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Stray, Chapter Fifteen: Christmas in the Dark, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Fifteen: Christmas in the Dark, pt. 1
Sirius ran off to Hogwarts to see if he could find Harry, instead finding Snape, who assumed he was one of Hagrid's pets. Dumbledore took responsibility for the stray dog on the grounds, then chewed Sirius out for being an idiot and sent him back to the Orkneys.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus got back the next day, looking the worse for wear. Sirius had seen him in worse shape back at Hogwarts, but not much--he'd managed to somehow dig a gash into his head behind one ear, and was quite woozy from blood loss. He'd also bruised his ribs, sprained a wrist, and picked up an infestation of fleas. Sirius, who'd dealt with more than one such infestation since his escape, got rid of the last quickly and efficiently. The Healing spells were more difficult, and he spent most of the morning trying to figure out how to handle the sprain. The cut, he was able to seal up, but he decided to wait for Dora to get it properly Healed, or Remus would end up with a nasty scar.

Dora showed up at five, when her shift was over, with an ointment that Andromeda had sent from St. Mungo's. Sirius frowned. "Did he send a Patronus? I know I didn't."

She shook her head and knelt beside the sofa where Remus was now sleeping, and dabbed the ointment on the cut. "It's the longest night of the year for his transformations. Close to the longest one in general. He always manages to do something to himself near Solstice, and Mum reckoned I'd best come with something useful."

"Will that stop the scarring?"

"It always has before," Dora said, and smoothed a second layer on. The look on her face as she did this was very tender, and Sirius was both envious and highly uncomfortable.

He turned and went to the kitchen. "Have you eaten?"

"What?" Dora asked vaguely, then stood up, blinking owlishly. "Oh, no. No, I haven't."

"I've got a kind of..." He looked at the cauldron he had over the kitchen fire, trying to determine what he ought to call the mess that he had cooking in there. He shrugged. "A cauldron of fish stew, I guess. If I never see another fish, I think I'll be happy, but it ought to taste all right."

She smiled and came into the kitchen. "It smells fine."

Sirius looked cautiously into the living room. Remus was still sleeping soundly, but he didn't entirely trust it--Remus had always been good at faking sleep. He nodded toward the door and Summoned their cloaks. She followed him out into the night, where the auroras were staging a brilliant light show for their benefit.

Sirius Conjured a pair of comfortable chairs that they could lean back in, sat down, and said, "So, er... you and Andromeda really have been taking care of him for quite a while, haven't you?"

She shrugged and sat. "And Dad. And he takes care of us, too. You wouldn't believe the number of creative ways I've managed to damage myself over the years. It was Remus who taught me to Heal sprains in the first place. I twisted my ankle while we were out hiking when I was nine, and he Healed it for me." She smiled. "He jokes that I adopted him, but we all sort of adopted one another."

"It was bad, wasn't it, for Andromeda and Ted? It hadn't been long since your grandmother--"

"It all happened very fast," Dora said. "First Granny, then... everything else. Mum said I had to be gentle with Dad because of Granny, and then Dad said we both had to be careful with Mum because of--" She looked up guiltily; Sirius nodded, and she went on. "They both told me to be careful with Remus, because he'd lost so much, but I'm afraid I'd run out of places to be careful. I just blurted everything out to him one day when he told me he wasn't going to tutor me anymore, and I thought I'd lost my Mr. Lupin as well as everything else." She gave Sirius a self-conscious smile. "Mum says I bullied him into staying around. Dad says he needed to be bullied."

"He usually does," Sirius said. "We probably should have made him learn to do what he wants without bullying, but it was always such fun to pretend that he didn't really want to do any of the things he quite blatantly wanted to do."

Dora smiled fondly and tipped her head back to watch the lights in the sky. "So, he tells me you're leaving us."

"Yes."

"Going where?"

"Someplace that will make you less conflicted, as you won't know where it is."

She rolled her eyes. "I'll keep them far from Hogwarts," she said.

Sirius affected a look of exaggerated innocence, then said, "Will we see you on Christmas?"

"Most likely, in the afternoon. I have a shift in the morning, and Mum and Dad both took the day at St. Mungo's, since most of the others have children--either little ones who want Mummy and Daddy for Christmas, or big ones that... well, probably aren't coming home, given the social event of the century up at school."

"But you took the day."

"Well, I have the pair of you to look after." She grinned, then sighed. "I'm quite jealous, actually. I can't believe I missed the Triwizard by only four years. I've never been to a ball, and they've got the Weird Sisters."

"Well, you bring the music, and we'll have a ball of our own. I'll even make Lupin dress up." He pointed to the auroras. "You can't beat the decorations."

"Or the company," Dora said. "Unfortunately, I'd probably have sat on the sidelines, anyway. I can't dance."

"Anyone can dance; I'll teach you when you get here."

"Good luck with that."

The door opened, and Remus came out, a blanket around his shoulders in lieu of a cloak. "Good luck with what?" he asked sleepily.

"Sirius thinks he can teach me to dance."

"Hmm," Remus said, and didn't elaborate. He sat down on the bench.

The three of them sat together for close to an hour, occasionally passing a word or two, watching the sky and enjoying the company. Sirius felt safe. This was a good place, and he was leaving it. He supposed they could all come back again--probably would all come back again, maybe when the days were absurdly long--but for now, he felt like time was as short as the nights were long. The thought brought a pleasant sort of melancholy with it, and he savored each second of silence and of empty conversation.

Dora left at eight, after they had a good supper together, and Remus--still tired from the transformation--went back to bed and was snoring fifteen minutes after she Disapparated. Sirius stayed up and read a few books that Remus had lying about, and finally slept himself long before midnight.

Remus was apparently feeling better in the morning, as he was making a large breakfast when Sirius woke up. "Thank you," he said.

"Well, I thought you'd be bad company on Christmas if I let you wallow in werewolvery." Remus rolled his eyes and sent over a plate of eggs and kippers. Sirius tucked into it. "Which reminds me--Christmas is less than a week. Where are you decorations? We can't have a Yule Ball for Dora with no decorations."

Remus came in with his own plate, chewing on a fish. "I'm afraid they're all packed away in my country home, with my dress robes and luxury racing brooms."

"Well, I told her I'd get you dressed up, too."

"Wonderful."

"Go through that trunk of things she got for me. I reckon there's something we can work with." Sirius looked around. "I suppose we could just Conjure, but what fun is that?"

Remus dug at his breakfast. "What do you have in mind?"

"I say we use what's here. Literally, here, on this island. Remember the time we--"

"Oh, God, not the year we decorated the dormitory with dirty socks and quills..."

Sirius waggled his eyebrows. "We made your socks into a brilliant wreath for the door." He smiled. "Whoever finds less has to cook Christmas dinner."

"There aren't even trees here, Sirius."

"Giving up already?"

Remus gave him an impersonation of a steely glare and said, "Never."

Three hours later, the sun was already becoming dim, but the little house was lit by tiny charmed wreaths of dried grass that Remus had put up around the windows. Each gave of little whirligigs of white light. Sirius had strung grass garlands around the grove of standing stones, then he'd occupied himself with building a ziggarat of sods in descending sizes. This was in the corner of the living room, and they'd been decorating it with odd things they'd found around the island and in the house--rocks, shells, an earring of Dora's, pictures from the Prophet, some of Buckbeak's feathers. Sirius had jammed a large serving spoon into the top to serve as a star, and Remus had fashioned a sleigh out of an old shoe, which was now being pulled around the "tree" in a never-ending spiral by a sort of abstract deer (a picture of James stuck to a set of prongs that Sirius had made from leftover parchment).

They sat back to laugh at it as the sun finished its short daily visit.
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Comments
From: severely_lupine Date: May 26th, 2009 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Aw, poor flea-ridden Remus.

Sirius was both envious and highly uncomfortable. -- Poor Sirius. Man, I just wanna hug those two so tightly.

It really is nice to think that at least Remus had someone looking after him all that time.

I can't believe I missed the Triwizard by only four years. I've never been to a ball, and they've got the Weird Sisters. -- That put a funny image in my head. Maybe Tonks, with her little talent, just sort of crashed the ball a little. ;)

"Unfortunately, I'd probably have sat on the sidelines, anyway. I can't dance." -- Okay, and now I'm picturing Dora sitting there watching while Remus and Sirius try to figure out how to have a ball with just the two of them.

LOL, oh, it's always funny when Remus makes jokes about his own poverty. It's less sad when you can laugh at it.

Each gave of -- Missing an 'f' there, I think.

(a picture of James stuck to a set of prongs that Sirius had made from leftover parchment) -- Priceless. Now, is that actual fake antlers? Because what came to mind at first was the kitchen utensil.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)
It's actual fake antlers. ;p

Snarky Remus is the best Remus, I think.
From: severely_lupine Date: May 27th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I do love the way you write snark. It's funny, but not mean. Not that Remus would be mean about it. Not a lot of people seem to write Remus as snarky, which is a pity.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: May 26th, 2009 09:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I love the mental image of the Marauders home-made, and probably pretty revolting, Christmas decorations...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, definitely revolting. But probably part of their whole build-a-family project.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: May 26th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
This should be fun--Christmas on the future Marauders' Roost. And it's fascinating to see Remus and Dora's slow-building romance through someone else's eyes.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)
They have absolutely no idea how their actions look, either. Dora would be entirely baffled at what's making Sirius uncomfortable!
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: May 26th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

"Oh, God, not the year we decorated the dormitory with dirty socks and quills..."

Score!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: "Oh, God, not the year we decorated the dormitory with dirty socks and quills..."

I love the boys.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: May 26th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wonderful. Hugs all around.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I could get into sharing the hugs with them here, too.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: May 26th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's great to see Sirius and Remus managing to have fun despite all the obstacles they face. I love the way Remus and Dora interact, even way back when.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Fun is important.
alkari From: alkari Date: May 27th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Excellent instalment. Laughed at the creative budget Christmas decorations, past and present.

Though I am not sure people would be happily sitting outside at night during winter in the Orkneys!! Perhaps Sirius needs to add a few warming charms to their chairs ...
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 27th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, I checked the temps up there for the last couple of years--they're actually in the 40s (Fahrenheit)... cloaks would be fine, I think. I was surprised, given the latitude. It's WAY colder in Buffalo (and we were known to sit on the porch in the dead of winter so my smoking friends could indulge). That Gulf Stream certainly is a miracle worker.
alkari From: alkari Date: May 27th, 2009 07:25 am (UTC) (Link)
LOL - but temps in the 40sF means single digit in Celcius. And no way would *I* be sitting outside at night then!! Must be my warm Aussie blood. Mind you, in coastal Sydney, minimum overnight temperatures even in mid-winter are 8-9C (45-48F), although it gets colder away from the coast and the inland subs can get down to minus 2-3C or so. Which is hardly cold by your standards. We get frosts, especially inland or in higher areas, but never snow.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 28th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with Alkari. Even those of us in Canberra, where we have access to cold nights, wouldn't DREAM of sitting in it :-).
lexaplexa From: lexaplexa Date: June 1st, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I live North East UK, not that far north granted, but we'd sit outside in coats (not quite cloaks) at christmas, January and February tend to be colder, December isn't too bad. It's the wind off the sea that makes it really cold though, and that isn't factored in to the temps that are recorded.
From: glynngriffiths Date: May 27th, 2009 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wonderful Christmas decorations - and lots of points for managing to work both 'whirligig' and 'ziggarat' into the same paragraph. :) My favourite was the old shoe being pulled by James with makeshift antlers; truly ingenious. I hope we get to see Sirius teaching Dora to dance - that sounds a promising Christmas celebration for an Auror, a fugitive, and a werewolf.

Also, this entire paragraph was beautifully phrased and really captured the feel of this safe, contented (and temporary) moment: The three of them sat together for close to an hour, occasionally passing a word or two, watching the sky and enjoying the company. Sirius felt safe. This was a good place, and he was leaving it. He supposed they could all come back again--probably would all come back again, maybe when the days were absurdly long--but for now, he felt like time was as short as the nights were long. The thought brought a pleasant sort of melancholy with it, and he savored each second of silence and of empty conversation.
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: May 28th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha! I loved this, especially the last part with the boys (can they still be called boys?)decorating. Old socks, indeed.

I like Sirius' discomfort around Dora and Remus' 'thing', even if they don't recognize, somebody has to!
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