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Stray, Chapter Fifteen: Christmas in the Dark, pt. 3 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Fifteen: Christmas in the Dark, pt. 3
It's Christmas, and the Brodies surprised Sirius and Remus by showing up caroling. As the sun goes down (around 3), Dora shows up at the door and notices the crowd. Sirius has promised her a "Yule Ball."

I had to come up with some magical way to play music, and I thought I could do better than a wind-up victrola. ;p

This includes an altered version of a ficlet.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Remus gestured her inside and pointed to the Brodies. "Dora, these are my neighbors, Fiona Brodie and her children, Kirsty and Elspeth."

Elspeth came over from the fire and looked at Dora with great curiosity. Today, her hair was bright red and green, and she'd morphed her ears into elf ears for the occasion.

"And which are you?" Dora asked, morphing back to her normal appearance.

Elspeth's eyes popped wider open, and she didn't answer.

"That's Elspeth," Fiona said. "And she knows better than to stare."

Dora smiled. "I wouldn't do my like that if I didn't mean to be stared at." She extended her hand. "Dora Tonks. I'm a friend of Remus's."

"Tonks... any relation to Healer Tonks at St. Mungo's?"

"Both of them," Dora said. "They're my parents."

"Oh. Your mother has looked after my husband from time to time."

Dora fell easily into a conversation with Fiona about life at St. Mungo's and their shared acquaintances there while Dora set up a complicated looking system to play the music she'd brought. Magical play-back had improved a great deal, it seemed, since Sirius had set up a series of clay dishes on his mantelpiece that would play any Charmsheet he dropped into them. The Charmsheets themselves had got smaller, and were now narrow scrolls threaded decoratively through a silver contraption that turned them into different colored lights as they played. The first one just seemed to be carols, but after that, the sheets she was attaching to it were adorned with pictures of bearded men in dresses, who Sirius took to be the infamous Weird Sisters.

Kirsty had perched herself on the arm of the tartan chair, and, as Dora was about to start a conversation about a St. Mungo's janitor that Fiona knew, she suddenly sat up straight. "Oh! Dora!"

Dora stopped talking. "Er... yes?"

"No, I just remembered. Mr. Lupin said that his dog Snuffles was staying with you in London. Did you bring him home?"

"I, er..." Dora looked at Remus for guidance, got none, then said, "You know, Snuffles is back in my flat. He and my cat Granny were having such a splendid Christmas morning chasing mice together that I couldn't bear to break them up."

"Oh," Kirsty said, looking disappointed. "I was hoping to pet him. He's a very nice dog, don't you think?"

"Best I know," Dora said. She looked around and smiled. "Nice decorations. But I was promised that you'd both be dressed up!" She winked conspiratorially at the girls. "We're going to have our very own Yule Ball. Why should Hogwarts people get all the fun?"

Kirsty and Elspeth gasped in delight. Fiona laughed. "I'm afraid we're not dressed for such a thing."

"Ah! Never fear! When it comes to clothes, I've got us covered." Dora waved her wand, and two wardrobes appeared. "There are little girls' dresses in this one," she said, pointing to one on the left. "And Fiona, you and I can become quite grand with some of the dresses in the other." She waved Remus and Sirius off. "Go on, now. Get yourselves presentable as well."

"Dora..." Remus started.

She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow archly. Remus relented, and a moment later, he and Sirius were each in a Conjured tent outside. Sirius picked out a sharp Muggle suit Dora had bought for him, and gave Remus a set of red velvet robes that would make it quite impossible for him to find a shadow to hide in. When they went in, Dora was wearing a purple off-the-shoulder party robe, and Fiona had chosen a very horrible tartan skirt, with every accoutrement short of bagpipes (Sirius thought she looked both absurd and very pretty in it). The girls had mixed any number of outfits, and tied their hair up with bits of lace.

"Can you make Christmas hair again?" Elspeth asked Dora, apparently having lost her shyness somewhere in the depths of Dora's wardrobe. "Please! And elf ears."

Dora obliged. Then stepped up to the contraption that her music was playing through and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome... the WEIRD SISTERS!"

The scroll flashed wildly, and images of the various band members showed up above the Charmsheet in a staccato light show. A strange chord--apparently a harp and an out-of-tune guitar mixed in opposing keys--opened the "concert." The first several songs were fast, and Dora apparently felt comfortable shaking around and waving her arms, but when a slow song came on and Sirius held out his hand to her, she shook her head and sat down on the sofa. Sirius shook his head and offered his hand to Fiona instead, and they had a perfectly pleasant dance. It occurred to him that she might allow him to kiss her, but then he remembered that her husband was still breathing, if not precisely alive, so he didn't ask. Remus danced with both the girls in an odd little triangle. Another slow song came on.

Sirius tapped Remus's shoulder and handed Fiona over to him (the girls went back to dancing with each other), and reached down to pull Dora up.

"I can't, I'll step on your toes and break something," she said.

"I said I'd teach you and I will. Up."

"I'll trip over everything."

"We'll go outside."

She put up a token protest, but let him lead her outside.

"This isn't going to end well," she warned as they reached a flat area between the two Conjured tents. She turned her hair white to catch the colors of the auroras that were streaming above them. "I told you Mum tried to teach me to dance."

"I imagine she did," Sirius said. "It's a family requirement."

"Which I would think would be enough for you to avoid it with great diligence."

"As you pointed out, you are my family. If you can be good, why can't dancing? It's turned out to be quite enjoyable--moreso than the flailing about you were doing earlier, that your generation loves so much."

"Well, you know how the species deteriorated in the decade after you were born."

Sirius held out his arms. "Come on. Take my hand"--he waited for her to do it, then slipped his free hand around her waist--"and put the other on my shoulder."

She got into waltzing position. She was very tense, and seemed unsure of where her limbs were. Her skin was warm, and her face, the only part of her that seemed relaxed, was beautiful and kind. Sirius could see why Remus was in love with her. "All right," she said. "I dare you to teach me this."

"Step on my feet."

"Deliberately?"

"Yes, stand on them. I'll steer for the moment."

She put her feet on his. "Dad tried this."

Sirius laughed and began a box step. "Your dad, if I recall, is a nice bloke, but tripped over his trainer laces on the way to his own wedding."

"Trainers at his wedding?"

"We had to sneak them both out of Hogwarts. Going about in dress robes and shiny shoes might have tipped the wrong people off." Sirius finished the first box step and tried to turn, but Dora pushed against his arm and countered it somehow, making him lose his count. "Relax," he said. "It's just one-two-three, one-two-three. Let me do the moving. Just let it be."

She looked at him warily. From inside, they could hear Remus and the Brodies laughing about something, and the Charmsheet was changed back to the Christmas carols. Dora didn't seem to notice. "This isn't working. I can't dance! I can't walk across a room without tripping over something."

"That's because you're thinking about it all the time. I imagine you really outgrew it years ago, but you've got yourself worked into a terror about it. It's in your head."

"It's mostly in my feet," Dora muttered. "My head doesn't get tangled up in things. I... oh, damn it!" She lost her balance and one of her feet slipped off Sirius's. "You see? My feet."

"Will you stop thinking about your feet? Here, put them on the ground and ignore them."

"What?"

"Just let it be. Talk to me. Let your feet go where they ought to."

"But I don't know where they ought to be."

"They do. You said your mum taught you." Slowly, Sirius started the waltz again.

"But I could never do it."

"You know it, though. You have the steps in your head, you just need to get out of your own way."

"Right, because I'm doing this deliberately."

"In case you haven't noticed, when you're not doing it deliberately, we've made it through three boxes."

She stopped and looked at her feet, which had been following along from Sirius's lead without any difficulty. He moved to start the next step, and somehow she got her foot tangled around his ankle and lost her balance. As she was now holding his hand and shoulder very tightly, he fell down with her.

He rolled away rubbing his arm where it had it hit, and laughing.

She rolled over and lay on her side, propped up on her elbow. "See? I'm hopeless."

He got to his feet and held his hand down to her. "Get up. Let's try this again."

She took his hand with an exaggerated sigh and pulled herself up. "Fine. All right, what are a few broken toes and--" She stopped, her face going ashen.

"What is it?" Sirius asked.

"Look! Out on the ocean."

Sirius turned and faced out across the sea. The auroras were a bright green, and he didn't see it at first... the tiny spot of green, lower than the auroras, but rising. Growing.

And beneath it, the flames.

Sirius dropped Dora's hand and ran to the door. "Remus! Fiona! Your house... your island..."

Fiona ran out and stopped dead, her hand over her heart, as she saw the Dark Mark rising over her home.
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Comments
arcaneblades From: arcaneblades Date: June 5th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh! Can't wait to find out what's next.


On another note, I think you've forgotten a word here.


Dora smiled. "I wouldn't do my like that if I didn't mean to be stared at."
tencups_i_swear From: tencups_i_swear Date: June 5th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Aghhh! WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?!!
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: June 5th, 2009 10:22 am (UTC) (Link)
That's quite a cliff hanger, especially coming on top of the pleasant atmosphere preceeding it!
i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: June 5th, 2009 10:26 am (UTC) (Link)
The poor Brodies! At least they weren't in there... but why on earth were they targetted? Or did the DEs get the wrong island?
From: glynngriffiths Date: June 5th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh no! Quite a cliffhanger there. I enjoyed the Yule Ball, and especially Sirius teaching Dora to dance, determined to trick her out of her clumsiness for a moment. I also find it mildly hilarious that he made fun of her flailing and her generation's dancing. Who'd have thought Sirius would be so old-fashioned? But then, he's a Black so formal is pretty much in the blood. Also, loved the elf ears. :)
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: June 5th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
The button. It went to fake-Moody... he thinks that the Brodies have found it and understood more than they actually do?? Oh dear...
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 5th, 2009 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lovely Dora and Sirius bonding, not to mention the amusing development of Sirius realizing Remus is in love with her before Remus does.

Very dramatic ending--looks like the Brodies lucked out when they decided to call on Remus and Sirius at Christmas.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 5th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't do my like that -- Missing word? Totally right, though. I've had my hair pink, blue, and green at different times, and it never bothered me when I got funny looks, because if I cared, I wouldn't have done that. It's unfair of people to deliberately alter their appearance to something out of the ordinary, then get mad at others for staring.

It occurred to him that she might allow him to kiss her -- Oh, now that's interesting.

My goodness, that whole dancing picture is just so adorable and sweet and funny, I think I might burst from it.

moreso than the flailing about you were doing earlier -- I quite agree. It's sad that no one seems to dance properly any more.

Sirius could see why Remus was in love with her. -- *snerk* And it's so funny that it takes Remus over a year from this point to realize something that is clearly obvious to Sirius.

Holy crap. The Death Eaters came for her? Happy Christmas, everyone.
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: June 6th, 2009 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I've had my hair pink, blue, and green at different times, and it never bothered me when I got funny looks, because if I cared, I wouldn't have done that.
So true; I had my hair dyed purple, and this little girl at the supermarket was staring and pointing, "Mom, Mom!" Then her mom told her not to stare. It was quite fun :D!

From: severely_lupine Date: June 6th, 2009 04:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Heehee. I was in a bookstore and this little girl sort of looked at me for a few seconds, then gave me a thumbs-up and went, "Nice green hair." So cute.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 5th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, no! The DARK MARK?

This was so delightful, and then this. Poor Brodies. Where will they go?

*is incredibly sad*
From: severely_lupine Date: June 5th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a bit random, but I was going through some of your old fics here on LJ and found one called "Dance by the Light of the Moon", or two parts of it anyway. Did you finish that one? It's a bit difficult to dig up all your short fics.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: June 5th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooooh!
From: spitc1899 Date: June 6th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
You're evil. And this is wonderful.
chrischewscud From: chrischewscud Date: June 6th, 2009 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh fine Dora, I guess a Dark Mark is a suitable excuse to get out of more dance lessons.

and gave Remus a set of red velvet robes that would make it quite impossible for him to find a shadow to hide
Yep, Sirius is good for Remus!

hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: June 6th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Aaagh!


Wow, you got me, I was lulled into a happy place and then WHAM!
tearoha From: tearoha Date: June 6th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, what a cliffhanger to leave us on!

Lovelt Christmas scene, though. I love how Sirius is looking after Dora and making her family.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: June 6th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my! I never expected that! And they were having such a nice Christmas.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 7th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
*is now a Sirius/Fiona shipper* Though that would suck for her big time.
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 19th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I love your description of Tonks musical apparatus and her wardrobes.

Here's my favorite part:

"Sirius shook his head and offered his hand to Fiona instead, and they had a perfectly pleasant dance. It occurred to him that she might allow him to kiss her, but then he remembered that her husband was still breathing, if not precisely alive, so he didn't ask. Remus danced with both the girls in an odd little triangle. Another slow song came on."

*Squooshes Remus and Sirius*

THE ENDING!! OH NO! Off to read more . . .
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