

I really liked what you showed us of Ron and Hermione here, too - and the scene at the end, with Ginny and Harry breaking the news is exactly the way I remember it from HBP.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I put Bill in mostly for the Remus/Tonks, Bill/Fleur comparison, though it lent itself to the Greyback issue. I wasn't sure until the scene whether or not I was going to have Greyback recognize him or just attack him randomly.

I hope it's like HBP--I had the book open while I was writing! ;p
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: October 18th, 2006 10:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I was covering my mouth the majority of this chapter.

Poor... everyone. :(
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: October 18th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
What I like best about canon scenes from your characters' POV is we finally get to see Harry from the outside. I love Harry looking at Remus, "his face full of horror and compassion", and his eyes turning into "cold chips of green stone" when he talks about Snape... I don't want to take away from any of the characters you've created and fleshed out for us (Remus and Dora included), but I guess I'll always feel the strongest connection to Harry, and you do a brilliant job of supplementing canon and bringing to fore the reactions we know he must have but are rarely made a big deal of in canon.

Dora's thoughts were particularly apt, too: considering the most traumatic death she has yet known has involved the veil physically, she is bound to connect that very image to any other death that affects her deeply. Well done!
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: October 18th, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes! Same here. I love seeing Harry through someone else's POV.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: October 18th, 2006 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Okay. This is so hard, and so good, and I hope you're holding up all right. It's draining to read, I can't even imagine what it must be like to write. This is hitting me with exactly the same mood that reading this scene in HBP created - kind of bleak and confused and like I want to be through it as soon as possible so that I don't have to think about it anymore (which is actually a compliment, although I'm sure it doesn't sound like one). I haven't read HBP since the month it came out, but this has just brought that night all back to me. I too loved seeing Harry from the outside, and the way that Tonks put things together in the moment before Ginny breaks the news, and... and... well I'm glad that things get a little happier from here, at least for Tonks. And I am looking forward to seeing Fleur stand up to Molly from the point of view of someone who has spent the year becoming friends with her (as opposed to just hearing Ginny's skewed opinion of her), as well. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 06:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a little tiring to write. I keep sleeping too much.

Bleak and confused is how I always feel about death, so that scene in HBP read very true to me.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: October 18th, 2006 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
You do canon scenes beautifully - there's a beauty in seeing everything from Tonks point of view. Sometimes I even have to read again to realise that it actually is canon (as in actually described in canon) because it's really different!

Tonks's 'I don't care' declaration must be coming soon, I expect! I can't wait for it - I know you'll do a wonderful job!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tonks's 'I don't care' declaration must be coming soon, I expect!

Next section. I hope it's not a let-down.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: October 18th, 2006 01:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well-done! The last few chapters have been especially strong. I admire the seamless way you fuse canon and original material.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 18th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Canon scenes are a lot harder than the wholly made-up stuff, because suddenly you have to work around things that maybe you hadn't thought about for a while.
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