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Stray, Chapter Nine: The First Task, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Nine: The First Task, pt. 2
Just when Sirius thought he'd have to gnash his teeth and miss hearing the First Task on Wizarding Wireless, Tonks showed up with a radio. She's being a bit cool toward him, but is warming, though of course he can't transform. Currently, the two of them and Remus have curled up in Remus's living room, had some interhouse rivalry which has ended up with dog!Sirius being scarlet with gold lions on him, and having a large red mane. On the radio, Bagman has just introduced Cedric.

After several attempts at drama, it turns out that, dull as it can be to re-write canon scenes, it becomes exponentially moreso when all your POV character is doing is listening to them on the radio. So, despite my desire to do a radio commentary on the tournament, I do believe I'll skim here. Not quite as much as certain screenwriters might skim, but still... a skim.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Sirius tried to casually stretch out with his ears pricked toward the radio, but he couldn't. He felt like he had an infestation of chizpurfles in his fur, and he couldn't seem to sit still. He prowled about. Dora, comfortably lounged in the tattered armchair with her shoes off (she was wearing striped purple and yellow socks with toes in them, which seemed somehow just right to Sirius), raised her eyebrows at him as she summoned a bag of crisps from her satchel. Remus, sitting on the sofa with his elbows on his knees, shot him a vaguely threatening look, and he attempted to sit down again as Cedric Diggory attempted his first bit of magic.

"Diggory is taking an unusual approach," the WWN announcer said quietly--Bagman couldn't name the champions' actual strategies, for the obvious reason that the other champions needed to be able to hear him when he called for them, so it was left to the announcer to describe the action motions. "He seems to have... yes... it's a successful Transfiguration, what a clever idea... he's turned a rock in the enclosure into a dog, and it seems to be attracting the Short-Snout's attention..."

"Turning things into dogs," Dora remarked casually. "Who'd have thought of it?"

"Oh, narrow miss there, very narrow!" Bagman said, and the announcer mentioned in the same quiet, calm voice that the dragon had changed its course and shot fire in Cedric's direction. Dora lost interest in needling Remus and leaned forward, her eyes dark and intense.

"Diggory has taken a rather serious burn," the announcer said, "but he seems to be continuing. He has prodded the Transfigured dog... yes..."

"Clever move!" Ludo Bagman put in. "Pity it didn't work!"

"The dog was unable to distract the dragon long enough for Diggory to grab the egg..."

As the battle wore on, Sirius developed some respect for the Hufflepuff champion, whose plan clearly hadn't worked properly, but who was soldiering on nonetheless. He was able to use the Transfigured dog once more to worry at the dragon's claw, which got him into the egg clutch, and the announcer mentioned that he'd got the egg, but it still took him five more minutes to escape the nest. He finally simply made a run for it, and, judging by the yell that went up in the crowd, it was an exciting escape. Sirius wished he could have seen it. The judges gave their combined marks--announced by the WWN announcer, but not Bagman, presumably so that the other champions wouldn't be able to compare, totalling thirty-eight--then Bagman said, "One down, three to go! Miss Delacour, if you please!"

Fleur Delacour entered to applause Sirius could only describe as polite-sounding, but the crowd grew fonder of her as she was able to successfully mesmerize a dragon... not an easy feat even for an adult wizard with a lot of experience. Quite unfortunately, the dragon snored, lighting her skirt on fire. The judges marked her down rather harshly, with her own headmistress giving her an eight, but Karkaroff and Bagman marking her down to sixes.

"That's not fair," Dora said. "Cedric was more seriously burned than that, and he's ahead of her!"

"I thought you were supporting Cedric," Remus said.

"I am, but that doesn't make it fair to mark the poor French girl down when her strategy was working better. She just had bad luck. She'd have got away completely clean otherwise."

Remus smiled. "If I know Cedric, he'll try to make the case for her once he finds out. He tried to give up a Quidditch win against Harry the year I was there because he caught the Snitch before realizing that Harry had fallen off of his broom."

"He did?" Dora grinned. "That's the Ced I know. His dad works at the Ministry, and he's gone on and on about how Cedric beat Harry at Quidditch. Drives everyone mad. Of course, he's a Gryffindor. It took Cedric most of his first year to convince him that he could admit in polite company that his son was a Hufflepuff."

"We're not all like that," Remus said.

"I know. But tell me that you're not expecting your children to be in Gryffindor. I dare you."

Remus gave her a rueful smile and said, "I can honestly say that I'm not expecting to have children in Gryffindor. Or anywhere else."

"Oh, good, I thought we'd go all day with no Lupin fatalism. Crisp?" She offered the bag.

Krum came into the arena next, and Sirius thought it was quite possible that there was a conspiracy to drive him mad with anticipation and nerves about Harry. It seemed to take forever. Krum used the Conjunctivitis Curse, which Sirius had meant to tell Harry about, but the dragon rampaged in irritation and crushed several of its eggs. Only a ten from Karkaroff kept him from falling below both Cedric and Fleur (who were very close indeed). Dora muttered again about unfair scores.

"And now," Bagman announced, "our fourth and youngest champion, the best known of the four... Harry Potter!"

The crowd applauded, and Sirius wished he were more shocked that it was less enthusiastic than it had been for Cedric Diggory. Still, there was more than Harry had led him to believe there would be. He looked anxiously at Remus, who was now leaning forward, looking tense.

"Potter has entered the arena," the WWN announcer said, completely unnecessarily. "He seems at a loss at the sight of the dragon. Is he too young for this tournament?"

The arena on the other side of all of the airwaves seemed preternaturally silent, and Remus whispered, "Come on, Harry. You can do it."

Sirius crept closer to the radio and touched it with his nose, willing Harry to do something quickly. Conjunctivitis Curse, he thought, trying to send waves back through the radio. Conjunctivitis...

Suddenly, with complete clarity, Harry's voice came across: "Accio Firebolt!"

Sirius sat back in delighted surprise as the announcer and a commentator in London discussed whether or not this was against the rules. Both agreed that it wasn't, but thought the more conservative judges might object. They interrupted themselves when the Firebolt Sirius had bought for Harry zoomed into the arena, and Harry took flight.

The announcer seemed stunned into silence--much to Sirius's annoyance--as the crowd screeched in excitement. Ludo Bagman, sounding like a giddy schoolboy, cried, "Great Scott he can fly! Are you watching this Mr. Krum?"

Remus laughed aloud. "Of course! Harry! Go!"

The announcer finally seemed to gather himself. "Potter, who is known outside the walls of Hogwarts as the Boy Who Lived, is known within these walls primarily as the talented Seeker of the champion Gryffindor Quidditch team, and today he is showing the world how he's got that reputation. He compares rather evenly with Viktor Krum's spectacular performance in the Quidditch World Cup this August. We may well see these two champions facing off again someday!"

"But what's he doing?" Remus asked, not disguising his excitement.

"Potter is using classic Seeker diversions, diving and feinting trying to get the Horntail to leave her nest... he's diving... what a dive!... Oh!"

Sirius nearly jumped out of his skin, but it turned out only to be a graze to the shoulder.

"She's taking the bait," the announcer said, sounding suddenly more interested in his job. "Yes, she's rising, rising... And Potter has the egg! He sped behind her and stole it, and was out before she noticed he was gone! He's done no damage to the other eggs, sustained only a minor injury, and retrieved his egg in less time than it took any of the other champions! So much for talk of coddling Potter!"

"Will you look at that!" Bagman said. "Our youngest champion is quickest to get his egg! Well, this is going to shorten the odds on Mr. Potter!"

"Interesting way to put it," Remus said.

"Bagman has a flutter on everything," Dora told him. "Except this, of course. He's a judge. But he thinks like a gambler."

The announcer went back to his bland presentation, mentioning that McGonagall had come out to take Harry back to the tent to be treated, then a moment later mentioning that he had come back out, accompanied by two other students ("apparently friends of some sort") to get his scores.

"I think he may have the lead," Dora admitted. "But it's only the first task. And he may not get a ten, which means the unfair scoring for--" She stopped as the marks were announced.

Eight, nine, nine, ten--

"Hey!" Dora said. "He did get injured!"

--and then, from Karkaroff, four.

The three of them looked at one another, Dora not even making a pretense of treating Sirius like a dog. "Four?" Dora said, the high umbrage she'd taken on Fleur Delacour's behalf now appearing for Harry. "Oh, bloody hell! That's a bad joke is what that is!"

"The unexpected score from the Durmstrang judge seems to have little impact on the cheering crowd here at Hogwarts," the announcer said. "Potter has tied with Krum for the lead in the Triwizard Tournament. I believe we may see some argument in the coming days about Karkaroff's score--"

"If I may," the London commentator put in, "I suspect Karkaroff may have based his score on Potter bringing something into the arena. While not technically forbidden, as long as it is not initially in the champion's possession, he may consider it something of a betrayal of the spirit of the task, which requires only the possession of a wand."

"Or Karkaroff may be a capricious judge who plays favorites with his champion," Remus muttered.

"And Bagman's not?" Dora pointed out.

"I see your point. Would you like to stay for lunch?" he asked as the coverage faded to after-match analysis.

"I have an appointment before my evening shift," Dora said. "Keep the radio; I have another one in my flat. Which you still haven't visited."

"And here I've been meaning to visit your radio."

Dora made a gesture that Sirius didn't think she'd picked up from Andromeda then started to gather her things. "My appointment is with Amelia Bones," she said. "About just what I'd need to get a new trial for various missing fugitives who are obviously far away from here."

"Didn't Kingsley tell you to let him handle it?"

"Yes, and I always like it when older men think I need such careful looking-after."

"The older man in this case is your supervisor!"

Dora ground her teeth. "I am trying to help you," she said tightly. "Will you please let me?"

"No!"

"Fine," she said. "Then I'm trying to help your dog, and if he says no, I'll have to arrest him." She crouched down and scratched Sirius's ears quickly.

"Dora--"

"Don't 'Dora' me, Remus." She put her satchel over her shoulder. "And while I'm at it, will you please call me Tonks like everyone else?"

"If you don't shape up, I'm not only going to call you Dora. I'm going to call you Nymphadora."

"Remus..."

"Nymphadora Andromeda Lycoris--"

Dora rolled her eyes and pointed her wand at him, and his voice was cut off part way through. "Jane," she said. "I'm naming all of my children Jane. Even the boys." She gave Remus an irritated kiss on the nose, then headed out the back door, breaking the spell with an absent flick of her wand as she went.

"I think she's really going," Remus said, watching her walk toward the mound. He turned. "But you'd best wait until she--"

He was interrupted by a brief, quickly muffled scream.

Sirius transformed and stood up. "The hogboon," he said.

They ran outside.

The mound had opened up like a great maw, and Dora's satchel was spilled at one side of it. From inside, they could hear her shouting curses.

"Transform," Remus said, running toward the drop without looking back.

Sirius reached for John Lupin's wand and ran after him.
18 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
alkari From: alkari Date: July 14th, 2007 06:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Fern, I think I shall have to award you the Order of Merlin, First Class, Literature Division, for consistently producing cliff-hangers. So is this how Dora finally 'meets' Sirius?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, these three need a "first task," too, and there's no handy troll in the girls' bathroom. ;p
alkari From: alkari Date: July 14th, 2007 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Then that hogboon will just have to do! How useful that Remus hasn't managed to get rid if it yet ...
From: faerybad Date: July 14th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Phantom Librarian
"Taunting readers with too many cliffhangers since November 2003"

But seriously, am enjoying this story a lot!
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 14th, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree.

Not that I want you to stop, Fern.
prelud From: prelud Date: July 14th, 2007 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Oohh, you got my adrenaline levels up!

I love Dora. She is such a good girl. Protests against ten for Cedric!
Those socks remind me of my favorite art of Dora http://www.hp-lexicon.org/images/jdolf/tonks240-jd.jpg ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think I subconsciously pulled them from that picture! :)
excitedrainbow From: excitedrainbow Date: July 14th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
How do you do it?

*gnaws nails*

Another great cliffhanger, Fern, and my favourite bit was all of Dora's complaining about unfair scores - her and Ced are so Hufflepuff, it's great.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, after the third task, I sat down to figure out everyone's scores on the first task. No clue on Fleur's exact score, but Cedric could only be two points behind Harry and Krum, so I'm guessing that Fleur had to be in fourth place after the first task, which really doesn't seem fair, given Ron's description.
aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: July 14th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Oh, good, I thought we'd go all day with no Lupin fatalism. Crisp?" She offered the bag.

Teehee! I loved this, as well as the Dora/Tonks argument at the end!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Poor Dora doesn't know exactly how long she'll have to deal with Lupin fatalism...
sharonaf From: sharonaf Date: July 15th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I chortled over that line too. Especially the way she followed it up with the offer of a crisp. :-D
Well done, as always, and I'm curious to see what exactly a hogboon would plan to do with a human captive!
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: July 14th, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
You managed your canon scene very well indeed. There was nothing boring about it!
*keeps fingers crossed for Tonks*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
There was nothing boring about it!

Phew!!!

Thanks.
golden_d From: golden_d Date: July 14th, 2007 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooooh, Dora...! You really are the mistress of cliffhangers. And don't worry, you didn't over-skim the commentary. For some reason, I really like your WWN announcer, particularly his (her?) defense of Karkaroff's judging.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't watch a lot of sports, but I like the Olympic commentators trying to do post-match analysis, the simpler the sport, the better. [deeply serious voice]"I think his strategy in this speed skating race is to skate faster than the competitor ahead of him. What do you think, Bob? Will it work?"
kizmet_42 From: kizmet_42 Date: July 14th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sirius transformed and stood up. "The hogboon," he said.

They ran outside.

The mound had opened up like a great maw, and Dora's satchel was spilled at one side of it. From inside, they could hear her shouting curses.

"Transform," Remus said, running toward the drop without looking back.

Sirius reached for John Lupin's wand and ran after him.


If they were outside... where was John Lupin's wand that Sirius could reach for it?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: July 14th, 2007 04:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm guessing wherever a wand normally goes when you've been in Animagus form and transform back. A pocket or something?
18 comments or Leave a comment