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Shades, Chapter Thirteen: Scattered, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Shades, Chapter Thirteen: Scattered, pt. 2
Tonks and I are flailing madly for plot focus. ;)

Seriously, Tonks is feeling spread a bit thin--worried about Remus but also on half a dozen minor assignments for work and for the Order. One of these assignments, last seen a couple of chapters ago, involved finding magical gates that lead creatures into the Forbidden Forest. Her friend Maddie, an Unspeakable, is working with her on this one.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Three days after Dumbledore's return, Tonks finished up her shift (two Dementor attacks in Perth, a disappearance from the countryside around Hogsmeade--no disturbance and possibly just a single man on an unannounced holiday--and a stash of dark objects in an unoccupied shack) and Apparated to Maddie and Daffy's home for dinner. Sanjiv had beat her there by a few minutes and was already monopolizing the baby, crawling in circles around him and making funny faces that little Francis goggled at.

Daffy was in the kitchen, running among several oversized cooking cauldrons and covered with splatters of sauce. He gave Tonks a one-armed hug.

"Can I help in here?"

Daffy assumed an exaggerated protective pose in front of the fire, pointing a wooden spoon at her like a wand. "Away from my cooking, Tonks!"

"Oh, thanks a lot."

He smiled and kissed her cheek. "Maddie wanted me to send you right into the study. I guess she's got something going in there. But you can't go by here without tasting." He dipped the spoon into a creamy white sauce and held it out to her.

She tasted it. "Daffy," she said, "if I'd known you could cook like this, I'd have never broken up with you."

"You're a foolish girl," he said agreeably. "I turned out to be quite easy to domesticate. Your loss."

"I shall mourn it every day. Where is the study?"

He blinked. "You don't visit us enough. It's upstairs, right next to the baby's room."

Tonks ruffed Sanjiv's hair on the way up, which caused him to imitate a dog, much to Francis's amusement. They were both laughing when a door at the far end of the upstairs corridor popped open and Maddie leaned out. "Oh, Tonks. Good," she said. "I think I've got something."

Tonks went into the room, which was less like a study than any room she'd ever been in. There was no desk, and what books that were present were all open and on the floor. Rolls of parchment were draped haphazardly over cheap furniture and tacked clumsily to the wall. A plastic box tacked up beside the door held an assortment of chewed-on quills, and a child's play-table held several open bottles of ink. It looked very much like Maddie's corner of their dormitory had looked for seven years.

Maddie was straightening out one of the longer bits of parchment already, gesturing at it with her wand to make various passages glow. "The first thing I had to do," she said, "was find out how the charm worked. It had to be a remarkably stable charm to keep the gates open--something that makes Portkeys look like playthings, really--and it had to interact with magical creatures without interacting with magical humans. It's impossibly complex, really. Oh, hello, by the way."

"Hello."

"Right. So I looked into it. It went into a few divisions--Universe, of course, for the spatial displacement, and Identity for the narrowing down of it all. There was even some involvement from Time, though I haven't been able to track down what they contributed. Perhaps just making intelligent guesses as to the best places to put them, where they'd be most needed." She frowned abruptly. "You look tired, Tonks. Are you up to this?"

"I'm fine. I'm not tired."

Her fine eyebrows drew inward and she pursed her lips. "You're not fine and you're not sleeping. I'm not going on with this until you tell me the truth."

Tonks shrugged. "I'm not sleeping much. End of story. What did you find out? Do you know who did the charms? Who built them?"

"Why aren't you sleeping?"

"Nightmares. Is the person still alive? I suppose that would be too much to hope for."

"Mmm." Maddie bit her lip. "Are you really all right to go on with this? Would you rather talk?"

"I'd much rather do this."

"All right." Maddie tapped the parchment and it flew up to her. "The witch who initially built the gates was an Unspeakable called Kate Prewett. She lived to be quite old, but she's gone now. I don't think we need her--I finally tracked down her notes. They'd got buried in the Beauty division, of all places." She rolled her eyes. "The escape gates--the ones that creatures could use to get into the havens--were all initially built to keep Dark Creatures out, but there was an argument about their right to reach safety as well, some bloody thing about a lethifold's right to exist, and it ended up that a few of them were opened. It was a bit of a nasty spell that did it. The usual dark business--blood and oaths and I think a bit of bone. That was pulled up from a graveyard, I should say, and buried underneath the gates. They had to get special permission from the Wizengamot to do dark spells. Phineas Nigellus refused to allow it for any gates that led to the Forbidden Forest."

"Good for Phineas."

"Yes, quite." Maddie took a deep breath. "Your friend in the Forbidden Forest... she was certain a new gate was being built?"

"Yes."

"How queer. The old gates could still be opened, and I don't have the idea that people building one to let Dementors into Hogwarts would scruple at a dark spell or two."

Tonks closed her eyes and rubbed at her forehead. "I don't have the faintest idea," she said. "I don't understand why they do any of the things they do. I mean, I understand what they think they're trying to accomplish, but the tactics are mad."

"Maybe there's another charm. They're poweful magic. It may be something that repels dark creatures. Maybe it's just easier for them to build fresh. Maybe they want it in an area Dementors already go." Maddie sighed. "It's the best I could do, Tonks. I couldn't find all the answers."

"What? Oh, no, Maddie, this is fantastic. It's a lot more than I had before I came." Tonks smiled. "I'm sorry. I should be more enthusiastic. You were right. I am tired. But this is good information. If you could find the spell they used to open them, I can be on the lookout. And do you know where the other gates are?"

"Oh, yes! I almost forgot." Maddie rooted around in a pile of parchment, gave up, and raised her wand. "Accio gate list." A small piece of parchment struggled out from underneath the pile and flew into her hand. She gave it to Tonks. "That's all of them that lead to Hogwarts. I'm going to see if I can come up with a charm that will trace them, so I can make a visual web--you know, a map of sorts, on paper--and then see if anything else shows up trying to get to the same place. I'm close to it now. It shouldn't take long."

Tonks scanned the list, which showed thirty different locations in Great Britain and Ireland, fourteen of which, Maddie noted, had been destroyed in the interim, often by the very Muggle developments they'd been built to provide an escape from. She looked up. "I'm glad I asked you to help," she said. "I hope I'm not causing you any trouble at work."

"No more than you have."

"In that case," Tonks said, thinking of her colleagues' collective cold shoulder, "I apologize profusely."

Maddie started putting the room in order, which involved straightening the open scrolls and closing a few of the books. "What are you going to do about them, though? Are you going to seal them?"

"No. They still have their uses. I really don't know, Maddie. Now that we have them, what do we do with them?" She groaned. "I'd really like something to wallop. Just one thing. You know. No questions asked, just start hexing. I don't think it's too much to ask, do you?"

"Don't ask me. I live for asking questions."

They smiled at each other, and went down to dinner. Daffy had put the baby in a bouncing seat. It had a charm that would let the baby direct it to swing gently, and Francis was using it to avoid the spoon full of squash that Sanjiv was trying to get to his mouth. Maddie took this operation over (her practice in the area only got marginally better results), and Tonks helped the boys bring out dinner.

Daffy and Sanjiv got talking about their jobs. Maddie avoided it as always, but eventually Tonks was drawn in, which naturally led to questions about things they'd seen in newspapers--was this true, what was the real story behind that, and so on. Tonks had to plead ignorance on most of what came out of London.

"And what about Stan Shunpike?" Daffy asked. "I remember him. They can't be serious."

Tonks put down her fork. "I don't agree with them keeping him," she said. "I think the best way to punish him for what he did is to point and laugh, since all he did was tell a huge lie. But he did tell it. You can't just walk around playing at being a Death Eater. Stupid idiot should have had the brains to recant, but I suppose he hasn't, and I can't do anything about that."

"No one said you could," Daffy said, looking at her oddly. "Let's talk about something else."

They let the conversation drift, and for the first time, Tonks noticed the way they were steering things. At first, it was just carefully avoiding the Shunpike issue, but then she noticed that they were all checking one another at various points. Daffy talked about a book he was editing, only to have Sanjiv change the subject when it became clear that there was a chapter on love potions. Sanjiv started talking about the political cartoons he drew and had no market for, but when he started talking about strange Ministry decisions, Maddie suddenly in on Francis's teething. This led to waxing poetic about parenthood, which Daffy cut off with an awkward segue into a totally unrelated work story.

Tonks had contributed at first, but the more she noticed it, the more she stayed out of the conversation altogether, and when Daffy rambled on about an author who "really was able to work the Homorphus--" only to be interrupted by Maddie making a joke about the man's table manners, she slammed her fork down. "Oh, bloody hell," she said.

They looked at her.

"Sanjiv, how far ahead of me did you actually get here?"

"Er..."

"Long enough to have a little conference? Subjects it's all right to talk about and things we absolutely can't say in front of Tonks?"

"Well..." Maddie started. "Well, you... I tried to talk to you upstairs, but you said you didn't want to talk, which we sort of expected, so--"

"Let me guess. Love affairs, stupid Aurors, and werewolves."

"Well, the stupid Auror thing was on the fly," Daffy said. "We didn't know you were worried about that. It was mostly the love affairs and werewolves. I can't believe I started talking about the Homorphus Charm."

"Your author is a fraud. It doesn't work for more than a few days, and only on one strain, and it kills the werewolf." She stood up. "Look, I'm going to go. I don't want you lot tiptoeing around me like I might explode."

In his bouncy chair, Francis hitched a deep breath, and let out a howl.

"Wonderful," Tonks said. "Now I've frightened the baby. I'm sorry, Maddie. And Francis." She turned on her heel and left, but wasn't surprised to hear footsteps before she reached the point outside the fence where she could Apparate.

Daffy caught up with her easily and put his hand on her arm. "We were just trying to give you a pleasant evening. That's all."

"I know," Tonks said. "I'm sorry, really. I'm going to go, though. I'm clearly not fit for company right now."

"You're not going anywhere. Come back inside. I have a wickedly good pudding, and we plan to secretly lace yours with a sleeping draught so you get some rest."

"I should just march out there and Apparate."

"Mm-hmm," Daffy said, and led her back to the house.
10 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: December 17th, 2005 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Tonks' friends are so charming. You need to give them more of their own stories some time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you like them. I don't know if they have enough to sustain their own plot, but I'm fond of them myself. :)
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: December 17th, 2005 08:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I know it's just the ADD talking, but I'm a bit confused about the whole gates issue. Perhaps a reminder or two about why it's important? Or someone equally clueless in the story that one of them could explain it to succinctly? *ducks head*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
The gates open into the Forbidden Forest (the gate that McGonagall showed Tonks the first time they went in), which is inside the Hogwarts security--someone else is trying to build another one, which will let in Dark Creatures, including Dementors. And though Tonks hasn't thought of it, I'd think it would be child's play to get it to include people as well, if you can handle the initial spellwork.
sreya From: sreya Date: December 17th, 2005 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
It went into a few divisions--Universe, of course, for the spatial displacement, and Identity for the narrowing down of it all. There was even some involvement from Time, though I haven't been able to track down what they contributed.

Wait, didn't Maddie refuse to say which division she works in previously? It seems awfully strange that she'd so casually be talking about the names of divisions in the Dept.

I like the friendship dynamic, and it's always a joy to see little Francis make an appearance. (What can I say, I'm a sucker for babies.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Maddie's still not saying what she does. She's ransacked the whole DoM looking for information, though. And I think she's being looser-lipped with Tonks than she generally would be, honestly.
ella_menno From: ella_menno Date: December 17th, 2005 04:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
*claps excitedly* Ooh, I do so love seeing new chapters! My (disjointed) thoughts:

1. "Kate Prewett" - related to Molly, Gideon, Fabian, & co (pretty far back, I'd guess) - love how you keep those wizarding families relevant, even going back in time.

2. Poor Tonks - it's obvious how very alone she feels, though she really doesn't have to be. She has these wonderful friends who love her and want to help, but between work and her overall confusion, she's doing her best to keep them shut out...oh, has Remus rubbed off on her that much?

3. I just really, really love this story, and am so pleased with how well it's meshing with (and explaining!) canon.

Okay, I'm quiet now. *g*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh, has Remus rubbed off on her that much?

And she doesn't even notice it. :rolleyes:
sannalim From: sannalim Date: December 17th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Look, I'm going to go. I don't want you lot tiptoeing around me like I might explode."
Well, considering that she just *did*....

Phineas Nigellus refused to allow it for any gates that led to the Forbidden Forest.
So Old Mag's gate doesn't lead to the Forbidden Forest, then?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: December 17th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
So Old Mag's gate doesn't lead to the Forbidden Forest, then?

Well, Remus only noticed it while human, and the werewolves don't seem to be drawn to it--Remus is probably the only one to notice it at all.
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