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Before I start the next Stray section... - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Before I start the next Stray section...
Okay, canon question, which will come up soon. Looking at the timeline from the Lex (downloaded a while back), I see that Harry sent a note to Sirius on January 22 or so, and got an answer by the same owl in late February. Sirius has been in Hogsmeade long enough to get gaunt and be eating rats and so on... so how in the world did it take him that long to answer? He could have walked the letter up through the Shrieking Shack tunnel in that amount of time. Or sent it by slow moving tortoise. I can only have so many owls get lost!

In general, I've kept getting stuck on this, because so much in GoF is Harry writing to Sirius and waiting for answers, and yet, when we find him, he's in... Hogsmeade?

Thoughts? Can't promise I'll use the poll answer (maybe, maybe not--I just have no idea what's going on here), but I figure it might be an interesting discussion, if we talk about why.

So, what took Sirius so long to answer a letter in February (other than JK's maths)?

He was occupied with a sudden emergency that overrode waiting for news from Harry.
16(17.4%)
The owl got confused and tried to deliver his mail to Azkaban
5(5.4%)
He had to go away during that exact time period for reasons to be made up soon.
9(9.8%)
He got very sick, or was cursed, or was otherwise incapacitated, and just never told Harry about it.
19(20.7%)
Mission from Dumbledore
43(46.7%)
26 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 26th, 2009 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I picked "got sick or cursed," just because of the serious physical decline that Harry notices. I'm not sure that's what I'll use in Stray.
izhilzha From: izhilzha Date: June 26th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I picked that too. ...not even really sure why, I just wanted to, but I like your reason for it, also, especially in the context of this story.
tearoha From: tearoha Date: June 26th, 2009 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)
So did I - just think of the lovely idiocies Sirius could get himself entangled in if he refuses to ask anyone to endanger themselves by helping him.
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: June 26th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
same here; I also picked it because in OotP everyone was talking about out Grimmauld wasn't dangerous anymore, but he very well could've been cursed trying to keep the girls away from something, right?
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: June 26th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I picked it because the idea of Sirius being ill in a cave seemed deliciously sad. :( I'm a dreadful person.
lollapulizer From: lollapulizer Date: June 26th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I picked mission from Dumbledore, only because I can't think of any emergency that would put off his reply for so long. Getting sick might work as well, I can't imagine living in a cave is very warm.
todayiamadaisy From: todayiamadaisy Date: June 26th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Options 1, 3 & 4 (and perhaps even 5) could all be the same thing: say if Dumbledore sent him on an emergency mission during that time frame, resulting in him getting sick or being cursed. Which isn't a lot of help to you, really. :-)
amamama From: amamama Date: June 26th, 2009 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I picked "mission form Dumbledore," but I think it's most probably due to a combination. Maybe mission to Dumbledore in the beginning, which then led to being very sick, cursed or otherwise incapacitated. Which he of course didn't tell Harry about. He knows very well all Harry has to struggle with, and sees no point in burdening him with his own miserable life. At least that's my idea of it.

Hope you're having a glorious summer! I do, and I haven't even had time to read fanfic in a while. Maybe that'll come with autumn. :-)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 26th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I would have thought a too quick an answer for anyone watching would have set off alarm bells. Maybe Sirius delayed to lay anyone off the track.

Of course, maybe he just lost Owl and letter in the cave and it took him a while to refind them :-)
gehayi From: gehayi Date: June 26th, 2009 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I say it's a combo--emergency mission from Dumbledore. Dumbledore intercepted the owl and removed its message so that it wouldn't track down Sirius while he was off doing undercover. When Sirius got back--sick, starving and cursed--DD went to the school owlery again, reattached the message, and sent it off to find Sirius. And neither Harry nor Sirius ever suspected that the message had been delayed.
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: June 26th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)

The Owl Got Confused

I think "owl post" is one of those running gags JKR had so much fun with before she realized how demented her fandom was going to get.
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: June 26th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd have to brush up on my canon, but when exactly did he get to Hogsmeade in the first place? Any chance he might have been hanging around somewhere else in trying to get there without being seen, and that's why it took the owl a long time to find him and he looked so bad to Harry?

I mean, JKR's dodgy maths is the most likely answer, but...
jesspallas From: jesspallas Date: June 26th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Please, by all means, make up something exciting and mission-y, because we'd all love to read it :) but surely it would still get delivered wherever he was. But one possibility not listed could be that it got delivered whilst he happened to be at Grimmauld Place and Kreacher hid it from him?
torturedbabycow From: torturedbabycow Date: June 26th, 2009 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I didn't actually vote since I like the combination suggestions so much. I was also thinking along the lines of accidental security-spell issues - granted, it's a bit of a stretch having Hedwig find Sirius on the run halfway across the globe, then having another letter get delayed just because he's hiding too carefully in a cave. But, given all the possible locations he's going between (Remus's, 12 GP, the cave), and the possibility of top-secret Dumbledore assignment, maybe it made the confusion worse.

Or, maybe there's some kind of "vacation spell" you can do, to get owls to deliver your mail in your absence. Maybe Sirius designated Buckbeak to receive his mail for a day or to while he did something requiring no interruptions (maybe top-secret Dumbledore related), which then ended up taking longer than expected. Or resulted in him being too sick/tired to check under Buckbeak's feet for mail when he got back.

I also like the thought that whatever serious thing happened to delay the mail, he decided not to tell Harry about it to avoid worrying him. (And blamed some of the resulting gauntness on "living on rats," when really there was more to it. Helping Fiona and the girls somehow?)
silvery_wraith From: silvery_wraith Date: June 26th, 2009 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I like what everyone has suggested: a combination of options 3,4 and 5 with a dash of 1. Dumbledore could have needed him to check on something regarding the Crouches ended up getting either very sick or cursed before he could find out much of anything and had to go back to 12 Grimmauld Pl to be nurse back to health by Fiona.

Erm. Something like that, anyway. Is it obvious that Fiona/Sirius is my new OTP. Sad, because I know it
snever going to happen D=

I hope you figure it out, Fern. I can't wait to see what you'll come up with.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 26th, 2009 08:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the answer is whatever you can make the most interesting story out of.

But let's see... I think if it were an illness thing, there would have to be some explanation for Remus and Dora not to find out and insist on helping him. Giving him his space is all well and good, but if they're just sitting at home, knowing he's so ill he's becoming gaunt and obviously in not so great shape, I think they'd insist on getting someone to look at him or something. If they just let his health decline, seems like there's got to be a reason for that, like them being away from him for a long time or something.

I think one, three, and five could be more or less the same thing if you wanted. And since we know that Dumbledore will send people on missions that aren't healthy for them, for the greater good, seems like that could be interesting. So I'll pick 'mission from Dumbledore'.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 26th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, second thought, I'll vote for one. Because I'd love to see it be something involving an emergency helping Fiona and her daughters (keep them in the story and all).
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: June 26th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I think if it were an illness thing, there would have to be some explanation for Remus and Dora not to find out and insist on helping him.

That was my thought as well.
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i_autumnheart From: i_autumnheart Date: June 26th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Emergency involving nearly being caught... sor something else that can explain how he's back to rats when Dumbledore and Remus know he's there.
malinbe From: malinbe Date: June 26th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know, I know, I know! The letter was delivered to 12GP, and Kirsty snatched it from Kreacher's hands. She hanged on to it in a fangirly fit (since it was from Harry Potter) and later forgot to give it to Sirius. Fiona found it in February and gave it back with embarrased apologies.

Of course, going on a mission from Dumbledore and getting sick/cursed sounds much more exciting, but I had to share.

On the subject of surviving on rats, I always thought that it was a sign of his mind going. I interpreted it not that he ate rats because he couldn't find anything else (I'm sure there's plenty of edible leftovers from the local pubs!), but because he was... er, trying to eat Peter. Or at least to force him to transform into a man when confronted with a hungry Padfoot. The chicken Harry gave him was simply a nice break from the usual diet.
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darreldoomvomit From: darreldoomvomit Date: June 26th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
maybe he got gaunt on the trip to hogsmeade from random tropical locale?
the closer he gets to civilization, the harder is it to travel fast/ eat...

i dunno.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 27th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Easy, Sirius got trapped in the maze (or an equivalent).

Actually, I can see Regulus or someone else in Sirius' family setting up some kind of way to keep secret records that worked along similar principles, a hiding place where you would have to have the right kind of mind - and the right kind of knowledge inside that mind would be a real plus - to find (or recognize it when you saw it?) the information inside.

Given Sirius' hangups in dealing withhis family, he might go in thinking he knew all he needed to know about them, and getting trapped or lost because of it.

Ellen
mollywheezy From: mollywheezy Date: August 19th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)
You've probably already written this now, but I would probably combine option one and option four--he has an emergency and is cursed, i.e. one of the girls goes to touch a cursed object at Grimmauld and in saving her, Sirius takes the curse instead. Then maybe sometime later, when he's better, Fiona could thank him properly . . . ;)
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