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Shifts, Chapter 35: Infiltration, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shifts, Chapter 35: Infiltration, pt. 3
Okay. Hermione helpfully gave me a time check on events (5:00 pm when she convinces Harry to try calling Sirius before rushing off), though it's a little fuzzy afterward (anyone who's noticed any other time checks in the course of the Ministry battle, please let me know). I'm assuming the thestral ride takes quite awhile, as it's dark when they get there, and it's late June, when daylight is long. This merging with canon business is hard work. :)

Remus, Tonks, Moody, Kingsley, the Tonks parents, Hagrid, and Dumbledore are all visiting with McGonagall and talking about how convenient Harry's sudden isolation is for Voldemort, and Dumbledore declares that they need to re-take the school.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

"I'm surprised you haven't done it already, honestly," Andromeda said. "It seems that things have got quite out of hand."

"It's not a simple matter," Dumbledore said. "Removing a Ministry official against the will of the Ministry is a direct attack on the government--not simply the complaining to which everyone is accustomed--and whatever else the government is, it is a source of stability. Lord Voldemort can only benefit from a destabilized and fractured society. He will exploit the fear and uncertainty and use them to further his own agenda. Revolution is not a step to be taken lightly, Andromeda."


"Yes. Nevertheless." Dumbledore stood at the edge of the privacy screen and looked out across the rows of beds in the ward. Remus heard Gilderoy Lockhart call out a greeting and saw Dumbledore raise his hand in return. Dumbledore looked back at all of them. "There is no choice. I had hoped that Tom's curiosity would have drawn him into the Ministry long before now, where he would have been pulled into the open and all of this could have been avoided. But he has become more patient, and he has called our bluff. Now, above all other things, we must prevent him from reaching Harry."

"What's our plan?" Minerva asked.

Dumbledore shook his head at her. "Your plan is to do exactly as the Healers tell you to do and remain here until they tell you that you're in full health. Is that clear?"

Minerva pursed her lips, but said nothing.

"Hagrid, we know that Voldemort's people are able to attack on this ward. I want you to stay and guard Minerva and the Longbottoms. Attacks on any of them would upset Harry further--and I believe Lord Voldemort would be able to share information about such attacks with Harry as they happened--so I consider them targets."

Hagrid agreed to this, though not without some grumbling.

"Ted--you'll be most needed after we've accomplished this. I want you to think of ways to calm people, to keep them united and secure. That was always your strength."

"I'll do what I can, but a group the size of a country is bit bigger than I have any experience with."

"I have faith in you."

"Is there anything you'd like me to do?" Andromeda asked.

Dumbledore thought about this, then just said, "Your job." He shook his head. "As much as I would like to involve you more deeply--you have a good mind, and your familial connections could prove useful--even during a war, perhaps especially during a war, a Healer can't turn away from the duty she's accepted in order to pursue other ends. You're needed here."

"Sirius and I almost have Narcissa. I've found the man who witnessed her attack on Joe Levinson. And if we're breaking half the rules in the book, perhaps we could bend the Statute of--"

"Perhaps. But not today."

"I need to speak with some of our allies, prepare them for the worst. Kingsley, how many of your people do you think will remain loyal to Fudge?"

"Part of the job we all do involves serving the Ministry. It may not be a question of loyalty to Fudge."

"Gauge the mood." He turned to Moody. "Alastor, I'm going to ask you to break the law. Take your Invisibility Cloak and search Lucius Malfoy's home."

"I'm halfway there already," Moody growled. "If Voldemort's got something to do with what's happening at the school, Malfoy's up to his eyeballs in it."

"And me?" Dora asked.

"You and Remus should return to headquarters and tell Sirius what's going on."

"I can go alone," Remus said. "I have to go back for my noon dose of Wolfsbane Potion at any rate--"

"And when you've finished telling him, I'd like the three of you to prepare two of your clever maps, one of Hogwarts, and one of the Ministry. You'll need Miss Tonks for the Ministry schematics."

"I don't know everything," Dora said, "but I can get you started."

"Kingsley, Alastor, when you've finished, go to headquarters and help them."

They agreed.

Dumbledore checked his pocket watch. "I expect to finish my business by this evening, and I will join you there as soon as I can. We dare not wait more than a day to move."

They all said goodbye to Minerva and left the hospital together (except for Hagrid), then scattered in different directions. Dora and Remus took the Muggle bus across town to Grimmauld Place.

"How is she?" Sirius asked before they got all the way through the door. "Is she all right?"

"She will be," Dora said.

While Remus took his potion and they ate lunch, Dora related Dumbledore's plans to Sirius, who swore under his breath several times in the course of it.

"Well," he said at the end, "it's about damned time we did something, isn't it?"

They started to work on the maps in the kitchen, but Kreacher made a nuisance of himself, upsetting things onto the parchment and even tearing bits of it away. Sirius told him to stop, but in the end, the three of them simply left Kreacher's kitchen haunt and worked in the dining room. Kreacher watched them reproachfully from the door until Sirius told him to get out, but he didn't impede them.

They began with a map of the Ministry, simply because the Order had pre-existing schematics to work from. Dora identified who held individual offices and cubes, in the cases where she had such information. Remus was frankly astounded at just how many names she knew, though she was frustrated by not knowing more. "I work there every day," she said. "Why don't I know everyone?"

"Because that would be hundreds of names," Remus said.

"I'm good with names."

"Then let's get more of them," Sirius prodded. "The more we know going in, the easier the charm will be to recognize new ones. I don't know why."

"I think we had about a hundred on the first one before it started adding on its own," Remus said.

Sirius glanced over the map. "This round room in the Department of Mysteries," he said. "It's not clear where the different doors lead."

"It's a security charm," Dora said. "I've only been down there a couple of times. You have to shout out which division you're looking for to get the right door--Time, the Universe, Death, and so on. Though once you're in, most of the divisions have doors that lead to the others."

"Why were you there?"

"I had to go to the Death division during my training. They have a veil there that they used to use for executions, before they decided it was more humane to have a Dementor suck someone's soul out. I had to learn about it for history of the profession. It's quite morbid. They used to have an audience. Now they just study it for some reason." She shuddered. "And I met a friend who was training as an Unspeakable in the Universe division, so I've been there as well. She's moved on to something else now and I've no idea where she is. Plus, I had a sort of general tour when I started, as there's quite a lot there that Dark wizards would find interesting."

"Charming people you work for," Sirius said.

They worked into the late afternoon, and went back down to the kitchen to start supper just before five. As they talked, Remus absently dipped a goblet into the Wolfsbane Potion for his evening dose. It was a bit early, but he wasn't sure when he would have his next chance.

"...you know, we missed a passage from the staff room on the first one," Remus said. "I was quite surprised to discover it."

"Well, I told James we ought to spend more time exploring in there. There was bound to be one. We--"


The goblet of Wolfsbane Potion, which had been tipped toward Remus's lips, abruptly flew toward Dora. She let it pass her and crash into the wall, splashing the foul brew in all directions. Dora's hand was on her heart.

"What on Earth--?"

"The color's off," she said, bending over the cauldron. She took a wooden spoon and stirred it. Looking over her shoulder, Remus could see several bright granules on the surface. "Silver dust," she said.

"Well, the silver business, really, is just a wives' tale. I'm sure..."

"You may know lycanthropy lore," she said. "I know potions. This one is finicky as it is, and silver dust is a powerful catalyst. This batch is wasted." She pointed her wand at the cauldron and said, "Evanesco."

"Kreacher!" Sirius bellowed. "Kreacher! Get down here now!"

"Kreacher?" Remus repeated.

"Do you have any other thoughts on the subject?"

"I thought house elves couldn't harm humans."

"Not directly," Dora said. "But they can interfere with other things. Didn't Harry's friend Dobby hex his broom?"

"But why..."

"I don't--"

Upstairs, there was a great bellow, rising in pitch to a scream, and above it, Remus heard Kreacher laughing.

"Buckbeak," Sirius said.

They raced one another up the stairs and into the master bedroom, where Buckbeak was screeching miserably. Kreacher, holding a bloody silver knife, was laughing with great glee, though blood was flowing from his hands from what Remus guessed were bites from the hippogriff.

Sirius picked him up and threw him out of the room, too angry even to shout at him. He hit the wall on the opposite side of the corridor with a thud, and never stopped laughing as he crawled away. Downstairs, Mrs. Black awakened and began to scream.

Buckbeak was bleeding from a long gash in his side, roughly tracing the line where his feathers faded into fur. He waved his sharp front claws helplessly as his blood soaked into the carpet.

Sirius looked back and forth between Kreacher and Buckbeak. "The little bastard," he said. "I'm going to kill him. If I lay my hands on him again, I'm going to twist his head right off his shoulders. First he tries to lace your potion, now this?"

"Deal with Kreacher later," Remus said. "Let's take care of Buckbeak now."

Avoiding the sharp, flailing talons, they set to work trying to both calm and treat the hippogriff. His piteous shrieks of pain were deafening; even Mrs. Black's yelling was nothing but a background noise. It was nearly a quarter to six before they were able to heal the cut. Together, they went down to the kitchen, and Dora wordlessly began to brew a new batch of Wolfsbane Potion.

Sirius, fuming, ripped open the door to Kreacher's den and looked inside. "Kreacher!" he yelled. "I'm going to find you, and when I do, you're going to wish--"

There was a bright flash of light.

A white cloud appeared in the center of the room, resolving itself slowly into the form of a thin man with a long, hooked nose. Remus stood back. It was a method of communication that the Order only used in emergencies, because it used a great deal of magical power--noticeable magical power. The last person he expected to use it was Severus Snape, who needed to remain unnoticed.

The silver-white form turned its head disdainfully until it spotted Sirius, then curled its lip. "I see you're here and apparently not being horribly tortured," he said. "How shocking."
29 comments or Leave a comment
riah_chan From: riah_chan Date: February 13th, 2005 09:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Fern, I think you are going to kill me with the rest of this story. I don't know if I'll be able to read it. I've kind-of been able to not think too deeply about Sirius's death since book five came out... not really thought about what things were like for him before he died... and look at it as a necessary structural part of the story. You are undoing all of that by giving him hopes and loves and goals and making him so real that it will _HURT_ when that is all ripped away. It will make his death less like a plot decision and more like a person who fell due to bad luck after struggling so long against evil. I don't think I'll be able to read it more than once.

If the next book has things that contradict what is in your story, it will actually take me a bit to reconcile the differences because your _Shifts_ has become "what happened behind the scenes" in my head.

marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: February 13th, 2005 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooooh, Kreacher. I'd kill him myself, given the opportunity.

I don't want it to happen... and I wish it would all just hurry up and happen... because the suspense is awful. It's creepy and terrible and fabulous.

...just in case I hadn't, you know, already made my opinions on the subject clear enough. :)

Edit things:

"Perhaps. But not today."

"I need to speak with some of our allies, prepare them for the worst. Kingsley, how many of your people do you think will remain loyal to Fudge?"

...are these bits of dialogue both Dumbledore? It's not quite clear.

While Remus took his potion and they ate lunch, Dora related Dumbledore's plans to Sirius, who swore under his breath several times in the course of it.

...problematic because "plans" are plural but "it" isn't... and also maybe "during" instead of "in". (Feel free to tell me to stuff it and go away at any time; it's just that this-might-be-a-better-word moments hardly ever occur in your stories so I guess maybe it's worth pointing them out when they jump out at me?)

And - goodness - what a great theory about what the veil was doing down there in the first place!! That was maybe my favourite bit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
.problematic because "plans" are plural but "it" isn't.

"it" is referring to the telling of the story, not to the plans.

Yeah, I was a little worried about inclarity in those big crowd scenes. I hate crowd scenes. The chaotic battle coming up is more or less what I think purgatory will be like for me... constantly being forced to sort out who's saying and doing what.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 13th, 2005 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Fern, have you checked this link for information about time? http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=136&obj=sun&month=6&year=1996&day=1

It says that on 27 June 1996 in London the sun set at 9:22pm. You can use this site as a calculator for any date and any major city. The place closest to Hogwarts would be Aberdeen, where sunset was half an hour later that evening.
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: February 13th, 2005 11:34 am (UTC) (Link)

I have nothing much more coherant to say really....

Was the silver in the Wolfsbane the nasty idea you said I'd given you? If so, I apologise to the world....;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to have him actually cut Remus, but that would have put him in too easy a position to be grabbed and thrown into the fire.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 13th, 2005 11:42 am (UTC) (Link)


I feel the suspense building up pyhsically - it's gonna be torture this week, and we don't even have a happy resolution to look forward to. *sigh*

About the time check - if Hermione suggested talking to Sirius at 5:00 PM, and regardless of how fast a thestral flight takes (though it's got to be fast, they went from North Scotland to London in a few hours!), it seems to me that less than an hour isn't enough time to coordinate the infiltration of Umbridge's office with the "Hextet", execute it, make the call, get caught, wait for Snape, pass the message, and have Snape go somewhere secure to make the call.

Or is it just me?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Shloz

Actually, looking it over, it doesn't seem to take much more than fifteen minutes. They're gathered casually, Hermione gives the time check, and immediately, Harry runs up, gets his Invisibility Cloak, and goes into the room with Hermione while Ginny and Luna guard the corridor and Ron unsuccessfully tries to distract Umbridge. I'd guess the actual call happened around 5:15-5:20. There's no real planning involved.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 13th, 2005 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
No... too close... :(
siegeofangels From: siegeofangels Date: February 13th, 2005 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Attempting to distract myself from the inevitable by being nitpicky:

When Dora says, "They have a veil there that they used to use for executions," it seems to give the impression that a veil is a known means of death and that there are other veils elsewhere. Would Remus and Sirius be familiar enough with the concept of the Big Killing Veil to not think, "A veil? What is she talking about?"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think they would be, because no one except Harry questions that Sirius is dead. I just wanted to put in a mention that this was, in fact, what it was, so that they'd know when they went in (unlike Harry) what it did. I didn't want to dwell on it, as it would be too much like a "Look at me! I'm a clue bat!" sort of thing. (It kind of is, anyway, but I tried to do it quickly and cleanly, and then move on to something else.)
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: February 13th, 2005 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, noticed the executions thing just now... Fern, how the heck did you know I am going to use the same explanation in my fic? Are you hacking my brain or something? ;)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've seen the theory in a lot of places, and it kind of makes sense, and was certainly useful at this particular point. ;)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 13th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Didn't Dobby enchant a bludger, not Harry's broom?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 13th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
From: arclevel Date: February 13th, 2005 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
It works, though, because Tonks might not know the specifics. If you want to be clear, you might have one of the others correct her; he'd likely have heard about it while teaching there.
From: arclevel Date: February 13th, 2005 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
"he" being Remus, of course.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: February 13th, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
OMG! I'm really getting anxious, and it was funny because when Dumbledore asked them to do the maps I thought "Oh, that'll come in useful in HBP... then I remembered...."

But this sounded too casual to me "They've got a veil in there." How common would that be? How would Remus and Sirius know what kind of a veil she meant, etc.
sreya From: sreya Date: February 13th, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
*flop* Evil Kreacher! Talk about a clever way to keep them out of the kitchen. And the Wolfsbane potion! Good grief, I can just see Dora pale and frightened from noticing that.

Seems like others have pointed out any con-crit I noticed, so I'll just say that this is building up speed nicely. I'm so excited that you found a way to build tension amongst the adults simultaneously with the children. Most authors, I think, would have had the adults in a lull right then, and surprised by the night's events, but your take on it makes so much sense that it'll probably be forever in my mind as what REALLY happened. (Well, as really as anything fictional can ever happen!)

I can't believe I'll have to wait until next weekend to read any more of this! *grumbles about schoolwork*
calliopeia17 From: calliopeia17 Date: February 13th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

What's really amazing to me is how powerful this part of the fic is, purely because we all know exactly what's coming. Every time I read the next part, my heart just starts pounding with this nervous anticipation. It's incredibly effective.

Excellent job, as usual. And Kreacher was just chilling!
sep12 From: sep12 Date: February 14th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
OMG! It's so close to the end, I can't stand it.

Kreacher. What a little *&%^$ snotrag. The thought of him doing something to hurt Remus was BRILLIANT! Can't believe I never thought of it before. Poor Buckbeak, he didn't deserve anything to happen to him. Malfoy is such a bastard.

You rock Fern, but you're killing us.
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: February 14th, 2005 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Awesome chapter. You know... "Impending Doom" should have been the name of this one. Not that "Infiltration" isn't a good one... but this is getting to the point of nail-biting, you know? AAUUGHH!

Can I ask you something? How do you do it - write Shifts day after day, doing 2000 words a day?

I've hit a major block with my own story, and I can't even seem to keep up with a 4000-word-chapter-per-week pace. This, when I've got a proper outline and everything. :(
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 14th, 2005 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Heh, trust me, I've got an outline. Er, sort of.

Mostly I do it by ignoring everything else in my life and letting my brain turn completely to mush. :)

But it's worthwhile. Nothing else I do seems to please people quite as much as the writing does, so hey--it's a legitimate contribution to society. ;)
sannalim From: sannalim Date: February 14th, 2005 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. My. Oh.


Am speechless.
murgatroyd314 From: murgatroyd314 Date: February 14th, 2005 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've probably done enough plotting and timeline work that making changes would be quite annoying, but I'm going to tell you anyway that I've found a couple more reference points.

-As Hermione is leading Umbridge out of the castle, other students are having dinner in the Great Hall.

-Departure on the Thestrals: "He closed his eyes and pressed his face down into the horse's silky mane as they burst through the topmost branches of the trees and soared out into a blood-red sunset."
From: isabela113 Date: February 15th, 2005 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
An interesting theory about the Veil. I definitely wondered, when I read OotP, why the room was set up as it was. I wonder though, suppose they had used it for executions, would outsiders really have been allowed into the Department of Mysteries to observe? Just a thought.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 7th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)


Was it an intentional error for Dora to comment on Dobby jinxing Harry's broom?

(He actually jinxed the Bludger)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 7th, 2005 05:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oops!

Yeah, sure. Intentional. 'Cause she doesn't know.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;) (Or correcting it in the SQ version.)
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