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Stray, Chapter Eleven: The Silver Button, pt. 2 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Eleven: The Silver Button, pt. 2
Okay, it seems quite a long time is going to pass between sections, at least until I sit down seriously with a timeline and make a real outline!

Anyway, before I came down with a cold and lost interest in much more than trying not to cough up a lung, I had Sirius risk his cover to rescue the Brodie girls from a storm when their mother broke the Floo, her leg, and her wand. Remus went over to fix the Floo, before they could go into town and have the girls accidentally gossip about their visitor. He and Sirius had agreed that Sirius should stay behind. But Sirius had promised the girls that he'd send back their father's boat, which turns out to have had protections on it to keep it from being just popped over by a stranger, so he has to sail it back. En route, he finds a silver button emblazoned with a capital "C," which he doubts belongs to either of the rural working class families that Fiona and her husband came from. When he arrives at the island, he shows it to Remus, who doesn't know what to make of it, and Sirius says that he wants to know where it came from.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




They couldn't bring up the button immediately, because Kirsty and Elspeth really had laid out quite a feast for lunch. There was new-baked bread, fresh fish poached with parsley sauce, mushrooms with bacon, peas, and a soft and mild cloth-wrapped cheese that Fiona said she'd made from the ewes' milk. There was nothing fancy here, but Sirius couldn't remember the last time he'd had a meal this good. He doubted it had been since he'd left the Potters' home, and even there, most of the cooking had been done by the house elves, and they did enjoy their finicky recipes.

"You've gone to quite a lot of trouble," Remus said, tearing a piece of bread off and eating it with a bit of cheese.

Fiona smiled. "Well, there's little to do here on a rainy day when you can't even do magic. We thought a bit of a meal would be nice, and we're glad for guests to share it with. And of course, thankful for your help--Mr. Foote's help yesterday, and yours today, Mr. Lupin. Who'd've known you'd be able to fix a Floo?"

"What was wrong with it before you started fixing it?" Remus asked casually.

"Oh, it just flickered a little. So naturally, I blew it up." She helped herself to more mushrooms.

"Has it always done that?"

"Oh, yes. Poor Mr. Duke from the Floo company sees us more than he sees his own wife, I think. Why do you ask?"

Remus shot Sirius a glance, then said, "Oh, I just wondered if something in particular had happened. It seemed fine the day I used it."

She shrugged. "Well, I think the Ministry was watching me for a while when Dougie was lost, making sure I kept my part of our bargain. They haven't for a long time, though. I think they just managed to break the thing."

Bored with this turn of conversation, Elspeth piped up, "I've made pudding for after lunch!"

"Have you?" Sirius asked.

She nodded. "It's fruit! I cut it up myself!"

"Oh, that sounds wonderful," Remus said.

"Were you really a Hogwarts professor?" Kirsty asked.

"Kirsty!" Fiona interjected, looking horrified.

"It's all right," Remus said. "Yes, I was. I'm quite proud of that, actually."

"What House do you think I should be in?"

"What Houses were your parents in?"

"Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw," Fiona said, "but we've all four represented somewhere in the family." She got up and started to clear.

"Well, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw are both fine Houses," Remus said. "Did you know that one of the Hogwarts champions in the Triwizard Tournament is from Hufflepuff?"

"We've been listening!" Kirsty said, nodding her head excitedly. "Cedric Diggory. I have a picture. And another one of Harry Potter! He's in Gryffindor. I think I'd like to be in Gryffindor with Harry Potter. I've read every article in the Daily Prophet about him!"

Remus stifled a grin, and started telling Kirsty about the Hogwarts Houses, and what sort of classes she might take next year.

Sirius got up quietly and followed Fiona into the kitchen, where she was piling dishes into the sink and preparing to wash them Muggle style. He touched her shoulder, then pointed his wand at them and set them to washing themselves.

"Thank you," she said. "Now that we've got the Floo fixed, I shall go to Ollivander's and get a new wand. It's alarming being out here without one."

Sirius nodded. "You should learn to Disapparate," he said. "And to take the girls along with you. It's not safe out here with only the Floo and that boat to get you away."

"Away from what?"

"Storms, for one."

"Aye. Or fugitives from Azkaban?" Fiona raised her eyebrows. "As far as I know, there's only been one of those, and he hasn't been seen in these parts since he disappeared, has he?"

Sirius remembered Kingsley saying that Bellatrix was raving again, and he thought of the strange events around Harry, and of Wormtail wandering free to do as he pleased. None of that suggested that a woman living this close to Azkaban ought to be complacent about its security... but he had nothing concrete to offer her as a reason to be more careful. Instead, he sighed and took the button from his pocket. "Does this mean anything to you?"

She took it and examined it, frowning. "I never saw it in my life. Why?"

"It was on your husband's boat. I found it lodged in a crack in the floor."

"The girls play in the boat," Fiona said uncertainly. "Maybe they found it washed up on the shore. Things wash up here quite a lot."

"It was driven very deeply in the wood. Like someone stepped on it."

Fiona looked at the button crossly, then handed it back to Sirius. "It's none of our affair," she said. "We've nothing of the sort."

"Would anyone else have been on board with your husband?"

"None that would have something like that. He was friends with some of the Muggle fishermen, and they'd go out together sometimes with Muggle nets, but they're not so very different from us out here." She pressed her lips together. "What's crossed your mind, Mr. Padraic Foote?"

"I don't know," Sirius told her honestly. "It just doesn't quite fit, does it?"

"No, it doesn't."

"Will you let Lupin know if anything is wrong?" Sirius asked.

"As you've no Floo over on your island and I've no owl of my own, I don't think I could make such a promise."

Sirius rubbed his head. "There's a spell," he said. "It's not widely known that it can be used to communicate, but--"

"I've no wand."

"You will. Why don't you go on to Diagon Alley while Remus and I are here? We can watch the girls for you, and then we can teach you how to call for help."

Her face got narrow, and Sirius could see the harsh winds of the North Sea drawn its lines. "Why do have an interest in helping us? And why would I let you?"

"Logic," Sirius reminded her. "You know we mean you no harm."

She thought about this as the dishes finished themselves up and stacked themselves into piles on the table (as Sirius had no idea where to send them magically). The girls began to cheerfully put them away, still interrogating Remus about the details of life at Hogwarts.

Remus disengaged himself carefully, and came over. "I think they'll do quite well," he said.

"Thank you," Fiona said. "Mr. Foote suggests that I go to Diagon Alley for and leave the pair of you to sit with my girls. If it's no inconvenience to you, of course."

"Not at all," Remus said.

Her face became even tighter. "I don't know if I can--"

"The moon isn't full for another ten days," Remus said.

"I was going to say, leave them with complete strangers," Fiona said. "I'd nearly forgotten the other, you've been so good to us today."

"Oh."

"But you seem safe enough. So does he." She pointed her chin at Sirius.

"Thank you."

Fiona went to the girls. "Will you be all right with Mr. Lupin and Mr. Foote?"

The idea met with enthusiastic approval.

Fiona didn't look entirely comfortable with it, but as she'd already committed, she just got her heavy cloak, gave a few last minute directions about cleaning up, and left through the newly repaired Floo.

"Could your dog come over?" Kirsty asked, bringing out the rope toy she and Elspeth had played with on Sirius's first visit here.

Sirius glanced at Remus, who came up with an easy lie. "Oh, Snuffles has gone calling on his own today. My old friend Dora has him in London, getting him a new lead and collar so he'll stay in one place."

Sirius rolled his eyes. The girls, apparently satisfied with this explanation, started to get out their dollies.

"She doesn't know the button," Sirius said quietly when he was sure they were distracted. "Fiona. She didn't recognize it. She thought the girls might have picked it up on the shore."

"You don't?" Remus asked.

"No."

"Neither do I."

"I told her we'd teach her the Patronus."

Remus frowned. "It stops being an effective way to communicate secretly if we teach it to everyone we meet."

"I told her she could call on you if there's trouble. I don't like the fact that Bellatrix is raving again."

There was no way for Remus to argue with this, and he didn't try. "We shouldn't be in their lives this deeply. We're not doing them any favors. If the Aurors stop by while I'm gone, they may guess that I've come here."

"Why shouldn't you talk to your neighbors?" Sirius asked. "Even the Wizengamot hasn't said werewolves can't talk to their neighbors."

"They haven't said it yet," Remus said morosely.

"And Dora's the only one who'd think I was with you."

"Unless another Auror deduces this, then comes over and asks Elspeth whether or not Mr. Lupin had a friend with him."

Sirius couldn't think of an argument for that. It was too late to do anything about it now, short of Obliviating the whole family, which wasn't entirely legal, either.

Kirsty broke into the conversation without noticing anything amiss. "Can we have another Umbrella Charm?" she asked. "Elspeth wants to show you our fort!"

Remus shrugged and Sirius smiled.

The girls, laughing and chattering, led them back out into the rain.
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Comments
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: March 31st, 2009 07:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm. Interesting about the Floo flickering, who might be checking up on the Brodies?

Feel better soon, Fern! There's a nasty bug going around better keep the vitamin c close at hand.
From: severely_lupine Date: March 31st, 2009 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry you were sick, but glad to hear you're feeling better now. :-)

I agree with Sirius; that meal does sound really nice. Although for some reason the part about finicky house elves cooking made me think that if only the dragons from the Temeraire novels had house elves to cook for them, everyone would be much happier.

Uh-oh... Was the Ministry watching Sirius's conversation with Harry? Though if they had been, I suppose they'd have just swooped in and arrested him.

Aw, it's always so cute when Remus talks to kids. I think it tends to bring out the best in him (and that's saying something).

Good to see Fiona's on board with the whole "Sirius who?" thing.

Haha, why yes, why don't you just let two strange men, who happen to be a werewolf and a fugitive, look after your young girls on this island in the middle of nowhere? *snort* Has she really been won over to that extent?

Why do have an interest in helping us? -- I think there's a "you" missing.

You know, one might warn Fiona that trusting strangers, even if they've been nice for a while, is not a good habit to get into in these times. But then, what cause would anyone evil have to go through such a deception with her? Anyone who meant her harm would simply be up-front about it, most likely.

"My old friend Dora" -- Haha, oh, that's adorable. But really, I do love the "just friends" part of their relationship as much as any of the other parts.

"It stops being an effective way to communicate secretly if we teach it to everyone we meet." -- *snerk* Says the guy who taught it to a third-year. But then, he didn't teach Harry about the communicative properties. Though doing so might have been a good idea in his case.

"They haven't said it yet," Remus said morosely. -- Ah, yes. The chapter just wouldn't be complete without Remus saying something fatalistic.

Nice chapter. Good to see Fiona warming up to them.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: March 31st, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I hope you are feeling better! I live so far away from you, and everyone is sick with flu here too... It's the temperature change.

Hm, so the Ministry keeps close tabs (or at least, tabs) on Fiona Brodie. Not good for fugitives with death penalty.

The button is not good news, and apparently the Ministry knows a bit more about it than Fiona does? Interesting. Now I really want to know what happened in that boat.

The girls are so nice. That's actually quite a fest- I haven't had a meal like that in some time! Busy city life, I suppose. I'm happy to see Remus reconciled with the fact that he was a Hogwarts professor, and comfortable with speaking of it once again, without too much bitterness. I agree with severely_lupine, though, it wouldn't be Remus without the fatalism. But it's okay, we still love him.

Nice chapter, Fern. Hope you get better!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 31st, 2009 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
another wonderful segment! I'm totally wound up in this story...but I must say this all feels very forboding...
willowbough From: willowbough Date: March 31st, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nice to see Remus and Sirius having a pleasant day, even in so grim a setting as the Orkneys. And even nicer to see Fiona starting to thaw a bit towards both of them, though I hope she won't have cause to regret it. And now I'm looking forward to what Dora thinks of the mysterious button.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: March 31st, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you're feeling better.
I don't have anything to add to what everyone else has said, so... nice chapter!
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: March 31st, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

"Elspeth wants to show you our fort!"

Dum-dum-DUMMMMM!
ladyphoenixia From: ladyphoenixia Date: March 31st, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh, i just realised who the button belongs to. The plot thickens...
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: April 1st, 2009 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Really? Spill it! I'm dying to know!
ladyphoenixia From: ladyphoenixia Date: April 1st, 2009 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
It has to be Crouch, doesn't it? Or, at least, that's my thoughts. :)
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: April 1st, 2009 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you're feeling better; I've had the flu and am quite happy to be eating solids again! The meal that the girls and Fiona put together does sound quite tasty...Mmmm...cheese...

My, oh my, those Gryffindor boys are quite the magnet for trouble. They'll find some over a simple lost button, of course.
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 2nd, 2009 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Funny thing, Fiona's trust in Remus and Sirius reminds me of stories I've read about people on the frontier having to trust people like that, when daily tasks like getting food or firewood could mean making life or death choices about trusting neighbors. I keep thinking of the rescue of the Donner party, for some reason. One of the rescuers said (if I remember correctly what I've read) that the hardest thing he ever did was carrying a three year old child alive out of those mountains. As he was a man who'd lived on the frontier, been in the army and made forced marches through hundreds of miles of desert (building wells on the way), and assorted other difficulties, it kind of brought home how hard carrying a child through snow filled mountains with inadequate snow gear and only some homemade snowshoes was (not sure if they had any good working models of snowshoes to work from, either). He said he was only able to do it because he had promised her mother to get her out and he knew this was her only surviving child.

I have no idea where I'm going with that since I don't expect Sirius to have to carry either of the girls out of the mountains and away from folks doing survivor cannibalism, but there's something in Fiona's decision that's reminding me of that.

Ellen
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