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Stray, Chapter Sixteen: By the Light of the Dark Mark, pt. 1 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Stray, Chapter Sixteen: By the Light of the Dark Mark, pt. 1
It's Christmas in the Potterverse. Harry is at the Yule Ball, not really noticing a certain cockroach eavesdropping on Hagrid. At the same time, for Tonks's benefit, Sirius has decided to have a "Yule Ball" on the island. To his surprise, the Brodies show up, and they are all having an excellent time until, during an outdoor dancing lesson, Tonks looks up and sees the Dark Mark rising from the Brodies' island.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




Fiona's breath hitched several times, then she ran forward, screaming in negation. Sirius caught her before she ran too far out into the dark. She struggled against him.

"I have to get home!" she said. "I have to get to the boat, I have to--"

"I'll get you home," Sirius said, and grabbed hold of her tightly. He looked over his shoulder at Remus and Dora. "Watch the girls!"

"What...?" Fiona started, but Sirius didn't wait for her to finish her question. They were past the Apparition barrier. He Disapparated, dragging her along to her island.

From afar, it had looked like a small speck in the North Sea, but here, it was an island-wide inferno. Sirius did a Flame Freezing Charm on both of them, as it was clear that Fiona didn't have the presence of mind for it. The grass was burning, the girls' play fort was burning, and the house was a firestorm. A few sheep were running to and fro in terror, but Sirius had a nasty suspicion that more of them were piled up at the house. A chicken scurried in front of him, taking no notice, and he quickly Conjured a cage for it and made it fire proof.

"Fiona!" he yelled. "Fiona, we have to make a safe paddock for your animals!"

She staggered back and looked at him blankly, like he'd been speaking some other language, then she blinked and said, "Yes... yes, the sheep. The chickens."

"You get them. I'll make the paddock."

She nodded soberly and took to the task as though it meant something. Sirius was able to beat back the flames in a small, squarish area. The fire was quite resistant to everything he threw at it. A few minutes later, Fiona chased in six sheep, and carried an armful of chickens. Her face was a livid red, and Sirius didn't think it was from the flames.

She flung the chickens into the enclosure. "They killed the ram!" she sputtered. "Just killed him and... well... didn't just kill him. They left him on the fence! He was the girls'! They'd have come back to find him if we hadn't spotted..." She covered her face with her hands and sat down on the ground, weeping. Sirius sat beside her and put an arm over her shoulders.

With a pop, Dora appeared in front of them. "Sirius, you need to get back to Remus's."

"Why?"

"Because I have to notify the Department, and it would be a bit awkward for everyone to explain just how you got here."

"No Aurors!" Fiona screamed. "I don't want the Ministry! I don't want..." She burst into tears.

"I have to," Dora said gently. "I know how you feel, but I do have to." She pointed at the sky. "This isn't a lightning strike, Mrs. Brodie. We have to do something about it. I won't let anyone hurt you or the girls anymore."

Sirius, who was starting to stand up to leave, felt her unconscious tug on his sleeve. She was grasping at any human contact. He sighed and sat down again, then looked apologetically at Dora. She gave him an exasperated look, then nodded.

"Fiona?" Sirius said.

"What?"

"You just got a dog." He transformed.

Fiona stared at him numbly.

Dora jabbed her wand at the sky. "Remus can look after the girls," she told Fiona. "They don't need to see this. We'll find a place for you to stay."

Another pop brought Kingsley Shacklebolt to the clearing. He looked up and swore under his breath. "Tonks, part of it is fiendfyre. We have to isolate it."

"Which part?"

Kingsley waved his wand, and flames in two places on the island turned a bilious shade of brown--the house and the fort. "The rest is just from the heat," he said. "You get the one by the shore, I'll get the house. They have to burn themselves out; there's no counterspell." He looked at Fiona. "I'm so sorry, Ma'am."

"Why?" Fiona whispered. "Why us?"

"I don't know," Kingsley said. "But I want to find out. Can you get to the next island?"

"I don't... I can't Disapparate..."

"She was at Remus's," Dora said, then blanched. "I, er... I brought her over. Her daughters are still there."

"Think they'll live if Lupin takes a moment to take her back?"

Dora nodded and sent her Patronus. A moment later, Remus appeared. He nodded curtly to Kingsley, looked at Sirius in confusion, then disappeared quite as suddenly with Fiona.

"We should get the animals out," Dora tried.

"Not until we get the bloody fiendfyre contained," Kingsley said. "Go!"

Dora didn't hesitate. She ran down the hill toward the fort while Kingsley made for the house. Sirius, feeling useless now that Fiona was taken care of, occupied himself with nipping at the remaining sheep to keep them in the paddock.

Dora came back a moment later. "You should get out of here," she hissed.

Sirius didn't see any way to do so that would arouse less suspicion than staying, so he shrugged his shoulders, hoping that Kingsley wasn't anywhere close enough to see the decidedly uncanine gesture.

She apparently saw his point, because she just sighed. "I have to get the rest of this out."

Sirius nodded, wanting to transform, draw his wand, and help. Instead, he spotted a sheep making a break for it and urged it back to the dwindled flock. It baaed at him in an irritated way.

By the time this operation was finished, Dora had put out most of the normal flames, and Kingsley was headed down from the house, putting out the grass fires as he went. When he reached the paddock, the only light came from the two patches of fiendfyre and the Dark Mark, high above.

"Damn it!" Kingsley said, hissing up at the green skull. "Just... damn it."

"Have we got the whole island out?" Dora asked.

"Yes. Except for--" Kingsley pointed at the two buildings. "Why in the hell would anyone target these people?"

"The husband is at St. Mungo's. He was attacked by a Dementor. Remember, that button I showed you?"

"Still, why would a Death Eater...?" Kingsley made a frustrated sound in the back of his throat, then said, "At least the whole bloody press is trying to get into Hogwarts to report on who's snogging whom. If this is meant as an intimidation technique, it's not going to work."

"We're not releasing it?"

"No. I'll be quite curious as to whether or not anyone will complain about us not reporting it."

Dora nodded. "Oh. In other words, anyone who happens to know about something that happened way up here."

"Exactly."

"I doubt there'll be anyone." Dora sat down on a sooty rock and put her hand on Sirius's neck. "I don't suppose you, er... noticed any particular rats deserting this ship?"

Sirius perked up his ears.

Kingsley frowned. "Still thinking of Harry Potter's statements last year?"

"Yes."

"So am I," Kingsley admitted. "I looked. I didn't see any sign of a rat, though there's only so much sign one would leave."

Dora glanced up at the Dark Mark.

Kingsley nodded. "Yes, there's that, but you know as well as I do that we can't trace it from the spell, only the wand that cast it. Which is gone with whoever owns it." He Conjured a stool and sat down across from her. "Some Christmas."

"It was quite fun before this," Dora said. "I nearly danced, you know." She frowned, a question flitting across her face. "I didn't think you were coming into work. Robards had just got there when I left."

"Oh, his wife called. Some sort of emergency bickering to do about being home for Christmas or not, so he asked if I could come in. I swear, I'm going to find a wife just so I'm not first on the let's-call-him-in-on-Christmas list."

Dora smiled faintly, but neither of them laughed at the weak attempt at a joke. Fiendfyre and the Dark Mark didn't make good light for humor.

Kingsley shook his head, as if to clear it all away. "All right," he said. "We'll get the animals over to McManus Island--"

"Where?"

"That place you've spent most of the last six months at."

"Oh, Remus's? Is that what it's called?"

This time, Kingsley managed a weak laugh. "Yes, Tonks. It has a real name. Let's get the animals over."

"We can just send the sheep and chickens," Dora said. "But dogs get alarmed. I'll Disapparate with this fellow," she said, and gave Sirius a perfunctory hug.

Kingsley narrowed his eyes, but said nothing about this oddity.

They spent the next few minutes magically sending Fiona's remaining sheep and chickens to Remus's place as the Dark Mark began to fade, then Kingsley went over on his own, and Dora hugged Sirius close and pulled him back as well.
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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 9th, 2009 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I love your Kingsley.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 9th, 2009 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Fern :-)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aw, thank you. :)
From: spitc1899 Date: June 9th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Seconding the Kingsley love.

Also loving this:

"Fiona?" Sirius said.

"What?"

"You just got a dog."
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, he couldn't very well leave her there...
marycontraria From: marycontraria Date: June 9th, 2009 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
The poor Brodies. But Kingsley love!!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know, what a sucky end for Christmas.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 9th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, is Kingsley about to find Sirius out when the girls spot snuffles and start asking where is Mr. Foote?
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 9th, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was me, Andreyta. I've forgotten my LJ password.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
The thought has occurred to me.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 9th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wasn't it a bit reckless of them to jump right over, not knowing if there were still Death Eaters on the island? (Not that Sirius isn't reckless or anything.)

Much, one might suggest, like showing his best-kept secret to someone he almost sort of just met. But that's rather like Sirius, too. Having established trust and decided he likes her, he seems to not be concerned with much else.

I do quite like Kingsley. How could you not. I suppose we'll get to see his finding out about Sirius and deciding to help him at some point in this story? That would be something to look forward to.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
like showing his best-kept secret to someone he almost sort of just met.

Yeah, that's a bit of a stretch. ;p But it's a plot device. The problem with single point of view is that, um, sometimes you have to reach for the absurd to have the POV character present for an event.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 9th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, that is a bit troublesome, isn't it? Fortunately, though, "absurd" isn't totally outside the range of Sirius's character, so I think it's believable enough.
alkari From: alkari Date: June 10th, 2009 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's not that absurd or reckless - she's known about him for a while, and she brought the girls over for Christmas, so he could be reasonably sure she wasn't going to betray him. Plus he took her back to try and save the house and their animals, so she knows he's on her side. Let's face it, there are some times when you just have to 'take a chance' and trust someone completely, which he did.

But I am certainly waiting for the girls to start asking about "Mr Foote" when Kingsley is around! :)
From: severely_lupine Date: June 10th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, but remember all the people he *didn't* tell about his animagus ability, no matter how much he liked or trusted them: McGonagall, Andromeda, all the other members of the original Order--people who he's trusted to have his back in battle, no doubt.

Still, I think that the loneliness brought on by his current circumstances might make him more willing to make shows of faith to those few people who do put some trust in him even knowing who he is.
willowbough From: willowbough Date: June 9th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whew. Close call for the Brodies, though some of their livestock weren't quite so lucky. I'm enjoying this side plot--I hope Sirius manages to keep abreast of the developments, even after he relocates to Hogwarts to watch over Harry.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 9th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, definitely. I can't eke much of a story about a guy sitting alone in a cave waiting for word from a fourteen-year-old with serious communication problems. ;p
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 9th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Sigh...

Despite my strict rationing, I am now completely caught up with your posts, Fern. Terrific story; this last entry was just devastating.

Can't wait for more!

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sigh...

I really like writing this; I don't know why I'm being such a pokey little puppy about it.
etain_antrim From: etain_antrim Date: June 9th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really feel for Fiona and the girls. It looks like the questions about the button might be getting someone riled up!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 10th, 2009 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Just possibly. ;p
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 10th, 2009 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor, poor Fiona and her girls. I do hope they have somewhere nice to stay. Give them somewhere nice to stay! *stern look*

I join all the Kingsley love. I like how he seems to be mentally saying "Could you make it less obvious so that I can play fool believingly?". Jeez, Dora. And Sirius.
From: glynngriffiths Date: June 10th, 2009 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Kingsley-love! I think that's a great reason to get a wife. *smirks* The poor Brodies, though! My heart broke for Fiona in this chapter; the ram was especially cruel.
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 19th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Kingsley! And I'm glad to see you've written him as single . . . He gets a wife in one of my post-DH stories. ;)

*sobs* at the fire . . . literally. My husband and I lost our home to fire 9 years ago, and you've done an excellent job of capturing the horror and helplessness of a fire.
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