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Shifts, Interlude: Beneath the Moon - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Interlude: Beneath the Moon
Ah, I baked kimmelweck rolls this afternoon. They didn't come out right (my roommate says I should have activated the yeast rather than following the recipe; live and learn), but I got the general gist. I do love coming from a town where our signature dishes are wings (greasy deep fried chicken wings) and beef-on-weck (red meat on a roll crusted with salt, cut by caraway seeds and horseradish... it tastes good, honestly). Probably a good thing there are so many hospitals in Buffalo... But I've always thought that a junk food tour would be a good tourist draw. You can try out the best wings, the best beef-on-weck, frozen custard, and local pizzarias. Then catch a Bills game and have all four while you watch them lose.


Table of Contents and Summary so far


Beneath the moon, there was no Remus Lupin, not in any meaningful sense. Oh, he had Remus's memory, and sometimes even loved Remus's loved ones (if they were very, very careful), but he was just a flickering candle in a raging storm.

Human thoughts were elsewhere.

Tonks was wrong. Her mother didn't make sure she slept after lunch.

In fact, as soon as she walked through the door, Mum whisked her upstairs to her childhood bedroom and ordered her to bed. "Until I decide you've had enough sleep, young lady."

Tonks didn't bother to argue. It would have been pointless in any case, but in this case, Mum was right. She fell into her bed and pulled the covers over her, and slept dreamlessly until it was nearly dark. When she awakened, the housecats who had claimed her bedroom in her absence--nearly identical littermates--were on the bed with her. Bludger was sleeping on the pillow, his paw resting on her forehead. Quaffle had draped himself over her ankles. Snitch was a warm spot curled up in the curve of her knees.

She smiled to herself and blinked lazily at Bludger for awhile, then gave in to temptation and moved her arm to scratch his ears. Bludger woke up with a surprised purr, and the other two stirred with more disappointed sounds. Tonks sat up and scratched each of them in turn, the other two always angling for a better spot. By the time they were satisfied, she was fully awake and night had fallen.

She glanced at the window. The full moon was riding high in the sky, unhindered by clouds, and she thought of Remus, there in his shack--only she couldn't bring to mind the Wolfish form she'd imagined for him long ago. She could only see him there as he'd been at noon, sprawled beneath the blanket she'd Conjured for him, dreaming his alien dreams.

She'd nearly forgotten the kiss he'd dropped onto her fingertips, but somewhere in his dream, he muttered "Dora," and there was something in his voice that had thrilled and terrified her, and embarrassed her in some way. She had been very, very careful not to look at the loose blanket draped over him. That he was a monster under the moon was something she had long ago accepted as a fact of life. That he was a man beneath his robes was something she rarely thought about, despite nearly two decades of fuzzy-edged daydreams about living happily ever after at his side.

She'd known her face would be flushed and her breathing too rapid, so she'd gone back outside until it was time to wake him for his Potion.

It didn't mean anything. It hadn't even necessarily been that sort of dream. This close to the moon, maybe he'd dreamed he was chasing her in the woods. Or maybe he'd been scolding her for bossing him around.

But it hadn't sounded like that.

And he hadn't smelled like that.

Tonks shook her head. Vapors.

"Dora? Are you awake up there?" Mum called from downstairs.

"Yes. Thank you."

She pulled herself out of bed, stretched catwise, and headed down to the kitchen, where Mum's Sunday roast was filling the house with comfort.

Outside his Smeltings residence, Dudley Dursley didn't even glance at the full moon.

He flicked his match into the gutter and took a deep drag on the cigarette in his hand, then leaned back against the wall with his eyes closed. "Git gave me detention," he muttered, for the sixth time since Friday. "I'm not going."

Piers Polkiss, who was sitting on the rail smoking his own, pack, shrugged ina noncommittal way. "Don't see how you can avoid it. Skip enough detentions, they'll suspend you. And they'll pull you from the boxing team."

"Not when I'm their best chance at a championship."

"It's Baden in charge, not Levinson."

A creepy, panicky feeling rose up in Dudley's midsection every time Joe Levinson's absence came up in conversation, and it did so now, making the tip of the cigarette tremble in the darkness. He pushed it away, as he always tried to, and almost always succeeded.

Except this summer, when his miserable cousin had pointed a wand in his direction, and the stars had gone out.

The whole thing stunk of Harry's world, from the beginning to the end, and Harry was going to get a beating for it one way or another. And this new bloke, Lewis... he stunk of it as well. And if Dudley found out that he'd had anything to do with... what had happened... he'd--

Do something about it.

They couldn't use magic in the middle of Smeltings.

Wands were breakable.

And Lewis didn't look like he'd last long in a fair fight.

He shrugged, not letting any of this out. He'd tried to tell Piers once, but found that the moment he started speaking, his mind started racing in circles, and he couldn't remember what he meant to say. "Fine," he said. "I'll go. We'll see how well he likes the visit."

Piers laughed. "Wish I could watch, Big D."

The Levinsons and the Garveys had a long-standing bridge club that met on Sunday nights, much to the annoyance of Alan Garvey, who loathed playing cards, and had been unsuccessful in convincing his wife and friends to try a medieval role-playing game that his students had introduced him to--one of the variants of G.U.R.P.S.--at which he had considerably more skill. But with Joe's failing health, he didn't complain about the game anymore. He wasn't sure whether any given visit would be the last, and he didn't want to waste it. Whatever game they were playing was mainly a cover for conversation, anyway.

"I think she's adorable," Miriam Levinson said, looking suspiciously over her fanned cards and squinting at Joe like she was trying to read his mind. "A bit on the loopy side, but so cheerful. Can't you just see her in the sixties, dancing around barefoot on some hillside with bangles on her arms? I'm half-surprised that I don't remember her from one gathering or another."

"I wonder if Raymond noticed the sixties," Anna said. "Can't you see him with his nose in a book, wandering through a festival and not even hearing the music?"

"Hmmmph." Joe rearranged his cards and made a bid. "Don't mistake Lewis. He's got his eyes open. Observant fellow, if you ask me."

"You like him because he smells like chalkdust," Anna said.

Alan frowned. "Don't you like him?"

"Oh, yes." Anna waggled her eyebrows lecherously. "But it has nothing to do with chalkdust."

"It's the eyes," Miriam agreed. "A girl could drown." She reached across the table and touched Joe's hand so he'd know she wasn't actually planning to flirt or making a comparison. (Unlike Anna, who Alan loved specifically because no topic was off limits for jokes, Miriam always made a point of not joking about other men.)

"Did he have good eyes?" Anna asked breezily. "I wasn't looking there."

Alan shook his head. "When I leave you, it'll be for a blind girl."

Anna considered this. "No," she said. "Too easy. I'll let that one be." She grinned, and under the table, she ran her toe up the inside of his calf.

"Is he a good teacher?" Joe asked.

Alan nodded. "I'd say so. The boys like him, at any rate, and they're talking about history. That's a good sign. I've never heard them having an argument about Algebra after my class."

"Good. That's good." Joe sighed heavily and squinted out the window at the full moon.

Alan frowned, and they finished out the rubber speaking of different matters. Joe and Miriam won it, and the deck passed to Anna for a new hand.

On Privet Drive, Petunia Dursley was in her nightdress, scrubbing the kitchen sink with an old toothbrush. She'd woken up with this urge several times since her house had been invaded by Lily's people, and Vernon no longer bothered trying to stop her. She would be certain that things were sparkling again, then discover a fingerprint she'd missed, or a strange film line at the edge of a glass. She'd come home that night to find a half-full drinking glass with some bits of pink tissue floating in it.

That glass had gone straight to the dustbin. She hadn't even emptied it into the drain, not wanting whatever the tissue was to get into her sink. Instead, she'd poured it over the fence into her next door neighbor's garden, then pinched the glass and taken it to the bins. After that, she'd scrubbed her hands for fifteen minutes.

She stopped after awhile, the hot water throwing steam across the window, and looked up at the moon in the sky.

Werewolf night.

She hadn't told Vernon when they'd seen the letter signed from one "Remus J. Lupin," but she knew the name. At the end of Harry's third year, a letter had arrived by owl to "all concerned parents," stating that one of the professors at That Place (it always rated capitalization for her)--a Remus J. Lupin--had been revealed as a werewolf.

What sorts of things were they exposing the boy to?

She shook her head.

At least her Dudley was far from that sort of horror.

Andromeda Tonks gave Dora several boxes of leftovers to take to Sirius, as well as a scroll with a long, chatty letter for him. It contained nothing of note, and had no direct address--it could as easily have been for Dora herself--but she wanted him to feel... thought of. She doodled flowers along the edge of it, as she always had when they were children, and charmed a clumsy bee to fly up and down the margin. It was certainly not her common style of communication (at St. Mungo's, she was known for being brusque in her memos, and deadly serious with her patients), but she thought it might make him happy.

She owed him that much. She'd given up on him for more than a decade, and now, she couldn't make it up to him.

Dora kissed her good night and hugged her, then kissed Ted and disappeared down into a shadowy part of the garden, screened from the neighbors' view by a large willow tree. A moment later, they heard the pop as she Apparated back to her flat.

Snitch wandered outside and wound around Andromeda's feet. She picked him up absently and held him as he purred. "She works too much," she said. "She's so tired."

Ted put his arm around her shoulders and led her inside. "I know. But she's doing what she needs to do. And at least Sirius has some family there."

Andromeda nodded and leaned into Ted's embrace. For all of Sirius's ravings about the family--from the time he was old enough to understand it--he'd also been tremendously focused on it. He'd loved his brother ferociously and quite unwisely, and of course he had cared for Andromeda herself. He loathed Bella with a great passion, and held Narcissa in contempt for having petty ambitions and shallow goals, unworthy of her status (though he never worded it as such). And his mother could hurt him as no one else in the world could.

At least Auntie was gone, Andromeda thought. At least Sirius didn't have to deal with her.

A thought came into her mind, one that was quite literally Unthinkable. She saw Sirius, she saw his childhood home, she saw Auntie screaming into the dusty silence.

Then, as though someone had put a Summoning Charm on her very thoughts, she found herself thinking of something else entirely, of walking with little Sirius in the winter streets of London, of seeing Muggles pouring out of a church on Christmas Eve and wishing one another Happy Christmas as they stood together in the shadows.

What had she been thinking of? What had almost come together for her?



"You looked like you were reaching a conclusion."

"I was. Tip of my mind's tongue. But it's gone now."

As she turned to go into the kitchen to begin cleaning up, another word crossed her mind, a word with which she had never had any good associations.


Sirius had been fighting with Kreacher since two hours after Remus had left last night.

The house elf had secreted away a locked box that Remus knew perfectly well had been in a wardrobe in the attic, a green-velvet lined box containing a silver dagger, a silver basin, and a silver chalice, all engraved in medieval French. It was used for truth-scrying, and Sirius had a thin scar on the palm of his left hand, a souvenir of his mother's absolute conviction that he'd helped Andromeda elope at the end f his third year.

The method had been frighteningly accurate.

Objects like that tended to defend themselves strongly, so he'd decided to wait until everyone was out of the house for a solid amount of time before he attacked it and melted it down. Unfortunately, it was already gone. Kreacher swore that he had nothing to do with it, but Sirius knew better. He had that obsequious "keeping Mistress's secrets" look about him.

So far, he'd found nothing, and was in a foul temper by Sunday afternoon when he decided to quit looking for the nonce.

Very, very briefly, he considered trying to draft a reply to Harry's letter--Hedwig was still flying around upstairs--but the idea of coming up with a code and writing a letter had no appeal.

He hadn't precisely promised not do what he was thinking of. Remus would be furious, of course, but Remus, no matter what he thought, was not Sirius's keeper.

At nine o'clock, Sirius began to stick his head into the kitchen fire.

The night wore on, and one by one, they dropped to sleep, leaving the world in the realm of dreams, madness, and instinct.

The Wolf prowled its tiny prison, swiping savagely at the Charmed walls, howling his frustrations at the welcoming moon. At last, even it wore itself out, and curled into one corner of the shed, dreaming its increasingly human dreams as the land moved back toward the light. It fought the change--after so many years, it knew better, knew it couldn't win, but the instinct to just survive for one more day always got the better of it.

But in the end, the moon set, the sun rose, and the man inside the Wolf ascended once again.

20 comments or Leave a comment
From: pathstotread Date: June 22nd, 2004 12:33 am (UTC) (Link)
This fic is fantastic, FernWithy. It's the first Remus/Tonks fic I've ever read and I'm enjoying it immensely. I'm anxiously awaiting the next chapter; in fact, I'm going to put you on my friends list just so I don't miss it. :)
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: June 22nd, 2004 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
...That he was a man beneath his robes was something she rarely thought about, despite nearly two decades of fuzzy-edged daydreams about living happily ever after at his side.

What a beautifully observed paragraph. I can definitely see Dora being a little spooked by the practicalities of a romantic relationship with someone she has adored from childhood. I liked the whole effect of this multi-POV interlude very much. It seems a good way to confirm some of the things we had inferred from observation, and also to lay lots of teasers for the next chapter.
likeafox From: likeafox Date: June 22nd, 2004 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I loved the way you did this one. You give great insight into the thoughts and lives of all the other characters, and it's a perfect way to cover the time Remus is transformed. Really great effect.

Just one thing I see, though, wouldn't Remus be a little calmer during the transformation, because of the wolfsbane?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2004 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, agreed. I need to work on that section a bit--I just needed a reason for him not to work as a narrator.

Though I think he may be using the transformation as an excuse to take out his everyday frustrations on something. He's not biting himself or anything.
sreya From: sreya Date: June 22nd, 2004 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, is Snape still the one making the potion? I've seen the theory used elsewhere that Snape makes the potion particularly well, and when Remus uses a potion made by someone else (Ministry, local apothecary, whatever), then the wolf isn't quite so calm & collected.

I think I see now why you were struggling with that decision about POV -- you had characters just clamoring to say something! I think I particularly liked Petunia's little bit, and for once, I'm on her side. If I'd found that glass Moody had washed off his eye in -- YECH!!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2004 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, is Snape still the one making the potion?

Nope, Dora's making it now. But I want her to be quite good at it, so I'd rather it not seem subpar.

I think Remus could just be overstating the case in PoA--it's a whole lot better, but he's still, you know, a werewolf. After all, a single missed dose was enough to send him into full-fledged predator mode, even though he obviously needs to be dosed quite a few times in the days leading up to it. And it's a new Potion; brewers might still be tweaking it for best results.
sreya From: sreya Date: June 22nd, 2004 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that would certainly make sense about Dora making it, don't know how I missed it. We certainly wouldn't want her potion-making skills to be subpar! Poor woman's already got enough of a reputation as a klutz.

And I like your explanation that Remus is overstating just how much the potion does. It's very in character for Remus.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: June 22nd, 2004 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, once I figured out what the bits of pink were... ewww. (...Should he be, um, losing stuff in there, though? *frown* I... oh, brother. *sits back and covers eyes and tries not to think about it*)

And I am not sure anything else has ever conveyed the horror of Sirius's situation alone in that house with the portrait quite the way Andromeda's thought and its getting snatched away by the Fidelius Charm did. Gah.
dipsas From: dipsas Date: June 22nd, 2004 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)
There were important bits on your main characters too here, but most of all, I felt intensely sorry for Petunia. It was a very nice touch that she (deep down somewhere) cares about Harry too ('What sorts of things were they exposing the boy to?'), but the way you bring out how frightening every kind of magic, dark or otherwise, is to both her and Dudley... it's just wow.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: June 22nd, 2004 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! I loved the multi POV interlude!! Very very excellent. I hope we get one of these every Full Moon!
sonetka From: sonetka Date: June 22nd, 2004 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Really, really good - especially that little bit with Petunia. I found myself really sympathizing with her...eek!

One extremely tiny nitpick; simple past should be "stank" not "stunk." Of course, considering who's doing the talking, it's eminently realistic that they wouldn't be note-perfect grammatically, so my apologies for pointing it out if you did that deliberately :).
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: June 22nd, 2004 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)

How old is Tonks?

In fact, as soon as she walked through the door, Mum whisked her upstairs to her childhood bedroom and ordered her to bed. "Until I decide you've had enough sleep, young lady."

Granted, she's a beloved only child, still living at home, in a dark time, but my sense is that she's being overly babied by her parents.

But she's an auror, for heaven's sake. She's in a dangerous job that requires maturity and self-reliance. Andromeda is treating her like a 10 year old.

Will part of the story be her getting more independence from her parents? (If this goes where I hope it goes, then she'd better!)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2004 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: How old is Tonks?

Oh, yes. Andromeda babies her to no end. (And, like Remus, she sometimes gets in a mood where being fussed over isn't too terrible.) But Andromeda is going to get as big a shock as Remus when she figures out that Dora is not, in fact, ten. What Kingsley said, at least in my little version of the 'verse, is true enough--Ted and Andromeda made a family and made it a cocoon. She's got a bit of empty nesting going on.

But more than anything else, I think it's a pattern of behavior that Dora herself expects--Mum is Mum--and there's not much incentive to change it.
From: pandora_hyde Date: June 22nd, 2004 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Honestly Fern, this was just marvelous. You found a delightful way to remedy your recent POV quandary! Good on you.

Firstly, I found myself drawn into that scene with Tonks and the cats; I could feel the dim light, the easing-out-of-sleep feelings and thoughts. It was the perfect way to allow her mind to float to Remus. I like your idea that she can deal with his werewolfhood, but his manhood (so to speak) made her a bit wobbly. You managed to convey some burgeoning adult feelings on Tonks' part without drifting into anything racy.

And Dudley! Aren't you making him complex! I find I want to know more.

How interesting for you to show us what all the characters think whilst the moon is full. That's really excellent and I know I did an exercise something like that (way back when) at University writing classes: writing one scene but from each characters POV, and I know I wondered at the time how it might look inside a story. You've done it quite well and it all flowed nicely.

I do have a query in regard to your view of the Fidelius Charm. According to JKR, it doesn't matter whether a person knows where the house is or whether they've been ther before, unless they're told by the charm-keeper they simply can't find it. Why would it be a necessary part of the charm for someone to be unable to even think on it? Even if Andromeda went to Grimmauld Place, she would simply not see #12 in between numbers 11 and 13 unless Dumbledore told her.
I hope you don't think I'm being nitpicky, I'm just curious. :)

Oh my. Narcissa must have the Truth-Scryer. Poor Sirius. No wonder he met Harry that night in the fire.

It does end a bit quick with the "one-by-one" drifting off to sleep mention.

One other small quibble: I'm not sure what point was the Garveys/Levisons bit. It seemed a a reiteration of what we already know,and that there was nothing new in it. Did I miss it? I'm sure I did.

I noticed quite a lot of smelling going on in this one.;-) Dudley might have thought "reeked" rather than stank or smelt. I suppose it depends how bad you intend the smell to be. :

Now in regard to the "tame werewolf" discussion. I'm not sure Remus wasn't being somewhat wry when he said:

"The potion that Professor Snape has been making for me is a very recent discovery. It makes me safe, you see. As long as I take it in the week preceding the full moon, I keep my mind when I transform…. I am able to curl up in my office, a harmless wolf, and wait for the moon to wane again.”

A wolf under any circumstances is not harmless; it is a wild animal. I always interpreted that statement ironically, "I'm only a wild animal but not a monster" kind of thing. A wolf could still viciously attack any human or animal. However, as a pack animal, it could be kept in check (somewhat) by the alpha member/s of the pack. Which is how he was somewhat tame with the animagi marauders.

Now, in Fern's story, she's shown us the transformed Sirius as being distinctly canine with just the occasional non-canine expression. So, by and large, in Fern's World animagi are true to their animal form. We can draw the conclusion that a wolf, even a tame one, would still be decidedly wolf like and Remus wouldn't want anyone around even a harmless wolf. I suppose it would be like the people who own somewhat domesticated wolves as pets; they can be trusted with their trainers but not with "just anyone."

Corblimey, that was verbose.

Well done, again, Fern. Thanks.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 22nd, 2004 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
I do have a query in regard to your view of the Fidelius Charm. According to JKR, it doesn't matter whether a person knows where the house is or whether they've been ther before, unless they're told by the charm-keeper they simply can't find it. Why would it be a necessary part of the charm for someone to be unable to even think on it? Even if Andromeda went to Grimmauld Place, she would simply not see #12 in between numbers 11 and 13 unless Dumbledore told her.
I'd think that the not-being-able-to-see-it would be a complex, last resort sort of magic about Fidelius, and probably the first few layers are like the protections around the Quidditch World Cup championship--Muggles just suddenly remember something else they have to do. Where the tougher stuff would come in, I'd think, would be if, say, Andromeda decided to go to Number 12 to get that scrying bowl. Or if Narcissa did--they both know of the existence of the house and probably how to get past its outer charms if they were determined enough. What I think Fidelius could do at that level--like the description of Voldemort pressing his nose up against the window of Godric's Hollow--would be to hide the Order of the Phoenix from their view, even if they were looking straight at them.

I was under the impression that the appearing house wasn't part of Fidelius, but was one of the many protection charms that Sirius talked about to hide the house from Muggles, and that the secret Dumbledore was keeping was that it was Order headquarters. Harry needed to be told, or he wouldn't be able to see anyone.

Well, except maybe the Weasley children and Hermione.

But that would be at the extreme level of the spell, not the sort of distant level where thoughts could still be deflected.
From: pandora_hyde Date: June 22nd, 2004 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, well I always knew my memory was rubbish. You're right, of course, about that 'muggles suddenly forgetting' thing. Clever Fern! :) I do like the idea of 'layers' to a charm and naturally the more complex the charm the more layers.

And I meant to comment on your odd named foods. I think I've been to Beef-on-Wick, or I might be thinking of Ross-on-Wye... or is that Berwick-on-Tweed? :-) I'm being snarky. I have no right to throw stones when we eat very odd things like Twiglets.
belita013 From: belita013 Date: June 22nd, 2004 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really liked these interludes.

I think you showed a good balance between surprise, uneasiness and thrill in Dora's reaction to Remus. Very nicely done.

I really loved Petunia's part. And you know, I think I would have thrown that glass away too! Ew. But as someone else said, she did show a little concern for Harry, which added a new aspect to how I see their relationship.
myf From: myf Date: June 22nd, 2004 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful interlude - my favourite part so far. I don't know whether it's because Shifts has been posted in so many little parts, and I've been reading quite disjointedly, but this part seemed to flow really well and still retain forward movement. *re-reads* All right, so that comment doesn't mean anything... I think I mean that I liked these small insights into the characters' lives, even if we don't find out too much about them. (I can't wait for more on Petunia and Dudley, personally).

'Nuff rambling by me. This was great.

A couple of typos:
</i>Piers Polkiss, who was sitting on the rail smoking his own, pack, shrugged ina noncommittal way.</i>
Random comma, and missing space.

Hmm... I thought I saw another, but it has disappeared.

vytresna From: vytresna Date: June 23rd, 2004 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, I have GOT to hear about this attempt to bring Sirius to Andromeda - if that's what it is? The Andromeda part is fantastic. Dudley has a complexity I'm sure he'll never have in canon as well. (Well, pretty sure.)

And as for that truth-scryer... I'm dying to know.
siegeofangels From: siegeofangels Date: July 4th, 2004 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi, I just stumbled onto this, and wow. I think I'm going to have to friend you to keep up with updates, if you don't mind.

I'm loving the story so far--it's unique but very plausible. There's so much that must be going on behind the scenes of the books that we never know about because all we get is Harry's POV.

And I think you've done a really great job with the peripheral characters. They all seem very real.
20 comments or Leave a comment