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Shifts, Chapter 35: Infiltration, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 35: Infiltration, pt. 2
I put up Lily and Petunia drabbles at hpgen100, to add to likeafox's godfather-based ones. The challenge is "New Beginnings." Check it out!

McGonagall has been injured, and Hagrid is at Grimmauld Place. Dora stayed the night, and they are eating breakfast--or, rather, not eating it--when Dumbledore appears.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Hagrid saw him first and tried to stand, tipping the table over and spilling Dora's orange juice all over Remus's robes.

"Professor Dumbledore!" Hagrid said, rushing to pick up what he'd spilled and making a bigger mess in the process. "Have you heard anything?"

Dumbledore raised his hand. The table and all of its contents were righted. "I spoke to Andromeda Tonks. Minerva is safe in St. Mungo's, and Andromeda expects her to make a full recovery."

There was a collective sigh of relief, voiced by Hagrid.

"Is she awake?" Remus asked.

"Not yet. I plan to be there when she regains consciousness, if you would care to join me."

"I don't suppose that includes me?" Sirius asked hopefully.

Dumbledore looked at him kindly. "Not today. Of all days, not today."

"What's wrong with today?" Dora asked.

"I don't know." Dumbledore frowned. "I'm very concerned about what happened at Hogwarts last night. I need to speak with Minerva about the exact sequence of events. I find that I like it less the more thought I give to it, and I would rather keep Sirius here for now."

Sirius didn't argue, instead turning to Dora and kissing her cheek. "Give that to McGonagall for me," he said. "And tell her to hold on. I'm going to get that motorbike of mine back and take her for a ride."

Dora promised, then all of them except Sirius followed Dumbledore out into the square.

"How do you intend to get into St. Mungo's?" Remus asked him.

"I intend to walk through the front door. Miss Tonks, if you would be kind enough to tell any interested party that I am fully in the hands of a skilled Auror, I would appreciate it."

They took a taxi to the run down shopfront that covered St. Mungo's (Dumbledore doing a slight Expansion Charm so that Hagrid would fit in easily), and entered the waiting area together. A few startled looks met them, but no one seemed overly interested in apprehending Dumbledore or Hagrid.

Andromeda met them there, her expression distracted and her mood mixed. She was clearly quite worried about Minerva, but she also kept stealing glances at Remus and Dora and smiling.

They reached the Spell Damage ward, and Andromeda led them past Gilderoy Lockhart (who was waving to them cheerfully) to a screened-in bed not far from Frank and Alice Longbottom. They slipped behind the screen and Andromeda left them.

Minerva was lying quietly on the bed, her hair--for once--taken out of its severe bun. It lay around her head in a bedraggled black halo, bent along the lines of its usual confinement. Her eyes were open. She smiled.

"It seems I'm going to live," she said.

Dumbledore sat down beside her. "I'd meant to be here when you awakened, Minerva."

"This is from Sirius," Dora said. She looked over her shoulder to make sure no one was listening who shouldn't be, then kissed Minerva's cheek.

Minerva tried to look stern and annoyed, and failed utterly.

Dora smiled at her. "He also said he'd take you for a ride on his motorbike. I don't know if it was a promise or a warning."

Minerva blinked rapidly for several seconds, then smiled to herself. "There are always the ones you remember, aren't there?" She looked at Remus.

"There certainly are."

"And they become a good deal more interesting as they grow up," Dumbledore added, tugging at a bit of Minerva's hair. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired. And a bit useless here. Poppy's a good woman, but she's got so used to not asking questions that she's not asking any now. And Severus has to play along of course. Who's left to stand up to that woman?"

"I want you to tell me exactly what happened last night," Dumbledore said. "I've heard what Hagrid saw. What did you see?"

"Not much. It was past curfew for most of the students, so I was back in my office. The fifth years were taking an Astronomy O.W.L.--"

Dumbledore held up his hand. "Harry was taking his Astronomy O.W.L. when this happened?"

"Yes. They all saw the nasty business."

"That makes even less sense," Remus said. "If she were trying to avoid a scene, she surely could have avoided the one night there was an examination outdoors."

"Someone had put a niffler in her office. She was certain it was Hagrid."

"Wasn't anywhere near her ruddy office," Hagrid muttered.

"It was undoubtedly a student," Minerva said. "They've found ways to make their displeasure with her known." She looked sheepish. "I'm afraid I failed to adequately discourage them."

Dumbledore seemed to be listening to this with only half an ear, and he waved her apology off without comment. He was frowning deeply, and his eyes were far away.

"At any rate, she was... quite upset. I didn't realize how upset until she brought in the Aurors. I just happened to look up and see them going out. I didn't know what they were doing until they started trying to Stun Hagrid. At that point, I simply ran out. I had no particular plan in mind."

"A proper Gryffindor, this one," Hagrid said. "Rushing right in--"

"Without looking," Minerva pointed out. "Of course, I don't suppose I would have stopped. It never occurred to me that they would try to Stun me without warning. I'm not sure why. They certainly hadn't warned Hagrid."

"They weren't authorized to Stun either of you," Dora muttered. "I'm embarrassed for my office."

"I need to consider this," Dumbledore said. "Remus, would you object to finding Kingsley Shacklebolt and Alastor Moody and strongly recommending that they come here?"

"Of course not. But perhaps Dora--"

"I would prefer to have an Auror in our company here."

Remus nodded and ducked out. He made his way to the Ministry and Auror headquarters, where Kingsley was still fuming. The red-headed Scrimgeour was in an equally foul temper, as was a man Remus took to be Dawlish. Remus avoided the two of them and went straight to Kingsley's cube. To his surprise, Arthur Weasley was in it. He couldn't hear what they were saying until Arthur waved his wand and invited him in.

"This isn't about the Order," Kingsley was saying. "This is about Fudge and using my people as little stormtroopers, rushing in on teachers in a school..."

"I understand what you mean," Arthur said, "but the fact remains that any suspicious behavior on your part will call attention to us."

"I think we're beyond the point of worrying about that," Remus said. "Arthur, is Mad-Eye in the building today?"

"I saw him on the lifts earlier. He's about underfoot most of the time. Doesn't like to be away from the action. I don't know where he was planning to go today."

"Please find him."

Arthur agreed immediately and left.

Kingsley turned to him and glared. "I suppose you're here to tell me that I've brought doom on the Order?"

"Not at all. Thank you for giving Dora a good reason to tell her mother to go to Hogwarts."

"Well, I'd have done it myself if she hadn't shown up."

"Dumbledore is with her at St. Mungo's, and he wants to meet with you and Moody as well."

"Did he say why?"

"I'm not sure he's thought it through to a conclusion yet."

A few minutes later, Arthur brought Moody back. Moody was grumbling about being taken away from a good conversation--he'd apparently been threatening Lucius Malfoy--but when he heard that Dumbledore had called for him, he became more sober. "Right. I knew this wasn't normal."

Remus instructed Arthur to remain at the Ministry and keep up any necessary appearances, then used the Floo Network to return to St. Mungo's. When they got back, Ted and Andromeda were in visiting with Minerva, Hagrid, Dora, and Dumbledore. A few quick (but wide) smiles told Remus that certain bits of information had been passed along.

"Please sit down," Dumbledore said, Conjuring extra chairs for everyone. He waited until they were all seated before he spoke. "At many points this year," he said, "I've thought uncharitably that Voldemort could not have better arranged events if Fudge were in his service. And no"--he caught Moody's eye--"I did not and do not believe that Fudge has allied himself with the Death Eaters.

"I realized, of course, that Dolores Umbridge was becoming more strident as the year went on, but I took it to suggest nothing more than a rising comfort level with her position. I also knew that Voldemort had increased his contact with Harry once he was consciously aware that he could share Harry's thoughts and feelings. And yet, I never put the two pieces of knowledge together.

"Until now.

"What happened last night was, in terms of Umbridge's behavior, simply an an inexcusable lack of judgment and morality. But it struck at the very moment that would be most opportune for Voldemort. Harry is nervous about his exams, has lost the things that most calm him, and has now witness the removal of all but one of the adults he knows to be protecting him."

"And he doesn't entirely trust Severus," Remus put in.

"That," Dumbledore said, "is an understatement. I had hoped that they would build some trust in the course of the Occlumency lessons..." He trailed off. "That is neither here nor there. The point is that Harry is weary and mentally susceptible to Voldemort's probing, and that he has been deliberately angered. His judgment may not be at its best."

"I don't understand the connection," Kingsley said. "If you don't think that Fudge--"

"Malfoy," Moody growled. "He's got Fudge's ear. How many times do you think he's gone on about getting control of the school?"

"And then Fudge would pressure Umbridge," Minerva said.

"Exactly. Dolores was quite on edge from the pressure to please him, and if she was unable to discover the source of a simple niffler, it must have infuriated her. That it happened during Harry's Astronomy O.W.L. may have been no more than a stroke of good luck for Tom, but in any case, it served him.

"Harry is more vulnerable than he has ever been."

"What can we do?" Minerva asked.

"It's obvious," Dumbledore said. "All year, we've let what's happened at the school remain in the background of the Order's work, but that's no longer possible. It's time to re-take the school."

I feel a bit...: tired tired

16 comments or Leave a comment
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 12th, 2005 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh Boy. I've just realised. McGonagall's out of Hogwarts and only Snape is left. Remus, Dora, Moody and Kingsley are all together with possibility of leaving together. Sirius and Kreacher are alone at Grimmauld Place for now.

Today's the day. :(

It's all come logically together though and it was a nice chapter, even with the overhanging sense of doom...
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: February 12th, 2005 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 12th, 2005 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe it's PMS, but that part made me blink back tears:
"Minerva blinked rapidly for several seconds, then smiled to herself. "There are always the ones you remember, aren't there?" She looked at Remus.
"There certainly are."
marissa_214 From: marissa_214 Date: February 12th, 2005 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)


Hello! In the past week I have read Shifts with increasingly compulsive behavior (just one more chapter before I go to bed...four hours later...). It's wonderful! May I friend you to get updates? Congratulations on creating such a believable companion piece to OotP and thanks for fleshing out those tantalizing characters like Remus, Tonks, Sirius, Dudley, etc. ~Mary
mincot From: mincot Date: February 12th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Excellent lead-in to what we know is happening, and very plausible assessment of events from the adult perspective--plus a solid explanation of why D let things get that far.

One minor question: "This is from Sirius," Dora said. She looked over her shoulder to make sure no one was listening who shouldn't be, then kissed Minerva's cheek.

If I were Dora, I'd look around to make sure nobody was listening before I mentioned Sirius' name.
azaelia_culnamo From: azaelia_culnamo Date: February 12th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Holds onto chair armrest*

Sirius, you're the world's biggest git, but you're still one of my favorite characters, and, and...

From: (Anonymous) Date: February 12th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
The inevitibility of it all adds something special to that feeling of impending doom. No chance for authorial deus ex machina to save the situation, and all the readers know it even while the characters are still hoping to do something constructive.
leelastarsky From: leelastarsky Date: February 12th, 2005 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Another brilliant chapter. :~)

My only pause was with the word 'stormtroopers'. It seems a very Muggle word. Granted Kingsley might know it but, then again, he did call firearms firelegs. ;~)
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 12th, 2005 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought about that too, but then it was a term used in the wars, so it could've leaked into magical speech...
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 12th, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)


I love the parallels in the "Gryfindor" behaviors between McGonagall and Harry.

I didn't think I would feel this depressed, given we know the outcome of the culmination of events over the last few chapters. I have to take deep breaths before and after reading the segments. You're doing an excellent job of building the suspense.


sprite6 From: sprite6 Date: February 12th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
The visit to Minerva is lovely. I a fan of her character, so I'm very glad you worked it in. Sirius's kiss was cute, and Dumbledore...well, I just love this exchange:

Minerva blinked rapidly for several seconds, then smiled to herself. "There are always the ones you remember, aren't there?" She looked at Remus.

"There certainly are."

"And they become a good deal more interesting as they grow up," Dumbledore added, tugging at a bit of Minerva's hair. "How are you feeling?"

Great ending to the chapter! It makes me sad, though, knowing what's to come.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: February 12th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)


Mad amounts of genius pervade this latest installment of Shifts, Fern.

1. Tying Minerva, Albus and Lupin in the teacher-y way - I sometimes forget that Dumbledore used to be a teacher, too, in addition to being the wise old headmaster.

2. Sirius's kiss and his promise - ties in so well with what he was thinking a long time ago wrt his 'options' of single women in the wizarding world. Heartbreaking geniusness here.

3. *WHY* didn't we think of the Lucius - Fudge - Umbridge chain?? I mean - two years of analysing OotP to death, and no one's ever thought of this before. We just took Sirius's word to mean that there was *no* connection between DEs and Umbridge. What fools we've been.

4. Voldemort's plan. Voldemort's horrible, cruel, dastardly, evil-maniac-genius plan. It's DISGUSTING that someone like him - who doesn't understand the first thing about love and human relationships - is able to manipulate situations using Harry's love and his relationship with the people he trusts most. AARRGGGHHH. I hate you (in the best possible way) for making Voldemort smart... no... for telling me how <cleverVoldemort is. I don't want Sirius to die. Please. Fern. Don't finish this story.
From: isabela113 Date: February 13th, 2005 02:56 am (UTC) (Link)
You've got a lovely teacher moment here- Minerva's comment about the ones to remember. This story, and indeed the canon, really treat the teacher/student relationship with such wonderful care. I wish I could better explain what I mean by that, but all I can say is that as a teacher who is starting out I love the sensitivity with which you explore the many teacher student relationships in this story.
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 13th, 2005 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
"...time to retake the school." If only it really could happen, *sobs* then we wouldn't lose Sirius. Fern, you rip my guts out.

I love the exchange between Remus, Minerva and Dumbledore. So very lovely. I especially enjoy Dumbldore's obvious affection for his teachers, (I know Remus isn't now, but he still is a Hogwarts teacher at heart), and it's so nice to see McGonagall in a "non-strict" mode. ;) Although I would have preferred it not be in the hospital. :< Sirius's ramblings in the previous chapter about Minerva reminded me of me when I think about my old teachers, and how much I secretly liked them. It's nice to see that level of respect from Sirius, who is so hard to get respect out of.

Each new post brings us closer to the end. I don't want it to get here, and it can't get here fast enough.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: February 13th, 2005 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm torn. I hate knowing how things end, and yet I like it at the same time. I think (and this is a direct compliment to you, Fern) that people can only read something like this with an author they trust. Even though we all know how it ends in general, we trust you to bring us a new view of it and handle everyone's reactions beautifully. Even now as you're gathering everyone up to start the party, we're still discovering parts of canon that had never occurred to us, and that make so much sense that they really work in canon. So, long story short, we're really going to hate you for doing this, but we'll love you for it at the same time. Not to mention all the adoring of your genius from afar. :-)
sreya From: sreya Date: February 13th, 2005 06:35 am (UTC) (Link)
*thwaps Dumbledore* Shoulda thought about re-taking the school a little SOONER than when all hell's broken loose!

*thwaps Fudge for being a gullible idiot*

*thwaps Snape for... just because*

This is very exciting, actually. I love it that you're moving the characters into action even BEFORE Harry's tricked into going to the Ministry. It makes sense that the attack on McGonagall and Hagrid would be the spark for the adults to act. How do you always manage to get your plots so perfect? You leave no stone unturned!
16 comments or Leave a comment