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Shifts, Chapter 36: Mists and Mirrors, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 36: Mists and Mirrors, pt. 1
Thanks to everyone who proposed DoM divisions, particularly ashavah, whose notion of a soul room migrated to the Mystery of Identity here (well, not here, but in upcoming sections). That was a fun exercise.

Chapter Fifteen ("You Are The Murderer!") is up at SQ. Minor wording changes here and there, nothing too fussy. Just clarifying sorts of things.

Moving into the DoM battle, Snape has told the gathered members of the Order that Harry is missing, and Remus has decided that he needs all hands on deck, including Sirius's, because Harry has only five people with him, and they don't know how many Death Eaters will be there.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

They Apparated to the Ministry through Aurors' headquarters, Dora and Kingsley using Inclusion Incantations to pull Sirius and Remus through the security. Moody opted to come through the Visitor's Entrance, in the hope of catching Harry there, since it was the only way he knew to come in.

"Would he have gone directly to the Department of Mysteries?" Kingsley asked. "Does he even know where it is?"

"He's been dreaming about it all year," Remus said. "I know Harry. He'll have figured out where it is by now."

"How? He's only been here the one time."

"I don't know."

"It all seems quiet, at any rate," Kingsley said.

"Could we have beaten him here?" Dora asked hopefully. "He can't Apparate, after all, and the Floo Network is being watched."

"I wouldn't count on it," Sirius said. "Harry tends to find ways to get where he means to be."

"And if he doesn't, one of the others will," Remus agreed. "There are so many ways out of that castle. Including the Shrieking Shack tunnel, which would get them to Hogsmeade. And they could floo from any number of places there without being detected."

"Or they could bring Hagrid's ruddy thestrals," someone growled, and Moody appeared, shuffling out of an Invisibility Cloak. A button on his chest read, Alastor Moody, Vigilant. "There's six of them, rooting about in the rubbish around the phone box."

"Dammit," Remus said, not realizing that he'd had hope until it was dashed. "All six of them, then." The Weasleys, Hermione, Neville. Who had the other been that Snape had mentioned?

The Lovegood girl. Luna.

Remus had liked her, but didn't recall her having any special skill at Defense.

Harry, he thought. Watch out for them. We're coming.

"Let's go," Sirius said.

They crowded onto the lift and hit the button for the ninth floor. The doors had already closed when they realized they'd made a mistake.

Remus and Sirius had both been here many times over the years, and the others were here daily. All of them were quite accustomed to the bored, flat female voice that announced the floors, and would have utterly ignored it. They were leaning in to confer about plans when the voice appeared. It wasn't bored and flat, but high and breathy.

"Ooo," it said. "Little boys and girl, all sneaking about where they don't belong... They're all in such twouble now!"

Sirius said it first: "Bellatrix."

The lift screeched to a halt, caught between floors, and they were all thrown to the ground.

"What shall we do with our bad little childwen?" Bellatrix's voice mused. "Shall we take them up"--the lift ascended rapidly, going up like a racing broom until it hit the top of its shaft and shuddered at the impact--"or shall we drop them wight back down again?"

The lift began to plummet, the golden grates rattling ominously. Remus rolled over onto his back and pointed his wand at the ceiling. "Reductio!" he yelled, and the top of the lift blew into shards. Before he could act further, Kingsley had scrambled onto what was left of it and cried "Solvo!"

Bellatrix's voice shrieked, and was suddenly cut off as her hold on the lift was dissolved. Unfortunately, gravity was acting on her behalf.

"Tonks!" Kingsley called. "I have to hold off our guest. Get this thing under control!"

Dora was already angling for a better view of the lift's controls. She raised her wand and called out, "Subsisto!"

The lift stopped, completely still.

"Is everyone all right?" Remus asked.

"Vigilance," Moody muttered to himself. "A closed box when we know there are enemies nearby. We're bloody brilliant, you know."

"We're wasting time," Sirius said.

"That's the object," Remus pointed out.

"We need to re-establish the charms on the lift," Kingsley reported, looking down through the shattered roof, "or we're not going anywhere. No floor to floor Apparition. Damn. She's done the thing properly, I'll give her that."

It took them nearly half an hour to return the lift to the Ministry's control, Remus doing much of the charm-work while Sirius muttered that they should have brought broomsticks and flown to the next set of doors. Finally, they set it to rights, and took it only a single level down, exiting at Magical Games and Sports. Posters of Quidditch players blinked themselves awake and watched through sleepy eyes as the five members of the Order of the Phoenix ran toward the stairs, which ran parallel to the lifts across the width of each floor's main work area.

The stairs were clear until they reached level eight--the lobby level--but as they ran for the ninth floor, Sirius, in the lead, abruptly stopped, nearly tipping over at the edge of the staircase. He didn't bother with a warning; he just raised his wand and threw an Impediment Jinx at the rest the group. Remus, closest to him, was thrown back into Moody. The others slowed.

As Sirius regained his balance, they came forward. The marble stairs had disappeared into a slope of slick marble.

"Heaven knows what they have at the bottom," Kingsley muttered. He tried to end the spell with the simple reversal, but it didn't budge.

"It's Transfigured," Sirius said. "Not charmed. Cursito."

The smooth ramp rippled and cracked, and folded itself into shallow stairs. Sirius ran down them without looking back, and the others followed. At the base of the staircase, the floor had been strewn with broken crystal and aconite leaves. Dora Vanished all of it with a very irritated sweep of her wand.

They were standing at the far side of the ninth floor from the lift and the closed corridor that led to the Department of Mysteries. Remus had half expected to find one or two Death Eaters lying in wait, but none were present.

Moody took the lead as they made their way across the floor, his wand at the ready, his eye scanning all the dark shadows.

The reached the lift and the narrow corridor.

It was neck-high with an unhealthy-looking white mist, which swirled and eddied lazily from the lift to the Department's door. Illusion Charm.

"Wonderful," Kingsley said. "I wonder what lovely place this will take us to."

"Let's not find out," Moody said, and tried to do a reversal on it. The spell stirred the mist slightly, but had no other effect.

"It's Bellatrix Lestrange," Kingsley said. "And I'd wager Malfoy and possibly Dolohov, depending on how difficult You-Know-"

"Voldemort!" Sirius yelled, his frustration coming out as he slammed Kingsley into the wall. "Bloody say it."

"Voldemort," Kingsley said calmly, and disengaged Sirius's hands from his robes. "Depending on how difficult Voldemort expected this to be," he finished. "All of them are powerful, and none of them are fools. They're trying to delay us. And that's exactly what they'll do if we stand here trying to figure out a counter-spell."

"Do you have a better suggestion?" Moody asked, trying another spell (this one caused the mist to turn momentarily blue).

"It's obviously an Illusion Charm," Remus said. "I don't know what it will make us see or experience, but if we remain together and keep moving, we should be able to get through to the other side of it."

"You want us to go into this blind?" Kingsley asked, and didn't wait for an answer. "Bloody Gryffindors. You're all mad. You know that, don't you?"

"Well," Sirius said, "nothing like a bit of old school rivalry to get us going, at any rate."

He took a step toward the mist, and Remus grabbed his shoulder. "Stay together, Sirius."

Dora took his other hand, Kingsley put a hand on her shoulder, and Moody grabbed Kingsley's robe.

Sirius led them into the mist.

As soon as Remus crossed the barrier into the mist, the smell of sulfur filled his nose and made him choke. Behind him, Dora yelped in pain and let go of his hand. He grabbed it back. They seemed to be on a series of stones in a lake of molten rock. Logically, this close to it, they would simply be incinerated if it were real, but of course it wasn't real. It wasn't--

A large blister appeared on the wall beside Remus and burst, splattering him with white hot liquid. It burned holes through his robe.

"Move quickly," he said, prodding Sirius along.

"We can't hold on," Sirius said.

"It's an Illusion. We can walk through the--"

"It's already burned you."

"Why would they give us stones, except to distract us again?"

Behind him, Dora was breathing quickly. "Oh, hell," she said. "I'll trip over the damned stones anyway." She drew her wand and pointed it at herself, doing a Flame Freezing Charm. "I love you," she said, and stepped off her stone.

And screamed.


"It hurts," she said. "But it's not actually burning. It's just charmed to feel like it. Let's move."

She ran ahead recklessly, and Sirius jumped down to run after her. Remus followed, and heard Kingsley and Moody behind him doing the same.

The pain was exquisite and intense, but the fact that it was totally unimpeded by the Flame Freezing charm was enough to convince Remus logically that it wasn't fire, no matter messages were being sent up to his agonized brain. He barreled forward, feeling the others moving around him, not seeing them, and abruptly ran into something cool and solid.

The fire disappeared.

They were standing beside the plain black door where the Order had spent so many nights waiting for Voldemort to tip his hand. The corridor was empty except for a few wisps of mist, already dissipating.

Remus looked around at the others, all breathing hard, all red in the face. No one was burned. He looked down at the sleeve of his robe, and discovered that the holes burned in it had vanished.

"Catch your breath," he said.

There were general, dazed nods, and they stood there for nearly a minute, wasting time but not wanting to face whatever was beyond on anything less than full consciousness.

When their breathing slowed, Remus straightened up and turned the handle on the door.

It opened easily, and they entered the circular antechamber of the Department of Mysteries.
16 comments or Leave a comment
ashavah From: ashavah Date: February 15th, 2005 07:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm very happy and proud to have been of help.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 15th, 2005 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)

Edit things:

The reached the lift and the narrow corridor
The = They

And there was something else, but I've lost it. A missed word somewhere...'

I love Moody's badge. I think I would enjoy the Ministry's sense of humour, if current Ministry officials weren't such a bunch of gits.

jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 15th, 2005 08:30 am (UTC) (Link)

It didn't occur to me that the Death eaters might have put up barriers to delay the Order. But you're right, it's the logical thing to do.

Eep though. Definite eep.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 15th, 2005 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's reducto not reductio. Getting through the suspenseful buildup towards the actual action (for which the illusory lava walk is a good metaphor) so not much to say re the characters' psychology, not to mention it's late and after half a bottle of cava I'm not feeling very articulate, but lovely Bella is present in full force even by voice only, and I loved Sirius' "bloody say it".
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2005 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's reducto not reductio.
I couldn't find it at all when I was looking for it last night, so you're quite probably right.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 15th, 2005 10:15 am (UTC) (Link)
either I have a memory lapse or there's a big plothole - most probably the former! why isn't the Order guarding the door tonight - the one night it's needed? obviously Harry and co. would have encountered the person on duty if there had been one, but I can't remember if there's a reason why there isn't someone there.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2005 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I ran into that awhile back. When DD realized that V now knew how to get the prophecy, I had him tell the Order that their time would be better spent tracking DEs and protecting several possible targets. Hence, their lack of presence at the door when Harry got there. It's weak--what kind of stupid reasoning is that?--but it fits the facts.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: February 15th, 2005 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh my goodness! What a breathtaking beginning to this chapter. Your traps are brilliant and naturally you managed to keep every one of them in character through out. I love it. It's brilliant! The interaction of these five is a wonderful parallel with the interaction between the six students. Good Grief, Fern! This IS what JKR meant to put here.

Someone remind me that Shifts is not canon.

Did they actually get on that elevator? *headdesk* Remus has been out of the war too long, Dora and Kingsley are on familiar territory and probably didn't think of it as potential danger, and Sirius probably didn't care, but Moody was right -- HE should have known better!

Kingsley's not a Gryffindor. Is he Ravenclaw?

Sirius led them into the mist. Sob! Interesting that his first instinct on the stairs was to stop the others, and that he couldn't lead his friends into danger and "froze up" in the Lake of Fire illusion. Sob! Sob!

Dora's "I love you" - just in case, mind - was very sweet and very her.

These charms of the DE's are just plain evil. You've shown us some lovely, fun, convenient sides to magic. Naturally there'd be the reverse but I hadn't given it much thought before. Evil.

I need to catch my breath as well...

(I bet you do to, Fern!) :)

marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 15th, 2005 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shifts is not canon.

(I've been trying to make myself remember that for days.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2005 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
(I bet you do to, Fern!) :)

You're not kidding. I overslept four hours this morning. AAAAGH.

Almost done.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 15th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, you really aren't rushing it, are you? ;)

That's good though... I'm just morbid, and want to see Dora and Remus's reactions. Well, actually, I'm also dreading that, because poor Dora will be especially upset.
(no subject) - feylin17 - Expand
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 15th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Moody is Vigilant? Or is it Vigilante?

Either way, I giggled.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 15th, 2005 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Probably both, though I meant "Vigilant," in referernce to "Constant Vigilance," which is probably what he told the phone box rather than telling him why he was there.
From: isabela113 Date: February 16th, 2005 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
The moment the first impediment came up, I realized that indeed, if a gaggle of Death Eater had made it into the Ministry, they probably did make themselves hard to get to.
Wonderful description of the action. I am very much looking forward to seeing your take on the battle itself.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 16th, 2005 05:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant Fern. How can you manage to keep this up? We all know what's going to happen, but still, here we sit, every night looking for updates, on the edge of our seats, AGONIZING over this. Fluff that isn't, fanon that should be canon. YOU KICK MAJOR ARSE! :)

Write like the wind, Fern! Just like the wind!
16 comments or Leave a comment