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Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Nineteen: Nigellus, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Teddy Lupin and the Daedalus Maze, Chapter Nineteen: Nigellus, pt. 2
Teddy promised Frankie that he wouldn't go into the Maze without help, but it occurs to him that he can get help--he has access to Phineas Nigellus, one of the inventors. He goes to the Room of Requirement and Phineas's portrait appears. It can't help him directly, but it does offer the information that Phineas kept journals, locked in the Hogwarts library... and the Room produces them at Teddy's need. He goes through the first journal, Phineas's first three years out of Hogwarts, which has very little, but introduces "Nigellus" with his friends, who all have Latinate nicknames. He recognizes "Apis" as Dumbledore's father, and "Arxcis," a tradesman, as Gordon Burke, but isn't sure of the others.

He randomly picks up a later year--1870--and finds a newspaper clipping introducing Phineas and the others at the DoM, then a piece of parchment falls out which just says, "The only way out is in."

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Teddy opened the journal to the middle, close to where the parchment seemed to have been. The entries here were short and cryptic--"R still cold" or "X seeking artifact"--so he turned back to the beginning, hoping they would make more sense in context. As he turned the book, his eyes happened down to his watch. He'd taken longer than he'd intended to, and if he didn't get back soon, there would be questions.

He piled the journals together and did a Binding Charm on them, then picked them up and turned to leave. The portrait, he noticed, was gone from the wall. It had given him what he needed, and it was undoubtedly back in the Headmistress's office now. He wasn't sure if he needed tamp out the torches that had appeared as the sun set, but, just to be safe, he did so. The room was plunged into shadows and silvery moonlight, and at the edge of his vision, he thought he could see its shape beginning to waver.

He left.

Professor Longbottom and Hannah were sitting in the corridor on a bench that one or the other of them had Summoned. She had mistletoe in her hair. Teddy decided not to contemplate why they were waiting for the Room of Requirement, and just gave them a forced smile.

When he got back to Gryffindor Tower, there was still a Christmas party going on. Mistletoe was being thrown about with gusto, and four girls--two of whom Teddy could have named, if pressed--ran to him as he crossed the room, and kissed him on the cheeks. Ruthless, in one of the chairs by the fire, rolled her eyes and beckoned to him.

He shook his head and went up the boys' staircase.

His room was dark, and he only lit a single candle on his desk before getting out the 1870 journal again. He opened it and let all of its ephemera fall out. Aside from the Prophet article and the cryptic note--both of which he affixed to his wall with Sticking Charms--there were receipts from various magical businesses (Teddy recognized none of them), a letter from the reporter Ursula Flint which made it rather clear that her interest was not merely journalistic (Teddy checked Granny's book on the Black family, and was not surprised to find that she had later become Phineas's wife), and several black and white photographs.

Of most interest to him was a stiff Victorian picture of seven wizards, with a dapper-looking Phineas Nigellus at the center. It had been professionally captioned with their real names. Percival Dumbledore was furthest left. He had a cloud of light-colored hair that Teddy knew from the Maze was really red. After Dumbledore was Aloysius Leary, a tall, gaunt-looking man with wire-framed glasses. Then Gordon Burke, who might have been Maurice after a bout of time travel, and Phineas. To Phineas's right was a stocky man named Fletcher Green, then there was tiny Dedalus Royce, then Prescott Borgin. He studied their faces and their names, learning them so he would always recognize them, but he was more interested in the signatures above them. Phineas had signed it "Nigellus," Dumbledore as "Apis," and Burke as "Arxcis." Aloysius Leary was "Ilustrus," and Royce was "Regius." Green was "Calamus" and Borgin was "Pontifex." Teddy had enough Latin to guess most of the meanings, but didn't know enough about the men or their names to know what the Latin was referring to.

He studied this picture until he had the names Phineas would have used as clear in his mind as he could, then opened to the beginning of the journal.

1 September 1869
Even now, seven years beyond my school days, the first of September still seems the only truly auspicious date upon which to launch an intellectual venture of any magnitude. At the urging of Arxcis, we met yesterday at Knockturn Alley to purchase our initial supplies, and after a pleasant lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, detoured into the main of Diagon Alley to peruse the wares at the new bookstore near Gringotts. Pontifex expressed the opinion that a store devoted to the sale of new books and school books could hardly be expected to thrive in a world where the books of true value were written in another age. Apis, always something of an wag, suggested that we should travel in time so that Pontifex might take an interest in our own work, despite its obviously inadequate location in time. Arxcis, more practical, suggested that Pontifex open his own place of business to sell the sort of wares in which he thought more interest would be shown.

"I, a shopkeeper?" Pontifex interjected. "No, my dear Arxcis, I shall leave such trade to you. Your mind is suited to gold and interest and exchange. My interest in such wares is for their own sake, not the sake of profits."

Arxcis took this with considerably better grace than I would have, had our positions been reversed, but it was at this point that our conversation turned in a more rewarding direction. Regius, picking up on Apis' joke, offered the idea that we begin our studies with Time--"The old thief ought to be caught someday, don't you agree?" We were all supportive of the notion. Calamus believes that the Mystery of time contains all of the others. There was some pleasant argument about this. Illustrus thinks that Death is the chief of the Mysteries, in which the others are contained, while I am more in agreement with Calumus--a change in time is alone enough to cause a change in death. Arxcis reminded me that the opposite is not only true, but more often the case--Death changes Time on a daily basis. I, for the sake of argument, declared the Mind to be of utmost importance. Regius, against all dictates of logic, chose Beauty as the most important of the Mysteries, and Pontifex chose Consciousness or Identity. Apis, in an attempt to vex all of us, I think, chose Faith. Leave it to a Gryffindor to actually live in a different, less enlightened, century.

Being men of the world, none of us brought up the greatest mystery, the one which binds man to man and year to year, that which is a leap of faith and a balm to the troubled mind, which holds beauty and fills the universe. I'm sure we all know it quite well--we all have families, after all--but talk of Love is not for men, nor is it for scientific study of the subject.

Ah, but that was yesterday. Today was spent in the less cerebral, but still rewarding, occupation of building our offices. Most of the Department of Mysteries was devoted to the ancient veil, where our ancestors once listened for the voices of the Dead. We have preserved a small amphitheater there, in the hopes that the Department will grow and the Mystery will be more carefully studied in the future, but likely by a small group of wizards, and perhaps witches someday--my mind is not closed on this subject, though at present I prefer not to involve the possibility of amorous distractions. The area around it, we have built into large rooms devoted to other Mysteries. Regius means to create an entryway which will allow us to bypass distractions and go to our area of study upon arrival, but he has not, he said, chosen a mechanism as of yet. My own office is in the corridor between Beauty and Faith...


Teddy smiled. The office Maddie had set him up in to learn the Maze was Phineas's, and she hadn't even known it. He didn't know exactly why that made him happy. He couldn't recall ever thinking, "I'd really like to follow in Phineas Nigellus's footsteps." But it did somehow make everything less alien.

The first months at the Ministry were taken up by the minutiae of building up the Department. Percival Dumbledore went on a scavenger hunt of sorts to find artifacts of faith beyond those that had survived a period of monastic rule at the Ministry during Medieval times. In the company of Kendra, to whom he seemed to be engaged, though Phineas didn't say so directly (he disliked Kendra and seemed to hope it would all blow over), he went to the States, but failed to gather artifacts from a new religion that had appeared there in the west. He went to India to retrieve temple gods and to Jerusalem for scrolls of Jewish and Muslim law, and to Japan to collect artifacts of Shintoism. By December, he'd managed to find elements of all of the major religions and several minor ones, but they were all sitting, unresearched, in a side room off of Beauty.

Phineas occupied himself with building the Mind room, where he created brain-like organisms that he hoped would store thought, as a Pensieve would store events. It was wildly successful as storage, but he found that trying to retrieve the thoughts caused such extreme pain that the thoughts were soon forgotten by the recipient. Without the knowledge of the others, he started to build a small room where he meant to study Love, if he could find a suitably scientific way to do so. To Teddy's great frustration, he didn't mention anything he actually put there.

It was Dedaulus Royce's studies in Beauty, of all things, that led to the Maze, even though it was, from its inception, more concerned with Time and Identity. Royce had apparently only chosen Beauty because none of the other, more assertive, members of the group wanted it, and was more interested in other things, but he determined in October that no study of Beauty would be complete without "the face that launched a thousand ships." Helen, a witch who had chosen to return as a ghost, was currently haunting ruins owned by a British bank. Teddy couldn't imagine using something like that to, in essence, purchase a ghost, but it had been done. Helen, who'd been traded as a commodity for three thousand years, apparently didn't mind. It was she who led Royce to the magically concealed ruins of Daedalus's maze on Crete, and it was there that the twists, walls, and creatures of what would become the Department's first testing tool were conceived.

At first, they'd only been able to use it to see specific events that were known to them, or to make the most obvious of predictions (including, to Phineas's utter disgust, the weather). But as Christmas passed and the new year began, Dedalus Royce stumbled on the answer that would create the Maze as the Department understood it.

6 January 1870
As Regius said this morning, there is perhaps no finer day for an epiphany than that which is called Epiphany. He realized this morning that he has been too focused on mere Time in the course of his invention, and it was necessary, if we are to view beyond the limited scope of crystal scrying or tea leaf reading, to consider Identity and Mind... and all of the others. We chose to forgo lunch today, and all sat in the central room--the Death chamber--as it is the only one not dominated by one or the other of us. Arxcis didn't think this auspicious, but Apis said that Death is not to be feared. Arxcis was still uncomfortable, but participated nonetheless. I believe he was more afraid of losing face than he was of Death.

Combining magic is always something of a risky proposal, and I shall admit that I had some concerns about my more secretive activities. After all, I was meant to contribute the Mystery of Mind, which is my alleged area of expertise. Would my work with the Greater Mystery, perhaps, interfere? But I chose not to discuss this, and it appears to have been the wisest course of action, as I believe it was the Greater Mystery which produced the most wonderful of effects.

After we had all finished adding our Charmwork to Dedalus's Maze, we drew lots to enter. I was fortunate enough to be the first. I noticed the change immediately. In the past, the Maze was of bricks, upon which visions were portrayed, when I entered it, it was a living thing, a park with green hedges and an iron fence, one I believe to be near my own home.

And who should be standing at the entrance of the park, but my dearest, long-departed and unfairly taken elder brother, Sirius?
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. It's actually tiring to stick in pompous Victorian mode for long!
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
> a change in time is alone enough to cause a change in death

It sounds to me like Phineas should end up being thanked in part for the saving of Regulus.

Hm, PN's elder brother Sirius... Was he the metamorphmagus boy in the portrait, or am I confused? Anyone remember?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
He's the boy in the portrait. He's from the family tree. He'd have been the heir instead of Phineas, but he died in childhood.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: July 27th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
This story has as many twists and turns as the Maze itself--and one never knows what might be waiting around the next corner. Looking forward to reading more about Phineas' journey,
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like random trips into the past. :)
satakieli From: satakieli Date: July 27th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
He didn't know exactly why that made him happy. He couldn't recall ever thinking, "I'd really like to follow in Phineas Nigellus's footsteps."

Heh heh heh...

I really like this way of learning more about the Department of Mysteries.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. And yes, I can't imagine many people who only know the portrait going, "Wow, I want to be an old curmudgeon with a serious superiority complex when I grow up!"
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 27th, 2008 06:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved this. What is so perfect about it, I think, is that these aren't sugarcoated versions of these men - they are very much the idle rich intellectuals - yet, at the same time they are becoming immersed in the most profound human questions.

Then, they are both so similar and so different from the marauders - and the differences, perhaps disturbingly, actually situate them as spiritually closer to Teddy than even the marauders are. The bit about Teddy never wanting to follow Phineas, but being pleased by the connection to him, seems to me a great insight into Teddy's character.

On another note, using Helen of Troy was a stroke of genius. Because she is the exemplar of beauty, and the key to unlocking so many passions, yet everyone who encounters her only becomes complicit in her corruption. Ironically, it is beauty, not time or death that becomes their pathway into the maze, but it is a traitorous beauty, both betrayed and betraying.

I could stay in these journals all day! Thanks for the update!

-Cara
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Of course, we didn't really see the Marauders with nothing to do as adults...

I put Helen in on a lark back in Shifts, but I thought, hey, why not let her do something?
daksian From: daksian Date: July 27th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maze or ficlets, Maze or ficlets...which do I want you to work on? I can't choose--they're both absolutely riveting! so do both ;)

As always I love your Phineas 'voice', and I think you do a smashing job at it. If these journal entries are the way to Teddy finding proficiency as an Unspeakable, by seeing things at the source, I'm happy to come along for the ride--it's all very fascinating stuff (seriously, I'm geeking out over the philosophical and temporal nature of the stuff!).

I'm also enjoying the life that continues on around the plot, whether it's a romantic rendezvous for the Longbottoms, or even (if I'm reading this correctly) the fact that Teddy is truly moving on from Ruthless (I found it somewhat symbolic that after being subjected to symbolic love and affection via the mistletoe, that he rejects Ruthless' invitation for company--even if that company would have been simply platonic).

Fern...you spoil me with your writing. Just thought you should know. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that Ruthless may live to regret--at least for a while--her decision to take "time off," as yes, Teddy's doing considerably better at it than she is. On the other hand, he could use a friend who hasn't been dead for ninety years.

At least Teddy notices life happening around him!
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: July 27th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Frage, Bitte...

Okay, now, Pontifex: Latin, of course, for bridge-builder, but also the source of the Roman Catholic Pope's title "Supreme Pontiff".

What is this meant to tell us about Borgin?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Frage, Bitte...

It's also a member of an order of priests, according to my
cheat sheet, which is where Prescott comes by it, but of course, what is a priest but a bridge-builder?
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: July 27th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
These are so interesting! I'm just eating them up, heh. (And betting on how long this story is gonna be- 40 chapters I say! :) .)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 27th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I hope not! ;p But it may get there.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: July 27th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fascinating. Chronicles of the modern Department of Mysteries' first days. And Phineas. Could it get any better?


I'm eager to read about his first trip into the Maze.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm looking forward to it as well. Especially as I don't know what's going to happen!
lorelei_lynn From: lorelei_lynn Date: July 27th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't comment nearly often enough, but I continue to be amazed by your imagination and ability to tie all of the various plot threads together. Can't wait for more...

I also loved all the challenge drabbles!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Still working on the challenges...
hungrytiger11 From: hungrytiger11 Date: July 28th, 2008 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
So many things to love and be intrigued by. I love your Phineas more and more. I almost want his whole story now! All his friends also seem real- even though they are written though his eyes. These men's argument abou what mysteries were important was very telling. And Phineas with secretly exploring the idea of love! Both Teddy and Phineas are hiding their inner romantics ( only with Teddy its trashy novels but still...) I could go on about all the little bits that were great but... I'm sure you get the idea! :D!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know why I think Phineas is insanely devoted to his family, but for some reason, it feels right, which is his 'inner romantic'.
anj1290 From: anj1290 Date: July 28th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)
You're doing such a fantastic job with this chapter--as many people have pointed out, your Phineas Nigellus voice is excellent, but you're also doing a great job interweaving Teddy's summaries with excerpts from the diaries. Just one question/quibble--I don't remember if this is canon or fanon, but for some reason I want to say that people aren't supposed to be able to remove objects from the Room of Requirement.

Can't wait for the next installment, and I've really been enjoying all of the ficlets!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. I wondered about that, but couldn't remember any canon prohibiting it. Harry would have had to take the Horcrux out, and other people would need to get things out of that storage room, so I assumed it was possible. Though it could be like the holodeck, I guess. ;p
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: July 28th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Keep it up, Fern. Phineas is quite interesting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! Glad you're enjoying.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: July 28th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely backstory you've given us here on the Maze, the DoM, and Phineas and his companions! It's amazing how you manage to write it all out without making it feel like a load of infodump. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I like backstories. I sometimes think I'd be happy if I could come up with some original scenario in my mind and then spend the whole time writing its backstory.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 28th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Hey, and Dumbledore went to Utah? As a Mormon girl, can I just grin? And this week had Pioneer Day, too (obscure holiday out of Mormon circles celebrating the day the Pioneers first came to the Salt Lake Valley) :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 28th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I know Pioneer Day--happens on my birthday, so people have made sure I hear it! :)

Grin away.
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