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Stray, Chapter Ten: On A Stormy Day, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Ten: On A Stormy Day, pt. 2
Wow, it's harder to get going again than I thought! I've been slacking too long. ;p

Anyway, as the weather turns bad during the first week of December, Remus, Tonks, and Sirius are getting on each other's nerves. Dora is probably glad to get permission to go to Albania, and Remus and Sirius start sniping at each other until Remus decides it would be a good idea to hit the mainland for a little while. Sirius goes out in dog form to get some air, but spots the Brodie girls (I was reminded that I spelled that wrong in the previous segment) trying to sail over. He has to make a quick decision, and decides to Apparate out and help them. They say that their mother was fixing the Floo and managed to break both her leg and her wand. He debates his position internally, then finally decides that he needs to help out, whatever the risks. He's told the girls his name is Padraic Foote, but he realizes that his cover could easily be blown, and get both himself and Remus in trouble. He goes, and as soon as Fiona sees him, he knows she recognizes him. He is waiting to see what she'll do.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

Silence ticked out between them for what seemed a day. Elspeth was oblivious, but Kirsty seemed to catch on that something was amiss. She knelt down beside her mother and said, "We took Papa's boat. We were in the storm. Mr. Foote came out and got us."

Fiona straightened her back, then went even paler as the break in her leg ground against itself.

"Here," Sirius said. "Let me."

She pulled back, but could go far.

Sirius looked at her leg. Her robe was hiked up far enough that he could see the place where the bone was crooked. He bit his lip. "I'll... I'll have to straighten the leg. I'll do a Painkilling Charm first, but you might want to hold onto something. This isn't the best wand I've ever used."

"I imagine not," Fiona finally said, biting out each word.

"Just hold on."

Sirius did a pain dulling charm he'd seen Madam Pomfrey do on Remus more than once, hoping he'd get it right, then signaled to the girls to hold their mother steady. He took hold of her ankle and pulled her leg straight, to line the bones up, hoping there was nothing he was missing. He'd read of bone fragments getting loose in the body, but he was no Healer, and there was nothing he could do about that. Once everything was aligned, he took a deep breath, and knit the bone back together.

When he finished, he looked up at Fiona. Her face was still cool, but she said, "Thank you... Mr. Foote."

"I can't do anything about the wand, but perhaps I can fix your Floo, so you can get to Diagon Alley and buy a new one."

She frowned, then looked at Elspeth and Kirsty. "Go to your room," she said. "Get yourselves dried again and cleaned. I'd like to speak with Mr. Foote."

Kirsty put her hand on Elspeth's shoulder and led her into the room, closing her door behind them.

Fiona watched the door for a moment, then turned to Sirius. "Last summer, I had a visit from a fellow by the name of Dawlish. I imagine another Auror might have visited Mary McAllister, and another might have seen to the Muggle-owned islands, and the uninhabited ones. They lost a prisoner. A dangerous mass murderer. I remembered that boy's name from school. He was a few years behind me. One of the Blacks. I couldn't remember which was which--you and your brother looked quite a lot alike."

Sirius nodded.

"I'll not be turning you in," she said firmly. "I've been seeing to Dougie these last five years, and I'll not turn anyone over to be kissed by those creatures. But it's a far leap between not handing you to a Dementor and welcoming you in my home."

"Would you believe me if I told you I'd been framed?" Sirius asked, without much hope.

To his surprise, Fiona shrugged mildly. "Aye," she said. "I'd not argue it too deeply."


"As you fixed my leg, and brought my girls back, the logic of the thing escapes me. Why should a cold-hearted mass murderer who was an important Death Eater risk being exposed just to save a pair of little girls and their mother?"

"That's logic somewhat beyond what the Ministry has been using."

This earned a faint smile. "I left Hogwarts after my O.W.L.s," she said. "What need had I of N.E.W.T.s? My father was a farmer, my mother was a weaver, and I was to learn their crafts as they'd learned their parents'. But a madwoman arrived at Papa's place, and demanded to use it as a base. Papa stood his ground. We're pure-bloods, but we'd no stock in the killing of anyone else. She burned the farm, killed my parents, and left the island uninhabitable. I only got away because Dougie showed up with his boat."

"Sounds like my cousin Bellatrix."


"Why not Disapparate?"

"Never learned the magic of it." Fiona got to her feet and began to pick up stones. "There's still the matter of what to do with you. Framed, you might have been, and you've been helpful, but neither of those things will help if you're found here."

"I'll leave as soon as I've fixed your Floo. I don't want you stranded over here."

"You know something of Floo repair?" Fiona offered him a weak grin.

"Well, not really. You could walk me through it."

"I don't know it, either."

"But weren't you fixing it when it...?" He pointed to the rubble.

"I was trying to, but as you may have guessed, I know very little about it." She shook her head. "I'll just have to owl Mr. Duke again, as soon as the storm clears enough to take the boat over the post office on the mainland." She put her fingers on her forehead and rubbed it. "That'll teach me to try and save gold. I suppose a new wand will have to wait a few weeks."

Sirius looked down at his feet awkwardly. He had lived roughly for a year, but he was a fugitive. He'd never thought of the cost of maintaining a home if he wasn't running from the law. Even after he'd run away, he'd landed in James's comfortable home, then got a good spot of gold from Uncle Alphard. He looked around at the loose stones. "Why don't we at least try? We can get the fireplace back together, if nothing else."

Fiona sighed, then nodded. "All right, then, if it's what you want to do. I'll thank you to let the girls continue to think of you as Mr. Foote."

"I think that's a good idea," Sirius said.

Fiona called the girls back out, and they spent a pleasant enough hour getting the stones gathered together into different piles. Sirius reassembled the fireplace structure, but by the time they finished, the girls were shivering, and Fiona decided that it was more important to start a fire to warm up the house than it was to fix the Floo.

"I could do a warming charm on the house," Sirius offered.

"I know it's small," Fiona said, "but it's still a bit too big to be covered by a warming charm."

"Oh. Well, perhaps..." He couldn't think of anything, and he recognized the way Fiona was turning away as a sign that she was disengaging. He nodded. "I should go."

"Aye," Fiona said.

"Will you come back when it's warm and help us fix it?" Kirsty asked eagerly. "I shall make bread and biscuits for tea!"

"It won't be warm for quite a long time," Sirius said.

"We could wear our wool cloaks!" Elspeth said. "And dance around to keep warm!"

Sirius looked at Fiona.

She sighed. "I'm sure Mr. Foote must be somewhere else."

"If you need help--"

"I'll manage."

Sirius nodded and said goodbye to the girls, then walked out through the dark late afternoon, into the gray sleet, and Disapparated. He took himself to the top of the hogboon's mound, and headed down toward Remus's shack. The light was burning.

He took a deep breath and went down the hill, reaching the shack a moment later and opening the door carefully.

Remus looked up from his own fire, took in Sirius's appearance, and said, "Have you lost your mind?"

Sirius sat down in the tartan armchair and told him what had happened. He supposed Remus would have a right to be angry at the risk, which of course risked him as well, but at the end of it, Remus just sighed, as if taking on another burden.

"Of course," he said. "What else could you have done?"

"I should leave here," Sirius said. "I doubt Fiona will change her mind, but if the girls start talking..."

"Talking to who?" Remus asked. "The fish? The birds? Their sheep?"

"The Floo repairman?" Sirius suggested. "Someone at the post office?"

Remus winced. "I suppose. I'll go over," he said. "I'll go tomorrow. Perhaps I can get it fixed and she won't have to make a trip until after the girls have forgotten about their adventure."

"Do you know about Floos?"

"Only what I've read."

Sirius caught himself smiling. "You've read about Floos?"

"Let's say, I've needed to connect without the benefit of Ministry oversight."

"The Shrieking Shack?" Sirius asked; Remus nodded. Sirius looked at the shack's fireplace. "Why don't you do that here?"

"Because they know I'm here, and are watching."

"But you could?"

"I'm not sure. The network in Hogsmeade is more active, easier to hide in."

"Oh. I hadn't thought of that."

Remus shrugged.

"I could have got you in a real stew today," Sirius said. "I'm sorry."

"Well," Remus said, rolling his eyes, "as much as I'd have preferred to have you let two little girls drown..."

"That is your reputation, yes."

Remus smiled. "So, the mass murderer saved two children, and the werewolf isn't howling for their blood. Really, Padfoot, we're destroying stereotypes here." He turned on the radio and twisted the tuner, then settled onto the sofa.

"And now," the announcer said, "get your stabilizing charms ready, because we're in for a wild ride with Zoltan Burr's highland hellion, Nab McLaren..."

The let the storm beat outside, and the day's nerves fade away, as the voices of the actors took them to a sunny mountaintop and a ridiculous battle. Sirius drifted off while Nab McLaren was occupied with single-handedly defeating a cruel dark wizard who'd enslaved the creatures of the loch, and he dreamed about floos, and Bellatrix, and little blond girls lost at sea.
17 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2009 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
that was a nice way to wind up the problem Sirius had landed himself in...looking forward to the next chapter
From: severely_lupine Date: March 24th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC) (Link)
She pulled back, but could go far. -- Should there be a "not" in there?

Aw, nice to see things worked out. I'm curious how persistent those girls will be about their new friend. And it was good to see some humor at the end.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: March 24th, 2009 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, at least she let him help out. Am I the only one that's anxious for Sirius to get a move on? Fiona could change her mind, despite her personal feelings to Dementors.

Great Chapterlet, Fern! Don't worry about taking your time.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: March 24th, 2009 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, I like Fiona. I particularly thought her reaction to Sirius was very reasonable. I'm really interested to see what part she and her girls will play in the rest of the story!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 24th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hooray for Fiona! I'm looking forward to seeing how much of a role she and the girls will play in this story, too.

Another spelling continuity nitpick: you've been calling the owner of Remus's island Mary McAlister, and in this segment you spelled it with two ls, McAllister.

More more more!! :)

Edited at 2009-03-24 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: spitc1899 Date: March 24th, 2009 12:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
And that will of course, beg the question of how Remus knew her Floo was down in the first place . . .

I'm loving this!
alkari From: alkari Date: March 24th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
"So, the mass murderer saved two children, and the werewolf isn't howling for their blood. Really, Padfoot, we're destroying stereotypes here." At least the two of them can still laugh. And a nice balance between Fiona's gratitude vs her unwillingness to face possible charges of helping a fugitive.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 24th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whew. Lucky for Sirius that Fiona has no call to trust wizarding law, at least when it comes to Azkaban and Dementors. And that she's sensible enough to note the discrepancy between Sirius's behavior and his reputation. She's actually a decent ally, if a reluctant one.

Looking forward to the next!
barbara_the_w From: barbara_the_w Date: March 24th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

and now for something completely different...

involving your real job (not Purveyor of the Finest FanFic since 1996)

She's in Boston....and it involves the library system...
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 24th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Uuuuufffff!!! *sigh*

Fiona's reasoning makes sense, what kind of mass murderer will save two girls from drowning? Not a pshycopatic one, but it could be a strategy to earn her trust.

Or maybe she isn't as paranoid as I'd be.

It's good to see some of that tension between Sirius and Remus go away- they were getting a bit frustrated, right? But now that Sirius saved some lives...

Bellatrix keeps leaving her traces of venom all over the place... good thing she's still vacationing on the island in this one... b*tch.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: March 24th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! I hoped there would be a new chapter today!
summoner_lenne9 From: summoner_lenne9 Date: March 24th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay for LOGIC. I was worried there. And yay for more Shifts! And well, yay in general. :D
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 24th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Phew. :) I can see why Sirius would need to move soon though!
tencups_i_swear From: tencups_i_swear Date: March 25th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh PHEW it's all right!
Thank you for not leaving this story on a cliff hanger, I may have died.
That was wondeful! THANK YOU!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 26th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Mr Duke

Ohh........Is the Mr Duke (the floo repair guy) related to Kirley and Donzo?
miseri From: miseri Date: March 26th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Y'know ... I'm kinda hoping that Fiona turns out to be a Voldemort sympathiser who thinks that this is her Big Chance to get in with the New Dark Lord....

Regarding the above comments about "logic winning over panic", I'm not sure it's such an illogical leap to suppose that Sirius Black the Mass Murderer would never go out to rescue a couple of girls in trouble. I mean, the official story behind his incarceration was that he blew up a bunch of people *while aiming for a specific target*. He didn't go after those innocent bystanders on purpose; they were essentially collateral damage.
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 17th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
If I haven't said before, I REALLY like Fiona. ;)
17 comments or Leave a comment