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Shifts, Chapter 36: Mists and Mirrors, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shifts, Chapter 36: Mists and Mirrors, pt. 2
Grrr. Got halfway through a big sequence of figuring out which door to go through, and then, reading for shouted dialogue, realized that the door to the antechamber was left ajar from the bell jar room, so any time before Harry started sealing off doors in the brain room, the Order should have just been able to follow their trail.

Oh, JKR. You make it difficult to delay these people.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Somewhere in the darkness, a door slammed shut, and a voice shouted from what seemed to be a great distance, "WE'VE GOT THEM! THEY'RE HERE!"

"Lumos," Dora said, and a tiny globe of light appeared. The others followed. Their wands managed to cast a very faint glow throughout the room.

The room was black and empty. Eleven doors were shut against them, with only the exit into the corridor open.

"Which door just closed?" Sirius asked, running to the nearest and pounding his fist against it. "Where were they shouting from?"

"We can't know," Kingsley said. "These doors are charmed to prevent most kinds of casual eavesdropping. Moody, can you see through any of these doors?"

Moody shook his head. "They're good down here. I can't see a damned thing through any of it."

A voice cried out--again, from what seemed to be a distance--"Colloportus!"

"That's Harry," Sirius said. "I can't tell which direction it came from!"

A higher voice, a girl's voice, began to repeat the spell somewhere in the undefined darkness, but was cut off with a scream.

Dora ran for a door to the right, and suddenly went skidding across the floor. She got up, pushing herself up with her hand, and then screeched at her palm. "Blood," she said, holding it up. "Fresh. They were just here, and someone's hurt."

Sirius took her hand and inspected it, as though he'd never seen blood before. "You said they all connect up, didn't you?" he asked.

"Yes, but it's huge."

"Is it charmed to keep us confused?"

Dora shook her head.

Sirius opened the door directly in front of him and went inside.

Remus hesitated. Getting lost in a maze of departments at the Ministry seemed like a less than stellar plan.

"Sirius, I think we should--"

"RON, NO!"

The voice carried through the open door, loud and perfectly clear. It was Harry's.

They followed Sirius.

The room they found themselves in was richly appointed, with deep velvet draperies and dark wood furniture, but it was dominated by mirrors. They were everywhere. Small mirrors stood on the desks and low bookcases, narrow mirrors ran beside the door frames, and large, free-standing mirrors formed a zig-zagging pattern across the wine-red carpet. Sirius stood in front of one of these, not looking at, instead turning his head, almost sniffing for a sign of Harry. There was something odd, but it took Remus a moment to recognize it. The reflection in the mirror behind Sirius was certainly mirroring his nervous movements, but it didn't show the room or the man it was reflecting. The Sirius in the mirror was sixteen years old and standing on a rain-drenched path near the Potter home.

Remus glanced down at a mirror on the bookcase next to him and saw only his own face. His eyes drifted down to the books. They were all journals and diaries.

Sirius, his eyes somewhat wild, moved further into the room, and the mirror he was standing in front of reflected the room again. Dora crossed in front of it and Remus briefly saw her unmorphed, her hair long and loose, moving through her West Kensington flat.

"They can't be far," she said. "They sounded very close."

Remus moved further into the room. Something snarled at him and he whirled toward the sound. A mirror stood in the shadows. From it, a gray wolf with golden eyes glared out at him. He looked at it for a long time--too long--before moving on. It slunk out of the mirror's frame and disappeared.

Sirius was at the far end of the room now, trying doors. Two opened onto cupboards that seemed to contain more mirrors, the third into a narrow corridor. "This way," he said.

They followed.

They found themselves in an room that looked like it had been hit by a hurricane. Parchment from the desks had been strewn around the room. A grandfather clock lay sprawled across the floor, and a glass-fronted cabinet full of Time Turners was falling, breaking, and repairing itself in an endless cycle.

"They've definitely been here," Moody said.

Off to the side, Remus saw an office with its door ajar. Books had spilled from the shelves and bright drops of blood dotted the floor between it and the black door that he presumed led to the antechamber. For a moment, he considered following it, but it would put them right back where they'd come from, and that had been no good.

"They've left," he said. "They're somewhere else."

They ran through the Time Division without a backward glance. To one side, a bright light shone from a long room, and voices babbled on. Sirius paused there. "Harry? Harry?"

Remus looked in. The room was lined with shelves of glowing spheres, the prophecy records that all of this had been designed to get through. Shelves had been shattered and jostled for the length of the aisle, and glowing white oracles spoke over one another. Near the door, an old man was saying "...king who shall be again..." and further down, a woman wearing outdated Muggle clothing was saying, "...will come upon us from above with fire and terror..."

"Harry!" Sirius yelled.

"They've left already," Remus said again, quietly.

Sirius licked his lips and nodded.

They pushed open another door into another narrow corridor, which opened into a bright and brilliant room. On the walls, a mural of the Muses had been painted, and the figures in it danced and sang through visions of natural beauty so real that Remus was certain they were charmed--he could step through them and find himself in the canopy of the Amazon jungle, or at the edge of a great desert canyon, or on a path along a forest stream. The soft music of a lyre filled the air. Marble statues from Greece stood in shafts of what appeared to be sunlight, and the pearly ghost of a woman drifted toward them with a heartbreaking smile. "What may I show you to?" she asked. Her voice was heavily accented, but Remus couldn't place her origin.

Remus found himself staring at her, knowing he meant to do something.

"We have been studying the classical world as you can see," the ghost said, "but also the natural wonders, and while I obviously cannot open anything, I can show you where to--"

"There are six children in the Department," Dora said beside him. "Have you seen them?"

The ghost shook her head. "No. No children. I saw a woman. She did that." She pointed to the mural around this division's black door. A great gash had been been opened in the beauty of it, leaving only peeling paint behind it. "Do you suppose they'll fix it? Could you? It really is a vicious thing, to destroy something lovely."

"I'm sure they'll fix it," Dora said. "But we can't. Remus, move."

She dragged him through the rest of the room, and Remus was embarrassed to find that the others were already in the next corridor, barreling toward the next division. It was another room where the children had obviously already been. Planets floated in the dim light. One of them--Pluto, by the position--had been blasted into pebbles and lay on the floor near the door.

"They had to have gone in and out through the antechamber," Kingsley said. "But why so many times? Why not just leave?"

"They must have got separated," Remus said. "Harry wouldn't have left anyone behind."

"We're not getting anywhere like this," Sirius said.

"Look!" Dora said, pointing to the back wall. Nine doors lined it in what appeared to be part of a concave arc. "They must go somewhere."

"Unless they're more cupboards."

"Cupboards full of planets? And if this many doors go to the same place, it's a good bet that's where they'll all wash up." She went up to the first one and tugged on it. It was locked. "Alohomora."

No response.

They all started trying the doors. None of them seemed to be unlocked or amenable to simple charms.

"Should we try a Reductor Curse?" Sirius asked.

"It's risky. We don't know what kind of protections they have."

"Find more doors," Dora suggested, and ran on into the next division. The doors continued a rather regular march along the wall now, set perhaps five meters from one another. The new room seemed to be fully unused, full of statuary and paintings and glass that were all covered with thick cobwebs. The five of them left footprints in a carpet of dust. Sirius tried the first door and Remus moved on to the second. Dora took the third, Kingsley looking over her shoulder.

No luck.

"We should find out what's on the other side of the doors," Remus said. "Then go back to the antechamber and call--"

"STUBEFY!" someone yelled, almost immediately beyond the door. "STUBEFY! STUBE--"

"That's Neville," Remus said. He kicked at the door. It didn't budge.

"Stand back," Moody said. "Take cover."

They all backed into the dusty room. Remus ducked behind an elaborate lecturn, Dora beside him. She took his hand and squeezed it.

"Reducto!" Moody called.

A flash of light hit the door and shook it, but rebounded back into the room, hitting the walls and shattering a free-standing stained glass window. They came out from shelter. Sirius looked frustrated.

Neville's voice came again, obviously answering someone. "I DOE YOU HAB!"

"They're in there with him," Dora said.

"DON'D GIB ID DO DEM! DON'D GIB ID DO DEM, HARRY!"

"And Harry," Sirius said. "We have to get in there."

Suddenly, someone screamed in agony. Sirius rushed at the door.

Remus grabbed him. "That's no good."

"What do you want to do, Moony? Keep trying doors while they torture all of them?"

Remus shook his head. "Of course not."

"Right, I'm sorry. It's Harry. Maybe not now, but it will be."

"I know." Remus looked at the doors. "Mad-Eye, I think the spell rattled the door a bit. Do you think if we hit them with more than one...?"

"Either that or we'll blow ourselves into dust," Kingsley said.

Dora shrugged. "Well, we'd blend right in in here. All five of us?"

"That might be a bit much. Try three and two," Remus said. "If that doesn't work, we'll try four."

The screaming stopped.

Remus joined Sirius and Moody at one door while Kingsley and Dora went to the other. They raised their wands together, and the others all looked to Remus.

"Now," he said.

Light shot from the wands, and the doors burst open, spilling them onto a narrow aisle at the top of what seemed at first glance to be a theater. Neville Longbottom was curled on the floor at Bellatrix Lestrange's feet, and Harry was holding out a shining glass ball to another Death Eater. Judging by the white-blond hair, it was Lucius Malfoy.

Remus saw Harry look up, then Malfoy turned toward them and raised his wand.
22 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
bronells From: bronells Date: February 16th, 2005 08:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm very conflicted. On one hand I can't wait to see how you end Shifts and on the other I'm dreading it. I just know that I'm going to be a right mess when you finally reach the "inevitable". But coming home from work to a new section is great, you spoil us with such regular updating! It's a very, very evil place you've left us hanging at the end of this update though! I look forward to the next part.

I hope you don't mind but I've friended you. :)
queenrikki_hp From: queenrikki_hp Date: February 16th, 2005 08:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been enjoying shifts for so long, it's awful to see that it's near the end. That being said, I really enjoyed this, but while I was reading, my eyes began to tear up and I couldn't help think about what I know is going to happen. Though in the back of my mind I have this secret hope that everything will turn out better this time (though I KNOW it won't)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 16th, 2005 12:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well... I don't know. Yes, Sirius will die, but I'm hoping that Fern will still manage to give us a slightly uplifting ending, like OoTP did. (Granted, it was lukewarmly uplifting, but all the same).
reetchick From: reetchick Date: February 16th, 2005 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I...don't even know where to start. I started reading "Shifts" two days ago, thinking I'd be able to pace myself and not get too far in - so that I wouldn't be 'stuck' with a cliffhanger - but I couldn't stop reading. It's just so good.

The Remus/Dora romance is delightful, and not soppy at all; Sirius is layered and complex and difficult, but his love for Harry makes him sympathetic; Dudley is actually a person, and not just the caricature JKR gives us; Snape is vile and awful, even though he is on 'our' side; heck, all the characters are so well-played, well-written.

It's going to hurt when Sirius dies. It's going to hurt more, even, than it did in OotP, because you're going to show us how badly it hits Remus.

Oy. I wish I had more words, and better ones. This is an absolutely enthralling, spellbinding (pun intended!) story, and I'm glad that I didn't wait to start reading it. Thank you, a million times over.
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 16th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh-oh-oh!

I love the Identity room. The Beauty room is wonderful, too. What's the room with all the dust?

Near the door, an old man was saying "...king who shall be again..." and further down, a woman wearing outdated Muggle clothing was saying, "...will come upon us from above with fire and terror..."
Am I supposed to know these prophecies from something I've read somewhere, or are they just made up bits like JKRs? (Not a critique, just curiosity)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 16th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I second the praise of your "expanded" DoM, Fern... the Identity Room was especially intriguing.

And the prophecies - oh, the prophecies! My favourite bit. The first one is in reference to King Arthur, isn't it? Well, that's my guess...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 16th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, the first is Arthur (King who was, King who is, King who shall be). The second was a random reference to the Blitz, before it happened.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 16th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
What's the room with all the dust?

The Faith division, as threatened. ;)
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: February 16th, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
*claps* Very nice!

And I, too, must say how much I loved the Identity room...seeing the Wolf, unmorphed Dora, and 16-yr-old Sirius made me shiver.

Cannot wait till you give us the next part. Excellent, excellent work.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 17th, 2005 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Love the different departments - wonder if JKR'll keep em. I'm going to be so confused when HBP comes out and JKR debunks all the background you've given us. Lovely update Fern. Write away! :)
From: isabela113 Date: February 17th, 2005 05:00 am (UTC) (Link)
The mirror room is fascinating. I think I understand Remus and Sirius' reflections, but Dora's is a bit of a mystery. It seems to have something to do with identity, clearly. Excellent job of creating something magical that definitely fits into canon.
raistmimi From: raistmimi Date: February 17th, 2005 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Got halfway through a big sequence of figuring out which door to go through, and then, reading for shouted dialogue, realized that the door to the antechamber was left ajar from the bell jar room, so any time before Harry started sealing off doors in the brain room, the Order should have just been able to follow their trail.

Oooh. Would you ever post the discarded piece, just for giggles? Or any others that you have made?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2005 04:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I usually just erase them and type over them. That's a loss in the age of computers--no scibbled-out drafts to post.
mrs_who From: mrs_who Date: February 17th, 2005 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Several chapters ago, someone posted an epiphany! type post in which she said she suddenly discovered that you were actually writing "commentary fan fiction". You were giving theories, working out ideas, making your literary comments into fiction... not just telling a story. That thought came to mind as I read this portion. You're commenting on the mysteries of life and your thoughts about it, not just your character's thoughts!

The new room seemed to be fully unused, full of statuary and paintings and glass that were all covered with thick cobwebs. The five of them left footprints in a carpet of dust. Ah - the faith room! You're commenting that JKR's world makes absolutely no use of Faith at all, I suppose. Nor do our characters - they make footprints on their walk through and don't stop to ponder a single thing. Interesting.

An identity mirror shows one's true self to the person looking in, I'm assuming. Remus' true self is a little too introspective and self-absorbed. Sirius (sob!) is still that run-away boy. *sniff* I'm getting teary, as I know what's coming. I read once that people who go through trauma or even extensive drug use when under the age of 25 tend to stop developing mentally/emotionally at that age. If Sirius went through extreme trauma at home in his teens and then was tossed into Azkaban after the most traumatic event of his life at age 21 or so, it's no wonder he's stunted emotionally. Dora's true self (brilliant!) is Dora Unmorphed - nothing more. In the shadows, of course, Remus true self is the wolf which hates him (Remus) as much as he hates the wolf. Liked it.

The beauty room captures Remus alone. Interesting! Dora gets snippy with the heavily accented woman. (For some reason, I was picturing Ursula Andress from that old movie She. Do you remember that?)

I can't wait to get to the next installment! I'm on the edge of my old, wooden desk chair!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 17th, 2005 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're commenting that JKR's world makes absolutely no use of Faith at all, I suppose. Nor do our characters - they make footprints on their walk through and don't stop to ponder a single thing. Interesting.

I guess it's a comment on the modern world, as much as JKR.

An identity mirror shows one's true self to the person looking in...In the shadows, of course, Remus true self is the wolf which hates him (Remus) as much as he hates the wolf. Liked it

Well, Remus was looking in a different mirror. I think of the mirror that Sirius and Dora passed in front of as showing other people how those who walk in front of it see themselves. The mirror back in the shadows probably shows a person what he fears most about himself.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 18th, 2005 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
About the Faith room... I'm not exactly sure what I'm trying to say here, so pleasebear with me for a moment! It seems to me that all of the things in the Faith room are things that... well, aren't really related to faith - as a feeling, or a belief system, or what-have-you. All of the imagery you've used - the statuary and the windows obviously represent the Church, which is a very constrained sort of aspect of faith, the way I see it. A very narrow one. So your comment seems to be not really so much about faith itself as it is about outdated material representatives of faith: the religious icons and the art of the Church. Like I said, I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this... it's just, I don't necessarily think that the dust-covered, forgotten objects in that room really mean "faith". I can't really think of any concrete way to illustrate faith...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the statues include Hindu gods and goddesses, and there are Torah scrolls in there as well and probably pagan symbols from Celtic times and so on, but no one is taking much interest in them, so there was no opportunity to really explore the place in any depth.
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 18th, 2005 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)
All right, I feel a bit chastened. :) Of course your interpretation of Faith isn't so narrow as to just include Christian symbols... my point was basically that there is so much more to faith than the symbols, is all. Well... just as there is so much more to identity than mirrors, and so on. I suppose I just have faith on the brain; I wrote an exam today in my world religions + ecology class. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2005 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I was a comparative religion major as an undergrad. I defy anyone who thinks an English or art history major is useless to find more job openings for comparative religion majors! But I love the stuff. I would so be getting out a feather duster if I could get into that room. I could study religion all year and be an extremely happy camper. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 18th, 2005 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
(As long, of course, as I didn't have to turn in papers or do anything dull like that. Just let me read myths and look at all the amazing things people have believed over the years, and the ways they expressed it... and not bother with conclusions... who needs 'em? I just like to know about it.)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 18th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
AGREED. Assignments make me kind of look forward to graduating, but I could just learn forever.
From: phaedra_hawke Date: May 22nd, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know if you even check these comments anymore as it's been so long since you originally posted but- I have goosebumps and feel myself choking up as I know what's coming and thanks to you we know and love Sirius more than we could just from POA and OOTP. Like the others said, I keep having to remind myself that this is not actually canon. It's fabulous and it hurts.
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