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Shifts, Chapter 3, part 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 3, part 2
Okay, it's 2:41 am, and I'm not remotely sleepy. Good thing I work the late shift tomorrow.

Anyway, the Tonks Sorting is up at SugarQuill now, with a lot of the suggestions you folks made. (It will take awhile to get used to Sanjiv being a MacPherson--he's lived in my head as "McChattan" and as one of Dora's best friends for months now--but it's easier to say, anyway.) I realize that I forgot to change "ill" to "sick." And I wussed out and left the whole Sorting Song in.

Anyway, that was the last thing I owed before another "Shifts," so as long as I'm awake and fidgety at this ungodly hour, here we go.

Table of contents and summary so far

Last seen, Remus had given Dudley detention for breaking into his office, and come home to find something disturbing in the photos Sirius had shot the night before. Cut to the next day.

Friday was unremarkable.

The second form class, following Daniel Morse, got sidetracked into a discussion of the bubonic plague, which Remus finally had to cut off in order to get back to the Renaissance, which they would actually need to master this year. First form went more-or-less as planned. Daniel came to Remus's office during his free period, full of gory plague stories that he'd found and been unable to share in class.

"Your classwork is actually after the plague," Remus prodded.

Daniel waved a dismissive hand. "I'm doing that as well, but I didn't know how interesting this was last year!"


"Yes. Mr. Levinson wanted to make sure everyone talked, so I didn't get to talk as much. It wasn't nearly as much fun. I like you. It's more fun when I can tell someone what I know."

"Well, you do need to let other people talk from time to time."

"They talked today!"

"True. Say, why don't you start a club where you could talk about all of this?"

Dora arrived with his noon Potion and invited Daniel to stay for lunch, but the boy's entirely girl-free atmosphere got the better of him, and he bolted at the thought of eating in front of a woman. Dora laughed and set out the meal, his Potion in an innocuous thermos, and ultimately prevailed on Allan Garvey to join them when he returned to the office.

After lunch, he went on to teach his fifth form class. Dudley stomped into the classroom like a rampaging erumpent and glowered through class, but did nothing overtly disruptive. Keeping Danie's statement in mind, Remus observed the way the boys alternated their speaking, looking at one another to judge whose "turn" it was. He could see the brighter boys, like Paul Freehof and Stephen Wells, chafing with a desire to answer, but they raised their hands only once each.

And yet, boys like Dudley or Piers, who might never have spoken in class at all, had taken the trouble to do their assigned reading, and, because they expected to be called on, had at least made an attempt to not look like fools.

Had Levinson "traded" Paul Freehof and Stephen Wells for Dudley Dursley and Piers Polkiss? Or were Paul and Stephen also learning an important lesson about fairness?

Remus rejected the last--there was nothing fair about being asked to disguise one's own gifts.

It was a trade off of some sort.

A club, he thought again. I'll get the bright ones an extra club.

He sighed in the middle of Piers's confused recitation of the incidents leading up to the Hitler's first arrest. It was pointless to start thinking of this position in the long term--he wasn't here to change the culture of Smeltings, but to look after Dudley Dursley. A club for bright students to discuss gory tales in history (and undoubtedly, given their age, any mildly off-color tale they could find as well) was all well and good, but it was time he wouldn't be able to promise them for long, or with any degree of reliability even now. And that would also be unfair.

He clarified a few points with Piers, then the bell rang. It was his last class of the week (and the last of this moon, he reminded himself with distaste), and he went straight home after it.

Dora and Sirius were in the kitchen at Number Twelve when he got back, a pile of her paperwork stuffed into her satchel and sitting on the floor beside her. The photos were spread around them, and they were holding them up to a handful of plain frames that Sirius had apparently found somewhere in the house.

"I'm on desk duty today," Tonks explained. "I asked Kingsley if I could take it home. He pushed a pile of nonsense on me and told me to read it, as he thought there were clues on Sirius's whereabouts."

"Apparently, I've been spotted in Jakarta, Buenos Aires, and Boston this week," Sirius said, slipping a photo behind the glass of a heavy silver frame. "First thing after my name's cleared, I'm going to every place they've said I've been seen. Buckbeak could use the exercise."

He turned the frame around. "I think this one should go in your office," he said.

Remus blanched. It was the one Kingsley had showed him last night.

"I don't think so," he said. "It's not even one we were posing for."

"That's the point," Sirius said. "Look at the ones where you're posing. They look about as natural as Nymphadora's hair."

Dora stuck out her tongue.

Remus looked at the other pictures spread on the table. Most featured him standing beside Dora with his hands on her waist. She had crossed her arms and leaned back into him with a glittery smile.

"A lot of Muggle pictures are quite posed. We can be a couple uncomfortable with the camera."

Sirius wrinkled his nose. "This one looks like the pair of you. The others could be anyone."

"No," Remus said. "This is just me waking up groggy."

"And not thinking about it," Dora said. "That's the point."

Remus took the picture and looked at it. Dora was leaning comfortably over his shoulders, her arms stretched out on the table in front of them. His own hand was raised slightly, the back of his fingers brushing the shallow cup of her elbow (it was this, somehow, that bothered him most). She'd just kissed his temple, and her face was still very close to his.

"We're not generally quite this cozy," he said.

Dora took the picture impatiently, then put it down and shook her head. "Remus, I hug and kiss you all the time. We're quite that cozy. And even if we weren't, if we're playing at being a happy couple, a picture that implies it--to anyone not sitting in this room, anyway--is a good thing, not a bad one." She put the picture in his briefcase and started clearing the table for supper.

Remus surrendered. He could always put it on the shelves behind his desk, where Allan Garvey could enjoy it at leisure, and he himself wouldn't need to look at it often, though he suspected he would do so at first.

"So, tomorrow," Dora said. "Do we know where we're going?"


"The Garveys?"

"Right. Yes, I have Allan's address."

"Good. I'll borrow Dad's car and pick you up somewhere neutral." She smiled apologetically. "Aunt Narcissa's taken to coming over. She's sure Mum has an idea where Sirius is. Mum thinks it's better if we don't give her any clues."

"Narcissa is actually visiting Andromeda?" Sirius asked, incredulous.

"Out of the pure love in her heart," Dora said blithely. "The concern she shows... why just last week, she told Mum that it wasn't too late--she could still walk away from us and be accepted in decent company again."

"I'd wager that went over well," Remus said.

Dora laughed. "Oh, it got Mum in a fine temper. She threw Aunt Narcissa out. But she'll be back. Mum hasn't given up on her yet." She shrugged. "She says she gave up on Sirius and it turned out to be a bad idea, so she's not going to give up on anyone else. Ever."

"Sirius was actually innocent of the charges. Narcissa is what's she's always been."

"A spoilt harpy with all the compassion of a watersnake?" Sirius asked.

Dora grinned. "That's about right. I think Mum's also trying to throw suspicion off of the Order by keeping it on herself. She's anxious to see you, you know. But they watch her very closely."

"Lucius and Narcissa?"

"When it's not them, it's the Ministry. Kingsley can't control the entire search, and it would be pretty obvious if he dropped surveillance on your favorite cousin. And he can't very well assign me to do it, for obvious reasons." Dora shook her head and effected a deep sigh. "Ah, they'll never trust the Tonks women! You'd think we'd a habit of cuddling up with dangerous fugitives and vicious monsters or something!"

"People do have mad ideas from time to time," Sirius agreed.

I feel a bit...: awake awake

18 comments or Leave a comment
myf From: myf Date: June 3rd, 2004 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Mmm. Goody, more Shifts. *greedy*

I read the Dora Sorting on SQ, Fern, and I really like the changes you made. After re-reading closely, I think it reads a lot better, and also has more depth. Hmm, I guess I should go over there and leave a review, but I'm lazy.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: June 3rd, 2004 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Keeping Danie's statement in mind, Remus observed the way the boys alternated their speaking,

I think you need an l in there.

What was it about last night? The kids couldn't sleep, I couldn't sleep, and at least you did something useful with the time.

Narcissa, eh? Could she have been the woman at Smeltings... no, of course not. Not Narcissa. But who?

I am entirely too impatient for every installment of this story.

From: anatomiste Date: June 3rd, 2004 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
This story reminds me of Orson Scott Card's writing. I'm not entirely sure why. But that is, of course, a good thing!

It was a trade off of some sort.

I checked, and this should be 'trade-off' or 'tradeoff' (either is acceptable).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Card's one of my faves, so I definitely take it as a compliment. :)

Thanks for the tradeoff tip. I knew something looked wrong about that.
wm_law2003 From: wm_law2003 Date: June 3rd, 2004 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Very nice. Loved how remus is/was uncomfortable with the unposed pic, yet admitted he'd probably look at it even if he doesn't want to.

I really really like :)
dipsas From: dipsas Date: June 3rd, 2004 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Your Remus can't keep himself from getting really involved in his teaching, now can he? (thinking of the club starting thing) I love that. In all, you're spoiling us. Thanks!
From: pandora_hyde Date: June 3rd, 2004 08:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Your story is coming along so well, I must admit that your Sirius is probably my favourite one in fan fiction. ("First thing after my name's cleared, I'm going to every place they've said I've been seen. Buckbeak could use the exercise." is absolutely perfect. Not only have you captured Sirius' 'voice' but the cadence of his speech.) Well done, you!

Have you ever heard of British actress Laura Rees? In my mind she is your Tonks. Let me see if I can get a piccie... here's one:


Not only does she look/act the part (in my mind) her behaviour last October was quite Tonks-ish!

I do hope the film crew for Order of the Phoenix give her a look.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 09:52 am (UTC) (Link)
That definitely sounds Tonks-ish! She has a good look for it (though I also like whoever the model is in wm_law's icon).
From: pandora_hyde Date: June 3rd, 2004 11:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, that's Natalie Imbruglia. She's an Aussie singer who lives in London now. She was quite popular a few years ago; I'm not sure she's done anything recently.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 3rd, 2004 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely love this story (cue squee in a fangirly manner). I like the idea of Narcissa sniffing around her sister trying to get information, it's wonderfully unsubtle of her, and very much something that Draco would do. However, when Remus is speaking to Daniel and suggests starting a club, I'm not sure that he'd use the word 'Say' at the start of the sentence; it sounds quite American to me, and after Tonks says that she's on desk duty, you refer to her as 'Tonks, and you don't do it elsewhere.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
you refer to her as 'Tonks, and you don't do it elsewhere.

Ack, good catch!

Huh. I always thought "Say..." was stereotypically British. I'll work on that. I really need to spend some time in England to get the rhythm of the speech down.

Wait, did I just say that I'm planning an expensive vacation to improve my fanfic?

From: pandora_hyde Date: June 3rd, 2004 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry, but no, it's not British. He'd only say, "I say! Let's start a club..." if he was in the RAF during the second world war. :)
Have you seen this site:

It may help with the British-isms. This one's quite good as well: http://www.phrases.org.uk/

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 3rd, 2004 12:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: June 3rd, 2004 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like "Shifts" very much. It's very well written and I am looking forward to reading the next parts.

The Humongous Bighead Site is a great idea.

From: cadenza622 Date: June 3rd, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
All I can say after reading that is that I wish Remus were my history teacher - you write him as a teacher brilliantly. (*so fed up with Dudleys hogging the conversation*) And I loved Sirius's line about visiting all the places he's been spotted. So like Sirius, and so sad...
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: June 3rd, 2004 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I found that line of Sirius's very poignant too :(
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: June 3rd, 2004 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful, as usual. I'm really enjoying this story. and I like that bit at the end... how's it go?

"Ah, they'll never trust the Tonks women! You'd think we'd a habit of cuddling up with dangerous fugitives and vicious monsters or something!"

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 6th, 2004 05:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wow, you've written a lot!!

Okay, so I've been away and I haven't had the chance to check in a few weeks, but I was still surprised at how prolific you have been. *impressed*

I wanna see that picture!! Good on Sirius for getting a good candid shot. Those to are simply *adorable* and I love watching these scary new thoughts slowly seeping into Remus' brain. I wish I knew where Tonks is at this point--is she thinking what we're thinking? Obviously she's much more self-confident than he is so the idea's not quite so terrifying to her, but that doesn't necessarily mean she's actively considering 'going there' (eek, what a term) at this point. Now that I've gone on about this I'm wondering if I'm supposed to know this already...must review.

Anyway, I love your light touch on the R/T--it makes it so much more believable because, while I like them, they do have a few issues that they need to work through and it irritates me when people don't address that. You're doing it in spades. Great.

I too found Sirius' travel plans very bittersweet. Again, you have a light touch that engages the reader--knowing the future as we do--without really dragging us down with it.

Keep writing!
18 comments or Leave a comment