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Shades, Chapter Eleven: Gates to Nowhere, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Eleven: Gates to Nowhere, pt. 2
Tonks and Maddie were going into the Forest to investigate the glade, and Maddie was distracted by the gate McGonagall had once seen. Before they got to the glade, they were attacked by some of Aragog's offspring. Maddie got clear, but Tonks was behind. She's bitten by an acromantula, but before there's much effect, she's dragged underwater by a mysterious entity and comes to in the glade, where the entity, appearing as a young woman, tells her that it has seen that someone is trying to build more gates into the forest--gates which will allow Dementors through. She asks Tonks to find and destroy those gates, and gives her a ruby from a sword to use as a token, so that she will return a favor when it's needed. When they finish talking, she returns Tonks to the Forest, where Hagrid has joined Maddie.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




"Tonks!" Maddie cried, running forward and pulling her up from the stream. "Are you all right? I saw hands coming up, but I couldn't get to you in time..."

"I'm fine."

Huge hands gripped her upper arms, pulling her into the air and setting her back down gently on her feet. "Sorry 'bout tha'," Hagrid said. "They're gettin' a bi' adventuresome."

"You knew there were acromantulas here?" Maddie asked. "Tonks, did you know?"

Tonks shook her head. "No, though I'm not entirely surprised. We should have been watching more carefully at any rate. There are other things that we do know about."

"Righ', righ'," Hagrid said. "Like yer frien' in the stream?"

"What happened, Tonks?" Maddie asked.

The image of the inside of the glade was fading, and if it weren't for the ruby in her hand, she might have taken it for a fever dream. She had a sense that it wasn't something to be discussed freely, though nothing of the sort had been said. She decided to go to the main point. "Someone is building more gates," she said. "Gates that will let Dementors through. Dark creatures."

"Damn." Maddie bit her lip. "Hagrid, are there any gates other than the one in the clearing where they can come in?"

"Tha's the only one I know about. Dumbledore'd know more about it, but he's not here just now."

"I can find out," Maddie said. "Can we leave?"

"I'll take you out through my place," Hagrid offered. "You could stop by, have a cuppa."

"I don't think we quite belong on the grounds," Tonks said.

"If Slughorn can 'ave his old students up to the school, I don' see why I couldn't..."

"Slughorn... what?" Tonks stopped in her tracks, forgetting the gates and the odd lady and the glade, and everything else. "Someone has people who don't belong on the grounds dropping by, now of all times?"

"It's all righ' by Dumbledore," Hagrid said. "They're old friends, and if Dumbledore trusts a fellow..."

"Bloody..." She shook her head. "I think we'd best take the other way out. Better to be careful when we can."

Hagrid muttered a few disappointed agreements, and led them back to the wall. Tonks opened the gate and let Maddie out ahead of her. "Hagrid," she said, "keep your eyes open on any of these odd folks wandering around the grounds, will you?"

Hagrid nodded, and Tonks let herself out, pocketing the ruby as she went. Maddie was waiting on the road, her eyebrows drawn together. "What was in the glade? That was where you were, wasn't it?"

"Yes. I can't... Everything was there," she said. "I don't think I can explain any more. There are things it seemed to be, but it wasn't just those things. It was... something else. And I don't want the Dementors getting at it, so we need to find those gates. I think I know someone I can ask about the ones that open into the Forest, but I've no idea how to start looking for the ones that lead there from the outside."

"I can find out how," Maddie said. "I wish I'd seen it." She smiled. "Then again, I can't say I'm terribly sorry to not be going back to the Forbidden Forest to study it. Acromantulas! What are they thinking? I thought Filch was mad when he said there were werewo--" Maddie cut off her own sentence. "Oh. I'm sorry."

"He was mad," Tonks said, barely listening to herself. "Considering he came up with that one when there was only a quarter moon. We were fourth years, for heaven's sake. It's not like we didn't know anything about lycanthropy. That was third year material. Did he really think he could still scare us with that?"

Maddie took the hint and steered the conversation back to school days, discussing neither the glade nor Tonks's very personal interest in lycanthropy. By the time they reached Hogsmeade, they'd moved back to the matter of the gates, and had to curtail the conversation altogether when the streets began to be crowded (or as crowded as they got in Hogsmeade).

"Do you want to come back to the house for dinner?" Maddie asked. "I'm no genius in the kitchen, but it's got to be better than the Hog's Head, and we could play cards or whatnot after."

Tonks checked her watch. "I don't think I can. I have things to do before I get some sleep before my next shift."

"When should we meet again on this?"

"I'll owl you. Soon, though."

"You can come by without a reason."

"I know."

Maddie hugged her in front of the Hog's Head and kissed her cheek, then Apparated home.

Tonks glanced up at the window of her room, then over at the Shrieking Shack. She didn't go in.

Instead, she Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron and took a Muggle bus to Grimmauld Place.

Someone had blocked most of the entranceway with a clumsy wooden screen hiding Auntie's portrait, and Tonks had to fight off an urge to move it. Various boxes were on the stairs, and several file cabinets seemed to have been set in the living room.

"Hullo?" she called.

"MONSTROUS HALF-BLOOD...!"

Tonks smiled to herself and patted the wooden screen. "Hullo, Auntie," she said. "I've missed you, too."

"...TRAITOR! MURDEROUS THIEF!"

She pulled the screen aside and struggled with the curtains. A dark pair of hands grasped around the other side, and they tugged it together, cutting off Auntie mid-rant.

"'Lo, Kingsley," she said. "Whose screen?"

"Hestia's. It took quite awhile to find a distance we could leave it at that the enchantments wouldn't push it away. Why on Earth did you come in bellowing?"

"It just seemed too quiet here." They moved away from the portrait and put the wooden screen back. "Is anyone else around?"

"Mad-Eye's due in later and Dedalus was just by, but at the moment, it's just me. I was finishing up some work for the Prime Minister. It's easier to take care of his paperwork where I can use magic on it. Bloody Muggle keyboards make my head ache."

"Does Remus ever come by here?"

"I haven't seen him." Kingsley frowned, but didn't pursue the subject. "Aren't you meant to be in Hogsmeade?"

"I just need to talk to Phineas," she said.

"I don't think he can reach Dumbledore right now..."

"No, it's Phineas I need to talk to. Do you mind?"

"Of course not. Mind the boxes."

Tonks headed up the stairs. "What is all this? It looks like we're moving out again."

"Oh, people have brought things in. I suppose we should find places for all of it, but since no one lives--" He stopped. "I'm sorry, Tonks."

She went up the stairs without speaking again. The whole damned house was a disaster, nearly anonymous behind the detritus of Order life. She peeked into the parlor on the second floor--the family tree was up, as it always had been, but much of the furniture had been unceremoniously shunted to one side, and the floor was taken up by several large pieces of parchment with maps drawn onto them. Something on the maps had been marked, but she didn't know to whom they belonged or what was being worked on here. Someone had thrown a curtain up over the rod to let in more sunlight, and it looked disheveled.

She closed the door and went on.

The guest room where Phineas Nigellus's portrait hung was mostly untouched, though the two beds had been stripped and not re-made for some reason. She hadn't spent a great deal of time in here, but she thought there were several silver mirrors and combs missing from the top of the dresser.

"Grayfur?" she said. "Grayfur, are you here?"

Phineas Nigellus slunk into the portrait frame, looking around disdainfully. "I avoid it when possible," he said, then looked at Tonks without recognition for a moment before nodding. "Ah. An actual Black in the house. How novel."

"Oh, you know as well as I do that they're probably all related somewhere, Grayfur."

"That name was rarely even amusing from my great-great-grandson," he said. "I do not intend for it to be used in perpetuity in his absence."

"You miss him," Tonks realized.

"Don't be absurd." Phineas took a seat. "Why have you come? I have no means of--"

"I know. I'm not here to talk to Dumbledore."

"Oh. I see."

"How much do you remember about your time as headmaster? I'm afraid I don't know how much you retain as a portrait."

Phineas looked vaguely offended to be referred to as an object and have the reality of his personality called into question, but he just sniffed. "I have a reasonable knowledge of my own activities," he said. "Why?"

Tonks sat down on the bed across from him. "There were gates put into the Forbidden Forest while you were there. At least one gate..."

She told him what had happened earlier in the day, and he listened with what seemed to be growing interest, nodding in various places and frowning in others.

"Acromantulas," he muttered. "That oaf undoubtedly brought them himself."

"I have no idea. Do you know about the gate?"

"Of course I know about it, child. I approved it, didn't I? There's only one. It was meant to allow creatures in danger to enter the Forest. We had to put several wards nearby to keep the more dangerous ones from entering the more populated parts of the grounds. I recall at one point, an erumpent came through it. We had to capture it and send it to a different haven of course. More trouble than it was worth." He shook his head.

"Only the one gate," Tonks mused. "Are there other places they might come out? Other havens?"

"There was one built in the Black Forest in Germany," Phineas said. "Another on the steppes in Russia. The Ministry saw to the gates anywhere in the Empire, of course. I expect there would be a few in India, possibly Australia, Canada..."

"Anywhere else here in Britain?"

"No. The whole point was that they were losing magical havens here. The Muggles found it amusing to cut down quite a few of the trees at the time. Idiots. Was that all you needed to know?"

She nodded. "Are you all right here?"

"Oh, it's delightful here with your friends," he said dryly. "Quite like sharing the house with that mad elf, but without the irritating habit of respecting my position."

Tonks smiled, and chatted with Phineas for a few more minutes before excusing herself. Phineas heaved a great sigh as she left.
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Comments
From: bangcollision Date: December 3rd, 2005 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adore Phineas. I really feel like he isn't used enough in the stories themselves. I love the charactization of him in this one, it matches him perfectly.
castaliae From: castaliae Date: December 3rd, 2005 08:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I really liked the coversation with Phineas. That he may have been a headmaster really came through. You also managed to make him seem almost tragic figure. Thanks for sharing.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: December 3rd, 2005 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Loved the conversation with Phineas!
(Deleted comment)
dizzy_chisel From: dizzy_chisel Date: December 4th, 2005 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I know I'm repeating what others have said, but damn it: your Phineas is wonderful. And your Tonks.
sreya From: sreya Date: December 4th, 2005 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
"Slughorn... what?" Tonks stopped in her tracks, forgetting the gates and the odd lady and the glade, and everything else. "Someone has people who don't belong on the grounds dropping by, now of all times?"

Oo, I love this. Auror! Tonks comes out in full force here, as well as her concern for Hogwarts.
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