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Stray, Chapter Seven: Paying Calls, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Seven: Paying Calls, pt. 3
Canon scene. Always nerveracking! GoF dialogue is JK's, of course. So is the dialogue that she only alludes to. Well, so is the whole universe, but that goes without saying.

Anyway, Sirius and Remus have gone over to the next island to break into the neighbor's house and use her fire. Remus is on guard, and Sirius isn't going to mention him, for fear of being overheard and getting Remus in trouble along with himself. Sirius has been nervous (it's his first time out trying to help) and looking up all sorts of things he needs to tell Harry, but as soon as he actually sees Harry in the Common Room, the nervousness goes away. He can see that Harry looks drawn, but Harry has just smiled happily and said, "Sirius--how're you doing?"

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The last time Sirius had seen Harry, he'd been fighting Dementors, had been thrashed by the Whomping Willow, had learned that everything he'd known was wrong, and was in the process of rescuing a fugitive from certain death. He'd looked considerably less miserable then. The relief in his face at seeing Sirius was beyond a vague desire to talk to his godfather, or a need for advice. He wondered how long it had been since Harry had seen a friendly face other than those of his two mates in Gryffindor.

"Never mind me," Sirius said, "how are you?"

Sirius saw Harry's lips start to form the word "Fine," but it never came out. Instead, said, "No one believes me!" He dropped down to a more comfortable position, sitting cross-legged, and looking Sirius in the eye. "They all think I entered myself, Sirius! Why would I do that? What kind of a nutter would I have to be to put myself up for it? But they all think I did it, and that I'm just after fame and money. I don't need fame and money. I have enough money, and I don't want to be famous. Rita Skeeter--she's a reporter--"

"I know..."

"--she wrote a horrible article, and everyone's talking about it, and they think I told her not to talk about the others, and I didn't, I wish I hadn't talked to her at all, or that she'd talked to Cedric, too, and even if I did talk to her, I didn't say what she said I did. I mean, I wouldn't... I don't talk about..." He shook his head sharply. "Everybody keeps quoting it at me."

Sirius winced inwardly, knowing perfectly well that he'd have done the same at Hogwarts, but Harry didn't need to know that just now.

"They keep offering me handkerchiefs and teasing me about crying for my parents--I don't!" he interjected fiercely, as though Sirius had accused him of such a thing. "I mean, not that I don't wish they were here, I really do, but how could anyone cry that much? Would they want me to be crying all the time?"

Sirius started to tell him that of course they wouldn't, but Harry seemed to need to talk more than he needed to be reassured just yet. The reassurances could wait and the warnings about Karkaroff could wait. Harry obviously needed to get quite a lot off of his chest.

"And Ron!" Harry said helplessly. "My best mate, remember? He doesn't believe me. He thinks I snuck in and didn't let him in on the secret of how, and he's not talking to me, and Hermione says he's jealous. Jealous! Why would anyone be jealous? He acts like I asked for it. He's spending all of his time with his brothers now, and he's not talking to me, and... Jealous! Because I've got someone trying to kill me. Because I've got to do this tournament, and it's supposed to be for people who've been in school three years longer than I have, and now Hagrid's just shown me what's coming in the first task, and it's dragons, Sirius, and I'm a goner."

Sirius waited for a long time, to make sure Harry had finished. He didn't know of a good way to fix any of Harry's problems, and he didn't know whether to explain that he understood what it felt like when a friend didn't believe you but sometimes they ended up guarding the door at risk to their lives and freedom afterward anyway, or to just go to Hogwarts and throttle Ron Weasley within an inch of his life. Both options seemed equally attractive. In the end, all of Harry's social problems would either work themselves out or not, and Harry seemed to know it. The only place he'd stopped to get an answer was at his most pressing practical problem: dragons. And there were other practical problems that he didn't know about yet. And heaven only knew when Dona Brodie would come home with her girls.

"Dragons we can deal with, Harry," he said, "but we'll get to that in a minute. I haven't got long here." He looked around to see if he could see the clock beside the fireplace reflected anywhere, but he couldn't. "I've broken into a wizarding house to use the fire, but they could be back any time. There are things I need to warn you about."

Harry seemed to deflate, and Sirius wished that he'd taken a moment to a least offer reassurance, but it was too late now. "What?"

"Karkaroff," Sirius said. "Harry, he was a Death Eater..."

Harry's eyes widened as Sirius told him exactly who the visiting headmaster was, what he had done to get out of Azkaban, the rumors of Dark Arts at Durmstrang. Karkaroff had apparently put on a convincing performance of anger when Harry's name had come out of the goblet, but Sirius didn't care--once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater. If he'd genuinely left, he wouldn't be in a posh position somewhere. He'd be under the ground with Regulus. Granted, if the Death Eaters he'd put in Azkaban ever found him, that's exactly where he'd be, but barring outside help, he only had to worry about other people who'd also made a compromising choice or two. Their secrets, he was apparently keeping. That was enough, in Sirius's book, to keep him firmly in the "suspicious" column.

"So... what are you saying?" Harry asked. "Karkaroff's trying to kill me? But--why?"

That, of course, was the key question, and the one Sirius didn't have a clear answer for. All of his misgivings about the tournament, the reappearance of the Death Eaters, the strange movements since the disappearance of Bertha Jorkins in Albania.

"Yeah, but... it's not very likely like she'd have walked straight into Voldemort, is it?" Harry asked when he mentioned this.

Sirius considered it. He knew from the Prophet that the Ministry was trying to fob off the whole business on Bertha being scatterbrained and forgetful, but he remembered enough of her to know better. "...she was an idiot," he said. "Very nosy, but no brains, none at all. It's not a good combination, Harry. I'd say she'd be very easy to lure into a trap."

"So... so Voldemort could have found out about the tournament?" Harry said. "Is that what you mean? You think Karkaroff might be here on his orders?"

Sirius realized that was exactly what was troubling him. The sudden movement north, the attack on Moody, the mysterious appearance of Harry's name in the cup, the magical contract he couldn't escape--all of it reeked of Voldemort, who had always loved his little traps. It would also please Death Eaters, Sirius thought, to disrupt what was meant to be a happy, if dangerous, event. They took perverse pleasure in spoiling fun, which was why James and Lily had insisted on an all-day wedding reception with a lot of dancing right at the height of the war... and why there were no pictures of all of them together at the party. They'd all had to take part of the day to watch the perimeter.

But was Karkaroff the agent?

If he was, that was the most disturbing part of the whole scenario, because Karkaroff, like bloody Wormtail, wouldn't go back unless Voldemort was the strongest person to whom he could attach himself. And unlike Wormtail, he had options. If Karkaroff was acting on Voldemort's orders, it would be indisputable proof that Voldemort was growing strong again. And why would that be?

Bloody Wormtail. Sirius deeply wished, for the thousandth time, that he really had killed him.

But Harry didn't need to worry about Peter Pettigrew this year. Dumbledore knew the truth and Sirius had no doubt that the castle had been cleared entirely of its rat population.

"Whoever put your name in that goblet did it for a reason," he said, skipping most of his thoughts. "And I can't help thinking the tournament would be a very good way to attack you and make it look like an accident."

Harry gave him a shaky grin. "Looks like a really good plan from where I'm standing. They'll just have to stand back and let the dragons do their stuff."

"Right--those dragons," Sirius said. He wiggled both of his feet to make sure his toes weren't on fire. Dona had to be coming back soon. But he shouldn't have given Harry quite the history lesson he had... the dragons were coming before Karkaroff, and Harry was right. They would serve perfectly well, and Sirius doubted he'd know any of the simple ways to get around them, because he'd only had one year of Care of Magical Creatures, and dragons were a N.E.W.T. level subject. He remembered Kettleburn warning them never to try and disable a dragon alone--just get it distracted and get around it and out of it's way as quickly as possible. "There's a way, Harry. Don't be tempted to try a Stunning Spell--dragons are strong and too powerfully magical to be knocked out by a single Stunner, you need about half a dozen wizards at a time to overcome a dragon--"

"Yeah, I know, I just saw."

"But you can do it alone," Sirius said, trying to decide which approach would be simplest. The eyes--they were the weak point. Conjunctivitis Curse--it was the best plan. "There is a way, and a simple spell's all you need, just--"

Harry jumped suddenly and held up one hand, his face turning paper white. "Go!" he hissed. "Go! There's someone coming!"

Sirius tried to whisper "Conjunctivitis Curse," but Harry had already stood and turned his back.

Sirius pulled his head back through the Floo network, not peeking into the handful of fires between here and Hogwarts.

There was no line of fire on the floor. He put the fire out, but continued to wait.

The door tipped open slightly. "Are you done?" Remus asked.

"I want to go back," Sirius said. "We got interrupted. Maybe..."

"Sirius, if you got interrupted, Harry will think it's over and go back upstairs. And you don't know who'll be in there if you go back."

"You do it, then. I'll stand guard."

"Sirius..."

"I'll buy Dona more Floo Powder. Tell her you needed to come over and make an emergency call..."

"...and broke her security spells?"

"Oh. Right."

Remus broke the Disillusionment. "You stand guard," he said. "I'll check. Warn me if you see them." He turned to go inside, but suddenly, the light in the living room turned bright green.

"Damn," Sirius said. "They're using the Floo."

Remus hissed a less than polite word, then muttered something that included, "...should have thought... damned lucky..." as he slipped outside and closed the door, the snick of the lock covered by the crash of a little girl spinning out of the fireplace, tunelessly singing, "The PHAN-tom of the opera is THEEEEERE..."

A moment later, a light bit of laughter joined it, then a scolding, "Will you girls settle down a bit, now? It's time to sleep!"

"Come on," Remus said. "We can't go back."

Sirius looked in the window as they went by. Dona and the girls were dancing in a circle, Kirsty singing off-key, none of them seeming to see anything off-kilter. Perhaps if they stayed, a distraction spell, or a sleep charm, or...

"NOW," Remus hissed, and the sheep began to bleat loudly.

Dona started to the door to check on what the racket was.

Sirius ran, seeing Remus's squelching footprints in the grass ahead of him until they reached the Apparition barrier. A quick burst of magic cleared up the marks, and then they were clear, and they Apparated.

"That," Remus said as soon as Sirius appeared on the McAlister island beside him, "was a lot closer than I like. Why didn't we think of them using the floo to get there? It's the most logical way to go..."

"Neither of us has traveled with children for a long time," Sirius said. "And it wouldn't have made a difference. We got away clean."

"Right," Remus said, starting up over the rise. "Right. I'll find some way to pay Dona back without her noticing. I'll--" He stopped suddenly and threw his arm off to one side. "Transform. Right. Now."

Sirius transformed, puzzled. It was close to one o'clock in the morning. The check-ins were never after hours. He padded up to the top of the rise and looked down at Remus's house.

Buckbeak, perfectly visible, was prowling back and forth. A lamp was lit, and through the window, Sirius could see pink hair reflecting the firelight.
20 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Eeeek, very tense ending there. Whee! I love this, it's so great and flows so easily in and out of the canon. Whew.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Whew. I was worried, because there were a few things in that conversation that I hadn't had Sirius explicitly research and worry about prior to talking to Harry.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:27 am (UTC) (Link)
Oooooooh! Let's hope that Tonks didn't see him!
I didn't anticipate that it would be a close call on both sides of the conversation, though. You mastered the canon-scene to perfection!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I had to give them a little bit of tension at the end. (Besides, it's Sirius--if Dona hadn't showed up again, he'd have kept trying the Common Room until someone arrested him, most likely!)
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:32 am (UTC) (Link)
"Yeah, but... it's not very likely like s he'd have walked straight into Voldemort, is it?" Harry asked.

A stray S has wandered in there.

Geez, Fern. Are you sure you're not Jo Rowling in disguise?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a stray space; I'll get rid of it!

Geez, Fern. Are you sure you're not Jo Rowling in disguise?

That would be very, very nice. Way better than winning the lottery. Alas, I'm just a fanfic writer who's probably got a hell of a lot of details wrong!
alkari From: alkari Date: July 3rd, 2007 08:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter, great ending. I loved the snippet of "Phantom" - how oddly appropriate!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 09:50 am (UTC) (Link)
It kind of is, though it's accidental. (I was just trying to think of something that would have been running in London in the mid-'90s that would be famous enough for a ten year old witch in the Orkneys to be dying to see it!)

tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: July 3rd, 2007 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow - good tie in with canon, and lots of tension at the end. Can;t wait to find out what will happen next!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I know what happens immediately, but I have to admit, I'm not entirely sure how it will play out over the course of the rest of the GoF year. It's not exactly how I saw things until I started writing this.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: July 3rd, 2007 11:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry it's taken me so long to review this!

Anyway, good chapter you have there; I liked seeing Sirius's point of view. And the ending... whoo boy.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like Sirius's point of view. Which is a good thing, as he won't shut up.
beceh From: beceh Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Great chapter!!! I am amazed at how fast you come out with chapters - amazed and jealous! Hehe. In agreeance with the comment above. Are you SURE you're not really JKR?!?! :p
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!

Are you SURE you're not really JKR?!?! :p
How very deeply I wish it! I could move into my mythical house in Brazil and not even need to find a roommate! ;p
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: July 3rd, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ahh, such a good tie-in, and I continue to adore your Remus... and your Sirius too. Also your Harry. And the little girl singing "Phantom," hehehe.

And that ending? GAH wantmorenowplskthx.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 3rd, 2007 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
willwritemoresoonthnx4wanting... ;p

I'm glad it's still coming off all right!
thunderemerald From: thunderemerald Date: July 3rd, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
All right and then some. You've got me on pins and needles here, and for heaven's sake, I already know what happens! I've read the books! And yet...!

Go forth and write more. :)
excitedrainbow From: excitedrainbow Date: July 3rd, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooooh, cliffhanger!

Lovely writing as usual Fern, and the canon bits all fit in perfectly. You build up and deflate tension brilliantly - a very good thing, seeing as this is a fic about someone who's on the run. It's interesting and rather nice to see Harry from Sirius's point of view.

Hee, Phantom of the Opera singing!

Aaaaah what will happen next? Can't wait for the next bit!
aebhel From: aebhel Date: July 5th, 2007 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, it's funny with your fics. At every tense canon scene, even though I know how it ends, I'm always at the edge of my seat. It's a gift, I think.
kiwi_kimi From: kiwi_kimi Date: July 8th, 2007 06:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely ending! I love how you manage to create tension even when I know (to an extent) what will happen.

A few little things:

"to a least offer reassurance": "a" should be "at".

"All of his misgivings about the tournament, the reappearance of the Death Eaters, the strange movements since the disappearance of Bertha Jorkins in Albania." Perhaps it's just me, but I feel the lack of a few words between this and the next sentence.

"out of it's way" "it's" should be "its".
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