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Shades, Chapter Eleven: Gates to Nowhere, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Shades, Chapter Eleven: Gates to Nowhere, pt. 1
Okay, let's see. Tonks called in her friend Maddie to help her investigate the oak leaves and the sunlit glade in the Forbidden Forest. They go into the woods together, and Maddie is more interested in an open gate in the middle of a meadow, which she says is one of several built to get magical creatures out of Muggle areas. Finally, they come across the wandering stream that leads to the glade, and come to the dammed up pool across from it. Unfortunately, before they can get any further, giant spiders drop from the trees. They run as the pool narrows back into a stream and begins to move again.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

The marks Tonks had made on the trees flashed past them as they ran full out through the Forbidden Forest. Maddie was a few steps ahead of Tonks when Tonks stepped wrong on an outlying root and fell hard on her hip. Maddie, her face white, stopped and reached back, but Tonks could see the spiders scurrying in the trees above them. She Banished one of them--Maddie was trying it as well--but the others kept coming around it.

"Dammit, Maddie, I'm all right! Run for the wall--I'm right behind you."



Maddie started running again, and Tonks pulled herself to her feet. The spiders were closer now--Tonks could hear their pincers clicking--and the path they were following seemed narrower. The branches were lower. Somewhere, she could hear the burbling of the brook, but there was no time to think about where it came from.

"I'm here!" Maddie called and Tonks looked ahead to where Maddie was frantically pounding at the wall.

A spider dropped in front of Tonks and she blew it apart with a Reductor Curse, ignoring the splattering of spider innards that flew at her. "Put your hand on it!" she called to Maddie. "Imagine the opening!"

"I can't get it!"

The spiders sped up. Tonks could hear them moving overhead. Another dropped beside her, scraping her wand arm with a sharp pincer. Her hand went numb. She dropped her wand.

Maddie screamed.

Something flashed brightly and the sound of the brook was suddenly everywhere. Tonks felt water running around her feet. From the corner of her eye, she saw the flat pool opening up on her left.

There was a splashing sound, then something silver and gold spun above Tonks's head, knocking down three of the pursuing spiders. A light burst up around her from the stream, and the remaining spiders backed away into the trees, retreating to wherever they had come from.

The light faded.

Tonks swayed in the stream, turning her back to the spreading pool, thinking that she needed to go back for her wand. Maddie seemed very far away, her voice echoing along a deep corridor. "Tonks! Are you all right?"

The scrape on her wrist burned, and she had time to think, "Bloody venom." Then a cold arm came around her from behind, a hand covering her mouth and nose. She heard Maddie scream one more time before she was dragged beneath the surface, and then everything was silent.

Sound came back slowly--the soft sound of wind in the trees, the lapping of water at the shore, a steady and repetitive sound that she couldn't quite identify. She felt something moving on her hand, and opened her eyes. A fairy with bright purple wings was balanced on her finger, reaching for a wild rose laden with dew that was just beyond its grasping hand. It looked very young, and she guessed that its wings were still wet.

Tonks raised her hand, and the fairy drank the dew, then chittered happily at its reflection. Tonks let it down slowly, putting it carefully in the grass, where it skipped away.

She sat up.

The burning scrape on her wrist was gone, and the ache in her hip where she'd landed when she fell was entirely gone. She was also quite warm and dry, despite having been...

How had she got here?

She frowned. She remembered the spiders and the wild flight, and the bright flash of light, but the sense of urgency was entirely gone. It might have been something that happened to her when she was a small child playing in her parents' garden. She'd been in the stream, and then there had been a cold hand, and she'd gone beneath the surface, but there was nothing else.

Her wand lay in the grass beside her. It seemed to have been polished. She picked it up curiously and pointed at herself. "Exquiro corpus," she said.

The Query Charm--which she hadn't been doing as faithfully as Mum had instructed her to--lit up the surface of her body, not pooling over any injuries or indicating any sickness.

Not poisoned, then, and apparently not dead or hurt in any way.

She got to her feet and caught her breath in a gasp.

Across from her, making the repetitive sound she hadn't been able to identify, two dragons slept, wound around one another and snoring, sending out wisps of smoke as they exhaled. One was red, the other white. Beyond them, a sparkling cave peeked out of a hillside, and at the top of the low hill, a great oak tree spread its light colored, spring leaves to the sun. Something tawny was curled at the base of it, also fast asleep, and Tonks blinked at it for quite a long time before her eyes would accept that it was a lion.

The sharp, clear sound of a branch breaking to her left made her turn her head.

A great white stag stood only feet from her, his eyes a blaze of fire, his hooves silvery. He looked at her solemnly, then began to walk at a steady pace toward the hill, around the dragons.

Tonks followed. There was simply not an option of not doing so.

The dragons continued to sleep; the lion disappeared behind a gentle rise in the hill. The stag led her around the rise, and before her, a lake glittered in the bright sunlight. She looked up, and saw the roots of the oak tree reaching down toward the water. The stag stopped and looked at her until she sat down, then loped away, leaving her alone.

She looked out across the water, dazzled by the points of light. She thought there was something far out on the surface, but she couldn't tell what it was.

"You've awakened."

The voice came from in front of her, but she couldn't see anything, so she looked over her shoulder. There was nothing. When she turned back, a small, lithe woman was standing at the water's edge, dressed in a pale green gown. A sword hung from a girdle around her waist, and she wore a crown of flowers. She came forward lightly, leaving no impression on the damp grass, and sat on a rock across from Tonks. "You've awakened," she said again.

"You've been calling me."

The woman nodded. "I can no longer leave this place. Not until..." She trailed off. "I need help."

"Abducting me isn't your best strategem," Tonks said automatically, but she found that she couldn't be angry. "Who are you?"

The woman smiled slightly. "I don't think there's an answer to that anymore. Now, I'm little more than a caretaker." She sighed. "It's all been sleeping for so long. I sometimes think it won't wake up again. I thought you might sleep as well."

"How long did I sleep?"

She turned. "Oh. Not long. A moment."

It wasn't a comforting answer, as Tonks had the sense that this woman's sense of what a long time might be could differ wildly from her own. "Er... could you...?"

She smiled. "Quite a bit less than an hour," she said. "If that makes you more comfortable."

"My friend--"

"--is safe. I sent the acromantulas away from her. The large man who comes to the woods has found her."

Tonks nodded. "All right. Why do you need my help? Is this about You-Know... Voldemort?"

There was a long pause. "I... don't know." She looked out across the water. "There is no balance. I am... we are being hunted. These Dementors--they're being drawn. Someone is drawing them. Trying to allow them in."

"Maddie says they probably can't pass the gates."

"Not the ones your Ministry built."

Tonks processed this. "Someone else is trying to build a gate, and lure them into it."

"Yes. I don't know where. There are many things I don't know anymore, things I can't See. It's somewhere close. But I can't reach it."

"I could destroy the gate on this side. If there's no place to go through."

"No. You mustn't. This forest is a haven. It can't be closed off. There are so few left."

"You need me to find the other gate."

The woman nodded. "Find it. Destroy it. The Dementors need no haven." She snorted disdainfully. "They thrive in the world, don't they?"

Tonks didn't answer. "Why did you call me? Wouldn't it have been easier to speak to Hagrid, or Dumbledore?"

"I Saw you." She turned her head slightly and looked at Tonks. Her eyes were a rather disquieting shade of green. "And you'll need me," she said. "I don't know why now, but you will need me." She drew the sword from its hilt on her girdle, and pried a ruby from the hilt. "Return this to me, when it's time. When you need me."

Tonks took it and held it carefully. "I'll do as you ask, but I would have done without any promises. It's my job."

The cool hand pressed her fingers around the stone. "But it isn't mine. I will help you when you need it."

"You're, er... not talking about putting anyone into an oak tree, are you?"

A sharp pain crossed the woman's features. "No," she said. "No. Never again. It's lonely. We weren't meant to be alone." Her gaze drifted back to the water, and her grip on Tonks's hand tightened. "I'll take you back out now."

There was a light tug, and then they were in the water, the lady's hand over Tonks's nose and mouth. The water splashed upward, and Tonks was back under the eaves of the Forbidden Forest. The ground shook as Hagrid ran toward her, Maddie a small form hidden in the shadow he cast ahead of himself. Tonks was in the still pool, but even now it was narrowing, shrinking, and the current was quickening around her.

Tonks looked behind her and saw one pale hand reaching through the surface. Then it slipped beneath the sun-ripples and disappeared.
26 comments or Leave a comment
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: November 28th, 2005 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
How strange. Was it Elizabeth in Angel form? Lily Potter? Someone else?

I'm more inclined to think it was Elizabeth, as I think Tonks would know it was Lily.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 28th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not Lily, but maybe I'll take out those green eyes... in HP, they can really be a bit of a red herring!
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: November 29th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Especially the juxtaposition of the shining stag and her with the green eyes... Yes, it could suggest a lot in HP fandom. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 29th, 2005 01:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, and unfortunately, the stag can't go too far--that's what used to lead Arthur and his knights off on fairy hunts!
wychwood From: wychwood Date: November 28th, 2005 10:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, how cool :)

I look forward to where you take this! Is that Nimue?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 28th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I almost had her say her name, then backed off. I don't think she's entirely Nimue anymore, but yeah--she started out that way.
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: November 28th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is that Nimue?

My thought also, long before the crack about imprisoning people in cloven pines. And I'm sure there's some symbolic significance to the red and white dragons, and the lion and the white stag, but all I can think of offhand are the red and white dragons of England and Wales, which seem oddly located in the Forbidden Forest in Scotland (though maybe the land inside the lake isn't exactly part of Scotland), and something about Narnia.

Very impressive mythological buildup, but the price for that is that it makes it harder to plot a similarly climactic conclusion. I take it that reaching the lake marks the end of the first act?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 29th, 2005 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
all I can think of offhand are the red and white dragons of England and Wales, which seem oddly located in the Forbidden Forest in Scotland (though maybe the land inside the lake isn't exactly part of Scotland), and something about Narnia.

The dragons came out of Merlin's vision for Vortigern--I think it went that the white one was Vortigern and the red one was Uther Pendragon, and that the red one would defeat the white one. The lion isn't Lewis's lion, but I'll cop to a Lewis influence--at the end of The Last Battle, when they're in Aslan's country and see a house that had been destroyed, Aslan says that there is an "inner England" and that the house stands there, because "no good thing is ever truly destroyed." My thought was to put a lot of the traditional symbols in there--Arthurian, but also things like the royal lion, and (though it didn't make the cut) Robin Hood's bow. Kind of poor Tonks's identity crisis writ on all modernity, and found in the forest. :shrug:
tunxeh From: tunxeh Date: November 29th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
The dragons came out of Merlin's vision for Vortigern--I think it went that the white one was Vortigern and the red one was Uther Pendragon

So it is England and Wales. Or rather, the Britons and the Saxons...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 29th, 2005 05:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I think that was the political angle on that one.
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: November 28th, 2005 10:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I have chills. Chills.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: November 28th, 2005 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
eee, creepy and cool! I feel like I must have missed a mythology memo somewhere along the line, but maybe there's more exposition to come? Or I'm just woefully out of touch with Lady of the Lake types....
The only jarring thing for me was the fairy with purple wings/wild rose laden with dew, which seemed way more...young girlish than your usual style? I don't know, maybe replacing the wild rose with a plain old leaf would make it less "And then the unicorn pranced out from behind..."

Um. That sounded rude. I can't seem to express myself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 28th, 2005 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good thing I resisted the urge to have a unicorn there, even though it does show up on some royal coats of arms. ;)

I'll think about the leaf thing. Nimue is already pushing it; I don't want to push too far.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: November 28th, 2005 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, I'm glad you have a sense of humor about the comments... And you got exactly what I meant, I think, despite my lack of precision! Is all the rest, with the dragons and the lion and so forth, also related to specific myths, or are they more for general Safe Haven for Magical Creatures effect? Or is this something I should wait to find out and not think I need to know now?
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: November 29th, 2005 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I liked the fairy. Actually, I'd be perfectly happy with the unicorn. Possibly napping somewhere near the lion, and so bright it hurts to look at.

...Clearly, I need to write that story where Helga is finding a unicorn, and get this out of my system so I don't intrude on other people's stories with it. ;)
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: November 28th, 2005 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
:: grins :: Arthurian geek that I am, I loved this bit :)
vytresna From: vytresna Date: November 29th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I knew it! I knew it! *does I-guessed-it dance*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 29th, 2005 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
That's my favorite dance. :D
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: November 29th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, Plot!

I need to go read about Nimue, but even from this little bit, she seems a complex character, and I can glimpse something of who she is. Nice going!
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: November 29th, 2005 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
*does Arthurian legend happy dance* You used my favorite mythology! Yay!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 29th, 2005 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I brushed up. I was surprised actually at how few physical symbols I could stick into the little glade... most of it went off to the Isles of the Blessed. (Which must be the opposite of Azkaban, which is the Isle of the Cursed, I think. Unless Azkaban is one of those Isles, but corrupted by some means...)
sreya From: sreya Date: November 29th, 2005 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha HA! I KNEW it! I knew it'd be the Lady of the Lake! *grins* Very cool.
maple_clef From: maple_clef Date: November 29th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wonderful! I love the Arthurian turn of events :)

I also really enjoy that I continue to be surprised by your storytelling - there's no chance of being able to predict where you're going, but still it's clear that everything is carefully plotted.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: November 29th, 2005 07:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm - interesting idea, although it does seem to fit a bit oddly at the moment with reepect to the rest of this story and HBP. But hey, if JKR can appropriate Merlin from Arthurian legend, why not fanfic writers? :)
maxzook From: maxzook Date: December 2nd, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh, phooey ...

Just yesterday I was outlining an plot bunny for an HP/Tennyson crossover-fic and you got to it first! Ah well, great minds think alike ... and my bunny is [i]very[/i] different from yours ... good job!
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 26th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
she was the lady of the lake who gave Excaliber (sp?), isn't she? That's my guess, as Tonks was pulled into a body of water and she had a fancy sword...
26 comments or Leave a comment