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Shifts, Chapter Four: Guardians, Part 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter Four: Guardians, Part 3
Well, it was too nice after work to go home, so I went up to the beach and walked around in my work clothes. I ruined my shoes, I think, but I shop at Payless, so it's not too big a deal. At the rate I go through shoes (as far as I can tell, regardless of their origin or price tag), it's a good thing that there's still someone out there who sells Really Cheap-Ass Shoes (tm). I found two rocks for my windowsill down near the tide line, one a piece of very dark red granite (I think) and the other a so far unidentified gray rock with a pretty white band of quartz going right around it (above the quartz, the rock gets a little of a reddish-brown tint, but I think that may be a stain rather than a change in the rock).

At any rate, it was nice to stick my fingers and cheaply-shod toes in Mother Atlantic for a few minutes, and if I didn't have to show up in public in bathing gear, so much the better.

Anyway, onward with Shifts. The last scene ended with a reluctant Remus Apparating after Dora, who has insisted on preparing his transformation site while he sleeps.

Table of Contents and Summary so far

When he arrived, Dora was already fussing at the door of the shack, reinforcing it with strong Repulsion Hexes on both sides. When it was closed, it would throw off any assault.

"Go on in," she said, her voice seeming to echo as his nervous system screamed for sleep. "I'll leave it open for the morning. I have to come back at noon with your last Potion anyway."

"I should learn to brew it."

"Old Snape says you 'don't have the skill for it.'" She shrugged. "Then again, he says that about everyone. I could try to teach you." She smiled self-consciously, an unusual look for her. "That'd be a switch, me teaching you."

Sleep was descending on him so quickly that it seemed to be buzzing in his ears, but he smiled at her. "I'd be more than happy to learn from you, Dora."

"We'll see," she said. "I'll have to know if you really are rubbish at Potions, though--it's a bit fussy, and it could hurt you if it's wrong. Now, go in and sleep, Remus. I mean it. I'll take care of everything."

He slipped around her and into the shadows. "You need to get some sleep as well," he said again.

She shrugged. "After lunch, Mum will make sure I sleep. I promise. She never lets me get away with this."

"I shouldn't, either."

"You're not my Mum."

"Nor are you mine."

She bit her lip and started Engorging the boards at the bottom of the shack, swelling them into the soft earth for several feet. Remus stretched out on the dirt floor, feeling the magic as it worked its way through the root systems, seeming to charge the very ground. He had always participated in this part of the Charming. It was interesting to feel it from the outside, to...


He opened his eyes. He'd half-drifted off. The Charms didn't seem to be growing in the Earth anymore. "What?"

"I'm going to go now. I'll be back at noon." She knelt down beside him and handed him a blanket that she'd apparently Conjured. "I'm sorry," she said. "I can't seem to help bossing you."

He smiled, still half-asleep, and took her hand and squeezed it. "It's all right, Dora. Sometimes, it's nice to be fussed over." On an impulse, he kissed her fingertips, then let go of her hand and started to drift off again. The last thing he saw before slipping under completely was a confused frown on her rapidly blurring face.

I shouldn't have done that, he thought vaguely, then lost the train of all of his thoughts.

It seemed only a few seconds later when she woke him again, but the sun coming through the shack's windows had changed. He sat up groggily. "Noon?" he asked.

She nodded. She was standing across the room, a steaming goblet of Wolfsbane Potion in her hands. She held it out.

He got to his feet and took it from her. "I'm sorry about... I don't know what on Earth made me do that."

"'S all right," she said. "You just surprised me. Is it because we're... so close? To the moon, I mean?"

"Perhaps," Remus said, in as final a tone as he could muster, not wanting to discuss this particular aspect of lycanthropy with Dora. Or with anyone else.

He did tend to become more physically affectionate near the moon, but he knew better than to indulge the impulse. He'd learned everything he needed to know about biological urges before the age of seven, thanks to the Wolf, though he hadn't understood consciously what he was feeling until his father had explained it to him when he was ten and finally confided that not everything the Wolf wanted seemed to be prey... at least not the sort of prey that Remus understood. It had been a horrendously embarrassing realization then, and it wasn't especially better now. He'd spent his adolescence having terrifying dreams of which he was ashamed not because he'd seen half the pretty girls at Hogwarts naked in them, but because--more often than not--somewhere near the... climax... of the dream, he would look up at an open window, and there would be a sudden full moon, and he would awaken drenched in a cold sweat, certain that the transformation was raging through him, and he would rip the girl (who was of course not really with him) to pieces and not be able to stop himself as he looked out from inside the Wolf's eyes, horrified and sickened. He hadn't been able to look Lily Evans in the eye for weeks after the first one, in which she had figured rather prominently. He kept wanting to apologize to her, but it would have been a bit awkward to explain what he was apologizing for.

After some time, he'd simply accepted the nightmares as part of his life, but they had never completely left him. He knew rationally that it was nothing but anxiety on his part, but neither the fear nor the shame about it ever seemed to go away. He knew what the affectionate behavior was about. The Wolf had scented a different sort of prey.

And he would not allow it. Not even in the privacy of an afternoon's fevered dreams. Not Dora, who had always loved and trusted him, for some mad reason of her own.

"You should go," he said. "Your parents are expecting you."

She nodded and started to leave, but stopped at the door. "Remus, we're all right," she said. "You surprised me, and that was all."

"It won't happen again."

"It didn't bother me."

"It bothers me."

"All right." She took a deep breath, then smiled as brightly as ever and blew him a kiss, as she so often did. He made himself catch it, as he always did. Just like nothing strange had happened. She squeezed her face and turned her hair a lurid pink, then tipped him a wave. "I'll see you on the other side," she said, and closed the door behind her.

He drank the Potion at a gulp and set the goblet on the low bench that was the shack's only furnishing, then cleared the hidden skylight to make sure he would have a decent view of the moon. It was meant to be a clear night, for which he was grateful. The delayed transformations of cloudy nights were always more painful, the Wolf forcing itself more violently through its barriers.

As the sun poured down throughout the afternoon, making the shack pleasant and peaceful, he read a book of pastoral poetry and calmed himself as much as he was able. When the light was gone, he removed his robes, folded them neatly under the bench, and hoped he wouldn't decide to shred them in the night.

Then he sat still beneath the skylight, his head turned up at a sharp angle, waiting.

The moon rose.
11 comments or Leave a comment
liebchen127 From: liebchen127 Date: June 20th, 2004 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)

I really LOVE your Remus... and your Dora... and especially the two of them together :)
From: anatomiste Date: June 20th, 2004 01:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Fantastic, as always.

I envy your living so close to the sea.

The Charms didn't seem to be growing in the Earth anymore.

Do you really want to capitalize Charms?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 20th, 2004 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't make heads nor tails of JKR's capitalization scheme. I may have to re-read, much as I would hate it (:P) to try and get a sense of which words she capitalizes regularly.
From: pandora_hyde Date: June 20th, 2004 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
This bit was really sweet and lovely, Fern. I enjoyed the glimpse inside Remus's thoughts and the history regarding his transformations - you've written it really well. Not much action, but I suspect you've fed us some information which will play later in your story. :)

I'm always so pleased when I see Shifts has updated - you're doing a fab job! Thank you for sharing it with your eager readers.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 20th, 2004 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hope I have. I'm not always entirely sure what's going to come in handy. :)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: June 20th, 2004 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
If I didn't already love Remus, I would love him now.

Are we going to see anything of Dora's POV?

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 20th, 2004 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are we going to see anything of Dora's POV?
Interesting you should ask. The question of the "Shifts" POV is at a critical point--if I'm going to do any, erm, shifting, the moon-cycles are the best structure to hang it on. I know I'm going to do wide-POV "breakouts" while the moon is up (SW readers of mine will recognize the sudden explosion of points of view for brief scenelets; I've done it in nearly every long SW story I've been involved in), but when I come back, do I come right back to Remus? Or should Dora narrate the next lunar cycle? If so, I think I'll go with King's structure from the stand, and go back to Remus afterward, then back to Dora, then add Sirius to the mix, then return to Remus.

But I'm on the fence about it at the moment, and I only have one more story section I'm absolutely sure of the voice on before I have to make the call!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: June 20th, 2004 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whew! So there's been three parts of Chapter Four already... who knew? I appreciate this shipping, really, but that's because there's a plot too. I can get into romance when it's not the only thing. The OotP-related tensions in parts 1 and 2 were very well-done.
mafdet From: mafdet Date: June 20th, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love your Remus and your Dora. Your glimpse of Remus' inner life, and the nature of his transformations, shows a lot of why he's so controlled and avoids relationships. I think it stands to reason that the werewolf transformations would have a sexual as well as predatory nature to them and that they'd be intermingled. (And nice touch to refer to Lily. :> )

And thank you for making Dora good at Potions. We know she had to get a NEWT in Potions to become an Auror, and Snape wouldn't give her one unless she deserved it. After ranting and grumbling at SQ and on FA about the dumb Doras which infest fanfic, it's nice to see her bossy and competent canon characterization here.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 20th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, you know how much I love "dumb Dora" stories, not.

The animal is all instinct, and was mature in a way that the child Remus wouldn't have been. (Which is, of course, the real reason he had to stop transforming with Elizabeth in Lines of Descent when he became too big for her to control, though neither voices it, precisely). I actually feel quite sorry for him.
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: June 21st, 2004 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I know I've already said this about a gajillion times, but I do love your Remus. It's very IC for him to do something on an impulse and then fret about it afterwards. Poor Dora, knowing that he didn't mean it as anything other than friendly (or at least *thinks* he doesn't). I also like your take on why lycanthropy might make Remus quite recitent when it comes to romantic relationships - I think you're right to conclude that all aspects of animal behavior would start to come to the fore at this time in the lunar cycle.

Great stuff. As always.
11 comments or Leave a comment