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Stray, Chapter Eight: A Tale of Two Shapeshifters, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Eight: A Tale of Two Shapeshifters, pt. 2
Tonks, spurred on by a memory of Sirius's reading habits combined with an odd perspective on Remus's friendly new stray dog, has done some research on Animagi, and shown up at one o'clock in the morning to share the fruits of her labors. Furious that she's been allowed to scratch between a wanted fugitive's ears--but not furious enough to actually acknowledge this directly, as she would then be forced to make an arrest--she demands that Remus tell her he believes Sirius to be innocent. Remus tells her that she got quite a lot, but she overlooked what everyone overlooked--Peter Pettigrew. "He's alive," Remus says. "I've seen him."

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Whatever Dora was expecting Remus to say, that, Sirius thought, was clearly not it. She sat back and blinked in unfeigned surprise. "What?" she asked. "What do you... Mr. Pettigrew? The one that Sirius is supposed to have blown into little bits?"

Remus nodded. "He cut off his finger. He threw quite a lot of blood around. I don't know whose blood it was. It could have just been the Muggles he killed in the process, but the more I think about it, the more I think he brought blood with him, in case there weren't enough witnesses to account for it. He needed a handful to tell the Aurors that he accused Sirius of betraying James and Lily Potter before he was apparently blown up." Remus grimaced. "Though I imagine he looked for the biggest crowd he could find. The more people Sirius supposedly killed, the more certain it would be that people would guess he was high up in Voldemort's confidence, not just a straggler trying to curry favor. And the more people thought that, the more would be calling for his blood, and the happier Crouch would be to put him away with asking too many awkward questions. Or any awkward questions."

"But how..." Dora shook her head. "I studied Mr. Pettigrew as well when I started on the case. His marks in Transfiguration... he couldn't have..."

"He had James and Sirius to help him," Remus said, then added, "And don't start underestimating Peter, Dora. That was the mistake we all made. We knew there was a leak. It was unthinkable that it was James. I thought it was Sirius. Sirius thought it was me. We never guessed that Peter would have the wherewithal to do it. And we knew he was more powerful than was immediately apparent. We'd all seen him become an Animagus."

"What did he..."

"A rat. He escaped into the sewers, and lived with the Weasley family for twelve years."

Dora's hand flew to her mouth. "Scabbers! I... well, one day some of the older boys were deviling little Percy. They'd taken Scabbers and they were burning his feet. I..." She looked down. "I helped him. I soaked his feet in murtlap essence. I asked Percy how old he was. I thought Percy just must take very good care of him. That was Mr. Pettigrew?"

Sirius ground his teeth, wanting to transform and start raging at Peter. The bruised, sunken look around Dora's eyes... of course. She had always had a smile for Peter. Always. And of course she'd helped him; that was what Dora did. Remus might feel miserable about tricking her, but it had not, apparently, tweaked Peter's conscience at all to let her heal his burns and show him kindness, all unknowing.

Remus waited for the shock to wear off a little, then nodded. "We forced him to change back that night at Hogwarts..."

While Remus told the story of what happened at Hogwarts--carefully avoiding directly stating what sort of animal Sirius himself became--Sirius inched closer to Dora. She held up her hand to stop him, and he stopped, lying down on the floor and putting his paws over his nose.

When Remus finished, she let the silence spin out. "And why," she finally said, her voice quiet and cool, "isn't there a report on this at the Ministry? Do you really think they'd ignore something that... blatant?"

"They already had, Dora," Remus said. "Sirius had told Dumbledore, the children made an attempt. Severus Snape told Fudge that they'd been Confunded. By the time the moon set that night, they had an official story. It fit with what Sirius had been doing that year--breaking into the castle, attacking a portrait, going after Ron Weasley--or so they assumed; he was really after Peter--with a knife. The word of a werewolf known to be close to Sirius wasn't going to count for anything."

"But--"

"I know, Dora. When I transformed, I wanted to at least try it. But Dumbledore wanted me someplace where I could be useful, and that emphatically didn't include Azkaban. Since they'd already decided Sirius was guilty, if I'd gone forward and told them what actually happened, they'd have decided I helped him escape. And be honest, Dora... even as it is, they suspect it. That's why I've developed so many good friends in the Division this year, who come in for surprise visits."

Dora sighed. "I read Snape's report," she said. "He never mentioned any of it."

"Yes, well. Severus, I'm sure, reported what he saw quite honestly. But as he spent a good deal of his time that evening unconscious after three of his students attacked him, he didn't see most of what happened."

"Crouch is gone," Dora said, standing up and running her fingers through her violently pink hair. "He's shunted over to a courtesy post. Amelia Bones is in charge of magical law enforcement now. She'd listen. She would hear the case."

"Not if Fudge didn't approve of it."

"This isn't a dictatorship!"

"Dora--"

"No, Remus. If what you're saying is true, then your personal cynicism isn't a good enough excuse to--

"Dora, it won't--"

"I'll get him a trial," Dora said. "And once he's cleared, he can come out of hiding."

"You'll draw attention to yourself."

"Yes, I'd hate for people to think I support fairness and the rule of law."

"That's not what I mean. You're his cousin--"

Dora hissed. "I know who I am!"

Remus took a deep breath, then nodded slowly. "Don't, Dora. It won't do any good. It won't..."

But Dora cut him off sharply. "Remus, tell your dog to keep his head down until I get this done." She turned, gathered her books with a wave of the wand, and left without saying goodbye, and this time, she didn't turn around and come back.

Sirius transformed. "Maybe she'll be able to do it," he suggested.

"More likely, the people she works with will realize she knows where you are, and if she's lucky, she'll just get sacked for not bringing you in."

Sirius leaned forward, head in his hands. "What a cock-up."

"Hopefully, she'll at least go to Kingsley first, and he'll talk some sense into her." He stood and went to the kitchen. "And who knows? If he gets her to go in carefully, maybe she will get something done. Of course, that would undermine Severus's credibility."

"Could I think of that as an extra gift?" Sirius muttered. "Old Snivelly's as much a pain in the arse as he was in school."

"Dumbledore trusts him," Remus said, by way of closing the subject. He reached up to the cupboard over the stove. "Do you want a drink? I could use one."

"Sure."

Remus got down two glasses, and poured out some mulled mead. He handed one to Sirius, then sat down and didn't drink. "Dora worked so hard for this job. She needed Outstandings from Severus, and he's much harder to get them from than Slughorn was. That's why there aren't many new Aurors. She was so proud when she finished her training in the spring. She almost failed Stealth. She never has outgrown her clumsiness. She puts too much energy into everything. But she made it."

"Did you go to her badging ceremony?" Remus shook his head tightly, and Sirius realized that he couldn't have, not that soon after he'd been involved in an incident with a fugitive. He sighed. "I'm sorry, Remus. I didn't mean to get in the way of your... whatever you have with Dora."

"Friendship," Remus said blandly. "And you didn't."

"But I--"

"It's the Ministry, it's Crouch, it's Peter, and it's bloody Voldemort. All you did was get caught in a trap. It mostly missed me, and if it's fraying a bit where it did catch, that's still not your fault." He put the glass down, untouched and stood up, going to the window to look out at the cloudy blackness that had descended. "Peter could have as easily decided to frame me, and you'd be caught on a thorn for his troubles. I don't forget that. He was busy insinuating the same things to you about me that he was insinuating to me about you."

"You wouldn't have been the Secret Keeper."

"Don't you wonder why he bothered with the mutual suspicion, though?" Remus sighed. "I think that, if he hadn't been able to get you to switch Secret Keepers, he'd have found a way to trick you into telling Greyback. Polyjuice Potion, maybe, so he'd look like me. Then he'd have said he was staying with me that moon, but he couldn't keep me from going to James and Lily's, no matter how hard he tried, and he couldn't stop the werewolf, just being a little rat..." He trailed off. "I don't know. I've just been trying to figure it out."

"It was probably just to avoid you finding out about the switch. He knows I would have told you anything otherwise." Sirius looked down. "James didn't believe it, for whatever that's worth. He went along because Harry was in danger, but he said that he wanted full permission to laugh in our faces when you turned out to be innocent. And we didn't even tell Lily what we were afraid of. Peter was adamant about that. I guess he knew that she wouldn't even entertain the idea."

"Who did James think it was?"

"Everyone who wasn't one of us or Dumbledore," Sirius said. He went to the window and stood beside Remus. Their reflections in the night-dark glass stared back at them with the eyes of old men looking down at the boys they had once been. "Can I say that I wish Dora wasn't caught in the middle of this? That I'm sorry in a kind of non-personalized way that I've managed to make things awkward between you?"

"Thank you," Remus said, then shook his head. "She'll come around. I know Nymphadora Tonks. She's always more eager to do the right thing than she is to behave herself. When she finds out that the Ministry won't let her do both, she'll keep your secret."

"Still," Sirius said, deciding to lighten the mood, which was getting altogether too turgid for anyone's good, "I did notice that she left you without your evening kiss on the nose." He made kissing noises and batted his eyelashes.

Remus attempted to look angry. "Honestly, Sirius..."

"No little hugs..." He put an arm over Remus's shoulders.

Remus, now actually chuffing through his nose trying not to laugh, shoved him away with a lazy, "Geroff."

Sirius laughed and fell back into the chair. "She'll be back," he promised. "Don't worry."

"Oh, I know she'll be back," Remus said. "The problem is guessing what she'll bring along next time."
11 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 7th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, man . . . .

Poor Dora. The Ministries flaws are going to be hard for her to take.

Poor Remus, too. Sirius is quite right about the goodnight kiss.

And poor everyone who was caught up in the mess that Peter made. I think Remus is just making nightmares about Greyback, if only because Voldemort probably wanted to make sure of Harry himself.

Come to think of it, Voldemort wouldn't have wanted to let the boy who might be able to take him out someday anywhere near a werewolf with a tendency to bite children when they're young and then raise them in his pack.

Of course, making a messy death scene that looked like a werewolf did it wouldn't be that hard.

Then, you toss us the picture of Peter getting his feet burned by mean kids and being nursed by Dora. That sympathy producing picture is quite unfair of you, you know.

All right. I'll say it.

Poor Peter, too.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree that Remus is totally gaslighting himself, but I thin here, he's doing it to true to help ease Sirius's mind about the notion that his (Remus's) life was only a mess because Sirius fell for Peter's trick. He's suggesting that it could have gone the other way, and Sirius could be the one just caught at the edge of the trap. It's not necessarily true, but I think he's trying to be kind.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 7th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, I did see the empathy and compassion in what Remus was saying. I've just gotten used to trying to attack his pessimism. I don't think I'd let Remus watch Monk. It could give him ideas (not the OCD stuff, but I just saw the episode where Monk is reconvinced his wife's death and everything else are all his fault).

He is right, though, that Peter probably had a fallback plan where Remus would look like the villain. It may not have been very concrete, but I'm sure he was keeping his options open.

Ellen
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: July 7th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I really like this perspective on Tonks - a new Auror who wants to do the right thing, being forced to acknowledge the cons of her job - who she's working for.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2007 11:59 am (UTC) (Link)
It can't have been easy for her to make the decision to start lying to her superiors.

I like your icon. Though the original "little dog" quote would work, too, given her behavior toward Sirius...
weaselsu From: weaselsu Date: July 7th, 2007 12:16 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yea

I love this! I wasn't going to read anything new until after book seven but I couldn't help myself. I love all your stories and this one is no exception!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 7th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yea

Thanks!
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 8th, 2007 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
2 more weeks only!!!!! I know how much I need distraction from HP.

Keep up the stories. And I'll look forward to a DH-period sequel (and hopefully a post-DH one too, assuming Remus and Tonks...er...make it). Remus is probably Harry's only father-figure now (which usually does not bode too well), and Tonks has an alarming tendency to get injured in duels with Death Eaters, so I'm definitely worried for both of them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 8th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

If...

JKR kills either Remus or Dora, she is dead to me. I could forgive her killing Harry before I would forgive her for that. For that matter, I could forgive her killing almost anyone else rather than Remus or Dora.

I'm not so sure that Remus is a father figure for Harry. I think Arthur Weasley is more of a father figure. Remus is a sort of friendly uncle.
From: (Anonymous) Date: July 9th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aww, he got his hug, even if it was just a little one. :D

Thanks, Fern, this was a great chapter!

~Maryann
keestone From: keestone Date: July 9th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
She needed Outstandings from Severus, and he's much harder to get them from than Slughorn was. That's why there aren't many new Aurors


Ooh. That little detail gives so much food for thought.

11 comments or Leave a comment