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Stray, Chapter Thirteen: Eating In, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Stray, Chapter Thirteen: Eating In, pt. 3
Remus and Sirius (as Padfoot/Snuffles) were in Diagon Alley shopping for Christmas presents when Tonks found them buying Harry's knife. She invited them back to her flat for lunch, and ordered in. They talk about various things, including Andromeda, Tonks's upbringing, and the silver button, which Tonks has just sent off to Mad-Eye, in hopes that he'll recognize it. She told him it was found near Azkaban.

I goofed when I brought up Sirius's father--he may or may not have outlived Regulus (I think he died of grief over the loss of both of his sons, one to a suspicious disappearance, the other to disowning), but he didn't live to the end of the war, let alone long enough to make veiled comments about his own situation by referring to Barty Crouch's treatment of his son. So disregard that.

Anyway, since we left in the middle of that conversation, I'll pick up before it. The part that was in the old version is highlighted, then I'll move on.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far

They ate quietly for a while, then Sirius said, "Speaking of Crouch, he doesn't seem to have gone far after the business with his son. Not as popular as he used to be?"

"He went too far with Barty," Remus said. "Then his wife wasted away, and everyone thought he was responsible."

Sirius snorted. "I'm surprised they didn't promote him just for being willing to sacrifice his own family. If he hadn't been on the other side, I'm sure Mum would have named him Father of the Year for such thorough pruning."

"Mad Auntie said something," Dora snorted.

"Mad Auntie?" Sirius asked, raising his eyebrows.

"It's what Mum always calls her," Dora explained. "Sorry."

"No, I like it. It has a certain ring to it." Sirius picked at his food. "What did she say?"

"I don't know," Dora said. "Mum just said she went in front of the Wizengamot and raved."

Sirius turned to Remus. "Were you there?"

He nodded. "I had no idea what she was going to say. But she got up there, and--" He stopped. "Sirius, I'm not sure how to put this, but your mother..."

"Said something horrible? Not surprising."

"No. I mean, yes, but that's not it." He glanced at Dora, apparently for reassurance, then said, "Sirius, she'd gone quite mad by then."

"She was always mad. Blood purity, cheers for Voldemort..."

"No, Sirius, I don't mean evil. I mean, she was raving. I remember your mother when we were boys. Vicious to all of us, and plain nasty to my mother. She was always very neat and well dressed. Her hair was always in order, and she was quite pretty. But when she went in front of the Wizengamot, she was almost entirely gray, and her robes weren't fitted properly, and she was"--another look at Dora--"she was laughing at the oddest moments. Not out of amusement, just shrill tittering."

"I don't remember hearing Mum laugh," Sirius said uneasily. "It may have been lack of practice."

"Sirius, she was off the map. Went raving on about how Voldemort had destroyed one of her sons and Crouch had destroyed the other, only because they stood up for what they believed in, and so on and so forth. She said Crouch would feel what she felt now, and then went on a very long tear about hell. She all but accused Crouch of killing your father as well, and pointed out that they were blood, and now Crouch was erasing more of his own blood--made the whole opposition to blood purity sound like we were patricides or filicides, and got it all mixed in together."

Sirius squirmed, thinking of Mum in her garden, ruthlessly tending her azaleas. He thought of being burned off the family tree. And then he thought of this stranger Remus was talking about, and about the crumbling skeleton he'd found at Number Twelve when he'd gone back for his Gringotts key. Her ceremonial dagger had been lying across her wrists.

He shook the idea away. It wasn't Mum's style. "Not that I object to Crouch getting a comeuppance, but everyone must have noticed she was raving if it was that obvious."

"They did," Remus said. "And all they could see was that Crouch's style had pushed her over the edge."

Dora nodded. "That what Mum says--that seeing her mad, and obviously not faking being mad, horrified people, and made them feel more sympathetic toward what had happened. Not toward you, of course. But it made them all think about what they'd lost in the war, and want to back off and try to make amends with estranged children and brothers and sisters."

"I somehow doubt Andromeda was in a grand rush to reconcile with her sisters."

Dora was quiet. She poked at her fra diavolo, then said, "She talks to Aunt Narcissa. They keep it quiet; I'm not sure Lucius knows, and I'm absolutely sure that Aunt Bella never will know. But they talk sometimes."

The thought of Regulus tried to surface again in Sirius's mind--not the Regulus of his school years, with Mum's fanaticism going into bloom, but Reg as a boy, trailing around the house, trying to do whatever Sirius himself did, trying, the year before he went to school himself, to fit in with James and Remus and Peter when they'd come to London during Christmas hols. He supposed he could understand Andromeda's decision... but he doubted Regulus would have spoken to him again at any rate. Reg had respected Mum's exiles with no questions, at least once the initial sting had been over.

He shook his head. "So Crouch fell from grace thanks to Mum going mad."

Remus nodded. "More or less. It would have happened anyway--everyone was tired of the divisions, and by the time Dora went to school, she actually had Slytherin friends."

"It's true," Dora offered. "I still talk to Conrad Peale sometimes."

"They don't seem too friendly now," Sirius said. "I saw some of that when I was watching Harry last year."

"Yes, well. Time goes on, the worm turns, and all of the other clichés," Remus said, and shrugged. "We're moving away from the last war and into the next."

"Don't be ridiculous," Dora said.

Remus didn't bother to answer that.

Sirius put aside his plate, his lunch only half-eaten. "Has anyone ever found Regulus? Or found out who killed him? I was-- I was trying to track him down just before everything went wrong." He glanced at Remus. "Sorry, I didn't say anything at the time, even to James, I just--"

"Do you really think we didn't know what you were doing?"

"But Regulus was--"

"Your brother. We were all trying to figure out a way to offer to help you even though you wouldn't tell us you were doing it."

"Oh." Sirius took a deep breath, then looked at Dora. "Have they found anything? I know the chatter in Azkaban had something to do with him abandoning the movement. For a while, I told myself maybe he just ran away someplace, and was living happily in the jungles of Burma or something, but I suppose that's not very likely."

Dora frowned, troubled about something. "It's, er... well... The chatter was probably right, one of the interrogations under Veritaserum, someone said that Regulus left them, and-- Er, well, that's all I can say."

"What do you mean, that's all you can say?"

"I mean that there are sealed records in the Ministry."

"I need to see them!"

Dora sat back suddenly, as if slapped, and said, "No!" She shook her head. "No... I mean... I mean no." She got up and started cleaning up the lunch plates. Her hair turned black and fell limply around her ears. "Sirius--and I'm not going to bother with the Mr. Foote nonsense just now--I am willing to play this game, because I think you're innocent and didn't get a fair trial, and can't quite yet. But I'm not going to start stealing classified files from the Ministry for you. I'm not a traitor." She drew her wand, and sent the plates back to the fireplace, where they disappeared in a swirl of green sparks, then turned on Sirius. "Do you understand that? I am not a traitor." She stalked off to the kitchenette, and started moving things pointlessly around. It wasn't a particularly good place to make a grand exit.

"Dora, he didn't mean--" Remus started.

Sirius held up his hand. "No, I did. Dora, I'm sorry."

She didn't respond.

He got up and went into her kitchen. Over the partition, he could see Remus fidgeting uncomfortably, and finally getting up and going to the loo to give them some space.

Sirius put his hands on Dora's shoulders. "I'm sorry," he said. "I know how much you're doing, and how split you have to be."

"No, you don't." She sat on the window sill and leaned against the blinds, crossing her arms protectively over her chest. "This war you and Remus live in still--I wasn't there. Not really. When I was in school, we all got along. We all cared about each other, and looked after one another. Even Mum and Narcissa try to get along."


"No, listen." She sighed. "Sirius, I became an Auror because I want to keep that world, and not let back in the one that you had to live in. The Ministry may be maddening, but I don't want it to fall any more than I'd want to see Parliament go down, or the Queen... I don't know, sent the guillotine or something. Even when the Ministry's inhabited by idiots like Fudge and Crouch, it's ours."

"Dora, things change."

"But there are things worth fighting to keep. I won't be a traitor."

Sirius nodded. "I understand."

She leaned across the kitchen and hugged him. "I always loved you," she said. "I wish someone had fought to keep you, instead of leaving you to rot without a trial."

"I didn't make it easy," Sirius said.

She wiped her face harshly, though she hadn't been crying. "All right," she said. "That's quite enough of this. Let me see what I can get you about your brother. Not everything's classified."


"You're welcome." She looked over Sirius's shoulder and called. "Remus, the squall's over, so unless someone fed you an intestinal curse, you can come out of there now." She smiled as the door opened. "Remus always hides when I get emotional."

"I do not," Remus muttered, idly going through the bags of Christmas presents (Dora's was hidden under a concealing spell). "I just thought that was a private, Black family conversation, and those, I do try to avoid."

"Quite wisely," Sirius said.

"And there's really no other space," Remus added.

"You could go to my bedroom," Dora said, then blushed as she realized how it sounded. "Er... forget I said that. The loo's fine."

Sirius laughed. "On that note, however shall we spend the rest of the afternoon?"

As it turned out, they spent it listening to Dora's radio, catching up on her favorite stories and hearing some of the bands she insisted were the greatest magical musicians of all time. Remus begged to differ, pointing out several bands that he--and the rest--had enjoyed as children. Sirius sat back, and listened.
26 comments or Leave a comment
grossest From: grossest Date: May 8th, 2009 06:36 am (UTC) (Link)
"She talks to Aunt Narcissa. They it quiet;"

I think there is a word missing there. "They do it quietly;" or something like that.

I'm so glad you're back to writing this one again! I love your Remus/Dora/Sirius alternate-POV stories!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 8th, 2009 06:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Oops, you're right--definitely was meant to be a "keep" in front of "it quiet."
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: May 8th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)
There's so much I love about this chapterlet! I love the Black family dynamic and you've hit it right on the nail with Sirius and Dora's little disagreement and Andromeda and Narcissa talking on the dl. That family is just riddled with politics gone wrong, bruised egos and madness.

Speaking of...Walburga is so perfect. We can see where Sirius gets his madness from!

Remus running to the loo if just too funny!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd run there, too, I think.

I'm sort of glad it turned out Orion couldn't be the one. I'd like to get into the question of Orion at some point, but I'm glad I had a chance to get into post-war, post-sons Bugga.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: May 8th, 2009 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)
"Yes, well. Time goes on, the worm turns, and all of the other clichés," Remus said, and shrugged.
I didn't know that expression :-)
I'm glad that you're giving Dora a bit of angst. I was starting to wonder if she ever freaked out...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, yes, the turning worm. An oldie but a goodie. I can't find the origin, but apparently Shakespeare expected his audience to get the reference in Henry VI.
From: severely_lupine Date: May 8th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Good to see Tonks's POV on the Ministry. It seems fitting with the sort of youthful optimism that she has.

"You could go to my bedroom" -- LOL. Oh, Tonks, I think your subconscious is trying to tell you something.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure how "sub" than "conscious" is. ;p

From: severely_lupine Date: May 10th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
*snerk* Well, this is early on. Judging by the way she reacted in Shifts when she caught him having an indecent dream about her, I figured that, though she has clearly loved him for some time, she perhaps hadn't thought that aspect through in all that great of detail. I actually rather loved that line from Shifts: That he was a monster under the moon was something she had long ago accepted as a fact of life. That he was a man beneath his robes was something she rarely thought about, despite nearly two decades of fuzzy-edged daydreams about living happily ever after at his side.
From: spitc1899 Date: May 8th, 2009 11:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I love it! That picture of Walburga, and Dora's conflict, and "Do you really think we didn't know what you were doing?"

Oh, are you keeping that challenge piece (I think that's what it was) in which Regulus went by the Tonkses' and talked to Dora right before he made up his mind? The 'this man says he eats death' one? If so, she might remember that, and it would be something she could offer Sirius. That is, if Ted or Andromeda hadn't mentioned it to him when it happened. Just wondering.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think I'm going to put it in, but now that you've reminded me... I might.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 8th, 2009 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Im glad that you are using the lack of Order action in GoF to tell us more about the past war, not only because I'm really curious about it, but it's actually good that they think about it, reflect on it, right before another one unleashes again.

I feel so bad for Walburga now.
I also feel bad for Dora. That world she lives in is an illusion... the foundations are still rotten.

It's nice that we are getting quicker updates :D Keep 'em comin'!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:19 am (UTC) (Link)
That world she lives in is an illusion... the foundations are still rotten.

I don't know that it's an illusion. From what we've glimpsed of history, this is the sort of shape that the British wizarding world takes when there's no crisis: good-natured squabbles overseen by a supercilious but harmless Ministry. The epilogue looks like Harry's adventures were more of a Restoration than a Glorious Revolution.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 10th, 2009 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always saw the time between wars as some unavoidable break solely because Voldemort was temporally defeated. The fact that Lucius Malfoy is still an important member of society despite the somewhat weak defense of claiming Imperius is what convinces me- the wizarding world is still not ready to get rid of the muggleborn prejudice at the time. The Chamber of Secrets incident, for example, is a terrible glimpse to the rotten mind of those people.
But they reached bottom with the second war. Genocide, coup, state terrorism- a country comes back completely different from that. While there are a few Lucius Malfoy out there, it would be much more condemnable, in polite society, to say that the old families should keep their privileges, for example.

I'm not saying all was well after VWII, because that's simply not realistic. But there was a huge change in society, comparing to post-'81.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 8th, 2009 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this! I love this! I love this! Dora not wanting to be a traitor to the ministry even if she thinks the leaders are fools seems so perfect. (I guess it serves as a link for me with Percy who I always thought got the short end of the stick in the books.) I also love the mention of Andromeda and Narcissa talking on the quiet. (It does make me wonder about Narcissa. I've always liked her (or the idea of her) and she is responsible for some nasty things in Shifts if I remember right.)

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't think the Ministry per se is bad. Dora's going to have to be jolted into realizing that the Ministry is paralyzed when it come to handling the problem, and that having idiots in charge can actually do some damage when they're in a situation where they have to act, but aside from Percy and Dora, we see Arthur, Kingsley, and Made-Eye have all worked for the Ministry, and after the series, we know Ron and Harry and Hermione do... so how bad can it be?
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 10th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
(sorry to insist on this, but I am interested!)

That's the ministry that has Umbridge working for it, and as a very high-ranked official. We have seen what Umbridge is capable of doing, and it's not just her. There's a Wizengamot that does not depose her, there's an opposition that does not care enough to destroy her career (because, if she was capable of blood pen on school-aged kids, then she must have a few black spots in her past, too) if there's a strong opposition at all. This is the Ministry that voted the Umbridge laws. It's a ministry full of prejudice and that actively discriminates.

One thing is personal prejudice. I'm pretty sure that some members of the Congress in my country would recoil in horror if an HIV carrier was sitting next to them. But they'd be caught dead voting a law that does not permit them to hold jobs, because that's just Not What You Do. The wizarding world is not only prejudiced as any society, but it is also prejudiced enough to allow their government to pass discriminative laws that violate the human rights. That is what's completely rotten. That Dora doesn't see this is the illusion. Her generation wants to make amends, and they close their eyes to not see this and pretend everything is more or less fine, because they want it to be.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 8th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's terrific that Remus describes Walburga as formerly being pretty and neatly dressed -- it would be so easy to make as ugly outside as she is inside, but Sirius's looks must have come from somewhere, so his parents should have been handsome. Now I feel a little sorry for her, so well done.

Poor Tonks. She's just starting to realize that the world isn't as calm or nice as she thought. I hate to see her lose that innocence. Big kudos for the Black family dynamics.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I guess it's possible that a random mix of genes could give a couple of plain people a movie star son, but over and over, the Blacks are described as good-looking, even Bellatrix. So why would Walburga be an exception?
From: maxzook Date: May 8th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
De-lurking to congratulate you on your marvelous HP fic.

I don't want it to fall any more than I'd want to see Parliament go down, or the Queen... I don't know, sent to the guillotine or something. Even when the Ministry's inhabited by idiots like Fudge and Crouch, it's ours."

Needs a "to".

And can someone remind me who Conrad Peale is?

"You could go to my bedroom," Dora said, then blushed as she realized how it sounded. "Er... forget I said that. The loo's fine."

Oh, kiss him already ... ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Conrad's just random. He appeared a few chapters ago, in the Bonfire Night interlude. Dora brings him up mainly to stress that she really does get along with Slytherins.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 8th, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Been away and offline for a few days, so it's great to come back and find more of this up. Loved the Dora and Sirius interaction--her fervent wish to help vs. her need to remain loyal to the Ministry--and Remus lurking uncomfortably while this clash plays out. Looking forward to the next!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 10th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that Dora and Sirius are both right, actually. He knows that the world she needs to protect is fragile and about ready to give at the seams. She knows that it's real and worth protecting, and that you don't screw around with the status quo unless there's a real reason for it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 10th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
All this talk on the ministry reminds me, I was toying with an idea of how to get Harry lawyer (or barrister, I suppose) in Order of the Phoenix. This was further complicated because, while it's easy to look up US laws and courtroom procedures, the British ones are a bit harder for anyone not working on a legal degree. Rumpole of the Bailey seems to be the main source for laymen.

Skipping that - although Harry's trial took some turns I hadn't expected and that would have completely changed book 5 - I tossed the same barrister character into a retrial (or first trial, but I doubt the Ministry would call it that) of Sirius.

With Muggle laws of evidence, the case had to be dismissed. The witnesses who heard Peter accuse Sirius were all Muggles who had had their memories erased. The statements taken by the ministry were hearsay.

As the fictional barrister said, "It's not my fault if you're people decided to destroy the only evidence that would have supported your case."

Dumbledore's evidence about who James and Lily said would be their secret keeper might be dismissed as hearsay. But, even if it squeeked past (and I think it would), it still has to be downgraded as something Dumbledore had been _told_ at a time when members of the Order had good reasons for keeping secrets even from each other (like the Marauders hiding that they were Animagi, even from Dumbledore).

Cross examine Hagrid about his meeting with Sirius, when he made no move to harm Harry or to fight Hagrid for him. Add the fact that Sirius gave his transportation to Hagrid.

Conclude with allegations that Peter is still alive. Examine evidence from the scene of Peter's supposed death, leaving it open to question whether Peter or Sirius would have been the one to cast the curse that caused all the damage.

From: glynngriffiths Date: May 20th, 2009 01:36 am (UTC) (Link)
"Don't be ridiculous," Dora said.

Remus didn't bother to answer that.

Ah, spoken truly and firmly like someone raised during a time of interim, hard fought and hard clung-to, peace. I only wish she was right...
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 18th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOVED the ending, especially Tonks' embarrassing statement. ;)
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