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Stray, Chapter Eleven: The Silver Button, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Eleven: The Silver Button, pt. 1
Sirius was forced to show his face when the two little girls on the next island nearly got capsized during a storm, and he had to get them back. Their mother recognized him, but because of her own experience with the Dementors has no desire to turn him over to them. She also questions the logic of a cold-blooded mass-murderer risking his freedom to save a couple of strangers.

All of this was caused by her blowing up her Floo when she was trying to fix it, breaking both her leg and her wand in the process. Sirius offers to help, but doesn't know anything about Floos. After hearing about it, Remus realizes that it's probably a good idea to help--he has learned a little about them--before she takes the family boat over to the mainland to send a post owl for a Floo repairman, since the girls are likely to gossip about their exciting adventure.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




The winds died down overnight, though a dreary sleet was still drenching the island, covering the windows and distorting the world beyond them in long, languid smears. The hogboon's mound looked like it belonged in a Monet painting that Sirius happened to be looking at a bit too closely.

"I'd best go over this morning," Remus said. "Before Fiona takes it in her head to go to the mainland. I don't think you should come. It's--"

"It's not a great thing for someone to have a wanted fugitive in her home?" Sirius asked.

"Well, she doesn't have any particular reason to risk it."

"Neither do you," Sirius said, then shook his head. "No, you're right. I'll stay."

Remus narrowed his eyes. "That was too easy."

"I'm tired."

"Are you all right?"

Sirius shrugged. He hadn't slept much, listening to the storm play itself out, and his mind had been turning over yesterday's events. "I need to think," he said.

Remus gave him an uncertain nod and pulled on his heaviest cloak, which looked sturdy enough to fully protect him against a mild breeze on a sunny day in May (Sirius hoped it was charmed to be warmer than it looked), then went out into the miserable morning. Sirius watched him until he disappeared behind a curtain of rain.

From the other side of the shack, Sirius could hear Buckbeak scratching at his bedding restlessly. He went to the back door and opened it onto the little enclosure where the Disillusioned hippogriff was tossing wet hay disconsolately into a pile. The rain pattered off of him, making him perfectly visible as a water sculpture.

"Need that dried?" Sirius asked, pointing at the hay.

The water sculpture looked up eagerly and flapped its wings in assent.

Sirius slipped out into the shadows and Conjured a little shelter. He hoped that it would look to any visitors like something Remus might have built to keep his new dog in. Quickly, he dried out Buckbeak's bedding, then Buckbeak himself, who came over and nuzzled him fondly.

"We need to get you out of here, too," Sirius said. "I don't know where you can go, but this is no good."

Buckbeak raised his wing in a sheltering motion, and Sirius scratched him vigorously behind the joint.

"There has to be a safe place." Buckbeak finished nuzzling, and began to spread his bedding joyfully around. Sirius could only see slight waver where he was now that he was dry, but the bedding was visible enough. Sirius sat down on a crate. "I'm starting to sound like my father. 'It's not SAFE enough yet. Lock that down, one more hex, then a charm. I'll ask Auntie Lycoris, I'm sure she had the world's strongest Button-Up Bewitchment on her old lace knickers.'" He sighed and reached into the pail of fish Remus had got for Buckbeak, and tossed one over. The blurred shape rose up happily to catch it, and it snapped in two, one half disappearing entirely and the other falling to the ground. Sirius sat back. The image of Dad puttering around the house at Grimmauld Place came into his mind, as clear as Buckbeak's leap had been.

Mum's body had rotted in that dank old manse for God only knew how long before anyone had happened on it. Dad's spells were good enough to drive even curious, gold-digging family away.

He made a fist and slammed it into the wall. "Not there," he said.

Buckbeak stopped picking at the second half of the fish. A bit of blood dripped out of nowhere and onto the hay.

"Sorry," Sirius muttered.

Out of nowhere, a bright white light swirled above, and Remus's Patronus dropped down in front of him. "Madam Brodie would like you to return the boat, which you told the girls you would do. It apparently has protective Charms to keep you from simply sending it magically, so you will have to sail it. The girls have made quite a large lunch and are looking forward to a visit from Mr. Foote, though their mother is somewhat less eager."

The Patronus disappeared.

Sirius couldn't very well send his own Patronus back, as the Brodies had seen him in dog form, and his Patronus was a nearly exact match.

He stood up and felt for Buckbeak's neck, which he patted. "Looks like I have to go."

Buckbeak pulled away, then tossed the remainder of his fish into a corner. With a thump, he lowered himself to the ground and began to sulk.

Sirius went back inside and searched through the wardrobe Dora had bought him. There was a heavy jacket with a wide hood and scarf, which would do the double duty of keeping him warm and hiding him from any Aurors who happened to be flying overhead on their way to Azkaban. He put this on and went down to the boat, which was bobbing in a little cove. He went to the wheel, though he had no intention of trying to pilot the boat in this manner--it just seemed the right place to stand as he used his wand to get it turned around and headed out to sea. He set the heading, and let it go on its own.

For a few minutes, he held onto the wheel, wondering what it had been like for Dougie Brodie to do this every day, to pull his living from the cold and unforgiving North Sea. The charm of this exercise didn't last, and he fell to exploring the small deck. It was obvious that the girls had made the boat into a playhouse--a little tea table was secured to the floor, and a sopping doll lay on the timbers, jammed up against the wall of the small cabin, where it had probably been thrown during yesterday's mad fight with the storm. Sirius picked it up, meaning to dry it out for the girls.

"Well," he said, "I used to be good with dolls, if I remember Dora's house right, and--"

He stopped.

Under the doll, the wood of the floor was chipped and uneven, and at the place where it went under the cabin wall, something was glinting faintly in the rain-muted light. Sirius got to his knees and prodded it, but it was well and truly stuck.

"Accio."

The thing stuck in the wood flew out, and landed in Sirius's open hand.

It was a button--silver, wrought with tiny vines that wound around a large capital "C."

Sirius frowned. He wasn't troubled by the initial itself--the Brodies certainly would have relatives with other names, one or another perhaps spelled with a "C." For all he knew, Fiona could have been born a Caldwell or a Carrow or a Cadogan. But there was something about this fussy little artifact that didn't seem right. Her folk had been farmers, she'd said, and her husband's had been fishermen.

Sirius had grown up in the upper strata of wizarding society. His winter Hogwarts cloak had been fastened with silver clasps--"S" on one side, "B" on the other. Regulus had owned a similar cloak with own initials. James had dress robes with cuff-links in an intricate design in gold. Lucius Malfoy had worn a pin with his family crest on it until Dumbledore had made a rule against such things. Before Andromeda had been cast out of the family, she'd owned a snood for her hair that was fine braided copper.

Dora would own nothing of the sort, unless Andromeda had taken it with her. Remus's winter cloak had been no finer when he was a boy than it was now.

Old silverware, they might have--most old families had no need to buy new silverware, as it was simply passed down from mother to daughter--but buttons? Buttons were sewn onto clothes, and a fisherman wouldn't be wearing fine, heirloom clothes for a day at work on his boat, even in the unlikely event that the family had wasted gold on such a foolish thing.

He looked at the button thoughtfully, then put it into the deep pocket of his jacket.

A wave crashed, loud and insistent, and he looked up to find himself in the shadow of the Brodies' island, ready to crash. Quickly, he turned the boat, and guided it up the coast, looking for the cove he and Remus had docked in. When he got there, Kirsty and Elspeth were standing with Remus under an Umbrella Charm. Kirsty clapped and ran out to him.

"You did it, Mr. Foote!" she said. "Now you must come in. I've made a stew. Someday, I'm going to be a very famous chef!"

"I thought you were going to be a famous actress," Remus said.

"I shall be a famous chef who's a very famous actress," Kirsty said, unfazed.

"Well, as long as your priorities are right." Remus looked at Sirius. "How was your boat ride?"

Sirius waited until the girls got ahead of them, then pulled the button from his jacket and showed it surreptitiously to Remus. "Enlightening," he said.

"Where was this?"

"On board."

"Why?"

"That's what I'm wondering."
31 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: severely_lupine Date: March 27th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Remus gave him an uncertain nod and pulled on his heaviest cloak, which looked sturdy enough to fully protect him against a mild breeze on a sunny day in May -- Oh, poor Remus. Great way of wording that, though. Once I got to the end of the sentence, I had to go back and read it again.

Ah, the plot thickens. Very interesting.

It's always so cute to see how excited little kids can get about people when they don't know their bad reputations and only judge them on what they've seen.

I wonder, what do you think Remus's Patronus is? I came up with a theory of my own, but it doesn't jive with the extra past and family that you've established for him. I'm curious what your view is on it, and if you'll ever include it in one of your stories. (Or have you and I missed it?)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 27th, 2009 07:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I have a feeling that if JK is asked, she'll say it's a wolf, but I don't think that makes sense. For me, it's Teddy's hawk, which after all came from one of Remus's happy memories. I expect every Remus writer who's given him a happy memory would choose something different (and very few of us would choose what I think would inevitably have been canon), so I'm most likely going to leave the question alone. ;p
From: severely_lupine Date: March 27th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope she wouldn't say a wolf. That's the last thing in the world it would be. But considering how much thought she seemed to give him in DH, she might very well throw out something like that.

I think you're right. Everyone probably has a different take on it, since there's nothing too obvious that presents itself. My own idea of it is actually rather random and comes from something I just made up about his childhood, but I kind of like the randomness of it.

I do think it's odd, though, that while Remus spent all that time teaching Harry the Patronus Charm, he never once simply demonstrated it. (Well, that we know of, at least.) Seems a bit odd to teach someone a complex charm without so much as showing him what it's meant to look like. This seems like it might be Rowling avoiding giving away the whole revelation of the stag at the end of the book by not giving away that it's an animal (and considering every time anyone besides young students makes one it's an animal, it would have been weird for Remus to have purposefully tried to create a weak, blobby one to show Harry).
miseri From: miseri Date: March 27th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it's possible that it could be a wolf. The animagus/patronus form is drawn initially from what the person is most *like* (a question of Identity) rather than from what makes the person happy. It sometimes changes to something else when other factors intrude -- and all the examples we've seen have involved the substitution of someone else's patronus/animagus form in with the original, indicating that this other person is now the caster's protector or raison d'etre.

Snape's patronus was probably something else entirely (a bat, perhaps?) until his relationship with Lily turned it into a doe; likewise, if James hadn't died, Harry's patronus might have been something other than stag.

So if Tonks' patronus turned into a wolf after she fell (more) in love with Remus, it makes sense that Remus' patronus would be a wolf. And if he felt ashamed of his patronus' form, naturally he'd be a bit leery of demonstrating it to students.
From: severely_lupine Date: March 27th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, but while animagi forms vary from person to person depending on their personality, werewolves are always wolves, regardless of the individual personality. What you're saying would mean that all werewolves would have the same Patronus, and it would not be so much about who they are, but what they're afflicted with. This seems to go against the spirit of Patronuses.

As far as Snape, I think his Patronus was always a doe, simply because he was in love with Lily since he was a child, so I think that already would have been his happy thought when he learned the Charm. And personally, I think that if James hadn't died, it's likely that Harry's Patronus would still have been a stag, just because I think James would have been a good father and might have provided plenty of happy memories for Harry to draw on.

I don't think that Tonks's Patronus changing into a wolf necessarily means that Remus's was one. I mean, yes, Snape's was the same form as Lily's (if we're to believe Harry's assumption, that is), but Lily's was only sort of inspired by James's, not exactly the same (again, assuming Harry was right about Lily's being a doe). And obviously Tonks was not as horrified by and ashamed of the wolf as Remus was, so she would have no qualms about having a werewolf Patronus. We know Remus's boggart was a full moon--which basically means his boggart was the monster inside himself that the full moon brings out. I seriously doubt anyone would have the same thing for both a boggart and a Patronus.
miseri From: miseri Date: March 27th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Remus became a werewolf at a very early age. Werewolf-ness is much more a part of his identity (identity is not quite the same thing as personality) than it would be for someone bitten later in life. Also, it would depend on how much the person's psyche is affected by the affliction. Remus, who can't seem to forget that he has this horrible curse (woe!) and is too dangerous for a normal life, and who probably doesn't remember much of a time before it was a part of him, would definitely have the wolf figure very largely in how he is identified.

(Also, his name is *Remus* *Lupin*. His patronus might very well have been a wolf even if he'd never been bitten, though of course it would not be a werewolf-wolf. Possibly a proud and noble non-werewolf wolf, that is, everything that the natural animal should be?)

Basically, I don't believe that the patronus form has anything to do with what makes the caster happy, although it is summoned by happy thoughts. It's just the animal which best exemplifies the sum of what that person is -- and if that person hates himself, it's very likely that his patronus will have a form that he hates.

Anyway, it's also a convenient reason for why Remus would have avoided letting Harry see just what his patronus was.
From: severely_lupine Date: March 27th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm, interesting points.

I think if we knew more about how Patronuses worked, this would be an easier question to answer. As it is, much like a lot of other things in HP, we kind of have to guess based on just a few facts.

It's an interesting question, what would Remus be like if he hadn't been bitten? As you say, it is a big part of his identity and has been since he was very young. One wonders how much of who he is is because of that, and how much is his natural personality. We're all affected by what happens to us, of course, so naturally a radically different set of circumstances would likely produce an at least marginally different person. Just like one might wonder what Sirius or Tonks would have been like if they'd been the ones bitten at a young age.

And once again I've managed to go into AU/what if? territory. I seem to have a hard time dealing with things as they are without wanting to see all the other ways they could be as well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the question is whether it's about identity. The spell is "Expecto Patronum"--which is about waiting for protector. Sirius's dog form is what protects him from the horrors of Azkaban, and what he sees as a certain freedom (though I'd note that it's dogs that guard the Black family seal on JKR's tree). Harry's stag protects him, as a symbol of James. (Why it's James's, we don't have enough information to judge--unless Lily's was a deer first and he caught it that way!) James protects and loves Lily, and Lily protects Snape.

There's also a totemic element, but it seems to be a particular kind of totem, a strength totem. The werewolf is a symbol of weakness to Remus (despite it being a symbol of Remus to Tonks), so it doesn't seem likely to me that it would be his protector spirit.
miseri From: miseri Date: March 28th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC) (Link)
The word "patron" covers more than just "protector", though. It's a guide and a guardian and an emblem of the self. Sirius's dog form may have protected him, but why specifically a dog? As far as protection goes, a monkey form would have done just as well in Azkaban; and there was no way of knowing what sort of protection would have been required when he acquired his animagus form years before. But Sirius is named for the dog star, and he is often described as having a barking sort of laugh -- of course he'd be a dog, it's in his identity.

The stag, to me, is tied up in notions of nobility: that James's animagus form was a stag is suggestive of James's noble character -- at least, that is what I thought when I first read "Prisoner of Azkaban".

Also, I don't think the caster themself has any say, even unconsciously, as to how to identify the guardian when that guardian is someone else. Harry certainly didn't know that his father might be in any way connected to a stag when he cast his first corporeal patronus, nor might he have thought to identify his father as such an animal (at least until he actually saw it) but there it was. That says to me that the patronus is not something conjured out of the caster's mind, but something that exists independant of the caster and is summoned by the spell.

As far as the werewolf being a symbol of weakness for Remus, that can be interpreted a second way: that it signifies to him the weakness of his human side. "The wolf is too strong for me to control." Thus, while it might be a symbol of his own weakness, it might also be something perhaps a little too strong and too wild.... I do agree, though, that his patronus would not be a *werewolf*, but I suggest that it could be a *normal wolf*.

(I wonder if there were any kangaroo patroni before any wizards made it to Australia, and what the reactions might have been.)
From: severely_lupine Date: March 28th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
(I wonder if there were any kangaroo patroni before any wizards made it to Australia, and what the reactions might have been.)

Oh, there's an interesting thought. Along the same lines, would anyone have a Patronus that's, say, a dinosaur, or even some species that died out before it was discovered? I imagine having a tyrannosaurus Patronus would be alternatively really useful and rather inconvenient. Ditto for dragons, actually. Pity we never saw Charlie cast one.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I love the people who read my stories. I have to write them just for the comment threads.
From: severely_lupine Date: March 28th, 2009 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
LOL We love you, too, Fern.
shiiki From: shiiki Date: March 27th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, fascinating. You've got me running through all possible characters beginning with the letter 'C' in my head ... but I'm fairly sure whatever it is, I'll never guess. It's all right - I enjoy being surprised.

Wonderful job again! :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I get the fun of being surprised with this one, too. I really hope it works! (I know who it belongs to, but I still haven't figured out how it got there, or why.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 29th, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Crouch?
willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 27th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, a hint of mystery! I'll be interested in seeing whether this ties into the Triwizard Tournament in any way or whether it's a puzzle in its own right.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
We'll see...
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: March 27th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
And the plot thickens.... I like Sirius realizing he's starting to sound like his father. I hope you keep adding bits like this of Sirius realizing that some of his characterisitics are from his parents. As much as he seems to hate them he has to start realizing that he has parts of them in him and he's going to have to make peace with that.

You can tell I love Sirius! Which is why I'm really glad you chose to continue Stray. =D
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you can't really grow up until you acknowledge that you're made up of people who came before you, so I think that it will turn out to be a motif--after all, the one thing he has to do at some point this year is get back to 12GP.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 27th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good, the mystery!

C... Who was there that has name starting with a C?

(Funny how Sirius completely forgot the Crouches...)

Nice chapter. It was interesting, and the girls are cute.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
(Funny how Sirius completely forgot the Crouches...)

If I were Sirius, I might block out Crouch as well...
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: March 27th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
A silver C... I'm looking forward to learn more.
I'm so glad that you've picked up Stray again!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
It's going slowly, but it's definitely good to have it moving again.
flyingfish33 From: flyingfish33 Date: March 27th, 2009 09:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I told myself I was going to review this fic, and I haven't been. I have been reading, though, and I like it a lot so far--I'm glad you decided to complete it.
I like what you've been writing about Sirius's background, and how it--and his reaction against it--shape him so much. I've always liked stories that dig around in characters' histories.
And I liked the description of Buckbeak as a water sculpture. :)

One slight nitpick:
"A bit of blood dripped out of nowhere and onto the hay.

"Sorry," Sirius muttered.

Out of nowhere..."
You might want to change one of those "out of nowhere"s to something else.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:11 am (UTC) (Link)
That's what comes of an hour between one line and the next!

I was thinking of Buckbeak as invisible under the charm, but then I realized that in the pouring rain, he'd have a perfectly recognizable shape.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I was thinking through that of something in Miss Manners books that she said used to be an insult by old families against the nouveau riche: "They're the sort of people who buy their own silver." Sirius would definitely have been raised in an environment like that (it's Draco who doesn't ring true, bragging about all of his spiffy new things instead of all the old family things he has).
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: March 28th, 2009 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
o0o0o0o, there's a bit of intrigue! I like!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I just hope it works!
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: March 28th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
...Crouch??

I am enjoying this sososo much!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 28th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice weather we're having, eh?

Glad you're enjoying it!
31 comments or Leave a comment