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Shifts, Chapter 2, part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 2, part 2

Table of contents
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Prologue summary: Remus's assignment during Harry's fifth year is to act as a guard on Dudley Dursley at Smeltings, posing as his history teacher. Nymphadora Tonks, posing as his wife (disguised and aged "appropriately") will make regular visits with his Wolfsbane Potion. Sirius is disturbed by the quiet at home, now that everyone except Remus is gone.

Chapter One
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Summary: Remus meets his office mate, a maths teacher named Allan Garvey, who tells him that his (Remus's) predecessor, boxing coach/history teacher Joe Levinson, left the position because of a mysterious disease. He also warns Remus that the boxers were pretty darned dedicated to Joe--a good fellow by all accounts--and Joe's replacement might have some trouble with them. In part 2, Remus teaches his first two classes, falling back into the position gratefully. He and Garvey are on their way to lunch when they meet a group of older kids bullying two of Remus's first form students. It appears to be led by Piers Polkiss, but the real leader of the group identifies himself--Dudley Dursley. Remus meets Dudley's class, and gets a brief Dudley's eye view of the world--full of little runts (Hitler, in Dudley's example) who need to be pounded before they start thinking they're too powerful. Tonks picks him up to take him home.
Chapter Two
Part 1
Remus realizes that he must meet and speak to his predecessor, both about Dudley and about his mysterious illness. He accepts Garvey's invitation to Sunday lunch. Tonks finds out about this when she brings the Wolfsbane and decides to come along. She also tells him that Sirius is so bored, he's cooking.

Sirius was in a sullen temper when Remus got back to Number 12, Grimmauld Place. There were cauldrons and pans all over the kitchen, and sauces indifferently wiped from the stone floor. Sirius himself sat in the midst of this mess, staring at the fire, not seeming to be doing anything.

"Are you waiting for a call?"

Sirius didn't look up. "No."

"Dora said you cooked lunch. It was very good. Thank you."

He shrugged. "Well, as Snape never fails to point out, my main position these days is keeping this house. Thought I'd see if I could out-Molly Molly." He jabbed a long finger around the kitchen. "I didn't do very well, as you can see."

Remus took out his wand and started cleaning up the various spills. After a moment, pans and cauldrons began trotting over to the sink around him, and the water began to run.

Once the kitchen was at least relatively clean--it did serve as headquarters after all, and people could appear in it at any time--they sat at the table with bottles of butterbeer, and Remus waited for Sirius to start talking.

For Sirius, it was a fairly long wait. He'd never tolerated silence very well, and it had spun out for nearly three minutes when he slammed down his butterbeer and said, "Bugger."

"Is that your entire comment?"

"Yes. No." He sighed. "I need something to do. Anything."

"I know."

"I could put on an Invisibility Cloak and sit a watch."

"And if they happen to catch you, what story do you intend to tell them?"

"It's not like anyone else is there legally."

Remus didn't answer. Most of the Order guards at the Department of Mysteries could make up some reason for being in the Ministry. Even Molly, though Remus thought her excuse of trying to find Arthur was a bit thin.

"Or," Sirius went on, "I could put on the Cloak and follow Snape to one of their little meetings. I have a life sentence anyway. I could always put an unforgiveable on Lucius Malfoy. Maybe Snape as well--just to preserve his cover, of course."

"Of course."

"I don't suppose Dumbledore would allow it."

"I don't suppose he would."

"I'm going to set Buckbeak on McNair one of these days. Promised him an impressive snack. I'm trying to decide whether I should feed Peter to him as a human or a rat."

"I think you need new fantasies, Sirius."

"But these keep me amused." He smiled, a ghost of the smile he would give a Hogwarts when one of his master plans seemed to have crossed a line.

Well, most of the time when they crossed the line. Sirius hadn't always been good at spotting just where the line was.

"We could use your mind, Sirius. To think."

"I think all day."

"You brood all day. There's a difference."

"I can't think about matters I'm not really privy to. What brilliant idea do you think I'll have about how to get Voldemort into the Department of Mysteries, if he's not already there?"

"If I knew what kind of idea you'd have, I wouldn't ask you to try and think of one."

Sirius sighed. "All right. Snape's planted the idea that the prophecy has some vital information, but Voldemort hasn't moved yet. He's got to realize that we'll be keeping watch. That Dumbledore wouldn't leave something important unguarded."

This wasn't an entirely shocking analysis of events, but Remus didn't think Sirius was finished. He remained quiet.

"So, if I'm Voldemort and I believe I need information that's at the center of a trap, the last thing I'd do is go myself."

"Only he and Harry can retrieve the prophecy."

"He doesn't know that. We'll see other people long before we see Voldemort. And he won't care at all how many are caught. Is this what you mean by thinking, Remus, because honestly, there's nothing here that hasn't been thought of before."

"It is what I mean."

"Well, it's better than cleaning the kitchen, I suppose."

"It does have that advantage."

The ghost-smile came again. "Do you remember how awful the dormitory always was? How did we live like that?"

"We were boys."

The smile widened. "I just realized--Harry was born when James was twenty-one. Seven-year intervals... he's in the same dormitory as we were."

Remus did the arithmetic in his head. Gryffindor students kept the same dormitory for all seven years of their stay, which meant that every seven years, a new group would move into an old dormitory, on a rotating basis. So there would have been two groups in the dormitory after they'd all left school, and then... Harry. He shrugged. "You're right."

"I wonder if they've found all the hiding places yet."

"I get the impression that Harry doesn't spend as much time in his dormitory as we did. The five of them aren't always together. And one of Harry's best friends is a girl, so he does most of his planning in common areas."

"Right... I suppose that would make a difference." He took a swig of his butterbeer. "I do like Hermione, though. What a good girl she is. What do you think? Hermione and Harry?"

Remus shook his head. "They're like brother and sister. And you weren't watching closely this summer."

"So who do you think he fancies? Ginny?"

"Well, I'm quite fond of Ginny, but no. Not yet. And he may be a bit late if he comes around now."

"Well, there's someone."

"Why do you say that?"

"He's fifteen and mainly healthy."

Remus thought about it. "There was a pretty girl on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team that I think he was looking at the year I taught..."

"What on Earth are the two of you talking about?" Dora asked, coming down the stairs.

"Harry's love life," Sirius said cheerfully. "Who do you think he fancies?"

Dora shook her head. "You need a hobby, Sirius."

Remus laughed.

"And you have a hobby. What's your excuse?"

He grinned sheepishly.

"Honestly." She put down her tote--not a briefcase at all, but an old Hogwarts bookbag in which she carried her case files--and sat down on the end of the table crosslegged, one knee pointing toward each of them. "Now, if we can stop gossiping about Harry's love life, Remus and I need to create some gossip about ours."

"What's this about?"

"Dora invited herself to dinner with my colleagues from Smeltings," Remus said.

"I did not. That bald bloke with all the papers invited me. And his wife's anxious to meet me." She put her nose in the air in mock indignation. "Honestly, darling, I think you're ashamed of me. Your dear wife and all. How could you?"

"I'm a terrible husband," Remus said. "I just couldn't stand the thought of you wasting several of your off-duty hours gossiping with women twice your age about stories that aren't even true. It's scandalous what I put you through, really."

Sirius was looking back and forth between them, eyes dancing in a decidedly mischievous way. "So, how long have you been old marrieds?"

"That's part of the story we're trying to decide on," Remus said.

"No. I mean for real."

Dora rolled her eyes. "You know, Sirius, I can get you a good starter set of Chocolate Frog Cards. Dad keeps his in an album. Keeps him quite entertained, trying to get the whole set."

He stuck out his tongue at her.

Remus put his head in his hands, and let the two of them get to the business of making up a life.
17 comments or Leave a comment
malabud From: malabud Date: May 18th, 2004 10:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, more Shifts! I kind of like the idea that Dumbledore wanted Voldemort to go to the Department of Mysteries. It explains a few loopholes anyway. I really like seeing that the Order was actually doing something during OotP. It seemed (from Harry's POV at least) that both sides were particularly ineffectual that whole year. Your interpretation shows that there was a lot going on behind the scenes that Harry could not or would not see. Also, the interaction between the characters rings very true. The speculation on Harry's love life was funny, and it provided a nice segue into Remus's love life, even if he doesn't know he has one. I look forward to more!

P.S. It's Macnair, not McNair. See the Lexicon entry on him.
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: May 19th, 2004 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I do like this story. There has got to be so much going on in the Order that Harry doesn't see, or misinterprets. It's nice to see the events of the year expanded upon from an adult perspective.

My only slight quibble about this part is where you have Sirius talking about which dormitory Harry is in. Sirius would know which dorm it was because he's been in there when he woke Ron up trying to catch Wormtail in PoA. Or are you assuming that he wasn't exactly thinking straight at that point because he'd just got out of Askhaban?

And one little Brit pick. We might refer to a tote bag here, which would be a particular sort of bucket shaped shopping bag, but not just a tote on its own. Even tote bag sound quite American to me in fact - you may want to choose another expression.

Did you see that picture of Tonks by GoldSeven on the hp_art_daily recs today? I thought that was wonderful. What with that and this story I may be coming around to the idea of Remus / Tonks :)
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: May 19th, 2004 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
PS - I loved the "Bugger" line. So *very* Sirius :D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2004 04:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Sirius would know which dorm it was because he's been in there when he woke Ron up trying to catch Wormtail in PoA.


Bad Fern. I'll tweak that.

What kind of expression would you use instead of "tote bag."
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: May 19th, 2004 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd probably just say 'bag' - sorry not to be more creative.

Maybe thewhiteowl or one of the other Brits on your F-list has a better suggestion.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: May 19th, 2004 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, just 'bag'. Actually I'd say 'satchel' or 'rucksack' instead of 'bookbag', as well. Bookbag is a relatively new term. Rucksack if it's a mountaineering-type, top-opening affair carried over both shoulders, satchel if it's leather or an approximation thereto :-P, carried in a hand or with a shoulder strap. Tonks is, what, 22 or 23 in 1995? So she'd have been at Hogwarts in the 80s...and wizards are old fashioned, so I'd say satchel. I had a cute little leather one in primary school (late 80s), a rucksack or two in secondary school, and currently have a polyester shoulder satchel I'm nursing throught the final year of my degree.

I liked the way Remus assumed that Sirius was waiting for a call when he was sitting by the fire. And I really liked the 'shipping' talk!! Sirius ships H/H!! But clever Remus soon put him straight :). Are we going to get to see what Remus and Tonks decide on for their backstory? *hee*
From: pandora_hyde Date: May 19th, 2004 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Dear Fern,

I've been reading your 'Shifts' fanfic for several weeks now, eagerly anticipating the next installment and realized today that I really ought to write.

As an adult Harry Potter fan, I find most fan fiction is simply not worth reading. (Check that, I mean to say not even worth skimming.) It's so difficult to find really *good* fanfiction - stories which enhance the books themselves, stories which are well written, stories written by educated adults, and when one does, it is rare that the authors work hard to keep the characters *in character*.

Your current series, Shifts, quite honestly seems to do just that. I haven't read any of your other work as yet, but I must say that Shifts is really outstanding fanfiction. This latest installment, in particular, seemed to capture the characterisation of all three to perfection. Your Sirius' behaviour is completely within character; in fact, I daresay you give him a bit more depth than JKR did! Tonks is appropriately playful, without any over-the-topness which so much fanfiction falls prey to, and Lupin is reserved and yet authoritative. All quite within canon. Your choice of phrase during Lupin and Sirius' conversation was spot on, in my opinion.

As for tweaking that bit about the dormitories. You might have Sirius simply say "Do you know what I was thinking about..." as he's already relayed thoughts to Lupin which 'had been thought of before', he could be relaying more long-held thoughts.

As for the tote bit, I'd simply call it a bag if that's what you mean it to be, or you might call it a rucksack if you mean the sort of bag students carry.

Oh, I should add here that I *am* a Lupin/Tonks shipper (thought I think she'd be quite good with Charlie) and I am glad you're taking the romance bit slowly -- I think you've got the measure of them both. I have no doubt you have many other eager readers who have neglected to review. I do apologise for that and hope to make a better effort on future chapters.

Kindest Regards,


fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2004 10:40 am (UTC) (Link)

And good suggestion for the tweak, too. That will work nicely. :)
matril From: matril Date: May 19th, 2004 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Your Sirius is straight out of canon. His sort of dismal, wistful mood feels just right. And Remus trying to cheer him up or find something better to occupy his mind seems just like what he would do. Great post.
wm_law2003 From: wm_law2003 Date: May 19th, 2004 05:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Harry and Hermione? Always knew Remus was a smartie pants :)

And I loved this exchange: Sirius was looking back and forth between them, eyes dancing in a decidedly mischievous way. "So, how long have you been old marrieds?"

"That's part of the story we're trying to decide on," Remus said.

"No. I mean for real."
LOL at Sirius! Too funny.
calico321 From: calico321 Date: May 19th, 2004 08:44 am (UTC) (Link)
"Or," Sirius went on, "I could put on the Cloak and follow Snape to one of their little meetings. I have a life sentence anyway. I could always put an unforgiveable on Lucius Malfoy. Maybe Snape as well--just to preserve his cover, of course."

"Of course."

"I don't suppose Dumbledore would allow it."

"I don't suppose he would."

"I'm going to set Buckbeak on McNair one of these days. Promised him an impressive snack. I'm trying to decide whether I should feed Peter to him as a human or a rat."

"I think you need new fantasies, Sirius."

I *love* this exchange! :D

It's so hard to read other fics, because, to me, yours is canon, from backgrounds to characterizations. And, while I'm not really a shipper of any kind, I think you've done a fabulous job with Remus and Dora.

thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: May 19th, 2004 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey! Hope you don't mind, but I've just friended you. I'm a fellow HP-fic writer, and a huge fan of your work (as you probably figured out, since I recently Niffled a story of yours over at FictionAlleyPark). And since lessthanpie pointed me toward your LJ and current WIP, I figured I owed myself another good read. So in conclusion, I friended you. Yes. I've said that already. So... ta-ta!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 19th, 2004 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope! Thanks for the niffle, and I'm always glad for friends.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: May 19th, 2004 11:45 am (UTC) (Link)
No prob, and yay!

I just caught up with what you have so far of "Shifts." Lordy it's brilliant. It's rare to find a story with a plot that's actually unique AND interesting -- not to mention one that contains so much well-written dialogue. Kudos. I'll be keeping up with this one....
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: May 19th, 2004 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay, more Shifts!

Fern, you know I think it's brilliant, so I won't say it again (*g*). I just wanted to leave a comment giggling at Sirius and Remus discussing Harry's love life. And Tonks certainly isn't trying to hide anything from Remus, is she? I like that.
gentlespirit From: gentlespirit Date: May 20th, 2004 10:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey. This was reccomended for Remus fans to read, and wow! Would you mind if I friended you?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 20th, 2004 11:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Glad you like it! I never mind friends. :)
17 comments or Leave a comment