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We know that Nagini makes it into the Department of Mysteries floor in the Ministry of Magic to

attack Mr Weasley.

Granted, she may have been possessed by Voldemort at the time, which undoubtedly increased her mental capacity to negotiate certain difficulties. Still, her options for entry into the Ministry are distinctly limited.

  • She cannot Apparate. She is a snake.
  • She could use a Portkey. However, this would be a somewhat clumsy item for her to use. It's also probably not advisable to create unregistered Portkeys when attempting to break into the Ministry of Magic with a low profile.
  • She could use the fireplaces. These, however, involve flushing your way in through the Ministry's toilet cubicles. It's difficult to see how she could use the flush when she has no opposable thumbs (or hands, or arms for that matter).
  • She could use the phonebox (the 'Muggle' entrance). However, using this demands that she enter the 62442 passcode - again, difficult to do without any hands. She would then have to 'state her business'. Parseltongue would presumably not pass muster.

Even after she enters.

  • She has to use the lifts. These again require quite specific button-pressing. Difficult to do if you're a snake.
  • There must be some sort of night porter on duty. It is the fricking government headquarters after all.

How did Nagini negotiate all of these barriers to enter the Ministry?

  • 1
    She's a snake. They're known for, y'know, slithering into places. Also, she can pretend to be a person, complete with opposable thumbs... – Valorum Jun 1 '16 at 15:42
  • 2
    @Valorum The old 'use the plumbing' trick? No, I'm pretty sure that only works for humongous mythological snakes. – The Dark Lord Jun 1 '16 at 15:44
  • 1
    I think you're underestimating her agility. She took up residence within an actual human body and was able to use it to walk around and climb upstairs convincingly enough that Harry & Hermione didn't grow suspicious. At least, not suspicious enough to realize they were looking at a snake wearing a human-costume. If she can do that, who says she can't flush a toilet? – Paul L Jun 1 '16 at 15:50
  • 2
    With great panache and elan. – Valorum Jun 1 '16 at 15:52
  • 1
    I'll have to check but I'm pretty sure the toilet cubicles thing is something new for the employees in deathly hallows. This was a new system. I don't really know what was the old one but I'll guess Floo Network... – LilyM Jun 1 '16 at 16:21
7

She probably entered the Ministry via the Floo Network

It is true that in Deathly Hallows the Trio entered the Ministry via toilets.

“Morning, Reg!” called another wizard in navy blue robes as he let himself into a cubicle by inserting his golden token into a slot in the door. “Blooming pain in the bum, this, eh? Forcing us all to get to work this way! Who are they expecting to turn up, Harry Potter?”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

However, this language used to describe this strongly suggests that this is not the normal way for Ministry employees to get to work ("this way").

Before the Ministry was taken over by Voldemort, people emerged from the same fireplaces (though perhaps not by flushing themselves down toilets).

The walls on each side were panelled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them. Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of the left-hand fireplaces with a soft whoosh.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Indeed, the fireplaces filled with green flames when active:

The Atrium was full of people; the floor was reflecting the emerald green flames that had burst into life in all the fireplaces along one wall; and streams of witches and wizards were emerging from them. As Dumbledore pulled him back to his feet, Harry saw the tiny gold statues of the house-elf and the goblin, leading a stunned-looking Cornelius Fudge forward.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Emerald flames are, of course, a sign of Floo Powder usage:

“Not now, Arthur,” said Mrs. Weasley. “Floo powder’s a lot quicker, dear, but goodness me, if you’ve never used it before —”

“He’ll be all right, Mum,” said Fred. “Harry, watch us first.”

He took a pinch of glittering powder out of the flowerpot, stepped up to the fire, and threw the powder into the flames. With a roar, the fire turned emerald green and rose higher than Fred, who stepped right into it, shouted, “Diagon Alley!” and vanished.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

And of course, most definitively:

“Dad always told us most Ministry people use the Floo Network to get to work,” Ron said. “That’s why we haven’t seen Umbridge, she’d never walk, she’d think she’s too important.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Before the additional security measures implemented when Voldemort took over, it would be relatively easy for Voldemort, if he had access to a home connected to the Floo Network (as, for example, Malfoy Manor must surely have been) to simply let Nagini slither into the fireplace and send her away.

She could use the lifts

It's true that we are not shown any other way but the lifts of reaching Level 9, home of the Department of Mysteries. It is also the case that the lifts are operated by buttons:

He pressed the nearest 'down' button and a lift clattered into sight almost immediately, the golden grilles slid apart with a great, echoing clanking and they dashed inside. Harry stabbed the number nine button; the grilles closed with a bang and the lift began to descend, jangling and rattling.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

However, two things work in her favor. First, Voldemort was possessing her at the time (at least according to Snape, who is knowledgeable in matters of the Dark Arts):

'You seem to have visited the snake's mind because that was where the Dark Lord was at that particular moment,' snarled Snape. 'He was possessing the snake at the time and so you dreamed you were inside it, too.'

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Of course, as Lord Voldemort's final Horcrux, Nagini has a stronger-than-normal connection to him to begin with:

“As we know, he failed. After an interval of some years, however, he used Nagini to kill an old Muggle man, and it might then have occurred to him to turn her into his last Horcrux. She underlines the Slytherin connection, which enhances Lord Voldemort’s mystique; I think he is perhaps as fond of her as he can be of anything; he certainly likes to keep her close, and he seems to have an unusual amount of control over her, even for a Parselmouth.”

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Voldemort could certainly have helped provide her with the mental powers needed to operate the lift, along with the knowledge needed to do so.

As for the physical ability, I refer you to this video of a giant snake opening a door.

If an ordinary snake (possibly trained by a mere Muggle) can stand on its tail and open a door at the same time, a snake possessed by Voldemort probably can stand on its tail and hit buttons with its head. It's not very dignified, but it's probably what happened.

Voldemort was well-informed, and may have concealed her.

There probably was a Ministry guard on duty that night.

Harry noted the absence of a security guard was a bad sign when he went to the Ministry:

Harry felt sure there ought to be a security person there, sure their absence was an ominous sign, and his feeling of foreboding increased as they passed through the golden gates to the lifts.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

As it turns out, there is indeed a wizard who takes the night watch:

Podmore was arrested by Ministry of Magic watchwizard Eric Munch, who found him attempting to force his way through a top-security door at one o'clock in the morning.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

To this, all I can say is that Nagini was stealthy, and probably waited until the watchwizard was elsewhere. Alternately, it is highly probable that Voldemort put a Disillusionment Charm on her, to conceal her presence. In that case, all he would need to know would be when the watchwizard's shift changed, or when they would not be at their desk: information easily obtained by Lucius Malfoy from his Ministry contacts.

  • 2
    "possibly trained by a mere Muggle".... Are you insinuating that maybe a wizard trained that snake and posted the video on the Internet? – A. Darwin Jun 2 '16 at 6:51
  • 5
    @A.Darwin - I'm more worried that the snake somehow figured out how to do it of its own accord. – Adamant Jun 2 '16 at 6:52
  • Any indication on whether snakes can use the Floo network, though? You have to speak the destination yourself (as Mrs Weasley etc. couldn't do it for Harry in Chamber). Even when inhabited by Voldemort, Nagini would presumably only be able to speak Parseltongue. Whether Floo powder recognises Parseltongue is dubious/doubtful. The rest of your answer adds up. – The Dark Lord Jun 2 '16 at 15:35
  • Also, that snake video makes me feel that we need to take the prospect of a Planet of the Apes style takeover much more seriously. – The Dark Lord Jun 2 '16 at 15:35
  • Excellent answer; I'm just doubtful about the Disillusionment Charm since Arthur saw arriving second before being attacked ("But the man was stirring . . . a silvery cloak fell from his legs as he jumped to his feet; and Harry saw his vibrant, blurred outline towering above him, saw a wand withdrawn from a belt. ") but I think she could easily avoid being seen by the guard (slide in while he's watching somewhere else / he's dozing / to the toilets... he had no specific reason for being specially worry at that time) – LilyM Jun 3 '16 at 11:15

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