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Stray, Chapter Three: The End of the Holiday, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Three: The End of the Holiday, pt. 1
The chapter title may change; I'm not wildly in love with it.

Sirius barely escaped the Aurors--Tonks and Kingsley--in a Brazilian city, breaking out the window of his hotel room with Buckbeak, Disillusioning both of them, and flying out over the open rainforest. He had to leave behind all of his extra clothes, except for his Azkaban robes and what he happened to be wearing, which is a Muggle tourist get-up. Which has no bearing on anything, except that his clothing choices are limited.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

They flew inland along the curving slash of the river, visible in the moonlight like a shining path. Sirius kept Buckbeak high, not allowing him to skim the canopy as he liked, as the Aurors had apparently sent out half of the local law enforcement people on broomsticks. Disillusioned, it was impossible for them to see Buckbeak or Sirius directly, but if they made too much noise or commotion, it would be a giveaway. One came close enough that Sirius was sure Buckbeak's lower talons would graze him, but he dipped down at the last minute to circle back from another direction. He saw the pretty young Auror zipping back and forth in a very smart pattern to find someone hiding under this particular charm, casting detection spells in every direction. Kingsley, a bit further to the north, seemed to be doing the same thing. Sirius stayed above the range of the spells, urging Buckbeak further west, further across the canopy, moving as fast as he could, trying to far enough ahead of them for a hole to appear.

Or to outlast their patience.

The two Aurors finally zoomed toward one another and leaned forward to confer. Sirius could guess the direction of the conversation--had he slipped away from them, gone out to sea perhaps? Should they call it off?

Buckbeak was wheezing heavily from the effort of staying up this high, and bits of foamy sweat were standing out on what appeared to be thin air. They had to come down soon. A bead of sweat rolled off his flank and fell.

Kingsley looked up in disgust. "Damn! It's going to start raining again."

"He'll have to come down sometime," the girl said, her voice floating up in broken fragments. "He'll show."

With obvious regret, Kingsley sent a signal to their local partners, then he and the girl turned their brooms around and headed back toward the sea.

Sirius let out a sigh of relief, and leaned forward to let Buckbeak know it was all right to start down. Buckbeak dove gratefully toward the trees, and moment later, they skimmed the surface of the Amazon, then slipped into the deep shadows of the forest. Buckbeak landed at the base of a vast tree whose gnarled roots made a cave high enough for Sirius to stand up in. He looked around it suspiciously, then Conjured a tent inside of it, sealed against any creatures who might find wizard or hippogriff an exotic dinner, then fell to the floor and slept deeply. He dreamed of Azkaban.

In the morning, his back and arms were sore from the flight, and he could tell from the way Buckbeak was mincing about that he was sore as well.

"You get some rest," he said. "I'll find us something to eat."

Buckbeak looked at him with almost human gratitude, and collapsed back down to sleep. Sirius wished he had the makings of a Painkiller Potion. It wasn't the first time he'd wished it--Buckbeak had looked like this after the flight from the Outer Hebrides to the Greenland coast as well, and Sirius hadn't even been able to give him a rest, at least not until he felt out of the reach of European authorities. They hadn't really been able to rest until they found a secluded part of Northern Maine in the States, and even there, Sirius hadn't been comfortable. Canada and the States were easy to get lost in if no one was looking, but a warrant for a murderer carried perfectly well. The further they got away physically, the better it would be. Nowhere was entirely safe, but--at least as far as Sirius knew--the treaties were weaker in some places than in others, and he'd he had to make for one.

At least this time, Buckbeak didn't have to follow one frantic flight with another. He could rest, at least if Sirius could figure out what they could eat. He supposed fish would do as well as anything else, though catching them would be a bother. He supposed there would be plenty of small animals around that he could chase as Padfoot, but he was no naturalist--he didn't fancy the idea of getting himself turned around here and not being able to find his way back to his little camp. The river was a handy landmark, so it was the river he would go to.

The tree to the river, the river to the tree--it was the size of his world for the next week. The first two days were interesting, discovering a hundred creatures, magical and Muggle, living in that patch of land, but it all became routine quickly. Fishing turned out to be fairly easy magically--he just cast a Summoning charm on some of the slower fish and flipped them into a Conjured bucket. Aiming was difficult and it took some practice to keep hold, but an afternoon's practice was all it really took. Buckbeak wasn't impressed with the fare, but he ate it, and as the days passed, his movements became normal again. Sirius started thinking about where to go next. He belonged at home, watching over Harry, but that wasn't an option. He'd do Harry no good back in Azkaban.

Of course, he wasn't doing a fat lot of good here, either.

Buckbeak was also getting restless. He didn't like the heavy heat of the jungle, the near-steam that hung in the air. On the beach, the cooling breeze from the ocean had mitigated it somewhat, but here, the hippogriff, never bred for this climate, was falling into a sullen daze. He gave Sirius a rather large scratch on the eighth morning of their exile, and went off for a flight without waiting for Sirius to Disillusion him. He came back an hour later, and spent the rest of the day pawing at the dirt and looking up at the sky.

Sirius wondered briefly if a good warming charm would make Antarctica livable.

He awoke on the ninth day to a sound that was truly exotic here--the hooting of two owls.

One was a small brown owl with no distinguishing marks. The other was a great snowy owl... Harry's. Sirius had seen her when he'd been on the Hogwarts grounds last year.

He reached for her, and she held her head up proudly. The other owl looked a bit sheepish. Sirius was willing to bet that Harry's owl had been the one to find the way, while the other was lost.

He took Harry's letter eagerly. It began as a simple, newsy thing--how his life with the Dursleys was (unpleasant), how Dudley's diet was going (badly), and how they were kept in check by the knowledge that Harry's godfather might show up at any moment (Sirius paused to savor this notion). But the second-to-the-last paragraph, written in a tone so carefully casual that Sirius estimated it had taken Harry several hours to compose, read:

A weird thing happened this morning, though. My scar hurt again. Last time that happened it was because Voldemort was at Hogwarts. But I don't reckon he can be anywhere near now, can he? Do you know if curse scars sometimes hurt years afterward.

I'll send Hedwig with this when she gets back; she's off hunting at the moment. Say hello to Buckbeak for me.

"Hello from Harry, Buckbeak," Sirius muttered, then glanced at the P.S. on the note and smiled--Harry's yearly imprisonment was over, at any rate: he was off to Ron Weasley's, and apparently the tickets that had eluded Kingsley hadn't got far... Harry was going to be there.

He'd have to scrounge around his bag to see if he'd grabbed any parchment in his flight from the hotel. He knew he'd grabbed a quill and ink along with the magical items, as Muggles always seemed to find it curious. He decided to see what the second owl was carrying before he wrote his reply.

It hopped over. The writing on the envelope was Lupin's. Sirius took it and opened it.

I assume Harry has written to you, so I told this owl to find Hedwig and follow her. The owl I tried to send to your previous location returned somewhat confused.

Harry is fine.

I say that before I begin, because he may have told you he was actually
at the Quidditch World Cup when the Dark Mark went up--

"What the..." Sirius started.

--and the Death Eaters showed up. He is fine. Arthur Weasley got him safely out, and Dumbledore assures me that he is perfectly well protected at the Weasleys' home until he gets to Hogwarts. Don't come rushing back here to check on him. Of course, this may be the first you hear of it, and I rather hope it is, because I could open with what would concern you most. There is no need for rushing headlong back to Britain.

However, Dumbledore and I spoke at length after the World Cup incident. Things are changing in ways neither of us cares for, and I'd assume you don't care for it much, either. If you are careful--which means more careful than you apparently have been (yes, after my first owl returned, I heard about your close scrape)--it may be wise to be somewhat closer at hand. I have the impression that Dumbledore wants all of us ready; he's already brought Moody out of his "retirement" to fill my old post at Hogwarts. I am still where I have been, and the island is isolated, but be careful. I do have visitors from time to time, and am watched. If you come, don't approach without your best disguise, and keep your companion Disillusioned and quiet. I would personally prefer that you wait until we find Peter and bring him before the Wizengamot--he can lie to them, but they'll know he's lying, as he's actually there to give evidence rather than many years dead.

But things are moving in the world. Perhaps it's time for you to move as well.


Sirius pulled over his rucksack, found a crumpled piece of parchment resting along the side, and tore it in two. On the first half, he wrote a quick reply to Harry, telling him that he'd be moving north. On the second, he wrote,

I would have come even without your permission, though the hospitality is welcome. I'll be well-behaved and make no noise whatsoever. My companion and I will fly as quickly as possible.

He tied the letters to the two owls. "Don't be seen," he told them, then gave them a boost, one on each arm, into the sky.

When he turned around, Buckbeak was waiting, his lead dangling from his beak.

Oops, I forgot the most important piece of information that belonged in Lupin's letter--that Moody was going to Hogwarts! :eyeroll: I'll edit that in tonight.
19 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 11th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
The Lupin message was perfect with the repetition of "careful" and "he is fine". :)

Thanks for giving us a bit HP in the weeks before the final.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remus has a pretty good idea of what Sirius is likely to do. And it probably is a good thing that he looked at DPs before the QWC!
petitecrivan From: petitecrivan Date: June 11th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter, and this is all I have to say: My favorite fanfics always get updated just as I'm going to bed. What timing. :P
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Someday, I'll learn to write during business hours. I don't think it's likely to be any time soon.
beceh From: beceh Date: June 11th, 2007 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Good segment. I liked Lupin's letter. I'll repeat what the comment above said - thanks for tiding us over :-). You are such a good writer, and natural.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 04:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I can't believe I actually forgot to put in the only reason I had a letter from Lupin, though... :eyeroll:
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: June 11th, 2007 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're not giving Sirius and Buckbeak much of a rest, are you?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, they get a little over a week, but they're not very comfortable!
olympe_maxime From: olympe_maxime Date: June 11th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nicely done. Small nitpick:
Disillusioned, it was impossible for them to see Buckbeak or Sirius directly,
- Gives the impression that the AURORS are disillusioned rather than Sirius and Buckbeak.

I'm also wondering why Lupin wants Sirius close to home? It wasn't clear to me from his letter. If the problem is that the Aurors have traced Sirius to Brazil, then it could easily be fixed by Sirius moving to, say, Canada, no?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gives the impression that the AURORS are disillusioned rather than Sirius and Buckbeak.

D'OH! Yes, that was just careless.

Lupin's thought is tied up with the return of the DEs at the QWC, and I'd guess it's more Dumbledore-inspired (wanting the Order close at hand and ready to go) than Lupin-inspired (since it involves having Sirius in the middle of all of the Aurors in the U.K., half of whom know him personally). I'm going to tie it in with the actual purpose of the letter plot-wise, which was to tell Sirius that Dumbledore brought Moody out of retirement... keeping the Order close.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 11th, 2007 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius in Antartica, living off fried penguin. Now, there's a twist. But it also makes me think of H.P. Lovecraft's Mountains of Madness. Sirius could move into an abandoned city and watch out for giant, blind, albino penguins and shoggoths :-).

Sorry, I enjoyed this, especially the chase, but I keep thinking silly thoughts rather than serious comments (like I once came across a recipe for pirahna that I had an urge to give Sirius [a book of Peruvian recipes. It listed easier to find, North American substitution fish]).

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo, I've never tried Peruvian cuisine. I salute people who actually catch piranha, though. Those are nasty little...

Er, story, yes. Thanks, glad you like.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 12th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ignoring some of the other recipes, which seemed to be from the mountains rather than the rainforest area (guinea pig, for example), here's a little gift for Sirius (From _The Exotic Kitchens of Peru: the Land of the Inca_, by Copeland Marks, p. 42) -

Chilcano de Pirana (Piranha Broth)

4 Piranha (about one pound)

2 cups water

1 clove garlic, ground to paste

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 scallions (known as Chinese onion), cut into 1-inch pieces

2 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Clean the fish, remove the gills, and rinse the rish in cold water

2. In a wide pan, bring the water to a boil. Add the fish, garlic, and salt and cover. Cook over moderate heat for 8 minutes.

3. Add the scallions and cilantro and cook for 2 minutes. The broth will be clear and full of flavor and the fish tender.

Serve warm, 1 fish per person, with the broth. Serves 4

Note: Since piranha are hard to come by, I suggest substituting small lake fish, such as perch or sunfish.

(The "I" above is Marks not me)

Bon appetite, Sirius!

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 11th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC) (Link)

Many Thanks

For our daily dose of Fern-fic; it's like starting each day with a little present to unwrap (I usually go to bed early, so I read your things first thing instead of last thing of the day).

Question: Does the fact that Tonks can change her features so easily give her an extra edge in seeing through the disguises of others? She seemed to spot Sirius pretty quickly.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 11th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Many Thanks

I doubt it's anything like that. She'll tell a third party how it was she happened to recognize him.
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: June 11th, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
THANK YOU for letting one of the owls get lost! They never seem to get lost in JKR's world, and it's a refreshing flaw here. Also? My love of Remus knows no bounds. I guess you knew that. :)
tamethestars00 From: tamethestars00 Date: June 12th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is turning out to be the beginning of another really great story. It is so nice to be able to have a nice long story to read, especially with your frequent updates. Fantastic as usual, I hope this continues.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 13th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Afraid I don't have anything constructive to say, but it's always lovely to see an update of one of your stories.
kiwi_kimi From: kiwi_kimi Date: July 1st, 2007 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
This is going well! I hope you can maintain your interest in continuing with it after All Is Revealed later this month.

One small typo: "trying to far enough ahead of them" is missing a word.

And a question: is Lupin using their old nicknames for secrecy as well as just because it is what they call each other? If so, he's been careless: he identifies himself quite clearly by the reference to Moody's filling his old post.

19 comments or Leave a comment